"Whatever circles comes from the center," Rumi the great Sufi poet said. The constellation Sagittarius, the Archer, points to the center of our galaxy: just find this catamaran of stars in the zodiac and you find the swath of light that is the center of our galaxy, around which we circle, just as we circle our year with meditations that come from the center, and our lives circle around our central spirit. Birth and death, joys and sorrows come and go; the presence in the center doesn't. It remains there, like the universe, breathing out and breathing in, within the same uncreated presence, with both the big bang and the great return. It is this presence that we are, through it all. This presence is our meditation. This presence meditates us.
What is the center of spiritual direction? What is central to it? Many would say that it is compassion. This is the dominant energy and teaching of both the Buddha and the Christ. The major spiritual energy and the test of a religion at any given time is compassion, whether it's Abrahamic as Judaic-Christian-Islamic, or Eastern as Hindu-Buddhist-Taoist. Those who have compassion also cut across religious differentiations and form a new group made up of all world servers, secular and religious alike. Religions, like philosophies and natural selection, are theories about life and its direction, which coalesce into major doctrines, ideologies and belief systems. These conceptual frameworks are separate from compassion, which is a non-conceptual energy central to the heart. Beliefs are one thing, and ethical actions stemming from compassion are quite another. Many in religions are compassionate, many are not; many secularists are compassionate, many are not. Compassion joins those from the religious, spiritual and ethical groups in one dominant energy and by one principle. It is also the path that leads to God, Nirvana and Brahmin, and, many would add, evolution. It creates a win-win pattern. It is the will-to-good based upon the Golden Rule, known around the world in many forms since Confucius, and probably before. It is the heart and test of right human relations.
Compassion is the heart of cosmic creation.
In an age which Rabbi Hirschfield calls that of "hate-driven faiths", and that of hate-driven ideologies, this principle of mercy, compassion and tolerance for others drives in a direction of unity and inclusiveness. Most recognize compassion as what separates the mainstream from the wing-nuts on the fanatical fringes of all religions and ideologies. Hate and the desire to do harm is not a healthy motivation for individuals or direction for humanity as a whole. Compassion not only tolerates, it includes and appreciates. It sees that we all have strengths and weaknesses, refusing to dwell on the weaknesses of others, but encouraging them to act out of their strengths. This is how all want to be treated.
The Dalai Lama, like the Buddha, believes in karma, not God, seeing the world as self-created through the 12 links of dependent origination, and all thoughts, words and deeds as having a history and a life continuing in rebirth. In this view we can no longer blame God for the suffering in a world we have created. The way to transform this world, according to the Buddha, is through compassion. It is the Path of Buddha as it is the Way of Christ. This becomes especially ironic and humorous when people who have chosen the spiritual path see another's suffering and reason that it must be the person's or peoples' past karma, causing them to shut their hearts, forgetting that it could just as easily be future karma! By-passing compassion is a disease of the heart, when the natural emotion is to feel empathy for all suffering. Past karma and past lives cannot be known by individuals, only presupposed. We drink the nepenthe of forgetfulness as we cross the river into this world, the ancient Greeks thought, which saves us from automatically falling into past habit patterns. Only cultures can see their collective errors in relatively recent history, and what nation or language group hasn't erred? Seeing the other's shadow and never our own is a typical glamour or distortion of vision we have to overcome on the developmental path toward initiation into higher states of consciousness and the mature mind. We can, however, see the legacy we receive from our parents as both their strengths and weaknesses, choosing wisely-if we can, and sometimes we can't-- what we want to continue and what we want to change.
A Charter of Compassion has recently been written by 18 religious and spiritual leaders, coordinated by author Karen Armstrong, and is endorsed by the World Council of Religious Leaders and the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations, along with the Dalai Lama, Bishop Tutu and many celebrities and others. All hope that this energy will engage the general religious, spiritual and ethical public and their leaders in demanding compassionate words, instead of divisive ones, and to promote tolerance. It isn't just a feel-good affirmation, the writers say, but is intended to engage the public in a movement to redirect public religious communication away from the inflammatory energy of hate, ill will, denigration and harmfulness with an insistence that religious and spiritual leaders speak with compassion, to express goodwill toward whomever they see as opponents, enemies or on an opposite side to their own. The four-paragraph document concludes, "We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community."
