Speaker: Vidya Shah and Amit Bhatia

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Guest: Vidya Shah and Amit Bhatia

Host: Rohit

Moderator: Burju Pandya

Rohit: Good morning and good evening. My name is Rohit and I'm your host for today’s Awakin Talk. Welcome and thank you for joining us. Awakin Talks is a space where we hold conversations with individuals whose inner journey inspires us and whose work is transforming our world in large and small ways. Awakin Talks are an all-volunteer-run offering of ServiceSpace, a global platform founded on the simple principle that by changing ourselves, we change the world to create a more compassionate and service-oriented society. Thank you for joining us today!

The theme we want to explore is “How much is enough” with Vidya Shah and Amit Bhatia and moderated by Birju Pandya. We'll start with a minute of silence to anchor ourselves in the present moment. Thank you!

Now, I would like to invite a dear friend, Trupti who is a psychologist, healer, and a community servant working with children with special needs to open our day today with a song offering. Trupti herself has had an inspiring journey with the question of ‘How Much is Enough’, including when a year and a half ago, she, along with her sister embarked on a 3,400 kilometer long walking pilgrimage, along the river Narmada in India, with almost no money and resources, to grow in the inner wealth of surrender and grace, relying upon the kindness of others for their day to day survival. 

And the song Trupti is going to offer is a Gujarati song called Ochintu by poet Dhruv Bhatt, which speaks of the benevolence of nature (kudrat ni rehem) and the joy of being alive. While walking along the banks of the river Narmada, Dhruv Bhatt once came across a farmer working in his field under a blazing sun. When he asked him how he was doing, the farmer turned to him with a thousand watt smile, and replied with no hint of self-pity, that he was full of joy! That moved something internally for Dhruv dada, who was in his own pilgrimage at that time, in his attitude to the farmer, and to himself, and inspired this poem. Over to Trupti and thank you so much for joining us!

Trupti: Thank you, Rohit. 

[Trupti sings: Ochintu koi mane raste made ne kadi, dheere thi poochhe ke kem chhe. To aapne to kahiye ke dariya si mauj maan, ne upar thi kudrat ni rehem chhe.

Phaatela khissa ni aad maan muki chhe ame, chhalkaati malkaati mauj. Eklo ubhun ne toye mela maan houn, evun laagya kare chhe mane roj. Taalu vasaaye nahin evadi pataari maan, aapno khajaano hem-khem chhe. Aapne to kahiye ke dariya si mauj maan…

Aankhon maan paani to aave ne jaaye, nathi bheetar bheenaash thathi ochhi. Vadh ghat no kaanthaao raakhe hisaab nathi, parvaah samandar ne hoti. Sooraj to uge ane aathmiye jaaye, maari upar aakaash em-nem chhe. Aapne to kahiye ke dariya si mauj maan...

Rohit: Thank you, Trupti, for that beautiful offering.  “The shore may keep track of the waves, but the ocean does not keep track.” Thank you. 

With that I'll just take the opportunity to invite Birju, someone who I feel deeply inspired by.  He is an MBA from Columbia Business School, and he started his work as a consultant at McKinsey. And after that, he spent a lot of time working in finance. One of the first stories which I heard about Birju, which really took me by surprise was that he was working at an impact investment fund. And after his first year, his boss comes and tells him, “Birju, you’ve done well. So, what do you want?” Which is like a quintessential blank cheque of investment banking. Birju thought for a bit, he paused for a minute, and then he said, “What I really want is a minute of silence in all our team meetings.” 

I don't know what got Birju to say that, but it didn't take much time for his boss to say no. But he thought for a bit, and the next day, he came back and said, “We'll do that. This is really an awkward ask, when we bill every minute, to ask for a minute of silence at all our meetings, but if this is really what you want, I'll give it to you.” And then that minute, turned to two minutes, turned to five minutes and they started doing 30 minutes once a week and it didn't stop there. It went further beyond, where they started doing acts of kindness as a team.  And yeah, as he says, those investment bankers started talking about their feelings and it even rippled out into the way they engaged with their clients and everything.

And, that is, I think, a great manifestation of Birju’s interest in the field of integrated capital: how do we use money capital to cultivate other forms of, non-financial forms of capital? And Birju, we are delighted to have you join today from California, and over to you for the conversation.

Thank you.

Birju Pandya: Thank you so much, Rohit, for such a kindhearted introduction, building off the blessings from the heart of Trupti. I’m feeling really grateful for that as we continue this conversation. And really excited to be in dialogue with two leaders in impact and social enterprise. I'll just add a little bit for transparency's sake: I'm calling today from my kitchen and because I don't want to be sharing that as a background, you have this lovely librarian context that I'll be sharing from today. I'm going to offer a bit of opening remarks and then try to create as much space for our guests to offer.

In this community, my sense is that in some ways it's taken for granted that there's more to life than making money alone. That being said, basically everyone, at least that I know, uses money to address our lifestyle requirements. So, how do we engage with that process by which money enters into our lives? Part of my work in the world is engaging with people who are asking that question in their lives.


And I have seen that there's as many approaches to addressing it as there are people. I've seen people look to do good in the world now. I've seen folks try to think about making their money now and then giving it away when they are in a position to be able to do so; others who look to integrate perspectives and still others who ask questions of how to transcend the system itself.


One of the people in our broader community took me for a walk on his farm, I would say about eight years ago. And he showed me a tree that was growing quickly because of the high quality soil that he had cultivated there and he pointed to it and he said, "Do you see this tree? I can cut it down right now. And within one year I'll have another tree just like it. And I can sell this tree right now and I'll get about $1,500. I can go on a European vacation, but then as I reflect, I realized that the money is worth less to me than the tree. The tree is enough. And so I don't cut it down." And I'm curious about what happens inside of a person to start seeing the world in this way.


What are the inner paths that led to our guests living lives that are veering away from the dominant paradigm and serving as beacons for others in their own journey. How does wealth relate to satisfaction and joy? Can livelihood be an expression of higher purpose? And can we design for not just the development of our heads, but also the hands and the heart? 


Our guests today are living into those types of questions now in their organizational leadership roles. Vidya Shah heads EdelGive foundation and is a well known woman leader in finance outside of that. Amit Bhatia has started multiple organizations in impact investing and social enterprise, including Aspire and GSGII. And he's led multiple organizations in the business world before that. Thank you both for joining us in conversation today. So with that as a little context Vidya I'd love to offer you the floor first, perhaps just sharing a little bit of initial thoughts on this context and topic as you feel appropriate.


