Act without expectation

Quietly helping others

It’s amazing, that ripple effect we have on others. This description was the closing remark in something that someone wrote and asked me to read over this weekend. It came across my desk in such a timely way, it’s hard not to feel like the universe was reaching out and thumping me on the head.

Three simple words that struck me as an incredibly profound sentiment; one that could only be used to describe the most humble of people, and the type of person I aspire to become. I think that helping people without the expectation of recognition or acknowledgement is the highest form of service we can offer each other.

Act without expectationI think we can all recognize quiet help when we see it. Quiet help is what we witness when we see a stranger helping another stranger, reach something on the high shelf at the supermarket. Quiet help is found in volunteerism. Quiet help can be found in financial donations, when there are few beans to ration, but they are rationed nonetheless. Quiet help is a kind word. Quiet help is where we find true happiness, it is the place we go to turn our positive energies outward. More than all of these, quiet help is giving of ourselves without expectation of something in return. I think this quote (Dao De Jing, Ch 77), speaks to this point (bold mine).

The Master can keep giving
because there is no end to her wealth.
She acts without expectation,
succeeds without taking credit,
and doesn’t think that she is better
than anyone else.
– Lao Tzu

The Dalai Lama is quoted for having said, “Being aware of a single shortcoming within yourself is far more useful than being aware of a thousand in someone else.” One of my shortcomings is not giving enough help to others. My excuse is I haven’t found as much opportunity to help others as much as I would like. Rather, I should say, not enough opportunity to extend my help has fallen conveniently into my lap, and so they’ve gone unfound. Part of my spiritual journey is to be mindful about this shortcoming, and to more actively seek out opportunities to give help, in the face of feeling unsure of myself, feeling awkward, fearing rejection, and recognizing that all the things that hold me back are the result of my own ego.

I am grateful, though, that this weekend one of those opportunities fell into my lap, and I lept at the chance to offer my help. As much as my ego wants to write all about how amazing I am, I will just say by getting involved in something and offering my help, I was inundated with a tremendous amount of energy, excitement and enthusiasm. This Sunday night, I am left feeling an overwhelming sense of contentment for having been able to quietly give of myself.