At the time of the full moon period the veils between the planes become thinner and meditation is potentially more powerful and fruitful. This is especially the case during the Taurus full moon, referred to as Wesak, when millions of spiritual people everywhere celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. It is said that a special rending of the veils occurs as the Buddha, "The Illumination of Light," and Christ, "The Embodiment of Love," meet for a brief minute in the Wesak Valley in Tibet to jointly bless humanity and set in place the vibrational frequency for the race mind consciousness for the next twelve-month cycle.
Wesak is a time when the world of the soul and the world of the personality move closer and humanity's masses unconsciously increase their aspiration towards spiritual matters as they respond to the higher energies impacting on the planet. Disciples, through the application of one pointed concentration, are able to create a magnetic field which attracts and contains this aspiration so that they focus the prayers and hopes of humanity within themselves.
The Spiritual Hierarchy then gathers the energy of this focused aspiration and uses it as a direct invocation to the Christ on behalf of humanity. One day soon the strength of the massed appeal and the focused concentration of disciples will be of sufficient power to make a direct invocation to the Christ without the need for the intervention of the Hierarchy, and at that point, His reappearance into the world of affairs will be possible. Until then, the Hierarchy will continue to act as an intermediary.
With this in mind, it is not difficult to understand the reason why Alice Bailey in her book Discipleship in the New Age said, "No cost is too great to pay in order to be of use to the Hierarchy at the time of the …. Wesak Festival; no price is too high in order to gain the spiritual illumination which can be possible …. at that time." Wesak is not a time to consider our own spiritual desires and aspirations but rather a time when we can be of potent service to humanity at the highpoint of the spiritual year. One can well imagine the Tibetan Master, Djwhal Khul, saying to us all, "I offer to you opportunity and I tell you that you are needed - even the very least of you. You are needed, my brothers". i
As we consider the ways in which we can participate in the invocative appeal to the Christ at this time, perhaps we can be encouraged by the recent events in the Catholic Church. Irrespective of our views on the church or the pope, it is clear that the focused attention and aspiration of people everywhere on the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI leading up to Wesak, make it a time of special spiritual potency and opportunity this year. This opportunity may be further enhanced by the fact that the inauguration of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI will commence about
two hours before the Wesak Full moon and may very well be still taking place at the exact time that the Buddha and the Christ meet along with the assembled Hierarchy.
The Wisdom teachings state that the annual return of the Buddha to convey the message of wisdom, light and love to humanity comes "from the very Heart of Deity Itself". ii Furthermore, the Buddha "reminds us that God exists and ever loves; that He is not unmindful of His people; that the heart of the universe is unalterable compassion, and that man is not alone". iii
Christians may sometimes wonder at the relevance of the Buddha to them but the fact is that because He embodied the Principle of Light and brought illumination to the world, humanity was able to recognise the Christ, Who embodied the still greater Principle of Love. So, in a sense, the Buddha paved the way for the Christ. Therefore, it is entirely fitting that they should join forces to bless humanity at Wesak - our two elder brothers continuing to serve the humanity they love so dearly.
The Buddha taught about our desire nature which is ruled by Taurus. In the Four Noble Truths, He said that the cause of all human sorrow, suffering, and despair is attachment to our desires - desires for that which is undesirable, the ephemeral and the material. Therefore, it follows that the only way to stop suffering was to give up our attachment to our desires.
As people attempt to apply this teaching in their lives, one often hears the assertion that the Buddha said that desires are wrong and an impediment to our spiritual walk. They burn with a desire to end desire in their lives and very often intensify the control their desire natures has over their lives because, of course, energy follows thought. Alternatively, they suppress their desires and fall into a state of quiet apathy as they seek a state of "nothingness" only to prove author Ayn Rand's point when she said, "the desire not to be anything is the desire not to be".
