THE GIFT OF SERVICE
We are at the threshold of an age of power; and power cannot be used constructively and made operative in a human sense unless it is managed. The fundamental task of humanity during the coming decades and centuries is therefore the development of a type of human being able to assume safely and constructively the responsibility which the management of power entails; to assume it with safety, for themselves as individuals, as well as for society as a whole. To assume this responsibility, not for their own individual or group advantage, but for the welfare of the whole; to assume it freely, consciously, joyously - indeed, as gods-in-the-making - this must be the way of men of tomorrow, if humanity is to survive.
According to the symbolic pattern derived from the nearly 26,000-year-long cycle of precession of the equinoxes, humanity is now at the threshold of the Aquarian Age, and about to bring to a conclusion the twenty-one centuries of the Piscean Age, which began most probably within the century prior to the birth of Jesus. As is always the case when a new cycle, a new religion, a new attitude to life and a new type of human being are appearing over the horizon of time, these seem to glow with extra-ordinary and wondrous light. They condense, by virtue of their novelty, the diffuse expectancy of all men dissatisfied with the present and impatient with the past. Upon them, all dreams are focused. They come as bearers of long promised gifts, as heralds of "glad tidings" so long suppressed.
Thus we are prone to idealize all characteristics related to the zodiacal symbology of Aquarius. We forget that the man or woman whose basic type is described by this hieroglyph of the sky has a great burden to carry and a grave responsibility to discharge; and the burden and the responsibility are not always assumed consciously and not often discharged successfully. That they should be so assumed and discharged a quality of the spirit is necessary, a quality which many are reluctant to exemplify, because it requires much from the exemplar.
A little and homely word, if properly understood, expresses the essential nature of this spiritual quality: service. The New Age humanity can only be true to its high destiny if the men and women who are to be roots and flower of its civilization succeed in incorporating within their lives and their philosophy the ideal of "service"; if they seek no greater glory than to be known as "servants" of humanity - which means as well "servants of God," for through their service to humanity, God will become known. And He will be known as Man.
God, it is said, moves in strange and wondrous ways. Perhaps there was no stranger and more baffling way for Him of forcing to our attention the spiritual requirement of the Age about to come - and, in a sense, already come in seed - than to thrust open the gates of tomorrow by the explosive release of atomic energy. This explosion over Japan has shocked the sensibilities of many good people. But so was the figure of Jesus, chasing with a whip the merchants crowding the steps of the Temple, a shock to many "good people" among the Jews.
God, or spirit, is no respecter of goodness or sentiment. What has to be uttered, what has to be revealed, will be manifested. The Man of God accepts for himself the Cross, that thereby the truth of the incoming era may be dramatized and seared into the soul-substance of a new humanity. If humanity needs an atomic bomb to herald the coming of the spirit of the New Age and to burn into the human mind the message of this spirit, then God - the God of the whirlwind and the Burning Bush - will announce His presence by stepping out in awesome majesty from the core of the atom. (*This was written in 1946.)
How will we meet this God of Power? How are we meeting the challenge of atomic power? How are we facing the fact that we, of the United States, are the only nation with huge wealth and piled up surpluses when everywhere else on this earth human beings are in want and often dying of hunger and cold? How are we understanding our function as managers of this terrible power and enormous wealth placed in our hands? Shall we seek to impose our will and our concepts upon a resistant and sullen world, or shall we so act as "servants of humanity" that hearts and minds everywhere will turn toward us in gratitude and renewed hope?
The answers to these questions do not depend upon sentiment, idealism or goodness - or the lack of them. Only by giving a meaning far broader than usual to the word morality can it even be said that the challenge upon it is a moral challenge. It is a challenge thrust upon men who hold power and have access to the instruments for the release of power by the very nature of power itself - just as the Cross was a challenge thrust upon a man in whom God had manifested by the very nature of divinity.
Whoever seeks to hold power for power's sake, or for the self-centered use of power, finds himself thereby on the highway to destruction. Power can bring wholesome fruits only to those who hold it in trust for the Whole and, with it, serve the Whole. Monopoly on power in whatever form can only lead to eventual self-destruction.
