| Change Yourself, Change the World ServiceSpace is a global platform for generosity-driven projects. We leverage technology to inspire and empower peole to do small acts of service. By honoring both internal change and external impact, we aim to support a shift from consumption to contribution, transaction to trust, isolation and community, and scarcity to abundance. generosity, gift economy, volunteer, nonprofit, inspiration, good news, service eng (Service Space) Sun, 30 Apr 2017 09:49:20 -0700 The Power of Perspective Neerad shares ... In this moving TEDx talk, Preethi Sreenivasan talks about the power of perspective, the unconditional love of her parents, her near death experiences leading to fearlessness and discovering purpose in her life with <a href="">Soulfree</a> after a spinal injury confined her to a wheelchair.<br /> <br /> &nbsp;<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe>... Neerad Trivedi Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Happiness Unlimited Poulomi shares ... Happiness is contagious and is one of the precious gifts that each one of us possesses. It is important to have unshakable faith to create happiness for ourselves and others. Moved By Love is a space that creates a ripple effect through various initiatives and spread smiles. I am grateful to the universe and people who have connected me to this beautiful space whose only religion is to spread happiness and work for people&rsquo;s welfare and wellbeing.<br /> <br /> Recently celebrated my younger brother&rsquo;s wedding, on 4 March 2017, wherein I was truly blessed to receive heart and smile pins from &lsquo;Moved By Love&rsquo;. Since childhood, I am blessed to learn the importance of gratitude from my parents. My parents were strictly against guests bringing any material gifts. Blessings from the heart are the true treasure, so they have personally and humbly requested all the 400 guests not to bring any present. Guests truly understand and showered respect to my parents by not bringing presents. I welcomed all the guests with heart and smile pins. A few of them were initially hesitant but I told them that this is a small thank you token with love and gratitude for the efforts that they have taken to attend the wedding. While pinning the hearts and smile pins, I felt a deeper joy within. Suddenly after some time, I found myself in between of a lot of guests who were choosing the heart and smile pins in accordance to the colour of their saree or kurta. I felt that smile and happiness were spilling over.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:487px; margin-bottom:4px; margin-top:4px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> I was so touched and amazed when my little nephew Ishaan came to me and said: &ldquo;give me 5 smiles and hearts, will give to my friends in school&rdquo;. I was so happy to see that gratitude was flowing in the form of kindness and empathy. Ishaan and my another 5-year- old nephew Arya ensured that everyone including all the kids has received a smile and heart pin.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src=",_jpg.jpg" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:640px; width:640px" /><br /> <br /> Guests expressed their happiness of receiving these little heart and smile pins by thanking my parents and my parents also shared about moved by love space with them. One of the guests told me that she wants to teach gratitude through these heart and smile pins in her special school, named Beautiful Mind. A few guests told me that after a long time they received gifts that touched their hearts.<br /> <br /> There is no dearth of happiness, it&#39;s in abundance but it is up to us to recognize it and spread it. My joy knew no bounds when I saw guests giggling like little children after<br /> receiving the heart and smile pins. To spread happiness is a starting point to spread peace and friendship. This experience has helped to spin my better story and I shower my gratitude to all those who have <a href="">handcrafted these heart and smile pins</a> and to all the beautiful souls of Moved By Love. Thank you!... Poulomi Robin Wed, 12 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Conversations with Arundada (March 30, 2017) Bhumika shares ... This afternoon I had lunch at Arundada&rsquo;s place. Post lunch, after I finished washing the dishes, Arundada asked me if need a napkin to wipe my hands. I replied with a smile (wiping my hands on the skirt that I was wearing) it&rsquo;s ok, I&rsquo;m wearing a napkin. This reminded Arundada of a few incidents. These are simple stories with deep message hence I felt like sharing with you all.<br /> <br /> <br /> <b>Story #1</b><br /> Once Arundada was at an ashram in Budhol, Karnataka, India. The Swamiji at the ashram according to Arundada was a Swamiji in the true sense. He wasn&rsquo;t just well-versed in Vedas and Upanishads but also completely hands-on. He participated in most of the chores of the Ashram. Arundada wanted to sit with him and have a conversation, so Swamiji brought a mat for Arundada to sit on. Arundada said &ldquo;How can I sit on the mat when you will be sitting on the floor?&rsquo; Swamiji replied, &lsquo;This mat isn&rsquo;t for you, it is for your clothes. And me, I&rsquo;m wearing a mat, I don&rsquo;t need another one!&rdquo;<br /> <br /> <b>Story #2</b><br /> Once Umashankar Joshi (an eminent poet, scholar and writer) goes to a cobbler to mend his shoes. On seeing him, the cobbler joins his hands and welcomes him with a bow. Umashankar told the cobbler &ldquo;You don&rsquo;t need to bow and welcome me.&rdquo; The cobbler replied, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not bowing to this body of yours, I&rsquo;m bowing to the one that is residing within you.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Arundada reflected on how we get to learn life&rsquo;s great lessons from the so called humble people. This reminded him of an incident from his life.<br /> <br /> <b>Story # 3</b><br /> This was the time when he was young and was living with his parents. Arundada&rsquo;s mother used to go to work. So they had Puriben as their house help. One morning Puriben wanted to get something from the loft and since it was out of her reach, she asked Arundada&rsquo;s brother to get it for her. He said &ldquo;I just took a shower, I don&rsquo;t want to get dirty.&rdquo; Arundada saw her taking a chair, climbing over it and trying to get the vessel herself. She said something that he still remembers very clearly. She said <em>&ldquo;Nahela badha nakkama&rdquo;</em> (The ones who have showered are all useless).<br /> Arundada then added laughingly that even today he prefers to be the last one to take a shower. He said that way he gets to spend less time being in the &ldquo;useless&rdquo; category :)<br /> &nbsp;... Bhumika Patel Tue, 04 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0700 We are all 'inter-be' Ashima shares ... <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:243px; width:600px" /><br /> As 35 of us came together in the sacred premises of ESI, Sughad, we could all at once feel the connection with the space. Our hearts were connected as we gathered in front of peace pole, holding hands, offering our gratitude for the seeds sowed by our ancestors that led to this day and time in our journeys.<br /> <br /> As we entered the Maitri hall, we were greeted with this quote:<br /> <br /> <em>&ldquo;Sometimes our light goes out<br /> but is blown again into an instant flame<br /> by an encounter with another HUMAN BEING&rdquo;</em><br /> <br /> <br /> Khushmita opened the circle by sharing an encounter of a friend, Dr. Turya with one of her patients. In a hospital, a patient is mostly known by his number and the relationship between a doctor and patient is largely professional. But in the Loma Linda hospital, where she was interning, the relationship went beyond strictly medical through a special practice called <a href="">Love Rounds</a>. On one such rounds, Dr. Turya was talking to a patient who was particularly sad on this day. When asked what is the one thing he would really like in this very moment, he just said &ldquo;ice-cream&rdquo;. Knowing that the patient is diabetic and that they would be going against hospital protocols; a group of doctors sneaked in some ice-cream in his room. A gift that cheered him up and also helped the doctors experience that service does not always need to be perfect, but it must always be in the spirit of love.<br /> <br /> With that she opened the circle for everyone to share an encounter when we connected deeply with another being, be it human or non-human. A relationship that shifted from transaction to trust.<br /> <br /> <b>Jaideep</b> shared the story of two heroes he feels blessed to be friends with &mdash; <a href="">Ashwin and Bharat</a> and their heart warming tale of friendship that defeated disability. <b>Devyangi</b> shared that ever since she arrived on the ESI campus, she found herself deeply connected with Subhecha, the friendly campus dog while Aarti and Nalin connected with the peace the space emanated. <b>Nevil</b> shared about the special bond that his mother shares with the birds and dogs around their home and special language of love that they all converse in. <b>Abhiram</b> also spoke about how his grandmother always speaks from a space of honesty and authenticity. She may sometimes be harsh but it is important what space she is coming from. <b>Divya</b> shared about an incident when she helped an elderly lady connect with her daughter and granddaughter after 30 years. That one connection helped heal an open wound in her heart when she did not respond to a friend&rsquo;s call and later learned of his death.<br /> <br /> <b>Siddharth</b> shared about his shift from learning to earn top position in class to learning for the love of it. <b>Vidya</b> shared her connection with an old coconut tree in her family home and how every time she was there she would just &ldquo;shake hands&rdquo; with the leaves. <b>Sonali</b> shared about her connection with the little kids who sell balloons outside her home. On one Christmas eve she invited them all in for a party and was so overwhelmed by the love that she received from them that she felt her own ability to love had expanded. <b>Sheetal</b> remembered the children that she meets every time she goes into the children&rsquo;s ward as a clown and how one simple smile can transform a lifeless being into one full of joy and spread happiness in the whole place.<br /> <br /> <b>Swati</b> shared about one time when she and her friend travelled in a crowded bus from Ahmedabad to Anand. A simple act of them offering their seats to elderly passengers started a chain events of people standing and offering seats such that nobody was standing for more than 15 minutes in the entire 2 hours journey. <b>Purvi</b> shared how she is always skeptical about emotions like love, friendship, peace which until recently were just words for her. But a beautiful connection she felt with a stranger in one such gathering when they spent an entire evening that went on till 2:30 am walking and talking helped her see a new side.<br /> <br /> <b>Trupti</b> spoke about the special relationship she shares with Ratan Ben, who on the front might just be their house help but to the three of them she is a friend and an advisor bringing precious values to their home.<br /> <br /> <b>Ashima</b> shared about an encounter between her friend Swara and Priyanka, who is visually challenged. One day when Swara was helping Priyanka navigate her way through the campus, she told her to be careful of the steps ahead. For some time Priyanka didn&rsquo;t move and then slowly asked if the steps were going up or down. This story made her reflect on how we miss out on little gifts that we have that we always take for granted.<br /> <br /> <b>Bhavik</b> shared about a friend who would always carry a nail cutter in his pocket and sit with street children cutting their nails. It is a small act but he does it with lots of love for all the children. <b>Diken </b>shared about how his relationship with a cafe owner in Spain shifted from that of transaction to trust when he just came up to her and greeted her with a hug and a heart pin. While earlier he was a customer who would order half a coffee and use the space for 5 hours, he now was a friend who connected with the staff in love and friendship.<br /> <br /> <b>Steve</b> shared about a selfless act of kindness he received in a small Balkan city. It was early in the morning and as he was sitting on a bench, two men approached him to ask if he needed help with anything. When they learned that he knew no one in the city, they took him to their home and while they were both fasting for Ramadan, they cooked a feast for him. He was embarrassed but also grateful for the connection we share with all the human beings. Beyond our cultures and languages how our hearts are one. <b>Saaya </b>shared about her relationship with an autowallah uncle that blossomed from a chance encounter of strangers to that of friendship as she found herself sitting in his home having lunch.<br /> <br /> <b>Kunal </b>remembered his teaching assistant from 15 years ago who would always go beyond his duties to help students. He also shared about his friend&rsquo;s parents who are a mixed race couple and how their home is an embodiment of values. <b>Sheetal </b>felt that he was a part of everyone&rsquo;s story and that we are all together in them. He shared an interaction of his friend Atul with a blanket seller on bus who warmed him not just by selling his blanket but his kindness.<br /> <br /> <b>Jayesh bhai </b>shared that we all have <em>narayan (values)</em> residing in our hearts. While our minds may be different, our culture, our language may be different; our hearts are one. As we all sat in the circle, even though we don&rsquo;t know each other, there was so much love and respect and patience as we listened to each other. He shared from a teacher-student relationship the world now needs a relationship of friendship, of maitri, which is what Moved by Love is. It is <em>dosti</em>, it is love.<br /> <br /> After lunch, we all gathered again in the Maitri hall. With a beautiful video of a simple act of caring that created endless ripples, we delved deeper into the lineage that sowed the seeds and nourished the soil for Moved by Love to emerge.<br /> <br /> Sheetal and Bhumika together shared about the beginning of ServiceSpace from a simple project of designing websites for non-profits to its present form and the three organising <a href=""><b>principles</b></a> that hold us. Sharing stories of simple acts from the ecosystem, they talked about how operating from these principles, there is an individual and collective shift from consumption to contribution, transaction to trust, scarcity to abundance, and isolation to community. We all were then divided into 4 groups and in the smaller circle we reflected upon different shifts we have experienced or wish to experience.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:449px; width:600px" /><br /> In the evening Kishan and Sanchi warmly welcomed us into Safai Vidyalaya and Gandhi Ashram sharing with all of us the values that the space was built on and how it is continuing to serve. After that we all went to Seva Cafe, a restaurant that defies normal economics. It is a restaurant where staff and volunteers cook and serve loving meals and in the end present the guest with a cheque that just reads Rs 0 and a little note <em>&ldquo;Your meal was a gift from someone who came before you. To keep the chain of gifts alive, we invite you to pay it forward for those dine after you.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:449px; width:600px" /></em><br /> While on her travels, Saaya had visited Seva Cafe and felt such a connection with the space that she stayed back and has been volunteering there every day, for the last one month. She introduced us to the space, she calls her home away from home and invited us to a meal that was akin to <em>prasad. </em>From there Ashima took us to an evening of stories and songs offered by participants and volunteers. Siddharth and Kunal both shared poems that have been close to their hearts. Devesh and Trupti sang soulful bhajans and Bhumika sang <em>what a wonderful world</em>.<br /> <br /> Nandini shared how kindness is like a boomerang. Remembering her college days, she shared how one day when one of her closest friends was going through a low phase, she had asked her to dig a pit in the ground, put all her worries in it and then cover it back with mud. <em>Mitti pao yaar! </em>That one message moved her friend so much that she let go of all her fears and insecurities<em>. </em>Many years after during one of her low phases, her friend reminded her of the same <em>mitti pao </em>act. She had completely forgotten about it and the simple act helped her clear all her doubts and confusions. In fact in the evening she had also initiated a few of us into the <em>mitti pao </em>practice and helped us shed some of our worries.<br /> <br /> Bindiya synchronised our heartbeats with little theatrical games and then shared her experiences of traveling to unknown places and always finding kindness from strangers at the least expected place. Her interactions with a drunk guy on the train and a sandwich seller on the streets of Paris led her to question our stereotypical mindset when it comes to certain communities and helped her break the barrier of fear she had.