Making Karuna Viral

Posted by Nipun Mehta on Apr 15, 2020
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[Below are some highlights from our Making Karuna Viral with India-wide coordinators. While we didn't expect 60 folks to join on a 1-day notice, we now hope to serve that need with a follow-up call.]

How do we hold uncertainty? What practices will help us distinguish between fear that keeps us alive and fear that keeps us from living? Can we trust the "goo" of the chrysalis, as we transition from caterpillar to butterfly? Are we bearing witness to the inequality of suffering? What is the new "normal" that we want to return to? Is there an opportunity to shift from architectures of oppression to compassion? If cholera and tuberculosis outbreaks transformed the design of the modern-day bathroom, what designs will Covid change?

Is this a war or a love story? Police enforcing curfews are showered with flowers in appreciation. Bhavya is making 5 extra rotlis in Surat to be part of the city-wide food-bank. 2-year-old Kabir is leaving messages for 80-year neighbor: "Can we buy any groceries for you?" So many have continued the salaries of the day-to-day laborers. Nisha's neighborhood farmers in Coimbatore are gifting bananas like never before. As a part of his "21 days @ Home" kindness challenge, Rohit complimented his mom for the first time ever. In Punjab, Himalayas are visible again; Odisha's endangered turtles are laying 60 million eggs; whales can suddenly hear 100-mile songs of their kin, uninterrupted by mechanical whines of boat engines. Even in commercial outfits, Vineet reminds us are doing their jobs as "labor of love". Apple and Google are collaborating too! Photo of Muslim and Jewish paramedics praying together went viral. Irish prime minister re-registered as a doctor to serve on the frontlines. When the UN chief called for an end to war, warring factions in dozen countries agreed! Is this a war or a love story?

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A pandemic fundamentally reminds us that everything is connected. And in a many-to-many way. But while a virus inspires us to cooperate to preserve our Self, can such action emerge while dissolving the Self? That's at the core of the ServiceSpace inquiry. Covid-19 is surely contagious, but our hypothesis is that compassion is even more contagious. Such times of collective suffering make virtue visible, and even if the light stays on momentarily, we can't unsee the good that we saw.

In that context, how do we evolve and step-up our service during this pivotal "space between stories"? Audrey and team have launched KarunaVirus at the "speed of love", complete with a "compassion bot" in the background. :) Many are keen to create an Indian version. Rohan is seeing service all around Mumbai. Shashank is breathing clean air in Delhi after a long time. Awakin Circles have gone virtual, Rupali and Nitul are initiating an Art Circle, Meghna and Parag's Laddership team initiated 3 Laddership circles last week, Vinod's son created this video -- and he's now curious about a 24 hour meditate-a-thon, :) Preeta is exploring a "Warm Line" -- between a hotline and helpline -- that helps transition old-story and new story. Jignasha and Rahul are initiating a regular Awakin Calls series with Indian guests.

What happens next? How do we support the emergent flow of compassion? Let's explore.

Just recently, we piloted "KarunaPhotos" and here's one that reminds me of what so many of you do everyday. "Care Connects Us All":

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Comments (3)

  • Rohit Rajgarhia wrote ...

    zabardast :)

  • Meghna Banker wrote ...

    These are some heavy questions :)) Thank you for putting them up for continuous reflections.

  • Anne Collier wrote ...

    THANK you for these notes, Nipun. I think these little stories of care and kindness are so inspiring because we’re reading about ourselves (as a human race), maybe in some cases we’re truly seeing ourselves for the first time! I think it’s the answer to your 2nd question - whether this pandemic is a love story or a war story - is what gives us the answer to your first question, about how we hold uncertainty. It’s a day-to-day practice, certainly: to allow our uncertainty to be cradled in love. Thank you again for this light.