Frank Visser, CLIMBING THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: Reflections on Ken Wilber's “The Religion of Tomorrow”
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Alejandro Christian Luna has a training in technical subjects and graphic design, but was always was interested in the humanities. Life took him to Astrology, a discipline that he studied first with the astrologer Liliana Diez, receiving him in their school in 1998. He later studied at the Astrological Centre of Buenos Aires and in House XI from which I graduated in the year 2003. In 2011 and 2012 he was part of the research group Matrix Archetypes in House XI. I have been a speaker at several national and international conferences and collaborates with articles in several magazines and websites, such as the Jung Foundation of Spain, The Journal of Archetypal Studies, magazines Self and Medium Coeli. He wrote the e-book Urania and Sophia and some of his works have been translated into Portuguese, English and French. For more information: (54 11) 4254 2990 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Reposted from www.astrotranspersonal.com.ar with permission of the author
Astrology: from quantum physics to spirituality
Different assumptions of how Astrology works
Alejandro Christian Luna
To get on with this work, let us assume that astrology does work, perhaps not according to the scientific method.
To study the different assumptions of how astrology works, we should take it for granted that astrology works. But...does it? This question is irrelevant to those who study astrology in depth, for they are certain that it works. To them, it is just like an act of faith. Such certainties are subjective and nontransferable. At least, one might say “astrology works for me”.
The truth is that many will regard astrology as a phenomenon, while others will not. According to French astrologer Patrice Guinard, the three prevailing hypotheses concerning the astrological fact are:
In “Astrology, True or False?” astronomers Roger Culver and Phillip Ianna clearly state that astrology cannot be demonstrated according to the scientific method (at least not for the moment), and ask themselves “if astrology is good for nothing, why do people still believe in it?” Geoffrey Dean replies: “in fact, it works, but only in the minds of those who believe in it”. Generally speaking, its detractors place emphasis on the large number of fallacious assumptions upon which it rests (better not count the fallacious assumptions made by science), as well as on the experiments based on natal charts which fail to ratify traditional interpretations.
To get on with this work, let us assume that astrology does work, perhaps not according to the scientific method. In any case, we would be partial (and also inaccurate) if we believed that reality can only be validated from what science says.
Causality. Newtonian mechanics
Galileo and Newton introduced the scientific method, a way of interpreting reality which was completely different from that of medieval times, with its affinities and holistic correspondences. The scientific concept of force could be quantified accurately and related mathematically to changes in movement. Science, aided by mathematics, was capable of describing and predicting the universe in quantitative terms. By using the scientific method, it was possible to isolate and analyze even the most complex phenomena under repeated conditions, until they were reduced to known elementary units whose behavior could be predicted as a result of the interacting forces.
At the end of the nineteenth century, Newtonian mechanics had become a model for all other sciences, and it was believed that all phenomena could be explained in terms of a handful of physical laws, initially reducing the most complex fields of biology and chemistry to the certainty of physics. Technological advances kept up with scientific developments, and led to the discovery and controlled use of caloric and electric power, as well as to chemical activity, to name a few. J. C. Maxwell's most significant achievement was aggregating a set of equations in electricity, magnetism and inductance into a unified model of electromagnetism, while wondering what kind of influence or force planets exercise on us.
The only known force which might have any influence at all is the gravitational one. This is how the attraction occurring between a nurse or doctor and a newborn is much bigger than that between the child and the planets. By way of example, the doctor's gravitational force is 400,000 times larger than that of the Moon. This clearly shows that astrology does not work on the basis of gravitational forces. If we analyzed astrology from a causalist point of view, we would have more to lose.
If we took it to the physical material field, we should analyze it with the right tools, i.e. the scientific method. Only a few successful cases can demonstrate a direct relationship between the cosmic and terrestrial life influences, which shows once more how complex astrology is. I do not intend to undermine the scientific method, though I am convinced that it is a way of reducing - and therefore perverting - our object of study. Gauquelin's well-known statistical study has led us to sensitive sectors of the astral chart (the endings of cadent houses) which were ignored in the past.
