પ્રભુને રહેવાનું મન થાય; એવું હૃદય બનાવું મારું !
મંદિર કહેવાનું મન થાય, એવું હૃદય બનાવું મારું.!
Prabhu ne rehva nu mann thay, evu hriday banavu mharu. Mandir kehva nu mann thay, evu hriday banavu mharu
હૃદય ઝરૂખે અસ્મિતાના દીવડા હું પ્રગટાવું ,
આતમના અજવાળે અંતર અંધારા હટાવું !
જગતને જોવાનું મન થાય, એવું…
Hriday jarukhe asmita na, divda hu pragtavu. Atamna ajavale antar, andhara hatavu. Jagat ne jova nu mann thay, evu hriday banavu mharu, Mandir kehva nu…
થાક્યાને વિસામો હૈયે, હૂંફ ધરી હરખાઉં ,
મનમાધવમાં બીન બનાવું, ભક્તિથી ભીંજાવું,
ગૌરવ ગીતોમાં ગવાય ! એવું…
Thakya ne visamo haiye, hunf dhari harkhavu, Mann madhavma leen banavu, bhakti thi bhinjaavu. Gaurav geetoma gavaay, evu hriday banavu mharu. Mandir kehva nu…
શ્રદ્ધાના રંગોથી જીવન રંગોળી સજાવું;
તવ વિશ્વાસે ધૈર્યધરી રથ જીવનનો ધપાવું,
અંતર અર્જુન સમ મલકાય !એવું…
Shraddha na rango thi jeevan rangoli sajaavu, Tav vishwase dhairya dhari rath, jeevan no dhapavu. Antar arjun sam malkay, evu hriday banavu mharu. Mandir kehva nu…
મૂર્તિ તારી મુજ હૃદયનાં મંદિર માં પધરાવું,
જીવન પુષ્પ કરી મધમધતું તવ ચરણે ધરાવું,
મને તું મારાં માં દેખાય !…એવું હૃદય બનાવું મારું
Murti tari mujh hridaya na, mandir ma pragatavu, Jeevan pushpa kari magh magh tu, tav charne dharaavu. Mane tu mhara maa dekhaye, evu Hriday banavu mharu. Mandir …
May my heart be readied so that you’d like to visit it as a temple.
May my heart be lit with compassion, Dispelling darkness and making it worth visiting.
When it becomes a place for healing and rest,I will smile.
May my heart drip with love and devotion.May my faith drive my creativity as I navigate life.
Ultimately, may my heart be filled with your essenceSo that I see you in me and fully surrender
A brief compilation of community insights during the Covid 19 lockdown of the Environmental Sanitation Institute, Sughad, Gujarat, India from March – May 2020
- Catching the Karuna-Virus | Arpita Bohra
- Learning to be a Mother in Lockdown | Saurabh Suri
- Sahaj Bhaav ki ek kahani | Neida Khurshid
- Conviction is Timeless | Shrey Rawat
- My Experiments and Experiences | Jayshree R. Makwana
- We Are Living Water Bridges | Pancho Ramos-Stierle
- 9 Questions during COVID-19 | Jossera G.
Please down load the PDF copy in link below to read
Written by – Arpita Bohra
It was an impulsive decision, taken hours before I actually arrived at ESI on March 19th. It was a cool Thursday evening. Coronavirus manifested only as the sanitizer proffered to me by my favorite waitress at my favorite restaurant, a day before. And the rescheduled workshops I was meant to be traveling to over the next 6 weeks. Back then, coronavirus meant a few weeks pause before life resumed as normal. We knew cases were rising, but we had no idea what we were in for. Normal life had been rescheduled to May, and so most of us entered this period of idle time grudgingly.
I arrived at ESI on the 19th of March for the silent Karuna Virus retreat. A day before the retreat ended, Modi announced a 3 week lockdown across India. Keen on returning to my apartment, yet not keen on spending 3 weeks completely in isolation- the question offered was- where would you rather be locked down?
I chose ESI. We chose to continue our retreat in a gentler way. With the kitchen team and cleaning team staying at home, managing the meals came to us.
This is the story of how I came here for a retreat, and how this place turned into home for us. While most privileged people across the world experienced a life within the walls of their homes, we found ourselves arriving into an unintentional community within another community of trees, flowers, birds, fish, and mosquitoes.
I had always thought of myself, as most people think of themselves as possessing above average levels of not just intelligence but kindness and compassion. My education has been in literature, and my training in psychotherapy so I could make an intellectual argument that I have been taught to think and feel from other perspectives and act in the interests of their wellbeing. I had been carrying that assumption happily for a while, feeling my heart grow a bit lazy- but I couldn’t pinpoint anything in particular. But being at ESI reconnected me to the heart of service and generosity in a way that I had not been connected with before. Nobody likes to think of themselves as unkind. But something I have been wondering about is what happens when we do go the extra mile? What happens when we really strengthen the heart muscles of giving and receiving? How do we shed the weight of the inessential from the heart?
It’s a small but potent moment that will stay with me. I was cooking lunch. Chole- chawal. Lunch is served. The bell has rung. I move towards the plates, only aware now of my hunger and tiredness. I am getting ready to sit and eat. Pancho, my lunch partner nudges me gently to stay behind and serve. My first response isn’t to jump at the opportunity to be on my feet for another fifteen minutes. But Pancho is glowing from the anticipation of serving food from a hungry stomach and I decide to join him.
I’m glad I do. I get to see the faces of my friends light up as they see the food. I get to feel happy to be able to serve them a meal they are excited to eat. I get to watch them sit and eat and smile, and call me to join. It’s a small moment, but it really is the best moment of my day. Pancho’s nudge- going the extra mile, doing a little bit extra to make the serving of food more special- has tripped me into a different state of being. It’s there, standing at the food counter, sweaty, hot and tired that I realize how satisfied I am. And how energizing it is to feel this kind of satisfaction, the satisfaction of stretching yourself to show up more generously.
