Temperament & Selfless Service
Temperament has two dimensions – Passive and Aggressive. Passive temperament is based on apathy and aggressive temperament is based on selfishness. Passivity makes one want to escape from one’s duties and become unproductive. Shri Krishna ridicules such an individual as a hypocrite because his passivity is not born of wisdom and absence of desire, but ignorance and fear of failure. This only leads one to live as a burden to society. Aggressiveness based on selfishness may make one successful, but not without the manifestation of arrogance and pride.
Hinduism preaches serving both God and humanity. Selfless service or Seva is serving or working without selfish expectation. Selfless service is the antidote to be free of both these temperaments. Service means to perform one’s duties as an offering to the God. According to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the joy of giving is far more exhilarating than the joy of getting
Shri Krishna explained the glory of performing duties & selfless actions to Arjuna in Shrimad Bhagavad Gita as under:
1. One should perform the allotted duty as action is superior to inaction. Desisting from action, one cannot even maintain the human body (3.8).
2. It is better to perform one’s own duty, though devoid of merit, than the duty of another well discharged. Even death in the performance of one’s own duty brings blessedness; another’s duty is fraught with fear (3.35). It is not advisable to abandon a prescribed duty. Such abandonment out of ignorance has been declared as Tamasika (18.7).
3. In the path of selfless action there is no loss of effort, nor is there fear of contrary result, even a little practice of this discipline saves one from the terrible fear of birth and death. Selfless actions bring purification of heart which in turn leads to fearlessness (2.40).
4. One should perform his duties efficiently at all times without attachment. Doing work without attachment man attains the Supreme (3.19).
5. One, who think of Me (Brahman/Shree Krishna) at all times and fight with mind and reason thus set on Me (Brahman/Shree Krishna), he will doubtless come to Me (Brahman/Shree Krishna) (8.7).
Hence, there are four basic principles of work:
1. The work is more important than your opinion about it.
2. Attempt to make your work useful to everyone (that may include yourself).
3. Maintain your objectivity in all your work and their results.
4. Do not hesitate to perform your duty and complete whatever you undertake.