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Astrology Articles
Article Title: Tibetan Astrology
Date Published: 11/14/2002
- by Michael  Erlewine
[Author's Note: I must thank Noel Tyl for providing me the opportunity to make this material available. I have been sitting on much of this information for many years, yet I knew that others might like to know something about Tibetan astrology and carry on from there.

As you will read, my interest in this subject has been superseded by my interest in the psychology out of which it arises, and I have turned my attention there. My apologies for what is, by necessity, a brief and somewhat fragmented presentation. Astrology awaits a real scholar who will document the intricate details of Tibetan astrology and who will not just use it as a stepping stone to the Buddhist teachings. For me, the need for what the astrology pointed toward was more important than pursuing the astrology itself. My most sincere thanks to Khenpo Karthar, Rinpoche and the other Karma Kagyu lamas who answered my many questions, and to John Reynolds, and Sange Wangchuk.]

I feel it necessary to start this discussion of Tibetan astrology by describing several concepts that readers will need to better understand this material. Please bear with me.

Most valid astrological techniques are the residue of a particular insight or astrological experience. After the initial fire of the original insight is gone (the realization), what remains is a practical technique or method to capture or recreate that experience on paper. Many of us use techniques of which we have never had realization and for which we have never been empowered. We are lucky if we get realization on even several of the many techniques that we use. That's just the way it is.

To realize a technique in the truest sense, we somehow have to become empowered in the actual experience. With the help of a book or teacher and a lot of concentration, sooner or later we hope to find our way to the experience itself and actually have that experience. At that point we can begin to use the technique in something more than a rote or mechanical fashion, for we have realized it. This is even more true when it comes to a whole new kind of astrology, such as that which the Tibetans are using. Tibet, the so-called spiritual and physical "roof of the world," has been the source for much inspiration to Westerners for over two centuries. More than just an East-West sort of thing, Tibetan astrology is inextricably bound to Tibetan Buddhism. With few exceptions, the primary practicing astrologers in Tibet were and are Buddhist monks. To learn something about one is to learn something about the other. You can not skim the astrology off the top of the Tibetan Buddhism. So, to get to the astrology, you have to negotiate the Buddhist psychology in which it resides.

Because of this fact, I feel it is important to give readers some idea of how I became interested in Tibetan astrology. Also, since it is impossible to separate Tibetan astrology from Tibetan Buddhism, it may be important for you to understand something about the Buddhism itself, and how it relates to the astrology.

My interest in all of this stretches back to the 1950s and the beat movement -- Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, etc. These writers helped to introduce Buddhism to many of us at that time. Writers like Allan Watts and D.T. Suzuki, who wrote and spoke on Buddhism, introduced a whole generation to the subject. In the late 50s and very early 60s, Buddhism appeared as one interesting philosophical view among many others, such as Existentialism and the beat movement itself. Buddhism at that time (of the Allan Watts variety) was very intellectual and philosophical -- something to think about. Almost none of us made the connection that Buddhist thought was not just something else to think or philosophize about, but, rather a path or dharma, something to do -- to put into action. This came much later.

It is important to make clear that Buddhism is not a religion in the ordinary sense. Although I have worked with it for many years, I have never considered myself as religious. What I am interested in is psychology -- the human psyche. In fact, my interest in astrology itself can be traced to an interest in the psyche -- how the mind and its experience work.

In the early 70s, Buddhism took the next step to being understood when the works of the Tibetan lama Chogyam Trungpa became available. His book Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism is the chief example of what I am pointing toward -- a practical Buddhism. With Trungpa came the end of Tibetan Buddhism of the through-a-glass-darkly variety. Previous to Trungpa, most insight into the Buddhism of Tibet came through writers like Alexandra David-Neal, T. Lobsang Rampa, T. Evans-Wentz, and the writers on esoteric Buddhism like H.P. Blavatsky and C.W. Leadbeater. There was little or no mention of Tibetan astrology. These were Westerners who could not help but put their own spin on the subject. Trungpa ended that.

Chogyam Trungpa made it very clear that Buddhism was not something to think about, but a path, something very practical to do and put into practice. Buddhism was a way of handling our experience and this world -- a dharma path. This came as almost total news to those of us brought up through the late 50s and 60s.

