Chapter 17 -
Divination and Dreams
Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera
'I believe in astrology but not
the very beginning of time man has been fascinated by the stars and he has
always tried to find some links between them and his own destiny. His
observation of the stars and their movements gave rise to two very
important areas of study, namely, Astronomy and Astrology. Astronomy can
be considered a pure science which is concerned with the measurements of
distances, the evolution and destruction of stars, their movements, and so
on. Of course all these calculations are always made in relation to planet
earth and how these interplanetary movements affect mankind on a physical
level. Modern astronomy seeks to find answers to the still unanswered
questions regarding the origin of man and the final, possible end of his
existence as a member of the human race. It is a fascinating area of study
and our new knowledge of the universe and the galaxies has put much
pressure on many religions to evaluate their age-old postulations
regarding the creator and the creation of life.
Buddhism does not face any
dilemma, simply because the Buddha did not encourage His followers to
speculate on things beyond their comprehension. However, He has made many
allusions which in the light of our new knowledge gained through science,
shows us that the Buddha was very much aware of the true nature of the
Universe, that it was never created in one glorious moment, that the earth
is merely a tiny, even unimportant speck in all of space, that there is
constant creation and destruction, and that everything is in constant
Astrology, however, is a
completely different area of study altogether. Ever since early man began
to think, he was deeply concerned about his relationship with the
universe. When human societies became involved in agricultural activities
man progressed from hunting as a livelihood and began to notice a link
between the movement of the sun through the years and his own activities
of planting, harvesting, and similar projects. As he became more
sophisticated he was able to predict the movement of the sun and he
invented time measurement, dividing into years, months, days, hours,
minutes and seconds.
He associated this
knowledge with his existence whereby he felt that there was a relationship
between his own life cycle and the movement of the planets. That gave rise
to the Zodiac--A study of these movements in relation to a human being's
personal life is called a horoscope.
The study of astrology
involves a great understanding of human nature, an ability to assess
planetary movements precisely, together with an insight into the seemingly
unexplainable phenomena in the universe. There have been many brilliant
astrologers in the past and some exist even today. Unfortunately there are
an even larger number of charlatans who give astrology a bad name. They
hood-wink people by predicting seemingly true events about their future.
They make large sums of money by exploiting the ignorance and fear of the
gullible. As a result, for a long time scientists scoffed at astrology and
did not depend on it. However their hostile attitude is not really
justifiable. The main purpose of reading a horoscope should be to give one
an insight into one's own character, in the same way that an X-ray
photograph can show the physical make-up of a man.
Statistics have shown that
the influence of the sun in the signs of the Zodiac accounts for the birth
of unusual people during certain months. Certain crimes have been found to
correspond with zodiac signs in which the sun is moving during certain
months of the year.
Thus an understanding of
this relationship will help a man to plot his life more meaningfully in
harmony with his innate tendencies, so that there is less friction as he
goes through life.
A new-born baby is like a
seed. It contains within itself all the ingredients which will make it a
similar, yet completely different individual from all its fellow human
beings. How its potential is developed depends, like the seed, on the kind
of nurture it receives. The nature of a man is born within him, but his
own free will determines whether he will make really good use of his
talents and abilities. Whether he will overcome his potential for vice or
weakness depends on how he is trained in his youth. If we recognize our
nature--our tendency towards laziness, irritability, worries,
frustrations, wickedness, cunnings, jealousy--we can take positive steps
to overcome them. The first step in solving problems is to recognize them
for what they are.
interpretations indicate our inclinations and tendencies. Once pointed
out, we must take the necessary steps to chart our lives in a manner that
will make us useful citizens of the world. Even a person with criminal
tendencies can become a saint, if he recognizes his nature and takes steps
to lead a good life.
A horoscope is a
chart drawn to show the karmic force a man carries, calculated from the
time of his birth. The force determines the time of birth and knowing this
time, a skillful astrologer can accurately chart a man's destiny within a
Everybody knows that the
earth takes approximately one year to move around the sun. This movement,
viewed from the earth, places the sun in various zodiacal areas during the
year. A person is born (not accidentally, but as a result of karmic
influence)when the sun is on transit in one of the twelve Zodiacal signs.
Through the horoscope you
can determined certain times in your life when you have to slow down, or
push yourself to great levels of creativity, or when you have to watch
your activities and health.
The question most people
ask is whether Buddhism accepts or rejects astrology. Strictly speaking,
the Buddha did not make any direct pronouncement on this subject because
as in many other cases, He stated that discussion on matters such as these
do not pertain to spiritual development. Buddhism, unlike some other
religions, does not condemn astrology and people are free to used the
knowledge they can get from it to make their lives more meaningful.
