Last night, at a gathering hosted by AURA in Baroda, terrace full of folks met for a sacred gathering of generosity stories. Beautiful hand-drawn art, thoughtfully orchestrated logistics, small gifts for everyone. It opened brilliantly, as Jagruti-ben spoke about Guri as a way to introduce me. :) After some meditation, stories were shared and questions arose -- Does radical empathy arise naturally or does it take effort? Is it meaningful to give even if hurts? How do you avoid power dynamics in service? Has fear ever prevented you from being generous? At the end, as a gesture of gratitude, people made pledges of kindness, some of them publicly. The head of the organization said that she's often neglected to practice kindness in her engagement with teachers and she pledges to change that. One person said: "Our maid helped my grandparents die gracefully, and I want to start a bank account so she can die gracefully." "I pledge to give even when it hurts." "I will do three acts every week." With tears in her eyes, an older woman shared something like, "I've had a deeply troubled relationship with my mother-in-law, who hasn't received my help for the last 30 years. This week, she's turned immobile, moved in with us and I now pledge to see this as my act of giftivism
. I will offer every act of service with my greatest love, as if God has manifested in my life in this form." In private, people came and shared more stories -- and hugs. :) A woman, with burn marks across her body, whispered to me, "I've had an abusive father, and I'm deciding that I'm going to forgive him. I want to liberate myself from the pain." And then gently asks, "That's like an act of kindness, isn't it?" I bowed to her with a silent smile.