I met Chogyam Trungpa early in 1974 when I helped to bring him to Ann Arbor, Michigan to speak. From the moment of meeting him, suffice it to say that I got a very different take on Buddhism. Which leads me to the other main point that I must present before we can discuss Tibetan astrology, and that is meditation.

Prior to meeting Trungpa, I had the (quite common) idea that meditation was a method to relax around, a way to get away from the chaos of day-to-day life -- a form of stress management. I had never found the time nor interest for it.

No sooner had I met Trungpa than he took me into a room with him, closed the door, and proceeded to show me how to meditate, although he didn't call it that. At the time, I don't believe I was able to grasp what was going on. It was only much later that I realized what happened on that day. What I experienced then were some real answers to questions that had always tortured me -- questions about death, about letting go, things like that. Trungpa pointed out what awareness looked and acted like. I watched him enjoying and using the mind in a multitude of ways that I had never known as possibilities. He demonstrated that the mind and awareness could be developed and practiced. Intuition, or true insight, could be developed.

Meditation has to do with developing intuition, learning to connect with ourselves, and the taking possession or advantage of our current situation -- whatever it happens to be. From that day in 1974, I began to connect with myself and the explore the so-called outer world in a somewhat different way.

What I am getting at here is that the primary tool for learning astrology in the Tibetan system is not a set of ephemerides, a series of calculations, and research in books. Instead, it involves establishing this inner connectivity -- call it intuition, meditation, mind practice, mind training, whatever.

Here in the West, learning astrology is often centered around learning the various correspondences between terms, like: Aries relates to Mars, relates to the Ascendant, relates to the first house, and so on. If you can't get into learning about astrological correspondences, then you are going to have real difficulty grasping classic western astrology. Well, in Tibetan astrology, the primary educational tool is learning to use your intuition in a direct and practical way. This is called mind practice or, most often, just meditation. If you approach the Tibetan lamas, you will not find easy access to their astrological teachings without this very basic mind training.

It is not because these matters are in any way secret, but rather because we may lack the essential tool for grasping them -- awareness and an active intuition. In this sense, they are what has been termed self-secret. Their sheer simplicity, openess, and directness is closed to us because of our own inherent confusion and complexity. What to do.

I can well remember my own first meeting with a Tibetan lama when I asked about their astrological tradition. I had just driven 800 miles during the coldest day of the year, and with my entire family. Having arrived at the top of a mountain in the dark of night, I was ushered into a small room for a very brief interview. I explained my interest in astrology, and the fact that I had worked for so very many years in this field. I was hoping somehow to be able to skip "Meditation 101" and enter one of the more advanced practices. What the lama said to me was that, although he could see that I had never harmed anyone with my astrology, still, in this area it was best for me to start at the very beginning point with meditation. He explained what I should do. And then he was gone.

We left and that night my family and myself were sheltered in a tiny motel room with one small wall heater. The night was bitter cold. It was in that moment that I had to decide to accept his advice and start at the very beginning or follow my pride and refuse to admit that, after all my years of spiritual work, I would have to go to that very first step to begin. I am forever grateful that I was able to admit that I knew nothing about mind practice and began at the beginning.

Mind Practice

As mentioned, mind practice is not much known here in the West. I mean, how many people do you know who practice using their mind anyway? Most of us assume that the mind is perfectly usable just as we find it, and doesn't require any practice. I know very few westerners who are aware that they are not aware of how to use the mind.

In the East, mind practice is not only acceptable, it is pretty much obligatory. This is true for countries like Tibet, Nepal, much of India, and even parts of China and Japan. Over there, the mind is considered by nature to be unruly and hard to manage. No one would think of trying to do much with it without considerable practice. Mind practice or mind preparation or training, as it is sometimes called, is standard fare in the Orient.

We might wonder why this style of mind practice has never caught on in North America. In part, this is due to our whole take on meditation and what we think that it is. Meditation in the West has come to mean something almost like relaxation therapy, a way to relax and get away from it all -- a way to escape the worries of the world in the contemplation of some inner landscape.

