Tag Archive | philosophy

The true astrologer’s insight

Vedic cultureIn the traditional Vedic culture of India going back thousands of years, astrology was well accepted, and in fact it was the brahmanas – the priests – who were also astrologers, doctors and teachers. They were referred to as “tri-kala-jna” aware of past, present and future, which is what an astrologer is technically, by dint of his or her ability to interpret the movements of the planets and their influence on us. Although these people were the most respected in society since they were dedicated to a life of scholarship, they would travel door to door like itinerant monks to distribute their knowledge, and may thus even have appeared like beggars, or rather humbly dressed due the fact that they did not charge a fee, but simply accepted donations for their services.

Swami Prabhupada mentions in his commentary to Volume 1, chapter 17, text 103 of the Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita, “This system was current even 100 years ago; even 50 or 60 years ago when we were children, such brahmanas would visit householders like humble beggars, and people would derive great benefit from the mercy of such brahmanas.” In other words the astrologer was never a businessman. Astrology was never meant to be practised as a business. Nor for that matter were any of the brahminical arts, like medicine, priestly services, counselling, or even teaching. All these services were offered up to society merely in return for the basic survival needs, like food, clothing and shelter, even if the brahmana himself was married with children of his own. The scholar was the most respected person of the society because he or she was understood to be the wisest, due to scholarship, and the symptoms of wisdom include the capacity to transcend lust, anger and greed. Realized wisdom empowers one to rise above the need for profit, adoration or distinction. Even the school teacher was wise enough to not even require a salary, but simply taught for the love of it, with the mature understanding that this was a worthy service, and that his survival needs would be met by the community in which he taught.

Contrast this to today’s capitalist world where nothing is done without the maximum profit squeezed out of the deal. Even the university chancellor or dean receives a salary on par with the country’s president. Still worse, some so-called pastors refuse to even bury their congregation until all tithes are paid up. Charlatan evangelists dupe their congregation into parting with their earnings and then end up living the most lavish lifestyles, even owning their own private jet. And people fall for this firstly because we have been indoctrinated into the capitalist mentality, and secondly because people are fearful for their spiritual lives, and take shelter of what should be a source of salvation, yet due to gullibility, naivety and blatant criminality of modern day priests, are being robbed blind. So as an astrologer, or scholar, counsellor or priest, the symptoms of wisdom should be self-evident in one’s character. And the enquiring citizen should judge the validity of the astrologer by their behaviour. The veil of illusion is so thick over us all in this modern capitalist age, that we are no longer able to discern what true wisdom is, because we have been taught to see everything as a commodity, we have been taught to only value something if the maximum personal profit can be squeezed from it. And if someone has to suffer because we refuse to offer our services for less, then let them suffer. In fact medical staff regularly go on strike in my country, regardless of the fact that patients are going to die, just so that they can get their pound of flesh. This kind of gross exploitation, greed and abuse of the system, and our fellow humanity, has been brainwashed into us in the modern age, where the Hippocratic oath is as outdated as Latin, what to speak of Sanskrit.

Therefore it is the duty of every intellectual or educated scholar of the healing and educating arts to live up to their position as a person of wisdom, by setting the example, cultivating an attitude of service, and thus reversing the trend of glorified greed and abuse by showing what it means to have risen above the allures of gold and soft pillows. For if society is left to trundle down this road of selfish capitalist greed above service, we will soon all find ourselves in a treacherous ditch without the saving grace of a good Samaritan anywhere for a thousand miles, simply because we ourselves have not bothered to train our children to be normal charitable conscious human beings. Swami Prabhupada goes on to say “If they are actually trained as perfect brahmanas, they can save society from rogues and ruffians; indeed people can live happily under the protection of qualified brahmanas… Unfortunately some people are now claiming to be brahmanas simply by birthright, with no qualifications. Therefore the entire society is in chaos.” The system may be rotten, but by purifying ourselves in consciousness by using the sword of knowledge to cleave away the unsavoury attitudes instilled in us, we become a beacon of light for the rest of humanity. And where there is light, there can be no darkness; where the torchlight of wisdom shines, the illusion of the dollar before duty will fade away into history.

Sun in Sagittarius and the philosopher’s stone

Sun in SagittariusAstrology amazingly enough is still using references to information used over two thousand years ago. Despite all the progress humankind has made since then, the foundational or structural points of astrology remain unchanged to this day. Of course when dealing with the immutable structure of the cosmos, which has been a permanent fixture as backdrop to our place in the universe for millions of years, it doesn’t seem too unusual. Some things never change, like the planets revolving around our sun in our solar system. So it makes sense that our reference points in astrology are the same ancient ones used in Babylonian, Egyptian, Arabic, Greek, Roman or Vedic times.

And yet some things do change, albeit incredibly slowly, like the precession of the equinoxes, which is a 26000 year cycle more or less. Still, the constellations of the zodiac, based on the positions of the fixed stars in the heavens, are thousands of years old and are still the fundamental reference points in our astrological system, whether tropical or siderial. And that system is used for two primary functions, namely prediction and personality. “It is written in the stars” is just as good as saying it is written in stone, when referring to something irrefutable, immovable or incontestable. So it seems that human nature, with all its complexities and nuances, is the same as it ever was, the same basic and predictable system of consciousness, expressing itself via the same body and mind that existed thousands of years ago, if not millions. Human beings still have the same body/mind organism through which to perceive their realities, as well as to perceive themselves, to whatever degree of self-awareness their existence allows them. And thus astrology, as a system of analysing or interpreting that awareness, remains as valid as ever. The human who engaged in eating, sleeping, mating and defending millennia ago is the same as the one today. And the person engaging in self-reflection back in the mists of time is the same too, despite the external sophistication that may have been added layer by layer since then. At the core of it, certain eternal irrefutable truths have remained and always will.

And it is precisely that which enables us to cut through the external, superficial so-called sophisticated trendy, fashionable yet fleeting aspects of existence and self-awareness, to find the unchanging core of our natures and address those core needs or questions. Who am I, why am I alive, what happens when I die? These are actually the real core existential questions that have been asked by humans whether Babylonian, Arab, Greek, Roman or Vedic, throughout the millennia, and whose answers remain exactly the same now as then. And it is these questions to which we should be focusing our consciousness as human beings in this rare and valuable human form of life, where we have the ability to be self-reflective, more self-aware, compared to the rest of life on earth. Eating, sleeping, mating and defending may well be necessary for survival, but unless we raise the level of our endevours beyond that basic level of existence, we are in fact no better than polished animals, pigs in silk, appearing to have attained so much more sophistication that our predecessors in history, with apparently greater levels of sense gratification based on ever newer technology. Yet still we have not leaned to conquer death and disease, we have not learned to pacify the addiction to mating and eating, nor do we know who we are and what to do at the time of death in order to gain the perfection of this human form of life in securing permanent transcendence from its temporary shackles. This is the meditation of the true philosopher now during this month of the Sun’s transit through Sagittarius.