Service, in its purest form, is the awakened implementation of our Truth. When we are truly in Service, we are doing what we are born to do. We are benefitting others and we are attuned to that. Those on the receiving end know it as well. We are in our flow, experiencing Infinitude and the appropriate level of abundance that supports our mission. We love life. We love what we do. We feel Joy. We are in our element. It is not work when we serve. It is neither a chore nor a direct exchange of labor for compensation.
When you are in Service, you would pay to do what you are doing and possibly already have, through your efforts to discover how you can best serve others.
Service is heart-based intention. It is passion. Its origins lie in Truth and Love.
It is alignment. It is whistling while you work. The Service that we are called to do can be clear from the get-go. It can also be stumbled upon. Sometimes it is the pearl in the oyster, discovered after years of subtle or abrupt life friction.
The Service you were meant to do in the world may lie on the other side of the next false path or distraction. It may elicit naysayers of the closest loved ones or the strongest of support beams from strangers.
Service links you to your tribe.
It seeks you while you hide.
It drafts you.
It methodically hones your skills.
It may require Courage, Perseverance and Faith.
Your Service can be a lifelong endeavor. It may evolve and change. You may have special unrelated assignments.
You may execute a single surgical strike of a miracle.
It can be a side project of the soul.
You may serve in unheralded ways. You may initiate the “Butterfly Effect.” You may plant the seed that plants a seed that plants a seed.
You may be the unknown inspiration. You may be the muse that summons a poem that sparks a thousand loves. You may nurture the child that cures an epic malady.
Service is also simply helping anyone in need. It is the Generosity of giving time, presence, comfort and aid. It is a tithing of self. Service can be a temporary lending of a skillset without remuneration or recognition. It can also provide the lowest level of skill that we may be capable of giving─ and doing so with Humility and without ego.
Service lets us know that there is no chore in serving others that is beneath us. It is a Meditation and exchange of Energy, transforming giver and recipient. It is a way of being on-call, standing by, being on the ready for whatever purpose we may serve in helping others. It can be a validating look or comment at the moment someone needs it most.
With Service, we ask others: “How may I ease your suffering?” It is an expression of one’s Divinity in recognition of the Divinity of others.
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” -Peter, Judeo-Christian Bible
Yoga is a comprehensive system of “bending towards Communion,” just as the entire Periodic Table of Spiritual Elements is. The physical postures are just one aspect of the overall practice. Seva, or selfless service, is another element of yoga. Seva has nothing to do with touching one’s toes and everything to do with opening one’s heart and shedding one’s ego.
Seva is the Joy of Service. The word is derived from the Sanskrit meaning “together with.” It is an integration of server and served. It is an exercise of Communion and compassion in order to assist and lift up. Amongst many descriptions of Seva, I like the one that centers on living in community. In yogic traditions, living in an ashram or community-living center dedicated to spiritual/yogic studies is a common practice for many. People from all over the world and from a diversity of backgrounds come to the ashram to study.
Like any community, there are mundane and unglamorous chores to be done. Seva is the practice
where participating students partake in this workload. Indeed, it is viewed as an integral part of their study and personal development.
A student may have a grand background of esteemed academic credentials and conventional success. Still, he or she may be assigned to scrub toilets at the ashram. While doing this and similar tasks, students learn to work with no ego and with the joy of altruistic selfless Service to the greater cause. When each is completing their Seva, the community as a whole is kept in working order.
Seva can be a Meditation as well as we shed ego and identity to conduct chores with Humility. Seva is also Communion as we become one with the Service we are providing and those who we provide the Service for.
Seva can also be done outside of an ashram. When we Serve others who suffer in some manner, who might be viewed as most in need, underserved or disenfranchised, we are practicing Seva.
Seva provides double dividends. It is intended to transform the server while assisting the served. It is a tithing of self; it is in this giving that the server receives the gift of Communion, which is the transforming Energy of Divinity.
“It is Seva that accelerates the awakening of a seeker and lights the path to God.”
Blessed Be the Weak, the Persecuted, the Outcasts and the Ostracized
“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” -Mahatma Ghandi
Even though this quote is attributed to Ghandi, it contains a concept stated in many forms by others. In the mainstream Christian Bible, Jesus lived in observance of this concept by spending time with and serving lepers, prostitutes, the poor, the infirm─ and tax collectors, of all people.
The element of Service puts special notice out to all: “Watch out for those who truly need our help. When you see them, help them.”
This notice includes those who may be judged as somehow less-than, undesirable or untouchable. Service demands we help those most in need without judgment. Service demands that we practice Respect and see the Divinity within all. It demands that we seek Justice for those who are persecuted and disenfranchised. It demands that we summon all of our powers of Empathy and exercise the Golden Rule to our highest capability. It demands that we Love our Enemy.
When we are in Service, we shed our egos and we shed our need to be right. We shed conditioned beliefs and simply help people who need our help. We lift people up who are feeling down. We give voice to those who need a voice. We validate all as God’s children.
Service has no patience for intolerance. Service puts Love over Judgment.
When your Truth is living in constant Service to the disenfranchised, providing for the most basic and mundane needs without recognition, you might be called a living saint. While saints can be living example of the virtues of Service, we need not achieve sainthood to help others selflessly. We can simply try to help as best we can and look for opportunities to do so.
