Vedanta Center of Atlanta: ​​October events

10/29/2017 10:30 AM

Vedanta Center of Atlanta: ​​October events

Vedanta Center of Atlanta: ​​October events

10:30am-11am: silent meditation in the Chapel before each Sunday’s talk. 
11am-noon: talk and worship in the chapel.
noon-1:30pm: devotees and friends meet in the Monastery for tea, coffee, snacks and a continuation of our spiritual fellowship. 
Please join us!
PS: Please be on time. The service starts promptly at 11AM. 

Venue: 2331 Brockett Rd, Tucker, GA 30084 
Contact: (770) 938-6673 ;,

See Calendar for details about any particular Sunday.

October is a month for study of Karma Yoga, a spiritual path leading to the abandonment of selfishness. As a karma yogi, you practice offering your actions and their results, as well as your perceptions, thoughts, and feelings to the Divine Presence.

Even before fully knowing this Presence, you hold firmly to the belief that the Presence is within each person or other living being that you interact with or serve. Working and abiding in this spirit, you are increasingly able to release attachment to your activities and their results. This is the freedom promised by Karma Yoga.

“Even a little practice of this yoga will save you from the terrible wheel of rebirth and death …” 
— Sri Krishna to Arjuna, Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 2

(10/1) (Sunday) 11am-12pm - “Principles of the Baal Shem Tov” w/ Br. Shankara
“Neither thinking about the day of one’s death nor the fear of punishment in hell will arouse a person’s heart to serve God. But yearning to cling to the source of life and goodness will do so. And neither fasting nor afflicting oneself will be of any help. But forgetting oneself out of the depth of one’s yearning will do so.” — the Baal Shem Tov

This Jewish saint’s mystical wisdom is familiar to us. Sri Ramakrishna also taught that yearning can draw you into an intimate relationship with the Personal God or Goddess (“the source of life and goodness”).

Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), which means “master of the good name,” was founder of the 18th century chassidic movement in Eastern Europe. He helped revolutionize Jewish thought, and gave new hope to an embattled people.

During the late 17th century, European Jewry was still recovering from the pogroms of 1648-1649 CE. Those massacres killed tens of thousands of Jews; survivors struggled to rebuild their broken lives and communities.

The transformative power of the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings are still felt today — both by his followers, the chassidim, and by other rabbis and observant Jews, who experience the uplifting effects of the saint’s legacy.

On Sunday morning we will hear more of the Baal Shem Tov’s principles, and relate them to what we can see as a synthesis of Karma and Bhakti Yoga.

(10/8) (Sunday) 11am-12pm - Open Forum on Karma Yoga w/ Dr. Balakrishna Nuli
Br. Shankara will be away on 10/8 giving a talk on Vedanta at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Roswell. Dr. Nuli has graciously accepted Br. Shankara's invitation to lead our congregation in an Open Forum on Karma Yoga. We hope you'll join us!

October 14 (Saturday) - Seva Saturday!
Please join us for gardening, cleaning, organizing, lunch, and lots of camaraderie. It's not necessary for you to stay the entire time... come and join us for as long as you can.

(10/15) (Sunday) “Abandoning Selfishness” w/ Br. Shankara
As Sri Krishna tells Arjuna in Ch. 2 of Bhagavad Gita:
“Even a little practice of this yoga will save you from the terrible wheel of rebirth and death …”
Sri Ramakrishna: “…selfishness comes, unknown to us, from no one knows where.” — Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, p. 314


Swami Abhedananda [photo, ​right], a direct disciple of Ramakrishna: “The moment... that we realize that this body is a part of the universal body, that this intellect is a part of the cosmic intellect, and that the knower of mind, senses, and body is not any one of these, but stands outside, and that this knower is our true self, then we let the body work with full consciousness that we are neither actor, worker, nor doer, and we remain untouched by the consequences of our actions. The one essential thing is never to forget that the work done by mind and body is, in reality, not performed by the true self, but by nature.” — Doctrine of Karma, pp. 82-3

Swami Yatiswarananda, a vice-president of Ramakrishna Order: “For every one step forward spiritually, you must take two steps forward, morally and ethically.” — Instruction to P. Griggs, now Swami Yogeshananda

Selfishness is both gross and subtle. At the outermost level, it can be eating more food than you need. At the innermost, it may be clinging to bliss.

