If there is one indicator of love, it is service. What exactly do we mean by service?
Love is a state of being. Most of us assume love to be a feeling that comes about in relationships. This is partially true. Love is experienced in relationships. But love is also experienced in art, in music, in nature, in just about any hobby that one resonates with. In fact, what we do is secondary, but who we are while doing these activities, is primary. This is why love always begins with who we are. It is an expression of one’s state of being, rather than the acquisition of an emotion from something or somebody.
When we are in love, we are comfortable being ourselves. It is not necessarily the high experienced in first-time relationships, although that too is a beautiful manifestation of love. But love is the connection to who we are. Our nature is pure openness, spontaneity and creativity. This, when expressed through our work or our relationships manifests as the warmth in feeling towards others or the activity we engage with. For instance, a pianist has to first totally be immersed in the music she plays in order to be able to convey those feelings as beauty in art to the listeners. If the pianist plays with the aim of gaining acceptance or appreciation – or in other words love – from the people, the music lacks vitality. It seems deeply inauthentic. We naturally gravitate towards those people who need nothing from us. This is why children, animals and indeed nature attract us so emphatically. Nature simply is, young children are simply happy, not trying to impress us in any way. Dogs too elicit the same emotion.
Therefore, when we revel in our own nature, this spreads a glow around us. Others naturally benefit from this; naturally attracted to our being. But this is not something one must aim for. This is a result of enjoying one’s own company, not a goal to strive towards. And when we connect to the innermost part of that which moves us, we find what we have been seeking – a deep joy, which is expressed through our work, hobbies and relationships.
This expression of oneself is service. We often think of service as something we have to do. The reasons for acting could be several – to gain good karma, to gain social brownie points, fear for an afterlife, or simply do it because it needs to be done. But these are again the wrong reasons to engage in service. Service is not something we do, it is that which naturally emerges from what we are. When we play music because we are moved by it, it moves the audience and therefore becomes a great service to them- to alleviate their suffering, inspire them and leave them peaceful.
Service, therefore, is a natural expression of being in a state of love. And that is a very valuable guide for all of us when entering relationships, jobs and making friends. Often we get swept away by the initial excitement of new friends and relationships. But the mark of true love is how much the other serves you. Not that we need serving in any way. Not that we are incomplete in any way. But as an indicator of their own personal state of being. A balanced relationship is one where each one has the capacity to enjoy one’s own company. And therefore, bringing joy to the other as creativity, engagement, and enthusiasm. All signs of love.
Narcissistic people cannot serve others and therefore cannot love. They are always placing demands on others to meet their own needs. They cannot be blamed. One must pity them. For they do not see the wealth within themselves. When one cannot find love within oneself, one simply cannot share it with anybody. Therefore, see how much the other invests in you. That is usually the best indicator of whether the relationship is worth pursuing or not.