“What is a meaningful life? It is to embrace a spiritual life for yourself, and to be of service to sentient beings.”

— Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

Since the beginning of MSB, Rinpoche has spoken of “three pillars” that support a student’s progress on the Buddhist path. These three pillars are study, practice, and service to the community. We can think of them as our “riches” as students. None functions separately from the others, and each offers us ways to deepen our self-reflection and respond to our longing for our buddhanature to blossom.

Practice is at the heart of all we do as practitioners; it is our “looking-glass” into our personal experience of waking up. Study, meanwhile, sharpens our knowledge and discriminating awareness, giving us incredible tools to combat our ignorance, and thus supporting our practice. As Rinpoche has often observed, however, the third pillar of service is where people tend to encounter most immediately the bigger picture of the spiritual path, and where they often grow the most quickly. Why is that?

When we come to truly understand the goal of our spiritual path, then anything we do can become an extension of that aim. Much of the path is a quest, put most simply, to dissolve the “small self” and embrace the “big self.” When we aspire to embark upon that journey of understanding, to seek greater meaning in life — whether to bring positive change to the whole world, or to our own mind — we then need opportunities to exercise that aspiration. Service, when woven into our daily routines, can provide a tangible, immediate means to do so, in ways large and small.

Buddha has said, “There is no greater offering to the buddhas and bodhisattvas than to serve sentient beings.” When we reach out to others out of care for them, especially with altruistic intention, we deepen our connection to the lineage; we feel a comradeship with all great beings who have taken up this noble cause before us. And we also deepen our connection to all sentient beings out of a genuine sympathy and understanding. Ultimately, this orientation or focus expands our horizons as people and enhances our potential to make something of this life.

Mangala Shri Bhuti is a completely volunteer-based, non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to bring benefit to sentient beings. What we’d like to share here is the view that there is a place for every single one of us, as students and friends of MSB, to honor and serve this altruistic vision. Service also brings us into closer contact with our sangha brothers and sisters, enabling us to collaborate in unexpected and rewarding ways.

What is Seva/Lhaksam Service? “Altruism—lhaksam in Tibetan—is the greatest remedy for self-centeredness, the cause of all our suffering. Therefore, engaging in activities or work based on lhaksam, particularly in service to the sangha, brings deep joy, and in gathering merit, propels us along on our spiritual path. The Sanskrit word for this kind of selfless service is seva; its tradition dates back to the Buddha. Aspiring to follow the Mahayana path and taking delight in serving our community go hand in hand. For this reason, I am asking everyone who would like to be a member of the Mangala Shri Bhuti lineage to step in and step up right away to serve the lineage in any capacity they can. By doing lhaksam service or seva practice, along with following the path of study and formal practice, our potential as bodhisattvas in the world will naturally unfold.” – Ven. Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

Below are some quotes from students describing how service has affected their lives and path, and explaining why they serve. We hope they offer an illustration of why service is one of the three pillars of the MSB path.

From MSB Students

“Having the opportunity to serve brings genuine meaning to my life. Deciding to serve is an aspiration to align my actions with my genuine intention to make the most out of this life.”


“I serve both because it comes naturally when I am feeling love and care, and because it helps me find love and care when I am not.”


“I serve out of appreciation and gratitude to all who have served before me to keep the buddhadharma alive. I pray that through any service I’m able to offer, others will be able to hear and experience the teachings.”


“Personally, service is proving to be a slow and sure way to transform my conventional drive into enthusiasm for enlightenment. It is also a continual source of warmth — through connecting to the vision and activities of the community, Rinpoche, and the lineage.”