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Meanderings East and West

Exploring the Connection between Astrology and Yoga

From Bliss to Greater Bliss

White LotusThe central aim of Yoga is the movement from bliss to greater bliss. Bliss is our birthright, bliss is our true nature. We habitually overlook it, but we can never lose it. We want more bliss, we need more bliss. We want to be more deeply re-united with our own nature, which is bliss. Hence the term Yoga which means union.

To emphasize that our real nature is bliss, some lineages of meditators take ananda (bliss) for their last name: Yogananda, Sivananda, Vivekananda, Kriyananda, etc. Such people are treading the pathway of bliss, and their name serves as a constant reminder.

Those whose last name is ananda have proclaimed their dedication to that ideal: they pray for greater bliss, they work unselfishly for the happiness and welfare of others. From the purity of their meditative attunement, they radiate waves of bliss to heal and uplift the world.

A Map of the Path

Spiral of ConstellationsAccording to the teachings of Kriya Yoga, the natal horoscope is a symbolic diagram of the psyche, a geometric depiction of the energies at work within and without. Birth charts reveal the balanced and imbalanced forces which promote and constrict the flow of life.

Where the energies work together, it is easy for us to feel the bliss of being. Where there is discord, we encounter lessons to be learned and trials to be endured. Our horoscope shows the path we have been treading over multiple lifetimes and describes in symbolic language the scenery we will see along the way.

The forces described by the horoscope are dynamic: they are always in motion relative to one another. We might even say they are pulling at one another. Through that pulling, comes evolution: the gradual amelioration of limiting Karmas and a movement from bliss to greater bliss.

The Middle Way

Detail of Angkor Temple, Cambodia
Churning the Celestial Ocean
Angkor Temple, Cambodia

In Meanderings 3, we described the Hindu allegory of the Tug of War between the demons and the angels. Using the great mountain in the center of the universe like a blender, they spun it clockwise and counter-clockwise to churn the Ocean of Milk until the Nectar of Immortality rose to the top. Sound familiar ?

To the people of the ancient Khmer Empire (9th through 15th centuries), this tale was considered so important that it was memorialized in the form of a colossal stone temple complex in Angkor at the heart of the nation's capital. It served as the central mythic image of the culture.

The asuras (demons) are strong, but ugly. The devas (angels) are beautiful, but weak. These two symbolize the great archetypal Solar and Lunar forces which manifest externally as planets, signs, houses and aspects in various malefic and benefic configurations. They manifest internally as the Pingala and Ida channels within the astral spine.

To the seeker, they manifest as Wisdom (rising above the many appearances to the One formless essence or spirit) and Compassion (serving and loving the One which expresses itself through the many). To the degree that we can reconcile and integrate these two apparently opposite impulses, we move towards greater bliss.

Hard Aspects

Double DorjeCharts with many squares and oppositions show a lifetime of compromise and concession. Things have been set up in such a way that whatever we want, someone or something else blocks it, frustrates it, challenges it. We may attain it in the end, but there are delays and denials along the way. Over the course of time, our perspective changes. We learn to see both sides of issues. We learn to adapt, adjust, acclimatize. Such is the symbolism of spiritual crucifixion.

When there are many oppositions, we tend to get lost in extreme views and extreme behavior. As we mature we learn to live with the contradictions within us and gracefully accommodate them. We don't move away from duality, we leave it in place and learn how to rise above it. The longer we endure life's process of tossing and turning - symbolized by the myth of churning of the ocean - the more our imbalances are rectified. The nectar of immortality is revealed: we discover our divinity and the divinity of all life.

Outer circumstances may not always be pleasant or easy but over time we move from bliss, to even greater bliss.

Freedom in Exile

14th Dalai LamaAccording to Wikipedia: "The 14th Dalai Lama (religious name: Tenzin Gyatso, shortened from Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, born Lhamo Dondrub, 6 July 1935) is the current Dalai Lama and is the longest-lived incumbent. Dalai Lamas are the head monks of the Gelug school, which is the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, and is known for his lifelong advocacy for Tibetans worldwide...

During the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama fled to India, where he denounced the Chinese Communist Party and established the nongovernmental Central Tibetan Administration. He has since traveled the world, advocating for the welfare of Tibetans, teaching Tibetan Buddhism, investigating the interface between Buddhism and science and talking about the importance of compassion as the source of a happy life. Around the world, institutions face pressure from China not to accept him.

