What is Service?
"Service can be briefly defined as the spontaneous effect of soul contact. This contact is so definite and fixed that the life of the soul can pour through into the instrument which the soul must perforce use upon the physical side. It is the manner whereby the nature of that soul can demonstrate in the world of human affairs. Service is not a quality or a performance; it is not an activity towards which people must strenuously strive, nor is it a method of world salvage. This distinction must be clearly grasped, or else our whole attitude to this momentous demonstration of the success of the evolutionary process in humanity will be at fault. Service is a life demonstration. It is a soul urge, and is as much an evolutionary impetus of the soul as the urge to self-preservation or the reproduction of the species is a demonstration of the animal soul. This is a statement of importance. It is a soul instinct, if we may use such an inadequate expression and is, therefore, innate and peculiar to soul unfoldment. It is the outstanding characteristic of the soul, just as desire is the outstanding characteristic of the lower nature. It is the urge to group good. It cannot, therefore, be taught or imposed upon a person as a desirable evidence of aspiration, functioning from without and based upon the theory of service. It is simply the first real effect, evidenced upon the physical plane, of the fact that the soul is beginning to express itself in outer manifestation.
Neither theory nor aspiration will or can make a man a real server. How then is it that there is so much activity in service demonstrating in the world today?
Simply because the life, words and deeds of the world's first Great Server, of the One Who came to make clear to us what service essentially is, has necessarily had an effect, and men today are earnestly attempting to imitate His example, little realising that imitation does not net them the true results, but only indicates to them a growing possibility.
. . . Today we have much running after service, and much philanthropic effort. All of it is, however, deeply covered by personality, and it often produces much harm, for people seek to impose their ideas of service and their personal techniques upon other aspirants. They may have become sensitive to impression, but they oft-times misinterpret the truth and are biassed by personality ends. They must learn to lay the emphasis upon soul contact and upon an active familiarity with the egoic life, and not upon the form side of service. May I beg those of you who respond to these ideas, and are sensitive to soul impression (oft-times misinterpreting the truth, being biassed by personality ends) to lay the emphasis upon soul contact and not upon the form side of service. Activity of the form side lays stress upon personality ambition, veiling them with the glamour of service. If care over the essential of service -- soul contact -- is taken, then the service rendered will flow with spontaneity along the right lines, and bear much fruit. Of this, the selfless service and the deep flow of spiritual life, which have been demonstrated in the world work of late, is a hopeful indication." (Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II, p. 124/6)
"There are whose who have so much theory about service and its expression, that they fail to serve, and also fail to comprehend with understanding the period of pain which ever preceds enlarged service. Their theories block the way to true expression, and shut the door on real comprehension. The mind element is too active." (Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II, p. 128)
The Urge to Serve
"When in terms of the occult science we are told to serve and obey, we are not interested. Yet service is the mode, par excellence, for awakening the heart centre, and obedience is equally potent in evoking the response of the two head centres to the impact of the soul force, and unifying them into one field of soul recognition. So little do men understand the potency of their urges! If the urge to satisfy desire is the basic urge of the form life of man, the urge to serve is an equally basic urge of the soul of man. This is one of the most important statements in this section. It is as yet seldom satisfied. Indications of its presence are ever to be found, nevertheless, even in the most undesirable types of human beings; it is evoked in moments of high destiny, or immediate urgency, and of supreme difficulty. The heart of man is sound, but oft asleep.
