Talk: Abandoning Selfishness – Br. Shankara

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July 14, 2019

Click for PDF of Quotes & Notes from this talk

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July 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 yields the freedom and contentment promised by Karma Yoga.

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

Sri Ramakrishna: “…selfishness comes, unknown to us, from no one knows where.” — Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, p. 314

Albert Einstein: “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a … prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Swami Abhedananda, 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

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 discuss the five koshas, and how you experience them. We’ll review what the quotes above, and other teachings, say about how to abandon the selfishness associated with each of the koshas.

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Note: There is silent meditation in the Chapel from 10:30-11am, before each Sunday’s talk. After the talk, devotees and friends meet in the Monastery from noon to 1:30pm, for tea, coffee, snacks and a continuation of our spiritual fellowship.

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