Realizing the Self

When people discuss the question of fate and free will, they tend to forget just how deep in the past the root causes of our existence lie. As we deal with life day by day, and moment by moment, we are actually dealing with the consequences of actions that we took earlier, sometimes many years earlier, and sometimes, if you believe in reincarnation, many lifetimes earlier. Our actions in the current moment are completely conditioned by our view, and this view was in turn conditioned by individual perceptions and conditioning all the way back to birth. So-called free will is extremely limited under these circumstances. You are going to do what you have always done, because of the unstoppable dynamics of your personal psychology.
But there is a way.

No amount of rational analysis, decision-making or resolve is going to get you out of the prison bars created within your own mind. But the mind itself has a quality of self-awareness that – if all distracting thoughts and emotions are stilled – enables it to observe its own workings. The farther we go towards stabilizing this self-awareness through mindfulness or meditation practice, the closer we get to seeing the stream of causation in our personal history that robs us of the capacity to make meaningful change.

If, using mind training techniques, you tune in to the constant stream of thoughts, you will discover that in the beginning thoughts will arise all the time. There may be pauses for shorter or longer periods of time, but soon the mind latches on to a thought or idea, and off it goes. You can catch it, stop, continue to focus on your breathing or your body or some other kind of support, but off it will go again. Perhaps this constant electric flurry is what we understand as astrologers as Mercury. It is the trickster, and however you strive for mental peace, it will use your own meditation process to lure you off track.

Mental impulses seem to well up from the ocean of the unconscious without apparent logic or reason. But if you sit long enough you might discover, that as the world revolves on its axis, and the planetary angles activate your own planetary patterns in sequence, then there is a kind of logic to the thoughts and feelings that arise. If Mercury is at 20 degrees Sagittarius and square Mars at 21 degrees in aspect to Neptune at 22 degrees, perhaps when the moving Ascendant axis hits 20 Sagittarius, you start dwelling on an injustice – a situation that is in your opinion not right or fair – which you then get angry about, and then feel helpless and sad about. Every day. Every day you carve deeper valleys in your psychological landscape through the same series of thought processes. Where is free will here? And how much stronger and more intense will this be when a passing transit, Uranus conjoining Mars for example, shakes up the configuration?

Being aware of this process changes everything. From an astrological point of view the awareness itself has nothing to do with Mercury. Thought cannot monitor itself. It has to do with the Sun, which is the one constant in the busy spiral of activity of Mercury, Venus, Mars and all the other planets as they revolve around the sun.

The sun – or self – is in its basic nature untouched by the activity of the mind and Mercury, by attachment and Venus, by aggressions and Mars, and if you are centered there and observe the workings of the trickster and his associates, then a different kind of process starts to happen. Thoughts still unfold, feelings mild or violent still arise, but centered as you are, you observe them coming and going out of the corner of your eye, as it were. The difference now is that you are no longer giving them any energy. They will ultimately wither and die like a planet without water.

If though patterns stem from a powerful history of deceit connected with the Mercury/Mars/Neptune configuration for example, this astrological cactus will not wither overnight and will probably survive for years before receding from consciousness. But the actions you have previously taken based on the unconscious impulses from this planetary pattern will be modified, because you have become a witness to the energy in your consciousness stream. You do not want to water that particular plant. At this point it is possible to talk about free will.

The sun itself has universal qualities shared by all the stars in the universe. The paradox is that if through mindfulness training you can rest in the central core of your self, then there is a powerful awareness of the strength of personal identity. Yet ultimately this self-aware Self sees that the idea of separate identity simply does not reflect the true state of things. It is through a strong self that you can reach the idea of no-self, just as the sun and the stars share the quality of starlight.

Astrology teaches that the sun reflects identity, and with the position of the sun in any one of twelve signs, the personal identity is circumscribed by the sign it is in. What follows is a description of the sun in the 12 signs, with an emphasis on the sense of self and its strengths as reflected in each of the signs.

The sun in Aries gives access to a fiery energy which can be channeled without delay into dynamic action and brave initiatives. There is a core enthusiasm in your nature, and an unquestioning sense of personal identity. You are out there in front, inspiring people by example, with few doubts about where you are going and why. You are guided by the principles of chivalry and honor. When you turn within to meditate on your inner core, and shut out emotional and mental distractions, you find the living power of fire within, which transforms into a dynamo of energy… a fountain of creativity.

The sun in Taurus puts you in touch with the rock solid and fertile power of the earth, evoking in you a sense of being completely grounded and stable. Whilst deep in your inner being there is complete calm and equanimity, you have access to enormous strength that can be channeled into constructive deeds for very long periods of time and without exhaustion. You are a rock others can rely on, and while others bend with the wind, you stand firm. You are strongly associated with Nature and fertility and when you go within, you draw inexhaustible resources from your roots which go down to the very soul of Gaia.

The sun in Gemini gives access to a multiplicity of talents linked to all facets of the mind. The world of thoughts, contact and communication are a playground for you, as you dance from one thought to another without holding on. Restlessly exploring the myriad of connections in the world, you are like a spirit of the air, enchanted by the constantly changing scene. When you still the ceaseless activity of your mind, you discover the very nature of thought itself, and are fascinated by the dark twin of duality which mysteriously emerges from one source, one union, one being.

