Selfless service is the best way to show that we love people. Love means doing something for the benefit of another; something that would make them live a healthy, happy, peaceful, and useful life. That is love. Love means serving others. When you are able to relieve somebody else’s pain, even at the cost of your own pain, you are showing love. Sometimes, by serving them, they may feel temporarily hurt. But if the temporary hurt is necessary for them to experience the great benefit that will come afterwards, and if your intentions are good, this may be the only way to serve them well.

When a doctor operates, at first it hurts the patient. But the doctor has a good motive and knows that the temporary hurt will relieve the permanent hurt. That is what we call love, and that is what a yogic life really is. We should always take care of others, and others means anything or anyone that is outside of you. Anything that is separate from you is other. What does this really mean? Isn’t your body separate from the real you? So, you should serve your own body also. When we say to serve everybody, that includes own our body and mind.

We need to care of both the body and mind of everyone. After eating a few pieces of chocolate, your mind may be very happy. But if you eat too much, it might feel terrible. If you love your body, if you are serving it, you won’t overeat. You won’t put all kinds of unhealthy things into it. The same is true of your mind. You should love your mind and that means you have to feed your mind with positive thoughts, not negative ideas. If you love your mind, you should not allow it to run around picking up all kinds of unhealthy thoughts.

When you love something, you would want to keep it in good condition. We all love a puppy if it listens and obeys. If you say sit, it should sit. But if you say sit, and if jumps all around, it’s not conditioned or trained well. Likewise, your mind should be trained to listen, to obey your commands. You are truly loving your mind when it has been trained to listen to you, and you are loving your body when it remains healthy. That’s the reason why we have the proverb that says: “Charity begins at home.” It means, that more than anything else, you love your own self.

When you love something, you keep it somewhere special, so that it stays beautiful and so that you can admire it. You won’t just throw it here and there. So, if you love yourself, you will never allow yourself to be thrown here and there either. That’s what happens when you identify with something that you are not. In other words, don’t identify with the body or the mind. Instead, remember that you have a body and a mind, but you are the ever peaceful, unchanging Self. If you really love and want to serve everybody, you must first realize your Self. You should not have any wrong identifications. The minute you think that you are the body, you have misplaced yourself because you have brought it to a very low level. You have brought that never changing principle into an ever-changing body.

So you see, love extends into every area of your life—your own mind, your own body, and all things outside, all people outside. That’s why a person who wants to lead a good life should be vigilant every minute of the day; not that we practice Yoga only during certain times, and other times we are different. That’s the reason I always ask you to be conscious of whatever you say and do. When you greet people, when you talk to people over the phone, always be nice and show that you are a disciplined yogi. Be different from the ordinary person who would be less aware of what they say and do, and how it affects others as well as themselves. Spiritual life is not a normal life, it is an abnormal life—a life with the consciousness of the spirit that is within everything. That consciousness should permeate into every area of your daily life, including how you look, how you dress, and the condition of your room. It should be present as you work, speak, and eat. Otherwise, it’s not possible to live a clean, yogic life. Our daily life needs to be a constant meditation on these things. If your Yoga is limited only within the four walls of your meditation room, but not everywhere else, then your idea about Yoga is very narrow. It should expand; it should embrace every aspect of your life. Then you are always expressing your love.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda