Ram Dass

August 26, 2015
One day in India on my second stay, Maharaji said to me, “You don’t have to change anybody; you just have to love them.” In relationships, when the other person doesn’t fit into your model of how heaven would be, you don’t have to play God. You just have to love individual differences and appreciate them the way they are. Because love is the most powerful medicine.

The key is that you aren’t even doing it manipulatively: “I love you, now change.” You’re looking at another being, just the way they are, and saying, “Let me appreciate God’s perfection.” You lost the key? Great. You forgot to pick up the laundry? Right. If each of us is separate, and yet each of us is part of the whole, but we got lost a little bit into dualism and we’re finding our way back out, every time we’re in the presence of unconditional love, we remember. And when we remember, we open. And when we open, the light pours through us.

If you became a person who could love unconditionally, everyone you love would flower before your very eyes. Every way you look would be light. That’s one of the fringe benefits of this method. It’s breathtaking. At every level.

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Quick Update

We end the summer of 2015 in eclipse energy. September 13th is the solar eclipse and September 27th is the lunar eclipse. These are the final eclipses for 2015 and we are already feeling the chaotic and illusion filled energy of the eclipses.

In addition to the eclipse energy we have a few other patterns which can add to the confusion: August 28th there is an exact conjunction between Mercury and Rahu. This conjunction takes place in the sign of Virgo which are actually good signs for both Mercury and Rahu. However, even in good signs this energy requires keeping a close eye on the nervous system as well as using discrimination in the words we hear and the words we use. September 18th Mercury begins his retrograde motion which will last until October 8th. Mercury will be retrograde during the eclipses and it is advised that we stay grounded and to be mentally prepared for surprises during this time period. As always with eclipse energy it serves all of us well to not pay too much attention to media chatter – the focus should be on taking care of our bodies and exercising patience.

August 31st brings an exact conjunction between retrograde Venus and debilitated Mars in the sign of Cancer. Family life might bring an extra dose of tension or conflict and it is best to not take words or feelings too seriously at this time. Creative activities as well as laughter will serve us well during this conjunction. I find that the energy is often more intense as the planets are moving towards the “exact” conjunction – try to find harmonious and non-serious activities during this cycle. The debilitated Mars can sap us of energy and cause impatience with others. Each planet has a degree in which a debilitation or exaltation are strongest. For Mars that degree is 28 degrees of Cancer which indicates that September 11th is when Mars will be at his most negative. September 16th Mars moves into Leo which is a much better placement for our fiery friend and we do not have to speak about Mars debilitated for approximately 18 months from now.

It has been a stressful summer and I’ve spoken with many people who are feeling overwhelmed and hopeless as they faced various struggles in their personal lives in a world that seems to have gone mad. This type of energy can be most difficult for those who like to be able to plan out their actions with an eye towards a concrete goal. This is a time period which brings to mind that adage “We make plans and God laughs.” If we have goals, dreams and expectations it is best at this time to not be too attached to them as the only thing we truly have control over is our own reactions to people and events that impact our lives. It is a time of personal growth and patience – we can not change the world but we can can change and evolve within ourselves during this time period. Appropriately this energy is the end of summer and like the summertime activities of swimming and riding roller coasters the fun and enjoyment is much better if we don’t try to control the roller coaster or the ocean waves.

Ram Dass

August 12, 2015
There is a tendency in us to find suffering aversive, so we want to distance ourselves from it. Like if you have a toothache, it becomes that toothache. It’s not us any more. It’s that tooth. And so if there are people suffering, you want to look at them on television or meet them but then keep a distance from them, because you are afraid you will drown in it. You are afraid you will drown in a pain that will be unbearable – and the fact of the matter is you have to. You finally have to, because if you close your heart down to anything in the universe, it’s got you. You are then at the mercy of suffering.

And then having finally dealt with suffering, you have to consume it into yourself. Which means you have to – with eyes open – be able to keep your heart open in hell. You have to look at what is, and say, “Yeah, Right.” And what it involves is bearing the unbearable. And in a way, who you think you are can’t do it. Who you really are can do it. So that who you think you are dies in the process.