The Upanishads declare that your True Self is covered by five sheaths (koshas). Because each of these five layers of awareness is a unique, but distorted reflection of the Self’s perfect radiance, it has its own peculiar patterns of selfishness.

On Sunday morning we’ll define the five koshas, and explore how you experience them. Then, we’ll discuss how the quotes above, and other teachings, tell us how to abandon the selfishness associated with each of the koshas.
Arjuna (painting by Arun Kumar Samadder)
(10/22) (Sunday) 11am-12pm “Character & the Quality of My Actions” w/ Br. Shankara
As Sri Krishna tells Arjuna in Ch. 2 of Bhagavad Gita: “Even a little practice of this yoga will save you from the terrible wheel of rebirth and death …”

Last week we talked about selfishness and how to loosen its grasp on us. We continue this week, focusing on specific instructions left to us by Divine Incarnations and other great teachers.

For example, Jesus Christ told his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways … If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of (my teachings), you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

The Buddha taught, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become. All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed, can wrong-doing remain?

However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you If you do not act on upon them? It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.”

And Swami Vivekananda said, “Our Karma determines what we deserve and what we can assimilate. We are responsible for what we are; and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act …”

On Sunday morning we’ll explore these quotes in light of what Sri Krishna says in Chapter 3 of Bhagavad Gita. Krishna tells his friend Arjuna exactly what character is, and how his actions can save his life, transform his mind, and produce the great king that Arjuna was destined to become.

(10/29) (Sunday) “Complexity and Simplicity” w/ Br. Shankara
This month we’ve explored spiritual teachings that promise you freedom from the small, dark prison cell of self-centeredness. We were told that there truly is a life of bliss and joy, beyond your pain and suffering. And we heard that to live this life, you must be of service to others, and of noble character.

John R. Macduff, a widely read 19th Century Scottish preacher and author, wrote,
“Character is the product of daily, hourly actions, and words, and thoughts; daily forgivenesses, unselfishness, kindnesses, sympathies, charities, sacrifices for the good of others, struggles against temptation, submissiveness under trial…”

Yet, in today’s world, how can you actually act, speak, and think like that? Our lives seem too complex: We’re constantly busy, nearly overwhelmed by duties, concerns, conflicts, and situations that demand an immediate response. We may suffer constant psychological pain. Sometimes, it feels like we’re barely hanging onto our sanity by our fingernails!

Yet, our Great Teachers gently tell us this need not be so. Swami Vivekananda once wrote to a deeply troubled friend: “Herein lies the whole secret of Existence. Waves may roll over the surface and tempest rage, but deep down there is the stratum of infinite calmness, infinite peace, and infinite bliss.”

Hanging on by your fingernails …
Infinite calmness, peace, and bliss …
Two utterly different levels of reality.

The first is the realm of mind, where — as Sri Sarada Devi said — human beings are “endowed not only with goodness, but with profuse quantities of materialism and vanity.”

The second is the province of the heart, with its revealing power of love and compassion, and its insight into the spiritual nature of our sisters and brothers in human and other forms.

This Sunday morning, we will expand on what is meant by these two statements, and discuss how the dedicated practice of Karma Yoga can tame your restless mind and open your joyful heart.

November 11 (Saturday) - Seva Saturday! 
Please join us for gardening, cleaning, organizing, lunch, and lots of camaraderie. It's not necessary for you to stay the entire time... come and join us for as long as you can.

November 18-19 (Saturday & Sunday) - Swami Harinamananda will be with us for the weekend (details TBA).

November 18 (Saturday ) 7:30pm - Singer-guitarist Jerry Brunner, a long time friend of the Center's, will give a concert in the Fellowship hall, joined by some of his musician friends including Cyndi Craven, Bruce Gilbert, Steve Cullen and Ron Hipp.

December 10 (Sunday) - Holy Mother's Birthday Celebration

December 16 - 17 (Saturday & Sunday) - Swami Yogatmananda will be with us for the weekend (details TBA).

December 22 (Friday ) 7:30pm - National award-winning storyteller and singer-songwriter Andy Offutt Irwin will again present us with a holiday show that is sure to sweeten the Christmas weekend for us all.

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