Selfless Service: Non-Violence in Action
Spend the first 10 minutes to review the discrimination study circle and supplemental materials. What were the techniques you used? Spend a few minutes to share experiences from the last week’s Sai challenge. Share any insights as well as difficulties encountered in the challenge.
Introduction to the Selfless Service Study Circle
"Ahimsa Paramo Dharma“ Sri Sathya Sai Baba says by following nonviolence, one achieves Love. Nobody should be harmed by mind, body or speech. By purity of thought, word and deed, one should serve even one's enemies. Humility is the main quality of those who want to don the mantle of non-violence. What does Ahimsa signify? It is not merely refraining from causing harm or injury to others. It implies also refraining from causing harm to oneself.
What is Selfless Service?
A thought from the Prema Vahini
“People say that the service of man is the service of God; that Manava Seva is Madhava Seva. That is a true statement. But though the service of humanity is holy, unless it is merged in the bigger ideal, men will not benefit, however huge the service. Mere repetition of the slogan is useless if service is done without faith in the divinity of man and with an eye on name and fame and the fruits of one’s action. Whatever actions one undertakes, if one has constantly as a companion the contemplation of the Lord, and if one has faith in the essential divinity of man, then, the statement about Manava Seva and Madhava Seva being the same is justified.”
What is Selfless Service?
Service with a spiritual foundation. “Love more and more people, love them more and more intensely; transform the love into service, transform the service into worship; that is the highest spiritual practice.” Seeing God in all beings. “You are not doing service to others, you are doing service to yourselves, to the God in you, the God who is equally present in others.” Service resulting in elimination of ego and purification of mind. “In service, you devote all your energy and attention to the task at hand…you forget your body…. you give up your status, your conceit, your name and form and all that they demand from others. This process makes the mind pure.”
What is Selfless Service?
A response to a real need, but without attachment to results. "Do not believe that you can by means of selfless service reform or reshape the world. You may or may not. That does not matter. The real value of selfless service, its most visible result, is that it reforms you, reshapes you." A pure offering to God. "God will not ask when and where you did service; he will ask what your motives and intentions were. ... The attitudes of mutual help and selfless service develop the 'humanness' of man and help the unfoldment of the Divinity latent in him." A constant way of life. "So move among your sisters looking for opportunities to be of help, with the name of God on your tongue and the form of God before the mind's eye."
Why do Selfless Service?
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
It helps us control and purify the mind. It puts a ceiling on our desires. It erases our karmic burden. It removes the ego. It brings love into our lives. It helps us experience the Unity of all. It makes us aware of the God within all. It aids us in winning the Grace of God.
(Service Guide for American Centers, p.8)
Questions for Discussion
Is there a difference between service and selfless service? Do you think selfless service is one of the most important spiritual practices? Why do you think service would make God happy? How do we lead a life of constant selfless service each day – at home, work, and recreation?
Some Qualities for Practicing Selfless Service
Love “Love for God must be manifested as love for man, and love must express itself as service.” Pure Heart “When you go into the qualifications needed for service, you will know that pure heart uncontaminated by conceit, greed, envy, hatred, or competition - is essential.” Charity “Charity will, in turn confer purity upon you. Once you have purity, there will be unity. And once you have unity, you can reach Divinity.”
More Qualities for Practicing Selfless Service
Selflessness “If we have filled ourselves with selfishness, jealousy, and such ill feelings, we will not be able to do any good service. If there is nothing in a vessel, it is possible to fill it with some good things.” Purity “Members of the Sai Organization should be simple, selfless, and non-egoistic. They should cultivate sacred love, the Divine spirit of sacrifice, patience, and compassion. These are the qualities of the truly service-oriented members and officers.”
Techniques for Practicing Selfless Service
Serve with Love in our heart.
Serve others without the expectation of anything in return.
Offer our time, energy and talents from a spirit of free, unattached giving, rather than from a feeling that we should serve. If you do an act of kindness and do not receive a thank you or a smile in return, do not be discouraged. Be assured that, when love is freely given without strings attached, love is doing its job. In whatever act we do at home or in the community, imagine and recognize that the recipient is God standing before you. If we are living with our parents, and even if we are married, look around and see how we can contribute to the smooth running of the household, i.e., do the dishes unasked, sweep the floor, take out the trash. Call our parents and family members regularly and be a good listener. Swami says that is why we were given two ears and only one mouth.
