Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Polarity And Learning
POLARITY AND LEARNING
All this gives rise to the questions: to what extent is fate, or rather the fulfillment of these tasks, a matter of determinism? And to what extent are we free to alter things? These are very difficult questions, but we can approach the answers step by step.
As regards the learning plan, this is undoubtedly determined and must be carried out. Yet, within the determined framework, the law of polarity still applies. It confronts us with the choice of how to carry out the learning plan, which path to tread as apprentices and how to solve the problems that we are set. So, a distinction must be made, between the problems themselves, which are fully determined, and the manner of their solution. Here the law of polarity gives us two possibilities:
1 Conscious learning. This possibility requires of a person that he should be constantly ready to meet the challenges of fate and to resolve willingly and actively every problem that should arise.
2 Unconscious learning. This comes automatically into force when a person fails to resolve a problem consciously.
The majority of mankind restricts itself largely to the second possibility. Unconscious learning, however, is always accomplished through suffering. As long as a person is ready to question old standpoints and fixations, to risk new experiences and to keep extending his consciousness, so that he masters all the tasks brought to him by fate – as long as he is ready to do these things he need fear no great illness or blows of fate. But as soon as he pushes problems aside and tries to escape or deny them (in psychology this would be called either repression or suppression), fate begins to push him into the unconscious learning process. He becomes the victim of a situation in which he is forced to resolve at least part of the problem through experience. In such situations the learning process is usually incomplete because the resistance of the sufferer is too great. Not until a person is reconciled to a situation can he fully grasp its meaningfulness. Thus the unresolved remnant of a problem will necessitate another hard lesson. Here is an example:
Let us suppose that a person's horoscope contains the aspect which, in astrological terminology, is called “Saturn square Mars”. In technical terms this means that the planet Saturn formed an angle of 90 degrees to the planet Mars when the person was born. This Saturn-Mars aspect is, however, just a symbol for a particular task that has to be accomplished as part of the learning process. The reader will remember the keywords that are linked with the Saturn principle: resistance, structure, restraint. Mars, on the other hand, we associated with energy and thrust. If in a horoscope these two primal principles form the aspect that we call a “square”, it means that, in the case of this individual, energy and restraint are coupled and cannot be separated. This can be summed up in the term “energy-restraint-syndrome”. Whenever this individual is about to expend energy he simultaneously comes up against restraint.
Such a person will complain bitterly about the world around him and believe that malicious forces are constantly hampering him. The more he projects “blame onto the environment the less he will solve his problem. It is quite true that the environment is the medium through which these restraints operate, but the problem lies with the person concerned because of the tendencies in him which, by the law of affinity, contact the corresponding parts of the environment. One can even say that he is unconsciously seeking part of himself. In reality he needs these restraints, since without them his energies could never be stretched. Such individuals grow in proportion to the obstacles they encounter, and this can lead to a search for ever-increasing restraints.
The aspect in question represents a task. In itself it is neither good nor bad. It is there merely to be translated into reality by the individual and thereby resolved.
Let us suppose furthermore that this person is in the habit of rigorously suppressing the problem. Wherever he encounters it he projects it outwards and unloads the responsibility onto the environment, but he himself does nothing to resolve it. He does not consider it as “his problem” at all.
In astrology there exist certain techniques by which one can determine the moment when a particular aspect is activated for the individual. Most astrologers are inclined to designate some aspects as bad or dangerous and would urge anyone seeking advice on one to take particular care around the time when the aspect in question is triggered off. Regardless of any such (quite senseless) advice, our individual will now find himself in a situation where he experiences as a victim the “energy-restraint” problem that he has been avoiding. To use an analogy that corresponds to the same primal principles, it is as though he were to drive at 100 miles an hour against a tree. If he did this he would experience what energy (100 miles an hour) and restrain (tree) mean. He would have learned directly what these primal principles are.
From such events lessons are learned, even if not always with the desired thoroughness. A happening of this kind appears to justify astrologers in speaking of dangerous and negative aspects in a horoscope. But in reality what has happened in a case like this is that a completely neutral aspect has become dangerous because the task which it indicates has not been consciously fulfilled by the person concerned.
