The most selfless person is the most selfish one because they don’t want to disturb their peace. In the beginning of your Yoga practice, you try to stay away from all the situations that would interfere with your goal. There is some selfishness in that. But by being selfish in that particular way, you will eventually acquire a totally peaceful state of mind. And then, even without your knowing it, you become a completely selfless person—a person whose thoughts and actions are useful to others.

You don’t even need to serve anybody because nobody needs your service. If you serve others, it’s for your sake, for your spiritual growth. Others are really giving you an opportunity to clean up your ego. That’s why I explain to people who come to the Ashram, “You may think that you are serving the Ashram, but you are working on yourself.”

The world gives you an opportunity to learn, to grow. You are being given an opportunity to expand and to experience your inner tranquility. Having a partner can also be an opportunity for growth. Often we see people getting into relationships because of a physical attraction, which is only fleeting. The lasting relationship is a relationship between two people who come together for a spiritual purpose. Then each becomes a Divine mate.

If the purpose is for something different, then you only have a comfortable mate, a mate to give support, to take care of you, or to have a child with. This is fine but it can also become a relationship of business mates. You are giving something to get something. So it’s you who make the relationship a spiritual partnership or not, according to your approach.

Simply because a partner says, “I love you,” and you say, “I love you too,” you think God has brought you a divine mate. One has to reflect: Do, I really want to be with this person for a divine purpose? And a divine purpose means that you both want to experience permanent peace, which requires that you to clean your egos. Permanent peace can only be achieved by removing selfishness and self-centeredness. But if you depend solely on give and take—I do this for you so you will do this for me, then that is a business partnership. In a divine relationship, each of you has been given somebody to serve with pure love and selflessness. Marriage gives you an opportunity to give, give, give. You dedicate your life for the sake of at least one person to begin with. But don’t stop with that one person.

Until you found a partner you might have been living a very selfish life. Whatever you earned you spent on yourself. But the minute you are given a partner, then you have to buy for two. You begin to share and care.  Sharing and caring is only the first step. If you really want to make it a divine partnership, dedicate all you do to the partner. Ideally, both individuals should feel the same way. Each person should feel their main purpose is to serve their partner. It is that attitude that makes you a true spiritual partner.

That type of relationship means total giving. One should think, I see the divine in you and I give myself completely to you, whether you give back to me or not. Instead, if you are giving to get back that is just doing business. Real love is not business; it is one-way traffic—you just give, give, and give. That is when a relationship offers you the ultimate growth opportunity. And that is what you call living a truly selfless or divine life.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda