The sun was in the mouth of the Dragon, the moon ablaze with the Dragonâs fire, and as the moon turned Îamberâ, an ancient initiatory rite commenced. This was the time calculated according to the Tibetan ÎWheel of Timeâ Astrology, for the Initiation into the Kalachakra Tantra, considered by many Tibetans to be the Îvery pinnacle of Buddhist esotericismâ. At this moment, a total eclipse of the moon, the energies within the chakras and channels of the subtle bodies of the applicants for Initiation were circulating in a special manner induced by the External Wheel of Time, the zodiac, stars and planets. Through the Initiation process, these currents allow consciousness to enter into the mysteries of the Primordial Buddha Kalachakra, the Lord of the Wheel of Time. These mysteries reveal the interrelatedness of the cycles of human consciousness with the cosmic motions of the stars and planets. This is the portal into the first of the two streams of Tibetan Astrology.
This stream originates in the Kalachakra Tantra, a Highest Yoga Tantra of Vajrayana Buddhism, which is a complete system of spiritual development based upon the homology of the motions of the stars, constellations and planets with the energies within the human energy body with its channels, chakras and drops. Our consciousness states emerge from these interrelations of subtle energies and cosmic cycles. To understand how this can be we need to grasp the two basic tantric Îaxiomsâ underlying the Tibetan understanding of astrology.
The Kalachakra expresses this in its saying, ãYatha bahye, tatha dehe.ä - ÎAs it is without, so it is in the body.â In all tantra it is expressed in the saying, ãThe Îextremely subtle mindâ rides upon the horse of five colours.ä
The first of these is similar to the Hermetic axiom of ÎAs above, so belowâ, and is an ancient concept underlying most astrological practice. However, in the Tibetan tradition, inheriting the texts of both ancient India and China, this concept of macrocosmic-microcosmic relations has been elaborated and refined to a very high degree, and identifies the body as the micro-cosmic correspondence to the cosmos. Whilst there have been several recent attempts in western astrology to uncover the correspondences of the planets to the chakras, they have largely remained speculative Îone to oneâ correspondences. However, the Internal Kalachakra texts articulate these relationships in a vision of the dynamic interplay between human being and cosmos. Rather than a static picture, it demonstrates that the planetary energies circulate and collect in particular chakras, in specific ways at various times, in synchronicity with the great cycles of the stars and planets. These microcosmic planetary energies are related to the five primary and five secondary pranas, or winds, and are the energetic Îbasesâ upon which consciousness arises.
This brings us to the second axiom which explains that the Îextremely subtle mindâ, or primordial mind, rides upon these energies. This means that our innate pure awareness, sometimes called our Buddha-nature, becomes conscious in the body through the medium of these planetary winds or pranas. For example, we consider that we have five senses, seeing, hearing, and so forth, based upon their various anatomical organs, that bring us consciousness of the external world. These five senses in Tibetan astrology are viewed as the arisal of five types of consciousness upon the five secondary winds. These can be imaged as a hand or branched tree where all five emerge from a single stem, and as such, consciousness is subsequently split into five sensory awarenesses or states. However, when these states of perception are understood as arising upon the basis of a particular type of energy, through the yoga practices of Tibetan Tantra, these energies can be drawn back together into a single energy base upon which a higher or Îmultidimensionalâ consciousness can arise. Similarly with the five primary pranas.
The Wheel of Time teachings on the universe reveals that our changing consciousness states are due to the changing circulations of these planetary winds though our energy body with its chakras and channels. In syncronicity with the motions of the external universe, the planetary winds cycle through the chakras and channels, and riding upon them is our original awareness, experiencing the multitude of cycles of consciousness states and resultant events. Mind, pranic winds and consciousness are inseparably connected with each other. Above the door of most Tibetan homes is the Wheel of Life Thangka, which depicts the twelve links in the chain of Dependent Origination, or the Interdependent Origin of persons and things. These are related to the twelve signs of the Zodiac and the primordial mindâs experiences upon the Wheel of Cyclic Existence. This is therefore an astrology that incorporates the concepts of karma and reincarnation as episodes of the souls journey.
