It is not unusual to hear intelligent and caring people express their despair when they survey the human condition.
The philosopher Bertrand Russell seemed to summarise the views of such people when he expressed his own deep suffering and helplessness at the pain of life when speaking of the three passions that motivated him:
Three passions have governed my life:
The longings for love, the search for knowledge,
And unbearable pity for the suffering of humankind.
Love brings ecstasy and relieves loneliness.
In the union of love I have seen
In a mystic miniature the prefiguring vision
Of the heavens that saints and poets have imagined.
With equal passion I have sought knowledge.
I have wished to understand the hearts of people.
I have wished to know why the stars shine.
Love and knowledge led upwards to the heavens,
But always pity brought me back to earth;
Cries of pain reverberated in my heart
Of children in famine, of victims tortured
And of old people left helpless.
I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot,
And I too suffer.
This has been my life; I found it worth living. i
While Russell concluded that his life was worthwhile, his inability to find a way to alleviate humanity's suffering troubled him until his death. He had achieved a high degree of intelligence, knew how to love so that his very soul was moved and he felt deeply for the human condition. But he did not know how to use these gains to assist eliminate humanity's suffering.
On the other hand, highly esteemed theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel seemed to come up with a solution for this dilemma when he expressed his view of what constituted a truly spiritual person. He said, "a religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair". iii
The difference between Russell and Heschel is that Heschel discovered the key to alleviate the suffering of the world which is the work of all disciples on the Path of Return to the Father as outlined by the Keynote of Pisces: I leave the Father's house and turning back I save. That key is the motivating quality of compassion which underpins the process of salvation and which we must discover and develop within ourselves if we are to avoid Russell's helplessness in the face of our own and humanity's suffering. The extent of our compassion is measured to the degree to which we are able to "hold God and man in one thought at one time, at all times" because as we develop the skill to mentally focus on and embody higher energies, we increasingly reflect them into the lower worlds in a ever expanding and consciously inclusive love relationship.
Compassion is one of the highest spiritual energies we can embody and transmit to others - Alice Bailey echoed Helena's Blavatsky's statement that it is "no attribute" but rather it is the "Law of all Laws - eternal harmony" iii - and it is the compelling force of the love which will ultimately save all life. The Dalai Lama said that "religion in all its forms has as its roots in endless compassion" and Matthew Fox in his book, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ said that "true redemption is always about Compassion - an awakening of passion with God's creation and children, especially the suffering ones. Compassion is not about pity or feeling sorry for others. It is born of shared interdependence, an intuition, of some sense of awe for the wondrous fact that we all live and swim in one primordial divine womb, we live in the foetal waters of cosmic grace!" iv
The Tibetan teacher, Geshe Lhundrub Sopa, defines the difference between love and compassion as follows:
Love and compassion have the same basic nature, but a different reference or application. Compassion is mainly in reference to the problems of beings, the wish to free sentient beings from suffering. On the other hand, love is in reference to the positive side, the aspiration that all sentient beings might have happiness and its cause.v
The Wisdom teachings tell us that compassion is the truth of right relationship, of loving understanding, of actively expressed Love. We are told that without compassion the foundation of brotherhood and the outer expression of the inner unity of all is impossible.
In the Light of the Soul Alice Bailey says that compassion is one of "three states of feeling that when entered into "put a man en rapport with the soul of all men". These three states are:
a. Compassion, the antithesis of passion which is selfish and grasping,
b. Tenderness, the antithesis of self-centredness, which is always hard and self-absorbed,
c. Dispassion, the antithesis of lust or desire.
Through compassion, [the disciple] is no longer occupied with his own selfish interests but enters into and suffers with his brother; he can adapt his vibration so that it responds to his brother's need; he is enabled to share in all that is taking place in his brother's heart. This he does through the keying up of his own vibration to respond to the love nature of his own ego vi, and through that unifying principle all hearts everywhere are open to him.
Through tenderness, that compassionate understanding works out into practical expression. His activities are no longer in-going and self-centred but are out-going and inspired by an unselfish heartfelt desire to serve and aid. This state of feeling is sometimes called mercy, and characterizes all the servers of the race. It involves active help, unselfish intent, wise judgment and loving activity. It is free from any wish for reward or recognition. vii
Then we are given a moving extract on Compassion from the Old Esoteric Catechism:
You speak of wide compassion as the key that opens wide the gates.
Explain in words the simplest the need that this involves.'
'The need of gentle mercy, which knows and sees yet understands;
the need of tears of crystal to wash away a brother's sins;
the need of fiery courage that can hold a brother's hand,
and lift and elevate him though all the world cry "nay";
the need of comprehension, that has experienced and knows;
the occult sense of oneness must guide unto the gate. viii
Qualities such as compassion, mercy, and tenderness are often not discussed in spiritual circles these days, perhaps because they are considered "soft" or too feminine in some way. Yet they are the very qualities that are the hallmark of all World Saviours serving under the influence of Pisces.
All significant spiritual traditions emphasise two main aspects - wisdom and compassion. Compassion is something we develop concurrently with the development of wisdom; it is the natural response to and outpouring of, spiritual understanding and right mental focus. It is the "mind of Christ" and "right mind", to use Christian and Buddhist terminology.