<br /> <br /> The next morning Devendra bhai welcomed us to hands activities by sharing stories from his time of working with Ishwar kaka. One of the most important lessons he learnt and shared with us was how Ishwar kaka always focused on amplifying and appreciating the good. He never preached or advised but just did the work because it was the right work. Devendra bhai urged us to shed all our doubts on self and the universe and just take the first step towards the right work.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:338px; width:600px" /><br /> With that we all divided ourselves into four teams and each group went to spend the next couple of hours diving their hands and hearts into different activities like gardening, painting dustbins, making brooms, cleaning and cooking.<br /> <br /> In Kabir ashram, the participants had prepared a wholesome meal of kadhi-khichdi while immersing themselves into the spiritual environment of the ashram. They greeted the rest of us with music, dance and hugs. As we all sat down for lunch, Jayesh bhai spoke about the importance of waiting till everyone is served and praying at the beginning of the meal. He also stressed on the importance of patience in those who are serving.<br /> <br /> In the evening Steve introduced the concept of triads and all of us divided into groups of three with each of us taking on the roles of a story-teller, listener and observer in rotation. We learnt a lot from each other&rsquo;s stories and journey&rsquo;s as we listened deeply, witnessed stories and shared from the heart.<br /> <br /> As the evening drew to a close, all of us sat for an <a href=""><b>Awakin</b></a> gathering followed by a reading and a round of reflections. And then in silence we all moved towards a silent dinner to the sounds of <em>&ldquo;guru om guru&hellip;&rdquo; </em>sang by volunteers.<br /> <br /> The day of the heart opened with Jayesh&nbsp;bhai speaking about his own journey with sanitation, service and love. His deep learnings from his father who even in his last breath thought of others and constantly served thousands of beings throughout his lifetime.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:449px; width:600px" /><br /> Sheetal then introduced the sacred practice of <a href="">3 steps and a bow</a>, a pilgrimage that Rev. Heng Sure and Heng Chow went on for 2 years and 9 months and a pilgrimage that we have been taking in every retreat. With a simple message from Rev. Heng Sure;<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Forget the harvest,<br /> As much as you seek,<br /> thats how much you will be obstructed.<br /> Don&#39;t seek enlightenment,<br /> <b>just Bow</b>.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Steve led the way as we all bowed to the universe. As we returned, every heart was overflowing with what they had just experienced. 1&hellip;2&hellip; 3&hellip; steps and a bow; bowing to the universe, bowing to the good in me and the good in you. Sheetal concluded the three magical days with a simple message:<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I am because you are.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:460px; width:600px" />... Ashima Goyal Tue, 04 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Gaus, With a White Shirt Smita shares ... About 10 of us along with Gautam Dada went to <a href="">Maher Ashram</a> - Sister Lucy&rsquo;s organization on Saturday, 25th March 2017. We had a &lsquo;Moved by Love&#39; experience, just in the way they welcomed us. It was a great ripple of the NGO retreat. We were all further moved by <a href="">Sister Lucy&rsquo;s love</a> for all of us children, women, men and staff in the organization -- and all the visitors.<br /> <br /> While visiting, we heard Gaus&#39;s story, in his own words. It was so powerful, and stirred something in each one of us.<br /> <br /> When he was 5 years old, Gaus wanted to go to school. So he just dropped into a classroom and started to learn. Even the teacher allowed him to sit in the class without official admission.<br /> <br /> He enjoyed going to school till one day, there was a classroom inspection. His teacher told him to get a white shirt which is the color of the uniform of the school. Excited, he went home searched for it and on not finding one asked his mother to buy him one. His mother took him to the shop. She had Rs 25 and the shirt cost Rs 300, so it was not to be.<br /> <br /> Gaus&rsquo;s father was an alcoholic and also paralyzed. He had 2 sisters and a grandmother all staying in a 10 X 10 room. Gaus was told by people, &quot;You need to work and help your mother. There are so many mouths to feed.&quot; So, at the age of 5, he got his first job!! He worked in a garage washing cars and also worked at a food stall in the evenings. The food stall incentive was particularly appealing since he could carry all the left over food at home for the whole family!<br /> <br /> Gaus had reconciled to be happy, so he sang songs and went about his daily responsibilities.<br /> <br /> One day, Sister Lucy visited his house. There was no electricity in his house -- the only light which came was from a cemetery near by. After talking to his mother, she asked her to send him to her school. Mother used to do household chores and sisters helped with that; when Sister Lucy asked this question, Gaus look at this sister with big, bright eyes. She still remember that look in Gaus&#39;s eyes. They all agreed, and Sister Lucy took Gaus to Maher Ashram.<br /> <br /> Gaus describes the trip to Maher like this: &quot;So far, I had only cleaned cars from the outside. This was the first time I actually sat inside a car.&quot;<br /> <br /> When they reached Maher, at the age of 7, he saw that there was light -- not just for the cemetery! He was amazed to receive a blanket, a pillow, bedsheet exclusively for himself. At home, they shared one blanket between 4 or 5 of them. Sister Lucy gave him rice and lentils and that to him was a treat. &quot;Don&#39;t gulp it down so fast. You get will get more if you need it, eat slowly,&quot; Sister said. In the morning, he got a tooth brush and paste which he used for the first time! He remember, &quot;I brushed my teeth for 2 hours refusing to spit out the toothpaste!&rdquo; When Sister told him spit it out, he said, &ldquo;No, it is sweet!&quot;<br /> <br /> So on and on he went. He went to school, and finally got his white shirt! He did not remove it for 4 days, &quot;till the white shirt turned black.&quot; Sister got him another white shirt telling him that you could wash and wear it alternately and so began his journey.<br /> <br /> When Sister Lucy first asked him go up on stage to speak, he started crying. Now Sister jokes, &quot;First, when I told him to go on stage, he was crying. Today, if I pull him from the stage, he cries.&quot; Gaus has become a great speaker; he takes part in dramas and theatres and has gone to other countries to perform as well. Today, he has completed his MBA and on the verge of flying out from Maher. Naturally, he is very attached to Maher but Sister Lucy is tough in her love, &quot;You job now is to get your mother out of the slums and give her a better life.&quot;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border:1px solid #dcdcdc; height:570px; margin:0; padding:2px; width:700px" /><br /> <br /> Sister Lucy feels Gaus&rsquo;s mother is great, that she trusted her only son to a complete stranger. And much later, Gaus learnt that Sister Lucy had been compensating his family with food for the wages that Gaus was bringing each month.<br /> <br /> Bowing to all in this story we were speechless, humbled, grateful and filled with love and tears. Sheetalbhai said to Gaus, &quot;I see you giving a TED talk one day.&quot; So do we; in his white shirt which he still loves to wear.... Smita Navare Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Lessons From The Maid Pranita shares ... In our <a href="">Laddership Circle</a> last week, we were encouraged to interview someone to listen to and learn about their story. I interviewed my maid.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:338px; width:600px" /><br /> <br /> My maid is a young and smart woman who is married with 2 kids. That is all I knew about her. She has been helping me out for more than 2 years. She comes in on time every morning, and very efficiently finishes all her assigned chores and rushes on to her next stop! I usually am a silent person in the morning, and prefer not chatting. She leaves me alone. We usually are in the kitchen together, me preparing breakfast, and she cleaning last day&#39;s utensils, but not talking. I sometimes put music on so the not-talking part becomes easier. But last week, while I contemplated on whom to interview, I realised I had someone right next to me, who I talk to once in a blue moon.<br /> <br /> So I started talking to her casually, which led to such a long conversation. I found out something I never would have known. The picture I had in my head about what her story is, was in reality very starkly different from what it really was. She stays with her husband, who is a major alcoholic. He hardly ever goes to work, and even if he does, it&#39;s only so that he can drink some more. He is out all night, and comes home very late, always drunk. She earns for their family of four, sends her kids to school and puts food on the table. Her in-laws stay in the village and her parents stay close by. She went on to tell me how when her kids were very young, she requested her parents to help her look after the baby, because she had to go work so she could afford to feed them. But they were of no help, and she had to carry her just-born baby to work. She got some help from the people she worked for, but she expressed great sorrow in the fact that her own parents did not step up.<br /> <br /> I learned that she is a very strong woman, with immense dedication, determination and loyalty. While we were talking, she got a call from another lady she works for, asking her whether her husband would be game for some 1-hour of work they needed some help with. They offered a decent pay for 1 hour. I was amazed when she told them- &quot;Madam, I&#39;ll be frank to you. My husband is not someone you can rely on for work. I cannot guarantee that he will come on time. And if he does, I cannot guarantee that he will complete the work, or that he will do it well. If you still wish for me to convey this offer to him, I will, but since I work for you, I want to be truthful about this situation to you and not spoil our rapport.&quot; I was really dumbfounded. So much integrity, honesty and loyalty displayed within one phone call!<br /> <br /> I asked her what keeps her going? She says she does all of this so her 2 sons are well-educated so that they don&#39;t end up like their father. Her sons see the behavior of their father and ask her why they should go to school. They tell her that they also want to go out and play the whole day and come back home and sleep the rest of the time. She works hard hoping her kids will get inspired by her actions and not get influenced by her husband&#39;s.<br /> <br /> I then asked her whether she was taking care of herself, and whether there was anything she needed help with. She just smiles and says nothing. She is a proud young lady, who will work double time, but will not ask for a favor. She is living her life for the people she loves, and hardly has any time for herself, which I don&#39;t think she ever complains about! She believes that by being truthful and doing good work, God will be with her every step of the way. Every year, she visits a temple in her hometown and donates her hair.<br /> <br /> Before she left for the day, she tells me another incident where her pressure cooker exploded while she was standing next to it, and her kids were sleeping a metre away from it. But miraculously, not a single drop of water or a single grain of rice fell anywhere on her or her kids, but in the little gap in between them. She said, that was proof that God was with her and all will be well. :)<br /> <br /> Do good, be good and good things will happen to you is what I learned from this conversation with my maid. Also, this conversation was proof to me that everyone wants to share their story, if there is a listening ear. Not necessarily helping, but just listening!... Pranita Bhat Mon, 20 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Conversations with Arundada. (February 7, 2017) Bhumika shares ... <em>Sharing&nbsp;a conversation that I had with <a href="">Arundada</a>. I&#39;m going to continue our conversations every&nbsp;time i meet him.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:804px; width:500px" /></em><br /> <br /> <b>Arundada :</b> On hearing of Kinnari giving birth to a baby girl, I am reminded of this song<br /> <br /> <em>Song 1 : </em><br /> <em>Kinnar Gandharva devtaao ki baat nahi</em><br /> <em>Maanav se maanav ka mukt milan chaahiye</em><br /> <br /> (Translation : We are not talking about divinity, religion, gods or angels. All that is needed is that a human can meet his brethren without any barriers)<br /> <br /> <em>Chinta ki baat nahi saadhak ke paas agar aarti samet sugandh pooja ka thaal na ho</em><br /> <em>Chinta ki baat nahi vandana ke geet na ho, chinta ki baat nahi sumano ke mala na ho</em><br /> <em>Devta bhi apna pratibimb jahan dekh sake, saadhak ki anjali mein ashru suman chaahiye</em><br /> <em>Manav se manav ka mukt milan chaahiye</em><br /> <br /> (Translation : A true seeker does not need to be equipped with incense or other ritual offerings for his prayers<br /> No cause for worry, if the seeker does not have flowers or even a prayer to offer<br /> What is needed are tears of compassion that reflect divinity in the eyes of the seeker... the tears that lead him to meet his brethren without any barriers)<br /> <br /> ------------<br /> <br /> <b>Question</b> : How do we know if the tears that we offer are pure or not?<br /> <b>Arundada</b> : So long as the tears are not inspired by your individual interest. If you weep after making a loss in business, or on your failures, or a dear one&#39;s death, then it does not count. But if you tear up at the Lord&#39;s altar, then its pure. Tears of repentance are pure, but those of selfishness are not.<br /> <br /> <b>Question</b> : What&#39;s the next step, after tears of repentence?<br /> <b>Arundada</b> : The mistake should not repeat itself. If you repeat the mistake, and also repent each time, even that is preferable to not repenting at all.<br /> <br /> <b>Question</b> : Some people suffer and make mistakes repeatedly because of their nature - say, anger causes a lot of damage to some.<br /> <b>Arundada</b> : Anger does not cause as much harm as grudge. Anger comes and goes, but aversion is sticky - it stays. Do not give much importance to your anger. If you do, then the habit (of anger) will strengthen. One should pursue liberation from this polarity of aversion and craving - they harm us equally. If we grudge someone, I am not so sure if our grudge will harm the person we grudge but we will harm ourselves for certain<br /> <br /> <b>Question</b> : I nurse an aversion for a lot of people, especially those who derive pleasure out of other&#39;s miseries. How to deal with such people?<br /> <b>Arundada</b> : You should nurture love for (even) such people<br /> <br /> <b>Question</b> : But such people do not offer any &quot;jai shri krishna&#39; window<br /> <b>Arundada</b> : I took almost 8-10 days to find the &#39;jai shri krishna&#39; window. My neighbour has suffered a brain hemorrhage and is in hospital currently, I had gone to see him yesterday. Although he may not have even known that I was there, I prayed for his recovery. I do not know if these subtle vibrations even reach him. But that does not matter - our job is to offer a prayerful heart.<br /> <br /> <b>Question</b> : Until the time I encounter a &quot;jai shri krishna&quot; window, how do I behave with that person<br /> <b>Arundada</b> : Anger, grudge and negative emotions weaken us. For starts, holding a sincere intention that I wish good for this person is adequate. We may not even be able to behave well, but we can wish well and offer our noble thoughts.<br /> ---------<br /> In the end, Arundada sang one more song<br /> <br /> <em>Song 2 : </em><br /> <em>Mere piya mein kachhu nahi jaanu</em><br /> <em>Chup chup mein toh chaah rahi</em><br /> (Translation : My beloved, I know of nothing. All I know is to love in silence)<br /> <br /> <em>Mere piya tum kitne suhaavan</em><br /> <em>Tum barso gir meha saavan</em><br /> <em>Mein toh chup chup naah rahi</em><br /> <em>Mein toh chup chup chaah rahi</em><br /> (Translation : My beloved, you are beauty incarnate. In the torrent of your love, I am wordlessly bathing. <em>All I know is to love in silence</em>)<br /> <br /> &nbsp;... Bhumika Patel Thu, 16 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Remembering Raghu bhai Varsha shares ... February 8th marked the death anniversary of a dear brother, Raghu bhai. Those who knew <a href="">Raghu</a>, knew of his giving spirit, knew how he lived a full life and did every act with selfless love. Raghu Bhalla Makwana was a son to many <em>maajis </em>and <em>kakas </em>he served through <a href=""><em>Tyaag-nu-tiffin</em></a>.