is both a way of meditation that pacifies the mind and a life path leading
to spiritual enlightenment. It teaches that problems result from three
“evils"– anger, greed and ignorance, all born of faulty conditioning of
astrology chart is a mandala that can be used as both an object of meditation
and a way to discover the cause of our problems. The planets, signs and
houses indicate clearly the mental conditioning that has distorted our
way of perceiving life and is causing difficulty.
now let's just consider the signs of the zodiac and how they may reveal
our individual dharma, or truth. The energy of the signs, as we know,
can be expressed both positively and negatively. Negative expression occurs
when we are acting or reacting in a conditioned state. Astrology and Zen
together can help us decondition ourselves and express the positive energy
of the signs.
Cardinal Signs: Anger
of our true nature through anger are indicated in the horoscope by the
cardinal signs. The self-assertion of Aries, the first cardinal sign,
is necessary for survival and holding our own in the world, but when it
turns into blind anger at others, Aries can cause much suffering. Zen,
the spirit of the Samurai, stands with Aries' wish to fight for what's
right, but asks the warrior to curb selfishness and ego.
next cardinal sign, Cancer, does not come to mind so readily as a cause
of anger or hatred. But think about it. Cancer is the sign of the home
and patriotism. How many wars have been fought for the sake of the homeland?
How much angst have humans suffered over their lives, especially from
problems that originate in childhood? Zen, however, sees the earth as
a nurturing mother, giving sustenance to all without concern for race,
nation or political belief.
Libra can be anger in the form of open combat against known enemies. Libra is
also the sign of relationships, and where, other than in our marriages
and close personal partnerships, can we experience more anger? In Zen
terms, Libra stands for the desire for harmony that exists within all—harmony
with our environment, our fellow man and with the Tao, the unnameable
something that created this universe, sustains it, and expresses itself
through its myriad creations.
Capricorn stands for ambition, which when under control, leads an individual to
his rightful place in society. But when attached to a self-serving point
of view, Capricorn's drive can become a ruthless pursuit of rank and prestige.
The Emperor Wu was shocked when he asked Bodhidharma what merit he had
earned by building many monasteries and universities, and the Zen patriarch
answered, "None whatever."
cure for psychological ills stemming from anger, according to Zen, is
compassion. Most of us are capable of limited forms of compassion. We
feel compassion for those we love or can identify with. But Zen calls
for universal compassion for all beings.
Fixed Signs: Greed
fixed signs indicate where an individual may become ensnared in the tentacles
of greed in its many forms. Taurus relates to values, and when expressed
positively, results in well-formed value judgments that lead to good decision
making and goal formation. Zen turns our conditional way of setting values
upside down. When Master Tung-shan was asked, "What is Buddha-nature (or
the highest value)?" he immediately answered, "Three pounds of flax" (something
seemingly valueless). Here clearly the master saw the conditioning of
the monk's mind that led him to believe that Buddha-nature was just one
more thing to pursue and possess in order to enhance his existence.
Leo seeks to shine and be the best it can be. But when not fully aware of
their inner processes, Leos can be too greedy for love, appreciation and
acknowledgment. Yet the Sun, Leo's ruler, is also the key to personal
salvation—the path one must walk. In Zen, when you give yourself completely
to life, letting nature act through you, you are said to be a golden-maned
other sign of the zodiac is more associated with desire than Scorpio.
Scorpio is known for its intensity and the desire to be consumed totally
by the object of one's passion. In Zen, this deep interpenetrating focus
is known as Samadhi—total absorption of the mind in the practice of meditation,
the individual merged with All, the One.
Aquarius represents rebellion and innovation, and those who seek out the different,
the shocking and the unique. Positive Aquarian expression is humanitarian
and intuitive. A conditioned expression results in people who are greedy
for attention by appearing too unique, too special. The Zen spirit is
very Aquarian in nature, however, and enlightenment comes in a typically
Uranian flash. Zen masters throughout history constantly used techniques
that shocked and jolted their students.
remedy for psychological ills stemming from greed is love. Through unconditional
love we no longer desire to possess and accumulate things for ourselves,
but rather our focus is on what we can give to others.
Mutable Signs: Ignorance
or delusion, and its opposite, wisdom, is the province of the mutable signs. Gemini clearly falls under the Zen description, "the monkey mind."
Gemini perceives subject and object, but Zen teaches that it is this dualistic
way of perception that is the root of all trouble. Rational thinking has
its uses, but can only take us so far. It stops short at the gate to true
Virgo seeks perfection and to know the world in greater detail. But when too
narrowly focused, Virgo energy becomes the "discriminating mind" that
Zen seeks to overturn in favor of a more transcendental view. The third
patriarch of Zen, Seng-ts'an, once said, "The Great Way is very simple.
Just avoid picking and choosing."
farsighted vision of Sagittarius seeks the broader horizons of knowledge.
Its ultimate goal is wisdom, but too often pomposity and prejudice result
when one clings too tightly to one's view of the world. In forming our
own opinions, we must at all times keep an open mind.
Pisces energy is pure, unconditional love. But no sign has a greater potential
for succumbing to delusion. Likewise, the Twelfth House, associated with
Pisces, is the place where the mind either seeks enlightenment or becomes
lost in illusions. Pisces is meditation, pure consciousness, and the place
where we experience the truth of the words of Hui-Neng, the Sixth Patriarch
(638-713 AD), "From the first, not a thing is."
cure for ignorance is the cultivation of wisdom. Following the Zen saying
that "those who know, speak not, while those who speak know not," we must
listen for the voice from within.
Therapy of Zen
suffer because we depend too much on the conditions of our lives, according
to Zen. When things are good, we're happy. When life starts to fall apart,
we panic. The goal of Zen is to clear away the conditioning of the mind
and to reach one's true nature.
his book Zen Therapy, Transcending the Sorrows of the Human Mind,
David Brazier says our true nature is nothing more than the fact that
we all exist in the same universe of which we are all a part. We are in
it and it is in us. An ethical life is lived, he says, not because of
some externally-imposed rules, but because we realize we are all one,
and want to live in harmony with our world and to do it no harm.
astrological birth chart can be used to help us achieve this goal. By
analyzing the astrological blueprint of our true nature, and working on
the conditioning we find there, we can better understand ourselves and
our relationship to our universal nature.