Jan 2, 2016
Awakin call on 1/2/15
Servicespace Volunteers. Most inspiring stories of 2015
Hosts: Nipun, Kozo and Deven
Nipun: Good morning everyone! Welcome to the first Awakin call of 2016 As most of you know the purpose of these calls is really to share stories and tell stories, to really foster that inner transformation while planting seeds for more compassionate society on the outside. Usually we have a guest speaker and we hold these collective conversations with them. And these are wide ranging guest speakers. Today we have even more wide ranging guest speakers, which is all of us! So today is going to be a one giant party of inspiration! We thought it would be great to do a call where everyone just shares their moments of inspiration and those "Aha" moments of the year.
I want to invite Deven and Kozo to chime in with their hello
Deven: Thank you Nipun and Kozo. When I look into the theme of " Kindness stories of the year”, immediately once story struck me quickly, Nipun. It is such a delicate and quick moment of kindness that I experienced. We were at a winter camp two weeks ago in mountains. I was one of the volunteers trying to get 150 young kids from 11- 16 years. On the last day we were having lunch. One of the kids just came to me and said, "Uncle, are you done with your lunch?" I said, “Yes." Without saying a word she picked up my plate to clear it. She said, "I thank you so much for helping us last three days." An eleven year old, very innocent girl, just that look on her face, the genuine smile and a sense of, " I want to do something for this guy", it just touched me so much. That goes back for me over and over again. It's the small, simple, kind acts that permeate your day and sometimes even a week so brightly and so beautifully. It's such a relaxing, such an enriching and nurturing experience.
Nipun: For sure! Deven, I was looking at just the last years Servicespace blog. I started from January 2015 and just see what happened. In just 2 weeks of those blog, you hear so many of these stories and it just fills your heart. Sometimes we can read the news and we are like, " Oh my God! The world is in despair, the world is in danger!" But then you hear these stories of this eleven year old, out of their goodness of their heart responding to kindness, which is really sweet and beautiful. I think last year around New Year, I wanted to open with this letter. Afreen had posted it. She received it in mail on one of our portals. It's anonymous post.
But it says, "On this new years eve, I want to express love for my mothers. We all love our first mother, woman who gave us birth, raised us and loved us dearly with all that she had to offer. It' a love that lasts forever. Extending that concept, I also love my motherland, where I was born and the many place around the world that I have called home since then. Even further, I also love our Grandmother, planet Earth. It’s not just Grandmother, it's the grandest of all Mothers. Mother Earth provided us the environment that makes it possible for us to sustain and maintain our lives and also the quality of life. It also makes the sacrifices for us that our natural mother does. So it loves us just as much and we often take it for granted. But on this New Year's eve, I resolve and I invite you to join me to respect and love Mother earth and appreciate the environment it provides. I believe it's the mission of Servicespace through its various projects, to also evoke this spirit of kinship. In that space Servicespace is also as much a mother. With the help of volunteers, it strives to make life better for so many. It has certainly changed mine. Many kudos to all of you. Love. Peace. Joy. Your anonymous friend."
P.S. Due to physical condition, I cannot type with my fingers. But I had my wife, another loving mother, diligently type this for me, so I can share my gratitude with all of you as we ring in the New Year.
I thought that was really beautiful and I wanted to thank you guys for holding this part of the ecosystem with so much care for so long. I have heard some amazing stories over the last year, just on these Awakin calls. So, thank you Deven and Kozo can you chime in a little bit?
Kozo: Thank you Nipun and thank you to all of the volunteers. Just two quick reflections. Wow! Servicespace as a mother! What a beautiful analogy that is and I can fully attest to finding Servicespace is like finding a long lost mother. The community and the individual in that community and the support and the love and the gentleness and the care has been one of the most important mothers in my last year. I am really grateful for that. And obviously it's New Years and I want to wish everybody a happy new year. I am so excited about this call, I have been feeling this 2015 surgery behind me of kindness and compassion and just good will. I am so excited to arrive into 2016 and see what emerges and I think this is just a great way to build up that wave behind us that is going to ripple out. I am just so excited and glad to be here.
Nipun: Awesome. Kozo himself is an inspiration to so many people in so many ways. Thank you. If you look at the last year, there were so many things, like the Paris attacks. You can have a heavy heart when you hear such things. But there are also the stories that inspire you behind it. There were so many such stories. There was a guy who went up to one of the sites of the shooting, and pulled up a piano and started playing imagine by John Lennon. Such a powerful thing. Same thing with Chennai flood. In India the flood took over the city of Chennai and people who were living in the second floor had to come out of their balcony in a boat and leave. It destroyed so much and you had everyday people helping each other.
Earlier in the year you had earth quake in Nepal. One of our volunteer's families was caught up there. His daughter was there. They had just gone for a visit. He is originally from Nepal. His name is Krishna. Because of earthquake everything was destroyed. All the homes were gone in that area. Because of that they all had to go to an open field and they would all tent and eat together at night and there was this sense of community. And when Krishna went there to pick up his wife and daughter, his daughter says, " Dad, I don't want to go back to living in the old homes. I like living with everybody here." There was that silver lining. He reflected beautifully on this.
Similarly, there’s this refugee crisis. When I was in Sweden, I heard in one of the small villages in Sweden, where there was a huge influx of refugees, and that threatened some people. So the community decided to open Karma kitchen to change the level of the playing field in so many ways.
When we talk about hope, when we talk about goodness, it is not discount the incredible pain that we witness, sometimes personally and sometimes collectively. But it is to say that we can rise to higher plateau. And I think that's really the invitation here. We invite you to share a story of hope, of courage, of inspiration, of generosity, of small acts kindness that moved you and we'll just go one after the other.
Mish: I everyone. It's so great to start the New Year with all of you. I got very excited when I saw what this call was about. Being a member of Kindspring, there are so many inspirational, wonderful kindness stories. And I have like twelve stories that I have to share. But I will control myself.
