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The Evolution of The Sense of Self

By Steve Nation
August 2005

Let us begin by centering ourselves within the mind and heart of the planetary group of all who love and serve. We can think of this group as being One mind, One heart filled to over-flowing with all the concentrated goodness in the human family. We can imagine and visualise the refined sense of purpose and meaning and the subtle, intuitive sensitivity that characterises the collective mind and heart of the service network. See this accumulated human goodness as a radiant body of lighted, loving, wise and compassionate energy; an uplifting and transforming force in consciousness.

And now, in your minds eye, look upwards to the source of these refined energies. Look through the veils, beyond humanity towards those bright and shining spiritual entities that constitute the Hierarchy, the ashram of Great Ones on the inner side of life. Visualise an alignment, a lighted pathway stretching across the veils of consciousness that divide the human from the superhuman, and reaching upwards towards that great, central point of divinity, identified in our meditation work as Shamballa. One of the best ways of thinking about Shamballa is to conceive of a centre of peaceful silent will which is the alpha and omega of the energy system of the planet - the divine spark that has brought this system into existence and that holds all together around its silent will to make sacred the realms of time and space.

Let us pause for a moment and use together the Gayatri:

O Thou Who givest sustenance to the universe,
From Whom all things proceed,
To Whom all things return,
Unveil to us the face of the true Spiritual Sun
Hidden by a disc of golden Light
That we may know the Truth
And do our whole duty
As we journey to Thy sacred feet.

This month we are working with a flow of energy qualified by the constellation Leo. Leo, the lion, the king of beasts, the radiant Aslan of the Narnia stories, speaks to us of self, of I. Leo energies bring us the spiritual potencies that make our sense of self such an important ingredient in the birth of a new humanity and the creation of a better world.

The Wisdom teachings have, through the centuries, offered an evolutionary view of human development. We will all be familiar with the idea that consciousness grows and matures through an almost endless round of incarnations. Through life after life lessons are learned as gradually we begin to acquire a measure of wisdom, and noble values.

This focus on individual development is however only the tip of the iceberg. The evolutionary process is driven from the macrocosmic level. When we look out from the earth into the sky we see the sun, the moon, stars, planets and constellations. All the great wisdom teachings down the ages have identified these heavenly bodies as Great Spirits - entities which, in a mysterious way, have an influence on life and consciousness here on earth. These Great Spirits are said to be concerned with the awakening of the consciousness of all aspects of life - human, animal, vegetable, mineral. The evolutionary push, the life spark of the development process, comes from these great cosmic Entities. Here we are talking about entities like the Heart of the Sun, or the Central Spiritual Sun; or the Spirit animating that bright shining star, Sirius. When we read names like this we tend to be thinking in mythical, poetic terms, which is fine because poetry and myth are often the best ways of approaching such Beings - but the Wisdom teachings tell us that these poetic images are simply the faces through which real living centres of consciousness can best be approached and recognised by our very limited and fixed minds.

These great cosmic beings pour their influence into the earth and all that lives on the earth with the goal of awakening the different levels of consciousness until each resembles and resonates with Their own enlightened states of awareness. This is the real source of the evolutionary dynamic. There is a push from above - or a push from within, however you like to see it - that is driving our little human kingdom (and through humanity all the other kingdoms of life on the planet) forward towards greater unity, inclusiveness, and wisdom. In religious or metaphysical parlance this evolutionary force is designed to transform the Earth into a sacred planet. That is what we are destined to become in the long, long-term future.

The active agent in the process, as far as we human beings are concerned, is that immortal principle within us: the soul - the Christ within. The soul is acting as the agent of the heavenly bodies - sensitive to impression from above. The psyche of the soul is said to be three-fold, traditionally visualised as a lotus flower with three layers of petals depicting the three aspects of its being: knowledge; wisdom; sacrifice - all around the jewel in the centre. From our vantage point, the soul is perfect - a truly radiant flower, a solar angel, which exists on its own plane, quite independently of its transient human incarnations. Prompted by its sacrifice petals, in alignment with the purposes of the great cosmic entities, the soul immerses an aspect of itself into an endless round of personal lives for one purpose: for the redemption and transformation of all the aspects of human form: the physical body, the energy body, the emotional or astral body and the mental body.

Through life after life lessons are learned and held in the memory banks of the soul's physical, astral and mental permanent atoms. Through each incarnation the soul uses these permanent atoms as a gene bank of acquired qualities - so that through long tracks of time the "thinking, intuiting, loving soul" can gradually take hold over its 'personal' vehicle. The essence here is time. New and higher qualities are added into the gene bank as a result of experiences in incarnation - of lessons learned the hard way as the soul throws its reflection into the challenges of different psychological environments. We are not talking about linear time. Evolution does not work like that. The adaptation of a nervous system, a glandular system and a brain to increasingly refined motives, and higher principles through a seemingly endless round of lives, takes time - two steps forward, two steps sideways, one step backwards…

It is within the context of this evolutionary progress that we see the significance of the Leo influence. Early on in the cycle of incarnations the sense of 'I' that the personality experiences is limited - opinions, emotions and desires tend to follow and respond to the collective patterns. There is only limited ability to think things out for oneself, and to be a centred individual. Family, friends and work-mates are the centre of identity.

