The way of Service
There seems to be a prevalent idea that one, to serve must help ‘suffering humanity’. Usually, humanity doesn’t want to be served, saved, criticised or judged, in fact, in the mass it seems bent on going to hell in its own particular way and, what is more, getting the maximum ‘enjoyment’ from going that way.
On the other hand, we have the great army of salvationists and politicians who would seek to save them from their doom, who would preach, moralize and censor according to their own values and creeds with the result that they merely sow seeds of conflict, confusion and resentment. Often those who ‘help’ call forth very little gratitude for what they do. In fact, we can even say that most forms of being ‘done good to’ can be down-right interference, asserting some creedal intolerance into the affairs of others while they themselves are trying to work out their own approach to life.
Strange as it may seem, each person is a law unto himself, that is, the individuality or personality has created for itself certain rhythms and patterns, language and thought forms, and through the use of imagination lives in a world of its own by which it estimates and values events as they apply to its state of security or physical comfort, that is, the experience of sense. For example, all of us could have the same experience, yet each of us will be entirely different in our receptivity — each will interpret it according to his inward state which may, in many cases, be absolutely differently from that of another. If there are witnesses to an accident or particular event, the greatest difficulty is to analyse what everyone has seen and from it extract the truth, for if’a hundred people witness an accident or experience you will usually have a hundred different aspects of that event — each one swearing on oath that what they saw, what they felt, what they experienced, was absolute truth.
Now it is necessary that each one of us should have our own language, we should each express our own personality, and within our basic character we shall react according to our type, respond according to our mood, and react according to the A state of affairs existing within our mental and emotional life at a given time. So a decision made last week, in a certain mood, can vary considerably from one made this week because the environment, the atmosphere, the pressure and conditions will be different.
So the greater the variety of circumstance and environment the more are the aspects of truth. At first it seems we shall never arrive at any positive conclusion and, if we are wise, we shall always try to avoid doing so, for a positive conclusion should be only a passing conclusion — no opinion should be permanent, for life itself is changing, oscillating, vibrating and, therefore, truth is like a flowing stream of water. We are all of us in a constant state of change, and reality is in a constant state of recovery.
We need, therefore, to be very generous in our thinking, we need to be watchful and compassionate when our own verdicts or opinions clash with those of our fellows. Once we accept the importance of the individuality of the human mind we must allow it freedom to grow, and be generous in our recognition of movement and change by which the personality can adjust itself to changing environment as it grows.
The danger is when we try to make a book of rules, a set of judgments, a fixation of values, when we try to make life itself into weights and measures, when we assert ‘this is the way, this has been done before and this way it should be done again’. As soon as we begin to rob the individual of variety, the right to change his mind, to think and react differently, we immediately begin to smother his growth and his understanding. Standardize thinking and we restrict emotional existence. In fact, we can be imprisoned mentally, culturally and spiritually by sets of circumstances and environments that can be more insidious and soul-destroying than the iron bars and restrictions of a cell. Because we walk the streets and move about, does not necessarily mean that we are experiencing freedom. The environment of the atmosphere is a weight upon the shoulders of vast crowds of people, their minds biased by mass hypnosis or propaganda. Therefore, mankind must fight this continual pressure of resistance to change if he is to evolve. In fixed religions we have the same parallel — in theology and orthodoxy we have this same enemy — and perhaps the fixation of ideas which refuses to allow expansion of mind is the worst of all enemies. This is a tyranny of ignorance deliberately imposed by feeding the sensual mind, either by mass entertainment or mass literature to try to make the populace amenable to fixed ideas and reactions. It is a constant attempt to rob the people of their individuality and their power to think and reason.
Every now and then we need crusades and rebels, to rise up in arms against this infringement of human rights. Many so-called leaders do not lead to freedom but impose their will at the cost of human happiness, human progress and the development of the untrammeled spirit of man. The Earth is satiated with past empires. History is one long repetition of man’s striving against the enemies of his freedom who would seek to rob him of his individuality by making him into a mass product to be used according to the prevailing economic or political influence of the day.
You may wonder why I have given this ‘backcloth’ when our subject is the way of service, but we so often think that perhaps we should go out into the bye-ways with pick and shovel to rescue ‘lost’ souls. Unfortunately, however, many are very happy to live in these fields of restricted thought, to be told what to do, to be regimented and so avoid any personal responsibility.
