Have you thought of doing more for others and the world? Do you feel you have received much in your life and you now want to give back? How do you see yourself as a channel for good in the world?
Here are three steps you can follow to be a channel for good in the world. The first step involves listing your blessings and the contributions of others towards the successes in your life. The second step is expressing gratitude for what you have. And the last step is identifying as a member of the cosmic family and serving as a channel for good in the world.
To be a channel for good in the world, start by listing your blessings and the contributions of others
You and I are tiny specks in this vast and limitless cosmos. Our bodies, minds, senses, and abilities all come from it. Without it, we can’t exist. And yet, we forget how much we owe to this cosmos and develop a sense of vanity in our accomplishments.
Recently, I heard a spiritual teacher illustrate this idea by using the example of a red blood cell. Red blood cells have an important part to play in the health and life of a living being. They transport oxygen from the lungs to the various organs and tissues of the body and carry carbon dioxide back to the lungs for elimination. They support growth, energy production, metabolism, and reproduction.
Now imagine a red blood cell that develops an ego and thinks, “Look at me. I do so much for the body. There’s no one as good as me.”
This cell is merely a microscopic part of the larger body. If the cell was to be removed from the whole, it would quickly die. Yet, it forgets its place in the grand scheme of things and has the audacity to think in this way.
Similarly, we take many things for granted and attribute our successes and abilities to ourselves. We often feel we’ve done the work and others have little or no part to play in our lives. “I did it!” we say.
Think back to something you accomplished that you are proud of. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the centre, making two columns.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you are driving your car with a friend in a busy market street filled with honking cars, pedestrians, and cyclists. Suddenly, a cyclist crosses the street right in front of you. With full alertness and skill, you veer your car away from the cyclist and stop your vehicle. “You’re a great driver!” your relieved friend exclaims. You thank her, feeling very proud of yourself.
How did you get the skill and wherewithal to do what you did? On the left column on your paper write down what you think. You could write, “I took more than 30 hours of driving lessons and passed my test with flying colours. I had the best driving instructor. I started driving when I was 17 and have many years of driving experience now. I’m cautious and have good instincts.”
Now, in the column on the right side, write down all the people and things that contributed to your skill in driving. You may write, “My driving instructor taught me practical skills that the regular classes didn’t teach. I was living with my parents who supported and encouraged me. Having my parents’ support enabled me to use the salary from my part-time work as a maths tutor to pay for the driving lessons. I had great maths teachers who nurtured my love for maths.”
So, your maths teachers nurtured your love and ability in maths. You used that skill to tutor others in maths. Your parents gave you a safe place to live where you had food to eat, clothes to wear, and a roof over your head as you were growing up and also when you were learning how to drive. You had a fabulous driving instructor who took a special interest in you.
The list on the right side doesn’t end here. What about the natural gifts that enabled your skill? Natural gifts, you ask? Yes, the abundant air, water, and food that the cosmos provides you with that sustains your life. What about your healthy body, brain, hands, legs, arms, and senses like the eyes and ears? The fact that you said you have good driving instincts . . . didn’t you already have instincts and only fine-tuned them over the years?
Did you have any part to play in procuring these gifts? Could you have even gotten behind the wheel of a car without them? These natural gifts along with the support and love of people around you enabled you to drive skillfully that day. You owe your ability to having these in place in your life. What you did built on the foundation of these blessings. Without them we wouldn’t be able to achieve anything in life.
Being aware of our great blessings makes us feel that what we have received in life is far more than what we can ever give back to the world.
To be a channel for good in the world, practice gratitude
If we have sincerely reflected on our blessings, feelings of gratitude arise within us. Gratitude is a stream of thankfulness and appreciation for what we have.
Gratitude is appreciating all the small and big things that support you and make your life easier. It could be saying thank you for the shoes that protect your feet, the spectacles that enable you to see clearly, running water ready to drink from your tap, the paved roads that enable you to drive safely and so on.
Gratitude uplifts the mind and opens the heart. It brings you a feeling of abundance and joy. This then attracts more blessings into your life because when you focus on what you have, what you have grows. On the other hand, when you focus on what’s missing and complain about it, you experience more lack and stress.
Open your heart in gratitude for the great blessings in your life. Then allow those feelings of gratitude and joy to give rise to a desire to be a channel for good in the world.
To be a channel for good in the world, be willing to serve as a member of the cosmic family
When you become aware of your blessings and feel grateful for them, you naturally want to do something in return. You see yourself as a member of the cosmic family and look for ways you can be a channel for good in the world.
We all have certain duties and responsibilities to the world from which we have gained so much.
Firstly, we are indebted to Mother Earth and her creatures. As the most evolved species on the planet, we are the custodians of its natural resources and creatures.
We can stop polluting the earth, the water, and the air. We can use less, re-use, recycle, donate, or share what we have.
Also, what we eat makes a big impact on the earth. We can make healthy and ethical choices in what we consume. By cutting back on our consumption of meat, chicken, and fish and going vegan even for a day or two every week can go a long way in helping to reduce greenhouse gases, revitalize grasslands and ecosystems. Beef production contributes greatly to deforestation. Sadhu Vaswani, a modern-day saint once said that animals are our younger brothers and sisters. We must take care of them and their habitats.
Secondly, we must look to our communities and families to be channels for good.
The conveniences we enjoy every day and rarely think about have come from people who have sacrificed their time and energy. Think about all the tools, appliances, furniture, and gadgets in your home. Think about the roads, the pavements, the bridges, and street lighting in your community. This is just a small list.
Just as others have made our lives easier and more comfortable through their efforts, we too must think about sharing our time, energy, and skills with others. It is our duty to take care of people who need help. Giving to worthy causes that help to uplift members of the community who do not enjoy the same comforts and conveniences is an important part of being a channel for good in the world. Every small act of kindness contributes to a better life for all.
Also, we mustn’t forget our elders and parents who sacrificed a great deal to raise us, feed us, clothe us and keep us safe. They were our first teachers in life. We owe them a great debt for the love and sacrifices they made that helped us be who we are today. Being a channel for good in the world includes caring for our parents when they grow old and are in need of help.
Multi-generational families are great blessings to the community and younger generation. There is much to learn and grow from each other. When the elders are taken care of well, the community flourishes.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give
We are all members of one big cosmic family. Our lives are not meant only for ourselves. Our gifts are meant to be shared with others.
The urge to be a channel for good in the world comes from living life with awareness of, and being grateful for, the innumerable blessings you enjoy. You stop looking to get and start thinking about giving back. “How can I serve?” is now your focus.
Kahlil Gibran once said, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
When you think and live in this way, you become a channel for good in the world.
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