Some of the most bitter sibling fights in the history of my relationship with my sister have been about food. The last slice of a cheesy pizza, the inequality of an improperly halved chocolate cake, someone eating the hotter alu paratha, another finishing the rasmalai in the fridge. It’s a testament to our parents’ faith in our goodness that they continued to bring home these “ conflict provoking treats” that often risked their sanity as well as ours. I am sharing all of this just so you know where I come from, when it comes to sharing food. Sure, I can do the occasional good deed and offer someone a part of my meal- but in my past I have been known to not be too evolved from the cavemen when it comes to claiming my share. ( Assuming they did so!)
Arriving into an unintentional community, I notice what I call “food anxiety” rise in my mind when it feels like there will not be enough food for everybody. When I cook the meals, I try to ensure everyone gets to eat. This means ensuring food items are not over served. But what do you do when you’ve finally made the kind of dal you have been dreaming of eating, and then people start coming for seconds and thirds because it’s SO good? Do you smile at them and offer them more? Do
you keep a bowl for yourself hidden away? How do you deal with your twin desires- wanting to be satisfied but also wanting to satisfy? Are they always compatible?
I am grateful to report that my community saturated me with so much generosity in the course of a day that I had no option but to let it flow through me. Sitting down to eat with the last spoon of sabzi, or the last bowl of dal- when I would see someone leaving the service counter a little disappointed that the food was over- I found myself acting differently. I found myself sharing half or sometimes all of my food with them. This is why I needed to give you the context of conflict with my sister, growing up. Being generous with food, or offering the other sibling a larger share was not a spiritual practice that my sister and I ever subscribed to. But here, I found that even if I just ate half of what I served myself, and shared the rest with someone who really enjoyed it- strangely, I never left the table feeling unsatisfied or hungry. It was here that I experienced that being able to share and make someone a little bit happier has a sweetness of its own, one that differs from dessert.
And then, there were the days when summer arrived and my system refused everything that was made from grain, or dal or had oil. I spent a few days yearning for the cool sweetness of a juicy melon, or the lightness of an orange slice. But we were living in lockdown, and the fresh fruit supply chains weren’t what they used to be. Gratefully sipping the chaas at lunch, I found that my stomach was happy to take a break from the food it had been taking in over the last few weeks. In the evenings, I would have a small portion of rice or khichdi- but it all felt too heavy. I think I even dreamt of fruits on those days. And then, a few days later, Jayeshbhai arrived. Apart from the regular veggies, he had brought us some fruits. There were six melons. A box of grapes. Bananas. Watermelons. Oranges. Apples. At one point, even pineapples. He didn’t need to go out of his way. He could have just picked up bananas and oranges for us, and left it at that. But he brought us whatever he could have found. He didn’t just do what was enough. He constantly did more than enough. There is a difference when you are lucky enough to receive that kind of
heartfelt generosity. You feel it in your cells. You feel it in your spirit. And you feel it in your smile, when you finally sit at the lunch table and eat a perfectly sweet slice of cool melon. To be able to receive the gift of deeper generosity has softened me, and it is a gift that I hope I can bring to more people.
As a psychotherapist, and as a human who has struggled with her own fair share of life pain/ mental health challenges – I would ask us to consider two things about kindness. Firstly, to be able to give more deeply, you need to be aware of where you experience scarcity in your own being. And you need to commit to generosity not just to others, but firstly to yourself. This doesn’t mean sneaking the last slice of cheesecake out
of the fridge at midnight. It means truly evaluating these questions:
- How can I be kinder with myself? How can I give a little more?
- Which part of my life deserves my deeper awareness and support?
- What do I truly love and appreciate about my being?
- What am I committed to nourishing within myself?
- What brings me joy- and do I create opportunities for myself to truly receive it?
- What is the deepest and most beautiful gift I can give myself?
- How is it for me to experience my own generosity towards me in action and spirit?
Too often, we rush to fill someone else’s cup while ignoring that ours is cracked and in need of repair as well. I am engaging with these questions personally. But not just for myself. I think sustainable generosity deserves to be a two way exploration. I am also hoping to hold these questions with equal commitment for those around me. I am hoping to become a better, more nuanced giver- honoring the gift and opportunity of my own privileged life and being in a position to bring more heartfelt attention to the lives and beings of those around me. And who knows, maybe this time, I might actually walk the talk with my family- try letting my sister finish the last slice of cheesecake. Perhaps it will be sweeter than I imagined.
By Yashasvi Desai
“In the beginning of 2020, a close friend of mine had asked me, what would you be doing in your life if you were not afraid? I said, I would be living close to nature, probably in a village set-up. She asked me, what is your fear? I said, I think I am too used to the comfort of city life and I am not sure if I can live without them.”- Yashaswi
Yashaswi, was facilitating empowerment workshops for adolescent girls in small towns and cities of Gujarat and Akshay after working in pharmaceuticals in his mid twenties left his career to search for a right space for him to root himself and grow. They both got married in 2017 to live together a life that was focused inward.
In three years of their marriage, they travelled different places in India and met people who were living off-beat, slow and more self dependent lives. They also travelled together to Israel and US and learnt from different culture and their models of more sustainable and less consumption driven life-styles.
In their search for such space to experiment these learning, they traveled to villages of Gujarat. In the beginning of 2020 they met Jayesh bhai to share about their vision and their search. Jayesh bhai welcomed them with open heart and shared with them about his own life experiences of living in villages of Gujarat. Especially the experiences of him and Anar didi living and serving in the village of Kutchh during the destructive earthquake of 2001.He offered them support by suggesting them to visit Punadara village and live on a farm land that was bought in a memory of his late father Ishwar dada in 2010.
