It’s January 6, 2005, and the world is only now beginning to catch up psychically with the reality of the global tragedy triggered by the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
An unprecedented outpouring of relief efforts is being directed at the afflicted region, although in many areas bureaucratic mismanagement and political conflicts are delaying the delivery of much-needed supplies and medical assistance.
There are spiritual, social, political and environmental lessons to be learned from this world-altering disaster. We must first absorb the spiritual lessons of the Tsunami Event in order to properly understand the socio-political and environmental lessons to be learned.
It is fitting that the spiritual keynote this Capricorn-ruled month is the struggle to transcend the ego in world service.
Capricorn is symbolized by the goat, the hardy, sure-footed rock-climbing ascetic who can make a meal of the rough grasses, stunted herbs and shrubs on any mountainside, the solitary, trail-blazing goat, who thrives on the thinning air found at the higher altitudes.
Capricorn is thus the sign of the initiate who climbs the psycho-spiritual mountaintop, enduring the harsh conditions, the lack of food, and the isolation in a quest to experience the Unity of creation.
In a karmic sense, the initiate has no choice but to climb.Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, the stern taskmaster, who demands that we scale the seemingly unscaleable psycho-spiritual heights looming before us.
From the base of the mountain, from the standpoint of our everyday egoistic consciousness, the heights, or the Higher Self, appear so distant as to be unattainable, yet the initiate is spurred on by an inner vision of the mountaintop.
The mountaintop is home to the pure rain-fed springs and lakes which nourish the farms and countryside below, and offers astounding vistas, overlooking hundreds of miles in every direction.
The springs and lakes represent love and compassion and the awe-inspiring views symbolize inner wisdom that confers great visions, transcending time and place.
The difficult ascent symbolizes the painful work required to transcend the egoistic personality and overcome the lower chakra issues related to personal survival: greed, sexual desire, jealousy, envy, will to power for personal benefit, and so forth.
The goat, or initiate, rises into the rarefied realms of the higher chakras through a combination of love, wisdom and willpower. Exercising the will, the initiate overcomes sensory desires, symbolized by the privations incurred as a result of the harsh climate, the thinning air and lack of vegetation encountered on the long climb up the mountain.
Exercising constant mental discipline during the difficult climb, carefully picking a way among pathless rock formations and through wild forests, the initiate sharpens the mental powers that must be strengthened before the gift of wisdom can be conferred.
Ultimately, the initiate must be guided by intuition, or be lost on the trackless climb to the summit. To receive intuitive guidance, the initiate must begin to open the heart and center the consciousness of self in the transpersonal realms – allowing the Higher Self to inform, to guide and to shape the journey.
At long last, the initiate attains the very peak itself. Having subdued the demands of the ego, and having strengthened heart, mind and will, the initiate is prepared to participate in the Unity consciousness of the mountaintop.
Photo by Jane Sherry
First, the heart opens. The opening of the heart chakra is symbolized by drinking from the springs and lakes on the mountaintop. The Source of life for all who dwell below, the mountaintop springs represent the pure waters of Love and compassion that flow from the open heart.
Then the Higher Self descends into the strengthened intellectual vehicle, conferring wisdom, symbolized by the vast mountain vistas, an eagle’s eye view of landscapes near and far.
The initiate cannot rest, however. Like the goat, the initiate seeks ever new challenges, restless and determined to evolve, to explore, to contribute ever more to this beautiful creation -- planet Earth.
The initiate is compelled anew by a second Saturnian impulse, the successor to the impulse that first propelled the little goat up the mountain.
The initial impulse to climb the mountain required a series of great sacrifices that culminated in the transcendence of the ego, the attainment of Unity consciousness, and communion with the Higher Self.
This new Saturnian impulse requires the initiate to willingly make a further, perhaps greater, sacrifice. The initiate sacrifices the bliss of individual salvation, seeing that bliss as a refined reflection of the illusion of the egoistic self.
The initiate willingly descends from the heights of Cosmic Bliss, Truth and Love to engage in selfless service among the people living below, placing the collective needs of humanity above personal considerations. The initiate brings the gifts of love, wisdom and will to the community from the mountaintop.
The initiate’s love flows like a mountain spring, the initiate’s wisdom provides the Big Cosmic Picture for those flatlanders who have yet to scale the inner heights, and the initiate’s willpower transmits an energy that helps the entire community to evolve, to co-operate in performing great works that none could undertake alone.
The new moon appears in Capricorn on Monday, January 10th. Maya del Mar points out that the Sabian symbol for 21° Capricorn reiterates the need for mutual aid and collaboration within the framework of competitive human evolution: "A RELAY RACE. The value of competition in developing group consciousness. The whole of civilization is a vast kind of relay race in which groups of people and generations carry the torch of what we call ‘progress.’ Major achievements result from the sum total of human strivings. One must seek to relate and adjust one’s strength to the challenge presented by competitors in DYNAMIC INTERCHANGE."
