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Our First Guests Today: A Monk And His Friends

Fifteen minutes before opening, a crew of 12 people is buzzing with excitement at the doors. Among them, there is a Buddhist monk. When you have a monk waiting to be the first guest, you know it's going to be a day full of loving-kindness. And it was. 

As one of the volunteers comes out to put the Karma Kitchen (KK) sign at the door, he greets the enthusiastic guests and lets them know that we are about to open. The last time that the volunteer and the monk had met (at a Wednesday!), he wasn't in robes.  A beautiful moment of smiles.  The monk thought of bringing his community members to KK to learn about generosity, positive karma and the gift-economy, since some of the youngsters in the crew were very skeptical about such an idea.

Even before they order, a woman in the group loves my KK t-shirt:  "Where can we get one?" Little did she know that it is a renowned CF tag (like this and this) to give away t-shirts off our backs. So I go in the back, change my t-shirt and offer her my KK t-shirt!  Everyone on the table is in complete awe, especially the teens, but it is overshadowed by the huge smile, laughter and joy of the woman herself.

Perhaps inspired by the monk, everyone on the table eats in mindful silence for 15 minutes.  As I return to the back, the server on their table tells me that their skepticism is melting like a snow ball on a hot summer day!  After some stories and hugs, their cup of gratitude starts to fill up.  And how does a 15 year old respond when he gets blown away by generosity?  He offers to do the dishes!  The server acknowledged the beauty of his intention and kindly explained that there wasn't enough room for them to join the dish washing crew, but perhaps they could volunteer next time they visit.  

The server is truly blown away by the transformation she witnessed in front of her eyes. In fact, we all are blown away! 

But that's not it. 

At the end, they called for me, to gift me a hug.  One by one, more than a dozen of them, hugged me and at the end, we all just meshed into a giant collective hug.  Even the monk offered his version of a hug: palms together and a head bow.  It felt like love was just oozzing out of all of us.

Soon after, I got another email of a follow-up discussion the group had with another KK volunteer.  Everyone was radiating from their KK experience.  "Why can't the whole world be like this?"  "Love was just in the air." "Were these just everyday volunteers, who had never worked together before? What gets them to be so nice?" "I wonder if the same food would taste as good, if it wasn't a Karma Kitchen day?" "Generosity really creates more generosity."  And the youngest amongst them, a 12 year old, said to the volunteer: "I love this KK t-shirt."  It was the maroon version of the KK t-shirt, different my white one.  And sure enough, by the end of the conversation, a wowed-kid had been tagged with that t-shirt.

Hosting a monk is a great reminder that generosity really does generate more generosity.

--Pancho on Dec 27, 2010

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