The place was very much a place that the couple had imagined. It was a 2 acre farm on the bank of river Vatrak. On one border of the farm was Raval-vas where families of farmers and vegetable seller lives. Yashaswi and Akshay moved to Punadara in February, 2020. This was a week before Covid-19 pandemic that shut-down the whole country. With lot of support from their neighbors and kids they renovated their house. It was peek summer and heat was a real challenge. As farm still didn’t have many trees that could help to keep the temperature down they both had to experiment different ways to keep the house cool. With the help from kids in village they gathered dry crops from farms around the village to put on the house to keep the metal roof of the house cool in summer. Later, as monsoon approached they decided to grow sesame on farm with natural methods. This was all done with the support from local farmers and their collective knowledge of local land and season. It was then a previous care-taker of the land started to give them hard time by threatening them to not farm on the land as they had been growing grass to feed their cattle for years on the land. It was with lot of conversations and negotiations, they agreed to stop coming to the farm. The whole situation was difficult for the couple but same time helped them to implement the value of using compassionate conversations and coming to peaceful agreements rather than having anger driven approach.
Kids were very happy on the arrival of these two new people in their neighborhood. They also loved watching this 2 acre farm coming to life. Kids made this farm their new hang out place. As Yashaswi and Akshay saw that kids were interested in getting involved in activities at farm, they slowly started to introduce fun-learning activities to them. They were introduced with Wanghari Mathai’s life mission for trees and environment and Chipko movement through videos and stories. Later, each kid took responsibility to look after one tree in the farm where they daily water that tree, talk with them and give them love.
Kids were also involved in making a herbal-bed and cucumber-bed. Recently a first cucumber grew on their cucumber-bed and with lot of joy they are now harvesting one cucumber every other day. Kids were also part of whole process of growing fruit and vegetable crops on farm, such as mango, chiku, custard apple, Indian barriers, lady finger, pomegranate, coconut and guava. Kids also planted 280 plants of Gliricidia Sepiam on the boundaries of the farm which is considered to be very high on adding nitrogen to the land and also used as fodder and green manure for the soil/a sustainable option to revive the soil. They both actively spread the message of cultivating crops with natural methods, avoiding the use of pesticides and its harmful effects on body and environment with their neighbor farmers.
Kids now come to them for afternoon study class. They have recently started evening prayer with them. As their friend got to know about their work in Punadara, couple received donated clothes, sports and educational games which were distributed among kids in village. They also contributed to the village during Covid-19 lockdown though art-kits distribution to kids, home-made sweet Sukhadi to villagers. They also arranged prayer-sharing and snack for girls during Gauri Vrat fasting. Their intentions for upcoming month is to arrange a photography and digital camera skills workshop with kids, art and craft and healthy cooking session with women and kids as well as meditation and thoughtful reading and reflection session with kids.
We are glad to share the compilation of stories of impact, awareness and transformation from our Lokmitras, touching lives of thousands of people with their presence, service and cultivation.
We received multiple inputs from village leaders, community influencers, and even from Govt. officers that the work of Lokmitras in testing times of Corona is quite appreciated.
We at ESI believe that intention of “Lokmitra” is going to be guiding force in future in development world as its roots are in our lineage. Without having friends of community, hundreds of people would be in utter distress, hungry, anxious and unsupported. What each of Lokmitra did and is doing, is living example of cultivating compassion. The kinship amongst themselves is growing strong, though its been two months that none met each other, but leveraging technology – whatsapp/zoom calls (many used for the first time) and one on one connection with each other, they are sharing their reflections and moments of being the change. Its the first attempt of this newsletter, put together by Vinay and Yashasvi.
Maitri Mala’s first edition came into light today. Spirit of Maitri is as vast as the infinite sky, we can only make humble efforts to get a glimpse of it. These stories here are just a reflection of thousands of other invisible stories of friends that are carrying the spirit of love Jagat in their hearts.
With immense love we have put together some stories from our local ecosystem. We hope to continue it every three months with your support and suggestions.
Bow of gratitude to the highest intention of Maitri in you which inspired this compilation.
September 26th 2017
Translated from gujrati to english by – Meghna Banker
Whenever I travel abroad – I always have this natural pull to read a book. Everyday it’s a page or two, but while traveling abroad; I always be mindful to bring together Vinoba’s shabd (words / Knowledge), Gandhi’s Seva (Service) and Ram Krishna’s (Paramhans) bhaav (Intention) – because Vinoba’s knowledge embodies the bhaav, Ram Krishna’s bhaav embodies the service and Gandhi’s service embodies knowledge. All three are undoubtedly inter-connected to each other. Vinoba considered his words a pilgrimage, Ram Krishna considered bhaav his pilgrimage, and Gandhi considered service his pilgrimage. When we talk about Head Hands and Heart – IT IS the synthesis of all three.
Vinoba was a Gnyan Yogi who embodied Gnyan and Vignyan (Knowledge and Science) however, Karma and Bhakti were also connected with his efforts.
Gandhi was a Karma Yogi, but was also connected to Gyan and Bhakti.
Ram Krishna was a Bhakti Yogi, but was also connected to Gnyan and Karma. However, his capacity to embody Bhakti was a lot more.
Bhakti is the life force of Gnyan and Karma. Without Bhakti – Gnyan and Karma are both useless. Only when these three are in complete harmony, will there be unison and assimilation.
With this intention – I always adhere to Vinoba’s books. Especially these two – 1) Karyakarta Pathe 2) Mahagua ma Pravesh. (Mahagua means to go deeper.) Upon reading these two books, I noted down all the words that I felt connected to, placed them together like a jigsaw puzzle and expressed my understanding in the form of the following excerpt.
Through the medium of Moved By Love, we have formed a beautiful family. MBL, very naturally became our instrument because it was led through the intentions of Dosti (Friendship), Disha (Direction) Drishti (Deeper Perspective) and then Darshan (Sight towards universal good). The foundation of which is Love – “Sabse Oonchi Prem Sagai”. (Love is the highest form of connection)
What is a family you would ask?
