"Compassion is the radicalism of our time."
His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama
Recently Kell and I (Heaven on Earth Creations) were given an extraordinary experience to meet two people, Asha and Mahendra Mehta, who clearly understand humanity's inseparable oneness and to witness through their organization, the Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust, the kind of compassion in action that is expanding the consciousness of our species and exemplifying the way to save our planet. These humble people insist that what they are doing to alleviate human suffering is only "a drop in the ocean" and is not really "charity" but simply their duty to share what isn't really theirs with their brothers and sisters. However, we recognize the significance of their vast humanitarian efforts and are compelled to share their story with you.
See a Preview of one story to be featured in "Globalized Soul."
We have called it The Heart of Compassion.
The Heart of Compassion:
Heaven on Earth in India
While filming at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne, Australia, and after listening to His Holiness The Dalai Lama speak to the global spiritual community about our duty to exhibit compassion, we met Asha Mehta. Asha, from Mumbai, India, is a member of the Jain religion, one of the most ancient of religions with about 4.2 million followers around the globe, most of whom reside in India but with a community in North America as well. As lifelong followers of Gandhi--Kell having made the documentary "The Arms Race Within" (1984) about a Gandhian community setting out to stop a nuclear arms train through complete nonviolence--we eagerly asked her about Jainism's key principle of ahimsa. This is the concept of nonviolence upon which Gandhi, though Hindu, based his entire way of thinking, being, and acting.
Mahendra's Global Family
Asha invited us to contact her husband, Mahendra, and to come to India immediately to film his vision of ahimsa taken to its fullest flowering: where one doesn't just refrain from harming his neighbor or taking his life but actually helps his neighbor to live a better life. At the age of 65, Mahendra told us, he decided to broaden his view from just running a business and supporting his immediate family. It was then he made a commitment to extend his family to the family of the world. First, he extended his family to include Mumbai, especially the impoverished children there. From there, he extended his family far beyond.
Speaking about putting into practice the ideas of Gandhi he had read as a child and becoming "a disciple" of his mother's, who had taught him to "care and share what he had," Mahendra told us: "I give my time, which is not mine. I give my effort, which is not mine. I give my money, which is not mine. And what is mine? Except for my soul, there's nothing I have that is mine."
Following Our Bliss
Kell and I had followed our bliss, as Joseph Campbell once exhorted, by filming at the Parliament of the World's Religions, and suddenly we now found a door had opened that we hadn't even known existed! We were being invited by the Universe to fulfill our dream of visiting India for the first time and witnessing an event for which nothing could have prepared our hearts. Once again, as we have done so often in this work, we took a leap of faith! Once again, we said, "Yes."
Answering the Call to Palitana
We answered Asha and Mahendra's call to India-- our own souls' call, really--and through a somewhat circuitous route, all obstacles fell away. Within two weeks, we found ourselves arriving in Palitana, a small, noisy, joy-filled town in western India, the Jains' most sacred place. Staying at a "dharamshala" (rest house for religious purpose) amidst scores of Jain nuns and pilgrim families, we experienced a Palitana that each day attracts up to 100,000 beautiful, people of all ages arrayed in wildly colorful clothing, their faces painted with marks of sandalwood paste. Their spirits (or jivas from Sanskrit for "live") were clearly awakened, exultant, alive. One day at dawn, we joined this exuberant throng to climb the more than 3,500 steps to the top of the holy mountain Satrunjaya, home to more than 860 temples exquisitely carved out of marble, gleaming in the sun. Here the pilgrims gave their humble offerings, such as redolent red roses and rice.
The Miracle of the Mobility Camp
In Palitana we witnessed the "Mega Mobility Camp," which the Mehtas had manifested after six months of preparation. Within 10 days hundreds of joyful volunteers helped almost 30,000 of the poorest of the poor from rural India by giving them free prosthetics, wheelchairs, hearing aids, garments, and food. Here we witnessed a virtual flood of the suffering of humanity slowly transfigured through a miracle: the miracle that is caused by hearts with compassion, the miracle that changes chaos into loving harmony.
Hundreds crowd in to be near the Dalai Lama in Palitana, where he is much revered.
Kell filming the arrival of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at a Jain temple in Palitana on Jan. 3, 2010.
A Blessing by the Dalai Lama
A highlight of our stay in Palitana, and for the entire town, it seemed, as they crowded the streets to be near him and to revere him, was the arrival of the Dalai Lama to bless this largest such camp in history. He personally thanked the Mehtas for their compassion in action by gifting them with necklaces of fresh flowers: white and yellow chrysanthemums.
"That is great, great work and great service," His Holiness
stated about the Mehtas and their Trust, which began as a
small family enterprise and has blossomed into a global
non-profit crossing boundaries of nation, religion, and
culture with ease. "I really admire it."
Diamond Treasures: One Million Children
Please read more about the Palitana Camp by going to the website of the Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust ("ratna nidhi" meaning "diamond treasures," being both the source of wealth and signifying the belief that each beneficiary of the Trust's assistance is a diamond treasure). You will see that this Camp held from December 23 to Jan. 9, 2010 is only one of many camps, initiatives, and relief efforts the Trust has realized over 20 years as the non-profit lives Mahendra's dream of "helping one million children" during his lifetime.
Our Global Family
In addition to bettering the lives of so many throughout India, their vast humanitarian efforts have taken the Trust to danger and conflict-ridden locations in Afghanistan, Angola, Sudan, Kenya, Burundi, and Myanmar. Whereas in India, the Trust assists those with missing limbs due to accidents and diabetes, in these other regions, missing limbs are often the result of land mines.
The Greatest Joy
"A man came to us with one foot shorter than the other," Asha told us, "and after we helped him, he told us, 'God gave me life 65 years ago, and you have given me a second life by making my legs the same length… They come to us with crying faces, and they leave us with smiling faces. It is the greatest joy in my life."
Learn more about our new documentary about
the emerging global spirituality that is transfiguring our planet
through The Heart of Compassion, "Globalized Soul." Participate in the manifestation of "Globalized Soul."
Cynthia and Kell