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  Anil Kumar's Sunday Satsang at Prasanthi Nilayam
September 15, 2002

The Sunday Talk Given by Anil Kumar

“Spirit of Service or Service to the Spirit?”

15th September 2002


Sai Ram.

With Pranams at the Lotus Feet of Bhagavan,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Philosophy Of Service

The topic for this morning is this: “The Spirit of Service or Service to the Spirit?” Which one is more important out of the two? Should we have ‘the spirit of service’ or should we consider ‘service to the Spirit’? Out of the two, which one is more important? Because we find service playing an important part in the Sai Organisation and service being prescribed as a spiritual path for all devotees, I thought that we should spend some time on the philosophy of service.

I'm afraid that by doing more and more service, without knowing the philosophy and the sprit of service, we tend to become mechanical. When we become mechanical, the purpose is lost and the service transforms into an act of utter boredom -- a big bore. So, we should maintain the spirit of service. We should know the value of service. We should know the philosophy behind service, without which service is a routine. So when service becomes monotonous, it becomes meaningless.

So my friends, those of us who are in the field of service, those of us who believe in service, should know the basic philosophy of service. Very often we hear people telling everyone that we should have the sprit of service. Everybody says that it is necessary to have the spirit of service. Speakers gather on platforms and politicians refer to this, even though they don’t serve. They want us to serve, but they themselves don’t serve.

So what is it that we should know? Is it enough if we have '“the spirit of service”? What do I mean by “the spirit of service”? By knowing what service is, we’ll have answered this question. And if we know what service is, we’ll also understand the meaning of “service to the Spirit”.

I don’t know how many people of service are aware of these factors. We just blindly follow. If I am told, “Ask everybody to be seated in a line” I will do it.

“Ask everybody to leave the hall.” I’ll certainly request it.

Or somebody will say, “Send him out! Lead him out! ” Why not? Immediately!

Unfortunately, we have become mechanical. Most unfortunately, we have become robots, not following the spirit or the philosophy behind it. That’s the reason why we don’t enjoy service. It is not enough if we serve - we should enjoy as we serve. We should be happy as we serve.

Do we enjoy bliss at the end of service? The little happiness that we have gained is gone. We can see this by looking at the faces. The face is the index of the mind. So it is very clear that we are doing service, but we don’t enjoy what we do. We’re not happy with what we are doing; we want somebody else’s job -- a job other than what was allotted to us. Why? Because we think that the service of others is more promising, has more profit, than what we do. We want Swami to take notice of us. So the very motive and the very purpose are meaningless. Therefore, we should understand what service is – we should know “the sprit of service”.

My friends, since I am also in a field of service, do not consider that I'm standing on a high pedestal, that I'm trying to sermonise or that I'm trying to preach. That I will not do for this lifetime. You can take it from me! I'm also a humble servant to the Lord. Here we are just discussing among ourselves. I am just sharing views with you from Sai literature. It is not that anyone is superior -- that one is a teacher and that the other one is only a passive listener. We are not trying to pontificate things to anybody. This satsang, this sort of meeting together of pious people, helps us to introspect or evaluate or assess ourselves on our own, not by others. So let us know what is service.

Service Is an Opportunity

Before we develop the “spirit of service”, let us know what service is. Number one, service is an opportunity. Let us be very clear. Because my service elsewhere has helped me to maintain my family, it is not an opportunity. Somebody may say, “I have put in about 30 years of service as a professor.” I see. Why? In order to maintain your family, to eke out your living, for your livelihood -- so that service, which has me draw a salary, is not an opportunity, but it is necessity. Service as a job or profession is a necessity; but true service is an opportunity.

This opportunity is not given to everybody. This opportunity does not come every day. This opportunity drops like heavenly manna, as the Holy Bible says. All may serve at an unexpected hour. When you are quite unprepared, service drops down as an opportunity.

Service Is Love in Action

Secondly, what is service? Service is love in action. It is not enough if a father says, “My dear son, I love you.” The son will immediately say, “Daddy, I want a new pair of pants and a new shirt for Christmas.”

“No, my dear son, I love you, but I won’t give you new clothes.”

Will the son say, “Thank you, Daddy”? (Laughter) So, this kind of verbal love is not in any way a service.

A husband says to his wife, “Honey, very good. I love you.” The wife would immediately say, “I’ve been waiting for this opportunity. Why don’t we move -- shift, to a new house? (Laughter) The present house where we are staying is not big enough. Or, at least purchase a washing machine for me as an expression of your love. Or a pressure cooker, I’d like that.”

