Creating a Family Plan Part 2

How do we develop goals as part of our plans? Bodhinatha answers this question in part two of his talk on planning. He gives many sample goals and hopes that families who hear this talk will be catalyzed to think about creating a family plan.

Unedited Transcript:

So far we are doing well. We know we need objectives. We have five departments of life. How do we develop the goals? Well, we ask the questions and we answer it. We have five questions of course. What are the family's spiritual goals? We write down our answers. What are the family's social goals? What are the family's cultural goals? The economic goals? And of course the educational goals?

If you go through this exercise in planning, you start to write down your goals. Sooner or later you will run into the question, "How far into the future am I planning? Am I planning for one year, two years, three years, five years, ten years, twenty years? How far should I make this plan go?" There is no rigid rule but Gurudeva gave the guideline of six years. Six years is a good time frame. It is long enough but it is not seemingly forever. If you go too long, it just gets speculative. What will I be doing twenty years from now? You may not really know. But you can get out about six years with some clarity.

To help everyone out, who wants to go through this exercise of developing or updating their family plan, I have created a few sample goals just to try and make sure it is clear, what we are talking about.

For spiritual, yearly pilgrimage. Well, sometimes when you say yearly pilgrimage immediately the thought comes up in the mind of the family, "Can't afford it, can't afford it." So it does not have to be an expensive one, does not have to go off to India. Just a few hundred miles can be enough. For example, our Singapore members and students every year, go on a pilgrimage to Malaysia. Easy to do! Rent a bus, jump in a bus, drive off to Malaysia and visit temples you normally don't go to. The idea of a pilgrimage is to go some place that you normally don't go. So you are breaking out of your routine, breaking out of the habit mind. Of course, being on an island here, it is a little challenging. But we are also speaking to the Web and most people live where you can easily go two hundred miles in a car. So that is a good example, Singapore goes to Malaysia.

Social goals: Extended family gatherings. Very important social goal. Getting as many members of the family together as you can, once a year at least, is an important part of family life. Cementing everyone, strengthening the ties between all members of the family by getting as large a family together as you can. Special family outings. Here is a question. When was the last time the family went horseback riding? Something different. Maybe you all don't ride horses but do something different. Plan plenty of opportunities and social outings, not to do the same old routine, the same things. But think out of the box and find something that would be different and interesting to all members of the family.

Cultural goals: Of course, the most common there is children taking dance and music lessons. That is an important part of cultural goals. Other cultural goals can be having the whole family attend certain cultural performances as a family unit, talking it over, enjoying it. Even on Kauai we have certain cultural performances. They are not traditional Hindu cultural performances but since that is all we have, it is fine to go. Culture is an important part of family life so attending cultural performances offered at KCC and discussing them as a family is a wonderful goal. Adults taking time to play music and sing if they have those skills. Sometimes we feel so pressured with life, no time to sing a devotional song, no time to pull out the vina. Whatever we know how to do, we have to get on with the business of life here, make money or do something but taking time to enjoy these cultural refinements keeps our life refined. Culture is important because it is a refining process. If we don't have a cultural side of life, your crudeness can increase rather than decrease. We are trying to become more refined beings, more spiritual beings. So taking time to perform the cultural skills we know, is important. It does not have to be a lot of time, we do not have to take two hours a day, but a few times a week, if that is part of our plan. If we have time to perform music and sing, it is wonderful to keep those skills alive as an adult.

Economic. Of course that is where we are over-planned usually. So we don't need to spend a lot of time on economic planning because that is like a business plan and it is normally what you think about when you think about family planning. Planning for retirement, then planning for the kids education, owning your own house so that when you retire you don't have a mortgage. Everyone knows the basics of economic planning.

Educational planning. Of course, there again it is children's secular education foremost until it is finished. Family goal in education. But it is also good if adults continue to acquire new skills. Gurudeva never supported the attitude that, "Well, we stop learning when we reach age thirty, had enough schooling. We will just settle down and live out what we know. Why should we bother to learn or take time to learn anything new?" That wasn't Gurudeva's approach. It creates kind of an obstacle to unfoldment because spiritual unfoldment is learning something new. You are unfolding, developing new sensitivities, achieving new inner goals. It is a kind of learning. If our external learning is static, it is in contradiction to internally, spiritually growing. So within the respective realms, wives can develop new skills, such as in learning about herbs and healing. Useful new knowledge that can be added to the family to benefit all members. Husbands of course, can first of all focus on job related education, trying to further their education. As an employee they can advance, get promoted because they developed new skills. Professionals are even required to have a certain amount of ongoing, continuing education because the world is changing. Doctors need to go back for so many hours a year. Accountants and lawyers and so forth need their continuing education just to keep up with their profession, because it is constantly developing.

In summary, we are hoping this presentation will catalyze everyone to give some thought to their family plan. Pull it out of the drawer. If they have one, open up the computer file, it is more digital. If you don't have one, good opportunity to create one. Then, as part of our ongoing life in the Nartana Ritau, we can take Gurudeva's advise to update it every year during this ritau. It is just one of the things we do. We don't have to give it thought the rest of the year. This is the time we pull out our plans and today we have been focusing on family plans because that is the biggest need. Meaning there are not enough families who have good plans.

Individuals who aren't married, are single, of course can develop plans for themselves under this same principle, using the same five departments of life. If someone has a business, they can pull out their business plan and update it as well during this ritau. Monks can pull out their kulam plans, look ahead and say, "What is our kulam going to do in the next six years? See if we are planned well enough in the future. Same areas. What do we need to educate the members of the kulam in? Social: have a good party, now and then! We can apply it to all kinds of different situations, not just the family.

Aum Namah Sivaya.