September 26th 2017
Translated from gujrati to english by – Meghna Banker
Whenever I travel abroad – I always have this natural pull to read a book. Everyday it’s a page or two, but while traveling abroad; I always be mindful to bring together Vinoba’s shabd (words / Knowledge), Gandhi’s Seva (Service) and Ram Krishna’s (Paramhans) bhaav (Intention) – because Vinoba’s knowledge embodies the bhaav, Ram Krishna’s bhaav embodies the service and Gandhi’s service embodies knowledge. All three are undoubtedly inter-connected to each other. Vinoba considered his words a pilgrimage, Ram Krishna considered bhaav his pilgrimage, and Gandhi considered service his pilgrimage. When we talk about Head Hands and Heart – IT IS the synthesis of all three.
Vinoba was a Gnyan Yogi who embodied Gnyan and Vignyan (Knowledge and Science) however, Karma and Bhakti were also connected with his efforts.
Gandhi was a Karma Yogi, but was also connected to Gyan and Bhakti.
Ram Krishna was a Bhakti Yogi, but was also connected to Gnyan and Karma. However, his capacity to embody Bhakti was a lot more.
Bhakti is the life force of Gnyan and Karma. Without Bhakti – Gnyan and Karma are both useless. Only when these three are in complete harmony, will there be unison and assimilation.
With this intention – I always adhere to Vinoba’s books. Especially these two – 1) Karyakarta Pathe 2) Mahagua ma Pravesh. (Mahagua means to go deeper.) Upon reading these two books, I noted down all the words that I felt connected to, placed them together like a jigsaw puzzle and expressed my understanding in the form of the following excerpt.
Through the medium of Moved By Love, we have formed a beautiful family. MBL, very naturally became our instrument because it was led through the intentions of Dosti (Friendship), Disha (Direction) Drishti (Deeper Perspective) and then Darshan (Sight towards universal good). The foundation of which is Love – “Sabse Oonchi Prem Sagai”. (Love is the highest form of connection)
What is a family you would ask?
In our understanding, family means Maitri (Noble Friendship). Family means Maitri Bhaav where respect, trust and affection co-exist together in harmony with each other. A space, where there is respect, mutual trust, affection and an ever deepening readiness / persistence to support one another.
What do we have?
We don’t have a target, instead we have a goal. What is our goal? We have a noble intention towards universal goodness and a humble effort towards self and society’s transformation. While there is the intention of universal goodness, there is a tireless readiness and persistence to bring change within as well as towards the transformation of the society. The key to transformation of the society is through transformation of the self first. There is no staunch opinion, method or theory nor are there intentions to force our thoughts on anyone. When we impose our thoughts and opinions on anyone, and start to form a ’method’ of our own then we are invariably stopping our own growth.
Our collective intention is not guarded by any walls. It is not ‘tied’ to anything; which allows us to share openly with everyone, with a lot of love. When we share; we are connected to the consciousness. Through that emerges a constructive growth of our intentions, which then become our actions. Our instinct to be one amongst the many is towards ‘samuh bhavana’ (collective consciousness). In ‘Many of One’, there is this sense of exclusivity. Hence it is ‘One of Many’. ‘I am because we are’. It is a space where our voice and behaviour is guided by ‘vivek‘ and ‘maryada‘. In this context ‘vivek‘ would refer to a practice of an immediate after-thought in ‘a moment of action’ that makes us re-think of our choices / decisions; that gives us a wholesome direction. While ’maryada’ is connected to our discipline. These together form our behaviours and practices. Respect arises through the understanding of ‘maryada‘ while ‘sahyog‘ (Co-operation and co-creation) arises because of ‘vivek‘. Trust also deepens because of ‘vivek‘.
The strength that we witness in the noble thought of Maitri Bhaav and Universal Love is a lot greater here (in our collective intention) than in any other fields that we have seen. Having worked in an organisation for more than 2 decades, I’ve observed that an organisational set up can surely create an impact and an immediate (temporary) relief – for sure. It is important in its own way too and that should not be opposed either, but such a practice (of Maitri Bhaav and Universal Love) is in its limitations there. It’s limited in our scriptures as well as any precepts, theories or methods. When we associate with methods or theories towards any person or place then we can get caught up in a certain order; and those have their limitations too. The real strength towards Universal Goodness lies in the noble thought and practice of ‘Maitri‘ and ‘Prem‘. The strength of these two noble thoughts is what brings ‘Samadrishti‘ (an even view) and ‘Samanta‘ (equality). A noble thought towards the universal good directs us on how to ‘move’ forward, while if you add love into that noble thought, then that offers the right vision on ‘how’ to do it. Whether we meet or not, but if we walk together in our inner journeys with Prem and Maitri then the union of hearts with each other and the whole will be effortless. We will experience oneness.
