Death & Life: Lessons from attempts at building community

I have been involved in several attempts at community. A lot of learning from how a lot has failed and died, as much as what has lived and thrived. Some insights I share below. Know a few people who have also succeeded in some ways. Some of the communities that I have been a part of are- some are pan India, some more local, some even global.

Learning Societies,
Friends’ Retreat, Switzerland
Sangha of Being,
BasicIndia/ Neredu/ Samuel’s,
Tao/CoEvolve loose family!

Some insights:

1. The fundamental (innermost) must be seen and kept the fundamental- and must be ‘seen’ together at least verbally/intellectually to start with – call it the ending of separation, fear, conflict, the self. Only on the foundation of this can true community be built. The key question to live with is.. What does it mean to live with the unknown and unknowable?

2. Most will want something ‘meaningful’ to be done in the world. The outer ‘purpose’ and ‘project’ often distracts and takes attention away form inner and certainly the innermost is mostly not paid attention to. While this has a place, great care needs to be taken to see that any project or a ‘created’ purpose does not hijack the vital.
Equally if there isn’t something worthwhile that is done together in the outer, energies overly focused on the inner can also harm the togetherness.

3. An openness to learn esp. in the field of living relationships is at the very heart of the matter. Unless there is a real commitment to existentially looking at Responsibility n Freedom, Love n Commitment there is little hope for a sustainable community.

4. Ideas, ideologies and philosophies can greatly derail unless there is a living commitment to the spirit of community. No amount of creating things on paper will help unless there is a ‘concrete’ building of real loving togetherness and trust. This requires great resilience and investment of time and energy.

5. Some basic (obvious and yet hidden) understandings like- relationship is a mirror, 100% responsibility, deep listening and speaking from the heart, willingness to wonder and be silent. – must become realizations. Negation as the “way” to move into love and truth. The structure of ‘me’ etc.

6. A way to resolve Conflict must be arrived at early on. And ways to surface differences often n whenever they arise in a way that they don’t derail the essential togetherness.

7. The fundamental issue is always about learning to deal with polarities and paradoxes. And operating from a place that is not trapped. To face and surface them within us and lovingly in diads and triads and the entire small group!

8. It can be very powerful to have a tool to “measure” dissonance and co-creation. What are the personal values, the collective lived values and what is the desired place (culture) we want to co-create! And I was delighted to discover such an amazing tool being used across 71 countries and in thousands of organizations and communities.

9. There must be a few people at least who are able to hold the whole and who are ‘respected’ by all for their demonstrated ability to be present and operate from a place beyond ideas and concepts. And these people must be willing to learn and not operate from authority.

3 Mar 2016

Today I read a beautiful piece which my dear dear friend Deepti Rupani forwarded :

13 ways of looking at Community – Parker Palmer

I would highly recommend you have a look if this question is important to you.


Love said to me… – Rumi

Love said to me, there is nothing that is not me.~ Rumi

My dear friend Arjun Som shared this video today and it touched me deeply. Thanks dearest brother.

Felt I must share with you.

Last night I lost grip of my reality and welcomed insanity. 

Love saw me and said, I showed up. 

Wipe your tears and be silent.” 

– Rumi 

Miracles born from simplicity- Bhaskar Save, the Gandhi of natural farming

Bhaskar Save, the Gandhi of Natural Farming

On the 27th January, 2014, Bhaskar Save – the acclaimed ‘Gandhi of Natural Farming’ – completes 92 years. He has inspired and mentored 3 generations of organic farmers. In 1997, Masanobu Fukuoka, the legendary Japanese natural farmer, visited Save’s farm. He described it as “the best in the world”, even better than his own farm.

Indeed, Save’s farm is a veritable food forest; and a net supplier of water, energy and fertility to the local eco-system, rather than a net consumer.

Save’s way of farming and teachings are rooted in his deep understanding of the symbiotic relationships in nature, which he is ever happy to explain in a simple, down-to-earth idiom to anyone interested. In 2010, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) honoured Save with the ‘One World Award for Lifetime Achievement’.

Bhaskar Save’s 14 acre orchard-farm, Kalpavruksha, is located on the Coastal Highway near village Dehri, District Valsad, in southernmost coastal Gujarat, a few km north of the Maharashtra-Gujarat border. The nearest railway station is Umergam on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route.

