For many of us the Wesak full moon festival in Taurus is an event we look forward to every year. There is something special about the inner atmosphere of this time a quality of deep, resonant silence; a sense of the presence of that great being, the Lord Buddha; and what we might think of as a touch of Shamballa energy, shining through the Buddha's radiation of loving kindness.
So I suggest that we begin our approach to meditation with a period of complete and utter silence, after which we sound aloud that ancient Eastern prayer, the Gayatri.
It is my guess that the vast majority of human beings who observe Wesak, do so at Buddhist festivals which are in most, but not all, Buddhist traditions, held over the May full moon. This year we are observing the festival during the April full moon. Why? DK has suggested that Wesak should be observed at the Taurus full moon this way it always comes a month after the Easter festival which is observed by the majority of the Christian church in relation to the Aries full moon. In most years the Taurus full moon is in May, but this year it is in April.
Taurus highlights the role that desire can play in the spiritual life when it is transmuted into aspiration and, finally, into a sense of well-directed purpose. In the advanced human being, soul purpose tends to guide the personal will, and the quality which begins to shine through the life is of an "intelligently expressed will - actuated by the impulse of love" [E. Astrology 375]
This idea of the will actuated by love deserves our deepest reflection, particularly during Wesak. What does it mean, the loving will? We tend to think of will in terms like the driving will; or the striving will; or the one-pointed will. It is not too difficult to think in personal terms of the will to love indeed there is a sense that sizeable numbers of people think about how they can be more loving, take courses to help them be more loving, and act to enhance their ability to bring love into relationships. This is clearly part of the will to love. But at a deeper level we need to stretch our imagination to think in universal terms of a quality of will which lies right outside of our own, personal agenda for this life. We need to reflect on a level of will that is much higher than anything to do with our personal self higher even than our individual will to serve, or will to be simply a good person. The will to love, it seems to me, is the essence of will the divine will that lies in depths of silence at the core of Being. There, as a universal presence, we can find an energy which can be likened to the sun: fiery, burning away all resistance and darkness, totally free of sentiment or 'should' or 'what if' yet a presence that is all giving that is entirely, utterly and totally, benign and that, in spite of its power, we can feel as a warm sunshine on our face. This potency of life and will, we human beings can experience as the will to love. As we open our hearts and minds in a way that allows understanding to grow we begin to sense this will to love in terms of God's plan and purpose for life. And as this sense of the divine purpose grows our whole life changes because our personal, private sense of the future is transformed.
The way in which the Plan lives within us is the way in which our sense of the future lives within us the reality of our sense of the future the sense that leads us to take specific actions, to seek to shape our circumstances and direct our life. Within the womb of time and space it is our real, honest sense of the future that shapes our lives.
In Wesak we reflect upon the way in which our individual will can resonate with, and ultimately fuse with the will of God. It sounds dramatic, but the process is surely what discipleship is all about. It is not a question of fanaticism, or outer intensity rather of allowing the will to love to transform and redeem our little, self will and allowing it to happen over time and through time. Will means persisting in spite of setbacks, at least as much as it means determined striving. I always enjoy, and find extremely helpful, the phrase that is used in the Thursday meditation on the Reappearance of the Christ:
Endeavour to concentrate your fixed intention to serve and to spread love in your surroundings and realise that insofar as you can do these things you are attempting to blend your personal will with the divine Will.
So we have touched on Taurus as it affects will on the discipleship path. Now Taurus as it carries the energies of Vulcan. Here we need to think of humanity as a whole, and of the processes of nations and regions and great collectives of peoples and races and cultures. The image is of going right down into the mineral depths of the human psyche touching solidity touching ancient instincts, memories and elemental aspects of self. Vulcan energy goes right into these subconscious forces and, through the anvil like processes of time, what we call history, moulds and shapes them. It is an energy that can forge instruments of constructive living or that can forge furnaces of destruction in preparation for the forward path of evolution. Now, at this full moon, we can usefully think of Vulcan energies working in the undercurrents of the collective mind and heart, and there shaping those global values and ethics that are so clearly envisioned in current thinking on, for example, a culture of peace, or the Earth Charter, or the Millennium Development Goals.
