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A Deeper Thanksgiving
Last week, I had the delightful joy of being interviewed by Michael Krasney -- who hosted the top-rated show on NPR for 25+ years.
Here's the interview that they titled: A Deeper Thanksgiving
And this is how Michael shared it online:
We met with Nipun Mehta, the founder of ServiceSpace, to discuss gratitude and generosity. Revealing the how and why of, "giving like a rose that gives away its scent," we were ourselves transformed by the conversation. As a small sampling of the conversation's many gems, we touched on the hierarchy of generosity, and the ability to "throw a better party" when we replace transactions with relationships. Nipun advocated for our own personal experimentation with generosity, knowing that if we listen closely, we may discover wonderful changes happening within ourselves. He explained how gratitude can be regenerative, and reminded us that it emerges from the recognition that we are nestled in so many gifts that we can never reciprocate. This knowledge invites us to pay forward what we can never pay back. Apparently the most valuable resource in navigating this path is to have noble friends who help us find the way through these and many other inspiring insights. We invite you to be our noble friends, and join us on this transformative journey through Thanksgiving and beyond.
Posted Nov 25, 2022 | permalink
In Mumbai This Week ...
Dear ServiceSpace Friends in Mumbai,
After almost three years, I'm going to be in your neck of the woods next weekend and if you're also local, it would be a delight to connect and hug in-person!
One of my secret hopes is always that kindred spirits connect with each other and create more good in the world. :) And on that note, below are some of the spaces where I'll be ...
- Sunday, Nov 27th Morning -- Gently Shaking the World (Parel)
In a context of compounding catastrophes, how do we respond with compassion? Gandhi had a unique recommendation: if an intervention doesn’t work, try a gentler one. If even that fails, go gentler still. Today’s culture equates gentle with soft, but perhaps it can open us up to a far stronger force?! Changemakers are convening for some inspiration and heartstorming. Learn more/RSVP here.
- Sunday, Nov 27th Evening -- Experiments in Trust (Malabar Hill)
For an evening talk, I'll be in dialogue with a reputed businessman around uncommon topics of truth, trust and transformation. The topic has got me remembering all kinds of serendipities that have shaped my journey. :) Learn more/RSVP here.
- Monday, Nov 28th, Afternoon -- Youth Circle (Ghatkopar)
Whenever I interact with adults about kindness, the typical question is: "But how do you pay your bills?" With kids, their response is, "What's the coolest act of kindness you've done? Because I want to do one right now." In that spirit, few young folks are coming together to do acts of kindness on the streets of Mumbai, and returning back to tell stories. I'm joining as a guest listener. Learn more/RSVP here.
- Monday, Nov 28th Evening: Awakin Circle (Ghatkopar)
Every week for 23 years, until the pandemic, my parents hosted Awakin Circles in their living room. Hour of silence, circle of sharing, and home-made dinner offered by the host. Open to anyone. What emerged changed their lives -- and mine. It's no surprise that one of my favorite things to do anywhere in the world is join an Awakin Circle. :) Learn more/RSVP here.
Yesterday, I serendipitously met a revered Thai Buddhist monk after his alms round; our conversation reminded me of this glorious poem by Tagore ...
I had gone a-begging from door to door in the village path when thy golden chariot appeared in the distance like a gorgeous dream and I wondered who was the king of all kings!
My hopes rose high and I thought my evil days were at an end, and I stood for alms to be given unasked and for wealth scattered on all sides in the dust.
The chariot stopped where I stood. Thy glance fell on me and thou camest down with a smile, I felt that the luck of my life had come at last. Then of a sudden thou didst hold out thy right hand and say "What hast thou to give me?"
Ah, what a kingly jest was it to open thy palm to a beggar to beg! I was confused and stood undecided and then from my wallet I slowly took out the least little grain of corn and gave it to thee.
But how great my surprise when at the day's end I emptied my bag on the floor to find a least little grain of gold among the poor heap. I bitterly wept and wished that I had had the heart to give thee my all.
With gratitude for our connection,
P.S. In case you don't remember me, :) below is a visual of a happy moment last month. I had landed in Austria, but my bag hadn't. Having no suitable clothes for a formal event, local community folks gifted me a shirt, belt, jacket, everything. And it became a happy moment right when I had this thought that my ephemeral “I” is held up by pieces of so many people’s hearts.
Posted Nov 23, 2022 | permalink
First India Visit Since Pandemic ...
Dear ServiceSpace Friends in India,
I hope you are doing well. After almost three years, since the start of the pandemic, my India karma has ripened again. :) This winter, I’ll be traveling to Awakin Circles in various cities, and hope we get a chance to hug in-person!
