The next path to realize is the path of action. No ordinary action, but selfless, detached, action. The action is to serve others, to help others. Not for any reward. No desire that others should say to you, on your face, or behind your back, that how good a person you are. Not for fame. The great philanthropist Edhi of Pakistan, in his early days, would take care of unclaimed dead bodies in the metropolis of Karachi. He would wash them, wrap them in coffin cloth, dig grave for them, say prayers, and bury them. His actions did not serve or help the dead person, but helped the society. He had compassion even for a dead man, who, in his opinion, deserved a decent burial.
Then, what is in it for you?
Several things. Firstly, it makes you feel good. Secondly, it helps the needy person. Thirdly, it helps society. Fourthly, others may be influenced by your example, and it may start a movement, which may benefit millions. Finally, if the motive behind your action is to please God, Who, in His infinite grace made it possible for you to do that action, and you thank God that He made it happen, then you may even realize God.
You have to understand that basically you do such things, because it makes you feel good. You are not sacrificing anything. Persons like Edhi, St Francis of Assissi, and mother Teresa of Calcutta are different from ordinary persons; they have or had innate, overpowering desire to help others. They are full of compassion. On more than one occasions, St Francis gave his own clothes to the destitute. He would kiss the wounds of lepers. Father Damien of Molokai lived with lepers in leper colony for nineteen years and died from leprosy.
Most, if not all, great mystics believe that God is in you. Therefore, if you serve another person, you are serving God, Who is in that person as well. May be, the great philanthropists I mentioned above, thought like that.
Gita, the Hindu scripture, advises us not to desire for the fruits of action, because then we will constantly worry about the results. This will feed into anxiety, attachment, and anger (if the results do not go our way). This humble mote, still at a lower plane, wants his actions to have good results.
What are the dangers of this path?
There are three problems: Firstly, it inflates the ego. Vanity is a great peril, even for advanced aspirants. One may start thinking that he is doing all these good things, whereas, the correct attitude should be that he/she is just a machine, God is the driver. Secondly, the person starts thinking that he is such a nice person. He starts doing good deeds, so that others may think highly of him. Thirdly, too much activity may lead into too little time for God. You may forget God. Construction of schools and hospitals, is good, but one may be treading on razor’s edge.
Sri Ramakrishna said, that you should pray, “O God, make my worldly duties fewer and fewer………I find that I forget Thee when I am involved in too many worldly activities. I may think I am doing unselfish work, but it turns out to be selfish.”
A final note. It is said that the path of action also leads to love for God