Believe it or not, the Earth is alive. In fact, the Earth and Universe are Life itself. There is nothing but sentience—living awareness. And yet so few of us feel this. Modern life has hardened our senses, and in many minds, Modern Science has made the Earth into mere chemistry, biology, and physics. Those with salvational views may believe the Earth to be God’s creation, but this makes it little more than an artifact, albeit a magnificent one. These are both, of course, myths (myth not meaning false but simply different stories explaining Reality). And while these myths hopefully seem outdated in the modern technological age, they still influence our culture a great deal.
The Chinese Tradition has a different myth. If we call the Scientific myth “mechanical/chemical” and the Creationist myth “ceramic” (implying the universe was made by an outside agent, like a potter shapes clay) then we can call the Chinese myth “organic.” In other words, the Chinese see the Universe as an organism, growing from the inside out, a living flowing process of eternal cyclical movement (Qi), and their view of the living world is vast, incomprehensible to modern minds. Daoists say we share this space with 64,000 kinds of 64,000 kinds/categories of birth (animal, for example, being 1 kind), most of which we cannot “see.”
In the Chinese organic view, the Earth is populated by a vast network of “realms” and “spirits,” governed or “managed” by the blessings and unresolved patterns/issues of everything that came before, and we call these precedents “Ancestors.” These realms share the same space (there’s only one space), but they “vibrate” or move at a different frequency, so to speak. When other beings in other realms are happy and being themselves, they are invisible to us, and we are invisible to them, and we do not “possess” one another.
Although this may sound “conveniently un-provable” by modern scientific standards, modern science states that our eyes cannot see most of the spectrum of light, heat, and so on. In the same way, the Chinese see Earth as “Multi-Dimensional,” with the many simultaneous unseen dimensions intertwining, blurring, and flowing into one another. The deep ocean and dense wilderness, for example, are considered hell and spirit realms, and in the Chinese View we should not disturb these places, for they are full of beings we cannot see, and their exile, say through de-forestation, has powerful consequences, for they are loosed elsewhere. Some of these “other” beings we can see, such as animals. But we can all agree that your Dog does not see the same Earth that you do, meaning they do not see most colors.
You may say—we cannot see heat in the same way a snake can, but we can detect it with instruments and “prove” its existence. You may say, we cannot see ghosts or detect them with machines, so therefore they don’t exist. In response to this, I would ask you—what color is your mind? Obviously, your mind, like a mirror, has no color; you cannot “see” your own mind or “prove” to another person you had a thought, but I doubt you would say your mind has no life.
And sorry, the brain is not the source of the mind; it is only a conduit. The mind simply has a different kind of reality—a mental one, and materialistic science will always be at a loss so long as it considers the mind to be an emergent property of the brain. It is not. Until this difference is acknowledged and reconciled, Western Science and Eastern Wisdom will never actually meet.
Like your mind, many types of beings in the universe have a different, non-physical “un-measurable” existence, and the Daoist/Tantric traditions teach many ways to “see” them with “other” eyes; Daoism teaches that we have five eyes, like the popular third eye depicted in new age literature. So I will unequivocally say that as human beings we can cultivate the ability to “see” other realms, to open our wisdom eyes, but in order to do so, we need to first acknowledge that subjective reality is in fact a reality, and then we need to practice meditation. Many modern meditation teachers now liken meditation to developing an internal microscope, which is a good place to start.
All kinds of birth (womb, egg, moisture, mental/miraculous/light, etc) are Life. In the Chinese View, rocks, trees, rivers, indeed everything on Earth, is alive, that is to say everything has Qi; everything expresses an immortal continuity, a web that has no weaver and no beginning. Buddhism calls this interconnected web Indra’s Net, which is sometimes likened to infinite drops of dew in a vast spider’s web, each drop reflecting every other drop ad infinitum. The Net represents dependent origination, interpenetration, and emptiness.
Central to this organic view is the continuity of Life, called Immortality. I will explore the notion of Immortality later, but to begin, we must understand the fundamental notion that we express an ongoing continuity; in other words, we come from somewhere. We express and come from a past rhythm, like the ripple of waves on water.