With compassion in mind, and a desire to join the more tolerant ethical secular group with the religious and spiritual groups, the following is submitted as another alternative version of the Great Invocation, without using gender-biased language or naming any cultural figure:
The Great Invocation-Compassion Version
From the point of Light within the Mind of God
Let light stream forth into the minds of all;
Let Light descend on Earth.
From the point of Love within the Heart of God
Let love stream forth into the hearts of all;
May Compassion reign on Earth.
From the center where the Will of God is known
Let purpose guide all human wills,
The purpose which the Masters know and serve.
From the center which we call the human race
Let the Plan of Love and Light work out
And may it seal the door where evil dwells.
Let Light and Love and Power
Restore the Plan on Earth.
For Buddhists, the term God could be replaced by the Universal mind, heart and will.
Aspiration, Direction and the Centers
The keynote for pondering human development in this meditation is personal aspiration and spiritual direction, both expressions of human goals, one of the personality and the other of the soul. "From ambition to aspiration, from selfishness to an intense desire for selflessness, from individual one-pointed self-interest…to the one-pointedness of the disciple…to initiation" so our direction evolves over a long period of time. We who dedicate our meditation to humanity, as World Disciple, see that at some point of development this is a contest between ambition--some have called blind ambition-of the developed personality, and initiation into integrated consciousness, or the 5th kingdom worldview, based upon the direct perception of intuition, buddhi or bodhi mind.
The major directing center in the human etheric body is, as we know, the ajna center between the eyebrows. The transference of energy and activation proceeds from the three centers below the diaphragm to the three above, from the two above to the ajna center, and later from the ajna to the 1000-petaled crown center. In this is the story of the long road of human development and evolution that begins in the fight or flight center at the base of the spine, activating the will-to-live, to the sacral center of generation, sex and the will-to-propagate, to the will-to-consume solar plexus center of food, stomach, stress and the consumer society.
Transference from the solar plexus to the heart and throat centers is a very long process in which humanity, the World Disciple has been engaged for many cycles. "It will be obvious to you, for instance, that the transference of all accumulated energies in the solar plexus centre into the heart centre will cause difficulty, very frequently of a serious nature; this is why today so many advanced people die of heart disease." It seems likely to continue this way until we have collectively sorted through and understood the physical, etheric, emotional, mental and spiritual natures combined and integrated, and what the heart center actually is, how personal love is transformed into transpersonal love, and concern for ourselves and our own to concern for the earth and humanity as a whole.
Ajna Center, the Directing Center
Disorders of the ajna center are related to the projection of energy and direction. It is the use of power to direct energy and can lead to many mistakes from Messiah complexes in political or religious fields to misguided and misdirected campaigns for or against some one or some group or some gender or race. It's a one-pointed energy that can become fanatical and imbalanced if ambition is the overriding intention and glamours of one kind or another still dominate the personality. Ambition can be motivated by one of the five emotional delusions: hatred, pride, desire, jealousy or ignorance (Khentse), and turned to the control and domination of others. In addition to these psychological disorders incorrect development of the ajna center can also result in seizures, eye diseases and other maladies. It is from the ajna center that the three major nadis, ida, sushumna and pingala go their separate ways. The more well-integrated the personality, the more powerful is its projection of energy, which forebodes an unpleasant period ahead for a future humanity if we neglect to choose compassion and forge it as our path today.
One act of compassion that the nations of the world and their people have a chance to make is at the upcoming Climate Change conference in Copenhagen on behalf of Earth itself. May we have compassion for earth and nature. The Parliament of World Religions meeting in Melbourne, Dec. 3, could adopt the Charter of Compassion, demonstrating genuine appreciation for other esoteric groups, religions and their leaders by right speech and right thought.
Many good wishes to you all, and compassion to you who suffer. You are in our hearts.
Bailey, Alice A. Esoteric Astrology. NY: Lucis, pp. 174-193.
- - - Esoteric Healing, pp. 175-176.
Charter of Compassion: charterofcompassion.com
H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones. Boston:
Shambhala, pp. 125-132.