In the Alice Bailey teachings the Wesak Festival is said to take place at the time of the Taurus full moon - in other words when the sun is in the sign of Taurus, and when the light of the sun (conditioned by Taurus) reflects off the moon onto the earth. In the Buddhist community Wesak marks the Festival of the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama, the Lord Buddha. In most of parts of the world it is celebrated at the time of the May full moon - although different Buddhist communities celebrate Wesak on different dates because of the various lunar calendars. This year the Taurus full moon takes place in May - so there is a synchronicity between the world service meditations inspired by the vision of the Bailey teachings - and the meditations of many in the vast network of Buddhist communities. May our esoteric work together on the inner planes (students of Bailey and Buddhists) be One - and may it be of use to humanity during this time of transition. [There is a good summary of the different Buddhist approaches to Wesak on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vesak ]
Alice Bailey presents a vision of Wesak as a universal festival - for peoples of all faiths and spiritual heritages. It is suggested that this is a time of blessing - a time when the Buddha blesses humanity with a wave of light.
This blessing is not some sensational event, zapping the psyche of human beings and leading to some sort of out of the body experience. The Wesak blessing is, more than anything else, concerned with the clarifying of purpose. It can help groups, communities, nations and that interdependent whole we speak of as 'the one humanity' grow in wisdom. It is a blessing that we can think of as a gift: a gift to sustain and nourish we human beings in our gradually maturing will to serve the purposes and plans we sense in our higher nature, and to do so with harmlessness, self-forgetfulness and right speech.
At the hour when the moon is full, the Buddha is said to return to a remote area on Earth from His dwelling in the sacred realms of Shamballa (the Fathers House, the centre of 'peaceful silent will'). He returns to bring an impulse of light to the mental body of humanity. That gift is delivered to the Christ who stands before him, as representative of humanity. So we can be mindful throughout this period of these two great Elders of the human family, the Christ and the Buddha, meeting eye to eye, heart to heart: the Prince of Peace standing face to face with the Supremely Enlightened One.
Legend has it that this act of blessing occurs every year in a hidden valley in the Himalayas, within sight of the sacred Mount Kailash. The Christ together with other Masters and various representatives of the human family gather in the valley. We are told that there is an atmosphere of intense expectancy, as if the world's aspiration is focussed, concentrated and potentised into this archetypal event. Three words 'demand, readiness and expectancy' best describe the atmosphere in the valley. Just a few minutes before the time of the full moon the Buddha can be seen to descend in the sky until, bathed in light and colour, with His hand extended in blessing he hovers over the heads of the Christ and the two great Lords accompanying Him. An invocation is intoned by the Christ: "It marks", Alice Bailey writes, " the supreme moment of intensive spiritual effort throughout the entire year, and the spiritual vitalisation of humanity and the spiritual effects last throughout the succeeding months". The blessing is poured forth, received in trust, for distribution by the Christ as representative of humanity.
So what is the significance of this event for us - now in 2009, during this global period of financial crisis? Ours is a time of enormous change - the melt-down of banking systems is just one of the symptoms of the changes sweeping through our culture and our minds and hearts. The human species is faced with apparently insurmountable problems; global warming; serious threats to the health and well-being of the planet; totally unacceptable levels of poverty (sixty percent of the world's population live on less than US$3 a day); violent emotions, prejudices, hatreds and political actions pose the most serious threats to security and terrorise the lives of millions.
The great life and death issues of the twenty-first century are reflections of humanity in transition -struggling to bring ancient instincts of separateness and selfishness into alignment with a stunning, spiritually inspired vision of wholeness, interdependence and of the responsibilities which come from a sense of the freedom and sanctity of the individual. The problems are where we, as a species and as individuals, are being challenged to grow spiritually - to mature in wisdom, to 'see through' the illusory, glamorous superficial hubris of a spirit-less materialism. Through the problems we are learning to respond to the opportunities that a mountaintop vision gives us. A mountaintop shows us the world from a new, higher perspective - it gives us a broader horizon and consequently a wider responsibility. The inclusive, wholeness vision does this: it gives us a broader horizon and hence a wider responsibility.
