December 25, 2014

A Mother's Love

Mary did you know that your baby boy will some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know
The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I am.
- Mark Alan Lowry, "Mary Did You Know" Song lyrics

November 15, 2014

Vivekananda's Influence on Modern India

India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi has let it be know through social media his great reverence for the words and teachings of Swami Vivekananda. Publicly proclaiming Vivekananda's message of religious harmony, Modi encourages the young Hindu movers and shakers to emulate the forward inner change they want to see in their world. Swami Vivekananda is credited with bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion following his grand appearance at the 1893 Chicago Parliament of Religions where he planted the first seeds of the modern day Yoga movement. For years Swami Vivekananda lectured successfully throughout America bringing Eastern philosophy to the Western World introducing such Vedic ideas as Karma, Bhakti, Raja, and Jnana Yoga. “Every nation has a message to deliver, a mission to fulfill, a destiny to reach. The mission of India has been to guide humanity.” At Kanyakumari Swamiji realized India’s purpose- its message of spirituality, its mission to teach human beings the science of life- a destiny of wearing the crown of a world leader. He spent his entire life in spreading this message. And so it is fitting that Vivekananda's teachings have recently become societal main stream speaking points between contemporary world leaders. The latest exchange on the subject of "Yoga" being recently discussed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama, with hopes of leading today's youth to an ever expanded global oneness of body and mind. This could truly be the realization of Swami Vivekananda's dreams and India's pre-ordained destiny for the betterment of humankind. As an American and a Vedanta Society devotee, I pray this will be the case.  :)
My faith is in the younger generation, the modern generation, out of them will come my workers. They will work out the whole problem, like lions. - Swami Vivekananda

October 4, 2014

Temple Shoes

Purification Prayer
May my speech be purified.
May my sense of smell be purified.
May my sight be purified.
May my hearing be purified.
May what I consume be purified.
May my heart be purified.
May my thoughts be purified.
May my actions be purified.
Whether pure or impure
In whatever state one may be
If one remembers the Lord
One becomes pure both inside and out.
As with eyes wide open, one sees the sky
So the seers see always the Supreme Truth, 
God, the all pervading existence.
May we know that Truth.
May that glorious Truth manifest in the hearts of people
everywhere. May mutual love, harmony
and peace pervade the entire world.
May this worship bestow health, 
happiness and fulfillment.
to one and all.

Daily Puja Worship

1. Puja Instructions

Sit facing east or north, and do japa 108 times. If you do pūjā immediately after your morning meditation, the japa can be skipped. Ācamana: pour a drop of water on the palm of your right hand and sip it gently, chanting Oṁ viṣṇu. Do this three times. Wash your hands, and chant with folded hands: Oṁ tad viṣṇoḥ paramaṁ padaṁ sadā paśyanti sūrayaḥ, divīva cakṣur-ātatam. Whenever I remember God with faith and devotion, I at once become pure internally and externally.
Prārthanā: With folded hands, chant: “May all beings be happy. May all be healthy. May all experience what is good. May there be no pain and suffering in the world. May everyone benefit from this worship.” Pray for your family and friends, especially for those who are passing through a difficult period.
Prayer for Calmness: “God, you are Purity; fill me with purity. You are Energy; fill me with energy. You are Strength; fill me with strength. You are Spiritual Power; fill me with spiritual power.” Wash the cup, uttering phaṭ, and fill it with water. Touching the cup, chant: May the holy waters of the Gaṅgā and other rivers fill this cup with power and sanctity.

