GROWING…Reflections for deep change J.M.Sampath, PhD and Kalpana Sampath, PhD


Insights-on a path to self discovery   

‘I’ is the fuel we need to burn to fly high (p15, Inner Realities,Insight Publishers, Bangalore, India, 2003).

We many times wonder, what is that one thing that will make the journey of a social entrepreneur stress free? Most of the times it is the ability to truly let go and discover oneself while discovering the society. The paradoxical part of this understanding is that only by complete submission and submerging, self discovery begins to take place and insights begin to emerge.  This has also been a strong eastern orientation that unless one does not let go and submit completely to anything, one cannot discover self.


The challenge for a social entrepreneur is to ask if one should go with answers to the field which requires their intervention, or should one submerge, experience the space, and let the answers emerge. The stress comes in when the social entrepreneur thinks they know what needs to be done, and begin to judge the space and develop interventions based on those judgments’, while the space may actually require something else. This begins right from the time the person steps in to do a baseline study of the targeted society.


Do I see what is or what I think it is? This is a critical reflection that one needs to do. When one is willing to totally let go of all assumptions and interpretations, but is willing to observe, absorb, and reflect on all that is existing the reality that emerges allows for answers that are not simply right, but also more appropriate. This parable describes the experience very well.


A salt doll journeyed for thousands of miles and stopped on the edge of the sea. It was fascinated by this moving liquid mass, so unlike anything it had seen before. “What are you?” asked the salt doll to the sea.“Come in and see”, said the sea with a smile. So the doll walked in. The further it went the more it dissolved till there was only a pinch of salt left. Before that last bit dissolved, the doll exclaimed in wonder, “Now I know what I am!”  (Sampath. J.M. story 90 Discovery – 3rd edition, Insight Publishers, Bangalore, India, 1998)


The saying that part is a dimension of the whole has been there for long. But it usually does not get integrated into the life perspective so easily. When we explore the world and its nature it is in reality an exploration of ourselves. For discovery to happen the essentials are:

  • Absolute openness to observe, explore, experience, and reflect to oneself
  • Willingness to identify the biases that arise in our mind and to set it aside
  • A strong connectivity to all that one is observing as happening in the society to what is happening within
  • Willingness to accept the context as it is and not judging the context from what it is not or what it ought to be
  • Allowing the subtleties to emerge and the process to show the pathway towards solutions
  • Required discipline and intensity to document every experience at the form as well as essence level
  • Willingness to learn to learn and not be in a hurry to conclude


To conclude and emerge as an expert has been seen as a mark of growth. But, the precepts of the eastern philosophy indicate that ‘knowing many a time stops one from knowing more’. It is the ability to recognize how little one knows, and the vastness of the universe and depth to which one can go to explore life—contains the real growth.


When we explore the society and the issues from this angle, we will not get stuck in the relationship of giver-receiver. There will be a realization that each one of us is also responsible for all that is happening in the world today and cannot pass the blame to anyone else. That realization is likely to bring in a sense of accountability to provide contribution to make any space a better place than what it is. This accountability coupled with action orientation will lead to emergence of certain pathways that one can formulate to respond to a particular situation. The word respond is very critical here, since if it is not out of a realization we tend to react, and reaction need not necessarily give appropriate actions. Journeying in these pathways gives space for solutions to emerge for several issues that plague the society and our existence. When we revisit the path traversed by several leaders and social entrepreneurs we realize at an essence level that it is the same as what is described above.  


Points for Reflection:


  • What are the methods I use to identify my biases as they emerge?
  • How do I discover more of myself as my mind suffers while studying the issues that plague the society?  
  • What is my own acceptance and intensity level in self discovery and how do I enhance it?  
  • At what depth am I able to experience my extent of accountability to all the things around me?
  • What are the things I do on an every day basis to take care of this accountability?


This is the fourteenth article in the series’ growing…reflections for deep change’.