There is at this time in world history an increasing interest in, and aspiration towards service activity of one kind or another. A dilemma faced by many people of goodwill at this time is the question of how best to serve, and how best to satisfy that palpable inner urge towards participation in the beneficent economy of the Whole. Furthermore, we have seen over the past 150 years or so the emergence of a new and powerful entity in the field of world salvage - the serving group. These groups have opened up countless avenues for service, making it relatively easy for men and women of all backgrounds and means to add their weight to some cause or other - both financially and practically. this article attempts to offer a broad overview of the dynamic field of service as it presents in modern times under the influence of changing conditions and energetic causes, whilst seeking to bring to the fore a recognition of that potent field of subjective service - a field of activity accessible to all - which is, according to the Wisdom of the Ages, the vitalising cause of all outer and objective philanthropic effects.
In searching for the basic cause and impulse behind these emergent ideas we need only recognise the fact that the planetary life is making its transition from the Piscean Age into the new Age of Aquarius - symbolised by the server, the man carrying a water pot upon his head - and two of its most potent qualities are said to be the impulse towards service and group cooperation. Humanity is being swept into activity as a result of these extra-planetary influences, and it is perhaps no surprise then that service, and in particular the serving group, is making its presence felt in world affairs. In illustration of this trend we can point to the exponential increase in the number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) - the popular face of the modern serving group - which have emerged since the early days of the establishment of the United Nations; though of course a handful of groups of a similar quality date back even to the early 1800's. We should not of course make the mistake of thinking that these not-for-profit groups are all motivated by the interests of the whole, as some are most definitely focused upon the special interests of a discrete minority at the expense of the greater good, though on the whole the NGO is clearly a force for good upon the world stage.
The concept of the serving group easily evokes in the minds of many a recognition of the great and beneficent work carried forwards by some of the larger humanitarian organisations such as the Red Cross, Oxfam, Save the Children and Doctors without Borders, but we must not forget to include in our thinking experimental group organisms which are blended into the very fabric of our everyday lives. The National Health Service in the United Kingdom, the Indian National Railways and the United Nations Organisation are but three outstanding and often cited examples, not least due to their corporate size and the effect of their activities on the lives of countless millions. The U.K. National Health Service for example employs a staggering 1.7 million people, and the Indian Railways 1.4 million, and it is quite remarkable to witness how such a multitude of workers can be brought together through the power of a vitalised idea or thought-form to establish a dynamic living entity dedicated to the serving of the greater good.
It is also sobering to realise that some of these groups - NGOs, public services, humanitarian organisations etc - have access to financial resources and a degree of political influence which easily outstrips that available to many a small nation state. The pressure that these groups can exert upon governments, major world powers and national and international policy making is therefore considerable and very often highly effective. It is important to recognise however that the vast majority of serving groups are relatively small in terms of membership and finance and tend to work at a grass-roots level; collectively though these groups are influential in world affairs and in shaping public opinion
It is interesting to consider how these groups could have emerged to such prominence in the world in such a relatively short period of time - suggesting perhaps an unseen and coordinated activity of some kind. Alice Bailey offered an explanation for this remarkable phenomenon, long before the magnitude of the service network had truly begun to unfold upon the world stage. Bailey suggested that underlying all outer and organised group activity - motivated towards the good of the whole - was a subjective group of workers who were linked by a common thread and desire to participate in world salvage. This group she referred to as the New Group of World Servers (NGWS), and she indicated that their coordinated activity - subjective in nature - would be increasingly recognised as a major world force and conditioning factor in world events. The importance of this revelation cannot be underestimated, not least because it points to two important possibilities (some would say facts), namely that there exists behind world events a basic and unfolding Plan and that the subjective life of humanity is effective in bringing that plan to fruition or into outer manifestation.
The possibility of a dual realm of activity in the field of service - subjective and objective - opens up to the server of the race an enormous sphere of investigation and potentiality. As already suggested, the dilemma for many people is one of deciding where they will exert their efforts, and which group represents for them their particular interest or highest ideal. For some this is a relatively easy process, and professional affiliations or long held interests lead them effortlessly into some body of like-minded workers. For others the journey is not so clear cut, and a number of limiting factors such as physical health, finance, family and work constraints can make it difficult for them to cooperate as effectively as they might like to with one or other of the outer group organisations. Rather than being a barrier to service however this might in fact present a definite opportunity, suggesting a sphere of service which, though little appreciated at present, will increasingly call forth its workers and demonstrate its potent effects. To elaborate this opportunity somewhat we will need to turn to the perennial teachings of the Ancient Wisdom, that body of knowledge passed down from time immemorial and emphasised by a lineage of great and well known philosophers. These teachings suggest that the subjective life of humanity - towards which we all contribute for good or ill - is the well-spring of all outer effects and world events. It is further suggested that this subjective atmosphere can be modified and cleansed by those who are prepared to work behind the scenes with the emotional and thought life of the race.
This “new group” functions as a graded activity which is largely dependent upon the assets, faculties and tendencies of those workers which constitute its membership. There is a basic understanding that the inner subjective life of all such workers is alive and active to some degree and motivated in large part by a love for humanity as a whole. For some the practicalities of outer life and organisation will predominate, and to them is offered the responsibility of the work of outer construction. For others the subjective life is the main field of endeavour and opportunity. Alice Bailey suggests that this group of inner thinkers and meditators has the task of providing the basic materials for construction and constitute the 'builders without hands' who increasingly tap into the realm of ideas and inspire the outer workers through direct impression upon subjective levels. Whilst the idea of an organised band of subjective and objective servers called the new group of world servers may be a relatively new one, the basic subjective activity to which these workers are called has in fact been carried forwards at all times by those who were fitted and inclined to do so for the serving of their fellow men. The great monastic orders of both the East and the West, groups of contemplatives and thinkers, of mystics, occultists and philosophers of various creeds have fulfilled this task of seeding the subjective atmosphere with the needed ideas and ideals. At the same time they have sought to dispel those distortions and misconceptions - those illusions which have for longer or shorter periods of time dominated the subjective planes and held humanity a prisoner of its own making.
We can perhaps see then the possibility that the emerging group concept and the increasingly apparent will-to-serve has its roots or archetype in subjective realms. We are, it would seem, witness to a great and unfolding externalisation.
Service is indeed a jewel of many facets, and all people of goodwill should be able to identify ways in which they can participate in this unfolding spiritual process.