Of course this is nothing like the Tibetan or Zen concepts of mind practice or mind preparation, which involve the intense use of the mind. It is unfortunate that this very active mind practice has also come under the general label of meditation here in the West. Having pointed this out, it may be helpful to clarify and describe what it is that the Tibetan Buddhists (and other groups too) do when they sit down on their cushions. In general, if you ask them what they are doing on their cushions, the answer will be that they are "practicing," or they are "sitting." Indeed, that is what takes place. They sit.

There are many Tibetan words for the different kinds of mind practice that are possible (scores), while in the West we have just the one word: meditation. What then is mind practice?

As pointed out, the most important difference between sitting practice (mind practice) and meditation as it is understood in this country, is that mind practice is anything but relaxing or passive. It is very active, involves intense concentration and patience, and is not something acquired overnight.

The actual technique is quite simple, taking only a few minutes to learn. And it is worth getting this instruction from someone authorized to give it. In this way, you have an authentic connection handed down in an unbroken line reaching back at least 1500 years. Feel free to write me for a list of centers (Tibetan, Zen, Hindu, etc.) where you can get the instruction.

To wrap up my personal history on this subject: As an astrologer who was also now studying Buddhist psychology, I continued to be fascinated by Tibetan astrology. My reasoning went something along the lines of: if their psychology was so powerful (which it indeed was), their astrology must also reflect this as well. I read through all of the various Buddhist scholarly works in which astrology was mentioned finding only an occasional few words and the odd diagram here or there. There was no sense of any comprehensive understanding.

I then met John Reynolds, an American who was studying Tibetan Buddhism and who also had an interest in Tibetan Astrology. He spoke and read Tibetan, fluently. I set up a workshop here at Matrix and John came and gave a seminar on Tibetan astrology in the early 1980s. I learned a lot from meeting Reynolds, but most of all I remember John's words to me. He said that, in order to learn Tibetan astrology, you had to learn the Buddhist psychology around which it was based. He confided to me that the Buddhist psychology was much more interesting than the astrology and that he had become fascinated with that, leaving the astrology somewhat unfinished. "Interesting," said I.

My next step was to invite Nepalese Sange Wangchuk to come and reside at our center in 1985. Wangchuk, a former monk and skilled calligrapher and artist, was fluent in five languages, including Tibetan and even ancient Sanskrit. Today he is director of the National Library of Bhutan. Sange Wangchuk spent 2 1/2 years with us and, during that time, we translated a lot of Tibetan astrology from the original manuscripts. This really helped me fill in many of the blanks. But, like John Reynolds, I was becoming increasingly seduced by the Buddhist psychology at the expense of the astrology. There is no doubt about the fact that, if it is personal results you are interested in, the Tibetan Buddhist psychological teachings are the very essence of that of which astrologers dream. By this time, our center here in Big Rapids had become one of the primary centers in North America for the translation and transcription of Buddhist texts of the Karma Kagyu tradition. We have maintained a full-time staff on this subject since 1986. Or, as one Tibetan lama put it to me: "Michael, astrology is one of the limbs of the yoga, but not the root or trunk itself." The Buddhist psychological teachings themselves are the root, and these profound teachings are deserving of the respect they inspire. They have value because they help an individual orient himself within their current situation and begin to take action of a clarifying and creative nature.

So, there you have my background. I continue to work on the development of clarity and intuition through various methods of mind practice or meditation. Like John Reynolds, I have traced the astrology back to the ground of Buddhist psychology out of which it arose. That psychology is a precious teaching.

I will now try to share with you some of the basic elements of Tibetan astrology. Of course, there is far too little room here to offer more than a brief snapshot of this fascinating subject. I apologize in advance to those scholars (who will one day make this subject very clear to all of us) for any mistakes in presentation that I may make.

Tibetan Astrology

The Tibetan system of astrology is a combination of Indian and Chinese methods, the greater and most essential (spiritual) part being taken from the Chinese, and with the technical element coming from the Indian system. The Indian or technical part (ephemerides, lunar tables, etc.) is called Kar-Tsi and the Chinese or spiritual part, is called jung-tsi.

The Tibetans, who are short on calculation ability, borrow whatever planetary tables they use from the Indians, and don't depend upon these planetary ephemerides for much of their system. They make great use of the 12-year cycle of the animal signs plus the five-fold element sequence as used in the various forms of Chinese astrology (Jung-Tsi). The Kar-Tsi came from the Indian system, along with the Kalachakra system. The quintessential portion of the Indian system of value to the Tibetans is the division of the lunar month into 30 equal parts, called tithis in the Indian system.

