Serving with a Pure Heart
Understanding that true selfless service come out of a pure and loving heart, in a selfless manner for the benefit of the other, who is also the embodiment of God.
In the Sai Organization there is no room for distinctions of race, religion, caste, class or community. All should regard themselves as the children of one God. When they are united by this sense of divine kinship, they will act with love towards all. They should shed all narrow and limited ideas and engage themselves in service with a heart full of love for all. True selfless service can come only out of a pure and loving heart. – SSS 17.27: November 18, 1984
We have here ten thousand volunteer service corps members, trained and dedicated for selfless service. However I doubt that you are being sincere in your duty to your self and to others. As part of rural service you go into the villages adopted by the centers and repair roads, clear drains, give some medicines, conduct devotional singing and deliver lectures. Is this the work that the Sathya Sai service worker has to do? Suppose you have a glass, which you use to drink water from. Is it enough if the glass is cleaned on the outside? Inner cleanliness, inner health, inner illumination—these are far more important and the Sathya Sai service worker has to take them up in a big way. Find out how many families are in misery and poverty on account of the evil habits of their bread-winners. Drinking, gambling and other vices have to be tackled with humility and love, through persuasion and even personal submission. Even the government builds hospitals, provides roads, arranges for water supply and caters to their other material needs. But only a band of spiritual aspirants like you can succeed in reforming habits and leading onto the path of peace, prosperity and harmony. Every effort to give the villager a few more coins through employment will only make things worse if his or her moral fibre is not made strong enough to overcome the temptations of drinking and gambling. Lead him or her slowly and surely along the path of God and these habits will drop off one by one. – Sathya Sai Speaks 14.13: November 22, 1978
We should undertake today what is known as selfless action – action performed without any desire for the fruit thereof. Service of the downtrodden, the disabled and the diseased also constitutes an obligation in one’s daily life and cannot be described as selfless action or motiveless work. This is because the human being’s love for the universe is not without selfishness. If a person loves any object, he or she does so for his or her own sake and pleasure. Similarly, if a person conceals an object in a secure place, it is not on account of his or her love for the object but because of the love for himself or herself. Thus, in the world, all kinds of love are born of love for oneself and not out of love for others. It is the primary duty of the members of the volunteer service corps to give up the thought of the utility of an act of service to one’s own self and consider service for the benefit of others alone as being truly selfless in character. The human being can be described as a conglomeration of thoughts and ideas. Every little thought becomes an integral part of his or her life. The quality of feelings one has determine the future. Therefore, a person must install sacred ideas in the heart. The fostering of pure thoughts will promote the spirit of selfless service in our hearts. Selfless action uproots the bestiality in a person and confers Divinity on that person. Selfless service is a more exalted means of spiritual progress than such other ways as meditation, bhajan (devotional singing) and yoga. This is so because when we undertake meditation, chanting or yoga, we do so for our own benefit and not for the good of others. These are aimed at subjugating one’s individual desires and securing happiness for oneself. What we should aspire for is the attainment of the good of others without any desire for personal gain. – Summer Showers 1979.2
Of the nine steps in spiritual discipline, as laid down in the Bhakti Sutras (aphorisms on devotion by Sage Narada), leading to the realization of the Self, the attitude of service to God is quite near the final goal. It is the eighth step. The study of texts, the renouncing of wealth in charity, the repetition of the name or the chanting of psalms and hymns may be good exercises to sanctify the mind and to avoid falling into evil ways and ruinous pastimes but they seldom purify the consciousness of the human being. Instead they serve mostly to bloat the ego and instill pride and promote a competitive craving for superiority. You may be sitting in the bhajan (devotional singing) hall and loudly singing in chorus, but your mind may get involved in anxiety about the pair of sandals you have left outside the hall. Always at the back of the mind there is fear of the loss of the sandals. This vitiates the devotional singing and makes it a barren show.
The spiritual discipline of selfless service is quite distinct. In selfless service you devote all your energy and attention to the task at hand, for it is a dedicated task. You forget the body and ignore its demands. You set aside your individuality and its prestige and perquisites. You pluck your ego by its roots and cast it away. You give up your status, conceit, your name and form and keep all consciousness pure. Whatever the task you are performing, renounce your personal individuality and share its travails and troubles, its fruits and benefits with God. You need not bring in God from somewhere outside you. He is in you all the while. This truth must be your own discovery, your own treasure, your own strength. This is the grand purpose of the Sathya Sai volunteer service corps. That is the reason why they are assigned a high place in the Sathya Sai Organization. – Sathya Sai Speaks 13.29: March 6, 1977
- What is a pure heart? Why can pure service only come from a pure heart?
- What do you think Swami means by inner health, inner cleanliness and inner illumination? How can we achieve this?
- How does our exposure to media affect the development of a pure heart? How does the type of music we listen to affect the development of a pure heart? Cite some examples if you can. Can you give some practical solutions?
- How can service to the down trodden, disabled, and the diseased be less of an obligation and more selfless?
During my service activities for the week, I will focus on pure selfless motives, concerning myself with the needs of the other over my own desires.