Whom Do You Serve?

Whom Do You Serve?

Service Project by wittco
Service Project by wittco

So many people have lost their sense of wholeness and connection to our deeper nature. The result, they serve their ego.

The ego is a function to differentiate what is self and what is other. We need to know what’s our body and what’s not so we can walk and cut vegetables, for example.

Yet when we put what see’s itself as separate in charge, trouble begins.

The ego likes to have confidence in its faulty position, so it creates stories in the mind about the world. This can help it adapt and make choices. But all too often, those stories are based on distorted assumptions. Imagined ideas and brief experiences it rated important come to dominate the rest of our life. For example, we may see a bearded man as “like daddy” or as suspicious when that feature has nothing to do with either.

Our daily “rating” is full of such assumptions, leading us into regular conflict with the flow of life. Suffering results.

Worse, we also associate many of those stories with our sense of self. We thus defend them, despite other evidence.

Ego is habit-driven, so if something is said or heard often enough, we can take it as true, whatever the evidence. Like being called stupid or brilliant by a parent many times. Or believing the world is out to get you or is here to serve you. This is why it’s important to choose your friends and sources wisely.

Notice the stories your mind tells over and over and that you tell others. Are these really true? How does that belief affect you? Byron Katie, for example, explores this in her The Work process.

Notice how we communicate. When we’re chatting with someone, are we looking for a chance to tell our story? When they’re talking, are we thinking about what we’re going to say? Are we assuming what they’re going to say, jumping ahead? Are we actually listening and present for them? Or are we lost in our own stories? Are we only serving ourselves and our narrative?

Frankly, there are better things to serve. The ego is a useful function, but it makes a poor master.

What about serving your family or community? Or your spiritual source? Or life itself? Or the Divine?

And by serving, I don’t mean subservient. I mean serving from sufficiency, recognizing our gifts and shadows, and offering all to our greater nature.

The Yogas of India encourage a surrender to our deeper being or higher Self. This allows the deeper flows of life to be in charge, rather than an identified me.

We may serve knowledge, or love, or serve others through action.

By serving more than ourselves, the resistance to what is arising falls away more easily and we move into harmony with life.

You may be doing well here. But be alert to the ego, thinking it’s above all this. That’s a story too.

Consider what you serve and what that serves.

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  1. Sandesh Sheth

    I wish I had a way of knowing how to draw the line between ego that helps and ego that does not. I could have given up easily were it not for my ego and on the same hand I have floundered due to my ego.
    Without the discrimination, I follow your advice: do what I feel needs to be done and surrender the results.

    1. Hi Sandesh
      Yes, the ego swings both ways. The problem with trying to figure that out is it’s the ego that is trying to discriminate itself. Once enough presence is established, then the higher Self can discriminate much more clearly. With awakening, the ego steps out of the drivers seat. Then, those old habit patterns can be resolved. Life gets simpler.

  2. Eira

    Lovely post, thank you, and most apt. In times of confusion and fear it seems even easier to retreat into the trench mindset of the ego’s “me first”.
    The part about putting that which sees itself as separate in charge causes all sorts of trouble is a poignant reminder.
    Reminds me of a point that stuck with me from the N.D.Walsch book on the Ten Illusions, where the first illusion upon which all the others are founded, that separation exists. Any other illusion, e.g. the existence of insufficiency, or superiority, is predicated on the illusion of separation.
    Figures your description of serving is one of the more efficient ways to deal with any superiority or separation illusion.

    May I ask what you mean by ‘daily “rating”’? Do you mean how we judge/rate things and events? (At first glance I read ‘daily “ranting”’ but clearly it wasn’t that. Though admittedly ranting happens too! *laughs*)

    1. Hi Eira
      Yes, it’s natural to fall back into a protective me-first mode when stressed. But we tend to get lost there.

      Similarly, Yoga Sutra describes Ignorance as the first of the causes of suffering. In this case, ignorance of our true nature. And that leads to that sense of separation.

      It’s worth noting this too is also natural when we’ve lost site of who we really are. We have to fall back on something, so we naturally land on the ego function, designed to distinguish self from other. With it, we learn what is mother and what is self, where the floor is when we walk, know whats fingers and vegetables are when chopping, etc. It’s a very useful function but makes a poor master.

      Agreed, serving requires us to step back from that center a bit, unless we “serve” in a distorted way, like helping the poor to feel better than.

      The “rating” refers to the intellect, associated with the mind. It constantly categorizes everything we experience into good and bad, etc. The issue is that many of the ratings are false and it’s often driven by a resistance to experience. This gets in the way of experiences resolving. Most are unaware of a lot of this because it’s “behind” the mind. We may see symptoms in the narrative chat.

      Then when we step back into the observer mode, it becomes conscious. This can sometimes be a bit of a shock when we see how much we’re discounting, resisting, and telling ourselves odd stories about the world and others. Like a grumpy child on a quiet tantrum. But it casts a shadow over our quality of experience.

      1. Eira

        Thank you for the clarification.
        Yes, vacillating between increasing witnessing and then “losing” it for a bit while more ego dust is chipping off and whirling around is a little exhausting right now. But every time the observer mode gets back online is like a gasp of air breaking through the surface, and reaffirms that mode. Interesting process to go through. It is quite a shock indeed, how pervasive some of those stories are, and insidious!
        Sometimes feels like all I can do is staying on course and sticking with the programme and daily routine as much as possible. And trying not to listen when the stories say I’m not worthy of observing. That’s a really old one.

        Reading your posts help support the process though.

        1. Hi Eira
          Right. We’re also in a time where a lot of that chipping is happening in the collective too. It can indeed get tiresome but it is an optimum time for the process.

          At some point, the volume of stuff rushing forward to be seen will ease and the losing will be much less. The grip of the mind will dissipate. And then, it becomes ever-present, unshakable. (Just translating the Yoga Sutra part in the first pada where it talks about the various things that purify the mind.)

          Glad it’s a support. There is an end to the noise level. 🙂

  3. Suz

    Thanks, David, for this perspective on serving:
    “And by serving, I don’t mean subservient. I mean serving from sufficiency, recognizing our gifts and shadows, and offering all to our greater nature.”

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