by Sondra & Marcus Ray
Sondra: My boot camp for world service was the Peace Corps. I joined as a nurse when Kennedy was alive so when I was assigned to Peru we were among the first groups that went out to serve. Later I served in Vietnam as a nurse where I ran a clinic for women, and also had to tell families when their son or father was killed – it was a very difficult and challenging thing to do that. Later, in California, as I was already a kind of pioneer, I was there when the Rebirthing movement started. It felt like a really exciting level of service because it was new and we were pioneers and trying to figure out how to help people through the breathing process. People got so much value out of something that was needed and was new, that nobody had done before.
I then did some original research about how your birth circumstances affect your future relationships. It was really wonderful to be able to offer that research through my books that I had started to write. When I met Babaji he kept pushing me into new levels of service. He would say: “Give a speech!” I had nothing prepared but it was right here in Haidakhan in 1977. He was training me to be a public speaker. That’s how it all unfolded for me. I started speaking about rebirthing and my research on relationships and then I wrote a training book on relationships training and, although I was paid for the book, it still felt like a service to me.
Q: You said that you have been in service, but that sometimes you are paid. Can you explain more about what is the involvement of money in acts of service?
A: My talent is helping people in their relationships and being a rebirther, and not to do that would really be a waste of my life and a shame for others who receive this service. We could give it away for free but then we would never have money to arrange things, so we accept some money for flights and for seminars, and for what we need to live on. But we don’t have an excess of money, we just have enough to live on.
Q: So, if I understand correctly, service is sharing the talent, and it doesn’t matter if it’s paid or not ?
A: Yes, it’s all service – if it’s paid I don’t consider it not service because I need a little bit of money to live on and I don’t feel like I am asking more than I deserve to get. I need to get enough to live on so that I can do the service.
Mark: We feel that our tuition fees for seminars, or the fees that we charge those who are able to pay for our private sessions of ‘liberation breathing’, are consistent with this principle of being self-sufficient. We don’t accept donations to support our work. There are other people who do ask for donations in this line of work and maybe that’s fine for them, but for us we always want to be consistent with self-sufficiency.
Q: Tell us about your own views and experience of Service ?
Well, for three years, once a week I helped serve in Mother Theresa soup kitchens in the USA. I think at first I was expecting that people would be grateful to me for serving, but the first lesson I got was that often people aren’t grateful. The Mother Theresa Missionaries of Charity give without identity and the action itself is the reward. Service is when you have something to give, and in that giving, you discover yourself, and it is not dependent on the person you are giving it to. It’s something to do with your attitude within yourself.
As a contractor then, I built things. So that was another level of service to the Missionaries of Charity. That was more fulfilling for me, because I was giving of my expertise. But, I think that the greatest level of service for me was when I was employing my highest aspirations as a writer and artist. I started painting portraits of Babaji and would give them away or sometimes people would buy them. That to me is an even higher level of service as it’s something you are leaving behind for all human kind. It’s an expression that feeds the soul, that feeds the spirit. And to me that’s where I feel most rewarded when I am working at that level of service. That for me is my expression of truth, simplicity, and love and service to humanity. So on the subject of Babaji´s message of truth, simplicity and love, and service to humanity, everyone needs to find out what their gifts and talents are and how to express them. Service comes through this expression.