Tibetan astrology is lunar-based, with the Sun (and all the planets) taking a secondary position to the Moon. As proof of this, witness the fact that your Tibetan birthday is not your solar birthday (or yearly return), but the lunar phase-angle day on which you were born. Thus you would celebrate your birthday on that 25th (or whatever) day of the lunar month you were born in.

Astrologers in general seem to love to manipulate cycles and numbers. The Tibetans, even lacking planetary calculations, make up for it with the manipulation of the various cycles they do use. In Tibetan astrology, numbers are counted forward, backward, and around in many different combinations. It is complicated enough so that not everyone can do it. It requires an astrologer. In fact, it is ironic that astrology, East and West, seems to be just complicated enough that the average person can't do it for themselves and requires some expert to do it for them. Although my experience with the system is not that great, it is enough to assure me that the net result of the Tibetan calculation is quite similar in effect or portent to Western methods. In other words, the amount of information or life direction (if you will) is of the same caliber (and quantity) as similar material here in the West.

The chief exception to this generalization is the use of the lunar cycle in day-to-day life. It is here that the Tibetan system excels and has a great deal to offer Westerners, while here in the West the awareness of the lunar cycle has been lost or trivialized. It is interesting to note that, although few high lamas that I have met make much use of the cycle of the signs, elements, parkhas and mewas that I shall present(some do), they all seem to depend upon the cycle of the lunar days for creating their practice and teaching calendars. In other words, much of Tibetan astrology is considered non-essential or of secondary importance to the Buddhist practitioner. However, this opinion does not extend to the lunar cycle, which is accorded much attention.

The Lunar Cycle and Lunar Gaps

The phases of the Moon have been observed for ages. The Moon, from a Sanskrit term for measure, is still the primary means by which the majority of the people in the world (even in this 20th century!) measure time and the events in their own lives. Although measuring time and life by the Moon is ancient, it is not just some primitive sort of clock. The very sophisticated concept of lunar gaps springs from centuries of painstaking psychological observation by the lamas of Tibet, and the Hindu sages. They practice it today with the same vigor and intensity as they did a thousand years ago. Unlike many other traditions, where the line of successors (lineage) has been broken due to various events, the dharma and astrological tradition of Tibet remains pure and unbroken to this day.

Although much of the Tibetan dharma tradition requires dedication and intense practice, learning to use the Moon's phases and the concept of lunar gaps is easy to get into. The theory is simple.

It involves the ongoing relationship between the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth -- the monthly cycle of the phases of the Moon. We already know about the Moon cycle, and can even walk outside at night and see which lunar phase we are in.

This is not the place (and I am not the expert) to describe to you either the very complicated astronomical motions these three heavenly bodies produce, or the profound theories of what all of this motion means in a philosophical sense. What is quite accessible is the concept of lunar gaps.

As we know, the Moon cycle goes through its phases from New Moon to Full Moon, back to New Moon in a cycle of about one month, some 30 days. This is seen as an ongoing cycle of activity -- endless in extent. It goes on forever.

However, although the Moon cycle is unending, it does have distinct phases, like the Full Moon, New Moon, quarters, and so on. In Tibet and India, the monthly lunar cycle is divided into 30 parts called lunar days. There are thirty lunar days (cumulative 12-degree angular separations of the Sun and Moon) starting from the New Moon (considered the 30th day), counting through the waxing half of the Moon cycle to the Full Moon (start of of the 15th day) and on around through the waning cycle, back to the New Moon again.

What is interesting about how the lamas (and most Hindus, too) view this 30-day cycle is that the 30 lunar days are not considered of equal importance. The monthly cycle has very definite points in it of increased importance -- lunar gaps. It is at these lunar gaps or openings that it is possible to get special insight into different areas of our own life. In fact, the Tibetans take full advantage of these lunar gaps to perform very specific practices. That is, certain of the lunar days have proven themselves to be auspicious for particular kinds of activities.

