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Board Member Spotlight: Interview with Birju Pandya

Oct 17, 2020

Tell us about yourself.

Good day! My name is Birju Pandya. My parents came to the USA from India, and I was born in the USA. I live in the bay area with my family and my days are focused on growing relationships of compassion and wisdom as best I can. I'm experimenting in several areas on these topics, looking to integrate them in life 'in the world,' A little about my journey through that below.

I have always wanted to serve, but my path of growth continued to shed light on more nuanced ways to put that intention into action. First, I thought if I could make a lot of money and be connected to powerful people, I could use that power to serve. That story ran into a limit when I saw what happens in power and money systems to keep the foundation intact. Next, I thought if money could be combined with values, then it would be a more skillful way to serve; this led me to the world of impact investing and social enterprise, business 'for good.' That story worked until I saw that the underlying wealth of the commons was being depleted through the way the game was set up - infinite growth is not possible on a finite planet. The next story was about using nature's wisdom to regenerate the commons - supporting ecology, community, and spirit in a way where profit was increasingly non-financial, with the intention of supporting harmony in the system. I still value that story, but I also see the pace of depletion far outpacing the rate of regeneration. This brings me to my general story of today - supporting deep adaptation and self discovery, acknowledging that 'modernity' may be nearing the end of its shelf life, and regardless of any imagined story of the future, wisdom and compassion are accessible in this very moment.

In terms of how I engage with these ideas in the world, aside from my family life, I work in 'integrated capital' investment offices and volunteer with several other organizations.

 

How does the DRBU mission resonate with/relate to your way of life?

The DRBU mission, to me, supports the idea of regeneration of the commons, and the path of self discovery. In particular, I have been deeply impacted by the Prajna Paramita sutra's (in whatever limited capacity I understand them!) and the nuanced idea of a bodhisattva. The idea of living into the paradox of life deeply resonates. These topics feel particularly meaningful to me as applied in 'samsara' - supporting people, growing soil, creating the conditions for the thriving of life and planting seeds for the reduction of suffering. The particular ways it plays out feels like a fractal to me.  

In the micro, every day I see the application of these ideas in the meetings I'm a part of, engaging with my family, etc. In the macro, it manifests in the topics I engage with, the communities I'm in relationship with, the geographies I'm connected to. It is not that I decided the macro elements, but that by holding the questions in the micro, the macro naturally self-organizes in ways that reflect such alignment.

And to be more specific with some of the activities of my life-

-With my work to invite self discovery (through groups such as ServiceSpace), I am seeing the opportunity to share the wisdom behind these concepts in ways that are applicable.

-With my work to reduce animal suffering (through groups such as Farmed Animal Funders and 50by40), I see how 'success' means fewer farm animals are born for slaughter, and hold the paradox of that possibility.

-With my work to name deep adaptation (through groups such as Resilience Funders Network and Deep Adaptation), I see how service with an outcome-orientation has a finite amount of fuel, as all outcome stories may eventually dissolve.

 

What inspires/motivates you as an individual?

I'm inspired by acts of love that I witness in the moment. I'm inspired by people choosing to live authentically. I'm inspired by those who can hold the space of 'not knowing'

I'm not sure what I'm motivated by! Perhaps, it is my natural state once I step away from my acculturation. To simply be in touch with my body's rhythms, notice that it is propelled, and to get out of the way of that.  It's a joy to wake up every day and discover more of my, and our, collective unconscious.

 

What does a meaningful or fulfilled life look like to you?

I don't know! Perhaps, there is no look to it that I could see and identify externally. Internally, today's answer is that I would be paying attention to my sense of aliveness, my sense of ease, my sense of connectedness, my capacity to say yes to the moment.

 

What message would you share with today’s world?

In this moment, what comes to heart is.... Thank you. I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me.