Kindness : Nature And Stoppage
l Kindness is in the nature of the living being.1
l Because kindness does not come about due to the rise of any karma.2
l Therefore, kindness is not a fruitional disposition.3
l As kindness is not a fruitional disposition, it is not a cause for karmic bondage.4
l Kindness is not a changeable or transient volitional disposition.5
l Therefore, it is either destructional or subsidential or destructo-subsidential volitional disposition.
l Part mercy is destructo-subsidential volitional disposition.
l It comes about due to part destruction of delusion.
l Kindness melts or moves the heart.
l Melting or moving of the heart results in sensitivity.
l Sensitivity results in increase in consciousness.
l Increase in consciousness results in the destruction of inertia.
l Destruction of inertness results in breaking of delusory attachment.
l Mercy is related to the destruction of delusion, not to the rise of delusion.
l Destruction of delusion results in reduction of impure volition.
l To the extent that the false volition is reduced, natural volition manifests itself to that extent.
l The manifestation of natural volition is a means of karmic destruction. Destruction of karma is liberation.
l Therefore, mercy is a means of liberation.
l Mercy comes about due to the destruction of delusion.
l Complete destruction of delusion results in manifestation of complete detachment.
l A completely detached soul is merciful towards all the infinite number of living beings of the world.
l This mercy for the infinite number of worldly living beings by the fully detached soul is said to be his infinite charity.
l Therefore, mercy is a means of attaining final deliverance or nirvāṇa.
l It is wrong to consider mercy, a means to attain nirvāṇa, as a cause of karmic bondage.
l To consider mercy as a means of karmic bondage is to invite mercilessness.
l Mercilessness is a result of conduct destroying karma.
l It is a result of infinite bonding, partial vow prevention and vow preventing passions.
l Therefore, mercilessness is a cause of karmic bondage and it is responsible for destruction of restrained monastic conduct.
l Destruction of restraint is adharma or irreligion.
l Mercilessness is adharma, to be denounced and abandoned.
l Mercilessness is due to the rise of delusion and mercy is due to destruction of delusion.
l Full mercy comes about through complete destruction of delusion.
l Part mercy also comes about through part destruction of delusion.6
l Therefore, even part mercy is not a part of delusion.7
l Who says that mercy is related to delusion and desire?8
l Mercy is related to destruction of delusion or desire.
l Full development of mercy is liberation.9
1,2,3,4,5 – Dhavalāṭīkā, Book 13, pp. 361-62.
6,7,8,9 – Mūkamāṭī, Ācārya Śrī Vidyāsāgarjī.
VAIYĀVĀTYA : Selfless Service
In the laymen’s language vaiyāvātya has been termed as service only. Here, we will briefly consider the form, importance, etc., of service.
To work or cooperate for the benefit of others without desiring anything in return is service. The lesser the desire for return in rendering service, the greater will be the purity and higher will be the status of service so rendered. To desire anything in return is just another form of selfishness. Selfishness is a flaw of service; it is an imperfection that must be removed.
The Uniqueness of the Pleasure of Service –
Service with affectionate disposition has its own taste; it has its own pleasure. This pleasure is different from that derived from sensory enjoyments. When we help some miserable creature and when its misery is mitigated, our heart is filled with pleasure, which is quite different from the sensory pleasures. This is the reason that when one develops a taste for service, the taste for sensory and sensual pleasures reduced and the craving for physical pleasures goes away.
The pleasure that is derived from senses and mind is felt when the senses and the mind become active and it fills the sensory organs with a kind of excitement. This pleasure largely depends on the excitement of the sensory organs. When one has a fever and the taste buds cannot be excited, the pleasure of eating just cannot be derived how so ever tasty the food may be. Again, the pleasure of sensory enjoyment is always momentary and gets reduced every moment even while enjoying it. The pleasure that one feels in eating the first morsel of even the tastiest pudding is not there in the second morsel and when one has eaten forty to fifty morsels, eating further becomes a torture. Even recalling this experience in future would not be a pleasant experience. However, the pleasure that is derived from affectionately rendered service does not suffer from these flaws. Firstly, this pleasure does not depend on any kind of excitement but the service is rendered peacefully. Secondly, unlike the sensory pleasures this pleasure is neither momentary nor boring; it does not diminish with the passage of time but increases more and more as the quality and quantity of service improves. Again, whenever the service rendered is recalled in future, the heart is filled with waves of happiness and freshness.
The sensory pleasures end in drying of life sustaining sap and as the time spent in indulgence passes, the sap keeps drying but the pleasure of service always remains fresh and luscious. Even when the person whose trouble was mitigated by rendering service does not remain, the pleasure of service rendered to him is recalled with nostalgia and happiness. This pleasure is never destroyed. The pleasure of the taste of service is neither destroyed nor satiated nor does it disappear. It is wholesome. It does not come from without and springs from within. It is a spiritual and not a physical pleasure. Its roots are deeply entrenched in the innermost cockles of the heart and it remains ever fresh.
