By Faye Selkin
Swami Chibrahmananda (Swami C.) is the latest addition to Riderwood’s diverse interfaith community resources. He has been lecturing once a month in the chapel since April of this year on the principles of the Vedanta, a sacred Hindu text, and eastern philosophy of life.
Swami Chibrahmananda joined the Ramakrishna Order of monks in 1999 and served Swami Prabuddhananda in San Francisco for 15 years. Swami C. is currently working with Swami Atmajnanananda at the Vedanta Center of Greater Washington, D.C. following a one year posting at the Vedanta Center of California with Swami Saravadevananda.
The group met in a friendly, intimate circle of chairs at the chapel. There was an acceptance of all values and people of all faiths, as the Vedanta does not proclaim to be the “only” way, one way to the exclusion of all others. Instead, Swami C. spoke mostly of the message of love, that everything is love, and that we are all of this same love. At the core, we are all the same; and our lives on earth as we perceive them (because they can change) are all a rather grand illusion. Loving everyone was mentioned because it is a mere illusion of separateness. We are all of God.
Because Swami C. came from a Christian background, he seems particularly aware of and can relate well to many faith perspectives. During his lectures, he often uses quotes from Jesus and the Bible, as well as from the Vedanta or from Swami Vivekananada’s writings. This shows how they basically have the same intent of unity and love and move us in the same direction.
In addition to his lecture, Swami C. invites any questions or comments from the audience. In response to one question regarding goodness and evil, Swami C. explained that acts of love and goodness move you closer to unity and to God. Acts we call bad or evil don’t move us in that direction, but instead move us into discord and cause us to see and focus on the differences we see, rather than harmonizing with each other.