In our daily life, we find volunteers everywhere. Perhaps we would have missed identifying or just observing them. To recollect some real-life examples: the youngster who helps to carry the grocery bags or the one who assists to climb the stairs. The one who got out the vehicle to untangle traffic or stops behind the car to provide road-side assistance, in banks helping to fill out a form or just simply lending a pen at the post-office? These are moments wherein individuals momentarily rise to occasions, just to help. On the other hand, we also find volunteers who regularly put in their time and effort towards causes they support, ones that are close to their hearts, their beliefs. Tree plantation drives, public places cleaning, directing the queues in places of worship, the folks who cook or serve in old-age homes…..and there are many more such examples.
So, what is the idea behind volunteering? Why should one do it? And what are the qualities one ought to possess to volunteer? Here are some thoughts centred around it.
Generally accepted and a simple definition of volunteerism is the practice of working for a social cause without having any monetary expectations whatsoever. But for many of those who volunteer regularly, it is also about the cause. More often, a volunteer’s journey begins with a cause for which one is truly committed. It’s a deep-seated conviction, strung from the heart. It is also a view that occasionally an inner urge to transform initiates the idea to volunteer. Mahatma Gandhi had put it beautifully. He said, ‘The best way to find yourself is to loose yourself in the service of others’. Isn’t it the case that something which is self-initiated and self-propelled is bound to last beyond the lure of immediate incentives and the novelty of doing something new? Shri Aurobindo has said ‘The joy of service and the joy of inner growth through work is the sufficient recompense of the selfless worker’. It is important here to underline the idea of selflessness. In his writings on the Bagavad Gita (The Song of the Lord), Shri Vinobha Bhave provides us with the idea of feelings in the heart behind every action stating that otherwise even nursing the sick can be a dreary affair.
As a part-time volunteer myself, some of the learnings and thoughts for my fellow partners. The list below isn’t comprehensive, neither does it carry any chronological significance.
- A volunteer commits to work with an intent to learn and transform oneself. Attitudes, prejudices could be overcome during the process of volunteering.
- Volunteers would get tested under different circumstances. In all cases, service should always get precedence, so much so that one would be expected to rise above their personal inconveniences.
- Serving all with love, favoring none, confront none and acceptance of deficiencies is a part of the learning process of a volunteer.
- Volunteers would go the extra mile when in service. Empathy and respect for others are ideals cherished by a volunteer.
- ‘Anonymity in service’ an idea provided by *Daaji is the foundation of a volunteer’s character. No medals, no recognition – just the intent to serve ad serve heartily.
Would it be much in asking?
We often hear, there is joy in giving. I can tell you, there exists a possibility to bring about inner-change through volunteering. And what would the change be? Evenness in temperament, being calm & composed in adverse circumstances and development of large-heartedness are some of the changes one can experience in a short span of time. In the Bagavad Gita (The Song of the Lord), Lord Krishna says; ‘Work is the means for purification of the mind’. And service rendered in devotion and without expectations has the ability to soar the spirits. To all our fellow volunteers, may we work harder and work heartfully. And to all who are considering to volunteer, well, it is always good to start. It is worth a try.