In Hindu tradition, there is the mysterious belief that our human lives are only a medium to fulfill a destiny, that there is something else playing us. The first level of surrender comes at this point: I am not the doer. According to this ancient tradition, service – or connecting with those in need – helps to purify oneself. The idea is that we should not fight our attachments because they are a part of us. But we need to realize that they are not us. So how can we reduce our attachments? It is proposed to include more people in the fold of our lives so that we can experience the eternal human, the connection that transcends intellect, goes beyond feelings, and tells us that we are a part of that unified field. To come to this point, perhaps we need to train ourselves. For example, we could pick up the broom and sweep the floor of our house instead of letting the cleaning woman do it for us – as simple as that. The first time we do it, we may think, ‘I did not come here for this; I came here for higher goals.’ However, once you develop a feeling for the detachment and feel the benefits of it, the work begins to turn into Seva.
Sivananda, a great Indian saint and teacher, set the path towards liberation of our strings, attachments and pains. The first teaching for him was selfless service. The second teaching is love. The third is to give, to sacrifice. Fourth is to purify. Fifth is to become good. Sixth is to do good. Seventh is to meditate. The eighth is to realize Samadhi (enlightenment).
Sivananda and his disciples did so when going to villages in India. The villagers were total strangers, yet the disciples were mandated to serve them, to fulfil their needs. Then they helped construct a house, find employment and develop skills by which they could stand on their own. Then came the component of love when all the young girls and boys of the area would be given the best opportunities. With these intentions comes purification of emotion, spirit, ideas, thoughts, of a connection that enables one to become good, which is the fifth stage.
Today in European societies, we find a lot of such projects and organizations of people contributing voluntarily to help communities and people that need help. But do we always keep the selfless component in sight? Sometimes volunteers end up striving for power and make it their space or personal playground. In companies too, some employees will devote to something bigger but others might take advantage of them. It is important to insist on the collective integration of these concepts to have a global impact. Healthier societies, more harmonious, less competition and depression, less lack of integration and isolation.
It is a state of participation in life at a higher level of consciousness. We need to be cautious because our ego always plays tricks. In the Bhagavad Gita (the foundational hindu epic), it is explained that to be a real human being, we should see everybody with the same eyes. Nobody is superior or inferior. It may sound difficult or philosophical, but in reality, it is not.