In 2013, about six months after Swami Kriyananda’s passing, Devi and I visited a “Nadi reader” in Bangalore, India. These readings, written thousands of years ago by an ancient lineage of seers and astrologers, give detailed information and advice regarding people yet to be born.
A specially trained pundit casts a chart from your birthdate and looks for a page that matches it. As we sat in his small office, he went into a second room where he stored thousands of such readings. After a few minutes he returned and announced that he had, indeed, found a reading for each of us among his bundles. Each was written in ancient Sanskrit on a palm leaf that was a little over a foot long and folded accordion-like.
He started my reading by stating quite definitely that my life was dedicated to finding God and to Guru seva: service to the guru. He then went on to add numerous details about our present life, all of which were amazingly accurate. There was information about our son and his family, and statements about our health, including the fact that I had recently had an operation. He predicted that my doctor would recommend a second operation, but that it wouldn’t be necessary—all true. The accuracy of the details regarding our present circumstances gave us faith in what he related about our past and future lives.
While the reading itself was fascinating, I want to share one thing he said that applies to all of us. At one point he read, “You have never been in business.” I objected, telling him that I had started an incense business, one of Ananda’s first income sources, and had run it successfully for several years. “Was this for personal profit,” the pundit inquired, “or to help the Guru’s work?” I replied that it had been to help Ananda grow. “Then it is not business,” he explained. “It is Guru seva.”
This is an essential point for all of us to realize. What is important is not what we do but why and how we do it. If you dedicate your energies to God and Guru, then you are doing Guru seva. Here are a few principles for doing it more effectively.
1) Consciously offer your activity to God or your guru. This can’t be a “one and done” kind of offering, but must be mindful and regular.
2) Ask the Guru’s advice both for general directions and specific details. This constant conversation keeps you open to God’s guidance and grace.
3) Practice the Guru’s teachings in your life. Attunement is produced by actions, not words.
4) Give back to the Guru’s work. At Ananda, most of us tithe, giving a portion of our monthly income to God or our Guru’s mission. This is spiritually important. Attachment to money is one of the three great delusions, and giving first to God helps free you from the web of maya.
Toward the end of the reading, he said these comforting words to me: “You will uphold the honor of your guru’s work.” This is much more than a statement about my specific role as Dharmacharya for Ananda Worldwide. For the real work of a master, you see, is to free you from delusion. If you stay true to your spiritual aspirations, then you, too, will be doing Guru seva, and upholding the honor of your guru’s work.
In Guru seva,