Fourth Annual Midland Interfaith Panel

On Wednesday, February 19, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami joined a Jewish rabbi, a Catholic monsignor, an Episcopal bishop and a Baptist pastor for the fourth annual Permian Basin Interfaith Event. The two-hour event was videotaped, and as soon as the monastery receives it on DVD, it will be uploaded to YouTube for everyone to see.

The five speakers this year were (left to right in the first photo above):

  • Rabbi Holly Levin Cohn of Temple Beth El, Odessa, Texas

  • Msgr. Larry Droll, Pastor, St. Ann's Catholic Church, Midland, Texas

  • Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami of Kauai's Hindu Monastery, Hawaii

  • Rt. Rev. Sam B. Hulsey, Bishop (Retd.), Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas

  • Dr. Randel Everett, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Midland, Texas

The following questions were asked of the five speakers, which each addressed with three minutes of prepared remarks:

  1. Do you actively seek new members? How do you deal with inquirers seeking information to consider membership?

  2. How does your faith influence your views on gay marriage, and more broadly on homosexuality in general.

  3. What does your faith tradition have to say to those of us who do not believe in a Supernatural World, one with Gods, Spirits, Ghosts, and Demons?

  4. Throughout the year there are many public events such as awards, banquets, board meeting for the numerous non-profit organizations and regular meetings held by Government bodies. And they are often opened with a prayer which honors or beseeches Jesus Christ.
    How do you feel about this, given that often-times members of non-Christian faiths are present?

  5. Non-Christian children are frequently told by their peers that they are going to go to hell. Knowing that such comments can create fear and insecurity in young minds, how would you address this topic with your congregation?

The answers were significantly more approachable this year, perhaps owing to the fact that the questions were less philosophical and more socio-cultural in nature than in previous years. The group has also developed a bond and momentum that displayed itself in an increased cordiality and respectful banter between them, particularly when the moderator opened the floor for the panelists to speak and pose inquiries to each other for a while before taking follow-up questions from the audience.

An article about the event appeared in the local newspaper, The Midland Reporter-Telegram, and can be read here. We look forward to presenting the video of the entire event here in the weeks to come. Stay tuned.

A Religious Visit to Midland

Following Trinidad, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and Sannyasin Senthilnathaswami flew back to Texas, this time to Midland, far out west. Arriving in the evening, the first stop was a dinner at the home of Drs. Nalin and Kamal Tolia, some of the monastery's strongest supporters in West Texas.

The next morning, Drs. Mrunal and Padmaja Patel invited Bodhinatha to their home for pada puja satsang. Mrunal performed an excellent puja, Bodhinatha gave a marvelous upadesha and all present were blessed with vibhuti.

One of the days we were in Midland happened to be chitra nakshatra, so the Patel family invited Senthilnathaswami to perform pada puja to Gurudeva's tiruvadi in their shrine room. He did so in the same style it is performed at Kauai Aadheenam. In fact, at the very same time the puja was being performed at Gurudeva's shrine in Kadavul Temple on Kauai. The energy was very high.

An Invitation to the 2014 Mauritius Innersearch

There are only a few seats left for the 2014 Innersearch. If you are interested click here to visit our Innersearch information page for more details.

Since 1967 our Innersearch Travel-Study Programs have been among the most joyous of our sharings together. Travel does that: opens mind and heart, sprouts new friendships, lifts the spirit so we can soar within without the usual obstructions, excuses and distractions.

you are invited to join Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and his monks for an Innersearch Travel-Study Program, July 2-14, 2014, on the resplendent island of Mauritius, near the southern tip of Africa in the Indian Ocean. How beautiful is this island? After he visited the remote island nation in 1896, about half again the size of Kauai, Mark Twain quoted an islander as saying: "Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius."

This will be our first Innersearch program to Mauritius, one of precious few in the world that has a majority Hindu population, home to hundreds of Saiva Siddhanta Church members and Himalayan Academy students, as well as our Saiva Dharmashala and Spiritual Park, the only Saiva Siddhanta Church center outside of Kauai.

