Sunday Service: Four Steps to Divinity


Week of Aug 31 – Sept 6, 2014

Last week we published our second article on Sufi spiritual practices of the Naqshbandi Order. This week, however, we get back to basics.

If there is a foundational text for Vedanta, it is the Upanishads—the generalized teachings of the Vedas free from most of the historical and cultural specifics that make foundational spiritual texts appear dated.

This week we feature a short spiritual talk on the Katha Upanishad, one of the most popular Upanishads. It jumps right to the heart of the matter: How to reach divinity in four easy steps (the “easy steps” part is ours, however, as you might guess).

Peter Kowalke


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.

(read more)


videoVedanta Television

American Vedanta on YouTube

Finding lasting happiness. Applying the Bhagavad Gita to daily life. Learning about the history of Vedanta in the U.S. These are some of the topics covered at American Vedanta’s YouTube channel. We curate a list of spiritual videos that will help advance your spirituality and expand your mind. When wanting spiritual videos, give our YouTube channel a look.

We also recommend other resources such as Booksaudio 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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