Be the Cause

Guest is God

Brain Surgery!  Doctor, Doctor, can you help me?  There is a hole in my mind.  I once knew how to function logically, now I seem to have lost all perspective, in short, I’ve lost a grip on my reality.  As if my existence has turned to rose pedals and they float and extend in every direction.  What was once up, now I find beneath my feet.  What was once inside, now travels outside. 

My assumptions on life, my judgments of others don’t help me anymore.  In fact, they only get in the way.  They once dictated my behaviors, now they paralyze me.  They keep me from moving, from reaching, from flying.  Rose pedals grow wings, become birds, and reach the sky.

I wake up on Saturday mornings with a smile, knowing that I will have to work harder today than any other day of the week.  … and I smile.  Doctor, Doctor, there is something wrong with me.

I look forward to expanding the ever growing hole in my mind.  I look forward to slipping into it, to falling down in it, to losing all sense of direction in it.  In it, there is only movement.  No conscious choice of direction, just random movements.  Yet, it seems orchestrated.  I feel as if something is dictating my motions, I seem to have lost control, and it feels so very beautiful.  To give in, to let go, to let loose, to submit, to bow, to fall into, this is what dreams must be made of.  I keep falling, yet it feels as if I am actually floating upward. 

Four Saturday’s together.  It started then.  Maybe it was the rendition of a loud Led Zeppelin song, but something tore into me that night.  I haven’t felt quite myself since, Doctor, Doctor, can you help me, I think there is something right with me. 

2 weeks ago, a friend of mine washed dishes for five hours straight.  The plumbing pipes were clogged so he even had to manually transport filthy water from one room to another.  After five hours of this laborious work, he said he would be back every Saturday for more.  Then it hits me again!  Every dish we wash, every sandwich we make, is an opportunity for us to grow in our hearts.  Every guest gives us an opportunity to reach down inside, and to pull a piece of ourselves outside.  To bring our hearts out in the open.  Even hearts can grow wings.

The best thing I can do with my life is to put my heart in my hands and offer it to you as a genuine gift. 

Four weeks ago.  The hole started.  I began to serve.  The room went black and white.  Only a single envelope was in vivid color.  All of my senses, awareness and focus was directed to this colorful object.  I turned to my guest but he blended into the black and whiteness of the room.  I knew then, that I wasn’t fit for love.  Every restaurant that I had ever walked into was built as a function of profit.  Concerned with how much revenue they would earn, I was a financial transaction.  Although we are humans, we are also numbers.  I see this aspect of society in my own brain.  I need a hole.  If my mind is concerned with how much money will be left in the envelope after my guest’s meal, then I cannot serve with love.  Greed and Love cannot co-exist.  So the envelope must become a periphery aspect of my relationship with my guest.  At the core, is my heart, connected with his heart.  Even envelopes can grow wings.

At the end of the night, I find an envelope with $250.  The guest had ordered one sandwich, one soup, and one drink. 

The money comes in.  Now I’m concerned.  Now I know there is something wrong in my brain.  Now, all of a sudden, I don’t want the success of this project to be measured by how much money it pulls in.  Maybe the more money it pulls in, maybe the easier it gets to forget that true success is measured in the intangibles.  The fact that we came together, that love existed in our actions.  Now I hope that the money doesn’t overshadow what this is really about.  Are we learning to see love in every dish, in every sandwich, in every guest, and in every envelope?  Are we learning to serve with genuine love in our hearts… now that is success.

2 weeks later.  A homeless man leaves 93 cents, everything he had on him, to pay for a future guest’s meal.  Maybe he needs a doctor too.

Life is a surprise.  Week 1, five folks from the Bay Area drove down, two of them were a surprise.  Week 4, four folks drove down from the Bay Area, all of them were a surprise.  While they were here they washed dishes, bussed tables, made sandwiches, took orders, and smiled.  The woke up before the sun came up, drove 6 hours, 500 kilometers, to work all day.  The next day, they woke up, drove 6 hours, 500 kilometers, and went to work the next day.  I wonder if there is a conspiracy, and if many others have holes in their brains.  Maybe this degradation of logic and sensibility seems to be spreading across the planet.  Alert the Center for Disease Control, I think we have an epidemic on our hands crazier than the bird flu!  I think it is air born, is transmitted through emails and blog entries.  Through dirty dishes and portabella mushrooms.  Through smile cards, hand shakes and warm hugs.  Through someone opening a door for someone else, through a child, holding the hands of a complete stranger.  I feel infected.  Symptoms include staying up late sending emails, listening to music, crying for no reason, falling in love with everything, with everyone, with every moment.  Bowing for no reason, feeling gratitude for no reason.  Loss of appetite, loss of worry, loss of concern.  An over expansion of the heart.  A desire to do something for someone else.  I wonder if there is a fix to this fix.  I’m jonesing for another hit, and it’s only Wednesday.