Men have yet thoroughly to learn this lesson. They will learn it only when this eventuality of self-destruction ceases to be remote and vague; when the power used is so awesome, and so swift the reaction to any attempt to monopolize it or use it for profit and imperialistic expansion, that men will be inwardly compelled into an attitude of service to the Whole. Spirit does not compel; but facts do. It is therefore necessary that facts be made so compelling that men at long last recognize that all power is of the Whole, belongs to the Whole, and is entrusted to individuals, only in order that they may manage its release with clear-cut and specialized efficiency for the sake of the Whole.
The issue reaches far beyond the military use of atomic bombs in one form or another. There is, at least in the long run, as much danger in the uncontrolled and monopolistic use of atomic energy in the hands of big business organizations as there is in the hands of an attacking army. If one nation could control for its own advantage or easy security the release of atomic power, the crime against the spirit would be no less great. But such a cornering of power is impossible, except for a very short time; this we know now! Everything that is basically human flows from the common root of our humanhood into the myriads of channels opened by the will, the vision and the skill of men of courage and of thought everywhere. Yet, to those that are first belongs the unparalleled opportunity to serve as vehicles for the original and originating downpour of the creative spirit, whence comes all power on earth as in heaven.
This downpour of the creative spirit is the essential characteristic of the new era which carries the astrological signature of Aquarius. The one task of those among men who also have this signature imprinted upon their individual selfhood is to gain the ability to release this power that flows down from high altitudes, be they physical or psychological; to release it not for profit, but in service, as the heart releases the blood which floods its left ventricle - that the entire body be nourished with vital oxygen and with the potent chemicals of the endocrine glands.
To gain this ability to release power in service to the Whole means to reach psychological maturity. And the greatest enemy of maturity is: Fear. Fear alone keeps the adolescent in bondage to infantile attitudes. Fear alone keeps nations and the effective - if not official - rulers of nations from realizing that humanity as a whole is the one frame of reference with regard to which the achievements of any nation make sense and acquire their full human worth. Fear causes aggression and twists men's minds into tortures - fear, and the gnawing sense of frustration which is forever wedded to fear and engenders despair, then self-destruction.
With the coming of the Aquarian Age mankind should be reaching the threshold of its maturity. To be mature is to be able to assume the effective management of the power that is of man, and to fulfill one's trust as a true servant of the great Company, humanity. It has been said that the future belongs to the "managers"; but what has not been understood is that the spiritual issue for all of us is whether these managers will seek to rule, or accept to serve. Will they form a new caste of autocrats, or a vast "Civil Service" dedicated to the welfare of a global society including all men?
This issue is the issue to be faced and solved during the next twenty centuries - and, at least in seed, during the next fifty years. It is to be met primarily by men of the Western World and of white skin; because to them has come the secret of universal power and the ability to use it - either as greedy owners, or as consecrated servants. It is a dilemma which confronts every predominantly Aquarian man, woman and even child - and in every human being there is a touch of the Aquarian. Indeed, it is the one human dilemma; for man is that mysterious being filled with conflicts, with fears and with hopes, who must choose how to use power, because he can choose.
We spoke of atomic power, because with it man has come at last to the power within the root-reality of the world, the atom and the stars; and the challenge of that power is upon us, with the imminent and unpostponable choice of human maturity, or human disintegration. But older civilizations have also known how to tap root-power of one kind or another. The yogis of ancient India had their way of arousing the root-power which is the foundation of human consciousness and human evolution. They too had to choose the kind of use they made of this power once it could be released.
The main difference is that, in this Aquarian era, it is global Man who will be the yogi - and not only a few daring individuals living lives either of sanctity or of senseless spiritual selfishness. Humanity now is to be judged. Humanity as a whole is to become individualized, once it achieves an "organic" status on a global scale. The transcendent God in the heights is becoming Man, the God in the depths. Will we serve this God made human through the consecrated use of this root-energy of atom and star, or will we destroy the newborn divinity of Man by seeking to hoard and to profit individually or in group from the awesome revelation of the power that is everywhere in the vast spaces of the universe, and nowhere actually except in the mind of man?
