< I choose the way which leads between the two great lines of force >
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way -
in short, the period was so far like the present period,
that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received,
for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only". i
Thus begins Charles Dickens' story about revenge, duty, love, honour and redemption during the French Revolution in his book A Tale of Two Cities. Although the scene depicted is in 1775, one could be forgiven for thinking that it also describes the dualism of today's environment with a fair degree of accuracy. Life seems to be all about good and evil, light and darkness, rich and poor, winner and loser, friend and enemy, love and fear, hope and despair, belief and disbelief, truth and error, life and death and so on. As Emerson said, "evermore in the world is this marvellous balance of beauty and disgust, magnificence and rats."
All creation seems to be subject to these competing forces and because it is considered advantageous to be associated with the superior force, we are expected to take sides, choosing one force over another. So, for example, foreign policy is based on categorizing other countries as friends or enemies; religion is defined in terms of right and wrong, and even the entertainment industry is stressing the fight between good and evil with movies like Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings.
The Wisdom teachings tell us that this consciousness of duality took place when the sign of the Sphinx was divided into two signs - the Lion (Leo) and the Virgin (Virgo) - when our Solar Angels came to earth and individualization took place. When humanity resolves the duality, a fusion will take place and Virgo and Libra will form one sign as "then man's sense of antagonistic dualism will be ended and the scales will have been turned finally in favour of that which the Virgin-Mother has hidden from expression for aeons". ii We know that the Virgin Mother hides the indwelling Christ Who is presently being born in the heart of humanity.
Until that time, Libra will be with us and it is in Libra that the razor edged Path of Return to the Father is discovered and the aspiring disciple walks between the opposites - the two great lines of force - comprising on the one hand, the magnetic pull of the desire nature to move back into the world of materialism, and the inner prompting of the soul to reach for spiritual heights on the other.
This is true not only for individual disciples, but also for humanity as a group disciple, and it is the position in which humanity finds itself today during the transition period between the Age of Pisces and the Age of Aquarius. Indeed, we are told in Esoteric Astrology that "the end of this century [speaking of the 20th century] will see the influence of Libra steadily coming into pronounced control and into a position of power in the planetary horoscope". iii Therefore, one of the reasons for the pronounced emphasis on the apparent polarties of life is that the period in which we are living is under the control of Libra.
Humanity is completing the first initiation and approaching the second and the highlighted polarities in the world today reflect the struggle of moving from an emotional to a mental polarisation, in an attempt to view life intelligently rather than just emotionally.
Part of this process involves recognising the pairs of opposites as they manifest within the individual and collective consciousness and observing the pendulum like extreme fluctuations from the so-called good to the so-called bad until eventually, in order to balance the opposites, the middle path is taken and the swings cease. We are further told that because Libra governs this process in the world's horoscope at present, "there is no need for real anxiety". iv
Speaking about the individual disciple for whom the same principle applies, Lucille Cedercrans says in her book The Nature of the Soul,
"as this concept makes its impression upon him, it is usually misinterpreted to mean a path of non-action - of passivity. This is a glamour of the astral plane, one of the astral vapors which so distort Truth that it becomes non-recognizable in its appearance.
This harmonizing energy is anything but passive in quality. It is essentially dynamic, for it fuses the pairs of opposites together in such a way as to render them whole, thus producing a whole tone in the sounding Word of God.
For some time, then, the probationer attempts to become passive, to take the path of least resistance, and this does serve a purpose since it renders him more easily the observer.
Moving along what he considers to be the middle way, he observes the pairs of opposites, endeavoring to balance them from his central point of focus.
''Alone I stand upon the scales, and reaching out I
bring into all relationships that peculiar motion
which results in balance.''
''That peculiar motion'' is the expression of the fourth ray of Harmony, which enables the probationer to move from passivity into action - to reach out and bring the opposites into that central point of focus where balance is restored, where the so-called bad is transmuted into good…..
This is Harmony - a differentiated expression of Love-Wisdom. It produces that understanding which is a prerequisite to right relationship, whether it be with the One Life, a situation, or among peoples". v
We are further told by Alice Bailey that the fourth Ray of Harmony through Conflict, always a controlling factor in human affairs, is particulary active today, and "the Principle of Conflict is the agent of the Principle of Harmony and produces the strains and the stresses which will lead, finally, to liberation". vi
Therefore, with the prevailing energies of both Libra and the Fourth Ray of Harmony through Conflict, it is little wonder that polarities are being highlighted in every aspect of life.
The countless points of crisis facing us as individuals and as humanity present us with many points of tension which if faced with maturity will lead us to a point of emergence. Just as the individual disciple travelling between two opposing lines of force will eventually choose to follow one of those lines, so, too, does humanity face a choice symbolized by the two cities described in the Book of Revelation. We can take the path to the violent and unjust city of Babylon or we can travel to the New Jerusalem, the city of God, and place of peace and justice. In a manner of speaking, the entire history of humanity is A Tale of Two Cities and we are at a critical point in our evolution where we are being forced to decide in which city we want to live.
