Sunday Service: Saying Grace This Holiday Season

Saying Grace

Week of Dec 20 – 26, 2015

The Meaning of Saying Grace

by Peter Kowalke

When I was a child, grace was my grandfather’s thing. Before we would eat, we would say grace. This was the ritual, the habit. And if you were me, the ritual also would include the fear that you might be called upon to say grace. That was always my fear because I didn’t understand grace or know how it worked.

So growing up, grace was a little mysterious, a little scary, but mostly a ritual I knew nothing about. My family was not big on ritual, so we had few of them.

The absence of ritual or overt dogma during my childhood probably explains why I arrived at Advaita Vedanta. In the Advaita canon, ritual is okay; it primes the pump before we find a deeper understanding. But once we have that deeper knowledge, we can safely ignore the ritual.

The key point that is often missed, however, is that we can’t discard the ritual until we know what we’re doing. Technically the ritual is unnecessary. But if we don’t completely know what we’re doing—and who among us is fully enlightened?—then ritual should not be discarded completely.

Ritual is a tried and true routine, like reading before bed. We may not realize why reading at night is better than television, but the reading ritual works regardless. If we were sleep experts, we might know that a melatonin supplement and other behavior can make late night television acceptable, but few of us are sleep experts.

The same goes for other rituals such as grace. The more I experiment with grace, the more I realize its subtle power.

(Read more)


Video of the Week

A Vedanta Christmas Service: Christ and His Followers

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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