As Brazilian astrologer Alexey Dodsworth puts it, the successive repetitions of evidence led to different results from those outlined by Gauquelin; Astrologically-based statistics shows results which are way above the “pure coincidence” average. The trouble is that evidences are not “confirmed”; they only show outcomes which change considerably from one researcher to the other. Dodsworth himself proved it by repeating some research on male homosexuality, originally performed by the American astrologer Karl Roberts, and later by Dodsworth in Brazil. Roberts raised statistics comprising two thousand maps of men who defined themselves as “homosexual”, from which he perceived an incidence of over 75% having more aspects between Venus and Uranus.
However, when Dodsworth repeated this experience in Brazil, the major aspects between Venus and Uranus were only 25%, quite “by chance”. What is surprising is that a considerably large percentage (75%) was found in connection with major aspects between Venus and Saturn of the same order: squares, oppositions or conjunctions. Acausal explanations.
Quantum mechanics, also referred to as 'the physics of micro-particles', is one of the most enigmatic disciplines in current science. So much so, that one might argue if it responds to a causal or acausal explanation, because deep down its acausability derives from a much more subtle causality.
Despite the complexity of mathematical formulation, the interpretations suggested are (dangerously) simple and significant. Everyone agrees that in the quantum sphere everything is interconnected, each particle seems to be made from other particles. Inside the atom almost everything is empty and everything is vibrating. If we perceived reality through quantum eyes, we would see that we form part of a large energy broth and that all the objects in the physical world are a conglomerate of energy floating in a universe of energy. In a way, there is no separation between us and the rest of the universe.
We may argue if the mind of the observer influences what is being observed, but one thing is certain: they both form part of a unit. Both theory and practice (see Alain Aspect's experiment of Bell's theorem) have proved that our physical world is sustained by an invisible reality which communicates at a speed higher than that of light, which defeated Einstein's theory of relativity. The influence of bodies on particles regardless of the distance is great news to astrologers eager to find causalist explanations.
The thing is that quantum mechanics describes only the movement of systems where quantum effects are relevant. It has been documented that such effects are important in materials having roughly no more than 1,000 atoms. If we take causality to the limit, we will see that everything causes everything else, since everything is interconnected both from the classical and quantum physics standpoint. This reminds us of the primary Hermetic statement “As above - so below”, on which Astrology is also based. However, Hermes Trismegistus' statement comprises different dimensions of reality or planes of existence, while quantum theory only refers to interconnection at the material level or physiosphere.
My assumption is that astrology cannot be explained, as detailed above, on the basis of the material level of reality. Astrology basically involves higher levels of reality more related to symbols, language, emotions, psychology, the soul and the spirit.
The holographic paradigm
The concept of hologram can be applied to anything that represents the whole image of an object. This is why astrology “is” holographic. The most relevant aspect of a holographic image is that, if we split it into sections, each section contains a complete image of the original object, viewed from a vantage point that corresponds to the section's position on the hologram. Thus, if the transparent plate containing a transmission hologram is broken, each piece will still be able to project the entire image, albeit from a different point of view.
This tri-dimensional image of a real object is formed on a plate by electromagnetic interference, a process similar to what happens in the unconscious psyche, according to psychologist Stanislav Grof. The part in the whole, and the whole in the part... does it ring a bell? For many scientists, this would be the intrinsic quality of reality. As used nowadays, holography is a technique which creates tri-dimensional images without using any kind of lens. When a hologram is made, light from a laser records an image of the desired object on film or a photographic plate. If we take a second look, it is not true that the hologram contains information of the entire scene. In fact, each hologram section contains information of the whole as seen from the location of the observer.
This is how we appreciate the importance of the spatial position of the individual whose natal chart is being made, for domification is a dividing up of the celestial sphere, of the different phases of its daily rhythm, a rhythm apparent in the rotation of the earth itself. It conceptualizes the spatial-temporal rootedness of the organism on the surface of the Earth and enables the ordering of successive daily positions of the planets for an observer situated in a specific place on the terrestrial surface. At some point, most astrologers realize that different features of the natal chart appear at different levels, as a series of things referring to the same thing, or to a holographic image.
