The Value of Seva
Seva is a precious opportunity that we have been given to develop humility, diminish our self-importance, improve our character and grow in love. All this is crucial to our spiritual life.
If we would only realize what a limited amount of time we have in this world, how deluded we are about everything we consider to be our own, how weak we are before the tendencies of the mind and how deeply buried we are under the weight of our own karmas, we would cherish every opportunity to get out of this mess.
And if we knew how much the Master helps us during meditation and how much he wants to see us happy, we would do everything in our power to contribute to our own welfare and improve our focus during meditation.
It is entirely by his grace that we get an opportunity to do seva and that we are capable. Everybody doesn’t get the opportunity. Many people may be wanting it, may be anxious to do it, but they never get an opportunity. Their circumstances don’t permit them, their environment doesn’t permit them, their family commitments don’t permit them. It’s by his grace that we get this opportunity.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
The question then is, why is it that we sometimes take our seva for granted?
When we are faced with difficulties during seva, if it is too time consuming, if we encounter some opposition, or if we find ourselves seeking praise for our seva but don’t get it, then we tend to think, “Well, why don’t I just give up that seva? After all, the real seva is meditation, this outer seva is just a means. If this seva is actually becoming a hindrance in my meditation, then I should let go of it.”
In a question and answer session, a disciple asked Maharaj Charan Singh: “If we are trying to do seva for our sangat, and we notice that we are so full of pride that even our attempt at seva has a lot of ego attached to the result … should we give up that seva until we can be more detached?” He replied:
We should give up that ego rather than the seva. Seva will help you to create humility sooner or later.… By running away from the situation, we don’t solve any problem. We have to tackle the situation.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
When we do seva, we work with different personalities and mind-sets. It is not necessary that we should always agree, and in fact sometimes we do disagree; we bang our heads and we even argue. But that is precisely the point of seva – to help us rise above our prejudices, ideas and expectations. It is an opportunity to overcome our grand yet truly limited sense of self.
We are too poor to be choosy, too needy to deny help; and if seva is done with the right attitude, then it is a priceless gift. We may feel that through our seva we are helping others or even helping our Master, but in fact, we are only helping ourselves.
In his benevolence, our Master allows us to serve him. It is his grace that provides us with various ways and means to rise above our limitations; it is his greatness that makes our smallest effort an excuse for him to smother us with his love.
Every satsangi should do some seva. Seva is of four types: with the body, with the mind, with wealth and with the soul. They are all seva. The first three sevas are the means to the real seva, which is seva of the soul, or connecting your soul with the Sound within. That is the real seva. Seva means that service which is done to please the Master, and what pleases the Master most is when we attend to our meditation. Withdrawing our consciousness to the eye centre and connecting it with the Sound is the real seva, which is impressed upon us by every mystic or saint.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live