Sunday Service: Living Jesus Through the Ideals of Motherhood

Hands

Week of April 20 – 26, 2014

Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which in some ways highlights the mystery of faith and demands a fair amount of acceptance of things that we have not directly experienced (I don’t know about you, but I’ve never actually seen anyone resurrected).

I’m less interested in this miracle of the resurrection and more inspired by what Jesus Christ did while he was in a human body. That’s because whether or not Jesus was the son of God, whether or not he rose from the dead, the life of Jesus is a profound model for how we might live our own lives.

We can venerate Jesus Christ and put him up on a pedestal, but when we do that we lose much of what he taught. Instead of using him as a model for our own lives, we praise him and think to ourselves that we are nothing compared with him.

This does an injustice to the message of Christ because it minimizes it. It makes the tough teachings of Christ not applicable to us, or applicable to some far flung future version of ourselves that we have the excuse to keep on with our unwholesome ways.

For me, Jesus Christ is not important because he rose from the dead. Jesus Christ is important for what he did and said while he was alive and living in a body no different than us.

Jesus still has a lot to teach us if we listen, and if you doubt that then read The Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempis. Hearing the words of Christ is good, but living the life of Christ is even better. It is transformative.

So on this Easter Sunday, I think less about the miracle of Christ and more about the life he lived before the resurrection. Jesus can be a model for our lives more than most of us think.

This week we bring you an essay about how the ideal of universal motherhood can be a good way to live some of the teachings of Christ. Enjoy.

In other news, last week we had great Vedanta gathering in Willoughby, Ohio. Our little group is now collectively reading “Karma Yoga,” by Swami Vivekananda. If you’re anywhere near Cleveland, I urge you to come to one of our events.

If not, join our mailing list for these online services and find a community near you.

Happy Easter.

Yours,
Peter Kowalke

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Sarada DeviThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

Living Jesus Through the Ideals of Universal Motherhood

The central message of Jesus was love. He taught love for fellow man, and he loved so deeply that he was willing to die on man’s behalf. His teachings were very bhakti yoga: through love you both find God and serve Him.

Sarada Devi also embodied love, but hers was cast through the highest expression of womanhood: the role of mother. Jesus preached “loved thy neighbor as thyself,” and Sarada loved everyone as her child. Both advocated loving service as the highest ideal.

Loving others is important because all roads lead back to love; every major faith tradition, every moral code, comes back to loving others. There are many ways to find God and a deeper meaning in life, but love enters into the picture no matter how you get there. That’s because God is love. Each faith gives its own explanation, but all resolve to love in the end. In Vedanta, love is when we see God in someone—the love we feel is us connecting with God.

The trick is actually loving someone; Jesus gave ample instructions for truly loving others, but we generally ignore his advice and say we “love” when really we just enjoy some quality in a person. We’re not connecting with the other person, we’re wanting something from them: We want them to think or act a certain way. We want them to love us back. We want ownership of their body. We want them to look pretty. We want them to take care of us.

Loving is connecting with the essence of a person, connecting on the God level, it isn’t asking something of a person. Only the kernel of God is in this pseudo-loving.

So how do we achieve real love? We can return to Jesus, and the wonderful charity he encourages. We also can return to motherhood, the place where selfless love stands most naturally; selfless love is biologically encoded in most mothers, and it is driven home by the one-becomes-two experience of childbirth. This is where Sarada Devi, who felt motherly love for all, becomes instructive.

(read more)

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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.

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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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