Selfless Service: A Reversed Equation admin July 24, 2023
Selfless Service: A Reversed Equation

Giving is, in fact, receiving. We consider giving as something getting deducted from us, such as money, time, resources, etc.; and receiving as an addition. What if there was a different reality to this age-old wisdom? A different point of view. I recently experienced a deeper level of understanding of this while doing volunteer work at the Yogananda Trust in Vrindavan and Radhakund. A group of volunteers had gathered from Delhi, Gurgaon, Pune, Kolkata, and Chennai to conduct a cleanliness drive in Radhakund. The Yogananda Trust organized us in small groups to clean the houses and courtyards of old, destitute, and physically infirm mothers, who are under the care of the Trust. I had signed up for it, encouraged by my Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings on ‘Nishkam Karma’ (act of selfless service towards others without expecting rewards). I began with a cursory and theoretical understanding of what this was.

The energy of the group was soaring high for being given the opportunity to serve the old, poor, helpless widows. We tooks our brooms, mops, washing powders, brushes and began the cleanliness drive. I could see some of the mothers feeling uncomfortable letting strangers into their homes. Some were skeptical, and others were welcoming and warm. In another 30 odd minutes, I had started sweating, feeling hot, tired, and my legs and back were exerted. A thought, that I had never done this in my own house owing to a previledged life, flashed across. Another 30 minutes went by, my pain started growing, and I realized the limitation of my own body caused by a sedentary life. I was feeling drained, yet I kept going looking at how the others were still at it. At this point, I was just waiting for it to get over and not be judged by others for stopping before them.

We played chants by our Guru and continued our work with as much devotion as possible. It did energize us to do more. In that rush, I started cleaning the entire courtyard with all the strength I had in me. By the end of it, I was exhausted and concluded not to do this again. Maybe I can find another way to contribute, I said to myself. As my head started spinning, my spondilitis spurring up, I was set to give up. Right then, one of the resident mothers came with a plate full of Pakoras (Indian snack) and with, what I could say, the brighest smile I have ever seen.

There was something so magnetic and charming in her approach that for a second I forgot about my pains and aches. Right at my breaking point, I had a deep realization. I was perceiving, feeling, and calculating my actions as ‘spending’ my time, energy, physical effort, and emotions to do something for these helpless mothers. I overlooked what it was ‘adding’ to me and my life. It added physical strength to my otherwise dormant muscles, compassion and empathy to my indifferent attitude. It provided me with a reality check to my bubbled perception of the world outside and made me feel grateful for the comforts of my lifestyle. And most importantly, it gave me a sense of interconnectedness with the mothers, the volunteers, and the staff. A reversed point of view. In that fraction of a second, I had a feeling of fulness within and my feet firm on the ground. I have had such an experience twice or thrice during a deep meditation practice. But here it was, doing a random act of ‘Seva’ that I wouldn’t have done otherwise.

I came back home feeling whole and grounded. Not a day had passed and I received two business opportunities that had got unnecessarily delayed. I had no pains or aches in my body. In fact, I had never felt such a surge of energy and motivation before. I could do the cleaning all over again! I received more than I gave.

With this experience, I am obliged to say that, giving is receiving, indeed.

Sonali Mittra – Kriyaban and Therapist, Gurgaon

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