The Conversation Within Astrology
Contemporary understandings of astrology as well as those of other forms of divination will often focus on prediction. Whatever the motivation, no matter how partisan one may be for their subject, such focus finds one arguing for a pseudo-science with little validity, trapped in a concrete and objectivist frame of mind alone when, to speak of divination, is to speak of an esotericism directly antithetical to such argument. It is a cutting through the exoteric- the literalist, the rational objective and the scientific into what is hidden. In the Sufi parlance, divination is an entrance into the ta’wīl, essential symbolic understanding. As the phenomenologist Henry Corbin writes in his essay Creative Imagination in the Ṣūfism of Ibn ‘Arabī: “It is the transmutation of everything visible into symbols, the intuition of an essence or person in an Image… which is the only means of signifying what is to be signified.” Entering the ta’wīl is to exit the sharī’a- the law, the literalist religion. That is, to enter into myth and symbol is to speak a language distinct from one that is rational or objective, of mind alone. The ta’wīl is a Gnostic break from the literalist faith, transcending the rational historical meanings through a mutual knowing. To speak in the language of symbols is to enter into the Alam al Mithal, the intermediate realm of Creative Imagination, the transitional space of the archetypal field.
This Sufi understanding of a “cutting through” from the rational mind into an intermediate field of symbol and imagination echoes very directly the Dzogchen Buddhist language of multidimensionality: the Nirmanakaya, Sambogakaya and Dharmakaya, dimensions of experience corresponding to 1. ordinary life, 2. archetypal manifestation and 3. the virtual dimension of potential space. Ultimately, when we speak of a contemporary understanding of astrology, we are speaking of language arising multidimensionally in this fashion through the invocation of the archetypal figures of the planets. The circumstances and narratives of our ordinary lives serve as doorways into myth, symbol and creative imagination, these too a doorway into experience of the pure potentiality of the Dharmakaya level. Conversely, this integration both holds and metabolizes our circumstances and suffering on the everyday level leading to self liberation and transformation. This integration and perspective inhabits much of the great contemporary work and writing on divination such as CG Jung’s preface to the I Ching, the tarot and psychomagic of the filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky and the western astrology of professor Richard Tarnas.
As an Indian astrologer, it is useful then to discuss the term Jyotish Mati: the light of awareness, signifying the holding of this multidimensional state of awareness as an astrological practitioner. It is through Jyotish Mati that we are invoking and holding this multilevel experience. The astrological conversation is thus not a conventional conversation. One’s astrological configurations do not arise or “come to life” in the concrete and rational mind. Rather it is through an invocation of the archetypes of the planets that is previous to meaning, one that expresses their basic being. In this light, we are speaking of divination and of prophecy from an older understanding of archetypal forms in which “to divine” is “to name,” literally to give names to the gods. In this light, divination is itself both artistic impulse and esoteric practice, an expression of the self as the world; a cutting through the concrete and rational into the archetypal and the creative imagination. Any predictive capacities are no longer a function of one’s rationality nor one’s ego, but rather an affect of one’s cosmology experienced through their own circumstances.
The astrological conversation is then a conversation on a text, the text being the astrological configuration of the moment in question- be that the present, the configuration of someone’s birth and so on. Jyotish Mati is the place that the text is seen into and experienced from, all within the view of meditative awareness or meditative knowingness. To do this the astrologer shifts out of analytic mind alone and enters into the awareness state that encompasses not only the text which is the astrological chart, but which is also a connection with the person with whom the chart manifests. This connection is not a connection of mind to mind or the ordinary interpersonal connection but is connected reflecting the non duality of a mutual held awareness state. Jyotish Mati is being in the light of awareness or in the field of Being as light.
To bring this event about the astrologer must be able to enter the awareness field through meditative absorption both within the text and within the person who the text expresses. In this movement from mind to awareness, there is a shift from reading the text from a view of comprehending rationally what is signified to experiencing the text as a mythical doorway into the archetypal dimension of human experience. Jyotish Mati is the opening of a text and opening to the person through the light of awareness. This opening allows the astrologer to experientially articulate, bring forth and invoke the nature of the energies that are being manifested within the person and their circumstances. In the most profound manner, the astrologer has entered the innermost awareness of the person’s field of being and is giving voice to its unfolding manifestation in time and place.
