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Home page > Vaidya Atreya Smith > Seva means selfless service

Seva means selfless service

Seva is a great idea in that it is meant to indicate the service of humanity for no personal gain - mental or physical. In practice 99% of people who are "doing Seva" are doing it for their ego. It makes them feel good, superior or holy that they are not taking money or trade for their "services".

It can also manifest in relationships when one partner feels that they are "helping" the other through "self-less love". Wow! These are all great ego trips and the Ahamkara (maker of the ’I’ thought, or translated by many as ’ego’) loves to feel ’better’ than everyone else. Receiving money or receiving love is essentially the same thing - it is receiving energy from someone outside of your Ahamkara.

People who "practice" Seva are usually not allowing anyone, even the Universe, to give them anything. ’To give’ one needs to be able to receive, otherwise it is just a concept of the ego to feel better, more spiritual and holy than anyone else. That is until it backfires! The universe always works in the dynamic state of movement - if there is a movement outwards then it will create an opposite movement at some point - it is a flow, a dance, a beautiful principle of the creation - creation itself.

People who only give do so from the mind (manas) as it is based on a mental concept of good, or spirituality and this is not Seva! Seva means those actions that come from a non-thinking state, it can be called the heart, or from the Self. Actions that are based from the mind are often very subtle, hiding behind lovely concepts such helping humanity, helping your husband or wife, helping the poor. When any action is done without thought, spontaneously, it is Seva because it is coming from the pure consciousness of the Self.

An example of this is a friend who always insisted not to be paid for either organizing work or events for others. Even though people insisted he take money for the compensation for his time he refused. This made him feel ’good’ until after several years he became overloaded with work, resentful and non-communicative. His wife complains how much work they do for free, how they help everyone..... This is the result of Seva - Selfless Service to Humanity - when it comes from the mind and not the heart - in other words it is no longer Seva, but ego.

The same can happen in personal relations, I know because I also did the same. I thought that if I loved enough, served enough, helped enough, I could change my partner. I found out after six years of marriage that the only thing that changed was myself and my relation to the world. Fortunately, I learned this at the age of 24 and this failed relationship helped to send me to my second guru, who gave me the above understanding of Seva.

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