Love, Serve and Remember
by Swami Nitya
To see that life itself is service, is pretty easy.
For example, think of the trees which through photosynthesis manufacture the vital Oxygen we need. Furthermore dry air contains 78 % Nitrogen; the body needs nitrogen too, but we cannot use it in the gas form. Microorganisms in trees and plants and the soil convert the nitrogen into a form we can absorb, through their fruits, vegetables etc.
This tiny example serves already to explain, that within the world we know, everything lives in a pattern of exchange, we live in co-operation. Every little or big part of Nature serves the whole. If you study ‘New Biology’ you will quickly find out, that Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest is outdated, it was based on a materialistic, reparative worldview. Today, the world looks different. Microbiology shows, that from the first living organism, cells got together to exchange information, and because of that they had a greater chance of survival. Through co-operation evolution happened, not through “fitness!”
Co-operation is a form of service, of acknowledging the mutual dependency of all existence. One can look upon it through the lens of sacrifice, something that was in many ancient cultures important. All aspects of life including our own existence have some part to play in this circle of life, in the co-operation of existence. But it is not just a circle, remember: We are “One” existence… which means our very existence is so totally interconnected, that everything allows everything else to exist, there can be -, there is no separation- everything serves everything.
Phew too hard to grasp. Think of it from another angle. There is a family; or a business, or an organization, it’s easy to see that everybody has a certain task to fulfill, within that. That is why they are there…
Now transfer that, to life, existence itself. – It means you have a purpose, a service to fulfill in this body, this life. In fact, there is a very special service that you have to fulfill within the whole of existence, we call that “The purpose of life”. We have a meaningful part to play in the whole, - we could call it our duty, or our dharma.
We don’t like to think, of our existence as service, because service for us has a socially tainted view. It’s something menial, we rather like to be Masters… not servants. Yet to serve is superior to mastery. Mastery is ego-centric, service is sharing, acknowledgment of oneness - with all. My preceptor (who initiated me to become a Swami) used to say: become a master over your own mind, so as to serve all others. A Master over himself is a Servant to all others .
What does it mean? If you master a skill, that means you can control your mind and kinetic movement to such an extent that beauty is created, whether in Music, in art, in cooking or what have you. The wrong understanding of Master has led to humans exploiting others; their huge big Ego demands superiority… or self-importance. Selflessness.. . seems to most , like a stupid challenge! The reason for this is ignorance. Ignorance, because it is “Not knowing” how to become a master over the shortcomings, the limitations of ones own mind and body. We live in an illusion of progress, of mastery over the world via technology have learned to manipulate matter, the lowest form of energy, at the cost of dumbing down our own abilities.
A quick example: Swami Rama and the Tibetan monks have shown amply that we can raise our body temperature at will, or cool down the body at will, that we humans have the capacity to create or dissolve Cancer in our body (Conscious Living) but instead of developing those abilities, we change the outside world…invent air-condition and chemotherapy…with both we destroy! Yet each cell, each organism, each human being – each facet of life has capacity, a duty, has its dharma, its purpose.. with which to contribute to the entirety of life. To do that is serving!
We think in our arrogance, we are the end-product of evolution, yet by enlarge we have more in common with animals, rather than being: “Truly human” (a phrase often used by Swami Rama) …It means, we have a much higher potential than any of us is using. We are on the path of evolution, eventually to reach a state that literature even goes beyond being human, it is describes as a god like state. The highest evolved Yogis are prime examples of this. This state is called “Divine” (meaning beyond) ….which is that state (although in a human body) where we live from the point of total Oneness…
This source from which we evolve and into which we return; this source is the beginning, and the goal… because there is only One…
Some cultures describe existence as cyclic, some simply as beginning and end being one. What either refers to is the awareness that ultimately we are One, there is no separation, if there is no separation, there are no servants, no Masters. To talk in these roles, means we have forgotten our true purpose and that is, the purpose to serve selflessly within the entirety! For the benefit of ALL.
Let’s stay with this thought of fulfilling our purpose within the entirety of life. …or, we could say: my duty towards life itself. It is this, that is meant when we talk about the service we have to give.. within the cycle of existence!
We are used to ask, what does life owe me, what do people owe me? But, we don’t like to hear of our duty. Duty towards whom or what? Towards life! Yoga philosophy and many others, would say: as human beings, our duty is simply to become fully human?