Nipun: (Laughing) Just do eleven
Mish: I'll share one that really brought me to tears and if there is time later and if you want me to, I’ll be more than happy to lay the rest on you. One of the Kindspring members has a nine-year-old niece who has a best friend, another nine year old, who is seriously ill with cystic fibrosis. She son a transplant list and spends in the hospital long time. Kindspring member and her little niece hatched a plan to try to get the little girl as many cards from all over the world to cheer her up. The response was just amazing. Ripples went out all over the world and people did such amazing things. The Kindspring member shared this on Kindspring and Facebook. People who expressed interest, she shared the address. Her little niece was in charge of delivering the mail to the friend in the hospital and she was excited for the kindness lessons that her little niece was going to learn from this kind act. She said that she was bombarded with individually small but overwhelmingly huge kind acts. All of the Kindspingers sent out cards. Some sent little gifts. They found special stamps to brighten up the packages. One of our Kindspring members, a post office clerk, took time out and put effort to seek out lots of different stamps, especially for the little girl. Another lady wanted to donate toys to the hospital that this child was in. A teacher in Australia wanted to involve her class in sending out cards. An adult with cystic fibrosis and a double lung transplant recipient asked all her adult friends with cystic fibrosis to send their stories of how they thrived with this illness. Another woman had children in her class draw pictures. The outpouring of love shows you how alive kindness is in our planet; this inspired me and gave me such great hope for the wonderful people that do inhabit our planet.
Nipun: It’s so Awesome. You know Mish, whenever I run across some folks who are going through some rough patch in life and may be they are little depressed, I say, just go read the Kindspring feed. I mean, it is so incredible. People are kind, people are loving, and people are courageous. We don't often have platforms to share those stories. Those get buried, but it's so inspiring to go through that feed. Thank you for holding space for all those Kindspringers!
Mish: It's a blessing! Thank You.
Seems: Hi Everyone! Happy New Year! I really enjoyed hearing all the stories that people have shared so far.
When I think of Karma Kitchen, which has been such an honor to be able to hold space at Karma Kitchen for the last year and half or so. One story that comes to mind is kind of a small story, but it really moved me. One of the volunteers, who has been part of the ecosystem went to Awakin in Santa Clara before. I put her as a server knowing that se understood the principles of gift ecology and could speak about them. When we were doing our closing circle at the end of the day, she shared how she felt a little shy about talking to people and about serving people and that she was actually pretty introverted. She was a little fearful to share and interact with people. She wondered if she was going to know the right thing to say. I was surprised to hear that. I didn't realize that she would feel that way. But then, a little girl at one of the tables she was serving, who was dining with her family, drew a picture where she mentioned her name as a server and she drew picture of her family and Karma Kitchen and it had a big "Thank You" on it and it was really sweet and it totally moved this server. She was blown away by it. It just goes to show that her intention is what made that moment possible for her to connect with that little girl. It gave the little girl the inspiration to draw that picture for her. it was really lovely. I feel like that's what happens at Karma Kitchen all the time. People are unsure about what to do and their role as volunteers had to speak about Karma Kitchen and have to get it right, there is all these insecurities we have and yet it's the intention that manifests into these really beautiful magical moments. That was a really special moment.
Nipun: That was! I remember Seema, at one time, I think it was in 2015, where you were anchoring and you have anchored so many times! On this particular week, may be there was marathon and traffic was stuck and not too many people ended up making it to Karma Kitchen and you just said, 'Karma Kitchen is everywhere and it's a state of mind." You rallied all the volunteers and they decided to go out and do acts of kindness. You really just carried the spirit out into the streets. Really, why should to stop even on a Sunday? We can carry this spirit everyday of the week. That's a very powerful idea of tapping into that space all the time.
Seema: Absolutely! There are so many moments like that. Doesn't matter how many people are there and how many people show up. The capacity for kindness and show those acts of kindness are just unlimited. I'm really grateful to be able to partake in that space which allows for that to manifest.
Nipun: We are grateful to you Seema. Thank you for holding that space month in and month out. I can't remember where I was, somewhere in the world and someone was telling me a Karma Kitchen story. How they were in a circle and someone starts sharing a story of what inspired them about Karma Kitchen and paying forward. They said they were going in a toll booth and somebody in front of them paid toll for their car and she was just totally blown away by it and there was a smile card associated with it and she is reflecting on it and somehow they ended up to Karma Kitchen. She is sharing this story in the opening orientation circle. And like a people after in that circle of sharing one guy is like " Was that on bay bridge and was that at that time? That was me! I paid your toll. I was the car in front of you." It was so awesome for that connection to happen. It actually was that guy!
Seema: Oh! Wow! That's fabulous
Nipun: In some cases this story come back around but even if they don’t it’s beautiful, right? It just keeps on going like that. Thank you Seema for all your untiring efforts throughout the year.
Seema: Thank You!
Yoomi: Hello everyone. I am calling form Pondicherry, India. I was going to say that, I was going to cede my time to Mish, so that we can hear more Kindspring stories.
Nipun: (laughing) we'll have plenty of time.
Yoo-Mi: I wanted t start by sharing a pledge that we received on December 31st. On a video called, " Everyone can be great", which is a part of the speech by Martin Luther king Jr. And the pledge says, " Stand for peace, unity and equality world wide and in service to all humanity. Exude a unified energy of authentic unconditional love, free from judgment, including from within. To cause to eradicate fear from earth for evermore."
I thought that it was such a beautiful New Year eve's pledge.
