Paths Are Made By Walking

-by Nipun Mehta (Jul 27, 2012)

Sages have long informed us that when we serve others unconditionally, we shift from the me-to-the-we and connect more deeply with the other.  That matrix of inter-connections allows for a profound quality of mental quietude.  Like a still lake undisturbed by waves or ripples, we are then able to see clearly into who we are and how we can live in deep harmony with the environment around us.

When one foot walks, the other rests.  Doing and being have to be in balance.

Our rational mind wants to rightfully ensure progress, but our intuitive mind also needs space for the emergent, unknown and unplanned to arise.   Doing is certainly important, but when we aren’t aware of our internal ecosystem, we get so vested in our plans and actions, that we don’t notice the buildup of mental residue.  Over time, that unconscious internal noise starts polluting our motivations, our ethics and our spirit.  And so, it is critical to still the mind. A melody, after all, can only be created with the silence in between the notes. 

As we walked — witnessed, accepted, loved — our vision of the world indeed grew clearer.  That clarity, paradoxically enough, blurred our previous distinctions between me versus we, inner transformation versus external impact, and selfishness versus selflessness. They were inextricably connected. When a poor farmer gave me a tomato as a parting gift, with tears rolling down his eyes, was I receiving or giving?  When sat for hours in silent meditation, was the benefit solely mine or would it ripple out into the world?  When I lifted the haystack off an old man’s head and carried it for a kilometer, was I serving him or serving myself?

Which is to say, don’t just go through life — grow through life. It will be easy and tempting for you to arrive at reflexive answers — but make it a point, instead, to acknowledge mystery and welcome rich questions … questions that nudge you towards a greater understanding of this world and your place in it.

That’s W-A-L-K.  And today, at this momentous milestone of your life, you came in walking and you will go out walking.   As you walk on into a world that is increasingly aiming to move beyond the speed of thought, I hope you will each remember the importance of traveling at the speed of thoughtfulness. I hope that you will take time to witness our magnificent interconnections. That you will accept the beautiful gifts of life even when they aren’t pretty, that you will practice loving selflessly and strive to know your deepest nature.

I want to close with a story about my great grandfather.  He was a man of little wealth who still managed to give every single day of his life.  Each morning, he had a ritual of going on a walk — and as he walked, he diligently fed the ant hills along his path with small pinches of wheat flour.  Now that is an act of micro generosity so small that it might seem utterly negligible, in the grand scheme of the universe.  How does it matter?  It matters in that it changed him inside.  And my great grandfather’s goodness shaped the worldview of my grandparents who in turn influenced that of their children — my parents.   Today those ants and the ant hills are gone, but my great grandpa’s spirit is very much embedded in all my actions and their future ripples. It is precisely these small, often invisible, acts of inner transformation that mold the stuff of our being, and bend the arc of our shared destiny.

On your walk, today and always, I wish you the eyes to see the anthills and the heart to feed them with joy.

May you be blessed. Change yourself — change the world.

— Nipun Mehta  an excerpt from Paths are Made By Walking the 2012’s commencement speech at the University of Pennsylvania. [Creative comic above from Dharma Comics :-)]

About Pancho

To live in radical joyous shared servanthood to unify humanity.
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