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The Path of the Perfection of Wisdom

Malvin Artley
May 2009


Greetings All!
Spiritual callings have a way of making one's personal life very interesting. Of course, those of you who have read these letters for some time now know that 'interesting' means getting something we did not expect at all, leading to 'experience'. There have been several of what I would term 'calls' to me from my own higher nature throughout my life - strong impulses to do certain things that have taken me in new directions and which have ultimately led me to teachers, knowledge or experiences that have opened me spiritually, thus evoking a greater sense of service and care for others within me. These are the big turning points in our lives, the major milestones that leave us permanently changed somehow, and for the better in terms of our own sense of humanity. Our parents, God love 'em, had a description for such experiences: They said such experiences 'built character'.

I could hear myself saying many times as a kid, "But why do I have to build character, Dad/Mom? I'm happy with the way things are." Philosophical rationalizations have a way of getting up the nose when one is in the thick of a crisis. It is not much different when we are adults, either. Instead of getting angry at our parents as adults, however, we feel angry at the effrontery of the Fates, God, the 'Powers that Be' - whatever one wants to call forces outside of our control. We always have a choice, though, when presented with a 'situation': We can stay angry, we can roll up our sleeves and dive in, seeing where it takes us - or we can become philosophers. Maybe we do all three at different points in the process.

I remember one calling in particular that came very strongly to me some time back that involved taking on a particular spiritual discipline. I knew I needed it for the next steps ahead in my life. I had no idea where it was going to lead, but it was strongly pointed out to me by someone I trusted that it was something I really needed to do, reinforcing what I knew internally anyway. At the time, the idea put forward to me seemed like a good one. "I can do this", I thought. I foolishly thought to myself there would be no real problem with it, that I would be right at home with it and that all would be well. We have to be careful about our thoughts. So, I undertook the study and the discipline and really gave it a good effort (and I still do).

The first thing that became apparent once I engaged in the practice was that I had little time to socialize any longer, or to watch television, or go out late into the night, not that I was a big one for doing that anyway. My personal life was curtailed in a major way. I had to make big adjustments to my life. I was tired - dragging along, actually - detoxifying and clearing away a lot of old psychic baggage. It wasn't a lot of fun, nor was I at the time. It was, indeed, very character-building, however. I had no one to blame but myself for what I experienced, though. I asked for it, and got it, along with some other experiences. I was a bit angry about not being told about all the secondary effects of what I had taken on, but in the end it was a small price to pay. The benefits of taking on that discipline have been very great for me and I have not looked back, nor would I want to. After a time things acclimated and a sense of normalcy returned to my life and people noticed a change for the better in me.

The time leading up to the taking on of that path was fraught, though, and a time of great internal conflict for me. The same sort of scenario has been present every time I have taken a step forward and there have always been obstructions. It is not really true that if one takes a step forward spiritually and if one is on the right path that the angels sing, the gates to heaven magically open and that we are borne along full of joy to our new destination. That is only true from the side of the beings coaxing us forward. From our own side, spiritual momentum forward more often than not entails changes of direction in life, and most people are not too big on change. Yet, the conflicts engendered clear the air and enable us to see things anew. The same goes for the people around us.

One of my mentors once said to me on the verge of one such occasion that I should not worry about the people closest to me. The step ahead at the time was in the best interest - not just of me, but of those closest to me as well. We (myself and those closest at the time) would all benefit from the steps I was to take. Some would adjust and come along with me. Others were to fall away, either from their own inertia or because it was not their path. They were not my concern, I was told. I was sad about it, but I went ahead, and he was right. He pointed out times when I had been on the other end of the process, too, which was helpful. I was able to feel compassion for myself and the others concerned instead of focusing on my perceived loss or fear of the change. The thing about it is, though, that if we are moving forward we always encounter new people and we may see the ones 'left behind' at some point later. Moving forward does not mean leaving things behind, though - it means bringing in the new. The only things we ever really leave behind are our attachments to objects, situations and people, not the people themselves. It is not that they are left behind, either. They simply go on a path different to ours. These were big realizations to me at the time. With that, let's have a look at Taurus and Wesak.

