6th Session on
“Love, Service & Remember”
by Swami Nitya
So far we have talked more general, about what “Service” means. Often when Swami Rama uses the word service, it’s accompanied by the word: self-less . He also puts it in the context of dharma. In ‘Conscious Living’ (p. 63) talking about Arjuna (re: Bhagavad Geeta) he explains his full name as: Arjuna - karne wala; meaning: one who makes sincere effort. So Arjuna is one, who makes a sincere effort to live his dharma; lives a dharmic life!
He also explains that the word dharma, encases those great laws and disciplines that uphold, sustain and ultimately lead humanity to the sublime heights ….dharma shines in the form of truth, non-violence, love, compassion, forbearance, forgiveness and mutual sharing. A real follower of dharma includes all and excludes none.
This same reference comes over and over in his writings; we too have heard it before. Include all… exclude none!
I studied also for some years with a Buddhist master; she used to say: dharma is the suchness of each existing thing. We come into this world with a certain inherent Job; like a tree --- is treeing… and mountain is mountain-ing…each existence has its own intrinsic, duty as to how to serve in the entire picture, … how to serve the ‘Whole’!
In this way there can be no “new dharma”. Dharma is the intrinsic service, which each one is living within the whole, as his or her purpose of life! In this way “self-less action, or call it self-less service ----- describes one’s relationship to the world; self-less action is your role… every one’s part in the world.
Swami Rama further says: “In nature, each object is unique yet all objects of the world, including all living beings are interconnected by a common bond. Thus each human being has his personal life, but by no means can he/she separate himself/herself from his community, society or humanity as a whole….. one must select the duty which provides for the welfare of the wider range of humanity….”
It is a real challenge to ask ourselves, how are we doing, in living this - in what we are doing ? Are we living fulfilling our purpose, our dharma? How is our awareness of how our thoughts, behaviour and action – fit with, or effect the people around us. Am I doing what I meant to be doing? Not just in my individual little separate self… BUT within the context, the society in which we live and moreover in humanity as a whole, on our planet as a whole
Swami Rama challenges us non-stop to review… where we stand, and ask us to live according to the high ideals, “rather than merely admiring and adoring” the sayings of the great sages ! He himself, gave the example:
It’s not incidental that He built the Hospital where the need was great for the people to get help! This act in itself is an example for us, a call for us to do likewise. Serve….where the need is greatest!
If we are aware of the situation of the world today…than it means radical change, in our attitude towards each other and the shared life. He becomes very practical when he points out, that every Mother, has the duty to instruct the child in self-less giving.
But how can we, if we don’t practice ourselves.
Without practicing self-less-ness, “there is no hope for reconstructing the society significantly” and if we don’t… as many scientists warn us, there is no future for the human race!
We have ruined the earth to such an extent; used its resources to such an extent, multiplied to such an extent, sown hatred and dissonance…. That the human race is at the brink of suicide.
Many places on the globe are without clean water to drink. In fact: 1.1 billion people across the world lack access to clean drinking water. India too has this problem as you well know, but now the Problem is also in US and many other places. But what do we do to recycle water, to save water, to clean used water?
The human body exists mainly out of water, how can people exists without water. Now multinationals like nestle, in apart of the world patent the clean water. I.e. they have the sole rights to sell… it, means those that have no water, no need to buy water.. yet water is what we are…crazy?
2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation; stuff just gets put in the rivers, and then the oceans. And that not just from waste water… that’s easy, but industrial waste.. and think of Fukushima etc. Nearly all rivers in India have unhealthy, intolerable pollution. We polluted the oceans, to such an extent, that what we dumped in them, in the last 50 years … will take thousands of years to clean, this includes the tiny plastic pellets that are left over when plastic re-enters the cycle of water. Yes this is a global issue. We think we solve the problem by drinking bottled water? Did you know that one plastic bottle of water, needs 6 times the amount in it, to produce it?
Then there is the problem of cattle and water: 1 kg of potatoes needs 100 Liter to grow. I kg of beef needs 13.000 Litre.
I am saying this merely as illustrations of one simple issue.. of the complex picture, of how we misuse the earth’s resources… and do little or nothing to help mend the situation. Water is the new GOLD!
