What defines the Path of Service? To me, the path of service consists of three aspects: Service to the Gods, Service to the Community and Service to the Self. In this article, I hope to be able to help define the Path of Service as well as provide examples of ways one can traverse this path.
In the Service to the Divine
The spirit is that which drives us is called the Divine in this document for the sake of brevity and simplicity. For each person, what is considered Divine is different. Some believe in Gods, others believe that the Universe is the “Divine”, some folks believe that Nature is Divine, and still others believe in a spark of spiritual energy or a source of spiritual energy that imbibes all things with life and is the network in which spiritual life is connected. However it is interpreted, it is considered sacred or Divine.
If one honours the Divine, they know that it resides in all things. Therefore, service of any sort for any being is done in service to the Divine…even service to oneself!
This is the most obvious one in any spiritual path. What exactly is it, though, that defines service to Divinity? Of course there are the obvious definitions, such as honouring the Divine, following the moral codes set out by Deity, if one believes in such things, but there is so much more. To one on the spiritual path, service to the Divine is an everyday practice, in all aspects of life.
Put simply: It is the service to the spirit within oneself and outside of oneself.
Service to the Divine on the spiritual level could include daily devotions, performing rituals, or meditation. On a community level it could mean performing acts of compassion.
In Service to the Community
This type of service encompasses a large variety of acts, including being faithful and useful to your immediate Pagan community, your mundane community, and the human community in general.
We all have our roles and duties in life through our work, family, friends or associates. In the performance of those duties, we are, in fact, providing a service. We provide a service to our bosses or clients at work by doing the jobs we are assigned. Those jobs contribute to the smooth operation of the business that employs us. How we do our jobs also contributes to the path of service.
My mother used to say “Do all things with a good heart and it will make what you are doing even better”. By doing our tasks with the path of service in mind makes the job more enjoyable for you while still benefiting the person you are doing the work for. Doing a job with a heavy heart or lack of care is not enjoyable for you and it may affect the quality of your work, making it noticeable to the one you are working for.
The same goes for the Pagan community. Pagan groups are making an effort more than ever to benefit the community outside of their own to make themselves known as a legitimate and morally sound community.
There are several ways of walking the path of service in a community:
- External community service is where an individual or group reaches out beyond their own walls and seeks to serve the larger community they live in. Activities can include raising money for a charity, volunteering at an animal shelter, adopting a kitten, starting a tree planting campaign, volunteering time at a children’s hospital or veterans’ home, donating food collected at rituals to the food bank, or even going outside of the country on compassionate missions (Save the Children, etc.).
- Internal community service includes everything done by an individual to better their fellow employees at work, folks in their immediate community or fellow members of their spiritual group. Such activities at work can include doing extra work around the office to improve efficiency or starting a monthly birthday lunch to improve morale.
- Within the spiritual community, one can donate of their time or resources by editing the newsletter, organizing a rummage sale or just donating time or items for it, offering support to fellow members who are feeling down, filling a position on a council and serving it well, or assisting at group functions.
In Service to Oneself
The most important type of service one can provide on top of service to Divine and the community is the service on provides to oneself, for that is service to the Divine within.
Society seems to focus on serving others while making service to oneself seem selfish or conceited. The truth of the matter is that before you can be of any service to others, you must take care of yourself first!
This one is not usually considered to be a service, but it is. Not only is it important to be compassionate to the Divine and the Community, it is important to be respectful towards oneself as well.
There are three aspects to the self: Mind, body and spirit. Service to oneself consists of nurturing all three aspects in some form or another. The question is, how can one provide service to oneself?
- Service to the Mind: This means nourishing and caring for the mind by learning how to handle stress, getting educated by learning as much as possible, and by being emotionally stable and happy. Methods of doing this include: learning or practicing stress relief techniques, being aware of your emotional limits, learning something new, keeping the mind busy and challenged by taking up hobbies or activities or finding a career that satisfies these elements, taking time out for oneself, and maintaining a positive outlook
- Service to the Body: Simply put, this is the act of caring for the body through eating properly, exercising and by practicing good hygiene. All these things will keep the body operating at its optimum level and helping to keep one’s self esteem high by looking and feeling great.
- Service to the Spirit: If you traverse a spiritual path, chances are you are providing service to the spirit, but what is it exactly? Like the body and the mind, service to the spirit simply means the nourishment and care of it. Does this mean blindly following a path or seeking power? Not at all. The goal of spirituality is to provide the spirit with the chance to grow and learn.
Keeping these three aspects in a state of harmony within themselves and with each other will help to make you look and feel your best and will allow them to grow and be resilient to almost anything life has to throw at you. A person who is well educated, happy, healthy and respectful to him or her self will be of more benefit to the universe around him or her than someone who is not.