Tong-Lin and Saturn

Saturn went into direct motion on 8/2 and is now aspecting the Mercury, Venus and Jupiter conjunction in the sign of Leo. On a mundane level Saturn’s action can feel like as if a fierce rain storm has ruined a day at the beach.

On an energetic or spiritual level the beautiful conjunction of the three benefics is still active in the sign of Leo. The Sun is the ruler of Leo and the Sun is said to rule either the sixth or seventh chakras (opinions differ on the rulership). Both of these chakras are connected to our higher consciousness. The conflict with the Sun and our connection to the higher frequencies is that due to desires, fears and disappointment human beings tend to focus on their individuality and the ego becomes the driving force in our lives.

Saturn as the planet of truth is working to remind us that none of us are truly separate from the whole of creation. The world needs to understand this concept as it is the false belief in separation coupled with ego desires which so often prevents solutions to the many problems we are experiencing at this moment in history. An effort to connect to our inner selves and to understand that one’s suffering is not so unique from the sufferings of others will go a long way towards unlocking the beauty of having Venus, Mercury and Jupiter conjunct. What we learn can stay with us as a truth in our lives.

There is a wonderful technique taught in the Buddhist tradition called Tong-Lin which can relieve our sense of being alone and rejected in our suffering. Take a few moments to inhale while imagining that the breath itself is coming in through the top of the head. While inhaling imagine you are bringing in your own pain along with the pain of others. The darkness of the negativity can be past or present and allow those pains to be absorbed into the center of the heart. When it is time to exhale do so with forgiveness, release, compassion and love for self and the world. This is a simple but very powerful meditative action and will serve during the next week or so while Saturn’s aspect is so close to Venus and Mercury.

WORKING WITH MARS

Mars is now in Cancer, his sign of debilitation, where he will remain until September 15th. The very active nature of Mars means that his influence is felt no matter what his sign placement – he is not a planet that will stand for being ignored.

Anyone reading the word “debilitation” will not get a positive feeling thinking about a planet being debilitated. Both Western and Eastern (Vedic) astrology have systems of evaluating the strength of planets. In Western astrology, a classification of debilitation is part of what is referred to as the “dignity” of a planet. In Vedic astrology, the classification is known as “Avashtas” which simply measures properties of a planet based on sign and house placements. A debilitated planet is known as “Sushupti Avastha” which can be loosely translated as the planet being in an “unconscious” state.

I prefer “subconscious” to “unconscious.” I have observed that those people who have debilitated planets in their natal charts often seem to operate from an emotionally subconscious manner with regard to the areas of their charts which contain or are ruled by the debilitated planet. I also think that a case can be made for debilitated planets indicating issues which are related to karmas carried into the present lifetime. My astrology teacher, Dennis Flaherty, drilled into all of his student’s minds “every planet is good for something.” I have found this to be true and, if events and reactions serve to grow beyond karmic or subconscious limitations to help us reach our highest potential, then debilitated planets serve us well.

For instance, Michael Jordon was born with a debilitated Mars and, as Mars is the planet of athletics and competition, his debilitation did not keep him from achieving the highest levels in competitive sports. His chart had support from other planets which strengthened his Mars, but one can see signs of a karmic and/or subconscious drive for competition. There are many examples of people with debilitated planets who succeed beyond expectations. The question, though is whether the successful athlete with a debilitated planet can live a successful life when the days of competitive glory are over or whether they move onto adversarial relationships or even into addiction (Mars is “one” of the planetary players of addiction). No matter how successful one can be if one approaches all of life as a competition or if they need to win at all costs, the signs of the debilitation are present. The point of all planetary placements is to lead us to becoming whole and harmoniously integrated within ourselves. Mars debilitated can be a strong force for that goal if the person chooses to use the nature of Mars to fight the inner battles which obscure the true nature of our very being. What can prevent us from being in harmony with ourselves and the world is the emotional garbage stored in the subconscious mind. With purposeful discipline Mars in debilitation will help clear out the gunk.

