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Humanity and the Probationary path

Steve Nation
October 2008


[The following is slightly adapted from a talk given to a Full Moon meeting held by the Lucis Trust in London in 1989. On re-reading it seemed appropriate to the current situation, especially to the financial crisis]

When I was thinking about how I might begin today, I came across a passage in Esoteric Astrology that struck me as being a beautiful symbol for the meditation work that we do in the full moon and the new moon rhythms, and I would like to share it with you.

The Tibetan is describing the way in which the Masters observe and study the astrological influences in relation to the life of the human family as a whole at any time. They look upon two superimposed charts. One is a horoscope of the soul of humanity - an image of the living energy system, with all its cosmic connections, of the soul life. The other is a horoscope of the form life of humanity - the energy system of the human family in incarnation. One can sense that these two horoscopes as seen by the Masters are quite different from any charts we have ever seen - they are alive, highlighting relationships, energy patterns, frequencies and oppositions with a dynamic clarity. The Tibetan writes that the two charts are drawn on a large scale. In human terms one can imagine that they might occupy a large space - as if, for example, they were to be placed on the floor of a large stadium, a vast concert hall or a conference room. And He notes that the charts are drawn on a special transparent material. What the Masters see when they look at these two charts, superimposed on each other, is the pattern that emerges when soul and personality are brought together. They see "present conditions, possible developments and relationships, and the immediate future objective", and They see this, we are told, "with clarity". The Masters see with clarity what is, to us an almost unfathomable mystery. This image conjures up, for me, a sense of the awesome beauty of the knowledge and the wisdom of the Great Ones.

It also reminds me that it is this incredible powerhouse of love and thought which lies behind and, if it is not a contradiction, within the comparatively humble field of thought generated by the planetary group of men and women who share in the full moon/new moon meditation work.

I also find this simple, archetypal image of the Great Ones meeting to observe the charts of the two forces in the life of humanity an inspiration for our work. As a planetary group of meditators, which meets rhythmically and regularly in the universal temple of the mind, we are, over the months and the years, stretching our capacity to see the human situation from the hierarchical perspective. We are bringing an image of the dynamic relationship existing between soul and personality into an increasingly sharp and clear focus in the human mind. Over a long period of time we are providing a space in the collective mind where the inner picture can begin to externalize and act as a radiating point for the distribution of hierarchical energies.

I want to emphasize that the rhythm of this work follows the full moon and the new moon cycle. Most of you will be aware that co-workers follow a set outline for meditation during the full moon period, and another outline during the new moon period. The focus at the new moon is upon the working out of soul energies in the life of humanity. The full moon and the new moon meditations are, as it were, two parts of one whole - each feeds and enriches the other, enabling the group to build the bridge in consciousness between Hierarchy and humanity with a very grounded and humanistic sense of the way in which the forces of evolution are working out in the life of humanity.

Can we just pause here and ponder briefly upon the bridge we are building between Hierarchy and humanity, bearing in mind that it stretches from heights of inclusive love beyond our comprehension; through the higher reaches of our abstract, intuitive thought; through our intelligent understanding of the challenges, the difficulties, the vision and the enormous energy generated by the New Group of World Servers, and out into all the initiatives for goodwill and right relations in the world.

May the Power of the one Life pour through the group of all true servers
May the Love of the one Soul characterise the lives of all who seek to aid the Great Ones
May I fulfil my part in the one Work through self-forgetfulness, harmlessness, and right speech.

When the Great Ones look out upon the two superimposed horoscopes over the Libran full moon period we can surmise that one of the patterns of present conditions, possible developments and relationships they will be focusing on will be concerned with the state of the emotional life in humanity. In particular their attention is likely to be drawn to the progress being made in establishing a pattern of poise and equilibrium on the astral plane. How bright does the light of serenity shine in the aura of humanity?

Libra highlights the uncomfortable pull between pairs of opposites, drawing attention to the absence of serenity characterizing experience for such a large section of the human family. On the one hand there is recognition that the outer world and the physical, instinctual appetites are not all there is to life. There is a vague recognition of an inner reality where the qualities of loving intelligence form the substance of our real identity. But we are torn between the aspiration to identify with the light within and the pull of the forces of unredeemed substance in our physical and astral bodies - and in the surrounding environment. We experience moods --periods of light, periods of dark; a constant tug-of-war in our emotional, feeling nature between an idealistic longing for the divine, the pure, the beautiful and a sense of failure and despair at not being able to hold the vision and centre ourselves upon it.

