Serving others


Paramahansa Yogananda

Life should be chiefly service. Without that ideal, the intelligence that God has given you is not reaching out toward its goal.
~ Sri Paramahansa Yogananda


This page contains resources that would help parents in inculcating the habit of ‘Serving others’ in their children.
Age group: 4 to 12 years old

TIP 1: Like in SRF YSS camps, while using these resources with your child, make ‘Serving others’ as the theme for 2 weeks. Talk about and work on only this quality with him during this period. This will help him grasp and apply this quality in his own life.

TIP 2: Daya Mataji tells us that “Children are imitators” so be a role model and try to make all the family members to participate actively in developing this quality.

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Whispers from Eternity

Divine Mother, teach me to love others and to serve them. I want my friends to keep their promises to me, so help me always to be true to my own word.
May I make my parents happy, my teachers happy, and my playmates happy. I will find my happiness in their joy.

TIP: Meditation instructions from Metaphysical Meditations:
“With the attention fixed at this centre of calmness and concentration [spiritual eye], practise the meditation you have chosen. Audibly or mentally repeat the words slowly, concentrating on them intently until you become absorbed in the inner meaning.”

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Metaphysical Meditations

I will feel for others as I feel for myself.

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Metaphysical Meditations

I will radiate love and goodwill to others, that I may open a channel for God’s love to come to all.

To know how to practice affirmations, read the later part of this page

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

East-West magazine, April, 1932

I will feel for others as I feel for myself

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

East-West magazine, April, 1932

Today I will do something for somebody. Today I will give something to a Hungry man.

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

East-West magazine, April, 1932

I will seek to make others truly happy, as I try to make myself divinely happy.

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Where There is Light

Beginning with the early dawn, I will radiate my cheer to everyone I meet today. I will be the mental sunshine for all who cross my path this day.

TIP: While telling these stories point out the serviceful acts of the leading character.

Yogananda gives $250 to a stranger
A story told by Brother Bhaktananda in Convocation, 2002
Mukunda's mother gives money to a woman
From "Autobiography of a Yogi", Chapter 1
Mukunda gives away his blanket
Mukunda gives away his blanket and clothes to a needy man.
Yogananda takes on Karma of His devotees
From a book by Leo Cocks, a direct disciple of Yogananda
Hermit and the Scorpion (From SRF YSS magazine)
A Hermit saves a scorpion even though he gets stung repeatedly.

Patricia Evertz, an Educational Psychologist who has served in SRF YSS Sunday School programs for more than 30 years, says in the SRF YSS Magazine:

“As children develop their interior lives, it is essential that they learn to serve others. Children can serve the family with simple duties appropriate to their ages, such as making their beds and helping with the dishes. Allow them to experience the inner feeling of satisfaction that comes in giving to others, without being paid for their efforts. In addition, children can be taught to do secret deeds for others; finding hidden ways to help someone can be fun and rewarding.
As they get older, it is also important that children learn to serve others outside the family in their neighbourhoods and community. Reaching out to neighbours by helping them find a lost pet or making cookies for a new family in the neighbourhood are small but significant steps in learning to think of others. Sharing toys, clothes, and food with those less fortunate are also ways to expand a child’s awareness of the needs of others.

Hermit and Scorpion

Sponsor education of a poor child to make your child understand that we must take care of those outside the circle of our family and friends.

Volunteer

Hermit and Scorpion

This activity is taken from this article

Find age-appropriate ways to introduce your child to volunteering, such as visiting a nursing home and sharing a craft activity with a resident, serving a meal at a homeless shelter, helping to organize a canned food drive, collecting coats to donate to needy children, or even participating in a charity walk for a specific cause. These activities are at once meaningful and fun, which makes them especially effective in getting kids to routinely think compassionately about the needs of others.

Serve food to the needy

Serving food to homeless

Visit a temple or a place where food can be served to the needy.
Tell children about how those people live and the facilities which we have but they don’t.

Donate books

Donate books that your child no longer uses to a charitable school, a church, or someone needy.

Humanitarian work

A child may also be told that there are many humanitarian organizations in the world that work for needy without any personal benefit. For ex: SRF YSS serves others by disseminating the teachings and guiding the disciples. They also do charitable work, like helping the poor, running hospitals and providing financial support to needy students.

Coloring activities

You can download these coloring pages and print them.

A child praying for others

A child praying for others

Download PDF


A child donating old clothes to the poor

A child donating old clothes to the poor

Download PDF

When someone helped you

Tell your kids about a time when you were short of money, or in need in some other way, and someone helped you.

Sri Daya Mata

Whispers from Eternity

In my own Childhood, at a very early age we children learned to pray at our mother’s knee. It was part of getting ready for bed. We knelt around her, said a short prayer, and then prayed for the different members of the family. It was so sweet. We were never forced to do it. A child who is taught to pray loves it. By the time I was seventeen and came into Self-Realization Fellowship, I was so busy praying for others that my prayer at night seemed never-ending—there were so many to add to the list. Praying for others teaches one to feel for others. Children should be taught to be caring and unselfish.

TIP: When you tell stories and show videos, lovingly explain and discuss these with children. Encourage them to memorize a few.

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

SRF website

As the vital rays of the sun nurture all, so should you spread rays of hope in the hearts of the poor and forsaken, kindle courage in the hearts of the despondent, and light a new strength in the hearts of those who think that they are failures.

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

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Whatever you do, you must do cheerfully for the service of all, and be very ambitious in well-doing.