The dryness that comes about on drying of vital sap in enjoying the sensory pleasures gives rise to further desire. The pleasure to be derived in sensory enjoyment and succumbing to desires is prone to destruction. Therefore it wanes and is eventually destroyed. This results in drying of the vital body juices and resultant emptiness in life. No one likes sapless emptiness in life and, therefore, to overcome the boredom brought about by this sapless emptiness fresh desires awaken. The reason for this is that from time immemorial we have been conditioned to believe that pleasure is in sensory enjoyment and we are always trying to derive satisfaction in fulfilling our desires. The pleasure that is derived by pursuing sensory desires keeps diminishing and is eventually destroyed and the same condition of sapless emptiness comes about all over again. Like this, the vicious cycle of fulfilment and reawakening of desires goes on endlessly.
This vicious cycle of fulfilment and reawakening of desires can be broken only when the need for pleasure is fulfilled in any way other than that of sensory enjoyment. At the same time the pleasure so derived must be of a permanent nature. Such a permanent pleasure cannot be derived from any of the externally obtained physical objects, because such objects themselves are impermanent and separation from them isinevitable. Therefore, the need is for such pleasures that may be derived internally within the spirit and which may be permanent. The pleasure derived from service is one such pleasure that springs from within and hence, it is independent of any external means and is everlasting as well. The taste of such internal pleasure results in slowing down of the pursuit of sensory pleasures and insatiable desires; the intensity of attachment is reduced and eventually it perishes. Also, it results in release from sensory pleasure and the vicious cycle of desires. Thus, service is the practical way of achieving freedom from attachment and desire for sensory pleasures and hence it is an activity oriented spiritual practice. When attachment diminishes it generates a feeling of peace and calmness. This feeling of peace and calmness is a kind of internal rest and repose. It is a natural rule that rest and repose increase the power and service results in increase in internal powers, which is nothing but the power of consciousness. The increase in the power of consciousness is indicative of the progress of the conscious living being. The development of the power of consciousness of a living being effects the development of its vitality, which manifests itself in the form of the gaining of various increasing vitalities and in that of increase in vital powers.
Another difference between the pleasure derived from sensory enjoyments and that derived from rendering service is that one is always engaged in getting and perpetuating those physical means which give one such sensory enjoyments while it is not so in the case of pleasure to be derived from the acts of rendering service to the needy; one never feels that to give one more pleasure the numbers of the needy must swell and that more and more people or creatures must become miserable so that they can be served and more pleasure derived. On the contrary, one always wishes that there might be no misery in the world so that the need for serving the miserable may not arise at all.
The heart of the person rendering service is always filled with purity and righteousness, because his heart is always devoid of any selfishness. His happiness does not depend on the worldly means or vaiyĀvĀtya : selfless servicethe prevailing circumstances but springs from within. Therefore, his heart does not harbour any attachment for sensory enjoyments and pleasures to be derived from them; he gets detached from such sensory pleasures, which means that the servant becomes a yogi.
The fame and glory that the indulgent runs after pursue the servant. However, even the pursuing fame and glory cannot bind the servant. For him the service (vaiyāvātya) is a penance and penance is like fire. As the fire blazes it reduces the fuel to ashes. Similarly, as the penance of service gathers more and more momentum until it burns the fuel of sensuality and passions and reduces them to inconsequential ash. When the servant surrenders whatever he has for the welfare of the world and does not save anything for his own pleasures, he becomes completely and fully detached (vītarāga). It is true that only the infinitely giving can be fully detached. Anyone whose charity lacks even a little cannot be fully detached. One who surrenders everything – his senses, mind, body, wealth, etc., – to the world becomes fully detached. It is only the charitable that are noble, rich and great.
By rendering service the servant never becomes weak, but on the contrary as his inclination to serve becomes stronger so do his power, capacity, and prowess. His renunciation is always on the increase.
The selfishness of the servant and his desire for sensory pleasures is increasingly on the wane. As he becomes free from desires, he never feels deficient. It is the feeling of deficiency that denotes poverty. Lack of this feeling indicates richness and majesty.
As the sensory pleasure wanes so the taste or pleasure of self-fulfilment increases. This pleasure of self-fulfilment itself is the true pleasure. This is referred to as the destruction of the enjoyment obstructing karma.
In the field of service the importance is of both the renunciation of selfishness as well as sensory pleasures. When the selfishness is given up, the available things, powers and abilities are automaticallyand properly employed in the welfare of the others. This is the true form of service. In service renunciation is important and not in accumulation of things. Therefore, the interest of the servant is always in renunciation only. The things are an inseparable part of the world and, so, to accumulate things is to become a debtor of the world. To surrender the things for the welfare of the worldly creatures and to serve with whatever one has is to become free from the worldly debt. When one becomes free from the worldly debt he becomes free from the worldly association with pudgala that constitutes the karma matter also. When the association with the karma matter comes to an end, the soul liberates and becomes one with the indestructible and eternal supreme soul. Then the difference between the servant and the supreme soul vanishes. What is meant is that by serving one gains the power of renunciation, which accelerates the soul towards liberation. The servant does not expect anything from the world and, therefore, he does not think about the worldly affairs, but it is the world that thinks about the servant. The servant does not run after the organisation, but the organisation runs after the servant. The servant’s heart is devoid of both – poverty and pride. The value of service rendered does not depend on giving more or less number of things or on doing more or less of the service activity but it depends on the feeling of kindness, compassion, love, affection, and on the feeling of giving. The service rendered with feeling is the only valuable service.
