Sunday, June 6, 2010



I have just completed another year’s seva (the Sanskrit word for selfless service) for Karunamayi’s annual visit to Boulder. It is a big undertaking to put on several days of programs and I am the lead coordinator for the volunteers. Today we had a Vedic fire ceremony called a Homa. It is a very powerful offering of prayers for the entire planet and all of Humanity. Amma travels to many cities across the United States and thousands of devotees receive the blessings of Divine Mother.

Last night, while I was washing all the chairs and tables for the ceremony, I remarked to my friend and co-coordinator that I really loved doing seva. I have always jumped in to volunteer. She asked me when I had first started and that question brought me back to the time when I was attending an Anglican boarding school as a teenager.

When I was fifteen, I loved spending time in the school chapel. I would get up early for Mass with the Sisters and spend many hours sitting and absorbing the peace of the sanctuary. I was fairly lonely although I had friends, but real love eluded me and I felt the closest to whatever that was in the chapel.

At the end of my sophomore year, I was hoping to be chosen to become a Sacristan. This was a great honor and a two year position. To be able to spend more time preparing the vestments and cleaning the Chalice and the Altar! Isn’t this what every fifteen year old girl longs for? Well, I got my wish.

We prepared every week to sing the plainsong Mass at the convent on Sunday. We had to be quiet and attentive and I have to admit that I enjoyed being the Silence Police and busting the girls for whispering behind the back of our incredibly boring choir mistress. Not that any of us were angels, myself included.

However, this was my first inclination to being in service to God. As my practice has developed to broader dimensions, my seva extends to many living creatures. How I wish that it were really true to be able to say “All” living creatures. I am not there yet. I do think of Jesus’ words when He said,

“In-as-much as you do this unto the least of these, you do it unto Me”.

I ponder the meaning of the phrase, “Selfless service”. I wonder if there really is any such thing as being entirely selfless. What is there in it for me that is a motivating factor? I see how my ego tries to wiggle its way into acts of service. Do I feel somehow “Special”, as I did as a Sacristan? I want to be able to offer myself freely, purely, without any overtones. Even my exhaustion is a pat on the back for extending myself to such a degree. The deep self examination this has brought up in me, prompts me to refrain from seva for a while. I need to look at what life would be like without that stimulus.

We shall see how this plays out. Perhaps it will bring me to an understanding of what selfless service really means for me in my experience.

Prema Rose

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