A core tenet on the path of spirituality is selfless service. Almost more than a year has passed since the world was hit with a global pandemic. During these challenging times we all have witnessed the tireless, heroic, and courageous efforts of frontline workers everywhere. They put their lives on the line and gave of themselves to help and serve those impacted by the virus. Many others also helped by alleviating the burdens experienced by people during this difficult time. They all served selflessly to meet the needs of the times.
When we serve selflessly, we do so without expecting any reward or recognition for ourselves. We help out of an innate desire to make someone’s life better, not for the recognition it brings. If we seek name and fame in exchange for our service, then we are not serving selflessly.
Selfless service presents to us a paradox. To truly perform selfless service, one must act without any desire for a reward or recognition. It is motivated by an innate desire to help another. At the time of giving, one forgets one’s own needs and wants, as well as one’s comfort and safety to help someone else. Truly selfless people don’t expect anything in return for their deeds. The underlying paradox of selfless service lies in the fact that while wanting no reward, selfless service elicits the highest reward- The pleasure of The Lord.
This benefit may seem to be intangible. But for those of us who are interested in our spiritual development, it is the highest gift we can receive in life. When we help someone, our heart expands. This act alone opens up our soul. As our love for others flows out, God’s love for us can pour in. Thus, we speed up our progress towards the attainment of inner peace and ecstasy.
There are various ways in which we can offer help to others. We can help others by doing physical, intellectual, and spiritual service or service of the soul. Physical service encompasses all those activities performed to help others meet their primary needs in life which are food, clothing, shelter and safety.
People also have intellectual needs. Human beings are naturally curious and have a need to learn. There are many people who fulfill the intellectual needs of society- teachers, professors, writers and journalists. There is another area of selfless service which provides for more than humanity’s physical and intellectual needs. People also have spiritual needs. There is an inherent need in humanity to know who they are and to find out about God. Service of the soul is helping seekers satisfy their spiritual quest. Fulfilling the spiritual yearnings of humanity is not something that can be done by anyone.
Selfless service comes from an understanding that we are all members of one large family of God. We as human beings have been sent to this world to help each other, and we all have the same purpose—to know ourselves and find our way back to God. We need to help each other as we work toward realizing this purpose. This change in how we live our lives will come about only when we experience our connection with everyone else. When, through meditation, we realize ourselves as soul, we also realize our connection with God and experience God’s presence in our lives. With this comes the understanding that God also exists in everyone else and that we are all connected through God’s love. It is then that we open our hearts to everyone and seek to help each other selflessly. The beauty of selfless service is that while attaining our own spiritual progress, we are contributing to bringing the kingdom of heaven on earth.
Rajinder Singh is the head of the international non-profit organization Science of Spirituality,