While it is born out of loving-kindness, it is more than loving kindness because it involves a willingness to feel and deal with suffering - our own suffering and the suffering of others. As we do this and recognise the roots of suffering, we begin to redeem/save our own imprisoned nature by lifting it to our higher energies for transmutation. It is as we lift our substance to spirit that consciousness is born and we give birth to the Christ within. As we raise ourselves, our perspective broadens and we see our interconnectedness and oneness with all life, and begin to lift up not just ourselves, but the one life of which we are a part. We join with the Christ in His redemptive work and declare, "if I be lifted up, I will draw all men to Me". This is the work of the World Saviour and it is the high calling and privilege of all disciples to take on this role.
Those who identify with the suffering of others and commit to join with the Christ to save all life are said to have Christ consciousness or bodichitta (a Sanskrit word meaning "noble or awakened heart"). When we realise that attempting to shield ourselves from the vulnerability of our own condition and the pain of life is counterproductive and separatist, we awaken our own innate Christ consciousness and find that the compassionate love which underpins it heals not only our own life, but all life. When times are hard, when hope is gone, when all seems hidden from us, when we want to give up…………these are the times when we can invoke the flame of bodhichitta in our hearts to burn brightly and as Pema Chodron says, we can find "healing …. in the tenderness of the pain itself" ix
This is the "joyful participation in the sorrows of life" spoken of in the Lotus Sutra. It does not mean adopting an unrealistically rosy view of life but rather it means we must learn to fully enter into and participate in the entire life experience, both pleasure and pain. Rainer Maria Rilke observed that, "he who does not at some time, with definite determination consent to the terribleness of life, or even exalt in it, never takes possession of the inexpressible fullness of the power of our existence." x He knew that it is only by entering into that power and reconciling the opposites in life that we could save the world.
This approach is the antithesis of the ideal of spiritual attainment in the past age which involved withdrawal from the world to seek God on a one on one basis. Instead the new age of World Saviours will herald deep identification and involvement with all humanity with a heart and mind motivated by compassion.
Pisces in its subjective aspect deals with the unconscious aspects of our nature that need to be brought to light. This process is facilitated by Pluto, the Hierarchical and esoteric ruler of Pisces and God of the Underworld. But the world saviour in Aquarius realises that it is the group consciousness that must be liberated from the "sea of unconsciousness" and Neptune, the exoteric ruler and God of the Sea oversees that process. Rather than pursue the selfishness of the solitary bliss of Nirvana, saviours in Pisces take the entirety of the human condition and experience to themselves and raise it up to the Father. World saviours know that there is no individual attainment or salvation - that the individual can only be truly saved when the whole of humanity has fulfilled the Plan of God.
The reason for this is compassion - the law of all laws - as is at the heart of Reality because Reality is based on the experience of the organic wholeness of the one life which generates order and harmony. Saviours who understand this cannot think in terms of themselves as individuals and for this reason commit to remain to serve "until the last weary pilgrim has made his way back home".
The suffering of the world saviour is the suffering of humanity and sensitive servers and budding saviours must be vigilant over their tender hearts so that they are not tempted to falter at the apparent enormity of the task. Astrologer Dane Rudhyar poetically observes, "the burden of Pisces is that one should not recoil before anything, low and horrible as it might be, on the basis of one's own purity and excellence; that one should move on toward the common plains with arms and soul laden with the significance and glory of the hills "whence come salvation." The "Cedar of Lebanon" must willingly let itself be cut, that houses may be built for the homeless, that ships may sail to lands of riches, that "Temples of Solomon" may become in fact dwelling places of God among men. xi World saviours must follow the path of the Christ and "set their faces towards Jerusalem" and the sure death and resurrection their journey entails.
The death we experience in Pisces is the death of all separative desires and love, and our longing and aspiration for our own liberation apart from the rest of humanity. It is only this death that leads us to the eternal resurrection.
As we constantly participate in the death process in our task to save the world, our compassionate nature blossoms and we become both completely human and true to our divine natures for the first time - the Universal God Man on the equal armed cross, the Christ in all His glory.
The Tibetan teacher, Sogyal Rinpoche, said "when we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings". xii
As we meditate at the Pisces full moon, we may benefit from examining our bodhichitta heart and the well-spring of compassion that resides there, whether or not we are aware of it. Perhaps we could utilise that compassion on ourselves as we come to the end of our spiritual year and review our triumphs and defeats, and put to death all that does not serve us as we prepare for a new cycle of activity in Aries. Maybe we can lovingly examine how much we have integrated the knowledge of the oneness of life into our consciousness and how much we have done to save humanity. Then we can leave it all behind and once again set our faces towards Jerusalem, the City of Peace and Unity as we prepare for another cycle of compassionate activity in service to the Christ and the one life He serves through us.
In conclusion, I would like to share a bodhisattva prayer written by Avalokiteshvara, the Patron Saint of Tibet:
For as long as space endures,
for as long as living beings are there,
may I remain until then and solve the suffering of all beings.
For as long as beings are unliberated from the suffering world,
may I remain in the world to serve them,
even if I attain the enlightened state.
The Christ said that "no greater love has a man than to lay down his life for his friends". Compassionate World Saviours in Pisces so identify with their friends - humanity - that any thought of their own progress apart from their friends is anathema. May the heart of the Christ beat within us with compassion and love during the coming spiritual cycle and may we all experience joyful participation in the sufferings of life!
Bless you all!