These circulations of the internal planetary winds in the chakras are not haphazard, but follow predictable cycles. Periodically, and for every individual, they arrive at points in the cycle where an internal equilibrium is reached, permitting the planetary winds to collect and enter the most important channel in the body, the central channel, the dragon, which runs through the very centre of all the major chakras, stimulating them from within. At these points in the cycle, with the application of yoga practice, an energy basis is created for the arisal of transformative states of consciousness and greatly expanded awareness and insight. Alternatively, there are points of crisis, under and overactivation of energies, and periods of potential imbalance. The detailed knowledge of these circulations of the planetary winds within the body, what to do with them, and how, is an important function of the Wheel of Time Tantric Astrology. The circulations of planetary winds in the chakras, in the normal flow of time, reaches conscious equilibrium only on rare occasions, and these form the great insights we gain during the course of a normal lifetime. However, these planetary winds do not only move in synchronicity with the external planetary motions, but can be made to move through the highest yoga tantra practices. The normal evolution of consciousness is said to take eons and eons of lives to effect the full awakening of the human awareness through the intermittent moments of insight produced through the cycle of externally effected equilibriums. Therefore, the Kalachakra astrologer/yoga practitioner uses this knowledge in the Alternative Wheel of Time procedures, to effectively induce equilibrium at any auspicious moment in the flow of time. Thus, this path can be considered to be an accelerated pathway through time, where states of expanded and clarified awareness and insight are induced in quicker succession, awakening all the chakras to their highest potentials. The highest insight said to be produced through these practices is the awakening to the interdependent nature of all manifestation, the interconnectedness of all that exists, and the union of Insight and Compassion. This is the aim of all Buddhist wisdom and practice.
In my view, this is the most important function of the Kalachakra astrology. However, because it can identify and predict where planetary energies are circulating during any given moment or period, and the resultant arising states of consciousness, and the events that are likely to result therefrom, it has also developed into a tradition of psychological, predictive and medical astrology. This system, like other Indian and Western astrological systems uses our familiar zodiac signs, houses and planets, and is used in much the same manner, excepting that it focuses more upon identifying remedies for potentially imbalanced times. This emerges as a result of its understanding that we each affect the cosmos as much as it affects us, and are potentially capable of altering the energies that underlie our consciousness and resultant experiences.
The major domain of Tibetan remedial astrology is found within the second stream of Tibetan astrology known as Elemental Astrology. The elemental approach is based upon the cycles of the five elements of Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire, and is claimed to have originated within the ancient pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet, called Bon. However, this was definitely influenced by Chinese astrology in the 8th Century, which also uses the five elements in a 60 year cycle. However, the Tibetans, at the commencement of the Kalachakra era of 1027 CE, integrated the elemental cycle of the animal signs with that of the Kalachakra Wheel of Time Astrology, and significant differences and unique applications have since developed within the Tibetan tradition. In this approach, each person has an animal sign and element assigned for each of the year, month, day and hour of birthtime, and these four animals and elements head the columns in the elemental chart. These animal/element combinations relate to each other through five types of diversification of energy which are listed down as rows. These are the Sok - the Life Force or Vitality, the Lu - the energies underlying bodily health, the Wang Thang - the personal power to overcome obstacles and initiate activities, the Lung Ta - the capacity to alter situations through internal energy, and the La - the Îsoulâ energy which circulates within the body on a monthly basis. The relations of the elements in the chart determines the quality and degree of emphasis of each of the five energies. The traditional analysis of this personal table of animals, elements and energies is based upon the system of ÎWhite Stone - Black Stoneâ calculations. Positive relationships are indicated by white stones and the inharmonious by black. When many white stones collect along a row all is well in that department. For example, many white stones in the Lu row of Bodily health, is interpreted as inclining towards a sound physical constitution. When many black stones collect, disharmony is noted, and the application of special remedies becomes of primary importance.