<br /> <br /> In remembrance of the beautiful soul, a special morning prayer was planned at the Gramshree Rudra centre and in the afternoon activities were planned with kids of the Ashramshaala. Ramesh bhai Vasava, who now conducts Tyaag Nu Tiffin service, invited me to come to Rudra Center for prayers that day. Various other people close to Raghu bhai were also there, including Jayesh bhai, a mentor to many, who led a short talk and prayer, Jyotsana ben who sang a bhajan/devotional song, Punit bhai (who photographed that morning), Beena ben (Raghu bhai&rsquo;s fianc&eacute; who was an anganwadi teacher with Manav Sadhna before) and the maajis and kakas fed through Tyaag Nu Tiffin (there are about 5 original recipients of Tyaag Nu Tiffin that are still alive and served through the program).<br /> <br /> Jala baa, an elder widow who knew Raghu bhai closely, opened the morning with expressions of missing him. I felt our hearts opened more after that. Ramesh bhai and Beena ben lit an oil lamp in front of a beautiful photo of Raghu bhai (courtesy of Punit bhai) that was draped in an orange marigold and white daisy flowers garland. Beena ben brought a garland of red and white rose flowers to put on the photo. Vermillion/sindhur paste was kept in a small bowl for people to apply to the photo.<br /> <br /> Jayesh bhai spoke about the meaning of the name Raghu and he being with Ram now, and how some people worship statues, while others worship life and are blessed and fortunate to come across and meet beings that express divinity. He spoke about <em>dil-ka-kaam</em>/heart work and the <em>bada dil-ability</em>/big heart-ability Raghu bhai displayed in his work and connection with others&mdash; through the heart, regardless of language differences or organisational affiliations. Jayesh bhai&rsquo;s words reminded me of some reflections I had myself witnessed while working with Raghu bhai.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:487px; margin:2px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> Jyotsnaben shared, <em>&ldquo;It was a soulful time sharing when we were offering food, which when served with love is like Prasad (holy offering), to the elderly mothers &amp; fathers. That time was about giving love and receiving blessings. It was not about sorrow, but it was about love, care and compassion. Raghu bhai did not die; instead he is living in everyone&#39;s heart with love.&rdquo;</em><br /> <br /> She shared a bhajan:<br /> <em>Aankho pavitra raakh, saachu tu bol,</em><br /> <em>Ishwar dekhase tane premal no kol,</em><br /> <em>Saty ejj parmeshwar baapu no bol,</em><br /> <em>Tara ma parmeshwar chhe tene shodh</em><br /> <br /> Meaning<br /> Keep your eyes holy, always speak the truth<br /> You will see God within all His lovely creation<br /> Truth is God, These are the words of Bapu<br /> Find God, He is only within you<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:292px; margin:2px; width:650px" /><br /> In the afternoon, with the Ashramshaala children I had planned a reading, watching, and listening activity, about Raghubhai&rsquo;s life. As a touching tribute of inspiring lessons connecting themes of love and respect, the activity fit the value of respect for the month of February that the centre was focussing on.<br /> <br /> Varsha ben, the Ashramshaala coordinator and teacher, summarized a chapter called &lsquo;The Warrior of Love&rsquo; from English to Gujarati from the book <a href=";redir_esc=y&amp;hl=en">&ldquo;What Can I Give?&rdquo;</a> about the life of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam by one of his students/mentees, Srijan Pal Singh. The chapter seemed strikingly similar to what I had witnessed and wrote about as some key life lessons from the life of Raghu bhai.<br /> <br /> We played the PowerPoint of still images and words to background flute music to the song Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram played by Pandit Ronu Majumdar.<br /> &nbsp;<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe><br /> [The PPT was graciously put to music and put on YouTube, courtesy of Abhishek Jana, a youth who knew Raghu bhai well and who offered to do this without me asking.]<br /> <br /> One of Raghu bhai&rsquo;s younger niece, Sangeeta, a student at the Ashramshaala, cried during it. We also played two YouTube clips, which friend Amit bhai had recorded and posted, of Raghu bhai singing bhajans/devotional songs.<br /> In the end Varsha ben asked me if I&rsquo;d like to share anything, as I had worked with Raghu bhai for about 9 months. I shared that if each of us took some lessons learned and implemented it in our own lives, it will be a tribute to the legacy of an inspiring person and in that way (as well as in others) the spirit of the person does not die. Even something small and simple like smiling more, connecting more from the heart-space, and putting the spirit/bhaav in our work, can be lived.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:338px; margin:4px; width:450px" /><br /> <br /> <em>&quot;The best portion of a good man&#39;s life: His little...nameless&hellip;unremembered acts of Kindness and of Love.&rdquo; --William Wordsworth</em>... Varsha Mathrani Fri, 10 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Compassion makes Life Simple Vidhi shares ... Childhood has always been so full of glimpses where we all have had beautiful experiences. At times we have struggled to be expressed, at times we have just been understood.<br /> <br /> One such feeling I always had within me was to really put across &nbsp;myself in the most vibrant colors, but was never ever able to do it. My own constraints that, &quot;what will happen if I do it,what will others think?&quot; These non-approving and not so accepting thoughts occupied me and were like a hammer to me since few days, due to few instances happening regularly. I was aware about them, but did not know what next is taking shape.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:2px; height:867px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> Yesterday at Rupali didi&#39;s&nbsp;&#39;he-art&#39; circle, a story was read by Albert Einstein which mentioned that,<em> &quot;we don&#39;t need the approval of others.Compassion makes life simple, it teaches us a way to live, respond more significantly, love everyone in life.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:2px; height:867px; width:650px" /></em><br /> <br /> After silence, started with the strokes on canvas,and felt like I painted my heart out and for the first time, I felt that I enjoyed what colors are.<br /> <br /> When I started, it was with different ideas, later on I merged all the colors &nbsp;and did something which was on my mind since years now.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:2px; height:488px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> I felt lucky to have experienced how my feelings and thoughts were on the canvas with those little blending of shades of paints.<br /> <br /> I&#39;m thankful to so many hands, minds and hearts for emergence of a space like &#39;he-art circle&#39;.Which helps me to keep going every week, being in the droplets of love and smiles.... Vidhi Desai Fri, 10 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800 The Ripple Effect Khushmita shares ... <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:478px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> <em><b>&quot;The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.&quot;</b></em><br /> <br /> As 40 of us sat in a circle this February in the sacred premises of Maitri Space we could not help but feel the ripples of all the goodness and generosity passed on by the lineage before us.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We opened with the story of the biggest land transfer movement in human history,&nbsp;<a href="">Bhoodan Yatra</a>&nbsp;which on the surface looked like people transferring land to those who did not have any. But if you went deeper you would notice that an even more subtle work of connecting one heart, one village at a time was taking place. As&nbsp;<b>Goli</b>&nbsp;shared beautifully about Vinoba&#39;s movement he also wondered that what in his roots enabled him to share these fruits of generosity. He shared of Vinoba&#39;s mother encouraging the youngest child of each household to take a hand full of grain and place it in a box which would later be used as charity. can we ever trace back the origin of a ripple? can we ever trace back the roots in a fruit? Can we ever thank our lineage for all that we have received or as Thich naht hanh famously wrote--&nbsp;<a href="">Can we ever see the cloud in a piece of paper?</a><br /> <br /> With these thoughts we opened a circle of sharing around the ripple effect of generosity.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Saaya</b>&nbsp;shared of her own personal experience of travelling and being taken care of lovingly by strangers.&nbsp;<b>Lokesh</b>&nbsp;shared how he once saw a little kid share half his chocolate with a beggar woman. This incident made him realise that no matter how small or humble someone maybe, we can always share.<br /> <br /> <b>Meher</b>&nbsp;shared how she and her friends gave coconut water to passers-by on a street on a hot summer day, while<b>&nbsp;Ranjan&nbsp;</b>shared how he was inspired by a faqir who stands at a traffic light on a busy Mumbai street and just keeps blessing everybody who passes by.<b>&nbsp;Milan</b>&nbsp;reflected on the kindness and the politeness of the way people treated each other in scotland while&nbsp;<b>Meghna</b>&nbsp;reflected on Gopal dada&#39;s humble act of picking up and tossing aside stones on the roads he walked all his life.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Diken</b>&nbsp;was deeply moved by the generosity of a lady offering her garage to him to sleep while he was on a pilgrimage in Spain and after providing him food and shelter, she later came and offered him &nbsp;a pillow to sleep restfully. As&nbsp;<b>Mohit</b>&nbsp;looked around the maitri hall he noticed beautifully embroidered cushions with values written on each of them. He recalled his inspiration Nirmala Deshpande who he said embodied each of these values in her life.&nbsp;<b>Upen</b>&nbsp;recalled a night when he and few friends spontaneously took up the challenge of spending a winter night on the highway between Ahmedabad and rajkot just as a homeless person would to experience what it feels like. The inspiration for this came from Nipun bhai who was travelling with them to pick up blankets for distribution to the homeless.<br /> <br /> <b>Harish</b>&nbsp;who came from the Vinoba seva ashram was deeply grateful for the generosity of his school prinicpal who ensured that he completed his education inspite of many challenges and hardships he suffered on account of his father&#39;s passing away in early childhood. he was also deeply inspired by the generosity of Ramesh bhai and Vimala didi who run the Ashram where he currently serves.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Steve</b>&nbsp;recalled a humbling moment from his time at a community in Zimbabwe. One morning as he saw the rising sun, something shifted within him and he suddenly saw the whole of life as a gift. Spontaneously, he picked up a broom lying nearby and started sweeping the street as a token of his gratitude.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Soren</b>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<b>Sanae</b>&nbsp;shared a deeply personal story of how heart connect are sometimes way deeper than&nbsp;our biological connections.<br /> <br /> <br /> <b>Yash</b>&nbsp;shared how a drive with a stranger during a dark phase of his life suddenly opened up new possibilities and showed him the light at the end of the tunnel.&nbsp;<b>Monia&nbsp;</b>joyfully shared of a person in spain who has opened his home on a mountain for pilgrims to rest, eat and walk on.&nbsp;<b>Carla</b>&nbsp;was deeply moved by a restaurant owner who not only served her on a day when she was facing a difficult time but after pacifying her and listening to her story he did not even accept any payment from her and asked her to pay&nbsp;it forward.<br /> <br /> <b>Himanshi</b>&nbsp;was inspired by a brother-sister who she looks upto who serve humanity selflessly putting their own lives on hold.&nbsp;<b>Linda</b>&nbsp;shared how she writes little notes of kindness and passes them to strangers at airports.&nbsp;<b>Sheetal</b>&nbsp;shared how the story of&nbsp;<a href="">the faqir, and his donkey and dog</a>&nbsp;illustrates the idea that we may never truly know about the hand that feeds us.<br /> <b>Jayesh bhai</b>&nbsp;shared how an old kaka, a cobbler in his 80&#39;s came to meet him the previous day. He asked him,&quot; why did you come all the way to meet me?&quot; The cobbler replied,&quot; Because you are so loving.&quot; Jayesh bhai reflected on this and felt that if someone has come all the way to meet him, can he tune in with his hearts eye. Deep listening turns into deep learning. He felt that everyone was listening so respectfully to each other in the circle and that too was generosity. When our hearts are full, we become mindful. Generosity blossoms when our hearts are filled with love.<br /> <br /> ---------<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:406px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> <b><em>Food + love = Prasad</em></b><br /> <br /> That evening, we were warmly welcomed into&nbsp;<a href="">Seva cafe<em>&nbsp;</em></a>, a labor of love restaurant,&nbsp;<em>where there are no prices on the menu and where the check reads Rs.0 with only this footnote: &quot;Your meal was a gift from someone who came before you. To keep the chain of gifts alive, we invite you to pay it forward for those dine after you.&quot;</em><br /> <br /> The meal we ate was prasad cooked with a lot of love and served with humility by volunteers from different fields of life. The only thing that brought them there was the spirit of selfless service. An opportunity to serve peers and to look at everyone from the lens of Oneness. Post dinner as many of us jostled to wash the dishes and clean the space as we would do in our homes, there were beautiful moments of connection with each other as family.<br /> <br /> <b>Sheetal&nbsp;</b>welcomed a few from the circle to share their journeys and stories with us.&nbsp;<b>Steve</b>&nbsp;spoke vulnerably of his own journey of quitting a successful job, leaving behind a community he had lived in for 40 years and embarking on a new journey embracing gratitude on the way.&nbsp;<b>Sanae&nbsp;</b>spoke of how she shared her birthday with the tragedy of the Hiroshima bombing and how she grew up revisiting those memories. Somewhere down the road, she decided to serve others and started doing small things like reading for patients at the hospital and then later quitting her job and serving society full time.&nbsp;<b>Devesh&nbsp;</b>expressed his voice through a beautiful bhajan &#39;Lagan bina lage na Nirmohi&#39; on attachments and detachments.<br /> <br /> The entire seva cafe team joined us as&nbsp;<b>Sidharth,&nbsp;</b>a young volunteer shared a beautiful poem he wrote after he started volunteering at seva cafe. Meena ben shared how the space was like a temple for them while Raju shared how they felt like they were the temple caretakers, the &#39;Pujaris&#39;. Bhaskar shared how a friend of his shares &#39;Love&#39; with everyone and he would like to share this love with all gathered there that evening.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:650px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> <br /> Devendra bhai shared some beautiful stories of his time spent with Ishwar dada specially emphasizing on amplifying and appreciating the work already done by people instead of criticising them for the work not done. He also spoke of the value of connecting with one&#39;s hands creatively to maintain a head, hands and heart balance.<br /> <br /> As we divided into four teams to get our hands involved in various creative work, there was a buzz of activity as everyone enthusiastically dived into hands on work. Some at Lilapur village, some at Kabir ashram, some learning the art of making brooms while others bringing out the artist in themselves.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:414px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> <b>Anupreet&nbsp;</b>reflected from the art circles:<br /> <br /> <em>Inspired by Nimo&#39;s example of using music as an instrument to serve, a few of us gathered in a circle to experiment with art (painting) as our creative expression and a medium to serve. Because it was a randomly selected group, a few of us in the circle shared in our little opening circle, that we hadn&#39;t painted since school days. Thanks to our anchor, Devesh, who is also an artist himself, and in simple beautiful words, asked us to keep our nervousness aside by simply playing with colors.</em><br /> <br /> <em>Over the next hour and a half, nine of us painted in silence, with the expression of serving in our hearts. Sometimes we would think of the person who this would go to, and feel gratitude for our unknown friends.</em><br /> <br /> <em>During the closing circle, some of us felt very light, some felt alive, and all of us felt we had forgotten to paint and wanted to start painting again. Someone in the group mentioned that she had a strict school teacher and ever since she had stopped painting. Carla shared that this was such a meditative experience for her. Linda shared that she will begin painting from now on, and continue to serve this way. Another friend felt like taking her painting back home, and shared this is about practicing detachment with an art -work created by her.