Prem and Maitri is the string that holds our journeys together. We have to bring together the pilgrim hearts one by one to form that necklace. It’s very different from making a flower bouquet. If we do that, then we will invariably form an organization or a method. With a necklace we increase the beauty of whoever adorns it with the possibility to add more hearts into it. That will deepen the journey towards oneness of Prem and Maitri.
Today most people connect more with the bounds of different institutions, groups and organisations. That is great too. But from our understanding efforts (within the periphery of such bounds) towards universal goodness may become a little limited. It is more of a relief work and a space to offer physical service; I understand that it’s very important too and should not be opposed. However, somewhere it can bring in expectations and a sense of pity. Its ability to bring eagerness and persistence towards inner transformation becomes very limited.There is also a deep sense to offer cooperation to the society and that’s great too. But there is room to rise up a little higher.
When humanity; effortlessly, becomes the center of all our work, and when we serve selflessly from an absolute persistence to tune more towards internal transformation along with external service then a collective strength emerges. Which will then result in an inner and outer transformation simultaneously. That is when we will be able to form an inner spiritual circle where along with the focus of external service, the deeper intention for inner transformation will be at the forefront. It is then when our collective strength will start flowing invisibly and connect each of us effortlessly. When we pray together, the noble work will inevitably happen; through every connected soul across the world.
Our Laddership Circle at MBL 2.0 is NOT a group or organization with any intent to control or assert restrictions. This is very important to understand. If we start to control, then we will form a structural / imposed system, or an organization. It is not even a space that theorizes or gives meanings, or justifies, or advices any thought processes of individuals like Gandhi, Vinoba. It does not preach the principles of spaces like ESI, Safai Vidhyalay or ServiceSpace. To share and offer our learnings from Vinoba or Gandhi or ESI is our activity (pravruti). But our inherent nature (prakruti) of recognizing our individual gifts is the root of all things. We do not need to impress anyone through the weight of our activity but to inspire and offer warmth through the unique gifts that we all have within us. We believe that this is a humble effort to cultivate a union of hearts and create an environment for it to naturally blossom. When we create deeper bonds of friendships, then it will effortlessly uplift each other’s gifts and allow the space for it to blossom naturally. This is the field of love that is already embedded with the seeds of Truth and Compassion within each of us. We simply keep gardening (as Nipun often shares) by offering the water of Love for it to blossom naturally. The deeper intention behind the idea of Laddership is for (jeevan parivartan) self transformation. Through the macro lens of selfless service our idea is to deepen the understanding that in the well-being of the world, lies our own well-being; It is about being joyous in the process. When we are in a joyous state then we experience silence & stillness and connect with the intent of service in our hearts.
We don’t want to build any association or organization. There is a potential slipperiness in that. When we start to identify organizations with it’s exclusivity; for eg the best Sanitation Organization or the best Children’s Welfare Organization – which is also important in it’s own place – then it creates dependency. If we start to bring that exclusivity in the journey of Laddership, then that exclusivity creates dependency, which leads to disturbances, which then brings desires & unhappiness. Exclusivity will lack in prevalence and people. Our intent is to build a noble companionship (sanghath) where we all walk together. Our collective (sangh) is Love Jagat. In this collective when we walk onwards with Maitri Bhaav, the Sanghath may come and go, but the hearts will always be connected. Maitri will be connected on a soul level and relationships will be built with a detached spirit. In our journey of Maitri if our illusions and desires increase then that will only bring misery and expectations. Hence detachment is absolutely necessary in such a relationship. But the divine / values (Hari) will always be our noble companion. We should be attracted to our values / divine. ‘That’ attraction is of good use. But if we start to have that pull towards relationships, then there will be expectations. When there is a purity of intention towards the wellbeing of all and universal goodness, then there is deep clarity. When we are clear, then we find the way forward like a torch light. The more we keep walking the more it gets clearer. When such friends come together in this form then we walk longer / together, slowly and steadily. It is such friends that are meant to go the long haul together. We cannot rush this process. We may complement such friends but we should not be dependent on them. It is a journey from personal transformation to thought transformation. The exclusivity of noble companionship in the process of laddership and social transformation will manifest through the effortless form of a spiral.
