What happens when you mix inspired visions with great global need, unified action and a dynamic willingness to “rest in not knowing”? Join Chip Richards for an intimate conversation with Bharat Mitra, the founder of Organic India and the festival / global movement of UPLIFT.
The shire of Byron Bay, Australia, has long been known as the ‘land of first light dreaming’. A place of sanctuary, ceremony and sacred connection. A birthplace of song-lines and new visions that are said to rise through the top of Mt. Wollumbin, to be made manifest in the world. Nestled in the rolling hills between ocean waters and this ancient volcanic peak is a slice of fertile land bordered by rainforest, streams and the flight of wedge tail eagles. This is the global headquarters of UPLIFT and home to Organic India founder Bharat Mitra.
As I walk along the citrus-lined driveway, past a silent bank of solar panels and one of several flourishing edible gardens, I am struck by both a quiet sense of ‘being’ in this place and an awesome air of productivity (later walks will reveal chicken pens, bee hives, thriving orchard… food and life growing everywhere). Bharat Mitra opens the door to his home on the hill and instantly I feel like I am being greeted by an old friend. He welcomes me in and our conversation begins to grow like seeds in the garden that will later feeds us.
As we begin, Bharat Mitra reflects on his early moments of awakening as a high school student of agriculture… his deep yearning for freedom and the sudden realisation that, “the entity I had always called ‘I’ was not real, but just an accumulation of beliefs, identities and conditions that came from the environment I grew up in. No one around me was really fulfilled or connected to purpose and I realised that unless I discovered how to live a life from that which existed prior to that ‘I’, there would never be fulfilment in this life.”
He goes on to share of his early quest to live his own version of a free and spiritually connected life, and the path that lead him to the feet of his master Sri H.W.L. Poonja, Papaji, in 1990. “At first it was just about breaking through old conditioning and reconnecting with myself, with nature… enquiring into what is truly my voice, my truth? What is the deepest longing of my heart? Spirituality for me became the freedom to move through countries and situations and experiences – present and grateful beyond measure, but without fully engaging or committing to the physical. Meeting Papaji was beyond miraculous and it was nothing like what I expected. While he was the most spiritual man I’d ever wish to meet on this earth, he was also incredibly grounded and present in the physical. For me more than everything else, Papaji was the ultimate embodiment of non-separation. Oneness, in action.”
Shortly before passing, Papaji told Bharat Mitra to start a limited liability company and at the time, Bharat Mitra didn’t even know what that was. But within a few months he found himself sitting in an office as the CEO of a company that was exploding into being. “We knew the vision for Organic India was to be a vehicle of consciousness but at that time nobody even spoke about social and environmental responsibility, so to speak about consciousness in business was incredibly unique.”
Organic India started as a trading company with a passion to share the wisdom of India and Ayurveda with the western world. But when they began to explore what it would take to grow their own herbs organically, they came face-to-face with the incredible devastation that chemical companies had inflicted on Indian farmers. This lead them to the revelation that the true purpose of Organic India was not just to be a conscious trading company, but to co-create an organic revolution in India. Flash forward 15 years and thousands upon thousands of acres have been converted back to organic, while thousands of farmers have been supported to reclaim thriving communities – not only financially but culturally, connected to their core values and heritage. Bharat Mitra describes Organic India today as “a living ecosystem in the heart of the corporate world,” where everyone is treated with love and respect, and everyone benefits, starting with Mother Earth. “The most important essential thing about Organic India is how productive and effortless it can be and how the nature of this ecosystem can nourish everyone involved with it.”
As Bharat Mitra unravels the story of Organic India, he shares many examples of how the path has revealed itself – sometimes with great understanding of vast implications and sometimes just one step at a time, but always in ways far more profound than they could have imagined or tried to make happen. “For me the real essence of co-creation is when a group of people aligned with a vision make themselves available for the Universe to co-create with them. Together, the possibilities expand beyond measure to achieve something far greater than anyone could have done alone.”
It is from this wellspring of vast possibility that Bharat Mitra shares the growing vision and phenomena of UPLIFT – a festival of transformation that began in Byron Bay in December, 2012, and is rapidly growing into inspired network of co-creation and growing global family of new earth visionaries. “Over the years I have been blessed to meet many inspired leaders, pioneers and innovators and I have come to recognise that while we have all these amazing people, organisations and innovations, most are working in isolation and separation from each other. Even some of the most successful individuals who are truly committed to being of service to consciousness evolution, the impact of their work is limited because they are trying to do it on their own.”
“UPLIFT is about creating a collaborative platform that allows inspired leaders from many different walks of life (world leading scientists, healthcare visionaries, artists, entrepreneurs, indigenous elders and evolutionary leaders), with complementary skills and wisdom, to come together and allow fresh creative impulses to reveal themselves in ways that are bigger than all of us.”
For eight days prior to the festival, UPLIFT presenters and facilitators gather together, not to promote their own personal work, but to leave their individual knowing at the door and spend time exploring what great synergies and co-creative possibilities may emerge from their collective gifts. The four-day festival, which is broadcast globally via the internet, is an expression of this convergence. “Through the networks and communities of each individual, we have the capacity to reach millions of people around the world during UPLIFT – infusing the human field with a shared experience of love and consciousness, and planting seeds of new projects and ongoing initiatives that many can join and be part of.”
For Bharat Mitra, more than anything UPLIFT is a call to action. “Each one of us – including all those who come to experience the festival – has our own unique gifts, purpose and role to play in this magnificent existence. It may appear to be small or big, but everything is required and it is only when we all come together that this new era can manifest. We truly can create oneness in action in the world.”
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