Sunday Service: World Peace Starts (and Ends) Within

Spiritual Exercise

Week of Jan 5 – 11, 2014

Happy New Year.

When we think about the start of the New Year, many of us think about New Year’s resolutions and year-in-reviews. Both of these hallmarks of the New Year require a little quiet time and reflection, because we must think about what we want to achieve in the year ahead and reflect on the year that has just past.

This quiet time for reflection is exactly what we need as spiritual people, too. The pace of business and even home life is frenetic, and it is easy to forget about our foundation in among all the demands of daily life.

We also are bombarded with societal messages that are not conducive to our spiritual development. A lot of what we hear and see on a daily basis is lowest-common-denominator, or at best the blind leading the blind. So daily we are subjected to materialism, selfishness and complex ideas that amount to nothing of importance, among many other things that can hurt spiritual progress.

It is important, therefore, to make the time for quiet reflection and centering. There needs to be time to remind ourselves of what really matters, and to reinforce positive ways of thinking and not just the negative ones that come automatically by being a person in the world.

But just as we often procrastinate in finding the time to write our holiday letters and make our New Year’s resolutions, we often deprive ourselves of the time to actually center ourselves.

This inability to find time for our spiritual life is perhaps one of the biggest stumbling blocks for modern spiritual people. There certainly are challenges ahead, and the spiritual journey can be hard. But it is even harder to make spiritual progress if that first step is not even taken, and that’s what happens when we don’t make time for spiritual life.

Since you are reading this, you have at least taken a tiny first step. But I challenge you to look over your life and try to make more time for your spirituality in 2014. Truly, it is hard to make progress if we don’t put in the time. And it is easy to focus on the non-spiritual because this-world deadlines scream while spiritual needs quietly wait for us to wake up to their need.

So as you make your New Year’s resolutions, try to find a little more time for your spiritual life. If you sincerely believe in your faith, there is nothing more important.

Peter Kowalke


Swami Vivekananda in 1893This Week’s Spiritual Talk

World Peace Starts (and Ends) Within

by Peter Kowalke

This morning I ran across one of the speeches Swami Vivekananda gave during the Parliament, and it is worth reprinting here because it highlights the real reason we don’t have world peace—and hints at its realistic solution.

Here’s Swami Vivekananda:

“I will tell you a little story. You have heard the eloquent speaker who has just finished say, ‘Let us cease from abusing each other,’ and he was very sorry that there should be always so much variance.

“But I think I should tell you a story which would illustrate the cause of this variance. A frog lived in a well. It had lived there for a long time. It was born there and brought up there, and yet was a little, small frog. Of course the evolutionists were not there then to tell us whether the frog lost its eyes or not, but, for our story’s sake, we must take it for granted that it had its eyes, and that it every day cleansed the water of all the worms and bascilli that lived in it with an energy that would do credit to our modern bacteriologists. In this way it went on and became a little sleek and fat. Well, one day another frog that lived in the sea came and fell into the well.”

(read more; the good part is ahead)


Jnana-YogaBook of the Month


by Swami Vivekananda

Jnana-Yoga, the Path of Knowledge, describes the essence of Vedanta philosophy – the wisdom of the Vedas, Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita in a modern scientific manner. Jnana-Yoga, along with Swami Vivekananda’s Karma-Yoga, Bhakti-Yoga, and Raja-Yoga, are considered classics and outstanding treatises on Hindu philosophy. The Swami’s deep spiritual insight, fervid eloquence, and broad human sympathy shine forth in these works and offer inspiration to all spiritual seekers.

(download the book for free)

Other books we recommend can be found in our Books section. We also recommend audio 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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