Service to Man is Service to God
Sevā (selfless service) can be identified by means of two basic characteristics: compassion and willingness to sacrifice.
Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 10, Ch. 32, November 20, 1970
Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings are a treasure beyond compare. These teachings are invaluable for realizing our innate divinity. For instance, Baba has told us on many occasions that our true nature is pure love. This love expresses itself spontaneously and without any exter¬nal promptings as selfless service. In selfless service, there is recognition of oneness between the one serving and the one being served. This, then, leads us to realise the truth that the God in us is serving the God in others. Selfless service is perhaps the single, most efficient and universal tool for understanding, experiencing and expressing this divine principle of love. Service is love in action. Swami says that the best way to love God is to love all and serve all. The main purpose of the Sathya Sai International Organisation (SSIO) is to help one realise one’s innate divinity by the practice of divine love through selfless service. Swami cautions us about major obstacles that stand in the way of selfless service: ego and attachment.
On the spiritual path, the first step is selfless service. Through selfless service, one can realise the Divinity that is all this creation.
Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 10, Ch. 32, November 20, 1970
A true Sathya Sai volunteer strives to overcome these obstacles through selfless service. Service done in a pure, selfless manner then becomes yoga—leading to union with God.
Sathya Sai ideal healthcare is based on applying the five fundamental human values (sathya-truth, dharma-righteousness, shanti-peace, prema-love, and ahimsa-nonviolence) to the service of patients. Swami has said:
The greatest disease (or absence of ease) is the absence of peace (Shanti); when the mind gets peace, the body will have health.
Sri Sathya Sai Hospital, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sept. 21, 1960
Sathya Sai ideal healthcare is thus based on offering universal, free, loving, comprehensive and preventative healthcare. In all aspects of service to the sick, the five core principles of ideal healthcare (universal, free, loving, comprehensive and preventative healthcare) should be applied. The medical wing of the Sathya Sai International Organisation (SSIO) does this in many different ways in numerous countries around the world. This service is rendered without publicity and with humility. These medical camps, clinics, and hospitals provide comprehensive, free, loving healthcare to all within their reach.
The service activities at the centres, regions, and zones include providing food, clothing, school supplies, and daily provisions to the needy; building and repairing homes and community buildings; visiting old-age homes, prisons, and convalescent hospitals; mentoring needy students; and providing humanitarian relief to the victims of natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. Many Sathya Sai centres and groups maintain food banks that supply food and provisions to impoverished families on an ongoing basis. Inspired by Bhagawan Baba’s message, children and youth are also actively engaged in these service activities. In many countries these noble and exemplary community service activities have won accolades and awards from the local and national government agencies. The SSIO quietly and humbly spreads Bhagawan Baba’s universal message of pure love and selfless service through Sathya Sai centres and groups outside of India. These service activities are performed at the center, regional, national, and international levels. The service activities include providing healthcare, disaster relief, and community service which include food for the hungry and various humanitarian services to the needy. Members and the beneficiaries include people from different walks of life, ethnicities, faiths and nationalities. Baba’s message of “Serving Humanity” has been the guiding light for members of the SSIO resulting in the transformation of hearts of both the serving and the served. In many countries these noble and exemplary community service activities have won accolades and awards from the local and national government agencies.
Disaster relief services were provided lovingly and expeditiously in many areas of the world, including Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina affected by the Balkan floods; the Philippines due to super-typhoon Haiyan; the east coast of the USA devastated by Hurricane Sandy; Haiti due to a devastating earthquake; the low-lying areas near Jakarta, Indonesia submerged by floods; the region near Emilia, Italy affected by an earthquake; and the remote villages in Sri Lanka affected by earth slides due to torrential rain and floods. It should be noted that the SSIO does not seek publicity or donations and works quietly and, when possible, with local agencies, to serve the needy. Swami has also made it clear that the quality of service is most important, not the quantity. The spirit or the motive behind the service is crucial. When we render service, we should feel that we are serving God. This is why Swami says, “Service to man is service to God”. Service done in this manner makes us realise that “service is done by God, to God, and for God”. The person who is serving, the recipient of the service and the process of serving are all one—and are all divine. Just as the proof of rain is in the wetness of the ground, pure, selfless, loving service transforms us and we enjoy supreme peace and equanimity—the “peace that passeth understanding”. By serving others in this manner, we undergo spiritual transformation and get closer to the goal of realizing our innate divinity.