Sunday Service: Planning Monastic Style

Peter Kowalke

Week of Aug 3 – 9, 2014

I’m a producer. I make things happen. I have all my life, starting with leading my own education.

Being a producer means managing outcomes and deadlines, however. It means caring about the results of your actions. Seemingly, at least.

The Bhagavad Gita helps me solve this struggle between my Vedanta and my profession. But there’s a constant struggle.

The founder of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Association of Thailand recently left his body, and he left his body willingly. He could only do this if he had a different conception of time and what it means to be here. A fuller discussion on the topic is left to a future essay; I definitely have one rolling around in my head on the topic of life and death and voluntary surrender.

This week, however, we start to address the topic with an essay I wrote back in 2012 while living at the Ramakrishna Mission in Delhi. I had the opportunity to sit and share chai with the monastics every day during the break from my work, and one day I inquired about why they don’t talk about themselves much.


Peter Kowalke


ChaiThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

Planning, Monastic Style

By Peter Kowalke

Two brahmachari and I were sitting at a table in the dining hall, sipping chai. Brahmachari are monks-in-training, a process that takes at least eight years.

“Sometimes I ask brahmachari about their lives,” I said. “They don’t always answer. Is this them just not wanting to answer, or is there a deeper spiritual reason for their silence?”

They grew silent. The older of the two brahmachari paused, then answered slowly. At first each word was measured.

“We try to live in the present. That’s the main idea of Buddhism. Live in the moment, not in the past or in the future.”

“What about people who are not monastics?” I asked. “If they don’t plan, won’t this lead to ruin?”

He nodded. “We don’t recommend that householders follow this advice.”

“What about the Secretary of the Mission? If he doesn’t plan, it will be hard to hold events and keep the Mission running.”

“Planning is okay if not planning for yourself.”

“Because planning for yourself could introduce ego and attachment to particular outcomes?”

“Exactly,” said the monk.

“But isn’t there still the possibility of attachment to the success of your organization?”

(read more)


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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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