You have said that the fourth way is not just another system of self-development, that it is a way of preparing for real service. What service? And service to what or whom?
This is an important question but not an easy one to answer. One difficulty is that service cannot be defined as a particular type of action, much as we would like it to be. It would be so much easier if we just had a bunch of rules to follow. Real service is known by its quality.
The usual idea of service is to ‘help other people’. Some might say they want to serve the work, or their religion, or perhaps their favourite deity. To me, these aims are likely to prove very premature. Do you have the integrity to take them on? Do you have the relationship which is implied? It can’t be just an idea, a concept you have adopted for yourself. To be a servant implies intimacy and an understanding of what is required of you. Good servants are not self-appointed, they are chosen on the basis of merit.
Service is not a way to compensate for your own emptiness. Service is to offer what you have.
In my view, the first step taken in real service is that you remember. Remember what? The call is to remember yourself, who you really are, your being and not your personality. Can you learn to be who you were before time began, as the Sufis say?
Your being is a gift; the Universe has granted to you a measure of its qualities. They have become hidden under a basket. Your experience of life, its impact on you, has disguised your inheritance and it must be found again. The first step in service is to uncover and honour your gifts. You must learn to serve your true nature.
The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 makes this point. The one who hides the wealth he has been given and does not use it is exiled. The faithful servant is the one who has recognized and used the talents he has been granted. Rumi says that on Resurrection day, you will be asked: “Be plain and clear. I have given you such gifts. What did you do with them?”
Your service is to be, and to give thanks for who you are. This, to me, is what the universe is asking of you. Having accepted who you are, you have something to give and you have the capacity to serve.