Tag Archives: aries

Aries and the Active Expression of Virtue.

“The active expression of virtue gives rise to the keenest intelligence.” – Sri Yukteswar  (1855-1936)

 

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Swami Sri Yukteswar, a self realized yogi and astrologer.

The above quote by the yogi Swami Sri Yukteswar is ripe with spiritual and astrological truth.  When we act virtuously, we start to see things more clearly and intelligently.  Likewise, when we really know something our actions tend to demonstrate that knowledge in a natural fashion.  This can be attractive and appealing to see someone like this.  It is possibly for this reason that saints and mystics often seem so attractive or magnetizing to spiritual seekers, because they have gone through a great range of experience and their actions naturally demonstrate such experience in a spontaneous way.  Also in the opposite sense, when we think we know something but really do not, our actions can be a clear give away of our lack of knowledge.  There is a clear relationship that can be seen here when we look at the zodiac, between our “active expression of virtue” and the development of intelligence within us.

To fully see this relationship, lets clear up a few things about intelligence in the context of an astrological chart.  When I am speaking about intelligence, I mean specifically the ability to arrive at the correct conclusion, to arrive at truth.  And in life we see that different methods can be used to arrive at the same correct conclusion.  Some people use logic to figure something out, others use feeling and emotions to figure the same thing out and get the same conclusion.  In the same way, each planet has a unique type of intelligence that it expresses.  For example, Mars would be the intelligence of logic.  Venus is the intelligence of poetry, the ability to grasp the meaning behind the words, the real heart of the message.  This post will not go into each planets intelligence, which would require an entire post in itself.

With this having been said, all the grahas give intelligence but the main one that Astrologers tend to emphasize is Mercury, as he rules the “buddhi”, the Intellect.  But when we read the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, the Sage Parashara gives the descriptions of the different planets.  In this, he does not describe Mercury as being intelligent necessarily.   He does start off, however, by saying that the Sun is intelligent.  This is very interesting.  He gives many complements to Mercury as well as the other grahas but does not assign intelligence to Mercury, and instead gives it to the Sun.  So the implication is that the Sun is the real planet that thinks through situations and arrives at truth.  (In case you were wondering, he describes the Moon as “All knowing”, which is similar to how many western astrologers attribute the Moon to a pyschic, right brain type of ability to arrive at truth)

I have noticed in studying charts that when Mercury is joined the Sun, which is happening 1/3 of the time anyway, then Mercury gives intelligence yes.  This is also called a Budha Aditya Yoga, which is said to give intelligence amongst other things.  When not connected to the Sun however, I do not necessarily see Mercury giving intelligence in the sense of arriving at truth.  (I can hear the astrologers gasping while reading this…bear with me)  Now if strong, this person’s Mercury will still be able to cognize quite well, and of course still be able to memorize and organize data very well.  This person may speak very fast and sharply and come off as very smart and intelligent.  They may have lots of information to articulate and be multi-talented and skillful.  But that is where we get mistaken.  Those qualities are not intelligence.  One can organize information extremely well, regardless of whether it is true or untrue information.  One can be very multi talented and know a lot of things but still miss the truth of life, and the truth of any given situation.  These days we sometimes seem to mistake having information about something with having intelligence, or knowledge of that thing.  These are different words and have different meanings.  Nowadays people consider having googled something to equate to having “knowledge” of that thing.  They are mistaken.  When you read old books the word “knowledge” did not mean “information” and was never used in that context.  It meant experience and the direct knowing of something that one gets from experiencing it for themselves.  For example, you know that you are you, and you don’t have to look that up or ask anyone else to convince you of being yourself, because you know this from experience.  This would be “knowledge”, as opposed to “information”.

So while Mercury gives the intellect, that intellect can see things a million different ways and until one is Self-Realized there is no promise that Mercury will give the intelligence to see the real truth in life.  That is the “keenest intelligence” that Sri Yukteswar is referring to, and that, as Parashara states, emanates from the Sun.

How we see this in the Zodiac  

We can see how and why the Sun would give this intelligence by examining the mechanics of the zodiac itself.  Aries is the sign of virtue, action, inspiration and nobility.  Thus, Aries is the sign of the “active expression of virtue” that Sri Yukteswar mentions. The Sun gets exalted here, meaning it is the strongest it can possibly be.  So the highest or “keenest intelligence” (The strongest the Sun can be) is brought about by developing the qualities of Aries, the “active expression of virtue”.  Pretty cool huh?

