State of Church January 2005

Carrying forward the tradition that Gurudeva started of giving the 'State of the Church' talk, this is the fourth one given by Bodhinatha. Nursing a cold and sore throat, he reviews the previous years and lists some of the major focuses for the year, which includes new booklets for Vishesha Diksha, the Atmartha Puja and Ashtottara, as well as, revisions of other books. Also planned are more study retreats and travel to Kumbhabhishekams, in addition to usual annual visits. Completion of the Gopurams and the Capital Endowment fund-raising are the activites for Iraivan, while Himalyan Acres will have almost double the plantings by the end of the year.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning, everyone!

Usually we don't give a talk at the Guru Puja but this is the one exception of year because it is Gurudeva's Jayanthi, Guru Puja is January 5. So, we are carrying forward the tradition that Gurudeva started of giving, what is called, 'The State of the Church' talk. It happens every year. This was our fourth one. That is the reason. It sets a nice overview of what we are focussing on for the coming year.

So, in review, in the year 2002 we started our first talk and the major focus was on bringing in new members. We had lots of new members, just sitting there, knocking on the door, wanting to come in. So, we brought in about thirty new members that year. Finished the 'Master Course' Trilogy in hard-cover and we issued Level One of the study in that year.

2003, continued on. We did Level Two of the Academy Master Course Supervised Study and did our first, new, small book for quite some time, which is 'Yoga's Forgotten Foundation', printed our first in the pocket-book size 'Dancing with Siva' and continued our yearly visits to Mauritius, Malaysia, Singapore and California.

So, 2004 was quite busy. We started with the ambitious India Innersearch, which was a very successful program. 90 people and lots of them got very, very inspired. Really, I think the part of it that touched me was that so many of them really felt close to God during their time in India, a new experience for them. Very appreciative of that.

Then we started something we haven't done for many, many years. We had a study retreat in Malaysia. Five-day study retreat that we finished in December. We had eighty participants from Malaysia and Singapore both.

Last year for Iraivan, I think, the hightlight, the easy highlight to think about is the gold-leaf capstone. A wonderful accomplishment. Many of you here did a little bit in helping that occur and many of you did a lot. Anyway, it is beautiful. Once we get the covering off, it will be glistening there in the sun everyday!

Also, a wonderful accomplishment this last year, was Japa. We got our new booklet done on 'Panchakshara Mantra', which we have got a lot of positive response to, as well as, we gave Samaya Diksha four times in the year. Started at Chidambaram, a nice place to give diksha! And, Malaysia, Mauritius and California. Finished our new 'Know Thyself' booklet, looks quite beautiful. Moved forward on the Saivite Hindu Religion Course. It has been kind-of standing still for a number of years. We managed to print Book Three, just at the end of the year. It was challenging because of the translation. It is one thing to write a book in English. It is quite soemthing whenever a little change has to go through three different translators! [laughs] Slows it down quite a bit. We also did some new Church booklets last year for the Arul Sishya and the Vrata Sishya. Got that all up to date. And, we issued Level Three, the last of the Levels of the new Academy study. Now, we have the full supervised study in place for brand new people, so they can go through and not face any delays because of us.

At our annual trips to Mauritius, Malaysia, Singapore and California, plus a lot of extra trips last year. Western Canada, Eastern Canada, Atlanta, Cincinnatti and Houston, all in about three months. Everyone wants you in the summer months! So, the highlights of last year.

So, turning to the coming year ... What are our major focuses? Well, Samaya Diksha is in place with the Study Course and the Panchakshara Mantra booklet. So, we are moving on to Vishesha Diksha and the Atmartha Puja. At some point during the year, we will be coming out with a preparation course for Vishesha Diksha. So, for those who have not had the Vishesha Diksha, they can properly qualify and learn the Atmartha Puja and then later in the year, if we get the Study course out soon enough, we may be giving some Vishesha Diksha ceremonies. At least a few more will come through with Samaya Diksha this year. Some of them got side-tracked giving birth to children, slowed them down. Or, some event in their lives but they are catching back up, and looking forward to having Samaya Diksha later this year.

We are moving forward with the Saivite Hindu Religion Children's Course. As you know, it is six books long. So, we are moving on to Book Four and hope to have that printed by the end of the year, as well as, we are going to re-do Books One and Two in the new format. The new format takes all the teacher's material out of the booklet and makes that a separate PDF file, which is available on the web or on disc. Keeps the booklet nice and thin with the material for the children.

We are going to be producing the 'Merging with Siva' and 'Living with Siva' pocket books. There is a lot of demand for those, very convenient for carrying on the plane! No one likes to carry even one of the Trilogy on the plane [laughs], it's way too heavy! But lots of devotees enjoy reading the Trilogy when they travel, so it is a nice travel edition. Plus, overseas in particular, where the cost of the complete book is a bit high, it allows those who are just getting familiar with Gurudeva's teachings to buy one at a nominal price. In Malaysia and Mauritius, in particular.

As many of us saw at the Mahasamadhi observances, we had a new booklet in unfinished form for the Ashttotaras. So, we are going to be finishing that up. Again, translations take a lot of time to produce, getting everything correct in various languages. So, it is going to contain a 108 names for Gurudeva, which is what we were chanting for the Mahasamadhi Observances, plus a 108 names for Yogaswami, something new. Plus, a 108 names for me, by popular demand particularly in Malaysia, they keep saying, andquot;Where's the names for Bodhinatha?andquot; [laughs] andquot;We don't want to chant Gurudeva's names, please gives us the names ...andquot; So, we finally said, we better do that. So, we are going to have all three in the booklet plus some general information on Guru bhakti for inspiration.

