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The Sting of Life

By Steve Nation
October 2004

One of the things that I enjoy about the full moon meditation work is the experience it gives of being part of a global community of mind and heart. We meditate in silence. You could say that we are, each of us, individually, in our own world. And yet the experience that so many comment on is that, the more deeply we enter into meditation, the more we go inside of ourselves, the more we experience ourselves as part of a group; absorbed in a symphony of creative, reflective, dynamic and contemplative thought. It is a most wonderful experience of community. We know that this symphony of thought extends way beyond the Bailey oriented groups and individuals meditating for world service. It includes and incorporates deep thinkers everywhere whose ponderings revolve around such all embracing themes as the nature of love and the spiritual will, building cultures of peace and right relations in the world, living an ethical life and so on. We know that the symphony of thought includes thinkers in and out of incarnation. We know too that it includes the warm, radiant lights of Hierarchy - those great beacons the Christ and the Buddha - the brilliant lights of Shamballa - and the sublime radiance of the stars, planets and constellations. This month Sirius, the Dog Star, will be in our thoughts. This sense of expansive and co-creative community is essential to our work - without it we are missing the point. It is, for me at least, the essential beauty of the work which we call 'full moon' or 'festival' meditation.

So can we just sit for a moment within this community of the good, the beautiful and the true; affirming that the work we are about to do in the silence of our thoughts is intrinsically a part of all that is being done in the world and outside of the world to create more caring and compassionate societies.

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.

This month our thoughts are centred within a mental environment coloured by the energies of Scorpio. From our meditation keynote we identify these colourings in quite Martian terms: the warrior, the battle and triumph: Warrior I am and from the battle I emerge triumphant.

Words are strange things. In their simple naked form, without any context, these words can appear to be provocative and dangerous; particularly now, in this historical time. Think, for example, what these words might mean to a suicide bomber, or to the leader of a corporation intent on maximising profit and destroying the opposition. The fires of fanaticism, separation and desire are burning with a dangerous intensity at this time. The problem seems not so much to be one of states (although states are inevitably involved), as of people and of small centres in the collective psyche; of religious, political and economic groups. It is as if these fires have been let free to burn openly, unrestrained. They are awesome in their impact on us and our sense of community - just consider all the controversy and emotion surrounding the idea of a 'war against terrorism'. Terrorism … terror … fear … unbridled fanaticism and passion …. How do we fight these fires? Scorpio has something to tell us about this, and I want to come back to the question a little later.

The warrior ideal has an unhealthy attraction to those drawn to fight against the spirit of unity in diversity. And perhaps, on the other side of the coin, it is not attractive enough to those who are inspired by the vision of synthesis. If we are to be true to the opportunities of our time, and to stand with our feet firmly within our history; if we are to be participants in the making of the future and not just bystanders - then we need to reflect with great care on the potencies inherent in the idea of the warrior. We need to be sure that our focus is on the warrior who enters the burning ground in order to fix and focus love within all the complexities of emotions, glands, ideas and dreams of human reality, of human community and of human relations. Love has to be the core of our thinking. Without love there is always the danger that our thoughts will enhance the forces of separation.

Let's consider for a moment the story of a human being's spiritual growth as it is pictured in the zodiacal path from Libra to Scorpio to Sagittarius. Just imagine for a moment that we are detached from our own humanness - watching the progress on the path of an archetypal human being. What we are looking for, the real substance of spiritual growth, concerns what might be called the turning process; the revolutionary turning upon the axis of self which ultimately results in the human being living in this world as a soul in incarnation.

And so the story unfolds. In Libra the turning is underway. There is a balance in the psyche. Identity is partly as soul and partly as personality. All the dynamism of the life concerns this balancing process. We will know this dynamic in aspects of ourselves - and in so many of our friends, family, neighbours who show sensitivity to the higher self. The Libra story culminates in choosing to incorporate soul insights more directly into one's life. I choose the way…

Scorpio marks the next scene in the story. A choice has been made and now the consequences of that choice have to be lived through. Those higher insights, those living potencies of universal law have to become determining forces in the psyche. They are to transform the personality, to colour the sense of responsibility, the sense of meaning and purpose. There is persistence about anchoring these potencies in the life - no matter what the obstructions. Now the battle is on. In order to replace the "longings, desires, ambitions and pride" of the personality with the priorities of the soul we meet the sting of life - those challenges and tests that really lead us to take difficult decisions. It is the battle to anchor soul identity; to allow the soul to determine response to the crises and dramas of life. It may not be helpful to think in terms of idealistic images of the white charger, or self-righteous notions of saintliness - the soul may determine thoughts and behaviours which do not fit in with sentimental notions of what is good and right. For example look at the notion of illness as initiation - that the challenges of a serious ailment, or of confronting death, can provide the perfect scenario for spiritual growth, and for the soul to be triumphant in the face of personal difficulty. Or think of the Tibetan's comments that Christ chose love in place of attachment. This is a gritty, real choice; not some abstraction: true, deep concern for others and for the well-being of life in place of a preoccupation with our own needs and relationships.

Out of the battle generated by the sting of life, the 'person' becomes the 'disciple', and this is the essence of Scorpio; this is the triumph of the warrior. The turning is complete. The story of spiritual development continues with the image of the archer in Sagittarius when the disciple matures. Sensitivity to the purposes of divinity becomes a central part of the psyche - a key to the individual's identity - and life begins to be characterised by one-pointed service of a higher objective. In Scorpio the disciple becomes fully alive - in Sagittarius this livingness plays itself out in regulated, disciplined purposeful activity.