3,900 children die every day from Water born disease… they too are our family!
The ice-sheets on the Arctic… are warming at an alarming rate, so there is the danger that at any time they could slide from the rocks in which they are anchored, into the oceans…means what?
Means… it will make the ocean level rise, anything up to 10 feet…. Some forecast say, it might happen within 10-100 years. Right now more evidence is coming to light, that the globe is warming quicker than most thought… yes, just looking at one aspect : WATER, the list could be endless.
Again: These are just a few examples.
What has this to do with selfless service?
Swami Rama talks of service, self-less service as intrinsic part of spiritual and social reform in our life, because we live in a changed world. We do not life anymore in a world of simple agricultural communities… as in Vedic times, and the wheel cannot be turned back!
Swami Rama is quite clear about this. Selfless service has a different context now, than simply helping in an ashram, church, or spiritual community. There will be none… if we do not expand… into all of humanity. INCLUDE ALL, EXCLUDE NONE! Life has changed, the goal post has moved; the welfare of humanity is at stake! One frequently used phrase in Swami Rama’s books is: Universal brotherhood. We have a duty, to wake up to the fact, that we live in a world that cries out for the awareness of universal brotherhood.
What does this mean? What is a brother? A brother shares your roots. We all have the same parents if you want to put it that way, Purusha and Prakriti, Shiva and Shakti; the Great Grandfather Spirit and the Corn-mother; Izagami and Izanami… and so on, whatever is appropriate in your culture! Brother is the one you share the same roots, existence, whether mentally or physically or both.
I realized that when I was 15. I grew up in a small village, as a refugee child after the WWII; the school was ½ an hour’s walk and one hour bus-ride… away. At a certain date I was told my father had died that day, as soon as I arrived back from school. Moreover I was told to go to the next bus… in the village to pick up my little brother (12 at the time, and tell him the news.
On that walk home, with my brother… from the school-bus.. I realized what a Brother was. A brother was someone, you took care of, you and him… belong together… no matter what. And we have kept this awareness… right to now.
The first time I had a more extensive talk with Swami Veda, he told me, he will be my elder brother. For me that word… was very meaningful.
In this way, we have to realize we are all brothers and sisters, and I am not meaning in a limited family, such as in an ashram community, or a religious or political community- that’s all very cozy and nice… but Swami Rama talks about universal brotherhood.
This concept is not unique to India, Yoga or …xyz. It is a universal concept, that appears in Christianity, as you will know: as love they neighbour as they self; in comes in Buddhism under the loving kind-ness, or even the Kalyana Mitta; or in the Celtic Tradition as Anam Kara.
So ask yourself, how do we take care of our brothers and sister across the globe? One way of serving humanity, is simply to open your mouth and tell about the situation; i.e. raising awareness, that is service… to the world! But it’s not enough…
In the South Sudan in the moment there is the worst food and water crisis the world has ever seen….what are we doing? What are we doing about the victims in Syria and the Israel/Palestine conflict; it’s the children and women who suffer most. What are we doing about the Child-slaves in the mines of Africa… who reach max. 17 years of age; what are we doing about the situation of the women around the world, and especially in India where gender-side and rape is rampant?
Serving our brothers and sisters means what? Service means educating people, in every niche and cranny of this globe! Educate them to become truly human! How do we implement what Swami Ramas asks of us? And not just for humanity but beyond that ---in the massive extinction of species… that share our life, existence… and ultimately oneness! They die because of how we live! Yet we cannot live without them, as the ecological balance of life connects everything, with everything. Shiva is in everything.. we say the words but, how do we answer the call to “universal brotherhood”?
How do we love serve and remember.. humanity? Where even to start?
In his book ‘Sadhana’, Swami Rama gives some pointers, under the heading of selfless-ness” (p. 48)
“Sit down and quietly think about what you have done in your life, because in the end, during the period of transition, you will have to face yourself…”
“Do not work for yourself: that is not the way of life. You will become selfish. Learn to work for others. If the wife learns how to work for her husband, and the husband learns to work for his wife, they will be both happy. Problems come when both become selfish, demanding and expecting. Learn the path of selflessness. That is the only way to liberation!
