The Place And Rolf Of Astrology

In the light of the foregoing discission, it «■•<» be clear that astrology is concerned with ihe realm of apparent reality; and this moreover, is the- meaning of the legend * ^ ^ quoted in the p.wious chapter. been unable tu teach the ultimate truth m Chmv the Buddha mstaieu, Mamus* to awaken peoples' numU by means of apology. <he «««« oi r,Uu,t t u.h I John tuiuwlv, people mxi-wi■ *>?

ity. This shows the timiuuuns of .wvok-v. although ft i ■ it ( ■ i a N A s I r. ■ ■ i o i ; •

opens the door to many higher teachings, iî can become a trap if one stays with it too long, and can prevent access to the ultimate.

Because of this danger, Maiijusn decided to take astrology away from humans and hide its texts. Unable to foresee anything, blind and powerless in the face of the circumstances of life, beings then suffered innumerable ills. Since only astrology can help to relieve these disasters, it will finally be returned to humans so that they may make good use of it.

Astrology is a means, not an end. It is used to calculate the cycles of time, to reveal their meaning, and to foresee certain events. Armed with this knowledge, human beings have the capacity to avoid or reduce suffering. This applies at both the collective and the individual level. Astrology is a practical discipline intended to reduce suffering and uncertainty, which are the lot of beings wandering in samsara. The correct motivation for an astrologer is none other than compassion—without that, astrology falls to the level of the ordinary disciplines.

As a science of time, the fundamental doctrinal basis of astrology is a perfect understanding of the laws of causality; in other words, karma and the links of interdependence, the two chief Mechanisms of relative existence,

The Wheel of Life and the Laws of Causality

In Tibet, there is a well-known graphic description of the laws of causality: the Wheel of Life or Sipe Kborlo, which illustrates the mechanisms binding us to samsara. The wheel indicates the turbulent nature of existence and the vicious circle of samsara: karma acts as the centrifugal force that prevents us from tearing ourselves away from the cycle. The more we struggle to satisfy our ambitions and desires, the more we revolve in the wheel of existence.

The miire whtel h held m the claws of a terrifying monster, Yams, death) the inevitable price of ignorance and dualism. At the center i>l the wheel there are three animals, each biting the

Uit °f thC|°11? m tVom: * » ™ke, ar»J » piK, symbolizing respectively des.rc, anger, and ignorance, the three >o,SOnS ' that he at the root of all our conditioned behavior.

The next circle, moving from tht hub of ,he whed foW ^

outside, shows human beings, some rising toward hi?h« states of existence and others falling into the lower worlds-this Svm-bohzes the power of karma, which, according to whether "it is positive or negative, leads to an endless alternation of favorable and unfavorable conditions.

The next circle shows the six realms of samsirk existence, which are beings' different karmic visions. The force of the passions is so strong that it completely conditions our perception of the world. The three upper areas show the realms of humans, gods, and titans, while the three lower areas show those of the animals, the hungry ghosts, and the hot and cold hells. The outermost circle, which is divided into twelve sections, describes the twelve elements of causation or ttidmas, the links of the chain of cause and effect, the motor that drives conditioned existence and every set of circumstances we meet.

Outside the wheel is the Buddha, the Awakened One, points log to a text or a wheel with eight spokes, symbolizing ..the Dharma, his liberating teachings, which lad to the destruction of the chains and limitations of conditioned existence.

The J \vtt vk Links of- Causation

The I) id I n,is (Tib. umlrel) are the twelve links of the cam! chain. As we have seen, phenomena e.vist only m dependence upon other phenomena as is ilkistr.Hed by this washing, which comes from the Mlrras. It shows that our tsi,tencc » a of causes and effects, nimbly imked to each oihet. T.w eiu.u thus formed equally describes our conditio.!».^ as u .nses front the past, our p.cscm circurmuncc, and the «uses of our future existence. Tim K*hi,>S i.s of great ¡mpcuunce in astrology for two reasons: , , ,, ;.„

1. Only the teachings of ime.dependvm «^««n -m ,us-

r i i t a n a s r n o i o < ■ v tify astrology from a doctrinal point of view. F low is ir possible to explain the interrelation between the state of the heavens at. the moment of hirth and a being's future existence? The idea that external stars guide or influence an individual's destiny is hardly adequate as a firm foundation for astrology. It is also necessary to establish a precise link between those external objects, the stars, and the interna! "J" of beings; and without such a link, no interaction is possible.

The Kslacakra lintra explains that the cosmos is a vast external mandala, that the body of the yogi is the interna! mandala, and that these two are in complete correlation. This theory of the correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm is also found in the West, most notably in Paracelsus (1493-1541), the doctor and hermetic astrologer, This theory is borne out by the teaching of the tantras. As we have discussed, ail phenomena arise from the luminous creativity of the mind, but under the influence of ignorance, we conceive the existence of a dualistic world in which we distinguish "J" and others, subject and object, internal and external, Thus the gross external elements and the gross internal constituents of the body are one and the same in their origin, as explained above. It follows that at an absolute level, such dualistic distinctions as internal and external disappear, while at the relative dualistic level, a real relationship of interdependence still obtains between the internal and the external.

Again, we are living in the temporal realm where everything is transitory and subject to change. This dynamic of phenomena is none other than the play of interdependence. If, as a result of observing the course of the stars in the sky, astrologers have been able to calculate their movement in advance, to determine the. laws that govern their behavior, and above all to establish a clear and replicablc correlation with individuals' destiny, astro! Qgy is vindicated.

