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The Relationship between Meditation and Service in Spiritual Growth
by Benjamin Creme

Meditation enables contact and rapport with one's soul. Altruistic service enables one to carry out the soul's purpose in the everyday world, thereby decentralizing one's focus and enhancing spiritual growth.

Modern psychology has divided humanity into two main types: the contemplative, and the man (or woman) of action; the introvert and the extrovert personality. Esoteric psychology also recognises these differences in people's approach to life, but characteristically, since it aims at synthesis rather than analysis, it sees their eventual integration. To the esotericist, the introvert is one whose attention is focussed inwards to the soul, who has good and easy contact with that aspect of himself, for whom formal meditation is attractive as a more scientific and organised means of deepening that contact, but whose contact with the outside world is relatively fragmentary and limited, leading to difficulties of expression and functioning on the physical plane.

The extrovert, on the other hand, is one whose contact with the outer world is strong and vivid, who has little difficulty in relating to people and situations, but whose contact with the soul is limited and largely unconscious; his attention is directed outwards. Life after life, our souls create vehicles, our personalities, through which both modes can be developed and perfected. The evolutionary aim is their ultimate integration: an uninterrupted, direct contact and at-onement with the soul; and, at will, a free-flowing rapport with the outer world of people and events. This is the ideal; its achievement marks the Initiate.

Twin ways

The twin ways of the path to this integration are meditation and service. Through meditation, contact with the soul is deepened and strengthened, gradually bringing about the infusion of the personality by the soul. The energies and attributes of the soul, Spiritual Will, Love and Intelligence manifest more and more through the personality until such time as the fusion of the two is complete.

Through service, the purpose of the soul is carried out. The nature of the soul is to serve; it knows only altruistic service; all that it is of Will, Love and Intelligence it seeks to put at the service of the Plan - the Plan of the Logos of which it is a reflection. In Palestine, the Christ revealed the fact of the soul and instituted the Path of Service as the way par excellence to God-realisation.

This is no less true today. The great illusion of our personality life is the sense of being at the centre of the Universe. We are all of major interest and importance to ourselves.

Nothing is so effective in decentralising ourselves as service. Nothing so helps us to gain perspective and to grow spiritually. As we serve, we identify more and more with "the other", that which we serve, and gradually shift the focus of our attention from our little separate selves. We gain a broader, more inclusive vision of the world and so come into a more correct relationship with the Whole of which we are a part.

Many today, especially those working in the Eastern tradition, under the influence of one or other of the many Gurus now teaching in the West, see meditation as an end in itself - They see no need for service or outer action to change society for the better; see no outer change being possible without an inner change of heart. Many also believe that simply by meditation alone they are doing more good for the world than otherwise they could. No doubt, if they were God-realised Masters that might well be so, but even the Masters work unstintingly in service to the world; none more than They.

Through meditation, one draws on the energies and inspiration of the soul which give life and meaning to the personality expression. Where these are denied their correct outlet in service, a "damming up" takes place in the personality vehicles, mental, emotional and physical, with unfortunate results. Many of the neuroses and other illnesses of aspirants and disciples stem from this non-use of soul energy and denial of soul purpose.

Meditation remains the royal way to contact with the soul, but once this is achieved, the way forward for the true aspirant to discipleship is through the acceptance, also, of the life of service. The inner and the outer focus must be balanced, and a start made on the Infinite Way, the way of service, which calls all true Sons of God from the lowliest disciple up to, and beyond, the Christ Himself. It is the same need to serve which impels the Logos into manifestation and gives us life.

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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005