“No dear, I love you. Do not put forth any demand.”

Will the wife say, “Thank you”? (Laughter)

So, love should have an expression. It is not enough if you say, “I love you.” No, no, no! This love is just a political love. It is only political. It is only social. It is only verbal. It is an act of etiquette. It is courtesy. It is an expression of decency. It is one of good manners, that’s all. But it is a zero in the end. If love has not expressed itself, it is just hypocrisy. So my friends, love in action is service. Unless we serve, we cannot say that we love. That is the second point.

True Service Is Above Self

The third point: True service is above self (ego).

“I want to become the Convenor of the Sai Centre, or President of the Sai Centre, or at least Convenor of the Seva Dal, or at least in charge of taking down the list of seniority. (Laughter) Or else, at least in charge of the lines or in charge of carpet-rolling or carpet-spreading,” (Laughter) This sort of aiming, this sort of motivation, this sort of scheming, this sort of planning, this sort of goal, is all an expression of total ignorance.

Ignorance - I didn’t say ‘innocence’! Innocence is higher, greater, and spiritual. Ignorance is horrible and terrible. (Laughter) One should be innocent, but no one should be ignorant. An ignorant person must be condemned, but an innocent man should be hallowed. A man of innocence is spiritual, Divine, and childlike, while an ignorant man is always in darkness - total darkness - and utter foolishness. Such a person is to be shunned.

Therefore, service is above self (ego). “I don’t want anything. I don’t want a reservation. I don’t want name or fame. I don’t want anything to be specially conferred upon me, no.” Silent, calm, serene, not honoured, unwept, unsung - that service which is done silently like a cool breeze, that service which spreads like the fragrance of a flower, without announcement, without propaganda, without broadcast or telecast, is true service. So, what is service? True service is one that is above self (ego).

Service Is Spontaneous, Not Scheduled

The next (fourth) point is: service is spontaneous. It is not scheduled. It is not studied. I find a person falling on the ground because of weakness and I say, “No, I'm doing service from 2 to 4 in the evening. Even if you fall or collapse, sorry! (Laughter) My duty time is only then.” So, it is not that you have a time-bound framework, no. There should be a spontaneous, immediate response. An immediate reaction to a situation is service. It is not anything bound by time.

“Please, why don’t you ask them to remain silent?”

“No sir, my duty is from seven in the morning until ten, thank you. Ask somebody else.” (Laughter) That is nonsense.

So, service that is spontaneous, that is instantaneous, that is natural - something like a fountain - is true service. That is the real spirit of service. Service is silent.

Service is silent, without propaganda. When I begin to say, “You know how we serve?” you are doing a disservice by announcing it like that. “You know how long I served in Seva dal?” Here you are doing a disservice. So, if you have the true spirit of service, you are not to announce, you are not to publicize, and you are not to take credit.

Further we may say, “Did you know how I served in those days?” That’s also not service. You are not going to be paid extra because of your service back then, nor will the present income be increased! So, there should be no comparison or competition in service, as service is always silent.

Baba Is a Silent Worker

You must have heard the program presented during the afternoon session on September 10th, the day of Vinayaka Chavithi, by the boys from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning – those who are presently serving on the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust. Most of you probably attended that day. A statement of Bhagavan’s was made by one of the participants. It is a golden statement -- a statement that must be written in golden letters. What was it?

“Baba, is a Silent Worker.”

Bhagavan will not announce, “I did so many things.” He’ll never make that kind of statement. On the other hand, in front of Him we’ll say, “Swami, we did this; we did that.” He’ll say, “Keep quiet!” (Laughter) You can flatter a man, you can praise a man in power, you can exaggerate the worldly figures, you can underestimate the work of your enemy, or respect the work of your friend; but God does not want publicity. God does not expect your recognition. God is not waiting for your thanks or an expression of gratitude, no!

“Bhagavan, what’s wrong if I say, ‘Thank you’? Can’t I say, ‘Thank you’? What’s wrong in that? Why not? Why not? After all, when I drop my kerchief, if anyone picks it up and gives it back I say, ‘Thank you’. Can't I say, ‘Thank You, Bhagavan’? Why not?”