About 10 acres at Save’s farm are under a mixed natural orchard of mainly coconut and chikoo (sapota) with fewer numbers of other tree species. About 2 acres are under seasonal field crops cultivated organically in traditional rotation. Another 2 acres is a nursery for raising coconut saplings that are in great demand.

The farm yield is superior to any farm using chemicals. This is true in all aspects of total quantity, nutritional quality, taste, biological diversity, ecological sustainability, water conservation, energy efficiency, and economic profitability. The costs (mainly labour for harvesting) are minimal, and external inputs almost zero.

A residential learning centre on natural farming is proposed to start in a few months at Bhaskar Save’s farm.

Natural farming and its fruit

Natural farming is holistic and bio-diverse organic farming in harmony with nature. It is low-intervention, ecological and sustainable. In its purest advanced form, it is a ‘do-nothing’ way of farming, where nature does everything, or almost everything, and little needs to be done by the farmer. This can best be achieved in a progressive manner with tree crops. As Bhaskar Save explains, “When a tree sapling planted by a farmer is still young and tender, it needs some attention. But as it matures, it can look after itself, and then it looks after the farmer.”

With annual or seasonal field crops, more continuing attention and work by the farmer are needed, but even here, the work and input needed progressively diminishes as the soil regains its health and symbiotic biodiversity is re-integrated.

“Who planted the great, ancient forests?” asks Bhaskar Save. “Who tilled the land? Who provided seed, manure, irrigation, or protection from pests? … In our forests, untended by man, the (human)food trees – like ber, jambul, mahua, mango, wild fig, wild sapota, tamarind, etc. – yield so abundantly in their season, that the branches sag with the weight of the fruit. The annual yield per tree is commonly over a tonne, year after year, carried away by forest dwellers, including man. But the earth around each tree remains whole and undiminished. There is no gaping hole in the ground! If anything, the soil is richer.

“From where do these forest trees – including those on rocky mountains – get their water, their nitrogen, phosphorous, potash? Though stationary, Nature provides their needs right where they stand. But arrogant modern technology, with its blinkered, meddling itch, is blind to this.

“Our ancient sages understood Nature’s ways far better than most modern day technologists,” says Bhaskar Save. He quotes the Upanishads:

“Om Purnamdaha
Purnamidam Purnat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya Purnamewa Vashishyate’

This creation is whole and complete.
From the whole emerge creations, each whole and complete.
Take the whole from the whole
(respectfully, as many times as you need)
the whole yet remains,
undiminished, complete!”


Thank you Bharat Mansata for sharing this, Manish Jain for bringing Bharat to me & Learning Societies community that Manish is one of the core architects of – for bringing us all together.

I don’t know. There is nothing I can do.

As I sit poised on the razor’s edge of a difficult intimate relationship, having tried everything and more. Looking at the incredible love in the relationship and a pain that only comes a close 2nd, I see that..

The ‘I’ must burn itself completely to discover what is love. 
And that burning is the loving.

And these facebook updates take birth out of my churning…

I am learning as I stumble n learn to walk the razor’s edge of the truth of love that … To really be together with another in an intimate relationship, I must learn to stand alone. 
If I cannot be ‘together’ inside me, there is a fat chance that I can be together with an apparent other.

The way I deal with a conflict and contradiction inside me is by making a demand of the other. And I am seeing that a love can only tell the beloved, ‘I belong to you’ and not demand that ‘you belong to me’

I am willing to see and be what I need to be.. to offer myself to this truth of love.

And this piece (below) in Adyshanti’s masterpiece, ‘End of Your world’  makes way to my heart. Its also a series of audios on Youtube and the book can be ordered from here ( Thanks dearest Ananta (Sangha of Being) for bringing this book n wisdom to me. Thanks Rohit for bringing Ananta and the Sangha! 😉 Om you had pointed to these audios first.


TS : You mentioned that all spiritual paths ultimately bring us to a state of total surrender. But what if the parts of us that don’t want to surrender are hidden, quite buried in our psyche? Consciously, we might surrender everything, but some part of us in our unconscious might still be clutching. How do we get those hiding places to come forward? I can imagine hearing your teaching on surrender and thinking, okay, I basically understand. I know what it means to be on my knees. I know what it means to throw myself down on the ground. But what about the parts in me that won’t surrender? They‘re not obvious to me.

