Within our path of Kriya Yoga, we give great emphasis to balancing our lives: on the one side with the practice of meditation, deepening our inner life; on the other side, by doing service, spiritualizing our outward life. We have many teachings and materials on how to develop our inner life, but what does it mean to serve within our path? What is Ananda Seva?

Ananda Seva is to infuse our daily lives with an attitude of selfless service, or to practice, in the words of Sri Krishna, “Niskam Karma” and to practically apply that attitude in whatever we do. It means to serve in a manner that deepens our discipleship and attunement with our Guru. We want to act in such a way as to feel the Guru’s presence and being instruments for him. We act with the awareness of representing our Masters and their mission through our service.

The following points can help you deepen your understanding and practice of Ananda Seva. Read them carefully and, more importantly, implement them in your daily life so that you may experiment with them and experience how it effects you and those around you.

“Practice the Presence of God”:

  • Feel God to be within you and around you in all that you do, in every moment. Include Him in your minute-by-minute activities: washing dishes, cooking a meal, hanging the clothes, taking a walk.
  • Direct your ongoing, inner, mental conversation toward God or Guru; by knowing he is listening, your thoughts will slowly start to change. Make it a point to also listen to His response; you’re having a conversation with God or Guru.
  • Make God your companion, share all of your thoughts and impressions with Him.
  • Ask God to guide your every thought and action.
  • Pay attention and take time to listen to God’s response to your prayers.
  • Remember the saying, “God doesn’t mind your faults, only your indifference.”

With God as your companion, try to see God in all.

  • “The guest is God.” See that everyone is your guest. Try to see that “The Divine Mother is in all.”
  • Try to see God or Master as standing before you, in others.
  • See all according to their highest potential. Everybody is, in truth, a part of the Divine. By looking through their veil of ignorance, we can feel God’s presence within them and help them attune with their own higher Self.
  • Think, “How would I treat Master if he was standing here?”

Master said, “If you want to be in tune with me, serve my work.” Remember:

  • Whatever we serve, we naturally attune to; by serving the Guru’s work, we attune to the Guru.
  • We should try to convert our present activities into a way to serve God and Gurus.
  • To strive to be a perfect reflection of Master in all that you do. Ask yourself, when faced with a choice, “What would Master do?”
  • To serve Master “in His name” – in His consciousness, in His bliss, in His joy.
  • To do Master’s work is to love God and be one with Him.
  • To be creative and think, “What can I do to better express Master’s ideals?

Serve Master’s mission through Ananda Sangha. Because:

  • By helping, we help Master in a way we could not by ourselves.
  • By serving together, we generate greater magnetism to accomplish goals. Remember the story about the sticks; you can easily break one stick, but many sticks put together can’t be broken.
  • By serving with others, we gain strength in our spiritual practices.
  • By serving with others, we learn to cooperate and get along with others.
  • Serving with others increases our own will, magnetism and energy.
  • Serving with others increases enthusiasm and is joyful.

Try to engage in “God Reminding Activities”:

  • Form a habit of thinking of God and/or meditating at regular intervals during the day.
  • Practice Japa and inner prayer
  • Thank God for everything that comes to you. “Thank you God. It comes from you.
  • Dedicate every action as an offering to God. “This is for you, Lord.” Then, do it well.
  • Start activities with a prayer. Work, meetings, meals, bedtime, awakening, etc.

Try every day to do every action with an attitude of service:

  • Begin your day with meditation and a self-offering to God.
  • Carry peace forward into you activities and recall peace as often as possible.
  • Check your attitude now. Are you thinking of yourself or of others? You can keep reminders such as post-its or an alarm on your phone to keep track of your attitudes.
  • By thinking of God, we can change a routine action into an act of service.
  • Act as much as possible from a position of conscious awareness. Be mindful.
  • Keep your attention at the point between the eyebrows.
  • Mental positivity and calmness strengthens others and is also a form of service. The vibrations you share are just as important as a service as your outward activities.
  • Serve mentally with kind thoughts and words of encouragement.
  • Include others in your meditation and prayers.
  • Be an instrument of blessings. Consciously bring peace to others.
  • Realize that the instrument is blessed by that which flows through it.

Other suggestions:

  • Try a walking meditation. This practice of combining an outward and inward activity will help you to be mindful in action.
  • Service is not simply busyness. We mustn’t lose our inner peace.
  • Cultivate an impulse to think first of the welfare of others over your own.
  • True leadership is service. A true leader is aware, thinks first of the needs of others, and acts appropriately.

Giving financial support to Master’s work can lead to the highest happiness.

  • Master said: “Making money honestly and industriously to serve Thy work is the next greatest art, after the art of realizing Thee.
  • Master once wrote to a businessman who was also a disciple, “God supports your business by giving you talent and health even though you have over-used your energy. So your business should support God’s work. And if you do so His law will give you untold protection—above all communion.

The two-part Ananda Seva Discourse by Nayaswami Jaya