Service takes the form of giving away the available pleasure and means of enjoyment to others for mitigating their misery and to promote their welfare and not to desire any recognition, honour or property etc., in return even to the extent of not desiring to be known as a servant. It is so because even to be recognised as a servant is to enjoy the worldly prestige attached to the term and is, therefore, selfishness. The feeling of selfishness destroys the feeling of service and is a serious flaw. The feeling of service strengthens to the extent that the feeling of selfishness decreases.
Underlining the importance of service, Ācārya Haribhadra says in his commentary on the Āvaśyaka sūtra that once Gaṇadhara Gautama asked Bhagvān Mahāvīra, “Lord! One spiritual aspirant surrenders everything at your feet and constantly serves you while the other does not stay near you and does not serve you, but serves the old, the diseased and the miserable. Which of these two is nobler?” The Lord replied, “Gautama! My service lies not in staying close to me and to attend to me constantly but in obeying my teachings. One who serves the old, the diseased and the miserable is nobler – Jaṁ gilāṇaṁ paḍiyarai, se dhaṇṇe|.”
The service that is rendered with a view to remove the impurities from his spirit and to help him in carrying out his religious duties is called Vaiyāvātya or noble selfless service. It aims at destroying the flaws of the self and to separate the already bonded karma matter from the soul. This karmic destruction and separation from the soul eventually results in liberation. As has been said –
Pāsaṅgiabhogeṇaṁ veyāvaccammi mokkhaphalameva| Āṇāārāhaṇao aṇukampadi visayammi \
That is – One who conducts himself according to the teachings of the Lord, compassionately employs the available means in the service of others and gains liberation as a result. Not only this, vaiyāvātya results in all-round development of the aspirant practitioner. For example:-
1. Veyāvacceṇaṁ Titthayaranāmagottaṁ kammaṁ nibandhai|
- Uttarādhyayana sūtra, 29.43.
That is – through selfless service one bonds the Tīrthaṅkara nāma and gotra karma.
2. Ātmaprayojanapara eva jāyate svādhyāyameva kurvan|
Veyāvātyakarastu svaṁ paraṁ coddharatīti manyet\
- Bhagavatī Ārādhanā, 329.
That is – One who engages himself in self-study only does well by himself while one who serves does well by himself as well as the others whom he serves.
3. Soūṇa vā gilāṇaṁ, panthe gāme ya bhikkhavelāe|
Jati turiyaṁ na gacchati, laggati gurue sa caumāse\
- Niśītha sūtra Cūrṇi, 10.
That is – On hearing that some monk or nun is sick, the monks and nuns must rush quickly to his aid. If some monks or nuns do not do so, they incur the penitence of a ‘guru cāturmāsa’, which means that their seniority may be reduced by a full four months.
Vaiyāvātya is a form of internal penance and its form has been referred to variously at various places, such as –
1. Addhāṇa teṇa sāvad-rāyanadīrodhaṇāsive ome|
Vejjāvaccaṁ uttaṁ saṁgahasārakkhaṇo veda\
That is – To serve those that are tired by long peregrinations, that have been tormented by the thieves, beasts, and rulers and those that suffer from flooded rivers, epidemics such as plagues, and famines, is ‘vaiyāvātya’ penance.
2. Veyāvaccaṁ niyayaṁ kareha, uttamaguṇadharantāṇaṁ|
Savvaṁ kira paḍivāī, veyāvaccaṁ apaḍivāī\
That is – The monks that are endowed with noble virtues must always be served; because all other virtues are impermanent while vaiyāvātya is permanent.
3. Āhārauṣadhayorupakaraṇāvāsayośca dānena vaiyā-vātyaṁ bruyate caturātmatvena caturasrāḥ\
- Ratnakaraṇḍa Śrāvakācāra, 117.
- Vasunandī Śrāvakācāra, 2333.
-Padmanandī Pañcaviṁśti, 2/50.
That is – The Gaṇadharas who are endowed with four types of perceptions such as sensory, scriptural, clairvoyant and telepathic, serve the others in four ways – through giving them food, medicine, monastic equipage and residence. Vaiyāvātya is a duty.
Bhagvān Mahāvīra has depicted service and self-study as equal and as means of liberating from all troubles –
Pucchijja pañjaliuḍo, kiṁ kāyavvaṁ mae iha?
Icchaṁ nioiuṁ, Bhante! Veyāvacce va sajjhāe|
Veyāvacce niutteṇaṁ, kāyavvaṁ agilāyao,
Sajjhāe vā niutteṇa, savvaduḥkha-vimokkhaṇe|
- Uttarādhyayana sūtra, 26.9, 10.
The disciple asked the Lord, “Bhagvan! What should I do, Should I serve or should I study?” The Lord replied, “One who is engaged in service must serve without another thought and one that is engaged in self-study must devote himself to the study, both of which liberate him from all troubles.
Vaiyāvātya is also included in the twelve types of penance that cause separation from earlier bonded karma matter. As nirjarā is dharma, so is vaiyāvātya or service. It is very important from the karmic separation point of view.
