Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Perceptions of Higher Consciousness - Looking Through Astrology's Viewfinder

It could well be due to a "feet-on-the-ground" Earthy Grand Trine in my natal chart, but concepts such as transcendence, spirituality and higher consciousness bug me more than a little. An article at Common Dreams the other day "No, Higher Consciousness Won’t Save Us", by Norman Solomon caught my eye, but an ever growing stream of comments by some erudite guys and gals proved to be even more interesting than the article itself.

It wasn't too surprising to see two clear camps emerging. The "feet-on-the-ground" types to whom I related most easily, and those who support the idea that higher consciousness (and there were differences in perception of its definition) could be a component in what might "save us", politically and/or physically.

In current debates the meaning of words, often a matter of individual perception, can cause huge frustration and misunderstanding. "Socialism" and "socialist", for instance. Higher consciousness is an expression similarly open to a variety of definitions or perceptions, meaning different things to different people. While no perception of it is quite as bad a misunderstanding as arises in relation to "socialism" in the USA, the differences can still cause problems, as was apparent in the thread of comments to which I've referred.

Many who study astrology have aspirations towards what they see as higher consciousness. Articles relating to the end of the Mayan long-count calendar, in 2012, often refer to the likelihood of "a change in consciousness" supposedly due to happen around that time. One hopes it'll be an upward change rather than a downward one! People who lean towards eastern versions of religion and astrology almost always aim to "raise their consciousness" as part of the discipline.

Higher consciousness can simply mean being more aware of what is going on around you, putting less focus on self and more on the common good. That's my simple definition which, come to think of it, might be better expressed as "wider consciousness". Other definitions of higher consciousness can begin to sound uncomfortably elitist. As one commenter at the article mentiond in the first paragraph described it: an attitude that "my consciousness is higher than your consciousness" - this can happen when the expression isn't clearly defined by those using it.

To be perfectly honest I have no wish to send my mind elsewhere, higher or lower. There are more than enough problems to solve in the here and now plane of existence. Aiming for a more esoteric plane described in eastern philosophy might be satisfying on a personal level, but what exactly does it do for the world at large?

There's no getting away from the fact that there'll always be differences of opinion, perception, and consequently of desire, on this subject. None is more correct than others. There is space and a place for all.

With astrology in mind, I'd like to relate differences in perception of what "higher consciousness" means to each individual to the elements: Earth, Water, Air, Fire in their natal chart. Those of us "regulated" (I use the term very loosely) by Water are, I suspect, the ones most likely to seek the eastern type of higher consciousness; those whose understanding is led by Earth perceive it more as I have described it for myself, in a previous paragraph. Air and Fire people could swing either way, but on the whole Air is more likely to be interested in the eastern version than the generally "get-it-done" Fire mentality.

Zodiac signs showing elements: red=Fire, pale blue=Air; dark blue-Water; brown=Earth.

Calculating one's likely "regulator" isn't easy. It's not just a question of natal Sun in a sign whose ruler is Earth, Air or whatever, or any other commonly accepted labelling tool. Even counting the number of planets in each element doesn't necessarily come up with the right answer, because position of the angles, and aspects to and from each, could well make a significant difference. has a section under the Extended Chart Selection called "Pullen Astrolog" where, after inputting your birth data you can go to the section called "Simple chart delineation", scroll through lots of information about your natal chart and eventually come to some statistics where the value of the 4 elements, painstakingly calculated, is expressed as a percentage. Even this doesn't give the expected result for me. According to this my highest percentage is Water, then Fire; Earth is 3rd, Air 4th. Alternatively then, depending on one's natal chart, the relevant relationship in this question of perception of "higher consciousness" may be more specifically connected to where/how Mercury (planet of understanding) is placed. In my case it's in Earthy Capricorn and at a strong position near the descendant angle, hooked into a Grand Trine in Earth. That'll have to be my ...I mean my story, if my consciousness, though attempting to be wide, remains stubbornly dragging its heels in the dust of Mother Earth.


Gian Paul said...

