Signposts for the Initiation of Humanity : Recent Developments at the United Nations
Greetings friends! It is a joy to be here with you all again and to sense the vibrant energies that are a characteristic of these gatherings. I bring greetings and love from my colleagues in the Lucis Trust offices in New York, London and Geneva. And congratulations to the Board of the Seven Rays Institute on the wonderful achievement of thirty years of work in the light of the esoteric teachings in the blue books.
It is especially heartening to be sharing in building a thought form on Initiation as Fire from Heaven. In some way or other, initiation is central to the focus of several networks within the community of students of the Bailey teachings. The School of Esoteric Studies Subjective Conference will undoubtedly explore initiation in its theme: Ashramic Work and Right Speech. And initiation is central to the global group of Arcane School students theme: Let the group strive towards that subjective synthesis and telepathic interplay which will eventually annihilate time.
Ten days from now, in the flow of the Wesak energies, the first of the three Arcane School conferences pondering this subjective synthesis keynote will take place in New York. We would love to see some of you there – and for those not able to make it, the event will be broadcast by live video just as is being done here during this week.
Initiation is a process of growth occurring at all levels of consciousness in our time. Every system in our planetary life is enmeshed in an inter-dependent process of testing preceding initiation. This is what it means to live in transformational times. Our individual and group identities are in a fiery furnace; and this is reflected in every area of relationships – personal and group; ethnic and national relationships; economic, political, and legal. The fiery furnace plays itself out in muscular national conversations about education, race relations, poverty, gender issues, health care; and at a fundamental level the relationship between the human species and the animals, plants and minerals.
As this initiatory Fire from Heaven blazes through consciousness we humans are being burnt by a revelation of the oneness of life. It is upsetting, de-stabilizing, and unnerving; disturbing established habits of thoughts and feelings of separation, division and competition.
The Bailey books suggest the group initiatory process can be understood in two totally interdependent phases. First humanity as a species is in process of becoming the world disciple: passing through tests preparing for the first initiation. Within the womb of time and space, in the existential reality of our period in history, through our lives and the lives of our nations, the soul is freeing itself from control by and addiction to physical appetites and the constant quest for ever greater material riches, possessions and things. At the same time, and in complete synchronicity, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of thinking men and women from all nations, cultures and faiths are preparing individually and in groups for the second initiation, the baptism. The tests here concern the astral plane as the soul establishes its ability to be present in the incarnated world of the personality, relatively free from desire. As the astral plane quietens the personality grows in its ability to love. The tests of the second initiation burn away all veils that prevent us from loving without reference to self; with detachment; love that is selfless and self-forgetful.
The testing preceding these two initiations plays itself out in world affairs, signifying something of a conclusion of the great battle of the Second World War when, at enormous cost, nations and their peoples took up arms against hatred and separation, inspired by future possibilities for freedom for all everywhere. A significant phase, of that battle concluded with the famous Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration presented a second initiation vision of a world modelled on principles of unity in diversity, of love and goodwill in community and national relationships. It was a sign that a new vision of future possibilities, in line with the dawning vision of oneness, now stood firmly before humanity as a whole. For almost seventy years since the Declaration history has been about confronting all the tests and choices involved in implementing that vision.
The spasms of pain and sacrifice of the Second World war continued, in a lesser octave, through the evolutionary processes of the post-war period: struggles for independence throughout the colonial empires, followed by decades of suffering as new nations struggled to find their feet in a world sorely divided between haves and have nots and as the spirit of freedom began to put down roots. These spasms of the birth of a new humanity could be symbolized by the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, culminating in the triumphant non-violent end to apartheid; by the incredible courage of tens if not hundreds of thousands of people in the Civil Rights movement in this country; by the end of the Cold War and the more recent strains of visionary cries for freedom in the Arab Spring, the Occupy Movement and elsewhere and the darker explosions of extreme separatism in the form of movements based around their opposition to love. To some extent movements like the Islamic State or extreme and sometimes violent anti-Muslim or anti-Christian or anti-Jewish movements reflect a last ditch cry from old Piscean identities deeply threatened by Aquarian inclusiveness. And to some extent these movements challenge Aquarian identities to move beyond sentimental attachments to universality, truly building sharing and justice into economics, education, health-care and housing.
Through all of the upheavals of the post Second World War era it is as if Forces of light bringing the incoming revelation of wholeness are striking ancient veils of illusion, glamour and maya. Sparks are flying – disturbing ancient habits are rising up – yet all the time the subtle veils that hide us from the Realities of beauty and goodness are being shredded and torn – holes are being burnt, letting in the light in myriad different ways as inclusive understanding, synthesis, love and creative intelligence begin to be anchored in the mind, heart and etheric realities of the human.
It is in this context that I believe recent developments at the United Nations can be seen as signposts for the Initiation of Humanity – signs that as a species, in spite of all appearances, we are shaping up to the tests imposed by the soul, and gradually taking greater responsibility to build right relations.
