Many people nowadays believe in the oneness of the human family, and have a vague understanding that all life is, in some mysterious way, unified and whole. In full moon meditation work we are acting on this insight, and doing so with a clear sense of purpose. It is as if there is a brilliant light shining into the field of human consciousness when the moon is full, and this light brings the oneness vision into focus.
There are meditation groups and individuals holding a focus during this period all over the face of the planet - some draw their inspiration from esoteric teachings - others may have a Buddhist focus - others may draw on a Sufi background - and there are many indigenous traditions following the rhythm of the full moon cycle. So we place ourselves within this field of consciousness and become one with the planetary group.
From the esoteric perspective, the field of lighted, loving mind created by human beings during the five days of the full moon is visualised as being sensitive to the cry of humanity - sensitive to the pain of humanity and to the unspoken aspiration that is such a potent force in the human kingdom. It is the role of the esotericists to take this unspoken aspiration, all the dreams of a better life, and the pains of incarnation and to transmute them into an invocative call that can reach to the very heart of the divine. Just think about that for a moment - think about what it means. Our special work is to project this cry from humanity as a call to the great Healers, Sages and Enlightened Beings who are to be found on the inner side of life. We see the Coming One at the heart of this kingdom of the Great Ones. We visualise this Christ figure, this universal Maitreya - messenger of the New, and project the cry of humanity through the Coming One to the place of peaceful, silent will, known in ancient mythology and in Eastern tradition as the kingdom of Shamballa. And then there is Silence. Holding our minds poised as a group, focussed and sensitive to higher impression we sense the flow of beneficent, healing energies which stream from the inner ashrams of Hierarchy and we creatively radiate those lighted, loving energies through the network of all human beings who love and serve - and outwards throughout the field of human consciousness. These energies bring inspiration, illumination, love and nourishment to all that is being done by human beings to create a better, more loving and harmonious world. They feed all the creative initiatives in all parts of the world to eliminate poverty, to build community, to establish right relations between humanity and the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. It is a visualisation of a tide of New Life flowing through the collective.
O Thou Who givest sustenance to the universe,
From Whom all things proceed
To Whom all things return,
Unveil to us the place 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.
The image of Sagittarius is the archer on a white horse. There are three elements to this image: the archer; the bow and arrow; and the horse. The archer is holding the bow taut, ready send the arrow out towards the clearly identified target. Focus for a moment on the relation between the archer and the horse - the two are very much at ease with each other, there is no way that the archer could give full attention to the bow unless there was complete confidence in the horse. To concentrate on the bow both hands are needed so the reins sit loose on the horse's neck. While horse and rider are very much at ease with each other, it is the rider who is in control, knowing that if a change of direction is needed, the horse will respond instinctively to pressure from the rider's legs and knees. This image speaks to us about what we might call an ideal relationship (not the ultimate, but an ideal) between soul and personality, with soul as archer and personality as horse. The soul is clearly in control; there is a trusting, confident bond between the two; the personality is the willing servant - yet the soul as rider needs to respect the possibilities and innate characteristics of the horse - to be firm but loving and appreciative of the unique combination of light and shadow that is the personality.
So with the image of the archer in mind think of the discipleship community: of all people in the world who are in process of developing this balanced point of tension between soul and personality. I'm not talking here simply about students of the various wisdom teachings, or even about meditators, but about people who really listen to the voice of conscience and who are truly in process of living their lives in accord with their sense of higher purpose. Hold this discipleship community in mind (we are talking here I guess of hundreds of thousands of people).
Now focus in on the face of the archer, the bow and the arrow. The archer's hand holds the string of the bow taut, the hand touches the cheek, the eye of the archer looks down the arrow towards the target. Sense the poise, the creative tension, and the latent energy in this image. And sense the trajectory, the path, that the arrow will take as it goes straight to the target.
This is the gift that Sagittarius brings to the discipleship community. It is the gift of purpose, and sense of direction; a one-pointed direction of the mind towards higher spiritual possibilities. This is a wonderful image to work with in meditation because it tells us so much about the mind. There is the role that the mind plays in directing the life towards higher goals, and towards the incarnation of Aquarian principles. There is the discipleship quality of taking the initiative to make progress on the path, and of being clear about where we are going as a human community and an Earth community and the potential we have to contribute to and be part of the great planetary and cosmic drama that is the reappearance of the Coming One, Maitreya, Christ.
'May the Coming One return to Earth' we say in the Great Invocation. Can we imagine these words being said by the archer? We might expect the archer who symbolically sounds these words to see with incredible clarity the small part - the tiny contribution that he or she can make to this vast, cosmological and mythological event. That part - that small and apparently insignificant contribution that each of us has to make to the One Work - is all we have to do.
Sagittarius brings us the energies we need to do it with a fullness of concentration, purpose and direction. And perhaps too, Sagittarius reminds us that in playing our small part - in directing our mind towards reaching the immediate spiritual goal, or opportunity that we see straight ahead of us, we are opening ourselves up to the next goal. We are in, other words, on the path that will enable us to see our life, our meaning and purpose in the light of the far, far wider and more significant goal for our era: achieving right relations and in the process building the pathway for the return of the Coming One.
