To serve or not to serve?

To serve others or to serve oneself? That is the rhetorical question.

For when one serves others they are also serving themselves in many ways. Each has their own motives and every selfless act begins with a selfish desire.

  • I want to help others because it makes me feel good.
  • It could be me in that situation.
  • I know how they feel as I’ve been there.
  • It’ll look good on a resume, college application, dating site, etc.
  • If the we really are one then I’m serving myself.
  • Let’s do something good for goodness sake (+1 ego, +1 karma, +1 brownie points)

Serving others feels good regardless of how you do it or why. Ask anyone who has donated to charity, run a race to raise money for a cure, gave food to the needy, built a house for others, read to a child, helped someone cross a road, etc. Acts of service are all around us when we start looking for them. And everyone has served someone intentionally or unintentionally. Even holding a door or saying, “bless you,” is a service.

The key to giving great service is to give 100% while expecting nothing in return, and remembering to take care of yourself. Often services are appreciated and sometimes they are not. Often gratitude is expressed, but sometimes not. Give and love others as a parent and their child, with all your heart. With no expectations for anything in return one receives happiness from the very act of charity or service that they are giving.

I’ve been serving in various capacities for a long time, but only very seriously since i quit my job in August of last year. Here’s a list of the most memorable ones since then.

  • Helping a friend of my sister’s remodel her house.
  • Escorting my sister’s car and training #BetteMidlerTheDog.
  • Building chicken castles, green roofs and various other projects at The Hof Hostel in Hauraz, Peru.
  • Helping my friend Pauline in her mom’s kitchen on terminal island near L.A.
  • Farming at One Island on The Big Island, HI.
  • Helping a friend Julie with her house in Hawaii.
  • Serving in vipassana retreats in Kaufman, TX; Onalaska, WA; and a temporary center in Vernonia, OR.

Despite the dwindling funds and uncertainty that comes with what I’ll do next I’ve never been happier. The reason I quit was to gather various skills, techniques, people, resources, and wisdom to start an intentional community / retreat that helps others evolve their consciousness. What i never expected to learn was that the simple act of service to others would be such a big part of that.

There are 3 types of wisdom:

  • Received wisdom
  • Intellectualized wisdom
  • Direct personal experience

Reading or hearing about doing good for others like this post one feels good. Thinking it over one realizes doing good for others is good for oneself. When one acts selflessly to help others they experience the happiness within themselves, thus gaining true wisdom.

Will serving others help increase ones own happiness? Absolutely!

Is there more one can do to multiply that happiness? Absolutely!

Know thyself. – Jesus the Buddha

This brings me to my latest service: vipassana retreats. These wonderful places are an island in this chaotic world of peace and clarity. They offer free 10 day retreats that teach laypeople how to seriously meditate and give them a tool which; when used correctly, will serve them for the rest of their lives. The reason I haven’t jumped into my next technique/skill yet is despite sitting only one 10 day retreat I already realize what an amazing technique this is, I’m getting to practice it with others serious about their own evolution, and by serving I’m living my dhamma/dharma. This technique is easy, universal, and able to be practiced anywhere anytime.

After this latest serve in Oregon is over I’ll be heading back to Arizona for a much needed break from all this travelling and to visit friends and family. Like I said you can’t serve others if you don’t serve yourself. After that I’m not sure in which capacity I’ll be serving or where, but I know that’s what I’ve got to continue to do. Changing the world doesn’t have to be by the millions like I thought when I was little. From what I’ve experienced every moment we use our lives to serve others counts.









Abstain from all unwholesome deeds, preform wholesome ones, purify your mind. – Gotama the Buddha