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Honoring the Mayor of Kauai

Bodhinatha gives news of a dinner at the Marriott Hotel which he and another monk attended in honor of our island's mayor who is about to leave office after eight years. Bodhinatha also talks about today's ayudhya puja to bless the tools that the silpis use for building the temple.

Unedited Transcript:

We had an interesting experience last night. Palaniswami and I went to dinner at the Marriott, which was honoring Mayor Maryanne Kusaka. Each year a legacy. The Mayor was very happy to see us, very happy that we took the time to go to the event. She realizes we are not socially inclined and appreciates our social efforts. Palaniswami gave her a beautiful gift of 8 bunches, each containing 3 dwarf ti plants, right? 8 bunches. 8 symbolized her 8 years of service, don't know if the 3 symbolized anything. OK, here we go! So, 24 plants altogether and it turns out that the Mayor loves dwarf ti plants, she only had 5 so far. Now, she has 29! She said, "After I am out of office, you must come over and look at my garden. See how beautiful it is." Perfect gift for her. She was really happy to get our dwarf ti plants.

So, we went along. We had to leave a little early. We left at 8, so we could come back at a reasonable time, to get up early. We did not stay till the end. But, the surprising part was, in theory, this is the time of acknowledging Mayor Kusaka. A lot of people came up and acknowledged us, that was a surprising part, for the different things we had done. One of them being, helping the Mayor accomplish an important part of the legacy, which was spreading the message of 'Aloha' around the island. This person felt that the Monastery's role in that was crucial. It would not have happened in such an all-pervasive manner, shall we say, as large a scale as it did without our helping in producing and distributing the 'Aloha' posters and cards. It was very nice to hear that we were so integral to the success of that program.

Also we got acknowledgement for being up here as a monastery of men thinking about God, doing spiritual things. We got some acknowledgement for that. People on the island would come up and be totally uplifted and forget about all their problems, giving acknowledgement that Gurudeva is guiding their spiritual lives. That surprised us, you know. Nani, from the Hawaii Community Foundation popped out this statement. "Oh, Gurudeva is guiding my spiritual life." You know, we did not expect that. She is very supportive and appreciates being up here. But, for her to have that perspective that Gurudeva is guiding her spiritual life, just really surprised us. So, we got a sense of how many people on this island just appreciated the Monastery for spiritual contribution to the island. Very nice.

The other miscellany before I get to the talk, is today is Ayudha Puja, tool-blessing ceremony. Silpis bless the tools. So those of you who can stay, we are going to walk out at 7:30. Have to give them time to set up, that is why we can't go out any earlier. Two of them came in around 6, I think. They always come in first to the Temple and then go out to the work-site. They have been working since 6:10, setting up the worksite for the Puja. We have to give them time.

It is a traditional ceremony that is a part of Navaratri. In India, if you have ever been there, then you would not be surprised at how all-pervasive it is. But, if you haven't, it is amazing, how many things get blessed. Taxi-cabs for example, have banana trees tied on each side, three stripes, chandanam, kumkum all over them. Elevators are also blessed. Each elevator has the same markings on it, stays for about a week before it wears off. So, whatever tools you are using, whatever mechanical objects you are using, get blessed on this one day a year. It is a very interesting thought, that we can ponder. What is the significance? You will never find something like this in the West. One day a year, when secular objects are blessed. Somehow, that does not happen.

One of the down-to-earth aspects of it is, the clearing of negative forces. Negative forces can build up around an object, thought forms, even asuric kind-of influence in some places can occur. The blessing, in the same spirit as a house blessing, clears out these forces. So, once a year taking time to bless everything helps to get rid of any negative forces that have accumulated for one reason or another, around these objects., which can cause accidents. Practical side. If you are working with tools, gather up all your tools and you can bless them once a year on Ayudha Puja day. Get rid of any negative forces that may have accumulated.

Then, it is the same idea of cleanliness, an extension of that. 'Saivite' Shastras gives a number of references to how presence of dirt accumulates negative force. So, negative thought force or other forces are important to keep the house clean. It is a good practice if things seem to be getting off-track, to take the weekend off and clean the house. Maybe we have let it accumulate dirt and debris. We need to clear it out of all these forces. So, that is the practical side.

On the spiritual side, it helps unite the inner and the outer, helps us look at we do in the outer world, as a religious action. Again, the Western idea is that what we do in the outer world is just secular, has nothing to do with religion. Religion is somehow separate from our everyday actions. When we take the time to bless the tools we use, in our everyday action, it is helping us change that perspective to the idea that our everyday actions should be an extension of our religious beliefs and goals and not separate from them. It helps unite the inner and the outer. A business man who separates his business from his religion does not have that deeper perspective. It is better to unite the two, so that they are not distinct. Religion permeates his business, his domestic life, going to the temple, permeates everything he does. There is no part of his life that is not permeated with religious beliefs and goals, cannot separate religion from his life.