First on Bodhinatha's visit to Midland, Texas, was a pada puja at the home of our hosts, Drs. Mrunal and Padmaja Patel. This is Bodhinatha's third visit to Midland.
The puja was powerful. Everyone felt the presence of Gurudeva and the parampara blessing the home.
Bodhinatha was in high spirits and gave a wonderful upadesha after the puja.
Friday afternoon we headed to the mile-high city of Fort Davis in the Davis Mountains of far West Texas near the Mexican border. This quaint town is much as it has been for the past century. In fact, the hotel we stayed at was a century old. Between the telegraph office, the medicine man’s shop and the breakfast diner that doubles as a post office, we truly felt as though we had stepped back in time.
Bodhinatha relaxes on a bench outside the hotel before dinner.
We journeyed to Fort Davis to visit to the University of Texas’s McDonald Observatory for their 9:30 pm look at the stars. It was definitely interesting. A pair of high-powered stationary binoculars was pointed at the Pleiades star cluster, and we could see that it was comprised of hundreds, perhaps thousands more stars than the six or seven brightest we usually think of the Pleiades having. It is considered a young star cluster, some 150 million years old only. Using a green laser pointer that turned the night sky into the biggest presentation board ever, the announcer showed how the precession, caused by the Earth’s wobble, had moved over the last five thousand years since Greek times, changing the north star from Thuban then to Polaris today. Other features of the Star Party included seeing Saturn, the Moon and the Orion nebula through various telescopes.
Senthilnathaswami takes a moment to send the requisite tweet.
Jigisha (Mrunal's sister), Pooja and Padmaja pose with Bodhinatha and Senthilnathaswami next to a historical marker outside the entrance to the hotel.
A drive through West Texas is never complete without seeing hundreds, or rather thousands, of oil wells, marked with pumpjacks like this one, as well as natural gas fracking sites (which give off the most terrible smells!). The night sky is marked by oil drilling rigs that look like light towers. Such 24/7 drilling operations cost $2-3 million a piece, and each one is a gamble. The flat Permian Basin is one of this country’s largest oil fields. It’s all about the black gold here in Midland.
A feature of Bodhinatha's visit to Midland this time was a three-hour seminar on "Incorporating Hindu Teachings into Daily Life." Attendance at the seminar, which was held in the Hindu Association of West Texas temple, was double what we expected!
Bodhinatha was hosted at the homes of several of the temple trustees for meals. He gave an impromptu upadesha and answered questions in these informal settings.
Everyone sat in rapt attention as Bodhinatha addressed their concerns from his ever practical and balanced point of view.
Sunday saw the regular upadesha at the temple. Bodhinatha gave his 2011 "temple talk" on "Prayer, Meditation and Answering Youth's Questions." Many good questions at the end!
Stay tuned for a report on the interfaith gathering, the first in the Permian Basin, that was organized for Bodhinatha's visit. Aum Namah Sivaya.
"Temples with multiple deities can be confusing, especially for today's Hindu youth. For clarity, we need to bring forward a more precise understanding of the different Hindu denominations and how the different Gods are viewed from within each denomination. For spiritual advancement it is best to focus on one deity and get to the vibration that deity. When we hear teachings from various Hindus, it is important to understand and identify which denomination they are speaking from. This will avert confusion when that teaching gets contradicted in a different context where someone is talking about the same subject but from a different philosophical background."
Bodhinatha reviews the main characteristic of Saivite philosophy and practice with an indepth focus on the four stages of religions evolution, chariya, kriya, yoga and jnana. He highlights how this shows that Saiva Siddhanta is unique and quite from the modern practice of Hinduism as Vedanta