Vidya: Birju, Thank you so very much, you know, I've enjoyed every minute, so far, including the lovely poem that Trupti offered to us. As I was thinking about the topic of conversation today, actually, yesterday -- it was Jagjit Singh, who's a very, very famous and incredibly great human being, a Ghazal singer and, much more than that. It was his death anniversary yesterday.


So I was only listening to him yesterday and one of his pieces is so beautiful. It's by a poet called Nidaf Azli and it's in Hindu-Urdu, but I'm sure most of us can understand it. It says: “Duniya jise kehte hain jaadoo ka khilona hain, miljaye tho mitti hain kho jayen tho sona hain.” (Translation: What is called the world is a magical toy; if one gets it, it is mud, if one loses it, it is gold)


So you know, you may get the world, but if you get it, it is worthless. And when you lose it, then you start realizing its value. So pretty much I think a lot of the questions we're all surrounding ourselves today, especially about “how much is enough” -- It'll never be enough, seems to be the answer that all our saints keep telling us. And the idea is therefore to keep going within and answer the question for yourself, rather than, saying, “When this much is there, I'll be happy,” because that limit always keeps pushing away as time goes by.


A lot of the way I've been thinking over the last 10 to 12 years actually have been shaped by my journey at Edelweiss and EdelGive. The reason a financial services company, like Edelweiss set up something like Edelgive was largely because, as part of the founding team, we all came from very simple families. And we had the gift of parents who were forward-looking; of education; of being in India at the right time, at the right place. And these are all things that are gifts from the divine.


And we felt therefore the earlier we give back -- and we call it "investing back" and not really giving back even though we are called Edelgive. But, the earlier we do that, the better it is, for just keeping ourselves rooted -- because there's also the story about the Roman empire - when an emperor would come into the city having won a big conquest, there would always be a slave whispering in his ear "Memento mori, memento mori" reminding the emperor that he is only a mortal, he is a mere mortal. And I think these are things that defined how we started thinking about not just the business, but also about how we wanted to run other parts of our life.


And so we set up the foundation because we were very acutely aware that equal opportunity is one of the biggest gifts we can give to people around us, and that access to opportunities, and this is of all kinds, whether it's an access to a livelihood or access to a good quality education -- this is what holds a lot of us back and keeps us in poverty. And that was really the thinking behind EdelGive. But along the way, I've just been very fortunate to be with people who I think are just made differently and I've just been incredibly so lucky about that. 


So a lot of my journey with Edelgive also began with I think - they must be in some way part of this - but Nimesh Bhai (Nimesh Shah) and Ramesh Uncle were part of CaringFriends who really really looked at philanthropy in a very, very different way and actually got me off on that journey, and the way they thought and what they read influenced me a lot. At the same time, I've just been lucky to be around great teachers, like my yoga teacher who also introduced me to the YogaSutras. So a lot of how I've been thinking has been conditioned by that.


But recently I think there are two things that have been weighing on my mind, particularly induced by so much distress, human distress that we've seen, in this time of COVID. I went back to using this time of working from home also to look at other things to draw on, learn, and read. And I came across a course Science of Well Being on Coursera that's run by a Yale professor, a young professor called Laurie Santos, who runs a course on positive psychology and a lot of what she said actually exists in our religious texts, but there's now this huge Western lens on happiness. So she runs this course for freshmen students at Yale because there's very high rates of depression among college students, I think all over the world, but particularly in the United States. And a lot of the concepts she was sharing about gratitude, about writing a gratitude note to others everyday, savouring experiences, and this whole thing about the world today is a place of social comparison, you're always comparing. There's a lot of mis-wanting, you're looking at wanting things rather than experiences. And even things like, performing random acts of kindness, just being kind to people around you or just making a social connection. I think these are things that she really explored in depth.


I also, came across Professor Martin Seligman’s work on Positive Psychology, who really emphasized different ways of being happy. You can have a pleasant life, which is - you're always wanting something next to keep you happier. It could be a car or a home, but still it's just that next thing. A bigger car, maybe. Or it could be engagement where you actually immerse yourself in something, could be learning a new language and learning music, or it could be purpose. I think, everywhere, the world around we're coming back to purpose. And what is that purpose? What is that meaning you want to find in life, which has to be beyond the material, beyond aspiring to a certain number or a certain rank in different lists that keep floating around ?


And then you have, people like Michael Norton, who have done so much research on how just giving gives you that happiness. He says, money can buy happiness if you spend it on others, So I think these are the new things I started getting exposed to.


And then I went back and I said, if you look at all our texts, across the different philosophers in the South Asian region, right from Rumi to, to Khusroa, to Kabir, to everybody, it just keeps coming. Even our basic Hindu Texts of Mahabharata (and the Gita), the Ramayana, everything sort of comes back to asking what is your purpose going to be beyond your job or your life. And in a way, can that livelihood in itself, provide that meaning to you, rather than saying I have purpose and then I have a job. So how do you co-mingle these things has been a very interesting thing to mull about.


And then I went back to re-reading a book called the "Difficulty of Being Good, because you along with all this distress, you're also seeing this incredible amount of hate in the world. The incredible amount of divide that's pulling us apart creating this narrative of just bad feelings and bad emotions. And he wrote this book because he wanted to focus on the four basic precepts of Artha, Dharma, Kama and Moksha, and this book is about Dharma. And he actually takes us beautifully through different characters of Mahabharata. Like if you look at Duryodhana, in a way embodied envy, and a lot of his downfall, though he was such a great man in terms of his capabilities and intellect was due to that one thing. There is a, there is a line in the book Dhritrashtra telling him that why should you be envying Yudhisthira because you have everything and all you need to do is to walk on the path of the dharma. Even Karna, who is constantly troubled by status anxiety, because he is so acutely aware that he's just a charioteer son. So I think these are these different streams and strands that actually exist in our culture, in our mythology and all we need to do is to keep going back to them and explore them in these beautiful different ways, through poetry, through literature, to be more centered.


So how to keep doing this is something, that I'm still exploring, I'm still in that sense of wanting to know more and exploring more, in order to come to that question of how do you just be good and kind and stick to your dharma, to the meaning and the purpose that you've identified for yourself.


Birju: Thank you so much for that context Vidya. I'm just struck by that quote about how inside of each of us, we contain multitudes as I hear you quoting scriptures and from Western positive psychology.  And recognizing that you also lead an organization and you're bringing that into your work. 