Like this, service is that highway which carries the vehicles of physicality as well as spirituality both towards culmination. It is that highway that has no pitfalls either on it or even nearby it. Therefore, the aspirant practitioner that wishes to walk on the highway to spiritual emancipation and liberation, the highway of service is the best highway. Service also results in karmic stoppage as well as karmic separation. To give satisfaction by giving food and water, clothing and pots, education and medication, etc., is the practical aspect of service. The path of service is the highway that ensures both kinds of progress – physical as well as spiritual. Through physical service the servant gains the divine pleasures while through volitional service one gains spiritual emancipation and liberation. That is why the great sages have said of service that the duty in the line of rendering service runs very deep and its greatness is difficult even for the accomplished sages and yogis to gauge (Sevādharma paramagahano yogināṁ api agamyaḥ).
The meaning behind depicting the duty of rendering service as very deep and unfathomable, even by the yogis, is that as a yogi maintains his equanimity in the face of pleasure and pain, honour and insult, praise and criticism, profit and gain, etc., so does the servantand he serves without any distinction of friend or foe and always does well by all. He does so by even giving away his riches and wealth. Thus, to a greater or a lesser extent most of the virtues of the yogi are present in the servant also. At the same time to dedicate his abilities and possessions in the cause of service is his speciality. That is why the depth of the duty of rendering service has been said to be unfathomable even by the yogis.
Actually, the servant has to control his mind even more and has to give up his comforts and pleasures even more. Let us take, for example, the service of the diseased. The servant has to clean the faeces, urine, vomit, pus, etc., which are quite revolting. He has to overcome his revulsion for these revolting things and continue to serve. He has to keep awake for days and nights on end for attending to the diseased and also has to expose himself to the dangers of contagion while serving those suffering from contagious diseases such as Tuberculosis, Leprosy, Cholera, etc. To serve under such difficult circumstances requires great fortitude and courage. Such courage and fortitude can be seen in the service rendered by the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa.
To think that only the rich can serve and that the poor cannot serve is not correct. The reason being that Jainism has defined the activities of service in the following nine ways – 1. Food, 2. Water, 3. Clothes, 4. Pots, 5. Rest, 6. Thinking well of others, 7. To give solace by speaking well, 8. To attend to physically, and 9. To give up arrogance and to behave humbly. In these the first five kinds of services are rendered by giving various things and may be beyond someone’s means, but the service-activities mentioned at serials 6 to 9 are to be rendered personally and everyone is able to render such services. The importance of these latter kinds of services is in no way inferior to those mentioned earlier. Therefore it is the human duty that one must serve according to one’s capacity and ensure one’s physical and spiritual emancipation.
The reality is that the service rendered at the emotional level is limitless and it is the emotional service that translates itself into practical service. Both these types of services are supplementary to each other. For the human life the emotional service is like the vitality and the physical service is like the body. Both are essential and one becomes crippled without the other. Actually, service is the speciality of the human life. Life without service is like animal life.
The sentiment of service arises in those that do not look for material objects, favourable conditions and circumstances for their own comforts and pleasures. Because, to want these things and to be enslaved by them does not allow a person to engage himself in the service of others. The person who indulges in worldly pleasures runs after the sensory pleasures while the world runs after the true servant and bestows its love and affection on him. True love lies in the giving and serving is giving. Therefore it is the servant who gets the true love from the others. He does not even have to try to get this love but gets it automatically. Even this automatic and natural bestowing of love cannot bind the servant but, on the contrary, with increment in love and affection received from the others, the river of service keeps flowing, with increasing swell, towards the needy. The true servant is not in the least affected by any circumstance – even adverse. He is totally devoid of any attachment for the fruits of his own activities. Thus, the total detachment that the yogis get as a result of their yogic practices and the knower gains through his discretion, the servant gains through his service rendered by making the best use of available circumstances and resources.
The Divine Form of Service -
Even the poor, the deprived and the needy are also endowed with consciousness and, therefore, are similar to the exalted Lord. It is the poor, the deprived and the needy and not the rich and the wealthy that need the service and expect to be served. Therefore, to serve the poor is to serve God. There are nine types of well-known worships of the Lord – 1. Offering (arcanā) 2. Bowing (vandanā) 3. Remembering (smaraṇa) 4. Touching the feet (pādasevanā) 5. Hearing (śravaṇa) 6. Singing His praise (kīrtana) 7. Feeling like His servant (dāsyabhāva) 8. Feeling like His friend (sakhyabhāva), and 9. Feeling like Himself (ātmabhāva).
To offer the needed things and services to the poor is arcanā. To treat them respectfully and humbly is vandanā. To remember their miseries in order to mitigate them is smaraṇa. To serve them through our activities is pādasevanā. To listen to their tales of woe carefully and sympathetically is śravaṇa. To Praise the virtues of the poor is kīrtana. To serve the poor like a servant is dāsyabhāva. To serve the poor like a friend is sakhyabhāva, and to identify ourselves with them is the worship called ātmabhāva. Like this, to serve the poor is to serve God in the abovementioned nine ways referred to as navadhā bhakti.
One who serves the poor like their own brother is called ‘Dīnabandhu’ or brother of the poor. One who raises the level of the downtrodden is called ‘Patitapāvana’. One who is kind towards the poor is called ‘Dīnadayāla’ and one who mitigates their miseries is called ‘Duḥkhahārī’. Dīnadayāla, Dīnabandhu, Duḥkhahārī and Patitapāvana are the God’s name and synonyms for the term ‘Prabhu’ or the Lord. Therefore, one who serves the poor and the needy becomes like the God Himself, because he acquires the virtues of the Lord. All the incarnations of God in this world have been to serve the needy and the arena of their service was not limited to the humans only but extended to the animals and even to all the living beings. Śrī Kṛṣṇa was a servant of the cows, Jesus Christ was shepherd and Mohammad Sāhib kept the goats. All these great personalities are counted amongst incarnations or representatives of the God.