It's been such an honor for me to anchor the Karma tube portal with all the volunteers who work to bring out all of the videos. And I want to share story regarding one of the video of the week, which is the story of a humble tea seller in Cochin, India, who travelled the world with his wife. Both of them never left the state of Kerala before. And from their meager earnings from the tea stall, which is all they have, saving up for 3 years at a time, taking loans to take journeys around the world, they have up until now travelled to 16 countries and throughout most of India. And this story was brought to us by first time filmmaker, who was so touched by the extraordinary insight into life that he saw in tis couple. And the film maker is an extremely humble man never made a film before, but wanted to share such stories and he is in debt, but has refused to sell the film to people who have offered to buy it, or to a bank who wanted to turn it into an ad for travel loan, or to a travel company which wanted to market their services. And what this film maker really would love to do id to find help in translating the film into many other Indian languages so that people like the tea seller and his wife, can see this film and appreciate the extraordinariness of these simple individual. And one of the action item that were listed along side of the film was to contact the film maker, show your appreciation and to see if you can help in any way and one of which is to help translate the film. And in fact Karma Tube viewer did contact the filmmaker and is helping to translate the film into two other languages. And a Servicespace volunteer was so moved by the video that, she herself contacted the filmmaker, who happened to be close to the town that they were visiting in India, serendipitously and they met for lunch and had an amazing conversation. The Servicespace volunteer and her husband are thinking of ways to try and serve this filmmaker in whatever way that they can. So, I am really touched by the reaching out that the people have done for the filmmaker, who has really fallen into debt and tried something new to capture the story of these people. One of the most moving things in the video for me was that the tea seller, when all the travelers that he meets is changing $200, $500, he is changing $10, so that he and his wife can eat. And it blows my mind that there are people like who essentially say... Everyone in their family think they are crazy. They can use this money for so many other things. But this is what he wanted to do. You have one life. This is their passion and they go for it.
Nipun: I think you mean 10 Rupees not 10 dollars right?
Yoomi: The equivalent of 10 dollars. When you travel you can't really change Rupees. He probably changed his rupees into dollars and then changed to whatever currency he needed.
Nipun: Good to hear from you Yoomi. Thank you for holding space on Karma Tube. Like the story that you just shared, there are so many awesome videos and awesome stories. It gives people that hope week in and week out. I appreciate all that you do Yoomi.
Yoomi: Thank you for holding the space for all of it.
Pancho: Jai Jagat! Glory to the planet! I am super happy and I hope you can see my smiling heart and to know that we are connecting in real time, what ever that means from all over this glorious planet, using technology in a way to be more loving to be more compassionate and get inspiration. So I am super happy to be here.
I wanted to share a story, a ripple of the Service space as a mother kind of meme that I am hearing. I can't believe how well it is flowing. All these contributions from our sisters, Yoo-Mi, Seema and Mish. How you opened, Deven and Kozo and Nipun. Little bit of background for Servicespace as a mother that cares for all her children. It is kind of hard to find that point. How do you start to think that it is a mother? How could you do that? It very hard and sometimes you have very clear feedback as seen in the Karma Kitchen story of paying the toll for car behind you. But sometimes you don't. I just wanted to know that our beloved siblings listening to us through the, that Casa de Paz, we are here in Fruitvale in East Oakland, we have trying to demonstrate the gift ecology and since day one we have received so much love and inspiration and support in so many ways. Spiritually, clean water, clean food, clean energy and clean thoughts. From water filters to organic food to you name it. All, from this rich ecosystem of Servicespace. And the reason why some chose to move here to Fruitvale is because of we were ... as Nipun shared, reality is painful sometimes. We know that brother Oscar grant was murdered by the police and so we say, this needs to stop. White brother killing black brother, this just doesn't make sense. So how did we move to this neighborhood and start having a different kind of energy. So we talk with the neighbors and I am giving all this feedback to let you know how Awakin Oakland started. We talked with the neighbors and the very first thing they told us was, we are sick and tired violence. We would love to live in a harmonious and peaceful neighborhood. So for us it became super important to be that peace, to contribute to that peace and to have as much time in receptive silence as we can and holding meditation with all different people and different background at any time. So the foundation of Casa De Paz is that. Meditation, receptive silence, silent prayer, you name it. It is available at anytime. And this is because, as you can tell, with all this violence due to inherited colonial oppressive states. And we know that there is a force more powerful and that is love. How do we cultivate that stage of love? Well, with our Awakin circles. People might know and may be familiar with Awakin Circles. We also have different flavors of Awakin circles. A mini Awakin circle. Some times we have children coming here. This story is of a 10 year old who came to mini Awakin circle that we prepared for them here in Fruitvale in East Oakland. We have 10 minutes of meditation with them and focusing on respiration and sharing something inspiring, something to be grateful for and then we talk them to the garden and they see the bees and the flowers and the mini oasis in the middle of asphalt jungle in the inner city. They are like, “Wow! All this is so beautiful." It is the combination of inner and outer, very Servicespace like, putting their head, their heart and their hands together. The teachers usually send all sorts of stories and cards and how they are grateful for what happened. Sometimes we have very beautiful things that melt my heart. When you have these cards from children, filled with colors and love and that really melts our hearts.
These cards that I got from a teacher, close to 40 cards. Every body was talking about the bees... because everybody was afraid of the bees and we sat in meditation we were still and the bees were tranquil. These cards said, " we love the bees, the smell of the honey, that was awesome and we are not afraid of the bees anymore. The gardening is great". And then I had one card from this kids that said nothing, but it has a picture. And the picture is a meditation cushion that has a square, triangle and a circle. When we started the meditation circle we got as a gift from women in India, hand made meditation cushions. Some of these meditation cushions have that triangle, the square and that circle. So I am just blown away that the thing that caught this kid's attention was a meditation cushion. So of course very Servicespace style, we decided to tag this kid to give him one of the meditation cushions
Nipun: Oooh, Bam!
