Sunday Service: One Truth and Many Paths

Sri Ramakrishna

Week of July 20 – July 26, 2014

Last week I talked about how Buddhism and Vedanta, properly understood, are two paths that ultimately lead to the same end. There are surface differences, of course, and an endless array of technical jargon that separates the two faiths. At their core, however, they are more similar than different.

To help me better connect the dots between the two faiths, and hopefully learn something in the process, recently I have been attending various Buddhist events in New York City. One of the organizations I’m working with is Dharma Drink,  a hangout for Buddhists and likeminded people such as myself. At one of these events I even recently had the opportunity to talk with venerable Chan Meditation Center abbot, Guo-xing.

You can join me at these Dharma Drink events if you are in New York, as the events we’re attending are listed on our New York City calendar of events.

We also have events in other cities, notably Cleveland. We recently started a Vedanta group in Cleveland earlier this year, and this week, on July 23, the spiritual head of the Vedanta Society of Southern California, Swami Sarvadevananda, will be speaking at our Cleveland group. I encourage anyone near Cleveland to attend.

Speaking of other Vedanta centers, last week the founder of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Association of Thailand left his body. I’m saddened by the loss, especially since I had planned to visit with him in India this December. But he chose the day and circumstance of his death, and he was 95. So he knew what he was doing and it was the right time to leave the body.

This week we bring you a spiritual talk on the harmony of religions. As Vedanta saint Sri Ramakrishna showed throughout his life, there are different spiritual paths for different people. But all ultimately lead back to the same destination.


Peter Kowalke


World ReligionsThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

One Truth and Many Paths

By Peter Kowalke

If you wanted to answer the big questions such as why we are here and how to live a meaningful life, and you had no preconceived notions or indoctrination, the following puzzle would confront you: The world is filled with literally millions of people who say Christianity has the answer, millions who say Islam has the answer, millions who say Buddhism has the answer, millions who say Taoism has the answer, millions who say science has the answer, et cetera.

Now many of these people might be easy to write off as stupid or unquestioning, but within each of these belief systems also are some extremely intelligent, thoughtful people who are not so easy to dismiss. How to reconcile the fact that there are intelligent men advocating a range of beliefs?

One solution is to look at commonalities—to look for common themes that emerge when all of the major schools of thought are compared. What is common among the various perspectives has a much greater chance of being true since all we really have–barring a divine sign that is seen by our own eyes–is logic, observation and best guess.

In fact, there are common themes when you look at science and world faiths. The emphasis often is different, some paths are easier than others, and a lot of culture is mixed in with the timeless truths, but universal truth such as love and selflessness emerges from every faith. Beyond the rituals and the doctrines, it turns out that the various paths lead to the same end. All major religions, practiced earnestly, lead to the same basic place eventually.

(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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