Zilong's Opening: Context For Our Content
Posted by Dinesh Mehta on Aug 8, 2015
Reflecting on service in this house is like reflecting on a water in an ocean -- not just because I'm surrounded by it, but also whatever whatever I can squirt out of my mouth doesn't compare to the depth that has been cultivated here.
When I listening to the passage, I hear a few voices in my head. Nipun's graduation speech quoting Martin Luther King that "Everyone can be great because everyone can serve." I hear the voice when Guri shared that when she was young, she did this 30-day experiment to smile at everyone you met and wish them well. (I suspect that that experiment hasn't ended yet.) I hear the voice of Brother Makala Kozo asking how his cancer cells be of service to others. I hear Audrey's voice asking how to brighten the day of anyone she encounters. More recently, I hear Birju's voice saying it's not just content of what you do, but also the context.
It's really here -- this big family and the field that you all weaved together helped to give me new context for the content that I have. And that brings up another set of voices that I hear.
There's the set of voices that said your grandparents worked so hard so that you, parents, can get out of the farmland and move into the cities. And your parents worked so hard so that you can go to school in the U.S. and probably live there. But guess what? Now I aspire to be a farmer or go back to the farm land and live at a place that calls itself a farm. The content, the activity might be the same, but the context totally changes when this lens of service came on.
Another set of voices told me to study hard in college, lest you will selling vegetables on the streets. Guess what? I now admire people who not only sell vegetables on the street, but they give it away for free to their neighbors. I also hear the voices that said you better find a good job after college; otherwise, you'll be washing dishes and waiting tables in restaurant. Guess what? The only place that I experienced scarcity in this house is the scarcity of space next to the sink when there's an abundance of eager volunteers wanting to do the dishes. Or at Karma Kitchen when you serve, wash dishes or bus tables with so much joy. It's a different context. I also hear the voices that told me to not just sit around, but do something useful. Now, I'm starting to realize that sitting around might be a greatest service or gift that I can render to myself and others.
With that context, one seed question that comes to mind is -- how has the context of service changed how you do what you do?