Sunday Service: Four Ways to Find Your True Self

Prayer

Week of June 29 – July 5, 2014

I had the pleasure of being interviewed recently for the Sociable Homeschooler radio show. While we covered a range of topics, the majority of our talk was about Vedanta and my personal spiritual journey. There’s also talk about the Philia Mission and our charity work. Check it out!

This week we bring you part two of a three-part series on Vedanta put into practice. The essays were first published by the Ramakrishna Vedanta Association of Thailand, a Bangkok-based organization where I am an assistant secretary. Originally the series was delivered as a talk in Thailand, and Bindu Anand and I have adapted it as a series that gives a good starting point for anyone new to the faith.

There are many ways to practice Vedanta, of course, and this is just one of many. But it should give people new to Vedanta a nice primer, and it serves as a refresher for anyone already practicing the faith. Our thanks to Bindu for allowing us to reprint it here.

Enjoy!

Yours,
Peter Kowalke

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meditationThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

Practicing Vedanta, Part 2: Four Ways to Find Your True Self

By Bindu Anand

We are not this body. We are not even our thoughts.

As we explained in Part I, identification with our body, our thoughts and everything “out there” in the world makes us unhappy. It is only when we get beyond our little conception of ourselves, of the “I,” that we are happy. We must remove the dust from the mirror, so to speak, so we see the world clearly and can therein be happy.

Well, how do we remove this “dust” from the mirror—the veil of ignorance, the illusion, often called “maya”?

One answer comes from Patanjali. In his Yoga Sutras, he writes, “Yogas-chitti-vritti-nirodha,” which means, “Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff from taking various forms.” Put another way by Swami Vivekananda: “Yoga is the cessation of thought-waves in the mind.”

What stops us from seeing the truth or reality is the continuous flow of thoughts in our mind. Identified with these thoughts, most often habitual and unconscious, our minds never have a moment of rest.

The goal is to quiet these thoughts. Once we do this, the divinity within us will shine through. When a lake is disturbed, we cannot see below the water. Likewise, we need to quiet our thoughts.

Vedanta has three important texts: the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, and the Bhagavad Gita. The Bhagavad Gita is the most popular and, in my opinion, the most practical. Four major paths, or yogas, are taught by the divine Sri Krishna to Arjuna, a human being in the middle of a battlefield. The battlefield of Arjuna symbolizes our own battlefield is our daily strife and tribulations. These paths elucidate the three philosophies (non-dualism, qualified non-dualism and dualism) that we have talked about earlier. You are free to mix and match, customize them according to your temperament and inclinations. They are not set in stone, but are flexible so they stay relevant as the person changes and grows. As you grow and advance in your spiritual journey, you may find yourself putting more emphasis on one or the other.

To go into detail about the four paths will require much more time, but in brief they are…

(read more)

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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.

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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 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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