January 1, 2017


“If you practice spiritual discipline for some time in a solitary place, you will find that your mind has become strong, and then you can live in any place or society without being in the least affected by it. When the plant is tender, it should be hedged around. But when it has grown big, not even cows and goats can injure it. Spiritual practices in a solitary place are essential.”

Bande Mataram Hymn 
Translation by Sri Aurobindo

Mother, I bow to thee
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Dark fields waving, Mother of might,
Mother free.

Glory of moonlight dreams
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease,
Laughing low and sweet!
Mother, I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.

Who hath said thou art weak in thy lands,
When the swords flash out in twice seventy million hands
And seventy millions voices roar
Thy dreadful name from shore to shore?
With many strengths who art mighty and stored,
To thee I call, Mother and Lord!
Thou who savest, arise and save!
To her I cry who ever her foemen drave
Back from plain and sea
And shook herself free.

Thou art wisdom, thou art law,
Thou our heart, our soul, our breath,
Thou the love divine, the awe
In our hearts that conquers death.
Thine the strength that nerves the arm,
Thine the beauty, thine the charm.
Every image made divine
In our temples is but thine.

Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen,
With her hands that strike and her swords of sheen,
Thou art Lakshmi lotus-throned,
Pure and perfect without peer,
Mother, lend thine ear.
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleams,
Dark of hue, O candid-fair
In thy soul, with jewelled hair
And thy glorious smile divine,
Loveliest of all earthly lands,
Showering wealth from well-stored hands!
Mother, mother mine!
Mother sweet, I bow to thee,
Mother great and free.

O' Mother, here is Your ignorance, here is Your knowledge
Take them both and give me only pure love for You.
Here is Your holiness, here is Your unholiness
Take them both and give me only pure love for You.
Here is Your virtue, and here is Your sin
Here is Your good and here is Your evil
Take them both and give me only pure love for You.
Here is Your dharma, here is Your adharma;
Take them both and give me only pure love for You.

-Sri Ramakrishna

Hymn to the Divine Mother
O thou the giver of all blessings,
O thou the doer of all good,
O thou the fulfiller of all desires,
O thou the giver of refuge –
Our salutations to thee, O Mother Divine.

O thou Eternal Mother,
Thou hast the power to create, to preserve, and to dissolve.
Thou the dwelling-place and embodiment of the three gunas –
Our salutations to thee, O Mother Divine.

O thou the savior of all who take refuge in thee,
The lowly and the distressed –
O Mother Divine, we salute thee,
Who takest away the sufferings of all.

Hymn is taken from the Chandi, a sacred book which sings the praise of the Divine Mother. 
Translation by Swami Prabhavananda & Christopher Isherwood, from Prayers and Meditations

If Not For You

If not for you, there would be a place of emptiness in the heart of the Divine.

If not for you, all the good that you have done would still need doing. 

If not for you, the spark of your ideas would not have ignited the flame in others. 

If not for you, the key role that you have played in life’s drama would remain unfulfilled. 

If not for you, at least one person would not have awakened to their dreams. 

If not for you, your triumphs could not be examples to inspire others. 

If not for you, someone who needed love would not have received it. 

If not for you, a life would have been shortened or never existed. 

If not for you, the song of life would have missed a beat. 

If not for you, your gifts would remain un-given. 

If not for you, another might have suffered in your place. 

If not for you, someone would have no path to follow. 

If not for you, there would be one less smile, one less laugh, and one less hug. 

If not for you, an animal might be homeless and a garden left unplanted. 

If not for you, something would be missing. 

You have always made a difference. 

Who you are is important every day. 

You are the face, the heart and the soul of the Divine. 

Never forget: You make a difference and you are valuable.