The idea of the application of remedies to inharmonious situations reveals the underlying theme in Tibetan approaches to be one in which the human being is seen to be playing an integral role in the outcome of lifeâs situations. The influences of the stars, signs and elements are not conceived as unalterable fate, but rather as situations to be mastered through individually applied physical, mental and spiritual actions. It was the teaching of Padmasambhava, the great Indian tantric master who brought Buddhism to Tibet by defeating the Bon magicians, that all elements relate harmoniously to the degree that they are purified. In is only in their obscured states that friction arises. Therefore, one of the bases for restoring harmony is the purification of the elements. Given that the total purification of the elements is a task for accomplished yogis, the balancing of the elements also becomes important.
Where the charts reveal imbalances various Îsutricâ and Îtantricâ methods are employed to reintegrate and harmonise them. There are many methods for dispelling negative influences and creating positive healing conditions in the body. The most simple, or sutric remedies are drawn from the texts of the Medicine Buddhas. These prescribe various Buddhist practices, and although on the surface this appears to be a very Îculturally wrappedâ and religio-centric approach, the underlying understanding is that imbalance is based upon the obscurations of the elements created through lack of primary awareness, and the consequent negative mental states and attitudes. The remedies are active attempts to generate positive attitudes towards life, presented through the frameworks of Buddhist psychology. Traditional remedies are the saving of the lives of animals, building bridges, repairing roads, giving alms, making offerings and reciting mantras, and generally all actions which generate positive karma. The idea here is that actions performed for the benefit of other beings generates attitudes which bring us closer to the ultimate pattern of reality, in which it is considered that every living being originates only in interdependence with others. This idea underlies one goal of Buddhist practice, the enculturing of Îbodhicittaâ, the enlightened mind of compassion. In this regard, correct insight reveals the original interdependent nature of beings, and therefore can only result in compassionate attitudes and actions.
When the chart situations are more severe, tantric rituals and practices are prescribed. Many of these have integrated aspects of the shamanic rituals of Bon. These include performing long life Pujas, invoking the energies of various tantric deities such as the popular White Tara, or the ÎLUâ ritual of the Îransomâ or the Îbuying backâ and recalling of depleted energies. The Lung Ta, or Wind Horse, rituals are most effective since the Lung Ta energy has the capacity to alter, harmonise and integrate the celestial and elemental influences. This is a ritual or liturgy which invokes various Îdeitiesâ or deva-spirits, lhaâs, devas and shaktis, and other great beings, and invokes their aid in altering undesirable elemental and planetary configurations, and activates these with a toning of mantras, or sound energies. The Kalachakra, or ÎTen Powersâ mantra works directly upon the chakras and the planetary energies circulating within them. This is a sound pattern which embodies the relationships of the chakras, the pranas or winds and the planetary energies, and properly toned has marked effects upon spiritual, psychological and physical conditions. In extreme cases, where negative energies have taken a strong hold over the personâs consciousness, exorcism is employed in the form of the ÎTOâ ritual. This is performed for the person in question, to capture and transmute the entity, or psychological complex, behind the unwanted effect.
Another series of general remedies include astrologically calculated and specifically made amulets, the use of special Îalchemicallyâ prepared rin tsen or precious pills, and the application of astrological geomancy. The amulets are made in two stages. A special type of parchment is imbued with various healing, negativity dispelling and protective formulas, which is then wound in a pattern of five elementally coloured threads. The sequences of these threads balance the elements through increasing, holding and dispersing elemental energies in accordance to the person and application in question. These applications include increasing personal power, health, vitality, warding off negative energies in the environment, and so forth, in the light of the individualâs natal or transient elemental configurations. They are also created to assist the harmonisation of individuals with each other, such as in the marriage relationship. The precious pills are of various types made from selected Tibetan herbs and Îalchemicallyâ transubstantiated gemstones and metals. These are ingested on particularly auspicious days, with positive intent generated through mantras, as well as prescribed adjustments concerning food intake and the like for the surrounding days. Precious pills have a long history of empirically observable effectiveness, such as the dispelling of poisons from the body, and are a corner stone of Tibetan medical practice. Tibetan geomancy is used in a somewhat similar fashion to the Chinese systems of Feng Shui, to identify positive and negative directional currents and spatial locations. With this knowledge another set of remedies can be applied to harmonise the individual within their environment.