</em><br /> <br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:650px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> <b>Meghna</b>&nbsp;reflected on the Broom making circle:<br /> <br /> <em>The day proceeded with the broom making through humbling conversations with Kanchan Mama and his journey with Ishwar Dada about the work of sweeping inside and outside. What stood out most was that the effortless efforts to work towards raising the dignity of labour and importance of sanitation was not merely a surface inspiration. It was a deeply understood reality of what they wanted to dedicate their lives to. While on the surface it would appear large or even overwhelming, but on the inside it was a commitment and a practice to constantly cultivate the &#39;Drishti&#39; towards the connection between each living life! This inspired so many of the participants to look at &#39;brooms&#39; with the perspective of a tool that empowered us and nudged us to start the process of cleaning from within!</em><br /> <br /> <br /> The kabir ashram group beautifully cleaned the ashram, decorated it and cooked a loving meal for all of us! we were welcomed with love while the Lilapur village crew had a great visit and interactions with the villagers in their homes.<br /> <br /> <b>Anar Ben</b>&nbsp;convened the evening of Hands Day by sharing beautifully about her own journey through the gift we all have &#39;Hands&#39;. What stood out most was that the hands are such visible examples of our collective efforts. When the &#39;Drishti&#39; (perspective with wise awareness) is cultivated constantly, our Heads and Hands start to come in alignment together. The hands are a direct expression of what our Head is thinking and what our Heart is feeling. When such a gift is used to serve, it naturally brings us back to our own natural alignment and connects us to our own higher space of being.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:650px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> <br /> <b>Gratitude and suffering cannot co-exist</b><br /> <br /> <b>Jayesh bhai</b>&nbsp;opened on day three with his reflections and learnings from life.&quot; We think of poverty as having less of some material, physical, social resource whereas in my opinion, lack of contentment is poverty. When we cultivate contentment, gratitude blossoms.<br /> <br /> Sheetal spoke of how we could share gratitude with the world as we shared our merits with others.The&nbsp;<a href="">three steps and bow pilgrimage</a>&nbsp;that Rev. Heng sure and Heng Chau took in 1977 has been a huge source of inspiration for many of us.They bowed in peace, for peace.Touching their foreheads to the ground, with only one wish - Peace for everyone, everyday, everywhere.<br /> <br /> <b>Carla </b>sang a <a href="">beautiful song</a> for everyone when she was Moved by Love. While others wrote little notes of love and gave them around.<br /> <br /> Here is a link the <a href="http://">photos slideshow&nbsp;</a>a few volunteers created :)<br /> <br /> As we closed the retreat with hugs and tears, we knew that this was just the beginning of many beautiful relations based on love and trust to blossom and spread their ripples far and wide.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <em>&ldquo;I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.&rdquo; ~ Mother Teresa</em><br /> <br /> &nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;... Khushmita Sanghvi Tue, 07 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Taking Off: MBL Laddership Circles Parag shares ... Over the last few years, ServiceSpace has hosted <a href="">Laddership Circles</a>, and it has become a dynamic part of their service offerings on their online <a href="">engagement spectrum</a>. It is getting very clear that a deeper learning journey around ServiceSpace <a href="">values</a> and processes holds a lot of value for change-makers and community organizers.<br /> <br /> There has been remarkable interest around such circles from the lot of Educators, Social Entrepreneurs, Community Organisers and MBL volunteers during last few months in various <a href="">Moved By Love (MBL) retreats</a>. These interactions led to the idea of hosting MBL Laddership Circles; and inspired by the volume of applicants within our ecosystem, we have decided to host our first Pilot circles with the total crew of 11 fellows and 5 enthusiastic and internally motivated volunteers. There are a few more invisible advisors who helped to shape the curriculum and continue to provide oversight.<br /> <br /> Laddership Circle is a space for project initiators to dive into our <a href="">gift ecology processes,</a> learn about the nuances of leading with inner transformation, and hold space for new designs to come to light. Every week we will focus on a particular theme that progressively builds up from the personal to the systemic, as all fellows engage in pre-assigned readings and practices, spend 90 minutes on a video conference, share reflections and project design updates on the group feed.<br /> <br /> I am delighted to welcome our first inaugural circle, and looking forward to having some good time together. Here&rsquo;s more on the inspired posse that will be diving deep into gift-ecology ideals over the next six weeks &mdash; and creating<a href=""> ripples</a> (which are likely to be waves :)) of goodness into their local communities around the globe.<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:124px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:120px" />Rupali Bhuva </b>is a passionate mother of 2 teenagers, an <a href="">Artist</a> by heart wears a loving smile all the time when you see her. She is a very popular Drawing teacher and teaches around 100 children on day to day basis. Over the years her cup got full of gratitude and thought of integrating Art with spirituality and started hosting <a href="">heART Circle</a> on gift basis.<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:112px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:120px" />Raghu Padmanabhan </b>is hard to frame in a particular <a href="">profile</a>, as he is a <a href="">Technologist</a> by the mind, a <a href="">Farmer</a> by hand, an <a href="">Educationist</a> by heart who whom schools his son, and a naturopathy doctor to most of the folks in ServiceSpace ecosystem. He lives on a farm with his wife <a href="">Nisha</a> and son <a href="">Aum</a>, leaving a life which is genuinely aligned with Nature. He is a lifelong student of Vipassana, Yoga, Naturopathy, Simplicity and Gratitude.<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:122px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:120px" />Pranita Bhat</b> is the CEO &ndash; Chief Everything Officer :) &ndash; of<a href=""></a>, and is based in Bangalore, India. She quit her job in IBM as she had her calling at <a href="">KnowYourStar,</a> which she had started in September 2012 as a hobby weekend project with three friends. In addition to ensuring the original inspirational content on almost daily basis, she anchors an educational outreach program called <a href="">Mentor India</a> with the help of volunteers, where spoken English classes using value based stories are taught in rural schools. She wants to make this world a better place and master the spirit of service, gratitude and generosity.<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:116px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:120px" />Trupti Pandya</b>, the youngest of the very famous :) <a href="">Pandya sisters</a>, is holding questions of Laddership and how its functions brought her to Laddership Circle. At a very young age, she has very varied experiences of <a href=";fid=14749">volunteering</a> and has co-created a very vibrant local community of youngsters who are dedicated to service. She is working with a government home, which is composed of a diverse crowd, including women and children with various mental, physical and emotional issues. She is keen to cultivate <a href="">values</a> in the most vulnerable class of society in such homes.<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:120px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:120px" />Shivaya Ruth</b> came from Switzerland to India in 1978 to explore the country as well as some deeper questions she was holding within herself. What started as a bicycle trip across India ended up in her visiting <a href="">Auroville</a> and dedicating herself as a lifetime volunteer to serve the divine and humanity. For more than 35 years, she has been serving in countless ways towards realizing Auroville&#39;s vision of human unity. She is one of the key driving forces behind setting up and running of the <a href="">Unity Pavilion</a> which aims to promote understanding between individuals, cultures and nations. While the vision is lofty, Shivaya has offered her life towards it and keeps serving in a very gentle and subtle ways.<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:124px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:120px" />Vinit Gujarati</b>, is a Civil Engineer at an intersection of structural engineering and software development. Food lover, Cricket and Tendulkar fan just like every other Indian!! This is how his Twitter homepage describes him, but unlike every other Indian he has a heart of service. :) since last three years he has co-founded &#39;<a href="">Meals on Wheels</a>,&#39; which has been renamed to <a href="">&lsquo;Karma Meals&rsquo;</a>. His labour of love project has moved from just serving people to connecting with people while serving and making friends on streets. He is also a very dedicated volunteer of MBL and the local community in Pune.<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:118px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:120px" />Shalini Srinivasan, </b>with an academic background in Chemical Engineering, A lifetime volunteer with so many different ecosystems, a very passionate mother, class <a href="">Photographer</a>, invisible Co-Editor of MBL <a href="">newsletter</a>, lives a very simple life. She is Looking forward to expanding her understanding of gift ecology, the labour of love, volunteerism and laddership to be able to serve wherever with more awareness. <a href="">Values in a Box</a> is her labour of love project, which focuses on very pertinent questions on education: &quot;How do children learn <a href="">values</a>?&quot; and &quot;Can values like gratitude be taught or practiced?&quot; She is holding all such questions, looks forward to explore these topics, and all their edges, in the circle.<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:120px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:120px" />Jaimit Vaidya</b>, with a mechanical Engineer background, is part of a very committed young volunteer and service ecosystem of MBL from the city of Baroda. He spends his weekends doing <a href="">compassionate clowning</a> in hospitals, and also cooking and serving meals to the underprivileged living in the slums. To understand the nuances of gift-ecology, and to learn what it means to be a ladder brings him to the Laddership Circle. He is looking forward to connecting with kindred souls.<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:122px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:120px" />Manoj Pavitran</b> has dedicated his life to the study and practice of integral yoga based on the teachings of Sri Aurobindo. In 1995, he joined the <a href="">Auroville</a> community to explore collective evolution and since then has offered his talent in film-making, computer software, design and education in numerous ways. Some of his recent work involves the <a href="">Swadharma</a> program for youth to find their true calling and creating a series of films on <a href="">Evolution Fast Forward</a>. For an educational initiative called <a href="">Telos</a>, he is keen to leverage the many-to-many potential of the internet in bringing people together for learning <a href="">integral yoga</a>. He is very excited to be a part of Laddership Circles and collaborating with the ServiceSpace community.<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:138px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:115px" /><a href="">Smita Navare</a></b> is the co-founder of <a href="">Drishti</a>, founded in 1990, is a non-profit, non-political and non-religious, voluntary non-government organisation. She has devoted her life to service, with an&nbsp;<a href="">educational</a> background of Masters degrees in Social Work from Tata Institute Of Social Sciences. &nbsp;Drishti works towards achieving public good by promoting education for the underprivileged children, women and disabled. Drishti also provides direction and support to other voluntary organisations working towards the same. They have served numerous group for last ten years and continued to do so in the field of Service. Smita is also a very humble,&nbsp;<a href=";fid=14779">fun loving</a>, committed volunteer of the <a href="">MBL</a> eco-system and hosts <a href="">retreats</a>&nbsp;for&nbsp;<a href="">NGO&rsquo;s</a>&nbsp;with a focus on&nbsp;<a href="">transformation philanthropy</a>.<br /> <br /> <b>In addition, our enthused volunteer crew</b> include a stream of invisible mentors and advisors, as well as...<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:105px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:110px" />Meghna Banker</b> is a dedicated servant &ldquo;ladder&rdquo; based at the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India. A talented filmmaker, graphic designer, and artist, to many of us, she&rsquo;s perfected the art of invisible service&mdash;whether in supporting &ldquo;<a href="">heARTists in action</a>&rdquo; with <a href="">Wisdom Crafts</a>, hosting weekly <a href="">meditation gatherings</a> in her home (with some remarkable <a href="">stories</a>!), or as a down-to-earth mother, where she continually inspires with many <a href="">profound lessons</a> from her 5-year-old daughter.<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:110px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:110px" />Swara Pandya</b> carries a heart of service in all she does, whether <a href="">sharing presence</a> with a rural village woman&rsquo;s soft soul, visiting Gandhian elders and capturing their <a href="">stories of simplicity</a>, or anchoring a <a href="">pay-it-forward</a> restaurant in her hometown of Baroda, India. Most recently, she <a href="">engaged</a> a 6-week laddership internship with 20 college students!<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:115px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:110px" />Mihir </b><b>Kaji</b>&#39;s steadfast sincerity has been known to <a href="">shift the tone</a> of an entire train compartment. :) He recently galvanized his entire community in a <a href="">21-day Kindness Challenge</a>, during which he spontaneously gifted the shoes off his feet to a homeless person, reflecting, &quot;in that split-second moment, I saw the situation without any duality-- and the act was a by-product of that.&quot; Mihir lives in Surat, India with his wife, and works in financial advising and IT.<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:125px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:110px" />Parag Shah</b> gets lit up by infusing the spirit of giftivism in all elements of his life-- whether in launching a <a href="">Wisdom Book Store</a>, galvanizing his <a href="">IB school</a> to pilot <a href="">Karma Kitchen</a>, bringing a Gandhian <a href="">ethos</a> into his diamond business, and <a href="">holding space</a> that ignites powerful <a href="">ripples</a> in his community. He&#39;s also an avid reader <a href="">of Krishnamurti</a> and lives in Surat, India with his wife and sons.<br /> <br /> <b><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:110px; margin-left:5px; margin-right:5px; width:110px" />Audrey Lin</b> is constantly amazed by the <a href="">field of possibility</a> that emerge from these spaces. She gets <a href="">grounded</a> by the power of kindness, and grateful for opportunities to <a href="">cultivate</a><a href=""> compassion quotient</a>.... Parag Shah Sat, 04 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Circle of Inclusive Friends Ashwin shares ... My participation in the <a href="">Inclusion Retreat</a>, held in Gujarat, gave me an opportunity to meet some great people. With our hearts connected, we came together again a week back, with a determination to pull off something amazing. The venue chosen was my residence, which was aptly named &ndash; &lsquo;The House of FRIENDSHIP.&rsquo;<br /> <br /> <b>The Circle Of Friends</b><br /> <br /> This retreat was the brainchild of a Master Blaster &ndash; a techie turned <a href="">entrepreneur turned Heartpreneur</a> who has recently taken to &ldquo;sainthood&rdquo; &ndash; our very own Jaideep Rao. The other person who helped conceptualise this was a man with a gorgeous heart called George. He is a former techie who is now focused on building communities and works with Enable India.<br /> <br /> Next in line is a dear friend, Ranjana. An by qualification, her calling is not commerce but service. She started as a scribe for the visually impaired and is now serving at the White Swan Foundation for Mental Health as a content writer and organises outreach programs for similar causes in rural areas. Additionally, she is also a trained classical dancer and dances like a dream.