Purpose, Direction and the Within-ness of Things
The keynote is
By Steve Nation
<I see a goal; I reach that goal and then I see another.>
Here we are again, preparing to enter into the mythical, poetic realms of the within-ness of things. While the full moon bathes the outer world in the soft light that is reflected off the moon and onto the earth, the inner worlds are bathed in qualities and impulses from great beings of the universe: stars, planets and zodiacal signs.
These impulses bring gifts to nourish the growing, maturing realms of human consciousness. As we try to deepen our understanding of the gifts and to establish some sort of rapport and relationship with them - so do we play our part in helping to bring them to life in the worlds of psyche and culture.
Sagittarius can be approached through the image of the bow and the arrow - with the string of the bow taught, as it is pulled back ready to let fly. Everything about the image speaks of a moment of concentrated, still, poised tension. The archer sees only the target for the arrow. Direction, purpose and goal are the keys. I often think of those close-ups we occasionally see on TV of an athlete on the blocks in that moment just before the starting pistol goes off - occasionally an athlete's face will have a pure Buddha-like pose of total concentration. All extraneous energy is gone. We know what we are seeing is the essence of purpose and direction and focussing of energy on a goal - and it gives us a picture of perfect poise and dynamic stillness. The phrase for meditation: I see the goal, I reach that goal, and then I see another.
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.
We human beings have been in existence for a long, long time. Souls have come in and out of incarnation again and again. Through the ages there has been a slow maturing of this Sagittarian quality of purpose and direction. So while, at an individual level, people are at all sorts of points on the Path, learning lessons, re-capping earlier lessons and building acquired wisdom into the deep recesses of permanent memory - at a collective level culture and civilisation has evolved a well developed sense of purpose.
In the broadest sense, the dominant Western consumer-driven culture is strongly purpose oriented. In the work place, the economy and the political life, purpose and direction are well developed. Indeed 'I see the goal, I reach that goal, and then I see another' could well be a mantra for any successful modern organisation. Aim, goal and purpose are central to so many fields: life skills training; budgeting; educational curricular; business management; marketing…. The marketing phenomenon has become so sophisticated that it awakens, heightens or empowers desires - and sometimes life goals - and in an election, marketing directly targets the national sense of direction and purpose. We often hear the phrase nowadays that people (an artist, an entrepreneur, a sports person) are 'hungry' for success in achieving their goals. The implication is that those who will achieve are the ones who are 'hungry' enough. This is about ambition - the way in which the personality, independent of the soul, tends to concentrate goals, aspirations and desires. If we look back, say 30 years ago, the degree of ambition, purpose and direction in the world was nothing like it is today. Things were easier, more relaxed. People expected jobs for life. There is today a much greater emphasis on struggle, competition, concentration on excellence.
This 'outer' sense of direction is all a part of the development of the personal, independent self: the person becoming potently present in the world of time and space: strong, proud, out for all they can get - and facing all the opportunities and difficulties of stress.
While Sagittarian purpose and direction has become such a guiding force in the outer worlds of the personal and in the culture, it has also been exerting its influence in the inner worlds of soul. We see this most clearly in the growth of a wide range of movements concerned with the development of a more humane society; environmental movements; movements to explore dimensions of depth and height in religion, psychology, healing and the arts. The taut bow and arrow of Sagittarius concentrates direction into areas of meaning, of being and of love. One thinks of the energy flow behind such phrases as 'the will to love' or the 'will to good' - taking the Buddha-like pose of the athlete on the starting blocks, or the archer about to release an arrow, when all the latent potencies of the person are reduced into unobstructed, total visioning of the goal (to love without conditions; to be goodness; to act in harmony with divine intent). The new stress on purpose and direction which we find in so many areas of contemporary culture is also a characteristic of the modern culture of spirituality and the conscious forging of the values and ethics of wholeness.
