Five Forms of Service
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Five Forms of ServiceCan you help save the world?
Andrew Harvey More by this author
How exactly do you become a midwife in the rebirth that is now beginning in our world? I believe that it is by making a steady commitment to combine five interlinked forms of service—service to the Divine, service to yourself as an instrument of the Divine, service to all sentient beings in your life, service to your local community, and service to the global community. Think of these five forms of service as the five fingers of your hand stretched out to bless and help the world.
- Service to the Divine
Without constant Divine help, grace, illumination, and strength, no one can be a Sacred Activist, especially in a world as challenging as ours. So turn to the Divine in whatever way you imagine it and serve it in devotion and adoration and gratitude and praise, asking it constantly and humbly to illuminate your mind with sacred wisdom, keep your heart on fire with a passion of compassion for all beings, and keep filling your body with sacred energy for whatever work it calls you to do in the world.
- Service to Yourself as an Instrument of the Divine
A Sacred Activist wants to be as healthy and strong as possible to do the work. For most Sacred Activists the greatest challenge is to look after the body. Many of us have inherited a belief that the body is inferior, something we have to compel to do the will of our heart and spirit. This is a great mistake. Father Bede once said to me, “Imagine that God is a great musician and that you are a flute He wants to play the most glorious music on. If the stops of your flute are filled with mud, how can the music that is meant to be played through you sound at all?” If you honor the need to serve yourself as an instrument of the Divine, you will discover, over time, that you will have far more compassionate and healthy energy to give to your work in the world.
- Service to all Sentient Beings in Your Life
I was walking once with Father Bede and he said to me, “Everything would change if only we could treat every single being we meet, animal or human, as who they really are—a disguise of God.” The service of all sentient beings as being disguises of God is, I believe, one of the great healing powers of Sacred Activism. Performing it humbly in the heart of life allows you to experience more and more strongly three related forces that will strengthen and inspire you—the force of your own innate compassion, the force of the Divine Presence in every being, and the force of the Divine Presence in reality. Service to all sentient beings starts with your family, friends, and pets. Make a commitment to remember that those whom you deal with intimately are all secretly divine.
- Service to Your Local Community
Nothing is more important than restoring public service in our communities. Modern life separates us from each other, and this increases suffering immeasurably. It has never been more essential for all of us to recognize that we are all in the same boat, that our local communities reflect the emotional, physical, social, political, financial problems of the larger world. Think globally, but act locally. I recommend that you follow your heartbreak—determine which one of all the causes in the world really breaks your heart. Once you have identified this cause, act immediately in your local community, so your heartbreak doesn’t remain abstract but becomes a living force of practical compassion in your daily world.
- Service to the Global Community
In our present world crisis, every single human being from every walk of life is in danger, and each choice we make affects everyone else. The only possible response to this acute interconnectedness is what the Dalai Lama calls “universal responsibility”: the decision to be conscious in the core of our lives of the effect all our choices have on every other being, and so to make all of our choices—economic, social, political—congruent with our most compassionate beliefs.
Andrew Harvey is an internationally renowned religious scholar, writer, and teacher, and the author of over 30 books, including the critically acclaimed Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi, as well as Journey to Ladakh, The Return of the Mother, Continue reading