Studying And Seva


I cannot do work anymore.

The late evenings, the interminable classes, the intolerable intolerances of the student body: it has all come to this point, this last push on my will to send it over the edge. It has become too hard for me to lose sleep over papers or books that I will never care about again. I do not want to sit through another class of angry, unmotivated people, waiting for the hour to pass from my waning life. The meetings where upstanding, contributing, servile students of the college express views of hatred, inequality, ignorance, malcontent, or show no interest in anything that isn’t directly related to their self-pity. All of this and more has pushed my energy to the limit, has exhausted me to the point of preparing to throw in the towel.

And by all rights, I should be justified in doing so. I am a second-semester senior. I have survived three-and-a-half years of all that ‘higher education’ and ‘experiential learning’ can throw my way. I know which parties are undesirable, what professors are the most fun, who studies where and at what times. I am in the middle of completing my magnum opus, the senior project that will catapult me into the halls of academic acclaim. I’ve been admitted to one of the top graduate programs in New York City, with a hefty fellowship to boot. At this point, I’m more concerned with life after college than college itself.

But this is not an admission of loss of energy or of laziness or of general malcontent with the state of affairs. This is a failure to understand my true purpose in being a college student.
God and Guru are Both so Gracious, They will accept even a leaf as an offering, with zero hesitation, as long as it is offered wholeheartedly with selfless love. We are incredibly blessed to know this, to have been told that whatever seva we can offer will be received, but we continue to fret over how much money to donate to this ashram, to that orphanage. Tangibility is of prime importance to us: we can feel money leaving us, can see the prasad we have cooked, can experience the strain in our backs after sweeping the temple floor, and it pleases us to know we have done work. But in our grand conceit of the moment, we fail to understand that the Divine doesn’t really care about what is physical and what isn’t.

It is admittedly more difficult to see studying as a form of seva. But in the long term, it can help. Studying helps pass classes, which help get the degree to get the job that can give you the ability to support the mission financially or help buy a ticket to India. In some cases, experience gained in the workforce or university can benefit the organization itself, with photography, publicizing or even management. All we have to do is change our perceptions of why we’re doing what we’re doing. Dealing with laborious late nights is all the more valuable when seen as a candlelight vigil, waiting for the arrival of the Beloved. The hour lost in class is regained, as time spent learning how to serve our Guru. Other people’s problems fall from our mind, as we lose ourselves in the beginnings of Bliss.

How can I be tired of working, of college, when the reason I’m here is God?

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