Pancho: We give it to the teacher and then the story is crazy because, this is a 10-year-old back kid that got inspired by the meditation cushions. And then he starts taking this meditation everywhere to school, car, everywhere and he is meditating wherever he goes! And the mom is just in tears and here is what I want to look back to the story of Oscar Grant. He was a black brother. And if you haven't seen the movie, I encourage you to see it. He was 22 year old. He had a daughter and may of these black mothers are living in terror because they don't know if their children are going to come back from New Year's eve. Oscar Grant was killed yesterday, seven years ago when he was coming from a celebration after seeing the fireworks totally unarmed. His daughter, when they said good-bye few hours ago was afraid and said, "Are you going to come back?" Well many moms don't know that their children are going to come back or not. That is the reality here, living in this part of the planet. And this is not only the reality for Oscar Grant but also, Tamir Rice, he was a Twelve year old and Andy Lopez, he was thirteen-year-old Latino that was killed by the police just like that! Because we see victims on both sides the gun. What kind of human beings are we creating? We are killing our black or brown brothers, but also our white police brothers who are trained to respond in that way. So I am looping all this because, to have 10 year old in love with meditation, in love with seeing what is in his mind and being with peace, could save his life. In that moment when you are interacting with police officer, may be the look, or stillness that will change the vibe. Very Servicespace like. We are contributing, may be Servicespace is contributing to #Black lives matter, in this way. So thank you for all the contribution that people have done to us because we take all that inspiration from Awakin at Santa Clara, recharge and then come here to protect the Mother Earth, to love it, to respect it and of course we are all Mother Earth. So we are not defending the Earth. We are defending ourselves. What is the best way to defend ourselves? With love and compassion and generosity. So thank you!
Nipun: Pancho has this word called Bamplex! That's a bamplex story! What strikes me Pancho, there are so many amazing things about you and how you hold space everyday of your life and how so many people around the globe are so inspired by you. So thank you for that. What strikes me about that story is that-
You created a circle for those kids. You just care. You would do that for anybody. In the circle you are introducing them with your presence and they are touched. And then the teacher is so moved by our generosity that she actually asked these kids to send something back. And then you are looking at that and you are saying that I'm not going to let it stop there. I see that this guy likes the cushion and I'm going to tag him with the cushion. It's not just that you had the same counter. And this kid fell in love with cushion and meditation. It is the chain of kindness behind it that you knew, the teacher knew and your whole Casa De Paz community knew, that when you receive something, it is incumbent on you to keep paying it forward. And that's how you get to the 10-year-old kid sitting on a cushion and changing the world in so many incredible ways. Pancho, you do this everyday, you are a role model for so many people. Thank you so much for always shining a bright light.
Bradley: I never am tired of listening to Pancho. I still have the picture of 11 year old going up to Deven and taking his plate and serving him. It's just so beautiful way to start. Thank you Kozo and Nipun. So many stories are inspirational but when I was asked to share about stories, I thought, just one?
Nipun: you probably have 11 more like Mish also.
Bradley: But the one that really comes to mind, I guess is someone who is on this call in fact, Makala Kozo. His battles with his, as he refers to it as, “dis-ease". Just the way he looks at the cancer that he was diagnosed back in August, It’s not a disease, but his body is not at ease, the universe is trying to tell I'm something I guess. He was talking to me back in October. He mentioned how he saw this as a gift. I was like, " wow! How many people look at cancer as a gift?" I was telling my daughter about it and she was like," Really, a gift?" I said yes! I told her how it brought his family together. Whenever I meet someone, I often tell him or her about what Makala is going through and his approach and how he has decided to seek non-western treatment. He is kind of naturally treating his tumor and some who are caught up in the western approach are like, " Why didn't he just have surgery? Why did he just have this removed? “He is having surgery and he is having removed, but not just the same way as you would. And others just marvel, just like I do. It's not even the matter of, although he you’d speak about it better than I could, what really happens in the end. He won regardless of what happens. It’s just been so inspiring. I don't think and I am sure I couldn't do it what he is doing. Everyday I kind of think about Makala and what he is doing and it moves me more every single time.
You talk about the small acts that kind of change the world ... Just yesterday I was watching a movie called "The Little Red Wagon". It's about an 11-year boy in Florida after hurricane, who decided to change the world. He started collecting goods for hurricane victims and turned it into a nonprofit called " A Little Red Wagon" that helps homeless children. As an 11 year old he walked to Tallahassee, he walked to Atlanta. In fact when he was 18 he walked across the United States to raise awareness of homeless children. It all started when he was 11 years old watching newscast. Talk about little acts turning into huge acts!
Nipun: In a way Kozo's act, I think is an act of courage. To say I want to heal this cancer not just remove it. I don't want it to go out from me to somewhere else. I want to own it. Kozo, you are on the call man. We are talking about inspirational stories. Here is Bradley saying Kozo is my inspirational story
Kozo: Bradley, I love you brother! You know you are part of the gift. I say that cancer is the greatest gift I received in my life. You are part of that gift Bradley. Our connection, our hugs, the way the we interact with each other, the lunches we have together, the time that we spend together. That goes for everybody in the Servicespace community. I can't say how much gratitude I feel for connecting with people through cancer. I know that's an odd thing to say. The Servicespace is so different and so powerful that, what some people consider as tragedies, or what some people consider as bad things actually become opportunities, ripples and beautiful expressions of love and compassion. Just to be part of that in any small way has been the most rewarding thing that I’ve experienced in this manifestation. So thank you Bradley, I love you!
Bradley: As Pancho talked about Oscar grant and all of that and the one thing I find so endearing and I love is that, and even Makala just said is that, everyone is our brother and everyone is our sister. Doesn't matter what they do. They are all included. Like Makala just said, You never know, terrible things happen and it's an opportunity for something good to come out of it. It reminds me of that prayer someone posted on Servicespace about the Chinese farmer. This farmer took everything in, bad and the good with 'may be'.