Sri Sarada Stotram 
Hymn to Holy Mother 
by Swami Abhedananda

prakrtiṁ paramāṁ abhayāṁ varadām,

nararupa-dharāṁ janatāpa-harām
saran-āgata sevaka-toshakariṁ,

pranamāmi parāṁ jananiṁ jagatām.


kripāyādya samuddhara moha-gatān
taraniṁ bhava-sāgara pārakariṁ,

pranamāmi parāṁ jananiṁ jagatām.

vishayaṁ kusumaṁ parihritya sadā,

caran-āmbu-ruhāmrita śānti-sudhām
piba bhringa-mano bhavaroga-harāṁ,

pranamāmi parāṁ jananiṁ jagatam.

krpāṁ kuru mahādevi suteshu pranateshu ca
caran-āśraya dānena kripā-mayi namo'stu te.

lajjā-patāvrite nityāṁ sārade jnāna-dāyike
papebhyo nah sada raksha kripā-mayi namo'stu te.

rāmakrishna-gata prānāṁ tannāma-shravana-priyām
tadbhāva-ranjit-ākāraṁ pranamāmi muhurmuhuh.

pavitraṁ charitaṁ yasyāh pavitraṁ jivanam tathā
pavitratā-svarupinyai tasyai kurmo namo-namah.

devim prasannāṁ pranatārti-hantrim,

Yogindra-pujyām yugadharma-pātrim
tam śāradām bhakti-vijnāna-dātriṁ,

dayā-svarupām pranamāmi nityam.

snehena badhnāsi mano'smadiyāṁ,

doshān-aseshān saguni-karoshi
ahetunā no dayase sadoshān,

svaṁke grihitva yadidaṁ vicitram.
prasida mātar vinayena yāce,

nityaṁ bhava snehavati suteshu
premaika binduṁ ciradagdha-chitte,

visiñca cittaṁ kuru nah suśantam.

jananiṁ śāradāṁ deviṁ rāmakrishnaṁ jagadgurum | 
pādapadme tayoh shrtvā pranamāmi muhurmuhuh || 

jai! mahāmāyi ki jai!
jai bhagavān sri rāmakrisna dev ki jai
jai swāmiji mahāraj ji ki jai!

December 13, 2016

Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat

Swami Sarvapriyananda enjoying Jalebi dessert 
at the Santa Barbara Vedanta Society Temple.
He's just been reassigned to head the New York West Side Vedanta Society. 
We will miss you Swami !!!

Sri Ramakrishna used to say: 
“Eat as much as you like during the day, 
but eat sparingly at night.” 

Swami Brahmananda, the eminent disciple of the Master, explains the meaning of these words: The idea is that the full meal taken at noon will be easily digested, and if you eat lightly at night, your body will remain light and you can easily concentrate the mind. A heavy meal at night produces laziness and sleep. How do you want to spend the night - in sleep or in meditation? People are generally busy during the day, so it is difficult to still the restless mind at that time. But at night nature becomes calm and all creatures go to sleep. This, therefore, is the best time for meditation. Concentration becomes easily intensified in the quiet hours of the night.

The glutton who has no restraint over his palate injures his body and mind. Whenever he gets some choice food, he overeats and then suffers from breathing difficulty. His whole energy is spent in digesting that food, and if he cannot digest it, he falls ill. Foods like onion, garlic, and chili excite the body and mind so much that later one finds it extremely difficult to bring the system under control. I think that those who want to lead a spiritual life should pay special attention to what they eat and drink. Don’t overeat. Eat that food which is nutritious, easily digested and not exciting. Avoid stimulating food because it is injurious, and also avoid that food which increases lethargy (tamas). What is the purpose of food? To maintain good health and one needs good health for God-realization. Discrimination with regard to food and moderation in eating are very much connected with mastery over the senses. 

“A man who has controlled all other senses except the palate is not to be considered a master of his senses. When the desires of the palate are controlled, everything else is controlled” 
(Bhagavata, 11.8.21).   From the book ‘Meditation & Its Practices’ by Swami Adiswarananda

October 17, 2016

Look Upon God as Mother

Sri Ramakrishna describes a spiritual vision: 
"The Divine Mother revealed to me in the Kāli temple that it was She who had become everything. She showed me that everything was full of Consciousness. The image was Consciousness, the altar was Consciousness, the water-vessels were Consciousness, the door-sill was Consciousness, the marble floor was Consciousness - all was Consciousness. I found everything inside the room soaked, as it were, in Bliss - the Bliss of God. I saw a wicked man in front of the Kāli temple; but in him also I saw the power of the Divine Mother vibrating. That was why I fed a cat with the food that was to be offered to the Divine Mother. I clearly perceived that all this was the Divine Mother - even the cat."

Nectar of Self Awareness

I honor the God and the Goddess,
The eternal parents of the universe.