We are going to have a nice upgrade also this year to Lemurian Scrolls. We have some beautiful 4-color artwork by our Balinese artist Iwayan. So, we are going to be printing that this coming year in the 4-color version. As you know, the old drawings are a bit simple, shall we say, in black-and-white. So, this would add a nice aspect to the book throughout. As well as, we are hoping to do the 'Karma Management' booklet this year, based on two sources. One, we are going to take all of Gurudeva's material from the Trilogy that is on Karma and put in the booklet, plus the Insight section material we did for 'Hinduism Today' with the principles of 'Karma Management', combined.

So, in the teaching area. Our study retreat in Malaysia was very well recieved, a five day program on the beach in Malaysia. Fortunately, Sumatra is between the earthquake and Malaysia. We were there but we were protected. The only thing that happened was the water came up five feet. We were out on the island swimming and within minutes the water jumped five feet in height. So everyone who was in the water, jumped out. {laughs] Something is unusual here! That was the closest that it came to us. Fortunately, we were very protected. Anyway we had a great program and when they started they were hoping for fifty and ended up with eighty, which shows the amount of interest. So, now they are anxious for similar retreats in other countries. So, we are starting to plan for the end-of-the-year trip to have some weekend retreats, 2-day retreats or even one-day retreats for Singapore, Mauritius and possibly again in Malaysia.

Travel is starting to come in, requests for this year. The first one which is firm is the March trip to London, end of March, hoping it won't be too cold. Nice invitation there. It is for the Annual Mahasamadhi of Yogaswami. It is quite a large group of Yogaswami devotees in London area. Indira Sivayoham and her husband - Indira was on Innersearch - are co-ordinating the trip and have invited us. So, it is at the end of March. It happens to coincide with Easter weekend which is a 4-day holiday in the UK. So, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, all four days will be holiday days. So, it is a great opportunity to have number of events.

Second invitation to come in is for the Montreal, Quebec Murugan Temple, is having a Kumbhabhishekam for its newly built Temple. It is a much larger facility next to the original one. Gurudeva went there a couple of times. The deity for the new temple has been donated by Gurudeva. So, we have close ties with the Temple and also the Saiva Society - forgetting the name of the organisation, Saiva something of Quebec - Saiva Sabha of Quebec, Saiva Society of Quebec. Will be going there at the end of August.

We have our dates for California, which are October 15 and 16 weekend. We will going there and of course, Mauritius, Malaysia, Singapore in September.

We just had an invitation come in from a new temple in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I had to get out my map, I don't remember where Winnipeg is, it is further east than I thought it was. So, there is at the end of June, they are having a Kumbhabhishekam for a temple there. We had some devotees come a couple of years ago, who were very interested in having us come there. Perhaps, they are involved in the invitation. So nice to have a Hindu Temple that is kind-of in the middle of Canada there. So, travel is coming in ...

On the property, Aadheenam property activities. Of course, Iraivan, is still our main activity. Totally finishing the Vimanam is of course, one of the goals that will happen this year and just requires some deities. We have some Nandis and some directional deities that have to be installed up at the top. So that is why the scaffolding hasn't come down. We don't want to take it down and then put it back up! So, those deities are coming soon. That is not a large task, they will be installed and then we will be able to start taking the scaffolding down so that our beautiful golden capstone is visible to all. As well as, we have the three small or Chinna Gopurams on the side, in the back going up this year, including gold-plating of them. By the end of the year we should have all three of them in place, nicely gold-plated. We will have four structures that are gold-plated by the end of the year. Very beautiful addition.

Deva Rajan is moving forward with our Capital Endowment fund-raising campaign. We finished up the brochure a few months ago. He is starting to move forward. The goal is to raise 6 million in 6 years. This is, of course, in addition to the 16 million the monks are raising. So, he is working with Easan Katir, Dr. Shan Sundar and Surya Kumar and hopes by the end of 2005 to have some significant donations come in from his efforts. He has some good leads in California's Silicon Valley area.

For our land across the river, Himalayan Acres ... those of you who have been over there can see the progress. So far, we have mainly been mowing and planting trees. We have some 2200 coconut trees sitting there. You can see some of them popping up through the grass. Avacado trees, noni trees, miscellaneous trees. 1500 ironwood trees gone in so far for windbreaks, and 100 teak and 20 aromatic seeder. So, counting the coconut trees that is about 4000 trees! Goodness!! That is a lot, through the end of last year ...

This coming year, we have planned to double that with an additional 1000 ironwoods for windbreaks, 1000 noni trees and trial plantings of 1200 mahogany trees and 200 pheasantwood trees. 3400 new trees for this coming year. We have worked out a nice system. As with anything, it is easier when you know what you are doing. [laughs] It was not obvious how to plant trees in the middle of a former cane field. There's a serious grass problem, guinea grass problem. So, the system for laying down what is called mulch, which to me looks like plastic, but anyway it is called mulch! [laughs] To me mulch is something else, plastic is plastic. In this case, plastic is the mulch! So, laying down mulch in a wide strip and planting tress in the middle of the mulch strip, controls the weeds quite nicely. So, you don't have a grass problem, which are called weeds. So, you don't have a serious weeding problem to take care of them. They do fairly in that condition. So, that is a great break-through, we have been doing that for the latter part of the year and we have been quite successful in the recent plantings. So, we are moving ahead with additional 3400 trees in that way and make some nice progress on Himalayan Acres in the year 2005.

So, those are some of our plans, not all of our plans. It gives you an idea of what we are doing and where we are going. What is coming out in terms of study programs. for all those who are still making progress in different studies and dikshas.

Aum Namah Sivaya!