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See Divine Mother in Those You Serve

When you serve other people, always try to see the highest in them. Even when they make mistakes or act foolishly. God loves them, so we should look for the highest in them too.

Nayaswami Devi shares this beautiful inspiration from the upcoming book The Heart of Seva about this important principle of seva/service. Recorded during Ananda's Inner Renewal Retreat in February 2023.

This talk explores the profound concept of recognizing the divine in those we serve, emphasizing the importance of seeing beyond outward appearances to connect with the highest potential in others. Through anecdotes from the life of St. Francis and personal experiences, it highlights the transformative power of compassion and kindness. Think of service as a sacred offering to the divine. Embrace every encounter as an opportunity to bring light and God's presence into the world and foster a deeper sense of connection and empathy towards all beings.


Recognize the Divine in Others

Nayaswami Devi:

Okay, so the very last point, and we’re ending, good timing…

See Divine Mother in those that you serve.

Seeing the Highest Potential in Those We Serve

So, this is so important and to not just serve at people but offer. Your service should be an offering to the Divine in them, see the highest in them, even if they’re foolish or in error or someone that you’ve had a difficult time with. Just serve because God loves them and you serve the highest in them and realize that, teach that.

Stories of Compassion and Transformation

Lessons from the Life of St. Francis

There’s a beautiful story from the life of St Francis, who's walking along the countryside and he had an anathema about lepers, which were common in those days. And he's walking down a little, wandering through the countryside and he sees approaching him, a man horribly afflicted with leprosy and his face is all eaten away and horrible and his nose is gone, and half of his face is gone, and Francis’ first instinct is to run away.

And then he says, “No, God’s in that leper as well.” And he approaches him and he takes him and he embraces him and in that moment, the leper was transformed, and he found in his arms he was embracing Christ. And if we approach everyone we meet in that way

Finding God in an Unexpected Encounter

I had an interesting experience myself along these lines where…I wrote about it in a recent blog…where, again this was when I was living before Jyotish and I were married, I was living alone in a little trailer. And in those days we had no means of communication, no phones, no cell phones, so you know if anything happened, you were on your own and we all lived quite distant from each other.

And one night, it was quite a stormy night outside, raining and windy and the little trailer was kind of shuddering…And I was at home with the kerosene lamp which I had and I was reading the Bible.

And all of a sudden, there's this pounding on my door in the night, it's dark. And I thought, “Who could this be in the middle of the night?” And I very tentatively opened the door and there was a strange man standing there and he said, “Can I come in?” and I thought “Oh Lord…” But I never felt, I instinctively felt, there's something going on here that's not what the eyes see. So I said, “Yes, come in, sit down.”

He said, “I'm hungry!” And I had a little food and I gave it to him. And he finished and he said, “Do you have anything to drink?” And I gave him some water, it was all I had. And then he got, he started calming down, and he pulled up his sleeve and he said, “I have these really bad sores on my arm.” And he showed me and, indeed, he had these big sores on his arm, I didn’t know what it was. And then he said, “I like it here.”

And I thought, “Okay…” but, again, I never felt frightened. I always felt there's something else going on here and then he said, “I have to go now.” And he just got up and left. And then I was sort of stunned for a while.

Then I opened the Bible to continue reading and of course it was the passage, “‘And I was hungry, and you gave me to eat. And I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink. And I had no home, and you took me in.’ And the people said to Christ, ‘Lord when did we do this?’ and he said, ‘When you did this to the least of my little ones, you did it unto me.’”

Inspiration from Humanitarian Work

So remember, in our service, to see past the form of the foolish, the wise, the ill, the decrepit, the diseased… and to just see the God in that person.

We have a beautiful clinic up the road run by Dr. Peter [Van Houten] and his wife, Patricia. And in my estimation, those two people are saints… the constant, constant service that they give to anyone in need.

And Peter said, he was talking recently, and he said, “Whenever I need to take a break…”, and believe me they work long, long hours and the days are unrelenting. He said, “When I need to take a break, I go and sit in the corner of the clinic and watch the rest of the staff being kind to others and that's how I get rejuvenated.” And so, what are they doing? They're seeing the God in all those people that come in.

And so for each of us, in our service, remember ultimately, when we do it “to the least of these little ones,” we do it to God. And in that way, our service becomes a source of bringing light and God’s presence into the world.


Next in The Heart of Seva

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