2. Protection and Purification

Guarding of the Door: Sprinkle water toward the door, saying Oṁ dvāra-devatābhyo namaḥ. Pour a spoonful of water in the pūjā plate, saying Oṁ brahmaṇe namaḥ. Another spoonful with: Oṁ vāstu-puruṣaya namaḥ.
Purification of the Ground: Take a little water in the right palm and empty it on the ground in front of you, chanting: Oṁ rakṣa rakṣa hūṁ phaṭ svāhā.
Purification of the Seat: Draw a triangle with the right ring finger dipped in water near your seat and then say with folded hands: O Mother Earth, you support all life and, in turn, are supported by the Supreme Being. Please purify this seat and support me always.
Salutation to the Spiritual Lineage: Mentally prostrate before your guru. With folded palms near the left ear, say: Aiṁ gurubhyo namaḥ. Raising the palm to a higher level, Aiṁ parama-gurubhyo namaḥ. Still higher, Aiṁ parātpara-gurubhyo namaḥ. Still higher, Aiṁ parameṣṭhi-gurubhyo namaḥ. With folded palms near your right ear, Oṁ gaṇeśāya namaḥ. With folded palms, near the heart: Oṁ aiṁ sarva-deva-devī-svarūpāya śrī rāmakṛṣṇāya namaḥ.
Purification of the Flowers: Sprinkle water on the flowers, saying: Oṁ śatābhiṣeka hūṁ phaṭ svāhā. Touching the flowers with your right hand, say Oṁ. May these flowers be purified for worship. Hūṁ phaṭ svāhā.
Removal of Obstacles:
Look above, uttering the pūjā mantra: Oṁ aiṁ sarva-deva-devī-svarūpāya śrī rāmakṛṣṇāya namaḥ. With the index finger and middle finger of the right hand joined together, clap on the left palm three times at different levels, one higher than the other, uttering phaṭ. Snap the tip of the right index finger against the thumb eight times overhead, along the eight directions, starting from the east. End with doing the same in the downward and upward directions as well. With each snapping, say phaṭ.
Uttering phaṭ strike the ground three times gently with the left heel.
Take a small quantity of water in the right hand, throw it upward, saying: astrāya phaṭ.
Purification of the Pūjā Articles: Sprinkle water three times on all the pūjā articles, sayingOṁ aiṁ phaṭ.
Purification of the Mantra: Repeat, aṁ aiṁ aṁ, kaṁ aiṁ kaṁ, caṁ aiṁ caṁ, ṭaṁ aiṁ ṭaṁ, taṁ aiṁ taṁ, paṁ aiṁ paṁ, yaṁ aiṁ yaṁ, śaṁ aiṁ śaṁ.
Raising a Wall of Light: Uttering raṁ springle water around you in a circle, and visualize yourself as surrounded by a wall of Light, protecting you from all obstacles.
Protecting the Body: Chanting Oṁ aiṁ sarva-deva-devī-svarūpāya śrī rāmakṛṣṇāya namaḥ, pass both of your hands over your body, from head to foot. Then, placing the right palm over the heart, say: Oṁ durge durge rakṣiṇi svāhā. Oṁ āṁ hūm phaṭ svāhā.
Praṇāyāma: Do a brief practice (4-16-8), once (or thrice) through each nostril. Repeat Oṁ to keep count.

3. Divinization

Purification of the Elements: Close your eyes and repeat, as you visualize: Through the path of the suṣumnā, I join my Self with the Supreme Self in the crown of my head. Oṁ yaṁ,may my subtle body be freed from worldly tendencies. Oṁ raṁ, may my subtle body be burnt of all impurities. With the pure elements bathed in the light of consciousness, may a new subtle body be created for me. Oṁ. So’haṁ haṁsaḥ svāhā.
Total Consecration: Gently pass both hands over the body, from head to foot, and back again from foot to head, uttering āṁ hūṁ phaṭ svāhā, visualizing that through this your body, speech and mind are being purified.
Consecration of the Self: In order to install the Deity in your newly created divine body, touch the heart and say: May I be filled with the prāṇa of Sri Ramakrishna. May I be filled with the life of Sri Ramakrishna. May I be filled with the senses of Sri Ramakrishna. May the entire being of Sri Ramakrishna fill my own being. Visualize yourself as being filled with the presence of Sri Ramakrishna.

