Astrology and Tantra

Swami Shankarananda Saraswati, Serbia

Within you is the historical and microscopic film of aeons and ages, mankind and creation. There is nothing which you are not.

- Swami Satyananda Saraswati

According to tantra, the microcosmos and macrocosmos are mirror reflections of each other. The cornerstone of astrology ‘The Emerald Tablet’, written by its mythic founder Hermes states: “As above so below.” We can’t help noticing the similarity in the configuration of solar systems and atomic structure. The whole universe, from the tiniest atom to the giant galaxies, visible and invisible, is just one body – the body of the Goddess, governed by unmanifested consciousness – God.

The aim of astrology and tantra is the same – expansion of consciousness and liberation of energy. Astrology states that we are intimately connected with the rhythm of the universe, and points to a synchronicity between the movements of the moon, planets and stars with events in our life, the moods we are passing through and the dreams we are dreaming.

Astrology reveals the pattern in the apparently chaotic circumstances of life, a pattern so subtle, powerful and complex, and yet dynamic and creative, as it never repeats itself. Regardless of its constant variability, it has very fixed features – the sun rises every morning in the East, but the exact distance and relative position between the sun and earth are never the same. From the beginning of time until the very end of creation, it is unlikely that we will witness two dawns which are exactly the same. From the beginning until the end of time, no two persons will walk upon the same earth.

Furthermore, astrology enables us to realize that there is no distance between us and the universe. The planets, moon and stars live in us as powerful archetypes of the psyche, and also in the very cells and parts of our own body. The essence of the five tattwas: earth, water, fire, air and ether or space, manifest in the body as our five senses: smell, taste, touch, seeing and hearing respectively. There is no difference between the planets above and the planets within, between the cosmic elements and the elements that made our own body.

The geometrical presentation of the astrological chart (or horoscope) is a circle with a belt of twelve equal parts (zodiac signs) which associates strongly with the yantra of anahata chakra or dwadashanta of tantra. Within that circle are written the astronomical positions of planets of the solar system, sun and moon in relation to the earth, which is represented by a smaller inner circle. At the centre of the circle, a point represents the Self.

The simple geometrical figures that we can see when we join the planets with straight lines, like triangles, squares, sextiles, etc. are called aspects and those aspects are the signature of our individuality, nature and destiny. They show the exact proportion of elements and share and structure of cosmic forces that we inherited at the moment of our birth. Our chart is indeed our personal yantra, a picture of our subtle body integrated with the rest of creation.

Within that same circle the whole manifest universe keeps moving, dancing patterns that are almost predictable but never repeat themselves. As those numerous points of luminosity cross, or closely approach any point of our own astrological configuration, specific experiences or events are unfolded. The general nature of an event is predictable, the time when major aspects are happening can easily be calculated, but the actual experience during an aspect will never be identical for any two people. For example, we can predict that the first Saturn return (which occurs around age 29 and represents the astrological ‘end of childhood’) will force a person to mature, take responsibility for her actions, and decide which goals in life are really important and worthy of investment of time and energy. And yet this same aspect may vary from an extremely painful to a blissful experience (and everything in between) even in the case of twins.

What will make the difference is our own relationship with the psychological archetype of Saturn within us and the balance of his tattwa in our body. There are no such things as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ planets of aspects. What we like we call ‘good’, what we don’t like we call ‘bad’. Saturn wants us to mature and take responsibility for our own actions, and if we make this our goal as well, our experience will be of happiness and bliss. When our will and the will of the whole are attuned and in harmony, experience is always positive and creative. When we try to impose our will on the universe, thinking that we know better, misery follows. If we realize that there is no difference between us and the whole, how can we want anything that the whole does not want as well?

Let it happen, if it happens and as it happens. Never worry over anything. Events take their destined course automatically.

- Swami Satyananda Saraswati

As we try to understand the workings of astrology, our sense of time, space and objects becomes distorted. We perceive an infinite number of circles within circles: the sun rises and sets – a day, the moon rotates once around the earth – a month, both rotate once around the sun – a year, the sun rotates once around a common axis with its twin star – 2,000 years, the solar system rotates once around the centre of our galaxy, 24,000 years, our galaxy rotates around the common axis of galactic cluster – how many years? We need much more sophisticated computers and calculators than those we know at present to stretch the time further.

When we go in the micro time/space direction, the problems are even greater: we can perceive and measure the life time of various cells, but from there onwards we know very little. Cells are made of molecules, which are made of atoms, which are made of protons, neutrons and electrons, which are made of quarks, neutrinos, etc. This is a very simplified picture, but why go further when in reality we do not even know exactly what an atom looks like? The quantum theory (the spine of modern physics) fails infamously in attempts to describe and explain the behaviour of both the micro and macro worlds. When we look above we see the cosmos not only as a beautiful glimmer of stars and spiral galaxies, but also as quasars, nebulas, exploding and imploding stars and black holes in points of time/space singularity. How possibly could a nice and neat theory like the quantum theory survive such a chaotic view?