A momentous decision! Both individuals and nations have to make it. It is an "Aquarian" decision because it is essentially within the scope of this Aquarian type of human being and of its characteristic attitude to life to make such a decision. When we see the socially-minded, perhaps over-zealous, idealistic or self-righteous reformer type of person who shows Aquarian traits, we are prone to see him or her as superb characters in whose hands the future of the world will be safely placed. We may wish there would be more of such a type. Yet we must realize that in most cases these persons have yet to meet their greatest test - as we Americans, collectively and nationally, have still to meet our greatest test.
We have been in fact confronted with it during the decades which saw our nation grow ever more powerful, yet in the deepest sense aimless. We have been mostly aimless, insofar as we have been primarily concerned with restoring in an expanding manner the status quo and enjoying our wealth and our institutions, which have yet to withstand their crudest trial. We remain aimless because in a world ploughed under by the release of a power beyond all imagination we have not yet decided what essential use we will make of that power. We have but superficially understood our responsibility to humanity and to God for having released it for use, any use.
Aquarius - the symbolical Man of the zodiac - is carrying upon his strong shoulders an urn filled with waters. Yet these waters may mean life or death for him who is loaded with the gift; for unless man has received within his own soul the baptism that forever makes it impossible for him to drink of the waters and let the earth thirst, may God have mercy upon him! Many are tempted and very few choose the Cross. Many know techniques and management, but few have answered to their God the crucial challenge: What for?
As the hand is the servant of the brain, so should the manager be the servant of the spiritual purpose of the new humanity. All the idealism and the goodness of men - indeed all their traditional morality and religious observances - can be nothing when confronted with a crisis of power. What is needed is a spiritual purpose. What is needed is that individuals become conscious of the evolutionary goal next ahead for humanity - call this goal "God's Plan," if you will. What is needed is a total identification of the human imagination and will with this goal, and the faith that makes such an identification work.
Work and management - these are the immediate Aquarian requirements. Power is here, upon us - tremendous, awesome. It must be used. Its use must be managed; and the men of the New Age will know how to do the managing. But to what end? If we are open to the voice of the creative spirit within us, there can be but one answer: service. The Aquarian man in us all must reach that noble station of human development and become "the Servant." Humanity is the Great Orphan. It must be fed with power. Power must be given purpose. And there can be only one true purpose: peace.
Purpose, power and peace. He who lacks either will prove himself in centuries to come less than man. That we should incorporate all three in our personal and communal lives is demanded of all of us who can claim the right of survival in these tragic and wonderful decades of death and rebirth. This is the new Incarnation.
Because we have been so long blind to its glorious revelation, we have had to realize power in the embrace of death. But death can be deliverance, wherever it is true to purpose and a herald of peace. We shrink before the dreaded countenance only because we have failed to understand, to use and to manage power. Thus, power overcomes us. We clamor to heaven, simply because we are afraid. And we are afraid because our vision of the purpose of Man, and of the Living God within our own person, has been so faint, so paltry, so insignificant! We know ourselves condemned by our lack of vision, of purpose and of faith. We cling to power - or to love, which is also power - because we are blind to the potential of our tomorrows.
Power is not to be clung to, and neither is love. Power is to be used. Love is to be used. Life is to be used. All that is ours to touch, to feel, to experience is to be used, to be managed. It must be managed to serve a purpose that is true, real, divine - simply because it is an evolutionary purpose that alone makes sense. Nothing makes sense which does not go forward in greater, deeper, nobler, more inclusive creative activity; and all motion forward demands that power be summoned, used and managed.
Are we afraid of more power? Are we unwilling to exchange coal dust for new and non-polluting types of energy, cartels for peace, national selfishness for global organization, slavery for conscious service? Every individual or group is forever being judged by the use it makes of power. We are being judged today by our collective refusal to transform our lives and our civilization to fit the new horizons which the new power tore open.
The gates of the New Age have been blown open. Men of little faith can see through the gaping space only the horror of death. But to those whose hearts and spirit have assumed the responsibility of creating the future; to those who have accepted the joy and the martyrdom that come with the true station of world-service, space curves skyward into a threshold. Beyond it, there is God become Man; Man, bearing on his shoulders the urn of infinite power, as Jesus once bore his cross; Man pouring - oh, profusely pouring - upon all that have need and yearning for it, the joy, the wealth, the plenitude that can be ours if only we dare accept the challenge of power and peace, our whole nature singing in service to the Whole.
An Astrological Triptych