It means to live to my potential, and fulfil my part within humanity, towards a higher awareness. And that not just for me, but for the entirety of humanity. This kind of thinking is unfamiliar to us? We assume we know what we want, we know what we are? We know who we are: a mother daughter, secretary, friend, consumer, rebel etc. etc. But these are mere functional labels of roles just as the bottle opener fulfills a function , i.e. his purpose is to open bottles.
“Being truly HUMAN?” Is not a technical function. We are not machines as the people not long ago thought, we are not bodies that function like clockwork, as many still today believe. We are not individuals in the sense of having to fulfil our individual desires, wants and wishes. Swami Rama mentions in his book: Conscious Living, that words like ‘gentleman’… and may be human.. actually are connected to the word manas. SVB, too has referred to this; Man as a human: thinking Being or better: the aware being. We are told over and over we are consciousness, we are Divine - means humans have the potential to know, to think, to be aware ..of that which is …beyond him or herself. But we are stuck in our limited self-perception that is rooted in our five senses from which we identify and form the picture of the small “i”. To become fully human, fully aware, means: to give up our self-obsessed concern for the small “i” and see the bigger picture!
Think of a flower, or of a tree – they simply are. Do you know that in some tribal tradition of Africa, the tree is considered higher evolved than a human. Why? Because it just lives, causing no harm to anyone, and so it is said ” the tree, by just being, sings God’s glory”. They simply exists as one aspect of the universe, in harmony with the universe, and do their multi layered Job, of providing, shelter, shade, fruits, oxygen… what have you! They are- fitting into the larger scheme of unlimited existence. But we refuse to see ourselves in that way.
The ancient Wise One’s talked about themselves, as though they were one cell in the body of the cosmic “person”; comparing individual existence to one blood-cell fulfilling its task, within one large, cosmic universal body! In the same manner each cell of our body, serves the entire organism. The liver-cells do not fight with the lung-cells. Each fulfil their unique Job. In service to the whole.
If that is not done, if they “quarrel”, the whole body breaks down. It is the same within our world. All the many conflicts, whether between people, or structures, or between countries, whether between people and the earth, or between people and the life-giving trees… they all ultimately result in the whole body of earthly existence breaking down! The small “I” has to see his place within the whole; the cosmic “I”.
So the “purpose of our life”, has little to do with fulfilling our little wants and wishes, no matter with how much brilliance we justify and argue about it with our mind (reasons), but it has all to do with - being aware of life as expressed within humanity itself.
Toward the end of the great Indian story, the Mahabharata, Bishma, the aging king, gives us a clue, what it means to live as a true human being, and fulfill the purpose of human existence within this dimension of relative existence. He describes the noble life, the life of virtue, the way to live and serve the entirety.
- Be truthful and above reproach, self-restrained, humble and righteous...Surround yourself with people who share the noble qualities... Malice should have no place in the heart...
- Self-restrained is sacred.
- Cultivating nobility, calmness, contentment, faith, forgiveness, simplicity, humility, reverence for superiors, benevolence, compassion for all creatures, frankness...
- Living such a life, cultivating these qualities, enables us to serve humanity, without the negative taint the word “service has”… it merely means to become a person who lives to benefit ALL. That’s service! That’s being a noble person; a servant just as Bishma was a royal servant. It is being consistently truthful and honest; is seeing to issues as they arise promptly and appropriately; is giving the right quality time to those who need it. It is allowing ourselves time for our own spiritual practices and rest; it is tending to the needs of our bodies with food and sleep in the best way possible.
We exist, that’s a fact, doing it well – and for the benefit of the entirety – is fulfilling our existence. Existence- Sat (Sanskrit) is a given; to exist with consciousness, with awareness is Chit (Sanskrit).
Such life is guided by a longing and working towards the highest realisation of our small self, within the cosmic Self! Or translated first,- as Swami Rama points out – right here, right now .. in the context of ONE HUMANITY.
The Chinese use a certain Character, to describe this mode of living: ‘Te’. It denotes, the highest potential of each being: Te.' This symbol has three parts: the first one means as much as: flawless, perfect, without deviation, the second is the symbol for the human heart, and the third is a symbol for walking. Thus 'Te' becomes a symbol for the answer to the question of our purpose, our contribution to Humanity: Flawlessly and perfectly walking towards connecting, sharing, from the heart.; call it compassion; or.. in a higher sense, call it self-realization. Not realization of the small ego-self… but the wide, infinite, cosmic… Self of ALL!
From that perspective, it does not matter whether we are a writer, shoemaker, mother, or husband. It is irrelevant whether we are a teacher, a poet, a president, a nurse or a Guru; it is not the roles that are important, it is not the achievements we gain, or the acolytes we gain with our service, it’s gaining the awareness off who we are…. ultimately that we are all ONE !!!! We are …..SAT….Chit. exsisting within the universe without our self-important Ego-fixation.
