Yesterday I had a call from a friend of 50 years who is now 91 and bedridden. He asked me to play and sing to him. He has always been special to me because he encouraged my career in music. But even more special, we began the 48 Teaching tapes together many years ago. (You can find them on this website.)
So I played and sang Danny Boy in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which is coming soon. He said it made him cry. I asked, “Bad cry or good cry?” He said, “Good cry.” So I sang a myriad of songs and styles for which he was very thankful. An idea from the Teachings came to mind about “being of service.”
I presented the question, “What does being of service mean to you?” to other people I knew in the Teaching. One said that doing the dishes and cleaning the house was a way of being of service, though it probably isn’t normally thought of that way.
Another said calling and listening to someone who lives alone is being of service.
Another said saying “No” can be of service. You can ponder on that one because it seems like it could never be considered as a service; however, if someone asks me for money over and over but is quite capable of working and earning a living, it may be of service to say no. It increases their necessity to be responsible for themselves.
Some have the ability to find humor in just about every situation. So, to me, they are being of service by giving me the option of seeing that everything might not be as serious as I am seeing it.
I see watering and fertilizing my garden and caring for my cat as being of service. The list is as long as you care to explore in your daily activities.
The thought popped up, “What’s the benefit to me?”
I’ve had people tell me that they like to “help” people. Dr. Bob distinguished between helping and “making a little contribution,” another way of saying “being of service.” He pointed out that in order to “help,” one has to see oneself as being elevated above the other. “Helping” gives a good feeling, but isn’t that temporary?
As I’ve studied the Teachings, I have found that being of service gets my attention directed outward.
When my attention is directed outward, I’m not concentrating on what I don’t have – like more money or a better mate or a different car or more attention and approval, thinking I would be satisfied and permanently happy if I had all I wanted.
One can ask self, “What more do I want or need?” Think… possessions, titles, fulfillment of our desires, as well as all the other things we crave. When we center in on ourselves and what we don’t have, we entrench ourselves in depression, want, anger, frustration and many other unpleasant emotions.
How many ways can you turn your attention outward and be of service today?