Sunday Service: Embodied Teachings


Week of April 6 – 12, 2014

I just got back from a wonderful day at the Ramakrishna Vedanta Ashrama in Pittsburgh. We’re building a small Vedanta community in Cleveland, which is where I’m currently staying until July. So on Saturday our small group visited the closest Ramakrishna Mission center, and boy was it impressive!

The Pittsburgh center has a wonderful community of devotees, which is important for sustained spiritual growth. It also was very inspiring in its vitality and outreach to Vedantins who are not local to Pittsburgh; it has spiritual talks by video conference, and seems pretty good at keeping people engaged wherever they may be located. I suspect American Vedanta has a lot to learn from this group, and you’ll probably be hearing more from them in the weeks to come!

Peter Kowalke


Border collieThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

Embodied Teachings

A dog carrying a basket casually entered the room. Many clerks, preoccupied with their paperwork, entered and exited. But this was the first dog I had seen. That he carried a basket in his mouth was almost beside the point; like other clerks, he obviously came here to fetch a document.

Sitting in the waiting room for my turn with the monk in charge, I watched the dog with something between interest and disbelief. Pre-development India sports many animals, not least of all cows, dogs and the occasional elephant. But there’s a glass ceiling that prohibits even qualified animals from joining its office world. Like a Far Side character, the dog felt appropriate on the surface but made no sense the more I thought about it.

“That dog’s potential is being wasted,” noted the head monk in disgust.

This was not the expected response…

(read more)


GitaBook of the Month

Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi

by Mohandas K. Gandhi

The Bhagavad Gita is unique among religious texts in its emphasis on the discharge of everyday duties, irrespective of their nature, as an effective discipline for the realization of God. The Gita teaches that if a man performs his duties, surrendering the fruit to God and discarding all selfish motives, he gains purity of heart and achieves ultimate liberation. It is knowledge of God that gives man the strength to face calmly and cheerfully the duties of life. The Gita shows the way to spiritualize life and illumine even its drab and gray phases with the radiance of the Spirit. It lays down practical spiritual disciplines which can be followed by all, irrespective of faith and creed.

It is common for spiritual giants to offer their own commentary on how best to interpret the Bhagavad Gita, and the famous social activist and Indian saint, Mahatma Gandhi, lends his interpretation in this edition.

(Learn more about the book)

Other books we recommend can be found in our Books section. We also recommend YouTube videos, 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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