In our understanding, family means Maitri (Noble Friendship). Family means Maitri Bhaav where respect, trust and affection co-exist together in harmony with each other. A space, where there is respect, mutual trust, affection and an ever deepening readiness / persistence to support one another.
What do we have?
We don’t have a target, instead we have a goal. What is our goal? We have a noble intention towards universal goodness and a humble effort towards self and society’s transformation. While there is the intention of universal goodness, there is a tireless readiness and persistence to bring change within as well as towards the transformation of the society. The key to transformation of the society is through transformation of the self first. There is no staunch opinion, method or theory nor are there intentions to force our thoughts on anyone. When we impose our thoughts and opinions on anyone, and start to form a ’method’ of our own then we are invariably stopping our own growth.
Our collective intention is not guarded by any walls. It is not ‘tied’ to anything; which allows us to share openly with everyone, with a lot of love. When we share; we are connected to the consciousness. Through that emerges a constructive growth of our intentions, which then become our actions. Our instinct to be one amongst the many is towards ‘samuh bhavana’ (collective consciousness). In ‘Many of One’, there is this sense of exclusivity. Hence it is ‘One of Many’. ‘I am because we are’. It is a space where our voice and behaviour is guided by ‘vivek‘ and ‘maryada‘. In this context ‘vivek‘ would refer to a practice of an immediate after-thought in ‘a moment of action’ that makes us re-think of our choices / decisions; that gives us a wholesome direction. While ’maryada’ is connected to our discipline. These together form our behaviours and practices. Respect arises through the understanding of ‘maryada‘ while ‘sahyog‘ (Co-operation and co-creation) arises because of ‘vivek‘. Trust also deepens because of ‘vivek‘.
The strength that we witness in the noble thought of Maitri Bhaav and Universal Love is a lot greater here (in our collective intention) than in any other fields that we have seen. Having worked in an organisation for more than 2 decades, I’ve observed that an organisational set up can surely create an impact and an immediate (temporary) relief – for sure. It is important in its own way too and that should not be opposed either, but such a practice (of Maitri Bhaav and Universal Love) is in its limitations there. It’s limited in our scriptures as well as any precepts, theories or methods. When we associate with methods or theories towards any person or place then we can get caught up in a certain order; and those have their limitations too. The real strength towards Universal Goodness lies in the noble thought and practice of ‘Maitri‘ and ‘Prem‘. The strength of these two noble thoughts is what brings ‘Samadrishti‘ (an even view) and ‘Samanta‘ (equality). A noble thought towards the universal good directs us on how to ‘move’ forward, while if you add love into that noble thought, then that offers the right vision on ‘how’ to do it. Whether we meet or not, but if we walk together in our inner journeys with Prem and Maitri then the union of hearts with each other and the whole will be effortless. We will experience oneness.
Prem and Maitri is the string that holds our journeys together. We have to bring together the pilgrim hearts one by one to form that necklace. It’s very different from making a flower bouquet. If we do that, then we will invariably form an organization or a method. With a necklace we increase the beauty of whoever adorns it with the possibility to add more hearts into it. That will deepen the journey towards oneness of Prem and Maitri.
Today most people connect more with the bounds of different institutions, groups and organisations. That is great too. But from our understanding efforts (within the periphery of such bounds) towards universal goodness may become a little limited. It is more of a relief work and a space to offer physical service; I understand that it’s very important too and should not be opposed. However, somewhere it can bring in expectations and a sense of pity. Its ability to bring eagerness and persistence towards inner transformation becomes very limited.There is also a deep sense to offer cooperation to the society and that’s great too. But there is room to rise up a little higher.
When humanity; effortlessly, becomes the center of all our work, and when we serve selflessly from an absolute persistence to tune more towards internal transformation along with external service then a collective strength emerges. Which will then result in an inner and outer transformation simultaneously. That is when we will be able to form an inner spiritual circle where along with the focus of external service, the deeper intention for inner transformation will be at the forefront. It is then when our collective strength will start flowing invisibly and connect each of us effortlessly. When we pray together, the noble work will inevitably happen; through every connected soul across the world.
Our Laddership Circle at MBL 2.0 is NOT a group or organization with any intent to control or assert restrictions. This is very important to understand. If we start to control, then we will form a structural / imposed system, or an organization. It is not even a space that theorizes or gives meanings, or justifies, or advices any thought processes of individuals like Gandhi, Vinoba. It does not preach the principles of spaces like ESI, Safai Vidhyalay or ServiceSpace. To share and offer our learnings from Vinoba or Gandhi or ESI is our activity (pravruti). But our inherent nature (prakruti) of recognizing our individual gifts is the root of all things. We do not need to impress anyone through the weight of our activity but to inspire and offer warmth through the unique gifts that we all have within us. We believe that this is a humble effort to cultivate a union of hearts and create an environment for it to naturally blossom. When we create deeper bonds of friendships, then it will effortlessly uplift each other’s gifts and allow the space for it to blossom naturally. This is the field of love that is already embedded with the seeds of Truth and Compassion within each of us. We simply keep gardening (as Nipun often shares) by offering the water of Love for it to blossom naturally. The deeper intention behind the idea of Laddership is for (jeevan parivartan) self transformation. Through the macro lens of selfless service our idea is to deepen the understanding that in the well-being of the world, lies our own well-being; It is about being joyous in the process. When we are in a joyous state then we experience silence & stillness and connect with the intent of service in our hearts.
