Why not put service at the top of the list of resolutions you make this New Year? After all, it is through service that one discovers fulfillment while leaving a lasting legacy.
Just as children progress from one grade to another – from primary school to high school and on to university – humanity is evolving through different stages. As people evolve, their sense of mission and purpose, and a yearning to serve grows too. Identifying where you stand on the ladder of human development can guide your next steps.
The degree of evolution
Primitive human beings depended on instinct, stamina, vitality, strength and toughness. They focused on day-to-day survival for themselves and their families.
Average human beings employ the power of emotions most. They are focused primarily on material success, their families and friends.
Most business-people and entrepreneurs employ not only emotional intelligence and passion, but also the power of the concrete and logical mind. People at this level often feel compelled to improve the quality of life in their communities and social affiliations.
Advanced human beings use their philosophical and concrete mental faculties in addition to their emotional intelligence and vitality. Spiritual faculties are beginning to be employed as a guiding tool. These persons are in the process of integrating success and fulfillment, and are guided to serve through national or international projects.
Saints and sages are very advanced human beings who embody willpower, love and creative intelligence. They feel a responsibility to serve humanity and/or the environment, and to make contributions at a global level, whatever their career path. Throughout history, people who used their lives to make lasting contributions to others have been remembered as saints. Today, these practical philanthropic businesspeople and entrepreneurs, teachers, scientists and others are legendary world servers. Many are modern saints in the making.
Where to invest
What is the most effective way to use your time and energy for service? Just as farmers plant good seeds in the most fertile ground, invest your power to serve in the same way. Feeding the poor is a good thing, but many can do that. Feeding the minds and spirits of people who are poor in spirit is an even greater thing to do. Being the best in your profession is also an excellent service if done with the purpose of setting an example.
As you search for your greatest contributions, think about this: your maximum service and the good karma generated should go to an activity that has the greatest influence on world evolution and human development for the longest period of time affecting the largest number of beneficiaries, human or otherwise.
Meditation, be it bhakti, karma or jnana yoga, are good tools for graded development and service. Using these practices to benefit others, with a win-win consciousness is key for altruistic service, which is an expression of inner growth and development. It is the muscle-building of virtues. It is the barometer of inner development and spirituality.
Steps to apply the virtue of sacrifice and service
- List your most important goals in life and include the time, resources and effort needed to accomplish them.
- List the less important activities that can be passed on to others or that can be terminated.
- Determine the attitudes, aptitudes, and habits that block your effectives. Implement changes immediately.
- Identify attachments to the past, temporary possessions and relationships that do not support your new priorities and implement changes.
- Identify how life will be better when your project or mission is accomplished. Concentrate on this regularly.
- Practice sacrificing small things for larger benefits to develop the habit of service.
- Know that whether or not the reward for serving a great cause is fame or fortune, many of the most revered people who have practised altruistic service leave a legacy or spiritual monument.
Devoting oneself to service and mastery of the virtue of sacrifice is mastery of true leadership. It is the power behind greatness.
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