To Serve, And Not To Be Served

To Serve, And Not To Be Served

TO SERVE, AND NOT TO BE SERVED is a poster that caught my eye at Bethany Trust Hospital in Thane (Mumbai). It is a quote from the Bible that has been adapted as the mission statement by the hospital’s founding father: Dr. Stephen Alfred.

Today, the quote resurfaced in my mind and set me thinking into different tangents.

Tangent 1:  I have often heard the word SERVICE being grossly misused. The very fact that you are able to say “I served”, “I am serving” – implies an urge to be recognized for what you are doing; you are operating from ego; your inner self is craving for a compensation; failing which you feel short-changed; this makes you bitter; and resentment sets in. Resentment has a very tangible vibe – you can see it, hear it, feel it, touch it. And there dies your emotion of service even before you started.

Tangent 2:  SERVICE WITH A SMILE is a misnomer of a phrase. Service HAS to come with a smile. SERVICE and BEING HAPPY TO SERVE are like conjoint twins. Though separate in definitions, one cannot exist without the other. Constant complaining about how much we are serving, and how little we are being appreciated for it, is simply a social application requesting for martyrdom and sainthood.

Tangent 3:  Service is truly a quality of enlightened souls and noble professions. If you are not even remotely there in spirit, don’t use the word. If you do insist on using the word with reference to yourself – then be sure to set a benchmark that others will have to stretch to touch.

Tangent 4:  SERVICE is performed at 2 very important stages of life’s evolution:

One – at the lowest rung of the ladder where we begin our climb into human evolution. This is our first stage of self discovery. We are devoid of any other skill or talent with the help of which, we can survive and sustain our body and spirit. Hence, we enter into service of others, we follow their command, nourish them, nurture them, help them, do their bidding – and in return we are given a little something to keep us going through life. There are no expectations or demands, and no dissatisfaction with whatever is handed out to us. The soul affirmation here is: YOU ARE THE MASTER, I AM THE SERVANT.

Two – at the highest rung of the ladder where we reach self actualization. This is the last stage of self discovery. We have been through several journeys of life, beginning at the lowest. With each successive lifetime, we move towards self reliance. We depend a little less on others, and a little more on ourselves. It is in the furtherance of this process of self reliance that we learn skills and develop talents. Finally in some lifetime will come a moment, where we become masters of our own destiny. We have done all that there is to do, and we have with us all that can be had. This is the top most rung of the ladder of human evolution. From here, we have the vantage point of looking down and seeing struggling souls trying to climb up, and helpless souls that need our attention. And in a swift moment of decision – we give it all away, we climb down back to the lowest rung – AND WE SERVE. The soul affirmation here is: I AM THE MASTER, I AM THE SERVANT.

So before we use this precious word – SERVE / SERVICE – it is important to do a self analysis of the stages of life that we are in. If we aren’t in any of these two stages of human evolution, then chances are, that what we are doing for others is merely an act of compulsion that can be better defined with synonyms like duty and responsibility – or perhaps, acts in return of compensation required for sustenance and survival.

That’s the rule. And every rule will have an exception. The exception being – LOVE. Love overrides all rules. At whichever phase of human evolution you may be – if your act of doing something for someone, is coming from an overwhelming feeling of pure love – then rest assured, that in that moment, you are delivering the highest form of soul service.

Tangent 5:  Flip the coin, and you will see another side – BEING SERVED. This is when you are the recipient of service given. The pertinent questions here are: Are you a good receiver? Do you deserve to be served?

I found many answers to these questions while sitting in hospital lounges waiting for the doctors to see you. Those in medical need are called `patients’ – but I have observed scant patience in any that I have seen. There is an arrogance in the receiver waiting to be served. There are utterances of what we are paying/giving in return, there are demands, there are threats, there are complaints, there are accusations, there is fault finding. All this, without a thought or concern for that one person who puts his/her personal part of life on a back-burner, simply so you can be well again. My question is: Do you deserve to be served? And why? What is the justification?

I think being served requires humbleness, the ability to accept whatever is given, and wisdom not to demand what cannot be given. Being served – requires a complete crushing of human ego. As does the act of – to serve. Perhaps, when – serving and served – meet each other in total humility of body and spirit, then – SERVICE – in the true sense of the word takes place. Till then, introspection is the key.

Personally – I place myself in a very middle stage of human evolution. I make no claims to the top rung of the ladder. I have come some distance up, and I have a long way to go still.

Bottom line: Service is a stage of the highest soul evolution. Practice it before you expect it. Practice it before you preach it. To make a beginning – retrospect into your past and introspect into your present. Your mind has all the questions. Your heart has all the answers.

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