A British friend remarked, “You Americans trivialize everything.” Despite the initial semblance of condescension, there’s truth in the elegant gentleman’s assertion. When it comes to deep apprehension of the Great Mystery, our culture is the fast food of contemplative existence. We want our spirituality in bumper stickers. We represent religion in knickknacks. In cultivating generosity, we blithely perform “random acts of kindness” and then boast about them.
Serving others should be natural, for there is no separation. We are all a part of the Great Spirit. By now, we must recognize the familiar water analogy used to explain our human existence. From the vast ocean of the Great Tao we stream forth and descend from clouds as individual droplets of rainwater. We run in rivulets through rivers and creeks. Rapidly, we wind our way toward the enormous ocean.
Does it then matter which drop we are? Are particular drops even distinguishable?
When we pray, at the end of our prayers, we say, “Numak k ki ami wa,” which means, “All My Relations” in Mandan. Other times, we say “Mitakuye Oyasin,” which means the same in Lakota. This phrase is a recognition that there is no real distinction between people within our Spiritual circle helping to fulfill the prophecies, and people beyond our circle who travel different paths.
We are all related.
Several Native American tribes have taught that at one time, we were all One People. So we diversified a bit: is that any reason to think hierarchically? Wouldn’t we feel a little better about everything if we held in our hearts the maxim, “Nothing greater, nothing lesser?”
We are all equal and Sacred beings, worthy of the utmost care. We give this care to ourselves, and with ease and grace, we extend this care to others. In doing so, we actually joyously affirm our own existence. Consider, at the conclusion of this brief stint we call a lifetime, what will we have we contributed?
I can hear Cedric Red Feather’s voice demanding, asking, “That woman there, she has gone to every workshop under the sun. She’s met Shamans, Medicine Women, Healers, and Road Men, but tell me this: what has she done for the People? Whom has she helped? What is she going to do with all of this knowledge?”
Being of service need not imply martyrdom. We have needs, others have needs. We can give without “running out,” for the Universe is a plenum. We need not fear that, in giving to others, we deplete ourselves. In fact, the opposite is true. Although we don’t give for this purpose, it’s like making a deposit into our karmic bank. When we give with our whole heart — without expectation of thanks or return — we immediately notice positive enhancements in our own lives.
When we give privately — without witness or fanfare — we gain even more. We can offer our time, energy, prayers, guidance or financial help to others without announcing what we’ve done. Cedric wisely admonishes, “Boast of the goodness of a deed and the goodness is gone.”
There is nothing grandiose or admirable about being of service or volunteering. They are as natural as breathing. We would all be exemplary human beings were we to spend every waking moment, in some way, quietly, ineluctably improving the lot of every living being. Volunteering is, in a sense, an odd concept. It sounds as though one is not predisposed to act for the benefit of others but will now reluctantly make a deliberative effort to contribute.
When we undertake to live spiritually — consciously — every breath is a prayer. In that sense, every breath becomes an act of volunteering. When a person lives in the eternal now — in the precise present moment — his happiness becomes real and pervasive. It is then that his generosity and service to others overflow naturally outward from the fountain of his inner tranquility. Simply by meditating and becoming more peaceful and light-filled, we can enhance the vibrational frequency of everyone on the planet.
Recycling is certainly helpful, but living in such a way that we emit love and light will more than cover the nurturing of our darling Mother, the Earth, and our beloved Father, the Sky.