Service Is Simply an Attitude


What is meant by service to God? What is the need of service? What does God get by Being served?

—Siddharth Patel, India


Dear Siddharth,

Service to God is done to help us, not God. God, as you know from the ancient teachings of India, is not only in everything, but is everything, including us!

We were all brought into being from the Divine. It is said that the Divine is in every atom of creation. It isn’t God who needs service from us, but it is we who need to serve in order to grow spiritually. Service to the Divine purifies the heart’s feelings and uplifts them.

But it is not enough to simply state these ideas, we must realize them through regular meditation practice and through devotional service to that Divine presence. Service can be what we do when we are not meditating. It’s simply a matter of attitude.

Paramhansa Yogananda had a close disciple who he was working with spiritually. One day she was helping him in the kitchen as he prepared a meal. She, feeling restless, began cleaning up after him. As she did this she noticed that he was dirtying more and more dishes than ever. As soon as she cleaned one, there were many more to do. Finally, feeling that it might be better to wait and do them all at one time, she sat down. Yogananda smiled at her, said nothing, and proceeded cooking. She noticed that he was now dirtying hardly any dishes. The lesson she gained from this was that her restlessness had made her service unfocused and therefore unproductive spiritually. She had not been thinking of God as she worked, but only about how many dishes there were and how hard she was working.

This same disciple, who had worked hard all her life, received another important lesson in this way from Yogananda. He said to her one day, “You have worked hard all your life. You need to not work so hard!” Then the following day he gave her more things to do than before. This same conversation repeated itself several times. Each time she tried to cut back what she was doing, her guru gave her more to do. Finally she got it, and said to him, “Master, perhaps we should refer to what we do here as service, rather than work.”

Master laughed. “It has been a good show,” he said. “All your life you’ve been thinking, Work! Work! Work! That very thought was exhausting you. But just see how differently you feel when you think of work as a divine service! When you act to please God you can do twice as much, and not feel tired!”

I would suggest experimenting with acting as though you were serving the Divine, both in what you do and in everyone you interact with. It’s naturally a process to take on this attitude, but see what happens when you do, both to your own energy and consciousness and to the people around. You may well find that life becomes much more enjoyable and harmonious. And this joy and harmony will help you to meditate more deeply as well.

Good luck and many blessings,
Nayaswami Parvati