Today the brightest of people want the highest paying jobs and many of them get it. They work very hard, maybe from 9 in the morning to 10 at night and are able to build big companies and organizations. The basic objective however is to get increasingly more for themselves in the tangible domain. It is a transaction. If I do A, I must get B in return and immediately. The concept of giving without expectation is now considered archaic. Even philanthropic organizations like Rotary and Lions clubs have members largely with other agendas. NGOs have offices and salaries which resemble some of the very large corporates.Why is voluntary service on the decline? Obviously people increasingly feel that it does not pay back in the same manner as a paid job does; and to some extent they are right. If a bright person spends the same time working for a salary, she can afford a lovely car or maybe a vacation in the Bahamas. There are no such benefits with a truly voluntary effort. This is because people have forgotten how to experience the intangible domain and hence its very existence is often doubted. There is a law of “Niskam Karma” (selfless service), similar to Newton’s Third Law of Motion, in which the reaction to every action comes from a source other than from where the action was placed. It is also both delayed and magnified and in addition stops if one expects it. The present day scenario is based on the Third Law that states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Very few people have the time, the faith and the patience to experience the intangible fruits of truly voluntary work. It is also very difficult to work with a true spirit of non-expectation. The mind is so sharp that before it starts any work, it calculates in a split second what returns might accrue from it. True benefits would only come if this process can be arrested. The intangible enters our system only when one has been able to achieve this very difficult task. If one has even a fleeting experience of the state, which this results in, she will forget everything – money, power, vacations in the Seychelles, BMWs etc.

Finally all pleasure and sorrow is in the mind and if this mind is able to enter the intangible domain which truly voluntary work will help her achieve, then all tangibles are brought down greatly in their importance.Many people are involved with voluntary work in the world today. However it is largely because of the “feel good” factor that they experience when they undertake such work. It is an experience, which most people are aware of and it prompts them to take up the voluntary task. Though of a much finer order, it is still a transaction and the possibilities that exist are not experienced if one is satisfied with the immediate “feel good” effect. At one level, voluntary work of the highest order, must involve some element of pain in the person who is involved with it.

If one can truly give of oneself without any expectation (which is extremely difficult), then what one can get in the intangible domain is indescribable. True voluntary work helps us connect with the inner domain. It becomes a “yog” which helps us attain a state of tranquility and equanimity. This results in a dilution of our desires which in turn reduces greed. The person in this state therefore does not need to be corrupt which leads to a society not requiring strong anti-corruption measures like the Jan Lokpal Bill.

It is very important for every human being to give at least 10% of her money and time in doing some truly voluntary work.



This is Praveen Iyer, MS in Electrical Engineering student at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. I am also a trained Carnatic Violinist. I got an opportunity to know about SPIC-MACAY through one of friend and was also glad to know that the organization has chapters in the US Universities too. My University also has a lot of talented performing artists in the Indian Classical Tradition. We do perform in the events organized by Indian Students Association of the University and the Indian Cultural Societies of Buffalo. I was just thinking how wonderful would it be if there were a SPIC-MACAY chapter in our University !

I would sincerely like to request you to guide me through the process of setting up a chapter.

Praveen Iyer