Post number 19 of 33 in The Ganymede Progression.

Service is at the heart of the life of Jedi. The term means, literally, to serve others, and the provision of this service is one of the core differentiators between Taoism and Jediism, for me. We are not passive, we do not watch the other stumble with a wry smile; rather, we are there to help them up, to create a splint and to see them safely on their way again. We serve others in any way we can, creating fellowship and supporting those in need. We are not “above”, or “too dignified” to perform even the smallest or most menial task. Service is the core of what it means to be Jedi.

For me, this was the fundamental draw and debate around becoming Jedi. I saw that Jedi were “Heroic Taoists” in many ways, believing and acting in accordance with belief in the unity of all things, which is my fundamental world-view. But Jedi used that as cause to support and serve others, which is distinct from the usual Taoist practice (at least as prescribed by Lao Tzu). The “Sage” helps others, certainly; but the Sage is no hero. To serve is to make oneself a hero; to dedicate oneself to becoming the change one wishes to see in the world. For me, Taoism was always too inclined to passivity. Whilst we prize serenity, passion also has its part: I was looking for a faith to inspire and give a vehicle to my passion for supporting those around me, expressing my compassion in service.

Our doctrine speaks of service often, not least within our Creed where we are told that “it is in giving that we receive”. For me, an understanding that rather than being two distinct individuals, myself and another are linked, unified, “the left hand meeting the right”, it seems obvious that my cause should be to serve the other, where possible. I am not giving of myself, I am giving to myself.

In my opinion, service should be a higher priority in the minds of many Jedi. I find that many here are still somewhat egocentric, thinking first of how something benefits themselves, rather than of how it disadvantages someone else. I think perhaps this is expressive of a certain immaturity of belief – not that the people are immature, but that they haven’t followed their beliefs to their logical conclusion yet. If we are all moved by the same Force, we are all the same in a fundamental way. We are the Force. We are meeting other faces, other facets, but we are meeting only ourselves. It is nonsensical to take from others without giving. It creates imbalance which we ourselves must pay for; imbalance we ourselves must suffer.

Service is therefore a central aspect of my approach as a Teaching master, and has been a central aspect of my life as a Jedi as well. I serve as a member of our Clergy, providing services to the wider Temple., I have served in offices in this capacity before now. I serve the Temple in other ways, for example serving as the main point of contact when new members wish to be considered for Novice status in the Order. I also produce items for the Temple’s facebook page, and maintain backups of the Temple’s member map. But this is stuff I do for the Temple – it’s obviously inward-facing, it’s something that benefits myself and my friends here. It’s not the same thing as serving the wider community.

And so I do that in other ways. For example, I have spoken now many times about the service I do at the homeless shelter in my town. I work the least popular shift, as overnight team leader. Whilst other volunteers serve by having dinner with the guests, cooking for them, playing board games and watching films with them, making tea or driving equipment around, I and my team have to act as police, ensuring guests don’t take illicit substances and actually settle down to sleep. We are the ones who most frequently break up fights. We are the ones who load the often sweaty, sometimes soiled bedding back into bags and load it onto the minibus in the morning. And, most often, we are the ones who give up a night’s sleep to support and serve the guests. These are not people I know, and as most of them are asleep whilst I work, they are unlikely to become friends. I do not get any great notice or praise for doing what I do there. I do it because it is right; it is consistent with my beliefs. It is a gap which needs to be filled; as a Jedi, I fill it.

Service is a favourite topic of mine and I could write about it all day. As I said earlier, I feel it is not given enough focus at our Temple. I’d like to see something about service in the IP, something requiring time and effort. I’d like to see more Teaching Masters setting their Apprentices tasks which require some effort in service to their wider communities. I will say it one last time: Service is at the heart of the life of Jedi.