Here we go again in so many ways, dear readers. The weekend ahead greets our annual Taurus Full Moon, publication of this monthly column, and once again, in inimitable cyclical fashion, we humans have contrived to create another war that brings modern ‘civilisation’ closer to the brink of wider geopolitical conflict.

The fatalities of the war being waged in the Middle East between Palestinian militias in Gaza and the State of Israel are already in their several thousands. The conflict has a long and complex history and reaches its latest defining moment as political commentators fear the worst for those on either side of the disputed Israeli borders.

An initial urge to seek out the historic roots of the conflict, to contextualise and understand the enmity that has led men to indiscriminately slaughter women and children in pursuit of ‘justice’, has brought me no closer to understanding or empathy. I naturally feel sympathy for the innocents killed, maimed, kidnapped, or displaced; the doctors, health workers, and NGOs committed to saving and protecting lives only to see the almost exclusively male war machine do everything within its power to destroy them. Yet that sympathy presents as a detached, nagging numbness born of my perceived powerlessness and guilt. What can I do to arrest these repetitive, violent behavioural traits that cause so much harm? What quirk of personal privilege has given me a life free of the devastation currently available remotely 24/7 on a media outlet of my choice? A ‘little me’ syndrome pervades, where I grieve not only for the dead, dying and those in peril but over my own impotence. Self pity in the face of others’ suffering is never a great look.

From an astrological perspective, a Taurus Full Moon traditionally carries a family and home loving influence. Taurus vehemently dislikes change and often proves obstructive, even aggressive, toward anything that might disturb its habitual routine. There may be a Taurus laziness at play this week, a contented reliance on others for the comforts we so enjoy through no effort of our own. It’s not difficult to read a Taurean approach to violent defence of boundaries and territory once transgressed, but the initial threat is likely to have arisen as a result of negligent inertia.

As discussed in this column on numerous occasions, the human experience is dominated by duality. The limited breadth of our understanding simplistically categorises circumstance through the prism of polarised cultural conditioning. Our notion of what is good or bad, right or wrong, true or false, just or unjust, victory or loss, us or them, is introduced to us as children, consolidated in adolescence, and cemented in adulthood. Our behaviour is largely the product of that social and cultural upbringing - the culmination of the belief system we adopt by default.

People even collect themselves into oppositions. Those on the left, those on the right - in politics, religion, education and the variety of different ‘sides’ in between. And yet most opposing groups share the common desire to create the best outcomes for all people. They are simply convinced that their way is the only way to achieve that goal, and they are often prepared to fight to prove they are right. We claim we all want peace but are actually prepared to bomb the shit out of each other (literally and metaphorically) to achieve that objective on our terms.

We naturally feel happier when we’re part of a social group that reflects our belief system, the ideas and values that we have been taught yet claim to be our own. If we feel strongly enough about one of these thought constructs, we are prepared to isolate ourselves from those that think differently, be they family or former friends. We amass ‘evidence’ (usually emotionally driven) that justifies how correct we are and ignore or reject any idea that might challenge that belief. This column is no different in its desire to persuade you of its own righteous virtue.

Belief systems become entrenched in the simplistic arena of opposites, particularly when the options of opinion are polarised into the fewest possible moral extremes. Populist politics trades successfully in power hungry markets with huge returns for keeping the arguments as contradictory as possible. Mass media suck us into an ‘either or’ vision of life that bears no resemblance to the natural, constantly adapting, gently balanced equilibrium of existence that birthed and supports us.

Our emotional and physical reactions are constantly affected by how we believe our circumstances are unfolding. We are happy and healthy when things are 'right', and unhappy and sick when things are ‘wrong’. We’re content when others in our lives behave as we would like them to behave and struggle when they do not - be it our parents, children, partners, friends, employees, employers, governments, or merely the unknown. We set about getting others to change, to mend their ways, to come to our point of view, and to join our side so that everyone (but mostly ourselves) can be happy.

And how is that project working out? The one in which we try to coerce or control everything and everyone to agree with our ideological vision of happiness? The overwhelming evidence in our planetary domain suggests not very well. Our skewed desire for dominion over constantly fluctuating circumstances has created a state of emergency in which humanity continues to decimate the very biodiversity that supports its survival, an accelerated crash course in self destruction. Those we seek to coerce or control end up resenting us or retaliating in equal measure, citing our coercion and control as justification for revenge. It could even be argued that the current recalibrating climate changes of this beautiful blue planet correlate directly to the coercion and control humanity has imposed upon the natural world during the Anthropocene era.

Action has meaning only in relationship, and without understanding relationship, action on any level will only breed conflict. The understanding of relationship is infinitely more important than the search for any plan of action.

