Archived Blogs

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Someone's Smile Posted by Mark Peters, Dec 02 2021 At the tail end of last night's virtual Awakin Circle in Santa Clara, we were treated to a real-time zoom rendition of one of my favorite songs, "Kisi Ki Muskurahaton Pe" -- sung by Dinesh Uncle! With a modest application of poetic license, here is a translation of the original Hindi lyrics into English: Kisi Ki Muskurahaton Pe (Someone's Smile) Giving a smile to someone Holding space for them to express their pain Holding them in your heart This is the essence of life It's true, I am poor in terms of money But my heart is rich And life is great when guided by love and joy I have faith in this even if our society does not Trust bridges the divide between hearts Love's expression exists due to us Someone will remember this form even after it dies As I will smile in their tears Flowers proclaim this to buds, time after time

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8-Year-old On The Meaning Of Love :) Posted by Janessa Wilder, Dec 02 2021 Yesterday, while I was on a zoom call for a weekly writer's group, my 8-year-old daughter Afton spontaneously joined. When one of our groupmates asked her to share a poem, she spontaneously wrote a series of poems. In last night's Awakin Santa Clara circle, Mark encouraged her to share the poems with the group, and I thought I'd share them here as well, in case they bring a smile to you the way they did for us. The heartfelt expressions of children can be so humbling to witness! Endless There is no end to anything. It continues. If you turn a sphere, it's endless. The world you live in, is endless. Your life, is endless. You never end. You can never be left behind, because you just keep going. You can never be alone, because you can't be in one place. Endless. The Meaning of Love Sitting there, snuggling with your mom, that's love. But what's the meaning? What's the meaning of giving a hug, ... Read Full Story

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Karma Kitchen Bangalore – A Gift That Bears Gifts Posted by Monica samuel, Oct 18 2021 For many years we have been inspired by the idea of the Karma Kitchen, but we never thought that we could be the ones to initiate it. This year, one member of our core group of 6 friends was very inspired to try this experiment. Since we have always supported each other in all explorations, we all jumped aboard. A gift that started with a gift We knew Karma Kitchen was a big project but how big … we got to learn only when we started the planning. Looking back, many magical things happened to keep us going - stopping us from even having second thoughts. For example, when we were still talking about starting the Karma Kitchen, our mentor and a sister Karma kitchen project gave us the seed money to get started. That was so unexpected and such a gift of generosity that we felt that we must respect this ... Read Full Story

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Living Theology At The Bottom Posted by Rick Phillips, Sep 22 2021 [I was deeply touched by Chaz Howard's recent Awakin reading, and particularly, the recent conversation he had with Nipun. Below were my reflections for our local Awakin Circle.] I wanted to touch on five different things from what stood out for me in this remarkable passage. I was struck by a number of things. First the idea of lived theology, to live your faith, but then to live it at the “bottom” as a way to gain spiritual insight and compassion. And, of course, Chaz did this! He spent time living by choice on the street, amongst the homeless, in Philadelphia where he’s from. So, he really can speak from that personal experience, as he does in the conversation with Nipun and in the book he's also written. The next thing that struck me was the idea of the wounded heart as being a source for great compassion or great violence. This spoke ... Read Full Story

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Gratitude For A Flat Tire Posted by Brinda Govindan, Sep 10 2021 Yesterday after a full day of masked in-person teaching, I returned to my car ready to drive home. While I was inside the car, a young woman walked around my car and indicated she wanted to tell me something---she said "your back tire is flat!" and walked away. I used the tire gauge that my dad had sent me a while ago to check all the tires and indeed one was completely flat. Fortunately we have AAA and I called the number so they could change the tire and put on my spare tire. The car was in a place where it would have been very challenging for me to do this, but they did it quickly. I had to wait for a while for them to show up, but I didn't mind at all because I could just use that time to meditate, breathe, and pause. I also had ... Read Full Story