Wherever history has terminated in an explosion we have discovered that it happened because the restriction of the people reached a point where the spirit could not grow. Therefore, it is a spiritual explosion which causes the downfall of nations — it is not the explosion of the mass or the individual.
Now let us analyse this a little more in respect of ourselves. We are all miniature volcanoes. We are all rebels at heart. Some have more courage to kick than others.Some are more willing to be the odd man out, or thought the queer one of the family. Sometimes we are asked if we have ‘gone religious’, or at times if we are a little ‘soft in the head’, In fact, we can very easily be put into the category of ‘queer’ because we seek to be mentally and spiritually free. Our own families are usually the first to detect our wish to be an individual and we are left in no doubt as to our eventual outcome — in fact, we need to be quite strong minded to resist their advice and material arguments.
Now and then we have a faint reminder that the mass is not really contented, that it needs but a few pioneers to set in motion landslides towards new concepts.Discontent itself can be a fertilizer for better things. Fixed, orthodox thinking and cliches do not resemble the way of truth. The Lord has no particular set of chosen people and the way of salvation and future life is not reserved for any particular sect.
Is it not strange that certain sects claim they alone have the way of salvation and that anyone who doesn’t believe their particular book of rules will be lost? It seems a little impertinent to assume they have the right to judge and condemn their fellow man.
So even in the religious field we can detect many pathways of ‘service’. But many are not service at all, they are propaganda to attract each others ‘customers’, to entice them into a different way of salvation, each using the words of the prophets, threats of doom and the loss or gain of future glories as a bait to enter the fold. It has been sadly admitted that the extremists among the missionaries have caused much confusion among the heathen they have gone to save, by their contradictions and counter claims. In fact, they have increased the complications rather than simplifying them. As one put it, “How these Christians must hate each other, because they are always fighting and arguing that they only have the truth and no one else is right. It is best that we leave them alone and follow our own path.” In fact, the missionaries never got very far until they incorporated medicine with preaching — only then were they able to register. Many old beliefs and traditions die hard.
It is the esoteric, mystical Christianity which we must teach — pure idealism free from men’s desiring — a direct approach to God, personal and intimate. A religionist is one who works upon a fixed book, ritual and code. The mystical Christian is one who seeks liberation through pure Christianity and not through imprisonment in a sect. So I feel it is the major part of our work to study the basis of esoteric Christianity.
From the very first we can begin to see the necessity for underlining the idea of service by non-interference. This is a very difficult thing to do. We have all fallen into the habit of giving advice ad lib — it is not always easy to encourage people to help themselves — rather do we incline to encourage their laziness. We are either tempted to rush in where angels fear to tread, to rescue humanity from its suffering and pain, perhaps with some measure of success, in which case spiritual pride may have its moments, or we are rebuffed by the cynicism of disillusionment. It is never wise to impose opinions or thrust our beliefs at others for we may have to meet those we have ‘saved’ in the next stage of life and they may speak their mind and say “Look you pulled me out of that mud before I was ready, You rescued me before I had learned to swim, you did your best for me, I know, but you robbed me of an experience which I needed”’.
So it is inward we have to turn instead of outward, if we are to find the true way of service, and not rush in and join those hosts who, by blandishments, threats and Promises, inflict salvation on others. We must find in non-interference a deep respect, a search for good impartiality, a sense of inward evolving by which we may develop the culture and power of the spiritual quality of living.
Material science is over-fed. It doesn’t need any further encouragement to find flesh, blood, wealth and treasure to squander upon its materialistic altars but Spiritual Science is very short of witnesses and workers. It is the greatest and oldest science and upon its foundation rests all the others, Therefore, we should begin to look more earnestly into this way of education, how can we serve and encourage spiritual impartially, without motive, without interference and seek to bring back its sense of reason, balance and harmony. That is, not to antagonise nor depreciate other people’s feelings but to serve and work entirely without motive for the evolution of the whole of the human race — God’s human family, a quite ‘good Samaritan’ without religious strings.
