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Jayeshbhai Patel: Love in Action
Jayesh Bhai's 28th Dec Awakin Call
Nimo(N): Jayesh bhai always says Jay Jagat which means glory to the whole world. Materially he is involved in many social and development projects like Manav Sadhna (works in under privileged communities), president of Harijan Sevak Sangh (dedicated to untouchable community), director of Environment Sanitation Institute (work of sanitation), helped start Seva Cafe a gift economy restaurant, on board of many organizations like India first, Gandhi Ashram, School for the blind but all these organization were for him spaces to find himself and serve. He had opportunity to be brought up in Gandhi Ashram himself, where seeds of love were planted in him.
Jayeshbhai is a light hearted soul and everyone in his presence feels light, but after meeting, we find heavy seeds sowed in us. One part of day he would be sitting on muddy stairs in a community cutting dirty nail and literally an hour later, he would be in the grand opening of a institution and for him it is literally all the same. A typical day can also include, apart from daily responsibilities can include cleaning human defecation in a village along with villagers and by afternoon connecting and interacting with hundreds of highly educated college students, and by evening sitting on his no seat no desk office where he sits on floor and meets different people counseling people who come to him on all aspects like personal problem, business problem, someone not having a single rupee to feed his and all of them are equal to him and he looks at the same thing in them- their heart.
N: Tell us about your journey. All you are is a result of your journey. Tell us about your transition from material world to the world of service
Jayesh(J): Namaste and Jai Jagat to all of you. Nimo praised me a lot and all this is a result of his love. Life is so beautiful. We say in Gujrati that you must be cultivated to shine, for example a plough, it goes through hard soil and it comes out shining, My life has also been through the material world like the plough through the hard soil and I came out a better person. There is no guilt. Let me start by telling you my story, when I was in 11th grade, I felt in love with cricket, my mother warned me that if I played so much I might tan my skin. I used to look at all the photos and admire all the branded stuff. We went shopping for 2nd hand branded stuff on sunday and we had a joy wearing those. For me this is how original interest in material world came. I ended up going to England once and one of the most touching things I remember was that my mother used to take these small amount of savings and buy my list of desired things. I remembered not the material things she brought but the spirit with which she went out, to bring joy on her son's face. My father worked in the field of sanitation , so my father was called Mr. Toilet and I was called Baby Toilet and I used to get very angry and I asked him why did he do the work of toilet. I knew he was doing good work, work of sanitation but I was blinded but a part of me slowly started getting sense . My wife and I ended up going to England for a few months and we were contemplating staying there permanently. We used to tell people in England that I was doing good stuff, social work in India, and back in India I used to boast of all the luxuries I had back in England. I was living a dual life. I got disappointed and frustrated with the dual life and through it I realized my interest in material life declined and increased in social life .
I saw joy in father's face even after being called Mr. Toilet. I started realizing that with love you create family and with money we only create project. I saw people around me doing projects without love. So I wrote a letter to my father from England and asked,”You do the work of sanitation, most neglected work in our country, and still there is joy on your face” My father said,”Do the work which is connected to your heart.My heart is connected to toilets and thats why I am happy.” An example comes to my mind, even if you have Mercedes Benz(luxury), but if one tire is missing, that small part is missing then it becomes useless, he taught me the value of small things, and that small is love. Like mother Teresa says,”We cannot do any great work but only small things with great love” He gave me a task- to clean 125 public toilets and public toilets are terrible places and my father said if you do with heart, you'll find divinity and that will be the blossoming of service. If you have compassion for others, you will naturally have compassion for yourself.
N: You flow with love on day to day basis. once you were moved by an orphan and you and your wife Anar didi adopted them. I know of many stories where you just flowed with love. How do we move towards the space of love?