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Losing A Sense Posted by Brinda Govindan, Sep 03 2021 I love Mulla Nasrudin stories and would read them with my son when he was little. So this week's reading was very familiar-- funny and yet very profound. It got me thinking about losing a sense. Two years ago, I had lost my voice for two weeks. And that's a pretty long time not to talk, especially for somebody who is a teacher! And it was a very, very profound shift, because not only did I experience the world differently from my "silent space" but I learned that how others saw me was different too. During that time I went to a conference and people thought I was deaf, because I was writing on a small whiteboard that I carried everywhere. They would talk really loudly to me which I found startling! I would then indicate on my whiteboard "I have just lost my voice". I gave my entire presentation without speaking---by ... Read Full Story

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On Befriending Fear Posted by Linh Trinh, Aug 18 2021 In our Laddership Pod, as I read podmates' reflections, I was reminded of my own practice on embracing fear. A helpful one is to identify Fear as a character I can converse with. I learned this mantra from Tanya Kaps, and felt inspired to illustrate it. This was drawn in April 2020, when Covid was reaching its first peak globally. ----- Originally posted in Laddership Pod.

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Service Is Empowering To Both The ... Posted by Purna Mukesh, Aug 17 2021 Service is empowering to both the receiver & giver. Service takes different forms, small acts of kindness to transformative journeys. With each, we feel a profound sense of joy and make our world a better place. When my mother was in hospital recovering from a stroke, my daughter who was then 13 years came to meet mom. She loved to hold her granny's hand, chat, joke and laugh together. There were 6 other patients in that general ward. As my daughter and I stepped out, she noticed a flower vendor and said "Mom may we buy a flower for each patient in granny's room?" It was such a beautiful and generous thought. She stopped by each bed, smiled at the patient, gave them a flower and wished them a speedy recover. The surprise and joy in the eyes and smiles of the patients spoke volumes. We can all serve in simple ways that bring joy. I have been fortunate to experience that service and kindness numerous times and I attempt to keep that circle going

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Teen Awakin Call With Nimo Patel! Posted by Katherine Wang, Aug 10 2021 Last Tuesday, Ocean and I had the honor of hosting a Teen Awakin Call with Nimo Patel. Part of a project for the 2021 ServiceSpace summer internship, this Teen Awakin Call was structured similar to a regular Awakin Call but was primarily for teens to listen and ask questions. [View in browser window here.] Nimo Patel is a rap star who works with kids from underprivileged communities in India. He attended Wharton business school and rose to stardom in his early twenties. However, after witnessing an inspiring performance by these children, he realized that his perceptions of blessings and happiness were slowly becoming redefined. For the past dozen years, Nimo has been serving and working with the underprivileged communities in the Gandhi Ashram in India, giving them wisdom, care, and unconditional love. From an Ivy League education to Wall Street to fame and fortune as an MTV rap star, Nimo realized that he ... Read Full Story

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The Pizza Precept & More From Rev Heng Sure Posted by Trupti Pandya, Aug 01 2021 “If you have no obstacles in your own mind, then outer obstacles will not hinder you or cause you to worry” – Master Hsuan Hua Two Buddhist Monks, Jin Wei Shi, and Jin Chaun Shi anchored weekly bowing sessions to dedicate merits to all beings during the global Covid crisis. In the final session, last week, we had a special guest Rev Heng Sure who along with Marty, former Heng Ch'au, bowed in peace, and for peace, touching their foreheads to the ground across 800 miles across. Below is an excerpt from the call. I really recommend that people bow outdoors. Sometimes, if you live on the twelfth floor of a high rise or live in a concrete jungle, it is hard to find grass. But if you can find even a patch of grass to bow on, what it does is it puts you much closer to all the other living ... Read Full Story