This letter will be a bit more technical than more recent ones, but I thought it might be beneficial to address certain points of understanding about Wesak, Taurus and the Buddha. We have entered the high point of the year in terms of spiritual power and potency. Now firmly in the Wesak period, we find ourselves faced with the possibilities for our movement forward en masse. Taurus is the sign that points the way along the Path. It is one of the signs most closely associated with that force known as spiritual Will. This is not will-power in the human sense of the term. What passes as will-power in people is more often than not stubbornness or controlling behavior, which separates us from each other and entrenches old behavior patterns. Spiritual Will, on the other hand, always moves one to a better place, in a manner of speaking. It always moves in the direction that is best for all concerned, not simply the one person - and that is one of the primary markers of spiritual Will.

Spiritual will brings people together in common purpose, which is the higher meaning of the Venus rulership over Taurus, and moves the individual toward a deeper involvement in life and the liberation of souls from suffering. We celebrate Wesak in the sign Taurus because Taurus brings through the first Ray - the Ray of Will or Power. Wesak is often called the festival of the Buddha, but we are not speaking of a personage when we speak of Wesak and Buddha. We are speaking, instead, of a way or mode of progress on the spiritual Path, which is the path of the Perfection of Wisdom, most closely identified with Buddhism in this present world cycle.

What exactly defines a 'Buddha'? There are many such types of Buddhas, as it turns out, and the term is also loosely used many times to describe various types of enlightened beings. Since we are looking at the Buddha's festival (Buddha Shakyamuni), it may perhaps be good at this juncture to have a look at some of the defining characteristics of the spiritual attainment that marks Buddha-hood. In the orthodox Buddhist pantheon we find several types of Buddhas mentioned - Shravakas (Hearers), Pratyekas (Solitary Realizers) and Buddhas of Compassion. The Shravaka Buddhas' aim is to attain liberation from samsara - in other words, to escape the need to be reborn and, having done thus, they attain nirvanic consciousness. Their training is based solely upon the teachings of Sutra and they are thus classed as Hinayanists. Pratyeka Buddhas attain liberation from the wheel of life and death, too, and attain to nirvanic consciousness, but they do so through dint of their own efforts, without reliance upon the teachings of any particular school or lineage. Theirs is a solitary path and their main aim is self-liberation and attainment. They are 'self-realized' in a sense. Of the three types mentioned, only the Buddha of Compassion attains liberation and then full enlightenment in order to return and aid all beings left behind in doing the same - the Bodhisattva's path.

At this point we need to define some terms. 'Liberation', when we speak of Buddhas, refers to the ending of samasara. Having achieved liberation, a Buddha is then 'gone', in the sense of human existence, never to return unless they so choose out of compassion for those left behind. They have exhausted their worldly karma and no longer have to return to physical life. 'Full enlightenment' has another meaning altogether. In order to achieve full enlightenment, one must first be liberated, but must have also developed bodhichitta (the mind of enlightenment). Sometimes the two happen simultaneously. Having achieved such a state, one becomes omniscient - a spiritual Master in the true sense of the word. We should note here that the Shravakas and Pratyekas do no attain to full enlightenment as such. It is not their primary goal, although all eventually get there, so-to-speak. Only Buddhas of Compassion have as their primary goal the attainment of full enlightenment - what would be called in Theosophical terms, monadic consciousness (Paranirvana), as an end result.

Many readers may be familiar with the mantra from the Heart Sutra:
Om Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha
In this very famous mantra we have the stages of Buddha-hood described for us. The Shravakas and Pratyekas reach the state of Gate - 'gone' in the sense that life in samsara is finished for them. Nirvanic consciousness describes the state of Gate - but it is not full nirvanic consciousness. Those two types of Buddhas are not, then, fully realized. They have not achieved full enlightenment. When one has achieved full enlightenment, one has achieved full nirvanic consciousness and is thus on the verge of going beyond nirvana in terms of attainment. Such a being has attained what is called the Dharmakaya (Truth Body). Attainment of the next 'level', paranirvana (anupadaka, or the monadic plane) follows quickly and the Buddha has thus reached the state of Paragate - 'gone beyond'. They are thus also classed as Tathagatas - those Buddhas who have 'gone beyond'. The Buddhas of Compassion have achieved such a state of being. They have 'gone beyond' nirvana, but they choose to return as an act of sacrifice and service.