And now, I would love to also hand it off to Amit. It's to share some initial thoughts. Based on your experiences of building and leading impactful organizations, how do you parse these questions?


Amit: Thank you, Birju and Vidya for your wonderful remarks. Good morning friends! Like you all, I am a seeker. And my quest to find an answer to "How Much is Enough?" is best pre-faced by a few short stories that have inspired my decisions.


So let's start there. Almost a 125 years ago in 1893, a young Indian sage Swami Vivekananda stood in Chicago, speaking to an audience of 7,000 and he was there to introduce Hindu religion at the world's first Parliament of Religions.


He spoke off our civilizational idea of inclusion, an idea that is still a work-in-progress. But that summer, Swami Vivekananda met a wealthy American, John D Rockefeller. Vivekananda intrigued and vexed Rockefeller with this view that the money John had accumulated was not his. That he was merely a channel, a trustee and his true duty was to use that money for the good of the society.


John precipitously left the meeting. A week later, unannounced he visited Swami Vivekananda again and placed on his desk, a document, which is a blueprint of his philanthropic plans to build a public institution. We all know what followed -- the creation of Rockefeller foundation amongst the first and finest philanthropic institutions in the world. So just starting off, I can't help, but reflect that it was 125 years ago when in modern capitalism money first found meaning, when profit met purpose.


We're all here today because we believe our life's journey is incomplete if we don't find our own highest purpose, or answer for ourselves "How Much is Enough?"


So let's fast forward, 70 years on to 1963, the great German Nobel Laureate, Heinroch Boll takes us on a bright sunny day to a sea front where a smartly dressed tourist is taking photographs with an expensive camera. He notices a shabbily dressed local fisherman taking a nap in his fishing boat, during work hours, with no care in the world.


He approaches the fishermen and asked him -- why is he lazing in the sun instead of catching fish? The fishermen responds that he has already been out at sea and has enough catch for the next two days. The tourist tells him that if he goes out to catch fish multiple times a day, he would be able to buy a motorboat in less than a year, a second boat in less than two years and so on.


The tourist further explains that one day the fisherman could even build a small cold storage plant, a pickling factory, fly around in a helicopter instructing his fleet, and export lobster directly to Paris without a fish middleman. The nonchalant fishermen asked "Then what?"


The tourist enthusiastically continues, "Then without a care in the world, you could sit in the harbor, doze in the sun and look out at the glorious sea."


"But I'm already doing that", says the fishermen leaving the tourist pensive with envy.


I use this story in my leadership dialogues and ask everyone in the room who'd they rather be? The fishermen or the tourist? The tourist is clearly the modern corporate executive -- workaholic, ambitious, who wants to maximize every day, every hour. Put lofty goals, surpass them. But his critics will tell him "What use is that money if you can't enjoy it - spend time with family, be with yourself, be in the moment? Hear your inner voice and not just the outer din."


We know too many people -- all of us were trying hard to get off that corporate treadmill. Don't we? On the other hand, the fishermen on the idyllic beach may appear content, at peace, with not a worry in the world, making most of the summer and nature. But he's vulnerable, to weather, to health, to family needs, to economic necessities and his critics won't allow him to pass off underachievement as Nirvana.


What would you rather be? The quintessential Aristotleian question "How much is enough?" is about a sustainable balance. It's not about a balance sheet. Neither the tourists, nor the fishermen can truly be the inspiring balance. Which brings me in search for balance, to my third and final contrast -- to Gandhi and Friedman. The world just celebrated and derided 50 years of Friedman's famous New York Times article "The social responsibility of businesses is to make profits". Friedman's philosophy won him a Nobel last century, but today it no longer holds good, even in his own home.


Last year, the CEO's of 181 US companies urged that business must look beyond its goal of profit making. Serve not just the shareholder, but all stakeholders. The purpose of investment too is changing. We can now do good and do well together. That's the reason that between year 2000 to 2020 responsible, sustainable and impact investments have grown from zero to $30 trillion and PRI (Principles for Responsible Investments) signatories account for $90 trillion. Impact can drive profits and need not impair it. 


Gandhi's philosophy was the antithesis of Friedman's Nobel prize winning thesis. Much like Vivekanand, Gandhi believed that we are trustees of the wealth we come upon, and we need to use it to improve the world. I feel Gandhi's vision really took off after he was gone. Vinoba Bhave, the independence activist and Mahatma Gandhi's spiritual successor converted it to Bhoodan (Land Gift) walking around the country for 13 years. And later, with the assistance of Jayaprakash Narayan, extended it to Sampatti-daan (Property Gift). Amongst the big business leaders deeply influenced by this philosophy was JRD Tata (who also vehemently disagreed with these gentlemen). 


In January 1955, as JRD Tata found himself responding to a letter by Jayaprakash Narayan asking him to donate one-sixth of his annual income, he obliged unhesitatingly by donating one-sixth of his income, after correcting his team's calculation upwards, insisting that his one-sixth should include income from all his sources, including all his trusts. But alongside he wrote to JP:  "I must confess..." and I'm quoting, "I must confess that I do not share your understanding of the capitalist system or its place in industry. I sincerely believe that, with adequate safeguards, the cooperative system and evolved capitalism are in their respective fields the most effective, if not the only, forms of economic organizations combining decentralization of economic power with efficiency."


That was 75 years ago, and JRD Tata was espousing the first principles of impact capitalism, that capital plus purpose equals impact. And therein, of all the treaties out there, lies a practical solution to our quest today of finding how much is enough. In fact, by juxtaposing Gandhi's trusteeship with the idea of an impact economy, we can make profit and purpose conjoined twins, balance our inner and outer pursuits, our head and our heart.


So friends, to create a society where all can answer, "How much is enough?" we must focus on the impact economy where impact and economic concepts, like risk and return -- measurable, comparable and empirical measure of benefit to people or the planet -- is a must. 


I'm a child from a refugee family.  My father arrived in India from what is now Pakistan on the Eve of Independence in August 1947 as a 7-year old boy walking miles for days. He landed in Amritsar. Refugee camps were in disarray. He worked as a porter at the Amritsar Railway Station for weeks before the family was relocated. Youngest of seven kids, he studied little.  He learned how to type, write shorthand, and became a lower-division clerk. When he retired 40 years later, he was still typing.  By age 10, I could myself type and change ribbons on a typewriter. My father may have been a simple clerk, but he had a wish. He knew how to disrupt a low-income cycle. He invested in our education at great sacrifice. We lived very humbly, but we went to schools where children of our economic strata won't even dream to go. It had its impact. We did well. I have not forgotten from where I come or the debts I owe.  