This Capricorn cycle, beginning with the Tsunami the day after Christmas, we are all challenged to rise to the occasion, to attempt to climb the mountaintop, to open our hearts, to transcend business as usual, to seek partnership and unity with our friends, allies and even our competitors, and to work together as a global family to mitigate the suffering of those struck by this awesome tragedy.
Personally, I have been overwhelmed with the videos, pictures and inner visions of the millions of individuals who have lost lives, loved ones, homes, livelihood and even hope in this tragedy.
During meditation and Distance Reiki sessions when I focused on transmitting healing energy to the stricken ones, my Guides presented me with many individuals and we worked on them one by one, providing short bursts of energy, perhaps two or three minutes each.
I saw lovers separated by the wave who had died and could not understand, their souls kneeling by their dead bodies, filled with the pain of separation. I saw infants laid out in a row in tents, separated from their parents, soiling themselves with fear. I saw young boys and girls alone in the jungle, without food or water or shelter, full of anxiety, filled with loss, aware of the threats from snakes, predators and deranged fellow humans. I saw a doctor slumped in a chair, who had been working nonstop for days, in a state of near-despair, unable to sleep or eat, his stomach a churning vat of stomach acid. I saw an aged medicine woman with a broken heart and a dizzy mind who had put virtually her entire stock of healing herbs, essences, and infusions, collected over many years, into a large bag, and who had distributed nearly all she owned to those in pain.
I saw so many more, with broken limbs, shattered internal organs, and hearts filled with despair. I felt their feelings, and a feeling arose that no matter what I might do, it would be insufficient. Tears flowed freely.
photo by Jane Sherry
I realized more than ever that I am not the doer. The energy passing through me is the Doer. Spirit is both Path and Empowerment. I realized that can I do nothing of my own power, individually, separate from the collective consciousness of all Beings working to implement the Divine Plan of Love and Light.
But then I was granted awareness of the presence and support of the mighty Beings of Light who are my Guides and Teachers in the transpersonal realms. As I felt wisdom, warmth, light and companionship surrounding me, I felt blessed to be part of this team, working together to transmit love and light, healing and the will-to-live to individual beings and groups of victims throughout the affected regions.
My heart opened further and I found new strength, through my tears, to do the work. The Reiki energy intensified, heating my hands, my limbs grew light, my mind cleared, and I rested as I worked, secure within the embrace of the collective Will represented by the multitude of Ascended Masters, Angelic Beings, Guides and Teachers and embodied Lightworkers active throughout Time and Space, who were all focused as one Light at that moment upon the darkness, pain and suffering of the many Tsunami victims, living and dead.
I realized that this extraordinary moment had revealed a central truth to me. Life on planet Earth for most of its inhabitants is primarily an experience of deprivation, fear, anxiety, suffering and pain.
One billion individuals live through each day hungry, unable to provide themselves and their families with sufficient food, although there is more than enough food on the planet for everyone.
Millions upon millions of individuals lack effective medical care, in the Third World and in the First World, and must cope with chronic and acute pain and suffering on a daily basis.
My Guides pointed out to me that there is an Ocean of Suffering surrounding me every day, and that it is only when the Ocean is roiled, when there is a Tsunami, that people open their eyes to the reality around them.
The first lesson of the Tsunami is that life entails suffering. We are born here to be of service, to Love and help one another. Yet, we as individuals are inconsequential. We as individuals have not the power to change the world to conform to our image or to our liking. Only through co-operation with the forces to be found in Higher Worlds, only by connecting to the Love and Light and Wisdom residing within, can we find our way and be of help to one another.
The Environmental Lesson
The second lesson of the Tsunami is that we must understand that humans have altered the balance of forces on the planet to their own detriment, and it is now our responsibility to restore that balance.
We humans are so far out of touch with the natural world that our animal nature, our instinctive connection to the elements, has completely atrophied. Three days after the Tsunami Event,wildlife officials in Sri Lanka marveled at the fact that they saw large numbers of elephants, buffalo and deer in the stricken area, but no evidence of animal corpses.
Apparently the animal population of the Sri Lankan coastal plain, where 21,000 humans died in the floods, knew to seek higher ground. Had local inhabitants noticed the animals fleeing the impending Tsunami, and followed their lead, many would doubtless have been saved.
In America, indigenous leaders have issued many warnings about the dire consequences of life lived out of balance with the earth, out of touch with nature, out of tune with the native intuition of the human body, disconnected from the animal world, from the cycles of seasons, and from the subtle energy signals that impelled the Sri Lankan animal population to seek safety before the killer waves struck their homeland.
