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Here is an excerpt from an article by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen. It is quite inspirational on the nature of 'service" and the difference between helping, fixing, and serving (Helping, Fixing or Serving?, Rachel Naomi Remen, Shambhala Sun, September 1999).
Please go here for the original story.
Here is some of what Dr. Remen writes:
Helping, fixing and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul.
Service rests on the premise that the nature of life is sacred, that life is a holy mystery which has an unknown purpose. When we serve, we know that we belong to life and to that purpose. From the perspective of service, we are all connected: All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy. The impulse to serve emerges naturally and inevitably from this way of seeing.
. . . serving is different from fixing. In fixing, we see others as broken, and respond to this perception with our expertise. Fixers trust their own expertise but may not see the wholeness in another person or trust the integrity of the life in them. When we serve we see and trust that wholeness. We respond to it and collaborate with it. And when we see the wholeness in another, we strengthen it. They may then be able to see it for themselves for the first time.
Service is not an experience of strength or expertise; service is an experience of mystery, surrender and awe. Helpers and fixers feel causal. Servers may experience from time to time a sense of being used by larger unknown forces. Those who serve have traded a sense of mastery for an experience of mystery, and in doing so have transformed their work and their lives into practice.
I wanted to share this article with the community as I experienced this (helping vs service) through a friend recently. I was watching my friend go through a spirial into depression and I wanted nothing more than to help him through it. I tried so many ways to reach him---tough love, nuturing, inspiration, lecturing, humor, healing--- but he wasn't having a bar of it. He did not want my help for he wanted to get through this part of his journey alone. Is it not weakness to ask for help, but it is also not strength on my part of offer it. I was there to listen and he wanted me to be there to witness his journey but not to interfere and one of the hardest things I had to do was to step back and allow this, watching someone I love and care for go through pain. But I learned that this was part of my journey to let go and trust that the service I give will reach those at the appropriate time and place of their choosing. I will hold my space and offer the light for those to find their own way through any darkness. And they will. Always with their own inner light.Last modified on