4. Preliminary Worship

Offering a flower (dipped in sandal paste, if possible), or water, in the pūjā plate in front of you, worship:
Guru: Oṁ aiṁ, I offer this flower (or water) to my Guru
Ganeśa: Oṁ gaṁ, I offer this flower (or water) to Ganeśa
Śiva: Oṁ namaḥ Ṡivāya, I offer this flower (or water) to Śiva
Sūrya: Oṁ, I offer this flower (or water) to Sūrya
Nārāyaṇa: Oṁ namo Nārāyaṇāya, I offer this flower (or water) to Nārāyaṇa
Durgā: Oṁ hrīm, I offer this flower (or water) to the divine mother Durgā
Oṁ, I offer this flower (or water) to all other forms of the divine
Oṁ, I offer this flower (or water) to all the prophets and incarnations

5. Main Worship

Meditation: Holding a flower between the palms of your hands, meditate on Sri Ramakrishna:
Nirañjanaṁ nityaṁ anantarūpaṁ, bhaktānukampā dhṛta-vigrahaṁ vai;
Īśāvatāraṁ parameśamīḍyam, taṁ rāmakṛṣṇam śirasā namāmi.
“I bow down at the feet of Sri Ramakrishna who is pure and eternal, who has infinite aspects, who has taken a form out of compassion for devotees, who is supremely divine, and who is God Incarnate.”
Transfer the divine presence of Sri Ramakrishna from your heart into the flower and place the flower in the pūjā plate in front of you.
Mental Worship: Worship Sri Ramakrishna mentally. Chant: “You are my own Self. My mind is the Divine Mother. My prāṇa are your companions and my body is your temple. My enjoyments I regard as offerings to you. My sleep is a form of absorption in you. My walking is like walking around you. My words are prayers offered to you. Whatever I think, say, or do, may be a form of worship to you.”

Sandal paste: I offer this sandal paste to Sri Ramakrishna. Oṁ aiṁ sarva-deva-devī svarūpāya śrī rāmakṛṣṇāya namaḥ.
Flower: I offer this flower to Sri Ramakrishna. Oṁ aiṁ sarva-deva-devī-svarūpāya śrī rāmakṛṣṇāya namaḥ
Incense: I offer this incense to Sri Ramakrishna. Oṁ aiṁ sarva-deva-devī-svarūpāya śrī rāmakṛṣṇāya namaḥ
Light: I offer this light to Sri Ramakrishna. Oṁ aiṁ sarva-deva-devī-svarūpāya śrī rāmakṛṣṇāya namaḥ
Food: I offer this naivedya to Sri Ramakrishna. Oṁ aiṁ sarva-deva-devī-svarūpāya śrī rāmakṛṣṇāya namaḥ 
Worship of Holy Mother: I offer this flower to Sri Sarada Devi. Oṁ aiṁ hrīm, sarva-deva-devī-svarūpiṇyai śrī sāradā-devyai namaḥ
Worship of Swami Vivekananda: I offer this flower to Swami Vivekananda. Oṁ aiṁ, svāmi vivekānandāya namaḥ

6. Conclusion

Flower Offering: Offer a few flowers in the pūjā plate, saying I offer these flowers at the feet of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother, and his disciples. Oṁ aiṁ sarva-deva-devī-svarūpāya śrī rāmakṛṣṇāya namaḥ
Visualize that the divine presence of Sri Ramakrishna is now withdrawn back into your heart, and remember that it will remain with you throughout the day. With that awareness, prostrate before the altar and chant: “Under the influence of my impulses of vital energy, the mind and the body, whatever I have done in the states of waking, dream and deep sleep, in thought, word and deed, may all these be offered to Brahman. Oṁ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ. Śrī rāmakṛṣṇārpaṇam astu.”
If possible, read a few lines from a sacred text before cleaning your worship space and beginning your chores for the day.

September 24, 2014

Jai Sri Durga : Glory to Goddess Durga

To her who presides over the elements 
and the senses and is ever present in all beings, 
to the all-pervading Devi, salutations again and again.
To her who pervades this entire world 
and abides in the form of consciousness, 
salutation to her, salutation to her, 
salutation to her, again and again.

