Chapter 6.6 from "Study Circles for Divinity"
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6.6  SERVICE

WISE SAYINGS FROM DIFFERENT FAITHS

"Oh people! Serve your Lord Who created you and those before you so that you may be conscientious."    Mohammed

"Those who spend their wealth in the way of God and then do not follow what they spend with reminders of their generosity or with abusive treatment, they have their reward with their Lord. And there is nothing for them to fear, and they will not sorrow."
 Mohammed

"But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand knowest what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret and thy Father seeth in secret Himself, shall reward thee openly."  Jesus Christ

"And the second is like namely this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self. There is none other commandment greater than these."   
 
Jesus Christ

"Let all thy work be done as service unto Me. With thine every word extol My divine attributes. Free thy mind from all selfish desires and offer it unto Me."     Sri Krishna

"Renunciation and the performance of selfless action both lead to the highest good, but of the two, the performance of selfless action is superior to the renunciation of action."    Sri Krishna

"Let not your service to others neglect work of your own  --  devote yourself to your duties which should be clearly known."       Mohammed

"Hard it is to understand: By giving away our food, we get more strength; by bestowing clothing on others, we gain more beauty; by founding abodes of purity and truth, we acquire great treasures."        Mohammed


FROM DISCOURSES OF SAI BABA

SERVICE IS THE PATH TO GOD

Service is also the path to God-realisation. God is the embodiment of Love, Truth and Peace. Therefore, to realise God one has to develop Love, adhere to Truth and experience Peace within oneself. The human body is like a chariot and the Atma is the charioteer. The bodies may have different forms and names. But the Atma is one and the same. It is essential to recognise the unity that underlies the apparent diversity. For instance, hunger is common to all, though the kind of food through which it is appeased may vary from an emperor to a beggar. Likewise, joy and grief, birth and death, are common to all. The Atma is common to everyone. Recognising this oneness, they should engage themselves in service to all.  (191187)

A copy of the Gita may be available for twenty-five cents; a puerile novel may cost ten rupees. Which is more worthwhile? Which can transmute base metal into gold? Service is more fruitful than repetition of the Name, meditation, sacrifice and penance, usually recommended for spiritual aspirants. For, it serves two purposes: the extinction of the ego, and the attainment of bliss. (040370)



ATTITUDE IN SERVICE

Whatever service you are rendering, you should not feel that you are serving others, but that you are serving God Himself. While taking a bath or giving one to the children, consider that you are doing the purification ritual of washing God Himself. While serving food, consider that you are offering it to God Himself. When giving food to a beggar, consider that God has come in this form and you are serving Him. It seems that it is a beggar who is asking, but it is the Atma who is really enjoying the food you give. When you are cutting some vegetables for cooking, consider that you are cutting away your desires and ego with the knife of wisdom. While sweeping the floor at home, don't lament, "O, it keeps getting dirty again and again." Think rather that you are cleaning your own heart. If you are rolling chapattis at home, consider what joy it is to roll and knead and expand your heart. In this way, you can consider every activity you undertake as being done for the sake of God. Then where is the need for any separate meditation, separate penance or separate worship?

Always remembering that you are a fragment of the Divine, you have to engage yourselves in service. No government or other service organisation has this attitude. Only Sathya Sai Organisations can render service successfully in this spirit. Very soon you will experience the bliss and peace to be got from such service. Whatever the difficulties or obstacles, you are bound to overcome them. These are incidental to any undertaking. Do not bother about what has happened in the past. Get immersed in the tasks of the present. Render service with a pure and selfless heart. The delight of the individual gladdens the Divine. Equally the Divine esteems you. Do everything with the Lord's name on your lips. Develop all that is good in you and share that goodness with one and all. (191190)

All service should be regarded as an offering to God and every opportunity to serve should be welcomed as a gift from God. When service is done in this spirit, it will lead in due course of Self-realisation.  It is this kind of selfless, spiritually-oriented service that is needed today. To a world riddled with conflict and chaos, this will provide a climate of serene peace. Regard yourselves as brothers in a family. But do not stop there. Go beyond kinship to the realisation of Atmic unity. You have to march from the physical to the higher wisdom and on to the state of Divine Bliss. Shed completely all selfishness and self-interest and enter upon service activities as the highest purpose of life. Service must become your life-breath. You must become ideal servants and set an example to the world. (191187)

You have to engage yourselves in service. Service does not mean mere rendering help to others of one kind or another. True service means participation in social activities after ridding yourself of egoism and possessiveness and manifesting your qualities of compassion and kindness. The aim is the refinement of your own good nature rather than giving succour to others. There is a Sanskrit saying which declares that greater than penance or pilgrimage, meditation or worship, is service to good people.

In rendering service there should be unity of heart, head and hands (the three H's). Only then service becomes sanctified. The significance of the three letters in SAI should be understood. 'S' stands for Service. 'A' stands for Adoration. 'I' stands for Illumination. The three represent duty (karma), devotion (bhakti) and knowledge (jnana) respectively. Sai teaches these three. All the three concepts are equally important. (181195)

One should seek to acquire a good name through selfless service alone. It should be done with humility and sincerity. One who aspires to become a national leader must first know how to render service. He should not seek office or position. The Sai Organisations have been set up for rendering service and not to establish official positions. Service should be done out of a sense of duty. (201190)



LOVE AND SERVICE

The most important thing to be noted today is that the body has been given to man for the performance of right action. Every person has to discharge his duties in life. It is a sin to ignore one's duties. When everyone performs his duties, the nation will prosper. Perform your duties, without regard to what others say or do.

