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Learning from Selfless Service

August 22, 2008 by Lightwaves

Work can be the best teacher – a transcription from the Swami Radha archives.

In order to know if you did a job well, turn to yourself and say, “If I had to do it again, is there any better way that I could do it?” Many things we only recognize in hindsight. Then say, “Well, all right, right now I did the best I could, so next time I can improve a little here and improve a little there.” Then you have that feeling of security within yourself. And if somebody says, “Well, you know, I don’t think this was a good job,” instead of immediately feeling hurt and wanting to hit back, you say, “how would you have done it?” Then if there is good advice take it and learn from the other person. If somebody said, “Yeah, it’s okay, but, you know, it should have been done differently.” Then, again, ask, “How would you have done it? …Oh!” Then tuck it away.

Very often people think when they work in the kitchen at the Ashram, “Oh, I’m only in the kitchen.” I learned some important things in the kitchen. I learned about how people project their self-criticism, their dissatisfaction with their own development, into food, into eating. It’s a projection of dissatisfaction in oneself. I learned that by observation.

So if you say you are only in the kitchen, that’s where you learn everything! You learn to get along with people; you learn how to cook. Some people may have all sorts of degrees but they can’t cook and don’t have a concern to cook with attention, with care, with love.

So work is a fantastic teacher, and if you don’t get it by work, then you will get it by pain. Pain is the next teacher. We often invoke pain because we don’t really learn how to use our intelligence. Our God-given intelligence is the biggest jewel that we have. So let’s take great care of it.

Reflection: What have you learned from selfless service? How do you use your intelligence?

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