In the East, they speak of mental obscurations that tend to cloud our minds, but that can sometimes clear up, just as the Sun comes out from behind the clouds. These moments of clarity are the gaps in the clouds. From a reading of the Eastern literature on this subject, one gets the sense that (in general) life is perceived as being filled with the noise of our own problems (obscurations), making clear insight often difficult. These obscurations can be many and their accumulation amounts to the sum total of our ignorance -- that which we ignore.

Therefore, in Eastern countries, these articulation points or windows in time/space (lunar gaps) are very much valued. In fact, the Eastern approach is to analyze the lunar cycle, in minute detail, in order to isolate these moments (gaps in time/space) where insight into our larger situation can be gained. Much of day-to-day practice in Eastern religions amounts to a scheduling of precise times for personal practice or activity built around the natural series of gaps that can be found in the continuous lunar cycle. In its own way, this is a very scientific approach. In the East, they have been astute observers of the mind for many centuries.

Here in the West, we are no stranger to clear days in our mind. We have those too! The only difference, is that we tend to believe that these so-called clear days appear randomly -- every now and then. The more sophisticated (and ancient) psychological analysis of the East has found that these clear days are (for the most part) anything but random events. They have their own internal ordering, and often times this ordering can be associated with the phases of the Moon.

In summary, there are times each month when it is more auspicious or appropriate to perform or be involved in one kind (or another) of activity. There come gaps in the general obscuration or cloudiness of our mind when we can see through the clouds -- when penetrating insight is possible.

As noted, times when one can see without obscuration (see clearly) are very much valued in the Tibetan dharma tradition. These are viewed as real opportunities for insight and the subsequent development such insight generates. Knowing when and where to look for these insight gaps has been the subject of study and research in Tibet for centuries.

And this is not just academic research. Lunar gaps are used to plan a wide variety of events in the Tibetan calendar, everything from finding a time to perform a simple healing ceremony to full scale empowerments.

Aside from knowing when these lunar gaps can be experienced, the other major thing to know about this subject is what to do when the gaps occur. As you might imagine, there are a wide range of practices, depending on the particular lunar gap (phase) and the personal needs of the practitioner.

However, in general, these lunar gap times are set aside for special observation. Tibetans observe these days with great attention and care. In fact, until recently in many Eastern countries, they didn't have Saturday and Sunday off. Instead, new and Full Moon days are considered holy days (holidays), and normal routines were suspended at these times. These days were set aside for observation.

This word "observation" is worth mentioning, for this is what takes place at these times. In the West, we might use the word insight or meditation. In Tibet there are many words that come under the general concept of meditation. The word "observe" is a lot closer to what happens during these lunar gaps. Observe the nature of the day. Observe your mind at that time. Be alert, present, and set that time aside for just examining yourself, your mind, the time -- what-have-you? It is while being present -- observing these seed times -- that the so-called lunar gap can present itself. Many great dharma teachers have pointed out the existence of gaps in our life, moments when clarity and real insight is possible.

And lest we get too far afield sitting there waiting for a gap in time or space to occur, let me restate: The gap that appears is a gap in our particular set of obscurations, our own cloudiness. When such a gap takes place, there can be an intense insight into some aspect of our situation, the effects of which stay with us for a long time. One moment of real insight or vision can take weeks or months to examine in retrospect. Each time we bring it to mind, it's richness is such that it continues to be a source of inspiration. This is what lunar gaps are all about.

At this point, it is hoped that you have some general idea of what lunar gaps are and how you might go about taking advantage of them. It remains to give you a schedule of when they will occur.

Below you will find a list of the major lunar days in the Tibetan practice calendar for the coming months. There are still further divisions that we have not included here, to keep this simple. Those of you who are interested can write us for more details. However, these are the days observed by most Tibetan lamas in one form or another.

These lunar opportunities are sometimes referred to as gaps or openings in the otherwise continuous stream of our lives -- windows. They conceive of these gaps as articulation points, much like an elbow is where the arm is articulated. They are natural joints or gaps in time/space upon which time and space turn and through which it is sometimes possible to gain access to information about the larger, dynamic life process that already encapsulates us. Among other things, I have made a detailed lunar calendar available for many years. See the end of this article details how to obtain one.