Engage yourselves in service activity. Consider social service as service to God. To earn the love of God, this is the easiest way. The best way to love God is to love all and serve all. Your entire life will be sanctified thereby.  (180789)

People pursue various studies, engage themselves in various activities, but make no attempt to understand what is humanness. Of what use is knowledge, wealth and position if man ignores his essential eternal spiritual reality? Every man's life should be dedicated to the service of others.

"Neither penance, nor baths in sacred waters, neither rituals nor chanting of the Divine name will help one to cross the ocean of worldly life without service to good persons".

Whatever pilgrimages one may do, whatever sacrifices or repetition one may do, without using the body in the service of others no one can achieve liberation. Everyone should be prepared to serve and be served. This body has been given so that one may serve others and not lord it over them.  Service is the supreme aim in life. Everyone should seek to redeem his life by service to his fellow human beings. Render service to the extent of your capacity. (011095)




WHOM TO SERVE

However eminent a person may be, he has to realise that the main purpose of life is to render dedicated service to one's fellowmen. The relationship between mother and child, preceptor and disciple, God and devotee is based on mutual dependence. There cannot be a child without a mother, a disciple without a teacher, a devotee without God. Each is associated with the other in an inextricable bond.

One should be prepared to serve others rather than choose to be served by them. Moreover, there is nothing meritorious in serving those who are high above us. For one thing, they can command the services of attendants. Rendering service to those who are in the same position as ourselves is not also commendable. Service should be rendered to those who are worse off than ourselves and who are neglected by the world.

There are three levels of people in the world. At the highest level are those who may be placed in the category of 'Lakshmi-Narayana'. Those who are in the same stage as ourselves are in the category of 'Aswatha-Narayana'. Those who are poorer than ourselves may be described as 'Daridra-Narayana'. There is no need to render service to one who is 'Lakshmi-Narayana', as there will be servants to take care of him. 'Aswatha-Narayana' is the type of person who is filled with endless desires and is never contented, whatever his accomplishments or earnings. Service to such persons is unnecessary. It is the weak, the destitute and the helpless who need to be served. Even in rendering service to such persons, there should be no feeling that we are serving 'others'. We should feel that we are serving the Lord (Narayana) who dwells in them.

When the service is rendered in a total spirit of dedication, with concentration of thought, word and deed, the heart gets sanctified. Without purity of heart there can be no spiritual progress. (191187)

You should also bear in mind that it is nothing great if you do good to one who has done good to you This is like give and take. Doing good to the man in spite of the harm he has done to you is nobler. For a Sai Servant, giving, giving only, should be the motto. Even if you do not get anything in return you should be giving and giving. Anyone may blame you, but you should ignore all such blame and go forward in doing service without rancour. Serving is your only duty. (April 81)



BENEFITS OF SERVICE

Service brings out all that is great in man. It broadens the heart and widens one's vision. It fills one with joy. It promotes unity. It proclaims the truth of the Spirit. It drives out all the evil qualities in a man. It must be regarded as a great spiritual discipline. You are born to serve, not to dominate. Everyone in the world is a servant and not a master. All relationships - of husband and wife, mother and child, the employer and employee - are based on mutual service. The world is progressing because of mutual service. If the principle of service did not operate, the world would come to a halt. Do you regard an 'officer' as a superior? It is not so. Even he is a servant. It is only when man is filled with the spirit of service that his Divine nature is revealed. He then experiences the peace that passeth understanding. (201190)

If you desire a safe and peaceful future, you have to mould your actions properly in the present. In this, service has a great role. Whether you perform any kind of worship or not, when you render selfless service, you will be able to experience the bliss of Divine love. Service demonstrates the unity that underlies the apparent diversity. To realise your own inherent Divinity, service to the people is the best kind of spiritual practice. What is so great about living for one's own sake? Only the man who lives for others can be said to live truly.

Embodiments of Divine Love! You must all take a pledge to develop this feeling of love and set an example to the world. It is not right to call yourselves servants without engaging yourselves in service and rest content with your own selfish concerns. Wherever you may be, render service with all your heart. Consider that in rendering service, you are serving yourselves and not others. That will confer on you self-satisfaction. You must examine whether in doing service, you are deriving self-satisfaction or whether you are trying to show off. As long as there is ostentation in service, no real joy can be experienced from it. The ego will not go. And without the elimination of the ego, you cannot experience spiritual bliss. (191190)




SERVICE IS OUTWARD

You should not confine yourselves to the study of books. You should expand the love latent in your hearts and translate it into service to man. Service to society is the service you offer to the Lord. Do not lead barren lives, concentrating on your own advancement. Live for others, for the promotion of the welfare of society, for the progress and prosperity of the country. (270681)

Purity must express itself in loving service. Help to the needy has been described as the highest virtue. Harming others has been condemned as a sin. Sai devotees must engage themselves in acts of service, which will sanctify their lives. The exemplary man is the one who causes no pain to others, who feels no pain himself and who leads a life of service to others. Hoping that, with the name of God on your lips and with your hands engaged in service, you will dedicate your lives to help others and realise the bliss of the Spirit, I shower My benediction on all of you! (211190)



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