We experience the pairs of opposites most intently on the astral plane. Most people live out their lives through this plane, driven by feelings and desires. The fact that the awareness of most human beings is centred in the astral plane is not a negative thing - and the fact that many aspirants and students on the path of light are grappling with the swings and moods of desire life is not a negative thing. It's simply reality -- a realm of human experience that has to be understood and mastered as a part of the long process of establishing soul control.

If we could see the condition of the astral plane where the bulk of humanity is centred as the Masters of Compassion can see it we would, I think, be shocked by what we saw, and we would understand humanity so much better. DK writes that the first sight of the astral plane "is one of dense fog, confusion, changing forms, interpenetrating and intermingling colours, and is of such a kaleidoscopic appearance that the hopelessness of the exercise (of establishing balance and equilibrium) seems overwhelming. It is not light, or starry or clear. It is apparently impenetrable disorder, for it is the meeting ground of forces. Because the forces in the aspirant's own body are equally in disorder; he blends in with the surrounding chaos to such an extent that it is at first almost impossible for the on looking soul to dissociate its own astral mechanism from the astral mechanism of humanity as a whole, and from the astral mechanism of the world." (White Magic, pp 221-2)

It is here, in the midst of this dense fog and confusion, that Libra does its work - giving humanity the necessary experiences that will enable it to clear the fogs, establish order and, eventually, to choose to impose the laws of the soul upon the personality life.

It seems an almost impossible task. And yet there is a clearly defined way through the maze of the astral plane, and through the opposing forces of conflicting desire. It is a way that millions and millions of educated individuals are treading and it is a way that humanity as a whole has laboriously set its feet upon. It is known as the Probationary Path. Through the eyes of the Inner Rulers humanity is upon this path - the path that precedes discipleship and prepares for the second initiation.

We begin to tread the probationary path as soon as the ego recognizes the existence of the dual forces -- as soon as we realize that we are not in control, that higher and lower tendencies are pushing us this way and that. The way foward then, the way of establishing a balance and a serenity on the astral plane, comes through the analytical, illuminating mind. This is not the abstract mind; it is not the intuition or the higher mind. The light of a trained, clear, intelligent, dispassionate mind has to be brought in to control the emotional nature and to stand above the feelings. It is through this awakening power of mind and through hard and clear thinking that the aspirant is able to release the personality from the grip of lower desire; to recognise the realities of the higher and lower forces, and to chart a clear way forward that avoids extreme swings. Clarity and light is brought to the astral plane as the personality begins to be polarized in the realm of the illumined mind.

The quality of illumination is a very Libran quality. It brings the light of knowledge that enables a situation to be assessed in a judicial manner - with a calm, cold scrutiny that can weigh up possibilities and assess the best way forward It also brings the light of truth - of concrete, knowable truth. When the mind is brought to life in the person begging to take control of their life, a great crisis and culmination of the probationary path occurs when the decision is made to live a life that serves others in some way - a life that is true to the soul. That choice marks the beginning of the discipleship path.

The process of bringing the illumined mind to bear upon our astral nature must be one of the most difficult lessons for humanity to learn. When we are immersed in the fogs and mists of the desire world, when feelings are running high, it is no easy thing to learn to use the mind. And yet that is the great lesson that humanity is in process of learning. It is an enormous step to take. The vast numbers of people consciously training the intellect and educating the mind in schools, universities and adult education courses is evidence of the fact that this step is being taken. From a hierarchical point of view this must be viewed with great interest as it is leading a very large number of people onto the discipleship path.

There is today an aspiration and a pressure to eliminate hunger in the world; to address the causes of poverty; and to act as a global community to conserve and protect the environment. I believe that by studying the Libran energy patterns of soul and personality there is a lot that we can learn about this aspiration and pressure.

The first point is that in order to shape a world of sharing and co-operation it is necessary to deal with the elemental, material desire nature. The desire for personal or national material wealth, comfort and success is a powerful emotional force that cannot be ignored. We can dream about world order but that dream will remain an ideal until Libra has done its work - until there are enough people in the world who are able to think in terms of an interdependent world - who are sufficiently free from the emotional pull of self-interest to be able to make a calm assessment of what must be done if the human race is to survive.

The second point is that the vast majority of people who are still battling with emotional forces have got to want, to desire, an end to world hunger. And they have got to want that more than they want themselves or their own nation to be richer and stronger and more powerful than their competitors. It seems to me that these two points are crucial. On the one hand they emphasize the importance of clear education of the mind - of encouraging people to think about world issues and to understand the idea of interdependence at a very practical level. On the other hand they suggest that attention has to be given to the feeling life of humanity. Television and the arts have a vital role to play in stimulating the desire for a world of unity, justice and peace. It's so important to be positive in helping to balance the desire nature - there are plenty of forces (and I am thinking especially of the forces of money and of advertising industries) that are designed to feed and stimulate the desire to "look after your own interests". It's time that attention was paid to boosting a popular desire to think of the needs of others, and to want to help.

