How do we respond with compassion?

Dear ServiceSpace Friends,

In pandemic times, where everything takes place in online soundbytes, what designs will help us cultivate deeper connections? In a world that has now exhausted its "surge capacity,” how will we help each other nourish, regenerate and serve? When we land in a post-pandemic context, what current grooves will we find hard to release from? As the proverb goes, we wish for serenity to accept what we can't change, courage to transform what we can, and wisdom to know the difference. When that wisdom is in short supply, we rally our courage to work on things that are easily change-able while calling on our serenity to not shy away from the harder problems. And harder isn't always more complex. As a Benedictine monk, Bruno Barnhart warns, "We humans prefer a manageable complexity to an unmanageable simplicity."

What, then, are the simple hard questions? In ServiceSpace, we've been holding that inquiry over the last year. In particular, what is the intersection of silicon (computing) intelligence, carbon (human) intuition, and eternal compassion? With unlikely aces up our sleeves, we've been home to quite a unique emergence that we're calling "Pods" -- groups of people coming together virtually, but with a "hands, head, heart" orientation that cultivates the space between Zoom squares, :) and goes mountains beyond.

It was all an accident, actually, with our first Pod in June, but since then, 1500 people have engaged with these immersive, up to 5-week-long, engagements. Just recently, a riveting 14-day "Priceless Pricing" pod completed with David’s deep dive into wealth and Colin’s rich thoughts on cost vs. relationship. Trishna, Sallyann, Vicky and the UK gang hosted a weekend "London Immersion" that moved many to tears -- and even Satish Kumar and Nimo popped in! As we speak, Cynthia and Preeta are pioneering a 200 person Qigong Pod, which aims to be both personal and yet collective. All deeply inspiring. 

Like all things that honor context, best way to learn about it is through experience. On that note, we invite you to join any of our upcoming Pods ...

  • Christmas Immersion: it's the season of giving, but who do we have to be to circulate gifts of multiple kinds of wealth, gifts that are spiritually organic? Join an intimate “hands, head, heart” retreat with everyday heroes, with inspiring “Moved by Love” veterans in India who have hosted more than a hundred offline retreats over the years! Starts Dec 20th, so apply ASAP.

  • Love and Power: with Hanno Burmester in Germany, alongside guests like Otto Scharmer, we are hosting a week-long pod to explore how “power can express love, and love can humanize power” and what systems of power enable a regenerative circulation of trust and goodwill? If you’re into systems thinking, sign-up here.

  • Four Boundless Hearts: Buddha spoke about four infinite virtues of compassion, equanimity, kindness, and joy. Two beloved Buddhist monks, Jin Chuan and Jin Wei, hosted a powerful Pod last month, and they’re doing it again starting Jan 10th. If you enjoy somatic practices, like bowing, you won’t want to miss this. Join here.

  • Third Force: In Rumi’s field “beyond wrong-doing and right-doing,” Third Force teaches that a conflict contains both an affirming and denying factor -- a yes and a no. Instead of struggling with duality, and willing the other side to change, can we awaken a reconciling factor that offers something greater than opposites? We don’t yet know the exact dates for this Pod, but we do know the exact anchors -- the inimitable Bonnie Rose and Rev. Eric Elnes!  Apply here.

One of our inspired Pod volunteers, Kerri, has a photo of a horse behind her in all her Zoom calls. We asked about it, and here's an incredibly moving story of Dufresne, when six cowboys couldn't handle the unruly horse, and he risked being slaughtered:

"You're gonna need a rope!" they assured me. "Okay...thanks." was all I said. I was quite happy for their attention, honestly. Call it pride or my own sense of competition, but I wanted them to see what kindness, communication and acceptance can accomplish. I went back to the paddock and walked directly in. I stepped within about ten feet of Dufresne and showed him the halter. He turned his head again to watch me, his feet stock-still.

Silently, I communicated to him, "I'd like you to wear this halter and follow me up through this barn to a large trailer where there is hay and soft bedding. I want to take you where you can eat grass and rest with no whips and no ropes." He felt my offer, contemplated it for a moment and let out a deep sigh. His eyes softened, although not in submission, and he lowered his head in gesture of his acceptance. I walked straight up to him and gently fit the halter around his head. He exhaled and licked his lips. I turned myself toward the gate as if he and I had already done this walk hundreds of times together."

May we all stay with that feeling -- we’ve done this walk hundreds of times together.

Happy Holidays,

(on behalf of ServiceSpace)

P.S. A touching story posted by Bijan: For the Man Who Hated Christmas


ServiceSpace is an incubator of volunteer-run projects that nurtures a culture of generosity. What started as a small experiment in 1999 has rippled into myriad expressions of service in dozens of countries around the globe. For more, watch a video on our unique design principles.