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Creating a Family Plan Part 1

Nartana ritau, the season from mid-April to mid-August, is the season for planning. Gurudeva put emphasis on the three seasons, as he liked variety, and Bodhinatha tells us all about looking ahead in part 1 of his talk on planning. Following the example of a business plan, we can come up with a detailed 6-year family plan, which we update annually, for the five divisions of lifespiritual, social, economic and educational.

Unedited Transcript:

This morning we are going to look a little bit at planning. It is the ritau for planning. I am going to start with a few basics, because all of you here know of course, this also goes out on the web on the TAKA page. We want to make sure the terminology doesn't lose anyone.

As we know, our calendar is based on the traditional Tamil almanac, called a panchangam. But it has a number of unique features that Gurudeva added to the traditional panchangam. One of them is the concept of 'ritaus'. The traditional panchangam has ritaus but it has six of them. Ritau mean season. The traditional Tamil panchangam has six seasons. But Gurudeva reduced that to three seasons or ritaus.

As we know, we have the Nartana Ritau, which we are in now, which is mid-April through mid-August. Followed by the Jivana Ritau, mid-August through mid-December. Then we have the Moksha Ritau, which is mid-December through mid-April.

Gurudeva put strong emphasis on the ritaus and one of the reasons is he likes variety, likes things to change. Let us not do something the same all year, let us change. Let us have a different color to wear and food to eat, different ideas to focus on during different times of the year. It gives a nice variety to our life.

As we mentioned a few weeks ago from the Saiva Dharma Shastras where it talks about the Nartana Ritau, the emphasis is on seeing ahead, planning for future years. To quote it, it says, "It is a time for planning retreats and other activities for youths and adults for the entire year." So that is Mission planning. "During this time of looking forward, the Church's six-year plan is updated by the Guru Mahasannidhanam and the stewards and another year added." The idea there is, if you have a six-year plan, at the end of the year it is no longer a six-year plan. It is a five year plan, right? One year is gone. So, every year to keep it a six-year plan, we have to add a new year. That is part of the approach that Gurudeva is suggesting here. Every Nartana Ritau, make sure you add another year to your plan. So you are always planned ahead for six years.

The fact that planning was very important to Gurudeva is also pointed out in the fact that he introduces it early on in the Nandinatha Sutras. It is in Sutra Nine, which we also call, 'The Four P's' "Siva's devotees approach each enterprise with deliberate thoughtfulness and act only after careful consideration. They succeed in every undertaking by having a clear purpose, a wise plan, persistence and push."

So when it comes to planning, one of the most common examples of plans these days is what is called a business plan. When someone starts a new business or takes over somebody's business, you have to develop a business plan. When you have a business plan, you focus on the various departments of the business, such as production, sales, marketing, advertising, finance.

These days everything being on the Web, you can find lots of business plans on the Web. So I was searching and I pulled up hundreds and hundreds of software programs that create business plans, books on business plans and so forth. Here is one of them just to give you a sample. This is from a site called 'Business Plan Software and Sample Business Plans'. "Develop a business plan. How do you write a business plan? What does a good plan look like? Ten sample plans of business plan. Software help. Over fifty free sample plans. Advise on writing a business plan and other business planning."

The percentage of people who own a business isn't that large, but still business planning is all over the place. Whereas, the percentage of people that are a part of a family is very, very large. Most people are part of a family. So, you would think that there would be a lot of emphasis on family planning, not in the sense of the number of children but in the sense of developing a plan for a family, just as we develop a plan for a business.

Families do need to plan just like business. A new family needs a plan when it starts out. But existing families need to revise their plans periodically and perhaps revise them in a major way.

Why would you need to revise a family plan? Well, major changes are like - the children are all married and left home, you need a new plan. The family moves to a new community, you need to adjust your plans to accommodate the fact that you are in a new place. There are different possibilities. The relationship between husband and wife is not as harmonious as it used to be if there is some challenges between the spouses. It is a good time to pull out the family plan, take a look at it and update it. The family takes on the responsibility of caring for an elderly parent, you need to revise your plan. One spouse becomes chronically ill. The husband retires. All of these are major changes in the family and ideally you would give a major update to your family plan in those situations.

What would you think? The number of people that own their own business is very small, it is a percentage. The number of people who are a part of a family is large. Therefore wouldn't there be lots of software and lots of books on developing a family plan? You would think so, right? There is a bigger need, a bigger market. There aren't any, I searched on the Web for a family plan, developing a family plan. I looked for books on family planning, didn't find a one. Hundreds of books on business planning, not one on the family plan.

So it looks like we are going to have to develop our own system for creating a family plan. However, we can learn a few things from the business plan because they are parallel in many ways.

Where does a business plan start? Which means of course, where should a family plan start? In a business plan, one of the first sections is called 'Objectives'. Here are some objectives from a typical business plan. 1. To increase sales to 1.9 million in 1999 and 3.8 million in 2000. They want to double their sales. That is pretty ambitious. 2. To increase gross margin to 70% and net profit margin to more than 9.75%. Pretty specific. 3. To hold personnel to one full time person for every $250,000.00 of revenue. 4. To maintain at least a 30% market share of product X. Very specific objectives.

Other names for objectives are goals or purposes. Objectives, goals and purposes - they all mean the same thing. So in our four P's, we start out with a clear purpose, it is the same idea. The business plan is starting out with objectives and Gurudeva is telling us to start out with a clear purpose. A purpose, goal, objective whatever term works best for you.

The first thing we can learn from the business plan is we need our objectives. Objective for what, though? What kind of objectives do we need? Again, looking at a business plan, they develop objectives for each department of the business. We have production, sales, marketing, finance. Various departments in a business. We can try and figure out, well what are the departments in life? What are the major divisions we can divide our life into, in a similar way that a business divides itself into these classic business divisions?

Well, fortunately Gurudeva has given us a model to use for dividing up the major departments of our life. It is dividing life into spiritual, social, cultural, economic and educational departments. Five divisions, five departments of life. Each one is quite distinct.

The beauty of the concept is, if we set goals for all five of these departments of life, we will end up with a fairly balanced life. If a family has a life that is not balanced, it is usually because the economic department of life is dominating everything else and the other departments - spiritual, social, cultural and even educational - are lagging. They are not given enough energy, not given enough time because the economics are not under control, because economics seem so important. But, for a balanced life and a balanced life means a happy life, we need much more than just the focus on one aspect, be it economics or any one particular department of life. We need all five.