(refer to the monthly calendar for exact dates)
The Sunday School programs will involve a variety of creative and reflective activities inspired by the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother, Swami Vivekananda and other great religious teachers of the world. Children will learn some of the basics of Vedanta, engage in crafts activities, and participate in physical activities such as Hatha yoga.
We appreciate this opportunity to introduce the younger generation to Vedanta. If you have any questions, please contact our Temple.
This is a temple of Spiritual education and it welcomes everyone irrespective of the religion, culture, race, gender etc. that is followed by the person. It is based on practice and application of the spiritual principles in our day to day lives and not based on any dogmas or doctrines. This Center offers classes, lectures, guided meditation, Karma Yoga etc. This is the place where one finds real joy in a calm environment among cheerful and helpful people.
The Vedanta Society of Portland welcomes applications for membership from those interested in spreading of the Vedantic teachings as preached and practiced in the Ramakrishna Order, and who wish to support the Vedanta Society through devotion, financial contribution, and service.
Benefits of Vedanta Society Membership
Membership provides an opportunity to become part of a community of devotees who share your spiritual interests. Members also enjoy benefits aimed to deepen their spiritual life and further their involvement in the activities of the Vedanta centers, like annual retreats just for members.
Commitment of Vedanta Society Members
Members are encouraged to:
Attend lectures, classes and other events at the Vedanta Society, including the annual Members Meeting in Holywood.
Pledge monthly dues at a level they choose. No pledge is too small.
Provide some service to the Vedanta Society. Our ability to serve our members and spread the teachings of Vedanta very much depend on help from members.
Uphold the integrity and message of the Vedanta Society and the Ramakrishna Order.
Applying for Membership
Prior to applying, we suggest you attend lectures and classes at the Vedanta Society for a while, and then make an appointment with Swami for an interview. There is no charge for the interview. If you live out of the area and are not able to come to Southern California to meet the Swami membership may not be practical for you, but we will be glad to include you in our e-mail list – you can sign up here. Members do not need to have received spiritual initiation. To apply for membership, go to the Contact Us page, fill out the Contact form and click on “send”. Or if you have questions about membership, write us . A member of the Vedanta Society will be in contact with you within 2 weeks to discuss your application or answer your questions.
Please inform us in writing if you decide to discontinue your membership.
The programs and day-to- day operation of our centers are supported by the selfless
service of our volunteers. Service may be offered through a Karma Yoga Day, see
our calendar for dates, but much needed work is performed outside of those group
Opportunities for service include, but are not limited to, the following:
Singing in the choir
Staffing a bookshop
Staffing a library
Teaching Sunday School
Ushering for Sunday Spiritual Talks and public celebrations
Editing and uploading video and audio recordings
Contact your local center to offer your time and service. We appreciate all efforts.
Experience a retreat of up to six weeks at a Vedanta Monastery.
Here is an opportunity for you to:
Experience the lifestyle and routine of monastic living.
Reflect on the meaning of life.
Study religion and philosophy, perhaps as an independent study course from
Focus on the inner world of the spirit.
Room and board for up to six weeks
Arrangements for transportation to and from the plane, train, or bus station in
Use of the library
Advice and help with the area of study where possible and supervision of independent study if not done through a college
Individual instruction on meditation if desired
An atmosphere conducive to spiritual study and practice
For those interested in a program of study here are some examples of areas of concentration:
Science and Religion
The influence of Eastern Philosophy’ in the West
Sri Sarada Devi
Spiritual writings of authors such as Aldous Huxley, Gerald Heard, Christopher Isherwood, or Joseph Campbell
For a complete program of classes, lectures, and events offered at the Hollywood Temple, see our Calendar.
Please note: There are fewer classes or special activities during July and August.
Students interested in college credit for their independent study program should find out the requirements from their college or university.
About the Vedanta Society
We are spiritually affiliated with the Ramakrishna Order of India. Our purpose is to promote the harmony of religions, the study of Vedanta Philosophy, and to provide facilities for both monastics and lay members to pursue spiritual practices leading to Self-Realization or God-Realization.
Swami Vivekananda was the first Hindu religious leader to come to the West. In 1893, he spoke at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. After a pilot program in 1991 we began this Monastic Experience program in late 1992 as a way of commemorating his efforts at promoting harmony and understanding among the various faiths.
This center is an active center with distribution, and selling, and many classes, lectures, and programs for the public. The center is located in the residential hills just a few blocks from Hollywood and Vine.
Men would probably spend one or more weeks at our Hollywood Monastery and the
remainder of their stay at our Trabuco Canyon Monastery.
Please write William Scott at the above address for an application or print out the
form below and return it by mail to the address above. Finalists may be contacted by
phone for an interview. You will be notified in writing if you are accepted for the
You must be between 18 and 33 years of age, enrolled in a college or university,
making a minimum C grade point average or equivalent, and be in good health.
You must provide us with proof of medical insurance, a completed application form,
a recent photo of yourself or a photo copy of your driver’s license or ID, and one
letter of recommendation.
You must provide your own transportation here and back to your city of residence or
college. You must have enough spending money for personal expenses (toiletries,
study supplies, clothing, phone calls, etc.) and medical expenses not covered by
You will be expected to join in the regular monastic routine of meditation, classes,
and chores. There will be at least 3 hours a day left for study. Abstinence from sex
and substance abuse is required.
If for any reason the visitors or the monastics feel it necessary to cut the visit short,
the Vedanta Society is not responsible for any extra travel expense should the visit
be ended early.
Please bring shoes, work clothes, and regular street clothes. Participation in
meditation and classes is expected. Whenever possible, meals must be taken at the
regular times and help with clean-up is expected.
