In the third chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna the benefits of selfless service. Krishna starts off by listening to Arjuna’s woes for a while before chiding the warrior to stop wallowing in his self-pity and start fighting. Arjuna seems to be interested in this, so Krishna explains the truths of the soul to Arjuna. Now Krishna is speaking about selfless service.
Krishna starts off by telling Arjuna that he should perform selfless service for several reasons. These include being a kind human and having a clean conscience. But the main reason that Krishna prods us to perform selfless service is to “give back the equal of whatever you get.”
Let me explain. If you walk into a department store, do all of your shopping, and go to the counter, you have to pay. If the bill comes up at $100, then you pay the hundred dollars. There’s no arguing, no negotiating, nothing. You pay for what you take (and if you don’t, you end up in jail).
Why should life work any differently? You are given so much throughout your life. Now you might say “No, I earned everything I got. I came with nothing and now I’m rich.”
This isn’t true. All of the money you have made has come from the society. Think about it. Your house was built by a building company, and your money came from the mint of your country. So shouldn’t you give a bit back?
That’s exactly what selfless service is. At the end of the day, you owe everything to the society, so you need to give back to the society. So go out today and just smile at someone. It’ll make both a stranger’s and your day feel just a bit better.
The Stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger reminds us that “It’s in keeping with Nature to show our friends affection and to celebrate their advancement as if it were our very own. For if we don’t do this, virtue…will no longer endure in us.”
What Seneca is saying here touches on our topic of selfless service. It’s, in a way, a service to cheer on your friends. You will feel good about yourself for doing it and they’ll be happy as well. Our world operates on the notion that there is a butterfly effect to everything: that if another is at a gain, you are at a loss.
Is that true? Maybe. However, it’s in your best interest to keep yourself a good person. Ever heard the phrase “Don’t stoop to their level,”? That’s how you should behave – if someone does something wrong, you should still support them. Not in doing something wrong, but in anything but that. After all, what are friends for?
Does this mean that you should be investing all of your assets into the society? Absolutely not. Several people have massive mansions. They are doing no wrong. In fact, a very small amount goes a long way here. In your budget, you can set apart just $365 a year (a dollar a day) for charity. Do a few community service projects, they can be quite enjoyable!
There are several ways that you can serve the society, and we will expand on these ideas in our next post.