Now, what contribution can we really make towards these ideals? First, we receive from God’s outer world great treasure — good things in the sense life. We absorb it, we process it and we give it back again. But what have we given back? Is it of a better value than that which came in? Have we increased its potential? Have we raised its quality? This we need to meditate upon. Have we impregnated it with a mixture of love, mercy and compassion? In other words, have we raised the consciousness of that thought or experience?
It is in the human contribution, in the individual effort towards the raising of the great family of mankind, that the secret of service lies. Our contribution may be in ideas, and what a wealth can be given back to the human race when ideas are enriched, developed and extended and made workable. What a gift it is when we see or experience barren acts and from them bring spiritualness, godliness and a sense of rhythm and reason. Isn’t that a better contribution, more worthwhile than trying to be a big landowner, or a politician forcing ideologies into other people’s lives?
It is what we give back into life that raises the status of the human race, and here we can begin to see the heart of this thing, in that whatever self-work we can do to raise the qualities of our own thinking, to extend the horizon of our own spiritual vision, to open up the avenues of intuition and inspiration, and to find anew the development of fourth dimensional thinking, offers a new concept, a new presentation for the human and spiritual needs of all. Men and women who have lived to enrich the human race by their own contributions in ideas and treasure live forever in the seeds so planted, when all the tycoons of industry and massed wealth, dictators and rulers have passed into oblivion — they who took all and gave little back to the raising of the spiritual consciousness of the human race. The godly live on where the materialists are forgotten — those who have advanced and given of themselves to raise the state of mental and spiritual awareness and culture, give more than they know. Why else is it that such people as Shakespeare continue to live and will live as long as words are spoken?
History pays homage to the few, but it is the silent, unknown workers who have given themselves by the work they have done upon their inner natures, who have become refiners. They have processed the world’s affairs. They have used the flow of ideas, increased and expanded them and pushed back the horizon of man’s knowledge. They have assisted in the expanding universe. They were, and still are, servants of evolution in the service of mankind, for it is evolution which is the Will of God in action, and that is where we should apply ourselves and cease to enter into these other congested fields by which mankind usually judges or estimates the good and the bad. We are not judges. It is not for us to assess good, bad or indifferent. It is for us to give of our own sacrifice.
Now, as we think of the word ‘sacrifice’, we rather think of going without things, but it isn’t so really. For there is so much in our natures that we can afford to sacrifice that we should be a sight happier and wealthier without. If we could free ourselves and be able to express a higher level of spiritual activity and mystical culture, to become workers of magic, to become a symbol of hope, to become a means of renewal and change, we should realise the great potential that Christ was doing His utmost to release. It was that conception of work that founded the Christian era, to indicate the pathway by which man could recognise his mental and spiritual processes, and by work and example set a standard that words alone could not achieve — understanding this makes it more possible to accept His challenge — in my words — “If I can do it, you can do it even better because I shall be helping you’, which is the way of service. Although we think of sacrifice it isn’t sacrifice at all. It is the joy of escape from one’s lower self.
Now, there is always one obstacle which every student must overcome in this way of service. In the development of the mind and in extending the contours of thinking, expanding of the mind’s range and thought, we have mentioned intellect, culture and reason. But these three words are only stepping:stones. We need reason too. We need the gymnastics of thought, of challenge and change. We need to be stimulated by the opposite, contradicted by the positive, challenged by the negative.
Reason is perhaps, the first stepping-stone of man from his primal nature. Therefore, reason is a very great necessity until it comes to a certain point in the evolution of a life, and that is when reason must cease to be important. It is difficult to know where reason should begin and end, but if we let reason go too far it becomes intellect, and once it becomes intellect it enters into the bondage of fixed intelligence. And so the way of service calls for constant change. When we reach the place — air pilots term it the ‘point of no return’ — we must go on — we must gradually drop all our old techniques and begin to develop new ones — and reason is the first to go.
There is no such thing as reason — there is only a personal explanation by that Person as to why, or why not, a thing should be. But in spiritual science there is no reason, in fact, there is another point where you will be considered a little more ‘off course’ than you were before, because you will be asked for a reason, and for the life of you you cannot find one, and if you do it will sound pretty thin because when the will of the spirit reaches into the consciousness of the human personality it does not think, or consider, or note, in the same way. It is using a new process, opening up a new route. It is now spirit which is working, not so much the human mind. What was impossible now becomes possible. So, obviously, reason now has finished its Purpose — it must fall away. It is a remnant, like intellect. It is a form of imprisonment and it resents the discomfort of change.