Where do you come from? This may sound like an obvious question, but have you ever seriously thought about it? Chances are you have probably thought about it a little but dismissed it as unimportant.
Where do we come from? The short answer is—we come from parents who came from parents who came from parents and so on. We come from life and have the ability to generate life. As long as humans get horny, we can keep the life going forever. You are a link in an unbroken chain of an uncountable number of beings who reproduced. The very fact that you're here means that life has come to you unbroken from the beginning of the Universe. I'll give you a minute on that one.
The proper term for this is Ancestry. Your Ancestors are your precedent; everything that you are you inherited from them.
If you dismiss your Ancestors as unimportant, then you are an anomaly among the human species, for most humans, all over the Earth, in most civilizations throughout human history, have considered Ancestry extremely important. And our culture today does not. Some may argue that this disconnection from our roots, from history, and from our Ancestors is the very reason for our confusion and discontent.
We do not seek to liberate the negativity of our past, and so we are ruled by it. A saying goes—those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. One only needs to study history to see that humans have repeated the same patterns again and again throughout time. And one only needs to examine the politics/rhetoric/cultures of our time to see that we are now repeating history, only this time we’re doing it with guns and giz-widgets at an exponential rate.
In the study of Astrology, we study our history—what preceded our birth. A natal chart is a map of your karma at the moment of birth and a map of your Ancestors, which are actually one in the same. Your “past lives” are also your Ancestors in the Buddhist interpretation of Astrology. Your body, too, is a map of your Ancestors. In order to honor the past, we begin with our Ancestors because they gave us our body; they gave us life, and they give us our Fate.
In the Chinese View, you have many “bodies.” You have a family body, a social body, a friendship body, a cultural body, a religious body, a karmic body, a dream body, a universal body, an energy body, an ancestral body, and so on. Your life is lived in all these bodies, and your Fate, too, is related to each in turn.
These bodies are like a Russian Doll, and some are so big that you cannot really work with them, at least not without straining yourself. So in Spiritual Practice, we work from the inside out with the view that the subtle affects the gross more than the gross affects the subtle. Our ancestral body is at the core of our fate and is actually the easiest to work with. As our bodies radiate outward, they open into our “shared” fate/karma, and our ancestral body lies at the core of this shared fate. There is a reason we are born into our family.
We share fate/karma with our family—why else should our lives be so intimately connected? In the Chinese View, we don’t really have personal fate/karma. In other words, our karma is not isolated in a box for us to work with as a private experience. Our actions ripple throughout the universe, spiraling in and out in our many bodies. The very fact that you were born to your parents means you are connected to them, and everyone in your family is linked throughout time, playing out many roles in many lifetimes.
This ancestral body includes about seven generations of humans and is likened to a stream. There are many streams of karma/fate in the universe; some flow into each other, and all are heading toward the sea, which in turn becomes rivers again in the cycles of time. Some rivers come from different mountains and take different paths to return home. The timeliness of our birth, our birth chart, tells us which river we’re born into and where this river runs. In Polestar Astrology, we call these “Currents of Fate.”
When we are born we enter, or re-enter, the stream, heading to the Ocean, returning to source. Not all currents are the same; some are like lazy rivers and some are like white water rapids. The nature of each stream is determined by all those in it, in other words—by our Ancestors. Through birth, some are dumped in the rapids and others ride in a yacht. This stream is a stream of human mind/hearts connected by karma and fate in the cyclical flow of time. Each of these cycles spans about seven generations forward and backward from each person.
These streams connect most strongly through blood, but some connect in other ways. You may have Wisdom Ancestors and are fated to connect to your Ancestral Stream through a teacher or lineage. Your best friends or co-workers may be your Karmic Ancestors, and your Fate may be to re-connect with them in this lifetime to work in the world. Whether this is the case or not, your Fate is connected to your family, at least a little, and this is what Astrology tells us—where and how your Ancestors appear in your life.
In the Cycles of Fate, some humans, through spiritual practice, good luck, tremendous sacrifice, or great generosity resolve their Ancestral Fate and exit their stream at the moment of death. At this moment, a human who has lived a complete life, who has resolved their karma, can choose to “return” into the cycles (also called saṃsāra) and take birth in a new stream, the same stream, or they can leave the Realms all together, becoming a “pure/light being.”