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Divine Romance

“Happiness lies in making others happy, in forsaking self-interest to bring joy to others.”

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Where There is Light

“Giving happiness to others is tremendously important to our own happiness, and a most satisfying experience. Some people think only of their own family: “Us four and no more.” Others think only of self: “How am I going to be happy?” But these are the very persons who do not become happy!”

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Where There is Light

“To live for self is the source of all misery.”

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Where There is Light

“In being of spiritual, mental, and material service to others, you will find your own needs fulfilled. As you forget self in service to others, you will find that, without seeking it, your own cup of happiness will be full.”

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Where There is Light

“When you came into this world, you cried and everyone else smiled. You should so live your life that when you leave, everyone else will cry, but you will be smiling.”

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

The Master said

Talking about the close relationship between humility and true greatness the Master said, “The greatest man is the one who is the least, and the servant of all. The real leader is that one who has learned to follow and who doesn’t idolize his job as leader. Those who want praise and approval from the people don’t deserve our admiration, but he who serves all has a right to sit on the throne of our hearts. Isn’t God the servant of all His children, and does He beg praise? No. He is too great to be moved by it.”

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Man’s Eternal Quest

Work of any kind, if done in the right spirit, gives you victory over yourself. You may clean bathrooms, but if you do it with the thought of serving and helping people, you are showing the right spirit of a man of God. The attitude with which you work is what counts. Mental laziness and working unwillingly spoil one. People often ask me, “How do you do so many things?” It is because I do everything with the greatest pleasure and spirit of service. Inwardly I am all the time with God. And though I sleep very little I always feel fresh, because I perform my duties with the right attitude: that it is a privilege to serve.

TIP: Simply letting your child watch these videos won’t help much. Watch only one video at a time and discuss.

Duration: 9 min

Duration: 3.05 min

Duration: 0.56 min

Duration: 3.05 min

Duration: 1.34 min

Duration: 5.46 min

Duration: 1.39 min


Ramayana for Children by Sudha Gupta

Excellent

Ramayana for Children by Sudha Gupta

Ramayana is a Hindu epic which is full of examples of serving others and sacrificing for them. It talks about a son’s sacrifice for his father, a wife’s sacrifice for her husband, a brother’s sacrifice for his brother, a devotee’s sacrifice for his master and a lot more.

The Ramayana is retold here for children with many beautiful illustrations. It is the most beautifully illustrated Ramayana we came across.

To buy: Find it on Amazon India or just Google it.


Pictorial Ramayana

Good

Pictorial Ramayana

Published by Ramakrishna mission, the Ramayana is retold here for children with many rich colour drawings. A delightful story to read to young children and kids.
Buying options: Buy it online from an Indian store, US store or from Amazon (if available). Try finding a store in your own country.

Know more


Stories for Children by Swami Vivekananda


Stories for Children by Swami Vivekananda

Published by Ramakrishna mission, it consists of deeply touching stories told by Swami Vivekananda on self-sacrifice, selflessness, patience and devotion.
Buying options: Buy it online from an Indian store , US store or from Amazon (if available). Try finding a store in your own country.

Know more


Tales from Vivekananda


Tales from Vivekananda

Published by Ramakrishna mission, this is an adaptation of a few stories narrated by Swami Vivekananda to his audiences. They introduce children to deep spiritual topics like serving others, cosmic delusion (maya), and desires.
Buying options: Buy it online from an Indian store, US store or from Amazon (if available). Try finding a store in your own country.

Know more

Here is some guidance on helping your child to inculcate the quality of ‘Serving others’.

Sri Daya Mata

The Skilled Profession of Child-Rearing

The best chance for success in raising children is if the parents themselves set the right standards by their own example.

Sri Daya Mata

The Skilled Profession of Child-Rearing

Take time to talk with your children. Answer their questions and explain your guidance to them in language they can understand. You cannot just say, “Don’t do it.” You have to reason with the child in a way that will get him to listen. One learns by listening, even if one does not agree with everything that is said. Encourage the child in willingness to listen. Constructive words will remain etched in his consciousness. He may be grateful for them when one day he himself becomes a parent.

Brother Anandamoy

YSS Magazine, Apr-June, 2001

To be most effective, spiritual study should go hand-in-hand with introspection, self-analysis. Introspection lets us observe how successful we are in incorporating into our behavior and attitude the truths we have been reading about.

Sri Daya Mata

From the Booklet: “The Skilled Profession of Child-Rearing”

It is very important that parents understand the child’s point of view, that they always try to see things as the child sees them. Then the parents can better help the child to see the matter correctly and in the right perspective.

Sri Daya Mata

The Skilled Profession of Child-Rearing

If you give a child an assignment, see that he fulfills it. If you tell him to pick up his clothes and put them on a chair at night, insist that he does as you have said. Do not spank the child, but insist. Once good habits have been formed, the child will automatically do what is right. Young ones will do what is asked of them if they feel they are helping, contributing. Make them feel they are sharing. Give praise and encouragement; make them want to do it. Be sure that the responsibility is not greater than the capacity of the child. And when he does his best, give a reward; if he does not, no reward. That is not necessarily the best practice; it is better that the child obey out of instinctive good behavior, but unfortunately, in most cases a reward seems to help a little! When I was a child, we did not receive rewards, other than the appreciation of our parents for a job well done. We all had our duties, and we knew we were expected to do them properly. If, for example, we had wiped the dinner dishes and the glasses were not spotless, we had to get out of bed and come down to wash them over. I am grateful for that discipline.

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