TWO harmonies may concur simultaneously when we meet with people. Bending towards their judgment and their will, in a direction which is other than our own, we have obligingly submitted and are duty-bound to that we are therefore tied to, by action or design. Should we allow the determination of another to abide, then we have chosen that, and that is our choice. The harmony is that of obliging full-heartedly - if there is reluctance then there is conflict.
Obligations are determined and set by self. We are often called upon to fulfill certain duties dictated by the inner-knowledge and authority of the Higher Self (or higher man), who acknowledges all ongoing responsibilities. In this instance there may be the harmony of self, when rather than in the case of obliging another's will we are stimulated to oblige our own personal commitments and adhere well to all demands. If not, then there is conflict also.
Some obligations may never be fully fulfilled as they would endure anon, long after one's own will and breath was expired to the last. The charitable man does know this, and constantly attempts quite often, the impossible. It is a conflict from which he may work, because he may never oblige enough. However he can come to the security within of knowing that he does the best he can and therefore answers his commitment to self.
It is true that one may never please all men by conduct and personage, by offering, by presentation; and truthfully, would one want to? We may live according to higher harmonies which inspire the greatest conduct, and oblige, seek to oblige, our God and our Christ firstly, leaving ourselves and our answerable duties second, followed by the considerations and asking of our brothers thirdly.
Here is the distinction you asked for: serving men does not necessarily mean obliging their wants or their will; it may be to the contrary. Obviously needs will call upon us directly and it is satisfying - as well it should be - that we may prove useful in assistance when needed so.
Our judgments, at best, shall be shortsighted and narrow, as the complete condition and circumstance is always veiled from view. Therefore before we submit to obligations within the world, we are obliged moreover to submit to the Will of Christ.
If one man tells you that he believes that he knows your duty and accompanying decisions, and tells you he is better conversant with such inner wisdoms of your heart and ability, sovereign him not!
Masters at Steiner's Esoteric Classes - July 9, 1904, Berlin. Stenographic notes by Franz Seiler: First a prayer spoken by Dr. Steiner. Then a remark that the masters are speaking through Dr. St...