From a practical perspective, anyone who gives himself whole-heartedly to seva allows himself the exceptional opportunity to evolve and grow as a truly human being.
When we do seva, we learn to interact lovingly, to listen, to communicate, to understand, to be patient, and to put the needs of others ahead of our own. We learn to accept that we are not always right; that everyone’s opinion matters, that obedience is a virtue (not a weakness) and that maintaining harmony is always more important than being right. Maharaj Sawan Singh once said:
Masters are spiritual physicians and open one’s spiritual eyes.
Love in Action
Through seva, the Masters also open our minds, and when we are open-minded, seva can be the ultimate attitude-modifier. It takes us on a journey where we gradually depart from the self and make our way towards the selfless One. When we see how gifted everyone is, how unique and capable each individual is in their own way, we understand and accept our humble place in this creation. We realize that by ourselves what we can accomplish is limited, but when we work together, our potential is limitless thanks to the power of our beloved Creator.
We usually start doing seva because Sant Mat advocates that it is important to create an atmosphere in which we can build our meditation, and anyone who does seva will agree that it is indeed definitely an atmosphere enhancer. When people work together towards a common goal inspired by love for their Master, the feeling of unity and camaraderie is indescribable and incomparable to any other experience. For the human mind, it is soothing and therapeutic – a welcome break from the demands of daily life.
We also do seva because it is an opportunity to reciprocate; a way to express our gratitude to the Lord for the many blessings he confers upon us; but most of all, to the Master for taking upon himself the colossal duty of liberating our tired and encumbered souls.
Whatever service is possible for you to do with your hands for the Master, you should do it, because it is the Master who gives the protection of his hands and saves us from the fire of transmigration.
Guru Arjan Dev, as quoted in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. 1
Whatever our reason may be, at some point or another, we make a start. We take one step at a time. And gradually, grace permitting, the more we commit ourselves to seva the more it draws us in. And like a spider that weaves its own web, we find ourselves cocooned in a way of life that bestows a reward more precious than anything the material world has to offer – happiness.
Hazur used to say that nothing can compare with that pleasure you get by helping somebody or making somebody happy in life.
And therein lies the whole truth. We do seva because it makes us happy; because it gives us a sense of fulfilment that physical rewards do not. It cultivates in us an enduring feeling of confidence because we know we cannot fail in seva.
Even if our contribution is not of a magnificent value, even if we are not talented, or particularly good at anything, we know that as long as we are giving our time, doing our best and have the right attitude, we are definitely pleasing our Master. And that is a real source of comfort in this world of endless expectations.
But to prioritize seva ahead of our own needs requires enormous courage. It requires us to let go of our own desires and put the Lord’s happiness ahead of our own. And the result of such a commitment is nothing less than the much-coveted, personal experience. Not necessarily light and sound experience, but definitely heart-stopping, faith-building experience.
We see with our own eyes, how everything in our lives effortlessly falls into place because while we were so busy doing his work, he was doing ours. We feel his guiding presence all the time, even in the most mundane of things. And no matter how difficult or impossible the task given to us may be, he gives us the strength and the presence of mind to do it, and to do it well.
I am sure, if the Guru wants, he can make even the stones carry out his work.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems
Seva changes us. In achieving our goal of trying to please our Master, we learn to do things the way he likes it; the way he would do it, to please his own Master. That approach then spills over into everything else we do and before you know it, in everything we do, we remember him; we dedicate everything to him.
The Great Master once said that service has many rewards, but the unique one is that a person imbibes the qualities of the person whom he serves.
We might still have a long, long way to go before that could ever be, but the possibility alone is inspiring; that we could one day be like him, that we could someday love our Master as much as he loves his Master, and express this love with our every breath the way he does – that is the reason why we keep on going.