Thursday, January 20, 2011

Seva Cafe: Giving is Living

Seva Café is an experiment in the shared joy that comes from humble giving and selfless service. As we serve, we internalize the mantra of "Atithi Devo Bhava" which translates to "The Guest is God," a deep and ancient Indian view that honors each guest with reverence.

This was the experiment we wanted the kids to experience yesterday and today. Yesterday we took the Jamaalpur, Shankarbhuvan and Rama Pir No Tekra kids (9) and today we took the Ashramshalla kids (7). The kids truly enjoyed themselves in selfless service: washing dishes, cleaning tables, serving water, and welcoming guests.

After the kids were done volunteering, then we all sat down for a beautiful meal. This was the kids' first time ever eating at a 'resataurant' and so certain things needed to be explained, like what a fork is, and how you have to use a napkin to keep your mouth and hands clean. The beautiful thing was though it was all we could eat, there was no food wasted at all.

Sanjay ordered pasta thinking it was a grilled cheese sandwich. After a while, he asked me, 'do i have to eat this, i thought this pasta was supposed to be a sandwich". My response was simple, "Yes, please finish what you ordered. And next time ask. Make a habit of asking. Never assume, especially with stuff like this that you have never seen or had before." I kinda felt bad, but he understood and he needs to get in a habit of asking more, so this was a good chance for painless lesson.

Overall, the kids loved it! And want to know when they can come back to serve at Seva Café!

The joy of giving…


Here’s more background on Seva Café:

When you dine at Seva Café, you are not viewed as a customer, but instead as a treasured guest, as part of the Seva Café family.

Seva means service. When immersed in the heart of Seva, one finds a pathway to the Divine, and its this connectedness to which we ultimately aspire. Volunteering at Seva Café is a conscious exercise in staying tuned to that deep and true space of genuine service.

Our wholesome vegetarian meals are cooked and served with love by volunteers and by a small, modestly paid staff - mostly graduates from Manav Sadhna's Earn N' Learn program. Our menu changes daily and we offer a delicious variety of options, both Indian and continental.

When you dine at Seva Café, your meal is offered to you as a genuine gift, already paid for in full by previous guests. You become part of a Circle of Giving, which is modeled more closely to that of a family. Here, there are no bills. We leave it to you to pay it forward with your heart.

We hope everyone - volunteers, staff, and guests alike - all leave this space feeling more nourished - body, mind, and spirit - and that together we can help set in motion a more abundant, more generous mode of interacting that leaves everyone feeling happier and more closely connected. The inequities of our world derive from our own internal walls of separation from one another. As we grow in Seva, we leave these walls behind.

All of our costs and income are made clearly transparent, and 100% of any profits we take in are used to support social service projects. Please join us in participating in this genuine experiment in selfless service.

May we all grow together in love.

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