There is No “Me” in Service

By Scott Shaw

The reality of life is that most people think about themselves.

First and foremost, all the majority of the human race cares about is how they feel at a particular moment in time. If they are happy and feeling great, all is good. If they are unhappy, if someone has done something that they do not like then, “Look out!”

This eternal quest for only feeling the way someone wants to feel spans all cultures. Here in the West, (and all of the civilized world for that matter), due to the pervasiveness of wealth and all-right-ness, it is rampant. The reason for this is that most of the basic needs of life are meet. We eat well. We live well. From this, comes one remaining desire to fulfill. That desire is to feel the way we want to feel.

In our current culture, most forms of humanity, spirituality, and the desire to truly serve others is the farthest things from the mind of the masses. What is prevalent is, “I want this!” “I want to feel that way!” “And, if I don’t get it, if I don't feel that way, if you do something I don't like, I am going to throw a fit!”

But, let’s think about this for moment. If you are feeling okay, what does that say about the cards you were dealt? That says you are pretty lucky.

When we look around the world there is so much poverty, pain, and suffering, it is hard to fathom. Even in the countries of the developed world there is an enormous amount of the same. But, most who are living a life of, “Okay,” don’t choose to think about these things. They never travel to the places where pain is taking place on a daily basis — even if it is only on the other side of town.

Why? Because most people only care about how they feel in any given moment of time. If that need is being met, then they don’t have the time to think about anything or anyone else. Some even question, “Why should I care?” Or, they make the excuse, “There is nothing that I can do about it.”

It is from these perspectives that a person’s life is set in motion. A life based in the concept of, “Me.”

But, in each person’s life there comes a time when they are hurt, injured, sick, or completely devastated by a life occurrence. When the, “Okay,” goes away, then what?

In most cases, again, all attention is focused on the self. The focus of attempting to get back to the way they were. Again, it is a life based in solely being concerned with the SELF and how that SELF feels.

Certainly, in most forms of religion and spirituality, “Giving,” is an essential point. “Helping others,” is frequently taught. But, most people don’t do this. They may give a few dollars to the collection plate during the service, help with a car wash to raise money for the church, they may even donate some stuff for a bake or yard sale. But, is that giving, in the true sense of the word?

No, giving is removing the definition of, “Me.” It is taking away the component of, “I feel like doing this.” Or, “I don’t feel like doing that.”

As detailed, each person in their life comes upon a moment when they need help. Most, when they do, the question arises, “Why me?” Some even place all the blame for the life occurrence that brought them to that place on someone or something else. But, here is the question that should be asked by each of us when we arrive at those moments, “What did I do to get here?”

If you were selfish, spending your life thinking only of yourself; that is your answer.

Most people do not spend any time giving, serving, or taking care of others. Most people spend their Life-Time fighting to get what they want and then when they get it, they spend the rest of their Life-Time fighting to defend it.

Which is all fine and good if that’s what you want your life to be — a constant battle. But, as the old saying goes, “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” And, dying by the sword is never pretty, painless, or easy.

This brings us to the point that life should not be based in, “Me.” It should be based in, “What can I do for you?”

Certainly, people can find all kinds of ways to argue this point. But, on the true path of selfless-service one must removed negative debating from the equitation because all that does is to bring you back to the sense of, “Me.” Believing what your, “I,” wants you to believe.

But there is one absolute truth to life. Getting out there and doing, saying, and creating nice, positive things is one of the best things you can do with your Life-Time.

This is not about seeking a reward for it. This is not about trying to generate good karma for yourself. This is not about seeking a title because of it. It is simply about doing good things.

Ask yourself, “What have I done for someone else lately?” If you have no answer, it is time to change that.

And, these things don’t have to be BIG. You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world and attempt to save an entire culture. It can all be done in small-steps. Because small-steps leads to the greater good.

For example, if you see some trash on the ground, pick it up. If a piece of clothing has fallen from a hanger in the store, put it back where it belongs. If someone is struggling to carry something, help them. And, so on.

It is also essential to ask yourself, "What have I said or done that may have negatively affected another person?" If you can name something, now is the time to correct it.

This is not about ego. This is not about who is right or who is wrong. This is about what YOU, personally, have done. And, this action is not about waiting for the other person involved to do it first.

If you can think about something that YOU have said or done that has negatively affected someone else, correct it. Change the pattern of the interaction. This will simply make everything better.

Ponder this, if someone has wronged you in the past, think how much better you would have felt if that person had extended a hand to you and tried to make the experience better for you. This is one of the most simple things that you can do that will not only make your life better but will change the entire direction of humanity.

Be better. Be more. Reach out and make other people feel better. This simple action is how the world can become a better place.

The reality is, at the end of the day, what do we have? All we have in life is what we have done and given to others. That is the definition of how we will be remembered and what impact we have made on and for the world.

This life is all we know. It is all we have. Give. Do good things. Make a positive difference it life. It starts with you.




This is a chapter from the book:
The Zen of Modern Life and the Reality of Reality



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No part of this article may be used without the expressed permission of Scott Shaw or his representatives.