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Stockholm Address: AI + Heart Intelligence
Building on the AI + inner transformation interview, here's last week's addresss to several thousand folks at global Inner Development Goals Summit in Sweden ...
Video of a longer workshop the next day was also quite resonant.
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Posted Oct 24, 2023 | permalink
Twenty Seconds Of Sacred Silence
Post-dinner, two of us were sharing heart-to-heart stories. Then a third, fourth, fifth and sixth person organically magnetized. Stories veered in the direction of Gandhi, MLK, Mandela. And Rwanda. The vibe continued to elevate.
Then he spoke: "Can I share something?" "I'm actually afraid of silence. And it's weighing me down." Looking at me, he said, "You said something early in the conversation that has stayed with me -- hands, head, heart. What do you mean by that? I'm afraid my fear of silence of is blocking my heart, and I wonder if there's other pathways to it."
We spoke. Then he pulled out his phone. Loaded up a photo. "I'm Tootsie from Rwanda. You know the genocide in our country that killed over a million people. 80 members of my family were killed. My three sisters and both parents were abused and killed in front of my eyes, while I was in a hiding spot."
In our stunned pause, tears flowed down many cheeks, as we tenderly held the many details in our friend's description.
"This man," he continued pointing to his phone and showing us a photo, "was the man who killed my family. For 29 years, I've been holding this pain -- and 7 years ago, I decided I wanted to visit him in prison and tell him that I forgave him." So two months ago, he went to visit that man. He introduced himself, and said, "I came to let you know that I forgive you for what you did to my family." Then he asked, "How are you doing?" That man spoke for 2 hours straight, re-enacting all the events of the day.
"They were all lies. That hurt even more, but I didn't say anything," he said, now with tears in his own eyes. "But you know, his son contacted me last month for some help around his wedding. I couldn't get myself to go, but I sent some money. He was so surprised, that I would support him despite what his family did to mine. And I texted him back, 'You were just an innocent child.'"
After our hour-long conversation, he brought it back to his original inquiry. "I keep running away from silence, afraid of what will show up in the basement of my consciousness, but it's tiring me out. I want to grow my heart."
We all held hands in a circle, and asked him to be in silence with us and end it whenever he felt it was sufficient for now.
It was twenty seconds of sacred silence.
Posted Oct 13, 2023 | permalink
Summer In Europe
Just returned from two weeks in Europe, and still feeling into the many ripples ... like London retreat (video by Sallyann!), the launch of a 30-day Karma Kitchen in Vienna (including a viral Tik Tok video that's been viewed almost a million times!), a CEO summit where my keynote was setup as surprise even for the organizers(!) and a volunteer who pretended to be a body-guard, :) four Awakin circles including one in German and another one with 70-80 folks in a park (led by a wise mystic who lived through WW2 as a kid), a Future Symposium in "village" called Eferding (headlined by ten Gandhi 3.0 alums by the glorious Danube river that flows two ways at the same time!), a full-day ServiceSpace retreat in Salzburg exploring "me, we us" (gorgeous video!) theme (with a fun drone photo) -- and just loads of "noble friendship" kind of smiles. :) Now busy tending to the ripples -- including addressing the upcoming Inner Development Goals (great play on SDG!) summit.
Feeling blessed. :)
Posted Jun 30, 2023 | permalink
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 24, 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