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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sri Ramakrishna’s Teachings

By Ben Baker

(Originally given as a speech at the Vedanta Society of Providence at the  Symposium on Sri Ramakrishna’s Birthday Celebration March 2, 2014)

I’m a student of philosophy and law, and my approach to Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings and other topics often discussed in this center is fairly conceptual. Those who have heard me speak before will correctly guess that this talk will try to shape in theoretical space something we learn from and about Sri Ramakrishna. But, I’ll try not to let things get so abstract that they float away out of sight.

At its broadest, the question I want to explore is just one version of a most fundamental one for anyone moved by Sri Ramakrishna’s life and teachings; how does one properly understand the idea of the Self? Anyone who has seriously sat and thought about it knows that the Self, conceptually, is a slippery thing. Both in ordinary language and in the words of wise and spiritual individuals, the term “Self” seems to capture different things at different times, and even at a given time it proves difficult to precisely delineate the boundaries of one’s “Self.” Today I’d like to hone in on the idea of Self, not by building or defending a fully comprehensive definition, but by describing three different perspectives from which to view the Self. To my mind, each of these visions of Self has its own validity to it, and all three can be readily drawn from the words and actions of Sri Ramakrishna. It is worth considering each of these descriptions of “Self” in turn, since they each carry an important lesson that we can use in our own journey through life, guiding us, in the spirit of Sri Ramakrishna, towards Self-realization. He maintains firmly that Self-realization is our ultimate goal, and in his overflowing kindness and humanity he would do what he can to lead us there, but we are quite liable to lose our way if we are conflicted in our ideas about what the Self is (before we even come to ask what it is to realize the Self).

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Unity

by Candace Breen

We are all one,
Our blood runs
Together like the rivers and streams.

Although our tongues,
May differ,
We all speak
The same language of love.

Our shades of skin,
Are a tribute to
The beauty
That is God
Represented in each of us.

We are not,
Our ever-changing bodies
But spirits entwined
In harmonious dancing.