Karma Kitchen Reflections From Coordinators
Posted by Elizabeth Pimentel-Gopal on Nov 17, 2018
Recently, a journalist wrote with some questions about Karma Kitchen. A bunch of volunteers reflected on them -- and here's a few of the many inspired reflections it spurred, from KK coordinators around the globe -- in Poland, India, Romania, Japan, Austria, Michigan, California, and beyond!
What inspires you personally about volunteering at Karma Kitchen?
"Karma Kitchen really appears to me as an expedient means to unfold people's inherent human qualities." [Jasky, Poland/France]
"The field, that is created - when volunteers come together for an agenda-less service, when volunteers lead with love, when the focus is on the process and not the outcome, the unfolding of magic when everyone is leading with intrinsic motivation to serve.:) this field draws me to karma kitchen to volunteer. It may be physically tiring but mentally very soothing and joyous experience for me. Every Karma kitchen will create enough stories of micro-moments of transformation, deep relationships, love in action and humility which inspires everyone to volunteer and we end up with so many requests to volunteer from guests/diners who visit Karma Kitchen. Secondly, within me, it has created some profound shifts which is a virtuous loop in itself to volunteer." [Parag, India]
"Helping to create a world where generosity and service without any expectations of response or results is a way of life." [Nilam and Janet, Detroit]
"This practice is crucial for understanding gift economy and also about the fact that we are not individual beings living on earth separately; but rather, we are individual beings who are connected deeply with each other and that our purpose is to understand this truth and to support our growth using each other's existence." [Maki, Japan]
What inspires people to participate -- as volunteers, partner restaurants, and diners -- in Karma Kitchen?
"Being part of something bigger than our own life; extending the hospitality we show at home out into the world; treating everyone like our family." [Nilam and Janet]
"I believe it's the opportunity to be part of something so special. [We hosted it in a school, and] for parents it's sharing this experience with their children and for volunteers it must be the chance to offer something from their hearts. :)" [Lila, Romania]
"The values of gift economy to shift our relationship to services: From transaction to trust, from isolation to community. - The spread of loving-kindness in our communities."
How does Karma Kitchen contribute positively to society?
"I think it is the place where a lot of kindness is born. This is the place where people realize that the society and nature has been giving us with so many gifts, but we did not realize that they were gifts." [Maki]
"In so many ways visible to me and probably in so many ways which are not visible or my mind can imagine or see. :) I can start with my transformation. :) What it has done is to teach me how to lead with change. :) I can say this for most of the volunteer and in some sense even for diners, the ripple effect of individual transformation is the transformation of society." [Parag]
"For most service-oriented ecosystem or community on this earth, service is about the impact and to provide a space to serve with a lens of inner transformation is enriching the spectrum which invites people to serve." [Lila]
What kind of response do you receive from diners? Is the zero-dollar check a surprise to anyone?
"Most of the people are not surprised because they know the purpose of the Karma Kitchen, but they are surprised to know that so many people have come to karma kitchen before him or her to keep this flow going. And when they understood the joy of connecting with anonymous people who has come before him or her." [Maki]
"Previous years' guests come each year, have fun and a great meal, and support us with love and joy. You can see the surprise and interest when new people find out there is no charge, someone else paid for their meal and they are free to pay it forward or simply give by being a receiver." [Nilam & Janet]
"Diners who have participated in the past LOVE re-reading and getting the "zero-dollar bill" - They often bring new people with them and eagerly share the concepts with their friends and family. ...I notice that they want to stay a bit longer than usual."
What are some of the common barriers and obstacles that arise for Karma Kitchen? How are they addressed?
"How to create a transformative experience for all? Everybody is good at something and if ladders connect with that goodness of all volunteers, that goodness will create its own magic." [Parag]
"A lot of people struggle with finding the "right" value for what they received." [Hermann, Austria]
If you could encapsulate one message for people who participate in Karma Kitchen, what would that be?
"Karma Kitchen is not simply about volunteering or serving meals. It is mostly about creating connections to something more deep in us and with others. Make yourself available for those connections." [Jasky]
"The giver and the receiver are not separate and when that is felt a circle of love is created." [Nilam & Janet]
How does gratefulness inspire you to make change in the world?
"Gratefulness is my gentle reminder that I have enough and from what I have, I can share. I truly believe we are here in a shared experience and once we truly realize this and we contribute to happiness around us, the beauty and grace of being alive will simply invade our hearts." [Lila]
"I deeply believe that one single word can change the world and I am grateful every day." [Hermann]
"Feeling grateful leads me to develop my inner potentials and to pay it forward by helping others to develop their potentials." [Jasky]
"Being grateful inspires me to seek beauty, positive energies, opportunities to connect with others (living and non-living). As a result, I feel able to give back or participate in the exchange of beauty, positive energies, connection... I don't always want to change the world; sometimes I find it perfect and it changes me. :-)"