We always tell stories like this development from Libra through Scorpio to Sagittarius as if it were a straightforward progression - and yet a wiser voice within reminds us that, in human terms, the progress is usually a mixed bag - one step forward, two steps back; a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Our lives, and the lives of our friends and family who are on the path (we learn so much by bearing witness to the lives of others) find their significance in terms of part Libra; part Scorpio and maybe a little Sagittarius. We need to remember the soul watching the process, with a benign, beneficent smile - stern, yes, but also with a love that is persistent and true.

I would like to return for a moment to that earlier question about the warrior, and about the playing out on the world stage of the dangerous friction generated by the fires of separateness, fanaticism and fundamentalism. Extreme selfishness sees my way above and beyond all others - and above and beyond all sense of love, community and respect for the integrity and sacredness of life. We cannot consider the warrior on the spiritual path without acknowledging the glamour of the warrior who uses the energy, the language and the image of life as battle in order to satisfy the desires, passions, beliefs and ideals of the personality. This is the force of the terrorist as it is to be found today in so many fields of living. Scorpio is a dangerous force when all is centred on the personality and soul is blocked out (perhaps temporarily).

Consider this final passage in the section on Scorpio in Alice Bailey's Esoteric Astrology:

"The keywords of this sign are significant and illuminating. Deception and triumph-control by Maya and control by the soul-conflict and peace-such are the hidden secrets of this sign and these are summed up for all disciples in the two keywords. Upon the ordinary wheel, whereon the soul is found, blind and apparently helpless, the Word goes forth in the following terms: "And the Word said, Let Maya flourish and let deception rule"; upon the reversed wheel, the soul chants or sings the words: "Warrior I am and from the battle I emerge triumphant." [p. 226]

Let us consider, for a moment, the disturbing image of the two warriors confronting each other - the one controlled by maya or deception and the other by the universal perspective of the soul. In a sense this image has something to say about the nature of humanity at this time. In the world of politics and international relations where set-piece dramas play themselves out this image is distorted into a rather coarse and gross, but no less real, 'war on terrorism'.

There is such a war. It is an outer war involving police, military, and law enforcement, just as it is an inner war requiring disciples to be vigilant in their own battle to bring love into the substance of their being. It is not unlike the battle Hercules waged in that ancient Greek myth when the hero was confronted with a nine-headed hydra living in a swamp. Hercules' first impulse was to rush in and cut off one of the monsters heads. But when he did this all that happened was that the monster was empowered, became even more potent and lively as it grew two new heads.

The disciple Hercules needed to reflect. He knew that the hydra was a danger to life and a real threat to human progress. He knew that it had to be stopped, but the question was how - how to do battle, how to be the warrior in this situation. The depth of this question, this reflection, evoked a revelation. Suddenly all was clear. Hercules remembered the words of his teacher: We rise by kneeling; we conquer by surrendering; we gain by giving up. He knew what to do. The monster could not be attacked on its own level - the fight was not about the sword or the traditional weapons of battle. Emotional dysfunction cannot be addressed at the level of emotion; and selfish, ambitious thinking cannot be transformed with the analytical tools of the lower mind. Without hesitation Hercules entered the battle as a new man: he approached the hydra, knelt on his knees, took the monster in his hands and lifted it up above his head, out of the dark, stale and foul smelling environment of the swamp and into the pure, sweet smelling air and light. The hydra's strength came from the darkness - suddenly in this new environment it couldn't breathe and in the light it died a natural death.

The war on terror needs this insight - indeed we might even consider that fiery emotions released by the terrorist, the fanatic and the fundamentalist provides the sting of life we need if we are going to act with the level of focus and discrimination needed to bring the new civilisation to birth. For the emerging disciple the challenge is to take greater responsibility for the fostering and nurturing of solar fire within ourselves and within the community at local, national, regional and global level. The warrior disciple is called to listen to the intuition, and to hear the higher call to fight for the spirit of human solidarity, of unity in diversity and of a multiculturalism that has integrity and not about political correctness. This is not in any way to deny the important work of upholding law and order, by force if necessary - it is rather to acknowledge that it is separative, fearful, fanaticism and fundamentalist passion which is the enemy and that this can only be countered by thought and action which reflects soul. The true counters to terrorism come from movements and individuals who are putting serious energy and dedication into work to think through, articulate and give concrete expression and application to the universal principles at the heart of all the world religions and all the outstanding ethical movements. Within each religion disciples are called on to enter the fray and dialogue, discuss, confer and push themselves to express and implement the new theology of wholeness and unity. And at the same time there is the call to take this process into the new field of inter-religious, inter-group and inter-national dialogue and reflection.

There are almost as many ways of entering the fray of the war on terror and embodying the warrior as there are human beings. But I want, in conclusion, to highlight two ways that we might not at first think of. One is the way of the artist. Art, particularly the art of the serious, trained, disciplined, craftsperson can communicate the fires of soul and the reality of love as a power. With this in mind I want to remind any artists of the visionary international project In the Tracks of Hercules. The idea is to present a range of creative explorations (music, dance, drama, story-telling, visual art, craft, literature) of the great Hercules myth. It is hoped that people from all over the world will participate: . The other way of embodying the warrior I want to draw attention to is as meditator. Now I am sure that most of us are already involved in a number of practices in which we are meditating for humanity, and for the triumph of the fires of soul in the world. But I want to mention one project which does, I think, deserve support. It is the Cycle of Conferences project - participants use a simple, brief, fiery meditation to apply invocation and a direction of the will into major global conferences and political processes designed to tackle crises of conflict and vision in the world. The current focus is on an alternative peace process in the Israel / Palestine conflict, the Geneva Accord. What I like about this project is that it combines a potent meditation; relevant material from the teachings; and a good range of quality comment and information from the world media. It is to my mind a good example of how information, vision and meditation can be used to shine a light into a particular issue:

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