Sunday Service: Divinity in Four Easy Steps

Week of September 8 – 14, 2013

Fall cleaning?

We all know of “spring cleaning,” that time when we freshen up our home by cleaning out the cobwebs, removing clutter, and fixing things that have gotten broken.

Well, American Vedanta is in the midst of a “fall cleaning.” In an effort to better serve the community, we’re adding new sections of the site, taking away unneeded areas, and generally updating the site. Over the course of the next few months, you should see little changes here and there as we finish our fall cleaning.

One new addition to American Vedanta is our section on different religions and how they relate to Vedanta.

Truth is truth no matter where you live, but Vedanta as a school of thought is probably not what you grew up with unless you grew up on the Indian subcontinent.

That in mind, we’ve launched a new section of the site that helps bridge the gap between Vedanta and other faiths. This both helps people understand the Vedanta concepts better, and it helps those of other faiths learn from Vedanta while still being strong in their religion of choice.

We’re still adding pages (and “fixing” those we’ve already launched), but right now you can find sections on Christianity, Islam and Buddhism.

We have more new stuff for the weeks ahead, too, so stay tuned.

Yours,
Peter Kowalke

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Upanishadic WisdomThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

Divinity in Four Easy Steps

by Peter Kowalke

There’s this line in the Katha Upanishad that succinctly outlines the path to God through our own awareness.

“Beyond the senses is the mind, beyond the mind is the intellect, higher than the intellect is the Great Atman, higher than the Great Atman is the Unmanifest.”

That’s pretty concise. Let’s expand.

The first step is turning inward and ignoring the vast universe of stimulus coming from our five senses. Touch, taste, sight, sound and smell help us explore the world outside ourselves, but this is a distraction when searching for divinity. Divinity is contained in the world around us, but our five senses can’t perceive it; we’re like ants trying to conceptualize an elephant when we rely on our outward senses. So the first step is looking inside ourselves, not outside.

This is an easy step, but hard to sustain; I like thinking, but I’m constantly pulled back to the sense world by people around me, my job, my iPhone, the itch on my leg. Still, I can overcome these distractions.

The next step is focus, also known as engaging the intellect. This also is relatively easy. We must not just think, we must focus on finding divinity. Pickle is a valid topic for finding God, but only if we focus on it with divinity in mind. Lovers are valid topics for thought, but only if we think of them in terms of divinity. This is how prayer works—it focuses our mind on God, which helps with locating and understanding divinity.

We must separate the wheat from the chaff, basically. Ignore the line noise. Stay on topic. Discern.

This is my spiritual strength, actually. I enjoy love, and I give myself completely to it. I’m also stubborn. So everything I do is in the service of love; like a silent meditation uttered throughout the day, I focus on it with almost every breath. And because love is mysterious and has a strong connection to divinity, I’ve stumbled into its relation to God. So now I am always finding God in things when I pull the mind back to love. I stay focused, even when I’m not trying.

The big leap is the third step, going from intellect to “the Great Atman.” Once we’ve begun searching for divinity, we must find it. In ourselves.

(read more)

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Turning Toward the HeartBook of the Month

Turning Toward the Heart: Awakening to the Sufi Way

by Shaykh al-Tarqat Hazrat Azad Rasool

A little gem of a book that presents 40 questions and answers by a respected Sufi master. It will have you going “yes, yes, YES” even if you are unfamiliar with or antagonistic to Islam.

(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.

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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 Vedantin 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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Service Times & Directions

Weekend Masses in English

Saturday Morning: 8:00 am

Saturday Vigil: 4:30 pm

Sunday: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:45 am,
12:30 pm, 5:30 pm

Weekend Masses In Español

Saturday Vigil: 6:15pm

Sunday: 9:00am, 7:15pm

Weekday Morning Masses

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday: 8:30 am

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