Posted by Neeti S W on Jul 10, 2017

An unexpected friendWe thought we would post this today, Global Oneness Day 2017, to illustrate how compassion for and acceptance of others can have a healing impact and remind ourselves that we are all ONE.

Awakin gatherings started when three friends got together in 1996 to sit in silence, every Wednesday, in an ordinary living room in Silicon Valley. No teachers or gurus. No set agendas or proposed beliefs either. Just one strong principle — when you change within, the world changes. And instead of closing the door, they left it open … to all.

Today, Awakin Circles have organically rippled to eighty cities around the globe. People meditate for the first hour, engage in a circle of reflective sharing in the second hour, and conclude the night by receiving a delicious home-cooked meal. A palpable sense of gratitude and community weaves through it all. The ripples of inner transformation are countless — and continue on.

It was yet another Tuesday. My favorite day of the week, since its Awakin Day for our local community on the outskirts of Pune.

As is my regular practice, I finish up cooking in the first half of the day, then tidy up the kitchen, and close with the rest of the daily chores. On this day, 10 people had RSVP’d and everything was planned accordingly.

Then, at 4PM, I got a call from an attendee saying that he 7 visitors from Chandigarh are coming! I was suddenly flustered — what to do now? It’s already past 4PM and I’m not sure how to cook for 7 more people. As I try to be still, my neighbor Chumiki (also a regular at Awakin) calls for some small issue and asks, “Can I make pulav (a rice dish) for the evening?” It was as if the universe was listening in. I tell her yes, with the additional head count.

Our circle begins with an hour of silence. As we open our eyes, our room is full with many unfamiliar (yet familiar) faces that silently tip toed in throughout the hour. We read the passage, Enlightenment is Intimacy with All Things, in English and Hindi and our sharing starts. As the talking stick passes, each one shares for a little bit. Until the stick arrives at the hands of first-time guest, who seems to be about 25 years old.

He slowly takes a deep breath and looks at each one of us intensely and starts his sharing, “I am new here, and I don’t really know how I reached here. But today, after sitting in silence for an hour, I feel like I’ve entered a safe space. I want to share some things that have been bottled up inside me for many years. I’d never shared this with anybody before.”

With a lot of sincerity, he continued. “I lost my mother when I was 4 hours old, right after I was born. I don’t have a father either. He’s alive but he’s an assassin, so I’ve erased him from my memory. I dropped out of school, became a womanizer, and a drug addict. You name a drug and I’ve done it. Sometimes I’ve even had food from trash can that a dog would eat from. If I look at my life, I have a stock of everything that fits in a devil’s syllabus.”

After sharing some more details, he adds, “I wonder what makes you all trust a person like me at this gathering, how somebody can trust and open doors for someone who is carrying so much burden of his past garbage.”

Room is in stunned silence now. As the host, I feel like I had to do something but wasn’t sure what. I quietly prayed to my inspirations, that I’m guided to do the right thing. Suddenly, I hear myself saying, “Let’s hold a minute of silence holding each other’s hands.”

It felt like a very long minute. I could hear a silent chorus emanating from every heart in the circle, “Loka samastha sukhino bhavantu.” (May all creation abide in deep peace.)

Unstoppable tears flowed from this young man’s eyes for the rest of the session.

As soon as the sharing ended and just before the circle broke for dinner, everyone lined up to give him an individual hug. For the rest of the evening, his cup overflowing with gratitude for each one.