One who performs selfless service, without thought of reward, shall attain his Lord and Master.
October 22, 20194 Minutes

We live in a world of expectations and pursuit. We pursue experiences, love, money, fame, rewards, and more. We expect a reward for every effort that we make. We seek out our purpose and something that will validate our existence on this Earth. Ultimately, what we are truly seeking, is fulfillment.

But what does one mean by fulfillment? What does a fulfilled life feel like?

Modern-day spiritual teachers have said — a fulfilling life is a life spent in service of something bigger than ourselves. The same teaching forms an essential part of Guru Nanak’s teachings — a fulfilling life is a life of ‘seva’ (selfless service).

Seva or selfless service means spending time in service of something or someone without the expectation of a reward or something in return. It is the essence of living a purposeful, spiritual life and allows one to truly experience the highest form of fulfilment — one that makes living content and peaceful.

Guru Nanak said,

ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਤ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਹਕਾਮੀ ॥ ਤਿਸ ਕਉ ਹੋਤ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਸੁਆਮੀ ॥

जो निःस्वार्थ भाव से, बिना किसी इनाम की उम्मीद के सेवा करता है, वह अपने ईश्वर को प्राप्त करता है।

One who performs selfless service, without thought of reward, shall attain his Lord and Master.

The ‘langar’ (free kitchen) at a Gurudwara is seva — it is a community effort where people come together to serve a meal to anyone regardless of their social or economic status, religion, or caste. As you can see, seva is a great way to build relations within a community.

There’s a very popular story from Guru Nanak’s life that outlines what seva means. When Guru Nanak came of age, his father gave him some money to carry out a trade which would result in a profitable bargain. As he went on his way to the market, he came across a group of hungry saints and in that moment he said,

“No bargain can be more truly profitable than to feed and clothe the needy.”

For him, a profitable bargain meant feeding the hungry and needy. When his companion reached home and narrated the incident to his father, he was furious. This tale beautifully outlines the difference in perspective between what is considered a profitable bargain and what is not. For some, it means amassing wealth and property, for others, it’s serving others.

Many of you reading this have probably asked this question —  How do I serve others when I’m caught up trying to lead my life in today’s fast-paced world where everything is about survival? Well, you don’t need to make grand gestures in the name of seva. Seva could be helping someone cross the road, or helping a total stranger with their bags, or just being a friendly presence for them if they need it.

So if you’re looking for fulfillment, let Guru Nanak’s teaching be your guide and bring joy into someone’s life through seva.