<br /> <br /> How can I fail to mention the celebrity in the group &ndash; <a href="">Priyanka</a>, the Master Chef. Thinking about the sambar she made in Ahmedabad still makes our mouths water. Her amazing sense of space makes her dance as if no one is watching. Her confidence allows her to explore new avenues. She now leads a team of 6 at IBM.<br /> <br /> <b>The Bonds Of Family</b><br /> <br /> Then there were the 3 pillars of my life &ndash; my mom, brother and my best friend, Bharath. And then there was me &ndash; a drop in the ocean of knowledge, experience and achievements.<br /> <br /> The discussion began, as any debate in a group of friends always does, with no formal agenda, but only a seed question.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Do we need more inclusion retreats like the one in Ahmedabad?&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Though the answer was a unanimous yes, we needed to dig deep to explore the right reasons for it. Because we did not want the circle to be just another gathering where afterwards we would return to our lives and forget what we spoke about.<br /> <br /> <img alt="Monday Truclusions Inclusion Retreat" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:512px; width:640px" /><br /> <br /> <b>The Importance Of Inclusivity</b><br /> <br /> As Ranjana was the newest member of the group, she was given the opportunity to break the ice.<br /> <br /> <b>She did it so beautifully and in a touching manner, when she said, and I quote, &ldquo;The profession I am in, I need to tell true stories which not many people want to listen to. I want to be part of this group because I know these are the ears that want to listen to those painful stories and act to make India inclusive in every aspect. I want to play an important role in realising this dream.&rdquo;</b><br /> <br /> Then it was mom who shared her emotions, she told the group how she had to make a conscious effort to bring inclusion into the family between me and my brother and with my friends at school.<br /> <br /> Naveen then shared an instance where he and Bharath argued at a mall for the rights of the differently abled. We had been denied the reserved parking slot for the differently abled and the wheelchair too wasn&rsquo;t available. The security personnel and the administration were arrogant and rude to help us fetch the wheelchair. He also shared how people came to support us and from then on it became a norm in the mall that the wheelchair is kept near the reserved parking and the security personnel make sure the parking is given to the needy. This could help so many others. My sister-in-law, Rajani, shared how happy she feels when my nieces make me feel included at home.<br /> <br /> Next, it was Pranita who shared her experience at the retreat at Ahmedabad, where though she was a stranger there, she never felt like one. It was because she felt that she had a mirror, and she saw herself in everyone. Though there were diversities present, there was also a oneness that she experienced.<br /> <br /> <b>Bharath then shared his views on how he felt that the seeds of inclusion must be sowed in the minds of adults, and especially the parents of young kids. They should encourage kids to practice inclusion rather than spending their time playing with mobile applications and social networks.</b><br /> <br /> Gorgeous Jorgious (George) opened up after that, and he told us about his experiences in the corporate world. He also expressed his beliefs that top management should encourage employment and growth opportunities for employees with special needs.<br /> <br /> Priyanka spoke next and like the brightest star shines best, she had an idea in mind already on how to take our first step towards our vision and mission of an inclusive India. She said and I quote &ldquo;We should put together a plan in place by which underprivileged kids and aged people in old age homes come together. Hence kids bring joy to the elders and the elders can teach the kids and enlighten them by their knowledge and experience.<br /> <br /> <b>A Community Tale In The Making</b><br /> <br /> Finally, I had the chance to speak, and being the so-called storyteller of the group, began with a story. The story of a bird who was a great believer in God.<br /> Once it so happened that a bird broke its wing and was in great pain and agony. Miserable, it asked God, &ldquo;What sin have I committed to have a broken wing?&rdquo; God told the bird that it was going to set an example for others of how to progress as a community.<br /> <br /> <b>The bird was able to do this by holding the broken wing of another bird and combining their strength to fly &ndash; because if you want to travel fast you will travel alone, but if you want to travel far, you have to travel with the community.</b><br /> <br /> This is how I would like to present our efforts:<br /> <br /> <b><em>Why is it that we tend to walk alone?<br /> And believe we are just a bundle of flesh and bone,<br /> In our agony, we sulk and mourn.<br /> Living ruthless apart we are torn!</em></b><br /> <b><em>All of us live in our shell,<br /> When we have so many tales to tell;<br /> Together we need to cast a magic spell,<br /> To save the world from a burning hell!</em></b><br /> <b><em>A dawn follows every dark night,<br /> A smile follows every plight,<br /> No vision is out of sight,<br /> Together our dreams shall take flight.</em></b><br /> <br /> &nbsp;... Ashwin Karthik Tue, 28 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Jaideep 2.0: My story of turning Heartpreneur Jaideep shares ... <a href=""><img alt="inclusion retreat servicespace" itemprop="image" src="" style="height:464px; width:696px" title="inclusion retreat" /></a><br /> inclusion retreat gang :)<br /> <br /> I had heard that there are many monks in the Himalayas who meditate deeply and pray for the well being of this world. I had never believed it because I used to only believe what I saw. Fast forward two months &ndash; now I see what I believe! How did this shift come about?&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Let me walk you through my initial steps in the hardest journey of moving from&nbsp;Head to Heart!</b> <h3><b>From Transaction To Trust</b></h3> Over the last 2 years, I have been fortunate enough to have been part of numerous events. Event management skills came to me without a degree. My friends have often seen me spending sleepless nights and running around with the event flow during events. And here I was, visiting the Moved by Love community where I was part of an&nbsp;<a href="">Inclusion retreat</a>, and there was no event flow!<br /> <br /> It was all about tuning in &ndash; not with our heads, but with our hearts &ndash; and seeing beautiful emergence, surpassing boundaries that a defined event flow would restrict you to.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Magic is in Heart and all of us are definitely magicians! We just need to learn the art of Heart.</b><br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:1px; height:420px; width:695px" /><br /> <b>Start-up Service retreat gang&nbsp;</b> <h3><br /> <b>From Consumption to Contribution</b></h3> <br /> The virtual world we have created has forced our Heads into consumption mode; be it news, social media feeds, gossip, theories or philosophy. We aspire to contribute towards making this world a better place. But how can infertile soil yield nutritious fruit? Isn&rsquo;t it futile?&nbsp;<b>Unless we unlearn whatever we have consumed, how can we cultivate love and compassion?</b><br /> I was lucky enough to travel by train to Pune from Ahmadabad with a Himalayan yogi, Joseph-ji. He shared the essence of life with me in a couple of sentences. He told me, <blockquote>Jaideep, there is no materialistic path nor spiritual path. There is only one path &ndash; in which we give and grow.</blockquote> While washing dishes, while tuning into collective wisdom, while having spirited midnight talks, while enjoying all the &lsquo;masti&rsquo; in a ten-day dorm stay, while munching on little snack a kitchen volunteer offered, while hearing deep whispers in silence &ndash;&nbsp;<b>my heart moved towards contribution, dissolving bit by bit the ego and ignorance.</b><br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:1px; height:754px; width:696px" /><br /> <b>Vipassana at Dhammagiri&nbsp;</b> <h3><br /> <br /> <b>From Scarcity To Abundance</b></h3> <br /> Previously, a social entrepreneur from a corporate background in me always made note of the scarcity my tiny organisation faced. This 3-day&nbsp;<a href="">startup service retreat</a>&nbsp;initiated my&nbsp;<b>inner transformation towards becoming a Heart-preneur</b>. What followed was a life-altering experience of&nbsp;<a href="">Vipassana</a>. It led me to cultivate a farming mindset and stillness, with which came a deep reverence for nature, and the belief that he who offers food will never be hungry. Those were my first glimpses of abundance.<br /> <br /> The oldest of the 6 monks I had met over 2 months,&nbsp;<b>Dada Vaswaniji</b>, gave me a real definition of abundance when he answered a query regarding how many people (numerically &ndash; easily more than thousand!) worked at Vaswani mission. His answer was, <blockquote>One! All our hearts are connected and one heart is working for all us!</blockquote> I have to mention about 2 other monks in normal robes who are supporting KnowYourStar with financial &amp; intellectual capital. You didn&rsquo;t see their names? That&rsquo;s what they asked for- to be invisible force nudging us to keep doing good.&nbsp;<b>How do I repay the abundance they are showering?</b>&nbsp;I think I can only pay it forward&hellip;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:1px; height:522px; width:696px" /><br /> Educators Retreat gang&nbsp; <h3><br /> <br /> <b>From Plan And Execute To Search And Amplify</b></h3> <br /> I have had a few opportunities to develop my leadership skills before, thanks to my school and college (who elected me as the leader for reasons unknown), and I learnt how to plan and execute. But in the &lsquo;<a href="">Many-to-Many</a>&rsquo; era, this approach is not sufficient. I realised the need to cultivate (deep values) more consciously, although we did few aspects unconsciously at KnowYourStar and&nbsp;<a href="">India Inclusion Summit</a>, where we searched and amplified the smallest of things. Small is always beautiful &amp; more than that, it makes you a instrument to be a ladder, through which new leaders are born in many to many context. In this era, where we have hundred trillion billion connections, how do we bring out collective intelligence to make the world (inner &amp; outer) better? we need&nbsp;<a href="">laddership</a>&nbsp;to search &amp; amplify&hellip;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:1px; height:464px; width:696px" /><br /> <b>Gandhi 3.0&nbsp;</b> <h3><br /> <br /> <b>Considering my work as a&nbsp;</b><b><em>Sadhana (practice/worship)</em></b><b>&nbsp;towards my&nbsp;</b><b><em>Shuddi (purification)</em></b></h3> <br /> As the days went on, I started listening more. It gave me deep satisfaction to think of everything that my team and I do. We do our work ethically, with pure intentions &ndash; something that I now see as a gift we have received unknowingly to purify ourselves to reach the truth &ndash; while still being present in society to engage with our daily chores. Most of the work that my team and I do has now shifted from internet to &lsquo;inner-net&rsquo; &ndash; the strongest connection ever!<br /> <br /> Rev. Heng Sure&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="">anti-greed mantra&nbsp;</a>reverberates through me and so does the presence of another of the monks in my life-&nbsp;<a href="">Sheetal-ji</a>, who helped me rediscover my love of music, understanding the lyrics of many a songs, while enjoying the essence of it. It&rsquo;s a good life!<br /> <br /> Thank you for reading this and I hope you it helps you be as inspired as I am. If you want to learn more, get in touch with me for a heart-to-heart conversation.<br /> <br /> &nbsp;<b>I have plenty of stories to share</b>&nbsp;&ndash; both of monks and those wearing normal robes! Some defy logic, some bring smiles to faces, some create a sense of peace, some instill a respect of death, some show the truth, some make you believe, some are just unbelievable(!), some very heartwarming, and some about those love warriors &ndash; the ones creating a safer world in the Himalayas and beyond.<br /> &nbsp;... Jaideep Rao Wed, 15 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Samdarshan - Learnings from ESI Christopher shares ... <br /> Between October, 2015 and January, 2017, I spent a cumulative total of 13 months living at ESI next to the Hriday Kunj, in one of the &ldquo;Be&rdquo; meditation huts. What unfolded in between turned out to be a somewhat unexpected and arduous inner journey&mdash;the potency of which I am just starting to get a glimpse of now, having left that sacred space a little over two weeks ago.<br /> <br /> I want to share here what I consider to be the root of that experience. Root meaning the deepest learning, deepest insight, and deepest part of me that was affected by that journey. There are<br /> dozens of things I could focus on but I want to try and give words to the primary bhav that feels to be of greatest personal significance.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:1px; height:480px; width:640px" /><br /> <br /> First, a brief introduction for those that don&rsquo;t me. In 1999, when I was still in college, I met an Ayurvedic doctor in London whose single treatment caused me to understand that everything we tend to seek in the outside world (security, happiness, love) can be internally derived. I intuitively understood that this tool I had just experienced, Ayurvedic medicine, was a path to that end and that by cleansing your inner dirt, as this medicine does, your full human potential can be expressed effortlessly. At once, I realized there was not a more urgent task than this. I traveled back to New York City (my place of birth) inspired to find an Ayurvedic doctor there and continue with this work. Knowing whatever I would be doing in the future would not require academic education or credentials, I even considered dropping out of college (but did end up graduating in 2001 from NYU).<br /> <br /> Who am I? An intention to know myself and discover the &ldquo;Kingdom of Heaven&rdquo; described in the Bible. And the same could be said for all the time and activity that has past since. It&rsquo;s all a reflection of this. After that experience in London, a path opened up, one that I have been walking in trust ever since. That path led me to the underground electronic music industry, to an intense corporate<br /> consulting job, to California to be with my dad during his final days, to studying and practicing various methods of yoga and sadhana, to difficult relationships and dark nights of the soul, to Indian saints and Hindu temples, and then to Rwanda in E. Africa in 2009.<br /> <br /> When I tell this story about reaching Rwanda, I usually invoke Joseph Campbell and his famous quote, &ldquo;If you follow your bliss, doors will open where you would not have thought; and where<br /> there wouldn&rsquo;t be a door for anybody else.&rdquo; In Rwanda, I found my bliss. There, I had the blessed opportunity to work in a therapeutic context with a number of young adults who were left orphaned and severely traumatized by the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. The heart breaking &ldquo;survivor&rdquo; stories I heard, seeing how my education in medicine could help, the exquisite sense of humanity I experienced from those with so little, and the joy of travel combined to form a question in my heart, &ldquo;How can I do this kind of work full-time?&rdquo;<br /> <br /> In 2011, I followed my bliss. I quit my job, gave up my home, and shed myself of the majority of my possessions and took a dive into the unknown. I reached Ahmedabad and the Gandhi Ashram and the rest, you could say, is history. The doors that Campbell spoke of, started to open. Present day, I spend large swaths of time in India and Kenya, traveling back and forth in a play of sadhana and seva. After more than six years of living like this, I think I can safely say an answer to the question I asked in Rwanda has come. That&rsquo;s enough about me. ;)<br /> <br /> So what was the root bhav of staying at ESI all these past many months? What was the result of merging with the heart centre of that special space? As I spoke about in last year&rsquo;s &ldquo;laddership&rdquo; retreat, the sanskrit term sam seemed to be following me around quite closely. My room at ESI is called Samagrata. An ashram I connected to intimately near campus is called Samdarshan, and the anchor of that space is called Swamini Guruma Samanand Saraswati.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:449px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> Something was trying to inform me about essential sameness/absoluteness/completeness. I can be a terrible judger. Terrible. To the point I cause myself and others pain. That&rsquo;s not a<br /> quality that can hang around on the path to zero because it separates zero into one into two. When I judge, I separate myself (as superior) from the thing (usually a person or behavior) I&rsquo;m<br /> judging. Suffering and tension all around is the result.