Frederick STUDY GROUP
Gurudev’s words on Study Groups:
“Mere listening to my Yagnas will not add to your beauty. These ideas are to be reflected deeply and digested slowly. This process is hastened only when you discuss what you have studied with others. Study groups constitute the heart of our Mission . The ideas gathered by you, when discussed with others, not only become deeply rooted in yourself, but as they become clearer in your own understanding, they also inspire those who listen to you. Thus, each student, while trying to strengthen his own understanding, can become an instrument for the spread of this knowledge. This process is the dynamic STUDY SCHEME followed in the Vedantic tradition. This is not a Chinmaya methodology, it is the most ancient Vedantic tradition of Study.”
Chinmaya Mission Washington Regional Center is blessed with 5 Acharyas, which is a blessing for the devotees in this area, which other centers do not have. We do hear from them daily or weekly basis, the knowledge of the Vendanta. Apart from this, we also have other visiting Acharyas from other centers occasionally.
However, in spite of all the listening, and in the hush between office, home and children, we are hardly able to keep what we heard, or contemplate on that. Some of us forget the moment we reach home after the camp, yajna or class. Someone told me recently that they forget in the parking lot itself! Then we wait for the next yajna.
The process of learning and absorbing the teachings of Vedanta is three-fold: sravanam (Listening), Mananam (Reflection) and Nidi-dhyasanam (intense meditation and practice). Sravanam is actually much more than physically listening to the exposition of Vedanta. It involves the clear understanding of the primary message of Vedanta, its validity and its application in daily life. Sravanam is the focus in the Jnana Yajnas and weekly discourses that are a regular feature of life at the Chinmaya Mission.
But as mentioned before, we all know how difficult it is for us to recall clearly what we had heard and thought we understood during the talks by our Acharyas. That happens when we have not engaged in the second step of the learning process: Mananam.
Mananam is not merely thinking about what we have heard or read. It requires wrestling with the ideas, posing arguments and counter-arguments based on related texts or personal experience in life. This happens more easily when we engage in discussion with each other than in solitary reflection. And only then do our deep-set doubts surface so we can resolve these doubts and come to a deeper level of acceptance of Vedantic teachings. This is the domain not of Jnana Yajnas but of study groups.
A study group is a group of five to fifteen people who meet regularly to discuss one of the Vedantic texts. All members of the group participate equally, with one of them being a Coordinator. Poojya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda put the highest emphasis on participation in study groups by all sincere seekers. CMWRC has several study groups operating currently, but not enough. Many more members will benefit enormously by participating in a study group regularly. We all should encourage others as well to attend one of these. A list of study groups meeting now can be found at our website: chinmayadc.org. Let us commit ourselves to enhancing our own learning and understanding of Vedanta through participation in study groups. Take full advantage of the wonderful resources we have available by being members of the Chinmaya Mission family.