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Practical Spirituality
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Practical Spirituality
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Introduction

All Indians will know of the Ramakrishna Mission and many Indians, especially if they are Bengalis, will know, or know of, Swami Lokeswarananda, the Secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture in Calcutta, one of the most important educational institutions of that great city. The Swami has had a long career of devoted service, both to the great organization of which he is a member and to humanity at large. What follows may be common knowledge to many Indian readers of this book, but it is mainly intended for non-Indians, and it is hoped that many non-Indians will read this book, which reflects the ethics of modern, reformed Hinduism better than any other book known to me.

The Ramakrishna Mission was founded in 1897 by Swami Vivekananda, one of the greatest of modern Indians, on the basis of the teaching of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, of whom he was the devoted disciple. These names recur frequently in Swami Lokeswarananda’s articles, and their importance in the history of ‘the Indian Renaissance’ cannot be exaggerated. The Ramakrishna Mission is today the foremost organization for the propagation of a reformed Hinduism emancipated from the caste prejudices and ritualism accumulated over many centuries, and its religious activities are accompanied by much social work among the poor and by educational projects designed to help Indians to understand their own cultural background.

The book which I have been given the honour of introducing consists of a number of short essays originally contributed to the Bulletin of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. They are not in any rigid sequence and the reader who has only a little time may sample them in any order; but if he goes through the book from beginning to end he will obtain a very clear picture of the moral and ethical thinking of a modern Hindu, a highly educated man who, for all his long career in a monastic order, has kept in touch with everyday contemporary life, and with the drives and needs of ordinary people. Some of his advice may seem rather like a counsel of perfection but behind it all there seems to be an implicit recognition that the ordinary reader will not be persuaded to alter his way of life drastically, but will nevertheless be inspired by these writings to think harder about his own moral position and perhaps to change it for the better.

The western reader may be impressed by the numerous references to Jesus Christ, who is more than once linked with the Buddha and with Ramakrishna Paramahamsa as one of the rare examples of perfected humanity who arise in the world from time to ‘time. This does not mean, however, that the author is on the way to becoming a Christian in any real sense of the term. Most modern Hindu reformers have been in varying measure influenced by Christianity. Ramakrishna became for some time to all intents and purposes a Christian, and had a very vivid vision of jesus; but he also became a Muslim in the same manner, and as a result of his spiritual experiments he uttered his famous dictum ‘All religions are true’ Mahatma Gandhi loved the Christian gospels, and made use of them to reinforce his doctrine of non-violent resistance to oppression. Swami Lokeswarananda borrows themes and concepts from Christianity for his own purposes. It cannot be over-emphasized that Hinduism is an inclusive religion. ‘Whatever God you worship, I answer the prayer,’ says the incarnate Cod Krishna in as many words in the Bhagavad Gita, an attitude diametrically opposite to the Hebrew ‘Thou shalt have no other gods beside me’, inherited by the older forms of Christianity. From many passages in this book the reader will realize that modern Hinduism is comprehensive and all- inclusive. To attain the highest bliss one does not even need to be a’ Hindu. The message of Swami Lokeswarananda is that the goal is hard to attain and may demand tremendous effort and self-sacrifice, but it is open to everyone, even to the man who declares himself an unbeliever in-any organized religion.

The doctrines of the Ramakrishna Mission-are based on the ancient scriptures known as Upanishads, as interpreted by the non-dualist (Advaita) Vedanta of the great philosopher Sankara (c. A.D. BOO). Sankara formulated a brilliant metaphysical system, which maintains that the only entity in the universe-which is absolutely real is Brahman, an impersonal spirit underlying all appearance, which have only a qualified reality. On ultimate analysis this Brahman is identical with the inmost self of every being, known as atma. In order to achieve the highest state of permanent bliss the individual. personality must fully merge itself in the absolute Brahman so that no trace of selfhood remains. It must be emphasized that this is only one among several schools of Hindu philosophy; there are others which maintain the ultimacy of a personal Cod and the eternity of the individual soul, which never completely loses its individuality. But this non-dualist doctrine has had the greatest influence on the intellectual Hinduism of the present day, and this is the system which Swami Lokeswarananda interprets for his readers. Nowhere does he reject outright the existence of a personal God, but for him the ultimate divinity is the pure impersonal being which is one with the human soul; and all earnest seekers after truth should strive for full reali7ation of that identity, when they will achieve a state of bliss which is indescribable in words, but which many saints and sages at all times have experienced.

