Harvesting the Wisdom of a Life
As a True Gift to the World
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From the perspective of Second Attention, no life is ordinary. Each is a journey into wholeness and harmony with a divine implicate order. Ultimately it is this – our participation in the divine implicate order – that allows us to bear our suffering with dignity and grace, to find meaning and purpose within it, and to become worthy of it by rising to the occasion of the challenges that it presents us with. As we do this, we begin to transmute our suffering into something that is capable of making a genuine difference in the world, a true gift – borne from a soul who has worked hard to recognize, redeem and cultivate it.
The self with which we normally identify – through the exercise of First Attention – has been wounded and redeemed, battered and boasted, exalted and crushed, and takes these ups and downs, ins and outs, seriously. It is only as our preoccupation with this self that is steeped in melodrama falls away, that we begin to reap the harvest of wisdom buried within our lives and turn it into a gift that we can return to the world. This gift is usually something that requires genuine dispassion to embrace – a dispassion that comes when all judgments about good and evil, right and wrong, light and dark are released. When we no longer identify quite so strongly with the one caught up in the struggle, we begin to see that all that matters within this story is the gradual release of something capable of surviving and transcending the story.
Buddhist nun Pema Chodron talks about dropping the story line of our lives to enter a place of true compassion; Carlos Castaneda talks about erasing our personal history and dropping the human form; other teachers and traditions refer to this surrender of small ego-based identity in different ways. The end result, however, is the same – as we do this work, we become transpersonal vessels for the movement of transformative energy, permanent residents in Second Attention – where whatever the pain and suffering that marks a life, whatever our fate, we recognize ourselves to be larger than that. In that recognition, we gain the capacity to transmute our suffering into something that will outlive the one who suffers, change our lives, the lives of those near to us, and quite possibly the world.
If, as astrologers, we can approach the birthchart – not just as a signature of mutable fate, although it is that – but a portal through which the hard-won wisdom of the soul sitting before us can be harvested, we can become catalysts to the changing of the world. The key to this possible elevation of our function is astrological recapitulation.
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