What do we need in this Sanghath?
We need patience, because that is the secret of nature. We need consciousness, we need eagerness & persistence. Patience is the sign of our intellective health and maturity. There is great tolerance in patience. There is mental stillness in patience. Patience brings immense faith in the soul & the world and an understanding that whatever happens, happens for the best. Change is the law of nature. Every moment is a changing phenomenon and we become aware of it. There is a very famous saying in Gujarati – “the fruit of patience is sweet” and “Good things take time”. When we start to see the opportunity in the seeds and not the fruits, then we are truly gardening. Our role is that of a gardener and we are gardening in the field of Love. A gardener will witness the weeds and seeds. There is no need to differentiate between the two since they are both necessary in the cycle of life. A gardener is in the field of ‘agriculture’ – the one who “agrees with all cultures”. There is no separation, but all are one.
“Jeevan Nu radhiyadu Khetar, satya ahimsa nu vaavetar,
karuna prem na seenchi ne jal, bheetar bahar karishu ujval”
Our life is a barren land where the planting of Truth and Nonviolence has already been done by nature. We have to offer the water of Love and Compassion. Our intent is to brighten the inside and the outside. We have to take care of these seeds by offering compost and water of our thoughts. We have to be the caretakers of our limitations and mindfulness. It is important to build the fences of our skillfulness. Only then will the sapling rise.
With a deep sense of gratitude towards nature, our lineage and with deep love & commitment towards the society we will have to work hard towards that purpose. Labor of love is very essential in this journey, else we may fall prey to laziness. Patience (dhairya) and persistence (tatparta) towards the understanding of the ‘now’ is very critical in our Sanghath together. The essence of Sadhana (dedicated practice) is tatparta (persistence) and the essence of Seva is namrata (humility).
If our leg gets pricked by a thorn, the hand immediately reaches out to pull it out. If someone tries to slap us – our hands immediately reach out to cover our face. It’s the love like that which says “I will take the hit for you”. When there is pain in our ears and the tears fall from the eyes, then it is an unconditional love. If you look at our body from head to toe -they work with such effortless cooperation and understanding of each other. If you cut the tongue and put it aside – it won’t be able to speak. If you cut the ear and put it on the table, it won’t be able to listen. Each one’s place and work is different, independent and unique in its own way – but they are all connected to the collective consciousness in our hearts. Which is why they are in harmony with each other, where there is absolute faith, respect and trust for each other. Each of them are trustees of this body and not masters. The master is the spirit, the divine. If we strengthen this understanding then our minds will be detached. To serve the divine with the instrument of this body in full vigor will then be an effortless process. In our humble understanding we feel that any work without such self commitment will just be a work of relief and not transformation. While the work done in full alignment and understanding of our soul’s purpose is as good as devotion to the divine. The essence of a desire-less attitude towards service is selflessness and the humility towards that intention.
Dear friends, in our work – sincerity, commitment (sankalp) and goal (lakshank) is also necessary. The commitment is towards the purity of life and goal is towards the purity of heart. Such commitment will show up as seekers as well as hindrance in our lives. Nonetheless such commitment is necessary to strengthen the intensity of our work so that we can reach our ‘target’ in the shortest span of time. Commitment gives us motivation towards our purpose and the spirit to surrender. But if such commitment, such resolution becomes a weight on our minds, triggers chaos or an imbalance within, then it can also become an hindrance in our journey onwards. While if such commitment, such resolution brings a state of doubtless-ness, makes one feel lighter and if our minds become empty, then such resolution can bring complete effortless surrender in the life of a pilgrim. That in turn builds the field of consciousness. Sankalp should be the instrument towards our progress that can facilitate our journey towards purity of our hearts. A goal is important with our sankalp and not a target. There is no ‘bottom line’ or ‘target’ in a mission or a movement. There is no push in it either. Our goal is towards the purity of life, purity of heart, towards universal well being.
