Thoughts on Leo

A new concept of identity

Leo, “the birthplace of the individual”, looms large in the world today, when both extreme individuality and a growing group awareness are increasingly visible effects of the polarity of Leo (the self) and Aquarius (the group). The interplay between Aquarius and Leo is far more potent now than at any previous time, the writings of Alice Bailey say, causing the rise of dictators as well as the desire for sovereignty in the lives of both individuals and nations. But we also see increasing tendencies towards a developing group consciousness on all levels of life, and all these phenomena are the manifestations of the Aquarius-Leo polarity.

On the individual level, Leo has a vital influence in the development of the spiritual seeker, who “has to know himself through true self-awareness before he can know that divine spirit which is his true Self and know also his fellowmen”, in the words of Alice Bailey written some eighty years ago. The sense of individuality originates in the mind and signifies the emergence of the personality, the distinctive, independent and separated self. But the true Self, the most real part of our nature, is the innermost core or center of our being.

Buddhist teaching holds that there is no permanent self, no fixed or permanent “presence” because that would imply stasis; the universe is in constant flux, and the belief that one is an independent self is delusional and deadly to relationships, for it generates competition, comparison and resentment. Yet, a pervasive sense of “the Imperishable” lies deeply anchored in human consciousness. The sense that there is an enduring identity lies at the basis of such ancient Teachings as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita, in which Krishna assures Arjuna, “For never was I not, nor thou, nor these princes of men; nor shall there ever come a time, hereafter, when any of us shall cease to be.” Esotericism confirms that “identity ever remains” but it is never settled, never at a point of stasis, for it is expressed through continual becoming. It steadily breaks through the parameters of a concentrated, encircled sense of a unique personhood as it passes through the higher initiations, until the fusion of pure spirit (monadic consciousness) and matter (the form, the personal self) is reached. This may be the stage described in one of the earliest Upanishads, the Brihadaranyaka, as “Lost altogether in Brahma like an arrow that has completely penetrated its target.”

These thoughts might help us to understand why the development of self-knowledge in Leo is so crucial to the soul’s awakening. Esoterically, the writings of Alice Bailey tell us that “the outstanding theme of Leo is the activity of the self-conscious unit in relation to its environment or the development of sensitive response to surrounding impacts by the one who stands—as the Sun stands—at the centre of its little universe.” The whole story of Leo, we’re told, can be summed up in the word “sensitivity”. And because sensitivity is progressive, the recognition of one’s “environment” is inevitably and constantly expanding.

Only a thin membrane separates us as individuals from the world, it’s said, and the development of sensitivity through the Leo experience is awakening untold numbers of people to an expanding sense of what “environment” means in its deepest sense. Disillusionment and the widespread sense of disorientation, which many people feel, are indications that the axis on which the separated self has revolved for long ages is now reaching a new pivot point, and that can be our hope in these tumultuous, confusing and—to some—frightening times. A new concept of identity is demanded of us, and this is expressed in the keynote for Leo—I am That and That am I. From the self-affirmation of the individual, to the realization that we belong to and exist because of a greater Whole, is the path of the awakening human soul.



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