The Leader as Servant
Those in positions of authority are often served by others through the structure in which they have power or through the benefits (financial or otherwise) brought forth by their position. The human ego is subject to excitement and expansion under such conditions. The ego loves power, control and the appearances of “importance.” A person can come to be self-important when his or her ego is activated in this way. They can come to think that their needs and desires matter more than those of others. They can become a “diva” or an autocrat.
Because of the inherent dangers of ego expansion, the spiritual element of Service serves special notice to people in positions of authority to maintain Humility and a mindset of assisting and uplifting those that may be “beneath” them in whatever artificial hierarchy they may operate within. In this way, Service mandates a special duty for leaders to not abuse their power. More importantly, it also calls for them to create an environment conducive to the success, growth and expansion of those with less power than they.
Service sees leadership as stewardship flavored with Nurturance and Empathy.
Therefore, Service creates a special mandate to lead with Humility and Respect for those under one’s charge. Leaders have a special duty to serve and protect those they lead and to help them grow. Good leaders see their positions as an honor and a blessing and are wary of the potential for abuse and self-importance. They constantly ask themselves how they might better serve those around them. They constantly monitor themselves so as to not take advantage of their position of power.
Through Service, we can recognize leaders in families, amongst friends, in caretaking relationships, in workplaces, in teaching environments, and in cultural and civic institutions. In all these environments, there are opportunities for leadership and also opportunities to serve.
“A leader is best when people barely know that the leader is present. When the work is done, the aim fulfilled, the people will say: we did it ourselves.” -Lao Tzu
Distraction Under Guise of Service
Of course, there are worse things that a person can do other than Service to distract one from other issues. The ramifications are the same, though. Distraction through Service might provide temporary hits of external validation or relief from internal pain, and that is about it.
True Service, on the other hand, comes from a place of strength and a strong sense of self. We have to be careful of hidden agendas of the psyche that run on fear and avoidance when we decide to serve. After all, what better way to hide from our own Healing needs behind the veil of Service to others? Why not place one’s own needs on the back burner while we remain constantly on-call for others? People will think we are saints. Only we will know, however, that we are serving to avoid our own pressing issues─ or maybe we are just too busy to be even be aware of them.
Our Service can help us to Heal and transform as we open our hearts. It can help us find our Truth so that we can actually provide greater Service in the long run. Truly serving from the heart comes with a responsibility for greater Self-Awareness, consistent Mindfulness and engagement in personal Healing processes. If we commit to our own growth and Healing, then we will know for sure that our Service is not simply a way to pass the time as a distraction from our own needs in a way that looks good to others.
We have to take care of ourselves. We have to ask ourselves if we are serving others at some cost to ourselves, or if we are somehow “paying penance” or avoiding being with alone through it. This is a tricky, fine line for people to discern concerning this element, but it is a phenomenon to be aware of.
The payoff in being Mindful as we serve is greater Healing of self, greater Service to others, a greater sense of Equanimity, and a greater likelihood of Communion with Divinity through our Service.
“Serve always with the feeling that one is serving the Supreme Being.” -Sri Anandamayi Ma
An Honest Day’s Work
Sometimes the best Service we can give is simply an honest day’s work. We may not always be in the position of living our Truth exactly as we would wish to. We may have a day job merely to “pay the bills.” Here we can still find meaning. We can serve others as best we can in the mindset of respecting ourselves and not conflicting with our Truth. We can get a fair wage. We can value co-workers. We can go out of our way to make a customer happy and treat them how we would want to be treated. We can validate others’ feelings and presence. This is Service too.
“Work is the search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor, in short for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.” -Studs Terkel
Love, Gratitude, Devotion, Respect, Empathy, Nurturance and Generosity help to open the heart so that desire for Service naturally emerges.
Humility and Non-Judgment must be present with Service as we serve without judgment of its recipients and we serve in deference and Devotion to God without self-importance.
Non-Attachment foregoes any need for recognition or ego identity with Service.
Freewill provides volition to volunteer for Service.
Mindfulness and Self-Awareness help us to provide Service from a place that honors our own Divinity and that of others.
Our own Healing helps us to provide Service from a Divine source
- The main practice for Service is to actually get out and start serving others. Is there a local homeless shelter or humane society that needs volunteers? Is there a neighbor, family member or friend who could use an extra hand? At the same time, work separately on your own self-Healing and other forms of Communion with Divinity.
- Participate in hands-on activities by being involved in a well-minded non-profit or grassroots organization. This will help you commit to a regular schedule of Service, upon which you can build by simply being of Service to those you encounter on a daily basis, as well as your friends and loved ones.
- Serve Nature. Engaging in environmental conservation.
- Implement a specific pro-bono program to your client base, if applicable.
- Consider what groups in society are marginalized, such as people of color, the poor, women, or non-straight persons (LGBT). How might you serve these groups?
- Seek no reward or recognition for your Service, as a practice in Humility. Teach and support others to provide Service in a healthy way that benefits all.
Please Let My Service Be Known; Please Let Me Serve.
I Know Who I Am; I Wish Happiness for All Others.
Please Allow My Heart to Open; Please Help Me to Understand the Needs of Others.
I Seek Relief for All in Pain; I Seek Relief for All Who Suffer.
Please Help Me to Serve with Love and Humility, Without Judgment.
May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature
May all beings be free.