The Subject Tonight is Love -- and Dishes

Chris and Nikki guard the sink like compassionate warriors, setting everything up for the flood of dirty dishes to come. Even so they get kicked out soon from their self-assigned roles, as pleads of “go eat” become hard to ignore. Other hands move in to manage the onslaught of clinking bowls, plates, and cups. Leftovers get neatly scraped off the plates, which then get dipped in the warm water, rubbed with a brush, and lined up in the dishwasher.

It gets hard to figure out exactly whose hands are doing what. As I push Nipun out from the right, Pavi scoots in from the left. Moments later we’re both gently shoved out again with smiles from Shalini and Praveen. Rajesh works hard to get in on the scene as towels start to fly around drying the big pots, and glasses get stacked neatly in a drawer as they were found.

The post-meditation, circle of sharing tonight was about giving and receiving. One question was posed to the sixty people sitting silently around the weekly circle: What is something that you want to give away before you die? One person confidently responded, “The biggest thing I can give away is love.” Many others throughout the circle followed with a similar response. After having sat in meditation for an hour, it didn’t sound like such a cliché. I knew they meant it. It came from the depths of their being. This Love wasn't just a four-letter-word, but rather a feeling looking to explode past the confines of all expressions.

It reminded me of a very sacred moment I had while on a pilgrimage. As I was trying to sort things out in my mind, I literally stopped in my tracks one morning. Walking in a field, I realized that what I want above all things in life: is to be filled with love. And to let that flow out into anyone I come across. Perhaps that’s what we all seek -- to give and to receive love.

Watching friends fight over dishes, I knew it wasn't about the dishes.  They were passing on love, which can only be given in small doses, in the most ordinary of moments. They were saying, "Let me do the dishes", so someone else doesn’t need to. Everyone's cups were filled with love and it was spilling over. Naturally such a flow can’t be contained within the four walls of the home. It will go exactly where it needs to go in the world.

Love.  Such a simple yet profound emotion. No wonder that Sanskrit has 96 words to describe it.


  1. Anonymous2/20/2011

    Beautifully written Guri. this morning I was wondering about a friends question : what is one missing in life amongst all the material pleasures and constantly feel there is something still missing? I got the answer:these small doses of love!

  2. Anonymous2/20/2011

    Dear Guri, I wanted to compose a poem for this little moment of happiness you witnessed at your home.

    Dishes they were,
    Little dishes of invisible love
    Served on them.
    As they passed little eager hands
    Something was at play,
    Something out of this world was present
    Smiling at all the chatter,
    All the chaos.
    This air that flowed through
    In that moment
    Had a scent of that being
    So universally strong,
    So ever present,
    In the dullest of hearts,
    In the saddest of souls,
    In the most thoughtful ones
    And the least aware normals.
    This creature had a name
    A really little name
    Which was there when we came
    And which will remain
    After we leave.
    Its the name of "LOVE".
    The world would have been
    A really boring stack of cards
    Without this invisible
    Without this being
    Nothing could have been possible,
    Nothing could have held any meaning,
    Any significance,
    Any life,
    Any soul.
    Lets celebrate the presence
    Of the supreme emotion
    And spread it like little beams
    Into every life that crosses our paths,
    Now and forever.

  3. Arathi - wow! that's beautiful. :-)Thanks for capturing this in a poem.

    Anonymous - thanks for sharing that. It all comes down to those small doses of love. :-)

    With love,

  4. Guri, I was just thinking about this topic after I saw you on the street today! Nice writeup. And sweeet poem Arathi!

  5. Anonymous2/21/2011

    Aarthi, awesome, awesome poem... Faruk.

  6. Dear Guri,
    A thought occurred during a retreat, but i smiled and let it pass. After reading this, the thought recurred...maybe your family's surname ishould have been "the mettas" ...nipun metta, viral metta, guri metta, pavi metta...:)

  7. I love YOU

    On pondering over this pronouncement
    I find too much of I and YOU
    And love smothered between the two,
    Tangled with expectations of mutuality, of fulfilment.
    Many questions, many doubts
    Each intellectual answer
    Breeds more questions and more doubts.

    Do I love you because You are lovable?
    Then i must not stand between you
    And the shower of love
    That would naturally come your way.

    Do I love because I am loving by nature?
    Then I cannot make you an exclusive offering.
    I would love all that came my way.

    In either case any idea of ownership has to be docked.
    There would be no place for possessiveness, jealousy and anger.
    I have to work with dropping the I and the YOU
    And all the baggage that goes with it.
    Oh, it is quite a tapasya.

    How do I express love?
    As an arrow, sharp and straight, to kill and to conquer?
    Or as an all consuming fire, like the mid-day sun?
    Or as a gentle breeze laden with musk?
    Or as a ....distant echo?
    Does it get fully expressed at all?

    How does one receive it?
    With open arms,
    With a come what may attitude,
    Exposing ones most vulnerable parts,
    To be consumed, to be devoured?
    Is there an answer that fits all?

    What is love anyway?
    A thing to be given, to be received,
    A gift to be treasured, to be displayed, to be flaunted even,
    An asset, a liability perhaps, to be guarded,
    Stored and hoarded like a miser?
    Is it a mixed bag of feelings,
    At once warm and rosy and prickly and painful,
    A dream, a nightmare?
    Is it real or a flight of fancy?
    Is it a onetime act or an ongoing play
    To be played for life,
    Life after life?
    Is it an action, a give and take,
    Or just a reaction,
    A transaction perhaps,
    With a balance sheet and a profit and loss account
    At the end of the day?
    None of these gives the feel,
    None of these captures even its shadow.
    It is surely beyond words.

    Is it a state of the being?
    Or perhaps the being itself?

  8. made me think of the many big and small does of love we've received in that corner house. And you inspire people to write such good comment poems!

  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ptFTJekS00&feature=related

    i think you'll enjoy the song:)


  10. Ganoba-ji - what a beautiful, thought-provoking poem. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. And I hope you're doing well in India.

    Vinod - I hadn't heard this before. Definitely one to cherish. Beautiful lyrics and the tune. Thank You!

  11. aha! it was "you" behind the Supernova of Love! :-) Little did "I" know the verses were coming from this source ;-)

    May the power of love permeate our communities in every corner in every minute.