Letter from the Chair of the ISHA Building & Fund-Raising Committee
Dear Friends of Ishwar,
It is with great joy that I can report that on September 18, 2014, Ishwar presided over a ground-breaking ceremony for the ISHA Conference Center in Bruce, Wisconsin. On a beautiful, clear day, surrounded by many friends, Ishwar shoveled the first scoop of dirt at the future construction site.
After the ceremony, the group gathered under a tent for a discourse from Ishwar, followed by a delicious picnic lunch prepared and served by sevadars.
Ishwar first spoke of the significance of the ground-breaking event in the context of Great Master’s comments on the shift of spirituality to the United States:
Welcome, friends, to this special event today. It’s a very important event for me. It’s like the big step forward in the dream that I have had for a long time. In 1937 — that’s a long time back — I was eleven years old when I heard the Great Master say to Julian Johnson — an American doctor, who was his disciple — he said, “Johnson, you are taking spirituality to the West.” And the axis of spirituality itself is shifting. For centuries it has been in the Far East and in the East. For centuries great masters have been born, great saints have come in India and China. And these countries have not been specially interested in producing worldly wealth, but they produced lot of spiritual wealth. This axis is shifting.
In 1937, the Great Master also wrote to other American disciples of his who were in the United States. And then he said in those letters that North America is ready for spirituality. You are already ready. It is only a question of explaining these teachings in your language; in your terms. And that will happen. It will happen soon. At that time, the number of people who will be seeking the spiritual truth will be very much increased and all of us will be helping each other to the spiritual goals which have so far been achieved in the East.
Ishwar then spoke of his personal journey to the United States to observe the unfolding of Great Master’s prophecy:
Eventually I shifted here. The reason why I shifted was that I knew Great Master’s prophecy that the axis of spirituality, itself, is going to shift to the West and localize in a big way in the United States. So I came hurrying when I could after my retirement from my job in India. I hurried here to take a ringside seat on the show that was going to happen here. I am watching the show now. And I can see that that prophecy is coming true. You, who are assembled here, are a witness to that prophecy. You, over here, are seeing something that is the fulfillment of Great Master’s prophecy.
Ishwar then spoke on the origin of the dera in India, and its similarity to the origins of the ISHA Conference in Bruce:
This place is a very hallowed place. It’s a very special place. When I first came here, I remembered the story of how the dera in India, where Great Master worked, was found. His Master, Baba Jaimal Singh, he was traveling around and when he stopped near the river Beas, in India, a crazy fellow was dancing there, jumping, saying, “This is it. This is it. There’ll be a big place here.” And Baba Jaimal Singh stood there and said, “This will be the place where the dera will be.” That’s where the dera stands today. It’s become a very big colony, almost like a township already, and is the center of so much spiritual emulation from masters and people visiting from all over the world to that single place where that crazy man was dancing.
So then I began to tour around here and I came to Eau Claire and traveled up north on Route 40. And we were going along the Chippewa River. And over here, a crazy man began to dance and shout, raising his arms. I said, “This is it.” That’s copycat. This is the very place where we were. It’s the same river, Chippewa River, flowing next to us. And we were able to then say, “This is going to be the place.”
Ishwar later spoke of what the future will bring to the ISHA Conference Center at Bruce:
Today we have broken ground here. That’s a great beginning of the conference center that we are going to set up here. It will be a very good conference center. Lot of great spiritual activity will take place by several masters. Several masters to come will have a chance to work here. This will be a place which will not be too big for the people who will be coming here. This is the beginning. This dome structure that they are making over here is going to be useful for a few years. After that, we’ll have to move on to a larger facility.
In the dera they built a small place. When I was very young I used to go to the Bhandara, Baba Jaimal Singh’s Bhandara on 29th of December every year. The Great Master used to go into his little hut inside. Twice he took me inside with him, which was very rare for him to take anybody inside. He took me inside; that’s the only time I saw tears in his eyes. That’s the only time I saw remembering his master that he had tears in his eyes; that he could see that the master had given him everything. And that’s the day when he celebrated the Bhandara of Baba Jaimal Singh. And during those days at Bhandara, large crowds of people used to come — numbers 200. A normal monthly satsang, the number was about 20. So from 200 it began to grow. And by the time he passed away in his physical body in 1948, the number had grown to about 400,000 attending the Bhandara. So from 200 it went up to 400,000. I don’t see any reason why the number will not grow over here.
So that is why I say that those of you are here today are very fortunate. I am very fortunate to be with you because you are so fortunate. I feel very happy that I am here and you have asked me to break ground here to set up the first part of our project here, which is going to be a dome. When the small satsangar — the place where the discourses of Great Master were held — was a very small place. Even 200 could not be accommodated. So he said, “Let’s make a bigger place.” So a bigger place came up and the small place was used for initiations only. And the larger place took lot of time to make. It was a larger satsangar and it was supposed to accommodate over 1,000 people — 2,000 people. At that time where there were coming close to 10,000 people when he said this will not be enough either.
Ishwar spoke of his seva for Great Master in India, and the upcoming opportunities for seva here at the Bruce site:
When the big satsangar came up, I worked for that also. I was young. There was a mastana ji from Balochistan. We used to do seva together. And I used to carry one brick on my head. He used to carry a basket of bricks. But that was considered equal seva. In Great Master’s eyes, even if you picked up a little stone, it was equal seva to that who was carrying a big bag. Because seva is not what you carry, seva is what heart, the intention you do that seva. If you do seva without expecting a reward, you get the best rewards. If you do seva for reward, you may get that reward. But if you do seva without expecting a reward, you get much more than what you expect. So that is why Great Master used to say that seva, or service, is equivalent to meditation because it purifies your mind. It controls your mind. It reduces your ego in a way sometimes that meditation cannot do. We used to have people working on mitti seva, or earth seva, dirt seva who were millionaires, billionaires. And those who were working as ordinary laymen, poor people, they all worked together. You could not even see the distinction between them.
I am so happy you all came to do seva here. And, therefore, I congratulate you for this opportunity you got, and I got. I did very little seva. But, according to Great Master, a little bit of earth is as good as a whole mountain.
Below is a short video of Ishwar’s guidelines for seva on this project,
Near the end of the discourse, Ishwar spoke of the purpose of his life in the service of Great Master:
So we are on a very good track, all of us. I have seen … you came and took prashad from me. I saw in your eyes and I saw the love and devotion there you already have. It has touched me that Great Master’s prediction is already coming true in this part of the world. When you came to me, I could see what was happening within you. And that is why I congratulate all of you; that you are in very good shape at this time on your spiritual journey. And any help more that I can give, I will give you till the last breath of my life here. That’s what my job is.
But the purpose of my life is simple — to carry out the work of Great Master in the West and especially in the United States of America. And this is going to be the center from which it will radiate. So much of spiritual knowledge that people will be amazed throughout the world. We have been seeing people from the United States and the West running to India to meet gurus, to meet their masters. The reverse is going to happen, where you will see people from India and China rushing to this place to come and get spiritual knowledge. It’s a very big event for me. I am sure as you grow up — many of you are very young — you’ll see lot of things happening here and you will see the great place that we are sitting on right now, it’s a very hallowed place, most sacred place for me. And I congratulate all of you for joining me in this ground-breaking ceremony today. Thank you very much. Thank you for coming.
Following the lunch, the group performed mitti seva on several projects on the ISHA property, including clearing brush, removing trees from the building site, filling an eroded channel, and maintaining local trails.
Please check this Web page periodically, as we will continue to post updates of the progress in planning and building the ISHA Conference Center in Bruce, Wisconsin.
Chair of ISHA Building & Fund-Raising Committee