A friend posed this question to me during a discussion of the concept of selfless service and doership. To be fair, his question had merit. Would Bill Gates have been able to reach out to, and help uplift, as many people as he had if he worked as a door man at Microsoft? The answer is maybe not. His wealth and the resources at his disposal afforded him the opportunity to fructify his intent to serve.
However, does that mean that people who are not financially sound are at a distinct disadvantage on the path of sewa?
The answer to that question is definitely not.
Your time and physical presence, and your intent to help, have more weight in the realm of sewa than a few numbers on the leaf in your cheque book does. It takes a minute or less to write a cheque. It takes longer to give someone a helping hand or a gentle ear. If you are blessed with the good fortune of being wealthy, you need to pay it forward as an act of sewa. If you are not, do not let that deter you or impede your progress.
Very often, a little money can go a long way in doing a lot of good. I recall the story that was shared by a gentleman who had once come on hard times. His guru told him to go and feed at least 30 beings. With his revered guru’s words ringing in his ear, and barely 10 rupees in his pocket, the man sat down under the shade of a tree on a hot summer day to contemplate his fate. He was upset as he had no idea of how he was going to fulfil his guru’s wish.
After a few minutes, his eyes fell on an ant hill near the roots of the shade tree under which he sat. He saw an army of ants march back and forth purposefully, oblivious of his stare and predicament. He spent a few minutes watching them. And then he had an epiphany!
He ran to a sweetmeat shop, a few lanes away, and bought a motichoor ladoo (an indian sweet meat) for five rupees. He rushed back to the tree and spread little pieces of the ladoo around its ancient roots. He watched with quiet satisfaction as the ants swarmed towards the little orange pieces and ate them all.
He had done as his guru had advised and still had five rupees left!
The point of sharing this story to emphasise how sewa is possible even with limited means, as long as your intent to serve is strong.
There are many different ways to share your time and fortune with others. Feed the birds or dogs in your neighborhood. Spend time with someone who needs a friend. Be kind and gracious, always. Most importantly, do not let any perceived limitation stop you from nourishing your soul.
It’s the little things, the little acts of kindness, that go a long way in helping you help yourself on the path of self-evolution.