In Buddhism, a returning being is called a Bodhisāttva, and we assumed that if someone returns to the Six Realms, they do so in order to help out in the flesh. If they leave the Realms they can become a “Beneficial Ancestor” and benefit beings from “behind the scenes.” If, say, your Great Grandmother chooses this role, then she may appear in your Natal Astrology as a guiding force in your Fate and in the resolution of the Ancestral Stream through your conduct in the world. Your Beneficial Ancestors become your drive, your calling, and they give you your path in life, directing you, prompting you, creating opportunities in order to liberate the whole family. They work in the world to create positive circumstances in the resolution of your Ancestral Fate.
As an Ancestral Body flows, Beneficial Ancestors come and go, holding “office,” so to speak. Your Great Grandmother may very well be the precedent for your career. If you powerfully resolve your Fate in career, she may release into what the Daoists call “Great Completion,” or the “Body of Light,” returning to Source. If we resolve all of our Ancestors and Karma, we can experience Great Completion/the Body of Light in this life and leave behind no corpse, meaning that we resolve our birth.
That being said, not all of your Ancestors are happy and resolved; some become what we call Ghosts or Demons, meaning they had an incomplete death, get “stuck” in their transition, and you inherit their “unfinished business,” which I will discuss later.
All of your Ancestors together, form a “team,” a pattern of Karma/Fate which you inherit at birth. As an Astrologer, I read the Fate you where given at birth as a pattern, determined by the Twelve Ruling Stars, which we again call your Current of Fate or Fate Stream. All the Stars I read in a Natal Chart represent Yin and Yang Currents of Ancestral Qi/Fate.
Polestar Astrology, which is not Astronomical but Chronological, actually describes the flow of these Currents in the Universe as they are governed by the greater macrocosmic cycles, spiraling outward from the Polestar, the fixed point in our Heaven, which from the Chinese Perspective is the Emperor of Fate, the place where Karma/Fate is recorded and dispersed. Heaven flows in a pattern and governs the flow of Ancestral Streams on Earth. A human being is where these two things, Heaven and Earth, Life and Death, meet.
In other words, your Ancestors are important. Of course, I’m sure your parents/grandparents are important to you; perhaps you are even in psychotherapy because of this. And although modern psychology gives us a vocabulary for understanding our family relations, in my mind, it completely misses the mark. The influence of our Ancestors is far greater and far more significant than most of us realize. Indeed, it is far greater, albeit far less dramatic, than our “Mommy and Daddy issues.”
Ancestry has been abstracted by being “psychologized,” and so many of us explore our family issues, but few of us actually honor them. In other words, we exalt our issues and do not exalt our Ancestors.
In Chinese Astrology, we call the presence of the Ancestors in our life Yuan Qi, or Ancestral/Original Qi. In the modern parlance, your Ancestors are your “issues,” and they are also your talents, goals, aspirations, and health.
In the past century, terms such as “Ancestor Worship” and “Spirits” have been used to denigrate many old-world traditions by relegating them to “superstition.” It was not only Missionaries but Anthropologists and Modern Scientists alike who brutalized the Animistic Traditions because they did not perceive their own view as religious. In other words, we are plagued by hundreds of years of Western Scientific Materialism and Salvational Christianity misinterpreting other cultures by perceiving them through their own lenses. It is only in the past 20 or so years that scholarship has begun to rectify this.
Sadly, our cultures (especially here in America) are losing touch with our ancestral roots, and we have certainly lost touch with the Spirit World (the subject of another Blog). As a culture, we do not honor our Elders, and we do not honor our Ancestors. As a result, the past few generations have become very “loose;” we have become a generation of ghosts. We drift around like floating heads, and the quickness of our technological advancement has displaced us from the cycles of nature so fast we have barely begun to realize the consequences. Furthermore, the popular myths of Creationism and Scientism have dominated our minds and made us insensitive to the vast networks of life on Earth, which is exemplified in the phenomenon called climate change.
This network, this flow of life has many dimensions, names, and expressions which I have already mentioned—the Spirit World, the Ancestors—if we open our minds to the situation we are actually in, if we experience everything in the world as alive, and if we learn to honor and respect this life, then we have the opportunity to transform our experience and reconnect to our Nature.
