Stage III Personal Example - My Father and Me.

Excerpt from Chapter 2 - Measuring Spirituality

I grew up with a father who lived predominantly in Stage III (service). Even though he was neither religious nor obviously spiritual, he placed great value on service. His primary service was to his wife (my mother and then later, my stepmother). He considered service to the country/world via his work and service to his extended family also to be important. While he did regularly have fun and achieve success (with moderate amounts of fame and power and enough money to pay the middle-class bills), these were not his true passions. They were enjoyable but just not that important to him. While I grew up understanding his ideas about service, it was and is not who I am (i.e., what my soul wants). As a child, I did pursue Stage I pleasures. Then as a young adult, I pursued Stage II success. But, my massive hermit tendencies prevent much passion in the direction of serving a spouse or a family and limit my desires and capabilities for interacting personally with the world to any great degree. Therefore, long-term Stage III service has not usually worked well for me. This lack of long-term Stage III satisfaction has propelled me to tackle Stage IV, not always successfully.

While those at Stage III have moved beyond the self-centeredness of the first two stages, they still hope for rewards or success. Mother Teresa is an example of someone who dedicated her life to Stage III duty and responsibility. Recent disclosures (Time magazine, 9/3/2007) about her loss of contact with Jesus/God for the last fifty years of her life show how much she valued that duty and responsibility despite her ongoing anguish and despair. What she seemingly did not achieve was the freedom that comes from Stage IV, the joy and loveliness that arises in Stage IV.

Having success in their community endeavors is important to those attached to Stage III. However, they remain attached to the fruits of their actions. For those on a spiritual path, this is a key point that Krishna mentions several times in the Bhagavad Gita, for example, (Gandhi, 1960, p.65):

"He who does not abandon the fruits of action must enjoy or put up with the natural consequences of his own acts and is thus a bond-slave for ever. But he who gives up the fruits of action achieves freedom."

Freedom is the essence of the next stage, Stage IV.

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© 2008 by Thayer White
Finding Your Soul in the Spirituality Maze


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