A wide range of techniques provides different information which nevertheless has similarities that aim at the natal chart as a whole. However, we should not go beyond these interpretations. If we go beyond the physical level of frequencies, we see that the hologram works perfectly well as a metaphor to describe different and higher levels of reality. The ancient Hermetic alchemists, astrologers and philosophers used the Unus Mundi as metaphor, and the respective correspondences between Macrocosm and Microcosm. This is how the medieval minds used to look for an intersection in the cosmos which brought meaning to their existence. Today, our metaphor is that of the hologram.
Even though the hologram refers to a “non-material” reality, when talking about electromagnetic frequencies or patterns we are still at the level of physiosphere, i.e. the level of physics, optics and electromagnetism. As I said before, astrology cannot only be explained through these means, since they only refer to the material (and most basic) level of reality; but as a metaphor ... it is excellent.
Astrology and synchronicity
In his book “The Interpretation of Nature and Psyche”, Carl Jung analyzes the phenomenon of synchronicity, a word he coined as a means to describe two seemingly random events that come together with great significance, where there is more than just luck. He used this term to depict meaningful coincidences; things that seem to happen by chance but nevertheless have some meaning for the person who experiences them. Synchronicity events have no causal explanation; that is, there is no identifiable thing that causes them to occur. They also often seem to transcend space and time. Synchronicity events are nonlinear in nature and are said to bridge the gap between matter and mind.
This idea has been adopted by a great deal of astrologers as a possible explanation of how Astrology works. Now we can explain why an external fact such as the movement of planets corresponds to the psychological aspects of individuals and the events in their destinies. However, astrologer Juan Antonio Revilla makes a few reasonable objections when he says that by "real time" we mean actual physical time, and his objections refer specifically to the assumption that the synchronicity is to be understood between events that coincide in time, time understood physically and objectively.
The term "real time" refers to the actual time elapsed or required for the continuation of a physical process. Psychologically, in terms of consciousness, "real time" does not exist. He says that the nature of the tools used in astrology (sky-to-earth correspondence) is said to be modeled in real time, while in reality it is not. Where should we focus our attention: on the simultaneity of facts or on their meaning? It is said that synchronistic events occur all the time, but they become synchronicities only when they become conscious.
Here we are moving at the mental and psychological level, since a meaning cannot be measured or thought of. It can be felt, lived and shared, in the best of cases. Meaning does not derive from coincidence but from the conscience of the individual who experiences it. This is particularly important, because the same external fact (objective) may have different meanings depending on the conscience of the subject involved. Neurologist and psychiatrist Victor Frankl developed Logotherapy, a type of existentialist analysis that focuses on a will to meaning as opposed to Adler's doctrine of “will to power” or Freud's "will to pleasure." Frankl's principles of Logotherapy state that life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones; our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life and we have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience. Logos is a Greek word for reasoning, sense, meaning, purpose. It also means spirit.
Perhaps the word astro-logy may be better understood with its spiritual implications, since it might indicate the quest for a transcendental sense of stars, a vital purpose of their movements ... just like when it first appeared thousands of years ago. However, as Frankl says, there is not just one or abstract meaning to life. Each human being should find theirs. This meaning is specific insofar as it must be found by each one of us, and its sense will depend on our type of conscience.
According to Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, the existence of archetypes can only be inferred, for they are innate universal psychic dispositions that form the substrate from which the basic themes of human life emerge. Being universal and innate, their influence can be detected in the form of myths, symbols, rituals, legends, dreams, instincts and certain collective wishes of human beings. Archetypes are components of the collective unconscious and serve to organize, direct and inform human thought and behavior. We share a series of collective experiences that have remained in the memory of humankind as patterns to understand reality.
