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Sathya Sai Speaks
The Mighty Spiritual Activity - Service


Where and when does ‘service’ in our lives start? And how can it be a true spiritual activity? Is it more, or less important, than meditation or chanting His name? Swami beautifully explains all these and more in a discourse delivered to the delegates of a Sevadal Conference on November 19, 1981. Here are excerpts from that profound message.

Society is the coming together of people. Cooperation among people in a society, motivated by spontaneity and pure intentions, is the hall-mark of seva (service). Seva can be identified by two basic characteristics - compassion and willingness to sacrifice.

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Sathya Sai Speaks

History tells us that in all countries and in every age, man is a social being. Man is born in society; he grows in and through society, and his life ends too in society. His songs and speech, duties and diversions, are all determined by society.

Seva can be identified by two basic characteristics - compassion and willingness to sacrifice.

Society for man is like water for fish: if society rejects or neglects him, he cannot survive. What a single individual cannot accomplish, a well-knit group or society can achieve.

A man walking alone may feel tired and miserable at the end of five miles; but, walking with ten others as a group he would find the five miles a jaunt; he will arrive refreshed and strong.

Social living contributes increased happiness and efficiency in efforts among birds and beasts. When they act as a group they are able to defend themselves from enemies, secure food and shelter, travel great distances and migrate to far away locations.

The Liberating Chain of Service

The first lesson in service has to be learnt in the family circle itself. Father, mother, brothers, and sisters - in this limited group which is well-knit, one must engage in loving service and prepare for the wider service that awaits outside the home. The character of each individual member determines the peace and prosperity of the family; the character of each family is the basic factor that decides the happiness and joy of the village or the community.

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And, the nation's progress is based on the strength and happiness of the communities which are its components. So, for the welfare of the country and of the entire world, the spirit of service, vital enthusiasm, constructive imagination, pure motivation, and unselfish alertness are all needed urgently.

For the welfare of the country and of the entire world, the spirit of service, vital enthusiasm, constructive imagination, pure motivation, and unselfish alertness are all needed urgently.

Take Hanuman as your example in service. He served Rama, the Prince of Righteousness, regardless of obstacles of all types. Though he was strong, learned and virtuous, he had no trace of pride. When asked who he was by the demons in Lanka into which he had entered so daringly, he described himself, in all humility, as the 'servant of Rama.'

That is a fine example of uprooting of the ego which service must bring about in us. No one can serve another while his ego is rampant. The attitudes of mutual help and selfless service develop the 'humanness' of man and help the blossoming of the divinity latent in him.

Krishna was known to all as almighty, all-knowing, all-encompassing and all-fulfilling. Yet, the enthusiasm to do service prompted Him to approach Dharmaraja, the eldest of the Pandava brothers, on the eve of the magnificent Raajsooya Yaaga he had planned to celebrate, and offered to take up seva of any kind. He suggested that He might be given the task of cleaning the dining hall after the guests have partaken of the feast! Krishna insisted on outer cleanliness and inner cleansing. Clean clothes and clean minds are the ideal combination.

The Lord Sets the Example…

The Lord sets the example for the devotees to follow. He teaches that service done to any living being is offered to Him alone and is accepted by Him most joyfully.

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Sathya Sai Speaks

Service rendered to cattle, beasts, and to men is laudable spiritual practice. Keeping the environment of our residences clean, providing help to those who live around the place, going to hospitals and serving the patients who are in the wards – it is such acts of service one must take active part in. Many undertake such activities now as 'social service,' not as a spiritual practice in a full-hearted manner.

Through the spiritual practice of service, Hanuman attained identity with Rama, as the river attains identity with the sea. Arjuna too considered every act as a spiritual act to attain the grace of Krishna, for Krishna directed him to fight on, ever keeping Him in memory -"Maamanusmara Yuddhyacha."

Offer service to someone in need, with a full heart and experience the bliss that results. It need not be something big; it can be a small act, unnoticed by others. But it has to be done to please the God within you and the other person.

You too should keep God ever in your mind as the pace-setter, whether you are serving patients in the hospitals or cleaning a drain in the bazaar. That is the thapas (penance) – the highest form of spiritual practice. More than listening to a hundred lectures or delivering them to others, offering one act of genuine service attracts the Grace of God.

The body has to be utilized for service to others. Activity is its main purpose. Lord Krishna says, "I have no need to be engaged in work, but I do work in order to activate the world." More bliss can be gained by serving others than what can be got by merely serving oneself.

Offer service to someone in need, with a full heart and experience the bliss that results. It need not be something big; it can be a small act, unnoticed by others. But it has to be done to please the God within you and the other person.

Eliminate the Ego

We need today those who take delight in selfless service, but such men are rarely seen. You, who belong to the Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, every one of you, must become a sevak (volunteer), eager to help those who need it. When the sevak becomes the nayak (leader), the world will prosper. Only a kinkara (servant) can grow into a Shankara (Master).

When the sevak becomes the nayak (leader), the world will prosper. Only a kinkara (servant) can grow into a Shankara (Master).

Of course, one has to eliminate the ego totally; even a trace of it will bring disaster. However long you may do meditation, or how constant maybe your japa (chanting His name), a little ego will render them barren of results. Bhajans done with egoistic pride will be as harsh as the crow's caw. So, try to avoid the ego marring your spiritual efforts, even to a small extent.

What God Will Ask You

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The Sathya Sai Seva Organisation has laid down service as spiritual activity, in order to uproot from your mind this evil trait; service helps you to remove the ego. So, do not pay heed to what others might say when you engage in service activities. When you are doing good acts, why hesitate, feel ashamed, or fear?

God will not ask you, when and where did you do service? He will ask, "With what motive did you do it? What was the intention that prompted you?"

Let Compassion and Sacrifice be your two eyes; let Egolessness be your breath and Love be your tongue. Let Peace reverberate in your ears. These are the five vital elements you have to live upon. God will not ask you, when and where did you do service? He will ask, "With what motive did you do it? What was the intention that prompted you?" You may weigh the service and boast of its quantity; but, God seeks quality, the quality of the heart, the purity of the mind, the holiness of the motive.

~ Divine Discourse during Sevadal Conference, 19-11-1981

 

Dear Reader, how did you like this excerpt from His Divine Discourse? Please share your reflections with us by writing to [email protected] mentioning your name and country. Thank you for your time.



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Vol 7 Issue 01 - JANUARY 2009
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