What does Baba say? “When the father gets a new outfit for his son, the son will never say, ‘Oh Father, how great you are! What a wonderful father you are - jean pants, excellent! The T-shirt top - Oh Father, you are great!’ He doesn’t go on praising the father. If Mother makes nice cookies at home, or any such preparations like pies or pizza, the son will not say, ‘Mother, you are great,’ as if she has become great overnight!”(Laughter)

“So, mother does not expect any praises nor does father expect any flattery. I am more than your father and mother. I'm more than your physical parents. In that situation, why do you praise Me? I don’t like it.” That’s what Bhagavan says because true work, true service, is done in silence. It is silent work. That is the true spirit of service.

Service Is Not About Magnitude of Work

Service is not about magnitude of work or intensity of work. It is the spirit that matters. It is bhava, the feeling that matters. The spirit of service is more important than the magnitude of service. We may do any number of things. But after all, without true feeling, it may not mean anything. What you feel is more important.

One boy in Kodaikanal purchased a very small gift for Bhagavan. It was made of sandalwood - a very small gift. Swami left everything else and started looking at it. There was nothing great about it -- it was not the Taj Mahal, or Kutub Minor. There was nothing special about it. But He started staring at that small piece of art made up of sandalwood -- how nice!

Naturally, we can't bear when Swami is appreciating a person and his gift. (Laughter). “Swami, what is special there? Why do You look at it?”

Then Bhagavan immediately said to us, “It is the spirit behind it. When all of you were so busy purchasing gifts for your near and dear, ready to present them when you return home, you wanted to give these gifts to your people. You starting acquiring all these gifts. But here is a boy who had not forgotten Bhagavan, and thus purchased this small gift. That is enough for Me. I don’t except any gifts. I don’t want or even need it.”

“Patram, Pushpam, Phalam, Toyam” means: a small flower, a spoon of water, a small fruit given with a good heart, with a pure heart, in a good spirit, yes, that is service. It is not the magnitude of service that counts.

True Service Is Continuous, Not Seasonal

The true spirit of service requires us to serve continuously. True service is continuous; it is not seasonal. Somebody may say, “I will serve in the month of February and March.” The rest of the year he receives service. (Laughter) Are you served? Are you receiving service? No! Service is a continuous process. It is not a seasonal activity, like the mango season, like wheat season or like apple season. It’s not a seasonal crop. It is one of continuous activity from womb to tomb, from birth to death, till the last breath.

Seek every opportunity to serve because opportunity that comes now may not be there later. It may not come for another lifetime. Let us be enthusiastic to serve. So, it is not seasonal; service is continuous.

Service Is Not Merely Skill or Professionalism

In true service, it is not merely skill or professionalism that matters, but the heart that counts. Your skill, your professionalism, your expertise belong to your head; but the feeling, the sentiment, the emotion are in your heart. So, it is the heart that matters because a pure heart is the temple of God. Therefore, in service it is the feeling of the heart that should prompt everybody to serve; it should not only be the skill, expertise and professionalism that prompts everyone to serve. It is from the heart, not from the head, that one should serve.

The spirit of service is transcendence. It is transcendental. Service is not restricted to any caste or community, creed or gender, nationality, time or space. Spiritual service transcends all the limitations. It is beyond all these kinds of relations, yes!

If service is only limited to your community, if it is restricted to a class or a creed, then it becomes very narrow. That is very selfish; that is self-centeredness; that is localized; that is regionalized; that is purposeful; that is goal-oriented. But the true spirit of service is beyond age, class, caste, community, race or nationality. We should not be motivated by any of these considerations.

Serve, But Never Be a Servant

Next, serve and serve, but never be a servant. You may ask, “What is this?” (For your information, I am not a faculty member from the English Department. I'm a student of Bioscience.) So, serve and serve, but never be a servant.

Being a man of service is different from being a servant. Yes. Some people say, “I'm a servant of the Lord. I'm a servant of the Organization.” Pardon him for his ignorance. A servant is always salary-oriented. If you give him more, he’ll certainly serve more. So, there is the quantum of service to consider.

“I want you to do this work.”

“Ten rupees more.”

“I want you to do this work also.”

“Sir, some more money.”

So, a servant expects money; he expects something in return -- always. No servant does work free-of-cost, free-of-charge, totally free -- particularly in pilgrim centres like this, where expectations are even higher because they calculate in terms of dollars. So, they expect something for their help.

A servant expects, but a man of service has no expectations. He’s not salary-oriented. He’s not money-oriented -- nothing, no expectations.

A Servant is Time Bound

Number two: a servant is time-bound - eight hours or six hours. How many hours can I serve at home? How many hours can I serve in the office? Time, that’s all. Beyond that, it’s ‘overtime’, meaning extra payment. So a servant is time-bound. A servant has limited capacities. A servant has a designated job.