These patterns are unconscious energy which appears, for instance, through astrological symbols. The Zodiac signs would be twelve archetypal images, manifestations of the collective unconscious, which account for the whole human experience. To understand how archetypal symbols work, we need a special way of thinking: a symbolic approach. What a symbol is or is not will depend on the attitude of the conscience examining it.
American philosopher Ken Wilber sees archetypes as emanations of a superior spiritual realm, existing at the level of intuition and religious inspiration. This spiritual realm features visions of celestial archetypal beings having the qualities of our innermost beings. By meditating in these beings we evoke these same qualities in our own conscience. There are important differences in the way that Wilber and Jung conceptualized the archetype. Jung regarded them as archaic mythological images, collective shapes transmitted from generation to generation through the years, which come from the collective unconscious of humankind.
The symbols and myths are expressions of the archetype. For Wilber (as well as for Plato, buddhists and hinduists) archetypes are the first manifested shapes emerging from the Empty Spirit in the course of creation of the Universe. The psychosomatic reality of the universe, in its material and unconscious shapes, are reflections or images of the spiritual archetypes through their previous reflection in the universal soul. Thus the principles forming the Soul or its Spiritual reflections are wise and prolific entities which incarnate or materialize as cosmic images at the right moment.
The planets and astrological signs would be archetypal patterns coming from a superior sphere, first intuited by the soul and later reflected by reason.
Astrology as a poetic and sacred language
Another valid way of understanding astrology consists in defining it as a sort of sacred language. In the evolution of conscience, a moment comes when the influence of culture and language acquires a fundamental role. Semiologists have placed emphasis on the fact that perception of reality is conditioned by the structure of language, for it determines -without us noticing- our vision of the world. Its own structure (in terms of subject /predicate) shapes up our thoughts and leads us to think in terms of cause-effect.
As language develops, we move on to the world of symbols, ideas, concepts, and go beyond our basic instinct. Language takes us away from the immediate present to the past and future (memory, projects). It is the only way of referring to what is not present. Humans see everything through a symbolic or semantic grid which imposes its own structure to that which it describes. Biologists Maturana and Varela say that the world we see is not “the” world but “a” world lit up by all of us. We create it through our cognition. However, astrology is a particular type of language whose structure is not linear but mandalic. It is a language which enables us to access a unique kind of knowledge. Because it is mandalic, it can project us to transverbal levels, as long as we can overcome the paradoxes arising from the linear approach, or the transverbal paradoxes arising from the verbal approach.
As a sacred language it connects us with superior realities. Its symbolism is capable (such as Hermes) of relating different levels of existence, bringing and taking information in both directions.
Dr. Patrice Guinard presented his doctoral thesis with the work “Astrology, the Manifest”. There he states that there is a structure (the astral matrix) preexisting the interpretation systems and their specific contents. The astral matrix does not arise from reasoning or experimentation, but from a psychic underlying background, as something that unveils according to the state of apprehension of the conscience. Its structure does not arise from reflection or experience, but from the spirit. He says that, in essence, reality impresses itself upon consciousness in three distinct modalities: as an object, as a sign, and as a state of being, which can be expressed alternatively as an entity either physical, mental or psychic.
On the basis of this delineation, one can infer the existence of three principle domains in the development of knowledge and three corresponding "sciences" which apply to them: the objective sciences, empirico-analytical (biochemical and physical sciences), which observe, measure, test and model material phenomena; the interpretative sciences, historico-hermeneutic (termed "social" or "humanistic"), which arise through working with the products of cultural activity and their interpretation; and the sciences of states of being, psycho-synthetic (astrology and its related disciplines), which perceive reality in relation to the totality of psychic being.
To each of these types of science corresponds a type of archetypal organization, or ideational structure, worked out or made explicit through three successive phases: a phase of observation, a phase of formalization, a phase of transformation.
Going back to Ken Wilber, in his book “Eye to Eye” (1983) he reintroduced a metaphor first suggested by the thirteenth-century Christian mystic St Bonaventura, who claimed that the individual has “three” eyes - the eye of flesh, the eye of reason, and the eye of spirit (also called the eye of contemplation). Each of these eyes accesses a particular realm of reality.
