The Two Faces of Astrology - 1
Before I begin to discuss the two basically different approaches to astrology
I have mentioned, I should try to clarify what actually constitutes astrology and what it is for
. Most simply defined, astrology is an apparently successful attempt to establish a complex set of consistent and reliable correlations between, on the one hand, the observed motions of apparent sources of light in the sky — Sun, Moon, planets, and stars — and, on the Other hand, equally observable series of changes occurring within the biosphere and, particularly, in the lives of human beings.
Such a definition does not present any interpretation
either of what moving dots or discs of light across the sky actually are, or of the kinds of changes astrology relates to them. It does not try to explain why and how such correlations operate. It simply says that two sets of factors — one celestial, the other terrestrial — can be correlated, and that establishing such correlations seems to be valid inasmuch as it has been a consistently pursued endeavor wherever and as long as human beings have been able to use the mental (or psychic) processes it requires. But what has been the purpose of this endeavor?
The purpose of astrology is to use the above-mentioned correlations in order to understand the repetitive order observable in the processes of change experienced by all human beings living in the biosphere and the meaning of what occurs during these processes — so that, as the result of this understanding, human beings may increase their ability to cope with and benefit from the changes they experience.
It should be evident that, thus stated, this purpose of astrology can take different forms according to the level of consciousness and general character of the main activities of the human beings seeking such an understanding. With experiences limited and strictly defined by the narrow boundaries of the land on which primitive communities lived and to which they were biologically and psychically bound, tribal man used astrology primarily for agricultural or cattle-raising purposes. The interpretation
he gave to the discs and dots of light he saw in the sky was conditioned by a type of consciousness operating in terms of animistic religious beliefs; it was essentially different from that of a 17th century European astronomer using a telescope in an observatory. It even differed from the interpretation which led colleges of priest-initiates in Chaldea or late Egypt to build complex astrological systems pervaded with the imagery of intricate religious myths, and in many instances with concepts derived from occult and/or magical practices.
Today the recent discoveries of astronomy and the use of new means of perception have induced, or at least are
gradually inducing, an understanding of the universe radically different from that of Galileo and Newton. Astronomy has made a jump from the solar system to the galaxy and beyond; and the strictly mechanistic, atomistic, and rationalistic character of "classical" physics is now superseded by a transcendent and symbolic approach to physical reality, the meaning of matter and even of universal laws. As a new level of consciousness is being reached, an equally new type of interpretation of the celestial factors used in astrology inevitably has to follow, even if most people interested in astrology find it difficult consistently and effectively to think in terms suggested by the recent developments in nuclear physics, astronomy, and parapsychology.
The new type of interpretation presented to us by astronomy calls for what I have called a transpersonal approach to astrology. Such an approach contradicts in no way the fundamental definition of astrology I have formulated above: we merely have to give a relatively new interpretation
to both what we can now observe in the sky with complex astronomical instruments and our generically human and individual experiences. On the one hand, the celestial phenomena our forefathers could only perceive with the naked eye are now understood and evaluated in relation to immensely larger formations whose physicality becomes questionable once matter is seen as merely a special state of energy; and on the other hand, the changes human beings are now experiencing — not only individually but collectively and on a planetary scale — are of such magnitude and so full of unparalleled opportunities for growth and transformation that they can be significantly interpreted only in terms of a far more inclusive frame of reference.
The fact is, nevertheless, that just as a vast majority of the people of the world cannot comprehend the world-picture of the most progressive "philosophers of science" and nuclear physicists — or the writings of great mystics and true occultists — so they cannot feel, think, and behave in terms of an ideal of life that would basically transcend their strictly personal and ego-centered interests, and even what they believe is their "spiritual" (yet very "personal"!) concept of growth. They can accept changes of attitude only from the perspective of greater personal health, wealth and happiness — a perspective not essentially broadened by the newly fashionable goal of what is usually understood as self-actualization and creativity.
