After the first hour of silently sitting with 60 strangers, I was slowly starting to understand why Kunal has been so passionate about this community in Santa Clara. It really started to make sense during the second hour, as someone read a piece about love being the source of fearlessness and each person in the room had the chance (if they wanted) to share any quick thoughts/reflections. A Japanese Buddhist shared her fears after her mother died in the earthquake, an Indian-American Hindu shared about applying love to his job as a teacher, a Jewish American shared the Hebrew concept of family…
As cliché as it sounds, I began to realize that this is what a good society might look like, in which we are connected by the profoundly common truths between our various beliefs, rather than divided by the nuanced differences.
The night was an incredible expression of how Brene Brown describes spirituality:
Recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.
In his book Acts of Faith, Eboo Patel writes about the intentionality that is required to achieve this type of spirituality / good society:
Religious pluralism is neither mere coexistence nor forced consensus. It is a form of proactive cooperation that affirms the identity of the constituent communities while emphasizing that the well-being of each and all depends on the health of the whole… It is an intentional commitment that is imprinted through action.
What was perhaps most incredible to me at that home in Santa Clara was how just a little “intentional commitment and action” created such a beautiful community. Nearly 20 years ago, there were just “three friends who decided to sit in silence, every Wednesday, in an ordinary living room with no teachers or gurus, no set agendas or proposed beliefs.” And now, their Awakin Circles have spread to 80 different cities and have (deeply) impacted hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of lives.
And so our Amal team is trying to spread this action and intentionality during Ramadan in Lahore, and has been hosting small meditations, reflections and Iftar dinners each week in our office. It’s just a small step, but it’s incredible to realize that, in the words of the beloved Allama Iqbal, “man’s truest khudi [self] achieves fulfillment only in the Community.”