Few years ago, I had myriads of doubts about the idea of ‘giving’. I struggled with questions like what should I give, do I have enough to give, what if my generosity is exploited (now I laugh at these doubts).These questions halted my action, but something inside me longed to be useful to the world.
After being associated with ‘The Art of Living’ for 2 years, I have come to grasp a little of the depth and breadth of service. There is a Sanskrit word, ‘Seva’, meaning “selfless service” or work performed without any thought of reward or repayment. In modern times, it is synonymous to giving, sharing, volunteering, etc.
I learnt that anything you do for others, which brings out that ‘private smile’ of contentment is Seva.
Now, let us answer few persistent and obvious questions –
Why should I ‘Give’?
Sri Sri says – “When you have come to this world, do something good that benefits everybody. Do not stay tangled in thinking only what you will get. There is nothing for you to take away from this world. You have come to give. You have come here to do something beneficial for everybody. And you should all get together in doing service”
That said, the obvious benefits of service is networking, keeping healthy and having pure fun. There is a secret benefit too. It is said, if you do some work for others, you gain merit for yourself. The most intelligent businessmen do service because it brings them a lot of gain. The more we open ourselves, the more room we have for the universe to fill us.
What do I ‘Give’?
Here are few pointers on what and how you can ‘give’. Choose one or many –
- Give your time
It is said that ‘the greatest gift you can give someone is your time’. There are people waiting for your time and company, at old age homes, orphanages, animal shelters, etc. So, choose to spend some time with them. You will get back hundredfold of blessings and love than you give.
- Give through your resources
If your days fill up quickly, no worries. Donate or contribute to a special cause. Sponsor a child’s education, provide blankets to the homeless, help a friend in need, donate to a NGO you believe in, treat volunteers who devote their time at local shelters, old age homes, hospitals.
- Give through your skills
You can contribute through your skills. If you are a good organizer, help in organizing events for charitable/non-profit organizations. If you are a teacher, teach underprivileged children. If you have the physical stamina, help out in activities like park cleaning, river cleaning, loading, unloading at charity homes. If you are a good musician, play for people in old age homes, sick homes, places of prayers. If you are a good orator, compere events for community groups. You choose your grounds !
- Give through your challenges
Are there things you wish you could do, but think you are not good enough. Be it playing an instrument, or dancing, or writing. Service is the best opportunity for you to start. No one is going to complain, and you have no pressure of performance as you are not getting any special benefits (I mean materially). You can take up the things you always wanted to do and start practicing them through service. The blessings and love will make you an expert in no time.
What if my generosity is exploited?
Having said all of the above, you need to raise your awareness and open up your heart through spiritual practices like yoga & meditation. Stay connected with your body and soul. It will help you to be aware and intelligent, but not cynical about serving others.
I will close with an interesting discourse about service from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
There are 5 types of seva:
- The first type of seva is when you do not even know that you are doing seva. You do not recognize it as seva because it is your very nature – you cannot but do it!
- The second type of seva is what you do because it is needed in that situation.
- You do the third type of seva because it gives you joy.
- The fourth type is done out of your desire for merit – you do seva expecting some benefit in the future.
- And the fifth type is when you do seva just to show off, to improve your image and to gain social or political recognition. Such seva is simply exhausting, while the first type does not bring any tiredness at all!
It is important to start. Regardless of where you start, you must move up to higher levels of seva.
Image Courtesy – Unsplash