These two aspects of direction and purpose, higher and lower in a hierarchical sense, or inner and outer in a psychological sense, give us a way of viewing the conflict which lies at the core of our age - the conflict which is such an essential part of transition into a new era. For there is a deep division between the will to achieve in what can simplistically be referred to as a consumer oriented culture, and the will to achieve a culture of goodwill, peace and right relations. Both sides of the conflict now carry a potent will; both sides are able to hold the bow taut, and direct the arrow to its target with skill and focus.
In this situation we need to consider carefully the qualities of the archer who works with higher, universal law, meaning and purpose. And this leads us to a reflection on the role of intuition. But before moving onto this theme I want to mention an address by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, which has been printed in the November/December issue of Resurgence, that influential British journal covering issues at the heart of earth, art and spirit.
Rowan Williams' piece struck me as providing valuable insight into Sagittarius, and what might be called the clash of opposing forces of purpose and direction. He speaks of this in terms of the need to change the myths we live by. The myth which lies behind the willingness to distort the natural order "by human will" is, he argues, a myth of the secular, rational mind, devoid of any sense of a higher order or presence of life. Science and reason tells us that the current relation with the environment, dependence on oil and firing of the flames of consumerism is unsustainable. Yet reason and rationality, on their own, are insufficient to awaken our 'deep eye' to other myths, which can release other dynamics of purpose and direction into culture and the way we live our lives
Rowan Williams contrasts the secular view that human mind and will are independent of the material world and therefore can impose their wants and needs upon it, with the Christian view that Creation, the world of time and space, is a gift from God. To respond appropriately to creation is part of responding appropriately to God and indeed of knowing God. He refers to the Romanian theologian Dumitru Staniloae who views right human relations with the environment as: to receive it from God in blessing and thanksgiving, to offer it back to God by this blessing and gratitude (that is, to let go of the idea that it is just there for our use), and to use it as a means of sharing the divine generosity with others.
I find this talk by the Archbishop of Canterbury revealing of our keynote for meditation because it contrasts so clearly the higher and lower aspects of direction, purpose and will. The lower aspect, which seeks to impose a human will on the natural order, is ultimately a distorted view of directed purpose. As Rowan Williams says, we need that further dimension which insists that the world is simply not understood if it is not seen as related to God. He goes on to say: the failure of secularism is that it cannot see things clearly in relation to anything other than human needs and perceptions now; the opposite of secularism in this context is not so much a set of systematic religious beliefs as a disposition to be aware of the dimension of unseen relations and connections in and between all things and their source in God, that 'intimate and dynamic' relation evoked by the Greek Fathers.
So let's look for a moment at direction and purpose that is in line with the natural order or universal law or the good of the whole. This quality of mind and heart only comes as we learn to see through the 'deep eye' within. Only then can we see the love that underlies the happenings of the time, more importantly, direct our life to serve that love. In the language of myth, the archer who directs the arrow towards goals of understanding, or of 'knowing' rather than 'knowing about' - is rewarded with a flow of intuitive perception. The arrow returns to the archer with gifts of understanding and wisdom, gifts bearing the signature of the mind that is in Christ.
Sagittarius brings to the disciple on the path the gift of intuition. Through many lives the intellect has been developed into a potent and sound instrument. Now it becomes sensitive to a higher way of knowing:
There come flashes of light upon problems; a distant yet possible vision of attainment is seen; the man begins to climb out of the depths to which he has descended in Scorpio and sees ahead of him the mountain in Capricorn which he knows he must eventually climb. He walks no longer in the dark, for he sees what he has to do and he therefore makes rapid progress and travels "fast upon the Way." [Esoteric Astrology, pp180-81]
We need to be careful in the way we speak of intuition. For in popular parlance the word means something which is a little different from the way in which it is used in the esoteric approach. There is much written about 'feminine intuition', 'hunches' and sensing what is just around the corner. In this spirit Laurens van der Post likens the intuition to the nose of an animal in the sense that an animal can smell what is far away and cannot be seen:
We say of a man who has good hunches in his profession that he has 'a good nose for it'.