The Swamis approach, however, is not one of withdrawal or life-denial, and for him the seeker of the highest bliss is not cut off from the world. F6llowing the example of Vivekananda, he plays a full part in the drama of human affairs; but behind his efforts is a calm detachment. His greatest service to mankind is not in helping to establish and develop hospitals for the sick, kitchens for the hungry, or educational institutions for those seeking knowledge. Rather it is in the example he sets by showing his fellow-men the heights which the human spirit nay achieve by its own efforts.

I am very pleased and proud to have been invited to introduce this book, which, rather than the writings of some of the miracle workers and ‘streamlined swamis’ who pullulate nowadays both in India and the West, will introduce to the world some of the finest ethical thoughts of the twentieth century.

 

Contents

 

  Publisher's Note V
  Introduction XI
1 Practical Spirituality 1
2 Being and doing 3
3 At peace with oneself 5
4 The will to live 7
5 A saint is no killjoy 9
6 What's in a name 11
7 Get up and begin again 13
8 Killing the self 15
9 Religion and social action 17
10 Krishna 19
11 The light of Asia 21
12 Jesus Christ 23
13 Sri Ramakrishna 25
14 Sarada devi 27
15 Swami Vivekananda 29
16 Peace 31
17 World leadership 33
18 Not me thou 35
19 The death of an ideal 37
20 Beware of false prophets 39
21 To be or not to be 41
22 Yoga 43
23 Meditation 45
24 The printed word 47
25 Detachment 49
26 Spiritual aspirations' 51
27 Idolatry 53
28 Be a lamp unto yourself 55
29 Non-violence 57
30 Secular vs. Spiritual 59
31 Goodwill towards all 61
32 Self-criticism 63
33 Work is worship 65
34 Toleration or acceptance 67
35 Humility 69
36 A saint in disguise 71
37 The story of a humble women 73
38 A world citizen 75
39 Control of the mind 77
40 The Christian spirit 79
41 Greatness 81
42 Knowledge is power 83
43 The individual and society 85
44 The Divine mother 87
45 Religion and religious experience 89
46 Right and wrong 91
47 The inner eye 93
48 Peace of mind 95
49 Individual vs. Collective 97
50 Prayer 99
51 Progress and education 101
52 Success 103
53 Beware of the great 105
54 Karma 107
55 God in man 109
56 Purity 111
57 I change but I cannot die 113
58 Thoughts on education 115
59 Imitation 117
60 To be in the world but not of it 119
61 Discipline: Individual and collective 121
62 Religion and communalism 123
63 The Indian unity 125
64 The first convention of the Ramakrishna order 127
65 The second convention of the Ramakrishna order 129
66 The human element 131
67 Education for education's sake 133
68 Reason 135
69 Poverty and religious 137
70 Not by bred order 139
71 Death 141
72 Divine intervention 143
73 You and me 145
74 Arnold Toynbee 147
75 Conversions 149
76 Mother 151
77 M, the honest chronicler 153
78 Poverty and crime 155
79 Youth power 157
80 Essence of Inhumanity 159
81 The story of two birds 161
82 The cross man bears 163
83 Good and evil 165
84 Religion and mysticism 167
85 The mess called education 169
86 Seeking god 171
87 Education, Culture and religion 173
88 Is religion on escape from life 175
89 Loveliness made more lovely 177
90 Freedom 179
91 Looking for an excuse 181
92 Happiness 183
93 Teacher and teaching 185
94 How to commit suicide 187
95 Self vs. self 189
96 Religion and social change 191
97 Towards equality 193
98 Holiness 195
99 Lead kindly light 197
100 Exploitation 199
101 Pain is pleasure 201
102 Forgive and forget 203
103 Hiss but don't bite 205
104 Lose to win 207
105 Austerity 209
106 Fundamentalism 211
107 Beware of praise 213
108 To read or not to read 215
109 World peace 217
110 In the Name of religion 219
111 The riddle that is man 221
112 International year of the youth 223
113 Knowledge vs. wisdom 225
114 Bliss 227
115 Politics with religion or without 229
116 A rebel child 231
117 Identity 233
118 Freedom in bondage 235
119 Body filled and vacant mind 237
120 How not to die in a church 239
121 The great gateman 241
122 The price of being a mahatma 243
123 Towards a happy new world 245
124 The atom and the universe 247
125 The great Swan 249
126 Communal amity 251
127 Being and becoming 253
Sample Page


Practical Spirituality

Item Code:
NAE273
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
2002
ISBN:
9788185843139
Size:
7.0 inch x 5.0 inch
Pages:
272
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 229 gms
Price:
$11.00   Shipping Free
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Introduction

All Indians will know of the Ramakrishna Mission and many Indians, especially if they are Bengalis, will know, or know of, Swami Lokeswarananda, the Secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture in Calcutta, one of the most important educational institutions of that great city. The Swami has had a long career of devoted service, both to the great organization of which he is a member and to humanity at large. What follows may be common knowledge to many Indian readers of this book, but it is mainly intended for non-Indians, and it is hoped that many non-Indians will read this book, which reflects the ethics of modern, reformed Hinduism better than any other book known to me.

