Astrology and the Middle Path: The Six Paired Lessons in Love

astrology dharmaWHAT IF A ROADMAP TO AWAKENING was built into the very fabric of the cosmos? What if a pathway to the Buddhist middle path – the ego-dissolving center between mind’s wildly swinging extremes – was laid out for us in the pattern of the planets? This is the essential, but too often hidden, insight of astrology. 

There is, of course, no formula for storyless presence; it has no precise preconditions. But there are archetypal hints – a grid of thematic extremes that, in their balancing, may help us collapse the duality of matter and spirit and return us to our storyless center. In simplest terms, this means learning to synthesize the six archetypal dualities: 

Independence/Intimacy (Aries/Libra)
Stability/Metamorphosis (Taurus/Scorpio)
Information/Synthesis (Gemini/Sagittarius)
Nurture/Discipline (Cancer/Capricorn)
Hierarchy/Equality (Leo/Aquarius)
Discernment/Faith (Virgo/Pisces)

To achieve these six integrations, both sides of each artificially held-apart duality must be fully understood and appreciated as half of a paired lesson in love. When we learn to love both aspects of a dichotomy, the dichotomy collapses and gratitude releases us into an all-embracing nondual dimension. Christians call this “the descent of the holy spirit.” Buddhists call it “enlightenment.”

This awakened synthesis of poles happens by swinging faster and faster between them until the opposites flicker together with such rapidity they become perceptually fused. The purpose of astrology is to help us define and make more conscious the  polarities we are vibrating between so we can more discerningly meditate them back together – each side constantly pointing us back to the middle.

In truth, then, there are not so much twelve signs as there are six pairs of opposites, and each integration represents a particular pathway back to Oneness. But in order to stabilize in this ego-dissolved center point, we must first learn to understand and skillfully manage each of its twelve poles.

Our Journey begins with the Aries/Libra polarity and continues counterclockwise around the wheel to the Pisces/Virgo polarity (see zodiac wheel below):

astro chartAries/Libra: Independence/Intimacy
If the pendulum swings too far towards Aries, we become interpersonally divorced, self-centered and start acting as if we need no one else. The psychologically corrective states of loneliness and isolation arise.

If the pendulum swings too far towards Libra, individual truth is sacrificed to the god of interpersonal harmony, leading to inner emptiness and vacuity. This then drives us to overly-individuate, often via expressions of insensitivity, anger and conflict.

The resolution of the Aries/Libra polarity is the realization that all precious, but imaginary, “others” exist as mirrors in which we might come into a more steady, full-spectrum embrace of our true nature. What happens when we spread our awareness equally between self and other? The space between us becomes as conscious and alive as the beings who appear within it. Tibetans call this, “licking honey from the razor’s edge.” We enjoy the sweetness of bridging the interpersonal gap even as we appreciate its unreality. Infatuations are re-aimed at disowned parts of ourself. Aversions are used to highlight unforgiven imperfections. What do we “get” from others? The taste of honey and an uncut tongue. 

Taurus/Scorpio: Stability/Metamorphosis
If we swing too far towards Taurus, we become miserably secure, fixed and complacent. Dullness and overindulgence pull upheaval closer to us. We are unconsciously driven toward the enlivenment of chaos, crisis and the indiscriminate destruction of built up structures.

If we swing too far towards Scorpio,
we get overly obsessed with shadow truths and impermanence, become psychologically overwhelmed, stinging our self and others with too many toxic, indigestible revelations. Chaos and upheaval drive us toward the overvaluing of Taurean stability, jealous attachments and rigidly orthodox values and world views.

The swings of this polarity are constantly attempting to hone us in on what is truly sustainable: our unshakable, meditative fullness of being, without which all material comfort and psycho-emotional truth-telling is quickly drained of meaning. As we remember that all egos are actors in need of a firm, provisional stage on which to perform their Self-realization dance, our needs for stability and transformation start dancing together, neither one stepping on the toes of the other.

Gemini/Sagittarius: Information/Synthesis
When we swing too hard in the direction of Gemini, our attention becomes fragmented and we indiscriminately devour isolated facts and random experience. We lose touch with the ultimate meaning and direction of our lives. As feelings of pointlessness and disintegration build up, our thirst for meaning may drive us into obsessive Sagittarian study, preachiness and involvement with  fundamentalist groups and philosophies.

When the pendulum swings too far towards Sagittarius, we lose the ability to tune into the details and Tao of each moment. We become addicted to abstract principle and impatient with anything mundane. As our search for the philosophical or geographical overview deems more and more ideas, moments and relationships “provincial, petty and already known,” we develop feelings of remoteness, dislocation, and nihilism. This makes the  distracted, moment-to-moment repartee of Gemini look irresistibly straight-forward and connecting.

