Karma Kitchen In Burgos :)
Posted by Joserra Gonzales on Apr 18, 2016
In times of experts and economic paradigms of separation, competitiveness and scarcity, a large group of volunteers gathered to explore how much truth there is in these paradigms and the opposites, happiness, altruism and abundance.
We are told by some that economy is an indecipherable thing which belongs to Wall Street and some leaders trained at Harvard or Oxford, working at the IMF, but this is not necessarily what everyone believes in. Nor do many believe in the economic and organizational monoculture that we are usually offered... The exploration of new ideas and ways to organize is vital for a dynamic and constantly improving society.
These days I was thinking about Mahatma Gandhi’s words, when he said that we do not fight against people who harm others (say: corrupt, violent, fearful), we fight against the source, the root cause of that harm, which lives in the mind of those people. We have to separate the quality from the people, the mistake from the essence. Gandhi said, "Our real rivals are fear, greed, selfishness, and it is against them against whom we must fight."
And how to fight?
Proving ourselves that the opposite is possible and holds more value for our lives and the lives of others.
Happiness, Altruism, Abundance.
On Tuesday April 12th a group of 14 volunteers and more than 40 guests got together in Burgos to experiment with an idea and space that speaks loudly about the joy of being human.
Karma Kitchen is a glocal (global and local) experiment which aims to create a space for the practice of generosity through the simple act of preparing food for others.
On the one hand, Karma Kitchen experiments offer a culinary experience where you cannot pay for your own food. In Karma Kitchen the bill at the end of your meal is always 0. Someone who came before you has paid for your meal and now you are free to keep the chain of gifts running with your voluntary contribution to the space, which will allow someone else to enjoy the same experience in the future. Karma Kitchen is a collective experiment created with the generosity of many.
Each Karma Kitchen experiment in the world has the peculiarities of the local culture and the people who are part of each group.
In Ahmedabad, India, for example, it’s more than 10 years that Karma Kitchen has been going (Seva Café is its local name). The process of creating that space is one that speaks wonders about collective efforts and trust. The owner of the place decided to donate it so it could be used to spread generosity on a daily basis! Many social leaders decided to donate resources, time and love to startup the experiment, and lots of volunteers have spent countless hours offering meals and practicing unconditional service. There have been hundreds of concerts, poem recitals, improvisations, talks to remember... More than 10 years later, Seva Café is still a place of inspiration and profound revolution.
For few Spaniard volunteers that went through its walls few days ago, Seva Café was one of the places we enjoyed the most. The sense of community and abundance that exists in Seva Café is not found in many places in the world. It is a place where nobody expects anything from you, one feels as part of the family since you go in. And it's that feeling, the second part of what Karma Kitchen offers, what we wanted to bring more eagerly to our part of the planet.
Among various volunteers we started to move threads to make a first attempt in Burgos and on the way we found Mercedes, the owner of the restaurant simply called “Things to Eat”. She connected with the idea and the essence from the first discussions and decided to embark on the adventure with us. She offered us her space to do this first experiment and not only that, she and her sister Mari Carmen participated with us as volunteers, helping us enormously with shopping, cooking and management. Thank you Mercedes and Mari Carmen! Amazing!
The night was very special for many people.
Rina was one of our volunteers; She just arrived from more than 4 months volunteering in India; the experience of Karma Kitchen in Burgos was like balm in her transition back home in Philadelphia: "the whole process of creating the space, the previous meetings, the decoration works, and the day of the event itself, have been examples of fluency, understanding and collaboration. All volunteers involved have had a remarkable spirit. On D Day, the space was transformed into a community space not only with the guests, but also in the kitchen where we all understood each other as if we had been working together for years or even spoke the same language”. :)
The whole process was great, a noble pleasure to watch the smiles of the people and realize my own. Many of the guests were volunteers’ friends, but others were regular customers of the restaurant and the surprise they received was huge. Many of them couldn’t believe what they were seeing. We welcomed everyone with a flower in which some of the values of the experiment were read: love, trust, compassion... All the walls were decorated with beautiful pictures, phrases, fabrics ... The tables had mandalas made with vegetables and rocks, menus lovingly explained the concept and process, while in the kitchen the volunteer team continued to prepare the dishes with care. We even created a Kindness Table for everyone to give and receive gifts with no strings attached. The whole atmosphere was vibrating with love.
Mari Carmen, Mercedes, Celia, Mama Conchi, Rina, and Patricia organized everything in the kitchen and made the food ready for everyone to enjoy with so much loving kindness; our Super Waiters and Waitresses Alex, Diego, Celia and Miki (just arrived from Madrid ...) flowed gracefully among the tables, serving everyone with amazing patience and smiles; our particular Metre, Carmen, multiplied herself by 4, handling such tuff position with the entirety of a 20 year old expert :) ; and the creators of atmosphere and listeners, Beitas and Joserritas, toiled to answer questions, give welcomes and farewells. Without forgetting our photographer Ruben, who took all the amazing pictures you see!
Karma Kitchen is not a experiment to change anyone, it is a space to change oneself. Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world". All sustainable external revolution begins in some kind of inner revolution and transformation. The night passed by in that spirit of transformation and service.
In my personal experience, it is in these environments of Happiness, Abundance and Altruism where the potential magic in all of us arises. It is as if, when finding these spaces, our hearts open to what they really are, a source of joy and generosity. There were very beautiful and spontaneous reactions: a group of people offered their organic vegetables for a next time, a director of a large company in Burgos said he wanted to bring their employees to volunteer, people who came alone mixed with unknown friends in the Community Table, and even a girl from Madrid has already contacted us to replicate the experiment in the capital... and yesterday Miki and I shared about our experience in the Entredós Foundation as part of a conversation about Radical Generosity :). Magic also flowed there :).
As Miki reflected in the closing circle, when we give without expecting anything in return you never know what has been generated. The consequences travel the world touching many lives we will never know about.
Another of the most important insights I've taken from this process is that there was almost no outreach and everything was perfect like that... The organic and humble progress of the experience is an essential part of the ideals Karma Kitchen holds for the world.
In this dance of giving and receiving, the goal and the process merge into one. It doesn’t matter how many people get to know Karma Kitchen, it doesn’t matter how many dinners we end up serving, the altruistic process of creation holds so much value itself.
We still don’t know when the next experiment will happen, but many people are already waiting for the next Karma Kitchen Burgos evening to come true. So do I :)
Long Glory to the Planet and to the Volunteers :)
More photos here