The Two Basic Ways of Meeting Life's Confrontations - 4
In the foregoing description of the Yang and Yin approaches
to life's encounters and challenges, I have undoubtedly weighed heavily on the Yin side of the scale. The reason for this, as already stated, is that for centuries our Western society has extolled and glorified the Yang ideal and the practices derived from it.(4
) As a result of this one-pointed concentration, spectacular material results have indeed been achieved, but they have nevertheless produced a situation in which violence has reached an explosive and perhaps uncontrollable character on a worldwide scale. Violence at the strictly biological level of existence and in terms of the satisfaction of the basic life-situations for self-preservation and self-reproduction has to be accepted as the law of the biosphere affecting all life-species; but when the human stage of planetary evolution is reached and the conscious mind and ego-will bring to these primordial drives a means to satisfaction enabling them insatiably to increase the intensity and scope of their modes of operation, we are facing a most critical situation.
To fight against it in a Yang-like manner can only exacerbate the issue, even though a tendency to fight "for the sake of righteousness" has been inbred in our collective mentality. We should rather meet the world situation — as well as personal situations in which the elements of conflict, impatience, jealousy, and gnawing frustration are so often present — with understanding and an unceasing search for meaning. And nothing in itself has meaning unless it be seen in relation to something else, and particularly in relation to its opposite. The deepest value of any action derives from the fact that it is needed to polarize another action of opposite character. The ultimate ideal is "equilibrium" — a multi-directional balance of activities operating at several interrelated and interpenetrating levels.
Always activity. What makes it difficult for most people trained in our Western modes of thinking to understand the Yin way of life is that they associate this way with inaction and passivity. An unbalanced Yin type of attitude will lead to passivity and inertia, just as an unbalanced Yang attitude produces the ruthless, egocentric ambition and craving for any kind of exciting activity we often find in our present world. If it is difficult for us today to understand the character of the Yin type of activity, it is because we have been programmed to give value almost exclusively to the kind of behavior which brings to the ego the satisfaction of achieving what our senses can measure and our mind can manipulate in order to gain always more power over
something or someone. Material results — and today this mostly means money and social connections — are considered almost the only proof of success in life, because no one can concretely measure and assess spiritual results.
Material results are possible because of the divisibility
of matter. The achievements of modern science have been based on this characteristic of all material compounds which allows a full play to the operations of the analytical mind; and the ultimate products of this trend have been atomic fission and man's research into the behavior of the broken pieces of atoms he had subjected to an extreme of violence. "Divide and conquer" is not only the motto of diplomats and politicians, it is also that of the man who seeks to rule all that is not himself. Today we speak glowingly of "synthesis", yet this much abused term refers mostly to recombining in a new way what had first been atomized or pulverized.
Until quite recently, an "atomistic" interpretation of the universe and all it contains has dominated science and the greatest part of philosophy. The opposite approach, "holism" — a term first coined by Jan Smuts around 1920 — is only now gaining a sudden favor, particularly among the still small minority of progressive thinkers and creative workers striving to build at least stepping stones, and perhaps foundations, for a much-idealized New Age. It would be unwise, however, to identify the duality of "atomism" and "holism" with the Yang and Yin polarities of existence I have been discussing. These two pairs of opposites belong to two different conceptual levels. But it is evident that the Yang approach tends to develop an atomistic philosophy and cosmology; it pictures a world in which a fantastic number of "billiard balls" — the atoms — are essentially distributed in a random manner, yet are also linked, pulled together or violently rushing away from each other according to the play of forces which in themselves have no meaning and no purpose. In such a world of "force against force", individuals-atoms of human consciousness, egos-are supposed to be as indivisible as physical atoms were once thought to be. At the metaphysical and "spiritual" level, these human atoms of consciousness have been called "monads", each essentially separate and independent as well as immortal.
The world of holistic philosophers has an utterly different character. It is an immense Whole-and some say a supreme being or pantheistic God. This Whole cyclically differentiates in a multitude of parts which themselves are wholes having parts which are also wholes; yet the fundamental Unity is ever-present because every whole — large and small, atom, manor galaxy — is related to every other whole in an infinitely complex network of relationships. Through all these wholes, a unifying type of power flows which mystics and occultists, heirs to the traditions of the Vitalistic Age of mankind, have often called the "One Life". It is the life of the universal Whole that always remains essentially "one", even though it superficially seems broken up into the myriad of little wholes that are but temporary condensations of the energy of Space — Space considered as fullness of being, consciousness, and harmonic activity (in Sanskrit, Sat-Chit-Ananda
Atomism and holism are not only two different and basically opposite ways of picturing the universe in terms of philosophical concepts and scientific procedures; these two approaches to "reality" are to be found in nearly all fields of activity. They constitute two fundamental forms consciousness
can take in coming to terms with human experience, just as Yang and Yin are the two poles, opposite yet complementary, of human activity
. Both are needed in every field of experience that draws the attention of the ego — the "I am" principle centralizing the field of consciousness and the motives for action. Yet one of the two polarities most of the time plays a decisive role, and in our individualistic and technological modern society the Yang principle and atomistic, personalistic, and achievement-oriented way of life are still so overwhelmingly in control that, in whatever field it manifests, the Yin approach seems to most people totally alien and incomprehensible.