Serve God in others.
Begin with our families.
How does this Diagram Reflect Selfless Service?
Community Family Spouse Oneself
Stories on Selfless Service
When the Rajasuya Yagna (a sacred ceremony) was being performed, Krishna came and asked Dharmaja (the eldest of five brothers who was devoted to living with a high level of integrity) to allot some work to Him. Dharmaja turned to Krishna and said that there was no work appropriate to Krishna… (Krishna) patted him on the back and said that He has a special qualification and that He would like to do work appropriate to His qualification. So Dharmaja asked Krishna to tell him what His special qualification was so that he can find suitable work for Krishna. Krishna said that He was fit for removing the leaves in which people ate their food and which have been used. -Baba
What does it mean that the Lord Himself chose to do something so insignificant? If the Lord can do this simple and seemingly unworthy task, what simple and seemingly unworthy task can we do for someone on a daily basis? Does the person need to be present, or do we even need to know the person? What similar service can we do for our family? For our friends? For our community? For society? For the nation?
Baba tells the story of how a young girl, who was poor at math, asked Einstein to tutor her. Einstein agreed. Sometime later the girl’s mother apologized to him that her daughter was taking up so much of Einstein’s time. Einstein replied, “…this has been an opportunity for me to learn from your daughter several things related to everyday life. Now I understand how ignorant I have been about matters related to actual life. I must really thank your daughter.” Chinna Katha II, page 83
Like Einstein did, we too can make a significant difference in another’s life with a small act of kindness. Can you think of an act of yours, seemingly minor, that significantly impacted another person? If not something that you did, can you recall a similar story in someone else’s life? On the flip side of that same coin – How did a simple act of kindness you received impact your life? How did it feel? Is it worth mirroring this act for another person? Are we motivated to do something nice for someone because we want to feel good? If so, why? Do we ever serve out of guilt? If so, why, and how can we avoid it? What motivates us to do a simple act of kindness?
After assessing the needs of your community, undertake one selfless service activity or project in your region and maintain that commitment monthly at least until July 2007. If there is someone at home, work or school with whom you have exchanged unkind words or thoughts recently, the next time you see them silently say, "Baba, how can I serve you in the embodiment of this person today?” Then make the effort to say a kind word or apologize for your previous comment. Try to spend two hours per week or perform one act per day of selfless service. Try to serve before being asked to - at home, at school, at work, or at the Sai Center.
Sai Extreme Challenge
“If you lift the hand to serve, to help, to console, to encourage another man you are lifting it for God, because in every man is God. Be of service to others, for that is giving yourself to Me. For whatever you give, I will repay you thrice. Nay I shall repay you ten-fold. Try Me and you will see.”
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What extreme service challenge can you challenge yourself with to warrant Baba’s promised ten-fold return? Can you do an act of service, even a simple one, every day until the WYC? Keep a private diary of what you felt after doing the service. Sincerely reflect on your writings. How did that act of service affect the rest of your day? Did that feeling carry over in the home, office, or in the center? Identify or create a list of the most important things in your daily life and observe where selfless service fits in. Can you move selfless service up two places on the list?
Take first 10 minutes during the next study circle to recap selfless service.
Practice sense-control, leadership, unity of thought, word, and deed, discrimination and selfless service and build from the previous study circles.
Share experiences on how the week(s) after this study circle was different by practicing Sai challenges. Ensure that a holistic picture is obtained by sharing both challenges and successes. Try to incorporate the unity of thought, word, and deed and discrimination sub-values in your efforts to practice selfless service and discover similarities between these sub-values. As Ideal Sai Youth with the goal of uniting with Sai Baba and His mission, an ideal step on this journey would be to practice selfless service on a daily basis, even in small, unnoticed ways.
“Do not worry about the result. Help as much as you can, as efficiently as you can, as silently as you can, and as lovingly as you can; leave the rest to God, who gave you a chance to serve.”
Jai Sai Ram