Astrological understanding differs both from the explanation of hard sciences and from the interpretation of human sciences. A hyphothesis for each level.
The Great Chain of Being
According to perennial wisdom (the notion of the universal recurrence of philosophical insight independent of epoch or culture, including universal truths on the nature of reality, humanity or consciousness), reality is a series of dimensions or realms such as matter, life, mind, soul and spirit. As we have seen, the astrological fact may be understood from the point of view of the different levels of reality. But how far does it go? We might argue that it is close to the divine, in the sense that it is a wonderful way of connecting us with deeper and deeper levels of reality. Now, no superior level can be explained in terms of an inferior level.
We cannot explain the language-based cultural interactions by resorting to biology, or the biological instincts of creatures by resorting to Newton's Gravity law. And likewise symbols (language) do not create material spheres but mental spheres instead. In fact, the superior mental levels “are” symbols. Moreover, it is hard to explain astrological synchronicities in terms of quantum interaction of particles or otherwise interpret a person's archetypal identifications (through the natal chart) on the basis of the gradient effect of planetary light on human beings.
From The Great Chain of Being (the structure of reality levels as defined by perennial philosophy), we can develop a structure with different levels of astrological rationale containing the levels of reality being referred to. As we have analyzed in the different assumptions, the astrological fact may be explained in a number of different ways. The Great Chain can help us summarize the different assumptions.
The physic level
The most basic level of reality comprises matter, the objects that may be touched and measured in quantitative terms. Newton's causal physics and acausal quantum physics are the most suitable theories to obtain explanations at this level. Holography also deals with frequencies in the realm of physics. The interpretation of Astrology from its most basic grounds is the best way of limiting its potential. By falling into the typical reductionism of hard sciences, we ignore other more comprehensive forms of understanding.
Any research activity in this regard is welcome, though it seems to me that the main characteristic of holography and quantum mechanics lies in their heuristic capacity and metaphorical potential. In this sense, the investigations regarding the influence of conscience in the outcome of the physical experiments are the most reliable to me.
The biological level
At the life-and-body level (the second link in the Great Chain) Astrology can be explained thanks to Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world's most innovative biologists, who developed his theory of morphic fields and morphic resonance, which leads to a vision of a living, developing universe with its own inherent memory. Astronomer Percy Seymour has formulated a scientific theory of astral influences that describes the solar system as an intricate web of planetary fields and resonances, while astrologer Demetrio Santos appeals to the gradient effect of planetary light on human beings.
Bruce Scofield suggests an astrobiological model of human development, mostly based on the 'innateness' concept of ethologist Konrad Lorenz. Scofield believes that the environmental factors (especially circadian and circannual rythms) generate an innate behavioral pattern fixed throughout time. The changing properties of the electromagnetic field would be coincidental with certain biological periodicity of each being. He looks at Astrology as being a trigger mechanism of sorts for bio-chemical changes in the developing human organism that then take imprints from the environment. Though now we have “gone up a level”, these theories clearly fail to answer quite a few questions, since they only explain genethliacal astrology and not horary and mundane astrology, for instance; they cannot be applied to non-biological entities such as a company, a country or a question. In any case, if there are planetary influences at the biophysical level, these depend more on cosmobiology than on Astrology.
The psychic level
The third level is that of the mind, and comprises a reality we can access through the “eye of reason”, consisting of concepts, images, symbols and mostly language. As Jung says, “just like a plant produces its flowers, the psyche creates its symbols”. Here I am not referring to different perceptions of the same reality, but to realities which are ontologically different. For the flesh eye, what is real are quantifiable physical objects, while for the eye of reason what is real are qualifiable concepts and symbols.
