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From Selfishness to Self-forgetfulness:
Taking the Self Seriously

Steve Nation
July 2010

In this full moon festival of Leo our attention focuses on self-awareness, I-ness, and the incredible significance of our personal identity during this time of transition. Ultimately Leo holds a vital key to the passage from selfishness to self-forgetfulness.

In my own reflections during the cycle of twelve full moon festivals, I tend to be interested in what is happening in the wider group life of communities, nations and the world as a whole - pondering the significance of events and problems that are leading us towards a civilization of wholeness. This is why I find such fascination in the processes, debates and what I think of as meditations that flow through the halls of the United Nations - remembering that the voices heard and, through time, decisions taken, reflect not just governments but also all the diverse voices of human organizations and groups of concern.

During each particular full moon festival I like to think about the vast community of deep thinkers and servers that is pushing the collective consciousness towards a New World from the perspective of the appropriate zodiacal influences. Each Heavenly Body shines a special light on the historical transition of consciousness we are experiencing as we move into the full flood of Aquarius. Issues like climate change, environmental crises, the relations between capital and labor, finance and the way we live our lives, provide the tensions and dramas that set the stage for political discourse - and at a deeper level they provide the circumstances through which our personal and collective sense of purpose and meaning is undergoing a reorientation. The whole approach of the twelve full moon festivals leads us to explore this reorientation in terms of a shift in awareness away from things, and outer events and towards the quality of relationships where principles of wholeness and unity are becoming the dominant living ethical framework for a new historical era.

Leo invites us to explore these themes in terms of the individual, recognizing that a civilization of wholeness refers just as much to our own lifestyle, state of mind and spiritual practice, as it does to our communities and nations. During this full moon festival it is appropriate and auspicious to ponder our own lives and where we are headed personally.

Because we live in an age when group awareness and the universal consciousness of Aquarius is seeping into every aspect of our experience of the spiritual path we can tend to overlook the private, personal work each one of us is called to do. Many of us find ourselves magnetically drawn to group workshops and gatherings for group sharing. This is right and absolutely appropriate to our times - yet in the process we can easily forget the private inner work we do within ourselves - seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year. Leo reminds us that I am the ruler of myself - no one else. I must discover truth for myself and in myself. If I am to do this in a concentrated and purposeful way I will need to find a teaching to give me a basis for understanding the nature of consciousness with its diversity of levels, planes, hidden mountains and valleys; I will need to develop a regular practice in meditation that is maintained over years and decades; and I will need some sense of the Rules of the Road or the fundamental Laws of the Path - in other words some intelligent respect for the timeless fundamentals of love, harmlessness and self-forgetfulness. This is central to what the esoteric approach understands as service. With the combination of these three ingredients (a teaching, practice, and the timeless principles of the Path) I can proceed to craft a way forward in the relationship between my incarnated personal self-awareness and the Higher Self of Soul that I sense within.

We live in an age when the approach to Self tends to be conditioned by concerns about self-esteem. This is appropriate as we leave the Piscean era when spiritual practices and popular culture often demeaned the personal self as something lesser, and somehow tainted. The energies of Leo give us the goal of standing up as free individuals, able to look at ourselves compassionately and clearly, choosing to rule our lives from the perspective of the inner King - the Soul.

It is a good time to ponder discipline, freely chosen self-discipline, in our lives. Transforming the substance of our emotional and mental lives requires disciplined work - or, to put it another way, it requires a rhythm of practice. Regular meditation and study of a teaching enable us to observe ourselves from the perspective of the thinking, intuiting, loving soul; to see glamours and illusions for what they are (and by seeing them remove their sting); and to see our spiritual challenges and opportunities clearly and insightfully.

Discipline freely chosen is very different from discipline imposed from the outside. To chose this sort of discipline it is necessary first to have some sense of the Soul as a real living aspect of Self - the space in one's own consciousness where Goodness, Beauty and Truth are known to be real and are perceived as a source of Joy.

The discipline involved is a natural response to a growing sensitivity to the Soul, and to a wish for the Soul to be the primary conditioning factor in ones life.

As this response develops throughout a life we find that in the core of our being self-awareness opens out into sensitivity to the purposes and plans of divinity - we find ourselves drawn to identify with groups and with group projects that are clearly serving the common good. Our identity actually transits into an identification with the purposes and principles inspiring a particular group. Aquarius is the polar opposite of Leo - the focus on self in Leo opens out to the focus on group and the universal consciousness of Aquarius. Selfishness opens out to self-forgetfulness.

We can imagine that that at this time, when the energies of Leo are pouring into and through the whole wide field of human consciousness, millions of people will be thinking about the direction and plan for their lives - impressed to take control over who they are and where they are headed. In this process may they be sensitive to the call of their deepest Self. And may we be sensitive to the One who Stands at the Centre of our Being.