Serve Everyone, Feed Everyone: Lessons Learned at Arise Festival


This year’s Arise Festival in Loveland, Colorado was a stunningly beautiful reminder that festival culture offers a powerful context for selfless service and transpersonal immersion.

Above: Fresh juice from Sol Tribe Cuisine…about as close to liquid light as you can get.

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Neem Karoli Baba, the reknowned spiritual guru and lifelong adept of bhakti yoga, had a simple teaching to offer: love everyone, feed everyone, serve everyone.

Yogis call this loving, devotional service seva. It is the heat that warms the cold isolation of the separated self, the fire that incinerates our accumulated karma, which keeps us bound to individual habits and patterns.

Through seva, we rise from the personal self to the transpersonal plenum. We learn that others are reflections of ourselves. Why else would it feel so good to love and serve others?

Service is a profound opportunity. It is an opening, a portal to transpersonal understanding, a chance to see in the eyes of the other everything you have ever wished to know about yourself. It is an opportunity to redefine your identity by using the community (rather than the individual) as the unit of measurement.

And by doing so, you don’t become less than you were; you don’t become just another part of the whole. Rather, you become a whole that is greater than ever before. You become infused with all the life and structure of a larger identity gestalt that includes all those you have served.

The self grows by becoming one with the other.

In the words of A. A. Bailey and Djwhal Khul, “ the world is steadily coming to the realization that ‘no man liveth unto himself,’ and that only as love finds its outlet in service can man begin to measure up to his innate capacity.”[1]

Can festival culture teach us to serve others?

This year’s Arise Festival in Loveland, Colorado was a stunningly beautiful reminder that festival culture offers a powerful context for selfless service and transpersonal immersion.

The sacred space created by the event’s organizers, collaborators, and participants was truly special. Be sure not to miss next year’s event!

Enveloping artistic creations, yoga classes, heartfelt workshops, and blindfolded contact improv jams all provided a delicious nudge toward self-other union. Folk music, bluegrass, reggae, and all colors of the electronic music rainbow were seamlessly woven together into an ecstatic, high-fidelity tapestry.

Amidst all the shining and kaleidoscopic glory of the festival’s limitless experiential topography, though, I came to appreciate one of its simplest elements: the food that nourishes a community.

I was blessed with the opportunity to prepare and serve food with Sol Tribe Cuisine, a Denver-based collective of healthy food lovers whose capacity for loving service is as deep as the ocean. They provided the delicious and activated food at Resonance, Lightlab’s February 2014 event, and I look forward to partnering with them for many future events.

They’re currently running a Kickstarter campaign, and would love your support!

Food is a (delicious) form of love

Of all the ways I’ve participated in festival culture, I found feeding others to be one of the simplest and most sublime.

Physical sustenance is arguably the most basic of all human needs. As such, its provision catalyzes a deep and unparalleled love, a raw and quiet gratitude that softly and inevitably brings the ego to its knees.

When we feed others, we recognize that we all share the common needs of hunger and thirst. We are allowed to experience a visceral and immediate sympathy, and we realize that satisfying the needs of others feels pretty amazing.

Neem Karoli Baba was certainly referring to “feeding” in all senses of the word, but it all starts with biological necessity. Offering physical food to one another is a foundational action upon which conscious community can be built.

If we wish to learn how to feed each other emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, we must first establish a basis of genuine sympathy and common understanding. We must wish to offer nourishment for the sake of itself, and we must do so joyfully.

Because conscious community is always a place of nourishment.

A healthy ecosystem is one in which all elements therein support and balance one another—a system within which all participants feed and are fed in return. And as usual, we would do well to take cues from the biosphere when learning to live within a communal identity.

This living flow of balance and service is the core of interpersonal right relation. It is a lesson that is simple to understand and incredibly difficult to master—but we’re getting there.

When I attend a gathering as beautiful, coherent, and community-centric as Arise Festival, I’m reminded how much we’re all learning, how sorely our highest intuition yearns for conscious community, and how important it is that we keep this movement moving.

Thank you to all those involved with Arise Festival for creating a space of profound sharing and nourishment.

So what do you think?

Do you have any stories to share from Arise or other conscious gatherings? Does the autonomous zone offered by transformational festivals encourage loving service, altruism, and selfless psychology? Can their lessons be properly and sustainably assimilated into our everyday lives?

And speaking of service: don’t forget to check out Sol Tribe’s Kickstarter campaign. Help these lovely, selfless souls expand their dharmic journey of serving and nourishing others. Bless it!

[1] A. A. Bailey, Serving Humanity (London: Lucis Press, 1972), p. 12.


Ryan Greendyk

Ryan Greendyk is a conscious internet entrepreneur, writer, kundalini yoga teacher, psychonaut, and sacred space creator. He's pretty fond of tea ceremonies, entheogens, bass-beat wizardry and techno-shamanism, superfoods, gifting, fire spinning, alternative healing modalities, spontaneous outbursts of love, and spending quality time with God and friends. In a nutshell, he's dedicated to delivering others to their highest selves through the creation and promotion of communities, cultures, products, and programs built upon creativity, intentional play, and spiritual self-mastery. He is the Founder of Lightlab and the Producer of Lightlab Events.

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