The Compound Interest of Doing Dishes

Rohit Rajgarhia, Aug 6, 2023 in Karma Yog

[Dear Friends, I feel so inspired to share this heart touching sharing by Ankit, one of our retreat participants. After finishing our Karma Yog retreat in December together, Ankit joined to volunteer in a Moved By Love retreat in March. The entire group of volunteers was deeply inspired by his serving ethic. And then, he joined again to volunteer in the “intelligence of the heart” retreat in July. Since he is the quietest person in the circle, just sitting in the corner, operating the sound system, we thought why not put him on the spot, to share a bit of his life journey, that none of us really knew anything about? Here is a recording of his share (in hindi) and some invisible volunteers who were deeply moved, have translated it in English too. ]

Hello everyone.  Rohit said I must speak something.  For past two days, I have been sitting and listening. I was reminded of Rohit’s presentation and it spoke something about the sound of the genuine in you. There were many parts in the conversation, but I have a lot of experience of one part and that is Noise. 

What happens is, in the beginning, when we do not have any sound from the inside, we take a lot of noise from outside.

 And in my case my starting noise was, if I get good marks then “life will be set”.  I can see many people went through that. If I get good marks in class 10  and get distinction, then life will be set.  But then I realised class XI is still left.  When I pass class XII, then life will be set. And then if I get admission in Engineering then life will be set. And then if am able to go abroad then life will be set. After going abroad, then it was if I get a job then life will be all set. After the job, if I get married then life will be set.  I am sure married people would know how set life gets after marriage.

[Laughter, as someone in the circle remarks– “Life doesn’t get set. Life gets upset.”]

After that I thought if I could come back to India then life will be set.

After that –  If I would have children then life will be set.  After that -- if I could start my  own company then life would  be all set. After that it was -- if I could get funding then life will be all set. After that it was that if the company would become profitable, thenlife will be all set.


Fortunately or unfortunately, I crossed all these stages. But life still didn’t get set.  That is when I realised that a crisis has started. I thought just in the next stop life will be all set. But when all the stops came and life was still not set, I realised that there are no more stops and things got shaky.  And I thought if that was life, I was already thirty then, so in thirty more years I would be sixty and it would be all over.

During this time, I somehow ended up in Vipassana. More than Vipassana  I was interested in going to Dharmshala. And the idea of being silent for 10 days sounded good. I had no idea of meditation and things like that.

In Vipassana, for the first time, I felt settled.

Although It was only for a few moments there was a realisation that ‘oh’ this can be achieved just in 10 days. But soon I realized that in reality, nothing happens in 10 days. But, it opened up a space. And I could see that there is something inside. Not everything is outside.

And as it opened that space, it created some mind space, a heart space to actually look at where I am in life. What am I doing?

One idea I realized I was pursuing is that “I have to earn money”. How much should I earn?

I should earn the most in my family. Then a thought came why should I earn the most in the family.

So that everybody would respect that I have achieved something.  Why should everybody respect that I have achieved something?

When they accept that I have achieved something, then I would accept that I have achieved something.

Gradually,   I realised that I am not the owner of the company, and the company is my master.  I am a co-founder and there are expectations that founder has to behave in a certain way, and I am playing that role in the company.  Gradually, I decided that I must exit the company so that I get my freedom.

It took me some years to come out but when I came out, I could see the reality of my life. When a company is there,  a title is there, a structure is there,  qualifications with management structure is there,  a culture is  there, reportees are there -- I realised that there is a term called “exoskeleton’, meaning external things that give you a lot of confidence.  Then I realised that without these, “what am I?“

I found that I am very weak.   I found out that without the above-stated things, there was a lot of anxiety.

I took me one and half years to just get comfortable with the question “What do you do?”

During that process, a thought came to mind that I must take up some service. Try doing something not just for myself, but for others.  The idea to serve was very good , but in reality, I was not really feeling like doing it.

In the meantime, I have a friend Krishnan, who had come for a Service Space retreat and for many days he would send me videos of Nipun bhai.  I really liked one concept and that was  “effortless service”.  It meant true service is effortless service.  I thought I must do this type of service. 

And then Covid arrived and there were no retreats for two years.  Last December I decided to attend a retreat and to learn more about this type of service. In the retreat, I don’t remember what happened on the first day, but in the second day there was an outing with a group,   and I had gone out with Jayesh Bhai. I was not talking much, was observing Jayesh bhai. The question was already in my head that I must figure out what is effortless service, what is caring for others and find my way forward.

We went to this nomadic colony, which now has settled, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. And I saw Jayesh bhai interacting with them.

And what I noticed was he was not making any effort. He was just being himself. And his way of service was just a natural expression of himself.

A clarity was discovered, but another doubt crept in – He is just being himself. But if I am just myself, I don’t think kindness and service will be flowing out of me.

Then another crisis came and that was though In my mind I had thought I wanted to do service but in reality, I was not feeling like doing it.

Then I  was having a conversation with Parag Bhai.  And he said that you have to start from where you are.  Your starting point is your current location. In your own Google map, you have to feed the starting location and from there you can go forward.

In the evening there was a presentation by Nipun Bhai.  One of the things that made a lot of sense to me was the “Virtuous loop of selfless service”. And the best thing in the said presentation was that selfless service does not really happen.

It’s not an act. It’s an aspiration.

For the first time, I felt a bit relaxed. That now it’s making sense. In reality, selfless service does not happen, it’s an aspiration.

The other thing that he said was compounding. That even in service, there is a compounding effect. I had learnt earlier that in investments there is compounding but then I realised that in service also there is compounding.

I could understand the math behind this compounding. I will not like to go into the details of the maths, but the basic understanding was you start as small as you can and let the loop do its job.

In that same retreat, one more thing happened.  There was this girl from California. Amy, sorry Audrey.

I can’t remember her name, but I do remember her smile. As soon as had my food,  she came in and so joyfully picked up my plate and started washing. Now, this was a new experience for me.  

At my home, previously we would say whose turn it is to do the dishes. And that would be a task that would somehow get divided. And here is a person who picks up my plate, and more than picking up the plate,  I remember the joy on her face while she was washing the dishes.

And that made me realize that the key is not in the task, but the key is in the context.  When I was taking it as a chore, it was such a hard and undesirable thing. But just seeing it as an expression of love, the same washing of the dishes, becomes an amazing thing. And you wash dishes silently, with love.

And I decided, okay, that would be my starting point of service. So that's where am I at.  Hoping for the loop to keep doing a job.

But as I was reflecting on all of these, I'll close with a few things, that I was thinking from about the sound of the genuine in you.  It sounds good to hear when someone talks about these metaphorical states, but what have been the places where I have connected with it? What has helped me connect with it?

For me, the things that have helped are -- stillness. The time when I was doing Vipassana,  when there was this stillness.

And I could see the other times that have connected with it, is through inquiry. Why am I doing, what am I doing?

And the third way I have had moments of being connected to that sound is through resonance. When somebody says something that resonates with me, that's a very clear indication of that. In fact take it as -- oh, it's not that somebody else has said it, somebody has enabled me to hear that voice within me.

On that note, thank you.


[P.S. A very appropriate (and inspiring) photo of Ankit from the recent retreat. :)  And loads of gratitude to you all, for co-creating such a powerful space of resonance. Sending a big wave of smiles to you all.]


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