Week 666: Radical Generosity

If you haven’t discovered him already, Nipun Mehta is a man who offers continuous opportunities to be inspired. He talks a lot about kindness, and one of the practices he promotes is what he calls “the radical power of generosity”. Here’s a link to a Tedx talk he gave. He also created Karma Kitchen, a restaurant where you don’t pay for your meal. Instead, the person before you paid for yours and you will pay for the person who comes after you. Karma Kitchen has been going for four years now, on donations paid forward. This process evokes a sense of interconnection, which nourishes people in fundamental ways. Nipun says, “When we count on people to be generous, all kinds of things can happen.” It’s about cultivating our deeper ties, ones that actually nourish us, ones that have been largely put aside in our current consumer-oriented culture. When we serve others together, we deepen a sense of connection, and we generate gift-ties. In this context, “abundance” means there is “enough” for everyone. Here are some points from Nipun’s presentation. We can make these important shifts when we move toward living with radical generosity when we shift from:

Consumption to contribution = appreciate what you receive and pay it forward
Transaction to trust = relying on our interconnection
Isolation to community = cultivate networks of gift ties
Scarcity to abundance = experience the generative power of gratitude

He tells a story of his nephew, I believe, who celebrated his birthday with a bunch of friends by offering free car washes together. The sense of community the boys experienced through this process of giving brought them closer and, as importantly, good feelings about themselves and about what they were doing.

For this week’s experiment, I invite you to play with radical generosity in your daily life. Notice what happens when you engage opportunities to pay it forward, do radical acts of kindness (which are just about always radical acts of generosity of some kind), and to practice other elements of radical generosity. As you do this, notice how you feel, what happens in your body, the tone of your thoughts and feelings. Track what happens in you as you move more deeply into gratitude and generosity than you may have done before.

Here’s the link to Nipun’s website, ServiceSpace, where you will find lots of inspiring information about radical generosity, “giftivism”, and one of their keynotes: “ We focus on small acts with great love that create positive ripples in the world.” Taking a look at the website, or watching Nipun’s youtube videos, may inspire you to find new ways to engage radical generosity.

As with all these experiments, there’s no right way to do this one. The key is to offer yourself an opportunity to explore how your ways of being in the world have a direct and powerful effect on the quality of your internal life. Remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to allow judgments to arise, move through, and move on without your having to do anything about them or with them.

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