Serve and obey (the soul)! These are the watchwords of the disciple's life. They have been distorted into terms of fanatical propaganda, and have thus produced the formulas of philosophy and of religious theology; but these formulas do, at the same time, veil a truth. They have been presented to the consideration of man in terms of personality devotions and of obedience to Masters and leaders, instead of service of, and obedience to the soul in all. The truth is, however, steadily emerging, and must inevitably triumph. Once the aspirant upon the Probationary Path has a vision of this (no matter how slight it may be), then the law of desire which has governed him for ages, will slowly and surely give place to the Law of Repulse, which will, in time, free him from the thraldom of not-self. It will lead him to those discriminations and that dispassionate attitude which is the hallmark of the man who is on his way to liberation. Let us remember, however, that a discriminaton which is based upon a determination to be free, and a dispassion which is the indication of a hard heart, will land the aspirant in the prison of a crystallised shell, which is far harder to break than the normal prison of the life of the average selfish man. This selfish spiritual desire is oft the major sin of so-called esotericists, and must be carefully avoided. Therefore, he who is wise will apply himself to serve and obey." (Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II, p. 158/9)
Characteristics of the Server
"These characteristics can be easily and briefly noted. They are not exactly what one may have been led to believe. I am not here speaking of the qualifications required for the treading of the Path of Discipleship or the Probationary Path. These are well known. They are the platitudes of the spiritual life, and constitute the battleground . . . of most aspirants. We are here concerned with those qualities which will emerge when a man is working under the impulse of the Law of Service. They will appear when he is a real channel for the life of the soul. His major characteristics will then be three in number:
1. He will be distinguished, as might be expected, by the quality of harmlessness, and by an active refraining from those acts and that speech which might hurt or cause any misunderstanding. By no word, suggestion, implication, innuendo or voiced dissatisfaction, will he hurt his group. You will note that I do not say "will not hurt any individual". Those working under the Law of Service need no reminder not to hurt any individual. They often need, under the exuberance of spiritual stimulation and the intensity of their aspiration, to be reminded to demonstrate group harmlessness.
2. The second characteristic is a willingness to let others serve as seems best to them, knowing that the life flowing through the individual server must find its own channels and outlets, and that direction of these currents can be dangerous and prevent the rendering of the intended service. The server's efforts will be turned in two directions:
i. To the task of helping others to "stand in spiritual being", as he himself is learning to stand.
ii. To aiding the individual to express his service in his chosen field as he desires to express it, and not as the onlooking helper deems that he should do it.
One point might here be made clear. The task of those who are working under the Law of Service, is not exerted primarily with that group in the world today which is working under the effect of that general response to which we earlier referred (workers for the relief of the poor, etc.). These effects are easily shepherded into those acitivities which, en masse, work out as philanthropic endeavour, as educational experiments, or social efforts in the life of the community. The name of those who thus respond is legion, and the will to serve in this particular way needs no impetus. The remarkable response to the many recent campaigns to goodwill, definitely evidenced this. But the work of the new type of server is directed towards those who are establishing soul contact, and who can therefore work under the new incoming Aquarian Law. This centers around the capacity to stand, not only in spiritual being, but together with others, working with them subjectively, telepathically and synthetically. This distinction merits attention, for one can easily waste effort by entering fields already well handled from the point of view of the attainment of the units in that field.
3. The third characteristic of the new server is joyfulness. This takes place of criticism (that dire creator of misery) and is the silence that sounds.
It would be well to ponder on these last words, for their true meaning cannot be conveyed in words, but only through a life dedicated to the newer rhythms, and to the service of the whole. Then that "sounding joy" and that "joyful sounding" can make its true meaning felt." (Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II, p. 131/3)
Learning to Serve
"The first effect of the inflowing force of the soul, which is the major factor leading to demonstrated service, is to integrate the personality, and to bring all the three lower aspects of the man into one serving whole. This is a difficult and elementary stage from the angle of the student in the Hall of Wisdom. The man becomes aware of his power and capacity, and, having pledged himself to service, he begins furiously to serve, he creates this, that and the other channel for the expression of the force which is driving him; he tears down and destroys just as fast as he creates. He temporarily becomes a serious problem to the other servers with whom he may be associated, for he sees no vision but his own, and the aura of criticism which surrounds him, and the strenuous push of the assertive force within him, produces the stumbling of the "little ones", and there has to be constant repair work undertaken (on his behalf) by older, more experienced disciples. He becomes the victim, for the time, of his own aspiration to serve, and of the force which is flowing through him. This stage will in some cases fan into flame the latent seeds of ambition. This ambition is, in the last analysis, only the personality urge towards betterment, and in its right place and time is a divine asset, but it has to be rooted out when the personality becomes the instrument of the soul. In other cases, the server will come into a wider and more loving vision, and, taking his eyes off his own accomplishment, will go to work in silent unison with the groups of all true servers. He will submerge his personality tendencies, his ideas and his ambitions, in the greater good of the whole, and self will be lost to sight. Perhaps no better suggestion can be made to the man or woman who seeks to function as a true server, than to ask them to repeat daily, with their whole hearts and minds behind the words, the dedication at the conclusion of the Esoteric Catechism, which is included at the end of Initiation, Human and Solar. I would remind such servers that if they revolt or are dismayed by the ideas embodied in the words, that is perhaps an indication of how much they need the impression of this life objective upon their consciousness. That pledge runs as follows:
I play my part with stern resolve; with earnest aspiration; I look above, I help below; I dream not, nor I rest; I toil; I serve; I reap; I pray; I am the Cross; I am the Way; I tread upon the work I do, I mount upon my slain self; I kill desire, and I strive, forgetting all reward. I forego peace; I forfeit rest, and, in the stress of pain, I lose myself and find Myself and enter into peace. To all this I solemnly pledge myself, invoking my Higher Self.