Unfortunately (but nevertheless part of the greater pattern) we have learned to some degree to manipulate and trigger certain reactions of the nuclear world, without being able to see and understand the infinite universes that we are affecting. Modern magicians can blast the earth to cosmic dust but are unable to treat the simplest of psychosomatic disorders. With all our science and knowledge we must admit that we are neither managing the earth nor ourselves very efficiently. Most of us spend our lives looking outside only, trying to become rich, famous or just happy. Most of us never bother or dare to look within. Inside is dark, unexplored territory and naturally we are terrified. Experience of collective sorrow lying just under the skin, words of millions of ancestors whose genes we carry, whisper softly in our ears. Of course, we need light and the guide to pass through that vast uncharted realm. We need the guru – a human being who has already walked the full length of the path we are about to tread, and who has come back to show the way to those who are able to see him.

Out of mere compassion for them, I, dwelling within their self, destroy the darkness born out of ignorance by the luminous lamp of knowledge.

- (Lord Krishna speaking to Arjuna, Bhagavad Gita, 10:11)

What we feel at first as uncharted territory is described in great detail by both the ancient sciences – tantra and astrology. India is a real treasury of the world. It has preserved intact the great teachings of the Upanishads, Puranas, yoga, etc. The generous, tolerant and compassionate nature of its people allowed the greatest freedom of worship and communion with the divine. Anything that triggers inspiration and mirrors the divine in our own vision is qualified as an object of worship. From isolated ascetics absorbed in unity with the Absolute, to village girls worshipping the banyan tree and tulsi plant, and everything that falls in between – mountains, stones, planets, fire, any of hundreds of faces of God, the formless Absolute. Most importantly, India has preserved the living spiritual tradition of the guru parampara that is the akhanda jyoti, eternal light, carried from the beginning of time.

The people of the West are suffering from severe spiritual malnutrition. Even after two thousand years, its greatest spiritual inspirer, Christ, is still nailed to the cross and is dying. This is a very depressing image. Why can’t we set Him free and just let Him live in whatever form appeals to us – as a child, friend, father, brother, lover . . .? Anyway, He is immortal and we can’t succeed in killing Him regardless of how hard we try, or for how many aeons more we keep Him dying. Why are we watching Him dying, feeling sorry both for Him and for ourselves, with our hearts burdened with guilt? Why are we waiting like beggars, hoping that someone will come and do our duty and take our responsibility?

There are hundreds of sects and half-a-dozen religions in the world, but the purpose is completely lost. They exist today as very powerful organizations, but even they do not know what they are talking about.

- Swami Satyananda Saraswati

In the West, we have perfected to a high degree the art of observing the outer world in a style where the observer and the object of observation are always separate. Now it has been observed that the objects of the world are not behaving objectively and are constantly moving and changing appearance and behaviour in accordance with the observer.

On the other hand, the East has preserved and further perfected the knowledge that if any object is observed for long enough with undivided concentration, the observer, object of observation and the process of observation become one. Knowledge of the underlying unity of the whole creation, shakti, with unconditioned consciousness, Shiva, has been explained again and again in various ways, through different stories and from different angles. The West believes in the Darwinian theory and that we have ascended from the accidental formation of the first drop of organic matter. The East on the other hand believes that we are all descendants of the gods, and that indeed there is no difference between the individual self and the highest reality. Man comes from God, lives in God and will merge again with God.

The role of the astrologer is not to predict the future. The role of the astrologer is to emphasize this underlying unity, to help us recognize those archetypes within ourselves and find a way to come to terms with them, and to encourage us to do gladly what must be done. There is a time for everything, a time for joy and a time for tears, a time to sow and a time to reap. When we are sailing and a storm is approaching, it is time to put the sails down. When a favourable wind is blowing in our direction, it is time to open the sails wide. It also helps to know that times of sorrow will not last forever, and times of happiness will also not last forever.

The basis of this body is divine and therefore through the practice of yoga, a process of transmutation of the physical elements of the body into non-physical elements takes place.

- Swami Satyananda Saraswati

The ultimate aim of astrology is the merging of the individual pattern with the whole – the harmony of frequencies within and without, when our body is the whole creation. We experience the five tattwas of creation uniting with our own five essences. With experience of akasha or unlimited space, the circle is broken and all forms dissolve. The pot of water breaks and merges with the water of the ocean.

Each man in his life honours and imitates as well as he can that god to whose choir he belonged, while he is uncorrupted in his first incarnation here; and in the fashion he has thus learned, he bears himself to his beloved as well as to the rest. So, then each chooses from among the beautiful a love confirming to his kind; and this striving to discover the essence of their proper god, by tracing him in themselves, is rewarded; for they are forced to look on the god without flinching, and when their memory holds him, his breath inspires them, and they share his attributes and his life, as far as man can enter godhead. And for these blessings they thank the loved one, loving him even more deeply . . .

- Plato