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The taste of basic goodness

Photo by Rupert Weis.

dharma Photo by Rupert Weis.

So recently I was invited to attend a training camp for social entrepreneurs, that aims to, as co-founder Raul de Anda said to me, “turn entrepreneurs into the next army of soldiers who will solve Mexico’s BFPs [Big Fucking Problems]”. Its called Unreasonable Mexico, and its based in Aguascalientes, Mexico. They hold a training camp every year, called Unreasonable Institute, where over 50 mentors and investors meet with 15 social entrepreneurs, to help them thrive and have a positive impact.

I was there for only 2 days and it blew my mind.

The ideas from these small companies are all amazing, and we can all check out what these brave people are doing to solve some of the most urgent problems in Mexico. I say “brave” because you have to have balls to quit high paying jobs to start your own company, to help solve the world’s biggest problems. Just to name a few:

Kessel: Produces heating systems that reduces 80% of the costs and, my favourite part, no maintenance is needed so users can become independent from centralised basic services.

Learny: Designs videogames that help children learn basic math, Spanish, biology, all in a fun way. Not only that, the platform can also calculate data related to the child’s natural skills, so parents and teachers can spot strengths and weaknesses. Pretty amazing if you ask me.

Gammakat: Turns garbage into diesel. Waste in Mexico is definitely a BFP, and Gammakat will do something about it. No more to say about this awesome project.

Dilo en señas: Badass app that teaches Mexican sing language to little kids that were born with hearing impairment, through tablets/smartphones. Language is crucial for intelligence development, so teaching it to kids at early ages is really important, otherwise they can’t develop their mind skills. By the time parents accept their child’s condition, adapt to it, and then learn sign language, a child has lost valuable time to develop the skills needed to do some critical thinking in life.

There are other projects (like providing healthcare for very poor communities, teaching teens to love problem solving and helping indigenous communities become profitable through selling their traditional arts and crafts) but there was something else I sensed that I haven’t felt before: Every single person around me, at the Unreasonable Institute, were good people. But not just nice people, they all emanated a truthful intention. You could sense it in their eyes, their voice, their mere presence.

It’s hard to put into words because it sounds like such a cliché, but the best way to put it is they were the real deal: Natural born healers.

You don’t have to be buddhist to be an actual bodhisattva. Sure, maybe they have issues, maybe they have imperfections like the rest of us, but these guys are basic goodness in the flesh.

I asked them: why did you leave your company in Europe, why didn’t you pursue a high paying job instead? They all answered, in their own words: because not helping is meaningless, because there is so much work to be done. Their authenticity made me feel stupid for just asking the question. It was a humbling experience.

After I left, I confirmed what I had been thinking a few months ago: Just like one doesn’t have to turn to orthodox buddhism to practice basic goodness, a sangha (wholesome community) does not have to be buddhist to exist and do good in the world.

In my first years as a buddhist I kept thinking everyone should have a taste of the buddhist teachings. After being with these guys in Aguascalientes, now I keep thinking everyone should have a taste of a genuine intention to help that is so hard to come by these days.

It transforms you. It shatters your inner pain and self-doubt. It messes with your mind in the best of ways.

So now my wish is: may all beings bump into a genuine wholesome beings like the people at Unreasonable Mexico.