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The Labors of Hercules - Labor X

The sign of Capricorn, says the Tibetan, is one of the most difficult signs about which to write and is the most mysterious of all the twelve. So we have found it. Even the symbol of the sign has never been correctly drawn, we are told, because its correct delineation would produce an inflow of force that would be undesirable; also this symbol is sometimes called the signature of God".

At the foot of the mountain the goat, the materialist, seeks for nourishment in arid places. The scapegoat on the way up finds the flowers of attained desire, each with its own thorn of satiety and disillusionment. At the top of the mountain the sacred goat sees the vision and the initiate appears. In other [172] writings the symbols are the goat, the crocodile and the unicorn.

One myth puts the emphasis on the descent into hell to free humanity (in the figure of the tortured Prometheus). Another deals more with Cerberus, some slaying him, others bringing him up to earth. We submit these variations for the reader's consideration of their spiritual significance.

One remembers that, according to the Creed the Christed Jesus "descended into hell". Why? Surely because his all inclusive love covered the so-called "lost souls", since we are told that the Christ broods over humanity until the last "little one" shall have come home.

And who are we to interpret the "signature of God"? With humility we submit these points for pondering. We are told that it is on his knees that the Capricornian offers heart and life to the soul and only then, when self-initiated, can he be trusted with the secrets of life and the higher powers.

Interpretations of the Labor in Capricorn

There are two gates of dominant importance: Cancer, into what we erroneously call life, and Capricorn, the gate into the spiritual kingdom. Capricorn, the gate through which we finally pass when we no longer identify ourselves with the form side of existence but become identified with the spirit. This is what it means to be initiate.

An initiate is a person who is no longer placing his consciousness in his mind, or desires, or physical body. He can use these if he chooses; and he does, to help all humanity, but that is not where his consciousness is focused. He is focused in what we call the soul, which is that aspect of ourselves which is free from form. It is in soul consciousness that we eventually function in Capricorn, know ourselves to be initiates and enter upon two great universal signs of service to humanity. For it is interesting that, in Aquarius, we are dealing symbolically with [173] animals in bulk, since in that sign Hercules has the job of cleaning out the Augean stables, his first work as a world disciple. But in Pisces he captures, not the bull, but all of the oxen, carrying into our consciousness the idea of the universality of world work, of group consciousness, of universal consciousness and of universal service.

If you were born in the sign Capricorn, please do not get the idea that you are an initiate. We should lay emphasis on a sense of proportion and the status of evolution. Aspirants either suffer from an inferiority complex that makes them feel it is not possible to do anything, or they have an exaggerated idea of their importance; they have a touch of soul consciousness, but only a tiny touch, which they think is the whole thing and they become inflated. This shows no sense of proportion.

This sign symbolizes the third initiation, the first of the major initiations. In Matthew 17 we read that Christ took three disciples, Peter, James and John, up into a high mountain and was transfigured before them. They fell on their faces and Peter said, "Let us build three huts". In Hindu philosophy this is called "initiation of the man who builds his hut." Peter, a rock or foundation, is the symbol of the physical body. James, the deceiver, symbolizes the emotional nature, the source of all glamor. John symbolizes the mind, the name meaning, "The Lord has Spoken." There you have the symbolism of three aspects of the personality, on their faces before the glorified Christ, in Capricorn at his transfiguration.

Meanings of the Sign

This is the sign of the goat; it is a superhuman sign, a universal and impersonal sign. All the labors of Hercules heretofore have been concerned with his own liberation. Now we enter upon three signs that have no relation to his personal achievements. He is free. He is an initiate, a world disciple. He has passed round and round the zodiac, learned all the lessons of the signs and climbed the mountain of initiation; he [174] has undergone transfiguration; he is perfectly free and so can work universally on labors that have no relation to himself whatsoever. He works as a superhuman being in a human body. The great stages of development upon the path of expansion, which we call initiations, are recorded in the brain and will not be told to you by someone else. I never met a true initiate who was willing to admit that he was one, never. The hallmark of the initiate is silence. Capricorn is a sad sign, it is the sign of intense suffering and loneliness, for these also are marks of the initiate.

Impersonality is based upon a fundamental personality achievement. You must have been tremendously attached before you can know the meaning of impersonality. That is a paradox, but there is no achievement in being impersonal if there is no temptation to be personal. The impersonality we must develop is an expansion of the personal love we have for an individual, our family, our circle of friends, into exactly the same attitude for humanity, but it has nothing to do with sentimentality. We can love all mankind because we know the meaning of personal love, and we must give the same love to everybody that we have given to the individuals close to us. Impersonality is not shutting yourself off, putting up walls; it is loving everyone because we are able to see people as they truly are with their faults, their failings, their achievements, everything that goes to make them what they are and, seeing them clear-eyed, to love them just the same. In the Rules of the Road it is written: "Each sees and knows the villany of each. And yet there is, with that great revelation, no turning back, no spurning of each other". That is the condition to be attained in Capricorn. That which we have to develop does not come by hardening the heart, nor by tremendous detachment, nor by climbing a pedestal.

The world disciple does not only do what Hercules did, go down into hell to conquer Cerberus, but he works among men all the time, interested in his fellow man. He is impersonal. [175] I wonder if this impersonality does not refer to ourselves rather than to the other persons. We talk, about being impersonal in our dealing. If we were quite impersonal in dealing with ourselves, our reactions to our fellowmen would be just right.

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