The Tao of Service
There are so many conflicts on earth today; in people’s personal lives and in a broader, worldly way. People feel happy when they contribute to solving their own problems and those of others.
The good feeling only remains when your service is balanced with yin and yang. What do I mean by that?
Service as a spiritual Practice
Service is a spiritual practice that is emphasized in all world religions and most spiritual paths. The life of Jesus Christ is a perfect example. In yoga there is a special branch, called Seva Yoga, the yoga of selfless service.
“Do not believe that you can by means of service reform or reshape the world. You may or may not; that does not matter. The real value of service, its most visible result, is that it reforms you, reshapes you. Do service as a spiritual discipline; then you will be humble and happy. “- Sathya Sai Baba
Different Aspects of the Tao of Service
Connecting with the Divine
“Go back and do your duty without desire for fruit and without sacrificing efficiency. This is the highest service that you can render!” – Swami Nityananda
The quote above has two elements in it; to serve without desire for the fruit of action and to serve efficiently. If you read the Course of Miracles it emphasizes how to align your will with Divine will. Then the Divine will may use you as its instrument and work through you in the most efficient way.
Marianne Williamson writes in her book “Return to Love” that when we surrender to God, we surrender to something bigger than ourselves; to a universe that knows what it’s doing. This approach has two basic elements; the yin-aspect of surrendering your ego-will to the Divine and getting things done efficiently, the yang-aspect.
The seven Levels of Service
The following illustration of the I AM University shows the 7 levels of service in our world, from serving the Self (with a capital “S” and not a small “s”) up to serving everything that is.
The author of the illustration writes that God is the ultimate servant serving all of Creation. The integrated ascended master wants to model God by beginning to serve consciously in the seven capacities outlined in this model.
The man in the illustration also has the yin and yang symbol in him. This graph gives so many ideas of areas where you can consciously serve.
The balance to keep here is to balance focusing on solving your own problems and those of others. Before you can serve the Self (your Higher Self, sour Soul, or the Divine Aspect of yourself that wants the best for you and everyone involved), your family, your country etc. you will have to transcend your tendencies to serve others for selfish reasons. And often, people want to distract themselves from their own problems, even though it would be highly beneficial for them and everyone involved to get their emotions and worldly affairs in order. When you are in a clear state of mind it is easier to listen to your voice within before you act.
The Goal of Service
There is another aspect of service. It’s a common perception that the universe supports people in their projects and helps them to be successful if they truly want the best for everyone involved.
Today I took a walk at Zürich Lake and passed many musicians, who performed for the enjoyment of people passing by, and of course they were also received money for it. There was one player who had a sign on her money-box which read “For my first Coco Chanel handbag.”. Nobody was listening there, although she played her violin really well. Perhaps her note repelled people. Other musicians also had money collection boxes, but with no signs indicating what the money was intended for. If you have a look at concerts just before Christmas, people usually donate large amounts of money to those collecting for help agencies. People do love to help and support a good cause.
The Tao of Giving and Receiving
People genuinely feel happy when they help others. The Tao of service is kept if both giver and receiver agree upon the transaction. In other words, you only help if the receiver wants that, too.
Giving is a male energy, receiving the female counterpart. If you are always giving then you are also not living in the Tao. Receiving belongs to service, too, or the giver would have no-one to serve. Often the giver is grateful to the receiver, because now he was able to serve. If you balance giving and receiving, then serving will rejuvenate you.
Giving and receiving can be with different people and on different levels of service. You do not have to give back to exactly the same people who served you. Your way of giving and receiving can differ also in a lot of ways.
Final Thoughts about Service
There is so much more about serving and service as a spiritual practice. Generally it is advisable first to be emotionally fit before stepping into action. The spiritual teacher Matt Kahn framed the expression “emotionally fit” in his last YouTube video about how to act in the face of terroristic attacks nowadays. I loved this video. Once you are clear and conscious about what you want to achieve and about your purpose of service you can follow through the action steps efficiently. There is so much work to do. Be as efficient in your help as you can.
This article just highlighted a few aspects of the benefits of service. Below I have copied a few citations for you from my spiritual teacher Sathya Sai Baba that I love and want to share with you. You can find the source of this nice collection here. The highlights in the text are inserted by me.
Always Speak with a Smile on Your Lips
Service is the easiest path to attain Divine grace. Offer service and receive the love of God. If you have the spirit of love and service, Divine grace will follow you like a shadow wherever you may be, be it in the forest or in the sky, village or city, river or mountain cliff.
God has created man in His own image so that his conduct should be in consonance with His command. You should not cause harm to anyone, for God exists in all. Always speak with a smile on your lips. You cannot always oblige, but you can always speak obligingly.”
Source: Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 32, Part 2, Chapter 9: Human Values and Service.
What Is the Best Way to Love God?
Students! You do not need to fight for rights. Discharge your responsibilities, and rights will follow. Do your duty. Duty is God; work is worship.
Serve everybody, and make everyone happy without expecting anything in return. Service is God. The best way to love God is to love all and serve all. Speak softly and sweetly. You cannot always oblige, but you can always speak obligingly. That is the essence of the culture of India.
Education does not mean “Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are.” All this is artificial education. True culture of India is one that fosters spirituality and human values.
Source: Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 31, Chapter 43: Fuse Spirituality with Education.
As You Think, So You Become
As you think, so you become. If you have bad vision, listen to bad talk, indulge in bad activities, you will ultimately ruin yourself. If you cannot undertake any service activity, at least speak softly and sweetly. You cannot always oblige, but you can always speak obligingly.
Today man speaks harsh words that hurt the feelings of others. He puts his senses to misuse. Then how can he expect to be happy and healthy? You may be a pauper or a millionaire. You may have money or not, but God has given each one of you five senses. Make proper use of them, and sanctify your lives.
Source: Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 35, Chapter 2: Light the Lamp of Morality in Your Hearts.