Selfless Service Makes You Divine

January 23, 2008 by Lightwaves
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19swradha2-copy.jpgSwami Sivananda Radha on work as a spiritual practice.

It is selfless service that purifies the mind⎯that’s the condensed message. There has to be a minimum of attachment before service becomes truly selfless. You can give something, do something for somebody, give a gift, whatever, without having anybody know where it comes from. That is a small beginning.

Selfless service is the service without the self, doing the job because it needs to be done.

When I was in India with my guru Swami Sivananda I asked everyone I met, “What is a pure mind? What is a pure heart?” And in different ways, the answer came together: if you want to give something⎯your time, your talents, or maybe your skills⎯whatever you give, you want to give it with the full intention to help the other person. That’s a pure heart. That’s a pure mind. In the beginning of those efforts, you may sometimes pat yourself on the back and say, “Well, I’m glad that I helped so-and-so. It was fine for me to see that there was a better Self in me that was willing to do this, but now I really want to have that pure heart and that pure mind.” When you the work because it needs to be done, with the right kind of motivation, then you do it with a pure heart. As my guru, Swami Sivananda said, “Selfless service makes you divine.”

If you turn every job, whatever it is, into a practice by dedicating it to the Most High, then you will benefit much more and achieve faster results. Instead of always scheming to satisfy your self-importance, you learn in selfless service to do things without being praised. You learn to accept criticism, and you have to learn to also accept unjust criticism.

You can also use your work to find out about yourself. There was a lot of work in the beginning when we were setting up the Ashram. I learned to use all the daily chores to find out about myself, like when I was straightening out the sheets I would request silently, “Help me straighten out the back of my mind.” Or holding a glass up against the light when I washed dishes, “I would like to be as transparent as this glass is, but how do I go about it?”

kyhead1.jpgGurudev Sivananda gave selfless service as the one solution for this time and age where people do not have sufficient self-discipline to spend many hours, many weeks, many months, many years in spiritual practice. At the end of each day you can check in your reflections how much service you have given and how much of that service was truly selfless.

My guru said, “Don’t concern yourself about the Atman or the Ultimate. In service, selflessly done, you can overcome all your egoistic tendencies. There is no better way.”

In fact I wouldn’t know any other way. My observation has been that unless you lay a foundation in character-building and do your best and bring quality into your daily life, you are just watching your own fantasies in your mind. If you do service for others without self-gratification, then you include others. And this way you learn to see the Divine in others. If I include you then you are part of that. My world becomes larger. When I’m all by myself then my world is very small. Self-love is one of the most destructive forces. So selfless service is a guiding light on the spiritual path for anybody.

You begin your Karma Yoga for purification, but basically there is no point of building a Temple of Light if the Path is not to the Light of the heart and putting the Light in the heart. You must kindle the flame of Light and love in your heart. And you must be as fierce as a dragon to protect that, and not let anybody blow it out or damage it. Then you have to consider that you, yourself, are the custodian of that Light in your heart, as much a custodian as of the Light in your mind. Let nobody ever tamper with it.

So increase wisdom, increase self-mastery, self-control, increase your faith, increase your desire to gain in wisdom, because that makes for liberation, and sets you free. Always remember that the divine spark, or “essence” as we call it, is imperishable.


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  1. So increase wisdom, increase self-mastery, self-control, increase your faith, increase your desire to gain in wisdom, because that makes for liberation, and sets you free. Always remember that the divine spark, or “essence” as we call it, is imperishable.

    Thank you for reminding me

    Comment by jarek — January 27, 2008 @ 7:15 am

  2. Thank you for the inspiration and for reminding me of how karma yoga fits into my life so well.

    Comment by Cyra Frisk — January 30, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

  3. A great reminder that our thoughts are prayers, let us each be responsible for our prayers as we touch each other and effect each other. Give the gift of self-less thought and prayer. Namaste’

    Comment by Christine — February 3, 2008 @ 10:43 am

  4. beautiful-
    jarek- it is not about increasing any desires or wishes to “conquer” knowledge and wisdom. amassing self-control and wisdom are futile goals that will only lead to the self. just be, in loving-kindness of the heart and you will find the true jewel.
    love and blessings

    Comment by revel — August 1, 2008 @ 1:05 am

  5. thank you , you gave me a great information

    Comment by jay — December 31, 2008 @ 2:42 am

  6. …………..for my project

    Comment by jay — December 31, 2008 @ 2:46 am

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