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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Service?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Service

Penetrating the Meaning of Helping

Investigating the nature of help can give rise to many interesting perceptions and new realizations. You might, for instance, understand that by helping the other, you are actually helping yourself. I don’t mean this in the usual sense. Some of us think, “Well, by helping the other, I am helping myself, because it is a good deed that helps me evolve further.” Even though that is a self-centered way of looking at it, it is how most people think of service. But I mean something different when I say that you are helping yourself when you help another. I am not saying that you are helping yourself in terms of your personal development, but that you are helping yourself directly. It is literally yourself that you are helping when you help another. I am referring to the realization of nonlocal unity that we explored in the previous chapter. You are inside the other—you are the other totally. Both you and the other are being helped at once. This is a realization beyond the separation between here and there, between self and other. As we penetrate this level of delusion, we recognize in another way that the notion of service and helping is only an approximation of the perspective of Living Being itself. So the thoroughgoing inquiry into the self includes investigating those situations and constructs—like service—that we usually take for granted as bedrocks of reality. There are, of course, such things as service and helping. But as we come to question the subtle concept of separate individuals, we necessarily will question all kinds of relationships between self and other, including the idea of helping

Real Service Requires Essence

We see that real service can only be done by somebody who knows Essence. Selfless service means service not centered around the false personality but centered around Essence. In Essence there is no selfishness because there is no defensive separateness between oneself and others. When an action serves one’s Essence, it automatically serves the Essence of everybody else.

Service Seen as an Attunement to Reality, an Attunement to the Truth

The work we do here is not religious in the traditional sense. Although religion recognizes, in some sense, the balanced attitude toward experience, our work is more basic. Ultimately, we work from an understanding that is the source of religions, sciences, and philosophies, that is the ground of objective knowledge. Even the perspective of service is different in this work from religious perspectives of service. Our notion of service has to do more with objective reality, with the laws of how the universe functions. For us, service is more of an attunement to reality, an attunement to the truth, to how things are destined to be, to how they can be in their fullest realization. There’s no idea of serving in order to be a good person or to please God. We serve from a deeper kind of love, from an attunement to our objective function in this world. Our attitude in this work is “I want to serve because I love the truth, not because I’m good. And in serving, I’m quite willing to see how bad I am.” So when Christians say, “First you have to see your wretchedness,” I take that to mean that we first need to recognize our impurity, our deficiency, our emptiness. And even after we have seen our wretchedness, to be saved we have to believe in the Christ. Seeing through our wretchedness is the work of purification.

Serving From a Place of Selflessness

We often bridge the spiritual into the world by actions that we are taking to benefit others—by doing acts of kindness, by helping optimize the health in the world or of other people. This is a very worthy and noble thing. There is more to being in the world and having our spiritual freedom, and one of the things that you are bringing up—which is very important—is about knowing who you are and being able to be the presence of what you are as you are making those things happen in the world. That is another level of spiritual freedom, which means that you actually know yourself at every moment to be timeless and outside of the world, at the same time that you are completely present and completely within the world, making yourself a servant of that timelessness. There are various levels of what we do in the world as service and this particular level of service is about being able to have both sides at once, regardless of what action we are taking at the moment—whether it is a noble effort or we are brushing our teeth. When the original goodness of consciousness is active and flowing through into the world, we become able to serve more from a place of selflessness. When the purity of our nature is obscured or we are in the midst of some difficulty, it is harder to do. So it is a process of growing into our natural condition, working through what keeps us from being a more open source of goodness. As we do that, we can integrate further; then our action comes more and more from clarity.

Serving Human Beings and Other Sentient Beings

We definitely need to serve other human beings and other sentient beings. But we need to remember what serving them means. To serve them is to guide them toward their greatest happiness and fulfillment, which means to guide them toward their true nature and their function in relation to this nature. This again is to serve the absolute truth. We serve it by assisting its various manifestations to attain the functions by which they can serve it, which is identical with assisting their self-realization. In other words, when we objectively understand and appreciate what service is, we realize that there is no true difference between serving human beings and serving God.

Serving the Truth

The true joy and the true celebration will arise the more we realize that we are purifying ourselves to be more worthy to serve the truth. Being the servant of the truth is part of our soul's nature. The soul is the servant; the master is the truth. Whatever dimension of truth we happen to have realized is the master we serve. We call this arriving at the station of servitude. The work of purification leads to that station of servitude, of being a good, worthy, and capable servant of the truth.

The Concept of Service is Pervaded by the Concept of Self

Although we might not like it, the concept of service is pervaded by the concept of self. The notion of service is good, and very useful, but it approximates how reality works. Realization must go beyond approximations in order for it to deepen itself, to go to a deeper realization. Living our realization, which is what we are working with, means establishing realization in life. You see, even that language, the way I’m speaking about it, is not completely accurate. I catch myself—the language smacks of the self. When I say “establishing realization,” who is going to establish what, and for whom? We need to be careful because we use those words to mean something that is useful, but if we reify those expressions, we get ourselves in trouble again. We create another obstacle to the full expression of the enlightenment drive.

The Spirit of the Teachings is Conveyed Through Our Actions

As a personal essence, one has no thought or image about being a person, but the capacity to express Being in a spontaneous, personal way is natural and simple. This is a precious way to be of service. Becoming a more actualized vessel of True Nature does not necessarily mean becoming a teacher, however. It means that the wisdom we carry and that we share with others is part of who we are, and the spirit of the teachings is conveyed through our actions. Anyone who is sincere in his or her love for truth is a natural vice-regent of True Nature. Integrating the dimensions during the journey of descent developed the personal essence further into what we named the Pearl, for it is the individualization of all aspects, dimensions, and vehicles experienced on both the ascent and the descent. Ibn ‘Arabi calls this the state of the complete human being that is the totality of the spiritual universe as a personal presence.

The Jeweled Path, pg. 282

There is No Distinction Between Being Authentically Oneself and Serving Absolute Truth

As the freedom vehicle we can recede and merge into our inner nature, which is the vastness of the absolute mystery. We are then the vast stillness and silence that underlies all that is, an absence without which no presence can be. But also, as the freedom vehicle we can manifest as individuals in the world, bringing forth and expressing the qualities of the absolute, and thus serving the absolute. In effect, we are either the absolute mystery or its absolute servant. There is nowhere else to be. We begin to understand service precisely and objectively. To serve is not a matter of serving a person or creature. It is not a matter of serving a community, even humanity. All that is, all forms and sentient beings, exist for the absolute to behold its creative display. All beings are instruments toward this end. Because that is their true and objective function, their true happiness and complete fulfillment rests in totally fulfilling their function, in completely being themselves. For beings to completely be themselves is to serve their source, which is actually their innermost identity. To be happy is to do what they are designed to do, which is to be instruments for the absolute truth. There is no distinction between being authentically oneself and serving absolute truth. The two are absolutely identical.

What Service Is

Service is not a morally good action. It has nothing to do with morality. Service is the useful and necessary work or action that is needed for the realization and development of Essence, without regard to boundaries of self and other.

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