<br /> <br /> At ESI, we sometimes have issues with behavior (mine included) that breaks our fairly strict honor code. What I witnessed time and time again &mdash; much to my awe &mdash; was how those issues<br /> were given space to be, no different than our beautiful palms growing on the Dil Ki Rasta that appear to be &ldquo;in the way&rdquo; and requiring pruning. The issues were not immediately fixed. There<br /> were no sit down talks and the like. Instead, they were given a place at the table&mdash;in certain instances, appreciated even.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:1px; float:left; height:267px; width:400px" />I heard Jayeshbhai say recently, concerning the &ldquo;administration&rdquo; of ESI, that he is not interested in perfection. He&rsquo;s not interested in correcting every single so called wrong. He said he&rsquo;s most interested in people being in a state of joy as they work (imagine!). To me, that means increasing your tolerance for people&rsquo;s idiosyncrasies. ESI is a space of cultivation or incubation, and Jayeshbhai similarly gives all its guests and residents space to cultivate themselves. Often that means allowing them to make mistakes or break the honor code.<br /> <br /> In a powerful sit about a week before I left, he told me directly that he is always ready to love and serve whoever, in whatever shape they are in, no matter what they have done and that he leaves administration and interventions to &ldquo;the space.&rdquo; In that exchange &mdash; and this is not an exaggeration &mdash; I felt as if I had been given a glimpse of what God&rsquo;s love is like. Universal.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:1px; height:433px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> Unconditional. Non-judgmental. Totally, 100% forgiving of every blasphemy. It was profoundly humbling knowing my own judgmental tendencies. Such was the root of my 13-month experience. Seeing (and receiving) this type of love and realizing that behind it lies samdarshan. Seeing all as the same. Seeing all as One, which means not believing in essential difference. Everything has its place. All the trouble in the world and in people has its rightful place. All the good, the same. Everything is playing its part. How can we, in our limited understanding of the whole, judge right, wrong, good, or bad? All labels dissolve. Nothing needs changing, nothing needs doing.<br /> <br /> With this understanding more firmly established in my heart, I realize you can relax more. You can let go of any need you might have to intervene but, instead, let things and people be, and allow whatever power that makes the seasons change, handle the rest. In the meantime, our job becomes to enjoy, love, and serve&hellip; for all is well.<br /> <br /> Though the seeds are still sprouting, I feel forever changed because of this unique experience and the love and I knowledge I received. It&rsquo;s as if a stuck window has been opened and the wind and sun are entering again to do their healing rounds. I&rsquo;ve even witnessed myself being more open and loving in instances where maybe that wouldn&rsquo;t have been the case before. I would like to end with a bow of deep gratitude, as well as with a prayer that this new awareness enables me to become a more refined instrument of service to the world, as well as a kinder human being.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:1px; height:433px; width:650px" />... Christopher Lowman Tue, 14 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Meals on Wheels Mumbai Anonymous shares ... Last Sunday, our dear Vidhi officially launched Meals on Wheels in Mumbai.<br /> <br /> Rupali and Ketan lovingly opened up their home (our home &mdash; as they put it) and 25 of us were there; the youngest volunteer was three (he was helping us shell peas) and the oldest, 80. Fragrant heart-shaped flower rangoli greeted us at the door and throughout the home (we also got a glimpse of Rupali&#39;s incredible paintings &mdash; she&#39;s a gifted artist).<br /> <br /> Vidhi steered us beautifully and Rahul as well as Darpan anchored us throughout. So many hands and hearts came together that day. Reshmi drove an hour and a half to celebrate her birthday with us. Most of the people present didn&#39;t know one another, but through the spirit of what we were doing together, felt a strong sense of connection with one another. As Darpan noted, many people shared that they wanted to do something for the community around them, but they weren&#39;t sure about what they could do, so they jumped at the opportunity to offer their hearts for Meals on Wheels.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:393px; margin:2px; width:700px" /><br /> Rahul and Kinnari set the tone of the morning by opening with a beautiful, deeply meaningful <a href="">song</a> about how love is meant to be shared and distributed. Love is like a wave, part of the great ocean, not like a contained puddle. Give because love always multiplies. So many present carried that spirit with them throughout.<br /> <br /> Vidhi spoke from her heart about the soulful connection she felt with everyone around and gave us poignant examples of how the lines between giving and receiving were often blurred and it was the love that flowed through us, the spirit with which we connected and offered the food and ourselves that mattered. It was lovely to hear her mother lovingly share that she was proud of her daughter&#39;s will and what came to fruition that day; she had always wondered about what Meals on Wheels was all about and it was special for her to share that experience with her daughter that day. Vidhi&#39;s aunt just wanted all of us to stay in that state of happiness. Kinnari&#39;s aunt who had bouts of fear on occasion, said she forgot all about how bad she felt in the presence of that much positive energy. Kinnari thanked everyone for coming from all parts of the city to be there that day. The Gandhi family that has served the community in Ghatkopar for a few decades now, were also present. We all felt the magic and power of Vidhi&#39;s positive intention that drew us together.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:524px; margin:2px; width:700px" /><br /> <br /> Everyone shared in their own deep personal reflections about how the experience was about connection, happiness and the energy that we were putting out in the world &mdash; it was exciting to think about how far those vibrations would carry and how they would manifest. Thoughtful Vidhi sent us all an email in which she personally thanked each person for something specific that touched her. Sohum lovingly captured many of the <a href="">beautiful moments</a> on camera.<br /> <br /> Here is a beautiful <a href="">short video</a> on how Meals on Wheels began in Pune with Prem aunty; today she and Vinit anchor the cause there.<br /> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe><br /> Meals on Wheels can be held at any home, with any number of people. On average, four get together, but even two or three people could get together, hold this intention and experience the joy of connecting with one another and everyone around. Please contact Vidhi at or on <a href="tel:8055379362">8055379362</a> to get on the mailing list, to offer your home one Sunday (or any other day of the week that works for you), or to participate wherever Meals on Wheels is being held. It&#39;s portable and we hope it will, with your love and support, take root and rotate in different parts of the city organically.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:464px; margin:2px; width:700px" /><br /> <br /> If you feel moved to write Vidhi a note about how you feel about her incredible work, please do.... Anonymous Wed, 08 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Video on Safai Vidyalaya Ranjan shares ... <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="394" src=";controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" width="700"></iframe>... Ranjan Gupta Tue, 07 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Principal's Round Table of 2016 Urmila shares ... <br /> <b><img src="" style="height:332px; width:595px" /></b><br /> The last Principal&rsquo;s Round Table of 2016 was an event to remember!&nbsp; It was attended by over one hundred educators including many Principals and Heads, representing schools and institutions across Pune and even a Principal and teacher who came all the way from Mumbai, inspired by Nipun&rsquo;s talk there.<br /> <br /> The evening was opened by Mrs. Malati Kalmadi who, on behalf of Kannada Sangha, warmly welcomed Nipun and everyone who was in attendance.<br /> <br /> Mrs. Vijayam Kartha introduced the speaker in glowing terms and showed a short slide presentation explaining about Poorna Pune and Education Today Society Tomorrow. She also informed us of the <em>change of name</em> from Principal&rsquo;s Round Table to Education Leaders Movement.<br /> <br /> I had never believed that Compassion could be Cultivated, but Nipun, through <a href="">his slides</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">stories</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">Compassion Quotient</a>,&nbsp;proved me completely wrong!<br /> <br /> There are so many beautiful stories on the many websites, I invite you to spend some time browsing through them for ideas and inspiration.&nbsp; There is also the 21 day challenge that we can all do individually and with our friends, families and in our classrooms: <a href=""></a><br /> <br /> <b>Very important learnings:</b><br /> <br /> Kindness and compassion are innate, inborn.&nbsp; We just have to make space for it to blossom and grow. This can happen if we move from a factory model of schooling to a gardening model of planting seeds, nurturing the soil, providing care and patiently growing our beautiful gardens.<br /> <br /> There are many tools through which we can sensitize and awaken our own <a href="">Compassion Quotient</a><br /> <br /> Kindness has a ripple effect that touches others exponentially.<br /> <br /> Compassion is a muscle that needs to and can be developed.<br /> <br /> Generosity opens the heart and breaks barriers between people.<br /> <br /> To be able to give, you have to learn to receive.<br /> <br /> There was a half hour of Q and A during which several school Principals and Teachers as well as Heads of various initiatives shared their experiments in spreading kindness. It was inspiring to hear stories of our own friends in Pune who have already been doing so much towards Cultivating Compassion!<br /> <br /> Arun closed the evening with a heartfelt thank you to Nipun, all the people who had worked to organize the evening, and all the over one hundred people who attended.&nbsp; Urmila presented Nipun with a token of our gratitude, and we all went home determined to Be the Change!<br /> <br /> <img src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:351px; width:624px" /><br /> <br /> Please watch for the invitation to the: <a href=""></a><br /> <br /> Sheetal had this great idea that we all start together on the 14th of February.<br /> <br /> Please also collect the <a href="">Smile Decks</a> especially ordered by Arun for all of you who participated that day.&nbsp; Or let me know how to send it to your school.... Urmila Samson Mon, 06 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Learning the Art of Surrender Trupti shares ... <em>[At the Laddership retreat held in November 2016, Sachi shares from a deep space about one key shift that she experienced in the past year. In her journey with Ashiyana and Shunya, she reflects about deepening her values and learning to let go and surrender to the higher design.]</em><br /> <br /> I don&rsquo;t know what am I going to say and I have been trying to put this presentation together to make sense of what am I going to say in the next 15 odd minutes. One key shift that I felt in the last year was to let go and actually learning to surrender and probably this moment here is teaching me how to surrender again.<br /> <br /> <b>All Work is a Prayer to God</b><br /> I often think that I am a child of serendipity because life brings me to different situations and I just figure out how to deal with them. As you all know, I have twins:) Yash, my brother made me sign some papers and I became the partner in <a href="">Shunya Alternative</a>s and I thought, I din&rsquo;t have to do anything, I am just helping him fulfill his dream. At the same time in <a href="">Ashiyana</a>, a very dear friend with whom I started Ashiyana, quit. I had actually gone to that meeting to quit myself and she ended up quitting. So, I had to figure this all out - that has been the journey for the past two years. The first year was really disturbing because if you know me, you know how much I love to travel. I don&rsquo;t stay in Bombay for more than 15 days in a month. I like to travel to different places, volunteer and have my hands and legs in many different things and at many different places and that made it difficult to settle down.<br /> In the last one-year, these two strong reminders have guided me. Once I was having this late night conversation at my house with Nipunbhai and he said, <em>&ldquo; ek jaga par toh takvu pade&rdquo;</em> . (You have to set your foot at one place). He asked me to do an experiment, take one jar and put peanuts in it and take another empty jar and one by one transfer all the peanuts in the other jar. And try to do this everyday. I thought this was impossible and I can&rsquo;t do it.<br /> The second one is , two years ago, Guri didi, after Start up Service said &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t think you are doing Shunya or the Childrens&rsquo; home volunteering or ad films. Think of every day as you are waking up and whatever work you are doing is a prayer to God and just believe in that&rdquo;. So in the past year these two things have really helped me ground myself and say that <em>aje je pan aavse eh josu</em> (will see what comes up today) this is my prayer to God. I think we are constantly shifting and the shift is really about deepening our values and for me personally; the intention or practice of surrendering has deepened a little bit in the past year.<br /> <br /> <b>Looking from the Lens of Inner Journey</b><br /> Kabir says,<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:239px; margin:4px; width:400px" /><br /> Slow your mind, everything happens in its own time.<br /> A gardener may water his plants with a 100 pots<br /> but the fruits will only come when it is time.<br /> <br /> This has been my constant learning from the Childrens&rsquo; home, in Shunya where we have been struggling a lot and it is not been easy to take these decisions alone. We have been talking a lot about universe&rsquo;s design and I don&rsquo;t know what the design is but it will happen, if it is meant to.<br /> Another learning that has come up very strongly this year and a quote by Rumi that resonates with it is,<br /> <em>&ldquo;Beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there&rdquo;</em><br /> I am someone who really gets stuck about what is right and what is wrong/unfair and doing things the right way. For instance, I was put on this High Court committee to recommend different changes that they can make in the Childrens&rsquo; home and to recommend the High court to give instructions to the Childrens&rsquo; home. Four NGOs were put on this and every time the high court date would come and every time we would go and visit, there is this storm inside me and I don&rsquo;t know what is right. We have done four High court meetings so far and it&rsquo;s been traumatic and I was like if I am doing this for my inner journey, then why am I feeling this way, I can&rsquo;t be like this therefore, I have to drop this. I am looking at things the way I want them to be and so I really have to drop my expectations. Looking at everything from the lens of inner journey has really been a big learning.<br /> <br /> <b>Being an Instrument</b><br /> Another reminder for me is from the Gita - &ldquo;I am not the doer, I am just an instrument.&rdquo;<br /> Yet there are days when I go to the Children&rsquo;s home and feel that &ldquo;Yes, I am doing everything!&rdquo; but the constant reminders help me ground myself. I will share this one incident when I went to this other Childrens&rsquo; home where children get transferred from one home to another home. These are children who mostly don&rsquo;t have families or have broken families and so I go to meet them, to know them, and to just sit and listen to them. Once I was going to meet them and I had two donors with me and I was just taking a round with them when I heard these sounds of pain and shouting. I get closer to the probation department and I see that three children are sitting like hen as part of punishment and one kid is being beaten by another child with a raw stick in his hand and the probation officer is standing right there beating him up and I was shaken. The donors were shaken and everybody was shaken and I immediately went to the superintendent and told that we need to sort this out. I found out that these kids who are 16-17 were caught watching a blue film. This is an institution where you find blue films, drugs, easy get access to charas, etc. And I knew in my heart that violence is not the solution. One of them, Raghu (name changed), had come out during vacations and through Ashiyana, with the help of a friend we supported him in learning English. After this episode at the home, I was leaving and I had no idea what was I doing. Just then another kid runs up to me and says &ldquo;<em>aapko Raghu ne sorry bola hai</em> &ldquo; (Raghu said sorry to you) and I could suddenly see the humanity. The child, who was watching a blue film, realised probably that he made a mistake and he was trying to relay to me, not to the superintendent or the probation officer but to me that he was sorry and I was just really moved by that. For a week and a half, I could not go to the Children&rsquo;s home. I was really disturbed and I wrote to a bunch of our noble friends and it took me exactly one email to get back and say that Yeah, what am I thinking? I am not the doer, I am just the instrument. And I thought, so in that moment of understanding the higher design, It was good that I reached and I was able to save the three other children from being beaten up.