Whilst most of the preceding remedies are externally applied there are also individually directed systems for energy balancing. One very effective general method for the transformation and healing of elemental imbalances is the use of the Highest Yoga healing tantras of the Maha-Siddhas, such as the Amatyus-Heyagreva Tantra which has been introduced into the west by various Tibetan Buddhist practitioners. This directly employs the mind to activate, circulate, purify and integrate the elements in ones own person, or in that of others, to recover lost or hidden energies, and to heal through the energies of the elements and pranas. These are extremely powerful tantric practices and only to be practiced within a proper attitudinal setting. These systems have produced many astounding examples of their effects, such as prolonging life for many years in cases where medical science has diagnosed impending death. These systems enabled some practitioners to exist without requiring food and to attain other occult capacities.
The power and effectiveness of the energies generated through these remedial practices should not be underestimated, even if they are far beyond the scope of explanation through Western paradigms. Anyone who spends time living in Tibetan society sooner or later comes across examples of paranormal healing and apparently Îmagicalâ feats that defy Îrationalâ explanation, therefore conviction usually arises only as the result of experience. In the tantric view, energy and consciousness are not merely by-products of the body, but both precede body and powerfully influence it. Tantric knowledge is primarily gained by action and experience, rather than linguistic or philosophical analysis.
In my view, the most powerful remedy that can be applied is that of the Wheel of Time yoga practices. These are unique in Tibetan tantra in that they are primarily concerned with producing positive effects within the larger community, more-so than solely within the individual. Perhaps this is why His Holiness the Dalai Lama has called this tantra ãKalachakra for World Peaceä. Whilst many thousands of westerners have participated in the Kalachakra Initiations, the undertaking of its practice is a major commitment to developing the capacity to co-work with natureâs forces for the alleviation of human suffering and the betterment of world conditions. It is a deeply mystical and esoteric system and is concomitant with the acceptance of social responsibility. The idea here is once again that of the interdependent nature of all beings, and the specific fact that each micro-cosmic organism exerts an influence into the Cosmos of stars, constellations and planets as much as that which it receives from them. In this dynamic interplay, Time flows through the Three Wheels of External Time, Internal Time and Alternative Time. These three wheels are integrated into a cosmic mandala within which the initial yogas are engaged. Although these generate siddhis, or occult capacities, the highest siddhi is considered to be the Mahamudra Siddhi. This siddhi has the power to induce the ãGreat Blissä of the Alternative Wheel of Time; or what has been termed in the language of the system, as the Supreme Immutable Bliss of the Primordial Awareness of Kalachakra, free from moments one and many, transcending the twelve links in the chain of cyclic existence.
This original awareness, beyond cyclic time and its changing elements and consciousness states, is called the sixth element. This element goes by many names such as the element of Bliss, the element of Time, the element of Gnosis, the element of Wisdom. They are all mystically synonymous terms; Time is Bliss is Wisdom is Gnosis. Whatever you choose, this element has the power to Empty the micro-cosmic and macro-cosmic energy field, of some of its obscured and conflicting elements, of some of the cyclically bound consciousness states riding upon them, and some of its resultant attitudes of aggression and possessiveness in the human realm. Thus Emptying the Cosmos of these inharmonious situations, the production of this element is the task at which the Kalachakra yogis are working in their particular manner. In fact it is the task upon which many millions of humans are working, for to produce this Îelementâ and bring it into the Cosmos of five elements is, to my understanding, most easily comprehended as the power of generating Compassionate Wisdom. And what a powerful remedy that is, for both the individual and the world.
Whilst we have touched upon some of the Tibetan astrological remedies it is important to note that in Tibetan society astrology and medicine are complimentary studies, with each doctor required to understand the basics of astrology and vice versa. Both modalities are studied at the same Institute and both are considered to be Dharma paths, which means in this connection that the aim of both astrology and medicine is to heal the spirit as well as the body. Then we can really begin to understand that other concern of astrology, Destiny, in a much fuller picture of how it can become the spontaneous flow of our natural being within the cosmos of cyclic Time.