August 19, 2014

Inner Light

Illumination cannot be described in words, it must be experienced. There are many glimpses of smaller awakenings on the way towards spiritual enlightenment. The awakening of the self depends on the ripening of the perfect conditions. The seed will not sprout until the ground is prepared. Repeat your given mantra and fertilize the ground of your mind and heart. Go on repeating until you take your last breath. It may take many, many, lifetimes of being reincarnated before we experience freedom. The Vedanta Society Swami's tell us everyone will awaken one day at their own destined time into a greater consciousness. Wake up... drop all desires and experience a moment when the veil of ignorance is dissolved and suddenly the love of infinite oneness presents itself... as the breath of the Eternal.

Bring all light into the world; light, bring light! 
Let light come unto everyone; the tasks will not be finished 
Till everyone has reached the Lord. 
Bring light to the poor, and bring more light to the rich, 
For they require it more than the poor; 
Bring light to the ignorant and more light to the educated 
For the vanities of the education of our time are tremendous! 
Thus bring light to all and leave the rest unto the Lord.

July 20, 2014

Outside is Inside

As clouds are blown away by the wind, 
the thirst for material pleasures will be driven away 
by the utterance of the Lord's name.

High above the clouds things aren't always what they seem. The sufferings of life appear non existent here... if only for a few moments. Up here... it is absolutely quiet and peaceful. A state of brightness, stillness and light temporarily transcends time and space. We seem to be softly floating, weightless and without worries. Suddenly a moment of clarity and the audible hum of OM tranquility, or maybe that's the planes engines. Our ears seem to be plugged and we swallow to equalize them. Much too soon our time above the clouds is over and the airplane begins to descend. Looking out the window we say goodbye to the peaceful heavenly cloud display. Back to earth, back to our daily responsibilities and material pleasures. The three levels of our personality: gross (material body), subtle (mind, intellect, ego) and the causal body are essentially cloud coverings that separate us from the divine. The seat of pure consciousness is present in all the waking, sleeping and dreaming states we experience in this life. Learning to open up our awareness to the divine and lift the clouds of life requires a daily practice of centering ourselves in God's love and wisdom. The highest creed is Oneness. I am so-and-so is a limited idea, not true of the real ‘I’. I am the universal; stand upon that and ever worship the Highest through the highest form, for God is Spirit and should be worshipped in spirit and in truth.

The sky can accommodate anything
Birds cut through the sky
Or a plane
The sky comes back
It is as it is
Effortless, whole
Volcanoes erupt
Forests burn
The sky is not burned
Nothing added
Taken away
Boundless and vast
Tornados, hurricanes, typhoons
Planets collide
The sky accommodates
Sun and moon
The countless stars
Bodhisattva of the great earth!
Bodhisattva of sky!
Widen our reach
To embrace and put our arms around.

- Chan Master Guo Jun

July 4, 2014

Is God's Book Finished?

Swami Vivekananda had this to say about the harmony of the worlds religions...
"I accept all religions that were in the past, and worship with them all; I worship God with every one of them, in whatever form they worship Him…. Is God’s book finished? Or is it still a continuous revelation going on? It is a marvelous book–these spiritual revelations of the world. The Bible, the Vedas, the Koran, and all other sacred books are but so many pages and an infinite number of pages remain yet to be unfolded. I would leave it open for all of them. We stand in the present, but open ourselves to the infinite future. We take in all that has been in the past, enjoy the light of the present, and open every window of the heart for all that will come in the future. Salutations to all the prophets of the past, to all the great ones of the present, and to all that are to come in the future!"

June 21, 2014

Keepers of the Earth

"What is life? 
It is the flash of a firefly in the night. 
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. 
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass 
And loses itself in the sunset."
- by Chief Crowfoot, Blackfoot Tribe

Katsina dolls are religious icons made of cottonwood root and represent the spiritual essence of everything in the world. In the Hopi language the word "Kachina," or "Katsina," means "Life Bringer". The katsina religion dates from the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, when people from the Four Corners region of the Colorado Plateau moved into the upper Colorado Valley and formed large aggregate settlements with the indigenous Mogollon or western Pueblo people. From its inception, the katsina religion helped create cultural equilibrium and cooperative behavior as immigrant and resident populations adapted to each other. To the Hopi, the katsina spirit was viewed as being responsible for the tribes survival. Without the katsinas help it was believed that water in the rivers would not flow and crops would not be abundant. The hand carved dolls were given to young girls to help them learn about their role as women in the Hopi community.  Read More

June 1, 2014

Healing Vibration

Between the Santa Barbara Vedanta Society Temple and their bookstore 
is a massive twelfth-century bell, cast in Japan, which had 
once been rigged to a Chinese military ship.

