- To continue to revise Geeta Chapter 15.
- Children to revise the Gurudev Bhajan that they learnt in class
Om Guru Om Guru Sachidhananda Guru (2)
Sachidhananda Guru Chinmayananda Guru (2)
Sri Guru… (2)
Jaya Guru… (2)
Mama Guru… (2)
Om Guru…. (1)
Chinmayananda Guru (2)
Our Ramayana story reached the climax this week, with the destruction of villain Ravana. Ravana, the lone survivor, arrived all prepared with his divine weapons to the battlefield to face Rama and the vanara sena (monkey army). It was a duel between two of the greatest warriors. Rama was in awe of his majestic enemy too. They fought well, Ravana bringing out his weapons one-by-one. Rama cut Ravana’s heads one-by-one with His sword. Every time He chopped off a head, another stronger one appeared in its place, confusing Him a little bit. The Devas watched from above with abated breath, the air stopped and clouds turned dark – what will happen and who would win? Lord Indra sent his divine chariot & charioteer, Matali to Rama’s rescue. Matali whispered to Rama to use Agastya’s Astra (weapon) to hit Ravana and so He did. Ravana was hit in the chest and fell to the ground! Seeing the warrior fall, vanaras rejoiced. Amidst the cheering by the vanaras, Vibhisana was sad at the loss of his brother. Rama, empathetic that He was, consoled Vibhisana, saying “Your brother is like my brother, Vibhisana. I share your loss.” After performing the last rites of Ravana (where Ravana’s wife Mandodari also entered the fire), Vibhisana became the King of Lanka, with the mammoth task of erasing the traces of the nasty war from his kingdom, ahead of him.
We also did an activity where each of us put (threw away) one “Ravana-like” quality in a box and sealed the box, ready to be destroyed by placing in the fire. Children also played the game of “Snakes & Ladders” feeling the emotions like that in a battlefield. There may be many ups-and-downs on the battlefield, and the outcome/winner/loser unknown, but the warrior’s duty is to keep moving forward until the end.
Homework: To keep practising getting rid of our Ravana-like quality that we talked about.
In the Gita chapter IV:
‘paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge’
promises us that for the protection of good, destruction of evil and the establishment of righteousness, I am born in every age! God promises us that if we are good and someone, something is troubling us, he will come to protect us! But how does he do this, from where does he come? Does he take a form? Does he come from heaven? Saint Tulsidas gives us the addresses of God in the Ramcaritramanasa (Ramayana written in Avadhi so that more common people could understand it). Ramayana was originally written in sanskrit by Sage Valmiki. We heard the story of Valmiki, who was born as Ratnakara, son of a sage who got lost in the forest and was adopted by hunters. However, he took to stealing, robbing and even killing people for money to support his big family. Following his encounter with the cool, calm and devout Narada muni, he decided to change his ways but could not get himself to chant name of the Lord Rama- so Narada told him to chant mara which means to kill- however, ‘mara’ chanted continuously sounds like “Rama” and so he immersed himself in chanting the Lord’s name. When Narada returned after few months, he found Ratnakara covered in an anthill still chanting “Rama’! He blessed him and named him “Valmiki” which means “born of an anthill”. The children learnt from today’s lesson that it is very important to keep the right company/ friends. Kaikeyi could not prevent evil Manthara from poisoning her mind, but the cool calm and devout Narada could transform a killer like Ratnakara.
Homework: To complete writing the letter to God and reflect on Valmiki story and the importance of keeping good company.
We discussed the concept of discrimination of knowledge in class. We began with an exercise where the JCs were asked to climb onto the roof of the building. They both did not want to and explained that it would be dangerous. Although they knew how to climb, they also knew that they were at risk of falling and that it would achieve nothing. We then looked at another example in the text where two men learn how to bring living beings back to life. They used this power to bring a tiger to life and ended up getting killed by the tiger. Both examples show that knowledge is essential, but that it goes hand in hand with understanding (viveka). We need to know when and how to use the knowledge we have. We then proceeded with an exercise to try and discriminate greed from ambition. By making a table and looking at the nature, cause and effect of each, we could determine the difference between being greedy and being ambitious. Greed revolves around getting an object and satisfaction from that object for short term happiness. Ambition revolves around development of talents and skills in order to grow and attain long term happiness.
Sadhana: Make a similar table on the nature, cause and effect of right vs. wrong.
In line with the aim of this term which is to build mental strength we discussed that in order to use any instrument one needs to know how the instrument works and what its capabilities are. In the same way one needs to understand the potential of the thoughts that arise from the mind and the intellect so that one can bring these instruments under one’s control and use them efficiently. Every experience/situation gives rise to 4 thoughts in us: emotional, rational, egotistical and memory. Creating awareness of the thoughts is important because that is how one gets to understand one’s mind and intellect and their capacities and processes to create mental strength. One way to create awareness is by constantly watching one’s thoughts and thinking only those ones that one can watch/be aware of.
Sadhana: To continue with the 5 minute mediation prior to starting any task. This week try to spend the entire 5 minutes constantly repeating ONLY the goal and that your mind will not get distracted. Continue repeating even if it starts to get boring or distracting to repeat this. At the end of the 5 minutes write down on a sheet of paper ‘i will finish _____ task without getting distracted by ___, ____, _____ etc’.
This Sunday, we had a combined class with Sydney’s adult study group. Swami Shrikarananda asked all the study group students to individually summarise all that they had learnt from Mukhya Swamiji’s talks on ‘Yogas of the Geeta’ and also what aspects they had begun to practise in their lives. This exercise was done by all and few representatives from the classes shared their summaries. This was followed by a brief Question & Answer session where Swamiji addressed the questions raised by the study group students relating to Mukhya Swamiji’s talks. Through the answers to the questions, Swamiji drove home the key point that although all Yogas are paths leading to the Supreme, it is Jnana Yoga (Yoga of Knowledge) alone that can unite one with his true Self as ignorance is the reason for non-realisation of the Self and Knowledge alone can remove ignorance. As there was not enough time for the Q&A session this week, it was proposed to continue this on the Sunday after next (14th May 2017)
Sadhana: Read and reflect on Verse 22 of Chapter 2 – “Just as a man casts off his worn-out clothes and puts on new ones, so also the embodied Self casts off its worn-out bodies and enters others which are new.”