The attitude of ‘as good as it gets’ or ‘so be it’ will not work my dear. Phrases such as ‘its organic’ and ‘all hari hari‘ is not understood in its core essence yet. We have to walk with deep intensity of the ‘now’ and absolute humility in this journey. ‘We will surely connect with our spirit on this path’ is the kind of faith that is needed on this journey. We need to strengthen the attitude to constantly keep going with an untiring mind. We have to be dedicated to the continuity of this process. That is the sadhana to cultivate and deepen our practices. If we don’t walk towards the subtle shifts of our practices then we will start to become staunch. Our own theories and beliefs should be fluid and one with the constant change of time and space, but the tatva should continue to stand firm in its place. How do we move from the ‘truth of the moment’ to a ‘better understanding of the truth’ is the way forward. It is important to be aware of the shortfalls and disappointments that will come on this path. It is not wrong to fall or fail in disappointment. To stand up from that fall is virtue. ‘Disappointment’ is the sign of a skeptic while ‘hope’ is the sign of a believer.
In our humble understanding this journey and pilgrimage is rooted in its spiritual foundation and not dependent on any individual. If the foundation is dependent on an individual then it will invariably shake our spiritual foundation. It is important to put the thought on the pedestal and not an individual. A thought cannot be copyrighted by any individual. Each of our hearts carries a pure intent and our work will be effortless when we start to ‘own’ that noble thought of universal well-being. Many would often share with me that “this is Vinoba’s quote or Gandhi’s quote – that you share with us”. But I humbly believe that when I’ve lived this thought, owned this thought – in my time, it is now my own to follow. Intent and thought is way higher than any one individual. Gandhi did not make ‘Truth’ visible. It was the ‘Truth’ that made Gandhi visible. With his unfailing efforts and perseverance, he made Truth his way of living.
Dear friends, with the grounding of our root / purpose (tatva) we need to build our process (tantra) which is not dependent on an individual but on a ‘frame of reference’ that is effortless. What is Tatva? Tatva means Bhaav. And what is Bhaav? Bhaav could be sacrifice, faith, love, enthusiasm. What is Tantra? Tantra means Buddhi (intellect). And what is Buddhi? Buddhi means clarity of thought. When we share with each other it will deepen our own clarity of thoughts, we will understand the design of social grace – where to stop, where to stick, where to step back, when to ground. Buddhi also means efficiency. Both of these (tatva and tantra) are two sides of the same coin. Separating the two, is of no use. Some may have the noble intellect, while some may have noble intention. Some may have the potential towards a noble intellect, while some may have the potential towards a noble intention. Whatever and however that may be, we all complement each other. We co-create and co-operate with each other.
At MBL we have the potential to be a Ladder, the noble intention to ‘leave / live behind’. We don’t intend for any fame. We are eager to share our merits with others and not to hoard it. If we start to hoard the merits / credits then we will be in trouble. Kirti (Appreciation) is important in life, no doubt – but not to hold on to rather to gift it forward. Kamini (Desires) may come in our lives in many forms to teach us and to cultivate our awareness. But we must not repeat our mistakes. We must stay detached from them. Kanchan (Wealth) is not just material or that which shines but it is also our attitude. Is our attitude of greed, of consumption, of animosity, ill will, of hatred. If our attitude is to hoard the wealth then it is misguided. But if the intent is non consumption then it becomes a capital of distributed wealth. For our work to not be fragmented, it is important to create (vyavastha aadharit tantra) a process based on a frame of reference and not an individual. It is to form our inner spiritual circle for the practice of effortlessness.
We often share guidelines before and after a retreat. This process has manifested naturally. It is not formed based on any individual capacity. With the grace of divine, blessings from the noble souls and our perseverance; we are connected with the real and virtual learning spaces. Nature has graciously offered the harmony of this shareable prosperity. To be connected this way together, to be given such an environment and to be brought together so effortlessly and organically, in my humble understanding, I have not witnessed this elsewhere.
This is not dependent on an individual or even a thought. Such love is Bhaavatmak dhyaan, and bhaavatmak sadhna. We need to continue gardening this field that is cultivated. We often share of this being “labor of love” – the seeds are already here, keep doing, keep being. We have the faith that this love filled intention will spread far and wide towards the wellbeing of all. Our intention is not to scale our process, but if it happens naturally then may it be organic. Our intention is not to overlook our purpose. But our situations, attachments and desires may sometime falter our own intentions. Even I have failed, many a times; because of my own limitations. Sometimes we may also crossover our principles in the journey of holding space and unconditional love. That is ok too. But we learn to grow.
Our intentions, our purpose, prayers and the co-operation of noble friends will be our essential guides towards a journey into equanimity.