The combination of Jupiter and Neptune aligns religious philosophy and thought (Jupiter) with the spirituality of the experience of compassion (Neptune).  Jupiter and Neptune conjoined between May and July of this summer as part of the larger planetary cycle that includes Chiron, the planet of wounding and healing.  The alignment between Chiron and Neptune began in February of 2009.
Last year Karen Amstrong, winner of the TED prize in 2008 and a former nun, requested of the TED community:

“I wish that you would help with the creation, launch and propagation of a Charter for Compassion, crafted by a group of leading inspirational thinkers from the three Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and based on the fundamental principles of universal justice and respect.”

The first phase of the project was the writing of the Charter in the fall of 2008, and in February of 2009, as Chiron (healing) and Neptune (compassion and spirituality) conjoined in the sky, the Charter was given to the Council of Conscience, a group of spiritual teachers from a variety of nations and faiths, for finalization.
The Charter for Compassion was released on November 14, hours before Saturn (structure and rules) formed an exact square to Pluto (transformation, endings and new beginnings).  There are several major planetary cycles at work right now:
  • the triple conjunction of Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune which has encouraged us to face the wounds of the past so that they can be healed (Chiron) and the ego transcended through spiritual experience and universal compassion (Neptune);
  • the opposition between Saturn (the status quo, conventional rules of behavior) and Uranus (radical new ideas and revolutionary thought forms);
  • the square from Saturn to Pluto, completing the breakdown (Pluto) of social and governmental structures (Saturn) that are no longer working.
  • Saturn having just entered Libra, the sign of collaboration, bringing a structured approach (Saturn) to interpersonal relationships (Libra).

Under these three big cycles, major change and transformation can occur.  Perhaps accomplishing this really could be as simple as a call for compassion in the world’s religions.  As Armstrong herself wrote:

That is why we are launching the Charter for Compassion tomorrow. Compassion does not mean pity; it means to “experience with” the other. The golden rule, of always treating all others as you would wish to be treated yourself, lies at the heart of all morality. It requires a principled, ethical and imaginative effort to put self-interest to one side and stand in somebody else’s shoes.

The golden rule does not advocate naive bonhomie but impels us to examine our presuppositions, change our minds if necessary, and submit our assessment of a dilemma to stringent criticism. One cannot act for the true benefit of the greatest number of people if not fully apprised of the intricacy of a particular situation; this calls for an intellectual effort, an impartial investigation of the history of a problem, and an honest attempt to look into an opposing viewpoint – instead of simply relying on discussion that happens to chime with our own opinions.

Compassion demands that we dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world. It has been central to the religious quest as well as to the Socratic tradition of philosophical rationalism. We have failed to live up to this ideal. Altruism may have been an important survival mechanism for our ancestors at a particular stage of their evolution; it may also be key to our survival today.

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