Further Jyotish Mati allows the astrologer through the light of their awareness to enter timeless awareness itself. And from this place of timeless awareness there can be an extension into the present of the person, the past of the person and the future of the person. This emerging felt sense of the person is articulated through the language of cosmology and the archetypes as this language takes one beyond the linear rationalistic concretized mind which has little access to the multidimensionality of human experience and human potentiality.
The emphasis of the astrological conversation is then not on statistical prediction of behavior and events but on the transformation of psyche and the capacity to experience the fullness of presence and completeness of experiencing whatever is being manifested within awareness and as awareness. This manifestation arises both as the most elemental energies becoming archetypal forms and then becomes personalized as a singular person and living narrative of circumstances in the world.
To the degree that both the astrologer and the person who is having the reading are in the mutual held meditative awareness, to that degree the field of being which is the field of awareness will manifest. It is a necessary and sufficient condition alone that the astrologer enters into and is time and timeless awareness at once. To the degree that the client who is experiencing the reading also can enter awareness and enter both in time and in timeless awareness at once, then the power of potential space will be fully activated. In the truest sense, the mutually held space of Jyotish Mati allows for the virtual dimension of Being to be experienced and activated.
For the most part most people are in mind alone and are often contained within limiting states of annihilation and deprivation. Being in mind alone is to be completely limited by events and familial history and familial generational fields. Without accessing the potential space of the awareness state, the person’s experience of deprivation and primitive states of annihilation will obscure what is really possible given the limiting circumstances of the current moment. In this way the activation of the virtuality of potential space (dharmakaya) and the manifestation of the elemental energies of archetypal dimension (sambogakaya) becoming experiential within ones most ordinary life (nirmakaya) are foreclosed. Thus the importance of facilitating this mutually held awareness as even the most basic ground to our conversation.
Some steps in bringing forth this dialectic:
1. The astrologer must be skilled in entering Jyotish Mati and experiencing the light of awareness both within his own self and the self of others. The astrologer has the capacity to shift from states of being in mind alone to being in awareness of awareness, to being in the different dimensions of awareness.
2.The astrologer must be able to experience the text of the astrological chart as a doorway into both the light of awareness and the dramatic act of manifestation which is infinite in its horizon and multidimensional. This multidimensionality can be expressed in many ways including the Dzogchen language of Nirmanakaya, Sambogakaya and Dharmakaya. Another is through the Sufi language of entering the Ta’wil, the essential symbolic understanding that is an entrance into the imaginal and the archetypal realm or the Alam Al Mithal.
3. The astrologer has the natural capacity to experience the archetypal forms and configurations which organize personal experience as well as cultural experience. The astrologer is not a theoretician but a phenomenologist who experiences and articulates experience .
4. The astrologer has some expertise in invocation. This means the astrologer can invoke or bring forth within the other person states of awareness that open the manifestation of Being in its various dimensions of potentiality, archetypal forms, and via understanding through perception of ordinary human experience. The astrologer is not locked into annihilation and deprivation experience although he knows the felt sense well. He does this invocation by extending his own field of awareness into the other person and then shifts his own states of awareness. The astrologer clearly understands the power of extension. The astrologer knows that beyond words and symbols there is a transmission that does not belong to any tradition and that this is human awareness itself.
6. The astrologer knows that certain people with concretized mind and no access to psyche will have very limited success in accessing awareness and the corresponding understanding and activation of potentiality. Such a person can be trained to enter the awareness state and thus begin to metabolize the concrete mind. In time, these people can actualize the field of awareness and enter time and timelessness.
7. The astrologer knows that the presenting of astrology as a predictive science is a further elaboration of the contemporary personal and technical mind that is culturally concretized and destroys entrance into psyche. This view destroys the transformational power of divination and leads to further suffering and despair. Such predictive orientation forecloses the accessing the multidimensionality of the field of Being as well as the sense of Being itself.
8. The astrologer works with time. Unique to this art is the expression of potentiality, timelessness and light through the language of time, circumstance and even suffering. Jyotish Mati is the integration and language of timelessness and time.