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The Labors of Hercules - Labor VII
Like a busy spider, the Libran is perpetually spinning threads of relationships, creating a sensitive network of meanings. The result of such activity is synthesis. Between the concrete and the abstract he stands, trying to relate the two. Always there is a [132] discrepancy, always the gap between the end envisioned and the goal achieved; and yet, the web glows luminously and assumes a pattern of intricate beauty.

Halfway between heaven and earth the Libran waits. Looking above, he sees the vision, the golden dawn gilding a snow-capped mountain-top; gazing downwards, he beholds the sloughs and the mire through which the sons of men pass. On the one hand, he cognizes high ideals; on the other, he perceives them repudiated. At this midway point he must stand and work. If he rises towards the ideal world, he loses touch with common things; if he descends to the level of materialistic activity, he loses the precious perceptions that are the mainspring of his being. Between these two worlds he is poised in order that he might gain understanding; an understanding that includes the highest and the lowest, the good and the bad, the lofty and the insignificant. This is compassion.

The knowledge gained brings disillusionment. Peering into human hearts, he perceive; the obscure shadows, and the sediment of strange passions therein. He discovers the base methods by means of which persons of consequence establish their success, the dark spots in the lives of reputable men, the clever ways by which they evade the promptings of conscience. He observes the budding ideas which are frost-bitten at the first temptation. He contemplates the long onward march of the human race, with its sporadic achievements and its multifarious failings.

What is the result of such reflections? First of all, the glamors that so often chain a man to earth are substantially weakened. He becomes aware that man lives in a swirling mist of illusion, clinging to life as an end in itself, often fleeing from truth as from a catastrophe. This description of shortcomings does not mean that human goodness is overlooked; without a sufficient measure of it, the world could not endure.

The Libran is not at all sure he cares to take part in the aggressive struggle to make a living, and to push his way [133] forward belligerently to a place of power and prestige in the world. Were he concerned about himself alone, he would probably retreat to a library, and spend his days there. However, other human beings also exist and they have claims upon him. The motive of service thus takes root in his life, a sense of service based on a realistic appraisal of human nature. Actually, it is very difficult to serve the incredible species called man. Inform a man of a truth that would, if accepted, alter his stereotyped way of life, and he will as like as not condemn you as a radical; reason with him, and he will stubbornly insist on the primacy of his instincts; on the other hand, display indifference to his plight, and he will denounce you for being callous to his sufferings. Whoever would serve the human race must be prepared for misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and the perversity that upholds the opposite of what is said.

The Libran is not inclined to be either a zealot or a tyrant. Seeking to persuade rather than to compel, he understands the art of spiritual compromise; this involves a willingness to yield on all non-essential points, and an understanding that heaven is reached by a series of separate steps rather than by a single salvational leap. Serving others requires a just appraisal of their capacities; to expect from them what they are incapable of giving is both unwise and frustrating. The help given to a person must find expression within the framework of his limitations. If this is not done, the aid may prove an impediment. A careful distinction must be made between too much aid and too little; if too much is given, the individual will not be encouraged to use his own resources, whereas too little may cause him to sink in a sea of despair. In other words, the help given must be carefully suited to the needs of the individual involved. In many cases, help would only be an encumbrance; therefore, it is often better to allow a person to fashion his spiritual certainties out of his own bitter conflicts.

The constant weighing and measuring so characteristic of Libra have one aim; the establishment of equilibrium. The [134] world is upheld by equilibrium, and this the Libran understands. As a matter of fact, the laws of karma may be considered as equilibrising activities that prevent the continuance of an unbalanced condition. The catastrophes that befall a man are meant, not to punish, but to restore equilibrium in his nature. He who establishes equilibrium in his own life will not he obliged to have it imposed upon him by harsh, bludgeoning circumstance. The scales of Libra are easily tipped on either side, but the mid-point on which the balance rests remains unchanged. This is the point of equilibrium, the secure retreat which the fluctuating shadows of earthly upheavals and catastrophes can never menace.

It should be pointed out that equilibrium, as here conceived, is a dynamic rather than a static condition. A balanced system of energies would be a more adequate definition; phrased differently, it might be called an ordered arrangement of energies directed and controlled by an over-arching will-to-good. The fully developed man, or initiate, might perhaps be described in such terms also.

In the midst of dissonance, the Libran cherishes the dream of harmony; in the far country, he remembers his Father's house. In memory thereof, he seeks to be a point of peace in a sea of clashing forces. That is the goal, but not always the achievement. However, this longing for harmony strengthens in him the desire to be a peacemaker. He can usually understand both sides of an issue, and this ability serves him well as a mediator and arbitrator.

The energies he employs are persuasion, courtesy, and cooperation; when these fail, he disdains harsher methods. He is naturally inclined towards group work, and is attracted by all programs of action that promote brotherhood and unity.

There is a strongly feminine element in the Libran, and this is natural, since Venus rules the zodiacal sign. The hard, driving thrust of modern life is too aggressively masculine; the softer grace and artistic beauty of the feminine component should act [135] as a complementary influence. The Libran instinctively understands this. He knows that masculine assertiveness must be modified by the subtler savor of feminine sweetness; that yielding water will outlast implacable stone and rigid steel.

When the Libran has assimilated the soft harmonies of Venus, he begins to respond to another vibration, that of Uranus. The statement in the Bible which describes this impulse is expressed in the words, "Behold, I make all things new." The old forms are understood to be chains and shackles. They must be discarded. The broom of God must sweep away the debris of the ages in order that the high ideals of brotherhood and unity may be incorporated into the very structure of our institutions, that the lives men lead may reflect the divine image that is indelibly imprinted in their essential being. Yet, this revolutionary change is not to be accomplished by a rearrangement of outer shapes, forms, or institutions; it must originate within the human mind, in the silence of a man's heart, when he turns towards the light that shines upon him from the residue of immortality dwelling in him. The Libran sets out to remake himself, knowing that this is his first step towards the remaking of the world.

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