By Ramdesh Kaur
It was in India that I discovered that there are more opportunities to serve than I ever imagined in life—more people to assist in their journeys, more hearts to soothe, more bags to help someone carry. And when you say yes to these opportunities, when you actively pursue them like it’s a game of hide and seek to find all these amazing moments where you can represent God on Earth and be a balm for someone's pain, what you end up finding is more than a chance to help.
It is nothing less than finding a moment where you and God merge completely. Where God's will is your will, where God's actions are your actions, and where God's love pulses on your heartbeat. Someone prays to God for help, and you get to respond on behalf of the Eternal Universe.
I learned that my favorite part of the day in Rishikesh is at night when pilgrims from near and far venture down onto the steps leading into the Ganges. I scan the crowds looking for someone who looks unsteady—someone old, or on crutches, or just unsure. And I light up from within, silently bubbling with joy that God sent me someone to help that night, when I finally see that old man trying to get himself down the slippery stairs. I hold his arm, guiding him down to the sacred waters for healing, knowing that my healing took place before I ever got to Mother Ganges.
I learned in India that it is a privilege to serve others—not an academic privilege, like being accepted into Harvard, but an ancient and timeless and vast privilege, like reaching samadhi, and experiencing the state of enlightened bliss within your physical world.
To serve, to open your heart and life and mind and every cell of your body (Ang Sang Wahe Guru) to serving someone else because you feel with every ounce of you that that someone else is God, and that you serve nothing less than the creative force of the Universe, then to serve becomes an action of Godhood. You feel your true nature. You serve the very biggest, deepest, most sacred part of You.
There is no difference between you grocery shopping at Whole Foods in New York City and a rickety old dirty man with sores on his feet trying to get down to the Ganges to bathe his karma away. No difference. No separation. No otherness. And what a privilege, to get to serve yourself. To uplift yourself. To extend a hand to yourself, and to realize, “You mean something wonderful to me, and I love you without fully knowing you yet.” How often do we do that? To ourselves, to another person, to God?
In Rishikesh, I learned that there are many ways to serve God, but more importantly, I learned that I can light my soul on fire with joy by one simple act—to look at another living being with the eyes of God and so merge with the divine.
Ramdesh Kaur is the author of The Body Temple: Kundalini Yoga for Body Acceptance, Eating Disorders, and Radical Self-Love and Yoga and Mantras for a Whole Heart. She has two guided meditation CD's "Journey into Stillness" and "Relaxation Meditations" with Snatam Kaur, Mirabai Ceiba and others. She is a Kundalini Yoga teacher and her website is www.ramdesh.com.