In 2007, as I just turned 38, I decided to put half of all of my savings in my charity, Aspire Circle, and my social enterprise, Aspire Impact, and took on the second aimings of my life as I answered, "How much is enough?" for myself. I've been in the impact sector for the last 13-plus years.  In answering that question, I told myself, "I'll give my kids a great education wherever in the world. It changes lives. It will be their inheritance as it was mine.  I will have enough to lead a comfortable life, not a luxurious one, and hopefully have enough for medical exigencies." 


Of course, it took some courage. Walking away from a big fat corporate salary, stock options, and even your identity, is not easy, but liberation comes at a cost. I tell my friends, "Initially, I too missed business-travel privileges, the gold and platinum-card status, the support staff, and the corporate paraphernalia.  But I can tell you, in recent years I ran a global traveling schedule over six months annually without a secretary or travel support. I find myself breaking fixed deposits every quarter as I pay fees for my children. And yet, 13 years into this, when I ask myself, "Is it worth it?" the answer unhesitatingly, every time is, "Yes." And I hope God keeps it that way. And I tell myself, "To learn to fly, first we must learn to break free."


"How much is enough?" will have 8 billion answers for 8 billion people. Bill Gates Giving Pledge is a legendary evolution on what Rockefeller started a 100 years before him. I will leave you with this -- Business and capital can be a force for good. We should not make capital or profits the villain, though we must overthrow the tyranny of unfettered capitalism and profiteering. And the last 13 plus years, I feel gratitude for having founded or set up 4 successful non-profit startups, AspireCircles, India Impact Investors Council, The Global Steering group for Impact Investments and Social Finance India.


I believe the idea of sustainable growth is core to the idea of an impact republic and it is steadily taking shape. We can all only find balance when we restore balance to our unequal world of crushing poverty and catastrophic climate change. The Impact Movement is a renaissance of social, environmental, and economic balance -- all in harmony and proportion ushering in a new form of conscious capitalism- the Impact Economy. We can collectively create an impact economy where the world is in harmony. Everyone has means to answer for themselves how much is enough and this world need not be based on redistribution of income or wealth, on detachment or renunciation.

The pursuit of impact economy is the pursuit of purpose and the pursuit of purpose to my mind, is indeed the highest aspiration of any life well lived. I pray you all embrace the impact revolution and answer how much is enough to find sustainable balance and inner peace. Thank you.

Birju : Beautiful opening comments Amit, thank you so much. I'm touched by hearing both of you describe financial capital in such terms where we start to move away from these polarizing (perspectives) that I heard Vidya speak to, earlier. And it seems a little bit to me, like your own journeys have started walking into this enquiry of how do we depolarize financial capital and start looking at things in different ways as we grow?

And one of the words I heard each of you say that kind of dovetailed together as a listener was the word 'Purpose'. That purpose is what starts unlocking these kinds of insights. So I wanted to just start out my questions at the level of livelihood as it connects to 'Purpose'. I'm curious how each of you would think about how we know that we're doing good work? You know, when we say this idea of purpose -- it sounds so noble, but of course, you know, oil company executives feel that they're helping everyday people get home every day. And nuclear weapons manufacturers feel that they're integral to keeping the world safe. And on the flip side, we can wonder about the real social benefit that even comes from what the world may label philanthropy or impact. And so I'm curious, where do you draw the line to delineate what is purpose-driven and what is not? Either one of you, feel free to share first.

Amit: So Birju, I think this answer is now getting fairly scientific of how do we try to look at our own vocations and livelihoods and what is evolving, and the reason I'm such a big fan of this impact movement is that the impact continuum is the right way to figure out where you lie in your livelihoods; and in your vocation to know how much good you're doing.

The step one really is got to be what the impact world calls 'responsible investing' or responsible business, which is the A of the ABC of impact saying 'avoid harm'. So if an oil company does not understand that fossil fuels are putting carbon in the air, which is causing this climate change and hurricanes and wildfires and droughts and floods, you know they are fooling themselves. So the A of the ABC of impact is we have got to avoid harm.

Then if you want to step up in your life towards purpose in another orbit, then the B is 'benefit all stakeholders', everything that we call green finance, blue finance, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, sustainable fisheries, sustainable forestry is all in this bucket. And that's a step up from the A

And finally, the C of this impact continuum is contribute to solutions. Affordable education, affordable health for the poor, microfinance for financial inclusion, water, sanitation, health. So I think if we are thinking of our jobs and our lives and livelihoods along the continuum,  we will know how much impact we are having and it will not be any longer a mystery, this is getting very scientific.

Vidya:  Amit has put the perspective of capital side of it, really beautifully saying that capital should now start pursuing impact oriented businesses,  livelihood generating opportunities which bring the balance of purpose in business. But if you look at the other side, which is just ordinary people, who just want to get on with their lives and earn a decent livelihood, I always wonder how much choice they have, depending on where they're living or their level of education, where they can really choose a livelihood that is also environmentally friendly  or is purpose driven. So how do you tell an oil rig worker, that this is not really helping the planet. So I think that that is my inner confusion. A lot of the people, for example, that we work with, they are in vocations, not necessarily of their choice and they are in those vocations because those vocations exist and in some ways it is helping the economy, whether they are agrarian workers or they are just head loaders in Surat, lifting bales of cotton on their back or whether they are people who are cleaning the drains at abysmally  low wages, there's a purpose in all of that, but it's not necessarily a purpose of their choice and that is what I keep grappling with. And ultimately, I think it's what Amit said, capital is pursuing opportunities that are providing a return. The people who are behind that capital want a particular kind of return and therefore chase opportunities that provide them that.

How do we get the people with the capital also to start thinking differently and investing more in businesses that balance both, and that is what Amit is doing. It's bringing that thinking back to the capital and that's why I keep pushing -- because if I look at what has happened with migrant labour in the midst of COVID, when they just stopped everything and have gone back, and they will have to return to whatever they left behind, because they have no choice... And that is my struggle, so, ultimately, I think it's the people with the capital, people like us, who have to drive very different choices of the opportunities that capital pursues.

