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Feeling Oneness In Ho Chih Minh City

Growing up, I had four very close friends who were from Vietnam. I never thought I'd ever get to visit their native country, but here I was, today, landing in Ho Chi Minh City.

Few years ago, I had met Hang-Mai and Giang Dang at a well-being dialogue in Germany. Giang has done some remarkable grassroots work in her community of Hoi An, came to a Gandhi 3.0 retreat two years ago, and is getting deeper and deeper into ServiceSpace values. Hang-Mai is a social entrepreneur, a farmer and role model for many budding change-makers. Together, they are quite a force of nature. :)

As I land, we eat some fresh local fruit and discuss the evening event. It turns out that one of the local volunteers added Vietnamese subtitles to this video and it got a fair amount of traction on Facebook:

As a result, there was a great demand to get into the event. And what these folks did was put in a creative filter -- to get in, there is no price tag but you have to share a story about an act of kindness. The deeper your act of kindness, the greater your chance to get in. :)

Moreover, the government always gets nervous when such crowds come together, so there were a lot of complications there. Still, they managed, and even invited security folks to the event. :) Here we are before the start:

It was the first time I was doing slides with text in an entirely different language! Giang was also translating, and seeing that she would get more applause than I did, I joked that she should just speak without my English. :) We had a lot of fun on stage. :)

After the talk, people shared many questions and stories. Particularly around relationship to money, scaling social change, and culture of greed. It got late, but the organizers were amazed that everyone stayed back. No one, myself included, wanted to leave. On their registration form, they all had listed even more questions. We didn't get to those, but I told them that I would respond by email.

By the end, there was that unmistakable, elevated feeling of love in the room. When they gave me flowers, I opened up the bouquet and offered it up to various people to pay it forward. We hugged. I felt blessed by many kind souls. Selfies, of course. :) Some journalists are doing stories on transformative generosity. A group of teachers want to do a retreat on Compassion Quotient. Smile Cards. Many want to start local circles. Ripples abound.

Here's folks hugging each other at the end ...

Feeling the buzz of generosity, all the volunteers went to a quiet restaurant to share how we can "ladder" the resonance.

And lo and behold, on the way back home, we found a 500,000 Dong bill on the street. That's 25 USD. It didn't feel like a coincidence, and we, of course, decided to pay it forward.

I would've never imagined that I would get to be with my brothers and sisters in Vietnam one day, sharing stories of generosity, and deepening our collective resolve to spread love. I go to bed with an amazing feeling of oneness.

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