Transcript of a talk given at the 2011 Arcane School conference in London
As disciples in training we are all to a certain extent familiar, both on a theoretical, as well as on a practical level, with the notion of “service.”
In Volume II of Esoteric Psychology we find the following definitions of service: “Service can be briefly described as the spontaneous effect of soul contact… It is the manner whereby the nature of that soul can demonstrate in the world of human affairs… It is a soul instinct… 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 a 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. [It] is a method of producing phenomenal outer and tangible results upon the physical plane.”
Surely, the degree and stability of soul contact improves, with effort, over time. At the initial stages service is, inevitably, to a great extent colored by personality, with the emphasis being on the form side of service. At these stages the motive is, often, personal ambition.
In “Treatise on White Magic” we read it is through the study of right motive that we are lead, “naturally to right service…."
"From service to an individual as an expression of love, to the family, or to the nation, there grows service to a member of the Hierarchy, to a Master's group and thence service to humanity. Eventually there is developed a consciousness of and service of the Plan, and a consecration to the underlying purpose of the great Existence Who has brought all into being for the fulfillment of some specific objective.”
The theme here is one of progression, of unfolding at what could be perceived as a geometric rate, from the individual as a unit all the way to the divine, the “great Existence”, God. As we, as consciousnesses graduate from level to level, as the soul makes itself increasingly present in our threefold personality, we are rendered ever more capable of service, and as our circle of influence and our sphere of contacts expands, so does our responsibility to those linked to and through us - the soul is, after all, also defined in terms of its ability to respond to contact.
As we evolve, we become instruments of evolution ourselves, and our capacity for service translates into potency for participation in the divine plan. In Esoteric Psychology we read: “A wider range of contacts becomes possible, until eventually (if several lives have been thus spent under the influence of the Law of Service) the effect of the outpouring life may become nationwide and worldwide.”
From the microcosmic viewpoint of human existence, all references to man and his three bodies in relation to the evolutionary process inevitably breed the notion of distance - distance between where one may find oneself at the present moment and where one aspires to be at the moment when the next immediate goal is reached.
It is, indeed, true that service inevitably starts with the personal life. Not necessarily as an act of self-serving, but as a logical and natural result of the fact that the radius of service for the individual entity will in the initial stages, by necessity, be so narrow as to barely contain the entity itself.
But no matter how far one may find oneself along the path, now matter how big the sphere of influence, a distance between that which one is, and that which one can be, always exists. In fact, if the human condition is a stage along the path of evolution of consciousness towards the divine, evolution being a “steadily increasing sensitivity to light and illumination,” then this distance is, for all practical purposes, infinite.
What then makes it possible for anyone at any stage along the path to aspire to ascend to the next, higher turn of the spiral, is the fact that any such distance can be reduced to a degree that makes it possible to cover, through a process which could be likened to a reverse unfolding - a folding of sorts, of “bridging.” The task of halving the distance so that others may cover it, of building and of being, of serving as the bridge so that others may cross over, falls square onto the shoulders of the servers which find themselves between the two levels of consciousness, hierarchically speaking. This we often see referred to as the “midway point.”
Of course, there are infinite degrees and grades of consciousness just as there are infinite steps on the path, and likewise infinite levels of service.
And though the seasoned aspirant - if such an expression is appropriate - may already be familiar with translations of consciousness, though they may even be becoming accustomed to the process, there are by necessity some bridges which cannot be covered with a simple displacement or translation - the shifts required in vibrational frequency call for transformations the profoundness of which we cannot even begin to fathom. They require such a radical change in the entity that, once the transformation is complete, in a essence a death (and rebirth) in-life has occurred. Such steps cannot be taken without the employment of the will, without destruction of the old. And once they are completed, everything around us may remains the same, yet to us it is different, as if we were born to a new life. These transformations, are, of course, in occult terms, what we’ve come to know as the initiations.