We don’t want to build any association or organization. There is a potential slipperiness in that. When we start to identify organizations with it’s exclusivity; for eg the best Sanitation Organization or the best Children’s Welfare Organization – which is also important in it’s own place – then it creates dependency. If we start to bring that exclusivity in the journey of Laddership, then that exclusivity creates dependency, which leads to disturbances, which then brings desires & unhappiness. Exclusivity will lack in prevalence and people. Our intent is to build a noble companionship (sanghath) where we all walk together. Our collective (sangh) is Love Jagat. In this collective when we walk onwards with Maitri Bhaav, the Sanghath may come and go, but the hearts will always be connected. Maitri will be connected on a soul level and relationships will be built with a detached spirit. In our journey of Maitri if our illusions and desires increase then that will only bring misery and expectations. Hence detachment is absolutely necessary in such a relationship. But the divine / values (Hari) will always be our noble companion. We should be attracted to our values / divine. ‘That’ attraction is of good use. But if we start to have that pull towards relationships, then there will be expectations. When there is a purity of intention towards the wellbeing of all and universal goodness, then there is deep clarity. When we are clear, then we find the way forward like a torch light. The more we keep walking the more it gets clearer. When such friends come together in this form then we walk longer / together, slowly and steadily. It is such friends that are meant to go the long haul together. We cannot rush this process. We may complement such friends but we should not be dependent on them. It is a journey from personal transformation to thought transformation. The exclusivity of noble companionship in the process of laddership and social transformation will manifest through the effortless form of a spiral.
What do we need in this Sanghath?
We need patience, because that is the secret of nature. We need consciousness, we need eagerness & persistence. Patience is the sign of our intellective health and maturity. There is great tolerance in patience. There is mental stillness in patience. Patience brings immense faith in the soul & the world and an understanding that whatever happens, happens for the best. Change is the law of nature. Every moment is a changing phenomenon and we become aware of it. There is a very famous saying in Gujarati – “the fruit of patience is sweet” and “Good things take time”. When we start to see the opportunity in the seeds and not the fruits, then we are truly gardening. Our role is that of a gardener and we are gardening in the field of Love. A gardener will witness the weeds and seeds. There is no need to differentiate between the two since they are both necessary in the cycle of life. A gardener is in the field of ‘agriculture’ – the one who “agrees with all cultures”. There is no separation, but all are one.
“Jeevan Nu radhiyadu Khetar, satya ahimsa nu vaavetar,
karuna prem na seenchi ne jal, bheetar bahar karishu ujval”
Our life is a barren land where the planting of Truth and Nonviolence has already been done by nature. We have to offer the water of Love and Compassion. Our intent is to brighten the inside and the outside. We have to take care of these seeds by offering compost and water of our thoughts. We have to be the caretakers of our limitations and mindfulness. It is important to build the fences of our skillfulness. Only then will the sapling rise.
With a deep sense of gratitude towards nature, our lineage and with deep love & commitment towards the society we will have to work hard towards that purpose. Labor of love is very essential in this journey, else we may fall prey to laziness. Patience (dhairya) and persistence (tatparta) towards the understanding of the ‘now’ is very critical in our Sanghath together. The essence of Sadhana (dedicated practice) is tatparta (persistence) and the essence of Seva is namrata (humility).
If our leg gets pricked by a thorn, the hand immediately reaches out to pull it out. If someone tries to slap us – our hands immediately reach out to cover our face. It’s the love like that which says “I will take the hit for you”. When there is pain in our ears and the tears fall from the eyes, then it is an unconditional love. If you look at our body from head to toe -they work with such effortless cooperation and understanding of each other. If you cut the tongue and put it aside – it won’t be able to speak. If you cut the ear and put it on the table, it won’t be able to listen. Each one’s place and work is different, independent and unique in its own way – but they are all connected to the collective consciousness in our hearts. Which is why they are in harmony with each other, where there is absolute faith, respect and trust for each other. Each of them are trustees of this body and not masters. The master is the spirit, the divine. If we strengthen this understanding then our minds will be detached. To serve the divine with the instrument of this body in full vigor will then be an effortless process. In our humble understanding we feel that any work without such self commitment will just be a work of relief and not transformation. While the work done in full alignment and understanding of our soul’s purpose is as good as devotion to the divine. The essence of a desire-less attitude towards service is selflessness and the humility towards that intention.
Dear friends, in our work – sincerity, commitment (sankalp) and goal (lakshank) is also necessary. The commitment is towards the purity of life and goal is towards the purity of heart. Such commitment will show up as seekers as well as hindrance in our lives. Nonetheless such commitment is necessary to strengthen the intensity of our work so that we can reach our ‘target’ in the shortest span of time. Commitment gives us motivation towards our purpose and the spirit to surrender. But if such commitment, such resolution becomes a weight on our minds, triggers chaos or an imbalance within, then it can also become an hindrance in our journey onwards. While if such commitment, such resolution brings a state of doubtless-ness, makes one feel lighter and if our minds become empty, then such resolution can bring complete effortless surrender in the life of a pilgrim. That in turn builds the field of consciousness. Sankalp should be the instrument towards our progress that can facilitate our journey towards purity of our hearts. A goal is important with our sankalp and not a target. There is no ‘bottom line’ or ‘target’ in a mission or a movement. There is no push in it either. Our goal is towards the purity of life, purity of heart, towards universal well being.
The attitude of ‘as good as it gets’ or ‘so be it’ will not work my dear. Phrases such as ‘its organic’ and ‘all hari hari‘ is not understood in its core essence yet. We have to walk with deep intensity of the ‘now’ and absolute humility in this journey. ‘We will surely connect with our spirit on this path’ is the kind of faith that is needed on this journey. We need to strengthen the attitude to constantly keep going with an untiring mind. We have to be dedicated to the continuity of this process. That is the sadhana to cultivate and deepen our practices. If we don’t walk towards the subtle shifts of our practices then we will start to become staunch. Our own theories and beliefs should be fluid and one with the constant change of time and space, but the tatva should continue to stand firm in its place. How do we move from the ‘truth of the moment’ to a ‘better understanding of the truth’ is the way forward. It is important to be aware of the shortfalls and disappointments that will come on this path. It is not wrong to fall or fail in disappointment. To stand up from that fall is virtue. ‘Disappointment’ is the sign of a skeptic while ‘hope’ is the sign of a believer.
