THE GIFT OF SIMPLICITY
Through countless centuries men and beasts, trees and clouds have sung paeans to the sun. To him, whose powerful magic sustains all the things that breathe and compels all waters to rise, be it into leaves or clouds - to him, effulgent one, source of warmth, bestower of life - to him, all nature pays homage. In a myriad of voices and in gestures varied beyond all power of imagining, every creature stammers reverently its love in answer to the adorable gift of light and life.
To these gestures of plants we give the formidable name of "heliotropism" - he sheer yearning of green leaves for the sun-light. As men turn toward the east to celebrate with prayers the daily resurgence of the sun, we speak of "devotion". Symbols have been built upon the ringing tones of chanticleer, whose "clairsinging" accents are harbingers of the day to the animal world. Every life soars toward the sun; stretches stems, wings, arms and hands - whatever can move and, thus moving, responds to light and to God. These gestures, simple in the primitive forms of life, grow in complexity as more evolved modes of organization and consciousness appear. Until, with humanity, we find an over-abundance of gestures, and indeed a Babel of voices, each claiming excellence, each ready to assure all and sundry creatures that its way is the best - the directly inspired, the only manner of worship.
As men develop in ever-increasing degrees their individualized consciousness, the natural "heliotropism" of their souls - the spontaneous devotion of their living to the sun - changes into the yearning for an exalted state of emotional and mental inner being. The devotee seeks identification with the radiant Essence toward which his worship rises in tumultuous waves of feeling. The sun appears to him not only as the Creator of the universe but, in a far more poignant and ecstatic sense, as the source of life, of identity and selfhood within the most intimate and personal core of his being. He himself becomes transfigured, glorified. He himself radiates with a solar countenance. Convinced beyond any possibility of doubt that he is, in reality and indeed, a sun to those who are as yet unable to experience this ecstasy of identification with the solar Essence, he comes to expect, and soon to demand of these others that they turn toward him as to an incarnate sun.
Thus religions began. Men who have felt themselves illumined from within by solar ecstasy claim the privilege of being objects of worship - if not as incarnate suns, at least as necessary mediators between the sun and ordinary human beings, between the realm of effulgent, creative light and that of the earthly creatures, opaque and heavy with materiality. The one sun in the sky becomes the one divine Person, who comes down upon the earth into illumined personages who thereafter act "in His name". We have the various series of solar Kings-Hierophants, the mystic line of Initiates who periodically transfer their spiritual energies and the one solar "Word" to a chosen successor.
In the natural process of human development, this ideal of divine-solar transfiguration comes down to levels of increasing diversity. It serves to vivify man's avidity for power, man's desire to increase the radius of his selfhood and the scope of his authority over other men. The hereditary privileges of kings and priests find in it the substance of their strength. These privileges are challenged, age after age, by individuals who, having truly experienced the magic identification of their innermost self with the sun or with God, are able to draw to themselves the few or the many, and to wean them away from the binding matrices of organized religion or imperial power.
As men operate increasingly at the mental level and away from life-instincts, religious Revelations become "ideologies", and the naive devotionalism of the primitive becomes a blind intellectual- emotional subservience to catchwords, formulas and propaganda. Heliotropism changes into "ideotropism". Ideas rule the world of men. Yet - not ideas alone. To be effective, ideas must be able to touch the generic or the socialized wellspring of human life; the instincts, the primordial emotions, the deep collective Images of a race, culture or civilization. Ideas must be dramatized.
To the simple ritual of natural living - the cosmic alternation of day and night, of life and death, of light and shadow - succeed the infinitely varied, complex, and confusing dramas born of human imagination. All these dramas, expressed in myriads of words and gestures, in many lands, and through many tongues, have nevertheless their one root in the tragic fatality of the wedding of light and shadow - a pair of opposites which must exist wherever the radiance of the sun meets the opacity of material objects.
The inevitability of shadows is the burden of sunlight. It is likewise the burden of all divine personages, who have become identified with the solar Source of light and life, that they too must create shadow as well as illumination in the souls and minds of men: they must assume the responsibility of death within their very bestowal of life, the tragedy of hate answering to their gift of love. The light they shed upon a man's ego or the race's culture summons forth a shadow in the man's or the race's unconscious. The radiance that illumines the path to tomorrow fills the ways of yesterday with ghosts and with fears, with doubts and resentment.
Man can only move forward by making the emptiness behind him dark - unless he reaches the state of translucency, unless his mind and his soul are trans-substantiated and made like crystal, as a lens to focus the glory of the sun upon all yesterdays. Until then, every man who seeks to reach ever so faint an approximation of solar-being must come to understand that his very efforts will inevitably evoke a shadow within his psychic depth. He must be prepared to deal with it: as the would-be Initiate of occult lore has to be ready to meet the monstrous "Guardian of the Threshold".
This awesome confrontation may be experienced only by a very few men; but every person who has actually become an individualized ego must face the shadow cast within his subconscious by the radiance of his solar identity. Should he refuse to face it, the individual is almost inevitably led to project it Upon another person who, in some way, has made himself or herself a ready screen for the reception of the dark image. All psychological processes of growth are marked, at some time, by such projections. Life moves forward by stepping over death. Every great love must ever be renewed out of the substance of ghosts overcome. This is the eternal drama of light, of life, or power and of love.
