The Practice of Astrology at the Transpersonal Level - 5
The Transmutation of Karma into Dharma
The term dharma simply defines what this new human being could
do for Humanity of which he or she is a part, what Humanity expects of this individual, and what it will help him or her to do, if help is possible. Considered from the point of view of karma
, the new birth is the result of a multitude of past causes and of the inertial power of the energy these causes generated; but from the point of view of dharma
, the new birth constitutes a potential answer to a need of he greater Whole, Humanity. It is only, however, a potential
answer, for the inertial power of karma may force merely a repetition of old patterns. Such a repetition would be almost inevitable if there were no possibility of the greater Whole deliberately interacting with the lesser whole, the human being. But such an interaction is possible in a focalized and individualized sense
only if the human being first opens his or her consciousness to that possibility — which means to the belief in the real "presence" of this encompassing greater Whole, or of what the Christian religion interprets
as the presence of God (thus the title of a well-known Medieval manual of devotion, The Practice of the Presence of God.
In other words, a human being can transform karma into dharma if he or she is able to fulfill the purpose with which Humanity invested him or her at birth. The transmutation of karma into dharma is the transpersonal way. Along that way, the inertia of the individual's past is being used
to fulfill a need of humanity. As he or she struggles along the transpersonal way, the individual has to repolarize the energies and faculties from his or her past. The individual was born as the convergence of these energies and faculties, but it is possible for him or her to cease acting and thinking as a creature of the past and to become the creator of a future — or rather to become a focusing agent through whom
Humanity (or the planetary Being, or God), is able to fulfill a particular and limited purpose. Such a repolarization is truly the essence of the transpersonal process.
The fallacy inherent in the ideal of personality fulfillment is the notion that what is fulfilled is something of the individual himself or herself. What is fulfilled is in fact the flowering of the past. In this sense, many great poets, artists, or thinkers can be considered the flowering of their cultures; and this is truly the ideal one works for at the sociocultural level of consciousness and activity. But the real "genius", while in a sense the product of his or her culture, is nevertheless a flower that contains a mutating seed, a transformative agent. Most often, however, the "genius" is not clearly conscious of being such an agent, because the I-center is still involved in the karmic patterns of the past. Even if there is a conscious realization of being a channel for some superior Power, the interpretation given to this fact may be as confusing as helpful.
The transpersonal way does not particularly deal with individuals belonging to the special category of "genius". It is open to all individuals who, because they inwardly feel, realize, or experience their relationship with a greater Whole (whether they interpret this relationship in religious, metaphysical or occult terms), are able to give a larger frame of reference to the conscious or half-conscious process of repolarizing what in them represents the past into a future that includes far more than their personality. In fact, the past of an individual is not merely the legacy of his or her biological ancestors and the mental-emotional accumulation of all that his or her culture has impressed upon him or her; it is also the unfinished business and failures of past personalities with whom the individual is psychically related and of the societies in which these personalities lived. The popular concept of reincarnation refers at best to only one kind
of psychic relationship with personalities of the past, and it does not take into consideration group or national karma.
Astrologically speaking, all this past, however it is interpreted in a psychic or spiritual sense, is seen to be condensed in the birth-chart. More accurately, the birth-chart as a whole
symbolizes what part of this immense past is condensed as the karma of the newborn human being — thus what has conditioned
the new birth. No particular factor — planet, node, or house — can be especially related to the karma of the person. The entire chart — and in concrete terms, the family and environment (physical, mental, and social) of the newborn — represents his or her karma. This karma can be repolarized and transmuted into dharma, and the function of transpersonal astrology is to help individuals who not only consider such a repolarization possible, but are sincerely willing and seemingly ready (or at least very eager) to take some definite steps along this path of radical transformation.
A transpersonal interpretation of astrological data should first of all assist the individual in realizing how the energies of his or her whole person, the circumstances and major events of his or her life, can be given a new and transformative meaning. The purpose of the transpersonal interpretation is not to describe
what the birth-chart may be said to indicate. It is to evoke
the possibility of repolarizing what the past had produced into the means required for the performance of the future-oriented dharma, and to evoke this possibility in such a convincing manner that the individual will be stirred into taking active steps toward such a performance.
In order to accomplish this purpose, two procedures have to be used. First, every factor in the birth-chart
must be interpreted in the light of the process of transformation, thus of what each can contribute to it. In order to do this so that the client will be able to understand and especially to assimilate and constructively respond to the interpretation (as I have already stated and cannot stress enough), the astrologer has to discover where the client stands in his or her evolution. This can be done to a large extent intuitively as well as by closely observing the behavior, mannerisms, and vocal inflexions of the client, especially when two alternative courses of action or interpretations are presented to him or her. At a strictly astrological level, the other procedure which is required is a careful and complete study of planetary progressions and transits
These two factors represent the dynamic aspect of astrology, and for this reason they acquire a paramount value in transpersonal astrology; for transpersonal astrology essentially deals with a process
, and not merely with a supposedly static entity whose identity is set at birth and outlined by an unchanging birth-chart. While a person-centered type of astrology seeks to discover the character of this identity and to help the fulfillment of the potentialities it reveals, transpersonal astrology deals mainly with the possibility of using
whatever the birth-chart indicates to transform the very concept of individual identity by raising the level at which it operates
— eventually raising it from the "I" level to that of a transindividual "We". This is the level of conscious and responsible participation in the greater Whole, Humanity, considered as a planetary Being.
deals with a dynamic process
. The birth-chart
reveals its starting point
. The process can be followed by the astrologer as it unfolds day by day, year by year. It can be "tracked" in two ways because it has a twofold character. On one hand, it refers to a particular individual, but on the other, this person does not grow in a vacuum. The process of individual transformation occurs in a universe also in transformation and, more particularly, in a society and community undergoing constant changes. In our century these changes are so rapid, so violent, and so extensive that virtually no one's life can escape their direct or indirect impact.
As a result, astrology in its dynamic aspect uses two different techniques. The technique of progressions
(secondary or "solar") refers to the individual
aspect of the process of transformation, while the study of transits
(particularly those of the planets from Jupiter outwards) deals more specifically with the collective
aspect of the change. The qualificative collective, however, should be applied to both
the "lower" collectivity constituted by a particular sociocultural environment, and to the "higher" collectivity represented by the greater whole, Humanity, seeking to induce a conscious and open response in the individuals who participate in its planetary existence.
Before proceeding to study these dynamic aspects of astrology, we should first focus on the birth-chart at the transpersonal level.
In Catholic mysticism, the greater Whole, when interpreted at a spiritual level, is the Mystical Body of Christ "in whom we live, move and have our being." This mystical body is not only symbolized, but believed to be substantially present in the consecrated host. During the year for a specified time, every church exposes the host high above the altar in a golden container made in the symbolical shape of the Sun with radiating rays. This is the ritual of the "perpetual Adoration". At every moment in one or several churches around the globe, this ritual is being performed to symbolize the constant and encompassing Presence of Christ. The circular
host is of course the symbol of divine perfection — the supreme mandala. Return