The keynote we will use in the meditation is: I see the goal. I reach that goal and then I see another.
Remember, we may not individually have Sagittarius in our horoscope - but the inner subtle environment is at this time flooded with Sagittarian energies. So we can draw on these energies in our own spiritual life - and we can see these energies being put to good use in the life of humanity as a whole. The lesser gifts of Sagittarius (ambition and selfish desire) will certainly be stimulated. It is the responsibility of those consciously or unconsciously on the spiritual path - and that is millions of people - to work with the higher potentials these energies bring during the full moon period.
The first theme, then, in the opportunities Sagittarius brings to human consciousness, is the sense of clear purpose and direction. The second aspect of consciousness that will be stimulated by these energies is the intuition.
The highly developed, rational, reasoning intellect tends to be the dominant force in higher education - and sets the keynote for much of our modern civilisation. This is what we mean when we refer to the scientific age. In esoteric terms this is an important development because it enables human beings to release themselves from an immersion in the astral plane of emotional forces, and it brings with it a quality of detachment that is positive and useful on the spiritual path. The next stage of development for the mind is for soul light to shine down bringing a measure of illumination. Soul light can then be reflected like a searchlight onto the astral plane and the individual is able to find release from surrounding world glamour.
Sagittarian energies enable the intellect to become sensitive to a higher way of knowing that reaches beyond the deductive, reasoning powers. This is the intuitive perception. It is not the sort of knowing we might have in romantic situations, or what Jung speaks of as the ability to 'see round corners', or to have hunches about things. The Sagittarian quality of intuition for disciples reveals the way forward, it helps us to see the goal in our life or our work or field of service from a new, higher perspective. Alice Bailey writes that: "There come flashes of light upon problems, a distant yet possible vision of attainment is seen" (Esoteric Astrology, 180).
What we are considering here are those 'fleeting, deep impressions' that have a direct bearing on our sense of purpose and direction. These insights into truth have the power to change our vision of ourselves, who we are and where we are going. There are things we can do to foster direct knowledge in this way. We can, for example, reflect on symbols in a way that might lead us beyond the intellect towards reality. This is what Edwin Bernbaum writes in his wonderful book on Shambhala:
A powerful symbol like Shambhala can do more than simply stand for some hidden truth or aspect of reality: It can also act as a window that opens up a view of something beyond itself. If we approach it in the right way, we may be able to look right through it and catch a glimpse of what it symbolizes. At such a moment, when a symbol yields a sudden insight or flash of intuition, it actually seems to turn transparent like a pane of glass and reveal a hidden vista full of unexpected depth and meaning. We suddenly see the implications of what it symbolizes stretching away before us, as if into a far distance. The symbol gives us a sense of an open and spacious panorama that extends beyond the limited horizon of what we know. In this panorama we may find the solution to a mundane problem or a mystical experience of the universe. We may get a sudden understanding of how an automobile works, or, like the English poet William Blake, ... see a World in a Grain of Sand, And a Heaven in a Wild Flower.
Edwin Bernbaum, The Way to Shambhala, p. 133
And, continuing this thought on symbols, from Pierro Ferrucci:
We become intuitively receptive to the essence of a symbolic image by holding it steadily in our mind, letting it irradiate our awareness with its subtle quality. Such contemplation of an image may lead to an identification with it. Whether it happens spontaneously or intentionally, identification enables us to understand symbols from within, and intuition is nothing less than the understanding from within of the formless reality which the symbol represents.
Pierro Ferrucci, What We May Be: The Vision and Techniques of Psychosynthesis, p. 119
Our pondering the significance of the symbol of the archer at this time in human history has a special poignancy. For right now a remarkable wind of hope and vision blows through the human community. This is a time of rare opportunity and intelligent hope. On the one hand we have all the energy released through the fresh spirit promised by a forthcoming Obama presidency in the US. This comes at a time when global thinking about the need for a redefinition of economics and of the flows of money, energy and resources has been prompted by the climate crisis in conjunction with a collapse of financial systems. And, something that seems not to be so strong in our awareness, it comes at a time when the visionary agenda of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals awaits renewed focus and centrality in international affairs.
In this situation, we can use the symbol of the archer, seated easily on the horse, with the eye of concentration looking along the line of the arrow, just before the arrow is released to meet its target. We are called to sense something of the possibilities of this energy of intuitive, deep, purpose and direction - sense it in the real way of our own discipleship lives - and in the awakening of our own communities, of our nations and of the great process whereby the nations of the world are learning to harmonise their actions for the common good. The nations: families, communities, peoples, organisations, businesses, local and national governments, students, researchers, artists. The nations are the embodiment of humanity as a great centre of activity. Now, at this time of opportunity and initiatory maturing of human nature - can we invoke the radiations of the archer on the horse, imagining how a refinement of purpose and direction will subtly change the dynamics of our own lives and the societies we live in.
So friends, to the meditation; let us hold to the image of the archer, let us see an uplifting of the sense of purpose and direction in the life of all who seek to be of service at this time; and let us imagine that shaft of light which represents the intuition shining into human consciousness and transforming our vision of who we are and what we are here to do.