Special Lunar Days

Dharma Protector Days -- Both East and West lunar traditions agree that the 2 or 3 days preceding the moment of the New Moon can be difficult ones, which require special observation. In the West these days have been called the dark of the Moon, or devil's days -- days when the so-called darker forces are said to have power. Both traditions affirm that we sort of survive these final days each month. Check it out for yourself. The three days before New Moon can be a hard time. The East is in total agreement on this point, and the days prior to New Moon are set aside for invoking the fierce dharma protectors, those energies that ward off harm and protect us during the worst of times.

In particular, the 29th day (the day before New Moon) is called dharma protector day. It is a time given over to purification and preparation for the moment of New Moon. Ritual fasting, confession of errors, and the like are common practices. Purification Days -- In a similar vein, the days just prior to the Full Moon (the 13th and 14th) are also days of purification, days in which the various guardian and protector deities are again invoked, but in a somewhat more restrained way. For example, the 14th day is often given over to fire puja -- a ritual purification. In summary, during days prior to full and New Moons, there is some attempt at purification, both physical and mental, in preparation for those auspicious events.

Full and New Moons -- It is clear from the literature that the times of the new and Full Moon are considered of great importance. These days are set aside for special rituals and worship. As pointed out, full and New Moon (full more than new) are times of collective worship and public confession. In many traditions, the monks and priests assemble for a day of special observance. In the East, the Full Moon celebration and the entire waxing lunar fortnight are oriented to the masculine element in consciousness, what are called the father-line deities. The New Moon and the waning fortnight are given over to the mother-line deities and the feminine element. The Full Moon completes the masculine, or active, waxing phase of the cycle, and the New Moon completes the feminine, waning phase of the month. To my knowledge, this kind of analysis does not exist in the West.

It is quite clear from the Eastern teachings that the moments of full and New Moon are times when the various channels in the psychophysical body are somehow aligned. This is not to say the new or Full Moon days are days of peace and quiet. It is taught in the East that, although a new or Full Moon day may tend to be wild or hectic, any patience or forbearance we can muster at that time will be much rewarded. In other words, there can be deep insights available to us at these times.

Eclipses -- According to these same teachings, an eclipse at the full or New Moon is even more auspicious. In the teachings it is said that, during these very special events, both male and female energies (channels) are in simultaneous alignment -- the ultimate opportunity. The lunar cycle and its effects and opportunities have been analyzed in great detail in the Eastern teaching.

Feast Days -- Aside from the new and Full Moon, the two most auspicious lunar days in the East are the 10th and the 25th. The 10th day (120° of angular separation), called Daka Day, is considered auspicious for invoking the father-line deities -- the masculine. The 25th day (300° of angular separation), called Dakini Day, is given over to the feminine principle and the mother-line deities, in general. These two days, the 10th and the 25th, are formal feast days, days of observation when extra offerings are made and increased attention given to what is happening. There is some sense of celebration at these points in the month. In many respects, these two days even rival the new and Full Moon days in importance. The fact is that these four days (new, full, 10th, 25th) are the primary auspicious days as practiced in many Eastern rituals.

Healing Days -- There are many other days of lesser importance, which might also interest Western astrologers. Health and healing are important in Eastern ritual, and the 8th and 23rd days of the lunar month are auspicious for this purpose. It is these days that straddle the first and last lunar quarters. The 8th day (96° of separation) is often called Medicine Buddha Day. Again this occurs in the male, or father-line, half of the month. The 23rd day (276° of separation), occurring in the feminine half of the month, is dedicated to Tara practice. Tara is the female deity connected to health, long life, and healing in general.

More Protector days -- Earlier we mentioned the days given over to purification, most prominently the 13th and the 29th. In addition, on a lesser scale, the 9th and the 19th days are also noted as days when the protector deities should be invoked and kept in mind. These, too, are days of purification. And there are more, still finer subdivisions that are made.

Major Elements of Tibetan Astrology

The manipulation of the animal signs, elements, parkhas, mewas, etc. (presented below) takes considerable skill in calculation and, as might be expected, even more expertise when it comes to interpretation. The net result is a somewhat complex system that does claim to explain the status quo, but, like its Western counterpart, allows so much interpretation that hard and fast conclusions can seldom be drawn. As far as I can determine, you can't predict the stock market with it.