From the book Esoteric Astrology:
The energy which streams from Vulcan is fundamentally the strength and potency which sets the world evolutionary process in motion [p.392]
So during this Wesak full moon in Taurus we can envisage the nurturing of the will actuated by love; the work in the depths to shape emotions, instincts and habits in a way that contributes to the emergence of cultures of peace; AND we can think of Taurus as the bringer of light, of illumination and of the eye of revelation.
Through Taurus light pours into the human psyche it comes as a gift, as if by grace. And if we have the sensitivity to be open to it, this revealing light can steadily change the way we see. Through physical vision we see what is in the light around us when it is dark we don't see. Through our inner vision we also see what the light in our consciousness reveals. This is why we need to do what we can to become more lighted light enables us to see wider, broader, deeper, more intuitively more universally and so on. The eye of the Taurean Bull brings revelation: it "reveals steadily and without cessation the stupendous and sublime plan of Deity" [Esoteric Astrolology p 376]. In other words it transforms our sense of the future, of our own personal future, and it reveals our own future in relation to the birthing of the good the beautiful and the true in the human family our destiny becomes fused with the destiny of humanity as a whole, so that our sense of purpose is in line with, synchronistic with, the divine will to love.
There is another aspect of the illumination that Taurus brings: it gives us the gift of insight into synthesis; reveals the underlying reality of synthesis.
From Esoteric Astrology:
The Word of the Soul is, "I see and when the Eye is opened, all is light." The eye of the cosmic Bull of God is open and from it light pours radiantly forth upon the sons of men. The eye of vision of the individual man must likewise open in response to this cosmic light. Hence victory is inevitable for the potency of cosmic energy will unfailingly and in time subdue and re-orient the energy of humanity. P. 403
And so to Wesak. Firstly we need to remember what, we are told, has been happening for thousands of years at the time of the Wesak full moon the Lord Buddha is said to return to humanity and give a blessing. It is this blessing which gives the special quality and aura to this full moon. The Buddha comes, we are told, as an emissary from Shamballa He comes whether humanity evokes Him or not it is His gift, His blessing. And He stands with the Christ, and other Great Ones in a moment of communion between Shamballa and Hierarchy with all attention focussed on humanity. He comes to constantly reinforce the message to aspirants of all paths that it is possible to attain illumination, and to keep open the channel for light to irradiate human minds.
BUT the teaching is not quite as straightforward as this suggests. At a certain stage, possibly in the latter period of the twentieth century, it is suggested that the alignment between Shamballa, Hierarchy and humanity will be so substantial, open and 'permanent' that the Buddha will no longer need to come to give His annual blessing. Also there is the suggestion that people's minds will become increasingly preoccupied with the coming Avatar, and the focus in consciousness will shift from the Buddha to the Coming One So we simply do not know if what we now continue to sense every Wesak is a memory of the blessings of past centuries, or is a current occurrence. We don't know, and I find that rather helpful because it means we cannot put this mystery of Divine Blessing into that box in our minds where we put all the things about the sacred that we think we know. It can remain something of a mystery that we can ponder, and through pondering, can simply grow in insight.
It is suggested that the Great Ones have sought to make Wesak increasingly important in the spiritual life of humanity for two main reasons. Firstly it emphasises the fact of the two avatars: the Christ and the Buddha and it seems to me that there is now, in a significant section of humanity, a far greater awareness of the significance of these two great forerunners in the spiritual life of humanity. Just think of the influence the Dalai Lama has had in this, or great modern Buddhist writers such as Thich Nat Hanh, Sogyal Rinpoche and Chogyam Trungpa.
The second reason why Wesak has been, and continues to be a focus is because it draws attention to the emergence of a new, universal religious spirit in which there is deep respect for different traditions and a true sense of relationship with Hierarchy and with the essential divinity of the human being. For Wesak is, above all, a Day of the irradiation of human consciousness with Light.
Writing of the Four Freedoms and the Atlantic Pact (the principles at the heart of what was to become the Declaration of Human Rights) in his 1942 Wesak message, the Tibetan commented that:
Enough light has been permitted to penetrate by the efforts of the Buddha, to lead to a world-wide recognition of the desirability of these formulas; and there is enough love already in the world, released by the Christ, to make possible the working out of the formulas. [Externalisation 349]
He goes on in this passage to affirm that the Buddha's light and the love released by Christ have made it possible for the principles of these declarations to be worked out on the physical plane but that the actual working out lies in the hands of the New Group of World Servers and people of goodwill. And then He discusses the Buddha's task for the 1942 Wesak visit, which I find especially evocative. DK says that the Buddha's 1942 visit would seek to evoke a spirit of demand in humanity.
