Write Up Of Super Soul Saturday II
Posted by Krishan Patel on May 16, 2012
(Story compiled by Smita Jain, posting on her behalf)
29 beautiful people (and a dog), mouth-watering food, thought-provoking discussions/reflections, serving and being served on a crisp Saturday at Ashish and Manal’s beautiful home in NJ -- what an amazing way to spend a Saturday!
Sarika, Shaloo and I took the train from NYC to Princeton, where we were graciously picked up by Krishan in his chariot (aka his Camry)! We didn’t know what hit us next J From the shower of endless hugs as we walked in to Ashish+Manal’s home, to the steaming coffee and scrumptious vada paus served by our gracious host Manal – we were totally pumped for the day ahead!
We began the day with an hour of meditation, followed by a reading of “From Me to We: True Love is a Process of Humility” by Thich Nhat Han. The passage beautifully depicted the collective energy and insight of a community of individuals coming together to grow from, and with, one another. It was the perfect way to kick-off our day.
The reading was followed by an hour of reflective sharing of thoughts that came up from the passage or during the meditation.
Ashish opened up by discussing the similarities and differences between 'me' and 'we'. Though the words are opposites (in the context of the reading), they are similar in the sense that if we flip the 'm' in me, it turns into a 'we', where the ‘w’ is more inclusive and outward focused than the downward-facing ‘m’ -- much like the need to turn a switch internally to flip the 'me' to a 'we'. Ashish further highlighted how life experiences can create the possibility of flipping the ‘me to we’ by allowing oneself to be open, vulnerable and reaching out to the community.
Audrey talked about the security of community, a feeling she was overcome with during her ride to NJ with Joel, Anne-Marie, Bela and Dinika. Will noted that the best way to overcome anxiety or fears is to serve! Amit gave a powerful analogy of our body as a community of organs working harmoniously together. Sarika spoke of the importance of building a sense of community in the workplace.
One attendee spoke about how her community on Facebook pointed her to Super Soul Saturday II, and how the universe serendipitously presented her this possibility just when she needed it most!
When asked about his deep involvement in leading Karma Kitchen activities in DC, Krishna humbly noted that “the community does it all, I don’t have much to do!”, thereby exemplifying the quote in the passage which noted that “True love is a process of humility, of letting go of our individual ideas and notions to embrace and become one with…our community”.
Shalu pointed out that it’s not always comfortable moving from the ‘me’ to the ‘we’, but remembering that we are not on our own, but in our community, is helpful. Parth noted that when you feel connected to the universe, you don't feel fear!
After sharing our reflections, we had a special guest, Pandit Divyang Vakil aka “Guruji”, accompanied by his student Heena Patel, who is also recognized as one of the world’s leading female tabla players. Heena introduced Guruji by pointing out that he is rare among musicians due to his unique combination of musical wizardry of the tabla (Indian classical music instrument) and his deep inclination towards spirituality.
Guruji summed up his message of 'taking things lightly' with a beautiful short story of two twigs that fell into the river. He described how a small twig fell in line with the flow of the river and a bigger branch that fell at a 90 degree angle with respect to the flow and was resisting the flow. Both reached the destination but the twig that went with the flow reached there in once piece and the other was battered.
Guruji also described the importance of not just sitting silently (superficially) on the meditation cushion but cultivating the inner silence. He challenged us to put meditation in action by saying 'What is the use of meditating for 1 hr and the remaining 23 hours you are all over the place?'
At the end of his insightful talk, we requested Guruji to give a rendition of the tabla through vocalization. What followed was a mesmerizing rhythm of sounds that had all of us awestruck for 3 minutes. You can watch the video clip here online.
Our gracious host, Manal, prepared a delicious vegetarian meal. With a boost of energy after Guruji's talk, we happily enjoyed the meal and good conversations. To top off our meal, we enjoyed cookies made by Audrey, Shail and others!
With our stomachs filled, we began our next hourlong sit. Despite the challenges of sitting after a big meal, all of us -- as a community, through all of our collective energy -- were able to focus on our practice.
Next, Audrey and Bela arranged a thought provoking exercise in which they asked us to think closely about our day-to-day thoughts. Bela noted that according to a Harvard Study, 84% of our thoughts are the same day to day. For the first part of the exercise, they invited us to think about our thoughts over the past week, particularly any patterns in these thoughts. They asked us if we see a direct correlation between our thoughts and what manifests in our reality. For the second part of the exercise, they pointed out that our outer world is a reflection of our inner world, and our reality is a manifestation of our thoughts. They asked us: what reality do you want to create for yourself? How can you change your thoughts to create this reality?
Many of us shared how our regular thoughts are focused on reviewing and evaluating the present, while projecting positively and negatively about our futures. In addition, we began to understand the challenges of not only being fully aware of our thoughts, but also the challenge of considering what our best thoughts should be.
As the evening set in, we -- as a community -- sat together and shared our closing thoughts. One-by-one each of us shared our thoughts, and one-by-one, we gained a greater understanding of our own thoughts and perspectives and, by the end, our collective wisdom and reflections vibrated throughout the room. We left the evening in gratitude and reenergized.