In many ways, astrology (East and West) amounts to little more than a grand set of worry beads, the manipulation of which is somehow comforting to those of us who make use of it. One wonders, considering the amount of calculation involved (the work put into it), if the average astrologer comes out with more return for their time investment than they put into the effort. In other words, does the system work for us, or do we, in truth, end up working for the system. I am not at all pessimistic about all of this, but this is an area that has received very little comment. In the last analysis, it is a fact that we astrologers like to do this sort of thing.

There is another factor in Eastern astrology that deserves general comment. It has been the view of Western observers that the East has a tendency toward fatalism and resignation to what fate has delivered to them. I was interested to note that most of the Tibetan lamas and teachers that I met were not all that interested in astrology outside of using the lunar cycle to plan and time events.

To the Buddhist mind, personality makeup is not of great importance. For, no matter what that makeup, good or bad, the remedy remains the same: mind practice of one form or another. In fact, throughout the East, you do not find the interest in personality psychology that we have here in the West. The reason is clear to anyone who has studied Eastern philosophy. They have no need to flirt with the deeper areas of the mind, but have long ago been introduced to them, and take them as a matter of course. Keep in mind that reincarnation is the accepted belief system in both India and Tibet and, for that matter, the greater part of the world. They have, as a standing belief, what we have as yet to accept -- the continuity of consciousness.

Here in the West, this awareness of cycles is not self-evident to the majority. As astrologers, we attempt to bring it to the public's attention. Yet as a society, we have yet to come to such a conclusion, much less push toward a solution. Buddhist countries, long trained in the analysis of emotions and desires, have little interest in re-examining emotional and personality issues, which have been clarified in ancient times. Instead, the interest in expanding the awareness of the person (happy or sad) beyond such personal issues, and focusing on the root of our problems and sufferings is assumed. Everyone over there knows this from childhood. Any Western astrologer can easily check this out for himself by doing an astrological reading for an East Indian. They are not remotely interested in the psychological observations that fascinate us here in the West. Soul, spirit, unity, are already their old friends. Their response to our psychological pap is "Yes, yes, yes... please get on to something of importance, like exactly how many children will I have, and what will their sexes be." Or, "How much money will I make this year and when."

There is no point in hinting to a Tibetan or Hindu that consciousness may extend beyond this life or that he is one with the creative forces. That is already a given, a fact upon which they have depended all of their lives. The psychological crib out of which we Westerners are just learning to climb (when it comes to the mind), the continuity of consciousness, and all that these thoughts suggest is old news in India and Tibet.

The fact that the whole world is, in reality, our personal mandala and that everything that appears to us as a sign from the cosmos, may be a revelation to a New Yorker, but not so for a resident of Katmandu or Delhi. While here in this country we continue to explore our psychological infancy, this holds little interest for those from the East. With this said, let us look at some of the main elements of Tibetan astrology.

Copyright: Michael Erlewine


Other articles by Michael Erlewine:

Astro*Map Hi-Res 1988   11/14/2002
Astrological Signs   11/14/2002
Burn Rate: The Retrograde Phenomenon   9/17/2001
Galaxy: Circles, Cycles, Circulation   11/14/2002
Galaxy: Higher Order Structuring   11/14/2002
Heliocentrics   11/14/2002
Interface: Planetary Nodes - Part I   11/14/2002
Interface: Planetary Nodes - Part II   11/14/2002
Local Space Astrology -- Relocation   11/14/2002
Lunar Gaps: Taking Advantage of the Lunar Cycle   11/14/2002
Our Roots in the Sun   11/14/2002
Outline of Major Tibetan Techniques   11/14/2002
Saturn: the Sequencer   
Science and the Lunation Cycle   11/14/2002
The Astrology of Local Space   
The Counselor: Midwife of the Psyche   6/20/2001
The Galactic Nucleus   11/14/2002
The Lunation Cycle: East and West   11/14/2002
The Planets, Signs, & Houses   11/14/2002
The Tibetan Calendar: The 12 Months of the Year   11/14/2002
The Uranian Signs   11/14/2002
The Value of the Heliocentric/Geocentric Comparison   
Tibetan Astrology: Appendix A   11/14/2002
Tidal Vector Forces: Lunar Phenoma   7/20/2001
Zodiac Cycles and Signs   11/14/2002

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