Sunday Service: Spiritual Exercises from the Naqshbandi Path

Week of July 27 – Aug 2, 2014

The Ramakrishna Mission saint who famously brought Vedanta to the United States, Swami Vivekananda, railed against the idea that there was only one way to reach truth.

“We must learn that truth may be expressed in a hundred thousand ways, and that each of these ways is true as far as it goes,” Vivekananda said. “We must learn that the same thing can be viewed from a hundred different standpoints, and yet be the same thing.”

If Truth can be expressed in hundreds of thousands of ways, it means we have many potential places to look for ideas, models and spiritual exercises.

One place to look is Naqshbandi Sufism. The Naqshbandi path offers 11 clear spiritual exercises that are potent and infused with wisdom that almost every Vedantin will immediately recognize.

These spiritual exercises of Naqshbandi Sufism were so striking in their usefulness and truth, I had to reach out to the Naqshbandi community and get permission to share them with you here. As often is the case when I read about Sufi practice, I was immediately charged with inspiration and renewed faith. I hope these exercises will do the same for you.

In other news, this past week our Cleveland Vedanta group held a wildly successful talk on the four yogas that was given by Swami Sarvadevananda, spiritual head of the Vedanta Society of Southern California. We will be posting photos and video from the event in the coming days.

If you are near Cleveland, I encourage you to consider attending our next big event, a talk by Swami Paritushtananda of the Vedanta Society of New York that takes place on August 25.

For those of you in New York, it also is worth noting that we’re having a talk with Swami Sarvadevananda in Clifton, New Jersey this week on Friday, August 1. Check our New York events calendar for details.

Peter Kowalke


Naqshbandi TombThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

Spiritual Exercises from the Naqshbandi Path

By Peter Kowalke

It is not enough to talk about spirituality. We must live it.

There are many ways to live spirituality on a daily basis. Vedanta gives four main paths, or “yogas,” for living spirituality. Other traditions offer additional ways.

The Naqshbandi spiritual order, a branch of the Sufi tradition, offers 11 exercises, or principles, for living spirituality and getting closer to truth.

Eight of these spiritual exercises came from the Central Asian Sufi teacher, ‘Abd ul-Khaliq Ghujduwani (d. 1220). The other three were added by Baha ad-din Naqshband (d. 1389), founder of the Naqshbandi Order.

Whether a Sufi, a Vedantin or a Christian, these exercises can help us improve our spiritual life if faithfully applied.

The Golden Sufi Center has put together an article that clearly explains these 11 spiritual exercises central to Naqshbandi practice. We reprint four of these exercises here, and will highlight the other seven in the coming months.

(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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