- Michael Bilkis
Service, not servitude
No, it truly is not "better to give than to receive." Nor is it better to "take rather than serve."
The key is balance. There is a Quechua word for "ayni." I learned that Ayni can be translated as reciprocity. If I haven’t learned to receive blessings, then I can never authentically learn how to offer them.
There is a difference between living a fulfilled life of service and a resentful life of servitude.
People who live a life of "servitude" seek gratitude, love, or even gifts from those they serve. As time moves forward, they may attract those "takers" who benefit from these acts of service and think nothing of reciprocating. Both parties are out of Ayni. Over time, a person who is looking for spontaneous gratitude, thanks, and gifts will begin to grow resentful. Many times, that resentment will be turned inward and result in a deepening of their low self-esteem and low self-worth.
Whereas a person who lives a life of service is fed by the acts of service themselves. joy and blessings abound and are received through these acts of service. In this case, people are in a state of ayni. They receive blessings through their acts of service. In many cases, acts of service are accompanied by a charge. This is because the person knows the value of these actions and society has forgotten. When charging and paying for these acts, people stay in proper balance.
Many people have trouble opening up to receive. They find making money difficult. They have difficulty accepting a compliment. They don’t ask for what they want or need in a relationship.
A part of my spiritual journey has been learning about how I live my life in and out of Ayni. I had to learn how to accept a compliment or a blessing with the words, "Thank you," rather than deflecting with a monologue that minimized my actions. I also learned to stay in balance by always bringing something of value to a ceremony gathering that is offered free of charge. By bringing some gift, which could look like cash or perhaps a cake, I feel in balance. I honor the contribution of the person leading the ceremony, and in doing so, I honor my own self-worth.
Here are a few questions to reflect upon:
Where in your life are you out of balance, out of ayni?
How easy is it for you to receive compliments, gratitude, or blessings?
Do you feel resentful when your acts of service aren’t reciprocated?
Do you have difficulty asking for what you want or need?