In our humble understanding this journey and pilgrimage is rooted in its spiritual foundation and not dependent on any individual. If the foundation is dependent on an individual then it will invariably shake our spiritual foundation. It is important to put the thought on the pedestal and not an individual. A thought cannot be copyrighted by any individual. Each of our hearts carries a pure intent and our work will be effortless when we start to ‘own’ that noble thought of universal well-being. Many would often share with me that “this is Vinoba’s quote or Gandhi’s quote – that you share with us”. But I humbly believe that when I’ve lived this thought, owned this thought – in my time, it is now my own to follow. Intent and thought is way higher than any one individual. Gandhi did not make ‘Truth’ visible. It was the ‘Truth’ that made Gandhi visible. With his unfailing efforts and perseverance, he made Truth his way of living.
Dear friends, with the grounding of our root / purpose (tatva) we need to build our process (tantra) which is not dependent on an individual but on a ‘frame of reference’ that is effortless. What is Tatva? Tatva means Bhaav. And what is Bhaav? Bhaav could be sacrifice, faith, love, enthusiasm. What is Tantra? Tantra means Buddhi (intellect). And what is Buddhi? Buddhi means clarity of thought. When we share with each other it will deepen our own clarity of thoughts, we will understand the design of social grace – where to stop, where to stick, where to step back, when to ground. Buddhi also means efficiency. Both of these (tatva and tantra) are two sides of the same coin. Separating the two, is of no use. Some may have the noble intellect, while some may have noble intention. Some may have the potential towards a noble intellect, while some may have the potential towards a noble intention. Whatever and however that may be, we all complement each other. We co-create and co-operate with each other.
At MBL we have the potential to be a Ladder, the noble intention to ‘leave / live behind’. We don’t intend for any fame. We are eager to share our merits with others and not to hoard it. If we start to hoard the merits / credits then we will be in trouble. Kirti (Appreciation) is important in life, no doubt – but not to hold on to rather to gift it forward. Kamini (Desires) may come in our lives in many forms to teach us and to cultivate our awareness. But we must not repeat our mistakes. We must stay detached from them. Kanchan (Wealth) is not just material or that which shines but it is also our attitude. Is our attitude of greed, of consumption, of animosity, ill will, of hatred. If our attitude is to hoard the wealth then it is misguided. But if the intent is non consumption then it becomes a capital of distributed wealth. For our work to not be fragmented, it is important to create (vyavastha aadharit tantra) a process based on a frame of reference and not an individual. It is to form our inner spiritual circle for the practice of effortlessness.
We often share guidelines before and after a retreat. This process has manifested naturally. It is not formed based on any individual capacity. With the grace of divine, blessings from the noble souls and our perseverance; we are connected with the real and virtual learning spaces. Nature has graciously offered the harmony of this shareable prosperity. To be connected this way together, to be given such an environment and to be brought together so effortlessly and organically, in my humble understanding, I have not witnessed this elsewhere.
This is not dependent on an individual or even a thought. Such love is Bhaavatmak dhyaan, and bhaavatmak sadhna. We need to continue gardening this field that is cultivated. We often share of this being “labor of love” – the seeds are already here, keep doing, keep being. We have the faith that this love filled intention will spread far and wide towards the wellbeing of all. Our intention is not to scale our process, but if it happens naturally then may it be organic. Our intention is not to overlook our purpose. But our situations, attachments and desires may sometime falter our own intentions. Even I have failed, many a times; because of my own limitations. Sometimes we may also crossover our principles in the journey of holding space and unconditional love. That is ok too. But we learn to grow.
Our intentions, our purpose, prayers and the co-operation of noble friends will be our essential guides towards a journey into equanimity.
Written By Deepa Iyer
Earth’s the right place for love, I don’t know where it’s likely to go better – Robert Frost
It is the small things in life that bring joy to one’s heart. It seems as though each person desires an experience of greater and greater amount of solitude, peacefulness and beauty in one’s life. But the experience of day-to-day living is often so crowded with disharmony that it throws us off the seat of our inner peace. At present, the Coronavirus crisis has descended upon us like a sudden darkness that threatens to eclipse our sense of harmony. Yet, there are those in such times who refuse to let this happen. And they are not just extraordinary people of means, but every day heroes living ordinary lives, shining in places nobody would know about. One such story comes from our own school, Vinay Mandir, located across the Gandhi Ashram where girls from Standards 9th – 12th study. Many of these girls come from interior villages of Gujarat from economically challenged backgrounds.
One of those girl’s Gayatri, comes from a small village called Bakrana in Sanand District of Ahmedabad. She is currently a student of Grade 10th. Her father, Ganpatbhai, happens to be the owner of a small grocery store in their village. When the virus brought life in the village to a halt, Ganpatbhai felt a calling to act. He wasn’t a person of great wealth. But he felt he wanted to do something to be of service to his villagers, especially those who were economically disadvantaged. Having lived in the village for a long time, he knew the people who lived there well enough to know who was most in need. He identified 50 families that were really struggling to survive and put together a grocery kit for each of them. The kit contained a month’s worth supplies of rice, atta, dal, cooking oil and washing soap/detergent, which he contributed from his own pocket. Inspired by his idea, his family members enthusiastically joined along to prepare the kits and go around the village to supply it to the beneficiaries personally, following appropriate social distancing measures.
“I have more than enough for myself and my family at this time. If I can do something to feed those who don’t have food, I am more than happy to share. I cannot let anyone in my village go hungry on my watch.”, said Ganpatbhai, when asked about his action.
What is the spirit that makes us mindful of such things as gratitude and generosity?
