Sunday Service: Tasting the Orange

Tasting the Orange

Week of June 28 – July 4, 2015

As some of you may know, I’ve been on the road for the past six months. I spent most of this time helping the Ramakrishna Vedanta Association of Thailand, staying at monasteries, and learning more about Theravada Buddhism by practicing it at monasteries in Burma, Laos and Thailand.

With all the travel, American Vedanta has been on autopilot for the past few months while I was on the road and with minimal Internet access. We get back into the swing of things starting now, however. I’ve got a lot to share with you from my travels, and we’ll be sharing that and many other things in the next few months.

This week, however, we bring you a spiritual talk about the mental frameworks most of us use to understand our world on a daily basis. While these mental frameworks have their use, unfortunately they also limit us from enjoying the actual world around us. If anyone has ever told you that you’re too much in your head, this is for you.

Enjoy.

Yours,
Peter Kowalke

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What do any of us really know?This Week’s Spiritual Talk

Tasting the Orange

By Peter Kowalke

We’re all taught to fail.

I’ve slowly come to see that we’re all brainwashed, even those of us who didn’t go to school as children. We all fail by living in our heads, living in a conceptual framework we build to explain our experience.

We fail because instead of eating an orange and enjoying its juice, we compare it with an abstract ideal orange and focus on how close the real orange stacks up with the ideal orange. We even possibly eat the orange without observing the real experience at all. We don’t live, we think about living and make things up that don’t conform to our ideal.

As an unschooling teen, someone who didn’t go to school until college, I noticed this failure because I still remembered some of the authentic experiences I had as a kid before the conceptual fantasy took over. These experiences weren’t beaten out of me since nobody told me directly what I should do or think. But slowly I began losing them regardless.

In my teen years, I seriously began giving up what I knew was true for what others told me was true. This was largely because I was scared and humble. Almost everyone around me, my parents included, told me I needed college. But for college I needed a laundry list of other activities, behaviors and mindsets.

Thus began a deep dive into conceptual fantasy and wasted life. That’s because after college, there’s the plan for a good life, and this good life requires a certain kind of job with its own conceptual fantasies. From the good job then flows career advancement, a wife and two kids, home ownership, vacation, an appropriate safety net, retirement and other aspects of our more or less accepted collective fantasy framework.

I got on this treadmill when I started preparing for college, but I never fully bought into it. As an unschooler, I knew the world did not work only as advertised. Growing up, I would watch recorded cartoons on a Tuesday morning and see the public service announcements. These PSAs told me not to be a fool, to stay in school. But I was not in school, I was home watching television between GI Joe battles and art projects. Yet I felt fine, and my mother said I was fine.

The greatest gift unschooling gave me was the willingness to question the world around me, the knowledge that even the best practices and experts could be wrong. If they were wrong about school, what else could they be wrong about?

(read more)

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Vedanta Television

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.

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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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