The Culture of Service

The Culture of Service

 Amma - Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi

Children, India is a great country that carries to the world the message of unity and interconnectedness of all living together. If the left hand is injured, the right hand will comfort it. The pain and happiness of one is the pain and happiness of the other. The lifeforce flowing through both arms is the same. Similarly, it is but one divine energy that flows through everything in the universe. From this vision of unity was born our sense of compassion towards all forms of life. Knowing that all things are different parts of the same truth, our culture has taught us to support, worship, love and serve even the tiniest living being.

In the olden days, a great culture of selfless service existed throughout India. Social service was an integral part of life. One sixth of one’s income was reserved for social service. But times have changed. The attitude “What can I give?” has turned into “How much can I take?” In the olden days, people found happiness in sharing. That has changed over time.

Once a man opened a new barber shop. The first person to visit was the owner of the flower shop, right next door. Once the haircut was done and the flower-shop owner began to pay, the barber said, “Aren’t we neighbours? It’s not right to ask you to pay.” The next person to come for a haircut was the baker, from just across the street. When he started to pay, the barber again said the same thing. The next morning, when the barber opened his shop, he saw a bouquet of roses and a big loaf of bread in front of his shop. The friendship of these three people lasted throughout the three men’s lives.

Eventually, the barber shop, flower shop and bakery were taken over by the proprietors’ children. In memory of his father, the son of the barber desired to continue the tradition. When the flower-shop owner and the bakery owner came for their haircuts, he refused payment as their neighbour. The next morning when he reached his shop, he saw a huge queue outside. Some said, “We are relatives of the flower-shop owner.” Others said, “We are relatives of the bakery owner. The baker said we can all have free haircuts. All we have to do is mention his name.”

We must give up this culture of taking and bring back the culture of giving. When each person tries to give more than he takes, society will overflow with love, happiness and prosperity.

A rainbow is well aware of how short its lifespan is. The full moon knows it lives only for one night. But in such a short time, they offer themselves completely for the happiness of the world. We should also desire such a selfless attitude—an attitude of surrender.

Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi