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The Age of Aquarius: its Promise and Problems

Joann S. Bakula
February, 2014

Much has been said and written about the age of Aquarius, a new astronomical cycle of time approximately 2160 years marked by the transit of our sun through the ecliptic, the apparent path of the sun through the sky and celestial sphere, or zodiac, from having the constellation of Pisces 'behind' us to having the constellation of Aquarius there. Interpreting this astronomical event in terms of human progress and transformation is a different matter, a matter of art, the art of prediction, analysis, reason, and prophecy. H.P. Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, Rudolf Steiner, and the Roerich's visualized a step ahead in terms of the evolution of human consciousness leading to more enlightened living in a cycle characterized by service to humanity through increasing awareness of humanity's problems and the use of intellect, intuition, wisdom and compassion to overcome them. Alice Bailey and the Tibetan had much to say about the Aquarian or new age. Indeed, many credit her with introducing and making popular the term new age by entitling three of her books as Education in the New Age, and Discipleship in the New Age, Volumes I and II. (Discipleship here is used in the Indo-Buddhist sense meaning those who have taken on the discipline of lifelong meditation, study and service.)

The predominant energy of Aquarius is said to be the 'implementing energy of universality' and a new form of 'life energy' hinted at in the phrase 'life more abundantly.' It is also predicted to see an increase in serving the world by the increasing emergence of a new group of world servers. "Between the powers of the mind and the dynamic electric energy of pure will" are found an intermediate potency that will release the life force with greater strength in the Aquarian age," Bailey writes (The Rays and the Initiations, pp. 228-229). It is the energy of wisdom, as love applied in wider, more universal terms. Within the circle of mind-heart-will: mind as luminosity, heart as the nature and source of love/ relationship/wisdom, and the yet-to-be-realized will and purpose of this experiment in time, matter and energy we call planet Earth, is the intermediate power of enlightened living that is said to characterize the Aquarian age. Meditating on these ideas is the theme of this world service meditation in Aquarius, the seed thought of which is 'Water of life am I, poured forth for thirsty men' and the essence of which is the energy circulating between your own mind, heart and will, that of civilization, and the visualized highest mind, heart and will of our planetary life form with its circulating force, energy, and will to evolve.

Change Mind, Change World
In his early book, Kindness, Clarity, and Insight, as in later books, the Dalai Lama writes of transforming the mind through meditation as a necessary precursor to changing global society into a more compassionate and sustainable civilization. "Change Mind, Change World" is a newsletter from Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin addressing this theme and announcing conferences with the Dalai Lama and Western scientists on this topic. The nature of the mind is in itself luminous, before the cultural and environmental conditioning covers its original state — some conditioning of which is necessary and much that is dubious. That original luminous state of mind remains there underneath the surface mind awaiting discovery in meditation. The first stanza of the Great Invocation is a meditation on the luminosity of the mind. Dispelling the emotional and conceptual obscurations to the pure luminous nature of mind is one of the basic things that meditation is for.

These obscurations have been described as illusions on all levels from mental to emotional/social to physical maya or of mistaking the appearance of a thing for the thing itself. These are the familiar problems of mistaken ideas, misknowlege or misapprehension, misperception, misinterpretation, misapplication and being mistaken about what we value and who we take ourselves to be. They are endemic in every age and individual. The basic cause of this is the sense of duality that grows as we identify primarily with our bodies and their needs, until we are free enough from basic needs to consider ourselves as heart, mind and will and are able to form a more complete sense of values including recognition of the innate dignity and worth of every human being, not just ourselves, which is the essence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This universality leads to a wider and more inclusive valuing of each other and of the web of life itself, in which we live and are dependent, and concern for its care and our effect upon it.

