I was recently thinking about the primary pillars of the Art of Living - namely Seva, Satsang and Sadhana, also, the implicit ones - Silence, Smile and Sadguru. I like to compare these aspects of life to a tree.
Sadhana is the practice - the root of the tree - grounding it firmly and providing the essential nutrients of life. It provides a strong foundation on which anything can be achieved. Without strong roots, life easily takes us for a ride.
Satsang is the group - the trunk of the tree - providing the infrastructure to grow. It is the support system that we need when life does take us for a ride. Sometimes, life's too smart for us. It is a life jacket which protects us from drowning.
Silence is forbearance - the endurance of a tree - standing through all challenges and changes, unflinchingly. Life's challenges can only be faced unscathed if we can listen to our soul. Without that discipline, we can easily become part of the noise.
Smile is the attitude - the appearance of the tree - magnificent, colorful and real, adding beauty to the surroundings. An authentic and generous smile can make a big impact and a lasting impression.
Seva is the expression - the flowers and fruits of the tree - sharing their best with the world, bringing new life with love. It is the ultimate expression of joy, being useful to everyone in every way possible. The effects of unconditional seva only multiply.
Sadguru is the divine - providing the ultimate purpose for the tree - to grow. It is the guiding force that brings the means and the end in focus.
These pillars seem to form a sequence, just like the tree. The root and trunk are the physical aspects, forbearance and attitude are the mental aspects. Together they bear fruits that propagate the spirit. And the essential undercurrent is the divine, supporting this entire dance.
Different people tend to identify with different aspects. Some get completely absorbed in one, a few are able to go beyond preferences. The luckiest few end up dancing without even trying.