“Carry the luggage from here to there.”

“Carry the water from there to over here.”

“Give me a lift to that place and drop me off there.”

So a servant has a specific area of service – a sub-designed service or sub-allocated service.

But a man of service is ready to do anything at any time. He should be an expert of experts. If you’re an expert, you can be a servant. But if you are an expert of experts, you can be a man of service. Among the Seva Dal, you’ll find engineers, doctors, professors, directors, bank managers, and other top professionals. Do you know that?

The Air Marshal’s Wife

Sometime back, probably last year, Bhagavan gave an interview to an Air Marshal, Chief of Air Services. While talking to the family, suddenly Swami turned towards the wife of the Air Marshal and said, “When did you come?”

“Bhagavan, I came last month.”

“Oh, I see.”

And He turned to her husband, the Air Marshal, and said, “When did you come?”

“Swami, I came this morning.”

“Why did your wife come last month, but you are only coming here this morning?”

Immediately the wife said, “Swami, I came along with the Seva Dal last month from Delhi.”

“I see!”

“Ready to work throughout the night, I worked in Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital.”

“What did you do there?”

“Sweeping work.”

Sweeping! This family maintains a number of servants at home in Delhi. They have a number of helpers there. But here she started sweeping the corridors for one full month -- cleaning all the restrooms for one full month! Well, I'm not especially praising her. There are lots of people like that. There are many, many people like that.

A few years ago, a man was at the gate in Brindavan. Out of curiosity, I asked him, “Sir, where do you come from?” He said, “I'm from Kolar Company, Karnataka.” It’s a national profit company. Then still I was interested to know, “What is your position there?” “I'm the Director,” he said.

“Thank you, Sir!”

I literally ran away from there! (Laughter)

"Let Me Take You Around Sundaram"
About ten years ago, I went to Sundaram Temple in Chennai for the first time. I had never visited Sundaram before that. Bhagavan asked me, “Have you been to Sundaram earlier?”

“No Swami, this is the first time.”

“I see. Then, let Me show you around.”

He showed me every room personally. “This is that and this is that.” I was really happy because God showing me was a lot different from man showing me! (Laughter). It makes an ocean of difference.

And then suddenly, in all the corners, I found Seva Dal people posted, wearing scarves. Bhagavan spoke to one gentleman. “Come here. What are you?” He said, “I'm a mechanical engineering professor from Engineering Technology, Madras.” ET Professor. Uh-ha! Swami immediately looked at me. “You know your position.” (Laughter)

So, don’t consider yourself more than anybody. Ego makes every one of us overestimate, as if we have a special position -- certainly not! The more and more we comprehend that things have been going on all along, we certainly come to a state of understanding that we are nobody -- that we are nothing.

And then, as we were proceeding further, Swami stopped and asked the name of another person. He said his name. Then Bhagavan said, “What are you?”

“Director, Ashok Leyland Company.”

Huh! Have I committed some sort of mistake? (Laughter) Bhagavan Baba wants me to know how great His devotees are -- what kind of jobs they have, what high positions they hold. I know what kind of service they are doing here.

And then, at some other place there was a generator and a Seva Dal there. Bhagavan went on asking, “What are you?”

“Swami, I'm an electrical engineering professor in Madras Department, Guindy Engineering College.” Professor of mechanical engineering, electrical engineer, Ashok Leyland, company directors -- such people, Bhagavan!

They Accept It as an Opportunity

My friends, why am I telling this? There’s a reason behind it. These people accept seva, service, as an opportunity. It is not a menial work. It is not work that you can take as low and cheap or mean, no! It is the worst of sins to consider service low and mean. We’ll be committing the worst of the sins if we consider any service low and mean. Then nothing is achieved. Service is a golden opportunity. It is so precious because you are not paid for it. You don’t expect anything. You yourself may hold a very high post of office. But now you are doing work as an act of worship to God Himself. So, it is transcendence. You should never be a servant, but you should go on serving people.

We have in the faculty today a very big professor who worked under a noble laureate in the field of economics. I saw him many times here in Prashanti Nilayam, but I never dreamt that he would be a professor here in our Institute this year. But I have seen him many times -- very simple, very humble, smart, handsome, sharp, bright. But then I came to know that he’s a professor, head of the department of economics from Delhi University, with national and international recognition! He’s serving there in Sai Kulwant Hall as a Seva dal member -- just carrying benches, carrying mats, or a cushion here and there. Such a big man of international recognition!