<br /> <br /> <b>Honouring the Divine Force </b><br /> I have always felt that a higher power is operating through me. I don&rsquo;t know what that is. When we were making Pav bhaji with 100 volunteers for feeding 490 children, it was pouring. Never ever in a closed remand home have there been 100 volunteers. The superintendent came and asked what is this drama all about and I said &ldquo;<em>Sir aap ne toh bola ke volunteers allowed hai</em> (You only said that the volunteers are allowed). We had more than 3,000 breads that were toasted and I remember it was pouring. The walking path was flooded and we had to take big vessels from the kitchen to the Children&rsquo;s home across. Just when we had to transport those vessels, it started pouring even heavily and I felt like it&rsquo;s testing time☺, we have to do it and the volunteers, without even thinking, just ran across that place! Darpan, who was one of them, felt very clearly that he didn&rsquo;t know from where we all got the strength from but it happened!<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:434px; margin:2px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> <b>Doing What I Can and Letting Go</b><br /> One clear question that I kept asking myself while working in the children&rsquo;s home was that am I doing this for myself or for the cause that I am working for? Often people ask, are you happy? Are you doing what makes you happy? Honestly, in the last one year, I have spent very less time with the children. Most of my time is spent in organising, handling staff and I am feeling like that is what I have to do right now. It is not about what my calling is or what is making me happy. Those are all secondary things, so I don&rsquo;t know what is right or wrong.<br /> We just started working with children in conflict with law and on Teachers&rsquo; day, where we just created a space for the children to organise the event themselves and have a party - it was so magical and so beautiful.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:441px; margin:2px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> There was this one child who did not fit in. He is 16 years old and he is alleged for rape and I could not understand why he was there. We had a deeper conversation and figured that someone had falsely alleged him to be inside and the victim&rsquo;s mother was asking for Rs 30,000. I tried to do everything, I made him talk to the psychiatrist, got a report in his favour, spoke to the judge and so on. Then I realized that my role is not to try and get him out, will just leave this to fate and God. Instead, I started to focus on his 12th standard exams that were important and every week it was just about going and counselling, pushing him to study inside the home and telling him to be happy wherever he is.<br /> Here&rsquo;s another incident where I feel like it&rsquo;s all planned and I am no one to decide anything. At Shunya, we were having a busy Diwali week and packing orders like crazy and there was so much to do. But I had committed to a meeting with a lawyer and the psychiatrist. I was talking to Yash about it and he felt that it was more important for me to finish the Diwali orders. I decided to cancel the meeting and tell the lawyer to go meet the psychiatrist without me. Suddenly Yash changes his mind and said that it is important for me to be there and that I should go. After meeting the lawyer, I was sitting and talking in the room and suddenly a probation officer brings a vulnerable child, who has been inside the home for about two years. The child had cut himself with a blade. My counsellor and the psychiatrist tried to talk to the child but the child would not talk to them. Then I went and I just held his hand and said that you don&rsquo;t need to talk, we will just sit. We sat for 10 minutes and he cannot speak and so in sign language I asked him what is the problem, and he said that, &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to be here&rdquo;. I said okay, I get it but that doesn&rsquo;t mean that you cut yourself. So where are you from, lets figure out. I said all the different cities and when I said Delhi, he said &ldquo;Yes, I am from Delhi&rdquo;. Beyond that, he cannot express and so we made a deal saying you will not cut yourself and I will try to get you out of here within a month. And I don&rsquo;t know whether I will be able to do that or not but I gave him that promise and the child was like still not smiling and I tickled him. Slowly he eased out and after doing some drawing, he went back to the children&rsquo;s home. I came back home and I was telling Yash that I did not go there to fix the meeting between the lawyer and the psychiatrist; I was in the home for that child and there are 450 children in the home and I don&rsquo;t know who I will be able to help and who I will not be able to help. If I am not able to help, it is in that child&rsquo;s karma to suffer and it is in my karma to help or not help. So, I am just really being present to that every day.<br /> <br /> <b>Holding the Intention of Peace Circles</b><br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:180px; width:180px" />I have been having this strong feeling of listening to my inner voice. I got some books on Peace Circles and I have been reading about holding these circles in the juvenile home and in Children&rsquo;s home. There is this another Children&rsquo;s home in Matunga where I go every Saturday to just listen to the children and give them that space of sharing and I have been really pained by seeing that there is so much of potential getting wasted. The children want to change but they are not able to. The last time I visited, I told the superintendent that that I am going to sit in a circle every week with the children. We are going to put a six months program in place and let&rsquo;s see how it goes. I have no idea how time will expand, I have no idea who will show up but I have faith. This is just an intention that I have put out in the universe and I am hoping things will happen, when they need to.<br /> <br /> <b>Deep Gratitude to the Community</b><br /> I have shared about all of you supporting Ashiyana in so many ways. In Shunya, literally, Yash and me are two employees. And then I have Meghna who does graphics, I have Sima who does branding, I have Siddharth who helps in finance, I have Nimo, Neil, Anjali who do a weekly call with us. Everyone knows how busy Anjali is but every week she will spend one hour to have a call with us. I don&rsquo;t know, I just don&rsquo;t have words to express my gratitude to this community because of each of you, I am.<br /> Thank you. Thank you. I feel like in that little seed that Nipun bhai had sown, now a little leaf has come out.... Trupti Pandya Fri, 03 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 heART Circle - expressions of love Anonymous shares ... <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:200px; width:200px" />If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. ~Eckhart Tolle<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Sometimes life&rsquo;s most precious moments, the ones that make us come alive with a renewed sense of purpose, are the gentlest ones. They arrive unexpectedly and seep into our hearts silently, but change us forever. A year ago, I attended an Awakin Circle at Kinnari and Rahul&rsquo;s home where I met Nipunbhai and that gathering shifted something inside me deeply&nbsp; - the seed that was planted there eventually cracked open and branched into a labour of love - heART circles &ndash; a joyous space where people discover the magic of paint, express their emotions freely and connect with their souls. But let me start at the beginning for it&rsquo;s a slow story of many hearts beating as one.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> A year ago, I had a wonderful life &ndash; I loved everything I was doing and I enjoyed sharing time with family and friends, but I felt a yearning deep within to give more to and do more for the community around me. As this yearning grew, my life began feeling a bit empty, so I was compelled to address it.&nbsp; Eventually, I sat down to think about what I could offer, but nothing came to mind &ndash; after all, what did I have that was special? Since I couldn&rsquo;t travel far from home (two young daughters), I looked up a few organizations in and around my neighbourhood, but nothing resonated with me deeply.&nbsp; I didn&rsquo;t realize then that it was because I was working from the outside in, not from within. That was all about to change when I attended an Awakin circle that planted a seed of inner transformation.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> To love is to recognize yourself in one another. ~Eckhart Tolle<br /> &nbsp;<br /> At the Awakin circle, the beauty, simplicity and compassion that I felt from every person moved me to tears. I knew that whatever I offered the community around me had to come from that space of deep love that washed over me that evening. I felt its transformative power and expansive energy that day. Kinnari and Rahul shared inspiring stories that ignited my own desire to radiate love and kindness. I sat with that familiar yearning again and this time, thought about what I loved deeply. Every member of my family, especially my daughters. Art. Painting. I love that sense of freedom I feel when I pick up a paint brush and bring to life the world around me; and, through my imagination, what I feel about or long to see in the world.&nbsp; In my life, through art, I create space, as Tolle puts it, &ldquo;for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter&rdquo;. When I paint, I feel alive. As Picasso shared, &ldquo;Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life&rdquo; &ndash; could I facilitate a process that allowed others to access that sacred space? Although I knew that I wanted to, I was not sure how I could share this innate and intuitive (also deeply personal) gift with the community around me in a meaningful way.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Another year rolled by.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Nipunbhai arrived in Mumbai again. I heard him speak at Integral Space in Lower Parel. The yearning to give to and connect with a larger purpose returned, and this time, it refused to be shelved away, pushing me to connect more deeply with the internal transformation that was already underway. Later in the week, when I attended Awakin talks, the idea of doing small acts with great love stayed with me &ndash; all of the stories we heard had that beautiful thread running through them. My inner voice assured me, supportively and unwaveringly, &ldquo;all you need is compassion to spread happiness&rdquo;. That was it! I could start small. I could start with what I loved. I didn&rsquo;t have any concrete ideas, but I had a burning desire to offer my whole heart through art in some way and I didn&rsquo;t want to spend another year deliberating. I was ready to act and knew there was no turning back. After connecting with Rahul, Kinnari and Parag, who collectively offered their unconditional support and love that allowed me to believe even more deeply in myself, I decided to attend the Startup Service retreat, not knowing what would emerge, but with the faith that I would find my answers; I would find my path. I believed with my whole heart, and the universe answered.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.<br /> ~ Aristotle<b>.</b><br /> <br /> The magic of transformation was in the air from the moment I arrived in Sughad and it lasted far beyond the four days all&nbsp;of us spent at the retreat. I went in thinking about an art studio and emerged with the blueprint for heART circles. (List team members&rsquo; names if you wish) first listened to my highest intention (creating space for people to feel connected to their souls and express their emotions freely through the medium of art) and thoughts, then offered their ideas and asked me several helpful questions which gave me a stronger sense of direction. At the end of our initial brainstorming session, with the power and love of the collective - an invaluable, precious gift, for which I remain deeply grateful -&nbsp; I understood myself more deeply and connected strongly to a vision that was beginning to crystallize organically.&nbsp; The next day, with all of our hearts beating as one and this vision guiding us, we tapped into a greater intelligence through the power of the collective and the format fell into place beautifully (see below). The distilled version of what was now OUR ultimate labour of love - heART circles - was born.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> The expansive energy that emerged through this process touched every member in the group &ndash; and I knew then that I would devote myself to heART circles for years to come. While I was deeply connected and committed to the idea that emerged, I was not confident about presenting; once again, the love and support of the group bolstered me and led me to confidently achieve what I would not have been able to do by myself. Radical inner transformation was a concomitant part of this process &ndash; (list team members&rsquo; names if you wish) lovingly saw the very best in me and elevated my dream by drawing out my highest potential gently and compassionately. Rahul and Parag, both of whom were volunteers at the Startup Retreat, also offered their unconditional love and support.&nbsp; My confidence soared as I surrendered to and trusted the process; I presented to an audience of that size and calibre for the very first time in my life. I can&rsquo;t recall what I said as I stood up there, but I can tell you that I felt deeply connected to my heart, and to the hearts all around me. The joy of giving shape to the seeds of compassion sown in my heart moved me to tears and resulted in a standing ovation. With this overwhelming demonstration of love that I received with gratitude, I felt ready to share myself with the world.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Beyond Art &ndash; Happiness is in giving. Giving can be anything &ndash; just a space in your heart is all you need.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:365px; width:650px" /><br /> 5th January 2017 is the day my inner transformation spilled over beautifully into action; I expressed my true calling through holding space for the first heART circle. To create a space that facilitated a free flowing expression of emotions through the magic of paints (focusing on process vs product), we lovingly prepared baskets for each participant consisting of a canvas, paint box, palette, towel, paint brushes... Paint boxes were decorated with all of the emotions that assisted me in my own inner transformation &ndash; trust, compassion, belief, hope, faith &ndash; and many more. Flower rangoli in the form of hearts greeted everyone at the door and happy messages lined the walls on post-it notes. As I lit the candles on the table, I deeply wished that the space would allow everyone attending that day to ignite their unique inner spark and silently whispered &ldquo;Let this be a space where people feel they can JUST BE...&rdquo;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> One makes use of colours, but one paints with emotions. ~ Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:450px; width:600px" /><br /> <br /> The room overflowed with the love and support of twenty people that day and the magic of the collective energy took over. We began as planned with thirty minutes of silence that would allow everyone present to connect with themselves deeply after which they painted in silence. Everyone was encouraged to harness their inner creative resources (versus painting from memory or models) following one simple guiding principle: When you change within, the world changes, or in the words of J Krishnamurti, &ldquo;If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation&rdquo;. Indescribable joy and peace flooded over me as I watched colors flying and brush strokes moving in every direction, silently guided by inner sparks that emerged in what began to feel like sacred space. I learned one of the most significant lessons of my life that day &ndash; all we need to give one another is space in our hearts. During the sharing and reflecting round, many of the participants expressed their joy and love through tears as they shared the stories and concepts that guided the colours and strokes. One girl described the joy she felt as she connected with art after years. Many shared that they had no idea how what emerged on the canvas did and spoke about how they were guided by faith and love. One woman shared that she saw the divine in each person present that day and that God was present amongst them, holding the space with infinite love, kindness and compassion. She expressed her love for everyone through a drawing inspired by Mother Nature. Everyone connected seamlessly and deeply as they shared. A spirit of oneness was palpable and I realized in that moment that this feeling of shared humanity &ndash; the emerging stories &ndash; those are the true artistic treasures. And it was then that I felt the magic of true joy.