The Buddha comes this year, embodying the force which can stimulate men everywhere to focus their "massed intent" and thus reach symbolically "the ear and the heart" of the Avatar, wresting thus from the secret place of the Most High the aid, help, and directed recognition which will bring about a phenomenal event in due and proper time. Whilst He is attempting to do this, the Christ will join in the effort by focussing in Himself the spirit of appeal as it is evoked by the stimulation being applied by the Buddha. He will embody that appeal in a great Invocation, one which cannot be given to you, but which He is prepared to use if the appeal comes forth in sufficient strength from the people of the world. Will humanity respond to the evocation of the [Page 350] Buddha? Will their massed intent be vital enough to enable the Christ to become Himself, in a mysterious way, the very Spirit of Invocation on their behalf? These are the possibilities with which we are confronted this Full Moon of May. [Externalisation 349 - 350]
In the following years Wesak message, 1943, a similar idea is presented:
Can the suffering masses of men "stand with massed intent" and with eyes directed towards God so that their cry can mount to His ears? And will the spiritually minded people and the workers for humanity make that supreme effort (rendered from an adequate "point of tension") so that humanity may be focussed in its appeal and bring about a response from the highest available sources. Can the united effort of these two groups-one conscious of what is happening and the other unconscious-evoke reply? [Externalisation 390]
Now this seems to me to be very relevant to our time, to our Wesak Festival in 2005. Re-reading the 1942 and 1943 messages made me aware of how very much they were conditioned by the extreme urgency, distress and crisis of people's suffering during the Second World War. This was an archetypal event, in which millions of people were under extraordinary stress, shock, grief, their lives uprooted. It was a time when people were immersed in what was widely perceived as a battle between good and evil. In my lifetime there have been wars, but nothing like this. Most of the wars since 1950 have been civil wars - nations at war have not shared a common popular objective communities have been deeply divided in their attitudes to wars (take the outstanding example of Vietnam). So this collective, mass trauma and exhaustion and therefore natural appeal to God has not really been a part of my life until September 11 2001. Then one felt something like it in the collective people all over the world wanted to pray, and they did pray there was a sense of a deep call to Hierarchy. And this year began with a similar experience in response to the tsunami widespread collective shock, grief and wanting as communities to stand in the presence of the sacred in the face of such tragedy.
I think that at Wesak we can usefully try to recapture something of this spirit lifting the call from the heart up so that the Cry can mount to the ears of the Christ and of the Coming One. And at the same time reminding ourselves that the Light released by the Buddha and the Love released by the Christ have so penetrated the mind substance of human consciousness that they have enabled us collectively to respond to the clear declaration of purposes such as in the Earth Charter, the Culture of Peace Manifesto and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. In our Wesak call for Light and Love we can usefully see the aura of the Buddha (even simply our memory of the Buddha) empowering our human efforts to work out these goals and to forge, in the anvils of time and space, a massed intent to be victorious in achieving the goals. Britain this year is immersed in a massive campaign: '2005: The Year to End Poverty' . We can see the light of Wesak shining into minds and hearts and making the principles of a world free of hunger and poverty affect the will of millions of people. Can we visualise humanity standing 'with massed intent' in support of the Millennium Development Goals, in the way that we all stood with massed intent in response to the Tsunami? And can we develop the imagination to think of such an awakening of massed intent as a response to the light released at this Wesak Festival?
Finally, some words form the Buddha:
However men may speak concerning you, whether appropriately or inappropriately, whether courteously or rudely, whether wisely or foolishly, whether kindly or maliciously, thus my disciples must you train yourselves.
Our minds should remain unsullied. Neither should evil words escape our lips. Kind and compassionate will we ever remain, loving of heart, not harbouring secret hate. And we will bathe them with the unfailing stream of loving thought. And proceeding further we will embrace and flood the whole wide world with constant thoughts of loving kindness, wide, ample, expanding, immeasurable as the world, free from enmity, free from ill-will. Thus my disciples must you train yourselves.