Giving What Is Needed

Why am I telling this? Many seva dal people are professionals. They are experts and they are doing these small, small jobs assigned to them as an act of worship, as an offering to God. It is not that they could not do that work which they have been doing life long, certainly not. Spiritual service is not giving what you may already have or know; it is giving only what is needed at that hour. That is important.

Bhagavan said at one time that a seva dal person, because of his over-enthusiasm, went on distributing sweets to diabetic patients. (Laughter) Offering sweets to a diabetic patient is not service. It is more like transporting him to the other planet! (Laughter) Inter-planetary airlines, that’s it! So don’t start distributing fruits to diabetic patients -- that we are not supposed to do.

So, do what is needed. We cannot think of feeding the poor people in the United States. They (in USA) cannot do Narayana seva and feed the poor here. Similarly, we don’t need counselling centres here, but they may be necessary elsewhere. So, do what is needed at that particular place, depending upon the geographical considerations, the climatic conditions, the social considerations and other requirements. So, spiritual service requires us to do what is needed, not do what skills we may already have, no!

The Second Aspect: Why Service?

So my friends, that is the first part of this morning’s lecture - “What is service?” I have mentioned eleven points. There will be even more as you think about it, based on your own experience. I tried to put it within the framework of our time constraint. So this gives us an idea of the meaning of “the spirit of service”.

Now we move onto the second aspect: “Why service?” This aspect will tell us that it is not only “the spirit of service” that is important. There is something more than that, which has even greater importance. What is it? It is “service to the Spirit”. It is not “the spirit of service”. It is the next, higher step. It is the philosophy of service, yes! When you serve religiously, it is “service to the Spirit”. If you serve spiritually, it is service to the Spirit. That is the next state or step.

Service Is Awareness

Why service? We should know service is awareness. Awareness of what? It is awareness of God everywhere, awareness of God in everyone, awareness of God who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. So this spiritual understanding, this total understanding of the Divinity, is awareness. This awareness will help us to know that our service is service to the Spirit within, not to anybody.

Secondly, service is sadhana, a spiritual path. All religions lay emphasis on this. In fact, in the nine paths of devotion, Pada sevanam, service to the Lotus Feet, is the fourth step -- a higher step -- not merely listening, not merely chanting. It is higher than that. What is service – the fourth step in the nine-paths of devotion? There are nine paths -- Nava Vidhi Bhakthi Marga. In the nine paths, the fourth step is service, which is higher than the previous paths. That is sadhana.

You need a road to travel down. You need a path to proceed upon. You need a vehicle to reach the goal. You need a transport to reach your destination. Service is the automobile, the vehicle -- the latest Mercedes Benz! So, service is communication. Service is the highway, the national highway, to reach God. It is a sadhana.

You know of Mother Teresa, yes? What kind of service she did till her last breath! Speaking of service, you know of Swami Vivekananda, you know of Mahavira, while Bhagavan is Service Incarnate! Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is Service Personified. Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is Service in a human form. Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is Service, walking on two Feet. Therefore, service is sadhana, a spiritual path and practice, a spiritual endeavour and commitment.

"Why Do You Want Us To Serve?"

Third point: “Bhagavan, why do You want us to serve? I don’t want to serve. I'm capable of making others serve. (Laughter) I can organise others on how to serve, yes. But why should I serve? Why do You want me to serve?”

Bhagavan said, “It is the only way to be egoless. It is the only way to consider the great quality of humility -- to be humble, to want to serve. To be egoless, one should enlist in the path of service.” While you serve, you cannot be egoistic. Unless you are free from ego, you cannot serve to the best of your ability.

I’ll give you a very simple example: Some time back, there was a tin of laddus. (I think most of you know what laddus are. Bhagavan often distributes laddus on festival days -- most of you know that. It is shaped like a tennis ball, a small brown sweet -- a very important sweet.)

Swami wanted the tin of laddus to be distributed to the boys. He called me and said, “Bring that tin of laddus here.” Then Swami went inside. Immediately I called one or two boys and said, “Bring the tin here.” (Laughter) The boys brought it and kept it there. Our Bhagavan noticed this. (Laughter) Yes! The cat was out of the bag now!

Immediately He came and said, “I can ask those boys to bring it Myself. (Laughter) You don’t have to delegate powers to anybody. I wanted to give you this chance of service and you lost it. I gave you this chance of service and you missed it. And you may not get it again.”