Birju: Thank you both. So, what that brings up in me as a listener, is just reflecting on how the inequities that are present from however the unfettered approach to capitalism has unfolded in the last few decades, how that puts us in a position where most people don't have this financial capital in substantive ways, to be able to implement into the world, and so, I come back to this ServiceSpace kind of view, of small acts. And I'm  just curious to what extent that you've seen those kinds of small acts in your own context, that would support that development of joy or wisdom and insight or compassion in the workplace, such that the oil rig worker who may not have, or may not feel that he or she has, the choice, is actually able to start seeing that there's a lot more than what I choose to do with the larger purpose of my organization. It's not just that. That is of course a piece of it, but I have a choice every moment in terms of how I choose to show up to this workplace. And I'm curious if you guys have any examples from that telescopic lens of things that have touched you in the journey of evolution of people?

Vidya: This whole concept of random acts of kindness, really touches me and I feel that it can become a very good habit. It can start by being an exercise but then I've seen that the brain just starts doing it automatically like smiling at somebody. You automatically start to smile at somebody who's just trying to check your temperature, as you're getting into your office or somebody who is opening the lift doors for you, because that's his job. So, I think it's very great, if we can do it even as an exercise initially, so that with practice it just becomes automatic. And you don't have to even think, and it just starts changing how you look, how you behave because you are smiling more. You are appreciating more, and savouring all the gifts that we've had, just automatically. It's such a fantastic feeling to just wake up in the morning and just look at the sun and say "you rose and so I exist". I think these small things are great and to share them has been my particular joy.

And when we started Edelgive, one of the things we said is we didn't want to be sitting separately from the corporate saying, okay, this is a small bunch of people who is trying to do a set of things. As we want to create that bridge with now 10,000 odd employees that we have at Edelweiss, so we actually created a bridge by saying, come and help us build the capacity of these non-profits. And we've had an incredible experience, we have a very high participation rate in our programs, about 85% of our employees give in some way or the other, either time, their money,  or they teach, they volunteer. It's been very transformative for them and there are small examples. There is this young woman who was a mentor to a group of ten girls from one of the communities in Mumbai. And all she was doing, is once a week, on every Saturday, she'd have a two hour call with this girl, who was highly aspirational and she had a lot of questions. She wanted to move from her slums, she wanted to work, her aspiration was to be able to be a bank officer. And the day she cleared her exam, this girl called her and both of them just started weeping. And she said, it just transformed how I started looking at things. So I find that especially, I don't know how it is of the rest of the world, but we are so cocooned, we grow up in certain communities, we go to certain schools, we work with certain organizations and most of us are just oblivious of how life happens around us. And this opportunity to observe and to participate in very small ways is incredibly transformative. So this is a joy I think we should be able to share with everybody, it gives so much more back and we keep talking now about receiving and not giving, that you receive so much when you do this and you do it completely selflessly and it starts becoming automatic behaviour. Can you imagine so many more people smiling, so many people just being nice to each other?

Birju: Thank you, I would love to hear Amit’s reflection.

Amit: Vidya mentioned something very interesting. As she started off saying, this can become a habit. And I think my life has less of randomness and more of habits. So whenever I find something working well, I'm the kind of person who has been trained, despite as much as I might try to unlearn, to write a business plan on it, execute it and build an organization.

I'll give you a couple of examples. When I started off  AspireCircle, amongst the many things I was doing was just going, traveling around the world and especially in rural areas in India. I started off doing Aspire in Kashmir, saying that's where I got to start.

And in the first six months, I found myself one day sitting at the Hyderabad  airport. And there was a sports person sitting next to me. The girl looked as if I've seen a photograph of her in the press. And she had some badminton rackets in the bag. And I said, "You're a badminton player?"

She said, "Yeah."

I said, "I've seen you, you play for the country?"  

She said "Yeah I am the national champion, my name is Saina Nehwal." I said, "Wow.Where are you going?"

She said, "For a tournament."

We started talking about sports and cricket and she shared how nobody supports sports like badminton.

This is back in 2000. She was about number 50 in the world at that point in time. And I tried to understand how much little support, as a person of very small means, I could perhaps make.

She describe her father who worked in the agricultural research institute, and had very basic income.

And it appeared to me in that conversation that as little as 1.5 Lakh Rupees a year could have meant a lot to a Saina Nehewal at that point in time. And, you know, I can tell the story, she's spoken about it herself. I canceled my flight and went to see her dad. You know, she immediately connected me to her father.

I went to see her dad in Hyderabad. I said, "Okay, we'll do this support every year." Over the next five, six years after that, she went on to be eventually number one. But the moment we had found that there was a way to support, even with a small amount, I was into it. I had thought earlier that for sportspeople, you've got to have crores and only then you can help them.

But, and we now have 30 such people, you know, Saina Nehwal, the hockey captain of India was the daughter of a bullock car driver in Ambala; Rani Rampal, the first amputee athlete to climb Mount Everest, and so on. So yeah. But, you know, every time I found a random conversation, a random act, how to support someone else, not necessarily the kindness that your viewers may all have in mind, a charitable kindness, but you know support someone else in their journey -- I ended up going and building something after it, so we built these Aspire Circle scholarships that have gone on for 10-11 years.

And I think to answer this question is, if we try and reached out, you know to the other and have conversations we're not used to, there will be signals out there on what we can all do in being more helpful, purposeful, etc. But in the process, we give ourselves also, you know, the license to feel that our life is well-lived. So I think I've had many of these journeys, but I hold it here to answer your further questions, Birju.

Birju: Well, I really appreciate that context that whether it's random or whether it's habit, it seems to me that what we're talking about here is small acts of relationship. And that's very powerful to me. I mean, we're really talking about the possibilities that come out of relationships.

And so I'm curious to understand a little bit, just sharing a little bit further on the question of the conversation from the top line, "How much is enough?", I would be remiss for not shifting it into the kind of practical side of that. Just say like, is there a number that's actually enough?

Like each of you are talking about these lovely things and shifting in this different way of thinking, but I've also heard each of you describe this moment of shift in your life, where you stepped into that. And, prior to that there wasn't, I would imagine some different kind of feelings inside. So I'm curious, how should they, the audience, think about this question of accumulation and addressing that inner part of themselves.

Vidya: You know, I think it would be very unfair of me to just say that it's easy. I think my journey has been relatively easier because, I have a spouse who earns and you know, when we started out Edelweiss for example, I had a job that enabled us to live reasonably comfortably. We had a child by then. And Rashesh my husband could start Edelweiss with being paid almost nothing. But that changed. And at some point, I could reverse it. And then, you know, when I started Edelgive, of course, I said I wouldn't take any remuneration for what I did.

And that was possible only because I had a spouse who was earning. Therefore I think there has to be a balance between being practical, and just saying that purpose can be built on a foundation of no money. I think that's just not being real.

