11am Sunday Talk: Karma Yoga of the Baal Shem Tov, with Br. Shankara
~ Join via Zoom at https://tinyurl.com/y7veshzt ~
On Sunday morning, Nov. 28th at 11am, Br. Shankara will give a talk on Karma Yoga of the Baal Shem Tov. Join us online (no in-person activities at this time) and participate in the discussion!
November is a month for study of Karma Yoga, a spiritual path leading to the abandonment of selfishness. As a karma yogi, you practice offering all actions and their results, as well as your perceptions, thoughts, and feelings to the Divine Presence.
In many Ramakrishna Mission centers, this prayer is chanted by the congregation, in unison, at the end of a puja’s homa fire ceremony:
“No matter what I may have done, said or thought, in waking, dreaming or dreamless sleep, with my mind, my tongue, my hands or my other members, may all that be an offering 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, slowly and slowly you release attachment to your activities and their results. This can yield the freedom and contentment promised by Karma Yoga.
“Even a little practice of this yoga will save you form the terrible wheel of rebirth and death …” — Sri Krishna, Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 2.
“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 Israel 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 his embattled people.
During the late 17th century, European Jewry was still recovering from the pogroms of 1648 & 1649. 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 — by his followers, the chassidim, and by other rabbis and observant Jews, who experience the uplifting effects of the saint’s legacy.
This Sunday morning we will explore and discuss more of the Baal Shem Tov’s wisdom as, comparing it with the Karma Yoga taught by Sri Krishna and Swami Vivekananda.