Awakin gatherings are a grassroots expression of spirituality, service
and gratitude. It started in an simple living room, proposes no particular teaching and attracts a unique combination of people every week. Our general format is an hour of silent meditation, followed by another hour of sharing thoughts, and then a vegetarian dinner in silence.
- History: It was started by Nipun, Guri, and Harshida ("CF mom") in late 1996. There hasn't been any business plans or done any outreach; it's just been word of "mouse". People come to Awakin Wednesdays in all kinds of interesting ways -- "while I was hiking in the Grand Canyon", "the guy next to me on the plane told me about it", "I overhead a conversation at the coffee shop", "a homeless guy told me about it", "my interviewer at Microsoft told me about it; I didn't get that job but I got directions to this house!"; and so on. We can't say we understand how its all emerging, but we don't even try anymore. It's simply a glimpse into the miracle of inter-connectedness that is present in our every waking moment.
- Guest Speakers: when inspiring people come through the doors, we often offer them the second hour to share their life journey. Wide range of folks from the last active disciple of Gandhi, Zen master Les Kaye (official successor of Shunryu Suzuki), World Woman of Peace, famous authors like Deepak Chopra, incredible pilgrims like Satish Kumar and Rev. Heng Sure, social artists, religious leaders, inspired musicians and everyday heroes who go out on a limb to be the change.
- Audience: the size varies based on location, but in the bay-area where it started, we cap it at 65 guests each week (and there's typically a waitlist every week). For guest speaker events, we try to cram in about 100 folks. :) Paul van Slambrouck describes a typical feel: "The circle is diverse and what happens is unorchestrated. Some will decline to speak; some will share. A millionaire, a jobless graduate, a mother of four may be sitting next to each other. In a Wednesday circle, it makes no difference. This is a place awash in generosity. It is the spirit that makes it happen and it is the spirit in which people attend and share. It is palpable, like walking deep into a darkened cathedral, or staring at the stars from a mountain campground. This is a place where the sharing is felt, even without words. Those that pass the microphone without saying a word are every bit a part of what is happening collectively. Everyone is part of a space where words and silence mean something and where the demarcation of the individual seems to fall away. The silos give way to a circle. In the sharing there is a heightened sense of being."
- Background: Many attendees are also loosely affiliated as volunteers of a nonprofit organization called ServiceSpace. Started in April 1999, ServiceSpace is a volunteer run organization that leverages technology to promote the ancient idea of a gift-economy. With over 400 thousand members worldwide, it has become a movement around the ideal of giftivism, but because of its defining trait of being fully volunteer-run and having very little overhead, it stays keep things simple and focuses on inner transformation over external impact.
Please feel free to email Nipun