Saturday, March 05, 2005

Linking Service and Self Mastery

Clarity of intent and purpose, rooted in choice, while important for defining service from the heart, are insufficient to characterize it completely. After all, it's possible to choose to do something, or follow a course of action with an intent to serve, and even believe that it's coming from the heart, when in fact the whole effort may be quite misplaced and harmful to another--a disservice, rather than a service. This happens every day of the week. A person might honestly believe s/he is trying to do good by someone, and that someone has the opposite experience. That "someone" experiences harm. When a person identifies as "coming from the heart" strategies, choices and actions which are actually rooted in fear, insecurity, neediness, spite, shame, denial, patterns of control of others, passive aggression, perfectionism, and ultimate self-concern, trouble is certainly brewing for the recipients of that person's "service!" Little service is achieved when one's goals are in fact rooted in a desire to feel safe in a world perceived as dangerous, or to fill an empty feeling inside with something from the outside, or to hide vulnerabilities, or to experience power over others, or to feel "right" and "good," or to master one's circumstances rather than oneself, or to perceive others as representations of oneself to be crafted likewise.
These defense strategies undercut the possibility of true service from the heart. That's why the choice to serve, if it is to bear fruit, must be linked to a program of self-mastery. To help remove the speck from another's eye, first remove the log from one's own, to paraphrase someone remembered for both his genuine service and indisputable self-mastery. This is not to say you need to wait until you can walk on water before taking up the call to service. No, the world needs us now. I am saying that the work of self-mastery must provide the foundation for service from the heart. Recognizing the need to master oneself is a first step towards achieving, not the power, but the humility prerequisite for the practice of genuine service.


Anonymous Patrick said...

Is it possible that two people could follow their hearts and the resulting actions conflict?

A lion is following its heart when it kills an elk, no? An elk is following its heart when it trys to run away from the lion, yes?

Some people are born preditors, they enjoy preying upon others. Are you saying that when they follow their hearts they are engaging in genuine service?

2:30 PM  
Blogger Gil :-) said...

A favorite professor of mine was fond of saying "G-- did not design the world so that two nice people cannot hurt each other." The world is full of conflict. Conflict is not necessarily a bad thing. It is a kind of a lesson in a kind of a school. While some people may seem to be "born" predators, from my perspective I see such folks as "committed" predators, who's commitments are clearly disfunctional and in need of serious re-evaluation. The heart of which I speak is not immune to conflict, and must also be cultivated to choose in a manner coherent with the will of the source of all, precisely because it is free. There will consequently be ups and downs along the way. Predatory choices on the part of humans count among the "downs" in my book!

9:11 PM  

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