The spirit, from the moment that it awakens on Earth until the moment it leaves the body feels a range of positive and negative experiences. Amidst this mixed bag of experiences, its search for thankfulness seems to begin in earnest as a search for self. The essence of us is so close to us and yet, it is not our body. It is much more a part of our breathing, our very heartbeat, the rush of blood in our veins. And yet, this identity is the only explanation for praise and thanksgiving that we can find. When one realizes, even momentarily that deep identity within, that congruency with the cosmos, she is able to see herself as love itself. When one is able to begin with this insight, the attitude of service to others automatically comes upon us like a divine responsibility. Then one has stepped into a moment of beginning from a place of love where the ‘I am’ inside us is the same as the ‘I am’ in the other. Then the story of oneself is being created in rhythm with a higher force that one sees as destiny.
Ganpatbhai’s story is not of someone whose generosity came from wealth, but from a spirit of gratitude that is in connection to this higher self. If each of us can see the spirit that lies beyond our personality at any moment, and find rest there, our profound identity can reveal itself to us. Gratitude comes to us as a natural emanation from the soul which is willing to be still and allow the world to find its balance within.
Gazing at life from the standpoint of the everyday self, there is hardly ever a completely trouble-free or worry-free experience. There is hardly ever a reason to feel completely or profoundly grateful. And yet if we can move back into our higher self that is always coming home, we may see that all of our experience is such that the only response in any given moment is that of thankfulness and praise. From such a place, generosity is the most natural action.
“Everything is locked down”..? but things like SUNRISE, LOVE, FAMILY TIME, KINDNESS, CREATIVITY, LEARNINGS, CONVERSATIONS, IMAGINATIONS, RELATIONSHIP, PRAYING, MEDITATION, HOPE are not in locked down, and these momentary pauses, for through the reflection we will see the soul purpose of each, of all, And through the journey, WE will know The destination as one.
LOKMITRAS CORNER :
Corona has brought opportunities to cultivate Karuna (compassion), and our Lokmitras nurturing themselves and society with inner cultivation, wisdom and Nobel intentions, Most of them they brought their own true version and being a catalyst for society
JAYSHREE AND MANAV: As Esi is supporting and hosting many local and international noble friends who having difficulty to find a place or who wants to deep dive within the self for their inner cultivation, more than Avg 40 people are living more than 40 days in ESI, these two Lokmitra being catalyst between them, Jayashree and Manav mindfully taking care of daily essentials and sanctity of space, and cultivating their inner virtues with the company of noble friends, along with that Jayashree is fasting and Manav is aware people around boosting immunity through yoga and through healthy food habits, along with that they help people around nearby villages to send daily essentials In the time of quarantine
DEVESH: Devesh is one of the key Lok Mitra who holding and taking care of Gandhi ashram eco-system, this month along with taking care of plants and micro eco-system in campus, he cultivation deeply his own gifts, along with that he showed his deeper compassion for other beings and made houses for birds in the campus to invite and intent enhancing his intelligence with other beings and family, he is also anchoring experiment of farming in campus, and this month deeply cultivating the noble intentions and soil with that Nobel intention that fruit can be shared with the community especially in this time of isolation, as his inner cultivation he is practicing silence for deeply connect with himself and existence of other beings.
ZANKHANABEN: Zankhnaben is one of the Lok Mitra who is in quest of finding her higher version of herself through the tool what Gandhi guide us, despite physical challenge she tried to connect herself with community nearby, she visited venerable families around and showed up her solidarity with them along with that she trying to be an instrument of service and trying to meet their daily essential with support of local eco-system of Gandhi ashram and ESI.. as her inner cultivation she made her personal practice to waking up before sunrise and doing charkha and meditation for her inner stillness.
BHASKAR: As he started to explore his passion for photography, last month he started self-designed learning of professional software’s from internet with a higher purpose to connect with his inner net through sharing the beauty of nature and co-existence through his lens as a gift, in this time of pandemic his showing the greater display of his heart and compassion, with help of local NGO he started to feeding dogs and stray animals on street.
ASHOK: Ashok is our Lok Mitra who connects and hold space through stories, he is been blessed with his gift of stories, this month, unfortunately, quarantine in his hometown, but his noble intention for helping his community in this time of adversity has been manifested through his hard work and support of local friends and noble friends, he able to send daily essential and grocery in his villages of Kutch, along with that he is been working hard on his stories and soon his book with stories will be published soon, one of the elders from the community is strongly supporting him to manifest his dream of books.
ROBIN: Robin is one of energetic Lok Mitra who always looking for the opportunity to serve and act on the field , as he shared this pandemic of corona gives him the greater opportunity of Karuna (compassion), through his action for sharing grocery kits in community-created greater opportunity to see himself in others, each connection took him closer to his true self, as he actively holding space of Seva café, he decided to multiply that value of Seva café through different form and connected himself with the community through cooked food and serving tea to whoever is needed, with the true spirit of “LIVING IS GIVING “
THIRTY DAYS of THIRTY WAYS :
At the Gandhi Ashram, we’ve been fortunate to encounter streams of individuals who are “being the change” in their own contexts and ways. On top of that, in the last years, through Awakin gatherings, SEVA CAFE, Moved By Love, Samanvay retreats, Village journeys,etc.,
in this time of pandemic we’ve great opportunity to go deeper and deeper in inner transformation. This month 10 individuals, Nobel friends from our larger eco-system participated at Maitri space of ESI, sughad, these individuals witness, explored and engaged with the service journeys of diverse folks from the local ecosystem while simultaneously they were engaging in daily practices that nurture the values of kindness, gratitude, inner and outer sanitation, stillness and simplicity, and small acts with great love.
JAYESHBHAIS SHARING AND REFLECTIONS
(Karuna Virus Act and WiFi )
For the last few days, Jayesh Bhai is churning with his thoughts and reflections on Karuna (COMPASSION) Virus. It is incredible to witness the bhaav that is collectively emerging through deep sharing and listening. Sharing a few snippets of the same here.
