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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spiritual Thoughts

by Charles (Prana) Feldman

A personal observation:

All major religions have three sets of values: 1) Love and Service, 2) Prayer and Meditation, and 3) Liberation or Salvation.

Sayings from books that I found to be relevant:

From Sri Ramakrishna: The Great Prophet of Harmony, Chapter: "Sacred Memories of Sri Ramakrishna" by Swami Akhandananda: 

"The landlord was the first to ask: 'Sir, He who is the Purna (full) Brahman (the Absolute) has no want in the universe. He pervades all space and time; how is his incarnation possible?' The Master replied, 'Well, he who is the absolute Brahman is the witness and is immanent everywhere. The Divine Incarnation is an embodiment of his power; the power is incarnate somewhere a quarter, somewhere else a half, and very rarely in full. He in whom the full power is manifest is adored as Purna Brahman, like Krishna. And three quarters of the Divine were manifested in Rama" (p. 96).

From Universal Religion and Swami Vivekananda by Swami Tathagatananda (in Swami Vivekananda's 150 Birth Anniversary Commemorative Souvenir by the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society of Northern Texas):

"If one religion is true, then other religions are true. Thus Vivekananda stated that 'holiness, purity, and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world and that every religion has produced men and women of the most exalted character" (p. 110).
"Unlike the approach of eclectics, syncretists, and sectarian religious imperialists, Vivekananda's concept of universality does not require the creation of a universal religion, because he posits that a universal element can be found in each traditional religion" (p. 112).

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Glimpse

by BeJoy

I was sitting alone, thinking about you at the Society, when our friend, Shankar, tapped on my shoulder. We exchanged smiles and he took the seat next to me. Soon, as always, a discussion followed.

"You never seen yourself, except in the mirror," he claimed. A silence followed. He didn't take his eyes off me. Then he leaned forward, and articulated each syllable, as if I didn't quite understand the language, "You have never seen ANYONE, except in the mirror."

That got me thinking again. I have got to know you a few years now. All in the mirror, right? But the other day when you looked deep into my eyes, so lovingly, I thought I had a glimpse! When you smiled at me, so intently, I thought I had a glimpse!

But this is what got me scratching my head, and may be you can help. Was it you I really saw or was it myself?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Weather and Climate

by Kaivalyam
Almost all of us show varied degrees of interest in the weather news. Some of us show interest in it only when an interesting event like a snowstorm, hurricane, rain or cold/heat wave appears either in our hometown or elsewhere, whereas others pay attention to it almost daily even when nothing of unusual consequence is happening (or predicted to happen). These weather conditions, based on their intensity, influence living beings and economies all over the world - from simple changes in planning one's schedule to very dramatic and tragic destruction of life and property.

These weather patterns studied over some years or decades constitute what is called a climate of the place: e.g. what would be the seasons in a year, what the weather in each season usually is, etc. Unlike the changes in weather, the changes in climate appear to be less dramatic as their time-scale is much larger. However, effects of human actions like deforestation, pollution, green-house gas emissions leading to recession of glaciers etc. influence the weather patterns, and if these effects persist for a significant amount of time they lead to climatic changes affecting the ecosystem.

It is interesting to note that two similar phenomena of different time-scales are seen internally in a person also. A person's thoughts, emotions and actions constitute the weather-like time-scale, whereas a person's character (also technically called "samskaras" or tendencies) constitute the climate-like larger time-scale.  The thoughts, emotions and actions vary dramatically within a few moments in a person, whereas the overall underlying current of character of the person is relatively stable within that time-frame. Just like climate, a person's character is nothing but an aggregate of these weather-like thoughts, emotions or actions over longer time-scale. Akin to the external human intervention influencing the weather patterns and possibly inducing climatic changes, sustained concerted human efforts in directing the weather-like thoughts, emotions and actions over long periods of time can induce changes in climate-like character.

In case of the external weather/climate, a few meteorologists can analyze the various parameters and let the common folk know their conclusions, but an individual must do the analysis oneself in the case of internal weather/climate and arrive at conclusions suitably to direct the efforts for one's own good. A meteorologist has to be well qualified to study the external phenomena and so also an individual must be well qualified to study one's own internal phenomena. This expertise in internal study entails dissociating oneself from one's own mind and observing it objectively, just as a meteorologist would do. The surprising (or maybe not) feature is that most of us hardly give any attention to the internal phenomena, whereas we spend a good amount of time in knowing the external ones. Much more care and attention must be paid to this internal weather/climate since it is always directing our life, and thereby makes us mentally peaceful or otherwise, unlike the external ones that influence us only sporadically and that too supe