There is more, though. The range of Buddha-hood and spiritual evolution is infinite. If we refer back to the mantra, we see a third term - Parasamgate - 'gone completely beyond'. This 'gone completely beyond' refers to the fact that such a being has left completely all association with this solar system. Such a being has left even the monadic sheath behind and is completely released from the seven planes or states of being of our manifested solar system. The only term we have for such a being in orthodoxy that comes close to describing it is 'Adi-Buddha', and Shakyamuni is one such. In the Buddhist pantheon, Vajradhara is also classed as an Adi-Buddha. To the esoteric astrologer and the esotericist in general, Adi-Buddhas are found only in the Creative Hierarchies that are ruled by Leo through Pisces. In point of fact, what we might call an Adi-Buddha in our solar system is actually only a higher correspondence to the Emanation Body of a lesser Buddha. The manifestations of the Adi-Buddhas in our world are what are known as the Fiery Lives, ruled by Leo. So, we have the following set of correspondences in order to aid in our understanding of the Buddhas, for the benefit of Buddhists and Theosophists alike:

Level of Attainment Initiation Achieved Buddhist Level and Equivalents
Arhat (lower nirvana) Fourth (Renunciation) Pratyeka, Shravaka, Liberation, 'Gone'
Master of Wisdom, Chohan (higher nirvana and monadic, resp.) Fifth (Revelation) and Sixth (Decision), resp. Full Enlightenment, 'Gone Beyond', Tathagata, truth body and wisdom-truth body
Buddha, Fiery Life Seventh (Resurrection)and beyond Adi-Buddha, 'Gone Completely Beyond'

What has been described in the preceding paragraphs may be a bit confusing and is by no means a full accounting, but the point to be made is that there is not simply one type of 'Buddha'. In fact, 'Buddha Dharma' is the actual path taken by all Buddhas eventually. It is the path of the spiritual Will, attained through intensive mental training at the human stage. All Buddhas are called Conquerors, and with good reason. They conquer everything within themselves that stands in the way of their attainment and service and they eventually come back to show us the way to do the same.

It is no surprise or coincidence that the Buddha's festival is celebrated in Taurus. The sign is ruled by the two planets (Venus and Vulcan) that together describe the path to Buddha-hood most elegantly. Venus and Vulcan together are the marriage of Wisdom and Method, respectively. Venus rules the human mind at the level of the causal body (accumulated wisdom, leading to compassion) and the five-fold human being, while Vulcan forges the Sword of Discrimination that is wielded by the mind via skilful means (method), leading ultimately to Liberation (destruction of the causal body and the liberation of its lives) and thence to Full Enlightenment and beyond. The spiritual Will is the force that impels us along the Path, and there is no better exemplar in the zodiac for the Light of the Path than Taurus. Taurus lights the Path which leads us to Bodhi Svaha (from the mantra) - the stage of 'no more learning', fully established in wisdom, the state of Perfection of Wisdom - the Mother of all the Buddhas.

Perhaps from the preceding paragraphs we can begin to see why Taureans might be called one of the three 'transformers of the zodiac' (referring to 'catalysts' the Aries letter). For the Taurean type who has the 'eye of wisdom' opened, they respond most readily to any imprint of spiritual will. Thus motivated, their famous Taurean momentum kicks in, but in a spiritual sense, and, their direction thus set, they move steadily onward toward their perceived vision, following the Light showing them the Path. For the people closest to such a Taurean type, the change in the Taurean's direction can be most upsetting. Not much, personal or otherwise, is allowed to stand in the way by the Taurean thus motivated.

Steadily the hammer of Vulcan falls, shaping the life. Steadily the mind becomes clarified in purpose, drawing in those of like mind. Steadily, Aphrodite (Venus), wed to Hephaestus (Vulcan) and girt by Cestus (irresistible desire for full enlightenment), rides the Bull toward the Pure Land of Shambhala and thence to the wisdom of full enlightenment, as exemplified for us in the personage of Buddha Shakyamuni. Many are those who have fallen under the charms of Aphrodite (ultimate Wisdom), to be swept away in the passion of spirit, taking desire as their path, only to surrender themselves fully in the end in service to those left spiritually wanting. Slowly, but steadily and without wavering, the way of the Bull shows us the Way which conquers death, spiritually considered. The symbolism concerning the bull and Taurus is some of the most profound in the zodiac. What has been outlined here is of mixed traditions, but the meaning is, hopefully, clear enough.