*Karuna Virus Act and WiFi*
For the past few days, in the wake of all that is emerging, I do not feel fear. Instead, I sense a space of calm and mindfulness. I feel a deep sense of love and prayer for universal goodness. Carrying this sacred space at the level of thought and action has such deep potential. In the momentum of individual and collective fear and the pain many of us are experiencing, if we allow our inner-net to cultivate, weave, accept the pain and mess we are into –understand the impermanence of it all– and transform the fear into a prayer of the well-being of all – then I feel we may come closer to our connection with our roots, to our values. This can perhaps lead to many wholesome practices of our own inner-cultivation and outer manifestation of compassion (Karuna) virus. This will allow us to extend our contribution deeper and further – to our contribution of thoughts and of cooperation towards our shared connection.
In this circle of connection, cultivation, and contribution, our connection is to our higher consciousness, a genuine heart, and mind of service, so to speak. When we are in tune with that interconnection of our consciousness; when we align ourselves to operate through love and compassion with a selfless understanding of that interconnection, we will be in service to the whole. This is the order of Nature.
To channel the energy of the heart and mind, we share the noble thoughts for universal goodness. To channel the energy of the body, we engage in service to the whole. And we do that by taking small mindful steps – like cooking with love, cleaning with mindfulness, engaging in deep listening with whoever shows up at our door, and so on.
By allowing us to pause and deeply reflect on this, Nature has gifted us with Karuna Virus as we transit from nature to culture to the future. Whenever humankind has been elevated in fragments of competition, self-centeredness, jealousy, consumption, greed, separation, etc. – Nature has very gently interfered to bring back its balance, equilibrium, and awareness. And this shift in our inherent nature may birth a new culture of consciousness that may lead to a very hopeful future, perhaps a conviction to be in service to the sacred, to be in service to the whole web of life.
The more I am aligning myself to this thought and feeling, I am beginning to see this as a time of transformation for the entire civilization. A time where the common collective is rising to its authentic, yet gentle power. While we are all one at the level of soul, the field of unwholesome thoughts and actions continued to dominate our narrative. However, now the time has arrived where we see the collective going from its subtle to subtler and subtlest forms. Very truly aligning to the phrase, “in a gentle way we can shake the world”. We continue to see around us – people, spaces, and movements from all walks of life are coming together in their own decentralized and organic ways towards this one shared intention of service to the whole.
Corona Virus created the field for Karuna Virus. [“Karuna” is Sanskrit for “compassion”] What started as a Karuna Virus is now inviting us to move towards Karuna Actions, which will strengthen our Karuna Wifi.
*Karuna Virus* – contagious _contribution_ of compassion with loving-kindness for universal goodness.
*Karuna Act* – _cultivation_ through personal practices for our stillness
*Karuna Wifi* – _connection_ through eternal values (roots) that strengthen our foundation towards universal goodness.
Wherever we are in our inner world and in our outer world, may we turn on the torchlight of contribution, connection, and cultivation.
May we strengthen the connection with consciousness (Love Jagat) through which creativity for loving-kindness acts towards humanity and all the Earth Family emerges, to come back into kinship with all life.
May these days of lockdown in India become an opportunity to find the joys of simplicity.
May we cooperate and co-create small practices that we align with; towards the collective consciousness and spread ourselves though distributed droplets of compassion.
This days of ‘Lock’ down is in-fact a ‘Key’ of compassion for the entire Earth. It brings with it a key to reflect and act on collective personal practices.
May we all collectively take this opportunity to joyfully come together; in love, understanding & cooperation and make this world a more beautiful place – one small compassionate ‘key’ (act) at a time.
Love All – Serve All – Share with All
INSPIRATION FROM ELDER :
#Sukshma Karma: Viratiji Maharaj These days Jayesh Bhai gets lots of fruits and vegetables and with immense love, he shares it with many friends and family members. Someone asked him – why do you do that even for people who can afford, his response was sheer love and a way to show care, indeed motherly Care, as he does this in day to day life as well. Some of you know about Viratiji Maharaj, an 89 years monk stays in Kabir Ashram near esi Sughad. A few years back climbing on a tree to collect fruits so that he could share, one of his legs was fractured. Last year, uncle Bruce heard this story and wished to visit Kabir Ashram with few friends. Viratiji led uncle Bruce in his farm, they didn’t exchange a single word but connected deeply through nature. On return Uncle, Bruce shared that Babaji showed him a branch of a tree leaning downloaded with fruits. Now he doesn’t have to climb trees to fetch fruits, trees recognize his intentions, and lean down to serve.
During the lockdown, Jayeshbhai delivers fruits to Viratiji Maharaj personally. And yesterday he was to deliver fruits but couldn’t. In anticipation with intentions to pluck and share “Rayan” a local fruit, Viratiji climbed a tree and fell down, it hurt his hand.
When our friend reached to deliver fruits and vegetables to Viratiji, he offered fruits, witnessing Viratiji was hurt, he called Jayesh Bhai. And immediately a doctor’s (Yakshatbhai) appointment was taken. Listening to the background of Viratiji, Yakshatbhai (doctor) opened his clinic specially and treated him with immense respect and conveyed- he is inspired and deeply moved by love in presence of Viratiji. He can be called an hour and he would be ready to serve. On the way back to Kabir Ashram, Viratiji decided to visit Jayesh Bhai’s home. Indeed he was carrying fruits mangoes and lemons harvested in Kabir Ashram. “Rayan” he will send with someone. Anar didi asked if she shall make a pickle of mangoes and send it to him, he simply denied saying these mangoes are for you. I have enough, it’s a gift from nature. Both Jayesh Bhai and Anar didi had tears of compassion in their eyes, while Viratiji was smiling with sparkling eyes full of grace and love.
Jayeshbhai later shared, fruits he sends to friends and families is “स्थूल कर्म” gross work, that may have an impact while the offering Viratiji Maharaj shares are “सुक्षम कर्म” subtle work that inspires transformation. The depth and subtlety of Viratiji inspired the Doctor, karyakartas, Jayeshbhai, Anar didi, and possibly all who are reading.
It’s as if Corona is conveying to deepen Karuna (compassion) through subtle work with noble intentions of pure service.