A short while ago, in a friend’s house, I picked up a book, about the Universe. It had marvellous pictures of our earth, galaxy and even the known universe. It’s amazing to look into the magnitude of the universe as it exists; and it drives home the marvel and wonder of the infinite totality of existence
Then I talked to another friend recently about how one mother, one couple, exists in time and space linked in existence in time and space to all previous and all future generation. Each individual being a link in a chain of humanity, no more, no less.
Looking at the magnitude of things, there is a simple truth, we are one humanity! And we are in total, multidimensional interdependence within each other and the whole of existence.
Modern science, calls it: the awareness that we live in an existing infinite field, where everything serves, everything and every one.
We forget, we are not aware of this! But we have the capacity to be aware. We could say we have the obligation to be aware of this!
When I looked at my friend’s book about the universe, I became aware how everything in the universe serves… the stars with their light, the sun with her brightness, the earth with her gravity, what ever you want to name… it can and is only functioning according to mutual service… service not in the sense of demeaning activity, but service in the sense of making this entire wonderful world or universe possible!
Another way of talking about it is to say: everything acts according to their own dharma, their own duty, performs their own part.. so that the whole can exist.. as it does!
It is amazing to watch how this globe we call Earth (the ancient called it Gaia) is breathing; the layer of atmosphere expanding and contracting with spring and autumn; in-breath and out-breath.
Let’s see clearly, that we simply exist in a wondrous web of connections within the entire universe. That is indeed the greatest wonder! To live this existence, with simplicity, awareness and integrity; from a point of truthfulness and in harmony with all – that is joy! No matter what the circumstances!
To live this existence, to be alive, that is the miracle…of existence.! And that is… living a life of service!
But unfortunately that is not the reality of life on earth. The sense of everything being connected and serving each-other has been lost in an exclusive materialistic perception of the world. So rather than serve, we exploit, we use, we destroy… left right and centre. And that on many levels, from the way we treat each-other, to the way we treat the forest, the sea, the air, the bees, the birds… you name it. We use to fulfil our greedy desires.. me and mine… In total opposition of what we need to do as human beings
This is why, so my guess – Swami Rama used these three words as Motto. To call us back to our true purpose, our true destiny… to serve ALL, include all, exclude no one.
Yet, we put …” my individual life first”… not the “good of ALL”. Why? Because we have lost sight of the bigger picture… the ancients as well as many indigenous people have this wider vision. We have learned, been acculturated by our culture, it’s philosophers, it’s intellectual powers, and in more recent times –the mass-media, that only what we perceive with our senses is real.
From their identification with what is here - we are stuck in a frame - where : only matter matters. See the short-sightedness of me and mine, that destroys the world in the moment at a rapid speed!
Swami Rama in his book, ‘Conscious Living’, indicates, that the day will come (p.134) where we will see “that selfless service to humanity is the greatest of all duties”.. it means , don’t expect anything ----- just serve.
And he writes in “Call to Humanity: We must understand ourselves as human beings striving to become fully evolved.”…
What does that mean? He says in “Concious Living” (p. 117) “When Truth is universal, when Brahman is universal, how is it possible for you to be excluded? It means He is in you and you and Him. Then where are you? Your existence is not your existence. The moment you come to see this truth – you are free”.
Mother Theresea understood this too: in her words: “Every one is Jesus the Christ, so we must serve the poorest and most retched; serving Him!”
Swami Rama continues: “We have to search for a new lifestyle to restructure a new reformed society”. (p. 112) NOW…
He did not say: revive the old societies!!! In fact he has much to say about the inadequacies of such attempts, because we live in a “different” world. His is a call not to withdraw- but a call to serve, a call to serve in a form that could be called “spiritual activism! He continues: p.114 . “We need to study the actual needs of contemporary society… there were many great ideals in ancient times… but they are often not applicable any more”.
“Today we cannot live in seclusion and cannot separate ourselves from the problems of the rest of the world….”; “Blessed are those, which are useful to themselves and all others- they attain the highest goal of life here and now, their wisdom guides humanity on the path of immortality.”
It is not surprising the original version of the book “A Call to humanity”, had a subtitle
Revolutionary Thoughts on the direction for Spiritual and Social Reform in our Time. It becomes even more poignant when we read on page 110:
“Get up my friends, arise, attain knowledge and dedicate your life to the service of your fellow beings. “ Hari OM