The sign and symbol associated with Aquarius is a human figure pouring water from a jar. This is essentially the same figure used to portray the Lord Maitreya of Buddhism, who is said to become the next Buddha many centuries in the future. His name means kindness and he is most often portrayed holding a vase. Maitreya's principal teaching is, as I understand it, to value everything living, and its needs, over every thing not alive. He is often identified with the Christ, who seemed to have the same values and taught very similar ideas. From the practical or physical side, this symbol and figure bring to mind the lack of fresh water that humanity will increasingly face. It also brings to mind the increasing aridity of spirit on the path to human depths, the desert of approach to the evolution of consciousness in our times, when even the recognition that there is an evolution of consciousness and what that may be is unacknowledged. The study of consciousness itself is a thorny field full of contradictory theories and changing definitions in relation to brain and mind. Steps on the Path to Enlightenment (Lamrim Chenmo) is a well developed theme in Mahayana Buddhism dating back to the teachings of 14th c.Tsong Khapa, and in the contemporary three volume set of the same name from Wisdom Publications written by Geshe Lhundub Sopa of the University of Wisconsin.

The Restoration of Intelligent Meaning
Others have used the term 'new age' or Aquarian age to resurrect the old psychic circus with its fortune telling, crystal gazing, superstitions, deceptions, and banal cold readings from cards or coins. Not to disparage the profound meaning of the tarot and I Ching philosophies, which are designed as whole systems to represent all conditioning and determining energies and forces. Those who have deeply studied these oracular books recognize the ageless wisdom in two of its many forms and also the illusions, deceptions, and frivolous interpretations for which fortune telling and 'magic spells' are well known. In Carl Jung's forward to the I Ching or the Book of Changes, he contrasts the principles of causality with the elements of a chance occurrence in time and place, or synchronicity, the latter of which is the principle underlying the I Ching, as the 'peculiar interdependence of objective events and the subjective state of the observer' (Forward to the I Ching, p. xxiv, or Volume 11 of the Collected Works of C.G. Jung, pp. 592-593) or the coincidence of events. What occurs in any moment of time in a particular place partakes of the qualities of that moment. As astronaut Neil Armstrong noted, "I wasn't chosen to be first. I was chosen to command that flight. Circumstance put me in that particular role. That wasn't planned by anyone." Even in the field of science and causality, chance and coincidence, of course, play a part. As for the superficial use of divination, psychism, delusions, deceptions, superstitions, misapprehensions, fantasies and misinterpretations of 'new age,' it is easy to see the old age peeking through with all of its outdated and disproven techniques unchanged.

The transition from one age to another is said to take several hundred years and this transitional period is said to be characterized by the energy of organization and order (7th), as in the digital reorganization of communication and knowledge, whereas the outgoing energies (6th) are said to be devotional, idealist, belief and dependency dominated. With this transformative new energy and its incredibly magical ability to store mega-data in minute places, we also have to face the spy culture that the world has become. Every adolescent misadventure and bad decision as an adult can be permanently attached to every name for the duration, it appears. To what end? To keep our freedom safe? Many would note that our freedom is exactly what's at risk. Our fears threaten to make cowards of us; if we don't stand up and speak out now we may loose our civil liberties and those of our children and grandchildren. Regardless of differing opinions, Wiki leaks and the others have alerted the public to something they were unaware of before, the grave threat to their 4th amendment right to privacy: "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" but searched only through warrants "based upon probable cause" (The Constitution of the United States of America).

The new age of information and knowledge is also called the space age and, some say, the age of intuition, when higher mental states become available, just as the opposite Orwellian aspects of totalitarian control become an increasingly commonplace threat. Every new age and the new world that it bring has its gifts, its promise and its dangers. Increasing awareness of each on every level from individual, to social, cultural, national and global is enhanced by true meditation balanced with study and service. It's to this end that world service meditation dedicates one day of the month and invites all to join in meditation and thought.

Wishing all of you direct experience of the luminosity of mind, the deepest experience of compassionate heart, and the will-to-good stemming from universality and appreciation of the inherent magic and mystery of life itself and our life together as a whole,
Joann S. Bakula

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