What would the conscious solution be in this case? It would mean looking for an activity or occupation in which the principles indicated (energy and restraint) could be continually realized on some level of reality. For the person in this example, the sport of karate would be a possibility. In this sport one learns how to deal blows of high intensity and at the same time how to control the force of a blow with great exactitude if one wishes to avoid killing the opponent. The enormous forces exerted in this type of hand-foot-combat are demonstrated by the fact that a karate expert can shatter a brick or thick wooden board with his bare hand.
Thus, the two salient characteristics of this sport are the use of powerful blows and the precision with which these blows are controlled. Karate therefore aptly corresponds to our Mars-Saturn aspect. The otherwise undirected energy of Mars is brought here into unison with the structured nature of Saturn. If the individual we have been considering were to learn this sport he would, through his daily training, be constantly expressing his particular Mars-Saturn combination. By experiencing and confronting the problem he would come to understand it better. And this understanding would transfer itself naturally to the other levels of his being.
This person would then need to have no fear in regard to the working out of his configuration. He would not hit a tree even if he did drive his car at 100 miles an hour. Certainly this configuration will manifest itself for him at the appropriate time, but it will not endanger it. For instance, he might at that moment win a karate contest or gain a new dan.
This example should make it clear to what extent the fulfillment of the task is determined and to what extent there is a choice between the conscious and the unconscious part. Fate has to do with the end result not with the way leading to it. What is important is the completion of the learning process, not the amount of suffering that a person burdens himself with en route by continually refusing to learn.
This example should also throw light on the question of the exactitude of astrological prognosis. Astrology works with the exactitude on the level of the principles, but these principles can be manifested on any number of different planes. The determining of the plane of manifestation is to a large extent impossible for astrology. I say: “to a large extent” because it is, in fact, possible to recognize the dominance of particular planes, and it may be that a refinement of this possibility will come as astrological techniques develop further. Modern astrological systems can to some extent determine the plane of manifestation but the multi-leveled nature of such systems makes the application of prognosis practically impossible. It should be made clear, however, that this is not due to a lack of exactitude, but is a consequence of vertical thinking. As fate does not care about the specific plane of manifestation we should not give it too much importance either.
Later we shall see how this very interchangeability of planes opens up valuable therapeutic possibilities. It may, of course, seem strange to the layman that for the astrologer the car crash should be equated with the practice of karate, but precisely this way of thinking makes it possible to discover entirely new interconnections within reality.
Illnesses and blows of fate nearly always represent the passive aspect of a lesson that has not been learnt voluntarily. To put it in a nutshell: he who does not learn, suffers. We human beings tend to make peculiar demands on life and fate. We behave as though we had the right to be fortunate, rich, healthy and happy. What a grotesque misconception of reality! What entitles us to make such a claim?
We are not incarnated into this world to idle in the sunshine but to develop ourselves and to serve the world to the best of our abilities. The person who does this consciously will also find happiness. What I have said is not intended to be life-negating but merely to set the priorities right.
Man is continually in search of happiness. This is not only his birthright, but the deepest motivation of his actions. Yet the paths that he chooses are generally the least likely to lead him to his goal. Man chases after happiness without having any precise conception of what this happiness really is. Thus he identifies objects of one kind or another in the outer world with the longed-for feeling of happiness and believes that only when he possesses these things will he be truly happy.
Now begins an endless and senseless chase. For as soon as he attains the desired objects he finds that they reveal themselves as incapable of bestowing the promised fulfillment. A hungry man believes he will be the happiest man in the world when he has eaten his fill. Give him enough to eat and he will believe that his happiness will only be complete when he has somewhere to live. Give him somewhere to live and he will long for his own house and garden. Give him these and he will want fame and recognition. When he has attained these aims, he will find that a chronic illness stands between him and happiness. Cure the illness and he will feel lonely and will now only need company to make him happy. “Happily” death at last releases him temporarily from this exhausting pursuit of happiness.
His mistakes lies in the belief that happiness is dependent on outside things. Man overlooks the fact that external objects are only alluring as long as he does not possess them. One cannot chase after or possess happiness. One can only be happy. Happiness is a state of consciousness, a condition of the soul. It is fully independent of the outside world. It takes root where individuals are in harmony with the universe; it blossoms when they are conscious of their task and recognize the grace of being able to serve.
Suffering is the polar opposite of happiness and therefore, in the last analysis, the same thing. “Happily” for mankind, suffering is there to make sure that we do not remain wandering forever on false paths. Suffering prevents stagnation and ensures that we do not give up the quest. Suffering is always a roundabout way – yet it is a way.