However, if we study the Buddha's teaching carefully, we will come to
accept that a proper and intelligent understanding of astrology can be a
useful tool. There is a direct link between the life of an individual
human being and the vast workings of the cosmos. Modern science is in
accordance with the teachings of Buddhism. We know for example that there
is a close link between the movement of the moon and our own behavior.
This is seen especially among mentally disturbed and abnormally violent
people. It is also true that certain sicknesses like asthma and bronchitis
are aggravated when the moon waxes. There is, therefore, sufficient basis
for us to believe that other planets can also influence our lives.
Buddhism accepts that
there is an immense cosmic energy which pulsates through every living
things, including plants. This energy interacts with the karmic energy
which an individual generates and determines the course that a life will
take. The birth of an individual is not the first creation of a life but
the continuation of one that had always existed and will continue to exist
so long as the karmic energy is not quelled through final liberation in
the unconditioned state. Now, for a life to manifest itself in a new
existence, certain factors, namely seasons, germinal order and nature must
be fulfilled. These are supported by mental energy and karmic energy and
all these elements are in constant interaction and interdependent with
each other resulting in constant changes to a human being's life.
According astrologers, the
time at which a person is born is predetermined by the cosmic energy and
the karmic energy. Hence, it can be concluded that life is not merely
accidental: it is the result of the interaction between an individual's
karma and the universal energy force. The course of a human life is
predetermined, caused partly by a being's own actions in the past and the
energies that activate the cosmos. Once started, a life is controlled by
the interaction between these two forces even to the moment at which a
birth takes place. A skillful astrologer then, as one who understands
cosmic as well as karmic influence, can chart the course of one's life,
based on the moment of the person's birth.
While we are in
one sense at the mercy of these forces, the Buddha has pointed out a way
through which we can escape its influence. All karmic energies are stored
in the subconscious mind formally described as mental purifies and
impurities. Since karmic forces influence one's destiny, a person can
develop his mind and negate certain evil influences caused by previous bad
kamma. A person can also 'purify' his mind and rid himself of all karmic
energies and thus prevent rebirth. When there is no rebirth, there is no
potential life and there will consequently be no 'future' existence which
can be predicated or charted. At such a stage of spiritual and mental
development , one will have transcended the need to know about his life
because most imperfections and unsatisfactoriness would have been removed.
A highly developed human being will have no need for a horoscope.
Since the beginning of the
20th century, psychologists and psychiatrists have come to
recognize that there is much more to the human mind than the hard core
materialists have been ready to accept. There is more to the world than
can be seen and touched. The famous Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, used to
cast the horoscopes of his patients. On one occasion when he made an
astrological analysis of about 500 marriages, he discovered that the
findings of Ptolemy, on which modern Western astrology is based, were
still valid, that favorable aspects between the sun and the moon of the
different partners did produce happy marriage.
The well-known French
psychologist, Michel Gauguelin, who originally held a negative view of
astrology, made a survey of about 20,000 horoscopical analyses and found
to his surprise that the characteristics of the persons studied coincided
with characterization produced by modern psychological methods.
The planting of certain
flowers, trees and vegetables at different times of a year will produce
differences in strength or appearance of the plants. So there is no reason
to doubt that people born in certain times of the year will have different
characteristics from people born at other times. By knowing his
weaknesses, failures and short-comings, a man can do his best to overcome
them and make himself a better and more useful person to society. It will
also help him a great deal to get rid of unhappiness and disappointments.
(Going away from the country where a person is born for example, can
sometimes help one avoid the influence of the stars.).
says: 'The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves". A well known
astrologer has said: 'The stars impel; they do not compel'. St. Thomas
Aquinas says: 'The planets influence the more elemental part of man than
passions', but through his intellect man can arrange his life in harmony
with the planets, and also cultivate his inherent talents and manipulate
them for his betterment.
automatically solve all your problems. You must do that yourself. Just
like a doctor who can diagnose the nature of diseases, an astrologer can
only show certain aspects of your life and character. After that it is
left to you to adjust your way of life. Of course, the task will be made
easier, knowing what it is you are up against. Some people are too
dependent on astrology. They run to the astrologer everytime something
happens or if they have a dream. Remember, even today astrology is very
much an imperfect science and even the best astrologers can make serious
mistakes. Use astrology intelligently, just as you would use any tool
which would make your life more comfortable and more enjoyable. Above all,
beware of fake astrologer who are out to cheat you by telling you not the
truth, but what you want to hear.
Do not expect
good luck to come to you or be handed to you easily without any effort on
your part. If you want to reap the harvest, you must sow the seed and it
must be the right seed. Remember, 'Opportunity knocks at the door, but
never break the lock to gain entrance.'
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