The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization has been fortunate to be able to serve in the United States for the last four decades. Year 2020 marks the 44th year anniversary of service in the USA. Along with establishing meditation centers in many major cities throughout the United States, the Brahma Kumaris have also through a variety of initiatives and partnerships promoted spiritual understanding, universal values and leadership with integrity to create a better world. We are inviting you to celebrate with us this significant milestone by sharing a few highlights of some of the initiatives that took birth in the USA.
Highlights of 40 Years of Service of the Brahma Kumaris in the USA
Brahma Kumaris at the UN (BKUN)
The Brahma Kumaris became affiliated with the United Nations’ Department of Public Information in 1980, to ECOSOC in 1983, to UNICEF in 1987, to UNFCCC IN 2009, and to UNEP in 2014. The aims and purpose of the Brahma Kumaris at the UN is to clarify spiritual and moral perspectives on issues of personal, community and global concerns; to facilitate a greater awareness of corresponding rights and responsibilities; to foster sustainable human-centered development, the support of economic, social, environmental and human well-being; and the promotion of gender equality. To learn more about this service, you may visit un.brahmakumaris.org.
Million Minutes of Peace and Global Co-operation for a Better World
In 1986, during the International Year of Peace, the University launched the Million Minutes of Peace Project, which gathered over one billion minutes of peace in the form of prayer, meditation and positive thoughts. The Million Minutes of Peace Appeal, received Peace Messenger awards in seven countries for their contribution to the International Year of Peace. In 1988, a peace messenger initiative was a follow-up to the work done during 1986 in Million Minutes of Peace and reached out to people in 129 countries, asking them for their vision of a better world. This was compiled in a book titled, “Visions of a Better World”. Sharing Our Values for a Better World, a program to honor the 50th Anniversary of the UN, in which people were asked to identify values that gave meaning to the lives of people in their country. A book titled “Living Values: A Guidebook” was dedicated to the UN.
Celebrating Human Greatness (CHG)
In 2007, the Brahma Kumaris in America began a special initiative called “Celebrating Human Greatness”. A series of public conversations on human greatness took place in cities all across the United States. The goal of the conversations was to realize the greatness intrinsic to us all. I twas launched from New Orleans shortly after Katrina, to bring awareness to the exceptional optimism, altruism and heroism that emerged in the city and its people in the midst of a catastrophe. These conversations attuned participants to the greatness in and around them, as well as became seeds of love and respect to be planted in their social circles: at home, work, schools and in their communities.
Spotlight Values (SV)
In September 2010, the young adults of the Brahma Kumaris in North America launched an international initiative dedicated to the United Nations International Year a/Youth called Spotlight Values-A Look at What Makes Us Shine. The initiative called to challenge, support, and inspire youths and young adults ( ages 13 -35) around the world to make values come to life for them. The values cultivated through Inner Discovery, Positive Actions and Community Involvement in Spotlight Values are Peace, Non-Violence, Tolerance, Dignity, Love, Purity, Courage, Respect and Acceptance. Youth were encouraged to use Art, Media and Conversation to explore and express these values in the world and to have a voice among like-minded peers. Spotlight Values events have been held in 46 countries thus far.
Om Cafe is a Spotlight Values initiative with a cafe-style setting. This setting creates a space for young adults to collectively explore questions about values, dialogue about their reflections, creatively demonstrate their learnings, and share their experiences and creative expressions with their peers in a trusting atmosphere. This process consists of three steps: Explore, Express and Exchange. Om Cafes started in 2010 and are still being held throughout the US and internationally.
7 Billion Acts of Goodness (AOG)
7 Billion Acts of Goodness: Returning to Who We Are, is a grassroots initiative designed to exponentially increase expressions of benevolence in the world by creating a chain reaction of goodness and happiness. Acts of Goodness has collected over one Billion pledges for Acts of Goodness which are acts that we consciously perform above and beyond our duty, obligation or expectation. It can be an act of comforting, encouraging, forgiving or personal sacrifice that inspires others and creates an environment of kindness, compassion and generosity. Launched in 2013 in New York, there have been more than 20,000 events around the world in more than 40 countries. As of 2020, the 7 Billion Acts of Goodness has surpassed 1.4 billion in participation. To learn more about this service, you may visit www.actsofgoodness.org.
Peace in the Park Festivals
In 2011, the Brahma Kumaris in the USA launched a Peace in the Park festival at Central Park, New York. The festival delivered several exhibits and activities on Meditation, Health, Kids Play Corner, Positive Thinking and more for the community of New York City. Peace in the Park creates a creative place for individuals and families to explore the wonder of being and how to rejuvenate the self with Yoga. Peace in the Park Festivals have now been held in many cities all across the United States, including New York, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Parliament of World Religions
Brahma Kumaris in the USA serve on many interfaith councils and groups. The Brahma Kumaris are always present for the Parliament of World Religions, serving on the organizing committees and contributing to events. In recent years in which the Parliament of World Religions was held in the United States – Chicago (1993) and Salt Lake City (2015) – the USA Brahma Kumaris have played a role in bringing the message of Peace, Cooperation and Unity.
In addition to service in the USA, we would also like to share a few of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University’s Global Service Initiatives. Please find below a snippet about service in the International Arena.