J: Small is beautiful. Make relationships. We make results our target, and then we start using our mind and we start looking relationships as transactions and use our relatives for our targets/outcomes. But if we connect with heart, that is beginning of love, we don't have to find love, it is within us. If we look at others in us, it is beginning of this kind of love, it is natural, even if we look at our body, the heart is in the centre, head at top, hands below, but heart at centre. If someone tries to hurt us, hand comes in between, everything is in service to our heart. So many times we try to change other people but I say lets not try to change people, but understand them. As soon as we do that, we will deepen our understanding of who we are and what our relationship with them is. And we are interconnected and our journey is inter-twined.
N: We talk about love and it has so many ripples. One of the ingredients is pure intention and we put pure intention , magic unfolds.. This I have personally observed. Please share how with pure intention creates ripples and magic?
J: With purity there is clarity, everything is clear when we are in love. On 25th Dec is Jesus's birthday and Jesus is symbol of love. We went to a village. I saw 2 children, both cute but were very dirty with running nose, specially one girl, I felt like cleaning their noses, but we were getting late. I reached down and shared a chocolate which I always carry. Once I had cleaned nose of more than 100 people in a village. When we reached the village, we had prayer. When we opened our eyes, that same girl was standing near me. I don't know how that happened, I feel that it was power of intention. I genuinely believe nature supports good intention. Then I cleaned her nose and made her hair. After it was done, her spirit became a huge asset to us. Where ever we went, it felt like family and we felt connected to each other. When we are guided by pure intention, not only do we see clearly but nature too supports us.
N: We also want to know your journey from external service work to internal service work from where love emerges.
J: Service is like a flash light. You can't see all the way from point A to point B, but only the next step, but it is important to work with faith. So many times we get caught up with visible impact, we want to see results and we create a sense of desire and desire brings misery. From the 20 years of service I realize we can't change people much but we can change ourselves. My father worked so much and created 200,000 toilets, started 118 organizations but he never talked about it, he talked about his internal transformation. He said don't carry these heavy loads to change the world, be gentle, be like wind, it goes where it needs to go, be an instrument of nature. Gandhi also said that our whole work is to be empty. Vinoba also said that our whole work is to connect heart to heart. I realized there is a lot of depth to inner transformation, as soon as you create external transformation, you start thinking you have done it and I becomes capital “I” and you head in wrong direction, and invisible service is love made visible and that invisible service gives rise to fountain of compassion. Be like the river, it flows where it needs to flow, doesn't matter if it has less or more water.
N: You grew up in the lap of 2 women who were at death bed of Gandhi, your father was a celebrated Gandhian, how do you see Gandhi visible today?
J: Spirit is timeless, his values are eternal and, Gandhi said that what he talks about is as old as hills. We can be tools of these values. Many great men have used their values. Mahavira used ahimsa, Buddha used compassion, Gandhi believed in Sarvodaya, may all beings benefit, may we design for everyone's welfare. Now it is upto us how we use it.
Caller: I have 2 part question: First how do we clarify between need and desire and second part is how do you internally process when you see death and destruction? Recently, I am deeply pained when I see the destruction happening to mother earth, so many trees are cut and animals poached.
Jayesh: Gandhi said that there is everyone's need but not for their greed and I think that need and greed are really. Need is about contribution and greed about consumption. If we start with consumption first and contribution later, then it creates inequality. Greedy are far worse than those who actually steal. If we were pure, then we trust that that purity will flow where it needs to go. Where there is death, destruction and negativity, in this work we need more devotion, we need faith, that bhaav, the inner sentiment, reaches everywhere. And it also takes a certain humility to be satisfied, we can't reach everywhere, but we do what we can. If we hold this, we will shift from not only greed to need but also from consumption to contribution.
Caller: It is easier serving outside to strangers than being kind at home. I would love to know what you do at home?
Jayesh: Highs and lows come but we need to be patient and loving. Leave judging people and hold on to your nature. Our nature is loving and service, not help, because help brings desire and desire brings misery. You start to nurture and support people and that comes very naturally. There will be people in your family who will make you angry but the root is love, not ill will and hatred, so it just takes time and we need to look from a different perspective. In some cases you can serve in a very intimate way but you might have to keep relationships at a distance sometimes, Gandhi might call it non cooperation with love. It takes practice and takes a kind of faith that our relationships with those close ones can be rooted in love.