Sustainable Development Goals
The decision in September last year by all member states of the United Nations to endorse the statement Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals) ; the adoption of the Climate Change Agreement in Paris in December; and the forthcoming process of selecting a new Secretary-General of the UN to take office in January 2017 – these seem to me to be the important signs that, as a species, and as networks of goodwill, we are taking new steps to implement right relations.
We rarely think of big political gatherings like UN Summits as carrying a mythical significance. But there were heavenly signs accompanying the adoption of The Agenda for Sustainable Development at UN Headquarters in New York in September. It took place during the first three days of the Libra full moon (ending on the full moon day). The moon was unusually close to earth (a ‘super moon’) so it looked much larger than usual and was more dominant in the sky. And there was a full lunar eclipse, giving the moon a red sheen. And the ceremony for signing the Climate Change Agreement reached in Paris will take place at UN Headquarters in New York on the day of the wesak full moon, April 22.
Another sign that something spiritually significant was happening is that the first day of the Summit, the day when the Agenda was formally adopted, began with a visit to the General Assembly, early in the morning, by Pope Francis. He brought a wave of transparent simplicity and humility into the Assembly – an incredibly rare presence of Spiritual Authority and Authenticity touching the hearts of delegates of all faiths – on occasion bringing tears to the eyes of seasoned diplomats. His remarks brought a vertical dimension into discussions that are usually preoccupied with rational, logical planning and argument. Speaking in the recently restored General Assembly hall, the Pope reminded delegates that while the commitments and declarations of the Sustainable Development Goals are a necessary step toward solutions, they are not, in themselves, sufficient. There is the danger, he suggested, that they become simply a declarationist nominalism [to] assuage our consciences. Francis reminded delegates and by implication all people of goodwill throughout the world that the classic definition of justice … contains as one of its essential elements a constant and perpetual will…. Our world demands of all government leaders a will which is effective, practical and constant, concrete steps and immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment and thus putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences.
This clear evocation of the will is, to my mind, the critical point about the Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals included in the Agenda. It was further reinforced by the agreement reached at the Paris Climate Summit in December, during a time when the heart of humanity was pained and grieved by the terror attacks just a couple of weeks earlier. Something happened in those two summits of leaders of sovereign nations. The spirit of the Declaration of Human Rights and the growing sense of relationship with Mother Earth took shape in a series of goals and specific targets. The agreements that came out of those summits mark recognition that globalization has been untamed, too often exploited by forces of selfish materialism – and that the time has come to act globally and locally to manage globalization creatively with the goal of ending poverty, reducing inequalities and tackling climate change while ensuring that no one is left behind.
While the summits in New York and Paris were for governments they were accompanied by associated gatherings attracting thousands of representatives of the Group of World Servers. In other words they were not held in isolation – goodwill networks were breathing down the backs of government leaders, pushing them to move beyond their comfort zone. While the drama of the founding conference for the United Nations and the negotiation of the Declaration of Human Rights were largely government affairs, the dynamic energy of the two recent summits was created by networks of concerned citizens, business, professional bodies, academics representing constituencies from every part of the globe together with the energies of governments. This was humanity – the Group of World Servers and movements for goodwill – standing up on behalf of all people everywhere.
The Millennium Goals, the MDGs, declared on the eve of the new millennium, became much more substantial and realistic with the declaration of the Sustainable Goals, the SDGs. The MDGs represented a vision of what was achievable in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The SDG’s are as politically and economically challenging to the countries of Europe and North America as to the nations of the South. For example Goal 2, encapsulated on the card as ‘Zero Hunger’ is actually End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. Improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture represents massive political challenges for this country along with every industrialized country – just as ending hunger does when we think of the rapidly increasing demands on local community kitchens, food banks and food pantries. Achieving this goal in 15 years will only happen through muscular activity by people of goodwill and through visionary leadership. Another goal that is hugely challenging here is Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns or Goal 10: Reduce inequalities within and between countries.
The SDGs make the principles in the Four Freedoms and the Declaration of Human Rights practical, politically realistic and do-able – but hugely challenging for anyone who takes them seriously. They set out a path of how the idealistic principles can be achieved. Each Goal is associated with measureable targets so that progress can be measured country by country, and community by community on a yearly basis. The test, the initiatory test, if you like, is how the information will be used by people of goodwill. The vision is that the regular, annual release of national reports on progress towards achievement of each target will stimulate a constant and perpetual will within the political life of each country
The problems of unmanaged and uncontrolled globalization can never be addressed under so-called free market rules. Law, regulation and some form of affirmative action will be needed if poverty is to be eradicated, the causes of climate change to be adequately addressed, agriculture to be shifted to a sustainable path, and social inequality to be reduced. Yet the Goals leave each country to determine how to make progress in reaching the goal – liberal democracies, participatory democracies, dictatorships, socialist systems and former communist and communist systems – each is free to determine how to reach targets in their country. What matters is that there is verifiable progress towards meeting the targets.