Is this what the Buddha intended? Is desire really so "undesirable" when even the Dalai Lama, the best-known follower of the Buddha says, "the purpose of spiritual practice is to fulfil our desire for happiness"? iv
All life is a result of a desire to be. In fact, Alice Bailey tells us "the first great Invocation was uttered by the planetary Logos when He expressed the desire to manifest". v It is a yearning inherent in all life - from an atom to a galactic logos - to express itself within and through substance for the purpose of self-knowledge and creative expression. All forms of life engaged in this process, again from the highest to the lowest, are referred to as Sons of Necessity to reflect the search for identity through form.
Therefore, it can be said that desire is foundational to everything we know and, indeed, photographer Duane Michals reminds us:
Our lives are just one moment
a breath imagined by the senses,
And that moment is a great thought
And that thought is a desire,
The urge to being and to be love.
All at once all together, the same. vi
Furthermore, our desire nature is fundamental to our humanity and sets us apart from the animal kingdom as it is an aspect of self consciousness; the awareness of oneself as an "I". Alexandre Kojčve when discussing the philosophy of Hegel says, "the man who contemplates is absorbed by what he contemplates; the knowing subject loses himself in the object that is known. Contemplation reveals the object, not the subject. The object, and not the subject, is what shows itself to him in and by - or better, as - the act of knowing. The man who is absorbed by the object that he is contemplating can be brought back to himself only by a Desire; by the desire to eat, for example. The (conscious) Desire of a being is what constitutes that being as "I" and reveals it as such by moving it to say "I....". Desire is what transforms being, revealed to itself by itself in (true) knowledge, into an object revealed to a subject by a subject different from the object and opposed to it. It is in and by - or better still, as his Desire that man is formed and is revealed - to himself and to others - as an "I", as the "I" that is essentially different from, and radically opposed to, the non-I. The human "I" is the "I" of a Desire or of Desire". vii
The Buddha taught that the "I" of Hegel's philosophy is not the centre of the universe as those who are consumed with their desires tend to think, but a shadow of a shadow of it. Furthermore, it is temporary and changing and is subject to pain and suffering as its desire nature deludes it into thinking that the "I" is all there is and that what it wants can be possessed forever. The Buddha taught that this is an addictive illness and just like any addiction it is based on illusion.
Until we learn to overcome that addiction, our desire nature is the driving force that leads us to act and react to life's circumstances. It is our characteristic "note" which led the American author Richard Henry Stoddard to write,
"We grow like flowers, and bear desire,
The odour of the human flowers". viii
The delusion is not just confined to our emotional bodies as more often than not our desires rule our thoughts by giving energy to the thoughts that conform to them and eliminating thoughts that run contrary to them. This is referred to as kama manas or the desire mind. We are usually oblivious to this process and continue to be ruled by our desires despite the fact that they do not satisfy us for long and often increase our misery. Overcoming this dynamic is the major challenge facing most disciples today, and those who recognise it are immersed in a battle to free themselves by learning to transcend or redirect the energies of their desires and emotional natures. They do this by disassociating themselves from the desire-driven personality and identifying with the soul which shows them a higher form of desire - aspiration - a magnetic attraction towards a higher ideal that is greater than the little "I".
Thus, one of the major battlefields on the Path is encountered and one can well sympathise with the disciple when the Tibetan Master, Djwhal Khul, said to him, "Desire has ever driven you; at the same time, high aspiration has goaded you, and between the two your life has been one of misery and frustration, and frequently of despair". ix
But Djwhal Khul offered a solution to the problem of desire when he went on to say, "What, then, my brother, shall we do? What shall I say to you …? First, let me say that I am hoping to see, in the next few years of your life, a complete reversal of the past. I look to see you apply, with will and spiritual insight, those physical disciplines which will feed your aspiration and negate and render futile all desire". x
Aspiration achieves three things:
- it provides a fiery furnace which burns the dross of the lower self and eliminates personality hindrances
- it trains people to be mentally polarised and to meditate which in turn leads them to a knowledge of Truth and the opening of the spiritual eyes so that they are no longer taken in by the illusory aspects of the form
- it trains people to be obedient to the Master in the Heart, the indwelling Christ
These three factors lead to detachment, dispassion and discrimination, qualities emphasised by the Buddha in His teaching about overcoming our desire natures.
