On Wednesday evenings, hundreds of living rooms across the world embark on a quest lesser-known, a quest of silence, learning and change. This all started in 1996, in Silicon Valley, California, when a group of individuals started questioning the validity of their ingrained definition of success which was limited to financial wealth. They started getting together weekly to explore the more meaningful subjects of
joy, peace and life. The doors were always open to welcome anyone and everyone who wanted to join. Gradually, these weekly events started getting larger turnouts and as word of their success spread, various cities across the world started their local chapters of “Awakin Circles.”
In Chandigarh as well, every Wednesday evening, individuals from various parts of the community gather together in a snug apartment in Sector 15. There is an hour of silence, which is followed by constructive dialogue and a home-cooked meal. This past Wednesday, the Chandigarh Awakin’ Circle was graced with the presence of one of the founding members of the movement, Nipun Mehta. Apart from being a renowned speaker and social revolutionary, Nipun is also the founder of a successful social-change initiative called ServiceSpace.
As he entered the apartment on Wednesday evening, he brought along an air of enthusiasm which was simultaneously warm and inviting. He greeted everyone he met with a tight hug that came straight from the depths of his heart. Within minutes, he had taken a group of forty reluctant strangers and forged out of them, one family which felt comfortable sharing its problems. Nipun Mehta is a true embodiment of
the philosophy which he often preaches: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakan, meaning, the world is one family.
Soon it was time for him to take the stage. Defying norm and expectation, Nipun Mehta took a seat on the floor, amongst the audience. This unexpected gesture served as a cup of coffee to those whose eyelids were drooping from a long day at work. Everyone’s eyes were intently locked on the man who had belittled the weight of his accolades with his affection.
A small article like this will never suffice to do justice to the gems of wisdom which were touched upon that day by Nipun Mehta but he encouraged everyone to start unlearning an acquired behaviour, which he believes, is responsible for our perturbed state of affairs. A "transactional mindset" is a direct byproduct of the structure of society today, whereby an individual's survival is almost exclusively reliant on money. It is human instinct to survive, and thus also human instinct to work and expect monetary reward. However, with daily reinforcement from monetary transactions, an expectation of reward has become so firmly normalized in our minds that we unknowingly extrapolate this expectation to unrelated areas such as service.
Giving or serving must be anchored in unconditional love; there must be no expectation of a financial reward like money, a social reward like improving one’s reputation, or an emotional reward like satisfaction. If any such reward is the motivation behind an act of goodness, the act becomes an act of self-service. Only when an act of goodness is performed with the pure intention of relieving another’s suffering is when the act retains its potency. First it heals, then it transforms and
finally it gives rise to unwavering love. May we all be blessed with the courage to break free from the chains of “transactional thinking” and discover the taste of the sweet nectar of true goodness.