Most people do practise putting others' needs first, although in a limited sense. Parents put the needs of their children ahead of their own. When a person loves somebody, whether parents, friend, husband or wife, he always places their needs ahead of his own. He does this because he considers that person as his daughter, son or darling. This sense of possession has to go away, and that is the difficult part. If one is able to extend oneself towards a monkey, an animal or a stranger, it means that one has become selfless.
Once during the Kumbha Mela, a man suffering with leprosy was brought to the ashram in a sack. Swami Sivananda told me to put him in a room and clean his body with the necessary antiseptics. He was a doctor and knew what to do. I carried out the duty I had been given. That man was obnoxious. I could not accept his smell, attitude, behaviour and entire being. The next morning, Swami Sivananda asked about the man. I said, "Swamiji, that man is so difficult; his disease and sores are so difficult."
Swami Sivananda replied, "You want to find God without any effort. You want to realize God without a change of heart, mind, philosophy and concept, without destroying your personal nest. First destroy your personality, character, views, habits, likes and dislikes and change your heart."
If it had been a beautiful young lady, I would have served her without complaining. If it had been a young or rich man, I would have served him. I was not fit to realize God. Before self-surrender can take place, the entire personality has to be rearranged.