Bhagvān Mahāvīra and Gautama Buddha ensured the public weal through service and became greatly venerable. It is those who serve that become eligible for greatness, honour and veneration. Actually, the servants are the incarnations of God. In a servant as the feeling to serve becomes nobler, his flawlessness increases. Flawlessness and purity are the attributes of the Lord. Thus, service is a means to attain Godhood.
Only those gentle souls can serve whose hearts move at the sight of others’ misery. Therefore, the servant gives up his own comforts and pleasure and adopts others’ miseries. Once the others’ misery becomes his own, his own discomforts and miseries vanish or do not matter to him. The reason being that once someone’s heart melts at the sight of others’ miseries, the pleasure of friendliness and love fills it and there remains no place for feeling his own miseries. Such a pleasure is devoid of all pains and, therefore, it cannot be compared to the pleasure gained through any worldly enjoyment. It is so because the pleasure of love is beyond damage, fulfilment, satisfaction, full satisfaction and deprivation and is infinite and unlimited. It remains ever fresh always and every time and overflows all the time. On the other hand the worldly pleasure gained through sensory enjoyments, honour, riches, power, etc., is always flawed by innumerable flaws like inquietiude, dependence, inertia, heartlessness, etc. It is momentary and reduces every moment and ends in insipidity. While enjoying such enjoyments they appear like pleasures but in reality they are nonexistent. What is meant is that the feeling to serve ends in the pleasure of love, which is the true pleasure without pain and misery.
When a servant serves others indirectly he serves himself as well. By serving others he gets rid of flaws like attachment and aversion, delusion, selfishness, etc. When these flaws are removed one gets peace, liberation and happiness, which constitute his own service. The reason being that the feeling to serve arises only when the desire to enjoy worldly pleasures perishes. This feeling is devoid of attachment and aversion. Therefore, the service rendered with feeling is a means to achieve detachment, liberation, peace and happiness and not that of increasing attachment.
Service destroys the attachment for worldly enjoyments and makes the heart of the servant soft and kind. The softness and kindness of his heart is expressed in the form of generosity and mercy. Generosity destroys the greediness of the servant and makes him unselfish and unencumbered. Lack of material encumbrance results in independence and unselfishness in getting rid of poverty and want, which in turn results in his entry into the realm of independence and opulence. Thequality of mercy does away with the coldness, bitterness and inertness or insensitivity of the servant’s heart. Lack of coldness fills his heart with warmth, that of bitterness paves the way for germination of a feeling of friendship and the lack of insensitivity fills his heart with sensitivity. Like this, service makes the servant’s heart full of warmth, friendship, and love.
The service that is rendered with an inducement of getting something like honour, fame, etc in return is not true service. Actually, it is enjoyment in the name of service. The enjoyment in the name of service is a serious flaw of service and the servant must guard against it. The service will be flawless to the extent that it is rendered without any selfish motive and with renunciation at its root. It will be flawed to the extent that it is tainted with a feeling of direct or indirect enjoyment.
The Hindi equivalent of the word ‘generosity’ is ‘udāratā’, which has been derived from the root word ‘udara or belly. The belly receives the food for the nutrition of the body and does not utilise it only for its own benefit but passes on the benefits of the food received by it to all the parts of the body. Similarly, the generous person earns and receives the riches and the means and does not limit their use only for his own benefit but passes on the benefits of his earnings and possessions for the benefit of the entire society in general and for the benefit of the needy in particular. From generosity arises affection. The affection so awakened results in unity, which does not let conflict raise its ugly head. Doing away with conflict is possible only where there is generosity. On the contrary if the belly does not distribute the food taken by it amongst various organs according to their respective functions and needs, it will start rotting and will harm the belly as well as the entire body. Similarly, the person who accumulates the wealth earned by him for himself only, and does not employ it for the benefit of others is guilty of material encumbrance of his accumulation. This accumulation of wealth in personal hands is the cause of all the frictions, conflicts and quarrels.
Generosity awakens affection in the heart of a person and this affection results in enabling him to see everyone else as himself. To a generous person everyone else appears as dear as he considers himself. He just does not consider anyone as foreign, alien, strange or the ‘other’. He has affection for everyone. The affection destroys the feeling of distance, strangeness or alienation and the distinction of greatness and smallness also disappears. As affection is an eternal sentiment, therefore it arises only for the eternal element or the soul. When the distance, distinction and alienation are destroyed then arises the feeling of unity and oneness. The fullness, success and meaning of human life lie in the achievement of this unity and oneness only. Where there is generosity, there is humanity. A person without humanity is a devil.
One of the results of service is that the sentiment of service and generosity automatically arise in the one who is served. The sentiment of service and generosity present in the servant transfers itself in the served as well. Actually, to give up one’s own rights while protecting those of the others is the true service.