A veterinarian who's ancestors had been farmers or shepherds said: "as long as the goat continues to escape while looking for better grass, I am not needed".

Meaning: the animals "conscience" knows best. And so it's normally with humans. Only, we think and think and think - until we even confound "conscience with super-conscience". And then the "Vet" is needed.

seraphine said...

I did notice these two camps looking down on each other recently, the practical camp and lets be spiritual camp. I don't understand why we have to choose one or the other, being on the cusp of capricorn/aquarius, i suppose i suggest lets be practical and spiritual as our cycles prompt us. I go through from one to another approach in cycles. I guess those two approaches dont have to be exculisive, do they? like the lotus having the roots in earth and flower in air, our mind can relax in abstract/mysctic ideals to feed itself (if that is what one needs), and then go on to do the work in real practical realms. Or if it is one's nature to be only on one side, still why should we think the other side is wrong or unnecessary, everything in universe balances each other afterall.

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~~ Hmmmm - that one needs some thought, GP.

I think perhaps consciousness might be a better word than conscience - perhaps it's a hiccup in translation? Or am I misunderstanding?

Is the meaning of the veterinarian's words that if one goes too far in looking for goodies of one sort or another (fresh grass, fresh experience) one gets lost (like the goat) but free of responsibility (like the goat)? And those who rely on you will be left adrift? As the veterinarian was?

Twilight said...

seraphine ~~ Hi there!

Yes, as I wrote, somewhere in the post - there's a place and space enough for all perceptions - and, as you point out, any combination of perceptions.

I hadn't meant to imply that my way was the right, or a better way.
I was mainly interested in how our individual astrology might play a part in our differences in this respect.

Gian Paul said...

Hi Twilight, Indeed, there is a "word confusion" but due to the English. In French (the language I think most often in) conscience means exactly that: to be conscious or not, i.e. aware.

The Anglo-Saxons may have ("puritanisme oblige") wished to distinguish. Conscience often goes with "bad conscience". So they use consciousness to avoid confusion.

I looked up the dictionary: Conscience in French has even 3 meanings in English: 1) conscience and 2) consciousness and 3) conscientiousness. But my dictionary is French...

In German "Conscience" is as in English, conscience. They use "Bewustsein" for consciousness. So possibly the French are wrong, or me but not the Vet! And you are right too...

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~ thanks for the explanation. Yes the word conscience for most English-speakers does have some "right" or "wrong" moral implications
eg. "I wouldn't like to have it on my conscience that I'd harmed someone".

Coincidentally I've been working on a post about language, but haven't yet hit on quite the right approach, am leaving on the "back burner" to stew a while longer.

Gian Paul said...

Twilight, I did actually not answer your essential question, only explained the mix-up with conscience/consciousness I probably have been making for years now.

What the Vet is saying is that if the goats are left to themselves and if they are healthy (or normal), their natural instinct/conscience/consciousness of what is good for them will guide them towards the most healthy food.

If however the goat "starts thinking/pondering about food" (which is not natural for a goat), all gets screwed up. With humans, if they over-think, i.e. use only their brain (and excessively for that) and not their other parts of cognitive abilities (instinct, emotions) they will behave like the legendary "lost professor" who in practical life often is not very good at coping with essentials.

Gian Paul said...

T. - here I am back again after re-reading what was said.

I believe that most humans have by nature, sometimes at least, access to super-consciousness. Can even happen when dreaming, but is then not recognized as such.

This means that for humans it's natural to "escape" to find "more subtle food". But that does not happen if we rationalize to the point of it being obstructive to the functioning of "finer perceptions". In other words, the Vet will be needed to re-equilibrate an overly, unilaterally brainy person. Much of yoga is exactly helping Westerners to regain such equilibrium.

Sorry, this was a long explanation, but had no time to make it shorter.

Twilight said...

detarrtraGian Paul ~~ thank you for your careful explanation.

I can't help thinking that one can go too far in either direction, and as always balance is the key.
Yin/Yang, etc.

