I remember the hand written quote on an irregularly cut small card board placard hanging slantingly on the wall, in the small room under the water tank in the employees quarters where Mr Vyasa Murthy assisted by his associates was giving free homeopathic medicines. He was serving the people this way for the last 15 years. Their group members contribute money every month, from their modest salaries to buy medicines. They do not believe in taking money even from the affluent people. They started one more center in another nearby village also.
The quote says “Serve until you (really) forget you are serving”. The bracketed word ‘really’ is my addition. Their spirit is permanently etched in my mind.
What I have seen in many people who are genuinely into service activities, is that their minds are highly conditioned (or dogmatic) in a particular fashion. Any conditioned thinking reduces our closeness to others. It makes us feel separate from others and less human. How to get rid of past conditioning is a life long task. Total de-conditioning automatically leads to spontaneous service, because we realize that all of us are part of one big thing though we all look different.
Symbolically speaking, we are like waves in an ocean, each wave having a unique look, whose shape keeps on changing from non existence, to its maximum height and finally back to non existence. If we are continuously changing as above, what is our permanent identity? We have to choose one of the two – either we are a wave or the ocean. As the zero-to-zero (ever changing) wave, can not be my permanent identity, it has to be the ocean. All the waves are the ocean itself at their bottom lines. They start from the ocean, take individual and changing shapes and finally merge into the ocean. This realization comes after many years of meditation. Then serving others feels like serving own self, as others and self are felt to be ‘One’ at the base.
Knowing and agreeing on this concept is one kind of game. Really feeling it inside and acting on it, is a totally different game. The real test of our inner acceptance of this concept is – whether we feel same kind and degree of closeness and compassion towards one and all – own family members, outsiders with low incomes, shabbily dressed people, handicapped people, sick people, dying people, thieves, murderers, rich people, prostitutes … so on. If we do not feel ‘One’ with every one of them, our actions are still arising out of conditioned thinking. We have a long way to go.