Be the Cause

Washing Dishes as Seva

Serving at the Seva Café last weekend was an opportunity and a privilege. Usually when I volunteer, it is for an expected end goal such as cleaning up a neighborhood or helping the underserved. However, prior to coming in on Saturday, I knew serving at the Seva Café, was about serving simply to serve. For this reason, I knew serving at the Seva Café would be an interesting and exciting experience……and it didn’t disappoint.

My role on Saturday was dishwasher. To be honest, I wanted to be a server, only because I’ve never had a job in the service sector and I always enjoy new experiences. My presumptions about washing dishes were the following: 1.) I’ve done dishes before, 2.) I do dishes almost everyday, and 3.) There is nothing intriguing about doing dishes. And yes, I was wrong.

Though I wanted to be a server, I knew I would come into Seva Café and fulfill my role, whatever it was, with no expectations. It didn’t matter what my role would be, I would just come in and do it. To me that’s what giving is about. To me that’s what life is about. No expectations. There is nothing more pure than that idea. For example, when you give just to give, no strings attached, no end result desired (maybe only for the satisfaction of completing an action), that is pure. Similarly, when you live just to live, complete a duty just to complete a duty—that is pure. Not to say you shouldn’t care, but you should care about the actual action rather than the result.

So when I found out that there were problems with the plumbing and the water wasn’t draining, but rather backing up into a little hole, and had to be scooped up with a small container, I didn’t mind. I had the mentality of fulfilling my role with no expectations. And as any job or duty, you try to complete it properly.

As I was washing dishes, I overheard a conversation about Karma, and began to relate Karma to washing dishes. I’m not really a believer in Karma, or rather I’m a bit unconventional in my beliefs of Karma. Nonetheless, Karma is too much in the future for me to consider or believe. So when people say the action of “goodness” will bring good Karma for whatever reason— the goodness will be returned to you in a tangible manner in the future or a better life in your next life— I’m not much of a believer. For me Karma is more of a reproduction of mentality. For instance, consider what the Seva Café is about—serving. The benefit of serving, whether it is of the mind, body, or soul, is Karma in itself. Meaning, the mentality of the action of serving, or any action for that matter, is its own Karma. As said before, giving just for the satisfaction of giving is Karma. I hope this makes sense.

While serving at the Seva Café, I also witnessed true teamwork, where everyone was there for each other, selflessly, all working towards a common ideal… serve. That is true teamwork—working with and for each other towards a common ideal.

Experiencing the purity of serving just to serve and the purity of teamwork, I was appreciative and grateful of the opportunity to work on Saturday. I am honestly intrigued with the concept of the Seva Café and the principles it is based on. The mentality of the Seva Safe is good Karma.



  • gianna

    Sudi, u did a remarkable job. I didn’t think u were a dishwasher because I saw you interacting so well with everyone throughout the evening in many nooks and corners of the cafe.. Thanks so much for volunteering for that. And switch with us any ol’ time…it’s kinda fun to try all the roles of seva :) Anyhoo, I wanted to tell u that your smile and light filled the room. It was great to serve with you and everyone there.

    Sudi says: The mentality of the Seva Safe is good Karma

    Rock on!

  • You washed dishes hour after hour for a very long time. It was amazing to see someone doing dishes so happy.

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