(Jiddu Krishnamurti)

Individually and collectively, we are at war - with ourselves, each other, and our planet. Many of us aren’t sharing our love with the same potency as our hate. We have made gods of our belief systems and the feelings those opinions evoke, for it is they that directly determine our experience in life. Nine times out of ten, we would rather be right than happy, and our actions bear this out. The gods to whose altars we now devote our time and energy are the deities of competition, fear, resentment, expectation, consumerism, hatred, and the various emotional demigods of anger, anxiety, envy, disappointment, guilt, shame, contempt, and loneliness that they spawn.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

(Mahatma Ghandi)

As suggested earlier, despite apparently irreconcilable differences in the methodology employed, most of us want to achieve peace. We share the common desire to feel love and celebrate the untainted joy it instils, yet our conditioned reactive behaviour has created a state of emergency in which love seems almost impossible to access. As a result, should we retreat into Taurus Full Moon apathy in a misguided belief in our independence (nothing is independent of anything else) or acknowledge our vulnerabilities and seek strength in full, celebrated knowledge of our interdependence?

Such a realisation would indeed be cause for celebration. In recognising the undivided nature of existence and its irrefutable unity, we find connected alignment with All That Is.

Did you ever stop to think that you can’t leave for your job in the morning without being dependent upon most of the world?… Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world. This is the way our universe is structured. It is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.

(Dr Martin Luther King Jr)

The significant difference between correct alignment with All That Is and the ‘right’ to access the seductive, consumer-led, cultural indoctrination of separation is that only one perspective actually exists. Correct alignment relates to and depends upon its inherent, objective understanding of life itself. The doctrine of separation exists entirely in the human mind, an isolated fabrication of thought and cultural influence. Like any dream, it appears very real, but in spotting the apparition, the silver-tongued conman of human conviction, we dispense with the illusory ‘sides’ of our contrived arguments and reawaken the possibility of a return to unity/observable reality. The process has a name: atonement, whose etymology speaks for itself. At-one-ment.

True atonement. Isn’t the periodic shaving of karmic stubble via confessional; it requires deep, truthful change. It means doing the hardest thing of all: not making the same stupid mistake again.

(Ben Dolnick)

Recognising the unified nature of All That Is can be a form of surrender. In our polarised warring world surrender is usually considered an act of weakness, an admission of defeat, yet when contextualised by the staggering, miraculous beauty of life on Earth, who in their right mind would not happily prostrate themselves in awe and wonder? In submission to a greater force than human will we may find ultimate victory - and realise our common desire for freedom.

Our inner world is key to our external experience. If we continue to worship at the altar of separation we will find ourselves further divorced from that upon which we depend. In choosing to honour and nurture the interdependent unity of existence, we consciously locate ourselves within the all-encompassing flow of intelligent evolution, or Love, as it is known in many wisdom traditions.

I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.

(Sylvia Plath)

Aligned internally with Love, there is no outer battle to be fought, no war to wage. Inflicting harm proves futile for it merely damages ourselves. We care for all as self - every expression of Love a recognition of the unity within. The energy we embody and exercise becomes creative not destructive.

Things are highly interdependent. The very concepts of ‘we’ and ‘they’ are becoming irrelevant. War is out of date because our neighbours are part of ourselves. We see this in economic, educational and environmental issues. Although we may have some ideological differences or other conflicts with our neighbour, economically and environmentally we share essentially the same country, and destroying our neighbour is destroying ourselves. It’s foolish.

(Dalai Lama XIV - Illuminating the Path to Enlightenment)

As Dickens memorably wrote in the first lines of his allegorical novel "A Tale of Two Cities" depicting European history in the late 18th century:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way….”

It seems things are little different today. We live in the best of times, but concurrently in the worst of times. Our inner reaction to circumstance is the meter by which we gauge meaning and, thus, our energetic response. In the face of adversity, are we to be peacemakers and healers? In happier times, are we healed and at peace?

Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.

(John F. Kennedy)

Can we heal ourselves, refine awareness of our thoughts, words and actions to prevent adding further negativity to the already overloaded collective pain body? Can we commit our own energies to that of service so that we may utilise our capacity to heal and serve others at every opportunity?

Under this conflicted Taurus Full Moon let’s resolve to heal the wounds inflicted by our own warring belief systems by making peace on our inner battlefields. Let’s fearlessly engage with and acknowledge our own pain and trauma before it expresses itself in a manner that harms others. Ultimately, let’s remind ourselves on a daily basis that we are the embodied expression of Love - the undivided, unlimited creative heartbeat of an expanding universe. There are no sides to be taken.

Do your little bit of good where you are: it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

(Desmond Tutu)