The Future of Power: For Enlightened Leaders
“Time seems to be calling on us to be at the vanguard of a new kind of leadership – one rooted in authentic personal power,” states The Future of Power brochure. It is for this reason that The Future of Power, the theme of a series of dialogues, was initiated and hosted by businessman Nizar Juma with Dadi Janki, the head of the Brahma Kumaris. Dialogues have been held over the past eight years in 66 cities in India, Nepal, the United States and Australia. These dialogues bring together leaders from various countries on a neutral platform to find ways to develop individual and collective strategies to raise the bar of responsible leadership personally and within their respective professions. These conversations are provoking a rise in the knowledge-base of ideas, insights and best practices that will guide and inspire tomorrow’s leaders. In ancient times, when kingdoms were governed by benevolent rulers who cared for the welfare of their people, world power was ‘soft’. Over time,financial and military might became the order of the day- this is ‘hard’ power. The Future of Power is a reminder to reintegrate ‘soft’ power into our lives as individuals, families, societies, communities, businesses and eventually countries. Simply put, ‘soft’ power means leading with truth, respect, love, tolerance and honest behavior. To learn more, please visit: futureofpower.org.
Brahma Kumaris Environment Initiative: Creating a Climate for Change
At the core f Brahma Kumaris’ work is understanding the connection between consciousness, thoughts and actions, and their impact on the world. Long-lasting change in any social or environmental system starts with a shift in the minds and hearts of the people. It is the Brahma Kumaris’ aim to highlight the relationship between our awareness and the technology we choose to engage with. We believe that a holistic approach, based on peace, cooperation and love, is the key to a sustainable future. The current environmental crisis is a clear call to transform our awareness and lifestyle. An inside-out approach, applied by large communities, is key to the paradigm shift that allows all stakeholders to be reflective and make choices that benefit the planet and its future. Globally, the Brahma Kumaris Environment Initiative encourages a greater understanding of the role that consciousness and lifestyle play in environmental issues, through dialogues, partnerships, participation in United Nations conferences and local initiatives. In particular, we highlight the importance of a sustainable lifestyle, vegetarian diet, meditation and peaceful living. Since the early 1990s, the Brahma Kumaris has become one of the key developers and promoters of renewable energy in India, inspiring people to make use of renewable energy technologies by organizing training workshops, conferences and publishing research papers and articles. The research projects of Brahma Kumaris and the World Renewal Spiritual Trust aim to build the capacity and expertise of individuals, groups and organizations so that the design and layout of solar energy systems can be replicated. The Brahma Kumaris’ “India One” is a MW solar thermal power plant in Abu Road, Rajasthan which features 770 parabolic 60 m2 dishes which generate heat and power for a campus of 25,000 people. In addition, they have set up and now operate about 350 photovoltaic battery systems across India with a total capacity greater than 1.4 MW peak. The Brahma Kumaris and the World Renewal Spiritual Trust are conducting research and training in the following technologies: solar steam cooking, solar thermal power generation and thermal storage, photo voltaic stand-alone systems and solar hot water plants. To learn more, please visit: eco.brahmakumaris.org.
The Serve Africa project
In 1974, the Brahma Kumaris began service in Africa. Over the next 30 years, the organization opened meditation centers in thirteen countries. In 2004, two African businessmen from Kenya and South Africa teamed up with the Brahma Kumaris and challenged themselves to establish meditation centers in every African country over the next two years. (There are 54 countries on mainland Africa and surrounding islands.) A meeting was held in Kericho, the tea-growing region of Kenya, to which 150 attendees from all over Africa joined to help. Many of the countries were war torn and some had severe droughts, but the project went on and was completed on schedule. Forty African countries had meditation centers established within two years from commencement. The meditation centers have been places of hope, peace, serenity, community and joy across Africa.
Watumull Global Hospital & Research Centre: A Haven for Healing
Watumull Global Hospital & Research Centre is a 102-bed hospital located at Mt Abu. Western Rajasthan, where Global Hospital is located, is one of the least privileged regions in India. Much of it consists of desert, water is in short supply, the literacy rate is low, and a majority of the population is deprived of basic healthcare services. Previously, those who fell seriously ill had to be shifted a couple of hundred miles to hospitals in nearby cities. Some never made the journey alive.
In 1990, this situation began to change in the district of Sirohi when the Brahma Kumaris established the]. Watumull Memorial Global Hospital & Research Centre (GHRCJ. Designed to provide high-quality allopathic, homeopathic and holistic healthcare services in a tranquil environment, the hospital is managed and run by a charitable trust established and supported by members of the Brahma Kumaris. It offers free or subsidized treatment and medication to about 100,000 people every year, of whom about 54,000 live a tribal lifestyle in the district’s 855 villages.
Today, Global Hospital stands as a beacon of hope for the district’s one million plus population and people of adjoining districts. Patients can choose to be treated by specialists practicing in the major allopathic specialties or by therapists practicing alternative medicine, backed by diagnostic laboratory pathology, a comprehensive radiology department and a blood bank. To learn more, please visit: www.ghrc-abu.com.
46 field workers supported by four supervisors and two doctors track 200,000 residents of 62 villages to identify suspect tuberculosis sufferers. To confirm the diagnosis, the field workers conduct sputum tests. Last year, sputum exams were done for 806 patients, of who 169 tested positive and were put on the WHO-prescribed treatment regimen.
Juvenile Healthcare Project:
Covers the acute and chronic healthcare cost of children less than 16 years of age. 627 children benefited from this project last year.
Village Outreach Program:
Biweekly healthcare services are provided to 21 adopted villages. The VOP served 9,575 patients last year.
Blindness Prevention Project:
As an implementing partner of the National Programme for Control of Blindness, the hospital screens village people for blindness-causing cataracts and operates on needy patients. In 2016-17, 3,220 cataract operations were performed and 30,781 patients were screened at 109 field locations during the year.
The Smile Train Project:
Children with a cleft lip or cleft palate are operated on free of charge. Last year, 2 7 4 corrective surgeries were performed. Such has been the success of this project that patients from across the country directly approach the hospital for surgery.
Over 2000 primary government school children across 16 villages are served milk, a snack and fruit on school premises daily, including Sundays and holidays. Participating schools report higher attendance, better concentration and healthier students.