A friend/associate of mine is an Ayurvedic doctor and knows people in the Ramakrishna Mission. One day, back in 2018, while we were in Santa Barbara on a business appointment, he casually suggested that we stop at the temple. While we were in the bookstore there, I asked him what I should read to get an idea what this is all about. With his advice I picked up The Complete Works of Vivekananda and started reading them right away. Boom. These writings somehow felt like they were being pulled out of my own mind as I read them. This was an inflection point for me in my life I think. I am eternally grateful to this friend.
Advaita Vedanta is a philosophy and tradition that echoes the ideas that naturally came to my mind since I was a very small child. There is something strangely familiar to all these teachings. It is all very instinctual. I am impressed so much by how powerful these teachings are.
An example for me which shows how powerful the teachings of Advaita Vedanta are, is that often in a lecture or lesson I can start to predict what the Swami will say next, and yet I am not able to explain much to others at this point - partially out of an abundance of caution and respect. Grasping concepts intuitively in Advaita Vedanta is one thing, but in my experience, verbally explaining it to other people is not very easy at all for the novice.
I have not been initiated. I don’t really know what that means yet, but it sounds like something I would like to work towards. I am a green novice with a lot of work to do yet. I don’t really know anybody else in my daily life who knows about Advaita Vedanta so it’s mostly just me on my own taking this all in.
I have read some of the writings about Vivekananda and the Holy Mother. I am working my way towards reading The Gospel of Ramakrishna. I listen to lectures almost daily from the Swami Sarvapriyananda and Pravrajika Divyanandaprana. I try to listen to the Gita in its entirety while I work at least once a week. I sometimes attend at the Hollywood location but I don’t really know anybody there.
Advaita Vedanta has brought me a degree of peace, a bit of perspective. It has changed my priorities and has given me a lot of homework to do! It has probably made me much less afraid of death, and I would say less afraid in general. Advaita Vedanta prompts me to be very mindful of how I conduct myself in the world. It has probably made me a little bit better of a family member and member of society in general.