The Ramakrishna Mission was founded in 1897 by Swami Vivekananda, one of the greatest of modern Indians, on the basis of the teaching of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, of whom he was the devoted disciple. These names recur frequently in Swami Lokeswarananda’s articles, and their importance in the history of ‘the Indian Renaissance’ cannot be exaggerated. The Ramakrishna Mission is today the foremost organization for the propagation of a reformed Hinduism emancipated from the caste prejudices and ritualism accumulated over many centuries, and its religious activities are accompanied by much social work among the poor and by educational projects designed to help Indians to understand their own cultural background.

The book which I have been given the honour of introducing consists of a number of short essays originally contributed to the Bulletin of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. They are not in any rigid sequence and the reader who has only a little time may sample them in any order; but if he goes through the book from beginning to end he will obtain a very clear picture of the moral and ethical thinking of a modern Hindu, a highly educated man who, for all his long career in a monastic order, has kept in touch with everyday contemporary life, and with the drives and needs of ordinary people. Some of his advice may seem rather like a counsel of perfection but behind it all there seems to be an implicit recognition that the ordinary reader will not be persuaded to alter his way of life drastically, but will nevertheless be inspired by these writings to think harder about his own moral position and perhaps to change it for the better.

The western reader may be impressed by the numerous references to Jesus Christ, who is more than once linked with the Buddha and with Ramakrishna Paramahamsa as one of the rare examples of perfected humanity who arise in the world from time to ‘time. This does not mean, however, that the author is on the way to becoming a Christian in any real sense of the term. Most modern Hindu reformers have been in varying measure influenced by Christianity. Ramakrishna became for some time to all intents and purposes a Christian, and had a very vivid vision of jesus; but he also became a Muslim in the same manner, and as a result of his spiritual experiments he uttered his famous dictum ‘All religions are true’ Mahatma Gandhi loved the Christian gospels, and made use of them to reinforce his doctrine of non-violent resistance to oppression. Swami Lokeswarananda borrows themes and concepts from Christianity for his own purposes. It cannot be over-emphasized that Hinduism is an inclusive religion. ‘Whatever God you worship, I answer the prayer,’ says the incarnate Cod Krishna in as many words in the Bhagavad Gita, an attitude diametrically opposite to the Hebrew ‘Thou shalt have no other gods beside me’, inherited by the older forms of Christianity. From many passages in this book the reader will realize that modern Hinduism is comprehensive and all- inclusive. To attain the highest bliss one does not even need to be a’ Hindu. The message of Swami Lokeswarananda is that the goal is hard to attain and may demand tremendous effort and self-sacrifice, but it is open to everyone, even to the man who declares himself an unbeliever in-any organized religion.

The doctrines of the Ramakrishna Mission-are based on the ancient scriptures known as Upanishads, as interpreted by the non-dualist (Advaita) Vedanta of the great philosopher Sankara (c. A.D. BOO). Sankara formulated a brilliant metaphysical system, which maintains that the only entity in the universe-which is absolutely real is Brahman, an impersonal spirit underlying all appearance, which have only a qualified reality. On ultimate analysis this Brahman is identical with the inmost self of every being, known as atma. In order to achieve the highest state of permanent bliss the individual. personality must fully merge itself in the absolute Brahman so that no trace of selfhood remains. It must be emphasized that this is only one among several schools of Hindu philosophy; there are others which maintain the ultimacy of a personal Cod and the eternity of the individual soul, which never completely loses its individuality. But this non-dualist doctrine has had the greatest influence on the intellectual Hinduism of the present day, and this is the system which Swami Lokeswarananda interprets for his readers. Nowhere does he reject outright the existence of a personal God, but for him the ultimate divinity is the pure impersonal being which is one with the human soul; and all earnest seekers after truth should strive for full reali7ation of that identity, when they will achieve a state of bliss which is indescribable in words, but which many saints and sages at all times have experienced.

