Talk: The Master’s Story – Br. Shankara

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Sept. 30th, 2018

Click for NOTES & QUOTES from the talk (PDF)


September is a month for the study of Jnana Yoga, a path to realization that requires analysis, discrimination, reason, and constant devotion to your goal. Your aim is liberation, freedom from all limitation.

Our scriptures and teachers tell us that life’s misery — its pain, anxiety, and sense of imprisonment — is caused by seeing inaccurately, due to “maya.”

Maya has many forms. One of the most persuasive is the system of agreements — the complicated “story” — that members of a civilization hold in common. For example, billions of people all over the world sincerely believe that a small rectangular piece of paper, engraved on one side with an image of a deified President and on the other with mystic symbols which virtually no one understands, has actual value. In fact, a $1 bill has no value at all unless we all agree that it does.

This agreement is just a tiny fraction of a complex web of shared understanding, about what our world is and how it works. Yet, scientists like Rachel Carson, socio-economic theorists like Peter Drucker, historians like Barbara Tuchman, and philosophers such as Charles Eisenstein tell us that our present civilization is in the midst of a major transformation — that our story is changing.

Rachel Carson
“The question is whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized.”

Joseph Campbell
“We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.”

Charles Eisenstein
“We have to create miracles. A miracle is not the intersession of an external divine agency in violation of the laws of physics. A miracle is simply something that is impossible from an old story but possible from within a new one. It is an expansion of what is possible.”

Barbara Tuchman
“When it comes to leaders we have, if anything, a superabundance … ready and anxious to lead the population. … But what they are not doing, very notably, is standing still and saying, ‘ This is what I believe. This I will do and that I will not do. This is my code of behavior and that is outside it. This is excellent and that is trash.’ … We seem to be afflicted by a widespread and eroding reluctance to take any stand on any values, moral, behavioral or esthetic.”

The Story of Civilization
Will Durant and Ariel Durant

“The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionists are philosophers and saints.”

On Sunday morning we will review what these savants are telling us about the inevitable decay of the civilization we have known. Then we’ll preview what the saints of our lineage — Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother, and Swami Vivekananda — told us about the age that is dawning: The Master’s Story.

These are the basic lessons Sri Ramakrishna left us: When you understand my message, reduce your reading and reasoning, and start practicing. The message is, “Find God. That is the only purpose in life.” Say to the Divine Mother-Father, take my hand, lead me on, draw me near, fill this heart.

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. Spiritual talks and classes are open to the public and free of charge.

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