Since prehistoric times people have stopped at the darkest and coldest time of the year to reflect on the harmony of darkness and light, heat and cold and all the opposites of life; and to reflect on the origin and goal of it all. In some locations the sun would actually disappear for several days at a time. The people would gather together to remember to be patient, positive and strong, and to affirm and support each other through this special time. Life was and continues to be a struggle for survival and a dream of peace, happiness and Wisdom.
The Institute of Living Universal Values (LUV) is a fledgling organization which is still evolving, but which hopes to make that dream of peace, Happiness and Wisdom more real. It is a difficult process, because many people have learned to strive for peace, happiness and Wisdom within their own traditions, but fear they will go to hell if they get too close to other traditions. The interesting fact is, that all spiritual traditions have many common elements, and heaven is a state where all variances merge into One, the All-in-All.
So how can we begin to strive for more peace, happiness and Wisdom in our every day lives? Wherever we are, we can do as the ancients did—stop periodically to reflect on the nature of life and on our goals and challenges. Form small support groups for prayer, meditation, reading, discussion, and special activities. Groups which allow each person to follow their own personal path, but at the same time honoring all paths. This is part of the process of "learning to make the whole world your own," as Sri Sarada Devi once said most simply and most beautifully.
LUV will try to make special efforts to promote the basic principles of oneness, awareness and strength through broad educational projects undertaken by participants. The participants at this point are mostly women and children—for which we offer no apology. For thousands of years, women and children the world over have cried for peace and Wisdom. So now, let us "start anew." Since 9/11, there have been many questions about other traditions and how to live in peace. Both inner peace and outer peace shall be the focus of LUV.
The underlying foundation of LUV is the universal truth found in all traditions, and the special guardians are Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda of Hindu origins. Swami Vivekananda has been credited with first bringing the wisdom of yoga to the West. More can be learned about these special spiritual teachers by exploring any Vedanta website.
Modern Vedanta has been defined by Revered Swami Sarvagatananda of Boston/ Providence thus: "Vedanta means spiritual Wisdom. It is a way of living and realizing. It gives full freedom to each individual to evolve morally and spiritually according to his or her own faith and conviction." It is a learning process no doubt, with many opportunities to fall and rise up again. And through this process, once catches glimpses of our inner Peace- Joy-Wisdom which passeth all understanding.
Hozho-Wholeness-Harmony, Om Shanti-Shanti-Shantih
Peace-Peace-Peace be to all creatures.
(Sister Akhanda-prana has been a monastic at the Vedanta Society of Southern California for the past 21 years. Prior to this, she was active at the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society of Boston.)