The sun in Cancer tunes you in to a world of feeling and connectedness, awakening in your soul a desire to give birth to and nurture the people and things you love and are deeply attached to. To live, for you, is like being a part of a rushing river – a process of constant change which you react to with a whole spectrum of constantly changing emotions. You feel a sense of belonging, to the world and to the human family, and you are instinctively motivated to fiercely protect what you love. Going within you discover a world of overwhelming emotions, and in these emotions you discover the energy and power of positively motivated feeling.

The sun in Leo puts you in touch with a burning furnace of power which is the throne of your identity as a human being. You know that being a powerful individual, securely centered in yourself, liberates creativity and enables you to be a shining light for others. Strong in yourself, you radiate the idea of life as celebration, and gather others into your benign orbit. When you turn within, free from disturbing thoughts and emotions, you can sense the inner central mandala of power that lies at the seat of your identity – a stable core that emanates inexhaustible spiritual power.

The sun in Virgo brings an ability to apply analytical thought to solve problems, and motivates you to offer your services to others with an unselfish spirit. You have an instinctive awareness of what works, and know how to arrange the parts to make an efficient whole. When you apply your discrimination to your inner life, you understand the interaction between the smallest components of the body in subtle play with thought processes. You know exactly how the movement of the wings of a butterfly can create a tempest, and you apply this knowledge in rituals, health awareness and ecological consciousness.

The sun in Libra awakens an understanding of balance and motivates you to create harmony in outer relationships and discover inner poise. Your ability to tune in to others and meet them exactly how they are makes you a true peacemaker. You know what is right and just. Beauty and taste reflect for you an expression of the natural harmony of the world. When you turn within you can quickly attune to an inner world of balance and visualize the pure energy of color and sound. Here opposites resolve… the masculine and the feminine, the left side and the right side, the outer world and the inner world, and as your scales settle in equilibrium, you find inner peace.

The sun in Scorpio means that you feel things intensely, but privately, like a pebble being dropped into a deep well. In relations with others you sense all the emotions under the surface and exercise strong control. Once you have mastered your own anxiety you are able to empathize deeply with others and somehow, almost magically, empower them. Turning within you feel the maelstrom of your desires and passions and instinctively realize the transformative and purifying power that lies in immersing yourself in your emotions. In the deepest roots of your being, where fear is transformed into power, you find access to an inexhaustible source of energy.

The sun in Sagittarius evokes a fiery awareness and burning desire to understand the meaning of your life. Restlessly inquiring, you travel to the farthest reaches of the earth – and of your mind – gathering ideas and investigating beliefs. You are motivated to share with others what you learn, and find a mission in spreading enlightenment to the collective. For you, it is the most natural thing in the world to turn within, because you instinctively know that the world outside is an extension of the world within. Applying the wisdom you have gathered from mentors or all shades, you embark on a long journey to discover the inner guru, the mind itself. Only here is your thirst quenched.

The sun in Capricorn brings the opportunity to be master of the world you live in, and to learn mastery of the world that lives within you. You are willing to bear whatever burden is necessary to reach your long term goals, and you do this uncomplainingly. You dutifully offer support to those who follow in your footsteps, and obedience to those in whose footsteps you follow. The discipline for spiritual practice comes as naturally to you as the discipline to make progress in the world. When you turn within, you systematically and patiently develop proficiency, slowly removing the obstacles in your path, overcoming self doubt and become an example to others.

The sun in Aquarius awakens in an appreciation of humanity – the wonderful uniqueness of the men and women who cross your path. You are there for them without judgment… open, tolerant and accepting. You feel united with your fellow human beings, understanding instinctively how they are connected – what happens to one of them happens to them all. The space you give to others, and expect for yourself, is also the space you find when you go within the expanses of your own mind. You discover how the power of consciousness and conscious thought is like a tool that can make changes in the inner world and the outer.

The Sun in Pisces immerses you in an ocean of thoughts and feelings that seem almost to encompass the whole of humanity. Empathy is a natural condition for you, as you sense what people feel even before they do. When you have learned to orientate yourself in this ocean of impressions, you give people unconditional love, acceptance and understanding, sensitively offered with humor and humility. Accessing the riches of the soul through meditation and mindfulness is your natural birthright, but you do not seek personal happiness; satisfaction for you can only come when other people also can experience the rewards. Only then can you enjoy the rewards yourself.

If you do dwell in contact with the power of the sun in your horoscope, resting in your self and observing thoughts arising like waves and sinking back into the ocean once again, then you will also notice that you bring with you a certain attitude, which is not only characterized by the sign position of the sun, but also by any planets that aspect your sun. If Saturn is there, you will be a hard taskmaster, rounding up and suppressing your thoughts, and treating your Self in an authoritarian manner. If Jupiter is there, you may be seduced by success and fall from the sky through hubris. If Uranus is there, the very clarity you achieve may disguise unconscious rejection of the emotional cradle in which you rest. Neptune could lead to an inability to rest in a strong sense of self, and a tendency to merge all too soon with the cosmic ocean. Pluto could bring total success in whipping thoughts and feelings under control, with a corresponding sense of inner deadness.

In other words the mirror of the self itself needs to be polished and purged. But this is achieved through the alchemical ability of the Self to reflect on itself without thought. There is more than enough energy in the sun to clean itself of impurity. If you ever make it there, you will have all the free will you will ever need.

Adrian Ross Duncan 16.08.2009

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