RICHLAND -- While traveling around the globe, especially in the U.S., one usually passes by diverse religious houses of worship.
In the Tri-Cities, there are approximately 200.
These institutions of worship generally range in denomination, faith and different religious disciplines of the world. Many of these places display informational signs including various worship and service features. Though the delivery of God's scriptural commandments in these sanctuaries may be different, it is presumed and understood that they teach their devotees some form of divine attributes.
One of these commandments is usually about the benefits of service and how this service can bring one closer to God.
Speaking from personal experience, my understanding of this level of service can be misinterpreted by some. In order to help me comprehend it, I consult and search for answers in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), the holy book of the Sikh religion.
By understanding the teachings therein, one can visualize that there are basically two types of service: outer service and inner service.
Outer service -- the most common -- is visible, easy and materialistic. Inner service, also known as self-service, is invisible and most difficult because it serves the mind.
Outer service does not provide any spiritual benefit by itself. However, if it is coupled with inner service, outer service may provide benefits.
Inner service brings spiritual enlightenment, which helps one achieve the purpose of life; merger of the mind and soul with its originator, the omnipresent God. This merger process also is known as salvation. Therefore, inner service is what religious scriptures repeatedly allude to in their respective verses.
Outer service, on the other hand, basically means to dutifully serve others to gain personal satisfaction, earn recognition and appreciation. Those who perform this type of outer service only,may develop negative attributes such as ego and greed, which may keep them away from God.
However, in order to become closer to God, one has to perform inner service in addition to outer service as suggested in SGGS, "Those who do not self serve themselves by understanding God's commandments (embodied in the scripture), they cannot attain inner knowledge thus remain devoid of spiritual aspect of life" (SGGS: 88).
Inner service, as the word implies, is service of the invisible mind through understanding and practicing the teachings of the scriptures. It means self-serving. It is easier said than done and one has to do it himself; no one else can do it for him.
That's what the religious teaching is all about-- inner service and inner enlightenment. Without self-enlightenment, one cannot be fully content or cannot fulfill the purpose of his or her life.
Hopefully, we can all educate ourselves from our respective scriptures. Then, we can attain the most benefit from the real meaning of service as it is enshrined in them.
Service performed with understanding and by practicing the teaching of verses embedded in one's scriptures will bring rewarding fruits in life.
* Tarlok Singh Hundal of Richland is a Sewadar of the Sikh Gurdwara of Tri-Cities.
-- Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.