I do not personally believe that science has “disproven” the old world views; rather, I believe it never understood them in the first place. I do not advocate a “return to the jungle,” (maybe a little) but I do believe there is great value in understanding what the Chinese and many other Traditional Cultures mean by Ancestors. And I believe there is even greater value in honoring our Ancestors in the terms of these Traditions.
Ancestral Qi is actually the main subject of Astrology, which is difficult for most people to understand. During Astrology sessions, I introduce this idea to people, and while most are open to it, many look at me like I’m crazy. It never occurs to us that our neurotic self-limiting tendencies are not actually ours. Our human freedom simply hosts and expresses inherited patterns.
So far in this blog, I have gone to great lengths to discuss foundational view teachings on Yin-Yang, Hun Tun, the Five Elements, but when it comes down to it, Astrology is about Ancestors. This is a huge topic, and once we understand the basic view on Ancestral Qi in a practical and accessible way, the entire tradition of Chinese Astrology opens and becomes a powerful tool in the path to Human Freedom.
But before I explore the practical understanding of Ancestral Qi, I would like to return to the subject of Immortality, an often misunderstood idea from Chinese and Indian cosmology. Immortality is often interpreted as not dying. The longevity cults and traditions of Immortality in China have long been interpreted as attempts to extend physical life forever, in line with Western myths about the “fountain of youth,” but from the Chinese perspective this is nonsense.
Immortality has nothing to do with not dying. Your Original Nature is immortal. The purpose of studying Astrology, following a Spiritual Path, and resolving our Ancestors is to discover our Original Nature. In other words, when we have resolved our Fate, when we are free of the tangles of Karma, we touch our Source which was never born, never dies, and yet flows forever in an Immortal Procession. Reproducing eternally in sex-paired opposites, Life has been flowing forever since beginningless time.
Realizing the dimension of our experience which is already immortal, we become Immortal—we realize that what we are in Essence does not die because it was never born. By realizing Immortality all of our Karma/Ancestors are liberated into the Eternal Now. In the Chinese/Indian View, a Realized Immortal is free then to benefit beings in all the realms throughout time, no longer bound to the Fate of their Ancestors.
So how do we work with our Ancestors? How do our Ancestors influence our everyday life? Well, this is actually quite simple. First, we have to get the basic view that we have no abiding self.
If we have no abiding self, what are we? In short, we are a compound of our Ancestors. In other words, we are a stream of thousands of people flowing together into a single body/mind. We identify with this stream and call it “I/me,” because our nature is reflexive, but actually you are the flowing karma of many other people, and they too were a compound of many other people, individual expressions in the flow of Ancestral Streams.
Let’s first take your body—obviously you received your body from your parents. When your parents kicked boots, Yin and Yang, Red and White, came together and produced a third, a combination of two Ancestral Streams. So you may have your Mom’s eyes, your Dad’s jaw, your Grandmother’s butt, your Dad’s poor circulation, your Great-Grandmother’s hair, and your Great-Uncle’s freckles. Our physical constitution and health are clearly an expression of many people. Our health and fate for illness and disease is largely Ancestral (or produced by our freedom/conduct).
But what about the rest of you? Our culture recognizes that talent “runs in the family.” But we don’t seem to acknowledge that everything runs in the family. Your intelligence, talents, interests, likes/dislikes are also inherited from your Ancestral Stream. Perhaps, you inherited your Grandmother’s intellect or your Great-Great Aunt’s musical abilities. In other words, in order to honor our Ancestors, we must realize that EVERYTHING we are has a precedent; everything comes from an Ancestor, from past actions. We are simply a new and unique combination of all the people we come from, including our own “past lives.”
So this obviously means that we inherit negativity as well. Our fear, neurosis, hatred, prejudice, dullness, allergies, illness, accidents, addictions, and so on also come from our Ancestral Stream. Since our culture is narcissistic and self-obsessed, we exalt our “specialness” and blame ourselves for our negative traits, creating all kinds of stories about how messed up we are. Or we blame our parents, which is the wrong interpretation of the Ancestral View. If we are taught from an early age not to identify with the negativity we inherit, then we can work with it without blaming ourselves or our parents.
