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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Essay on The Real Nature of Man, Chapter 2 of Jnana Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

By Naomi Walden
Man clings to the senses, yet asks at some point; is this real?   Swami Vivekananda defines the soul, or Atman, as being beyond the bright body (the mind) that manipulates the gross body.   The Atman is infinite, omnipresent - beyond time, space and causation.  The Real Man is beyond all limitations.  The apparent man, the reflection, is limited, appearing to be bound, but is really not.  The Infinite Unit is unchangeable, this is the Real Man, the individuality that all are struggling toward.  This evolution of nature is the manifestation of the Spirit; every good thought or act is propelling man toward the realization of God and is to be asserted and manifested.   The feeling of sameness everywhere, or sympathy, is self-abnegation and needs to be done consciously. Constantly fill the brain with high thoughts, highest ideals; out of that will come great work.  Sin and misery are weakness.  Help, do not condemn the world.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Essay on the Necessity of Religion, Chapter 1 of Jnana Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

By Naomi Walden

Swami Vivekananda explains man’s existence consists of sense fulfillment, intellectual development and the seeking of a power beyond these two – something greater and beyond their limitations.  The human mind struggles to realize, or experience this force called ecstasy, or inspiration.

Highly organized religions use a Unit Abstraction, called God, as a Moral Law, or Existence, as an ideal.  Once man has realized attainment is not possible through the senses, there is a giving up of sense fulfillment, or a renunciation that becomes the means to the end.

The pursuit of the infinite, the struggle to go beyond the limitation of the senses, religion as a study, is the greatest motive power for realizing that infinite energy; in making everything that is good and great, and bringing peace to all.  A genuine fellow-feeling, involves concessions with sacrifice, advances truth, benefiting all to reach the Absolute. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Essay on The Real Nature of Man, Chapter 2 of Jnana Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

By Patrick Horn ("Rishi")

The shift from sensate focus to impersonal Truth is a difficult task, and mankind generally favors phenomenalism and error-as-habit. She seeks pleasure and fears death. She is ruled by desire. She discovers the joys of the world are impermanent and suffers failure of will, changes of fortune, loss of friends and family, sickness, and old age. There are two attitudes toward these unavoidable problems. The first is nihilism: rejection of value, meaning, and purpose; iconoclastic doubt and extreme skepticism; denial of authority and the possibility of Knowledge; selfishness and despair. This is a dominant perspective in the contemporary age. The second attitude is the search for the Real amidst fleeting appearances.

The Quest for Freedom plays out in both the fields of religion and science. In the mythic imagination, mankind degenerated to ignorance and chaos from a past state of perfection. Swami Vivekananda refers to the Biblical legend of the Flood, which appears also in the stories of the Hindus, Chinese, Babylonians, and Egyptians. The Masonic tradition supposedly preserves a pre-diluvian original knowledge corrupted, lost, and partially recovered. According to Western esotericism, when mankind began to multiply on the face of the earth, the Council of Immortals saw that the land was filled with violence. Humans were arrogant, ambitious, and murderous fools. Creation was wicked, overpopulated, and noisy. First, a flood nearly destroyed the world; then Noah cursed his grandsons into slavery to their Uncles. With one language and the same words, they spread across the face of the earth and built upon the Plains a city with a tower reaching for Heaven. The Council of Immortals frustrated understanding and co-operation among men by confusing their language. The world was spoiled by lust and greed.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Essay on Maya and Illusion, Chapter 3 of Jnana Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

by Charles Feldman (Prana)

Maya is "what we are and what we see around us." The mind cannot go beyond the limits of time, space and causation. The world exists only in relation our minds. Our life is "a contradiction, a mixture of existence and non-existence." We are torn between our impulse toward selfishness and the morality of unselfishness. All aspects of our life have one end - death. We cling to life due to Maya. We each think we will get the golden fleece, due to Maya. Attempts at reform bring new evils in their place. The strong prey upon the weak, and this is Maya. The more we progress, the more we are open to pain, and this is Maya. Maya is a statement of fact that "the very basis of our being is contradiction . . . that wherever there is good, there must also be evil, and wherever there is evil, there must also be some good. . . . Nor can this state of things be remedied." Vedanta says that at some point, we will laugh at our being afraid to give up our individuality. We do good because it is the only way to make ourselves happy, and the only way of getting out of this life of contradictions. Desire increases through our attempts at enjoyment, as when butter is poured on a fire. Chastity is the life of a nation. Vedanta is neither optimistic nor pessimistic, because "our evil is of no less value than our good . . . ." Life is a search after the ideal. All religions struggle toward freedom. Vedanta has found something beyond Maya, and the Personal God is only the beginning.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Essay on the Necessity of Religion, Chapter 1 of Jnana Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

by Patrick Horn ("Rishi")

Religion is etymologically related to the Latin word religare, "to bind." This is similar to the older Sanskrit word yoga, "to yoke." Both words imply union. Religion, when it is pure, is the quest for transcendence of limited embodiment and absorption in the freedom, joy, and peace of absolute Existence.

Swami Vivekananda suggests that religion originated from 1) ancestor worship, which is the attempt to extend the life of a body after death, and also from 2) awe of the natural world. In the former, the idea of a soul separate from the life of the body is inferred from the dream-state; it was assumed that if the mind is active while the body is inert, then something lives through the body that is not dependent on the body and therefore immortal. The latter idea, of nature worship, when explicated further, explains the birth of various traditions as Truth was transmitted from India into China, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Jewish mysticism, and the Roman Initiatory Schools that became Christianity.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Essay on The Real Nature of Man, Chapter 2 of Jnana Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

by Charles Feldman (Prana)

With death, "The hopes of a lifetime, build up little by little . . . [and] vanish in a second." So we need to ask: What is real? All religions hold that man is a degeneration of what he was, as in the story of the fall of Adam and Eve. Mythology contains nuggets of truth. Evolution seems to contradict the idea of degeneration, yet Hindu mythology reconciles these with the idea of cycles of rising and falling. Whatsoever has form requires something to move it, which is ultimately traced back to the Atman, which, being beyond time, space and causation, must be infinite. We may be happy one moment and unhappy the next, but the infinite spirit never changes. We don't want to give up our individuality, yet the body changes, and we may give up bad habits. The true individuality is beyond all changes - the infinite. The fear of death goes when we realize that we are one with everything. Ethics is based on self-abnegation. Religion cannot be measured in terms of material profit, but it is ultimately practical. We cannot see evil and sin in the world unless we see it in ourselves. Sin is based on weakness, and we need to see ourselves as divine in order to overcome it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Essay on The Necessity of Religion, Chapter 1 of Jnana Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

by Charles Feldman (Prana)

Religion has the strongest bonds of loyalty of any human institution. Religion originates because "the human mind, at certain moments, transcends not only the limitations of the senses, but also the power of reasoning."  Yet religion is not contrary to reason. All religions have "an Ideal Unit Abstraction, which is . . . either in the form of a Person or an Impersonal Being, or a Law, or a Presence, or an Essence." There is a search for infinite power and pleasure, through renunciation, which is the basis of ethics. Religion must be universal and not sectarian. Religions that look upon other religions with contempt have done more injury than good. Religions need to have a fellow feeling with all other religions, as they stand or fall together.