Sunday, August 5, 2012

Why Nipun Mehta's commencement speech is making waves around the world

Nipun Mehta has never applied for a job. He has also not worked for pay in nearly ten years. Nipun writes on his website, Inner Net, that he wants to live simply, love purely, and give fearlessly. His life, he says, is "an attempt to bring smiles in the world and silence in my heart".

Given his background, it may seem odd that Nipun was chosen to address the graduating class of 2012 at the University of Pennsylvania in May. But what he said was so inspiring that not only did he receive a standing ovation but his commencement speech also began making waves around the world.

The theme of Nipun's address was... the benefits of walking. "You are some of the world's most gifted, elite, and driven college graduates and you are undeniably ready to fly," he told the students. "So what I’m about to say next may sound a bit crazy. I want to urge you, not to fly, but to walk. Four years ago, you walked into this marvellous laboratory of higher learning. Today, heads held high, you walk to receive your diplomas.  Tomorrow, you will walk into a world of infinite possibilities."

And then Nipun elaborated on his theme by talking about the 1,000-kilometre walking pilgrimage through India's villages which he undertook with his wife Guri in 2005.

Nipun told the students that soon after he and Guri ended their pilgrimage, his uncle wanted to know what he had learned from his walk. "I didn't know where to begin," Nipun told the students.

But quite spontaneously, an acronym — W-A-L-K — came to mind, which encompassed the key lessons we had learned, and continue to relearn, even to this day. As you start the next phase of your journey, I want to share those nuggets with the hope that it might illuminate your path in some small way too.

Those nuggets are sure to illuminate our paths, too. Read Nipun Mehta's commencement speech in full here: "Paths are made by walking".
  • Incidentally, Daily Good, the website that has published the transcript, is an unusual one because it features only good news from around the world. Surely, a site worth bookmarking.
  • Inner Net is Nipun Mehta's website. Access it here.
  • Thank you, Gabrielle Gonsalvez, for sending us the link to Nipun Mehta's speech. 
“I can’t believe people like Nipun Mehta even exist”

By Commitscion Poorvi Kothari (Class of 2014)

What amazing thoughts! I can’t believe people like Nipun Mehta even exist. His speech is truly inspirational.

We are all taught that life is a race and to win you have to make sure you are the fastest. Yes, in some ways that’s true but what about the other side? If you run all your life what is it that you have experienced? You have just “passed through” all the experiences without actually experiencing them.

I particularly liked a few lines from Mehta’s speech:
  • "When the things around you are seen as gifts, they are no longer a means to an end; they are the means and the end."
  • "When you come alive in this way, you'll realize that true generosity doesn’t start when you have something to give, but rather when there’s nothing in you that’s trying to take."
  • "Which is to say, don't just go through life grow through life. It will be easy and tempting for you to arrive at reflexive answers but make it a point, instead, to acknowledge mystery and welcome rich questions ... questions that nudge you towards a greater understanding of this world and your place in it."
Thanks for this one, Sir!

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