One who is generous does not desire anything untoward for anyone. Such a person always becomes happy when he sees others happy and becomes unhappy when he sees others unhappy or miserable. On becoming happy on seeing others happy, the desire for enjoying those pleasures oneself, becomes weak. Thus, service also results in weakening and eventually giving up the desires for deriving pleasure through worldly enjoyments. Only that person can serve who can feel the pain and misery of the others. Thus, to mitigate the misery of others through service is to mitigate one’s own misery only and to make others happy is to make oneself happy.
Our generosity in the form of service also affects those whom we serve and they, too, start feeling that to help others is also a kind of pleasure and that it is good to serve others. This results in awakening the feeling of generosity and service in others as well. This awakening results in weakening of the desire for fulfilment of worldly desires and selfishness in them also. Thus, service results in removing thecharacter- flaws of meanness and selfishness of the servant as well as the served.
The happiness that is generated through service is whole. Happiness results in the destruction of attachment and the new desires do not spring up. Destruction of attachment results in destruction of the sinful karmic bondages. Generosity arises in the heart of one who becomes compassionate by seeing others in misery and becomes happy by seeing others happy. The tensions, feeling of inferiority and conflicts do not arise in the hearts of the generous, their hearts are always filled with love and happiness. The practical aspect of generosity is charity. The path to spiritual liberation goes through charity, righteousness, penance and feeling; charity comes first of all.
Liberalisation is one of the important principles of modern psychology. Liberalisation is nothing but the conversion of mean dispositions into generous dispositions, vices into virtues and wickedness into weal. The best way to liberalise oneself is to engage oneself in the activities of service to the community. Let us take the example of sexuality. It can manifest in one or more of the three ways – 1. In sexual acts, 2. In expression of love for the beloved and 3. In affection or service. The first way is physical, the second is mental and the third is spiritual. The first form of expression is that of deep delusion, the second is less delusory than that and the third form is not only least delusory but actually it is delusion destroying. For example, take the case of a child widow. She is given a young child to rear, which sublimates her sexual desires and converts them into affection for the child. It means that the sexual drives of a person will be reduced to the extent that he devotes himself in selfless service. If this service is for the diseased, it results in one more advantage that the servant’s attention is repeatedly drawn to the impermanence of the body and it results in reduction of attachment for it and it also results in reduction in sexual drive. At the same time by serving the diseased the feeling of aversion is also reduced. Thus, the acts of service result in reduction of attachment and aversion and convert them into friendship, affection, etc..
By engaging oneself in the service of others one forgets about one’s own miseries. Own miseries deepen when we think more about them. When a person remembers his pains and miseries, actually he increases them and the one who forgets them reduces them. This applies to illness also. One of the ways to cure a disease is that the ill person serve those that have similar ailments.
It is a fact that a true servant, who is devoted to service, does not wish to get anything in return for the service rendered by him. However, the result of his service surely comes to him naturally, because it is the rule of nature that when a seed is sown it returns an yield that is millions of times more than what is sown. The bitter Margosa seed when sown yields millions upon million bitter Margosa fruits when the tree fructifies and when a mango seed is sown it, too, yields thousands upon thousand sweet mango fruits. Similarly, for the true servant the entire world is like an orchard for sowing the seeds of service and for harvesting the fruits of his service from the trees that grow from those seeds. Thus, the entire world is eager to reward the true servant for his services and yet the true servant does not want, form the world, anything more than his physical sustenance. In other words the true servant dedicates his entire life in the service of the world and his life belongs to those that he serves. This extension of his life to the entire world is the full development of his life. No life can be greater and more rewarding than that. Like this the true servant gets hundreds of times greater reward than fulfilling all his needs and never suffers from want or poverty. He always remains happy. Lack of wants and fulfilment of all needs is the true luxury. Therefore, it can be said that there is none wealthier than the true servant. What is meant there is that through service the material poverty gets converted into spiritual opulence.
The attachment and aversion that cannot be overcome with discretion and knowledge can be easily converted into affection through welfare activities aimed at general weal. For example, if anyone isfond of speaking than his attachment for speaking can be converted into affection by speaking well of others and speaking for the welfare of others. Similarly, the attachment for food can be liberalised by feeding others; that for sensory enjoyment by Lord’s worship and the attachment for destructive activities can be liberalised by undertaking constructive work.
In service own pleasure is shared with others and the servant shares others’ misery. By sharing own pleasure with others one overcomes attachment for that pleasure and by sharing others’ misery one sheds one’s own misery. At the same time the pleasure of sensory enjoyment gets converted into eternal pleasure of affection and mitigation of the misery of the served one gives the servant an indescribable pleasure and his heart is filled with love and affection. The pleasure of love is unique and quite different from the pleasure of sensory enjoyment. That pleasure is whole and eternal. That pleasure fills the heart whenever it is remembered and does away with the momentary pleasures of sensory enjoyments. Thus, the insipidity of impermanent sensory pleasures gets converted into the freshness of eternal spiritual pleasure generated by service. No living being can live a dry and insipid life. Every creature needs some pleasure to lead a meaningful life. The rule is that as long as there is no selflessness in life the dryness and insipidity is bound to settle in and that dryness and insipidity will induce one to fall for sensory enjoyments in the hope of deriving some pleasure or the other. Therefore, in order to get rid of the disturbance of the insatiable desires and for liberating from the dependent and impermanent enjoyments of the senses, one has to convert the pleasure of attachment into the pleasure of love and affection.
