Man is a three-fold entity, comprising body, mind and soul and it behoves one to be of service to his fellow beings in all of the three spheres. By Love serve one another – is the exhortation of St Paul.
A Persian text says,
Service exalteth the server.
Selfless Service is said to be a great virtue and a reward in itself.
It is the central theme of the sacred teachings of the Masters. The Living Master is an embodiment of Selfless Service. He always rushes to the aid of His loving children all the world over, caring little for His physical comfort. It is the Divine Law which He reveals and fulfils in His own person. Out of sheer compassion for His brethren He serves all to redeem them from the Great Wheel by inverting their attention within and by linking them with the saving life-lines.
The more one serves, the more one’s self expands and in course of time goes out to embrace the entire creation. We must, therefore, take upon us the task of bringing the Master’s message to every nook and corner so that people may know of the wonderful opportunity that is theirs and avail themselves of it as best as they can.
Again, selfless service may assume different forms according to one’s means and capacity. Some may like to attend the needy, the poor, the downtrodden people or the sick and the disabled, by lending a helping hand in their distress. If you attend a sick person or stand by an afflicted one, you serve the Divine Cause. Certainly you do not and cannot take away the sickness or affliction but surely you can help in assuaging the sufferings by your kindly words and deeds. Every sweet word uttered or helping hand extended to those in distress goes a long way in purifying the mind and the body. A loving heart is a fit receptacle for the Divine Grace, for God is Love.
He who knows not love cannot know God, for God is Love,
says St John.
Love knows no barriers and no class distinctions. Love flows equally and freely towards all, transcending all impediments. Again, a rich person with a loving heart would wish to share his riches with the indigent or the needy and spend his money in charitable and philanthropic purposes.
The system of Tithe has been prevalent in practically all of the established religions of the world, and it has a deep significance because tithe-paying shows how honest a man is and his offerings show how liberal he is. From the old records it appears that all of the countries in the East from Egypt to Afghanistan, and all the Christian world were following the system of paying one-tenth of their earnings for the good of the people at large. Among the Muslims, there is an institution of Zakat which requires every person to set apart every year one-fortieth of his possessions for charity. Among the Sikhs and Hindus, this system goes by the name of Daswand which is an equivalent for tithe. The Master, however, has extended it further – apart from one’s monetary earnings – to the dedication of time for meditation, as well – viz., about two and one-half hours out of 24 hours.
The Masters further enjoin,
Be in tune with God, and share your earnings with all the others in need.
By giving away money, it will not be lessened. If you are not satisfied, you may try for your own self.
But offerings should be free and voluntary and should not be inspired by any thought of reward or be the outcome of impositions from without, for then, instead of being a source of liberation, they become the source of bondage.
Again, charity should not be misplaced but it should be given to alleviate the sufferings of the distressed in the world. In fact, the all-knowing Master is the best judge for He knows how best to utilise the subscriptions coming from His disciples and puts them to a really useful purpose. One must be extra discriminative and vigilant enough, lest by the misuse of his hard-earned money one may be contracting more karmic debts, instead of liquidating the existing ones, for every action howsoever good has a reaction and leads to bondage. This may be bondage with golden fetters, as Lord Krishna pointed out to the warrior Prince Arjuna, when he said that all deeds whether good or bad have an equally binding efficacy and chains forged by them may be of gold or iron.
St Ignatius of Loyola tells us:
The seeds of sanctity and sin are already within us.
It all depends upon which of these we choose to cultivate in the garden of our soul.