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We Signed Up For Kindness

Two People Dancing
Episode No. 212

Shambhavi talks about the unconditional kindness offered to the guest or the stranger in both European and Indian philosophical and spiritual traditions. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Podcast First Words

Student: I’ve been reading a book called The Art of Gathering. It’s really been affecting me and helping me see the dynamics of hosting—the dynamic of being a host and being a guest. And then I’ve been thinking about Shiva as the Host. I was wondering if you can riff a little more about that dynamic.

Shambhavi: There’s a wonderful experience that was expressed by a French philosopher named Jacques Derrida. I don’t remember his exact words. But he said in many ways, in different teachings that the guest is always arriving.

What this means is that everything’s always arriving. When we’re being the host, when we’re being like Lord Shiva—one of his many names is the Host— then we’re being ready and welcoming to whatever is always arriving.

We know that in many cultures the idea of the guest or the stranger arriving is something that is really central. When someone arrives we would take care of them. We would offer them food, drink, and a place to sit. We wouldn’t deny people a place at the table. That’s a very central idea to most ancient cultures and also to some contemporary cultures.

But we can think of the guest in this larger sense as that which is always coming towards us. We live in impermanence. There’s ever changing phenomena, and there’s always phenomena coming towards us. Those phenomena are comprised of wisdom. So there’s always wisdom coming towards us.