Anyone who is born in or lives in America is going to have to work with Mars energy one way or the other. America’s natal chart has a strong Mars and our nation’s attitude of competition, war, independence, individuality and rebellion is apparent in history and in the present. Mars, of course, has many important qualities which served to help America achieve many worthwhile goals. Currently, Mars has been the “ruler” of the United States chart since 2008 and, due to an influence over financial loss in the natal chart when Mars became the primary influence in late 2008 (no one knows the exact date), we witnessed the financial crash of our economy. The result has not been pretty as the seven year cycle dragged on, and we seem to have moved into just being an angry bunch of citizens. If one looks for synchronicity as a sign of some type of universal order, this cycle of Mars being debilitated is well-timed as America’s chart will be leaving the Mars dasa shortly. (As a nation we’ve been through this before, and the Rahu cycle brought about some amazing positives once Mars finished his dasa rulership. More about that in a future article.)

We know that Mars is fiery, fierce, competitive, impulsive, purpose-driven, and interested in war, athletics, surgery, building/construction and forward movement. He is debilitated in the sign of Cancer which is a water sign concerned with home, family, security, food and parenting. The emotional, patient and peaceful nature of Cancer does not welcome the perpetual fire-storm of Mars. In some ways Mars can be compared to the disruption of harmony in the home that can be caused by a rebellious teenager. But, just like the trials of teenagers are necessary for the move toward adulthood, the stirring of the pot by Mars is necessary to clean out the subconscious garbage that can prevent one from full maturity. Problems can arise when we have to deal with those who refuse to take responsibility for their own emotional well-being and prefer to fight, dominate, blame or control others for what they can not control within themselves. The downside to Mars being in Cancer can be the disruptions which can play out with the family base. Family is supposed to be a source of security and a sacred place of refuge from a harsh world. That can be hard to achieve when we ourselves are stirred up by our own or another person’s impulsivity and anger. Of course, family members can also be our greatest karmic teachers, but only if we can assume self-responsibility while being determined to master our own self-knowledge. With that attitude, we can allow the “stuff” to swirl around us, confident in the knowledge that after the storm, we can be standing in an atmosphere of cleared-out air.

Mars is a very physical planet and rules the third chakra. So often we tend to ignore the importance of our physical balance in the quest to calm the emotional storms or to find something, anything that will allow us to feel more secure or less pained. The first line of action can actually be the easiest and that would be to take care of the physical body before we try to take care of everything that, during this cycle, seems to be wrong with our lives and ourselves.

A poorly placed debilitated Mars often results in moodiness, emotional reactions, poor physical stamina, and a tendency to feel that since the world can’t be beaten, one is a victim of the world. It is no accident that Mars rules the third charka which in modern terminology is known as the “core.” Physical strength and stamina require a strong, functional third chakra or core. If the core is strong a person is positive, steady and has an ability to deal with whatever life throws her way.

Mars is the ruler of the blood, the pancreas, the adrenals, the digestive system and the muscles. Cancer is directly related to body fluids and the stomach. It stands to reason that the first line of action during the debilitation period would be the food that is eaten. Mars is pitta (fire) and gives strong digestive strength (when well placed) and Cancer is generally interested in food; it is important to not eat with one’s eyes or to look for solace and comfort through food or alcohol. While a well-placed Mars will aid in digestion, a poorly place Mars in the sign of Cancer is not going to handle copious amounts of food nor will it care for food of poor quality.

Astrology teaches that Mars has domain over infections because of the influence Mars has on the blood and inflammation. It is positive to see that modern science is now teaching that one’s immune system is strongly influenced by our digestion (third chakra). In addition to poor choices with food which lower our energy (which is already going to be lower during this cycle) too much food or poor quality will weaken the immune system as well, which can lead to infection. Mars does like pleasure, so it is not a good idea to try and go on a Spartan diet of food with no taste or enjoyment as that will only lead to more Mars- like frustration and anger. Have a treat, but pay attention to eating healthy food with a focus on “anti-inflammatory” foods as well.

In addition to watching our diets during this time period it is important to look at physical activity as well. Mars has a natural inclination towards physical exercise, but during his debilitation time period even Mars may rebel against a physical routine, and we may find that any excuse will serve to keep one from starting to do something physical. The good thing about Mars is that he enjoys physical exercise, so the primary goal here is to make the effort. Once the effort is made, Mars will snap into place and it will be less of a burden to complete the activity. It is not advised to be out in the hot sun exercising – evening time is better for walking and biking. It is summer, and swimming is an enjoyable and positive activity. In order to keep down the pitta (heat) exercises that focus on the third chakra should be done in a cool environment. Exercises that involve leg lifts, forward bends and body twists will work to balance the third chakra.