Nipun: Thank You! Indeed all of us connecting with each other help us say," may be" in those moments. Helps us be balanced and resilient. That's I think the power of community. Bradley, I think was at the Karma Kitchen last week. Someone asked, " What do you do?" he says, " Well I teach math and I have been teaching for 15 years. But really I teach kindness." Man that's true of Bradley and if you've met any of his kids. So thank Bradley for being that change in so many ways. I appreciate you.
We have a question. This is from Ari. Ari says, "Have there been instances where I can think of, where a collective act of kindness was received as something hurtful? What did you learn from it? I sometimes am fearful of doing an act of kindness. Fearful that I may have opposite effect of making people around me feel awkward or even making the other person all like they should return the favor. Do you have any suggestions to overcome these fears?
This is a great question. We will leave it out to the posse. But I remember I was in Surat, one of the smaller cities in India. This was may be two years ago. There was this was a monk looking figure that knocked at my window and he was asking for something. As he asked for something, I opened up a box, somebody had given me a box of sweets, took out one of the sweets. It was something that I loved. So I wanted to give him something I loved. So I take out a piece and he receives it in his right hand. So I thought, " Great! I gave him something." So I rolled up window and right as I look back at him, he takes this piece of sweet and he throws it on the ground. My first thought was like, "Oh my God! Why did that guy take it if he just wanted to throw it onto the ground?" My second thought was, " May be it's meant for the ants on the ground. And he was just the instrument. I gave him with all my heart and I gave with Love. He received it. I don't know how he received it. May be he received it with all his heart too. Who knows? And then he threw it away. And then transformed it. It went where it needed to go." And that kind of detachment always helped me. But we will leave this as a question for the people to reflect on as well.
Kozo: I have done the exact same thing. In holiday season, people often gift chocolates or candy or sweets or stuff like that. I have new view of sugar. Sugar is one of the main causes of cancer. So I've taken the gift of sugar or candy and received it. I know that person really wanted to give it to me. And then when they turned around, I threw it away. There is a piece there. We don't really understand what's the reason they do that for. But they received it.
Nipun: I think that's the generosity of spirit is to welcome it. You give with the greatest of your capacity and then you let the outcomes fall where they need fall. It is great to know that you've done that too. So now I love that monk even more!
Pavi: It's been beautiful to hear everyone's stories. It all starts with gratitude to be connected with in this way. This is sort of related. I think it happened last week. I was walking on the street. I was on an errand, a little bit distracted in my head. And this woman was crossing and she was on her cell phone. And I smiled at her in somewhat distracted way. She smiled back and then she said, " You know, I don't like you either." I wasn't sure whether she was talking to me or if she was talking to someone on the phone. It's definitely me. Her eyes were locked on mine. So it's not a stretch to imagine that it was directed at me. But it was just beautiful to just watch what was happening, and I was surprised by it. Immediately realizing that I've been distracted and I could have been more present even in my smile. Whoever she was talking to, whether it was someone on the phone or me, there is some negativity in her that's coming out. The negativity was going to stop with me and dissolve with me. It wasn't going to go anywhere. It wasn't going to hook into anything.
I realized that, that isn't my strength, but that is the strength of what I am surrounded by. That I have so many instances of people who are able, like Pancho and Kozo and so many others in the ecosystem, who just are that force in the world everyday. These stories that we hear day in day out, they become our filters in a very subconscious way. It's almost without our meaning for that to happen, which is why they are so powerful. It can work for you or against it depending the stories that you are surrounded by and the kind of stories you look for. To me that really speaks to the power of what Daily Good is and what it does. We revive emails almost everyday from somebody who has a toxic work place or difficult relationship or recovering from an illness or facing some kind of deep trauma in their life. You open this email, first thing in the morning; it's what they share on their bulletin board of schools or what they pass onto patients in their hospitals. It's amazing to see people reflecting this light out. How much of a difference it makes! We had a mail on December 31st from an academic in a college out in the East Coast who wants to become a volunteer. She says, “I am a teacher of environmental sciences and I greatly appreciate the Daily Good Emails and have been helped through during the dark times by many of them." That's just a recurring theme of what we hear from people around Daily Good.
Sometimes we forget that these go out all over the world, 6000+ people. You are thinking of the guy in Fiji Island, who doesn't have a Facebook account or twitter account or any other social account, but says" I am proud to say that I am affiliated with you guys during the later years of my life. I wish to meet all of you. Please hug every volunteer and tell them that their work is being used to inspire people and make their life a little better." Again, there are so many stories looking back on the past year.. It's a platform to be vocal in times of beauty. When we hear or run across a story or know someone who is being the change, we have a little megaphone, to spread that out.
We received from another Servicespace volunteer. He passed on a piece by a friend of his who was a neuroscientist at Stanford, who was in the last stages of cancer. He had written this beautiful essay of reflection on mortality, of life and death. Beautiful essay titled, ‘Before I go'. We had that opportunity to run that piece the day he ended up succumbing to the illness and run the piece before his memorial service. The spirit of his life, the spirit of his message went out in these beautiful ways, touched his wife, his family and so many others beyond that.
There is another guy who wrote in earlier last year, who is a Sufi songwriter. He had written a song called" Black Madonna", based on a true life story of an African American mother, who lost her 18 year old son. He was killed by two people out of racial hatred, for no reason but the color of his skin. At the trial there is this electrifying moment where the mother says to the two who beat her son to death, " As a mother I forgive you". It's a beautiful song that he had written that we were able to share on Daily Good. He was just overwhelmed by people’s responses and then he ended up coming to Karma Kitchen and finding out about Nimo and just understanding this whole ecology. Daily Good is just one piece of a puzzle. It blows people away when they realize that what they thought was an entire continent is really just small stand in a much bigger tapestry. That same song writer now is just like, we just got an email just a couple of weeks ago where he is wanting to learn everything he can about the gift ecology so he can start to anchor his own work in that way.
