Tuesday, April 10, 2012

'Spaces' : The Aravind Eye Family at Madurai

There is a lot to witness when you visit the Aravind Eye Family. The sheer scale of work itself can leave you awestruck. Hundreds of staff members and volunteers, thousands of beneficiaries, and the latest technology enabling all of this. But what touched us the most were the smiles of peoples faces and their warmth as they interacted with all twenty of us at the Madurai Retreat. 

It's fairly obvious then, that you leave the family with a tremendous sense of inspiration and belief in the potential of the human spirit. I don't think any of us from the retreat would do any work related to Eye Care in our lives, but we all carried away with us the thought that just faith, devotion and purity can bring about the largest of internal and external revolutions. 

And this inspiration that we carry away is the real power of a space, or an environment - something that I pondered upon over the last week. 'Organizations' are extremely efficient in creating specific impact based on goals. But when an organization decides to also nurture, and love all those who are connected with it, it is transformed into an environment, or a space. And its impact can multiply simply because it decides to share all it has with all those who pass through, albeit momentarily.

Seva Cafe is also a space. And while at times there is a tendancy to focus on our basic requirements like sustainability, we must not forget to nurture all those who pass through its environment. As guardians of the space, it is even more critical to balance the right amount of project and process orientation. How do we maintain a sense of duty towards work amongst volunteers without falling into the trap of creating rules and later monitoring? How do we ensure that every guest is served with the deepest love, but also try and serve as many guests as we can. 

I then saw how maintaining a space is an art form, demanding of us tremendous awareness and purity of intention at all times. And the most powerful leverage in this art lay in internal transformation. 

In a well composed piece of music, the pauses when rightly placed and constructed can lead to powerful crescendos. In the same way a loving space can plant numerous seeds, which at the right time can lead to the most fragrant blooming flowers. Because the impact of spaces is often invisible, we tend to neglect their importance. But lets not forget, our life began through 9 months in a space, our earliest memories were in a space called a home and our communities that support us also are spaces. Our individual presence could also be a 'mobile space' to those around us.

I come away from Madurai, with an intention of creating more spaces through the simple process of inner engineering :)

Love all, share all.

Here is the complete update on the Retreat! :)

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