The problem comes when, when there is a number. And the first number usually, and I can say from my experience is always a mathematical expression of what you define as a comfortable life, right? So maybe, enough for our children's education or marriage or a house. A decent car, maybe a holiday a year, and you can budget all of that and you can, and then extrapolate it into your old age and stuff like that. I don't know how long I'm going to live and whether my savings could cover all my medical expenses. It starts out like that. And then life takes over and you see your peers and you know, you willy-nilly start comparing.

Especially for MBAs like me, you'll come out of business school and you see, Oh, that person is already CEO and that kind of rat race starts taking over. And that number, that goalpost, you forget why you set this goal post. And then that goal post keeps getting extended and you know that is the start of all of the problems that we have in life.

And, we are also the eighties generation from a work perspective. So you have this "greed is good" kind of thing that you've seen and you've experienced and all of that, till one day you realize what the hell is going on with you? And luckily I think that some of us have reached that place where you define comfort a particular way.

And I think Amit also said that it's not luxury it's comfort, you're comfortable.  And ideally should be, I still think it should be a mathematical expression where you just draw a line in the sand and say everything else I will give away. I mean, I may make more, but I will start giving it away.

I think that's the way for me to define what's enough.

Amit: And I'll just add to that Birju saying, to my mind, this is not a number. How much is enough is not a number. And I am reminded I may quote a little study which the Reserve Bank of India did. It was about a decade or 15 years odd back. They did a rare study on giving. It was actually limited to the state of Kerala, amongst the poor.

And that study found the very poor in India were giving away 3% of their annual income to charity, and it was predominantly religious, predominantly religious giving. And at the point in time, the rich were giving away one and a half percent of their annual income.

So, if you want to just compare that, the wealthy in India are giving away 1.5%. That number I believe is 2.5% or around there now. Vidya does these studies regularly. She'll know better, but you know the poor are giving away. So this is not about wealth. It's about values.

"How much is enough" has nothing to do with a number. And while people like me define that line wherever we did, it's not because we are role models of any sorts. I think, unless, if you're a Warren Buffet or Bill Gates or Rockefeller and doing it at that level where billions can take a disease out of a continent. Absolutely those. Or, if you are these poor, I think they are a role model who barely have something to eat and they'll still give away 3-5% or more. You know, I think they are role models.

I'll end this by saying -- my mother, did M.A. in Sanskrit. She was all her life a Sanskrit teacher. I grew up on mythology and I heard enough stories as I was growing up of the poor - when they have just a slice of bread left, how they would be willing to share it. So how much is enough is defined in so many different ways by so many people that it is, one thing I'm sure of, it is not a number.

Birju: Thank you both. I think lots to chew on. We've been getting some questions, several questions on exactly this question of how to think about what is enough. I'd love to ask one more question and then I'll turn over to the audience questions.

And I'm curious with both of you living these lives, that from my understanding are really elevated in society in terms of thinking about that intersection of being able to find sustenance, but at the same time, engage with these moral questions of how to be in alignment and look at oneself in the mirror.

I'm curious what your reflections are on the limits of this. What are the limits of philanthropy and social enterprise? Do you see any blind spots and ways to continue in the growth and unfolding?

Amit: I can go at that first because I am strongly opinionated about that, and Birju, I believe you cannot build a sustainable planet, if your capital is not sustainable. So philanthropy not just has limits, it has very strong limits and very small perimeter. It must be focused absolutely on dire circumstances like disaster relief, where people genuinely need help.


But in the last several decades, I think this world has found ways to convert every social and environmental challenge into a business opportunity. And I think that the more we redirect capital and ask the question, how do we make sure that we are not only talking about return, but in the same sentence, talk about -- We earn 12% IRR while sending so many girls to school in India, or making sure so many people in garment factories in Bangladesh have health benefits or making sure so many farmers in Kenya are able to get the organic fertilizer. I think that is what the world is asking for -- in pensions and mutual funds they are doing this.


A billion dollar pension fund called Christian Super in Australia, sends an annual return statement to all their pension holders exactly as I said -- your money earned 7% while doing all this, and you can see how it makes people feel good!


So I think there are limits to philanthropy. And therefore the scarce philanthropy, the 500-odd billion that happens annually should be directed at the most vulnerable, the poorest of the poor. But for many other parts, we have found ways of building this impact economy because there's 200 trillion $ of global wealth to be redirected. There's too much emphasis on this 500 billion. I think it just distracts the people thinking what to do with that big elephant out there. The more we can redirect the big elephant, this 500 billion $ philanthropic pool will be used much better for the most vulnerable.

Vidya: There have been a few books in the last few years on this topic, and the most famous and debated one has been Anand Girdhardas' book Winner Takes All, which has questioned very deeply whether philanthropy is actually doing good. And especially as philanthropy is becoming bigger and bigger, the ability to impact that is in a way being seen as having narrow interests or perhaps conflicted interests. I think there's a lot more debate that's emerging on that, especially because philanthropy is becoming really large right now. Therefore, I always go back to what Rohini Nilekani has been speaking about, which is really looking at this intersection of what they call "Samaaj, Sarkaar, and Bazaar", which is roughly Community, Government, and Business, and seeing how that the rules of all three have to be in balance. When one or two of them become overwhelmingly powerful in different ways, then the other tends to be highly muted. So if you look at countries like the United States, there was a balance between the three for a long time.  There was, there's, there was an innate culture of giving and philanthropy. Government was important, but business was also important, so there was a balance and you have seen around the world that the balance has begun to shift.

In countries like India, we have the government, which is very powerful. You have business, which is powerful, but over time, the role of communities in decision making -- in deciding their own future and their own fate -- has gotten crushed, in a sense.

I think that is a role that philanthropy can play -- to re-energize communities to imagine how they want to live their lives. And I think a lot of the work that we're seeing in India has been around communities, the whole movement around, say, for example, collectivization of women. So all SHG (Self-Help Groups) movement in India by women has been an incredible path-making movement. The women have been able to find voice, they have been able to find choice, they've been able to assert. These things are starting to become important, and if philanthropy can shift that balance so that it is not just business deciding that this is a market opportunity, but also there's participation of communities to ensure  sensible regulation and policy from government.

I think that that can help philanthropy also not become larger than life. I have seen a lot of mistakes that even philanthropists have made, where they feel they know the solution for the problem. And when communities are not consulted, a lot of money gets wasted, and sometimes results in unintended consequences. That is something that we have to be aware of.

