He has cycled down the East Coast of the US in winter and ridden a motorcycle across East Timor; it’s clear that Navin Amarasuriya isn’t one for staying in his comfort zone. This is probably why, despite being one of the fifth-generation owners of the Singaporean jewelry company BP de Silva Group – Navin has eschewed a cushy job in his family’s company to embrace the unknown, the path of "true luxury" of cultivating one's own mind and heart.
“Cultivating wisdom and compassion in the next generation of leaders is something that I hope to contribute to,” he says. It was with this mission in mind that he joined the Contentment Foundation, an education non-profit that offers wellbeing practices that promote safe, loving, and healthy school climates across the globe. Opting out of the corporate treadmill allowed Navin the liberty to state the three golden words : "I don't know!" - It meant ... not being worried if his non profit does not have an answer to everything .. or if his organization's goals evolve over time versus knowing them now! ... or being happy to plant seeds for trees under whose shade we may never sit ... and constantly holding means over ends.
Perhaps the seeds of this journey into education were planted by Navin's grandmother, a teacher who "like the root who does not get to see the flower" taught 5-days a week for 50 years. Her work was almost invisible in a family which celebrated business success but had limited language to fathom the depths of service and volunteering. At Contentment Foundation, the belief is that education of the heart starts with heartful teachers. That, instead of solving problems, Contentment's attempt is to deeply listen and hold space for teachers who are naturally altruistic people and giving them tools to cultivate practices of well being.
In this age of attention poverty, Navin believes that true luxury is having the time to train the mind on these Four Pillars of Well being viz. mindfulness, self curiosity, cultivation of balance and community development skills. That, "only by understanding how we relate to ourselves, and explore the inner world of feelings, we can empathize with those around us.”
The interconnected wholeness of phenomena around us continues to amaze Navin. He quotes his frustrated environmentalist friend, “If people realize that the only reason they are able to breathe is because the trees are filtering the carbon dioxide into oxygen, they would realize they are part of an interconnected whole.” If indeed this mind-blowing inter -connectedness ethos of trees as a part of our lungs, was enshrined in the design of educational courses across the globe, the world may have a glimpse of contentment.
He is a thinker, a blogger, an artist and above all someone who is deeply moved by the altruistic ideals of love and compassion for all.
What is True Luxury? How may we plant seeds for trees under whose shade we know we’ll never sit? Is Education of the Heart possible?