It is interesting that in his magnificent study of cities, The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects, Lewis Mumford notes that the city first took form "as the home of a god: a place where eternal values were represented and divine possibilities revealed". He comments that the first germ of the city is in the "ceremonial meeting place that serves as the goal for pilgrimage as it concentrates certain 'spiritual' or supernatural powers". vii
Perhaps it is little wonder then that we are told that Libra "admits the soul into the world centre which we call Shamballa". Furthermore, the three Buddhas of Activity who support Sanat Kumara, the King of the City, function as linking intermediaries between our Solar Logos and the informing Life of the constellation Libra, and relate these two centres of energy to our Planetary Logos and his representative, Sanat Kumara. So even on a higher turn of the spiral, Libra plays a major role in assisting our Logos maintain a point of balance in the City of the Gods, the place of perfect stillness, equilibrium and peace for our planet.
As humanity, under the influence of Libra, moves closer to Shamballa, the energy of Shamballa has made direct contact with us for the first time. This is further "producing an emotional vortex in which old ideals and institutions are seen divorced from their hitherto controlling glamours, thus permitting the new and better ideologies to emerge in the consciousness of the race". viii
The closer contact means that humanity is increasingly receiving the energies of the first ray of Shamballa without the mediating influence of the Hierarchy in an attempt to align us more closely with the Plan of God. This further increases the conflict of the polarities and often one hears disciples "blaming" the destructive power of the first ray for the world's problems with the result that the first ray gets much "bad press". However, the truth is that present day conflict is a reaction of the world persona to the energies of the incoming soul of humanity, just as we as individual personas often fight against the loving action of the soul in our lives. As the soul of humanity meets with humanity's form nature, it is the form nature, and not the consciousness aspect, which reacts. Conflict and pain results when people, especially disciples, confuse form reaction with soul response. "The appearance of the opposites is a reaction of the form nature to a new impress of consciousness upon it. Remember: the form nature in itself is separative: it tends to divide, to hold separate or apart. Consciousness is characterized by its affinity to itself. By nature, it is attracted together into a one". ix
It is important to remember that the power behind the Plan of God is not to enhance conflict but to reduce it and to bring about a manifestation of harmony. All teachers of the Ageless Wisdom agree that without this inbuilt thrust to produce harmony out of conflict, humanity would have self-destructed well before now.
Libra produces a point of equilibrium between soul and form and produces true free choice which leads to ultimate freedom - the freedom from our form life. But the purchase price to secure this freedom is high and we pay it in the burning ground which is brought about through the activity of Uranus, the esoteric ruler of Libra, operating in the life of the disciple.
In the words of Alice Bailey, the burning ground:
"is at a "midway point" that the great submission of the lower to the higher takes place. It does not happen when the disciple hovers uncertainly upon the periphery of the burning-ground or when he stands before the door with the burning ground experience behind him. The essential point of crisis, producing the needed point of tension, is the result of the "invocative decision" of the personality which, in time, produces an "evocative response" from the Angel. The two factors involved (and forget not, my brother, that all this takes place within the field of consciousness of the disciple) move together and towards each other. In the centre of the burning ground they meet, and then the lesser light (a true light in its own right) of the personality is absorbed into the greater light of the Angel or soul. The Angel, therefore, "occultly obliterates" the Dweller who becomes lost to sight in the radiant aura of the Angel. This has been symbolically portrayed for us in the picture book of the heavens when, according to Catholic Festivals, the Assumption of the Virgin takes place and the constellation Virgo is lost to sight in the radiance of the sun………
The personality remains; it still exists but it is seen no more as of old. The light of the Angel envelops it; the burning ground has done its work and the personality is now nothing more or less than the purified shell or form through which the light, the radiance, the quality and the characteristics of the Angel can shine. It is a fusion of lights, with the stronger and the more powerful obliterating the lesser". x
Aspiring disciples who choose the burning ground of Libra pause to achieve balance as they prepare for the next stage of their journey. They then start off again but with one essential difference - they have reversed their position on the Wheel of Life and are now heading down the homeward straight. The Prodigal Son is on his way back to the Father!
When the choice is made to reverse the wheel then freedom is guaranteed as the disciple is released from the power of the Lords of Karma. This is because the Law of Karma is the ultimate balancing principle controlling the movement of energies within creation and eventually directing them back to their source. Once we are on the reversed wheel, we are on the way back to our source and the final balancing which results in freedom.
As we commenced this commentary about the polarities of life with the first few sentences of A Tale of Two Cities, it seems appropriate to end it with the concluding few sentences.
One of the book's heroes, Sydney Carton, is awaiting a sacrificial death at the Guillotine and he has a vision of two resurrections, one personal, the other national.
I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long years to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out. . . .
I see that child who lay upon her bosom and who bore my name, a man winning his way up in that path of life which once was mine. I see him winning it so well, that my name is made illustrious there by the light of his. . . .
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known". xi
While Dickens, through Carton, articulates the outcome of the bloody and chaotic French Revolution with his prophesy that Paris would become "a beautiful city", he is also speaking of his utter faith in the eventual triumph of humanity as it turns away from the ruinous city of Babylon and approaches the "beautiful city", the New Jerusalem - Shamballa. And as we make this choice under the auspices of Libra, we have the surety that there is "no real need for anxiety" and our reward will be a far, far better rest than we have ever known.
Perhaps we can ponder on the words of Marcus Aurelius as we strive to achieve the balance of Libra: "He who lives in harmony with himself, lives in harmony with the universe; for the universal order as well as the personal order are nothing but different expressions and manifestations of a fundamental principle".
As we master the way which lies between the two great lines of force in our own little lives, we contribute to planetary goodwill and harmony until together, as a world disciple with one heart and mind, we can turn toward New Jerusalem and prepare to receive the Keys of the City of Freedom and Love.