Birju: Thank you both. I think this is kind of the tip of the iceberg in thinking about the nuance of this question. There's so many pieces to delve into, perhaps a separate conversation in itself! I do want to go to a few of the questions that have already come in. 

I'd love to share the first one: In the question of how much is enough, what do you think is the role of outer wealth and inner wealth? And I'm thinking of what you both shared earlier that it's not just that it's hard to walk away from the dominant paradigm because of the money, but it's also because of the identity and that sense of, of inner capital is connected -- social or otherwise. And so this person's asking about the joy and the satisfaction. What helps you tap better into inner wealth in your life, such that you are able to step forward and through the prior way of being, and how can we optimize for inner resources such that we can also take such steps?

Amit: Birju, I can take a shot at that.  Regarding outer and inner wealth, I think the first thing that comes to me is this myth that we may have propounded for centuries that somehow, relinquishing the real world, the world of action, and trying to get this omnipotent knowledge out there, is the only way to Nirvana. I believe that having a vision without action is actually delusion! You cannot relinquish your responsibility to actually act on inequalities and problems that you see all around. And therefore, this is about a balance!

It is a balance between inside AND outside, not either/or. I know that those images of the serene Buddha sitting under the tree or even Gandhi at his Sabarmati Ashram are so powerful. We have romanticized this solitude as the only way. There is power in that, and one of the things on my calendar is a Vipassana course in December, so I'm not denying its value. But I think if we believe that it's only about something inside and not about action outside, we are not using the Almighty's creation and the power he's given us to serve and to truly be servant leaders, which should be one of the most important purposes of our life.

Vidya: Amit has spoken so beautifully about the balance between the inner self and what's happening around you. Ultimately, I think a lot of what happens inside you is also influenced by what is happening around you, and the more one gets taken in by everything that they see, the more unbalanced one becomes, right? In the second sutra of the Yoga Sutras, which says that, "Yogas Chitta Vrutti Nirodha", which refers to a stage where you can comfortably control the oscillations of the mind, but those oscillations are entirely driven by how you see the world! Therefore, changing from within, either through meditation practice or any other way, is as important as doing that while being in external life. Like Amit said, it's impossible to go for years and sit under a tree and meditate and find that inner self. You have to live your life, and achieve that balance.

So that level of "being in it" while being mindful, that is the conflict that we all have because there are times when you get triggered by something and then you catch yourself. But even the act of catching yourself itself is important while you're in and about doing what you need to do every single day! 


Birju: Thank you both. I want to go to starting to combine questions because we're getting a lot coming in. One from Sandoor and one from Nira. The question is about getting into the space and starting to walk in this path personally. "When a person decides to get into volunteering or philanthropy, there's so many ways to start heading down that path. What are ways that may be skillful to kickstart doing it, both as an adult, but also what are ways to expose younger people to this, whether it's from a curriculum or stories or who knows what?" I'd be curious for your reflections.


Vidya: So I can talk about how I did it personally with my children. When they were very young, I would take them with me on field visits. I remember the first place we went to was with Nimesh bhai to Sholapur, where we actually visited a residential school for the children of commercial sex workers. 

And they were little. I think my daughter was maybe, five. My son was nine or ten.  They thought they were just going on a train journey.  I hadn't told them much about what we were doing. They were very curious. They met the children, they played with them.  All they did throughout, was actually listening.

I think a lot of things are about just taking children with you, because rather than talking to them about things, when they do things and they do things in as natural a way as possible,  rather than you prepping them: "Oh, you're going to a school with underprivileged children, and you're going to be,  drawing with them or sharing your crayons" - I think that's very put on. You have to immerse yourself and you have to make this as natural a setting for them, that they don't see anything unusual. They see it. They just realize gradually as they grow older, that they have so much for which to be grateful.

I think over time, it's helped them figure out how they want to volunteer and where they want to volunteer, and they continue to do that in different ways.

And I've seen that at Edelweiss as well. Initially people are very reluctant. They get very confused: "How will I do? Will I be able to bear it?" And there are people who are worried about their own emotional reactions. There are people who are worried about different things.

But, it's just the first experience. I find that they figure out that this is fairly transformative for them. And there are some people who say:  "This is not for me. I'd rather give to charity, and be happy that way."

So, I think it's only by doing and by doing it in as natural and thoughtful a way, that you are able to find what works for you, best.

Amit: And that requires no further views.  But if the audience, they are young, I rendorse what Vidya said. I think some of these internships and volunteering are the best ways to get started. When you're very young, if you don't have people to tour with. But if you are a little more tenured like I was when I made a decision, you will find your head telling yourself: "It's a reckless decision to leave at all and jump into this world. And it will be hard, and you cannot have enough safety nets."

So, the best thing is to jump, to just be reckless because experiencing zero gravity is an act of recklessness. And that's the state of mind you'll have fifteen, twenty years into your career. And there too, the only way you can ensure that this is a more graded fall, is to go work for a social enterprise. Go work with someone who is at the cross section of doing good and doing well- an impact enterprise- and learn about the sectors that you're passionate about to fully immerse yourself later on.

Birju: Thank you both. I feel like going a little deeper into this. It naturally flows with the questions coming in. I'm going to try to combine two again. One is more of a comment. And then, the other is more of a question, but I think they're both going into this nuance of balance that I hear you both speaking to.

Bradley comments: "A student of mine recently told me if you have something that is more valuable to someone else than it is to you, then you should give it to them." And I'm so grateful for this lesson. Yet, I'm still caught in this idea that I need to save enough for retirement. Even though, as I was filling out my daughter's financial aid form for college, I was thinking to myself:  "I can't believe how much we have and yet we're asking for more."  Making this shift within our society after living in it for 55 years is so very challenging. And having family members with different philosophies complicates things more.

That's his comment. And there's a question that felt similar to me. One of the questioners said: "You know, a lot of the bar for stepping away from the dominant paradigm way of life is not just external.  It's not just internal in terms of identity. It's also in terms of competition and comparison. Looking around and seeing "everyone else is saving for retirement, maybe I didn't save enough...?"

How are you able to tap into the nuance of your own right sense of balance before making such a move. How do you know that you've done it enough?"

Amit: Well, it's a tough question. It's a tough question in the sense that, if you were to ever say, you know it, you're already assuming that you have knowledge to judge. And that goes in the face of that we're all seekers. So, so we will never know what is that most perfect balance- there isn't.