ADYA: There may be nothing you can do about it. This is the thing that people avoid the most, right? Give me something; give me a teaching; give so hope. Of course, inside of us there are totally unconscious ways of holding – patterns of holding that we don’t have any access to. Maybe you don’t have to access to it, period. End of story. That’s it.
You will have access to it at the exact moment that you are meant to have access to it. We may not like that. People may not like to hear that, let’s look at our lives, not philosophy or teaching or what we choose to tell ourselves, right?
At least in my life, I can certainly look and see that there were moments where I did not have certain capacities yet. They just weren’t there. I have no idea what I could have done to bring those capacities forward. At certain points, I couldn’t even hear somebody who told me how to have those capacities.

I had my own teacher tell me certain things literally hundreds of times over the years. And only after ten years did I think, “oh . . . now I get it. Now I understand. Now it has sunk in.” How was I going to force it ten years before? Could I have forced it? It doesn’t appear as though I could have.
This may not be the empowering spiritual teaching you are looking for, but everything has its time; everything has its place. Ego is not in control of what’s happening. Life is in control of what’s happening. To insist that something can empower us, all at once, to dive into ourselves and see anything we need to see to awaken, is working at odds with people’s experience.
Everything happens in its time. We’re not in control. This isn’t something we want to hear, though, is it? It isn’t something our mind wants. Mostly we want to hear things that empower our sense of control. And we radically push away anything that does not empower our sense of control.
I say this to people all the time. When you start to accept what you see as true – not what I say, but your experience – that’s when everything starts to change.

Many times students come to me and say, “I can’t do anything about this, this part of my delusional apparatus, this part of my personality.” They’ll ask, “What do I do? What do I do?” often I say, “No, nothing’s worked so far” and I ask, “Can you find anything to do? Can you see anything to do?” and sometimes they tell me, “Nothing honestly, I can’t see anything to do.” And I’ll say, “What will happen if you actually ingested that part of your experience that is telling you there is nothing you can do? What if you took it in instead of trying to push it away?”
Often, when they take this in – not just conceptually, not as a teaching that can be dismissed, but really allowing it into the body- then this realization of what it is like to live without resistance starts to change everything. Sometimes the experiences that we are pushing away contain the most transformative insights we need to have. Who would suspect that seeing that there’s nothing, nothing, I can do is going to be transformative? We’re not taught that. We’re taught to avoid that piece of knowledge at all costs. Even if it’s part of your experience, year after year, decade after decade – even if you keep experiencing the same thing over and over – the impulse is to avoid it, to not let it in, to push it away. See what I mean?

We’re all junkies. Really, we’re all just junkies wanting to be high and free. It’s the same dynamic. It’s the alcoholic who realizes, “There nothing that I can do,” who is on the way to sobering up. As long as that person sitting there is saying, “I can do this. I’m in control. I can find a way beyond this,” no transformation is going to happen. Bottoming out is nothing more than coming out of denial. There’s nothing I can do, look where I am. We don’t need to know so much about what to do. We need to have a mirror in front of us, so we are able to see what we see. When that alcoholic sees and that drug addicts sees that there is nothing that they can do, that they are powerless to stop their addiction – only then do they start to see themselves in a clearer light.

There’s a transformation that starts to happen that is not contrived; it is not practiced; it is not technique oriented. To me, spirituality is a willingness to fall flat on your face. That’s why, although my students often put me up on a pedestal and think I’ve figured out something wonderful, I tell them all the time: my path was the path of failure. Everything I tried I failed. It doesn’t mean that trying didn’t play an important role. The trying did play a role. The effort did play a role. The struggle did play a role.
But it played a role because it got me to an end of that role. I danced that dance until it was extinguished. But I failed. I failed at meditating well; I failed at figuring out the truth. Everything I ever used to succeed spiritually failed. But at the moment of failure, that’s when everything opens up.
We know that, right? This isn’t sacred knowledge. Almost everybody knows this; we’ve experienced it in our lives. We’ve seen moments like this. But it’s not something we want to know, because it’s not convenient.


Such wisdom to be willing to not know. However scared we are to enter that region, it is sacred. nd sooner or later we must reside in that.

%d bloggers like this: