THERE is no sudden miracle where all of your negative characteristics just drop away. It is a misconception that if you meditate eight hours a day like the yogis all your shortcomings will disappear. They won’t. We have to work on ourselves. God will not do it for us. No true teacher will do it for you. You must take responsibility for yourself. You are the doer of the wrong actions in the past, so you are also the one who can undo them.

It is my prayer that you all have the courage, the determination and the persistence to undo your self-made prisons. Awareness is the key. Recognize the key. Find the door, put the key in the lock and open the door. Courageously step into that new freedom.

In his farewell address to me when I leftIndia, Swami Sivananda said, “Don’t worry about the absolute and the ultimate. Selfless service alone will make you divine.”

Selfless service means doing work without self-gratification, not just because you like it. You work without waiting for approval, without praise. You do the work that needs to be done simply because it needs to be done, putting high quality into your efforts and expecting nothing in return. Even my words imply it is difficult, but if you can do it you will grow very strong inwardly. Selfless service brings very good results.

Besides making a living, everybody should do some kind of selfless service. There’s no limit to the opportunities. Even if you are in an office from 9 to 5, when you hear the siren of a fire truck or an ambulance, you can think “Om Namah Sivaya” or repeat the Lord’s Prayer – it doesn’t really matter which – for anybody who is in danger and for whatever help they may need. It takes only a minute and then you can continue your work. The problem is that we are so wrapped up in ourselves that when we hear a siren we think, “What a disturbing noise!” But we have the power of choice. We can choose to send a blessing. Cultivating concern is a very important thing. It helps to counteract all the criticism that we usually generate.

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