2. From the practical point of view, the twelve nidauus arc-used m Tibetan astrology to designate the months of the year, as wl! as in daily prediction, There is also a correlation between tk twelve nidanas arid the twelve sigiv; of-the Indian zodiac.

Upon ignorance depend the karmic formations Upon the karmic formation* depends consciousness, Upon consciousness depend name and form Upon name and form depend the sense organs. Upon the sense organs depends comact. Upon contact depends sensation, Upon sensation depends desire, Upon desire depends attachment. Upon attachment depends becoming, Upon becoming depends birth, Upon birth depend old age and death, In this way, the aggregates of suffering arise one from the other.

As they relate to the past, the first two nidJms are the causes that have brought us to our present situation:

Ignorance (avidya) is represented in the Wheel of Life by an old blind woman feeling her way with a stick, ignorance lies at the root of samsSric confusion. There are two kinds of igno» ranee: the first, innate ignorance, is an unawareness of the true nature of the mind and phenomena, a state of distraction a«d confusion. When, as a result of this ignorance, one does not recognize appearances for what thev otic "im.igmes" that dic world is dual. This is the second kind or iiiiJ£in,trv ignorance.

The karmic formations (samskb^tdb k*rmsh) are reptesented by a potter throwing pots on .i wheel, ignorance leads to the accumulation of impulses known as "condiEioned act ions.' These karma-bearing action* are manifested in the body, speech, and mind as foxes that structure our existence. OepdtJuig on whether our acts ate virtuous,, or neii.Hnv, we arc led bv these actions to a nunc or less favorable rebirth.

The following seven mdirus arc the "chains or the ¡•«'.•fern." The first five describe die process ot birth:

Comawsm-» <vt;,U»->t) is rep, canted bv a monkey ciunbmg

a tree, leaping from branch to branch in search of fruit to pick. This rehirthing consciousness, formed at the time of conception in the womb, is the kernel of the "1" created by past karma. The new personality arranges itself around this kernel, fed by karmic proclivities,

Name arid form (nSmarfipa} are represented by a boat with four passengers and a helmsman. As it explores its environment, consciousness ''names" and labels things. When form is attributed to appearances, they crystallize. It is at this level that there occurs the formation of the five gross elements that shape the body and the physical world.

The six sense fields (sadayatana) are represented by an empty house with six windows. The six senses are sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and the mental sense. Each sensory field comprises a sensory consciousness (for example, the consciousness of vision), an organ (for example, the eye) that establishes communication with the outside, and a sensory object (for example, shapes and colors).

Contact (sparid) is represented by a couple embracing. The meeting of the senses and their objects creates contact—thus sight makes contact with forms, hearing makes contact with sounds, and so on.

/ Sensation (vedana) is represented by a man with an arrow -piercing his eve. Contact is a precondition for sensation, which «ay be pleasant, painful, or neutral.

The two following nidinas describe how we continue to create karma which will condition our future existence.

Desire or thmc (irsna) is represented by a man slaking his thirst. Desire is conditioned by the sensation experienced when we come into Lomact with an object. There are three sorts of destte: desire for pleasure; desire for eternity, or thirst for exis-U'M-e; and desire for annihilation or nonexistence, which is regarded as pathological.

Aliathmi'iii orgraspwx (upaiLina) is represented by a monkey grasping a fruit. Desire demands satisfaction, otJhc rwise it is frustrated and becomes a cause of suffering. Attachment to the de-sired object it thcrefoie the tes.ik of desire. Four types of a"achnw" »vinS nsc to "Wnh »re distinguished: atuchment to sense pleasures, erroneous views, rules and Htu»|s> and the notion of a self.

The three last nidanas deal with the next life:

Becoming (bhava) is represented bv a pregnant woman. Becoming is a consequence of attachment to existence and to the "I," and thus it is nothing less than the pursuit of existence, constantly fed by new karnuc tendencies, which will ripen in the future. This is therefore also a process of conception.

Birth or rebirth ijati) is represented by a woman in childbirth. Attachment to life and the constant creation of new karma give rise to our rebirth. The "newborn" being is in fact "old-born"—it carries its karma with it, and according to the nature of that karma, it is born in one of the six realms of existence.

Old age and death (jardmarana) are represented by a man carrying a corpse to the charnel ground. Everything that is born grows, declines, and finally dies. It is in the nature of all existence that it is transitory. When the cohesion of a being's elements ceases, there is dissolution, and this results when life-karma is exhausted. Death is therefore a process of dissolution in which a being is gradually stripped first of the gross and then of the subtle elements of the "I," as the skins of an onion are. peeled away one by one, When this process is complete, the mind appears for an instant m its nakedness, void and luminous, The trained yogi can then recognize the nature of his mind and liberate himself. But most beings are incapable of (his and are soon submerged again by their karmic tendencies. Impelled by these tendencies as if by a strong wind, rjiev -¡eels, tehtge in J new-womb and take birth. The chain of the twelve nidSnas is closed.

Another brief observation is appropriate regarding the application of astrology in prediction. There is no element of fate in this law of causality. Every even? is simply the result of a combination ot causes and conditions ^.mvcriiiu; at the same time in the same place. When an event is p.edicted, 01« is merely taking account of the c.iusal conditions that are likel* to cause that event l.uc-r--n exisi^ o,.lv as a potential and its course cart be modified. H the catr-es utuuiistauc^ ,«a< prevented nvm

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