An Infinite Loop of Compassion
My work is anchored around two things: service and stillness. And my service largely manifests through ServiceSpace.
ServiceSpace works at the intersection of technology, volunteerism and gift economy. To know about its projects is to first understand the values underneath it. Do Nothing Generosity is a good one-pager, while Tao of ServiceSpace and this TedX Talk does a good job describing how we design for generosity.
Back in 1999, we started virtually -- by building website for nonprofits, which quickly expanded into various content portals like DailyGood and KarmaTube. In parallel, we would lots of local events, many of which evolve into sustained projects that spread around the world. Like Awakin Circles, Smile Cards and Karma Kitchen. As the impact broadened, we deepened by hosting "hands head heart" retreats and "Laddership" Circles.
In 2020, as the pandemic hit, very unique questions emerged within our ecosystem. We launched KarunaVirus just 15 days into the pandemic. Our Awakin Calls podcasts attracted more people than ever before. But anticipating Zoom fatigue, we wondered: just as carbon atoms arranged in one formation yield graphite while in another formation yield a diamond, how must we come together virtually in a way that will support our inner transformation?
When everything takes place in online soundbytes, what designs will help us cultivate deeper connections? In a world that has now exhausted its "surge capacity,” how will we help each other nourish, regenerate and serve? When we land in a post-pandemic context, what current grooves will we find hard to release from? As the proverb goes, we wish for serenity to accept what we can't change, courage to transform what we can, and wisdom to know the difference. When that wisdom is in short supply, we rally our courage to work on things that are easily change-able while calling on our serenity to not shy away from the harder problems. And harder isn't always more complex. As a Benedictine monk, Bruno Barnhart warns, "We humans prefer a manageable complexity to an unmanageable simplicity." What, then, are the simple hard questions? In particular, what is the intersection of silicon (computing) intelligence, carbon (human) intuition, and eternal compassion? With unlikely aces up our sleeves, we saw the birth of a radically unique platform -- "Pods." (Latest in our newsletters).
Despite the broad impact of ServiceSpace, I stay more and more focused on the small. An act of kindness here and there, and I go to a sleep with a smile on my face. To me, that's what this all about -- serve others to purify myself, and purify myself to serve others. Between the two my life flows.