The field of astrology is no exception. At least since the classical Greco-Roman period, astrology has been dominated by an analytical, personalistic, and fragmented type of consciousness, even though it dealt with concepts that once had integrally belonged to a vitalistic and profoundly religious system of beliefs. Today-particularly in America but also increasingly in Europe-two trends have developed out of the classical tradition mainly represented long ago by Ptolemy and more recently by 17th century astrologers in England, Germany, and France. One of these trends is oriented toward the development of a "scientific model" for astrology through the use of empirical research and statistics. The other trend has sought to align astrology with the remarkable
transformation of Western psychology since the days of Freud, particularly since the work of Carl Jung and the subsequent growth of "Humanistic psychology" with Abraham Maslow, Anthony Sutich, Carl Rogers, Rollo May, et al. Because it soon became clear that the Humanistic and Human Potential movements have their limitations, a new trend developed along lines related to a growing interest in parapsychology and mystical experiences, and the term transpersonal
was used to characterize this entire field of psychological investigation of what seemed to be at the borderline of consciousness.
At about the same time, I realized that the development of an almost exclusively psychology-oriented and "humanistic" astrology, which the publication of my book The Astrology of Personality
in 1936 had stimulated, was still following, in most instances, a mainly descriptive and strictly informative line. This realization led me a few years ago to initiate and formulate in general terms a transpersonal type of astrology.
This transpersonal astrology is meant to meet the often largely unconscious need of a vanguard of individuals who are now feeling — at times almost compulsively — moved to seek a type of guidance and inspiration that would throw light upon a process of radical transformation they believe necessary for them to go through because of their eagerness to become pioneers in a New Age and a new life. It is true that in the distant and recent past much has been written by the mystics and occultists of all cultures concerning such a process of human metamorphosis; but what had been said can be more confusing than helpful to the modern minds of individuals who now start from a point totally different from the starting point of Asiatic or even old European aspirants. The Yin approach to life which forms a background for this transpersonal orientation is still completely foreign to the typical Western mentality; and the religious language in which "the Path" was described in the past is so difficult for academically trained individuals to assimilate [merely memorizing its terms is not enough] that the outcome of the search is often either a repeated state of frustration and disappointment, or a binding subservience to the outer forms of disintegrating cultural molds.
In dealing with this Yin way of life, symbols have to be used, because our Yang-oriented modern languages become awkward and confusing for the purpose of guidance on the path of radical transformation, not only of consciousness, but of our motivations for action. Just as the symbols of higher mathematics and group-algebra have proven necessary for an understanding of the non-rational series of events following the violent release of nuclear particles once the structure of the atom is forced to break down, so astrology, as a strictly symbolic language, can be used to bring a sense of order and sequential meaning to events and the inner experiences of individuals who have consciously taken upon themselves the momentous and dangerous task of transforming all the implications of human existence in their own lives, or who have been unwillingly caught in a maelstrom of social disruption. Astrology can also help the individuals who expect a new departure in human affairs to discover the cyclic meaning of the worldwide series of events which have marked our tragic century and to place their own expectations in a correct time-perspective.
Nevertheless, astrology can confuse the seeker with an insignificant and unconstructive mass of information and a plethora of data having no relevance to the basic process of transformation. The traditional interpretation of these data may even distract the attention of the aspirant and take him or her away from the straight-and-narrow-path eventually leading to a "transhuman" state of existence, by inducing him or her to find easy solutions to life-problems in ancestral attitudes defined by simplistic or overly-abstract concepts.
In the following chapter I shall therefore try to establish a clear contrast between two basic approaches to astrology and between two interpretations of generally used astrological data so that the alternatives are made as clear as possible. Then the reader will be better prepared to deal with what is involved in the practice of transpersonal astrology.
ln my book The Pulse of Life
(written in 1942 and now available free online at the Rudhyar Archival Project), I studied the seasonal cycle of the year — the series of twelve zodiacal signs — in terms of the Interplay of two forces which I called the Day-force and the Night-force. These two forces wax and wane in turn; they are of equal strength only at the two equinoxes. They correspond respectively to Yang and Yin. Our Western world is now historically at a point which should probably be located shortly after the maximum of the Day-force (Yang), when the Yin principle begins to wax in strength. In the year this would be shortly after the summer solstice. Is this why the symbolic and official "birthday" of the United States is July 4? On the other hand, ancient India — structured by the Laws of Manu — is said to have been ruled by Capricorn, the sign of the winter solstice, when the Yin force, the collective factor, has maximum power. The spiritual
individualism of Hindu yogis and seers would represent the complementary Yang-factor seeking to express itself. In America, the Yin-factor can be seen at work in the Increasing dependence of individuals upon collective fashions of thought, feeling and behavior. Return
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