Service to Humanity or an Ambition to be a Great Man?

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Editor’s note: We feature a conversation of the Mother based on a statement of hers from a previous conversation dated 14 April 1929. In this, we hear the Mother speak candidly of how most ideas people have of serving the humanity are nothing but sign of personal ambition. She also enlightens us that the best way to serve the humanity is to offer oneself entirely, truly, most generously to the Divine.


“One of the commonest forms of ambition is the idea of service to humanity. All attachment to such service or work is a sign of personal ambition.”

~ The Mother, CWM, Vol. 3, p. 9

Disciple: Why do you say that this is ambition?

The Mother: Why do you want to serve humanity, what is your idea? It is ambition, it is in order to become a great man among men. It is difficult to understand?… I can see that!

Disciple: The Divine is everywhere. So if one serves humanity, one serves the Divine, isn’t that so?

The Mother: That’s marvellous! The clearest thing in this matter is to say: “The Divine is in me. If I serve myself, I am also serving the Divine!” (Laughter) In fact, the Divine is everywhere. The Divine will do His own work very well without you.

I see quite well that you do not understand. But truly, if you do understand that the Divine is there, in all things, with what are you meddling in serving humanity?

To serve humanity you must know better than the Divine what must be done for it. Do you know better than the Divine how to serve it?

The Divine is everywhere. Yes. Things don’t seem to be divine….

As for me, I see only one solution: if you want to help humanity, there is only one thing to do, it is to take yourself as completely as possible and offer yourself to the Divine. That is the solution. Because in this way, at least the material reality which you represent will be able to grow a little more like the Divine.

We are told that the Divine is in all things. Why don’t things change? Because the Divine does not get a response, everything does not respond to the Divine. One must search the depths of the consciousness to see this.

What do you want to do to serve humanity? Give food to the poor?—You can feed millions of them. That will not be a solution, this problem will remain the same. Give new and better living conditions to men?—The Divine is in them, how is it that things don’t change? The Divine must know better than you the condition of humanity.

What are you? You represent only a little bit of consciousness and a little bit of matter, it is that you call “myself”. If you want to help humanity, the world or the universe, the only thing to do is to give that little bit entirely to the Divine.

Why is the world not divine?… It is evident that the world is not in order.

So the only solution to the problem is to give what belongs to you. Give it totally, entirely to the Divine; not only for yourself but for humanity, for the universe. There is no better solution.

How do you want to help humanity? You don’t even know what it needs. Perhaps you know still less what power you are serving. How can you change anything without indeed having changed yourself?

In any case, you are not powerful enough to do it. How do you expect to help another if you do not have a higher consciousness than he? It is such a childish idea! It is children who say: “I am opening a boarding-house, I am going to build a crèche, give soup to the poor, preach this knowledge, spread this religion….”

It is only because you consider yourself better than others, think you know better than they what they should be or do. That’s what it is, serving humanity. You want to continue all that? It has not changed things much. It is not to help humanity that one opens a hospital or a school.

Also read:
The Mother on True and Sublime Charity

Disciple: All the same it has helped, hasn’t it? If all the schools were abolished…

The Mother: I don’t think that humanity is happier than it was before nor that there has been a great improvement. All this mostly gives you the feeling “I am something.” That’s what I call ambition.

If these very people who are ready to give money for schools were told that there was a divine Work to be done, that the Divine has decided to do it in this particular way, even if they are convinced that it is indeed the Divine’s Work, they refuse to give anything, for this is not a recognised form of beneficence—one doesn’t have the satisfaction of having done something good! This is what I call ambition.

I had instances of people who could give lakhs of rupees to open a hospital, for that gives them the satisfaction of doing something great, noble, generous. They glorify themselves, that’s what I call ambition.

I knew a humorist who used to say: “It won’t be so soon that the kingdom of God will come, for those poor philanthropists—what would remain for them? If humanity suffered no longer, the philanthropists would be without work.”

It is difficult to come out of that. However, it is a fact that never will the world come out of the state in which it is unless it gives itself up to the Divine.

All the virtues—you may glorify them—increase your self-satisfaction, that is, your ego; they do not help you truly to become aware of the Divine. It is the generous and wise people of this world who are the most difficult to convert. They are very satisfied with their life.

A poor fellow who has done all sorts of stupid things all his life feels immediately sorry and says: “I am nothing, can do nothing. Make of me what You want.” Such a one is more right and much closer to the Divine than one who is wise and full of his wisdom and vanity. He sees himself as he is.

The generous and wise man who has done much for humanity is too self-satisfied to have the least idea of changing.

It is usually these people who say: “If indeed I had created the world, I wouldn’t have made it like this, I would have created it much better than that”, and they try to set right what the Divine has done badly! According to their picture, all this is stupid and useless….

It is not with that attitude that you can belong to the Divine. There will always be between you and Him the conscious ego of one’s own intellectual superiority which judges the Divine and is sure of never being mistaken. For they are convinced that if they had made the world, they would not have committed all the stupidities that God has perpetrated. And all this comes from pride, vanity, self-conceit; and there is exactly the seed of that in people who want to serve humanity.

What are they going to give to humanity? Nothing at all! Even if they gave every drop of their blood, all the ideas in their head, all the money in their pocket, that could not change one individual, who is but a second of time in eternity. They believe they can serve eternity?

There are even beings higher than man who have come, have brought the light, given their life, and that has not changed things much. So how can a little man, a microscopic being, truly help? It is pride. The argument given is: “If everyone did his best, all would go well.” I don’t think so and, even, it is impossible.

In a certain way, each thing in the universe does its best. But that best doesn’t come to anything at all. Unless everything changes, nothing will change. It is this best that must change. In the place of ignorance must be born knowledge and power and consciousness, otherwise we shall always turn in a circle around the same stupidity.

You may open millions of hospitals, that will not prevent people getting ill. On the contrary, they will have every facility and encouragement to fall ill. We are steeped in ideas of this kind. This puts your conscience at rest: “I have come to the world, I must help others.” One tells oneself: “How disinterested I am! I am going to help humanity.” All this is nothing but egoism.

In fact, the first human being that concerns you is yourself. You want to diminish suffering, but unless you can change the capacity of suffering into a certitude of being happy, the world will not change. It will always be the same, we turn in a circle—one civilisation follows another, one catastrophe another; but the thing does not change, for there is something missing, something not there, that is the consciousness. That’s all.

At least, that’s my opinion. I am giving it to you for what it is worth. If you want to build hospitals, schools, you may do so; if that makes you happy, so much the better for you. It has not much importance. When I saw the film Monsieur Vincent, I was very interested. He found out that when he fed ten poor men, a thousand came along. That was what Colbert told him: “It seems you create them, your poor ones, by feeding them!” And it is not altogether false. However!

If it is your destiny to found schools and give instruction, to care for the sick, to open hospitals, it is good, do it. But you must not take that very seriously. It is something grandiose you are doing for your own pleasure. Say: “I am doing it because it gives me pleasure.” But do not speak of yoga. It is not yoga you are doing. You believe you are doing something great, that’s all, and it is for your personal satisfaction.

~ The Mother, CWM, Vol. 5, pp. 12-16


~ Design: Beloo Mehra

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