The Swamis approach, however, is not one of withdrawal or life-denial, and for him the seeker of the highest bliss is not cut off from the world. F6llowing the example of Vivekananda, he plays a full part in the drama of human affairs; but behind his efforts is a calm detachment. His greatest service to mankind is not in helping to establish and develop hospitals for the sick, kitchens for the hungry, or educational institutions for those seeking knowledge. Rather it is in the example he sets by showing his fellow-men the heights which the human spirit nay achieve by its own efforts.

I am very pleased and proud to have been invited to introduce this book, which, rather than the writings of some of the miracle workers and ‘streamlined swamis’ who pullulate nowadays both in India and the West, will introduce to the world some of the finest ethical thoughts of the twentieth century.

 

Contents

 

  Publisher's Note V
  Introduction XI
1 Practical Spirituality 1
2 Being and doing 3
3 At peace with oneself 5
4 The will to live 7
5 A saint is no killjoy 9
6 What's in a name 11
7 Get up and begin again 13
8 Killing the self 15
9 Religion and social action 17
10 Krishna 19
11 The light of Asia 21
12 Jesus Christ 23
13 Sri Ramakrishna 25
14 Sarada devi 27
15 Swami Vivekananda 29
16 Peace 31
17 World leadership 33
18 Not me thou 35
19 The death of an ideal 37
20 Beware of false prophets 39
21 To be or not to be 41
22 Yoga 43
23 Meditation 45
24 The printed word 47
25 Detachment 49
26 Spiritual aspirations' 51
27 Idolatry 53
28 Be a lamp unto yourself 55
29 Non-violence 57
30 Secular vs. Spiritual 59
31 Goodwill towards all 61
32 Self-criticism 63
33 Work is worship 65
34 Toleration or acceptance 67
35 Humility 69
36 A saint in disguise 71
37 The story of a humble women 73
38 A world citizen 75
39 Control of the mind 77
40 The Christian spirit 79
41 Greatness 81
42 Knowledge is power 83
43 The individual and society 85
44 The Divine mother 87
45 Religion and religious experience 89
46 Right and wrong 91
47 The inner eye 93
48 Peace of mind 95
49 Individual vs. Collective 97
50 Prayer 99
51 Progress and education 101
52 Success 103
53 Beware of the great 105
54 Karma 107
55 God in man 109
56 Purity 111
57 I change but I cannot die 113
58 Thoughts on education 115
59 Imitation 117
60 To be in the world but not of it 119
61 Discipline: Individual and collective 121
62 Religion and communalism 123
63 The Indian unity 125
64 The first convention of the Ramakrishna order 127
65 The second convention of the Ramakrishna order 129
66 The human element 131
67 Education for education's sake 133
68 Reason 135
69 Poverty and religious 137
70 Not by bred order 139
71 Death 141
72 Divine intervention 143
73 You and me 145
74 Arnold Toynbee 147
75 Conversions 149
76 Mother 151
77 M, the honest chronicler 153
78 Poverty and crime 155
79 Youth power 157
80 Essence of Inhumanity 159
81 The story of two birds 161
82 The cross man bears 163
83 Good and evil 165
84 Religion and mysticism 167
85 The mess called education 169
86 Seeking god 171
87 Education, Culture and religion 173
88 Is religion on escape from life 175
89 Loveliness made more lovely 177
90 Freedom 179
91 Looking for an excuse 181
92 Happiness 183
93 Teacher and teaching 185
94 How to commit suicide 187
95 Self vs. self 189
96 Religion and social change 191
97 Towards equality 193
98 Holiness 195
99 Lead kindly light 197
100 Exploitation 199
101 Pain is pleasure 201
102 Forgive and forget 203
103 Hiss but don't bite 205
104 Lose to win 207
105 Austerity 209
106 Fundamentalism 211
107 Beware of praise 213
108 To read or not to read 215
109 World peace 217
110 In the Name of religion 219
111 The riddle that is man 221
112 International year of the youth 223
113 Knowledge vs. wisdom 225
114 Bliss 227
115 Politics with religion or without 229
116 A rebel child 231
117 Identity 233
118 Freedom in bondage 235
119 Body filled and vacant mind 237
120 How not to die in a church 239
121 The great gateman 241
122 The price of being a mahatma 243
123 Towards a happy new world 245
124 The atom and the universe 247
125 The great Swan 249
126 Communal amity 251
127 Being and becoming 253
Sample Page


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