Tag Archives: seva

Service to the World


In honor of the Centers for Spiritual Living theme for this month, I am writing on service to the world. Rabindranath Tagore wrote, “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

Truly being of service to others is one of the greatest joys. It is why we really enjoy our work when we find we are making a meaningful contribution. Selfless service, known as Seva in the Sanskrit language, is the greatest joy of all. When we’re engaged in service to others purely for the sake of being of help and from our own love and good will, there is something that comes alive in us.

Recently, I took a group from the Somseva spiritual community to a local rescue mission where we spent two and a half hours preparing and then serving over 500 meals to the homeless. Our group consisted of adults and teens and it was evident that we were all uplifted by the experience.

We all took to our service very conscientiously, more so than I see most people in their paid work. Somehow being in selfless service, helping others, ignited in us the sense that our actions can make a difference. It was evident that those whom we served were in clear need of our love and support, and most were deeply grateful for our service. It seemed that they too sensed the sacredness of our love offering.

On my previous trip to serve food to the homeless, the mission was short on volunteers and I ended up serving the bulk of the 500 meals nearly singlehandedly in the span of not much more than an hour. I remember how the somewhat overwhelming task seemed almost routine and not a big deal as I felt the significance of what it meant to those who were receiving possibly one of their only two meals that day.

The Christian scripture in Luke 12:48 says that to whom much is given, much is required. I don’t personally think this phrase is referring as much to an obligation as it is to our potential to give so much more, and to the truth that our own fulfillment won’t be complete without giving back from the gifts we’ve received.

It is where the name of the organization I founded a year ago, Somseva, derives. The “Som” is an acronym for the Science of Mind philosophy, and “seva,” as mentioned previously, is the Sanskrit word for selfless service. Somseva’s mission is to provide spiritual tools for personal and global transformation. The first part of its name, Science of Mind, is for personal transformation, and the second part, seva, is for global transformation. The Science of Mind provides powerful wisdom and tools to transform ourselves, and with our own transformation we have expanded capacity to help others and to bring more compassion to the world.

The invitation this day is to appreciate the ways in which you are able to serve our world and, where there is an opportunity to serve in a greater way, to seize upon it. You make a difference!

Enjoy the journey.

Gregory Toole offers spiritual coaching to individuals and groups who want to create and live extraordinary lives. For more information, go to gregorytoole.com.

Be of Service, Change the World


Bengali writer, Rabindranath Tagore wrote, “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.

The Bible, Matthew 23:11, says “The greatest among you will be your servant.”

Most of us have likely had the experience of what joy it is to serve others, and have felt the intangible, but very real sense of fulfillment from being in service. Whether it is in our work that we do for compensation or in volunteering, there is something in us that wants to serve, that knows this is our greatest purpose.

Mother Teresa is quoted as having said, “Prayer in action is love, and love in action is service.”

We are meant to serve. And I would say the greatest service is selfless service, known as Seva (pronounced say-vuh) in Sanskrit. There is something about serving just for the purpose of serving, without expectation of anything in return. There is a purity and innocence to this type of service that aligns us with the highest of who we are.

How do we know where to serve? I love the way the Dalai Lama speaks of it in his book, Ethics for the New Millennium. He says that when we see an opportunity to benefit others we take it, referring to is as a universal responsibility. In other words, we have a responsibility to do something whenever we are in a position to do so.

In that sense, selfless service is not a checklist item that we do to soothe our conscience. Rather, it is part of the natural fabric of life, part of who we are, and something we do in the regular course of things just as we would pick up a piece of food scrap from our kitchen floor when we noticed it there. There’s no thought process or self-congratulations; there is just the natural movement into action.

If we take the approach that there is always something we can do in any situation, then what is ours to do is easily revealed to us. We don’t need to think hard about it. Perhaps in one situation ours is simply to offer a prayer. In another we might be called to roll-up our sleeves and do some work, and in another perhaps we are to bring love and compassion through listening and offering our heartfelt responses.

We are never powerless, there is never a situation where we have nothing to contribute, and what we offer always makes a difference. This is somewhat self-evident, and at the same time contrary to what we often think and feel.

There is an example from my own life that had a profound impact on me. It involves a situation where I felt the least powerful and the least confident as to having anything of value to offer. I was asked to be of support to a man who had just lost his wife and child the day before due to complications in giving birth. The man was obviously in deep grief and inconsolable. The best I could do was to just be present to him and to offer some very practical assistance like driving him to appointments. I wanted so much to lift his pain in some way, and there were no wise words to accomplish that.

After spending time with him over a period of a week or two during his initial phase of grief, his support transitioned to others and I lost touch with him. Several years later, a man stopped me on the street in a popular shopping district and asked if I remembered him. I confessed that I did not. He reminded me that he was the man I had supported several years earlier. He recounted how valuable my support was to him and he thanked me. That experience reminded me to never again doubt that I, and all of us, can always make a difference.

The invitation this week is to remember the difference you make and to take action in any situation that presents itself, by simply doing what you can. It will make a difference.

Enjoy the journey.

Random Acts of Kindness


Somseva is an organization I founded last year to offer spiritual tools and support for those who are committed to serving others. The name Somseva comes from the combination of Science of Mind (SOM), the spiritual philosophy founded by Ernest Holmes, and Seva, the Sanskrit word meaning selfless service.

Starting this week, Somseva will be inviting us every week to participate in simple service opportunities that don’t require joining anything or a large commitment of time. The service opportunities will instead be about showing up right where we are in service to others. No good deed is too small to make a difference, and together many small deeds make a major difference.

This week’s invitation is wide open – we are inviting you to perform random acts of kindness whenever and wherever you are inspired. You can post comments and photos about your experiences on our Facebook group page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/somseva/).

One of my favorite random acts of kindness that I performed was one time that I paid for the groceries of the person behind me in line. It occurred spontaneously when the cashier unintentionally added the groceries of the person behind me to my bill. Seeing she only had a few things, I found myself saying “I must be meant to pay for your groceries.” While she protested at first that I didn’t need to do that, she then graciously accepted. Afterwards she told me she recognized me from a spiritual community where I was in a leadership role. She noted how refreshing it was that my behavior in life was congruent with how I was in spiritual community.

Similarly, I was recently the beneficiary of a random act of kindness where someone unknown to me paid for me. I arrived at a sacred dance event not remembering that the organizers only accepted cash. Not having any cash in my wallet, there was an awkward moment until very quickly a young man pulled cash from his wallet so readily it was as if he were waiting for such an opportunity to help someone. He immediately handed me the cash and said it was on him.

This is the kind of world I want to (and do) live in – a world where we look after one another, easily and readily helping whenever we see an opportunity. Of course, random acts of kindness often don’t involve money as there are so many ways we can respond to the needs of others.

The invitation this week is to be open to noticing opportunities for random acts of kindness and to act on them. Then tell us about it on our Facebook group page. Simple right? Okay, let’s see what a great difference we can make this week, and let’s have fun doing it!

Are you in? Okay, I’ll see you on Facebook.

Enjoy the journey.