In our ordinary lives, we may want to be of service, we may even feel ‘called’ to help, and we can offer our energies and resources in ways that seem beneficial – that is, we can serve what appears to be worthy and good. However, as long as we remain identified with our egoic self there’s a danger that our motivation might be more self-serving than we realize, more about ‘me.’ Ordinarily, our thoughts, beliefs, and actions occur through the filters of our past experiences, and our motivation may not be as selfless as we imagine. Examples include serving in order to appear good to others thus enhancing our self-image, or to comply with our parent's expectations, or to assuage feelings of guilt, or to appear loyal, or to be the ‘good person’, or being smart or superior, or conforming with a sense of duty, or any number of self-serving motivations.
We can use our service as an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, our ego-based beliefs, and the motivations that prevent us from recognizing and living from our more fundamental True Nature.
I’ve discovered a useful tool for myself that helped bring my own motivations into full awareness. Sitting in contemplation, pen and paper at hand, I repeatedly asked myself ‘What feels good about being of service?’ As each answer arose I wrote it to a list that ended up with 22 entries. Then, one by one, I attempted to identify and mark those that support ego-identity, uphold my self-image, satisfy my inner judge, confirm beliefs of good and bad, provide a sense of purpose, or provide a feeling of adequacy. Try this, it can reveal a great deal about our ego-based motivations, and the ego-reactive habits of our lifelong conditioning,
Spiritual paths appear to generally agree that ideas of service from our ordinary ego-based state might be quite different than how service manifests after awakening. Service manifesting through our human lives, no longer filtered through the lens of ego, becomes genuinely responsive to others and the world.
The path of the Mystic is beyond words.
It is a fall into the Heart of Darkness ...
in which the self is sacrificed
over and over again.
The mystic dies into God and yet returns to the World
to offer the self as the ultimate sacrifice.
This offering serves the totality,
it is the giving of formlessness to form
so that form may come to know its own true nature.
~ Amoda Maa Jeevan
The mind searches for purpose, seeking to find meaning. Perhaps it will find one or two purposeful ambitions during your life. However, sooner or later, these purposes will not arrive at deep meaning and a thirst will arise for a new motivation, a new purpose. The idea of purpose is your mind searching where there is no answer of that ilk. But what there is, is usefulness. Usefulness can serve as the higher purpose if your mind seeks reasons for living and taking action. To be of use to yourself, others and to the planet is the only reason, at this point.
~ Jac O'Keeffe
We talk about social service, service to the people, service to humanity, service to others who are far away, helping to bring peace to the world - but often we forget that it is the very people around us that we must live for first of all. If you cannot serve your wife or husband or child or parent - how are you going to serve society? If you cannot make your own child happy, how do you expect to be able to make anyone else happy? If all our friends in the peace movement or of service communities of any kind do not love and help each other, whom can we love and help?
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
To be an instrument of the absolute is to be its absolute servant, which is the same as being a complete, thoroughly ripened, and mature human adult. This is human happiness and fulfillment. This is the station of realization of the freedom vehicle, which is the reason we frequently refer to it as the body of service. We develop a new subtle body, which inherently recognizes its function as servicing the truth of Reality. It is a precise, clear, totally objective wisdom, completely free from subjective bias or reaction.
~ A. H. Almaas,
There is no greater joy, no deeper honor, than to be of service to others in the most intangible of ways.. . . The ultimate reward lies on the other side of your unconditional willingness to give ever more of yourself to those who ask for your soul to be present here on earth.
~ Bentinho Massaro
If our prayer is “Dear God, please use me to be of service,” then that is what we will be. And it is not for us to judge either the size or value of our gifts. Our job is to try to get out of the way, to defer to the spirit moving within us and become open channels for the flow of God’s love.
~ Marianne Williamson
Serving the Truth becomes our life instead of just an isolated event. It takes the abstractness out of spirituality. That’s the opportunity of real spirituality: to be in service to the silence of the heart."
I am only here to be truly helpful.
I am here to represent that who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because that which sent me will direct me.
I am content just to be here - knowing all grace is with me.
I will be healed as I let the healing happen through me.