Photo by Jane Sherry
Thomas Banyacya was one of four Hopi spiritual leaders selected by traditional Elders in 1948 to carry Hopi prophecies to the world. A half-century later, as the sole remaining Hopi messenger, Banyacya joined nine other indigenous people to speak before the United Nations General Assembly to warn them about the consequences of living life out of balance with nature, out of touch with higher worlds, and out of touch with Spirit.
Banyacya proclaimed that floods, earthquakes, extinctions, climate change, hail storms and damaging hurricanes are the voices of the Hopi ancestors warning us to change our ways, to respect Mother Earth, to live lightly on the land, and to return to the path of Spirit.
The evening of Banyacya’s appearance at the UN, floods shut down major New York highways and the UN basements flooded.
The Asian Tsunami represents the anguished cry of the Earth Spirit and of all our ancestors in the face of the drastic environmental changes brought about by human refusal to live in harmony with Earth and Spirit, which now threaten to engulf the planet.
According to a report by the World Meteorological Organization, 2004 was the fourth-hottest year on record, extending a trend since 1990 that has registered the 10 warmest years. The global insurance industry was forced to pay out more in 2004 than ever before as a result of hurricanes, typhoons and other weather-related natural disasters.
By 2050 heat waves like that of 2003, which killed 15,000 in Europe and pushed British temperatures above 38C (100F) for the first time, will seem "unusually cool", according to the UK’s Hadley Centre for Climate Change.
In its 2004 report, "Uncertainty, Risk and Dangerous Climate Change", the Hadley Centre estimates that average temperatures will rise by 3.5C, well above the 2C which the EU says is the limit to avoid catastrophic global warming.
photo by Jane Sherry
The report also says that the Greenland ice sheet could disappear, ultimately raising the global sea level by 7 meters. This could proceed at the rate of 5.5mm a year, and this with the 3mm rise caused by the thermal expansion of sea water would soon put large part of Britain, including the London docklands, under threat.
Once that process began the Hadley scientists say it would be impossible to "regrow" the ice cap.
Michel Jarraud, the World Meteorological Organization secretary-general, said in 2004 that warming trends around the world and increased storm activity could not be attributed to any particular cause, but were part of a global warming trend that was likely to continue.
The International Arctic Science Committee reported that average winter temperatures in the Arctic are up by 4 to 7 degrees over the past 50 years and now projected to rise by 7 to 14 degrees over the next 100 years.
Polar ice during the summer is projected to decline by 50 percent by the end of this century.
Warming over Greenland will lead to substantial melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, contributing to global sea level rise at an increasing rate. Greenland's ice sheets contain enough water to raise the sea level by about 23 feet.
Polar melting could result in a slow-motion Tsunami that will submerge heavily populated coastal areas around the world during the next 100 years.
But the environmental changes and the danger signs are all around us now. There is no need for projections of future changes to see that the global crisis is upon us.
As of now, in Alaska, global warming has caused an average temperature rise of five degrees over the last fifty years, the glaciers are melting, and millions of acres of forests are dying from infestations of warm weather insects such as spruce bark beetles.
Scientists have reported that broad areas of grass are now forming turf in Antarctica for the first time where there were once ice-sheets and glaciers. The continent is warming to temperatures unseen for 10,000 years.
“A quarter of all species of plants and land animals, or more than a million in all, could be driven to extinction,” said Chris Thomas, professor of Conservation Biology at England’s University of Leeds. More than one-third of 1,103 native species studied in six regions around the world could vanish or plunge to near extinction by 2050 as climate change turns plains into deserts or alters forests.
Global warming is real, drastic environmental change is upon us, and unthinking human activities have stripped the planet of the major defenses against unprecedented coastal disasters in the event of rising sea levels.
The Asian Tsunami is a symptom of what happens when humans live without regard for ecology, for balance, for the unity of place they call home, and serves as a warning to us all about conspicuous over-development of beaches and coastal areas in Asia and all over the world.
Indigenous people of Asia traditionally avoided living on the beach for good reason. “The New York Times” reported last week that a visitor traveling one mile inland in the areas most affected by the Tsunami found very little damage to property and little loss of life.
Over-population and dependence upon tourism have concentrated more and more people in Asian beachfront communities, while other human activities have systematically dismantled natural protection against the ravages of coastal storms and floods in the area.
Over harvesting and dynamite fishing along with bleaching caused by climate change have devastated the offshore coral reefs that have buffered Asian beachfront communities from tidal surges for centuries. In areas where the coral remain healthy, the effects of the Tsunami were greatly reduced.