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Summary: Teen Awakin Call With Brain Conroy Posted by Alakh Kapadia, Jul 17 2021 This past Thursday, Katherine and I had the honor of hosting a Teen Awakin Call with Brian Conroy, one of the mentors for our internship this summer. This Teen Awakin Call was a project for the 2021 ServiceSpace summer internship. This Teen Awakin Call was structured similar to a regular Awakin Call, but was primarily for teens to listen and ask questions, as opposed to adults. Brian Conroy, our guest, is a storyteller and the founder of the Buddhist Storytelling Circle, which is a collection of storytellers from the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery. He first encountered Venerable Master Hsuan Hua in 1976 and took refuge with the Master in 1994. Brian has also taught theater and public speaking in several public schools in San Jose, as well as performed his stories in various festivals. Brian graciously answered around thirteen questions, from us interns and others who joined. He also shared a remarkable story ... Read Full Story

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Breaking Through Posted by Xuan Ooi, Jul 04 2021 I was invited into the Noble Friendships Pod by my former classmate. I had the simple goal of getting one step closer to genuinely treating myself as a good friend. At the time I joined, I was deep in the middle of a state in which my body and mind forced me to rest. I had just finished a two-semester long certificate program online and finally had met the limbo space of ambiguity of “What’s next?” There was so much waiting for me to do but I had absolutely no motivation to even approach them. My body tied me back into the present and out of my running thoughts through the manifestation of physical pain, an old and familiar friend of mine. I finally decided to make the focus of each day completing my daily recitation and my daily readings, practices, and responses for the pod. I didn’t expect more ... Read Full Story

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Aslinur And Marian: A Sufi Prayer Posted by Shyam Gupta, Jul 01 2021 [In a Prayer Circle in May, amid India's covid crisis, Marian and Aslinur offered a powerful Sufi prayer. Below is a lightly edited transcript and video of their offering.] Aslinur: As-salaam alaykum, dear sisters and brothers, may peace, compassion, and blessings of the divine be upon us on all the creations and creatures. Marian: It's our great honour to be here, with all of you in this beautiful circle of companions. We are in Istanbul, and we are three days before the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and prayer. So, it feels very meaningful to be having this global prayer circle here right now, at this moment, when hundreds of millions of Muslims, around the world, are already in an ongoing phase of fasting and prayer and introspection. So, our intention in sharing this prayer is also linking in, with this whole field of prayer, that has been going ... Read Full Story

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Aryae + Wendy: Peace, Shalom, Namaste. Posted by Rupali Bhuva, Jun 29 2021 [In May's Prayer Circle, we heard a stirring song from Aryae and Wendy. Below is a lightly edited transcript of their share, along with video of the prayer.] We feel so blessed to be here with all of you as we are witnessing truth on so many levels of what is happening now and we are witnessing sacredness in this circle. In our tradition, when something is true and something is sacred, we say, Amen. And to all of you here, to all of the prayers, to all of the stories, we have been all witnessing I want to say Amen. When we saw the invite to the circle, we learned about the Indian tradition of "Besnu" which means sitting. Well, guess what, in the Hebrew tradition it's called Shiva and it's the same thing, it means sitting. Isn't that something? So the whole time, we are all sitting together. In the ... Read Full Story

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Hospice Stories With Maki Posted by Meghna Banker, Jun 28 2021 A couple weeks back, a crew of us gathered for a stirring conversation with Dr. Maki Kawamura, on her powerful experiences with the dying and their loved ones. A pediatrician, global peace leader, mother of three, founder of the House of Joy center for cancer patients and Here and Now Hospice, Maki's depth of experience and spirit of service disarmed all of us as we listened to her palpable stories, wisdom, and heart. Thanks to some incredible transcribing elves, below is a lightly edited summary and partial transcript of the conversation, which spanned topics such as: What does dying teach us about living? What questions come to life on one's deathbed? What are the most common experiences people face at the end of life? What am I least willing to let go of, and why? How do the values of loved ones who've departed live on in our lives? ---------- Dying can be ... Read Full Story

