The Birth of the United States
as a Collective Person - 2
The type of astrology practiced by people who are almost exclusively concerned with the prediction of external events, and with the attribution of standardized meaning to zodiacal signs and planets in terms of external features and personal traits of character, is very different from an astrology which seeks to discover meaning within some larger frame of reference and to help guide the development of a person by clarifying the basic issues he meets, especially in times of crisis. The same astronomical factors are used in both instances, but the meanings given to them and the purposes motivating their interpretation differ greatly. Different also are the types of explanation given to the way in which these celestial factors work in human affairs and to the concepts of planetary "influence." The majority of astrologers, especially at the popular level, think of a direct physical kind of influence — whether it be electromagnetic or gravitational. Others — and I belong to this category — consider astrology a symbolic language which, when properly deciphered, gives us information concerning the meaning and purpose of both our existence as individuals in the world in which we were born and the important turning points or crises which we have to experience during our entire life span.
From the point of view of a materialistic nineteenth-century science still prevailing in many institutions of learning, physical forces cause events to happen, and these events can be exactly predicted if we know all the causes at work and the laws of their operation: Man, therefore, is said to live in a world ruled by determinism and a rigid principle of cause and effect. This point of view has been that of classical astrology in Europe, and it is still implied in the attitude of the great majority of practicing astrologers. What these astrologers like to add, however, is that man is, or can be, superior to these celestial influences because, as a spiritual soul and rational mind endowed with the power of will and choice and by virtue of his being created in God's image and likeness, he essentially belongs to a supernatural realm. Thus his task is to dominate and control natural forces which are truly external to him and to make them serve the purposes set by his conscious and deliberate will, operating in accordance with inwardly revealed principles of conduct.
Another approach to both the meaning of human existence and the value of astrology has been formulated recently, and while this formulation has some new characteristics, its foundation is equally ancient, having been known in old China and, in a different way, in various schools of mysticism. From this point of view an individual's function as an embodied person born at a particular point in time and space is to meet a definite need of the universe at that very point. The individual is born to accomplish that function — as the Hindu philosopher says, dharma — and this function can be fully understood only in reference to some "greater whole" of which he potentially is an operative part. The wider and more encompassing the individual's consciousness, the vaster this greater whole will be. One person may consider his local community as the greater Whole in which he participates, but in time he may extend the scope of his conscious and deliberate participation to the whole of mankind and of the Earth.
According to this formulation, what any should do is try to understand his place and function in his environment — local, national, planetary — so he may be able to fulfill his role as, a conscious individual, rather than live (as most people do) in terms of biological-emotional pressures and social, cultural, religious or political imperatives that are collective rather than individual. To know and understand what he is as an individual — or more precisely who he is — should therefore be a persons primary task. He should strive to become totally aware of what his essential function is within the field of activity of whatever greater whole he may actually be able to operate in as a conscious participant.
How can a person do this? Philosophers and spiritual teachers have formulated various methods or disciplines for achieving this total awareness and understanding. Early Buddhism aimed at total wakefulness and thus awareness; Gautama was called "The Awakened One." In our days, Ramana Maharishi and J. Krishnamurti represent two different approaches to the same endeavor to reach an awareness of who one is as an individual "free" from cultural and intellectual as well — as biological-emotional determination. Such a freedom is possible only through total understanding.
Astrology can also provide us with a method for becoming aware of what we essentially are as individuals and of how we can best use the powers and faculties with which we were endowed at birth. But this is not the kind of astrology that has been popularized by the media since the magazine American Astrology appeared in New York in 1933, or even that which has been practiced in most Places for millennia. According to this new kind of astrology, planets are not thought to directly influence human beings, compelling them to "do" something; instead, the state of the solar system as a whole (and in a very remote sense, of the galaxy) at the time and place of an individual's first breath is thought to provide us with a fundamental type of information about the meaning and function of this particular individual.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1974 by Dane Rudhyar
and Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
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