The Lover, out of boundless love, takes the form of the Beloved.
What beauty!
Both are made of the same nectar and share the same food.

Out of Supreme Love they swallow up each other
But separate again for the joy of being two.

They are not completely the same but neither are they different.
No one can tell exactly what they are.

How intense is their longing to be with each other.
This is their greatest bliss.
Never, not even in jest,
Do they allow their unity to be disturbed.

They are so averse to separation
That even though they have become this entire world,
Never for a moment do they let a difference come between them.

Even though they see all that is animate and inanimate, arising from within themselves,
They never recognize a third.

They sit together in the same place,
Both wearing a garment of light.
From the beginning of time they have been together,
Reveling in their own Supreme Love.

They created a difference to enjoy this world.
When that "difference" had one glimpse of their intimacy
It could not help but merge back into the bliss
Of their eternal union.

Without the God, there is no Goddess,
And without the Goddess, there is no God.

How sweet is their Love!
The entire universe is too small to contain them,
Yet they live happily in the tiniest particle.

The life of one is the life of the other,
And not even a blade of grass can grow without both of them.

Only these two live in this house called the universe.
When either one is asleep
The other stays awake and plays the part of both.

Should both of them awake, the whole universe would vanish without a trace.

They became two for the sake of divine play,
But in every moment they seek to become one again...

How can we distinguish these two from each other?
He appears because of Her,
And She exists because of Him.

We cannot tell sugar from its sweetness,
Nor camphor from its fragrance.

To capture light we take hold of fire.
To capture the Supreme Shiva we must take hold of Shakti.

Light illumines the Sun,
But the Sun itself creates that light.
The glorious Sun and its light are one and the same.

An object has a reflection:
When looking we see two images, yet there is only one thing.
Likewise, this work is a reflection of the Supreme Lord.

We may see two, yet only One exists...

Shiva and Shakti are One,
Like air and the wind,
Like gold and luster.

Shiva and Shakti cannot be separated.
They are like musk and its fragrance, like fire and its heat.

In the light of the Sun there is no difference between day and night.
In the light of the Supreme Truth there is no difference between Shiva and Shakti.

Shiva and Shakti envy the Primordial Sound "OM" because they are seen as two while the sound OM is always regarded as One.

Jnanadeva says,
"I honor the union of Shiva and Shakti, who devour this world of name and form like a sweet dish.
All that remains is the One."

- by Jnanadeva from "The Inner Treasure" by Jonathan Star

The archetypal masculine
The Seer
Pure witness consciousness
Pure being
The One
The still point
The unmanifest
The sun
Nirguna Brahman


The archetypal feminine
The Mother
Pure embodiment
Pure becoming
The many
The dance
The phenomenal world
The moon
Saguna Brahman

By Swami Tyagananda 
at Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India

Mother of All Things
The universe had a beginning
Called the Mother of All Things.
Once you have found the Mother
You can know her children.
Having known the children,
Hold tightly to the Mother.

Your whole life will be preserved from peril.
Open up the openings,
Multiply your affairs,
Your whole life will become a burden.

Those who see the small are called clear-headed;
Those who hold to gentleness are called strong.

Use the light.
Come home to your true nature.
Don't cause yourself injury:
This is known as seizing truth.

- Lao Tzu

August 19, 2016

I Am The Infinite Ocean

I lived bewildered,
In illusion.

But now I am awake,
Flawless and serene,
Beyond the world.

From my light
The body and the world arise.

So all things are mine,
Or nothing is.

Now I have given up
The body and the world,
I have a special gift.

I see the infinite Self.

As a wave,
Seething and foaming,
Is only water.

So all creation,
Streaming out of the Self,
Is only the Self.

Consider a piece of cloth.
It is only threads!

So all creation,
When you look closely,
Is only the Self.

Like the sugar
In the juice of the sugarcane,
I am the sweetness
In everything I have made.

When the Self is unknown
The world arises,
Not when it is known.

But you mistake
The rope for the snake.

When you see the rope,
The snake vanishes.

My nature is light,
Nothing but light.

When the world arises
I alone am shining.

When the world arises in me,
It is just an illusion,
Water shimmering in the sun.
A vein of silver on mother-of-pearl,
A serpent in a strand of rope.

From me the world streams out
And in me it dissolves,
As a bracelet melts into gold,
A pot crumbles into clay,
A wave subsides into water.

