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Giving Service


    Sanford Baran:  It is a pleasure to gather this morning on this second Sunday of May 2018. As is the custom here in the United States and Canada, the second Sunday of May is celebrated as Mother's Day, a time to honor and offer our appreciation for the mothers in our lives, but also for all mothers everywhere. In doing this we recognize and give deep thanks for what is back of motherhood—a spirit of nurturing, enfoldment and unconditional love that undergirds the arrival of new life and ensures that what is born flourishes and thrives. We know this spirit firsthand, having received such loving care and attention in our own formative years. Everyone who is or has ever been a mother has the direct experience of consistently offering to their children unconditional love regardless of the stresses and challenges that come with maternal responsibilities. So, kudos to mothers everywhere for all that you do. We celebrate you and so appreciate the selfless loving spirit that you consistently express in your living.

    We do not have to wait for special occasions to express our appreciation for ones close to us or for that matter anyone who happens to be in our lives. Every day is rightly the perfect day to be thankful for the special gifts that we encounter in others. While there are many whose personalities and mannerisms we easily resonate with, it is not surprising to run into those with whom we do not seem to have much affinity or rapport. But actually, none of this should matter because the real gift that others bring is not what is on the surface but is the spirit back of it all. That is what is real and has value. The question arises, can we embrace what is real in others, regardless of whether we like them or not? This is not to suggest that we should try to be close to everyone and ignore the natural factors of design and attraction that are essential in cultivating friendships and relationships. What I do mean though is that in any situation is there a concerted willingness to connect with what is real, to look for the gifts that others bring, even if we have a problem with some particular individual? Interestingly, as we are willing to put aside our judgements and criticisms the seeming difficulties and frictions often evaporate.

    It is always easy to zero in on the flaws and limitations of people, particularly in these highly-charged political times. But what a difference I find in my own experience when I let all of that go, relaxing into the realization that right now is the perfect moment to appreciate the flow of spirit regardless of who is giving voice to it or how it might have been expressed. There is an interesting balancing act required here. It is not as if we are blind to the fact that the human state is anything close to a true representation of the divine. We see things as they are and have confidence that Life will sort things out. But in the meantime, we seek out what is real and embrace that. It is very straightforward—we offer the very best in ourselves and gracefully welcome the very best from others. In this we joyfully blend into a larger tapestry of service—each one consistently sounding the highest quality of expression and blending with what is expressing perfectly everywhere else.

    The words "giving service" have been used to indicate the giving of a talk, presumably on some spiritual topic. My feeling is that these words actually point to something much larger. In our teleconference gatherings we of course have a main speaker or sometimes multiple speakers. This seems to be a useful format for now, the value of which probably has less to do with the talk and much more to do with the quality of spirit shared. This morning I very much appreciate being in service together, recognizing that the significance of doing this is to allow the fineness of our collective expression to uplift and sanctify the worlds that we inhabit.

    This notion of service is interesting in other ways. Increasingly here in the United States we are becoming more of what is known as a service economy. In the simplest of terms, a service economy is an economy where the primary economic activity is the provision of services rather than the production of goods. Domestically over the last number of years there has been a decline in those industries that make things and an expansion of industries that do things for others. In some industries the services rendered can be quite sophisticated. A good example is IBM, which for years considered itself a hardware company selling "big iron," i.e. large mainframe computers. Today however IBM considers itself primarily a services company. It now sells solutions and expertise not hardware. Why is it doing this? For one thing, selling services turns out to be more profitable. But another important driver is its ability to operate higher up the value chain, having a seat at the table to influence the most value-rich core aspects of a customer's business. Simply put, there is a dawning realization in industry that it is no longer a matter of working harder or smarter—it is a matter of being in a higher place.

    Transforming to a more service-centric model is interesting because from a larger perspective it points to an increasing awareness that there is something considerable happening at the higher finer levels of function and there is an urgency to better understand what these are and to start getting some experience under one's belt. This is not to say that coarser levels of function are no longer necessary. It just emphasizes that there is a lot more going on than what is commonly understood by the constricted consciousness in human beings.

    Our primary focus is to complement and extend Life's creative pulsations, wherever we happen to be. For this to occur we need to be working at those finer levels ourselves. But this is not done in a vacuum—it is done as we handle our moment-to-moment circumstances which can include physical objects, manual labor, other people, our thoughts, feelings and temperament. As we orient to what is higher the magnificence of cosmic coordinating intelligence is allowed to permeate and enrich our spheres of activity exactly where we are. In this process, earthly substance is invigorated and lifted up. It becomes clear that we are a crucial point of connection, consciously bringing the richness and splendor from above to the very specific things that we encounter in the realms of earthly function below. This is how "giving service" actually works.

    It occurred to me that heaven is the ultimate service economy. In heaven, service is not so much a thing but a flow, a current of energy circulating throughout all of creation. All heavenly activity manifests as the movement of Spirit, which proceeds as needed to bring forth beauty and perfection everywhere. We can think of this as service pulsations, movements of the current that provide the energy and direction to bring forth the design as it is emerging in the moment. Rightly our job in all of this is to be in heaven, to be aligned with this heavenly current, while very much living here on earth.

    So, if we are doing our job we not only have experience with the things of the earth but to some degree have a feeling for the things of heaven. And we realize that the things of the earth might have some value here but are definitely much too coarse and unwieldy to be of much use in heaven. The fact is there really is no good reason for the things of the earth to be in heaven as they would only gum up the works.

    But then there are some things that are sort of on the cusp, being both earthly and heavenly. Take for example records—you know, those black vinyl discs that we used back in the day to play recorded music. I mention this specifically because something very interesting has been evolving with respect to recorded music. It is an earthly form that has rapidly evolved into something much more heavenly. Let me explain what I mean.

    For those of us over thirty, records used to be the main way to listen to music at home. You of course needed a phonograph and with that in hand you would go to a brick-and-mortar record store and buy LPs to add to your collection. It would not be unusual to wind up with dozens, hundreds, or maybe even thousands of LPs, which would consume tremendous amounts of shelf space—a very unwieldy affair. Well the next phase of recorded music technology was the CD. These offered better sound and were more compact than LPs but you still ran into the same problems you had with records. You would have to go and buy these at a physical store and you eventually would end up with hundreds or thousands of these cluttering up more shelves. But now fast forward to where we are today. Nowadays, the need for physical media like LPs or CDs has for the most part vanished. All you really need is a monthly subscription to a music streaming service like Spotify or iTunes along with a connection to the internet. It turns out that with these type of music services (notice the word services here) all of the music resides in the cloud, allowing you access to pretty much every recording that ever was released without physically having to own or store anything. Couple this with smart compact speaker technology like the Apple HomePod, which I am pleased to report that I now have in my living room, and behold the realm of recorded music has shrunk down to the point of almost being invisible. It really has evolved into something incredibly subtle and from my perspective truly heavenly. Technology aside, I think examples like this begin to point to something much larger, the fact that heaven is very much here with us. This is an amazing piece of good news!

    I think that it is clear that the earth is increasingly becoming a much more heavenly place. It is all part of an inexorable movement forward that is happening as there are ever more people consciously bringing heaven into the earth of their own momentary living.

    Heaven is the ultimate service economy. How wonderful to be an integral part of that. I am most appreciative for the abundant opportunities to be of service, to give service, ultimately fulfilling what it is that we all have come to do.

May 13, 2018


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