As is well known, sound has great power over matter. By using sound it is possible to cause geometric patterns to form on sand and also cause objects to be shattered. How much more powerful, then, must be the impact of this force on the vibrating living substance of our sensitive human bodies. Scientists know that sound vibration is processed in the same area of the brain that deals with feelings and emotions, thus proving music's therapeutic potential. Used by clinicians to alleviate pain, boost immunity and lower pulse rates in hospitals, harmonic sounds can revitalize and strengthen the body and soul. Today modern society has become increasingly convinced of the therapeutic benefits of food prepared with love and positive thought vibrations. Let us make use of mantras, prasad, holy sites, relics of saints and soothing musical tones to calibrate and heal, through resonate power, the remotest reaches of the human psyche.  

May 1, 2014

Follow Your Beliefs

Not another one of these philosophy cookies. I just wanted it for the crunch factor. Now this sounds like something my Swami would say. Today, even my food was preaching Vedanta philosophy. "Well"... I answer to no one but the crumbled cookie, "Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of this life? Why do I have to suffer? What are my beliefs?" At certain moments in our lives these questions trouble us and we want meaningful answers. These momentary and intimately personal critiques often result in inner convictions that have a lasting profoundness. With this comes the understanding that I am completely in charge of my free will as I navigate my way towards my own brand of spirituality. Beliefs it seems are formed after much self inquiry. Upbringing, environment and the media play a major role in shaping our early beliefs. Our particular approach to political, social, and economic affairs affects beliefs also. Learning from sages, artists, and writers, our daily experiences revel a true sacredness of life. We need to believe in things, to structure and orient our lives in ways that make sense to us. All beliefs are subject to change as we mature and experience life. Learning about other cultures and testing their ideas for ourselves helps us to formulate new beliefs. We test these personal experiences and biases by choosing to react in accordance with our moral obligations to self, loved ones, and community. These experiences can be the starting point for the flame of spiritual life or that yearning for God.

April 15, 2014

The Real Inner Temple

It is good and very grand to conquer external nature, but grander still to conquer the internal nature of man. It is grand and good to know the laws that govern the stars and planets; it is infinitely grander and better to know the laws that govern the passions, the feelings, the will, of mankind. This conquering of the inner man, understanding the secrets of the subtle workings that are within the human mind, and knowing its wonderful secrets, belong entirely to religion.  
-- Swami Vivekananda   (The Necessity of Religion - Jnana Yoga 1902 edition)

We should never for­get that our real objective is to enshrine the Lord in the heart of every man in the world, for the real tem­ple of the Lord is the human heart. There within the heart of every man the ground has to be con­se­crated, for it has been defiled by the pro­fan­ity of worldly desires and plea­sures. There on that con­se­crated ground let the tem­ple of Divine Com­mu­nion be raised and the over­flow­ing bliss of the Supreme Good reign. Infi­nite Bliss from within, that is the idea. Let the devo­tee be flooded over by this Bliss from within. Preach­ing is real only when this Bliss pro­vides for its own preach­ing. One devo­tee over­flow­ing from within with this Divine Bliss is worth a mil­lion dol­lars of pro­pa­gan­dist devices. One real tem­ple raised in the human heart is worth dozens of tem­ples built out­side. Remem­ber that our objective is really to raise the tem­ple from within. I pray that our Lord may shower His bless­ings upon you more and more, as He is doing, till your life becomes per­vaded through and through by a blessed­ness which is His love, which is He Him­self. May you be sub­merged in the real­ity of His Pres­ence. With lov­ing bless­ings to all,

