Try it! You’ll like it! Serve and see how your life is transformed.
Rabindranath Tagore: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
Serving comes naturally to most people, yet there are many who have disconnected from that natural urge. Most people intuitively respond to the needs of others, of nature. Most are generous. Some are not.
The tradition of “selfless service” (work performed without any thought of reward or repayment), is found in all cultures and goes by many names, such as, “Seva” in Sanskrit, “Dana” in Pali, generosity in the west. This level of generosity is of oneself, from the soul. It demonstrates a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is necessary or expected.
Whether you call it “dana” or “seva” or giving of oneself, generosity produces immeasurable benefits if and when we get out of the way. Not only are we the beneficiaries every time we appear as a benefactor, we do our part to transform the world by modeling the joy of giving of ourselves … of serving.
When we remember that “we cannot “out-give God,” we free ourselves to give wholeheartedly in full faith and trust. Spirit has imbued us with immeasurable gifts and talents for us to share … and share them boundlessly!
It’s pretty easy to engage in the rich generosity of “selfless service,” when one is feeling resourceful. It may be quite different when it feels like giving is wrenching something more away. Perception is the key. How do we perceive ourselves and others?
Our mindset causes deviations in our perceptions moment by moment that alter how we address different situations. If we have dropped out of mindfulness into habitual, unconscious behavior, we apply our preconceived notions broadly without thought. Our impact on others may even surprise us. Our outcomes shift radically depending on the expectations we bring. Rachel Naomi Remin, PhD, used three related concepts, helping, fixing and serving, to illustrate the impact that subtle beliefs and distinctions can produce. When rendering assistance our mindset dramatically alters results:
- When we see life as weak, we feel called to help and make it weaker
- When we see life as broken, we find more and more that need fixing
- When we perceive life as whole, we serve.
How do we perceive ourselves and others? Do I see myself as weak, broken or whole? The answer is “yes” to all three … at times. And how I see myself is, generally, how I see others. My internal dialogue shapes how I show up. When contemplating why the difference between generosity and hoarding, serving and wanting to be served, givingness and greed, I, not happily, realized they all reside in me. Most of the time, I serve. I am generous with my time, talents, treasures … my energy and consciousness. And, sometimes I’m not. When I’m not it’s because I have fallen into feeling resourceless: fear of not having or being enough is crowding out my clear thinking, causing me to be egocentric. It’s curious to look at what factors are present when I feel resourceful vs resourceless. Feeling resourceless is a primary stimulus for greed. In the grips of fear of lack, an intense and selfish desire for things, especially wealth, power, or food, readily arises.
The difference, for me, is rooted in last week’s topic: “The One Thing.”
That one thing is “Simply Spirit” … the deeply rooted, soul-filled wholeness you “remember” when you open wide to the Truth of your being: You are “Simply Spirit.” It is the comprehension of this Truth that totally shifts how you experience life. What I am inviting you to embrace is that you are “Simply Spirit” – a spiritual being that is expressing AS a human being. This level of comprehension recognizes that there is nothing that can be separated. The wholeness of Spirit is inseparable. There is a unitary whole, God, expressing as countless individuations.
When I remember the One Thing, when I remember that I am “Simply Spirit in expression,” I am resourceful, empowered, confident and give continuously and generously. I serve. When I forget, I fall into my list of acquired fears. I may feel disconnected, limited, less-than, vulnerable to the judgments of others, on the brink of overwhelm that I’m on my own to do all that I expect of me. When I remember that I am “Simply Spirit,” all negativity in my internal dialogue surrenders to the Truth: I remember I am an expression of Spirit. I lean into that knowing: I am not weak or broken. I am an expression of a perfect Creator. I cannot be alone.
Dr. Ernest Holmes shared, “We are on the path of experience. Just waking to the real fact of our true being; as we awake, we find we are surrounded by many false conditions, but there is something within which remembers the real state. If one will sit in quiet contemplation of good, as an inner experience, he will experience the good which he contemplates.”
Sometimes people ask “Why should I serve others? I have needs, too!” Martin Luther King, Jr. summed it up this way, “It really boils down to this; all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
A Course in Miracles reminds us that the purpose of our relationships is to deepen our capacity to give and receive love. One opportunity of such love is to remind one another that we are “Simply Spirit.”
Often we affirm that “Love is the most powerful healing force in the universe,” and generosity is the practice that puts it into daily living. The mobius, a never-ending strip used to illustrate infinity, is an excellent model for the interlacing elements of love and generosity:
Love stimulates generosity causing gratitude to arise
Gratitude is experienced as Love that stimulates generosity,
Gratitude arises … and around it goes without end.
Marianne Williamson further reminds us that we are not held back by the love we didn’t receive but by the love we’re not extending in the present.
Very often, I’ll hear people say, “What could I do that would matter? I can’t just drop everything and run off to India like Mother Teresa did.” And that is undoubtedly true for most people. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela among the other notables sacrificed greatly in order to follow their passion and serve. There are hundreds of others throughout history. There are multimillionaires that have shared their wealth and their celebrity in order to serve an array of organizations and millions of people around the world … AND …
Not everyone is called to serve on that scale. Instead, we are the millions of “ordinary people” who do “extraordinary things.” We care. We serve. We show up and do what we can to change the world for the better. Whether it’s for an elderly person, a child, a neighborhood or an organization. We care. We serve. We show up and do what we can to change the world for the better.
This whole subject has sent me wandering down memory lane. I have been so blessed by those who have showed up in my life and gave to me with no strings attached. My mental wanderings also brought to mind the many people who gave me the precious gift of accepting what I had to offer: I probably grew most on those occasions when someone accepted the gifts I freely gave. Maya Angelou declared that people will forget what you said and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Those who accepted my gifts called me to my best. They recognized the Truth of my being and granted me the space to relax into giving and receiving an ever-growing supply of all that is needed and desired. In their presence, I felt really good. They sensed and saw me as “Simply Spirit” making it through each day of this human experience.
John F Kennedy asked, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
David Owen Ritz pointed out, “The world was not given to you; you were given to the world. Step into the natural flow of abundance by committing yourself to becoming a giver.”
Dr Seuss admonished us to get off our duffs with, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
So I ask, “What if tomorrow you woke up with only the things you were consciously grateful for today? What if, all you had was what you had given, how you had served? What would you have in your life?”