As the work of learning to serve proceeds , and the inner contact becomes more sure, the next thing which will occur will be a deepening of the life of meditation, and a more frequent illumining of the mind by the light of the soul. Thereby the Plan is revealed. This will not be the shedding of that light upon the plans of the server, either for his own life or upon his chosen field of service. This must be clearly grasped. That might only indicate (if it seems to occur) the mental agility of the server to find means for the justification of his own amibition. It will the recognition, in the mind, of the Plan of God for the world at the particular time in which the server is existing, and the part that he may play in furthering the ends of those who are responsible for the carrying forward of that Plan. He then becomes willing to be a tiny part of a greater Whole, and this attitude never varies, even when the disciple has become a Master of the Wisdom. He is then in contact with a still vaster concept of the Plan, and His humility and his sense of proportion remain unchanged.
An integrated, intelligent personality is adequate to deal with the working out of the server's part in the active work of the world, provided his vision is not blurred by personal ambition, nor his activity such that it degenerates into a sense of rush and a display of busy feverishness. It takes the soul itself to reveal to the poised and peaceful mind the next step to be taken in the work of world evolution, through the impartation of ideas. Such is the Plan for humanity.
As the force pours through the personality and gives to the server this necessary vision and the sense of power which will enable him to co-operate, it finds its way into the emotional or astral body. Here again the effect will be dual, owing to the condition of the server's astral body and his inner orientation. It may enhance the glamour and deepen the illusion, swinging the server into the psychic illusory effects there to be found. When this happens, he will emerge upon the physical plane glamoured by the idea, for instance, of his amazing personal contacts, whereas he has only contacted some group thought-form of the Great Ones. He will be under the illusion that he is a chosen vessel or mouthpiece of the Hierarchy, when the truth is that he is deceived by the many voices, because the Voice of Silence has been dimmed by the clamour the astral plane; he will be deluded by the idea that there is no other way but his way. Such an illusion, and deception is common among teachers and workers everywhere today, because so many are definitely making a contact with their souls, and are being swept then into the desire for service; they are not yet free, however, from ambition, and their orientation is still basically towards personality expression, and not to the merging of themselves in the Group of World Servers. If however they can avoid glamour, and can discriminate betweeen the Real and the unreal, then the inflowing force will flood their lives with effective unselfish love and with devotion to the Plan, to those whom the Plan serves, and to Those Who serve the Plan. Note the sequence of these attitudes, and govern yourselves accordingly. There will then be no room for self-interest, self-assertiveness, or selfish ambition. All that is considered is the need as it demonstrates before the server's eyes." (Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II, p. 134/7)
Incarnating Souls Affecting Civilisation
"The majority of the souls in the human family come into incarnation in obedience to the urge or the desire to experience, and the magnetic pull of the physical plane is the final determining factor. They are, as souls, oriented towards earth life. Increasingly, awakening souls, or those who are (occultly speaking) "coming to themselves", enter into physical life experience only dimly aware of another and higher "pull". They are, therefore, without as true an orientation to the physical plane as are the bulk of their fellow men. These awakening souls are the ones who can at times be influenced to retard or delay their entry into physical life, in order to effect a conditioning of the processes of civilisation. Or again, they can be prevailed upon to hasten their entrance into life so as to be available as agents for such a conditioning process. This process is not carried forward by them through any emphasised or intelligently appreciated activity, but is naturally brought about by the simple effect of their living in the world and there pursuing their life objectives. They thus condition their surroundings by the beauty, the power or the influence of their lives, and are themselves frequently quite unconscious of the effect that they are having. It will be apparent therefore, that the needed changes in our civilisation can be brought about rapidly or slowly, according to the number of those who are living as souls in training." (Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II, p. 260)