Of course, we must take responsibility for our actions, but we need not blame ourselves for, say, inheriting a long pattern of addiction. Take responsibility to break the cycles of negativity you inherit. If you take this kind of responsibility without blame then you will realize that no one (no “self”) was ever personally responsible, and all of your Ancestors become free. Unfortunately, many paths, such as psychology, exalt the notion of working with our negativity without teaching us that it was never “ours” (or anyone’s) to begin with, and so cycles of blame perpetuate in endless “talk therapy” sessions digging through the past.
You may be addicted to chocolate. You just can’t stop eating it. Well, perhaps your Great Aunt grew up poor and only tasted chocolate once in her life at a rich person’s house. Perhaps, she died poor and never tasted chocolate again. So she died with the taste of chocolate as a painful reminder of everything she could never have and always wanted. Now you can’t stop eating chocolate, and it is giving you respiratory problems. You have to stop but can’t because you identify with the problem and do not realize that it is not you who wants the chocolate but your Great Aunt. Her desire was passed down to you energetically, so to speak. In the Chinese View, all of our patterns are like this. All of our compulsions, addictions, and bad habits are just streams of karma that get passed down through Ancestors.
Perhaps, your Grandmother died in World War II. She was sitting at home, heard the sirens, and a bomb was dropped on her in an air raid. Now you’re 35, have no stability, and move from place to place because every time you make a home you feel unsafe, like something bad will happen, and you have to get out.
Maybe your Great-Grandfather lost everything in the Great Depression and could not feed his family. He turned to drink and became very depressed. Disgraced he hanged himself in the barn. The family survived but never spoke of him again. Now you’re a teenager and are haunted by an irrational depression; one day after school you try to hang yourself in the garage.
Your Grandfather was an immigrant. He worked 80 hours a week to build a business from nothing in a new land. Through hard work he succeeded but never spent any time with his children or wife. Now you’re 40 and a work-a-holic. You have spent your whole adult life getting ahead and succeeding, making the best of what your Grandfather created for you, but you too never see your family.
Here’s a personal example. I had a relative who had a heart attack on the dance floor and died. And I hate dancing. If you ask me to dance, I feel like I’m going to die.
Or, let’s take the Buddhist perspective of Ancestors as past lives. You have been a monk for the past 30 lifetimes. Now you’re a Modern American and have a tremendous impetus towards the spiritual path and have no idea how to date (okay that one’s me too).
This can get very dark. Say you lived all of your life as a good person. But your village was raided and in your last moment before death you watched a soldier murder your child. And in that last moment, you bit down and felt the most unbelievable rage followed by the desire to kill the person who killed your child. And in death you forgot all the goodness of your human life and could remember nothing but the rage and the feeling of biting down, in which you get stuck, unable to release. In anger, you chase after the only beings you can “see,” and your great nephew gets terminal cancer.
In the Chinese Tradition, this is called Possession. And these issues are called “ghosts” and “demons.” This is a huge topic. In short, a ghost is an Ancestor who had a very incomplete death, full of longing, desire, and dissatisfaction, which you may inherit as anxiety and low-self-esteem. A demon is an Ancestor who died full of anger and hate, which you may inherit as an incurable illness or irrational aggression or as a freak car accident.
Anyways, you see where I’m going with this? This may sound negative, and I don’t want to spook you. I want to open your mind to the continuum of death experiences and to the notion that while your body may die, your energy, your momentum, your karma continues and becomes Fate in your Ancestral Stream.
But we are not bound to the Fate of our Ancestors. According to Astrology, every Human is a compound of three things—Character, Fate, and Freedom. Humans are, by nature, Free. I’ll say that again—WE ARE FREE BY NATURE. Our limitations, our Karma, and our Fate are inherited. We have no Self. We are a swirling stream of past actions coming to fruition in a mind/body, and nowhere in this stream is there a solid “you.” What you call “you” is just the ability of this compound stream to self-reflect.
When we liberate our Ancestors, we are free to rest in our Nature, which is clear, radiant, calm, but also dynamic and active. A Human Being free of their Ancestors is relaxed and has no compulsion to do anything other than respond appropriately to their Natural Appetites. The momentum of pain and happiness behind them has vanished into light. The more we relax into our Nature, the more we experience ourselves and the world as a phantasm of Light (Qi).