Another quick story, with Daily Good, we for several years now have been syndicating with different other news platforms, other resonant columnists, writers, authors, who offer up their content again in the spirit of a gift, that we host on our site instead of linking it up so people can stay within this environment of goodness. We had a mail that came in several months ago from one of our long time syndication partners, who runs a very well respected and valuable content. It’s a beautiful sense that she brings to the world. It's on art, philosophy and science and life and everything in between. We syndicate from her regularly. She wrote a really sweet note saying, "it's been x number of years since we were in touch and It's been a pleasure to have the syndication partnership, but when I first started my posts were two hundred words each. Now they are 2000 words each. I do this full time. It's a labor of love and it's my main sustenance and I can no longer offer it in this way. I can offer a part or segment of the story and you can link up the rest. And I hope that's an arrangement that will work."
The response she got was a sweet note that said, “Thank you so much for the valuable work that you are doing and we much appreciate it. And we have taken you off of our list of content partners and we made a contribution to ripple out your work in the world."
Her response to that was, " Oh no! I didn't mean for that. Isn't there some middle ground?"
She got another mail back sweetly explaining that it's not a transactional thing and everything that is offered is in the spirit of gift and it goes out in that way and sort of a short explanation of rather incredible mechanics behind Daily Good. Immediately he response was," Forget everything else I just said and id you still would like it please takes it all. I am just so grateful this type of work exists in the world. Thank you so much for what you are doing." That kind of about turn that this person did, that goes to the core of al the work that Servicespace does. It holds a certain space of integrity in a world that is full of compromises. There is rational behind all the compromises, there is truth in the darkness, there is truth in the shadow, but yet to have place that doesn't deny those realities but is anchored itself in this way. Nipun was using this phrase yesterday, it's a safe haven in many more ways that we each imagine as we do our little piece, shine our little piece of the ecosystem. But I. just so grateful for what it brings into my life on a daily basis. You would think that, being immersed in it, a call like this wouldn't be anything new, but every time I hear the stories and every time it blows you all over again. So thank you so much for keeping it fresh.
Nipun: You are a big part of to. Certainly Daily Good is a big part of it. But you yourself are a big part of it. Moving from transaction to trust and from love to even greater Love. Thank you, Pavi!
Those are fantastic stories. And Pavi is no stranger to anyone.
Gang of six: In our circle of sharing, you guys are going to do mini circle of sharing, I presume!
Audrey: Yeah, yeah!
Nipun: I that the famous blogger named Audrey Lin?
Audrey: It's been really sweet to hear. I have been picturing all the different corners of the world lighting up with these stories. I just wanted to share one story that happened today. I have been here volunteering of the last month or so. We are in Ahmedabad in India and this morning a bunch of us were at the Sanitation institute at the Gandhi Ashram and we are painting these rooms. There’s going to be a festival where there is going to be a kindness corner. There’s this idea to keep these rooms as a decorative part of it. Kushmita, who is sitting next to me, had this idea to get ribbon to go with different colors of the room. So we just went on a little errand to get some ribbon. We go to this tiny shop, with bunch of fabrics and hair clips and ribbons, tucked in the corner with dust on them. Kushmita is asking the storeowner, do you any ribbons? And she pulls out all the ribbons that they have, may be about 10 spools. So we pick the colors and they are rolling it up for us. Meanwhile Kushmita is engaging in a conversation with the shopkeeper and she is telling us about her family and Kushmita is from this other city, "oh! My sister- n- law in in there and they have those temple. She is showing who her family is. Thy are just having this sweet conversation and Kushmita whips up these two heart pins and right when we were leaving we just pin the heart pin on each of them, the mother and daughter duo. It wasn't so much of what was exchanged, and I couldn't understand a lot of it anyway. But there is this openness. And as we were leaving, the mother is inviting us for chai. And it was this moment, just as Pavi was saying, being vocal in times of beauty or even just having eyes to see those moments of beauty. It was such a small errand, may be like 15 minutes and we were like we should get back and at the same time there is this expansiveness. Just a simple conversation and just seeing these two people whose lives converged at one moment. I feel like lot of times when I'm in this space it teaches me to notice those small things and really shifts my lens on the world. I am so grateful for this call and all of you.
Nipun: Awesome! Good to her your voice all the way from other side of the planet. Who else is indoor mini huddle circle there?
Birju: Just to announce who is sitting here with joy. We have Sheetal, Kushmita, Ann Marie, Audrey and me.
Two quick stories that come to mind. This year, I got married. I think most if not all of you know my wife. One of the projects the she was grateful to volunteer is the laddership circles. So this year one of the leadership circles took place right around the time that we were getting married. And one of the gift that we received was from one of the people whoa was participating in that circle with me. Anne Marie, my wife is a nurse. So what we received as a gift was this woman going to the hospital and doing acts of kindness and compassion as a way to honor our commitment to each other. And just reflecting on the kind of gifts that we get to receive by being part of this space, being so personally meaningful as a result of engaging in these kinds of projects. On one hand it's vey personal and on another hand, another project that I have been trying to incubate more as a connection business world, is something we've been calling, "wellbeing in business lab". We piloted this program of getting 40 entrepreneurs in Oakland together to start to acknowledge that sustainability doesn't speak to the longing in our hearts, even in the business world. We want to evolve. We want to move towards values of unconditional love. And what does that look like. We had bunch of sessions. One of the sessions we had Pavi come in and share about what it's like to think in a love oriented way as it relates to Arvind Eye care center. And so one of openings we saw happening here, bunch entrepreneurs, bunch of business owners, one of the people there is one of the senior leaders at Kaiser Permanente, which is one of the larger health care providers in US. It's got something like 200,000 employees and it touches something like 10 million people. And this is a hospital. He is responsible for their strategy. He was telling us that several years ago the way that this hospital would share the message was basically, "look when you are sick come here and we will treat you. This is a place for youth go to be fixed when you are broken." Somewhere around 10 years ago, they shifted. They had this epiphany and they changed their strategy. So all their marketing work and the way that they operated moved towards prevention. They talked about diet and exercise. So different from the, wait till you are broken and come here. He was sharing this as a context to say, now is when the next evolution as a company is going to happen. They moved from diet and exercise as their mantra to inner transformation as their mantra. And the way that they are sharing it is, kindness, gratitude and mindfulness create the conditions for health and we want all of our community to be practicing. It is just wild to think about what that's going to lead to in terms of people being touched. So, small and large, just found a lot of value in what 2015 have brought in my life.