Yours in the Lord,
Swami Pre­m­ananda

April 1, 2014

In the Glow

Silence.... Is the beginning and end of yoga meditation work. Sitting in silence enables us to begin to know the symphony that is present inside ourselves. Really there is no silence as we will learn when we try to sit in meditation. Our heart beats, respiration, nervous, digestive and circulatory systems all create a myriad of sounds, a mini celestial orchestra, that we can become aware of through silence. Listening is an active activity, as opposed to hearing which is a passive activity. Listening involves using our ears as an organ of consciousness to discriminate between the sounds around us. By sitting in silence it enables us to empower the act of listening. When we sit in this manner we also become aware of natures external sounds, birds chirping, wind blowing, dogs barking, clocks ticking or the hum of electrical sounds. But it is through the simple act of sitting silently in meditation and tuning into the inner world of sounds that we truly change the way our everyday perceptions and brainwaves work. In meditation we learn how to detach ourselves from the sense organs. Meditation is the time to look and listen to understand our suffering. Finally we experience an openness that helps us to realize our interconnectedness to all things.  

Swami Vivekananda writes:
"First sit for some time and let the mind run on. The mind is bubbling up all the time; it is like the monkey jumping about. Let the monkey jump as much as he can, simply wait and watch; knowledge is power, says the proverb, and that is true; until you know what the mind is doing, you cannot control it. Give it the rein. Many hideous thoughts may come into it, you will be astonished that it was possible for you to think such thoughts, but you will find that each day the mind’s vagaries are becoming fewer, and less violent; that each day it is becoming calmer. In the first few months, you will find that the mind will have a great many thoughts; later you will find that they have somewhat decreased, and in a few more months you will find they are fewer and fewer, until at last the mind will be under perfect control. But we must patiently practice every day."

This is where Arati/Vespers comes in handy. From my own experience, I find Vespers a very effective way to transition from my busy work day into the contemplative state of evening meditation. While sitting in the silence of the temple, I listen to the Santa Barbara Vedanta Society Nuns sing three beautiful Sanskrit hymns and become a watchful witness to the closing ritual of dusk. This allows my soul to unload much of it's hurried material world burdens and relax in the loving unity of the oneness. 

March 3, 2014

OM Time

The sound OM is Brahman. The rishis and sages practiced austerity to realize that Sound-Brahman. After attaining perfection one hears the sound of this eternal Word rising spontaneously from the navel. "'What will you gain', some sages ask, 'by merely hearing this sound?' You hear the roar of the ocean from a distance. By following the roar you can reach the ocean. As long as there is the roar, there must also be the ocean. By following the trail of OM you attain Brahman, of which the Word is the symbol. That Brahman has been described by the Vedas as the ultimate goal."
-- The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

OM, literally means God. And sometimes you just have to take an OM Break. You know what I'm saying. A chance to have a moment of peaceful contemplation and turn inside. A welcomed pick me up after a frustrating or hurried day. A moment of stopping which gives the power to act from a resourceful, skillful place. Introspection and meditation seem to work for me and offers that much needed time to center myself and reaffirm what is the real goal of life. Oneness with God. The symbol OM means God in Sanskrit and as a spoken vibration on the lips is the Divine God made manifest. Whenever and wherever I am I've found I'm never too busy to have a chat with God. Ideally I try always to silently chant my mantra, the golden thread of oneness behind my daily householder life. Many times life's challenges and trials come bursting into my life unannounced and without prior warning. Quick put out the fire of the latest personal crises!!! But if I rest in stillness a moment and repeat my OM's with intention, soon the dust settles, my mood lifts, unity and comfort is achieved. My new centered focus and joy is embraced. Holy Latte!

February 1, 2014

Swami Brahmananda Spiritual Dynamo

Swami Brahmananda 
January 21, 1863 - April 10, 1922

"Religion is a most practical thing. 
It doesn’t matter whether one believes or not. 
It is like science. 
If one performs spiritual disciplines, 
the result is bound to come. 
Although one may be practicing mechanically—
if one persists one will get everything in time. 
And if you go one step towards God, 

God will come a hundred steps towards you. 
Why did God create us? 
So that we may love him."

-by Swami Brahmananda

January 23, 2014

Swami Vivekananda : Vessel for God

Swami Vivekananda
(January 12, 1863  -  July 4, 1902)

This is your cup — the cup assigned 
to you from the beginning. 
Nay, My child, I know how much 
of that dark drink is your own brew 
Of fault and passion, ages long ago, 
In the deep years of yesterday, I know.