Guest is God.  That’s what they say.  To treat every guest as if they are divinity.  But we don’t buy that here.  In constant debate over what God is, we don’t risk treating our guests with our confusion :).  So we find our own way.  Sudi washes dishes for five hours.  Srikanth works non-stop.  Shweta’s ready to give it all.  Raju takes over.  Manuri equilibrates.  Rajeev commands.  Gianna funkdefies.  Marcella smiles.  Elizabeth is in control.  Watch out, here comes Carolina.  Nirali, presence.  Dustin, that’s my boy.  Peter walks through.  Laura, one heart, at a time.  Britanny, all eyes.  Bharti, the anti-mom.  Lisa, Mom.  Alicia and Buddy … enough said.  Who’s left?  You.  Me.

Do it, week in and week out.  Then we realize that to be able to pump in the kitchen, or to serve the guests is an amazing opportunity.  We get to grow in our hearts.  Then we get to see that this opportunity exists only because of the guest that has walked into the room.  Every door opening, is a door opening within us, to somewhere new.  Every door opening, is an opportunity walking through.  Then there is gratitude.  The hole gets bigger.  The envelopes don’t matter anymore.  We are no longer giving anything to the guest, now they are giving us something.  An opportunity.  To grow wings.

Then the hole widens.  Gratitude spills over.  Now its not just the guests anymore.  Even the other volunteers are creating an environment that allows us to serve.  Now its every person in the room.  There is gratitude.  Slowly, Guest becomes God, the person washing the dishes becomes God, the person next to you making sandwiches becomes God, the sandwich becomes God, the Sun-Dried Tomatoes become God.  The air we breath, the music from the speakers, the sandwich toaster.  Everything becomes slow motion.  Niyati wipes down the tables at the end of the night, and I see God in every stroke of her hands.

11:15pm.  Bones are tired.  We are standing outside and Biba’s words start to come true.  The whole world does seem like a Seva Café.

I slip into the hole.  I’m glad.  My life seems to be moving in a direction towards love.  In a day when many brothers and sisters are moving their lives in a direction towards violence, towards hatred, toward anger, towards greed, towards ego.  My life seems to be floating in a different direction.  The hole in my brain seems to be serving me well. 

Doctor, Doctor, I think I’ve got it figured out.  Forget about me, lets worry about you.  I think your mind needs surgery.  Come, wash dishes.  The soap on your hands is strong, it’ll burn through your brain cells.  

What was once up, now I find beneath my feet.  Heaven.  What was once inside, now travels outside.  Heart.


  • Nirali Shah


  • Srikanth

    It takes a special group of people, at the right place, at the right time, with the right mindset, to share an experience as profound as the Seva Cafe. More so, it takes a humble, self-less, and loving soul to inspire others to give up their saturday evenings to share in a common goal. Sukh, we see God in you. The world is a better place with your mere presence and the positive energy you radiate.

  • BeTheCause volunteers,
    You all have wings.
    I saw those wings at Manuri’s place on 1st Seva Cafe
    and I can see them from Calgary today.

    SEVA will SAVE this planet.

  • gianna

    What the bleep? Now you’ve really gone down the rabbit hole…and I’m so glad. Oh my…my heart is fuller than full. “Let the love shine…let the love shine thru..” It already has and wowza! I’m so lucky to witness this expansion of love…in this cafe…far flung…with special sauce…into this world.


  • Manuri

    Seva Cafe… that’s one place with so-oo much love. Too much in one place that makes people cry and do unbelievable kind things.
    Rest of the world sure can use a little bit of that feeling. I didn’t realize how much till I was totally (physically) away from Seva Cafe & Be the Cause.

  • Alissa

    Really incredible to have the opportunity to share Seva with you all. Thank you for your willingness to help others and to reach out your hands and hearts to give. It is an honor to know you.

  • I’ll read a lot on this blog, lots of service, caring for others with tenderness and love…

    Y’all just fill my heart with joy! : )

  • Dustin Halliwell

    Every week I am taken back by the love that flows through the Seva Cafe. I have made that statement so many times. And I’ll say it again. I just can’t help but be overwhelmed by all of the deicated people who spread that love every Sat night. I feel truly honored to be in the prescence of such incredible people, and equally so to be able to do what I can to serve others. Wow this is long, thanks guys

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