Selfish Service

Before Vipassana I looked at giving service as a selfless contribution. We live in a world of finite resources so in order to get something I needed to give up something else. In order to help the community I’m going to sacrifice some time and energy to work on this project. I’m going to work for a non-profit or donate to a charity sacrificing some of my personal financial resource to contribute to the lives of individuals with less than me.

Vipassana has helped me transform my perception of a good life from one filled with excitement and fun to one full of peace and compassion. When the goal was to have fun and enjoy myself I saw these giving acts as gifts. Vipassana is teaching me that contributing to people’s lives is selfish but in a good way.

After accepting that cravings and aversions are adding to the misery of my life and that my mind is attentive to something at every moment of the day I’ve started to discover how important it is to give my mind positive inputs. While meditating 2 hours a day I can focus on preventing my mind from rolling in misery but it’s much more difficult when I’m out and about. If I’m not consciously paying attention to where my mind is it just gets involved with whatever is going on in my surrounding environment. I could fall into greed while in a business meeting or passion when at a bar or laziness when watching television. Giving service, especially at a center, is an opportunity to surround myself with positive inputs including a group of people who are working hard to come out of their misery. If my mind wanders while giving service it’s more likely to fall into positive distractions than negative ones.

This path is about training and purifying the mind. This is a tall order that will take a very long time. By choosing activities that keep me way from the seven deadly sins I’m serving myself in my progress on this path. Helping others is an opportunity for me to develop my compassion, not a sacrifice of my time, money, and energy. I’m starting to understand why giving dana is actually important as I tear down the curtains of delusion. Hopefully this post helps you do the same.

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This entry was posted in Helping Others, Personal Experiences by Ryan Shelton. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ryan Shelton

While I'm currently married to a beautiful woman while teaching physics at Padua Academy, these descriptors fail to capture the totality of my adventurous life. I have hiked over 1700 miles, traveled to 5 continents, managed a bakery, started a meditation center, counseled troubled teens, attended Duke, UNC, and Harvard, protected forests as a wildland firefighter, volunteered thousands of hours with Americorps, rafted the Grand Canyon, SCUBA dived on the Great Barrier Reef, and continues to find new adventures. I hope my writing encourages you to pursue your dreams and be the best version of yourself while supporting your communities to work together to solve the current challenges in our world.

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