Over the last few years in our SRV Sangha there have been discussions on the need for a "rite of passage" for our youth.  What this means to us, Vedantically, and in America at this time, continues to develop.  Now, as the second wave of SRV children enter adolescence, and a younger set is on the way, we are striving to bring this into manifestation.  Here are a few details that are starting to emerge:

Chela Dharma, Path of the Student
A rite of passage into self-motivated dharmic life

Purpose of entering the Chela Dharma:
To develop a strong character to:

  • meet the challenges of life with positivity, inner strength, and peace of mind
  • learn the dynamics of selfless service for the benefit of family, friends, community, and oneself
  • purify the mind for spiritual experience
  • gain qualification for a mature spiritual life in one's chosen religious tradition
Overview:
  • Hands-on experience: 12 months of exploration in the Four Yogas divided into three-month sections.  Special projects and personal experiments in service, study, worship, and meditation will be designed according to the capacity and interest of each student in consultation with Babaji or Annapurna.
  • Mentoring: The chela dharmi  will choose an adult member of the sangha to be a compatriot in this adventure.  The mentor will receive the same materials and teachings, and together youth and elder sangha member will set times when they can have dharma discussions on the teachings and their experiences.  (It is expected that parents will be following along in this, thus making this a family experience too.)
    • The purpose of the mentor is two-fold: to re-institute an age-old tradition of community elders shepherding youngsters into adult society, and to equip more of our adult sangha members with the very foundation we want our youth to have.
  • Culmination: At the end of the year the chela dharmi makes a formal entrance into the adult sangha in a special ceremony and celebration.

Further thoughts on the need for a Rite of Passage:
Rite of Passage for SRV Youth
In traditional societies and religious groups there is usually a rite of passage marking the shift from childhood to adulthood, which accords and recognizes self-responsibility in the youth and entrance into adult society.  This conscious act is missing in our secular culture and the primary rites of passage are getting a driver's license, sex, drugs, and legal drinking.  These are presided over by their own peers, rather than experienced adults and elders, and so the link between the new generation and the older generations is lost.  This is not conducive to a dharmic society.

What might a rite of passage be, SRV style?  This will no doubt be a learning process over the ensuing years.  To clarify at the start, it is not initiation into the Ramakrishna lineage.  Rather, it is about gaining qualification for a deeper spiritual life (integration of the yogas) and functioning in a dharmic home, society, and the family's chosen spiritual sangha.  The principles studied and assimilated will form a sound foundation on which to choose another spiritual tradition or decide to take initiation into the Ramakrishna lineage.
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