Selfless Service #

3 x OMs

“So Ham” Meditation to Calm the Mind | In the Voice of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Introduction  #

Our true nature is pure love. In selfless service there is recognition of oneness between one serving, and the one being served. In true sense, the God in us, is serving the God in others. Selfless service is the most important spiritual discipline and the direct path to self-realization.

Discussion questions #

  1. Can you think of a time when someone served you selflessly?
  2. If so, how did that experience affect you?
  3. What is Selfless Service?
  4. Is service adoration of god in every form? Explain how?
  5. What are the characteristics of Selfless service?
  6. Critics of Selfless act may say, every action is motivated by just one thing, and that is, “what will make us feel better,” and so no action is selfless. What is your take on this comment?
  7. How does the mind affect the quality of service?
  8. What is the nature of service characterised by each of the three gunas (qualities)?
    1. Tamas (sloth/inaction)  
    2. Rajas (passion) 
    3. Satva ( purity)  
  9. Why should we serve nature?
  10. What are the various ways in which we can serve others?

Excerpts on Selfless Service from Swami’s discourses #

On the spiritual path, the first step is selfless service. Through selfless service, one can realize the Divinity that is all this creation.  SSS 10.32: Nov 20, 1970

Seva or Selfless service in all its forms, all the world over, is primarily a spiritual discipline for mental clean up. Without the inspiration given by that attitude, the urge is bound to ebb and grow dry; or it may meander into pride and pomp. 

Just think for a moment. Are you serving God? or is God serving you?

When a pilgrim stands waist deep in the Ganga, takes in his palms the sacred water and, reciting an invocatory formula,pours the water offering to the deity–what he has done is only poured Ganga into Ganga. 

When you offer milk to a hungry child or a blanket to a shivering brother or sister on the pavement, you are but placing a gift of God into the hands of another gift of God. You are reposing gift of God in a repository of the Divine principle. God serves. He allows you to claim that you have served. Without His will, not a single blade of grass can quiver in the breeze. Fill every moment with gratitude to the Giver and the recipient of all gifts. SSS9.10: May 19, 1969

Takeaway – Selfless service is spiritual  discipline #

I consider Seva as the most important activity of the Samities or centres for it is the highest sadhana. Do not entangle yourselves in pros and cons, in arguments for and against, whether this way or that. 

They are the consequences of wrong or perverted scholarship.Love ignores logic. Seva respects no syllogism ( a type of logical reasoning where the conclusion is derived from two linked premises). Try to observe the rules that have been framed through Love, to canalise the Love that you are required to cultivate. I have said this so often that all of you know my mind already: 

Start the day with love; spend the day with Love; fill the day with Love; end the day with Love; that is the way to God. SSSS 11.35: December 23, 1971

Takeaway – Service is service when it is filled with love.  #

Selfless service is the adoration of the Lord as Vishal-Virat Swarupa. God with multi-faced form and with immanence in the entire cosmos. The vedas described Him as “thousand headed, thousand-eyed, thousand-footed”. The thousands of hands and eyes and feet are all His, the Lord’s. Worship Him. That is the purpose of your Seva. And He is none other than your own Self. Do not count an individual as just an individual. The individual has God within him or within her as the reality.  SSS8.33: Sept 22, 1968

Great Sage Veda Vyasa has declared that service to human beings is the highest form of worship ( Paropakarya punyaya, papaya parapidanam). Do not harm or offend anyone. That is true adoration of God for, in truth, the other  is you yourself. Awareness of this truth is Moksha ( liberation). Share your joy, your wealth, and your knowledge with others less fortunate. That is the surest way of earning divine grace. SSS 14.18: January 25, 1979

Takeaway -Adoration of God in Every Form #

The wise ones use money, strength, intelligence, skills, aptitudes and opportunities for helping others and making their lives happier. Thus, they win divine grace. For Seva is the highest form of worship. SSS 18.23: November 21, 1985

Your selfless service will be judged with reference to the mental attitude accompanying it. So whatever work is allotted, do it with fervor, understanding and reverence. SSS13.18, Nov 14, 1975

Rendering service selflessly with a compassionate heart is true service.

SSS 20.26, NOV 19, 1987

Seva can be identified by means of two basic characteristics: 

Compassion and Willingness to serve.

SSS 15.31: Nov 19, 1981

Takeaway – The Attitude with which we serve is the true measure of selflessness #

There are many who come forward when there is a call for social service, but most of them crave publicity seeking the camera whenever they help others and very disappointed when they are not mentioned in newspapers. 

Such persons push themselves forward and climb into the positions of authority, just to parade their importance before the public. They forget that service is worship, that each act of service is a flower placed at the feet of Lord and that, if the act is tainted with ego, it is as if the flower is infested with slimy insect pests. 

Who will contaminate the Feet with such foul offering? Have no egoism while you serve the people of your  district.. Be a guide in the spiritual struggle. Nourish faith in God. Upon that faith you can build any type of spiritual organization. Trees that grow by the side of canals will flourish thick with foliage and fruits. So too, devotional wings and other units of the organization will flourish when faith in the Divine feeds the roots.


