Updated: Feb 6, 2021
Masters often remind us that seva, or selfless service, lies at the very core of spirituality. Free from any expectation of an acknowledgment or a reward, seva is an essential ingredient of any spiritual practice. A true seva is independent of any agenda, free from the urge to save others, completely detached from the burden of fixing a broken world. Rather than feeding the ego, the seeker who engages in seva cuts the very roots of self-centeredness or self-importance. For, as long as spiritual tenets are only processed through the intellect and not lived in practice, their true value remains hidden to the seeker. Through the act of seva, the mind gives way to the heart, and a beautiful inner transformation takes place. The ‘I am’ awareness begins to seep into one’s being, resulting in an ever-expanding stillness of the mind.
Seva, as an active form of sadhana, is a form of mindful living. It puts to a test the stillness which you achieve in silence and meditation. Seva is, therefore, a living form of meditation. It puts you back into the action-based world, and asks you to share some of that joy, peace and abundance gained through meditation, with the environment around you. Seva is an important grounding exercise. It reminds you of the reality of the everyday existence. It brings back the troubles and the challenges of having to deal with people. And yet, seva removes the expectation from the equation of life. You learn the art and power of letting go.
Seva helps you see beyond the illusion of separation. It dissolves the idea of you as the doer. It demolishes the imaginary wall between ‘you’ and ‘the others’. Through seva, you do not sacrifice or lose anything — instead, you open up to the most incredible gift life has to give — to experience oneness with all there is.
How is seva performed? Seva is, in fact, very simple. It can encompass any type of activity, which we otherwise routinely perform in our everyday life. Some may do seva through cooking or serving food; others may do gardening, sweep sidewalks or contribute to any other custodian task. Seva can also mean serving as a teacher, or offering administrative support. No service is considered smaller or greater that another, as long as it is done with perfect awareness. Through the attitude of selfless service, one surrenders all expectations, and all craving for achieving a certain outcome, all drive to earn merit. This eventually leads to a realization that, by serving others, we actually serve ourselves.
Through seva, we attune to the energies of life. We do not oppose life, but surrender to it. We allow ourselves to be filled with an utmost trust in the ways of the existence. Mindful seva helps us put our own life and struggles in perspective, and see the big picture. It teaches us to be gentle and compassionate with others, but also with ourselves. Seva helps us see what an authentic action really is.
Seva can have a profound calming effect on the body and the mind. Through acts of selfless service and an attitude of non-doer-ship, you raise your awareness and start taking full responsibility for your own spiritual evolution. It teaches you the alchemy of inner transformation. Seva makes you realize that, by elevating your consciousness, you also raise the vibrations of the whole universe.
Pyramid Valley International conducts a 7-day Stillness Retreat every alternate month. This retreat includes two-hours of 'seva' / volunteer service every day. Please check the page https://pyramidvalley.org/stillness for details and registration for the upcoming event in February 2021.