Therefore, my friends, why did I ask the boys to bring it? I was feeling, ‘Being the Principal of the College (at that time), can I carry tins like that? No!’ Not immediately. The ego did not permit me to bring that tin of laddus. After all, there were degree boys to do it! ‘A post-graduate with 33 decades of service carrying the tin? No!’ (Laughter) No, I couldn’t do it. It means my ego did not allow me to do it.

But, the one who does it is egoless. So long as there is ego, we can never be spiritual. So long as there is ego, we can never be religious. So long as there is ego, realization of God is out of the question -- for a hundred lives to come or even more! We should say, “Oh ego, let me go!” The ego is the biggest obstacle -- it is an ‘iron curtain’ between God and me. So, service helps us to be egoless, to remove that iron curtain, so that we can experience the Divine manifestation. This is the way, the only way, to be egoless.

Furthermore, let us understand that we are not serving anyone. Rather, you are serving yourself. Sometime back, a few members were given an interview. Swami asked them -- they were youngsters, youth, “What are you doing?” They started to say, “Swami, we’re helping the aged people. We’re helping the handicapped. We’re helping the primary school children.” Swami said, “Stop that nonsense, stop! You are not helping anybody. You are helping yourselves.” Every act of service is an act to oneself, not to anybody else.

"Do You Think You Are Serving Me?"

Some time ago, Baba gave an example, an illustration. One morning, it seems a gentleman decided to feed an old Brahmin as an act of service. I see - if he fed a non-Brahmin, he’d be committing some sin. So he wanted only to feed a Brahmin. Starting in the morning, he waited for a Brahmin to come by. Ultimately, around 1:30 in the afternoon, he did find an old Brahmin about 80 - 85 years old. Immediately he said, “Sir, I've been waiting for you. Please come home with me. I’ll serve you food. I'm waiting.”

That old gentleman came and sat in front of the Brahmin. The food was served, and the Brahmin started eating. The gentleman was highly irritated.

‘Is he a Brahmin? I don’t think so. (Laughter) He should wash his feet first. He should say his prayers next, and he should sprinkle some water around that plantain leaf, and then start eating. How can he be a Brahmin if he starts eating straight away?!’

Then he said to the Brahmin, “This food is not for you! Please leave.” (Laughter) Then, as usual that afternoon, the gentleman ate and slept. While napping, he had a dream. In the dream, Bhagavan appeared and said, “Hey fellow, are you a buffalo? (Laughter) I fed this old Brahmin for 85 years! He was eating twice a day comfortably. Yet you could not feed him even once, and you think you are serving Me? Do you think that food will reach Me? Stupid -- you are stupid.” Then straightaway the gentleman got up from his nap, and went in search of the old man, but he never found him.

It only means that Bhagavan appeared in the form of that Brahmin to teach the gentleman this lesson that he is not helping anybody -- no, no, no, no! This time, this moment, the opportunity is given to each one to help oneself by helping others. So, this is the realization of “service to the Spirit”.

Service Is the Only Way of Realisation

And the next fourth point: Service is the only way to realisation. The culmination of service, the climax of service, is realisation. What is there to realise? With true service, you realise that God is in everyone -- it is a passage from ‘I’ to ‘we’. God is a cosmic form. God is not a person; God is not an object -- God is cosmic. God is universal, embodying the whole organic world. You’ll have that cosmic experience or the realisation once you proceed along the path of service.

Bhagavan gave one example. A long time ago, there lived a devotee by the name of Eknath. That devotee was carrying a pot full of Ganges water to Rameshwaram. It was a hot day, and as he was carrying this pot full of Ganges water to Rameshwaram, Eknath saw a donkey on the ground, struggling hard as it was very thirsty. This immediately compelled Eknath to give some water to the donkey.

Everybody made fun of him saying, “Look here, sir! This sacred Ganges water is to be carried to Rameshwaram. Why are you offering it to this donkey? This water was meant to be offered to Lord Siva, not to a donkey!” Eknath said, “That same Siva is here right now in this donkey. This thirsty donkey is the very reflection, the very embodiment, of Siva Himself. Therefore I offered this water to the donkey.”

That is the pinnacle of success, glory, and realisation. God serves man and man should serve his fellowmen. Man should serve his fellowmen because God serves man. Baba said at one time, “You see Me distributing clothes. You see Me distributing everything. I serve and serve. I go on giving and giving. Why?”

