I am currently writing a book with the working title Ananda Seva, about the power of selfless service and how it can help dissolve the ego. Paramhansa Yogananda taught a path to liberation that combines both meditation and service. There is a wealth of resources to train and support aspirants in meditation: teachers, books, courses, meditation centers, websites, and apps. But even though most people spend much more time in outward activity than they do in meditation, very little is available that focuses on service as a spiritual practice. Even a little training in right attitudes and practices can turn our activity into a true spiritual path.

Can selfless service truly be a pathway to enlightenment? Swami Kriyananda told us this story: A young man came to an ashram to receive training from a guru. The guru assigned him the job of collecting wood for the cooking fires. Day after day, the youth continued his task, his whole focus on his job, unaware of the passage of time. One day, as he returned to the ashram, a tuft of his hair got caught between two sticks of wood, and he saw that his hair had turned completely white. He was stunned to realize that he was now an old man. A great sadness overwhelmed him. His whole life, he felt, had been wasted—he’d never even studied with his guru. Thinking these thoughts, he began to cry.

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