Empty, Gather, Ripple
On the 21st of July, 26 noble friends from the local community around Pune met to deepen their commitment through 'Inner Service'. A circle that began with a resounding thought by Madhusudan on what service meant to him -
"I have been reflecting since returning from a recent gathering in Switzerland - I wish to be like a Banyan Tree. After decades of offering shade to sentient beings, the mother trunk slowly hollows herself - allowing the newer roots to support the whole. And through the hollowing of herself, invites insects and birds to reside within her, eventually dissolving into nothingness" The intention was set - to, Empty ourselves, Collectively Gather and Ripple out into our local contexts.
For the past few months, each one of the ladders in the circle had been tirelessly serving their local community. Through simple acts of kindness, or washing dishes at Seva Cafes and Awakin circles, they have been bringing people together in love - effortlessly, yet relentlessly. And through the circle that was created on this beautiful Sunday, the power of collective completion was visible. A power that flowed through each participant, as they shared stories of transformation from their own beautiful lives.
After tirelessly cooking, serving and cleaning from 9 am to 11 pm at the Seva Cafe earlier that weekend, Col. Hari shared a story that echoes in our hearts even now. 42 years ago, as a 21 year old officer in the Indian Army, he was entrusted with the responsibility of noting the details of 5 Prisoners-of-War in the 1971 India Pakistan confrontation. Initially, he put up a brave front, but soon realized what a daunting task it was to address giant non-cooperative warrior Pathans. It's hard to say if what transpired was a torrent of genius flowing - but he decided to get up, and hug one of the officers. Instantly, there seemed to be a transformation - something he couldn't explain, but he saw it ripple through to the other prisoners and transform the moment. A transformation that he saw time and again while greeting guests at the Seva Cafe, or when Neerad stood at a traffic junction later that afternoon, hugging strangers and even when Michelle wished people a 'Happy Sunday' as they whizzed by in their cars :)
Bhumi, a 23 year old reflected on her incredible experience, celebrating a friend's birthday with 23 acts of kindness on the streets of Mumbai. Originally inspired by a 22 year old in Pakistan, it represented the power of pure intent- as Hari Ji shared how his organization of 550 people were celebrating birthdays in a new way. Unconditionally giving to their security guards, watchman and fellow colleagues. Ashima spoke of her experiments in not only writing letters to strangers, but also trusting them for lifts. Neeti revealed the invisible offering she made to her apartment complex by sweeping the parking lots every morning - without anyone finding out! Sheetal, a regular at the Baner Awakin shared his surprise at the warm welcome from the security guards when he attended the circle every Thursday - all because the host Aabha had been serving them tea every morning for the last 8 months.
Grateful for all that we received on the beautiful weekend at the Urban Ashram. May we continue to empty ourselves, collectively gather and ripple out in our local communities.
Moved By Love.