Why should He do the distribution when all persons are assembled? He could say, “At 12 o’clock, all needy people can assemble.” He can then distribute the clothes and by 2 o’clock, the rest of us can arrive. Why should He serve in front of us, while all the people are watching? He goes on serving everybody like that. Why? So that we may learn from His best, Divine example. We should serve everybody just as He does.

Yesterday He mentioned an instance of a person from Bombay. This person adopted two sons, two boys, because both of his other sons were settled here in Prashanti Nilayam, doing service to Bhagavan. The husband and wife were free. So what did they do? They adopted two more boys. Why?

“We follow the example of Bhagavan.”

Adoption -- adopting poor children, serving the poor and needy, and helping everybody -- we should emulate His example. We have the best example right in front of us! Hence, God serves man so that man may learn to serve his fellowmen.

Help Ever, Hurt Never

Next (fifth) point: “Help ever, hurt never.” We should always help; we should never hurt anybody. Help does not always mean material things, no. A good word, an encouraging word, a suitable word, some solace or comfort – yes, that is enough help. Help does not necessarily mean financial or material -- no, no, no, no!

Don’t worry! Don’t worry! Why are you frustrated? No, don’t get disappointed that Swami has not looked at you -- no, no! I was like you for many, many long years. I waited and waited, and later Bhagavan made up for it with compound interest. A look lost now is a guarantee for many looks later. So, let us not be worried about the present moment.

Suddenly Swami asked one boy, “How is your grandfather?” Then He asked another boy, “How is your mother?” Well, everyone was surprised. He said, “Your grandfather underwent an operation. He is improving, don’t worry.” He looked at another boy, “Your mother suffered from cancer. She feels she’s totally cured, no! Tomorrow I will give prasad. Send to her.”

And then Swami turned around and said to me, “Look here, many of the boys think that I don’t talk to them or that I don’t know them. Many feel that I have neglected them. Many are frustrated. Remember, I know everyone of you as well as your family -- your brothers, your sisters, your parents -- every detail I know.” Then He smiled.

This is Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Outwardly, externally, we think that we are neglected, that He has not spoken to us, that He has never looked at us. No, no, no! He is the cosmic Divine, where our future, present and past, all the three films are downloaded there on the Divine ‘computer’. Therefore we have to be very careful -- help ever and be ever ready.

Three Ways of Service
And then, Bhagavan said there are three ways of service. One: Some people want to serve rich people. But the rich don’t need your service as they can employ someone to help. Still, if you serve rich people, it is called Lakshmi Narayana seva. Lakshmi symbolizes wealth.

Then, you may serve equals: He’s my colleague and therefore my equal. I serve him because I may need his services tomorrow – foreign exchange! (Laughter) So, it is an exchange service. Service to equals is Aswathnarayana seva. Service to the rich is Lakshmi Narayana seva. But the real service, which is to the poor, is Daridranarayana.

Narayana is common to all people. Don’t think that there is one Narayana or God in these poor people; and that He is different for rich people -- no, no, no! God is there in all equally. He is equally there in rich people and in poor people, But service is very much required, is very much needed, for the poor people. Also service is an opportunity to express our gratitude and thankfulness to God. “Oh God, thank you very much for this opportunity.” We express our gratitude like this.

Hands That Serve Are Holier
Than Lips That Pray

Then also Bhagavan says, “Hands that serve are holier than lips that pray.” Lips that pray are certainly lower when compared to the hands that serve. Hands that serve are higher -- that’s what Swami wants us to know.

What is the highest service, the best service? Paropakaram. Paropakaram, in the usual connotation or conventional sense, means ‘help to others’. But Bhagavan does not use that interpretation. Param means ‘God’, upa is ‘near’ and kara means ‘joining’. Service that will help anybody go towards God, help anybody to think of God, help anybody move near God, help anybody chant His Name or move along the path of Divinity -- that is the highest service. Para + upa + karma = Paropakaram, which means ‘to take one near God’. Either by way of thinking or chanting or singing -- whatever it may be -- that’s the highest service and that is the merit or punyam or Paropakaram punyam.

What is paapam? It is sin: Papaya Parapeedanam. In the usual context, this means hurting anybody -- hurting or harming others. But Bhagavan changes the meaning. Param is ‘God’ and Peedana is ‘diversity’ or ‘God as many’. But God is One. So, multiplicity or plurality has no place in spirituality. God is unity, not multiplicity or diversity. So, to think of God as many is the sin.

So now the “Why” of service has shown that service, true service, is to the Sprit, not for anything else.

