575. Swami Sarvapriyananda – Ethical Foundations of Nondual Spirituality

Swami SarvapriyanandaSwami Sarvapriyananda has been Minister and Spiritual Leader of the Vedanta Society of New York since January 2017. He was a Nagral Fellow at Harvard Divinity School during the 2019-20 academic year. Prior to this, he served as assistant minister of the Vedanta Society of Southern California for 13 months. Swami joined the Ramakrishna Math and Mission in 1994 and received Sannyas in 2004. Before coming to serve in the US, he served as an acharya (teacher) of the monastic probationers’ training center at Belur Math in West Bengal, India (the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission founded by Swami Vivekananda, the chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa). He has served the Ramakrishna Math and Mission in various capacities including being the Vice Principal of the Deoghar Vidyapith Higher Secondary School, Principal of the Shikshana Mandira Teacher Education College at Belur Math, and the first Registrar of the Vivekananda University at Belur Math.

ASI LogoThis conversation hosted by the Association for Spiritual Integrity explores the profound interconnections between ethics and Advaita Vedanta. An ethical life is foundational to the spiritual quest, a non-negotiable sine qua non to any real spiritual development. One can be good without being particularly “spiritual”, but there is no spirituality without goodness. But it is also true that ethics are a consequence of nonduality. For as long as thinkers have pondered ethics, they have searched for a foundation, a grounding, for ethics. Why should one be good and do good? The various answers thinkers have come up with through the ages – utilitarianism, deontology, and so forth – have all been found seriously wanting. Nonduality claims to provide a deep foundation for ethics. In this talk and Q&A, Swami Sarvapriyananda explores the philosophical and practical, as well as the individual and social dimensions of ethics in nondual spirituality.

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Recorded September 28, 2020

First BatGap interview with Swami Sarvapriyananda

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

499. Giovanni Dienstmann

Giovanni DienstmannGiovanni Dienstmann is a spiritual practitioner and teacher, and the creator of Live and Dare, one of the top five most visited meditation blogs on the planet. As an author, meditation coach and speaker, Giovanni helps people overcome anxiety and stress to live a more calm and centered life, through spiritually-inspired personal development work.

Since the age of 14, spirituality has been the center of his life. In his journey, he practiced over 9,000 hours of meditation, tried 70 different techniques, and nearly became a monk twice.

His spiritual thirst and eclectic approach led him to be formally initiated into the traditions of Zen Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta, Raja Yoga, and Mantra Yoga—by the masters Moriyama Roshi, Lakshamana Swami, Shivarudra Balayogi, and Nikhileshwarananda (respectively). In February 2010 he experienced a powerful awakening in the presence of Mooji in South India, and that has been a point of no return in his path.

Giovanni is the author of the best-selling book Practical Meditation: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide, which has been translated to 5 different languages and has popularly been called “The Meditation Bible”. As a coach, Giovanni’s clients range from stay at home parents to entrepreneurs, C-level executives and pro athletes.

In the field of meditation, he brings a contemporary and pragmatic approach to help both meditation novices and spiritual seekers alike. In his role as a spiritual writer, he balances deep reverence for traditional teachings with critical thinking and a comparative study of spiritual traditions.

To learn more about Giovanni and his work, visit LiveAndDare.com.

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded April 20, 2019.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

487. Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'BrianYogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian is a meditation teacher, an award-winning poet, writer, and the spiritual director of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment—a Kriya Yoga Meditation Center with headquarters in San Jose, California. She has taught Kriya Yoga nationally and internationally for more than three decades and has received many service awards, including the Mahatma Gandhi Award for the Promotion of Religious Pluralism. Ordained to teach in 1982 by Roy Eugene Davis, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, her message is “engaged enlightenment” – an invitation to live an awakened, creatively inspired, and fulfilled life, now.

Along with her service as a meditation teacher and esteemed Yogacharya, Ellen Grace O’Brian is the Founder of Carry the Vision, a community nonviolence education project bringing meditation instruction to staff and children in schools, the prison population, and other segments of society. She is the founder and President of Meru Institute, providing healthy lifestyle education and leadership training in yoga studies, Ayurveda, and community service. She is host of The Yoga Hour, a weekly podcast with listeners in over 130 countries. Her latest book, The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga, was recently published by New World Library.

Other books:

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded January 21, 2019.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.