Discourse on the Nature of Material Service
How we deal with things is a subject of superficial scope -- it would
seem. So then, where do we go from here?
It is said that our areas of expertise can be grouped into three: People skills, Ideas/information skills and Material skills. I had always considered myself mostly of the later group. At times in this life I have worked as farmer, truck driver, carpenter, painter, electronic equipment assembler, operator, tester, and technician. My pastime has been in gardening, sculpture, collage, tai chi, hiking and cooking. Though my activity has been largely of the material world, Things, I recognize that all I know of things is in the area of Ideas/Information. Likewise, all manipulated material can be considered for service to people. We may have more talent in one of the three areas of service, but we act in all to some extent. Those who are primarily of the Things or Material group may see life as a collection of parts in relation to each other, how they fit together and what doesn’t fit. The physical sciences are the rules for living. There is energy and matter, space and time. Of matter itself, there is solid, liquid and gas. That’s the whole of it. All can be managed by the laws of physical science.
And of course, people are material assemblies of matter, infused with
energy, and operating within the parameters of space and time. That’s
about it from the simple perspective. But I persist. Not to demean the
importance and potential of people, but rather to take a step in that
direction. You see, it is the People person I would really choose to
I admire those who are comfortable in a group setting, conversant,
quick of mind and reply--the life of a party. I am not. A talk-show
host I am not. It is beyond me how they can command an audience and
guests with interest and humor. By the time I formulate the words to
manifest a verbal presence in social setting, the subject has advanced
two or three topics. Not that I consider myself inept or ignorant, but
rather deliberate and thorough. That’s why I write--a talent of the
Idea area. I write of things and ideas and people. And the relevance
of my ideas of things, or material skills, to people.
When I first recognized my position of survival among the three areas
of skill, I viewed it as on a lifeboat in a swirling sea of emotion,
unformed half-thoughts and entities not yet manifest--like a log among
many in a maelstrom of uncertainty. But as I learned to take control
of the vessel’s direction, I started to gain a sense of the true value
of those who serve by material service. Not just that it is the lowest
level of operation, as I had seemed to learn, but that there is an
honorable ethic in the work.
What is the real worth of working with things? The truth in material
service? What do you see in a painting by Monet, or new-painted house? What is the feeling
when you touch a sculpture of Rodin, or cherry banister?
It is a joy to watch a craftsman or artist at work, or experience
quality theater or dance. To tour a home built with integrity of
workmanship and material is for me of a joy that equals celebration. A
party of delight in quality of light and sound, ambiance and love.
Could be ecstatic realization.
What makes it so? What makes any service of value? Is it only the
increase of material enhancement to the individual or society? What
other values are there?
Material service, working with things, is but the imbuing of matter
with the finest energy in the universe. Grandmother’s quilt, Marily’s
cinnamon rolls. The high chair Dad built for Ben as a baby.
Expressions of love. Works of wealth and treasures of the heart.
Service to life is praise of creation and the Creator.
Have I diverged from the stated channel of thought? I believe I have
cut to the heart of creation on the material level. What do we do when
we work with things, craft an object, or operate an instrument? We
dispense a love for life, by impressing the material with an attribute
from our own being. I believe we are more of spiritual being than
material. Many who believe likewise may say to focus on the material
universe is not the point. I agree. But focus through all disciplines
is a spiritual attribute. That is the point. Practicing the principles
of spiritual law in all we do can be meditation, prayer, or true
I once had a job assembling credit card embossing machines. Each
weighed about 90 pounds. At first, learning the procedure was
exasperating and time-consuming--very unrewarding--not to mention
heavy and awkward to manage, from workbench to cart, lifting and
turning. But with repetition and practice, assembly time improved. I
made less mistakes and the machine was so much more easy to handle.
After awhile, instead of the forced labor of frustrating work, it was
more like directing or choreographing, or watching a dancer before me.
So much less expenditure of energy. A joy instead of a burden.
When I shifted my mindset from enslavement to creation, the burden was
lifted. Those who work out of obligation or regret, in tedium or
resentment, transfer the attitude to the vibration of the object or
medium. Those who work only for the pay it provides, gain only that
meager, material salary. The vibration of the object can be felt, if
only on a subconscious level, by all who use or handle it in the
future. That is unless those later in the process, i.e., quality
assurance and testing, marketers and movers, can re-balance the
energies initially askew. Quality on this material plane starts with
respect of matter itself and learning to harmonize with it, keeping in
mind the end user -- people.
Harmony is the heart of all service. It starts with intent, or
dedication to a greater good. Then there is attunement to the medium.
Visualize. Listen. Feel the energy of matter. What was before? The
genesis? Original intent? Tune to all that touched and witnessed its
forming, its progression. What slowed its growth, or promoted it in
the journey through space and time. Follow it to the present. The gift
for all is in the hands of craftsmen--masters in the craft of material
service. Harmony in action is wisdom with tools, with technique, with
the love of a master becoming. Completion in cycles of harmonic
If we love what we do, we are rich in life and the anticipation of its
unfolding. The difference is in choice. Not that we can always pick
our perfect occupation, but we can choose our expression of it.
Accepting the creative challenge that all tasks contain is the means
to expression. The value of things, or service by them, is not in the
matter itself, but the hearts of the craftsman, the chef, the farmer
or driver. It manifests in love and service to all life.
This non-material perspective could be the substance of fulfillment in
material service. It is the key to loving what you do, if you are not
doing what you love. Look for what makes a task a high form of
service. The art of precision in nuance can be applied to the most
menial chore. Love from the heart, through the hands is the skill of a
master. We all have that potential--the true expression of Soul. The
working of the human heart may be known from the spiritual perspective
on things, and their nature of being and function in service.
People as objects in the simple sense is perverse, yet our assemblage
of flesh and spirit, matter and energy, is the end product of the
highest form of evolution on the planet. Not just assembly, but
craftsmanship or performance with intent. The Creative Source. With
the talents and choices this has given us, we can accept the
responsibility to further the process. We can choose to evolve to a
higher state, or not.
Respect and love for all life is a recognition of our place in the
universe. Now we are in the world of matter. But is this really our
Solid, liquid, gas. Energy. Spirit. Mineral, plant, animal, man. Do we
look at life as a mere evolution of structure in the world of physics
and biology, or can we see it as an evolution of Soul? We create our
own reality at the state of consciousness we choose. One choice is
love in material service to all life. It is not by happenstance that
we are here, but by Love.
© 2011 Ardi Keim (3/11)