Such a drama is experienced at white heat wherever the type of individual who answers to the characteristics of the zodiacal sign, Leo, is active. Aroused by the intensity of this feeling of light and shadow, yet unable to face the shadow within his depths and reach the condition of translucent selfhood, the Leo personality strides dramatically across the world-stage filling receptive souls with the projection of his shadow, and burdening many of the most avid recipients of his light with his own dark images.
He erects temples to the sun, but the builders are made into slaves and die in dreary bondage, half-glorious and half-slave, the more deeply oppressed the more glowing in its dream-palaces; such is, at first, the Leo world. In order to hold the enslaved in willing subjection to the darkness of blind devotion, the Leo autocrat - high-priest or king - is compelled to stage one grandiose drama after another, to summon one glamorous fantasy after another. He fills his world with gestures and slogans, with heroics and betrayals of truth, with tumultuous triumphs and strident war-cries. His crusades to the sun advance over the piled remains of his wasted devotees.
Upon such a one what greater gift could the spirit bestow than simplicity? To such a heart throbbing with a power that has not yet learnt to know compassion, what blessing more wondrous could there be than stillness? To the mind for which every statement and every concept has value only in terms of its dramatic and devotion-rousing effectiveness, what else could the spirit offer save the gift of truth?
To meet the world with simplicity and with stillness of heart is to meet every soul with shadowless gifts. The essence of drama is complexity; the fatality of heroism is the need to overcome an enemy. The hero thrives on tragedy. Without tragedy, how could there be heroic deeds? Wherefore the sun-glorious ruler finds himself compelled to summon forth war. Some people, some group, some individual must be dark and evil, that, overcoming them, the great leader may prove his heroism. This is true as well in the realm of mind and ideas. There must be pagans condemned to the eternal shadow of hell, if the "man of God" is to show forth his inspired mind and his God-energized faith, either by converting the unillumined, or by dying the martyr's death at their hands.
Even at the level of greatest sublimity, what would Jesus have been without a Judas to give him the great opportunity of overcoming death and fulfilling the Scriptures, thus proving his divinity? This is the mystery of the spirit in action, that there can be no spirit-born deed except in answer to a need, no incorporation of the spirit except for the purpose of illumining opaque objects or dense egos wedded indissolubly to the fatality of the shadow. Man must sin if God, by redeeming him through the gift of His son, is to prove His divinity.
A "dark saying", indeed, which has bewildered countless minds. Theosophical books likewise speak of "the inertia of spirit", and of the strange destiny of those "Sons of Lucifer" - Sons of Mind - whose task it is, at the dawn of truly human evolution, to oppose spirit, in order to compel its manifestation. These Beings are the eternal Rebels who force humanity to realize its needs and, having thus become aware of a lack, to call to God for one who will fill this need. These Rebels, they are the dramatists of the universe; they act many parts to arouse the somnolent life within human nature. They are the "movers and shakers" of men; they bring tragedy in the form of ruthless awakenings. They dynamize the static; they fecundate the soil with lightnings and with vernal radiance that tear through the shells of seeds, releasing the dormant life within. Their penetration is tragic with the inevitable sequence of the shadow.
To these "first-born" of the universal God there must come at long last a song of peace. To them who have lived through eternal dramas of light and darkness, who have taken a multitude of forms to penetrate the closed gates of bodies and egos, who have spent themselves lavishly in phantasmagories of power and spectacles of greatness, there must come that stillness of heart, that restfulness in truth, that simplicity of action which transfigures and which soothes.
"Be still, 0 my heart!
Be still — and know God."
This is the poignant song of the Lucifers, the Bearers of Light, the Vibrant Ones who accept no rest, from eternity to eternity. To be still - to be simple. For what is "simplicity"; if not the overcoming of duality and of drama? To be simple is to be of one essence only. It is to be that which forever is what it is, and that only. Which also means "truth"; for to be "true", and to be "pure", is to be completely and solely what one is, without any adulteration, admixture or conflict. It is to be resolved into unity . . . which is peace.
"Be still, 0 my heart!
Be still — and know God."
The sun's power takes the earth in embraces of light. All things are moved thereby into living and dying, into love and the glamour of love, into growth and the wastefulness of seed. Emotion, dynamism, passion, greatness and evil surge luxuriously from the mating of sun and soil. But the time comes when the arc of the sun's journey at last bends low toward the horizon; and, as light vanishes within the folded robe of the western sky, stars appear in the east. Over the earth, stillness descends with the soft darkness of the night. Man's soul, released from the dramas of light, opens to the peace and the grandeur of star-studded skies.
For him who can meet the sun with simplicity and in truth, the same peace can bless every hour. Satisfied to be only what he is, standing erect and true at his work in the fields of this earth, the sun-illumined individual can know the stillness of the stars even at the high-noons of creative living. In utmost translucency of mind and of soul, letting-through the light in shadowless giving, he is indeed a lens for the rays of the sun. His path is light; and his words are true.
In his eyes, space spreads its infinitude in wondrous stillness. Men who dare look into these eyes see themselves amidst the stars. They enter the gates. In reverence, in simplicity, and in peace, they become themselves light. And the rhythm of life, in them, scans gently the silence - still . . . oh! so very still!
An Astrological Triptych