Worldly activity ensnares us. It curbs us into a particular routine, a monotony, a forced mundane prototype. If there is an activity that can liberate us, and unshackle us, it is Guru Seva.
Worldly chores are driven by need for wealth, power, fame, charm or commitments to kin. The enthusiasm that comes out of this drive does not last long. It comes out of unfamiliarity or out of temporary allure. In this, we lose the zeal fast, and boredom sets in. The fervor may weaken and it brings along with it anxiety, doubt, insecurity, greed or stress.
Seva surpasses both the above instances. Seva has an eternal freshness to it. The deeper we go, there is more appeal and profundity. In seva, there is comfort, enthusiasm, and familiarity. In seva, there is never tedium, and it always keeps us on our toes. A worldly chore, when focused towards seva as its ultimate purpose, gives the same zeal!
Activity leaves a grouchy mind; Seva creates a rejoicing mind!
The first step towards perceiving this difference, is to know that ‘seva’ has been bestowed upon us by the Guru’s Grace, and not by our entitlement. The Guru is the Absolute; He needs no hands to fulfil the purpose of His Incarnation. In spite of that, it is by His Boundless Grace that He has given us a hand in His Divine work. So the first step is to feel blessed. This is the only step we have to take, and the rest will fall in place. If we don’t realize we are blessed, we start feeling we are the doer. And then ‘seva’ becomes like any other worldly activity. The intention that we are the ‘doer’, sets in the tension. And when there is tension, there is restlessness. Tension and restlessness are what we experience in our worldly chores. Devotion dispels the feeling of doership. And brings in bliss! That’s what distinguishes ‘seva’ from activity.
Once we grasp this difference, all whines vanish, all grumbling vanishes, all insecurities vanish, tension vanishes, greed vanishes, and jealousy vanishes. There is just inner calm and silence that enables us to be a completely flexible instrument in the Master’s hands. This inner calm and silence is the origin of creativity; for creativity does not come out of one who is too occupied, anxious, ambitious or indolent. Creativity comes when our whole being is in resonance with His Divine Purpose.
If we are crawling through it, it is activity; if we are dancing through it, it is Seva!
Dr. Janani Vasudevan, Chennai India
Originally published in MadhuraMurali monthly magazine