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A Time of Preparation

Steve Nation
July 2008

'Cancer is the last of what we might call the four preparatory signs…' These are Alice Bailey's opening words in a brief essay on the sign of Cancer in the book Labours of Hercules. Preparation and preparatory are interesting themes to explore. They suggest training, rehearsal, getting ready.

Our time, this period in the opening decades of a new millennium, can well be thought of as a time of preparation. The old age defined by habits and ideas of separation has gone. We are on the frontiers of something quite new - but we are not there yet. There is a vision of wholeness, interdependence and of global community - a vision of right relations - that has become so strong that it is clearly a part of the dream life of people of goodwill in their millions. Just look at the themes of so many of the advertisements on television channels around the world. Vast numbers have been seduced by sentimental visions of wholeness and care for the environment...

Everything is in a flux right now. There are major steps being taken politically and economically in different parts of the world to act on a 'Unity in Diversity' ethic. Yet on the whole, large numbers of people are still not ready to take the positive, responsible steps needed to bring the vision into incarnation. So one way of understanding the present is to see that personally and as a species, we are dancing around an understanding of the interdependence of all things inner and outer. We are coming to terms with it - preparing, doing the necessary groundwork, and getting ourselves ready, to make the wholeness vision the conditioning theme of our lives and of community, culture and civilization.

To prepare is to get ready … to do the solid work needed before we can bring the vision down to earth … to make ourselves fit and able to redeem and transform the world.

Those who, with all eyes wide open - left eye, right eye and third, inner eye of creativity and vision - are consciously doing the Work of bringing wholeness into expression are the ones who, in esoteric terms, are treading the discipleship path. Those who are yet to find their identity in such profoundly serious, creative and purposeful life styles - but who are still intrigued and enticed by the possibility of living in harmony with their deeper Self, in a tolerant and peaceful world - are preparing for a future when they too will step onto the discipleship path.

And the vast masses of the world's peoples are preparing for a time of reorientation when some aspect of the dream of wholeness will become their dream too - and when their sense of identity will be somewhat disturbed by notions of a deeper sense of Self.

Within this sense of where humanity stands on the evolutionary path let us make our approach to the energy flow of the Cancer full moon. Think for a moment of our meditative alignments at this time. Think of the field of mind and heart created by all the groups and individuals around the world giving attention to the opportunities for service provided by the full moon. We can enter into this field - sit with the recognition that we are all part of one meditating group. We can think of this group field of mind and heart as a great reservoir of light and love - attuned to the needs of humanity in transition and oriented towards the Higher Lights of the Ashram - to the fiery presence of the Christ - and that centre of peaceful silent will in Shamballa.

So may we sit - open to the possibilities for human development that the Cancer energy brings. Over the five days of the full moon, the sunlight that shines onto the earth (even that reflected off the moon during the hours of darkness) carries a hidden inner radiance from the constellation Cancer. This radiance has a subtle effect on the psyche - providing an atmosphere conducive to all the astrological qualities and tinctures of the sign. Our work in these meditations is to consider the way in which these qualities are being expressed in all the psychological, cultural and social dynamics of the time - and to sense their role in nourishing the evolution and maturing of consciousness and hence of behavior.

There are a number of ways we can consider the theme of preparing and getting ready for the future in thinking about this sign. One thought is that different preparations are needed for different groups in society - in any society. Significant majorities of peoples around the world are preoccupied with coping with life - with the ups and downs of family and friends, making a better life for oneself and ones family. There is little psychic space for independent thinking about national issues, and the wholeness vision has little impact when these most basic of relationships are the core experience. This is the stage of instinctual, mass consciousness and it prepares for a time when the individual will stand apart from the crowd, having a strong sense of identity, of ambition and personal purpose. The preparatory work of Cancer brings with it experiences that set the stage for later growth when there will be an awakening to the sense of self, and this will induce an intention and the will to really be someone.

Vast numbers of people have moved forward to that developmental stage when they are strong individuals - independent and assertive. Their opportunity in Cancer is to prepare the ground for their next cycle of growth - sensing the presence of Soul, depth, heart and Spirit. This sensing of something Other will lead them inevitably to a phase of duality, conflict and battle between the opposites.

When there is an awakening to the Soul there is also an awakening to the Wholeness vision. Preparation is needed prior to entry onto the discipleship path. This preparation often involves a strong focus on the personal life - a need to purify the life and give time to the relationship between Soul and personality. It is a time to attend to one's personal 'issues'.

Once the focus shifts towards a life in which Soul begins to become a core part of identity the wish to be of service to the whole becomes a focus and the individual steps onto the discipleship path. In this situation the Cancer energies can help to awaken the intuitive mode of knowing - direct knowledge of the Good, Beautiful and True. The intuition is a way of knowing through the heart. It need not contradict the intellect - indeed both must learn to work in harmony - yet it is a different form of knowledge. From the intellect and reason we may, for example, know much about human rights - about the philosophy, the law and practice. From the intuition we see into the sacredness, beauty and mystery of what it is to be a human being - hence we know, directly, the rights of the human being. Cancerian energies can help to awaken and refine intuitive perception.

Biologist and physician Joans Salk achieved fame through his development of a polio vaccine - a vaccine he did not patent because, he said 'There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?' He was a great believer in the power of intuition - commenting that both reason and intuition are necessary:

The way I like to put it is that I might have an intuition about something, I send it over to the reason department. Then after I've checked it out in the reason department, I send it back to the intuition department to make sure that it's still all right. For myself, that's how my mind works, and that's how I work. That's why I think that there is both an art and a science to what we do. The art of science is as important as so-called technical science. You need both. It's this combination that must be recognized and acknowledged and valued.[see the reference at]

When the intuition, real intuition, is alive it brings with it a simplicity and a directness that is powerful. The poet and writer, David Whyte, discusses this deep hallmark of the intuition in his book, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity:

… if we are serious about our work we tend to find ourselves apprenticed to something much larger than we expected, something that calls on more of our essence than we previously imagined, something seemingly raw and overpowering. The young, exhausted lawyer glimpses, late one evening, the enormous commitment needed for her future partnership; the apprentice violin maker can only marvel at the older man's simultaneous ease and absolute precision with the tiny wood plane. Seemingly superhuman forces always call on individual human beings to simplify themselves. A kind of simplification, achieved day by day, hour by hour, in our given work, right into the essence of what needs to be done. That simplified essence can terrify us …. And that simplified essence is not to be found so easily … [pp. 39-40]

The keynote for meditation in Cancer is I build a lighted house, and therein dwell. It suggests the preparatory work of getting our own house in order, ready for the next step forward - together with a call to focus on the work of beautifying and simplifying our outer lives as well as all the structures and institutions of society. It is a call for goodness and truth to be transparent in government, in health care, in law and religion. The task in Cancer is to make our daily living and all our interactions with the material world a shrine - a reflection of inner light.

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