The Wesak Festival 2009
Subtle Meanings of the Full Moon in Scorpio 2009
Malvin Artley, our regular esoteric commentator, presents the Wesak Festival, 2009, the celebration of the Buddha. This is Taurus's Full Moon, as the Moon is full in the sign opposing the Sun. The Full Moon of Taurus (the Full Moon at Scorpio 18º 41') takes place on the 9th of May 2009 at around 04:03 UT (GMT).
Spiritual callings have a way of making one's personal life very interesting. Of course, those of you who have read these letters for some time now know that 'interesting' means getting something we did not expect at all, leading to 'experience'. There have been several of what I would term 'calls' to me from my own higher nature throughout my life – strong impulses to do certain things that have taken me in new directions and which have ultimately led me to teachers, knowledge or experiences that have opened me spiritually, thus evoking a greater sense of service and care for others within me. These are the big turning points in our lives, the major milestones that leave us permanently changed somehow, and for the better in terms of our own sense of humanity. Our parents, God love 'em, had a description for such experiences: They said such experiences 'built character'.
I could hear myself saying many times as a kid, “But why do I have to build character, Dad/Mom? I'm happy with the way things are.” Philosophical rationalizations have a way of getting up the nose when one is in the thick of a crisis. It is not much different when we are adults, either. Instead of getting angry at our parents as adults, however, we feel angry at the effrontery of the Fates, God, the 'Powers that Be' – whatever one wants to call forces outside of our control. We always have a choice, though, when presented with a 'situation': We can stay angry, we can roll up our sleeves and dive in, seeing where it takes us – or we can become philosophers. Maybe we do all three at different points in the process.
I remember one calling in particular that came very strongly to me some time back that involved taking on a particular spiritual discipline. I knew I needed it for the next steps ahead in my life. I had no idea where it was going to lead, but it was strongly pointed out to me by someone I trusted that it was something I really needed to do, reinforcing what I knew internally anyway. At the time, the idea put forward to me seemed like a good one. “I can do this”, I thought. I foolishly thought to myself there would be no real problem with it, that I would be right at home with it and that all would be well. We have to be careful about our thoughts. So, I undertook the study and the discipline and really gave it a good effort (and I still do).
The first thing that became apparent once I engaged in the practice was that I had little time to socialize any longer, or to watch television, or go out late into the night, not that I was a big one for doing that anyway. My personal life was curtailed in a major way. I had to make big adjustments to my life. I was tired – dragging along, actually – detoxifying and clearing away a lot of old psychic baggage. It wasn't a lot of fun, nor was I at the time. It was, indeed, very character-building, however. I had no one to blame but myself for what I experienced, though. I asked for it, and got it, along with some other experiences. I was a bit angry about not being told about all the secondary effects of what I had taken on, but in the end it was a small price to pay. The benefits of taking on that discipline have been very great for me and I have not looked back, nor would I want to. After a time things acclimated and a sense of normalcy returned to my life and people noticed a change for the better in me.
The time leading up to the taking on of that path was fraught, though, and a time of great internal conflict for me. The same sort of scenario has been present every time I have taken a step forward and there have always been obstructions. It is not really true that if one takes a step forward spiritually and if one is on the right path that the angels sing, the gates to heaven magically open and that we are borne along full of joy to our new destination. That is only true from the side of the beings coaxing us forward. From our own side, spiritual momentum forward more often than not entails changes of direction in life, and most people are not too big on change. Yet, the conflicts engendered clear the air and enable us to see things anew. The same goes for the people around us.
One of my mentors once said to me on the verge of one such occasion that I should not worry about the people closest to me. The step ahead at the time was in the best interest – not just of me, but of those closest to me as well. We (myself and those closest at the time) would all benefit from the steps I was to take. Some would adjust and come along with me. Others were to fall away, either from their own inertia or because it was not their path. They were not my concern, I was told. I was sad about it, but I went ahead, and he was right. He pointed out times when I had been on the other end of the process, too, which was helpful. I was able to feel compassion for myself and the others concerned instead of focusing on my perceived loss or fear of the change. The thing about it is, though, that if we are moving forward we always encounter new people and we may see the ones 'left behind' at some point later. Moving forward does not mean leaving things behind, though – it means bringing in the new. The only things we ever really leave behind are our attachments to objects, situations and people, not the people themselves. It is not that they are left behind, either. They simply go on a path different to ours. These were big realizations to me at the time. With that, let's have a look at Taurus and Wesak.
This letter will be a bit more technical than more recent ones, but I thought it might be beneficial to address certain points of understanding about Wesak, Taurus and the Buddha. We have entered the high point of the year in terms of spiritual power and potency. Now firmly in the Wesak period, we find ourselves faced with the possibilities for our movement forward en masse. Taurus is the sign that points the way along the Path. It is one of the signs most closely associated with that force known as spiritual Will. This is not will-power in the human sense of the term. What passes as will-power in people is more often than not stubbornness or controlling behavior, which separates us from each other and entrenches old behavior patterns. Spiritual Will, on the other hand, always moves one to a better place, in a manner of speaking. It always moves in the direction that is best for all concerned, not simply the one person – and that is one of the primary markers of spiritual Will.
Spiritual will brings people together in common purpose, which is the higher meaning of the Venus rulership over Taurus, and moves the individual toward a deeper involvement in life and the liberation of souls from suffering. We celebrate Wesak in the sign Taurus because Taurus brings through the first Ray – the Ray of Will or Power. Wesak is often called the festival of the Buddha, but we are not speaking of a personage when we speak of Wesak and Buddha. We are speaking, instead, of a way or mode of progress on the spiritual Path, which is the path of the Perfection of Wisdom, most closely identified with Buddhism in this present world cycle.
What Defines a "Buddha"?
What exactly defines a 'Buddha'? There are many such types of Buddhas, as it turns out, and the term is also loosely used many times to describe various types of enlightened beings. Since we are looking at the Buddha's festival (Buddha Shakyamuni), it may perhaps be good at this juncture to have a look at some of the defining characteristics of the spiritual attainment that marks Buddha-hood. In the orthodox Buddhist pantheon we find several types of Buddhas mentioned – Shravakas (Hearers), Pratyekas (Solitary Realizers) and Buddhas of Compassion. The Shravaka Buddhas' aim is to attain liberation from samsara – in other words, to escape the need to be reborn and, having done thus, they attain nirvanic consciousness. Their training is based solely upon the teachings of Sutra and they are thus classed as Hinayanists. Pratyeka Buddhas attain liberation from the wheel of life and death, too, and attain to nirvanic consciousness, but they do so through dint of their own efforts, without reliance upon the teachings of any particular school or lineage. Theirs is a solitary path and their main aim is self-liberation and attainment. They are 'self-realized' in a sense. Of the three types mentioned, only the Buddha of Compassion attains liberation and then full enlightenment in order to return and aid all beings left behind in doing the same – the Bodhisattva's path.
In part two of this article, Malvin Artley continues his exploration of the esoteric meanings of the Full Moon in Scorpio, the Wesak Festival for 2009. He examines the meaning and esoteric focu of the concept of Buddhahood, along with symbols for the degrees and the meanings of the aspects that affect us under this powerful Full Moon.
Read part two of The 2009 Wesak Festival at the Full Moon in Scorpio.
Malvin Artley is an accredited member of the American Federation of Astrologers. His primary focus over the past 25 years has been on the sciences as they express occultism and with bridging work between the two. His special interests in those fields are the human subtle energy system and all the chakras, or energy centres, physics and technology, astronomy and all aspects of Chinese occultism.
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