Mindfulness

Selfless Service

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I have been reading Bhagavad Gita for quite a while now and I’ve almost finished it. It has been fascinating and inspiring book for me: i.e. since reading that I’ve decided to go vegetarian. Book has also strengthened by nonviolent beliefs and the kind of compassion for all living beings.

I’ve found many other good advice to apply and practice in my life as well in order to fulfill my purpose. At the moment perhaps my mission could be perhaps described as “good karma” – which could translate as doing more good deeds for the world than bad.

In order to succeed in this I feel like I need a game plan.

Previously I’ve thought about good karma along the lines of noble eightfold path and meditation. At times as well more practically, more along the lines of “zen of window cleaning…”

From Gita I’ve found even more practical way to further my mission: through selfless service. Selfless service means a service without attachment to the results of the work. Genuinely giving without expecting anything for return. I really like the idea.

Ideals and knowledge are great, yet everything like this is easy to forget to apply to all areas of life. Or to stay mindful at all moments.

Gita describes there are three levels of energies (gunas) present in us with ever varying proportions: sattvas, rajas and tanas.

  • Sattvas are pure: goodness, constructive, harmonious
  • Rajas are active, i.e. passion and confusion
  • Tanas are ignorant: darkness, destructive and chaotic

With these in mind it is easier to explain the mishap I observed myself doing today. I labeled it as a sandwich incident on later contemplation. At work, we had a breakfast today set up by thoughtful colleagues in the morning. I paid little attention to this in the morning as I stick to my morning routines rather compulsive manner. However later on the day my mind apparently started calculating in rather selfish terms about perhaps saving some of the leftovers for even later.

While this was understandable and mixed with other good intentions of saving the remainder of the stuff that was leftover, one could have approached with increased thoughtfulness and selfless service. One of my colleagues actually was surprised of my reply when I wasn’t considering others at that point. She is very considerate person and it was clear that her expectation of me was as well higher than that.

And to be honest on later reflection my expectation as well. Even thought the end result are the same, any attachment to end result means there is a different energy involved in this case it was more of raja – selfishly motivated although others did benefit from it too. Where as what I would like to strive for is sattvic, serving others first without expectation of any return.

Like it is mentioned in Gita, these energies of gunas exist in all people in ever varying degrees. Sometimes it takes another person to see to react to ourselves to even notice these energies at work.

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