Also from the sign of Aries, the Sun rules the 5th house from there, Leo.  The 5th house is said to be the house of the mind, and the intelligence we use to manage our lives.  So when we act virtuously in order to manage our lives more effectively, that is like the Aries, putting the 5th lord, the Sun, in the first house, of one’s action and expression, and in this case the sign of the same things, Aries.  And what does that do?  That makes the Sun exalted, as strong as it can be.  And when the Solar force is strongest the innate intelligence we have is strongest, and we can be “King” of our life.  This is the logic and mechanics behind this great quote from Sri Yukteswar.  He was also an advanced Jyotishi, so perhaps he was aware of this connection in the zodiac as well as in his real life experience.

This is the Astrological reason why, at least on planet Earth, we can have all kinds of ideas or information, and we may think it to be true or not true…But until we apply it in our lives and act from it, and see the result, we do not really know if that information or idea is true or not. Remember that real intelligence is brought about by virtuous actions.  The results of this truth are very evident in the spiritual growth world nowadays.  Many people  can absorb spiritual ideas quickly, and can read spiritual texts and understand them very well, but don’t apply the truths in day to day life nearly enough, and then wonder why they haven’t experienced authentic spiritual growth.  The people who shine with spiritual happiness are the people who have applied spiritual truths in their lives, and in their day to day actions, and have expressed these virtues in real time, not just on the internet or in their minds.  We have to apply what we learn or we get a sort of “mental indigestion”. This happens when we just go about reading one after another metaphysical, or spiritual self help book, but never implement it into daily life.  For this we need the strength of the Sun and Mars, the two warrior caste/fire element planets to give us the courage to act virtuously.  This is also where a jyotish reading can help someone, because if we see that they are a spiritual seeker, but the Sun and Mars are afflicted, they probably have difficulties with actively expressing virtues. In this case we can advise certain mantras, gemstones, meditations, behavior adjustments, and other remedial measures to combat this negative karma and make the best of the situation at hand.  In this way we can see why Jyotish was such a beloved tool of Yogis seeking Self-Realization, as it reveals the obstacles that are in the way of experiencing the goal of our incarnation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First and Ninth House and Your Teachers

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Sage Vyasa, compiler of the Vedas and father of Parasara, sitting with Ganesh

There are so many different types of people living in this world, with different temperaments and constitutions.  It seems fitting that there would also be so many different types of spiritual paths, philosophies, or religions that are pursued.  The horoscope of an individual can reveal many of the innate tendencies one may have towards spirituality.

In astrology, there are five elements, Ether (space), Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.  When it comes to the mechanics of the zodiac signs however, there are only four elements, with Ether being left out.  I feel this is because in the context of earthly existence, space is always there, containing and holding all other elements.  It therefore may not be as relevant as the other four when it comes to environments and places we go to, which is what the zodiac signs symbolize.  Ether is the most spiritual element, being closest to the source, and the zodiac is the unconscious manifestation of Vishnu, keyword being “unconscious”.  The signs therefore are not the conscious aspects of God, this is given to the planets.  That is why the planets are deified and described as conscious beings. The signs are given the opposite distinctions, as animal signs, symbolizing the unconscious aspect of Maha Vishnu (God).  It logically follows that the most conscious element (ether or akash) would be left out in the field of the “unconscious limbs of Vishnu” (the zodiac).

With that understood, it is important to see that each of the four elements of the zodiac signs has a certain nature, and is best able to approach truth in a certain particular way, which is most fitting to its own element.  The different spiritual paths all tend to overlap the more they are practiced, but initially one will make the most progress by focusing on the mastery of the one that is most natural to them.

The air and earth signs are both more connected to the senses, and with actual manifested things.  Because of this, they are inclined towards spiritual paths that help one see and realize God in the world, and not as some ideal or principle in life.  The air signs often do well with a bhakti yoga (devotion) or karma yoga (selfless service) approach.  The Earth signs do well with karma yoga, because they naturally want to be of service.  If Mercury is strong and other intelligence yogas are present, then a jnana, or knowledge based path may work out also.  The fire and water signs have more to do with ideas (fire) and feelings (water), which are more invisible things.  These therefore, have more of an affinity for finding God as God really is, as a transcending-worldly-life experience, and not so much as a thing in the world.  The fire element does well with paths that emphasize self control, such as raja yoga or kriya yoga, and also jnana yoga potentially.  The water element does well with a jnana yoga path also as well as a bhakti path.  The water signs are said to be the most spiritually developed, being Satya yuga rasis, and often they will be utilizing all or more than one of these paths, from what I have noticed.

