Some people feel that sannyasis (monks) should go to and remain in the Himalayas. Children, selfless service to the world is the beginning of all spiritual striving; it is also the end. Compassion towards the poor and suffering is our duty to God. Our foremost duty in this world is to help our fellow beings. God needs nothing from us. He is the saviour of the whole universe. He is the embodiment of love and compassion. Only if we imbibe that love and compassion can we become expansive. Sannyasis learn to love without attachment and to serve without expectation. They must give up the burden of selfishness and shoulder the responsibility of serving the whole world.
Only if we can selflessly love and serve all beings in the world can we become befitting of God’s grace. Through selfless service, we will gain inner purity. Meditating without inner purity is wasteful, like pouring milk into an unwashed vessel. But we forget this truth. We visit temples. But when we come out, we shoo away the sick or those unable to work when they stretch out their hands for alms. Children, the compassion that we show the suffering is the real worship of God.
Once, a man wandered throughout the world, searching for God. He was unable to find Him anywhere. Exhausted, he sat under a tree. At that time, he saw a man and his wife walking together joyfully. When he saw the joy on their faces, the man became eager to learn where they were going, and followed them. The place they reached was a colony, inhabited mainly by lepers. The couple moved from leper to leper, cleaning their wounds and applying medicine to them.
They then served them the food they had brought. With kind and loving words of consolation, the couple made the lepers happy. When he saw this, the man who had been looking for God felt an uncontrollable surge of bliss. He exclaimed loudly, “I have seen God!” Hearing this, the couple thought this man was mad. They asked him where the God he had seen was. The man replied, “Where there is compassion, there God is.” Children, God resides in the hearts of the compassionate. Consoling the suffering is superior even to meditation. Meditation is as valuable as gold. But if, in addition to meditation, we show compassion to our fellow beings, it would be as if the gold has become fragrant. Its value would be indescribable. Therefore, children, you should go and work with the suffering.
But it’s not enough to serve them. We should also be ready to transmit values to them. It's not enough to give food to the hungry. Even if they get their fill, they will become hungry again after some time. Therefore, we should make them understand what the goal and nature of life is. Then, they can learn to be contented and happy in any situation in life. Only then can the fruits of seva (service) be fully realised.
Children, you may ask, if selfless service is so great, what is the necessity of meditation and tapas (spiritual austerities)? Children, if an ordinary person is like an electric post, the tapas (one who does tapas) is like a transformer.
Immense strength can be gained through tapas. But one should be prepared to harness the strength gained through tapas for the good of the world. Such a person should be ready to sacrifice everything, like the incense stick that burns itself out to spread fragrance throughout the world.
Many meditate, hoping that by closing the two eyes that look on the world, a third eye will open. That will never happen. We should not close our eyes to this world in the name of spirituality. Self-realisation is nothing but seeing, with open eyes, our own self in all beings. We must be able to love and serve others, seeing our own self in them. Herein lies the fulfilment of sadhana (spiritual practice).
The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader and humanitarian
Only if we can selflessly love and serve all beings in the world can we become befitting of God’s grace. Through selfless service, we will gain inner purity. Meditating without inner purity is wasteful.