In response to influences flowing through the constellation Leo, consciousness becomes immersed in the sense of I: me, my, mine. This is very much the keynote of the modern Western person. In Alice Bailey's words the personality becomes 'concentrated', 'emphatic', 'dynamic'. We see the power of the strong, intelligent and highly developed personality - this is very much the image of so many of the role models of the 'stars', the high achievers in business, the politicians. This is the age of the individual, of the rights and freedoms of the individual. It is very much the spirit of Leo that is abroad.

Yet while the development of the sense of 'I' is, in itself an evolutionary process, a necessary part of the Soul's journey to redeem and educate the instinctive traits of our very human mental and emotional bodies - it is also just a stage in evolution. So what, at one stage, marks progress in the souls work, becomes, at a later stage, the problem that has to be overcome. We can see this clearly in our modern societies. The strong sense of self and individuality stands in immediate opposition in our societies to the need to become sensitive to the whole and to respond to our growing sense of the interdependence of life. Self appears to be in opposition to community - and this is what lies at the heart of so many of the issues confronting all societies today: the desire for personal wealth, power and prestige in contradiction to the desire for a safe, happy and healthy community and for a safe, healthy and beautiful natural environment. The powerful spirit of self stands in opposition to the spirit of community.

The beauty of the evolutionary process, from a mythical, cosmological vantage point is that the forces driving the process - the great Spirits of the cosmos reflected in the inner world of the soul - present us with oppositions and conflicts in the psyche that actually hold the seeds for growth and transformation. Leo stimulates and raises the awareness of self - and as this becomes a problem Leo offers us a new refined image of self: 'I am That, and That am I'. This is Self as soul, as immortal principle. It is higher Self, known and experienced through the higher, intuitive mind. And as this higher Self becomes a factor in the consciousness the personality focuses around a sense of group identity - aware of the priorities and needs of the wider community and wanting to contribute to the meeting of those needs. The strong, individualised self is challenged to come to terms with and relate to the higher Self with its priorities of service to the whole.

In astrological terms the polar opposite of Leo is Aquarius, the sign of the server, the water carrier. This means that there is always a tension, a relationship between these two influences. And for humanity as a whole it is this tension and relationship that is a major driving force in the transformation of consciousness.

In Leo, Alice Bailey writes, "the individual awakens to his own identity, concentrates his purpose, learns the lessons and uses of selfishness (for that is one of the best ways to learn and to discover that it is contrary to the laws of the soul) and is eventually so cornered by the life processes that he becomes aware of the futility of self-interest". [EA 145] Isn't that a wonderful image - that the archetypal modern successful strong individual becomes so 'cornered' by the circumstances of life - so challenged by the need for a healthy community and a healthy environment - that she or he recognises the futility of self-interest and, in the process is drawn through the influence of Aquarius to become sensitive to the "beauty of group life" and to a sense of "individual responsibility towards the group". [EA 145].

The Leo dynamic that we can hold in reflection during our meditation is of the Lion of self-assertion being transmuted through the energies of the heart of the sun into the light of the soul fixed, focussed and shining in the mind of the individual.

This process of transmutation is said to take place through the agency of fire - purification by fire. The fire signs, acting in the life of someone consciously bringing soul energies into focus in their mind and heart, purify by burning up all that stands in the way of the soul. First there is an intensification of light - in other words we see the issues and the choices clearly - we see where our next step lies on the path towards becoming a more soul infused individual. Then the Leo fire comes into play, as we freely choose to take that step regardless of the pain and sacrifice that may be involved.

Freedom is the key to the Leo path. For the process of moving from a focus on the needs of the selfish personality towards a will to act in alignment with soul purpose and a wider perspective will only happen if it is freely chosen. The Leo energy will reject any outside interference.

The key word of the soul in Leo: 'I am That and That am I' speaks of 'Self-rule' - rule by the higher Self, the Lion within, the soul; a rule achieved through burning, through conflict leading to a clear, conscious self-imposed discipline. This is the thing about the discipleship path under the Leo influence. The sense that I am the Soul becomes so strong that the individual wants, more than anything else, the lighted, loving energies of the true Self to be in control, and to rule the personality. So the Leo energy brings with it a great willingness to impose disciplines on the personality - no matter what the cost.

Those with their sun sign in Leo, or with a Leo rising sign will naturally be particularly sensitive to these energies. Yet we need to remember that during the full moon all of us are being impressed with the special gifts of the Lion - and we can think of the light bearers in the human family, the group of all who love and serve, being overshadowed by these gifts.

At this full moon, may we, all of us who are thinking deeply about human evolution and the birthing of a better world, contribute to the evolution of the sense of self in the human family.

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