Poem: Sagittarian Moon

mo

It feels rather invasive

When you wake up

In the middle of the night

And find the moon climbing in

Through your window

With Saturn and Mars

Not far behind

Haven’t those beautiful bastards

Got anything better to do

Than to spy on my sleeping form?

The security guards of the sky

With their celestial CCTV

Slink through the doorjambs

As I dream of making

The crucial mistake

Of pissing where I eat

Oh, Sagittarian moon!

Stop pressing your face against the glass

Just jump into bed

And keep me company

So I don’t have to feel

So alone

 

Poem: Bathing in the Moon

Moons

The Moon is my teacher
But where is she in the human body?
In every cell, a crystal,
A tiny micro-filament
Attuned to her lunar flux
You do not need a shuttle to go to her;
You can make her come to you
All her history, she will tell you
You just have to sit down, listen
And close your eyes.

Poem: Venus in Retrograde

CGI IMAGE: MERCURY Magnetoshere. The magnetic field of Mercury is too weak to protect it from the full force of the sun. It has a magnetic field, which means that part of its core is molten. The Solar Wind buffets MercuryÕs thin atmosphere.  In the process, it puts on a spectacular light show. Sodium atoms give off the yellow light. (Photo Credit: ©  Hive Studios)

Disillusioned and dismayed

Venus in Retrograde

I am lacking in clarity

But I can see clearly enough

To see that nothing is clear

The Sun and Moon interchange

Like thugs getting upset

Over some lost parlor game

With everything as it is

How can I escape

This perpetual stalemate?

But the House Martins are still happy

So why shouldn’t I be?

Accepting Obstacles: The Serendipity of Delay

Sisiphus

Mercury has been in retrograde for at least a week now, and Saturn has been sticking his disruptive fingers into all of my pies. Over the last two weeks, I been beset by constant delays, aberrations, changes of plan, cancellations, obstructions, and complications; and, I’ve no doubt, many of you reading this have been too.

But the serendipity of obstruction and misfortune should not be overlooked. It is very easy to meet frustrations by becoming frustrated; very easy to meet complications by allowing our thought patterns to become complex. What these trying times really demand are patience, fortitude, clarity, acceptance, and farsightedness. If you are able to cling to these five virtues, no matter what, then no disruption will be able to unbalance your stability, no delay will be able to obstruct the free-flow of your spirit.

Delays and obstructions only upset us because we get too attached to our self-created notions of how the future should be. We tend to order our idealized futures very precisely, like a Japanese Zen Rock Garden, with every event, occurrence, and happenstance in its perfect place. So, if something happens that we have not planned, we find it difficult to compute. Our minds struggle to comprehend it, because, logically, it goes against the structuring of our beautiful, perfect plans.

But nature is not structured. Or, at least, not structured in the way we think of structure. Nature moves at its own pace and by its own set of immutable laws. It understands the serendipity of destruction and delay; it knows that every event and occurrence has its part to play in the never-less unfolding of the cosmos.

If a tree grew to its full height in a day, it would likely be lacking in complete strength and stolidity, and tumble down as quickly as it arose.

Plans function in the same way. Very often, we are impatient, and as soon as we visualize a new plan or aim for ourselves, we want it to come into effect immediately. But just how think how dangerous it would be if our intentions worked that quickly!

Imagine you want to be a rock-star. How would you cope with the transition from being an unknown amateur playing empty pubs to performing for millions overnight, and being hounded everywhere you go? Or say it’s your ambition to be great businessman and entrepreneur running a global conglomerate. How you would deal with from being self-employed on a small basis, to suddenly being responsible for thousands of employees, and billions of dollars worth of investments and business transactions? Very likely you would be overwhelmed in a moment, and feel like shitting your pants. Dreams that haven’t been properly prepared for can often seem like nightmares. We need delays and slow developments sometimes so that we can mentally develop the patience, fortitude, and responsibility necessary to bring these long terms goals into fruition. It also gives us time to consider if we truly want the thing we believe we are striving for.

One good example is in a story from the Hare Krishna cannon, told to me by a monk friend of mine.

There was once a young prince who was the scion of a prestigious ruler. But his talents went largely unnoticed by his father, who much rather fancied his brother to be his kingly heir. Upset at being thwarted so, the prince renounced courtly life, and determined that he would one day become the ruler of his kingdom, and that it would be far greater than his brother’s or father’s ever was.

But first, he realized, if he was to be an effective ruler, in control of many people, then he would have to learn how to control his own mind.

So, he gave up his possessions, and disappeared into the forest to spend years meditating and practicing austerities. Eventually, his hardship and effort paid off, and he became enlightened. Krishna was so moved by his devotion, that he appeared to him personally, congratulated him, and gave him a kingdom of his own, even more glorious than that of his father’s.

But the young prince was enlightened now. He had no interest in becoming a ruler. He knew the external world was but an illusion and a fist full of dust. Why would he presume to have the wisdom and power to rule the lives of others?

But Krishna insisted, and he became his own king, imparting the lesson that: only once we have disciplined ourselves, and overcome all selfish ambitions and desires, are we truly in a fit state to live out our dreams.

So do not despair at delay. Accept it, and let it be the weight you lift to improve your strength and fortitude. If you ride it properly, things may turn out far more joyously than your mediocre and silly plans ever could have allowed.