Now, indeed, we are queer people. We are living a life of intuitive feeling. We are extending ourselves beyond atmosphere and time, beginning to express and live our spiritual counterpart. All this, of course, does not happen at once. It requires a great deal of work, often disappointment. You will lose most of your ‘friends’ but have no fear, you will make better ones, fewer in quantity, perhaps, but certainly more productive in quality. We seem to give up all, yet better things are added.
Begin to see the wisdom of The Christ here when He says — ‘‘Go thy way and tell no man”, that is, do not try to explain this new life, this new spirit, this new birth. For now we begin to live by the radiance of a higher and more evolved mind that can enrich our human intellect and reason. We begin to respond to impulses, urges and impressions that go beyond the question of time and reasonable explanation. We cannot explain God. Therefore, we cannot explain the awakening of our own God-nature to other people if they themselves have not been quickened.
We begin to see now that the way of service is the discovery of the true self, the revealing of the true seat of consciousness, and the acquiring of the means and way to utilize these great fields of wonder, change and magic. We begin to live in the world of possible, where before we lived in the shadow of impossible, and the effect is indeed strange to see.
It is the limitation of the human mind which causes it its greatest tragedy. The acceptance of this limitation is its second tragedy. And the third is the materialist’s conception that nothing exists except human verdicts and opinions.
Pagan Christianity — for that is what it must be if we limit God to our own
understanding — is powerless Christianity — it is all hopes and no work — as one vicar said to me, “I am so weighed down with parish work, I am allowed no time to save souls” — many assert ‘‘I go to church every Sunday, I read my bible, I am a God-fearing man”. But could they not be disbelievers? They are paying tribute to respectability but are answering the call of the master? It takes a brave person to “give up all and follow Me’. A friend I value highly said, ‘‘One of the hardest things I find to do is to give the Word without preparation, but I am beginning to get the fun and joy of it, and it is beginning to work”. He was speaking mainly, of course, of his public work, his public relations — when he planned what to say and organised his day according to his reason and intellect. When he started work from intuition and inspiration, he found that the quality of his work increased tenfold and the effort of it was reduced by an equal amount. The spirit was now active — not just the mind and body working, and he looks a happier Person, where before he looked very dog-eared and tired, a good labourer worn out!
The spirit which says “Come unto Me ye who are heavily laden” means that we should live this way, shed these redundant burdens, this sense of over-responsibility. We over-organise and Project ourselves into tomorrow, the pattern of our lives is nothing else but a fear neurosis — this is anticipation at its worst. In its place we now put this joyousness by which we re-discover the power forces and realise that within our own nature we have the Power to raise consciousness above our personal thinking. We react into other people’s lives without their realizing it, setting in motion new thought impressions, a new language and a new atmosphere.
This is the true way of service. If we cannot all be pioneers in the jungle with the lepers, if we cannot all be Sister Kennys — or become poets, there are many other avenues of service, unsung, perhaps, but nevertheless just as vital and necessary.
Spiritual science is a source of raw material, to be used wisely without questioning, without fear, without doubt — in other words, God works! Do we believe it? Are we convinced of it? Should people ask what is your way of service, don’t try to explain. It is your way of life, your way of thinking, your way of being — for it is suffused by the light of the inward consciousness of the revelation of the spirit, achieved by our own efforts and the help of the Holy Onés who accompany us upon Life’s journey.
So don’t underestimate what you do, what you think. Never think it is nothing that you are living — or feel inadequate, or that you are wasting time. Never for one moment think that what you do has no value, for it has far more value in the distance of time than ever we can conceive with our small human thinking.
The way of service is the light of the world within each individual heart — their work, their life, their welcome, their pleasure. The powerhouse of supply assured, it is in the recognition of the individual’s own contribution and life lived selflessly, courageously, that the new era will be born.
This is our work, may all blessing be with it.
Sense a new power of the truth of the spirit, that is releasing us from our human tensions, our human doubts and fears, releasing the spirit beautiful into its rightful place.
Written by R.P. Beesley 1904 – 1978 Gallilee series Esotheric Christianity chapter 4