Learn to give to each-other and then slowly that learning will expand to the whole universe. One day you will feel that the whole universe is your family and you are one member of that family. On the path of selflessness there is great joy.”
Equally we could say: On the path of service, there is great Joy; selflessness “is a singular expression of love”
These two belong together: selfless love and selfless service.
In today’s world these two have not only been separated but forgotten, which has created chaos in our societies. We must put effort in… to bring them back, which means bringing back dharma, bringing back right respect and living, right actions. Right actions that are not fallen victim to materialism, where only matter matters. But right living, from a point of spiritual insight.
This practice begins in one’s own life.. but extends into the collective life of all mankind, it grows with the insight, that life is not limited to my particular being, my particular tradition, society, etc. This comes from realizing, that “the stream of life originates in the Divine..( beyond…) which is higher than and superior to human life.
Swami Rama writes (p. 57) “By realizing this truth, a sincere seeker of dharma casts off his ego and starts experiencing the oneness of the life force within all living beings.
Today, we need a path of discipline to helps us remain unperturbed by such afflictions as disease, old age and death, (that) is the dharama of mankind.. for a person with high character and a broad mind, the whole world is a family. Such humanitarian or egalitarian attitude is the ethical aspect of dharma, whereas the direct experience of the non-dual Truth is the spiritual foundation of the perennial dharma….(we ) have to return to the gems from the Vedas and the Upanishads that long ago declared ‘the whole world is one family’.
How to get there….how to see, how to experience, this wider vision of existence, and from that ---- love and serve.. all of humanity?
The key lies in studying the mind, our own mind. Awareness of our patterns, habits, ‘enculturations’ and for that we have to do Sadhana, spiritual practices. We need to practice spiritual discipline, without it one cannot attain control over modifications of the mind. The mind has to be made one-pointed in order to turn within and be able to stay still enough, to observe the life-force within.
Without such awareness, our mind runs here and there and dissipates its energy. For that we need a healthy body.
Swami Rama and many Sages. Many Sages of all sorts of spiritual traditions advocate one simple way to make the mind steady and one-pointed; that is focus on the breath; on the inhalation and exhalation.
One great advocate of this was Ramana Maharishi of Arunchala. Both Masters say, this is the simplest and the best. We make the mind one-pointed, by using the intellect… but ultimately that leads beyond to intuition into a deeper awareness, we call consciousness. Aware of this universal force…one becomes aware of not belonging to any family, group, culture, society, but to humanity. When we touch that, there is love and from that love there is only one activity – service.
From this insight, wisdom and compassion flows and selfless service in thoughts ,words and action flow completely normal, like a river flows to the ocean, with ease; or as the scriptures say: with “effortless effort!”
So the whole thing seems to be boiling down to one simple practice: Observing the breath, leading to one-pointed awareness – leads to still the conditioned mind and to transcending it into the awareness of not being separate, of sharing a universal force with all existence. This technique we call meditation.
My mind goes back to Ramana Maharshi, who as a Young man, simply lived under a staircase in a temple and did just that. He meditated, meditated, meditated; and he became - without any doubt the greatest Master of Advaita, of seeing the Oneness of all, in our time.
This is such a beautiful example, because it makes us realize, how everything else.. is enculturation.. is a cultural expression… techniques which people found helpful… in a certain culture to reach that same state.
We have many Shamanic tradition, many religious and spiritual tradition all across the world, where people have found their way, through their methods… to the same ultimate TRUTH. Through this simple process of focus inward .. . all great Mystics and spiritual Masters have touched that dimension… no matter from which angle they approached it. And once they experienced that level of insight, where they got in touch with that One Supreme Divine Force… that is beyond, beneath, inherent.. in any form of life and existence, then they expressed that Joy, they expressed that love… and put it into a form that their culture could understand. Their service to the people, to humanity was… to share that wisdom, that experience, that insight.
But the underlying experience is universal, Truth is universal, and its first flow outwards is Love and Service. From there Swami Rama calls to bring the focus back to Humanity! To become and act truly human and fulfil the divine potential that is inherent in us: to love and to serve the Entirety.