Seva: Wellness in Serving
“Joy can be real only if people look on their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.”
This year I have made an effort to add seva, or selfless service, to my routine. Not as "let me volunteer once in a while", "check off the box", or "I did my good act for the year." But as a regular activity.
In the tradition of seva, a service to others is performed without any expectation of result or award for performing it. I grew up learning this as Sikh tradition. In our main temple in Amritsar, India, the Golden Temple, up to 50,000 people a day are given a free, hot meal. It does not matter what religion, gender or wealth of the individual. Any Being is welcome to this nourishment.
When I first moved to LA, I was overwhelmed by the extreme disparity of wealth and poverty, the beauty of palm trees and art next to rows upon rows of people living in tents and hungry for food. I thought I was in a City of Demons, with so many living without the comforts or basic necessities all humans deserve. Los Angeles rates as having the highest number of homeless in all of America. I was shocked to learn from the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority that of the 58,000 homeless, there are 4,000 elderly and 5,000 children. With a group of dear friends with hearts deeply passionate on helping, I have participated in several volunteer activities. Share a Meal, a part of Khalsa Peace Corps, has volunteers make burritos in the food truck and distribute them, along with water, granola bars, and feminine hygiene products, to those in need in the neighborhood. We also volunteered at Midnight Mission in DTLA, serving meals to the homeless from skid row.
During this service, I looked across and saw the Human in every Being. We all have eyes to see, hearts beating, hands to hold. We all have lungs to breathe this air, bodies craving nourishment. And hopes, dreams, desires. We are one creation, all living life. Walls of separation immediately broke down, and bridges of sharing, community, and love were instantly created. I left with a heart open and solid in the Oneness of Life. What would happen if we all spent a few moments helping each other a little more?
To see groups at large living this practice feels like a surreal miracle. If we all put our hands to these efforts more often, carved out time for seva, maybe this would become as much of a standard normal as going to the movies or a day at the beach. When our hearts open up to helping each other, we Create a Positive Force of Action, a world where truly any dream is Possible, and all may be Well.
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