We need to have a brief look at Shambhala here (Alice Bailey spells it as Shamballa). It is said that the spiritual impulse at the time of Wesak comes form the council chambers at Shamballa, according to DK's transmission. It would perhaps be a good thing if we were clear on what is meant by the term 'Shambhala', for there is some confusion on this point. Shambhala has three distinct usages:

  • As a spiritual kingdom located on the Earth's surface, albeit in very subtle matter, usually in the vicinity of the Gobi Desert.
  • As the Pure Land of Buddha Kalachakra. A Pure Land is an environment generated by the great Buddhas as a part of their emanation (mandala), used as a sort of way-station and place of spiritual refuge in which the disciples and initiates of their lineage can received training, further initiations and eventually achieve full enlightenment. This is a simplistic definition, but it will suffice for our purposes. Shambhala is said to be the Pure Land most readily accessible to humanity, but one must have the requisite karma and attainment to be able to envision or visit it.
  • As a representation of ultimate spiritual attainment and peace - a spiritual vortex in which the greatest spiritual energies converge in our world, producing the energies of Purification, Destruction and Organization. In this sense it is a great planetary chakra, the crown chakra of the Lord of this world - the agent of the Will of God.

With the Wesak festival, we are most concerned with Shambhala as is explained by the third point just mentioned, although the second point is not far from the mark, either. It will be of interest to some readers to note that the many references in the Alice Bailey material to Shamballa point to the fact that there is a very strong connection in DK's works with the Kalachakra Tantra. The Kalachakra Tantra is said by some Buddhist Lamas to be the greatest of the Buddhist Tantras, although as a practise it is very complex and time-consuming. It is, on the whole, only for the most dedicated of practitioners and for those whose skills at visualization are, to say the least, better than average.

With the full moon of Taurus (the Taurus solar festival) we have the opportunity to glimpse the next steps ahead for humanity - the Will of God, if we may so speak. For the four minutes on either side (eight minutes total) of the exact time of the full moon we are graced with the appearance, for those who have the eye to see, of Buddha Shakyamuni. If we need to see our direction for the coming year, that is the time to look inward. Hence, this is one of the most, if not the most, important full moons of the year in some respects. We should note in this regard that Shakyamuni is the representative - the embodiment - of the Dharma, if you will. He comes back as an exemplar of what can be for us, as a ray of hope. The true sense of direction comes via the Manu and the disciples of that line. Both the emanation of Shakyamuni and the impulse of the spiritual will from the Manu happen simultaneously. All we need do is to register our piece of the puzzle and act accordingly. Even if we do not get the grand vision at the 8-minute window, we can still get a sense of inner direction from taking proper care in our meditations in the days leading up to and that follow the full moon of Taurus. Let's have a look at the full moon figure.

The full moon takes place on 9 May 2009 at 2:01 PM AEST (4:01 AM UT) on the east coast of Australia. The symbol for the degree of the Sun, indicating some of the underlying energies of this period, reads:
"A new continent rising out of the ocean." 19 Taurus

We are in a new territory of sorts in the world today. Our basic ways of doing things are being challenged in many instances. Instability in the financial markets has put humanity on edge. For those who have the ability to recognize it, the opportunities before us are great. We can, indeed, create a new world out of all this chaos. In the symbol, the ocean can represent the great sea of desire from which personal lives and great societal programs are born. The new continent is whatever we wish to make it. With a new continent rising, the sea is like a boiling mass, a cauldron of birthing energies, if you will. The waters have broken and a new form is seen. In a sense, our world (human society) is in labor. Desire begets form, and the energies of Taurus show us the outcome of what we have desired, but also the beauty of life to come if we have the eye to see. Every birth is a mystery, a blessing and a surprise in some way.

The symbol for the degree of the Moon is most revealing with respect to the symbol just described. It reads:
"A parrot repeats the conversation it has overheard." 19 Scorpio

This symbol indicates the capacity to transmit transcendental knowledge. Look to those who are sensitive in the days and weeks to come and listen closely. They may give you clues to things which you have sought. A parrot has only a limited consciousness itself, but it can be a wonderful mimic and transmit words and sounds astonishingly well. Are we not a little like parrots with regard to the beings of the higher realms? All we need to do is to listen carefully and concentrate if we wish to hear what is being transmitted. All we need to do is to place ourselves in the appropriate environment to hear what we need to hear. The parrot will only relay what it picks up from its environment. Will we focus on worldly affairs, or perhaps place our consciousness as much as possible in a Pure Land - Shambhala, perhaps? In Pure Lands the speech of birds and animals convey Dharma. With what qualities will we endow our new continent? What new flora and fauna will we find there, in a manner of speaking?