The practical form of love is the activity aimed at general weal, which is referred to as service. Service washes away the poison of sensory pleasure from the heart and it gets converted into the elixir of love. Service is the spiritual practice of converting the rising disease of attachment into the remedy of love and affection. Although for a monk the main stress is on the practice of restraint and detachment, even then his heart is always full of love for the activities of general weal. As the flaws of attachment and aversion recede, the aspirant practitioner’s heart gets increasingly filled with kindness, compassion and love. As he becomes fully detached, he is blessed with the infinite accomplishments of infinite charity, infinite love, infinite prowess and infinite pleasure, etc.
The sensory pleasure induces inertia or insensitivity; therefore, the indulgent ones generally suffer from the vice of insensitivity. He gets so involved in the pursuit of his own enjoyments that he becomes insensitive to others’ troubles and travails and he can harm and inflict pain on others to any extent so that his own enjoyment can go on unhindered. For pursuing his own ends he does not hesitate in exploiting, abducting, killing, torturing, tormenting and intimidating others. He becomes heartless and his heart turns into stone. He may appear to be human but he is totally devoid of humanity and he spends his human life like an animal or a devil. He remains totally aloof to human feelings and does not taste the limitless pleasure of humaneness.
The practices of piety and those resulting in karmic stoppage and separation can grow on the soil of humanity only. Where there is no humanity, there is no life but insensitivity only; there is no religiosity but reproach. Mercy and kindness are the volitional forms of humaneness, and generosity and service are its practical forms. The life that is not endowed with kindness and service, is devoid of or rather against humanity. Service is an easy spiritual practice even for the householder that gradually reduces his flaws of attachment etc., and advances him towards renunciation and restraint and eventually towards liberation. Only that householder is not eligible to be called a wealthy person (Śreṣṭhi or Seṭha) who simply has a lot of material possessions but the one who is generous and serves the needy. Even the butchers and the prostitutes have a lot of riches but they are not referred to and honoured as Śreṣṭhis or Seṭhs or wealthy persons.
Rendering Service v/s Taking Service –
It is good to serve but to take service from some one is like enjoying that service and is equivalent to sensory enjoyment only. It feels nice when enjoyed but it is like sweet poison that kills nevertheless. The reason being that we develop attachment towards the person from whom we receive the service and we get indebted to him. The only way to repay that debt is to serve. We can return the favours received from someone only through service. It is for this reason that when we render proper and appropriate service to even our family members like father and mother, daughter or son or grandson and husband or wife when they are sick, we do not suffer the pain of losing them that much as we suffer when we do not serve them properly. In the first instance we do not repent and we are able come out of grief quickly. The grief of those who do not render proper service is much deeper and they suffer remorse for a very long time even after the departure of their near and dear ones for their other-worldly destinations. Thus, even the service rendered as a part of one’s duty helps in weakening of attachment. Therefore, the spiritual aspirant must avoid taking and accepting services from the others. That is why the carrying of monastic belongings, and bringing of some things for the monks, etc., by the householders has been proscribed.
To resolve to receive service and enjoy being served are binding activities. However, if someone serves for his own pleasure a monk can accept service neutrally in order to fulfil the servant’s resolve so as not to undermine his pleasure of rendering service. In such an eventuality, too, there remains the danger that the monk may give himself a false solace that he is giving the servant an opportunity for fulfilling his resolve but keeps enjoying the service so rendered on the quiet. Therefore, as far as possible the spiritual aspirant must avoid taking services from the others.
Liberation means freedom from bondage. Bondage means to be dependent on the others and where there is delusion and attachment, there is dependence, too. When delusion and attachment are destroyed the dependence also ends and independence is gained. This is liberation. As any worldly creature being attached to various things and beings cannot remain without any activity. Therefore, he has to adopt a way of seeking liberation that has some activity or the other in it. Service has an important place in the active way of seeking liberation. Fresh bonds of attachment do not bind one who undertakes the activity of serving. Besides, he also sheds the attachment that is on the rise at that time. Therefore, in service lies that meaningfulness of activity. It is through such service-oriented activities that dependence can be shed and liberty attained.
That is why the activity-oriented creature will have to convert his volitional tendencies to enjoy the services rendered by others into tendencies to serve others, because one loses the attachment for whatever is employed in others’ service and one loses the infatuation for those whom he serves. One gets divorced from those things and beings when infatuation and attachment for them is destroyed. Therefore, the activity of service is able to render us free from the bondage of dependence. It is the true liberation.
Creation of Healthy Society through Service –
Society is made up of groups of individual members. Therefore, the quality of society depends on the quality of its individual members. That is, the virtues and vices that exist in the individual members also find their way in the society constituted by them. At the root of all social evils lie the narrow and selfish tendencies of its individual members while at the root of all virtues of the society lie the tendencies to render selfless service by them. Actually, mutual affection and tendency to serve is the fundamental element or life of the society. In the absence of tendency to serve the society cannot remain good and is reduced to a group of selfish individuals. Therefore, service is an inescapable element of a good society.
The good society with character is one in which the rights of all the members remain safe. It is possible only when there prevails in thesociety adherence to duty, generosity and good faith. The society whose members are endowed with these virtues is the good society with character. A society with good faith is a healthy and a good society. The emotional form of good faith is a tendency towards general weal and the practical form of good faith is good behaviour or service.