Nipun: It's beautiful! Birju, speaking so crisp and so clear! And that's why you are our star volunteer for Awakin calls whenever you are not in India. Thank you so much for sharing. That was beautiful!
Kushmita: I can't resist saying, very good! Yay!
Nipun: Kushmita practices laughing yoga and at the end of all the laughing sessions she makes us say, very good! Very good! Yay! Whenever we think of Kushmita, we think of very good! Very good! Yay!
Kushmita: Feeling really nice being here today with five of us in this room and listening to stories from across the world. We have been having lot of Moved by Love retreats in Ahmedabad, in the space we are in currently at the ESI campus. One story that really moved me this year was from one of the retreats, a month or two ago. This person called Mihir is from Surat. He was sharing how he was on a train and how crowded it is. In India trains are really really crowded. Mostly when station arrives, people who are on board, they are in a hurry to get down and people who are standing in the stationary in a hurry to get on. Usually there is a lot of pushing and people fighting, because everyone wants to be on board almost immediately. So he was part of this whole commotion at this station where people were trying to get off the train and were pushing the people who were trying to get on the train. There was al to of negativity and arguments happening. After this whole push and pull business ended, people got on board and they sat down. There’s a lot of anguish in the people because they just kept telling among themselves, "oh! The people who were getting off were so not sensitive and they were not allowing us to get n board the train." And Mihir was watching all this and was feeling this negativity in the entire compartment of the train. He asked himself in that moment. What inside me is causing this negativity? What inside me can heal this pain? So coming from that space of love he decoded to experiment with something in that compartment in that moment. In India usually there are people who sell tea in the compartment. So he called one of the fellows and he said that, "I want you to serve tea to every person sitting in this compartment." That could easily be more than 100 - 200 people. He said," I want you to serve tea for everyone. I will pay for it. But don't let them know who paid for it." So initially the tea seller thought that he was crazy and gave him that look of why do you want to do this? Mihir was just like "I really was to see what happens. “After a lot of reluctance he agreed to do it and he starts serving tea to one by one by saying, " I just want to offer this to you and I will not take money from you." There were a lot of shock expressions from the passengers. Why would anyone serve tea for free in an Indian train compartment? People initially just refused the cup of tea thinking that there is something wrong with the man or there is something wrong with the tea. After couple people passed on the offer, some people start accepting the tea. Many people start taking tea from the vender and thank him for this unexpected gesture of generosity and love. It's amazing how by the time he reaches the end of the compartment, serving tea to more than a 100 people, there is actually joy that is running through the compartment. Suddenly the conversation shifted from painful exit and entry on to the train compartment to more like, "Look at this noble chai seller! How beautiful he is, and how is serving tea and not expecting any monitory returns." After almost 30 minutes of this whole tea business, Mihir is smiling big as he could see that there has been a shift in the entire conversation and energy of the compartment. Everyone was happy again. At the end of it, the chai fellow looks at him and give him a look with a smile as if to say, ‘Now I understand what you were trying to say." that was the end of their interaction.
It was so beautiful to see how when he brought the change within he created the change for the entire compartment. Grateful for all these little stories of love that gently shake our world.
Nipun: Totally! That's an amazing story. Thank you Kushmita for sharing it. It's so emblematic of, I think, a lot of our shared values. That when you see negativity on the outside, can you recognize its source within you? Can you have the courage and the strength to turn it within you and then the compassion to let it ripple outside? I think in that the story Mihir does all of the things. It's a great story and a great example for all of us. If Mihir is listening, we love you Mihir!
Thank you guys! Thank you for chiming in and for being partners in service for so many beautiful ripples no matter where you are in the world. Really appreciate it.
Guri: it's been so awesome listening to everybody and the stories and still thinking about Kushmita's story about the tea. I am just trying to imagine my head. I have been in Indian train many many times. The story that I wanted to share... it was really hard to narrow down to one. I have been really involved in Kindspring this year. Kindspring is just one big heart. There is really so much you can share. But one of the stories that really touched me this year and when I got this email about the Awakin call, I think that was the one that just came to my mind. This is about a woman living in California, who was diagnosed with Leukemia. She was in her 60's. Pretty much her last hope was a bone marrow transplant. She was able to find a match, but that person was in Germany. And that lady had signed up to be a donor many years before. It was to help this child and she wasn't a match for that child, but she ended up being a match for this woman. She donated her bone marrow for this woman and this woman had full recovery after the transplant was performed. And several years later she wanted to visit Germany to thank this donor in person. She found this lady, and flew over from California to Germany and found that she received the request for the bone marrow transplant two days before her wedding and she said yes. Few weeks later, as a newly wed, was when she went through this transplant. It is just amazing to hear the story and they posted a photo of them together on Kindspring. And it was just so heart warming that two complete strangers can connect in something so drastic like that. I think Kindspring is just ... it's been one of those things that, you see so much happening in the world and you see that there is such a great need for more and more of this. And how do you really bring that out? I feel like even looking at the last decade, the conversation around random acts of kindness, around pay it forward is changing so much. When we try to highlight stories on Daily Good on this or on Help Others, it used to take a long time for us to find those things and now there is such a huge shift in the conversation where literally people are impacting the media with what they are reading. So the more stuff that we put out here the more it starts to change the global conversation.