I adore myself.
How wonderful I am!

I can never die.

The whole world may perish,
From Brahma to a blade of grass,
But I am still here.

Indeed how wonderful!
I adore myself.

For I have taken form
But I am still ONE.

Neither coming or going,
Yet I am still everywhere. . .

I am the infinite ocean.

When thoughts spring up,
The wind freshens, and like waves
A thousand worlds arise.

But when the wind falls,
The trader sinks with his ship,

On the boundless ocean of my being
He founders,
And all the worlds with him.

But, Oh how wonderful!

I am the unbounded deep
In whom all living things
Naturally arise,
Rush against each other playfully,
And then subside.

From: The Heart of Awareness 
A translation of the Ashtavakra Gita by Thomas Byrom

I want to tell you about a very special 20 year old Vedanta Society devotee. Four years ago, at the tender age of 16, a beautiful sweet soul, "Kamal" came to live with the nuns at the Santa Barbara Vedanta Society temple. After finishing high school early he was granted a rare, (for an American teenager) three year, full scholarship to Vivekananda University near Kolkata run by the Ramakrishna monks. His major of concentration was "Sanskrit" and "Vedic Culture". 

While in India,  Kamal decided to start a blog about his adventures as a way to keep in touch with family and friends.    

Take a read through his blog. The posts are very informative with lots of photos and antidotes about local customs and his new Indian life. He was a very brave and wise spirit, old beyond his years, and everyone at the Vedanta temple was so proud of his maturity and high achievements. We all had hopes he would become a full fledged monk of the Ramakrishna order someday. 

I pray his writings will inspire you like they have me. We will miss his passing but we take great comfort in knowing that he has returned to that infinite ocean of unchanging love. Now enjoying the bliss of samadhi with Holy Mother, Thakur & Narendra. Shiva, Shiva, Higher Birth!!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


From: Ripkyn Murphy <kamal.ripkyn@gmail.com>
Date: Saturday, June 23, 2012
Subject: Re: [India] New comment on Hey Mom, So I'm here at the University. They put....

Dear Andra,

Thanks so much for putting the idea of starting a blog in my head, I think that will be the easiest way to let people know what's going on with me. Thanks also for linking my blog with yours, hopefully some people can find it and get something out of reading it. I looked at your blog and was very impressed, it's very well done and has a lot of great information on it. Vedanta needs more people like you who are willing to use the internet to spread the word to people who are searching for it.

Stay in Touch,

In the words of Swami Vivekananda: 

"One day a drop of water fell into the vast ocean. 
When it found itself there, 
It began to weep and complain just as you are doing. 
The great ocean laughed at the drop of water. 
"Why do you weep?" it asked. "I do not understand. 
When you join me, you join all your brothers and sisters, 
The other drops of water of which I am made. 
You become the ocean itself. 
If you wish to leave me, 
You have only to rise up on a sunbeam into the clouds. 
From there you can descend again, 
A little drop of water, 
A blessing and a benediction to the thirsty earth."

- His Eastern and Western Admirers, Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda, Advaita Ashrama, 1964

August 2, 2016

Luminous One

Bliss of Identity
by Sri Aurobindo

All Nature is taught in radiant ways to move,
All beings are in myself embraced.
O fiery boundless Heart of joy and love,
How art Thou beating in a mortals breast!

It is Thy rapture flaming through my nerves
And all my cells and atoms thrill with Thee ;
My body thy vessel is and only serves
As a living wine-cup of Thy ecstasy.

I am a centre of Thy golden light
And I its vast and vague circumference,
Thou art my soul great, luminous and white
And Thine my mind and will and glowing sense.
Thy spirit's infinite breath I feel in me;
My life is a throb of Thy eternity.

I have no plan for my life.
I accept the plan life has for me.
I follow that plan and what it provides me moment to moment.
I am not the roles I play in following the plan.
I am the witness of all that I interact with in my life.
I was a child, an adult, and will soon be an old woman.
I was a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother.
I was an artist, a business owner, a dancer, a spiritual practitioner, a friend.
I have been healthy, sick, successful, a failure, awake, and asleep.
Behind all those changing experiences, 
I am the changeless consciousness that is constantly present.
I am that I am, in spite of the changes that "I am" experiences.
My present is pregnant with all my past.
My future unfolds from the way I live my present.
My being manifests in the present.
I am at home in the eternal now, living the plan life has for me.