Initiations are described in Discipleship in the New Age (Vol. I) as “the moments of crisis wherein the consciousness hovers on the very border-line of revelation. These are situations when the pull between the pairs of opposites is tremendous, and the field of tension or the focus of the effort is to be found in the disciple “standing at the midway point.” “The disciple brings the two aspects of his nature together in full consciousness and with clear intention through a planned act of the will, and this act produces a point of tension in the "centre of the burning-ground wherein the two can meet,”. It is at this "midway point" that the great submission of the lower to the higher takes place.”
“Will he respond and react consciously to the higher pull and pass on to new and higher areas of spiritual experience?” the Tibetan wonders. “Or will he fall back into the glamour of time and space and into the thraldom of the personal life?”
Later in the same volume we find yet another reference to the midway point, where it is described as the “place between the world of outer affairs and the inner world of meaning.” In fact, the concept of the midway point is a recurring theme in the Tibetan’s books, and it soon becomes obvious that it the midway point itself shifts with each consecutive unfolding of consciousness, as would be expected. The Hierarchy of the Masters is described as the group which stands midway between Shamballah and Humanity. These Masters are said to take the sixth initiation alone at the”midway point,” again between Shamballa and the hierarchy. Christ Himself is said to stand midway between the mother and the Father.
Returning to our own challenge, that of the disciple-in-training, if we consider the consecutive expansions of consciousness which result in the powers of the soul increasingly gaining control of our threefold vehicle, which in turn results in expansions of our capacity for, and sphere of, service in the three worlds, we will recognise an expansion brought about by a "vertical" translation, vertical by virtue of the meeting of the higher and the lower ("higher" and "lower" being, strictly speaking, arbitrary assignments to help us build a frame of reference when discussing such abstract subjects). The axis along which this translation, or contact, occurs forms the first, vertical axis of the cross of the disciple.
This is but one dimension of the translation of consciousness: The entity in question builds a bridge for itself through which energy flows, and by channeling this energy through to its sphere of influence becomes a bridge itself. This is clearly stated by the Tibetan when he writes that “When the personal lower self is subordinated to the higher rhythms and obedient to the new Law of Service, then the life of the soul will begin to flow through the man to others”
“Just as long as the contact is a vertical one, the work is fairly simple, the next step is apparent and plain, the line of activity to be followed is clear and the inspiration is fresh and vital,” he points out. “But the moment that the consciousness of the disciple becomes inclusive horizontally (and that must take place), then the difficulty becomes great, and the disciple begins to understand—for the first time—the true significance of the words, "the Cross of the Saviour."
The above mentioned cross is thus formed with the addition of the second dimension of the translation of consciousness, its center moving from its initial seat, the personality, to the soul. Since the soul is group-conscious this transference results in a reorientation of the consciousness (and consequently, the personality) so that it now revolves around the group.
With this development the bridge-building is now complete, for not only is there access, through the group, to what lies above and beyond, but also to that which lies within and between: The bridge built of souls and servers has indeed become the link between the subjective and objective worlds, since it expresses not only the unity both the unity between between God and His creatures, but amongst God’s creatures as well .
The work of translation is also complete, and the soul, that which relates spirit and matter, the monad and the personality, that which serves the evolutionary purpose of bridging one with the other, having touched and bridged both shores, must now itself stand firm at the midway point so that the process may be completed. I quote: “If he [the disciple] can train himself to stand where the four arms meet (I am here speaking symbolically) he will discover that he stands in the place of power, and at the "midway point." Then he can truly begin (again speaking symbolically) to look off to the four corners of the earth, both subjectively and objectively, and with reality; immediately the strain is terrific.”
This point, the Tibetan reminds us, “does not refer to the man upon the path of life, pulled as he is between the pairs of opposites upon the plane of desire, but to the soul standing at the midway point between the monad and the personality and preparing to make the Great Renunciation [of the heresy of separateness], and to disappear, leaving the two (personality and monad) perfectly at-one.”
This is the culmination of the soul's purpose as that which is born of the merging of spirit and matter, and it is the perfect depiction of selfless service, so much so that, once the goal has been achieved, the reason for being also expires.
The present cycle of service is now completed. The man, as the soul, in full waking consciousness has taken the fourth initiation. The midway point exists no more, since there is no distance. The bridge between spirit and matter no longer is, because there is no separation to bridge. The three have become the two, within the one.