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:488px; width:650px" /><br /> Art circles are held in Ghatkopar East on Thursdays from 3.30pm to 5pm; all are invited to attend.<br /> Email: <a href=""></a><br /> &nbsp;<br /> heART circle Format<br /> 30 min silence<br /> 5 min passage reading (deep listening)<br /> 60 min painting (in silence)<br /> 25 min Reflections<br /> <br /> &nbsp;... Anonymous Tue, 31 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Can we work with the power of small? Goli shares ... <b>&ldquo;We are here to hospice the old systems, and midwife the emergent new ways&rdquo;</b><br /> <br /> Typically the term &ldquo;startup&rdquo; connotes small groups of passionate people working away in obscure corners. They work and work, and after lots of sleepless nights and empty pizza boxes, aspiring to create something that would change the world. At some point, maybe earlier or maybe later, that innovation takes on a commercial component. This startup must grow! And the vehicle for this is inevitably commerce and &ldquo;markets.&rdquo; From here, the narrative of faster and slower takes firm hold, so much that it becomes intertwined and impossible for you to think of the &ldquo;startup&rdquo; without thinking of it as &ldquo;business&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Is there another narrative that&rsquo;s possible? In most cases, the startup itself was not a business; it was an innovation that the people behind it wanted to put out in the world, in service to the world. The vehicle to achieve this was business.<br /> <br /> At Startup Service, we come together each year to challenge this narrative. Not as a critique, but to create a space to ask the questions and think differently. Instead of looking at returns and profits can we imagine a different matrix? Instead of a labor of commerce, what emerges if we proceed forward purely as a labor of love? No compromises. We challenge ourselves to trust the universe, which is vast and beyond our full understanding, to provide not what we and our startup want, but what we need. Rather than only fundraise, we practice acceptance and humility, and try to recognize the many <a href="">forms of capital</a> that are around us. Can we creatively leverage them to work within our context?<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:391px; margin:4px; width:700px" /><br /> This leads to a different logic than the traditional startup optimization for big, fast, and scalable. Can we work with the power of small?&nbsp;<a href="">Small is beautiful</a>, because small is rooted in connections. And small is simple. When complexity drops, money can drop, and LOL (Labor of Love) takes center stage. Over the past three years Startup Service has evolved to become a one of its kind platform for &ldquo;soulpreneurs&rdquo; to birth labor of love ventures, to create ripples of positive deviance and social change by manifesting externally deeply held personal values and convictions.<br /> <br /> <b>&ldquo;Good teachers don&rsquo;t teach from the book. They transform the heart&rdquo;</b><br /> <br /> Over the last three annual events, Deven, Nipun, and the Startup Service Team have evolved the format. In this fourth iteration, 31 soulpreneurs were invited to ESI, outside of Ahmedabad, to gather for three and a half days. Participants came with projects at all stages, from conceptual seed to prototype to several years mature ventures. On the first day, after welcome and orientation, 21 of the participants gave a five minute pitch describing their LOL ventures. They focussed on what personal meaning their initiative had to themselves and the impact they envisioned for the audience they served. The &ldquo;intentions&rdquo; spanned agriculture, art, games, community building, acts of kindness, mentorship, youth programs, personal healing, and more. <b>Parul </b>and <b>Gaurav</b> shared their idea to connect startups in India with highly capable professional advisors, in the spirit of gift. <b>Jaideep</b> shared about Mentor India, an initiative with a group of like minded techies and writers to provide training and support to students in a pay-it-forward model. <b>Nilima</b> shared about her work to empower women, reconcile gender inequalities, and balance masculine and feminine energies through a entrepreneurship model she calls &ldquo;Shaktipreneurship&rdquo;. <b>Jyotsna</b> shared her reflections about empowering women through employment generation but leading with inner transformation: her current project &lsquo;Maitri&rsquo; is to develop intergenerational wisdom amongst these women. <b>Vijay </b>shared about his project &lsquo;Jagriti&rsquo; which aims to keep the rich tradition of artists from Kathputli colony alive by using their art as their means of empowerment.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:525px; margin:4px; width:700px" /><br /> Of those 21, the collective cast their support for eight to be supported for the remainder of the retreat. Of those selected, two were asked if they would be open to anonymously paying forward their slot to two other participants in the top 10 whom the volunteer staff felt would benefit greatly from the weekend. Without hesitation, those two individuals silently gave their nod in agreement for the others. In that spirit, all participants self-selected into groups around each of the eight to make a commitment to support each intention for the remainder of the event.<br /> <br /> The eight selected LOL projects were to receive a very precious gift: a commitment from a group of accomplished individuals, putting aside their own work, with no agenda or strings attached, unconditionally lend their time, attention, and skills. &ldquo;What you are doing is important. I am here to give you undivided attention and support to help you take next steps in achieving your vision&rdquo;. For the group members, it was an opportunity to <a href="">ladder</a> another person with sincere motivations, and in this process also gain valuable insight and perspective on their own work.<br /> <br /> Groups spent the next couple of days (and nights :)) refining their intentions through the startup service canvas and through in-depth discussion with their team members. Team leaders brought out challenges and edges in their journey; group members listened, asked tough questions, and offered insights and expertise from their own journeys.<br /> <br /> Over three days, various activities were planned to help participants to reflect and think more deeply about their intentions. On the second day of the retreat, teams went out into the streets of Ahmedabad to practice the core values each project wanted to manifest in the world. <b>Rupali</b>&rsquo;s &ldquo;Discovering Yourself Through Art&rdquo; team created a street mural and invited passersby to contribute. The <a href="">Planet Earthlings</a> team lead by <b>Greg </b>played the <a href=";">Acting Kindly card game</a> with groups in the street. <b>Sheetal </b>approached a group of bank workers out for ice cream that caught on and thought they could play at their bank. <b>Nidhi&rsquo;s</b> &ldquo;Just Being&rdquo; team went into <a href="">Seva Cafe</a> and assisted the kitchen staff with preparing that evening&rsquo;s dinner. They created their own healthy dosa dish and a tasty pancake dessert.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:525px; margin:4px; width:700px" /><br /> During Seva Cafe visit, <b>Bhaskar </b>inspired us with stories about how this cafe, run purely on gift economy, has created shifts with guests; one police officer who was cynical of the &ldquo;wealth&rdquo; box later learned the power of it when he couldn&rsquo;t bring himself to spend the notes he took from it (and instead gave back), and another woman who came to be nourished at Seva Cafe during her pregnancy even as the rest of her family ate at a nearby restaurant. Before dinner, <b>Komnieve</b> shared insights from his entrepreneurial journey, including the importance of selecting team members wisely and looking for people with a <a href="">growth mindset</a> instead of the smartest. <b>Khitij</b> shared about how his work as a social entrepreneur providing guidance counselling to government school students led him to learn about the importance of fighting the ego, despite success and accolades. <b>Tootles</b> shared a very touching, soulful song she wrote herself, the last one she shared with her brother before his untimely passing. In place of applause, she asked each person to hold a lyric of the song in their mind in silence.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:393px; margin:4px; width:700px" /><br /> On day three <b>Arun dada</b> ,an 85 year old Gandhian and <b>Rajni Bhakshi,</b> an author, journalist and Gandhi Peace Fellow opened up the often not so well understood vision of Gandhi. Arun dada spoke of purification of the mind (chitt shuddhi) and the means to attain this (sadhan shuddhi ) as pivotal to all work. Rajni spoke about Gandhi&rsquo;s idea of <a href="">trusteeship</a> and brought out a clear distinction between the ancient bazaars and modern markets and finding that balance for co-existence. She shared an example, of when Singer Company introduced hand sewing machines in India, Gandhi appreciated it because it did cut down the drudgery and was a good creative solution. She pointed that Gandhi&rsquo;s vision of inner transformation and social change got quiet convoluted in fifty years of independence in the debate of traditional vs modern. <em>And,</em> <em>that is where the point got lost because forward is not good to bad or bad to good, forward is different.</em> She asked a powerful question &mdash; &lsquo;In fifty years of independence the question is still the same - Are we truly free / Independent? Or are we more bound by the forces of the market?&rsquo; She shared that freedom is not a result and therefore Freedom has to be in the beginning not in the end.<br /> <br /> Some questions that came up in the group after the sharing were: <ul> <li>Capitalism has helped many people come out of abject poverty and overall lifespans have increased. Capitalism has given many other great gifts. So, can capitalism and love co-exist?<br /> Today capital markets are structured in a way that global markets are dictating every movement. Where is the space of ethical investment? And for real change do we really need 20 trillion?<br /> So many young people coming out of college have questions. What would you tell people like me who are tired of searching, especially when there is so much happening in the world?<br /> Can inner transformation be the fulcrum governing all work?<br /> You cannot solve the same problem with the same consciousness. What are the examples you are seeing where sadhan shuddhi has happened in business spaces?</li> </ul> <br /> <br /> On the final day of the retreat, the eight groups presented their projects to the collective and a distinguished panel that included a grassroots changemaker, several social entrepreneurs, a CSR director, and a senior business leader. <b>Rupali</b>&rsquo;s team presented their concept of birthing art circles in living rooms and studios everywhere. <b>Preet</b>&rsquo;s #Happy2Give platform is an incubator for local, kind activities for a city near you. <b>Kunal</b> shared Chalees and his vision to transform learning by producing fun and engaging educational videos out of dry Indian textbook material. <b>Bea</b> wants to use art and the medium of paper to create cross-border collaboration, sharing and transformation. <b>Nidhi</b> envisions transforming her own home into a holistic healing space which integrates healthy food, mindful cooking, and strengthening yoga. <b>Greg</b>&rsquo;s Planet Earthlings is a global platform for children around the world to collaborate on a kindness revolution, using online and offline games. <b>Tanaz</b> and her team shared their presence and the essence of Esta, which is about supporting and building community through the simple and subtle art of holding space. <b>Deepika</b> and her team presented their vision for empowering every woman and child in every village with a simple and cost-effective way for growing healthy food for family and community with <a href="">Ganga Maa Mandal kitchen garden technique</a>.<br /> <br /> The panellists for the final presentation Anar Patel (who gracefully wears many hats of a business woman, a social entrepreneur, a social worker, a mother and a wife), K. Thyagrajan (Mentopreneur &amp; Visiting Faculty at icreate &amp; Nirma University), Vandana Agarwal (a social entrepreneur, architect and an artist), Sheetal Shah (Indicorps Fellow &amp; Entrepreneur), Madhur Khanna ( Technologist from IIT &ndash; Kharagpur &amp; Community Mobiliser) were moved by the innovations shared, but especially the heart and passion that was behind each intention. Truly labor of love. Tyagi shares in a follow-up note:<br /> <br /> <em>Many thanks for your kind words...but it was equally my pleasure to be amongst you Bapu's experiments with 'truth', your experiments with 'love' have engaged my attention.<br /> <br /> This time around, I noticed that the 'emotive' involvement and expression of the participants was much higher (last year the teams had a tinch of 'business sense') and also that in each of the pivotal participant &mdash; leading/driving the project &mdash; there was this deep sense of having found the right place and environment to pour out their real self and also possibly get selfless feedback. That each of them was moved in one way or the other was very obvious.</em><br /> <br /> <b>&ldquo;The quieter you become, the more you can hear&rdquo;</b><br /> The group work and presentations were the visible fruits, but they were born on a field of incredible acts of kindness laid by participants and volunteers behind the scenes. Truly, there was a 9th invisible Startup Service group named &ldquo;Epic Tags&rdquo; that created non-stop joyful magic continuously. There was <b>Nilima</b> getting tagged with 8 extra copies of her book to gift to others, which required a volunteer to visit every bookstore in Ahmedabad. <b>Vipul</b>, served through his soulful Kabir music for an evening satsang, was left jaw-dropped to find that <b>Sheetal</b>, <b>Neerad</b>, <b>Anupreet</b>, and a team of invisible fans had designed and printed his first studio album, making the occasion the official launch. <b>Neil</b> was given a lifetime memory when a group of his staff members surprised him on stage and stood together as a team of CEOs. There was the hand-written notes and cards placed lovingly on every participant&rsquo;s bed, put together with a prayer and deep spirit of compassion by volunteers. There was <b>Deven&rsquo;s</b> (&ldquo;Daadi wale Baaba&rdquo;) tireless, continuous efforts starting several months in advance of the actual event, conducting phone calls with each and every participant and listening deeply to each one&rsquo;s journey with a spirit of service. There was <b>Vinit</b>&rsquo;s patient, quiet conversation with <b>Trupti</b> at Seva Cafe to help her gather her thoughts and deliver what one observer remarked was the best introduction of the space they&rsquo;d ever heard.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:393px; margin:4px; width:700px" /><br /> Vinit summed up the behind-the-scenes work in a post-event note giving thanks for the opportunity to see &ldquo;the other side&rdquo; of a MBL retreat:<br /> <br /> <em>Hello All,<br /> <br /> What a retreat it was, every-time I come home from the retreat, every-time I'm a little different person than who I was, I sincerely want to thank you all for the efforts you all have taken to make something like this a reality.<br /> <br /> This is the first time I've seen the other (volunteer) side of the retreat and I was amazed to see a full powerhouse in action. The way everyone comes together to put something like this come alive, oh my god, I was really blown away.<br /> <br /> I'd seen the magic happen before, but for the first time, I experienced how it happens, I loved it and I'm coming for volunteering many more times :D :D<br /> <br /> I'm in debt of you all for this experience.<br /> <br /> Love and hugs to you all. :) :)</em><br /> <br /> As Nipun reminded us, in such gatherings we hold the possibility of creating 100 million trillion connections. And each of these are threads that contain the possibility of beautiful ripples. When we trust in the value of relationships we see the value of materials pale in comparison. May we continue to co-create, through our inner work manifested externally, a vast and deep field of goodness to embrace the entire world.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:402px; margin:4px; width:700px" /><br /> &nbsp;... Goli (Rajesh Golani) Sat, 28 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0800