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The Labors of Hercules - Labor V
The Lesson of the Labor

Two thoughts, taken out of the Christian Bible, summarize the lesson of this labor. In St. Peter's Epistle we find these words: "Your adversary, the devil, like a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour," and in Revelations V, 5, we find the words, "Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof."

Hercules, the aspirant, the soul, symbolized the lion, the prince, the king, the ruler, and because of this he symbolically wore the lion's skin. The Nemean lion stands essentially for the coordinated, dominant personality, for the aspirant has always to be a highly evolved individual.

With the triple aspects of the lower personal self fused and blended and, therefore, potent beyond the average, the aspirant often becomes a somewhat trying and difficult person. He has a mind and he is using it. His emotions are controlled, or else are so blended with his mental reactions that they are unusually powerful; hence, he is exceedingly individual, often very aggressive, self-confident and self-satisfied, and his personality is, therefore, a devastating force in the family group, society, organization with which he may be affiliated. Therefore, the aspirant, the lion of Judah, has to slay the lion of his personality. Having emerged out of the mass, and developed individuality, he then has to slay that which he has created; he has to render helpless that which has been the great protecting up to the present time. Selfishness, the self-protecting instinct, has to give place to unselfishness, which is literally the subordination of the self to the whole.

Therefore, the Nemean lion symbolizes the powerful personality running wild and menacing the peace of the countryside. What is the lesson intended to be learned by the fact that Hercules tracked the lion to a cave that had two openings? [109] Why did he stop up one opening and enter in through the other? And what is the spiritual teaching underlying the tradition that he there slew the lion with his bare hands?

Many of these old stories have held the true significance of their meaning unfathomed for thousands of years, and it is only in this day and generation that the true esoteric meaning can possibly emerge. The interesting fact about the period in which we now live is that it marks a unique development in racial unfoldment. There have always been manifestations of the sun gods, and this labor of Hercules has again and again been enacted by a few here and a few there. Every nation has produced highly evolved aspirants who track the lion of the personality down into the cave and there master it. But, relatively, in relation to the myriads of human units, they have constituted a very small minority. Now we have a world full of aspirants; the coming generation in all nations will produce its thousands of disciples and already tens of thousands are seeking the Way. People are now very individual, the world is full of personalities, and the time has come when the lion of the tribe of Judah must prevail over the lion of the personal self. We are not alone in our struggle, as Hercules was, but we form part of a great group of sun gods, who are struggling with the tests preparatory to initiation, and with the problems that will draw out the full powers of the soul.

In Capricorn we shall climb the mountain-top, and entering now, as we are, the Aquarian cycle, the aspirants of the race are in a position to begin to learn the lesson of service and universal consciousness. When, in two thousand years' time, we begin to enter Capricorn, there will then be a tremendous gathering-in of initiates, and the scaling of the mount of initiation and the mount of transfiguration by many hundreds of disciples. In the meantime, the lion of the personality has to be dealt with and the cave entered.

In the symbolism of the scriptures of the world, the most momentous happenings are enacted in one of two places: in [110] the cave or on the mountain. The Christ is born in the cave; the personality is overcome in the cave; the voice of the Lord is heard in the cave, the Christ consciousness is nurtured in the cave of the heart, but after the cave experiences the mountain of transfiguration is climbed, the mount of crucifixion is achieved, to be succeeded finally by the mountain of ascension.

I would like here to give the technical, perhaps more scientific, interpretation of this cave which Hercules entered. The Aryan race, to which we belong, is one of keen mental development, and the consciousness of people everywhere is shifting steadily out of the emotional nature, and so out of the solar plexus center, into the mental body and, therefore, into the head. There is in the head a little cave, a small bony structure which shields and guards one of the most important glands in the body, the pituitary. When this gland is in full and proper functioning activity, we shall have a personality rounded-out and active, self-controlled, with pronounced mental activity and endurance.

This pituitary body is dual in its configuration: in one of its lobes, the frontal or ante-pituitary, is to be found the scat of the reasoning mind, intellectuality, and in the other, the post-pituitary, is the scat of the emotional, imaginative nature. It is also said that this gland coordinates the others, controls growth and is essential to life. It is interesting that Berman defines intellectuality as the "capacity of the mind to control its environment by concepts and abstract ideas". Where there is a lack of development of this gland you may find both emotional and mental deficiency. Many endocrinologists and psychologists have expressed themselves along similar lines. [The Soul and Its Mechanism by Alice A. Bailey. Lucis Publishing Company, New York, N.Y., and the Lucis press Limited, London.] It is in this cave that the lion of the developed personality or individuality has its lair, and it is here that the sun god, Hercules, must conquer. [111]

For centuries the Egyptians, and especially the Hindus, have known of the chakras or force-centers in the etheric body. The discovery of the endocrine system shows corresponding physical glands in the same locations. One of these, the pituitary body, with its two lobes, symbolizes the cave with two openings, one of which Hercules had to close before he could control the personality by the higher mind. For it was only when he had blocked the opening of the personal emotions (post-pituitary), thrown away even his trusty club, refused symbolically to lead any longer a personal, selfish life, that he could, entering by the opening represented by the ante-pituitary, subdue the lion of the personality in the cave. These correlations are so exact that they present in little and in large an awesome testimony to the unflawed integrity of the Plan. "As above so below. A striking correlation between biological and spiritual truths. [112]

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