It is the good people that form a good society. The reason being that a genuinely courteous person will behave well with all those with whom he comes in contact and he generates goodwill in their hearts as well. This seed of courtesy or good will germinates and grows into a mature tree that will bear the sweet fruits of love and affection. Like this the good people create a good and healthy society.
The relationship between a person and society can be compared to the relationship between a gardener and a garden. The individual is the gardener and the society is the garden. As the gardener depends on the garden for his living and is duty-bound to serve it so does the life of an individual depend on the society and he is duty-bound to serve it. If the gardener does not serve the garden he variously harms himself only. Similarly, if a person does not serve the society with the things at his disposal he, too, variously harms himself.
The coin of service has two faces – 1. To create a good society with activities of general weal, and 2. To renounce the attachment for the wealth at one’s disposal in order to liberate oneself. The activities of general weal end in natural detachment, which result in own welfare. Moreover, natural detachment gives one the ability to serve others with a view to promote general weal. Like this, service creates good people as well as good society. Both these aspects of service are important.
As we get many grains as a result of sowing only one grain, so does the good or bad that we do for the others get back to us many times over. This is the law of nature. Therefore, if we will sow the seed of service in the society, its flowers and fruits will give fragrance and fulfilment to us as well as the other members of the society. Our sense of duty, generosity and goodness will generate similar sentiments among out associates and make then good too. The group of our associates being a part of the society at large, the goodness of this group will contribute to the goodness of the society and, eventually, make it good also. A true servant is not attached to material enjoyment and is, therefore, inclined to use the material possessions at his disposal for the welfare of the society. This helps in the creation of a good and healthy society. The ideal society and the material prosperity in the society have always been created by those that have been moved by the pains, wants and deprivations of the others and have tried to mitigate them through their own efforts and through the resources at their command. The indulgent and the selfish have given rise to destruction and destitution only.
Where there is only selfishness, a healthy society cannot be formed. It is for this reason alone that the animals do not have their own societies and institutions. Man is a social animal and the very basis of society is mutual cooperation or service. The increase in the prosperity of human society largely depends on mutual cooperation and service. To the extent that humanity or service-orientation will increase in the human society, its prosperity will also increase to the same extent. Therefore, it is the duty of every human being that he employ his, body, mind and wealth in the service of humanity or the world at large. In this lies the welfare of the human society and the human race.
From the material point of view service is the means of creation of good human society while from the spiritual point of view it is the means of overcoming attachment. In the creation of good human society only lies the end of social, political, and economic problems facing the world today. Through the end of these problems alone can the peace and tranquillity prevail in the society and its real progress take place. Service is the staircase to climb to the top of the progressive life and it results in an all round progress in life.
Service is Beneficial: Always and Everywhere –
For a spiritual aspirant the things are just means for his spiritual practice while for the indulgent they are the means of sensory enjoyment. Dharma or spiritual duty is in the renunciation of flaws. Material renunciation is just a symbol of renouncing flaws. If the material things are given up and the flaws are not, then that kind of renunciation does not result in any spiritual benefit. The benefit ensues from renunciation done with good intent and for good purpose. They result in the waning of his flaws. The charity that is given with the purpose of gaining fame and honour from the society becomes a means of increase in the giver’s pride and does not become that beneficial as it would, had it been given without such purpose and with a kind heart moved by the others’ troubles and travails. Even the earlier kind of charity is beneficial for the recipient and because it is beneficial for at least one party, it is good nevertheless. It must be remembered that it is the pride associated with charity that is bad and not the charity as such.
Another benefit of service is that when one engages oneself in any service activity one also develops volitional tendencies towards that service. When he sees the beneficiaries of his service happy due to the benefits received through his service, he too becomes happy and he feels a kind of flawless pleasure. It gives rise to a feeling of generosity in him, which is beneficial for him. What is meant here is that it is better to serve in any way rather than not to serve at all for want of ideal volitional intentions. It does not result in any harm but is always beneficial. To serve with kindness and selflessness is thousand times more beneficial. That is, to serve with the intent of getting name and fame is also good but to serve without any selfish motive and without any desire is even more beneficial.
Karmic Destruction Through Service –
Jaina tradition has accepted selfless service as a form of penance. Penance results in the destruction and separation of earlier bonded karmic accumulations. Attachment in the form of temptation for and dependence on the sensory enjoyment is the basic cause of karmic bondage. Therefore, as the attachment gets reduced, the dependence on the sensory enjoyments also diminishes. This dependence is the only bondage and freedom from this bondage is to become independent, which is nothing but liberation from karmic bondage.
Service results in the waning of the feeling of dependence on the sensory pleasures and selfishness or, in other words, it results in the reduction of attachment. The decay of attachment results in stoppage of new karmic bonding. Therefore it can be termed as karmic stoppage or saṁvara. The separation of earlier bonded karmic accumulation is nirjarā. Thus, service or the vaiyāvātya penance results in karmic stoppage and destruction and separation (saṁvara and nirjarā). With prevarication, we can say that true service is possible to the extent that we give up our own indulgence in sensory enjoyments. That is, the importance of service lies in the renunciation of sensory pleasures.