Service is Sai, Sai Is Service

Finally, let us consider the “How” of service? “Service is Sai. Sai is service.” Let us learn from Him. Let us emulate His example. The second point is that once you start serving others, manishi or man becomes maharshi, the saint.

And thirdly, what are the requirements of how to serve? First, serve silently, humbly, and lovingly -- that is the first requirement on how to serve. Do not interfere. Suppose you are doing some work. If someone says, “No, sit down. Let them do their job”, it’s interference. Service is not interference, no! That is a disservice.

Furthermore, we have to cultivate the soul, understand the soul, and experience the soul -- that is a fundamental prerequisite in the field of service.

And then we must be indifferent to censure or praise. When people go on praising you, well, you tend to get egoistic. When there is censure, you get depressed. Don’t be affected by censure or blame; don’t be carried away by praise because that gives scope to the ego to raise its ugly head, which it could do at any moment.

The three P’s are required -- purity, patience, and perseverance. Purity, patience and perseverance are required for any man of service. If he’s pure, he’ll be patient enough. If he’s pure and patient, he’ll have the perseverance -- that great quality of determination -- to pursue his goals.

And then, S-A-I: Sai. ‘S’ stands for service, karma yoga or the path of action. ‘A’ is for adoration, bhakthi or the path of devotion. ‘I’ stands for illumination, the path of jnana or the path of wisdom. So, service, which is karma yoga or action, should take you to adoration and devotion, bhakthi yoga, and it gives you or confers on you wisdom or illumination, jnana. So, one moves from karma to bhakthi to jnana, like going from Bombay to Frankfort to London or New York. Am I clear? This is it -- a way for transformation.

Sai: Spiritual, Association and Individual Change

Then, next comes another S-A-I. ‘S’ is spiritual change. ‘A’ is association change. ‘I’ is individual change. ‘S’, spiritual change -- what is spiritual change? We think God is there in a temple. We think that it is enough if we worship Him every Sunday or Thursday or Saturday. Spiritual change means acquiring the awareness that God is present in everyone, from microcosm to macrocosm:

Sarvada, Sarva Kaaleshu,
Sarvatra Hari Chintanam.

Sarvada means ‘all things all the time’. Sarva kaleshu means ‘everywhere’. Sarvatra means ‘everywhere, everybody’. Hari chintanam means ‘think of Him’. That is the spiritual change that is very much needed today.

‘A’, association change: We associate with bad people. We associate with sub- human people. We associate with inhumane people. No! Let us associate with good and noble people – let us keep good company. There has to be a change in our association. So, ‘A’ stands for association change. Then ‘I’, individual change: I think that I'm the body. I think that I'm the mind -- no! I'm the Spirit. I need to know that I'm a spark of the Divine.

So, there needs to be change -- a spiritual change, a change in our associations and individual change. Individual change is vyashti. Association change is samashti and spiritual change is Parameshti. Vyashti, samashti, and Parameshti These are the three steps of change. There are the three changes in this transformation process. That is real service to the Spirit.

Nature Is the Best Teacher,
Life Is the Best Preacher

Finally, nature is the best teacher. We find the rivers flowing incessantly, quenching our thirst. We find the trees bearing fruit for our sake. We find the cows yield milk for us. The cow’s milk, the fruit from the trees, the breeze, the sunlight, and the moonlight always serve us selflessly, without a word of recognition or appreciation. So Bhagavan says, “Nature is the best teacher.”

“Life is the best preacher.” Our life is the best preacher, which means that, when life passes through certain stages -- stages of elation or jubilation or frustration or depression, each stage teaches us how to be equal-minded, how to be an example, how not to be carried away by the winds -- the whims and vagaries of the world.

Life is the best preacher, for nothing is permanent in this world. No one ever lives forever. Life is just a passing cloud. But in this moment, though it may be temporary, this moment is one of eternity. This moment is a moment of eternity -- life is in the present where the past is dead and gone. In the present, the past is dead and the future is only a hope. The future is not certain; it is a hope; it is a promise; it is a dream and it may not come at all. The future may not come at all, while the past is finished. The past is history, while the future is a mystery. But only the present moment is a reality. Let us live in the present because this moment is the one eternal and immortal.

May Bhagavan help us every moment of our life. From this moment, may we start to consider that service is not for others, but it is a service to the Sprit within.

May Bhagavan bless you.

Thank you very much!

Om Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyormaa Amrtam Gamaya

Om Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki Jai!
Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki Jai!
Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki Jai!

Thank You!

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