Today I would like to say a few words to you about the teaching handed down in the esoteric tradition concerning the first day of the New Year. And as the only kind of knowledge that really interests me is that which can be immediately useful, you can apply what I shall tell you to your own everyday lives.
Most people celebrate New Year’s Day in night clubs, bars and dance-halls. They express their joy at the coming of the New Year by having parties and amusing themselves and indulging in all kinds of follies. And then they fritter away the rest of the year in unconsciousness and futility and, as unconsciousness always leads to tribulations, it is not long before the tribulations begin! It is quite senseless to start off the New Year in this way; it shows that they who do so have no inkling of the spiritual and magical aspect of things. But this is the aspect which interests me.
The Cabbalah teaches that each day is a living, sentient being which bears the record of all our physical and psychic acts. You might say that the 365 days of the year are like a magnetic tape on which each day, with all that it has brought of good and evil, happiness and unhappiness, is recorded. Each separate year of our lives is like a separate tape recording.
The New Year is new and yet, at the same time, it is already old, aged by all that each one of us has already gone through in our lives. The new year is like the pure water of a mountain stream as it mingles with the stagnant waters of the lowlands; it is new and yet it is not altogether new because it is lived by men who are burdened by their past. This is why, although all is new, men never manage to live an entirely new life. The New Year is a spotless virgin, but who knows what shady resorts it will get into or what kind of company it will keep. The past, by which I mean all the states a man has known and all the events that have marked his life, is recorded and engraved within him, and it takes a great deal of knowledge, patience and determination to erase these imprints and free oneself from the stereotypes of the past: it is an extremely difficult task. But when I talk of the past I am not talking only of the past of this incarnation, of the days and years we have lived in our present lives. I am also talking of other, previous incarnations, for we bear with us the traces of both our immediate and our distant pasts. Only the Initiates know how to cleanse themselves of the stains of the past; other men do not even realize that there is work to be done in order to save the ever-new present from contamination by all that is old, worn-out and moldy. The question, you see, is not quite as simple as it would seem at first sight!
Unfortunately, most people have no idea that there is anything here to study, understand and transform: they look forward to each new year in the fond hope that it will, at last, see the fulfillment of all their dearest wishes: the winning ticket in the sweepstakes, marriage with Prince Charming, a fabulous legacy from their grandmother or their rich uncle in America! Others spend their days and nights looking for buried treasure in caves or at the bottom of the sea. People always want to live in an illusory world. They think, “The new year will bring this, that or the other….” And then they sit and wait. But the year passes just like all the others – and sometimes worse than the others. They sow no seed and then they expect something to grow! No, nothing has ever grown in these conditions. If you sow some seed you have the right to look forward to harvesting the fruit, but not otherwise.
Have you worked? Have you ploughed your soil, the soil of your own being? Have you sown and planted something within yourself? If so, then you can look forward to joy, happiness and peace in the New Year; in fact even if you are not expecting them they will come. But if you have never planted anything and, in spite of that, you entertain high hopes – well, they are hopeless hopes, I can tell you, for they have no foundation in natural law.
The New Year is not completely separate from the old; the relationship may not be direct but it is always there, at least indirectly. The New Year, just because it is new, seems to be as pure and unspoiled as a newborn baby who is always considered so pure and innocent. Yes, it seems like that on the surface, but even a newborn baby has ties to its parents, grandparents and great grandparents, to society and to the spirit of the age. It bears with it the imprints of its past lives and, in one way or another, all that will eventually come to the surface. The New Year is a virgin, pure and innocent; it is cut out of immaculate white cloth, but as soon as it makes contact with man, its whiteness becomes tinged with colour, just as the pure, crystal-clear rain from heaven is coloured by the soil through which it flows when it reaches the earth.
The year that we call “new”, therefore, is old from the very beginning because the human beings it encounters are old in their way of thinking and feeling and all their habits. They have never thought to wash out their vessels, jugs or saucepans, before filling them with the pure waters of The New Year. And yet, isn’t this the first thing we learn in our own kitchens: before pouring clean water into a container, we have to wash it and sometimes even to scour it thoroughly, otherwise the clean water will be dirtied by the container – even a child knows that! But when it comes to filling their hearts and souls and minds with pure water, men never think of cleansing themselves first. Although they apply this lesson every day in their kitchens, when it comes to their own inner lives it is as though they had never known it; they forget that they have to apply the same rules to themselves and discard all that is soiled and grimy and retain only what is pure. Innumerable details in our daily lives can help us to understand this truth: in our houses, for instance, we treasure paintings, beautiful furniture or valuable jewelry for years, sometimes for centuries, but we soon get rid of things that have no value; or again, we keep cut flowers in a vase for three or four days, but then we have to throw them away and get fresh ones. And yet men think they can keep all kinds of old, dirty, rotting things within themselves!