You are all educated persons, experienced in many fields of activity, equipped with many skills and capabilities. You are animated by genuine enthusiasm to help others. You are encouraged by the example of other clubs to take up many schemes which will benefit the community. These are great assets. Heart has to meet heart, so that service may succeed. Speak soft; be soft and sweet. Speak with sympathy and with no pretense, no artificiality. Keep away from impure listening, impure acts, impure words, impure thoughts—everything that contaminates the will to serve and the the skill to serve. SSS 5.51: Nov 4, 1965

If some kind of hurt or harm is caused to others, we should make an attempt to help them by doing some service. You can do service by your words as well. With a good word, you can soothe their hearts and by doing good deed you can soothe their minds. Therefore, by using good words and doing good work, you will give comfort to others and this is good service. SSS 1973.8

Service does not mean helping with hands alone. Talk softly and sweetly. Speak good words. That is also a form of service.       SSS 33.19: November 20, 2000

The dull, activity-hating tamasic persons (one dominated by qualities of sloth and inaction) cling to the ego, and to kith and kin. Their love is limited to these. The rajasic (passionate) persons seek to earn power and prestige, and love only those who will contribute to these. But, the Satvic ( pure persons) love all as embodiments of God, and engage themselves in humble service

Pundalika was one such. He was massaging the feet of his old mother when God appeared before him. He did not interrupt the service, for he was serving the same God in his mother. Tukaram declared to Pundalika that it was God who had manifested before him but Pundalika did not waver. He asked God to wait for a while, until he had finished the service of the God he had started serving. SSS 7.23: May 24, 1967

Takeaway – Service is not all about action with hands. Any words, thoughts, prayers besides action with hands that emanate love from within you is a form of service.  #

I do not waste even a drop of water because water is God. Air is also a form of God. That is why I switch off the fan immediately when it it is not required. Some people keep the light on throughout the night even if it is not required. But I switch on the light when it is necessary  and at once switch it off when it is not needed. This is not miserliness. I am not a miser. I am the embodiment of sacrifice. But, I do not like to waste anything. Use everything as much as it is necessary. But people today are misusing the five elements.

SnSr April 2012: July 18, 1996

Takeaway – Don’t waste. Use only as much as necessary. Share. All are ways to serve mother nature #

The forefathers believed that the very observance of Dharma (righteousness and justice) by the individual contributed to the welfare of the world, and could be evaluated as “service”.

The broad circular heavy footprint of the elephant can include and even obliterate the footprints of many animals. So too, the imprint of Dharma includes service to society and to humankind. This was the faith of the sages.

SSV 19

You should be prepared to do selfless service. You should never think of being served by others. You have the strength of the body, mind and spirit at this age and therefore you should do service to others right now. You should serve old, hungry and weak people. Such service should be regarded by you as service to God. On the other hand, if you are anticipating that someone will serve you, your life will be going along a dark path. Many of us in affluence are accustomed to get work done by servants. We feel the position of authority and think that we are entitled to service, but this is going to result in a situation wherein you have to repay the debt of service back to others. What you see, what you do and what you say, will always come back to you as resound and reflection.

We must train ourselves in such a way that we can do our own work and after that we must be ready to serve our parents. We should then plunge into the society and be prepared to serve the society. This service must come from within you in a free and voluntary manner. We should not prepare ourselves to do work for the sake of showing it to others. It is for the sake of prema and love that we should do work. We should be prepared to do work as a consequence of our realising the oneness of all mankind. If there is an individual who is suffering in a hospital without anyone to look after him and is without any friends, if any of you go to the hospital in those circumstances and talk to him sweetly, you will establish a close bond of affection between you both. This will make you a closer friend of his than even his own relatives. He will take your address and will want to write to you. This is the kind of heart to heart relationship which selfless service can establish. This comes spontaneously from the heart. Nobody can create this kind of attachment by other methods.

Summer Showers 1973 (May 27, 1973)

Never think of being a leader. Without becoming a servant you cannot become a leader. You must first learn to follow before becoming a leader. We find the world in an unfortunate state because, today, people become leaders without knowing how to become good followers. 

In that context you must be prepared to spend all your lives in the service of humanity. In the first instance, you must serve your own home, then you must serve your village, then your state, and then the country. Without acquiring the ability to serve in your own home and produce results in your home, how can you serve your country and hope to produce results? 

Summer Showers 1976 (May 20, 1976)

Summary  #

  • Selfless Service—On the spiritual path, the first step is  selfless service. 
  • Adoration of God—Through selfless service, one can realize the divinity that is all this creation.Service is done by God, to God, and For God.
  • Characteristics of Selfless Service
    • Rendering service with a compassionate heart 
    • Selfless Service is based on mental attitude accompanying it—Compassion,  love, readiness to sacrifice personal comforts and patience
  • Emphasize simplicity and sincerity more than pomp and show. Make the the mind the shrine.
  • Service is not all about action with hands. Any words, thoughts, prayers besides action with hands that emanate love from within you is a form of service. 
  • Don’t waste. Use only as much as necessary. Share. All are ways to serve mother nature
  • Be righteous, know your swadharma and do it diligently
  • Be independent and if you can do something by yourself, don’t expect someone else to do it for you. In turn, if you are not able to do something  by yourself, do not by shy to ask for help. Reciprocate and Pay it forward.