Innersearches happen only every few years. So it is a rare opportunity to spend time (not just a few hours but days and weeks) with the monks of Kauai Aadheenam while attending classes with Satguru Bodhinatha. You can look forward to life-long friendships with others on the path.

Gurudeva understood the importance of getting away from our day to day routines and that going on Innersearch is a transformative experience and a chance for spiritual change in our lives:

"What is your goal in this life? Is your goal to sit and wallow in the emotions? Is it to memorize a lot of things that different people have said so you can quote from them? Or is your goal in life to find first your Infinite Being within yourself? If you could only once gain just a glimmer of your true Being--the spiritual Being flowing through the mind which you always thought was you. Instead, you have things that you have to do that you haven't done, things that you will do, and things that you will not do, things that you haven't made up your mind to do as yet and things you thought you would like to do but decided you wouldn't do. All of this is going on as a process within yourself, and it keeps you nicely confused.

"Life in the technological age is a life of constant work, constant activity, all of the time. So, we tend to set religion aside just when we need it the most. We have to rely on our religion to keep a balance in our life. It is a proven fact that religious people can cope with stress and strain better than nonreligious people. The answer to stress is not to take a pill to be able to relax. The answer is not to give up the temple, not to give up the culture, not to give up the scriptures which put everything into perspective, not to give up the art of meditation and the practices of yoga. Spiritual things you must understand with your heart, with your feeling. Feeling and thinking, working together, give you that deep understanding that you need to cognize the wisdom of the spirit.

"The Hindu does not have the feeling of having to take a vacation to 'get away from it all.' We don't lead a life of mental confusions, religious contradictions and the frustrations that result from modern hurried living. We lead a moderate life, a religious life. In living a moderate life, we then look at our pilgrimage as a special moment, a cherished time of setting ordinary concerns aside and giving full stage to our religious longings. It is a time to take problems and prayers to our personal God."

Click here to visit our Innersearch information page for more details

Trinidad Workshop

Kashika Publications, which is responsible for distributing Hinduism Today and Himalayan Academy Publications in Trinidad & Tobago, hosted a two-day workshop at the National Council of Indian Culture's Divali Nagar facility, led by Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami last weekend.

If one thing became evident during the weekend's 10 hours of classes, it was that Gurudeva's visit during the 2000 Caribbean Innersearch enlivened this tropical island's Hindu community, gave them permission to be proud of their heritage and faith and activated their interest in learning more about how to apply Hindu principles in their lives. Since then, Ashwinee has gathered around her a marvelous group of sevaks. A dynamic mission for the spreading of the monastery's educational materials not only in Trinidad & Tobago but throughout the Caribbean exists here as a result. It is truly something special. This was Bodhinatha's third visit in the past five years, and his support has been equally important to sustaining the momentum.

As one attended put it in the local language, "Wit' Bodhinatha's trick presentation style, de' Hindus in Trinidad are understandin' deir religion, mon!"

Trinidad Calls

Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and Sannyasin Senthilnathaswami arrived in Trinidad & Tobago on Thursday night to a warm greeting by hosts Pandit Narendra and Ashwinee Ragoonanan and family. Friday was a full day of calls to local organizations, including the Chinmaya Mission ashram in McBean Village in Couva, in the central part of the island, Dattatreya Yoga Center in Carapichima, Ashwinee's mother's ancestral home in San Juan, and the 90.5 FM radio station facility in the St. Clair district of the capital, Port of Spain.

Due to the great work of Ashwinee Ragoonanan and her husband Pandit Narendra and daughter Kashika over the years, Gurudeva's teachings and Hinduism Today magazine have a strong presence in this country, slowly bolstering the large Hindu population's understanding of and pride in their religion.

Archives are now available through 2001. Light colored days have no posts. 1998-2001 coming later.

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