Service As a Spiritual Discipline (Part 5)

We Are Mere Carriers of Help (Continued)

Realizing that we are just instruments in the hands of God can foster detachment while doing work, and help us become free from work-related misery. Swami Vivekananda says: "When you have trained your mind and your nerves to realize this idea of the world's non-dependence on you or on anybody, there will then be no reaction in the form of pain resulting from work. When you give something to a man and expect nothing-do not even expect the man to be grateful-his ingratitude will not tell upon you, because you never expected anything, never thought you had any right to anything in the way of a return. You gave him what he deserved; his own Karma got it for him; your Karma made you the carrier thereof. Why should you be proud of having given away something? You are the porter that carried the money or other kind of gift, and the world deserved it by its own Karma. Where is then the reason for pride in you? There is nothing very great in what you give to the world. When you have acquired the feeling of non-attachment, there will then be neither good nor evil for you."

Respect for the Recipient

The final important factor in spiritualizing service is respect for the recipient. Respect develops spontaneously when we offer service in a spirit of worship of God dwelling in the recipient. The Bhagavata (3.29.22,27) underlines the futility of worshipping God in images, disregarding His presence in His creation: "If one disregards Me [the all-pervading Spirit] present in all beings as their soul and as God but ignorantly offers worship only to images, such worship is as ineffective as sacrificial offerings made in ashes. Therefore, worship Me in all beings by offering them respect, and serving them in a spirit of friendliness and with an attitude of non-separateness; for I am the one Self in all beings and have made a temple for Myself in all of them."

Swami Vivekananda beautifully evokes this idea in his poem "To a Friend."

From highest Brahman to the worm,
Even to the atom's inmost core,
All things with Love are interfused.
Friend, offer body, mind, and soul
In constant service at their feet.
Thy God is here before thee now,
Revealed in all these myriad forms:
Rejecting them where seekest thou
His presence? He who freely shares
His love with every living thing
Proffers true service unto God.

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