Longchenpa & Heidegger
The Kayas & Multidimensionality from An Archetypal Astrological Perspective
/ Lecture notes from Peter Matthew Bauer, Seminar on existential psychotherapy at the Washington Center For Consciousness Studies. November 2014. /
When we talk about astrology from an archetypal perspective, we are speaking outside the limited and concrete realm of prediction and fortune telling, which, in many ways, is our own mechanistic and modern derivative of the form and more so, its entire undoing. Instead we are trying to resurrect a lost art, a lost language of consciousness. From this archetypal perspective, we are talking about the dramas of our own lives as phenomena and sensory experience infused with awareness, the nirmanakaya in the Buddhist languaging. We are speaking about the planets as archetypal symbol and myth, as cosmological forces that are an entrance into the archetypal realm, the sambogakaya in that same languaging, and even further into the pure and unmediated space of awareness, the dharmakaya. In this light, astrology can show us the world within us and our self within the entire world. It is a tool to move from the temporal to the archetypal to the potential, the three kayas of multidimensiality in Buddhism, and to hold all three at once.
Having always studied Indian astrology and thus, having always used the Indian or Vedic system, I will speak of astrology from its perspective. Really all systems, all myths and symbols, both astrological and other come to presence in this light. When we speak of archetype, we speak of cross-cultural and underlying myths in the Jungian sense, arising from what he called the collective unconscious, and what the Buddhist language as the mythic and apparational field, the Sambogakaya. This is the realm of creativity and manifestation. These myths are manifestations are the field and dimension of the Dharmakaya, emptiness, timeless awareness, that which is manifesting but is no-thing in itself. From a Jungian perspective, we can think of his end of life work with the language of syncronicity.
In the Vedic texts related to astrology, the planets are said to hold all the potentiality, all of consciousness, all the experience of life within their symbols, and so behave as life behaves and exist in all three of these kayas. It is important to say that they exist in all three kayas, so that we experience them as all three, multidimensionally. They allow us to see the mythic structures of all phenomena and all sensory experience, to experience our “everyday human lives,” as field and awareness. In doing so, we experience our lives as underlayed with myth and energy. We also begin to find the doorway into formlessness, into pure potential awareness.
While on one level, Sun is the symbol of the self and the father, Moon is the mother, nature, Mars is action and life force, Venus is love, Saturn contraction and creative destruction, and so on, each planet is also a line of approach to Being whatever its manifestation. The planets are most associated with the archetypal realm because they are symbol- energy manifesting as myth, deities, Gods in the ancient Greek sense. They are symbols of the elements and the elemental energies. It is through the balancing of the elements, and the invocation of the elements, and the recognition that all the thoughts, feelings and actions and phenomena of ours lives are actually further manifestations of the elements, of the archetypal realm, and, further, that such elements are manifestations of the awareness field, that we experience real transformation and freedom and liberation.
It’s possible here then to talk about what each of us experiences on a sensory level and to work with that on a level of archetype and to then begin to even move past that frame into the underlying field. It’s possible to even experience all that phenomena and experience while holding the field which, in doing so, transforms it and opens up the horizons of our temporal experiences. What is most useful is that these symbols of the planets themselves are a means to experience their presence through every dimension.
To bring such a discussion out of the theoretical and into the human and perhaps back again, it’s often useful to look at the lives of certain masters, to examine how these basic cosmological archetypes functioned as energies and atmospheres during their lives.
We can start by looking at Longchenpa and the archetype of Saturn. Saturn is the great planet of contraction and creative destruction. It is the planet of obstacle, of endurance and discipline, of struggle and frustration, misery and death. It is the weight of the world on your shoulders. On a practical level, it embodies the philosophy of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
For Longchenpa, Saturn is in his first house – signifier of personality, in the sign Scorpio which is that of inner secret fire, mystery, depth, a ruling principle in his chart. His suffering and experience of obstacles on a temporal level, everything he goes through, not as “illusion” but as his very real phenomenal experience are the doorway to his self realization. The process to do so sometimes gets lost in the concrete notion of samsara or illusory experience, this notion that suffering is illusory and he is simply cutting through illusion. Really, being able to exist in this world and reality is very hard. Saturn is very real. Instead, on its highest level, Saturn is the planet of realization by facing reality. What is most interesting and most non-deterministic is that it is due to one’s own self-awareness, one’s own self realization in the most stressful cycles of Saturn, that it is decided whether the planet “kills you or makes you stronger.”
One’s capacity for such realization is certainly shown in an astrological chart, and Longchenpa has a strong Saturn that points toward him defeating many obstacles. This however does not make him a master. Mastery arises through his experience of the multidimensional nature of his existence. It is always possible through true will and agency to go beyond whatever one’s capacity as seen in an astrological chart, on into limitless potential. This is done by holding the manifesting energy of Saturn in all three kayas. As one experiences the dramas and phenomena of ones own life as the mythic and archetypal structures of the planet as cosmological force, and holds all in the light of the formless potentiality of awareness, the “karma” as it is metabolizes and dissolves. We can go beyond the determined into the limitless. Fortune tellers and those speak of these myths as pre-determined consistently fail by overlooking this capacity. It is here where true will and realization arises.
In regards to illusion, we should might also look to Longchenpa’s Sun. The Sun is the archetype of the true inner Self, of Being itself. While every planet again is a doorway into Being, whether it be Saturn, The Sun, or even Mercury, Venus and so on, the Sun as a symbol is that of our experience of this doorway, it is our languaging and symbolizing this state of dharmakaya. This is also why it can take on restructured personifications of Being such as the Monotheistic God, Christ, the cosmic man. In many texts, Sun is just the ego, charisma, how the world sees us, then the father, the Christ, God. But on a more innate level it is this archetype of the Self, of experience of Self, of Self expression, and further on that of innate awareness, and so the most abrupt doorway into that awareness.