And that is why our meditative work with the Wesak blessing can be a service to humanity - a service that has the most profound repercussions in every area of crisis and conflict in our communities. Imagine a wisdom potency sounding its note through the subtle worlds of human thought and emotion - imagine how we can and do draw on this potency as we build into ourselves and our societies a quotient of wisdom - of compassion - and detachment. These are the qualities needed to enable us, as a species, to move into a new dynamic, a new willingness to act in a manner appropriate to the seriousness of the problems. And these are the qualities we need to call forth from within ourselves as we seek to address the gap between our deepest inner sense of wholeness and divinity and the veils of unredeemed inherited memory in our mental and emotional lives.
The living Buddha has been described as "the expression of the wisdom of God, the Embodiment of Light and the Indicator of divine purpose". I find this phrase, 'Indicator of divine purpose', intriguing. It suggests One who shines a light on the Plan and purpose of divinity - One who indicates to an awakening humanity our destiny as a centre of love and right relations. When thinking of the Buddha, images arise of clear mindedness; of detachment from the glamours and illusions that obstruct our perception of the real; of the middle way that gives us tools to enable us to bring the energy of loving kindness into our thoughts, our emotions, our livelihood, our speech.
The Buddha's presence as Indicator of purpose speaks to the one humanity - shining a light on the co-dependency of all beings and all planes of existence, on the interdependence and coherent unity of life. It also speaks to the immediate intimacy of our individual lives. For one of His great gifts is to empower each of us to search out the Truth for ourselves; to exercise the intuition and find the realities of the Plan in our own life. "I do not come to offer you any dogmas", Gautama told His followers all those centuries ago: "I only exhort you to independent enlightenment, to use your own mind, developing it instead of letting it become dull".
Imagine this call to develop the mind sounding now, in our lives, in our communities, in the group of all true servers. Imagine this call to mindfulness sounding with freshness, potency and livingness right now, in the midst of our struggles to create cultures of peace and reconciliation. With imagination it is possible for us to recognise the Wesak blessing as something very real and substantial - something given to us (as individuals and as neighbourhoods, networks groups and communities) to enable us to "be of pure heart"; to "overcome selfishness", to "cultivate inner perfection, the attainment of knowledge, equanimity and benevolence". We can take heart from His presence in the aura of humanity, and from His blessing. We can draw on its potencies, and we can train ourselves to see humanity drawing on this inner source of wisdom.
The Buddha brings a blessing of wisdom. Wisdom is a quality of mind - that open, clear quality which enables the mind to see in right proportion; to recognise greater principles; to see the immediate opportunities for the working out of positive future possibilities, and perhaps most significantly, to see how we can act in the light of these possibilities. The Alice Bailey books contain a definition of Wisdom that I find useful: "Wisdom is the enlightened application of knowledge, through love, to the affairs of men. It is understanding, pouring out everywhere as the result of experience". [Externalisation of the Hierarchy, p 467]
The idea of the return of the Christ is central to the meditative work in this cycle of monthly service festivals. This is not the Christ of any particular religion. It is a universal being due to reappear on Earth to inaugurate a new civilisation and a new humanity. Different religions refer to this being by different names: the Lord Maitreya in Buddhist tradition, in other words the Coming Buddha, the Imam Mahdi of Islamic tradition, and the Jewish Messiah. All the work that we human beings do, in all its multitude of forms, to bring compassion and a sense of unity and wholeness into the substance of our lives, our relationships, our cultures and into national and international affairs invokes the future Maitreya - the Universal Christ of the new humanity. As all human beings who are motivated by a spirit of intelligent love focus their intention to serve in the creation of purer and more fundamentally wise and loving relations in the world they are creating the Path of Return for the Coming One.
Finally, some words from the Lord 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.