Subjectively these two principles of thought and of a balancing of the desire nature are occurring in the life of humanity. We need to think about how this might affect relationships in the outer world. It's not wishful dreaming to direct our minds in this way. In fact, it is quite in line with the Libran flow. Planetary and solar alignments bring to the horoscopes of soul and personality at this time an inflow of energies from the first, third, fifth and seventh rays. Energies of purpose and of visioned goal stream through the human aura. They have the effect of stimulating humanity's will and aspiration to materialize and to make concrete inner, sensed subjectivity's.

When the principles of interdependence and of planetary wholeness are held in the light of a collective understanding; when they have been explored and are known at some level in the concrete mind, the next step is for humanity to begin to rule its conduct wisely and to control and discipline its conflicting impulses. That is the work of the law but we cannot choose to legislate to end hunger or to protect human rights until enough people (a) see that there is a need to do such a thing, and (b) want such a thing to be done, and want it to be done so much that they are willing to forgo some loss of national sovereignty and the freedom to exploit the weakness of the poor.

Libra governs the law. It's easy to understand why this is so. The law is the social embodiment of the unbiased, discriminating mind that chooses to impose controls and disciplines on the unbridled play of the emotions and of free will. The law imposes an order on relationships and endeavors to bring them into line with what is regarded by society as being right and fair.

The challenge facing the law today is that it is, in the main, still separate laws of independent nations that govern our conduct. We have not yet made much progress in establishing law to govern and order the relations between nations.

But in an interdependent world that, more than anything else, is what we need. Without it self-interest has free play and the strong, almost without exception, exploit the weak.

The groundwork for law that governs relations between nations has been laid with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the more recent Declaration on the Rights of the Child. These Declarations have not yet, however, been raised to the status of law. This will only be done when the nations of the world freely ratify the relevant covenants. The Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [2008 - see http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/ratification/3.htm for information on current signatories and ratification] and the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [2008 - see http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/ratification/4.htm for information on signatories] make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights binding on signatory countries - although there is still no international police force to enforce the law. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is due to be adopted by the UN General Assembly in its current session [1989] and when nations ratify this Convention they will be bound by the law to ensure that children are protected and their rights and interests are given a high priority. [2008: today 193 states are party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, some with varying reservations - see a good summary on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_on_the_Rights_of_the_Child#State_parties_and_signatories ]

When we look at the international community in the light of Libra, it is quite clear that these covenants will form the basis of a universal legal system in the future. The Convention on the Rights of the Child must stand out to Hierarchy as being of particular importance here - the Tibetan commented that legislation for children would "assume great importance" and that it would be the "motivating power" in introducing this new framework for law. He commented also that the new laws would be in force by 2035.

Imagine what a triumph it will be for the forces of light - what a turning point, what an initiation it will indicate - when the Human Rights Covenants and the Convention on the Rights of the Child are ratified by all nations [without reservations] and the law makes it incumbent upon states to value and protect children; to ensure that everyone is free from hunger; and that all have access to adequate shelter. By making these essential human rights basic and fundamental responsibilities of the global community, what we will be doing is saying that guaranteeing the rights of children and the rights of adults is the world's first responsibility. And that is an incredible shift from the way things are now. We can imagine a time when legal bodies exist to awaken the peoples of the world to an awareness of their responsibilities to ensure that everyone has these basic rights - and when the structures of global relations are redesigned to ensure that the law is respected and that every country plays a proper role in guaranteeing the people their rights.

We have a long way to go before we reach that state. Multinational and national companies will have to operate within enforceable laws that ensure they have a positive influence on the battle to eliminate hunger and poverty; nations will have to allocate valuable resources to programs that are designed to end hunger and to foster the healthy growth of children. Instead of talking about human rights, ratifying the covenants and the Children's Convention and giving them power to be implemented will be one of the signs that the world is ready for a new order -- ready for Aquarius. Or perhaps it will be the sign that we are in Aquarius and ready to put the law to work.

This brings me back to where I started this talk - reflecting on the two superimposed horoscopes of the soul and the personality of humanity. The work we do in the full moon and the new moon meditations directs our minds towards the Greater Light of Hierarchy and the soul. It gives us a glimpse of how the world of human relationships might be seen from that point of fiery love. It leads us to look at the human family in terms of the Plan -- to try to chart the progress of the personality's awakening to the soul and, in the light of the soul, rebuilding and remaking itself. We look at world events as signs and outer expressions of this process of humanity becoming the externalising soul. And so we build a bridge in consciousness - enabling soul powers to flow out to the world and to strengthen the forces of unity.