The frustrating swings of the Gemini/Sagittarius polarity
are trying to center us in a third kind of knowing, born neither from spontaneous impression or overarching preconception. Residing at the center of these two poles, seeker and seeking step aside, baptizing us into a graceful rhythm of curious, moment-to-moment listening and purpose-harvesting self inquiry. By learning to transpersonally witness the divinely told story of our life, we come to savor each cleverly articulated turn of phrase even as we feel into the ultimate plot.

Cancer/Capricorn: Private nurture/public discipline
When we lean too hard in the direction of Cancer, we become emotionally dependent and needy — regressively shrinking from what appears to be a cold, uncaring world that offers no heart-friendly forms of service in which to nurture ourselves or others. This leads to feelings of ingrownness and insular despair which, in turn, make us cling to any professional sense of identity and belonging we can get — even if it’s heartless and unfulfilling.

Leaning too hard in the Capricorn direction, we become overly image-conscious and ambitious — equating our personal worth with our reputation and professional status. This leads to over-work and feelings of austerity, enslavement and aridity. To compensate, we may be driven toward insecure, dependent people who overly evoke our emotions or through whom we can live vicariously.

The purpose of the Cancer/Capricorn swing is to help us hone in on that steadily vulnerable sense of authority that arises when we are meditatively in tune with our soul’s natural heart service — whether it brings us anonymity or exposure, poverty or riches. By putting self-discipline in the service of a caring that comes natural to us, the burden of the separate self naturally dissolves, allowing us to selflessly self-promote and successfully raise others up alongside us.

Leo/Aquarius: Hierarchy/Equality

When the pendulum swings too far into Leo, self worth seems to depend on our confidence and charisma. No matter how much we are admired or respected, however, we feel alienated, unseen and alone behind an impossible-to-shed mask. To compensate, ego drives us into individuality-denying relationships and overly idealistic Aquarian communities that under-validate us and snuff out our creative fire in the name of some repressive idea of equality.

Leaning too hard in the Aquarian direction, we take on the identity of the hierarchy-bashing community activist, impatient with repressive structures and authority. The more resistant people are to our righteous, reforming jabs, the more our identity feels threatened. This creates feelings of being an impotent, unappreciated outsider. To recover a sense of self-worth and belonging, we re-enflame a feeling of Leonine “specialness” by unconsciously stepping into the same kind of autocratic, ineffective, leadership style we previously rebelled against.

The synthesis of the Hierarcy/Equality polarity happens naturally when we develop a relaxed sense of the world as a community of eternally marching souls whose evolution is not, ultimately, slowed or quickened by egalitarian activists or inspiring leaders. What matters is not whether we appear humble or proud, but that we take on the role in which we will, for the sake of all souls, most thoroughly self-actualize. In doing so, a sense of specialness and equality arise together as we realize that a good leader is one who makes the team think they did it themselves and a good team is the one in which each person exercises superior leadership in the area of their expertise.

Virgo/Pisces: Discernment/Faith
Straying too far into Virgo, our soul worships discrimination over flow and makes an identity out of efficiency, planning and service. Since the play of form is like smoke — constantly blowing away — our tidy Virgo facts and formulas are continuously undermined by unforeseen Piscean variables, causing us to become obsessive, anal and perfectionistic. Seeking relief from this tightly controlled, formulaic approach, our ego overcompensates by swinging too hard into intoxicating Picean faith and indiscriminate merging — hygienically flushing all logic and pragmatism down the drain.

Swinging blindly into Pisces, we make a self out of idiot compassion and a difference-denying idea of oneness. This quickly devolves into martyrdom, collusion and “saving.” As our alpha-humbleness becomes more and more physically and psychologically depleting, ego thrusts us into harshly severing and clinically administered acts of boundary-assertion.

Virgo/Pisces integration is achieved by becoming mystically realistic – relieving real human suffering by soberly and clear-headedly attending to the unique needs of different situations, people and organizations even as we remember that we’re all safe at home in the heart of God. Indeed, it is this relaxed faith in the ultimate perfection of all worldly outcomes – be they chaotic or painful – that equips us with the relaxed, nurse-like focus needed to balance subjective intuition with diagnostically accurate analysis. Our heart breaks for those who suffer from lost awareness of “the condition of all conditions,” but not so much that we overly empathize and lose sight of the clear yes’s and no’s that make for real human support.

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