So how do we work with our Ancestors? Better yet, how do we honor them? First—get an Astrology reading! As I mentioned—Polestar Astrology describes the nature of your Ancestral Qi in terms of your Fate and Karma. A reading will tell you if your Fate is in family, career, children, money, and so on, and this tells you how all your Ancestors are crowded behind you.
All my Fate is out in the world, for example; it is not with marriage and children. Of course, I can have family, but if I do so they will be a demonstration of my Freedom. Knowing where our Ancestors are pushing us (and you should already be aware of this to a degree because it’s your life) is helpful. We can deplete ourselves wasting energy in the areas of life that are not fated.
Honor yourself as an expression of everything and everyone that came before you. Recognize that all of your talents and skills, fears and neuroses, come from others. This means letting go of self-hatred and blame as well as self-cherishing. When you do this, thousands of ghosts disappear into light. Letting go of self blame does not mean blaming our Ancestors, for they too were in the same position. We want to liberate them, not blame them. And we do this by following a spiritual path.
By choosing to work with and release our limiting patterns, we release our Ancestors. Release self blame and self-cherishing—cultivate self-respect and self-love. Love yourself—love your Ancestors, for they are one in the same. You are your Ancestors—they exist in you, as you; they do not float around in heaven/hell—they are your living body/mind.
If we live a very thorough life, full of intent and generosity, and if we cultivate a spiritual path, then in the moment of death we do not get “stuck.” Our issues do not get passed down. If we do not have a complete experience of life, then we do not have a complete death; we get stuck in the “bardo,” between birth and death, like a skipping record in a place outside time, and our momentum continues. So most importantly—cultivate self reflection and release your negative patterns through conduct and meditation.
Honor your literal Ancestors; this means your Parents, Grandparents, Culture, and so on. You should thank your Parents for Life; you should honor their wisdom and treat them with respect. You should love them no matter what, no matter what kind of childhood you had. Your enlightenment is theirs too.
Ritual offering is one of the most powerful ways we can honor our Ancestors. Every Chinese home has an Ancestor Altar. Create an Ancestor Altar and make offerings to it every day. Put pictures of your family on the altar and offer them symbols in the form of food, flowers, incense, prayer, songs, or anything that comes from your heart. When you make an offering, cultivate the intent to free everyone in your family line from all their/your negative Fate. You are thousands of people embodied, and everything you do you do as them, for them.
Do prostrations in front of your Ancestor Altar. In the Tantric and Daoist Traditions, prostrations are the main practice for liberating your Ancestors. Visualize all your Female Ancestors in an unbroken line behind your left shoulder and all of your Male Ancestors behind your right shoulder. Honor everything you come from and bow (even better get transmission on Prostration Practice and do it as part of your spiritual path). Prostrations are embodied—your body is the living expression of your Ancestors, and to bow in full prostration with your body to the stream that generated it is very powerful.
Have proper funerals. Whatever your deceased Ancestor expected—do that. If your Dad was an Irish Catholic and wanted you to get drunk at his funeral and tell stories about him—do it. You may say, “I’m a Buddhist; I don’t drink.” On that day you get drunk like an Irishman. If your Mother wanted to be cremated—do it. Never do what you want at their funeral—do what they wanted and expected—this helps their transition, especially if you have strong family traditions, which is why it is important to write a will. Do not chant Buddhist Sutras at your Irish Grandmother’s funeral—you will probably confuse her. Tell their stories, and allow yourself time to grieve. Say everything you wanted to say to them, and make sure that you keep speaking to them for at least seven weeks after their death. Visualize them resolving into light and love.
Also, if you have the honor to be around a Family member in the dying process, do whatever you can to make their experience peaceful and full of resolution. Do not cry and sob and wail around a corpse. The dead can hear for a long time after death. If their last moments are of you crying “don’t leave me!” They may stick around as a ghost.
