Question: How should one go about helping others?

Sri Chinmoy: If someone is insincere, if he is just showing off in the name of philanthropy, if he is not helping people devotedly, if he feels that it is his own ego that is compelling him to help people, then this is not loving service. You can serve someone with devotion or you can do something for someone because you want to feed your ego. You can give money to a needy person to please God; and again, you can give money to someone to boost your own ego.

To help others in order to feed your own ego is useless. You have to know that it is a serious mistake, and that it will delay your own progress. So the best thing is to see if you are getting an inner command to help others. If you feel that you do have an inner command to work in this way, then the next thing on your part is to do it devotedly. You should be grateful to the Inner Pilot for authorising you to serve Him in this way. But if you are not getting a command from an inner, higher source, then you have to know that your actions are being motivated by your ego: In that case, you should stop.

So when one wishes to help others, he must first determine the reason for this wish. Is it ego-motivated or is it the soul's wish? If the seeker is sincere, but he does not have a spiritual Master, he may receive divine guidance by going deep within through meditation. On the other hand, if he has established a real inner oneness with the consciousness of a spiritual Master, the Master will advise the aspirant and also take on the responsibility for the disciple's action.

The timing of each action is also significant. If it is God's Will that the person seeking help should receive aid at that time, and through that particular aspirant, then the aspirant will be guided to do so, either through his own meditation, or by his spiritual Master. The Master will say what action is required and accept the responsibility for it. However, if the aspirant undertakes some action on his own, and if it is not God's Will that the recipient be helped in this way or at this time, then this act is contrary to the highest good of both the recipient and the aspirant. In this case, the aspirant must now bear the responsibility for any wrong action.