Through detachment, awareness is withdrawn or abstracted from a preoccupation with the senses and form, and a new rhythm is imposed on a person's sensory response mechanism which renders it impervious to the pull of the lower nature. Through dispassion, the emotional nature is immunised from the appeal of the senses and desire fails to deter the soul from its rightful task. Through discrimination, the mind learns to select the good, the true and the beautiful of the world of the soul and substitute these for identification with the world of the personality. We are told that these three attitudes, "when correctly and sanely held, will organise the personality, bring in the rule of wisdom, and prepare the disciple for initiation". xiHaving thus cleansed one's emotional body and desire nature, a person is then able to use the emotional body to contact the intuitional level and not fear contaminating that which is precipitated with the unredeemed desires of the personality.
However, even our aspiration must go through a further period of cleansing so that eventually the yearning for individual spiritual experience is transmuted into aspiration to be a serving part of the greater whole. The Will to Co-operate with the Purpose and Plan of God dominates and when this point is eventually reached, the soul can completely appropriate the bodies of manifestation and avoid further reincarnation. These three "driving" processes - desire, aspiration and Will - describe "man the personality, man the soul and man the channel for spirit of life", and we are told that "all three point inadequately to the cause of the threefold expression which underlies all events, all progress and all happenings of time and space". xii All are ruled by Taurus.
It is important to remember that one cannot achieve control of the lower desires by suppression or denial which are astral responses to an astral problem. Einstein's well known quote on problem-solving - "the significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them" - is just as true for our spiritual issues as any other issue. The only way one can overcome desire is by achieving a true mental polarisation where desire can be transmuted to aspiration. Using mental techniques, such as the power of attrition, also assists this process ie not giving any energy of attention to our desires until they die of natural causes.
All our desires - be it for money, admiration, possessions, power, love - stem from our deeper longing for fulfilment, our longing to return home. St Augustine knew this very well when he said, "our hearts were made for you, O God and are restless 'til they rest in Thee". xiii Sooner or later, we all wake up to the fact that underneath all our desires is the Divine Longing, the Divine nostalgia or Ishk that the Sufi's talk about. It is the longing of fragmented creation to return to its original oneness, its original unity. It is the longing that compelled St Paul to say, "the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies …. we wait for it patiently". xiv
All our desires are preparing us for this realisation. As we experience the emptiness of the new car, the futility of the admiration of others, the bankruptcy of worldly success, we come to understand our desires and transmute them for higher purposes. We stop wanting this or craving that as we see our yearnings for what they really are - reflections and symptoms of our fragmentation; our incomplete natures. We are able to understand and implement Djwhal Khul's paradoxical admonition to "kill out desire when desire has finished its work" xv and plug up our power leaks as we develop a one-pointed focus on that which is eternal. Best of all, we realise that desire, like the atom, is explosive with creative force and we use that newfound knowledge to serve the one life for which we yearn. Perhaps, too, we will think kindly on the lowly moth and understand at a deep level its desire for the flame described in the last verse of Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem, The Desire of the Moth:
I can give not what men call love;
But wilt thou accept not
The worship the heart lifts above
And the Heaven's reject not,
The desire of the moth for the star,
Of the night for the morrow,
The devotion of something afar
From the sphere of our sorrow?
Wesak is a perfect time to examine our desires and abandon those that do not serve the one life as we align ourselves with the desire of the Father which expresses itself through Love. It is a time to remember the longing for unity which underlies all our desires - a unity which is already a fact as we are one in the Body of Christ. It is a time to aspire to work better, serve better and love better. And it is a time to open our hearts and minds to the energies descending on the planet during this period as we prepare ourselves for a fresh revelation for our lives during the year ahead.
May we partake in the brotherhood of the Buddha and the Christ this Wesak and join with them to bless each other and all humanity. May the perfume of our loftiest aspirations reach the highest and lowest places and become a uniting force for the one life so that all creation will smile with love on the "human flowers".