The Spirit of Service

Disinterested service will ennoble man and raise his stature.  It endows man with the intelligence and the skills required to refine human nature. Doing one's duty diligentlt is not enough. Men have to cultivate other qualities like love, sympathy, fairness, compassion and forgiveness. Only when one has these qualities will he be able to render dedicated service.

It is the sense of dualism - of "mine" and "thine" - which accounts for all the joys and sorrows, likes and dislikes, experienced by man. This dualism is rooted in selfishness, which makes one think that as long as he is all right, it does not matter what happens to the world. Such a self-centered person, who regards his body, his wealth and his family as all that matter for him, looks upon truth as untruth and the false as true. To get rid of this deep-seated malaise, men have to engage themselves in service. They have to realise that the body has been given not to serve one's own interests but to serve others.

Service should not be done in a spirit of  condescension or to achieve some ulterior selfish objective. Not recognising the sacredness and purifying power of service, people hesitate to embark on social service. It should not be imagined that one is promoting the well-being of the nation by one's service. One should realise that he is ettering himself by rendering service.

Gratitude to Society

Service  should proceed from an awareness of what one owes to society. One's name and fame, all the comforts one enjoys, are derived from society. One finds fulfilment in society.  That being the case, if one  does one serve society, whom else can he serve? Sheer gratitude demands that one should serve society which is the source of all benefits enjoyed by man. Men without gratitude are worse than wild animals.

What is required for service are not money and materials. A loving heart is the first requisite. All service done without a love-filled  heart is as dry as dust. Fill your hearts with love. When you are filled with conceit, everyything looks misshapen. When you are immersed in the Spirit , evertything looks good and beautiful.  Forgetting this higher destiny of man, people are ceasing to be human.

The Money Obsession

Men are engaged today in the all-absorbing occupation of acquiring money, more money. They are obsessed with the feeling that through money alone they can get all they want. This obsession is the root cause of the crisis facing mankind. Although money is needed for certian purposes,  it os not the main source of security and happiness for  man. Men should learn to lead good lives with modest incomes. Ostentation and pride are the enemies of spiritual progress.

The spirit of sacrifice(thyaga) is essential for rendering dedicated service. Pride is the first evil trait that has to be renounced. Getting rid of bad qualities is real sacrifice; it is also a spiritual discipline (yoga). As this is not being properly conveyed to the people, they tend to go astray and take to wrong paths. They do not realise that to whomsoever they may be doing service, they are indeed serving the Divine in various human forms. Those  who serve have to cherish this sublime and sacred feeling. They must strive to see God in everyone.

You must realise that your service activities are done for the sake of your own spiritual purification and uplift and have nothing to do with Swami. All actions should be performed with a view to purifying the mind and removing all the dross from it. It is wrong to think that through actions alone you can attain liberation or redeem your lives. Actions have to be done only for the purification of the Chitta (Will). Without purity of Will, life cannot be spiritualised. Human birth is the result of Karma (action). Right action leads to Dharma (Righteousness). Through Dharma, The Divine has to be realised. Birth - Action - Righteousness - Brahman are inter-related in this manner.

Duties and Service

To plead that one has no time for service activities because of official duties or other preoccupations is an utterly lame excuse. Even in your official work you can render service. There is no need  to go to bazaars for street cleaning. That is not the only means of serving the public. Whatever your official duties, whatever your profession or occupation, if you discharge your duties properly and efficiently, that is also social service. The right attitude for officials in authority towards service should be to ask themselves whether the services they render are commensurate with the salaries they  receive.  Seldom do we see persons in employment, whether they are workers or officers, doing the amount of work that would justify the salaries they get. They all want more renumeration, but  are not prepared to work more. They should realise that this kind of attitude is a betrayal of the nation. Whose money are they receiving as wages? It is the public's money. To fail in the discharge of one's duties to the public is a  grievous disservice. If a teacher imparts education on right lines, he is rendering real national service. Likewise, if a merchant conducts his business on the basis of earning not more than what is needed to meet his reasonable needs, he will be rendering  public service. When this attitude prevails, there is no need to claim that one is engaged in service. He should be content to abide by the dictates of his conscience.

Set the Example

What will please Baba is the proper performance of one's duties. This constitutes Seva (dedicated service). Avail yourself of every possible occasion to render service to society. It need not be limited to individuals. It is important to do national service. You need not seek to know what kinds of service should be done. Whenever you find that you can render help to anyone in need, offer it. Do not make distinctions between rich and poor or the deserving and the undeserving. Offer service according to the needs of the situation.

The Sai Seva Organisations have to set an example to service organisations all over the world. There is no place in them for differences of caste, creed or community. Character is greater than caste. All your activities should be based on love and sacrifice.