Anyone with a previous history of substance abuse should have a minimum of one
year free from use. Smoking is not allowed inside any of the buildings. Those who
are selected for the program are expected to have good habits of cleanliness and to
show common sense and consideration in areas such as the following: not leaving
candles or incense burning unattended or while you are sleeping; being
conservation-minded in the use of water, electricity, and gas; keeping your room,
bathroom and kitchen in a neat and tidy condition; and returning all library books.
BE SURE TO MAIL YOUR COMPLETED APPLICATION AT LEAST FOUR WEEKS
PRIOR TO THE BEGINNING OF THE PERIOD FOR WHICH YOU ARE APPLYING.
Please ask one professor or spiritual mentor to write a letter of recommendation and
ask him/her to mail it directly to us at least four weeks prior to the beginning of the
period for which you are applying.
Application for Student Program (pdf)
Monasticism is living life in preparation for or under religious vows. The goal of life in
the view of Vedanta is to realize our true nature as one with God. Each person must
decide what path will best enable him or her to work efficiently and sincerely toward
The path of the lay person usually involves married life. The individuals within the
family strive to serve God in each other. Lay people serve society by raising children
with sound values and by contributing through their work life. They must juggle the
priorities of job, family, and spiritual life and incorporate their spiritual practice into
their jobs and family lives.
The path of the monastic involves renouncing family life and adopting vows of
celibacy in order to be able to give more energy and focus directly to spiritual
practices. Many spiritual traditions have monastics, including Hindu, Buddhist, and
Christian. In the tradition of the Ramakrishna Order, the purpose of monastic life is to
work out one’s own liberation and to train oneself to do good to the world, along the
lines laid down by Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi, and Swami Vivekananda.
Our Convents and Monasteries
The Vedanta Society of Southern California has forty monastic members who run the
centers for the benefit of the hundreds of lay members, visitors and general public.
We maintain convents for female monastics in Hollywood and Santa Barbara, and
monasteries for male monastics in Trabuco Canyon (Orange
County), Hollywood, South Pasadena, and San Diego. Other Vedanta centers also
have provisions for monastic residence. Some details and requirements may vary at
these other centers. Our monks and nuns are members of the Ramakrishna Order of
India headquartered in Calcutta, India.
To some extent, each person’s spiritual path will be different and is worked out in
consultation with the Head of the Center. The Four Yogas—Karma Yoga, Bhakti
Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Raja Yoga—are blended in a combination suitable to the
person’s temperament. In our lives we try to work with concentration yet detachment;
worship, work, and pray with devotion to God; study, discuss and contemplate the
scriptures and affirm our true nature, and spend time each day in meditation.
Our monastic routine consists mainly of working for the church, meditation, and
study (individual study and attending the classes at the center). Our work varies from
center to center but includes household activities such as cooking and cleaning,
maintenance, gardening, temple duties and rituals. We also do office & computer
work which includes running the monastery, convent and church affairs, operating
bookstores, a mail-order catalog and a publishing house. After being here some
time, one may become involved in lecturing, writing, editing and public outreach. We
provide a service to the public by sharing the teachings of Vedanta, and serving God
through the many visitors who come.
Requirements to Become a Monastic
Applicants must be under 35 years of age. The reason for this age limit is that the
rigors of community life necessitate a younger person who is more likely to be able
to adjust physically and psychologically.
Applicants must have at least a high school diploma, be reasonably healthy and
pass a physical exam. Six months of celibacy and abstinence from alcohol and
illegal drugs are required before joining, and applicants should be free of any debts.
The decision to enter the monastic life is not one to be taken lightly. It is not an easy
lifestyle. The qualities needed by the person who will be a success in spiritual life are
similar to those which bring success in any endeavor. It takes determination,
perseverance, and patience with oneself and others. The experience of community
living has been compared to stones rolling around against each other in a drum. You
end up nice and polished!
Four things are essential in monastic life:
devotion to higher ideals
renunciation of ordinary enjoyment and sensate values
a spirit of service
an affinity and zeal for sharing
Stages of Monastic Life
There are several stages of monastic life. The first six months is the pre-probationary
period. During this period the Vedanta Society provides room and board in exchange
for the work the candidate provides; however, personal expenses, clothing, and
medical expenses are not covered by the Society.
The next period is the probationary period which lasts for a minimum of five years.
From this point on, the Vedanta Society provides a monthly spending allowance, a
yearly clothing allowance, and pays for necessary medical expenses. When the
head of the center feels the candidate is ready, he or she may take first vows of
Brahmacharya (trial renunciation). It is then another minimum of five years before the
candidate is considered eligible for final vows of Sannyas (final renunciation). Often
the time period is longer.
We recommend that people interested in monastic life locate near enough to one of
the Vedanta centers to attend regularly so that they can get to know more about
Vedanta and become acquainted with the people living at the center. This also gives
the head of that center and other monastics a chance to know them. Then, if
monastic life seems appealing, they can discuss it with the head of the center.
We do have a special program for college students which offers an opportunity to
live and work at the Southern California centers for one to six weeks during their
The primary motivation for choosing monastic life should not be to escape something
unpleasant. Rather, it should be to move into an atmosphere that is the most
conducive to spiritual life. And it is not a path to avoid being busy. There is full
opportunity to meditate and study on a regular basis, associate with other spiritual
aspirants, and be involved in work that is meaningful.
Ultimately, like everything else, you will get out of the monastic life what you put into
it. Those who are successful are those who can give up the more immediate but
fleeting pleasures of ordinary life to work wholeheartedly toward the ultimate goal of
human existence, God- or Self-realization. The outside world is fraught with many
distractions and gives less support to one’s spiritual practice than monastic life.
Living in a convent or monastery, one is constantly reminded of the divine nature
within and the spiritual ideal.