Sunday Service: Conversation with the Ganges

Ganges bath

Week of Oct 20 – 26, 2013

Conversation with the Ganges

by Peter Kowalke

The Ganges is the holiest river in India. It is like Mecca for Hindus. Flowing down from the Himalayas, it is mentioned in the earliest Hindu scriptures and considered an actual goddess in the form of a river. Even those who aren’t particularly spiritual often respect its holiness because billions of devotees have worshipped it for literally thousands of years.

The Ganges also is one of the most polluted rivers on earth. Because it is sacred, for centuries vast numbers of people, many destitute, have bathed in it, given their dead to it, dumped ashes in it, and generally used and abused the river. It is said that the water of the Ganges will cure any ailment. This might be because its urine-saturated waters serve as disinfectant.

Last week I arrived at Belur Math in Calcutta, the global headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission and where I will be staying for the next three weeks. Right away I noticed that it is on the banks of the Ganges.

Now I don’t rest my faith on sacred rivers or holy places. Spirituality doesn’t need miracles or otherworldly phenomena; logic and direct experience is its own validation, something Vedanta can give. But at the same time, I’m open to the possibility of the sacred. If the holiest river in India cuts through the back yard of my guest house, of course I will take a dip.

What followed was a surprise.

(read more)


The Way of ZenBook of the Month

The Way of Zen

by Alan Watts

Watts takes the reader back to the philosophical foundations of Zen in the conceptual world of Hinduism, follows Buddhism’s course through the development of the early Mahayana school, the birth of Zen from Buddhism’s marriage with Chinese Taoism, and on to Zen’s unique expression in Japanese art and life.

Many popular books have been written on Zen since Watts’ time, but few have been able to muster the rare combination of erudition and clarity that have kept The Way of Zen in readers’ hands decade after decade.

(more about the book)

Other books we recommend can be found in our Books section. We also recommend audio lectures and web sites, among other resources.


Spiritual Fitness

Do You have a Spiritual Routine?

Vedanta, if not practical, has no other relevancy. The key to practical Vedanta is an individualized spiritual routine.

There are six components of a good spiritual routine.

Swan1. Find a Community. If you have an existing church, temple or mosque, attend regularly. If not, join our Facebook group and see our list of recommended spiritual organizations.

2. Seek Guidance. Find a mentor within your existing spiritual community or contact us for a referral.

3. Attend Spiritual Services Regularly. If you don’t live near an appropriate spiritual community, we offer a weekly spiritual talk delivered by email, Facebook and Twitter. We also host a regular Vedanta Dinner for those who live in the New York City area.

4. Incorporate Individual Study. We keep a list of books and resources for your individual study needs.

5. Take Responsibility for Your Spiritual Life. Read our talk about listening to your own inner compass and contact us when you have a question that your spiritual community isn’t answering adequately.

6. Leverage Rituals Thoughtfully. As an example, read our essay about the power of saying grace.

Our longer talk about spiritual routine can be found here.

Happy Sunday! Peace be unto you. Peace be unto all.

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Weekend Masses in English

Saturday Morning: 8:00 am

Saturday Vigil: 4:30 pm

Sunday: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:45 am,
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