Discussion Forum Discussion Forum

Morality and Daily Life

Service To Others

Toggle
Service To Others
Answer
5/26/18 6:22 AM
I open this topic to share together what we think and exprienced in serving.

Buddha himself is a big exemple of service others. He spend half of his life teaching not expecting anything in return beyond simply helping others.

I saw for myself and other ppl that sometimes meditation process and aproach to it can be very selfish and closed to oneself. And when you go on retreat I think its good to close 100% and do solid and serious focused work. But its good to see if long and intensive periods of practice and continous and solid meditation in daily life can spontaneously bring the initiative to help others.

A lot of people with addiction problems get better doing community work, spending their time helping others in diferent areas. I think service can help one to get out of the selfish, autocentered, wanting some personal benefit in return. Also I think is a way to work the no-self aspect. In western culture is highly reinforced the selfish thing, so maybe is a challenge for us to let it go ourself and give to others expecting nothing in return.

Sometimes when I observed to do some service I saw I had to commint some kind of sacriface. Like Im just gona lost my time and other person will take benefit for it, it feel like being a voluntary slave. So I needed to find a cause, a community, a organitzation that I felt comfortable and that we could share the  same values.

Also service is not only with ONG or social movments, or volunter as assistant in retreats. We can go more deeper and just try to serve what surround us in daily life, our family, our friends, our neighbors etc, is the act of doing, the intention... Or maybe I can organize a talk or a small course about some topic that maybe can help other people and give it for free, the creativity has no limt on this!

Also is good to see..how serving to others affects me in a long term? Can I see change in my behavior in the way I see in the way I do? Can I really serve others like equals? Compasion and empathy flows spontaneously? Is there more feelings of peace and joy? 

RE: Service To Others
Answer
5/26/18 7:42 AM as a reply to Jordi.
When it comes to service to others, I like the evolutionary lens much better than the religious/spiritual one. The latter strikes me as way too heavy, whether you're talking about the bodhisattva ideal or the Christian one.
I serve on the board of a great organization that helps people in need in a bunch of different ways. A typical situation: a single mom and her three kids, after fleeing some jerk who was beating and verbally abusing them, moves into an empty apartment. Our organization brings them beds, a sofa, lamps, tables, chairs, cleaning supplies, all kinds of stuff, and connects them to other services.
It just feels great to do something that helps people in this way. It doesn't feel like a sacrifice or a drag to me in any way. Any resistance to it is a kind of lie--like the resistance you might feel to going and getting some exercise.
The members of the organization feel like a tribe, bonded together by the common intention to do something constructive. From an evolutionary standpoint, humans need to belong to a community or tribe. The sense of self-esteem and purpose that comes from playing the achievement game for oneself tends to be fleeting and unsatisfactory. The sense of self-esteem and purpose that comes from contributing to the good of the whole just feels right and good in a visceral and uncomplicated way.
So I feel great when I do things that help promote and grow the tribe and when we as a tribe act on our mission to help people in need.
Keeping it simple, steering clear of religious/spiritual conceptualizations of what I'm doing--"this is sila," "I'm a bodhisattva," "we're acting as the hands and feet of Christ," etc.--is just what works for me. I think that's just because of the over-the-top, extreme idealism that is so often a part of religious conceptualizations of service. I'm not trying to be a saint or even a heroic volunteer. It's more like I'm just a role-player in a generally benign sub-community, which is fine by me.

RE: Service To Others
Answer
5/26/18 10:40 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
I like Tashi's look at it through the "evolutionary lens", whether they mean it in terms of human evolution or evolution of the practitioner. 

In my own practice, the heart has opened of late. This has awakened an urge to help in some undetermined way. At the end of a work week, going home, kicking back and having "me" time seems like freedom, but as I ease into the weekend I realize trying to figue out which selfish thing to do with myself has nuances of suffering and bondage in itself. Sometimes it brings me to the point where I'd rather just be at work. Where there is choice, there is torment. It is becoming clearer that I will soon be drawn into more communal activities when the heart has enough inertia to break through the conditioning.

The desire for helping others has to arise on its own through the heart. It doesn't seem healthy to serve because we are Buddhists or because we are Christians. In this case we are merely defending ourselves from the threat of guilt. We are merely making another choice. Love is unbound by choice. If we are hungry, we eat. If we are radiating love, we serve.