Yes, we must understand the new year better; we must go out to meet it in the deep conviction that it is a highly gifted living being and that it brings us valuable presents; we must learn to prepare a lot of space within ourselves so as to be able to receive this abundance of gifts; we must continually sweep out all the old junk that litters our hearts and minds, and make room for the new year even before it comes.
The Cabbalah also tells us that The New Year is influenced by the stars. The birth of a new year is like the birth of a child: it is the beginning of a life that will last just twelve months. When a child is born, one can draw up a horoscope based on the date and time of birth and thus foresee the principal events of the child’s life. And we can do the same for the birth of a new year; in fact you should know that the first day of the year determines the first month, the second day – the second month, the third day – the third month and so on. So you must try to live, think, feel and behave as well as possible, at least during the first twelve days, so as to ensure an intelligent, luminous start to the year and thus influence and determine it favorably.
Some of you may say….”I did my best during the first twelve days, but the rest of the year wasn’t at all good!” That is because you allowed it to be influenced by the old things of the past. You have to clean, sweep, wash and purify everything in you. But no one does it. No one even thinks of doing it. Of course, it is impossible to clean everything all in one day; the weight of the past still influences us and the New Year will always be mingled with the old. You would have to be a divinity to improve things one hundred percent. To improve the situation by twenty, thirty or fifty percent would already be quite an achievement for a disciple!
If you want to draw up the horoscope of what the year holds for you, you should not base your calculations on the date at midnight. In spite of the differences of longitude and latitude, this would give you a collective horoscope for the whole of mankind which would not correspond to the events which may arise in the life of a particular individual. Of course, one could compare this collective horoscope with one’s own birth-chart so as to foresee or explain events, but if you want to establish a horoscope for someone in particular, you should base your calculations on them the moment when he begins to manifest himself. This is the time of birth on the first day of the year. If someone wakes up at eleven in the morning, then you must draw up his horoscope for eleven o’clock, for that is when he begins to get up and shout at his wife “where are my socks? Where’s my clean shirt? What have you done with my cuff links?” (Oh, those cuff links: they are always lost!) Yes, a man’s life is determined by the way in which he begins his first day of the year when he wakes up.
For us, as a community, our year begins as we gather to pray and sing together, and for the rest of the day you must put a guard on your thoughts and, above all, on your words: if your tongue is just itching to say something it shouldn’t, go into a corner by yourself, say a few words to relieve the itch and then go back and join the others with a smile on your face! Tomorrow you will have to continue to be careful so as to prepare good conditions for the second month, and so on. To be sure, even if you are very careful, the year will not necessarily be absolutely faultless, for as I have said, the present is linked to the past, and the past includes not only all one’s previous years but all one’s previous lives as well. If you owe someone money, for instance, he is liable to come and ask you for it on the first day of the year; he will not wait for the year to go by – he might well come today. And if you have enemies on the astral plane they will not necessarily wait until after the First of January to come and torment you. How can you get rid of these inner enemies? The question is of great importance; you must know that man does have inner enemies, in fact they are the worst kind. But even if you are not wholly successful, at least you will find what I have told you useful because it will enable you to improve your situation, and, above all, to prevent it from getting any worse. So let us stand now and begin our prayers as usual. In this way we shall be inscribing this first day of 1963 in the Akashic Records by living it in pray, adoration, love and song.
Even if most people are too absorbed in their work or too busy amusing themselves in night clubs to think or wish or ask for the coming of the Kingdom of God on Earth, let there be at least a few who claim for it!