There is, however, nothing wrong with an ego-centered type of consciousness and activity. It simply marks a particular stage in human evolution. The liberal idea that all men operate at the same level of consciousness is patently fictitious. At least today, human beings undeniably operate at several levels of emotional, mental, and spiritual development. Even though the outer circumstances of their lives may be utterly different from those faced by archaic man in the jungle or desert, truly "primitive" human beings can still be found in all countries, and not merely in New Guinea or other remote regions. In some parts of India, a most rigid type of tradition-worshipping brahmins live side-by-side with thoroughly Westernized Indian Ph.D.'s and spiritual revolutionaries like a few disciples of the great seer-philosopher Sri Aurobindo and his co-worker Mother Mira.
There is no absolute Truth
when applied to the life of an individual, only what, for that individual, is the fulfillment of his or her dharma
— that is, of what his or her birth-potential allows to be actualized. There assuredly is, in every human being, a potential for self-transformation, for becoming more
than what he or she is, according to the standards of the culture and period in which he or she was born; but the process of transformation has always to start from a particular level of sociocultural normality.
One should not ignore the character and limitations of this level, for they condition the all-important starting point of the process. The inner pressure of the initial phase of a life-process represents the karma
which the process has constantly (or periodically, stage after stage), to overcome. The spiritual Teacher or Guide, in one sense, provides the aspirant to transformation with an ideal Image of a higher evolutionary phase of the process. While the Guide's task is to impress this Image upon the consciousness of the one he or she helps, it is also to make very clear what is demanded of the aspirant in order to take the decisive step
from the past to the future level of conscious development required for the actual transformation. Dharma can only be fulfilled when a one-pointed effort is consciously and willfully made to meet and neutralize the karma that had set the stage for the start of the process of transformation
It is therefore very important for anyone who is seeking or dreaming of a "transpersonal" process — whether in the strictly psychological or the astrological field — to have a clear idea of what the personal stage means. It is necessary indeed for whomever claims to work for an often overly-idealized and Utopian New Age to understand what are and, from the start, have been the characteristic limitations of the Old Age he or she is so eager to leave behind. If this is not done, the Old Age will inevitably retain its grip upon unconscious and repressed areas of the collective psyche of the would-be New Ager.
For this reason, even at the risk of establishing too clear cut distinctions between what are actually gradual transitions, I feel it necessary to attempt to define four basic levels at which astrologers can interpret both
their individual and collective experiences and needs, and the celestial motions from which astrology derives the raw materials for its interpretations, its predictions or great symbols of transformation. These levels — as we shall see — can be characterized as the biological
, the sociocultural
, the individual-personal
and the transpersonal
However, before I attempt to outline in some detail what the operation of the consciousness at each level brings to the interpretation of astrological factors being used, I have to state and to some extent develop a basic fact directly related to what I have discussed in the preceding chapter. At each of these four levels, astrology can be used for two basically different kinds of purposes. These two purposes can be related to the two basic ways of meeting life-confrontations already described — the Yang and the Yin ways. According to the Yang way of approaching the interpretation of astrological data, the astrologer seeks to gain information
, and as a result, knowledge
. On the other hand, the Yin approach is essentially for the purpose of developing understanding
and as a result, a realization of meaning. Through knowledge comes a certain type of power, power related to the knower for him or her to use. Through the realization of meaning, a human being can obtain wisdom, or more accurately, sagesse
— a special quality of openness of living in a full and positive consciousness of being.
The word macrobiotic is a strange neologism, especially when applied to a very Japanese type of system. The combination of the Greek prefix "macro" with the term "bio" (meaning "life") hardly seems significant. Life can neither be characterized as "macro" or "micro". It is a polarized mode of energy which, for all practical purposes, is associated with conditions prevailing on a particular type of planet, but which has also been given a cosmic and metaphysical meaning as "the One Life" of a universe considered as an organism. Return
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