When the disciple uses the concentrated mind to comprehend the 'within-ness of things' it is not the nose that is being used but the organ of inner sight, insight, and the ability to see into the essential truth; not by rational reasoning but rather by 'straight knowledge'; knowledge which comes as if by grace.
Here is another passage from Esoteric Astrology:
In studying Sagittarius, it becomes obvious that one of the major underlying themes is that of Direction. The Archer is guiding his horse towards some one specific objective; he is sending or directing his arrow towards a desired point; he is aiming at some specific goal. This sense of direction or guidance is characteristic of the enlightened man, of the aspirant and disciple, and this is a growing recognition; when this faculty of sensitive direction is rightly developed it becomes, in the early stages, an effort to identify all soul and personality activity with God's Plan, and this is, in the last analysis, the ordered direction of God's thought. There is no true direction apart from thought, and I would have you remember that thought is power. This is a statement upon which all disciples should ponder, for they can achieve no real comprehension of the direction of God's Plan unless they work with a phase in their own lives which is subject to their own mental direction. … Upon the reversed wheel [the Sagittarian goal] is the expression of love-wisdom and this is ever selflessly developed and always consecrated to the good of the whole and not to the satisfaction of the individual. pp. 190-91.
The intuition that is concerned with straight knowledge of the within-ness of things as they truly are, is not concerned with the strictly personal - with who we will go out on a date with, or what coloured tie we will chose. It gives insight into the ashramic work of pulling Aquarius into the realm of human thinking, of cultures and civilisations. Straight knowledge often flows in group work - when the group is preoccupied with an issue of concern to the evolution of consciousness and of society.
Alice Bailey again, this time from Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. 1:
The intuition is a function of the mind ... and, when rightly used, it enables man to grasp reality with clarity and to see that reality free from glamour and the illusions of the three worlds. When the intuition functions in any human being, he is enabled to take direct and correct action for he is in touch with the Plan, with pure and unadulterated fact and undistorted ideas - free from illusion and coming direct from the divine or universal Mind. The unfoldment of this faculty will bring about a world recognition of the Plan and this is the greatest achievement of the intuition in this present world cycle. When that Plan is sensed, there comes the realisation of the unity of all beings, of the synthesis of world evolution and of the unity of the divine objective. All life and all forms are seen then in their true perspective; a right sense of values and of time then eventuates. When the Plan is truly intuited and at first hand, then constructive effort becomes inevitable and there is no lost motion. [P. 25]
I want to finish with another little quote from the November/December issue of Resurgence. It comes towards the end of an interview with a documentary filmmaker, Kevin Peer, who has done a great deal of work on Sacred Cinema (see his website www.sacredcinema.org).This to me is a beautiful description of the use of mind in releasing the arrows that return to us as intuitive insight. Kevin Peer describes how through his Buddhist meditation and practice he sees how thoughts come and go, endlessly:
That's just the nature of mind. Between and underlying those thoughts, however, is a great stillness. Access to this stillness has been a great ally to me in making films.
When I'm practising cinematography from this open, alert stillness, the most remarkable things arise. I'll suddenly have an impulse to turn around and look in another direction, and there's the very thing I was looking for: there's the moment just before the sun peeks through the branches and illuminates the side of the elk, or there's the expression on the face of the Tuareg as, seated on his camel, he turns. I'm able to engage these wonderful gifts that arise, because in that moment I'm living from a place that is infinitely more expansive and inclusive than the thought box of my head.
Buddhism's emphasis on compassion and service to others has helped me to be gentler on myself and keep the goal simple: to use the power and potential of the medium of film in a respectful and responsible way. I always begin and complete a project with the statement, "May this be of benefit to all beings."
This, to me, is such a beautiful example of Alice Bailey's earlier statement in reference to the intuition as a faculty of discipleship: When the Plan is truly intuited and at first hand, then constructive effort becomes inevitable and there is no lost motion.
This is a good place to end and move into our meditation on the Sagittarian energies of direction, purpose and intuitive insight.