So, let this be your work in the year ahead: start by fixing your sights on that ideal, that sublime goal: the Kingdom of God and His Justice on Earth. Secondly, be conscious and attentive and watch yourself to see whether you are coming closer or moving away from your ideal. And finally, a third point which is implicit in the others: devote all your energies and strength and all your capacities to accomplishing this task. In this way, your Will, Heart and Mind will all pull together in the same direction: the Mind remains perceptive, enlightened, attentive, watchful and lucid; the Heart feeds your high ideal, it longs for it and loves it and is constantly in touch with it. And the Will works to serve both the Heart which is yearning for the highest good and the Mind which acts as guide, advisor and instructor to guard, enlighten and steer a straight course. In these conditions, whatever obstacles and difficulties are strewn along the way, the spirit of man will always triumph; sooner or later it will be victorious, for these three primordial faculties have extremely powerful resources available to them of which we know nothing.
If you are not getting the results you hoped for it is because you have not yet fully committed these three faculties; you have not yet yoked them together in harmony. Each one works, but each works for its own interests, unrelated to and out of step with the others. The Intellect has, perhaps, understood how glorious it is to climb to the heights and reach the peaks, to melt into one with its Creator, but the Heart, in the meantime, has its own preferences and they may lead in a totally different direction. In this case you must try to bring your Heart into line and guide it in the right direction. It is possible to persuade your Heart to desire that which your Intellect sees to be right, wise and useful, and it is possible, also, to induce your Will to act in order to achieve it. But most people do not even realize that these contradictions, these inner rifts and conflicts exist or, if they do, they think that they are inevitable and have no idea what causes them. They have no guide to advise them and tell them how to unify their three powers: Intellect, Heart and Will, and steer them all in the same direction.
In point of fact, man is capable of overcoming all his inner conflicts and divisions if he has a divine ideal and clings to it come what may. If he nourishes and cherishes a sublime ideal, it will incarnate and materialize within him and take possession of him until it fills his whole being and he becomes his ideal. People without an ideal fritter away their energies and waste their lives.
The sad thing is that this formidable alliance, this undivided union of Heart, Mind and Will in pursuit of an ideal is found most frequently in criminals. Without realizing it they succeed, like the Initiates, in combining these three faculties, the difference being that their goal is to kill, steal and destroy. And between these two classes of men (criminals and Initiates), there is the multitude of those who have no fixed goal, in whom the three faculties are divided or at war with each other.
In St. John’s Revelation, we read “I could wish you were cold or hot. So, then, because you are luke warm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” Behind these words lies a profound science. “I could wish you were cold or hot” means that one must be for good or for evil but not indifferent, undecided; it means that our Intellect, Heart and Will must combine to achieve something, no matter what, together. Heaven has no love for criminals, but at least they are strong, determined and capable, and Heaven values these qualities. So even if their present actions are evil, Heavenly entities keep an eye on them and plan to catch them unaware one day! They think to themselves, “One little spoke in your wheel, my lads, and before you know it you will be heading the other way! Your long experience in working with the combined forces of your Hearts, Wills and Minds means that you will be valuable workers for us’. All the ardor, all the assertiveness and determination, all the strength of Will that criminals use to steal, destroy and kill, will, one day, be at the service of good. Whereas the feeble ones who can never make up their minds may not actually do evil, perhaps, but they are equally incapable of doing good, and the Heavenly entities scratch their heads in perplexity, wondering what on earth they can use them for. Their inner faculties are in a state of disarray; they have no strong convictions; they are easily influenced – so easily, in fact, that they can often be recruited by the Black Lodge! People like this are dangerous, therefore, and that is why they will be spewed out, that is to say, rejected.
If some people never achieve anything worthwhile, either in their inner self or in the world around them, it is because their faculties of Mind, Heart and Will are disunited. What happens in a family when the father pursues one goal, the mother another and the children all go their separate ways, each with their own goals? The family falls apart, of course, and that is exactly what happens to man’s inner family: the father – the Intellect, has his own pet hobby; the mother has hers and it is not the same as the father’s and the children, that is…the Will, are left rudderless and are always getting into mischief.
You are here, in an Initiatic school, in order to learn quantities of truths which are new to you and which will enable you to straighten out your lives, to renew and organize them and set them on a path towards a heavenly goal. Try it! Restore order within yourselves; yoke the forces of your Intellect, Heart and Will together and steer them towards one goal: the accomplishment of the Will of God. You will soon see how your life changes. To be sure, you will not be immune to the buffeting of strong winds and earth tremors: as long as you are on earth you are bound to experience some unpleasant shocks, but they will pass far more quickly than before and will not leave the same scars behind them. Your houses will stand firm because they will be built of more resilient materials, whereas previously, they were liable to crumble at the greatest shock.