I leave you with these words of Lao Tzu:

The way forward seems to retreat

The level road seems rough

The bright road seems dark

The Tao of Taming Emotions

Tao

I felt a resurgence of emotionality and sensitivity this morning now that Venus is in Cancer, which is something of an unavoidable necessity, after the detached, hyper-creativity of being in that wild, protean horse, Gemini. But while it is important to be aware of our emotions, we must recognize that emotions are but a single aspect of the dynamic interplay of the universe, and treat and use them accordingly. Too often people are heavily controlled and influenced by emotions which we really should not be seeking to give validity or physical expression to. As the Taoist Alchemists warn us, ‘we must not take the servant for the master, or a thief for our son – the consequences would be dire’. Remember who is the ruler in this game. You are the one having the emotions – not being had by the emotions.

Still, there is something of a tendency to worship emotions in The West. We go to the cinema or the theatre, and admire the actors who are most able to whip themselves into a frenzy of passion, love, or anger. But even Socrates, in Plato’s Republic, questioned whether this approach to artistic forms is really healthy for us. These emotionally unstable characters seldom appealed to me. It was the stolid men and women, Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart, Ginger Rogers, Cary Grant, who were always able to keep their cool, even in the wildest of scenarios, that captured my imagination. In this attraction, I can see some of the elements that first led me to Taoism: the emphasis on perseverance, equanimity, and staying centred, no matter which side of the wheel of fortune you happen to be. A true Taoist rises above emotions, circumstances, fortune, misfortune, and all transient things. He is only concerned with the immortal, and the eternal, the changeless and ever-creating but uncreated Tao. He sees emotions for what they are, fleeting clouds across an eternal sky – things to be aware of, not to be controlled by.

Overcoming emotions does not mean becoming austere, insensitive, uncaring, and dull. It means complete freedom. No more being seized by anger. No more being suffocated by sorrow. No more danger from being driven by volatile, selfish desires, or being restricted by groundless fear. Complete freedom, complete liberation. We think of happiness and romantic love as the highest states to which one can aspire. But there is something beyond happiness, something beyond romance.

Some have called this love, bliss, nirvana, enlightenment, God, the transcendent, peace, Heaven, the eternal. But words simply are not fit to describe it. When one attains this state through regular meditation, purification, and alchemical work, you realize that this bliss is liberating, because it is not dependent on anything. You feel happy because you are happiness. You feel loving because you are love. It does not arise because something good happened to you, or disappear because something bad happened to you. It transcends such mediocre considerations.

Even when we lose touch with it, there is no fear. Even when we feel we have lost track of The Way, we know it is always there. We know the sun hasn’t died when the night-time appears, or that the sky hasn’t been destroyed just because we are now under a roof. It is the same with the Tao. It is ever-present, always there, no mattered how obscured the lens of our organism might become.

As Liu-i-Ming often advised “Use the temporal to touch the primordial; use the transient to touch the eternal.” Use your emotions as prima materia that can be governed and transformed into something else. Do not be guided by your emotions; rather, guide your emotions to where you want to go. These are the true metals and chemicals of the alchemist, the base elements that he seeks to refine and purify. Harmonize them, and use them wisely, and you will truly be able to achieve what Chuang Tzu refers to as, ‘going beyond the gods’.

Surviving Saturn

Of all the gods in the astrological pantheon, Saturn is probably the least lovable. Whether he comes in the guise of the child-devouring Cronus, or the vicious, martial Kali with her necklace of severed heads, it is often very difficult to find affection for this crotchety, old saturnine force that seems to be completely intent on adding as much difficulty to our lives as possible.

In astrology, Saturn is the planet of delay, of obstruction, old age, maturity, hard-work, toil, responsibility, and the all around oppressive heaviness that comes with the burden of being a creature bound by time. When Saturn is in an unfavourable aspect – as he is right now, currently in dual opposition to both Mars and Mercury, and in conjunction with the Moon – our lives suddenly become a lot harder and a lot more ponderous. No doubt many of you are feeling this effect. Whether you’re frustrated by delays, temporal sluggishness, an amalgamation of burdensome and often conflicting responsibilities, or a cruel, and seemingly insurmountable workload, its tonnage is probably finding a way to weigh you down.

I know it is with me! I recently took on a new writing job, and have to complete at least four articles on Buddhism and Meditation by the end of the day. I shouldn’t even be writing this right now – I should be working on the articles I’m actually getting paid for! But money has always been a negligible incentive to me, and I wanted to have a brief moment of fun sharing my thoughts with you, before I get to work.

In spite of all this, we must find a way of loving Saturn. Only through the onerous difficulties that he presents us with are we able to become stronger, more indomitable people. Delays teach us patience. Obstructions and obstacles teach us to be flexible and persistent. Responsibilities teach us to be pure and selflessness, putting other’s interests and needs before our own. And hard work forces us carry on, even when we feel tortured, exhausted, and wounded, never giving up, and eventually mastering perfect equanimity and resolution of mind. Saturn may be a hard task-master. But he does love us, and ultimately only wants us to possess the same invincible wisdom and strength that he possesses himself.

During times such as these, it is Lao Tzu’s inspiring quote “There is nothing that cannot be overcome, there is no limit,” that I find myself chanting as a mantra in near constant repetition. One can never hear this reminder too much. Think about what it really means. Reflect on it. Meditate on it. Witness the true limitless power that resides within you, and you will be able to engage with every day with all the courage and impassive bravery of a samurai entering into battle. Only through repeated hardships, do difficulties become easier and more bearable. Welcome these difficulties into your life as you would a beautiful lover. Peace of mind may be an easy companion to acquire when times are joyous and restful, but unless we practice maintaining that inner serenity, even in times of oppression, then all our training will be of little, practical purpose.

I leave you now with another of my favourite quote from the Tao Te Ching, which I hope will give you the same conviction of will and spirit that it so often has to me:

Forging ahead shows inner resolve

Hold your ground and you will last long

Die without perishing and your life will endure