This full moon figure is a more joyful one than some we have seen in recent times. The full moon axis is made an 'easy opposition' by Saturn, which trines the Sun. This will aid in the restructuring that needs to take place over the next twelve months. The Moon is in an applying trine to Uranus, though wide, but it will help in the institution of reforms, humanitarian causes and novel approaches to old problems. In seven months we will see the fruition of the promises in that aspect. The Sun is in sesquisquare to Pluto, helping to break down barriers and 'part the waters' to enable the new to come forth. Venus is applying to Mars, finally meeting her 'lover' at the 15th degree of Taurus in late June. (Venus had an affair with Mars in mythology, which bore her offspring. She was married to Vulcan at the time.) Astrologers will note that the 15th degree of Taurus is strongly figured in major world events when eclipses are activated there. Thankfully, there are no eclipses activated then, but we take note that Venus and Mars are conjunct during the period from now until then, so love is in the air, hopefully. It is a good time, for those who are so inclined, to take desire onto the path and use its transmutative energies to good effect.

With regard to Venus, there is a separating square of Venus and Pluto in the figure, indicating that certain affairs of the heart need attention or finishing, but also warning against obsessiveness in love and projections onto partners or others. Beware the money pit with this aspect and stay away from foolish spending for the year. Saturn forms a Magi link to Mars, indicating that the workplace can become a battlefield. This can be a very frustrating energy and can lead to strife. This chart is not the best for business and can indicate further instability, especially after August. More on that point in later letters. Jupiter has begun its long sojourn with Neptune and Chiron until the end of the year.

I was once asked by a colleague what I thought that triple conjunction might mean or portend. At the time I said it would bring one of two things - either fabulous spiritual insight and opportunities for spiritual healing or a huge debacle - possibly both. For those readers who have significant placements in their charts around the 25th degree of fixed signs, what was just described applies to you. Neptune and Chiron both make their retrograde stations at the end of this month, with Jupiter to follow on the 16th of June and they both turn direct again in the first week of November. Hence, the period from late May to November is a time of inward looking. On the whole, that period will be a time of enormous personal and spiritual magnetism if rightly used. If wrongly used, we can look for deception on a massive scale. Be very clear and careful with all that you do from now until the end of the year, especially from June through to November. Get people to watch your back if your chart is strongly affected. Pay particular attention to world leaders during this time and read between the lines. The spiritual/psychic potential is great, but also, as well, the capacity for self-deception. All creative arts and travel are greatly favored from now to the start of next year.

There is hope for us yet. The next 18 months will be the make-or-break times. I have been sent a lot of emails about the end of the year 2012. That is not the time about which to be concerned. I have always maintained that. The time, if we are to be concerned, is now. The primary thing all of us need right now is a peaceful state of mind. We are being whipped into a panic by the media - FINANCIAL CRISIS, SWINE FLU, PIRATES IN SOMALIA, GLOBAL WARMING, TERRORISM ON OUR DOORSTEP. Pick a headline. Had enough? It may sound trite, but peace and prosperity are states of mind, not outward events. Events follow the inner promptings. How much can we do about the headlines? - not much, really. We can, however, make certain that our own finances are sound, that we get on well with our fellows and neighbors, that we watch our health. Peace is contagious. So is prosperity. So is health. People will follow our lead if they like what they see. If we want to start a movement, it starts from a place of peace within - a silent, quiet knowing. Movement begins with resolution, not in the emotional storm. This is the sort of thing that Wesak is about - the place of peace wherein the road to action is registered and engaged. The Light of the Path will not be seen in fog or storm. We have to find the quiet, clear space to see the Light. 2012 will reveal the 'new continent'. It is being birthed now. Now is the time to act, not in 2012, for instance.

Some of the words of my mentor those years ago still ring in my head:
Respond to people and circumstances. Don't react. If you react in the heat of emotional causes, you set yourself up to be used and placed badly. If you find the emotional peace to be able to rightly respond, then the true opportunities will present themselves and strength will be found in that.

How many times have we chosen in the heat of passion and regretted it later? Taurus is both about passions of all sorts and drama and about the quiet center where peace and the Light of the Path is known. It is the primary choice that all Taurean types face. Do we want fulfillment of desire and the dramas that go with it or the steady, purposeful progress forward? It is a question I have had to address myself and I have seen both sides. I choose the latter as much as possible these days. May it be the same with you. Our opportunity is before us with each passing moment. May this Wesak period give us all the clues we need which will ultimately lead us to the Pure Land of our choosing.

Happy Mother's Day,
Malvin
5 May 2009