- Amrit Desai


Though weighed down by past life samskaras, 
The soul (ball of energy) within you is a part of 
The mother field of Brahman (God). 

You are this ball of energy. 
You are NOT what you see in the mirror. 
YOU were born with the stars.

July 4, 2016

What Would Vivekananda Do?

After long searches here and there, in temples and in churches, in earths and in heavens, at last you come back, completing the circle from where you started, to your own soul and find that He, for whom you have been seeking all over the world, for whom you have been weeping and praying in churches and temples, on whom you were looking as the mystery of all mysteries shrouded in the clouds, is nearest of the near, is your own Self, the reality of your life, body and soul.
- Swami Vivekananda

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda

Behold, it comes in might,
The power that is not power,
The light that is in darkness,
The shade in dazzling light.

It is joy that never spoke,
And grief unfelt, profound,
Immortal life unlived,
Eternal death unmourned.

It is not joy nor sorrow,
But that which is between,
It is not now nor morrow,
But that which joins them in.

It is sweet rest in music;
And pause in sacred art;
The silence between speaking;
Between two fits of passion --
It is the calm of heart.

It is beauty never seen,
And love that stands alone,
It is song that lives un-sung,
And knowledge never known.

It is death between two lives,
And lull between two storms,
The void whence rose creation,
And that where it returns.

To it the tear-drop goes,
To spread the smiling form
It is the Goal of Life,
And Peace -- its only home!

- Swami Vivekananda

"I do not come", said Swamiji 

on one occasion in America, 

"to convert you to a new belief.

 I want you to keep your own belief; 

I want to make the Methodist a better Methodist; 

the Presbyterian a better Presbyterian; 

the Unitarian a better Unitarian. 

I want to teach you to live the truth, 

to reveal the light within your own soul." 

As soon as a man stands up and says he is right or his church is right, and all others are wrong, he is himself all wrong. He does not know that upon the proof of all the others depends the proof of his own. Love and charity for the whole human race, that is the test of true religiousness. I do not mean the sentimental statement that all men are brothers, but that one must feel the oneness of human life.

So far as they are not exclusive, I see that the sects and creeds are all mine; they are all grand. They are all helping men towards the real religion. I will add, it is good to be born in a church, but it is bad to die there. It is good to be born a child, but bad to remain a child. Churches, ceremonies, and symbols are good for children, but when the child is grown, he must burst the church or himself.

We must not remain children for ever. It is like trying to fit one coat to all sizes and growths. I do not deprecate the existence of sects in the world. Would to God there were twenty millions more, for the more there are, there will be a greater field for selection. What I do object to is trying to fit one religion to every case.

Though all religions are essentially the same, they must have the varieties of form produced by dissimilar circumstances among different nations. We must each have our own individual religion, individual so far as the externals of it go.  

A man may believe in all the churches in the world, he may carry in his head all the sacred books ever written, he may baptize himself in all the rivers of the earth, still, if he has no perception of God, I would class him with the rankest atheist.

And a man may have never entered a church or a mosque, nor performed any ceremony, but if he feels God within himself and is thereby lifted above the vanities of the world, that man is a holy man, a saint, call him what you will.   - 
From The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda

June 6, 2016


If you want to
Know Buddha, it's pointless
To seek him in the temple;
The Buddha is simply you
Wishing to see Buddha.

The mind seeking
Buddha outside
Is the worst
Illusion of all.

Translated by Soiku Shigematsu
A Zen Harvest : Japanese Folk Zen Sayings (Haiku, Dodoitsu, and Waka)

Give up anger, give up pride, and free yourself from all bondage. No sorrow can be fall those who never try to possess people and things as their own. Those who hold back rising anger like a rolling chariot are real charioteers. Others merely hold the reins. Conquer anger through gentleness, unkindness through kindness, greed through generosity, and falsehood by truth. Be truthful; do not yield to anger; give freely, even if you have but little: by these three steps you will come near the gods. More than those who hate you, more than all your enemies, an undisciplined mind does greater harm. More than your mother, more than your father, more than all your family, a well disciplined mind does greater good. 
-Dhammapada, 221-225, 42-43