As an example, a Leo has a fiery nature, and because of this, they are meant to act. The fire signs are the warrior caste, or the kshatriyas (pronounced “shaw-tree-ya”), and are the people on earth who are naturally inclined to lead, to protect, and to preserve and uphold the universal order or “dharma”.  They do well with a raja yoga path, or a path that emphasizes purifying actions, discipline, and self control.  Some may (with the best of intentions) emphasize to a strong leo personality the need to surrender themselves to God, and to see everything as god and renounce worldly life and actions in favor of serving a guru; in other words to set them on an initial path of bhakti.  This can sometimes work out but many times it will initially go against the nature of a Leo and cause unnecessary confusion or aversion to the spiritual path… This is because for the Leo/Solar person, it is not the right time and place for that practice, and they don’t feel natural doing this. After doing a decade of raja yoga the Leo person may then be able to practice bhakti w great results, but initially this doesn’t appeal to a fiery nature, and it is better to get them on the right path quickly, to prevent any unneeded suffering.

It is important to follow the path of ones natural inspirations and inclinations.  When we do things out of inspiration (sattva) those are the things that we will do for the rest of our lives, and so that is the best way to approach a spiritual path as well.  If you want to make actual progress and not just have new ideas and terms in your mind to talk about, you need to find the path that is best for you and really anchors you to your destiny.  People who change spiritual paths or religions frequently usually do not make noticeable spiritual progress in that incarnation.  Paramahansa Yogananda said that it is better to dig one deep well when in search of water, than to dig several shallow wells.  It is the same way with self realization.

One thing that astrology has been used for since who knows how long, is helping one understand their path in life, their dharma.  Not everyone’s path will be like the typical “spiritual path” we may think of, but we all are on a path and in the greater context it all leads to the same goal, as all rivers flow towards the sea.  This is what Jyotish can be so helpful towards.  It can show us the path that is laid out for us, and help us see if we are being true to it or not.

Here is a simple technique to see begin to see how this works, but it does not show the full picture, and as such it should not be used as a stand alone technique, but in the context of the whole chart.  The first house represents the person, and the ninth house represents the outcome of walking there path, and therefore represents the gurus or teachers that help guide one along their path in life.  The first and ninth houses will always be the same element, and this shows us that each element has to approach their path and be guided along their path via a sign of the same element, their own nature, and not by another element.  So if you have an Aries lagna, they are a fire sign, and are naturally oriented towards action, discipline, and protecting or defending what is right.  The 9th sign from Aries is always Sagittarius, another fire sign.  This shows that for Aries, its purpose is to act with that fiery inspiration that comes innately to it.  Its gurus (the 9th house), Sagittarius, being fire signs themselves, will naturally encourage a spiritual path based on right actions, (such as a Raja yoga or Kriya yoga path) because that is what worked for them.  This will generally  work well for Aries, and to go and encourage a bhakti yoga path, or a path of detachment, is often “going against the grain” of  an Aries personality.  What is the point of being a warrior and defending what is good in life if even their Guru is telling them to surrender?  Well….there isn’t much point to it, because a ram is meant to ram things, and when the Aries uses these thoughts as fuel and inspiration, he burns out quickly.  That is not the path of an Aries.  Aries is a warrior and is meant to fight the spiritual battle, which is why it is a fire sign and its 9th sign (its gurus and philosophy) is a fire sign as well.  It is true that everything is God and that there is no real good or bad, from one perspective (and there will be other areas of this persons life that require that understanding).  But from the Aries perspective it is really better to have healthy concepts of what is right and what is wrong, and to act with a belief in the purpose of life, and in acting righteously.  When Aries follows its fiery dharma that is innate to it, it finds more fulfillment from walking its path in life.

Now lets take the opposite sign Libra, an air sign.  Air signs are based on intellect, which is using one’s own sense perceptions to gather intelligence.  This is different from Aries, which is a fire sign and based off of intuition.  Aries just “sees” how it is.  It just knows instantly, without the use of senses, which is the definition of intuition.  Libra is not like this, Libra, and all air signs, use intellect, or the senses, to understand life.  So each Libra will see an idea differently because of their own individual perspective in life, what their own senses have come to.  The 9th sign from Libra is Gemini, another air sign, showing that the outcome of the Libras path is based on one’s own personal sense based intellectual understanding.  This is why Libra does great with a path of detachment, or a path of bhakti (devotional surrender to God), because both of these approaches focus on purifying the intellectual perceptions until one begins to perceive God as manifested in everything.  So for Libra, it is great for it to see everything as God, to simply surrender to God, and to have a sense of even-mindedness and detachment around what happens in life, and how one understands life.  Libra is the 7th sign, the midway point of the zodiac, and as such, is the sign of karmic balancing.  This is symbolized by the scales.  The Libra is meant to weigh their experiences with detachment and understand that what is happening is what is being handed to them by life, to best balance out their karma.  They shouldn’t fight it (but Aries should, remember).  So the Libra does not have to “do” anything as much as an Aries does.  The Libra has already been “doing” in its previous lives (when it was an Aries for example) , and is now coming to the stage of “accepting” one might say.  Thus Parashara states that the best planets for Libra are Mercury and Saturn.  These are the planets that are the most helpful for us to have a sense of detachment, and accept life how it is, so that we may best serve life the way we are meant to.  And now we can see why a path of devotional surrender to the will of God (bhakti) or a path of detachment (jnana) are great avenues for the Libra to walk its spiritual path.  If the Libra was to only follow a Raja yoga path, and renounced the world to go live in a forest and meditate unceasingly, this would only serve to enlarge the Libra ego by giving it too much focus on itself, rather than focusing on purifying the heart through love and service to others, which is the natural path of the airy Libra.