But there are degrees of this balance. I know I'm not there yet, because, when I think of: "How will this balance evolve?" I think of a journey to minimalism, and I'm far, far, away from that.

So I know that I'm not there, but I know it's very hard for anyone to be able to say, beyond being immodest to say " I have achieved a great balance." But I know that when you're on a path - I know my path, I can see years and years ahead, that it is a path where you can achieve that with minimalism.

Vidya: I completely echo that. I constantly think about this question myself. And like he said, in fact the pandemic has taught us how little we actually need. I am sure all our wardrobes are full of too many clothes and too many things. 

So, I think the one thing I'd like to say is when you're giving, we always want it to be significant.  And what is significant to us may actually be a lot, lot, more significant to somebody else. So therefore, you know, even if you start really small, it can be incredibly significant to somebody else. It doesn't have to be that big a bequest.

And another thing that has happened. partly because we have so many rich billionaires and other very, very, rich people who've made pledges and things. We sometimes get caught by saying: "Is this going to be meaningful?". But it is definitely. Whatever the amount is, it's definitely meaningful. And therefore it doesn't have to be that "it's going to be either my retirement or this." It can be both.

And it can be acts of kindness as much as it can be actual dollars going out. You'd be amazed at how small amounts- I have seen how small amounts actually make such a big difference.

Birju: Thank you both. I'm curious what, at this stage in each of your development journey, you are each feeling most alive in learning and stepping into. What is that edge of your own becoming?

Vidya: I think the last few years actually have filled me with a lot of disquiet and uneasiness, and I've always tried to explore what is it? Because it's not about the money. It's not about the work. It's just generally about the state of the world. And when you think about things like that. People say "You can't do anything, so why are you even thinking so much about it?"

And through your work, you are hopefully, at least some people are seeing the benefit of it, so you should be happy. And then, as I sort of delve deeper into it, I realized that, actually we can! A lot of people feel the similar disquiet about the polarization, and the hate we are seeing. And so a friend of mine said: "Why don't you voice it?  Why don't you start writing about it?" And so, about about seven weeks ago-tomorrow is my eighth blog, on LinkedIn, where I started writing about, what I call: "The Democracy of Stories." And I just started writing and it's just taken a path. It's almost like a river, which is just finding its own way.

I don't know what the next blog is, or what the next few blogs are going to be about, but a lot of it is about what we hear, what we're being told, and how we need to actually reflect and find our own meaning and our own understanding, our own interpretation of things, rather than just seeing things in a very, very unidimensional way. Because a lot of what we are hearing is forcing us to be unidimensional.

And when I started writing it, it's given me immense satisfaction. Every Saturday and Sunday all I do is research and write the blog. And then I started speaking to a few people, and a few friends of mine said that they actually like reading it, because it's giving voice to what they feel as well. It gives me some satisfaction that maybe there are other people out there also who think similarly. So, I'm pushing this journey of trying to pen what I feel.  That gives me a lot of satisfaction. In doing that, I'm exploring a lot of boundaries of what I read, what I expose myself to in terms of reading.

The fact that everything I've grown up with-even though it's not been a very typical Hindu upbringing-but a lot of what I've been exposed to is Hindu mythology, texts. How do you broaden that? How do you learn about other religions? How do you bring that balance even in what you're seeing, hearing, feeling. So that's been my edge of exploration and inquiry.

Birju: Beautiful.

Amit: You know, I'm a believer in the pursuit of a systemic change. I have for far too long, felt frustrated when individual or even small community efforts appear like drawing a naught.

You know, we've all found ourselves picking up the little garbage, throwing it in the bin in a park on a roadside,  and there comes a fast car, a bike who throws things right at your face. And there, you know that howsoever you might invest in education, that you need systemic change.

On the air quality and pollution we've tried doing so much. The government simple odd/even formula in a state like Delhi can suddenly take half the pollution off the road.

Systemic change is critical and we are at the cusp in the twenty first century to be able to add the idea of impact to the risk and return equation.

And, just like in the middle of last century, we first learned how to measure risk when the capital asset pricing model came and Markowitz and Sharpe ratio, and the efficient frontier were discovered. There's a Nobel prize waiting for someone who discovers how to ensure impact is measured and comparable across companies.

And earlier this year, I don't know if people noticed, but Danone published for the first time a carbon-adjusted EPS.  Showing the world that they would earn 30% less if they accounted for their carbon footprint. And that Emmanuel Faber (Chief Executive Officer of Danone) is so courageous to be able to do something like that and show the world what a real Profit & Loss Account, an impact weighted P&L value should look like.

It's amazing. I think we are again at a time in economic history where a two hundred fifty year old system of "Capitalism 1.0", where we have believed and worshipped in the "invisible hand", needs an "invisible heart" to guide it! And that, to my mind, is impact.

And just like in the last century Keynes and Friedman fought on two different philosophies. (Capitalism and Freedom is a book by Milton Friedman, American economist and statistician, originally published in 1962 by the University of Chicago Press. He is best known for strong belief in free market capitalism).

If we can ensure that the idea of this impact economy wins, we need not be that single, lonely soul picking up that little piece of paper on a road and have someone again, throw a whole peel of banana on your face. We can get a systemic change to happen! And that is the edge of my discovery. And that's what AspireImpact does. The bulk of my effort is on focus on that big elephant. There are small tweaks which done at a systemic level can do big change. And if we focus on that, we may probably just push it beyond the tipping point- and we are close to it!

Birju: Wow. I exit this conversation both inspired and touched, as reflecting on what it is that I would take away. I'd love to share that before I hand it back to Rohit, who I think will close for us. The first thing that came up for me was purpose and how important purpose is to almost dissolving the question of: "What is enough?" And the dissolution of that question is really strongly connected to stepping away from polarization and binaries. That -- how do we start moving away from "this is good livelihood, and this is bad livelihood," but step into a deeper form of insight ourselves. And, it may not be so clear. That came across a lot in the questions and answers that seem to be coming up that living with ‘not knowing’ is okay, but we still feel called to experiment. And we only have this one life.  Maybe, maybe not.  One that we know of! I'd love to hand it over to Rohit and my gratitude again, for the opportunity to hear your wisdom.

Rohit: Thank you, Vidya, Amit, and Birju for that really inspiring and illuminating conversation. In gratitude to that purpose, which inspires all of us in mysterious ways, as Amit said, to give up our own comforts at many times to create possibility for a deeper emergence, for a deeper growth, within and without, I would like to invite you all for a minute of silence and gratitude, and we'll close the call after that. Thank you.