Here the rationale of the astrological fact involves its symbolization capability and intrinsic linguistic structure. The astrological interpretation takes place at this level only, the sphere of hermeneutics, introspection and the possibility of actual link between subject - subject (as opposed to subject - object). I think it is at this mental level where astrologers use (and abuse) Astrology most. Every book on this matter has been written with the eye of reason, and lies almost completely on this mental level (though there are some exceptions).
As regards astrological rationale, semiotics, symbolism, some schools of psychology and other hermeneutic sciences would be the most suitable interpreting tools. Jungian synchronicity and Guinard's matrix reason might just as well be at the top of this mental level, where sense and meaning attract the conscience and transform into a new gravity center. When individuals begin to inquire about the meaning of existence, they open themselves to the transpersonal levels of both soul and spirit.
The subtle level
In the Soul domain we manage a much subtler Astrology. At this level of reality, language, thoughts and self are exceeded and transcended (though not denied). It is at this level where the eye of contemplation opens up and paranormal phenomena, extracorporeal and enlightenment experiences are manifested, as well as visions of angels and archetypal images incarnating qualities that form part of our deepest being. Here the reason gives way to intuition, understood as a sudden insight, independent of any intellectual rational or logical process.
The human psyche absorbs “superior” messages through intuitions and messages of the physical level through sensations, so that they are later integrated into a whole body-mind-soul. The astrological symbols transfer the psychic energy from a lower form to a higher one. The center of a natal chart (a mandala) has a sort of empty space which represents the essence of being. By meditating (just as Buddhists do) with this mandala it is possible to contact these subtle levels.
The astrological fact would be explained in the psychic and “supernatural” reality of existence and its relationship with the collective, inherited and unconscious archetypal patterns -both personal and transpersonal - symbolized by astrological operators themselves. From that moment on, the Self, the archetype of the natal chart and Astrology are transcended, for we have reached the realm of spirit.
The ultimate non-dual level In fact, there could be no self “reaching” the realm of spirit, because here there is no difference between one and the whole. No one is getting anywhere, because suddenly One has been everywhere. When we perceive the wholeness, close to God so to speak, when we become God, when we enlighten and become aware that everything is ONE, the only thing which exists is ALL (or nothing, the Pure Conscience).
Here, everything else ceases to exist, while at the other levels things continue to exist. All the archetypal forms and matrix come back to the Source.
The mystery of conscience
At the physical level we are made of stars, at the psychic level we are symbolically reflected in them.
As we have seen in the above stages, conscience has always played a vital role. The last ten years of the twentieth century were defined as the “brain decade” by the scientific community. Many believed that they were very close to solving one of the greatest mysteries of science: What is conscience? However, even though they showed us amazing 3D images of the inner brain at work, they were unable to explain the neuronal mechanisms of the thinking process and the conscience. Mathematician and philosopher David Chalmers says that we must regard conscience as an irrevocable aspect of the universe, as time, space and mass are regarded by physicists. In his opinion, the conscience is not a consequence of matter and matter is not the result of conscience. In essence, they are both “information”.
We should avoid falling into the mind/brain dichotomy and try to address the issue from the “perennial philosophy” approach. After all, what proves the evolution from matter to spirit is nothing but conscience, the golden thread that links the pearls of each level of reality. At the physical level we are made of stars, at the psychic level we are symbolically reflected in them. Science reflects objectively what it sees, while Astrology does so symbolically. Science and Astrology are two complementary ways of reflecting reality. Everything we are aware of is related to the “self” through consciousness.
The Self, center of consciousness, can open itself to the spirit from a succession of identifications and de-identifications. Conscience provides meaning to the universe, but is limited to decoding only a part of the whole reality. It does not only depend on the information provided by the senses, but also on the degree of enlargement and integration it has reached. In the last link of the Great Chain of Being, we can see that subject and object are the same thing.
Tat vam asi: we are stars that have become aware of ourselves.
Translation: Patricia Gutierrez
Thanks to The Journal of Archetypal Studies, a collaborative effort to ignite ideas and catalyze fresh conversations that move the archetypal approach beyond inner life to the way that we participate in our social realities. http://archetypal-studies.org/