Caller: Tell us about faith.
Jayesh: Faith and trust are as important as air for life. We can't live without them. I like the example of people climbing Mt. Everest. The person who reached first is very happy, but the one who reached third isn't so happy. But at Mt. Kailash a pilgrimage, both the one who reached first is happy and the one who reached 100th are both equally happy. They both feel the same sense of satisfaction. Gandhi was asked to describe India in one word and he replied “Faith”. People have different kind of faith, some on god,some on family. In my life faith is very important.
Caller: Tell us the relation of head and heart.
Jayesh: A very good question. Head gives the speed and heart gives us direction, intelligence is the key but with discernment. One of the 4 yogas of Hinduism is gyan(Knowledge) yoga but it is incomplete without Bhakti(devotion). If we look at Gandhi, he was a karma yogi a man of action, but it was the alignment of head, heart and hand, that led him to do the kind of work he did. You need to have the alignment of head and heart. Even intellectual = Intel + actual, Intel is metaphor of chip we use in computer and is the most important part, as the actual part is our heart for us.
Caller: I have 2 questions: Where does individuality come in in spirituality as we have desire to serve like our role models but we have our own individual traits, 2nd: Most of us are in business, and most of our time we spend within the purview of for profit. Gandhi was not against business but he had the idea of trusteeship. Can you share your experiences and reflections.
Jayesh: Be selfish, be generous. When you can have friendship with yourself, then only you can be friends with god. As per my experience, if you understand yourself, you will have friendship with world and support others. To your second question your social morality has to be together with commercial morality, not one after other. Sometimes we say we will first have commercial success, then I'll do social work, sometimes we say I'll have first consumption then contribution , it doesn't work that way, it is faulty. It has to go together. If we have contribution before consumption then I think even business can be meaningful, actually all work is divine, we just need to remove self centerdness, and as soon as we do that we create different set of values.
Caller: In your early transition time from material to spiritual life, what were your daily practices?
Jayesh: The most important thing is awareness. The whole purpose of daily practice is awareness. After I came back from England, we used to sit in circle, pray, work with kids, meet people in villages, I felt blessed because my whole life got immersed in service. So it wasn't one practice but many practices, and slowly it became a process. I had really good mentors and spending good time with them became a practice. Really the purpose was to increase mindfulness, as it increases everything starts changing. The daily practices looks different for different people, I would urge you to go out and find yours.
Caller: What to do when people try to take advantage of your love, kindness and compassion?
Jayesh: Never lose your faith, if someone cheats you , s/he is really cheating himself. We don't want to treat them in such a way that they feel guilty, instead we should work on our kindness and love, thats a much stronger approach in a longer term and even as we look at them and we recognize what they were doing, it is important that we don't go to fix the situation but we work on the relationship , that person might cheat you once or twice but if you nurture the relationship, then things change.
Caller: I don't have any question, but I wanted to say Namaste. Lovely listening to you.
Jayesh: Namaste beta(son), I haven't seen you but I would like to call you daughter, we will stay connected in love.
Caller: Are there any questions you are sitting on, what are the edges you are working on?
Jayesh: Attachment- to the work I do, to the organization, to the people, I have this fear that I go to the situation and I feel I am needed and work won't happen without me and I should be doing something. At one level this attachment sometimes motivates me to work , but at other level I know that is not the purest way. What has worked for me is my patience. The edges have been there and will be there. Just like flash light, I don't know the far destination, but I am still working in the present on the next step. I have a lot of weaknesses and I am aware of them, and I am working on them. With every opportunity I am becoming a better person, like this opportunity you have given by connecting with you all. I share all these things from my experience with all humility. And through the process, authentic sharing, I become a better person, and perhaps it starts to flow where it needs to go. I feel very grateful that although there are edges , I get to cultivate with so many wonderful people like all of you. So thank you.
Jai Jagat, (glory to the world)
I feel like giving hugs to all of you, specially the host Amit.
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