You may be noticing a pattern by now. Much of what we have said about the vow of poverty sounds a lot like the vow of humility. Letting go and letting God, the willingness to be led, recognizing that you don’t own anything anyway – these are all aspects of humility. It’s almost as though the five vows form a pyramid with humility as the capstone. In sacred symbology, five is the number of man and is represented by the five-pointed star. Humility is at the top, at the Crown Chakra, because to be humble is to be receptive. The left hand is the hand of receiving, and the right hand is the hand of giving. Hence we have, “Let not the right hand know what the left hand is doing.” Don’t give with an eye for what you might receive in return. Give without thought of repayment. This also relates to the vow of purity, but we will get to that later. For now, let’s look at the right hand, the hand of giving. Service.
The heart is the hardest working organ in the body, but ironically it is also the least developed, at least in terms of consciousness. The split between heart and brain is well-known. And while we have the capacity to love, few of us can direct it. We can direct our attention, if we have developed concentration, but we have a hard time summoning love when it is not already there. In other words, we find it difficult to love deliberately. This is at the heart of Jesus’ words, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
How many people in the world suffer from the condition known as “failure to thrive”? In a hospital study a few years back, it was discovered that touch – warm, affectionate human contact – was essential to premature babies in order for them to thrive. (See how long it takes for the mind to catch up to the heart?) Those who received it did well; those who didn’t usually did not survive. Much of the trouble in the world can be directly traced to the lack of deliberate love. It is the one thing we all need – if not actual touch, then “warm, affectionate regard.” After all, we touch each other all the time – with our mind. The moral conscience evolves from acting morally to thinking morally to being moral. At its core (cour) service is about deliberate love.
It is easy to hate your enemy, but it serves no one, not even you. In fact, hating your enemy is the fastest way to lose to him. Michael Corleone in The Godfather said, “Never hate your enemies – it affects your judgement.” And if you think that’s cynical, consider the story of the Samurai warrior sent by his lord to assassinate a rival warlord: the offending warlord was caught off guard late at night in his quarters. His back was against the wall as the killer made ready to lop off his head. In desperation, he spat in his attacker’s face. The assassin jerked back, looked intensely at his intended victim, and then in a disciplined, military style sheathed his sword and walked away. Why? Because it is against the Samurai code of honor to kill in anger.
In prison, the worst offense you can commit against a fellow inmate is to diss him. Disrespect can get you killed. You can punch someone in the face, and that’s okay. You will get punched back, and hard, but you won’t get killed for it. Why is it that some people can walk down the street through the most dangerous situations and not get accosted? It is because they do not judge those they see there. Judgement is the highest form of disservice there is, because it is an attempt to trap the other person in his error. Judgement says, “You are evil,” when that person’s soul knows that it is not. Jesus said not to fear those who can kill your body, but be damned scared of those who can kill your soul. Fear is the precursor to anger, and anger is the precursor to violence. Again, no one is served.
To serve is to exercise the heart. It is to love deliberately and then act accordingly. Deliberate love lacks sentimentality; it loves whether it feels like it or not. It is love powered by will. Nothing cleans the pipes of the heart like deliberate love. Originally, the heart was the positive pole of the spiritual body, but it has been corrupted by selfishness and vanity. This is why there is such a lack of moral courage in the world. Loving deliberately strengthens the heart and develops moral courage. It is the Right Hand of God.