Personal Transformation Experience

Love and Service

Swami has always said that the real purpose behind any service activity is transformation of the doer. Swami has also set love and service as the pathway for us to reach Him, as the means of spiritual evolution for all. However, I always used to wonder how love and service can cause transformation of a being.

I always saw it as a way to help society and people, and could never connect the dots as to what “transformation” is, or how one would be transformed by love and service. How love and service would lead to self-enquiry and self-realisation was and is a big mystery for me. Of course, this is something that would come only with direct experience. I feel extremely fortunate to share my own experiences regarding the same.

I was born in Nepal and by Swami’s grace had a good family where I learnt about God and eventually became a doctor. Later I came to USA for further studies and have been working here as a cardiologist. By Swami’s divine plan, I came to know about his subtle form in 2015 through the internet and was able to listen to his discourses from the subtle form. Eventually, I had the opportunity to work for One World One Sai as well as Sai Ashraya projects, which I had never even dreamt of.

But this process of transformation started only recently, when we started helping the homeless youth in Kansas City area. As we were trying to meet the physical, mental and spiritual needs of these homeless youth, I realised the real challenge lies in the mind. While I had to get over my mind and ego to continue to help these homeless youth, on the other hand, their minds and mindsets were a big obstacle in moving forward in their lives because homelessness is basically a mindset of seeking an easy escape, which they have been doing for a long time. As we tried to convince the youths to join jobs and education and we started counseling them, we got busier. As work got more demanding, my devotion was challenged by my ego, faith was challenged by fatigue, patience was challenged by anger and rage, surrender was challenged by attachment and this huge war had begun inside of me. I felt like I would never smile again, because whatever I believed myself to be – strong, courageous, smiling, patient, devoted, intelligent, etc. etc (projections of the ego, basically) were being shattered by the circumstances I had to face while helping these homeless youths.

While people would praise us for helping these children, only we knew that it was Swami holding the fort down, because all our efforts to keep things together would go in vain. One such day, suddenly I surrendered to God – I told myself that this is Swami’s work and I am working for Swami. The second that thought came, all my burdens were washed away. I felt light and bright again. It was possible to smile again and continue working. I finally realised that silently, my ego was letting me be attached to the service project. I was so worried about producing good results (perhaps ultimately to look good amongst the Sai fold) that I had forgotten that Swami is the one doing everything and the real purpose is my own transformation and not the results of the work. I learnt that honest effort is what is necessary, no matter the results. Therefore I transformed in that now I have learnt to put in my best effort but leave everything else to Swami.

When we started the project to take homeless youth off the streets, many people came forward to advise us about many things – caution was advised, so was careful selection of candidates; appropriate recognition of available local resources was a must, before we helped anyone. Despite all the advice, we landed in situations where we could not say “no” to four youth who asked us for help. And why not? If we think of them as clients, they make our work difficult and we will consider them to be just another volunteer project. But what if we consider them to be our own brother or sister? Would we not help them then? I vividly remember Swami saying, “Each one of you take one other with you.” Keeping this in mind, we moved forward to help these four youth, and by Swami’s grace, now all of them have access to shelter, food, education, healthcare and jobs.

In the process of losing any chance of Swami’s physical proximity in 2011 to knowing his subtle form in 2015, I had started craving for Swami. More than before I had started craving for His physical proximity – craving for Him to look at me, smile at me, notice me, and so on. I did not realise when, but my ego had led me to believe that if I do all these service activities, Swami will be happy. Recently, I have realised that this too is another layer of ego. Because Swami is eternally happy and blissful, nothing we do will increase or decrease his happiness – Swami is attribute-less. And, this body and personal attributes given to us are also not the real “we.” We should not be doing any of this for getting physical proximity to Swami and should not expect to be recognised for what we do. We should not even expect “thank you” in return. The process is simple. We are the soul, and we are only helping ourselves trapped in another body in another situation. We, in fact, are helping ourselves and loving ourselves. Should there be any reward for helping oneself?  The reward verily is realising our true selves – the inner soul that we are, the “That” that we are. And knowing oneself is the only way of truly being with Swami, who always resides within us. This is what I have learnt from the service projects – I am only helping myself, no matter who I serve, because we are in fact one consciousness. In that process, I automatically go closer and closer to God.

Rashmi Thapa
Region 4 USA