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Say Hello To Our 2021 Summer Interns! Posted by Swara Pandya, Jun 28 2021 For many summers now, a crew of service-hearted youth have come together for a multi-week internship with ServiceSpace. Circling up with a team of mentors, they dive headlong into a summer-long immersion for the head, hands, and heart -- engaging in books and talks on leading with values, personal practices like meditation and acts of kindness, project work ranging from graphics to filmmaking to writing to podcasting and beyond, and sharing reflections with each other and themselves along the way. Today, we’re thrilled to begin our 2021 summer internship with a fantastic crew of a dozen interns and mentors! Even just the interns’ application responses have taught us so much already. Here’s excerpt from each intern below. Katherine, a rising 10th grader, pointed to a need for greater balance in the framing of our social narratives, and a desire to ‘be the change’ she wishes to see: … Almost everything I read ... Read Full Story

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Endings And Beginnings Posted by Indigo Ocean, Jun 22 2021 As I come to the end of this 2 week Noble Friendships Pod experience, I notice a commitment in myself to carry forward what I've gained and make this ending a new beginning. I noticed over the weekend that sometimes when my ego gets challenged, it causes me to not draw upon the highest aspects of myself that I would otherwise have access to. This is particularly the case when it's challenged around the idea of what is good for the collective. It's not because there's actual protection of others; that's just the story it's hiding within. That's the self-righteousness that justifies its egoic response, despite all the progress I've made in not indulging it in other contexts. I am calling myself up to a greater level of integration between my capacity to be a noble friend and my willingness to when people aren't behaving as I think they should and I ... Read Full Story

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Bonnie: Three Quotes And A Prayer Posted by Meghna Banker, Jun 18 2021 [Below is an edited transcript of a dedication Bonnie offered last month from the Christian tradition, during a Prayer Circle for India amid the country's escalating Covid crisis.] [Or, view here in browser window.] Hello everybody. Good morning. Good evening. Good middle of the night, whatever it is for you. I am so touched by the stories that I heard. I live in Southern California and yet I have this deep connection to India from having visited there and from my close relationship with so many people from the service space ecosystem. I just remembered, as you were speaking that three years ago, on Mother's Day, we had the Jai Jagat children at our center singing, we had an animal parade for them and a lunch for them, and their presence changed so many lives. Their simple being just changed so many lives. So I think about the people that I do know ... Read Full Story

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Yuka's Prayer: Spiritual Beings Having A Human Posted by Jane Jackson, Jun 11 2021 [Last month, during a Prayer Circle for India amid the nation's escalating Covid crisis, Yuka, on behalf of her family and colleagues, offered this stirring prayer (at midnight in Japan!), transcribed below.] [View here in browser window.] Hello everybody. Thank you so much for allowing me to be here. I see Maki, my sister also in the zoom room and of course not just Maki, my other sister Rika and our parents and our whole Goi Peace colleagues and staff are all here with you and us, at this special time. I want to first thank the two Buddhist monks that have planted the seed for this circle, and for the amazing hosts who made this possible in just two days. Thank you for the stories of courage, stories of the willingness to open to connection during the pain, thank you for the selfless service, thank you for sharing with us about the ... Read Full Story

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My Grandma's Last Lesson Posted by Rohit Rajgarhia, Jun 09 2021 We held an informal circle recently and the topic started to gravitate towards death and dying. I was reminded of my recent experience of my grandmother passing away, which I shared in that group. As few friends suggested, I am happy to share it here too. Thank you! ..... My grandmom (maternal) passed away recently and it was my first cremation experience. In addition to many other things, I would remember her for pampering all of us with the tastiest of sweets and new clothes. :) On receiving the news, we went to their town, a 3-hour drive from where I live. We reached in the evening and the next morning, all of us performed some rituals around her body and then took her body to the cremation ground. "Offering a shoulder" or pallbearing is considered an opportunity as well as a duty in Indian traditions, and I felt grateful that ... Read Full Story

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