'Be' with Swami Venkatesananda

A Forgotten Vital Secret

Selfless service is its own ‘achievement’. If one serves in order to gain something, the service is not ‘selfless’. Motives are often hidden within the subconscious; it is not easy to detect them. You may ‘give up’ desire for material reward, but secretly wish to be admired. You may ‘run away’ from such admiration, but enjoy a ‘spiritual satisfaction’ within yourself. An honest appraisal of the situation must enable you to appreciate that the whole life is tainted with selfishness, and as long as the mind functions and the ego-sense prevails, selfishness lurks in some corner of your personality. When this is clearly seen, and when the danger of selfishness is realized at the same time, there is great vigilance, in which there is no selfishness. Such vigilance is meditation.

Otherwise, service, though begun with pure love, often leads to the very results it is meant to avoid – either we get attached to the people we love and serve, or, if their response is inimical, we are angered, or we even dislike or hate them.

There is a mysterious power deep within us which does not allow us to love all and serve all. It generates two currents of attraction and repulsion, attachment and hatred, likes and dislikes. Helplessly we are drawn in different directions by these two currents, and do not even make an attempt to free ourselves from them. Thus, never finding harmony within, never loving and serving selflessly, we live in total dissatisfaction and frustration – all because we are unable to free ourselves from likes and dislikes, and dive deeper into our center, beyond these.

Nothing but meditation – coupled with selfless service, which is dynamic meditation – can enable us to rise above these two currents of raga – infatuation, attachment, desire, and dvesa – hate, anger, aversion. Therefore, our masters ask us to meditate daily. And if we are sincere in our approach to and practice of meditation, we must arrive at the truth that the God who dwells in our heart, dwells in all. This realization must come, sooner or later; sooner, if at the same time we endeavor to practice selfless service of humanity and cultivate cosmic love. A very good exercise in meditation is to start with visualizing an image of God in our heart – we have to fix the mind somewhere, and the heart is the center of our being. Let this image expand and enlarge, as you get nearer and nearer to God, so that eventually the original position is reversed: God is not part of me, but I am part of God. Even so, all are part of God. God is the cosmic being. We are all autonomous but interdependent cells in that body. Because we are autonomous, we can love. We are not pre-destined to hate each other. We love one another, not for the sake of one another, but for the sake of the self that is all.

When this truth is actually realized, then, to love all, and to serve all, will be effortless, and we shall then have an entirely different attitude to the world. We will love God in all and serve him in all; not as a good policy, not for any gain, not as a privilege, nor even as a duty, but because it is quite natural and inevitable. And this love never wanes; for, there is no selfish motive here to wane.

When we forget ourselves and the world, we enjoy peace and happiness, and we enjoy them consciously while we are engaged in our daily work. This is my master’s divine message. This is the religion of tomorrow.