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Serve with Joy & Humility

The topic of my speech today was “service”, and I won the best speaker award. The following is a summary of the speech.

I have always been the type of person that would go out of my way to help others. Whether it may be repairing their computers, teaching them something, or even renovating their apartments. I would not help others because of any incentive, but simply because I enjoyed being of service.

A few years ago, after my eye surgeries, I felt like the tables had turned. I was no longer able to serve people; I was now on the receiving end of service. This situation tremendously hurt my ego, because I started to feel helpless and worthless. To make matters worse, people who would see me walking down the stairs with assistance would often ask if I was mentally challenged. This would pierce my heart like an arrow, and I would respond by saying, “No, I have low-vision, and by the way, I’m a network engineer”. I felt the need to justify myself by telling them about my successful career.

Fortunately, a few weeks later, an incident occurred that completely changed my perspective about being of service to others. One evening, once the elevator reached our floor, my mom assisted me to get on so that I would not trip on the step. There was an elderly man already in the elevator when we entered. He felt extremely sad when he looked at me, and asked my mom “What is wrong with this boy?”
I responded to him with a smile and said, “I have low-vision.”
I could feel the pain in his heart as he said to my mom again “but he is so young.”
We just smiled as the elevator continued to the ground floor, and my mom once again assisted me out of the elevator.

It was on that day that I realized one of my purposes in life – it’s to generate compassion within others. I would always feel offended when others would ask about my condition, or hold my hand while we walk. But today, I have realized that these individuals are not just doing me a favor, I’m also helping them by offering them an opportunity to serve. There have been many days during which it is bright enough for me to walk alone, but my friends or family members would still choose to hold my hand. Even when I would tell them that I’m fine walking, alone, they respond saying something like “why am I not allowed to hold you?” Sometimes there’s even a competition of who gets an opportunity to help me, from kids to elderly people.

It is the feeling of compassion that empowers a person to serve others. Compassion is a feeling of shared suffering for another form of life with the desire to alleviate that suffering. Compassion is often observed as a type of selfless service, generosity, or kindness.

Through my experience, I would like to emphasize that service is never a one-way street. If we serve others in some way, we are also receiving service in another form, whether it may be a sense of gratitude or a boost to our ego. Therefore, we must be humble when we are serving. We must remind ourselves that we are blessed to have the opportunity to serve others.

Similarly, if we are on the receiving end of service, we must also curb our pride. We must allow others to serve us. In addition, you may have noticed that many individuals who are on the receiving end of the service sometimes express a bitter or frustrated attitude. This is not because they do not appreciate the service they are receiving, it’s simply because they feel helpless in that situation and they do not know of any way to relieve that feeling. However, there is a way to calm this bitter and frustrated attitude. It is by practicing mindfulness such as meditation, which will enhance the person’s sense of gratitude as well as create inner peace and acceptance.

I invite you to start practicing compassion towards others, but most importantly towards yourself first. Simply observe your inner voice, is it critical or is it kind?

Compassionate individuals are those of us that have experienced our share of suffering, and feel empathy for others who are facing similar challenges. We realize that just like us, others are also seeking happiness and trying to avoid pain.

Finally, through compassion our hearts open and we experience oneness with all. The most elevated emotion radiated by the heart is compassion, and it benefits our health in addition to helping us develop spiritually.

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” – Tagore







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