This is your road — a painful road and drear. 
I made the stones that never give you rest. 
I set your friend in pleasant ways and clear, 
And he shall come like you, unto My breast. 
But you, My child, must travel here.

This is your task. It has no joy nor grace, 
But it is not meant for any other hand, 
And in My universe hath measured place, 
Take it. I do not bid you understand. 
I bid you close your eyes to see My face.
By Swami Vivekananda

January 17, 2014

Pravrajika Baradaprana

70 Years of Service

Know the Self, unborn, undying, 
Never ceasing, never beginning
Birthless, deathless, unchanging forever.
How can it die, the death of the body.
Bodies are said to die 
But that which possesses the body is eternal.
Know the Self, unchanging forever.

- Bhagavad Gita, Chp. 2, Translated by Swami Prabhavananda -

January 14, 2014

GPS = Guru Positioning System

"In meditation we learn to transcend the appearances of life and realize our true nature." said Swami Yogatmananda during a recent retreat at the Santa Barbara Vedanta Temple. "Relentless determination to complete our daily meditation practice is the bridge between the awareness of the material "I" and the inner "I" of God awareness and unity. We learn to transcend the names and various forms through meditation. Proper posture is very important, head, neck, and backbone in a straight line. Results happen with the very first practice of meditation! Progress may not be visible to you, but looking back you will see that the shore is far behind you now. As we interact with people that united awareness that meditation brings can be felt and experienced throughout the day, all day long! Our destination is our "true divine nature," God realization! Hold onto God and the transitory world will become less important, then you will see the world as the bondage it is, restricting your freedom, then you will see the truth: GOD ALONE IS REAL. Life as a spiritual journey is the primary goal of human life. Material possessions are not pertinent to the goal of the journey. These material desires make us suffer veiling the unity of oneness from our eyes. Discernment is necessary on this journey. Keep the discerning faculty always alert and then the journey will reach its destination and go beyond this material world and become all pervading, we will be everywhere, no boundaries, ultimate unity! We have the promise that all beings one day over many lifetimes will reach this GOAL of ONENESS. We are guaranteed to reach this goal as Vedanta is a SCIENCE. Looking for happiness is fruitless, looking inside is where the treasure is hidden, inside the lotus of the heart. Eventually, temptation for material desires and attachment to sweet fruits subsides, strength and wisdom is gained after we analyze reality and the reflection of life's daily experiences. Soon a steady transformation will begin, moving ahead, giving up life's illusions we will merge with the higher consciousness. GOAL of "ONENESS" - should be our only goal! Then we HAVE ARRIVED! Knowledge of God through Vedanta philosophy is the very goal of life. By eliminating negative and impossible thoughts, all wisdom and knowledge is possible on this journey. Be immersed in that oneness!!! Freedom, happiness, peace, truth and love are the fruits of oneness. Our beloved spiritual teacher or guru will help guide our way along our chosen path. By guiding our awareness the guru helps to sharpen our meditation practice by diligently encouraging a one pointed focus on our chosen ishta, without fail, spiritual fruits will manifest. We will progress from ignorance to knowledge, from the unreal to the real. Arise, Awake, stop not till the goal is reached. Wake up to your true nature. And then start walking on the path shown by the great teachers. We may shed many tears on the journey. Difficulties and pains of life are still unavoidable on this path. Never give up! We should be patient and persevere, do not let yourself revert back to your old habits and ways! Always joyful stay true to your path and keep walking ahead though it certainly maybe a challenge and always very interesting. Remember... to seek counsel with your GURU when ever you have a question or concern. GPS = Guru Positioning System"   :) 

January 7, 2014

Longing for God

 "You seem to be quite satisfied with your present condition, but I tell you, 
do not remain satisfied with yourself as you are now.
Contentment with the external conditions, yes, but never
be contented with your state of spiritual growth. 
Become dissatisfied. Try to move ever onward in your search. 
Do not stop until you have found the diamond mine!"

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