For Longchenpa, the Sun at his birth resides with Venus and Mercury and the eclipse energy of Ketu. Ketu is the South Node of the moon in Indian astrology. Rahu the north. They are the esoteric psychic energy arising from moments of eclipse. Rahu is presence and vibrancy and wildness, Ketu is absence and void and distance. The nodes of the Moon are often what we speak about when we speak about illusion. They have the capacity for liberation, and also the capacity for complete disintegration.
So Longchenpa’s Sun, his experience of Self, experience of innate Being, arises through the archetypal realm through its interactions with Ketu- absence, terror really at first, distance and void. He experiences this Self through its manifestation of Self-negation. Many, many people have Sun-Ketu relationships. For many, these relationships are very difficult. Very frightening and lead to total nihilism. They are not simply psychological states. Often it is profound loss that brings these on as the archetype of absence truly creates absence. Any archetype and any combination of these archetypal energies has an infinite variety of practical manifestations. Again, it’s one self-awareness, the manifesting of one’s pure primordial awareness that changes their very meaning. Instead of an experience of profound loss, of absence in a very concrete fashion, Longchenpa invokes these energies in a very different manner where they begin to embody an entire system and practice with emptiness, absence and nothingness as real presence and potentiality as its base.
As an aside for those interested in astrology as a practice, the presence of Mercury and Venus in this constellation with Sun and Ketu also add to the strangeness and originality of his mastery.
Both are very close to the Sun, combust, or burnt up by the light of the Sun as its known. This does not mean the manifestations of Venus such as love and grace, and of Mercury such as intellect, language and discrimination are suddenly gone. Rather, this combustion, this burning up makes them all more the immediate, more wild and sensitive. On their greatest level, they are more formless in the light and fire of the Sun.
As a second example of mastery, we can look at the chart of Martin Heidegger, the continental philosopher and great western philosopher whose very impetus was to language Being itself. Of all major western thought, his writing is most reflective of this notion of the Kayas, of the multidimensionality of experience, and of awareness as presence manifesting at its core.
In his astrological chart, we see another original example of the Sun as the archetype of Being in its most primordial state. Here we can also talk about the Moon. If the Sun is this primoridal awareness, Being as potentiality and emptiness; the Moon is the archetype of its container, of the field of manifestation, emanation to create life on earth, of the matrix of meaning. It follows that it is then the archetype of the Divine mother who arises from the Sun, of nature, of birth, of our actual mothers, of our direct perception, how we take in the world. It is how awareness first enters into time.
In Heidegger’s chart the Sun and Moon are conjunct in Virgo. This means he is born near a new moon. Practically, this is often a symbol of low endurance and weakness on a temporal level. As the Moon is a symbol of birth, when it is too close to the Sun, childhood and even birth itself can be difficult. On a far greater level, and one that manifests in Heidegger’s work, this conjunction creates an almost unmanageable directness to his experience of his own awareness. The Sun burns up its own manifestation and his experience is again formless and open. This is a hard experience to hold. Because this conjunction takes place in Virgo, sign of practical realization, sign of communication and language, sign of discrimination through clarity, there is an almost obsessive quality to reckoning with it, to languaging his experience in the most clarifying manner possible. His writing itself is like a battle. He tears apart language itself and and refashions it in the attempt. Virgo is also a sign of earth and nature. Thus his writing
is grounded in this atmosphere. Being arising from earth, from nature, from history, from primal myth, from origins “so singular and striking because they are so often lost.”
Like Longchenpa, Heidegger has a Scorpio ascendant or rising sign. It is a sign of Mars, the physical energy and life force, one with a focus of mysticism as depth and fire arising from what is hidden. Also like longchenpa is the strong presence of Ketu, distance and void. Heidegger’s southern node is conjunct Jupiter, planet of expansion and hope in Jupiter’s own sign Sagittarius. Expansion through absence as principle. Lastly each share the placement of Uranus in conjunction with the constellations most inherrent to their mastery. In Longchenpa’s chart, Uranus is paired with his powerful first house Saturn. In Heidegger’s, Uranus sits conjunct the Sun and Moon in Virgo.
While the Indian system does not use the outer planets in their classical system- it is of interesting note to mention the presence of Uranus, especially in light of the work of Richard Tarnas and his book Cosmos & Psyche. For more reading on an archetypal understanding of astrology, his work is of great import. As told by Tarnas- while all the visible planets carry the names associated with their mythic structures due to their naming in antiquity when astrology and prophecy was far more widespread, Uranus was assigned its name on discovery in 1871, found at a particular nadir for astrology as a practice, especially at an archetypal level. Thus it was given the name of Saturn’s father, as it’s orbit was that of the next planet furthest from the Sun. Over the ensuing years, and through Tarnas’ own work as both historian and astrologer, it appears as if Uranus corresponds in a very direct and intrinsic way to the archetypal myth and structures of Prometheus, the bringer of fire, symbol of revolutionary change and individuation.
Tarnas work traces the orbit of Uranus throughout history, less in a concretely predictive sense and more drawing on archetypal language to show its influence on great epochal changes and moments of revolution. As it relates to the lives of Heidegger and Longchenpa, it is fascinating that the planet appears conjunct with the aspects of their own experience and lives that are perhaps most revolutionary and carrying forth into history.