January 22, 2014.
When performing any kind of service—whether paid or volunteer—genuine love and care for those we serve makes all the difference in the quality of service, the effect on the people being served, and the effect on our own hearts.
It is very difficult to separate the hand of service from the loving heart. They seem to harmonize with each other perfectly. We can compensate the lack of skill in doing a service with a generous amount of love. We can also balance the absence of total love with dedicated service.
This is very much the challenge for our modern time. For instance, some believe that it is not necessary for a doctor to love the patient as long as she or he has great skill. We are now learning that both the skill and the love are very important. If someone really cares about you and wants you to get well, the chances are greater for that to happen.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, also seemed to believe this. When new doctors are ready to embark on their chosen service at the end of their medical education, they must repeat the Hippocratic oath. Its essence is: “Above all else do no harm”—to do no harm to body, mind, and spirit. My suggestion to doctors and all of us in the healing profession is to start out each day by repeating this oath. That way the oath is a constant daily reminder that no matter what we do, “above all else, do no harm.”
I was visiting a hospital in southern India. It was early in the morning and the staff was about to change from the night to the day shift. I discovered that, before seeing the patients each day, they gathered together to say a prayer for the welfare of all. They alternated saying a prayer, each in her or his own tradition, for that day.
After the prayer, the team recited in unison, “Please, Lord, with all I must do today allow me to bring some relief of suffering. If I am not able to relieve suffering, at least let me not be the cause of any suffering.”
By adding generous amounts of bhakti, devotion, and love to our service, miracles can happen.