My home town, Pondicherry, is a place of significance whose foremost, among other, reasons for significance is that it serves as Home to Sri Aurobindo Ashram. People from India as well as from abroad visit regularly. There are a large number of people who offer service through volunteering. The Covid19 has been an year of many exceptions worldwide, and Sri Aurobindo Ashram too had seen its share of exceptional closures, restrictions, etc. I was reminded and a few vivid thoughts about Pondicherry and Sri Aurobindo Ashram crossed me by and this contemplative write up is a consequence of those thoughts and images of the Ashram.
While visiting Pondicherry or indeed even those who reside in that beachtown, some make it a point to visit Ashram; while in Pondicherry, there are some of them who seek opportunity to offer service. It may strike a bit surprising to you - there have been occasions when some of those seekers got handed a broom, and asked to sweep the floor. You'd get to notice some silently going about dusting or wiping clean the doors / windows, etc. There are also some who get to serve food / wash dishes in the dining hall, or assist people leaving their footwear, etc. Some of them, depending on the time of the day, are also assigned duty to guide visitors to Ashram, inform the visitors to maintain silence within the Ashram premises, etc. Those with relevant experience or expertise are also asked to teach / conduct a workshop at the school.
People did these tasks considering it as their offering to the Ashram. This, I am aware, included people from varied walks of life, age groups, public standing and stature. While some were business leaders / CXOs, there were others who were professionals, scholars, scientists, retirees, etc. It often occured to me that there seems to be certain common traits, notwithstanding the diversity, that defined these volunteers offering service:
- They used to do this work with the same level of consciousness with which they engaged in regular - important work meetings that had far reaching impact.
- (Particularly) Those with significant accomplishments and impact seemed to make it an habit to see their "role" and "responsibility" more keenly, than the term in their designation that defined their hierarchy.
- They used to do their work as best as they can & improve upon their earlier best, the same way that they expect from the systems and processes they design, enable, espouse / implement as leaders.
- Every day they appeared to do the work with the same excitement, enjoyment and dedication, and this was evident in the manner of their sharing anecdotes of the happenings around while they were offering service, their lived & psychological experiences, learning takeaways / realisation, etc.
These are the thoughts and ideas I have grown up hearing from my father since I was a 10 year old kid. Consciousness, Perfection as a journey, Dedication, Excitement are central to everything we do, he would often say and cite these above stated examples. I too began observing them as I grew up.
As I entered the professional career phase, and gained experience, there were occasions when I would revisit these thoughts and experiences. I wondered what possibly served as motivators to those people to adapt and to serve par excellence? Is it the environment? Is it the Faith? Or is it something innate that got them to strive to be as perfect? May be, something else?
The environment does influence, and it enables one to be conscious to focus on what they can achieve or who they can rise to become. Maybe, the consciousness that they invoke while in the process of offering their service within the Ashram premises helps them to realize their potential and with such a realization, they tend to serve and work as best and perfect as they can.
It seems to me that, their way of looking at "the God is in the details" paradigm makes (Boring) Business As Usual (BAU) to be nothing short of "Beautiful As Usual".