I am not going to make you all kinds of spectacular promises; I am not saying that if you enter into this Teaching you will receive wealth and fame and become the friend of princes. The only thing I am saying is that if you succeed in aiming your Intellect, Heart and Will towards one and the same goal, a change will take place in your consciousness. To begin with, the change will be so small as to be invisible but it will contain all Heaven and earth. Remember what Jesus said about the mustard seed, “which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” So it is not the size of the seed that counts but its vigor. You can think of the mustard seed as a thought or a feeling: to begin with it is imperceptible, but if it is intense and if it is given favorable conditions, it has the potential to produce fantastic results. “The birds of the air come and nest in its branches” said Jesus, and the “birds” are the spirits of the Invisible World who will come to you and even make their dwelling within you.
I am not making you any great promises, therefore, I am simply saying that if you understand me aright, if you give a loving welcome to the tiny promise I have made today, if you tend it and nourish it with care, it will grow into a great tree in which even the angels will take shelter. The seed I am sowing in you today is the idea that you must unify your three faculties: Intellect, Heart and Will, and direct them all towards the same goal, for this is the only way to achieve anything worthwhile. As these faculties are all of divine origin, they all contain untold treasures, and as soon as their forces are combined and set on the path to Heaven there is a constant flow of communication between them and Heaven. When the Intellect is rooted in the soil of Heaven, the Light which illuminates it becomes brighter still and it receives a ceaseless flow of inspirations and revelations. When the heart remains closely bound to its roots in Heaven, it slakes its thirst on love and the elixir of everlasting life; it lives in a constant state of wonder and ecstasy and becomes as vast as the Universe itself. And the Will, when it is kept fit and takes a lot of exercise, becomes so powerful that it overcomes all obstacles: when the Will is one with Heaven, it can become as powerful as God himself.
The saying goes that strength lies in unity but so far this has been understood only in the social, political or military spheres: men united to destroy their enemies or to build, but it was always an external union. From now on unity must apply to the internal sphere. We must be united by our ideal, by a Divine idea, by our brotherly love; we must be united in the work we are doing for the coming of the Kingdom of God. If this is what unites us, then….Yes, in that kind of unity lies the most formidable strength. External unity is not bad but it is insufficient. People join forces for a time and then their association is dissolved again and they all go their separate ways. But the union I am talking about, the union which makes for true strength, lasts eternally. When you join forces with the angels, with Heaven and with your own higher Self, it is not for a day or two, or even for a few years; you don’t embark on this kind of union in order to reach a short-term goal after which you fall back into ignorance and darkness. No, this union is forever, it is eternal. It is very important that you understand this.
Today is the first day of the year and for these first twelve days, at least, you must be on your guard and watch your words, feelings and acts and see that they are always in harmony with the Kingdom of God and Universal Brotherhood. To be sure, this is very difficult because all kinds of unforeseen circumstances and events arise, but if your conscience is on the alert to adjust your aim and remedy any little thing that goes wrong, then you will accomplish a glorious, Divine work. It is quite possible that you may be tempted and put to the test, that during these twelve days some very inferior entities may try to seduce you. This is something you have to expect: I cannot promise you that it will all be easy either for you or for me, but at least, if we are together, strongly united, we can all help each other. It is the bond that unites us which is important and, above all, the bond that unites our Heart, Intellect and Will within us.
One day when you are given the opportunity to look back over the events of your past, you will be obliged to recognize that the most important and precious moments of your life were those spent with the Brotherhood in meditation, song and prayer. At present you cannot see that, you don’t know it, but one day you will see things more clearly and then you will understand the magnitude of the work we are doing together, and exclaim “The Lord be blessed and praised for permitting me to have a share in such glorious work!” When you are shown the results of this work and all the marvels that it has accomplished throughout the world, you will be dazzled and amazed, for the work I am asking you to take part in has already been initiated on high by the Angels and Divinities, and our part is simply to open a few little doors here, on Earth, so that their Divine work may also bear fruit on the physical plane.
Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
extract of the conference given on the 1st of January 1963, in Paris.
You can find the complete conference on the brochure “The New Year”