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Thursday, May 7, 2020

Practicing Bhakti

By Abhijeet Kislay

Using just the power of thought, if a person tries to distance oneself from one’s body and mind via the sheer power of “Not This, Not This,” and remains established as “That” -- This is the process of the Jnani. Unless a real experience happens where that person sees themselves completely separated from the body-mind, this step generally ends up in farce intellectualism or a plain white lie. Though from the outside, that person thumps their fist and says that “I am That,” if it is not a reality within, it is best categorized as an attempt or worse, hypocrisy. Time and again spiritual teachers have cautioned seekers about this.

Now it is widely understood that directly using the above method of a Jnani is not easy, as most of us lack proper qualifications in the starting. Another method more natural and easy that is prescribed freely for the same end-result is the path of Bhakti. That very Brahman, that the seeker was so adamant earlier to seek an identity unto immediately, is now seen as a separate entity as the Eternal, the Pure, the Ever-Free, the Almighty Ishvara whose own nature is inexpressible Love.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

God in Every Experience

By Abhijeet Kislay

Last time, we looked at the process of deification of the world given by Swami Vivekananda. This time, let us see how this is true from the angle of the Existence (Sat) aspect of Vedanta logically. Here we will be taking the help of the lecture: "God in every experience" by Swami Sarvapriyananda to keep the discussion coherent.
God hides in every experience that we have and is revealed as the Consciousness that enables us to have these experiences of seeing, hearing, talking, thinking, feeling etc. Let us take the example of seeing an object and try to understand this experience in four stages.

 1.  Here is a coffee-cup that I am seeing right now.

 2. Is it just a coffee-cup? Well, think deeply: Is it just a coffee-cup or an experience of coffee-cup? Yes! I am seeing a coffee-cup. Thus just by two logical steps, we see that it is shallow to think of an object independently. The observer (or the subject) has to come into picture.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Deification of the World

By Abhijeet Kislay

The great gift that Swami Vivekananda brought with his angle of the Vedantic teachings was to practicalize Vedanta so that it can be held as an ideal even by a common man. One major step in this regard can be seen in his lecture titled “God in Everything” delivered in London in 1896.

Some excerpts clarify how he elucidated Vedanta for modern times:

“Here I can only lay before you what the Vedanta seeks to teach, and that is the deification of the world. The Vedanta does not in reality denounce the world. The ideal of renunciation nowhere attains such a height as in the teachings of the Vedanta. But, at the same time, dry suicidal advice is not intended; it really means deification of the world -- giving up the world as we think of it, as we know it, as it appears to us -- and to know what it really is. Deify it; it is God alone.”

Then he beautifully explains the above with a common everyday example for a householder:

We have to cover  everything with the Lord Himself, not by a false sort of optimism, not by blinding our eyes to the evil, but by really seeing God in everything. What is meant? You can have your wife; it does not mean that you are to abandon her, but that you are to see God in the wife. Give up your children; what does that mean? To turn them out of doors, as some human brutes do in every country? Certainly not. That is diabolism; it is not religion. But see God in your children. So, in everything. In life and in death, in happiness and in misery, the Lord is equally present.”

Monday, February 3, 2020

The Power of Philosophy

By Abhijeet Kislay 

A great Swami used to say time and again that: “Academic philosophers are puzzled by their books, but the Real Philosophers are puzzled by life that surrounds them.”

Philosophy achieves this because it is but a concentrated mixture of Principled Truths that have come into existence after deep realizations that humans have gotten over last thousands of centuries. (At least this definition of philosophy is the one that interests me and will be discussed in this post.) 

One way to test a statement as Truth (or Principle) vs. intellectual-jumble is to see if the same principle can hold true through the test of time and space. And when these truths are put into our lives, these gives us tools to rely on!

In this post, we will try to don the hat of a Real Philosopher and see some insights from this kind of philosophy.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Dichotomy of the Ego Function of the Mind

 By Abhijeet Kislay

As per the small booklet “The MIND and its control” by Swami Budhananda, the mind in its functional aspect has four faculties:
1.  Manas is that modification of the internal instrument (antahkarana) which considers the pros and cons of a subject. 
2.  Buddhi is that modification of the internal instrument which determines. 
3.  Citta is that modification of the internal instrument which remembers. 
4.  Ahamkara is that modification of the inner instrument which is characterized by self-consciousness.
The Ahamkara (translated as Ego in English) is the function of the mind which tries to appropriate actions done by various parts of the body-mind to a central Identity (the small self). This function of the mind, as such, is not a bad thing. It is because of this function that we can as a unified single perform actions in the world.

A simple example would be:
While working say in the office, we don’t say that, “Oh it is my hand that is typing the document and it is my eyes that is reviewing the email.” Rather, we say that I typed the document and I reviewed the email.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Kul Bhusan Chaudhary ‘Bush’ – A Friend of Vedanta Society Passes Away

By Swami Yogatmananda, Minister, Vedanta Society of Providence

‘Namaskar, Swamiji’ – Kul Bhusan Chaudhary was on phone. ‘There is a festival in the Providence today, where different ethnic groups will be gathering and will be displaying the exhibits about their culture, arts, history & so forth. It will be nice if you can come. I can pick you up, when you are ready’.

It was the summer of 2001. I had been in Providence then barely for two months. This gentleman had met me just one or two times before at Vedanta Society, when he had come primarily to meet my predecessor, Revered Swami Sarvagatananda. He introduced me to ‘Bush’. Just one brief meeting was enough for us to form a cordial bond of friendship. He offered to introduce me to the socio-cultural backdrop of Rhode Island/ Providence and the Indian Community here. I was quick to take this offer. He opened many windows for me; it was a difficult task during my initial days here in US, to get culturally adopted to the new paradigms. But Kul Bhusan made things easier for me. 

He taught me how to walk on snowy, icy sidewalks around with less chance of slipping. ‘no, no – watch me – you have to step on the fluffy snow and avoid those shiny patches’ – was a simple tip he gave that saved me many a nasty fall. He asked me to come for the first Indian Classical Sitar concert at the India Museum hall at Telle St. Our talks ranged from the American political system, interaction between religions, the lessons of 9/11 terrorist attacks, nuances of American English, … down to how to use a dishwasher most efficiently.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Spiritual Retreat at the Vedanta Society

By Suprabha Tripathi, Ph.D.
(The author and her husband live in Colorado, and she visits her daughter, Tara, at Brown University during the summer months.  Suprabha serves as Sr. Director, NTT Data Services.)

Swamiji’s persuasive nature prodded me to attend the first ever Spiritual Retreat in my life.  The Retreat presented an opportunity to explore something new.   I was initially reluctant to attend but now at a certain phase of my life, the Retreat presented itself as an offering that was left to be taken.  I hemmed and hawed, not wanting to open myself up so.  After inquiring about my daughter’s schedule and Swami Yogatmananada’s urging, I decided to indulge myself in the pleasures of a Retreat.  

Our honored guest, Swami Kripayamayanandaji from Toronto, expounded on two discourses.  The information he shared was not unknown perhaps to most of us.  Yet in his words there was an element of clarity and awakening that led to an interesting Q and A session, providing insight between the seekers of knowledge and the knowledgeable.  My takeaway was simple.  Seeing the divine in others is a conscious decision.  It is intentional and enlightening.  It seemed as I sat there, years of loneliness and emptiness melted away. I felt younger and lighter as I walked out that day.