Two years into the journal posts and the word is starting to appear more frequently. Serve. Serve others. Serve yourself. In time, it became one of the major lessons I took from my years with Karaj. He impressed upon us the importance of serving. He told us how much of an honour it is to serve someone and that his goal was always to serve and remain unnoticed, invisible.
It took me a while to get there, though. What follows is an extract from my journal. It was written near the end of my training and appears in the entry, ‘My Mind At Work‘:
I was relieved yesterday to hear Karaj tell me what I need to do: serve others. I have been striving for something impressive to show the world and missing what Karaj has been saying all along: that there is nothing more empowering, humbling, generous, loving and powerful than serving.
We all serve somebody at some point in our lives. We may not acknowledge it as serving, we seldom see it as a privilege or an honour and we rarely have the awareness to appreciate the subtlety of each of the inherent qualities listed in that previous paragraph. But humility, generosity and love are precisely what await us each time we serve. When done with awareness even the slightest gesture, such as holding a door open for someone, can be filled to overflowing with everything we say we are searching for in our lives.
If it’s a privilege to serve others, what does it mean to serve ourselves? I remember one of Karaj’s clients talking about becoming a father for the first time and asking how he could ensure that his son would be okay in life. Karaj’s answer was simple: make sure you are okay and those around you will be okay too. Serve yourself. On occasion, Karaj would quote these two lines to us:
If I don’t know you I serve you.
When I serve myself I am you.
I always found the first line easier to understand than the second. The second line only really made sense to me if the person being addressed is God (the quote came from one of the Hindu scriptures). As such, it means that only by serving myself can I express the fullness of who I am.
Looking at both lines now, I see the circularity. It doesn’t matter who the other person is. When I meet someone I don’t know, I ask what I can do for them. By serving them, I empower them to be whoever they want to be and to realise their true self. When I do the same for myself – when I serve myself – we are united in our fulfilment of who we truly are: one and the same.