One of the paradigm shifts that has served me the best in my life, and that I cherish the most, is something I picked up back in my spiritual wanderer days (not that those are over by any means, mind). And that is that the most important and valuable member of any exchange of service is the one in need. Not because they are needy, or because they are a client or anything like that. But rather, because by allowing me to serve them, they provide me the opportunity to improve and grow.
This came to me via the tradition of Buddhist monks who beg for their meals from the townsfolk and only eat that which is given them. They do this to instill humility in themselves, true, but that’s not the only reason. More importantly, the beg because it offers the townspeople a chance to give, which improves their karma and therefore their chances of being able to leave the Wheel of Life and Suffering. By begging, the monks are doing the most important work available to mankind – that of saving souls – and giving the givers the biggest and best gift of all – a chance at salvation.
For someone who believes as I do, that the most important job anyone has is to nurture their soul and grow as a divine being, those who are in need are the true spiritual leaders of life, because they and only they can provide us with the priceless opportunity to improve our souls.
You see, without those who need compassion, you couldn’t show it. Without those who need help, you couldn’t give it. And without those who require hard choices, you couldn’t make them. And if you can’t do any of that, your soul stagnates at the level it is.
People sometime wonder why I spend so much of my time serving others instead of “doing for myself.” I find it hard to get across to them that by serving others, I am doing more for myself than I could ever do in another occupation. Anything I could do to make my corporeal life better pales beyond the pale when compared to what service to others does for my soul.
So, to all those who so generously allow me to serve you, and thereby help me move ever so incrementally closer to the divine ideal, I offer you my humblest and most exhaustive thanks. Without you I would be, literally, nothing.