I had a chance to talk to a writer from the Today's show who highlighted Kindspring on their website this past holiday season. And I was telling her that, it's great and we really appreciate that she is helping be a part of the change, of this narrative, to see mainstream media highlighting stories like that. She sent me a link back that gave me so much hope. I was just telling her that I see Today's show highlighting a lot more of this. And we ended up actually becoming a syndication partners with them for Daily Good. She sent me a link back which was- todaysshow.com/kindness. Where they have a whole section just around it. I feel like sometimes we think of kindness as such a gentle work. It just is sort of common sense. But when we see the stories that come around it as some other writers as well as readers around the site, I feel like people either come to it because they are in the place and brimming over and offering smooch hope. And this is the place for them to share. And sometimes it feels like people are going through something in their lives and they really need this. So it goes through such a dramatic spectrum, but its nice to see everyone coming together and holding that space for one another in that way.
Nipun: That's total awesome! It's amazing how the small things can really change us. Last night I had a dream. And in my dream I was with these strangers and I overheard them share a story of how they needed ride to get somewhere and they were asking me. I was like, “You know I could just drop you off." It's awesome to do a random act of kindness even in your dreams. I think these stories don't just change the media scape, but ultimately change our mindscape and heartscape. So it's really powerful. Thank you for bringing in the story number 2 of Mish's twelve.
Guri: Just one last quick comment. You listen to the stories, of course like 100,000 stories of kindness that are shared on the site now. The 21 day challenges, it is amazing to hear some of the reflections that people have based on taking the challenges and how much of the world view changes because of it. I'll just leave it at that.
German: thank you for taking my call. I really appreciate this.
Nipun: Herman, you are the man behind the scene majority of the weeks for the whole year. It is so awesome that we finally get you on the call. It is so fitting that you are our concluding caller. Thank you for everything you do and you have done for the last year with the audio with the streaming and making these Awakin calls accessible for lot more people.
German: That means a lot to me Nipun, thank you. There are many other people that are not as visible as me. What I wanted to share is .. I heard about Servicespce indirectly through my friend and who introduced me to Richard Whitaker and we had a conversation. When he mentioned about Awakin Wednesdays and meditations, I just felt very curious and came to one of those meditations. I guess what I want to shares that, this experience of love and kindness... you have to be touched by them to see what that can really do for you. When you hear about it, its completely different. When you are there and you are the recipient or the witness of one of these moments of people being honest and human and just sharing the commonality of needing love and to be loved. It's just really touching and the story that I would like to share is directly related to this. We went to a dinner with a couple friends. About 15 minutes to twelve, my friend said, “You now I am going to call my friend across the street. They are an elderly couple. She smoked her whole and needs oxygen. She is 85 years old and her husband is just as old and they would love to receive this call. May be we can go and visit them across the street." My friend called and they were already impressed and they pull themselves together and we get there 10- 15 minutes later and we ended up having and witnessing an incredible experience where these people were completely touched by us coming over with a guitar and she started singing in German. Remembering the song that my friend on the guitar was playing for her, I could tell how the words were coming to her mind slowly as the song was progressing. I could see an incredible moment of importance to this woman that suddenly has an opportunity to revisit something that is very cherished and very friendly and loved part of her life. I don't think I would have been able to appreciate this or be touched by this without the training and the exposure that I've gotten, through Servicespace, though all of these incredible stories and experiences. Just to close, I want to say that, just like the fear and the concern for the world is shared through the media and they seem to really concentrate on that, sharing these stories and love is also creating a gigantic ripple that now is a quiet revolution. But it is happening! I just can't thank everybody enough.
Nipun: Thank you. What a great way to conclude our call. This is a quiet revolution. The quiet revolution of holding space with each other, of sharing stories, of goodness and amplifying that goodness in the world, of even as German rightly pointed out that, if it isn't for this kind of training, of listening, of amplifying and supporting we would miss out these experiences like you going to your friends neighbor's house. We are helping each other become more sensitive. It is nothing short of a quiet revolution. Thank German. Thank you all the callers. Thank you everybody for being the change. I think that's the seed for what we are talking about here. Thank you for letting that ripple out and thank you for encouraging it in all of us. Certainly for these last 90 minutes. On our back end, Kozo shared a really great comment. He says, this is by far the best Awakin call of 2016!!!!! Of course our first call of 2016, but it is really beautiful to start it off in this way. Kozo and Deven any closing thoughts before we do a minute of silence?
Kozo: we are the stories we tell! Wow! We are love, kindness and compassion right now. So thank you.
Deven: The call that comes to me Kozo and Nipun is the call with Elisabet Sahtoris about 6 or 8 months ago. She had this beautiful metaphor. The caterpillar is so much more than it's own body weight and so much that it goes into hibernation to die. There are few cells along the way that try to actually do something proactively and the body of the caterpillar is actually try to fight them. But the cells keep doing what they are doing anyway without even coordinating with each other. Before you know it, the cells are moving in a pattern and transformation happens in that the butterfly actually starts flying. Her metaphor was that we are actually in that process right now, where we all need to act little bit on our own and I like to say that all of us Servicespace volunteers and for all of our people in this huge ecosystem that we have cultivating now, we are like those cells, doing it here and there and I am convinced that it is paving the way for transformation. How fitting to say, change yourself and change the world. I love Awakin calls and the opportunity that we have to listen to so many insights and so many powerful speakers. So deep sense of gratitude fro all of that as well.
Nipun: Beautiful! Thank you Deven fro helping us open and close and Thank you Kozo for leading your life with courage and for sharing that.