Bodhinatha in California
Very quiet at the Aadheenam. Bodhinatha writes from California:
“Saturday: Second day of retreat Classes appreciated by everyone. Ended the day with an indoor Siva homa with everyone participating offering grains.”
Same shot, Iraivan on this day one year ago.
Swamis in Los Angeles
Friday was a very full day that had us up just after 3:00am for a 6:00 am from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Coach seats on airplanes these days aren’t very conducive to computer work, so as soon as we arrived and got on the 405 toward Century City, Palaniswami was off to work on his MacBook Pro captioning photos from our last few days in New York and San Francisco for TAKA. This whole trip was in the mode of “Go! Go! Go!” from the very beginning, and our day in LA was no exception.
We were in LA to meet with two remarkably gifted human beings. This is Douglas Thompson, filmaker and documentarian whohas help us in the last year with ideas about our own film making efforts at the monastery.
The year-old crystal-and-marble palace at 2000 Avenue of the Stars is the home of The Annenberg Foundation, our first stop, as well as the notorious Creative Artists Agency (the largest in LA) and other Hollywood firms.
It’s like nothing we have ever seen before. We learned that the elaborate marble stairway (not the one pictured) leading from the street level up to CAA’s offices cost $8,000,000 alone. Certainly nothing like this exists on Kauai!
The lobby at The Annenberg Foundation is a beautiful representation of the enormous amount of resources this great organization has to do their charitable work. On their website, they define their mission: “Established in 1989 by Walter H. Annenberg, the Annenberg Foundation provides funding and support to nonprofit organizations in the United States and globally through its headquarters in Radnor, Pennsylvania and offices in Los Angeles, California. Its major program areas are education and youth development; arts, culture and humanities; civic and community; health and human services; and animal services and the environment. In addition, the Foundation operates a number of initiatives which expand and complement these program areas. The Annenberg Foundation exists to advance the public well-being through improved communication. As the principal means of achieving this goal, the Foundation encourages the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge.”
Douglas Thompson is head of production for the amazing documentaries of the foundation’s Explore project, an initiative of trustee Charles Annenberg Weingarten. Douglas is an accomplished video documentary producer at the top of his field. His work is simply amazing. We came to know him through a Kauai journalist, formerly working in LA, who also has a love for making documentaries and hopes to continue her work on our tropical island. Palaniswami begins with a gift of chutney he made at the monstery, Raisen-Ginger.
The Explore project is taking Charlie all around the world looking deeply into how compassion and giving manifests in various cultures. They have done documentaries about Africa, China, India, Bali, several regions of the US and Costa Rica. Now, Douglas is working on post production for a very involved piece about the Middle East. This is his studio. There are ten working on the Explore initiatives.
We were the first to watch his draft cut of a powerful, moving section of the documentary about a community theater for Palestinian children run by a Jewish man.
Douglas is happy when with our rousing response to his work, many months of effort no one else has seen.
The film is powerful, showing dramatically the humanness of people on both sides of this historic divide. It is also elegant and emotionally compelling.
Douglas was a great host. He’s been to Kauai several times, and plans to come again.
Next, Douglas took us to the conference room to watch part of their documentary about India (available in its entirety on their website, here) on a big screen. After the showing, Douglas was abundantly generous with his time as we discussed with him our next major video documentary initiative: transforming the 47 chapters of our book, “What Is Hinduism?” into videos. This is a momentous project for which we need great assistance on many levels, and Douglas was full of insights, answers and expertise about all aspects of documentary making. It was a glorious and productive meeting.
The lights were turned down as he showed us his other film, “Spiritual India, River of Compassion.” Thank you, Douglas. AUM NAMA SIVAYA AUM!