The policy of the Dalai Lama until he retired from politics in 2011 was that he did not seek sovereignty for Tibet, but would accept Tibet as a genuine autonomous region within the People's Republic of China. He has spoken about the environment, economics, women's rights, non-violence, interfaith dialogue, physics, astronomy, Buddhism and science, cognitive neuroscience, reproductive health, and sexuality, along with various Mahayana and Vajrayana topics."

14th Dalai Lama Horoscope

The horoscope of the 14th Dalai Lama contains several strong themes which at first glance might appear contradictory. One of the over-arching features of his lifetime has been the principle of reconciliation.

14th Dalai LamaMonk: Indian astrologers list many Sannyasa Yogas, ("renunciate combinations") which almost always involve close aspects between Saturn and the Moon. This chart has Moon tightly opposed by Saturn, a classic indication. In western astrology we look for combinations involving Neptune, the 12th house or Pisces for indication of a mystical temperament. The Dalai Lama's Moon is also closely conjunct Neptune. Were this Moon-Saturn-Neptune the only pattern in his chart, he would be probably have been content to live a monastic life of seclusion and contemplation.

Loss of sovereignty: On March 31 1959, the Dalai Lama was obliged to leave his native land and seek refuge in India. Using 360 days per year, the Vimshottari Dasha cycle at the time was Moon/Saturn. Note the Moon/Saturn opposition in his horoscope, the Sannyasa Yoga. An aspect that is good for spiritual renunciation may prove difficult for worldly success. This Dasha/Bhukti (major/minor cycle) was quite malefic: it held the promise of physical danger and was likely the most traumatic period of his life.

What were the other astrological influences in March 1959 ? Perhaps the most important was transiting Neptune which is 10th lord, opposing his natal Uranus. According to Predictive Astrology by Sakoian and Acker, during transiting Neptune opposed Uranus

"...The personal life of the individual can be disrupted and confused by large-scale economic forces beyond his or her control. Some individuals are suddenly thrust into strange circumstances where they must deal with unfamiliar people and conditions. There is danger from or towards friends, groups, or organizations."

14th Dalai LamaTeacher, scholar, writer, public speaker: The Dalai Lama's horoscope has Gemini rising with chart ruler Mercury in the first house. Mercury is in its own sign Gemini, in the 1st house, an angular house (Bhadra Yoga). At the time of his birth, Mercury was moving very slowly (9%), making it even more prominent. The natal Sun is in the constellation Gemini. This, along with Gemini rising and Mercury in Gemini combine to make him a kind of triple Gemini! The Sun is 3rd lord conjunct the ascendant: yet another Mercurial symbol. Taken together, these patterns indicate extraordinary powers of communication.

Political leadership, high position: This is a Sunrise chart, and the Sun is magnified by the trine from Jupiter and Saturn. When the Sun is very powerful, great leadership ability and charisma is seen. The Dalai Lama's natal Moon is in Leo, the constellation ruled by the Sun. In a sense, this makes him a double Leo.

The 11th house is important for politics: when emphasized it shows high hopes, high aspiration and the required network of friends and associations to make things happen. As ruler of Aquarius (the 11th sign in the zodiac) Uranus is a "significator" of the 11th house: altruistic efforts, humanitarian concerns, work for the welfare of humanity. Uranus is placed in the 11th house (a domicile position) and is closely aspected by Jupiter. Saturn - as classical ruler of Aquarius - shows the same pattern repeated: high in the chart, in its own sign, aspected by Jupiter... very auspicious.

14th Dalai LamaSpiritual Preceptor: At the time of his birth, Jupiter was making a station point in the 5th house, one of the trinal houses where planets are said to flourish. These two factors make Jupiter very strong, and make the 5th house strong. The 5th house is the solar house as Leo is the 5th sign, and his Sun is already quite strong. In the chart of a seeker, a strong 5th house denotes the capacity to attain illumination and to convey it to others. We already said he is a double Leo of sorts: this pattern lends even more emphasis... so let's call him a quadruple Leo!

Saturn rules the 9th house. As traditional lord of Aquarius it is in its own sign, placed in the 9th house. Saturn gets a close trine aspect by Jupiter and is involved in a Grand Trine: Sun/Jupiter/Saturn. The trine aspect is the Jupiter aspect: it denotes opportunity, optimism, abundance. Taken together, this comprises a powerful Jupiter/9th house pattern: world travel, higher knowledge, publishing, religion, law, etc.

Actually, Jupiter trines both Sun and Ascendant. It's hard to imagine a stronger set of spiritual and religious symbols !

Cultivating Right Attitude

"When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways - either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength."

"If you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience and understanding."

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
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