"The ring of coral in crystal waters around the Surin Island chain off Thailand's west coast forms a sturdy defense against the sea,” according to a December 31 “Wall Street Journal” report.“So when the tsunami struck on Sunday it punched a few holes in the reef, but the structure mostly held firm. The reef, says Thai marine environmentalist Thon Thamrongnavasawadi, may have saved many lives. Only a handful of people on the islands are known to have perished -- most scrambled to safety as the first wave exploded against the coral."
Mangrove swamps, traditionally the beach-dweller’s second line of defense against ravaging floodtides, have been decimated by intensive shrimp farming.
"When the tsunami struck India's southern state of Tamil Nadu on 26 December, areas in Pichavaram and Muthupet with dense mangroves suffered fewer human casualties and less damage to property compared to areas without mangroves," explains a December 30 report by the Science and Development Network in India cited by Friends of the Earth International.
“On Penang Island, the worst affected area in Malaysia, representatives of the Penang Inshore Fishermen Welfare Association observed that in areas where the mangrove forests were intact, there was reduced property damage and less impact on the coast,” Friends of the Earth reports. “Environmentalists from the Centre of Environmental Justice in Sri Lanka also report the same. According to Hemantha Withanage, in areas where there were 'green belts' the damage was less or none at all. Similar observations were made by Indian scientists when a 'super-cyclone' in October struck Orissa on India's east coast, killing at least 10,000 people and leaving 7.5 million homeless. Scientists found that the existing mangrove forests reduced the impact of the cyclone.”
As global warming raises sea levels, any unusual earthquake activity will naturally cause greater than normal coastal flooding, and with natural defenses against coastal flooding disappearing from over-development, over-population, and over-fishing of coastal waters, there is every reason to expect further coastal disasters in Asia in the years ahead.
Even without earthquakes and Tsunamis, accelerated climate change will render large swathes of coastline around the world uninhabitable, requiring the relocation of beach dwellers, and the abandonment of luxury beachfront tourist facilities.
“This tidal wave is the most recent ‘natural disaster’ indicative of ecological collapse commencing on a planetary scale, first exhibiting itself particularly hard in Asia, says Dr. Glen Barry in his web-based journal, Earth Meanders. “This is because Asia is unrivaled in terms of intensive land alterations and ecological destruction over millennia. This is anything but an aberration, as deadly flooding and droughts have become routine in deforested areas of the Philippines, Indonesia and China.”
Asian governments must take the lead in protecting and regenerating protective inland forests and tidal greenbelts such as coral reefs and mangrove forests, begin the economically difficult process of regulating overbuilt beachfront tourist communities, and work ever harder to provide low-cost, high-quality education for all their people, because it is a well-known fact that when women receive a good education, the size of the average family decreases. A good public educational system is the best defense against the overpopulation that fuels poverty, deforestation, overfishing and overdevelopment of coastal cities.
The Tsunami is more than a tragedy. The Tsunami is humanity’s wake up call from Saturn. There are many lessons to be learned, during this Saturnian Capricorn cycle. Let us hope that these lessons will be absorbed fully, and will motivate the people of the world, especially world leaders, environmentalists and Lightworkers, to redouble their efforts to work together, on the path of Spirit, to restore this garden planet to ecological balance, before it is too late.
"Even though the earthquake and tsunami were unrelated to global warming, the disaster offers lessons about human vulnerability and dependence on the earth, as well as the need for international cooperation," says Peggy Lewis, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. "The U.S. must join the Kyoto accord, and press for measures, such as drastic reduction in CO2 emissions, that are based on the need to sustain life, health, and ecological balance rather than the desire to sustain corporate profit margins and current consumption levels."
Saturn is the great taskmaster, and he is the unavoidable teacher. We have a choice to make this Capricorn cycle and in the months and years ahead. We can choose to resume our pleasant materialistic, consumer daydream on the beach or begin to make our way up the mountain. If we choose sleep, we will get another wake-up call from Saturn, and we will continue to get the calls until we get the message.
Let us all become as little goats this year. May you be blessed with the Saturnian virtues of patience, persistence, aspiration, and steadfast and steady accomplishment in the pursuit of your Highest Spiritual Goals until you reach the very summit of enlightenment.
The World is Going to Wake Us Up With Their Pain
This world needs tremendous help. Everybody's in trouble. Sometimes they pretend not to be, but still, there's a lot of pain and hardship. Everybody, every minute, is tortured, suffering a lot. We shouldn't just ignore them and save ourselves alone. That would be a tremendous crime. In fact, we can't just save ourselves, because our neighbors are moaning and groaning all over the place. So even if we could just save ourselves, we wouldn't have a peaceful sleep. The rest of the world is going to wake us up with their pain.
From "The Cosmic Sneeze," in "Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom of Shambhala", pages 58 to 59. Also in Volume Eight of "The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche".
(All Photos are from Stock Photography Unless Otherwise Noted)