Hopefully these examples will give some insight into the value of using Astrology to help one understand the path in life they are walking.  Each sign has its own particular path that is most suited to it in the rasi chart, the first varga, or divisional chart.  That’s just the beginning though. In Vedic Astrology, there are 15 other charts that are used, and so there are many other ascendant signs, for many other areas of life, all with different elements and different outcomes.  So different mental approaches will be better for different areas of life and for different people. The example given above is simple, but in actuality it can get quite complex when we start using all the other vargas, as well as the Atmakaraka.

 

The Solstices and Equinoxes Part 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we look across the globe at many different cultural traditions, there seems to be an emphasis on the importance of the astronomical periods known as the Solstice and Equinox times.  Many of the most ancient landmarks that have ever been discovered, such as Stonehenge, Newgrange, the temple at Karnak, Macchu Picchu, and Chichen Itza have all  been oriented to these four points, the winter and summer solstice, and the spring and fall equinox.

Why is that the case? Well, we may not know all the reasons why.  Historians point out that these times needed to be known in order to know when the seasons were coming, to know when to plant seeds, and to know when to harvest them.  So there is likely a practical reasoning behind it, but there also seems to be a profound spiritual logic behind the awareness of these four times.  In this post I will try to clarify the importance and meaning of the astrological and astronomical significance of the solstices and equinoxes, which have been called the “Celestial Cross”.

Clipboard01First lets clarify what these terms “Solstice” and “Equinox” actually mean.  The Solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest point in its apparent year long course across the equator and back down. And the equinoxes are the two middle or “equal” points that the Sun hits as it goes up and down across the ecliptic as we see it from the Earth.  The Equinoxes are the exact days when the day and night are of equal length.

(Note: Astrology is an Earth based science, and as such, it is not important whether the Earth actually is moving around the Sun, or the Sun around the Earth.  The symbolic importance is what appears to be happening from the perspective of being on Earth.  So we say that the Sun moves north and south, even though it is commonly understood that the Earth is what is moving around the Sun.  From the perspective of the relativity of motion, it really cannot be proven that the Earth is moving around the Sun, as the entire Universe could equally be said to revolve around the Earth, as the famous physicist Ernst Mach has contended.)

THE VERNAL EQUINOX

The vernal equinox is usually around March 20th of each year and marks the beginning of “Spring” as we commonly call it.  This is astrologically the beginning of the sign of Aries, “the ram”, and the beginning of the Sun’s course through the Zodiac again.  As this is the point where there begins to be more daylight than night, and all of nature begins to awaken and “spring” up from dormancy, we can see why this is symbolized by a ram.  Rams are powerful and fearless creatures that climb mountains and smash into their enemies head first.  They push the boundaries of what can be possible.  We can see how this fits as a perfect symbol for the time of year when nature itself seems to awaken and burst forth into activity.  Aries individuals are very comfortable with this sort of activity and are courageous, adventurous, pioneering, and love initiating new projects.

THE AUTUMNAL EQUINOX

The autumnal equinox is the exact opposite point of the solar path, and marks the first day of “Fall” or “Autumn”, and is astrologically the first day of the sign of Libra, “the scales”.  Libra is the sign of the balancing scales, and that should make sense to us as we now know that this is the middle point, or “balancing point” of the zodiac.  Naturally Libra is a sign that seeks balance, equality, and harmony, and we can see the logic behind that, in the Sun’s yearly course.  Also, Libra is the sign where the Sun is weakest, and the weakest sign for a planet is referred to as its “fall”.  Its as if the planet falls from its natural strength at that place.  Hence, we call this time of year, “The Fall”, as it is the time when the Sun “falls” astrologically, but also this means in actuality that the light on earth is diminishing more quickly each day as winter approaches.  So the fall equinox marks the equal point of the Sun’s descending path, after which there will be more darkness than light for 6 months.