In particular, it would be a great joy to see you at one of these retreats in Ahmedabad …
- Dec 8-11, Karma Yog Retreat: This 2-minute clip of Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu makes my day every time I see it. :) Despite shouldering the weight of the world, these change-makers stay light, joyous and compassionate. How do they do it? Bunch of volunteers will be coming together to dive into the zen of action, spirit of service, and the creativity that is unleashed when we surrender the outcomes to emergence. Learn more/RSVP here.
- Dec 22-25, Panchshakti Retreat: we often mistake proximity for community. Vinoba-ji offered a nice metaphor of "Panch-Shakti" -- a palm, where five fingers work together. What does it take for society's different sectors to weave together, like a flock of starlings, and ignite a multiplier effect? What are the unexpected "black swan" events that we might not see alone, but can spot collectively? Join a group of heart-centered leaders and “ladders” exploring uncommon questions across six different sectors (business, education, nonprofit, government, community and media). Learn more/RSVP here.
Trust all else is well with you. On this end, ServiceSpace’s uncommon response to the pandemic ended up magnetizing millions, which then led to a truly unique peer-learning platform that we simply call “Pods” – and that kept us all quite busy. :) At a personal level, I explored my “it’s complicated” relationship with Zoom, while having some fun like the BatGap interview and sharing on topics like death and Gandhi’s 11 vows that were a first for me. Finding joy in the everyday encounters, and gratitude for the blessings of many – like my parents – became my refuge through these times. And in July, I took my first post-covid flight to address a Jain youth conference on a topic that was present for me as well, Playing an Infinite Game:
"Finite game is played for the purpose of winning; every winner creates lots of losers. Infinite game, on the other hand, is played for the purpose of continuing the play. Of nurturing life. Infinite players aren't vested in a particular story, but are joyful poets of a story that continues well beyond their horizon."
Couple weeks back, my body landed in Austria but my bags didn’t. :) For the first Awakin Circle, I somehow managed; but when the community found out that I had no clothes for my upcoming formal event, someone gave me a shirt; another gave me a jacket; another a coat; a belt, and so on. It was the most surreal feeling to go up on stage like that – where the ephemeral “I” is held up by pieces of so many people’s hearts. It felt just right. :)
With gratitude for our connection,
P.S. Here's a recent happy moment, when I was circling up with some aspiring Buddhist monks in a redwood forest, as even a deer joined in the fun! :)
Posted Nov 14, 2022 | permalink
Groups in ServiceSpace often manifest in a "just-in-time" formation. A bit like starling murmurations. Whenever there's a need, a group of high-trust volunteers organically magnetize around it, based on availability, interest, serendipity -- and a calling in their heart. That last part is critical, because if sufficient energy isn't galvanized then it's likely an indication that conditions aren't ripe.
From the outside, such self organizing teams can seem chaotic, but after decades of practice, we've seen it to be quite effective in mirroring collective intelligence. It's a bit like circulating something in a high-trust web of relations and allowing it to keep going -- and going -- until it organically comes to a rest. That's when it's ready. Oftentimes the first-draft has no semblance to the final-draft, and yet every bit of it is critical. It's emblematic of the principle of doing small acts with great love, and renouncing the outcome. The beauty is that the final product can never be signed off by an individual, since it is genuinely a collective emergence. That also is a profound spiritual principle for all existence, perhaps. :)
The key to unlock this process, then, is for circle participants to have a shared threshold for surrender. The degree to which someone clings to their contribution is the degree to which circulation wisdom -- the magic of the murmuration -- is lost. For such a field of practice, context matters. In a corporate setting, for instance, the shared threshold could be quite low and one might find it necessary to secure credit for one's contributions -- but here, the field is primed for cultivating a fluid mind. Even if one is not perfect in letting go, it is quite meaningful to have a context whose center of gravity is oriented towards Noble Friendships.
After a while, such an orientation helps ignite a different kind of intelligence altogether. Personally, but also collectively. As Rumi might say, "Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there." :)
Posted Apr 16, 2022 | permalink
Singing Our Song
At a Bioneers conference in 2003, Holly Near came on stage and shared: "A cellist in Sarajevo went out in the square, when the bombs were dropping, and started playing his cello. Someone from the press said to him, 'Why are you out here playing the cello when the bombs are exploding?' And he said, 'Why are they dropping the bombs when I'm playing the cello?'"
Then she sang a song that sent chills down many spines: Planet Called Home
Posted Mar 1, 2022 | permalink
Humility Of Fluidity
Pods are creating some profound ripples. At its core are volunteers, and this is a emblematic note that we recently saw ...
"Volunteering in this Pod is a profoundly humbling process. Instead of holding a concept with intellectual rigidity, the practice is to hold the spectrum of perspectives with an empathic fluidity. So every time I read another podmate's reflections with a beginner's mind, I invite myself to expand my perspective and see life from the lens of another. It is very humbling to practice discovering the goodness of others and their views, and it's a blessing because I'm released from the prison of my own knowing!"
Posted Feb 21, 2022 | permalink