Climate Change Summit
The Paris Climate Change Agreement is the second of the three developments at the UN that needs to be considered in relation to understanding the initiation process in humanity. It is I think important because it marks for the first time a commitment by governments to take action to transform the carbon output of modern consumer based development patterns. The agreement will lead to a significant increase in the momentum to move energy supply towards renewables. It may even have an impact on unexpected new technological breakthroughs such as perpetual motion systems drawing on the energies of the etheric body, as predicted by DK and other Ageless Wisdom sources. But what is more important about this agreement is that it provides an environment of thought in which cities and communities can focus creativity on building more earth-friendly and simple ways of living together that enhance the qualities of relationship. Reduction of carbon output while at the same time fostering human development is becoming a focus for research, thinking and innovation – in the process we can expect to find countless examples of creative ways in which communities are transitioning into the SDG goal of responsible consumption and production.
A New UN Secretary-General
The last development at the UN that needs to be considered is this year’s process of selecting a new Secretary-General to replace Ban Ki-moon on January 1 2017. This is important because it will determine the leadership of and give a human face to the complex multi-lateral processes to make progress with the SDGs and Climate Change. It is also important because the Secretary-General has the potential to be a symbol – someone who inspires ‘we the peoples’ of the UN with the vision of humanity as a whole moving towards an interdependent world order that works for small communities and cultures, as well as for the huge numbers of marginalized, dispossessed and under-privileged, just as it works for more advantaged communities and cultures. Traditionally selection of the Secretary General has been done behind closed doors by the five permanent members of the Security Council. Through custom (not through any rules) the individual has been chosen from a region in the world – and on this basis, 2017 will be the turn of Eastern Europe. At the same time there is a widely accepted sense that it would be good to have a woman Secretary General.
But as a sign of the growing spirit of freedom and democracy in the world this year’s selection process is seeing more transparency than ever before. For example the General Assembly President’s website lists all candidates that have been formally nominated by governments – so anyone can check them out. Right now there are 8 candidates – 6 from Eastern Europe; 1 from Portugal and 1 from New Zealand. Four of the six candidates are women. This week, starting yesterday, for the first time ever, each candidate is presenting themselves and their vision for the UN to member states in the General Assembly in a dialogue session that includes representatives of Civil Society. These dialogue sessions are being televised. Anyone who wants to follow this process might want to check out the civil society website: http://www.1for7billion.org/ .
Reading DK can lead us to think that following the end of the Second World War humanity would speedily act to address the causes of major world problems: that there would be disarmament, the beginnings of a sharing economy and an end to racial discrimination. The fact that this has not happened is often cited as a source of disappointment and despair – that the group of servers failed in their task.
My own reading of the teachings is different. The establishment of right relations is closely linked with humanity’s passage through the tests culminating in the first and second initiations. These are the processes of history. Veils of illusion, glamour and maya are the source of all the problems of humanity and it is as these ancient veils are being addressed (individually and collectively) that we see significant progress in such fields as economic sharing, disarmament and right relations between the races.
Essentially the tests imposed by the initiatory fires of heaven are all about the evocation and maturing of the will – including aspects of the will not normally addressed: the will to love; the will to serve in the liberation of all sentient beings; the will to align with higher sources of wisdom and compassion in ways that are life affirming and enriching for the personality. This takes generations – life-times.
The measurement of progress is, I believe, in the practical and realistic ways in which forces for goodwill identify, define and clearly understand transformative goals and then act to bring those goals into expression. The question of whether the SDGs are token gestures from governments without substance – or in Pope Francis words, empty statements to assuage our consciences - really depend on you, me and every person of intelligent goodwill in the world. The Goals present a challenge – an initiatory test: they create an opportunity for the forces of goodwill to use the dynamism of the will to meet each target – in our cities and local communities, in our nations and in the world as a whole. Signs are that this is happening – a more relevant question is – where do we stand in this process? Are we prepared to respond to the test and be part (no matter how small a part) of the mobilization of the will by aligning ourselves with and engaging with the meeting of specific goals – or do we prefer to endorse forces of indifference, pessimism and negativity?
I want to end with a passage from the Teachings on Initiation in Discipleship in the New Age, II. It concerns one of the Hints given to those preparing for initiation – hints which we are told are largely concerned with ashramic duty. A number of pages are devoted to Hint Two: Human planning today is one of the first indications of the Will aspect. This section on pages 359 – 362 provides a key to approaching the SDGs and to the central issue of ensuring that the plans and programs associated with the SDGs remain true to the objectives of building economic, social and cultural relationships which reflect the spirit of oneness that has been revealed to the modern mind and heart. The longer formula associated with Hint Two deserves much pondering:
"When the stream of direction is noted by the one who seeks the inner side, then let the Master indicate the pattern and then await results. This may take time. Results come not through the action of but one; they appear when the many respond on Earth to that which comes from the higher Centre through the One. This they do blindly, when at stage the first; later they move with care and right direction. Thus affairs are changed on Earth." [Discipleship in the New Age, Vol II, p. 359]