But to my mind (very personal opinion) going too far in the "higher" direction is more dangerous and less useful to all humanity, than going too far in the "lower" (practical) direction.

Monks in the Himalayas may have some of highest consciousness there is (physically, mentally and literally), but to be painfully honest, what do? Getting rid of the Chinese usurpers takes more than praying and meditating.

Twilight said...

GP - the letters in front of your name in previous comment came from the catchpa thingie - by mistake. Blogger is acting up (again) today.

Twilight said...

GP ~~~ sigh - all my comment didn't post.
Sentence about the monks should read

"But to be painfully honest, what good do they do for all humanity?"

Wisewebwoman said...

H'm, consciousness, high or low, is not sorting the Guardian's report on world water today with 5 billion people in jeopardy.
Last days indeed, but then I'm the fiery one and looking to toast my feet at the blaze....

seraphine said...

Twilight, i didnt mean that you mean your way is the better way :) it was a general observation, not about you.
i suppose sometimes i get into the mood of being the third camp, whenever i see a separation of ideas of two sides. And i feel very sad with the separated camps, and i feel like being the third camp which argues there shouldnt be separation. But i think, my feeling is not objective either, because why shouldnt i let people think what they like, why should i feel any stress about it. i wonder what about my astro chart makes me feel rebellious against separations.

Gian Paul said...

"Twilight the spiritual rebel" or the humanitarian? Had to think that after your question "What good do monks do for humanity?"

At some stage, about 100 years ago, there were 300'000 monks in Tibet for a secular population of 600'000. Estimating that there was a 50/50 proportion between men and women, there must have been only 150'000 normal, secular men left over for 450'000 women. If my calculations are right.

As to know what good monks and their prayer/meditations/etc do for the rest of humanity, history would indicate that they were used by e.g. the Spanish and Portuguese to conquer, in the name of Christianity, all of Latin America. And that was done more by the sword than by prayer.

So one apparently has to distinguish between Eastern and Western monks or religions to answer your rebellious question.

And I do not pretend to have the answer, but have to think that a monk in many ways, east and west, is "escaping" into some type of "religious realm where they must believe that very fine green herbs can be found". If it's that, it's OK, the "Vet" would say. Even if egoistically only useful for themselves. But that we don't really know, is it?

God has a great garden. Others, instead of grazing on spiritual prairies, are totally devoted to sports, or to the military, or to blogging etc.

Twilight said...

seraphine ~~~ Thank you for that.
:-) I can relate to your feelings, which I think are really just an ongoing quest for balance in life, rather than taking a 3rd viewpoint.

If both sides of any debate/argument/policy would take less extreme stances the world would work more smoothly. Trouble is, when one side is allowed to get badly out of balance, it takes a bigger, more extreme push to get it back again.
And the struggle continues.

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~~ I do appreciate your points, GP. I'm being more obtuse than is really necessary to make my own point I guess, but I stand by it. :-)

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ I think we're on the same page here. :-)

There are problems so vast that it's hard to know how humanity will, or can, progress.

R J Adams said...

The people of the Himalayas live their lives acknowledging all living things are sacred. They care for each other and follow the Buddha's teaching that all living things possess souls. They live simple lives and, in the main, do not seek riches or power. They hate the Chinese occupation, but see the good in Chinese soldiers. They would do much for the world, if only the world would take time to study and follow their example.

The search after Higher Consciousness by westerners has become no more than an ego trip for most. Not content with having pots of money, an even more precious goal is that of spiritual leader. Some have honed it to a fine art, and managed to combine both money and 'spirituality' into a majorly profitable business.

I have become convinced there's no such thing as 'Higher Consciousness' in this world. Our consciousness is tuned to the material planet on which we live, and 'Enlightenment' comes simply from enjoying its bounteous beauties to the full.

The people of Tibet learned that lesson eons ago and live their lives accordingly. Sadly, we cannot seem to do the same.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~ Can't argue with any of that RJ. With regard to Tibetan monks - well, they do no harm, and that has to be a plus.

Thanks for your nicely put insight. :-)