THE WINTER SOLSTICE

This brings us to the Solstices.  After the autumn equinox, the next major change will be at the winter solstice, which occurs on December 20th or 21st.  This is the shortest day of the year, where the Sun is seen from Earth’s perspective as being the furthest away and dimmest that it will be.  If one is far North enough above the equator, then the sun can appear to disappear or not even rise on this day.  At the north pole, the sun does not rise at all.  For three days the sun’s path stays the same, and so in the northern regions of Earth, the Sun is apparently gone (or barely visible) for three days after the 21st. Then on the 25th of December, the Sun rises just a bit further North, and is just a bit more visible, and the day is just a bit longer.  This day marks the beginning of the Sun’s 6 month journey northward across the equator and the beginning of the longer days.  This winter solstice point is astrologically the first day of Capricorn, the goat-fish in western tradition, and the crocodile in the Indian tradition.  Both symbols represent the same energy of coming from darkness into more light.  The crocodile is often half submerged when seen, and lays low but can be quite powerful and fearsome when it moves up onto dry land.  This fits the nature of this time, when the Sun is most hidden, but is beginning to make its journey towards more light.  The goat or goat-fish in the western tradition, has the same symbolic meaning.  The fish-half can represent the submerged, hidden, or darker emotional aspect of ourselves or our karmas that can sometimes surface during the winter time.  The goat, being a natural mountain climber and survivor, symbolizes the inevitable rising up into life and light of the Sun on its 6 month journey that begins at this stage of Capricorn.  The goat will always make it to the top of the hill eventually, but may take its time. This is how capricorn natives behave, they are focused on long term goals, security, moving up in the world, and on metaphorically “getting through the winter”.

THE SUMMER SOLSTICE

After 6 months of the Sun moving north, it reaches its peak of northern movement on the summer solstice on June 21st.  This is the brightest day of the year, and the Sun is as far north as it will ever be.  For 3 days the Sun stays at about that same place, just like the opposite winter solstice. Then on June 25th, the Sun actually starts descending and moving south.  This is astrologically known as the sign of Cancer, the crab.  And as crabs are easily seen to side-step as they move, this is exactly how the Sun behaves here.  The sun was moving north, north, north, then it stops at cancer…. and then side steps for 3 days, and then retreats back south, like a crab running back to its hole in the sand.  Cancerian individuals are known to be a bit fickle, and often dont address issues head on like the ram, they tend to pause and side-step around the issue if possible.  They are able to yield to the moment, and enjoy receding from the world into their home or something they are comfortable with.  This makes sense as this is the point at which the Sun actually stalls and yields from moving any further north, and then changes direction, and begins to move south.  Cancer natives are very receptive and are similar in that they can stop and check in with their emotions and say, “is this the right course for me?  Perhaps I should change the course”.

Hopefully it is beginning to make sense that this course of the Sun, along with the Moon’s monthly course around the Earth, are the cycles that create our seasons and therefore our sense of time and rhythm as we live on Earth.  That is very important!  It makes sense that these cycles will also have a big influence on our psychological states, and this is obvious when we take even a basic look at the signs that are associated with the four major points of this solar cycle, as we did earlier.  These four major points that correlate to Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn are places where the Sun and the Earth are in an alignment, and so naturally we would assume that these signs would have importance.  And even those with a basic knowledge of astrology know that this is true, as these four signs are called the “cardinal” or “chara” (changeable) signs.  These cardinal signs are naturally the most active, and the most changeable.  This makes sense as these are the actual points where the sun “changes” its course.  The Sun represents the “Soul of All”, or Saarva Atman, as discussed in a previous post.  Logically it makes sense that if these signs are where the Soul of everything changes its course, the people born under that sign will also be more likely to change course throughout life, and be more comfortable with change.

We can also think about this and see that it is likely not some star constellation that looks like a ram that is making an aries person so impulsive, but the very framework of the Sun and Earth’s movement (these equinoxes and solstices) that is the factor.  This makes more sense when we contemplate it, as stars can burn out or appear in different areas over time, but the Sun and Earths relationship appears to be much more consistent over the long term, and hence a better framework for time.

We have been dealing with these cycles our whole lives, so we may not notice the effects from day to day, but these cycles can definitely be noticed and felt to varying degrees, depending on the consciousness of the person experiencing them.  This is a very important pattern and the ruins of ancient cultures across the globe are all aligned to this “celestial cross” as it has been called.  In the next post about the Solstices and Equinoxes I will elaborate more about the spiritual and yogic symbolism of this same cycle.