For those who like to work with the teachings of yoga breath work, visualizations and mantra can work very well. There is a breath technique known as “bhastrika” or “breath of fire” which works directly on the third chakra. This has to be done on an empty stomach and, if one is new to this technique, one should start out slowly (even 30 seconds will have an effect). This technique brings lots of oxygen into the system and, if there is any dizziness, you should stop and take a break. The breath is done by sitting on the floor or in a chair with the spine perfectly straight. Take a few long, deep breaths first and then inhale deeply through the nose and begin to inhale and exhale from the nose forcefully while pumping the stomach along with the fast nostril breathing. Do not force the breath beyond a comfortable pace and, when done, inhale very deeply and slowly exhale (all breathing is done through the nose). Finish with a couple of minutes of long deep breathing. Sometimes this technique can bring up emotions: when that happens, exhale the emotion with a strong, forceful breath from the mouth – then resume with the bhastrika. This breath will go a long way towards releasing those subconscious negative emotions which trip us up and will also counter the lack of energy due to the Mars debilitation.

The Sanskrit word for the third chakra is “manipura” which can be translated as “shining or brilliant gem.” A properly functioning third chakra is a source of light to one’s self and others. One of the best attributes of Mars is humor and laughter – it fits in perfectly with the phrase “belly laugh.” The good thing about laughter and Mars is that, for those times when vegging out is the only activity one can muster, if one chooses to watch a comedy even that will help to stimulate Mars in a positive manner (no horror or violent movies please).
For those who like to visualize, it can be helpful to picture a bright light of an amber or topaz color shining from the third chakra. There are ten petals in the symbol of the flower of the third chakra. Visualizing a flower with ten petals in the third chakra is another technique which can strengthen the manipura and, therefore, the debilitated Mars.

Chanting mantra is one of the most effective techniques for balancing out the planets and the chakras and for overriding those negative thought patterns which cause all of us so much unnecessary suffering. Mantras work because they have been handed down for generations by sages and are based on sounds which correspond to the charkas and affect the energetics connected to the chakras and their petals. I am going to give simple mantras because one should seek the advice of someone proficient in pronunciation for the longer and more complex mantras. The seed or primary sound for the third chakra is Ram (Rahm) and this can be chanted as “Om Ram” throughout the entire time period of this placement of Mars. The easiest way to do this is to commit to chanting it every day for a set amount of time or to count the repetitions on a mala. The other mantra which is good for Mars is Om Hum (hoom) – this mantra should be chanted whenever negative thoughts or anger arise as this mantra can calm down the fire and work to erase the self-defeating thoughts. For those who tend to fight life itself which then brings one naturally to thoughts of victimization, sometimes simple affirmations can do wonders. A simple “I can” works well as will “I am no one’s victim” or the well-known “this too will pass” reminder. Saying these or even writing them repeatedly can override the self-defeating or angry thought patterns which can lead to reactions and decisions which will only add to the fire.

As we move through this time period it is important to remember the whole planet is going through it, and we alone are not victims to this energy. Here in America we have the opportunity to release the old and be ready for the cycle of Rahu entering this country’s chart. The last seven years has been very difficult, and it makes no sense to carry them forward into a new cycle. Mars is an independent influence and, since we know that others are going to be moody and erratic, we can pull on the energy of independence and work on being the change we want to see in others rather than fighting with or trying to change those around us.

Finally, there are other exciting influences getting ready to influence the planet which I will be trying to cover shortly. Although, I just ran a discount recently, I will be offering an 11% discount from August 4th until September 7th on the half-hour and full hour sessions. Rather than change the website (yup, I am reacting to the new position of Mars and slacking a bit here) when you book the appointment, mention “MARS,” and I will take care of the discount from my end. Of course, the email question, while not discounted, is available if you have a question about the effect of Mars on your personal chart. While at this time we seem embedded in chaos, there is an an order to the universe and within ourselves – we simply have to work on ourselves and remember “that every planet is good for something” and we can then benefit and grow no matter what the mundane world tries to tell us.