~ adapted from A Course in Miracles
~ Neem Karoli Baba
The body is like a tea house, and the proprietor is the Buddha, and the handmaiden is Grace. What they serve in this tea house is peace, to whatever visitor comes, be it the past, or trauma, or pain, or suffering. These visitors are very welcome. They get tea, warm understanding and welcome. And then eventually, all those problems, they bow before the proprietor, consciousness, and fade away, because finally they got a little love. All they ever wanted was just your loving attention and compassion.
~ Pamela Wilson
Never forget the most important thing, Love, Compassion and Humility. For this is who you really are. Our Mission on This Earth is to be of Service to Humanity.
~ Robert Adams
It becomes clear that, given our diversity, no single religion satisfies all humanity. ... And since the majority does not practice religion, I am concerned to try to find a way to serve all humanity without appealing to religious faith.
~ Dalai Lama
Disciple: I have come to offer you my service.
Master: If you dropped the “I,” service would automatically follow.
Comment: You could give all your goods to feed the poor and your body to be burned and not have love at all. Keep your goods and abandon the “I.” Don’t burn your body; burn the ego. Love will automatically follow.
~ Anthony de Mello
I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.
~ Rabindranath Tagore
Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside. Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world. Give up the notion that 'I am so and so'. All that is required to realize the Self is to be still. What can be easier than that?
~ Ramana Maharshi
Serving God - what more beautiful thing is there to do! The only real joy is to be a servant of God, and that means being awake all the time to the needs of the moment.... We cannot have any preconceived ideas of what service means. We never know from one moment to the next, what will be asked of us.
~ Reshad Feild
The only true liberty is in the service of that which is beyond all limits, beyond all definitions, beyond all human appreciation: that which is All, and which therefore is no limited or individual thing: The All is no-thing, for if it were to be a single thing separated from all other things, it would not be All.
~ Thomas Merton
Just as a flower gives out its fragrance to whomsoever approaches or uses it, so love from within us radiates towards everybody and manifests as spontaneous service.
~ Swami Ramdas
Service to man is service to god
~ Swami Vivekananda
Life is best spent in alleviating pain, assuaging distress, and promoting peace and joy. The service of man is more valuable than what you call “service to God.” God has no need of your service. Please man, you please God.
~ Sathya Sai Baba
Service to humanity is service to God. Let the love and light of the Kingdom radiate through you until all who look upon you shall be illumined by its reflection. Be as stars, brilliant and sparkling in the loftiness of their heavenly station.
Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.
~ Dalai Lama
The way to freedom is through service to others. The way to happiness is through meditation and being in tune with God... break the barriers of your ego, shed selfishness, free yourself from the consciousness of the body, forget yourself, do away with this prison house of incarnations, melt your heart in all, be one with creation.
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Just imagine that the purpose of life is happiness only-
then life becomes a cruel and senseless thing. You have to embrace what the wisdom of humanity, your intellect and your heart tell you: that the meaning of life is to serve the force that sent you into the world. Then life becomes a joy.
~ Leo Tolstoy
That action which is done without personal desire and whose fruits are surrendered to the Lord, purifies the mind and leads to Liberation.
~ Ramana Maharshi
The third component of the Law of Dharma is service to humanity--to serve your fellow human beings and to ask yourself the questions,"How can I help? How can I help all those that I come into contact with?" When you combine the ability to express your unique talent with service to humanity, then you make full use of the Law of Dharma.
~ Deepak Chopra
But the minimum human duty is to serve others: it is no great attainment.
~ Idries Shah
The secret of life is in love the love of God and the service of humanity.
Do not be disturbed by events in this world.
Do not take life so seriously.
Be of service to humanity.
When you see people suffering, help.
Come to the aid of the home-less, the poor, the sick.
When you realize there is only one,
who are you helping but your- self.
To whom are you giving service but yourself,
who is benefiting but yourself.
Be kind, be loving, everything else will take care of itself.
You are the one, the holy one, the mighty one,
the true one, the loving one.
~ Robert Adams
It is a sobering thought that the finest act of love you can perform is not an act of service but an act of contemplation, of seeing.
― Anthony de Mello
When we objectively understand and appreciate what service is, we realize that there is no true difference between serving human beings and serving God.
~ A.H. Almaas