Waking Up

April 26, 2011 — Leave A Comment

Narayanan Krishnan (pictured on the left) is an award-winning chef from Madurai, Tamil Nadu in India. He has worked with prestigious hotels for many years, including the Taj Hotels in Bangalore, and was on the short list for an elite job in Switzerland. Until something happened, something that compelled him to make a dramatic turn toward the extraordinary.

Krishnan describes the moment everything changed. While on a visit to see his family, he says. “I saw a very old man, literally eating his own human waste out of hunger. I went to a nearby hotel and asked them what was available. They had idli, which I bought and gave to the old man. Believe me, I had never seen a person eating so fast, ever. As he ate the food, his eyes were filled with tears. Those were tears of happiness.”

That was in 2002. As a result of that singular crystallizing moment, Krishnan quit his job as a chef and began feeding meals to the homeless in Madurai. The next year he founded the Akshaya Trust, a nonprofit that today serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to 400 indigent and elderly people in Madurai.

Here’s Krishnan’s story, in his own words:

VIDEO LINK (sorry, embedding has been disabled at the request of CNN):

To me, Krishnan is a great example of a soul waking up. How many times before this had he walked past the homeless and the hungry on the streets of Madurai? Probably hundreds. But this time instead of merely looking, he dared to really see them, and (more importantly) to see the beauty of God in them. As Mother Teresa famously said of the people she served, “Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.” But to willingly see the world in this way takes a great deal of courage, because we know intrinsically that if we do then life will not be about us anymore. It will be about something greater, a Noble Cause that has captured our hearts and broken it wide open. In our heart of hearts, we’re all hungry to spend our lives in service of a Noble Cause. But few are willing to really open themselves to that way of living because they suspect it will cost them everything. And the truth is, it will. But if that’s not what makes for a truly beautiful life, then what is?

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

As I read Krishnan’s story this morning, I wonder how awake I really am. I wonder how willing I really am to open my eyes and really see, to let it break my heart wide open, so I can truly live at last.

Are you awake?

Michael Warden

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