True meaning of Selfless Service – Gandhi
(1) SELFLESS SERVICE A SOURCE OF JOY
The human body is meant solely for service, never for indulgence. The secret of happy life lies in renunciation. Renunciation is life. Indulgence is death. Therefore everyone has a right and should desire to live 125 years while performing service without an eye on result. Such life must be wholly and solely dedicated to service. Renunciation made for the sake of service is an ineffable joy, of which none can deprive one, because that nectar springs from within and sustains life. In this there can be no room for worry or impatience. Without this joy, long life is impossible and would not be worth-while even if possible.
The soul is omnipresent; why should she care to be confined within the cage-like body, or do evil and even kill for the sake of the cage ? We thus arrive at the ideal of total renunciation and learn to use the body for the purpose of service, so long as it exists, so much so, that service and not bread becomes with us, the staff of life. We eat and drink, sleep and awake, for service alone. Such an attitude of mind brings us real happiness and beatific vision in the fullness of time.
(2) SERVICE MEANT FOR SELF-REALIZATION
I am here to serve no one else but myself, to find my own self-realization through the service of these village folk. Man’s ultimate aim is the realization of God, and all his activities — social, political, religious — have to be guided by the ultimate aim of the vision of God. The immediate service of human beings becomes a necessary part of the endeavour, simply because the only way to find God is to see Him in His creation and be one with it. This can only be done through one’s country. I am part and parcel of the whole, and I cannot find Him apart from the rest of humanity. My countrymen are my nearest neighbours. They have become so helpless, so resourceless, so inert that I must concentrate on serving them. If I could persuade myself that I should find Him in a Hima- layan cave, I would proceed there immediately. But I know that I cannot find Him apart from humanity.
(3) SERVICE LEADS TO SALVATION
I am striving for the Kingdom of Heaven, which is spiritual deliverance. For me the road to salvation lies through incessant toil in the service of my country and my humanity. I want to identify myself with everything that lives. In the language of the Gita> I want to live at peace with both friend and foe. My patriotism is for me a stage on my journey to the land of Eternal Freedom and Peace. Thus it will be seen that for me there is no politics devoid of religion. They subserve religion. Politics bereft of religion is a death-trap because they kill the Soul.
(4) SERVICE SHOULD BE CONSTANT
A life of service must be one of humility. He, who could sacrifice his life for others, has hardly time to reserve for himself a place in the sun. Inertia must not be mistaken for humility, as it has been in Hinduism. True humility means most strenuous and constant endeavour, entirely directed towards the service of humanity. God is continuously in action without resting for a single moment. If we should serve Him or become one with Him, our activity must be as unwearied as His. There may be momentary rest in store for the drop which is separated from the ocean, but not for the drop in the ocean, which knows no rest. The same is the case with ourselves. As soon as we become one with the ocean in the shape of God, there is no more rest for us, nor indeed do we need rest any, longer. Our very sleep is action. For we sleep with the thought of God in our hearts. This restlessness constitutes true rest. This never-ceasing agitation holds the key to peace ineffable. This supreme state of total surrender is difficult to describe, but not beyond the bounds of human experience. It has been attained by many dedicated souls, and may be attained by ourselves as well.