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Friday, August 5, 2022

Gems from Young Adult Retreat 2022

By Kanna Pichappan

Last weekend, I had the good fortune of being one of the participants in the Young Adult Retreat, centered around the topic of compassion. We were surrounded by opportunities to learn: the content of readings, the compassion of volunteers, the questions of peers, and the ideas of lectures.

Below, are a few of the gems I learned over the weekend:

  •  What is compassion? Compassion is “feeling together.” It is when one body is in a situation, and another body feels for and acts on it. 
  •  Where is the Oneness that causes us to feel compassion? Our Oneness is seen in how all of us make choices that are driven by the desire to increase happiness and eliminate suffering. For example, we all may choose to have a different type of cream cheese with our bagels in the morning. However, we all choose the cream cheese that we feel will make us the happiest.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Thich Nhat Hanh, part 3 (final)

By Adam Grant

In 1945 Thich received the 10 precepts of a Buddhist novice. A couple years later, he was sent to stay at the Bao Quoc Institute of Buddhist Studies, located nearby in Hue. Influenced by progressive Buddhist magazines, Thich was beginning to feel that a change towards a more “socially conscious” Buddhism was needed, meaning more work towards transforming the broader environment and conditions in society. Thich devoted his life to this great endeavor of "Engaged Buddhism." 

Thich spent some years writing high-profile articles to reinvigorate Vietnamese Buddhism and remind Vietnam of the strength of its Buddhist heritage. The articles were very influential and popular in Vietnam. The next year he was appointed Editor-in-Chief of Vietnamese Buddhism, the magazine of the National Buddhist Association, and penned many articles to bolster community and camaraderie between Buddhists in the communist North Vietnam and those in the US-allied South.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Thich Nhat Hanh, part 2

By Adam Grant

Spiritual life developed naturally for Thich. He joined the Tu Hieu Temple in Hue City as a bhikshu (monk) at the young age of sixteen. It was an easy decision for him. As a youth he had some experiences which drew his mind upwards and blessed him with pure aspirations. Under French colonial rule there was a pinching uneasiness in the people’s hearts, but Thich came across an illustration of the Buddha, and as a reaction, his mind left behind all the world’s uneasiness to have a short stay in the realm of peace. This experience, which contrasted the suffering around him, left a deep, lasting imprint on the young boy of nine years. A couple of years later, Thich had what he described as his first really spiritual experience. He was on a school trip and slipped away from his class in search of a hermit who was rumored to live nearby. Traversing the forest, he was unable to find the hermit.  What he found instead was a natural well, with the most delicious water. He was very thirsty and drank his fill, then fell fast asleep. When he woke up, he felt that he had met the hermit in the form of the well, profoundly quenching his thirst for water and for the experience of peace. Satisfaction of desire usually fades quickly, and the desire returns reinvigorated. Thankfully, the desire strengthened was the one pulling the young boy away from his classmates to drink from the hermit’s well. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Thich Nhat Hanh, part 1

By Adam Grant

Many great people have served to convey Eastern religious and spiritual ideas to the West, and one of those persons was Thich Nhat Hanh, who passed on January 22nd of this year. The gap between the understandings of these two hemispheres of the Earth is sometimes difficult to bridge, so a person's devotion to the work must be steady to invite success. When this success comes, a tide of energy is able to rush towards areas of need within the field of work.

The East is in the West and the West is in the East, but there is yet more East in the East and more West in the West, even in modern times of increasing globalism. In the West people have pioneered the great monolithic social institutions, driving progress in material enjoyment and comfort to great degrees. Collectively they have come to depend not just on the fruits of these institutions but also on the increasingly rapid delivery, expansion, and evolution of those resources. Expanding in tandem are the pressure and rewards for those working to supply those objects and accelerate the momentum of advancement. As a result, many work beyond their capacity and eventually take a fall. They make great sacrifices for their work, forgetting relations and personal endeavors, but unable to hold the pace, they begin to indulge in vices and are infected by negative thoughts. 

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Three Poems

By Iona

Forgetfulness

Forgetfulness is the thing that happens
Often.
It takes over
Disguised as an acquaintance from a long time ago.
It shrinks
The being
Into an image of an image
A copy without an original.

In so many words
i’ve been told
That nothing is left behind.
But then why does this thought or that
This upset
That uncomfortable laughter
This tone of voice
Bubble up at the worst possible time?
Everything remains
While everything goes
In a way it goes
In another it stays
An impression.
Seeds of the past
Spring as the present.
If only i knew how not to forget
That they are not real.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Reflections on a Holy Weekend at Vedanta Society of Providence

By Kanna Pichappan

When planning to come to Providence at the end of December, Swami Yogatmanandaji wrote in a kind email that it would “be a great fun + education.” Every moment at the Christmas Eve Service, Holy Mother’s Birthday Celebration, and in between, rang true of these words. 

At the beginning of the Christmas Eve Celebration, Swami Yogatmanandaji articulated that “Christ is the God in flesh and blood. The Christ is the God we can interact with.” These words were very meaningful to me because they made me ponder how fortunate I am to have so many Christs in my life! Additionally, the following excerpt from The Sermon on the Mount reading resonated with me powerfully: “If, when you are bringing your gift to the altar, you suddenly remember that your brother has a grievance against you, leave your gift where it is before the altar. First, go and make your peace with your brother, and only then come back and offer your gift.” This passage prompted me to recognize that my first priority should be taking care of the God around me who is in flesh and blood form. This notion helped me wrap my head around the idea that God is not only present in the altar of temples. Rather, God is present everywhere around me, and I have the opportunity to serve God in all these living forms!

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Some Reflections on ‘Science and Religion’ by Swami Ranganathananda (Part 3 of 3)

By Ezenwa Onwugbenu

Science and religion are two phases of one search for truth. Science investigates external nature; religion investigates internal nature; and both are complementary. Let me illustrate this with two examples.

First: Sri Ramakrishna says, “Brahman and Sakti are one… just as fire and its burning power are one… just as milk and its whiteness are one… just as a gem and its brightness are one.”

Two scientific principles can be inferred from this statement: (1) the inner configuration of a substance reveals the cause of its outer qualities; and (2) the inner configuration is microcosmic, and the outer quality is macrocosmic.

The inner configuration of fire is a rapid flux of oxidation reactions. The outer quality is heat and light. If we examine the outer qualities: How hot? How luminous? We cannot find the cause of heat. The cause can only be found through investigation of the microcosm, namely, the chemical process of combustion.

The inner configuration of milk is tiny protein micelles. The outer quality is whiteness. If we examine the outer qualities: How thick? How whitish? We cannot find the cause of whiteness. The cause can only be found through investigation of the microcosm, namely, the light refraction and scattering by casein micelles.