Research your genealogy. Find out who you come from, where you come from. Make a family tree. Get a DNA test. Find out all of their names and stories. Go back as far as you can. Find out if and how they immigrated. Did they go to war? Were they farmers? What languages did they speak? Has anyone in your family been forgotten? Are their sad stories waiting to be told? Sometimes, an Ancestor can linger for generations, just waiting to be remembered, for their name to be spoken. Sometimes this is enough.
Eat the food of your Ancestors, at least a little. If your Ancestors spent the past three hundred generations eating potatoes, pork, and cabbage, or yak butter and barley, or rice, beans and squash, or bread, clams, and pasta, and now you’re a gluten free-vegan…they may be unhappy. If your body came from pork and cabbage and you’re giving it tofu …unhappy Ancestors. Of course, eat what you want, but try to eat Ancestral Food mindfully at least every once in a while.
And finally—contemplate the preciousness of Human Birth, the reality of impermanence and death, the difficulties of saṃsāra, and the truth of fate/karma. These are called the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind towards the Dharma. While the Buddhist Traditions are immensely complex, 98% of the Buddhist paths are in these preliminaries.
To be born human and to hear the Dharma is said to be very rare and therefore precious. Imagine a single sea turtle swimming alone in a vast infinite ocean. This turtle only comes for air once every million years. On the surface of this ocean floats a golden ring, tossed about on the waves. The likelihood of being born human and hearing the precious Dharma is said to be as rare as this turtle coming up for air and poking his head through the golden ring. So be thankful for being human, having human parents, and for the chance to make human babies. Out of all 64,000 x 64,000 kinds of birth, human beings are the most free and the most apt to become enlightened, even more so than Deities. All the more reason to thank and honor your Ancestors.
Everything is compound, processional, and in a state of flux/flow, hurling toward death. All compound phenomena are impermanent and subject to birth, old age, sickness, and death. YOU WILL DIE. And this is not morbid or depressing—it is natural. Death is as natural as Birth. Birth is the cause of death. We live in order to learn how to live and so how to die well and be liberated in the moment of death. Contemplate this every day, so that when loved ones die, and when you face death, you can relax and open into the experience. Death is the greatest opportunity to understand Life, and you do not have to wait until death to learn this lesson. Die before you die and you are free.
Saṃsāra means to cycle. Everything cycles in time—this is the meaning of Astrology. The cyclical procession of Time is Immortal—we cannot get out of it. This was the realization of Mahāyāna Buddhism. We’re Immortal, and we either cycle in Ignorance or Enlightenment. So if we’re Immortal and here forever, we might as well work for Liberation so that we can help out. If we do not take up the Path and free our Ancestors, our Karma, then they and we continue to cycle in Ignorance and suffering, repeating the same patterns of negativity forever. But if we follow the Path, liberate our Ghosts and empty our Hells, then we realize that saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are the same place, the same Immortal Procession of Light, and we are free to relax, go with the flow, and benefit beings with our naturalness and generosity.
Every action has a cause. And every action is a cause. This is called Fate or Karma. In every step, in every thought, and in every action contemplate this. When our actions and our experiences are incomplete, they continue as fragments, called ghosts. When our actions liberate ourselves and others they continue as virtue energy, called good karma or Beneficial Ancestors.
Our Ancestral Stream is full of Ghosts and Beneficial Ancestors, and their blessings and issues create the tapestry of our life. This tapestry is nothing other than past actions coming to fruition. If we truly understand the nature of this matrix, we can disentangle from it. Its nature is empty yet luminous; it is unrestricted and free to manifest as the appearance of cause and effect. As long as we identify with the cycles of cause and effect as truly existing, whether good or bad, we cycle in ignorance. Realizing the Emptiness of Fate and Karma, we experience the universe as an empty display of Loving Awareness-Light, and we are Complete.
Our Completion is not ours but belongs to our Ancestral Stream. Our Liberation liberates the countless beings who came before us, going back to beginningless time. Our Precious Human Birth and our opportunity for Liberation were given to us by our Ancestors. So honor them, and honor yourself.
Stay tuned; in my next Blog I will begin my exposition of the Twelve Characters of Destiny.
Tiger's Play--the View Teachings of Chinese Astrology
This page is your source for short, pithy articles on the view teachings of Chinese Astrology. Here, I will share everything I have learned about how to follow Astrology as a spiritual path.