Karma and Buddhism 1
As human beings we are always experiencing the cumulative causes we have made through what is known as 'Karma'. This is not a fatalistic acceptance of things as they are, but a dynamic and proactive word meaning 'Action'. We experience life primarily through the six consciousnesses, which are: the five senses of Taste, Touch, Hearing, Sight and Smell, and the sixth which is human reason (the ability to make evaluations, or make sense of things). Beyond this is the seventh consciousness, a realm of individual identity, self awareness, reflection and realisation where we perceive certain personal and spiritual truths (akin to Jung's collective unconscious) There lies the possibility however, of tapping into the ninth or the 'Amala' consciousness, which lies beyond the repository of earth-bound karmic influences (or immutable Karma) in the eighth. Herein lies the potential to make gold from our negative tendencies and experiences, which in Buddhism is known as 'Turning poison into Medicine' or in Japanese 'Hendoku Iyaku'.
Buddhism for our time
Nichiren Daishonin, a Buddhist Scholar living in 13th Century Japan identified the means for this transformation as 'Nam-myoho-renge-kyo' grasping the essence of what had been revealed by the historic sage T'ien T'ai in China. He dispelled the former idea that one had to spend many lifetimes to achieve enlightenment, or that a person was limited to one dominant 'life condition' i.e. one of the ten worlds from 'Hell' at the lowest to 'Buddahood' at the highest. This principle was 'Ichinen Sanzen' or the mutual possession of the ten worlds, which meant that each human being or object could manifest any of the three thousand conditions of life in a single moment. This was a revolutionary idea in the history of Buddhism. Nichiren Daishonin identified the means of revealing the Buddha-state simultaneously as the phrase 'Nam-myoho-renge-kyo', a sound that incorporates the whole of the Lotus Sutra. In doing so he made actual the theory that T'ien T'ai had revealed. It means that anyone can chant this phrase and immediately access the Buddha nature of the ninth consciousness, the pure unfettered life force of the universe, revealing this through the other layers. Much as sending clear water through a dirty pipe works to cleanse it, by tapping into this world and taking action, one is able to transform any negative karma from this, and previous lifetimes.
The Ten Worlds
The reality of the ten worlds - hell, hunger, animality, anger, humanity, rapture, learning, realisation, boddhisattva, and buddhahood - is that the world of buddhahood or the enlightened state can be revealed through any one of these so that they manifest in their highest condition. Hence a person experiencing hunger can transform this into a yearning for a better world, or for beautiful things to uplift and inspire others. Though these examples may seem simplistic, the actual workings of this philosophy of life are extremely profound and beyond the grasp of the human intellect. Life is both rational and mystic, and for any truth or religion to be lived in practice it is necessary for there to be a balance of both, like the two wheels of a cart. However, by putting into practise what has been revealed, i.e. chanting 'Nam-myoho-renge-kyo' to the Gohonzon (A mandala originally inscribed with the totality of the three thousand conditions of life by Nichiren, and thus a mirror of our being), the theoretical becomes the actual, and the proof gained by action leads to developing faith. The mystic principle of 'Myo' enables a truth-gateway experience as we perceive the entirety of our being through the lens of Buddhahood. (see the SGI-UK website for further reading).
Astrology as a lens
The Art of Astrology has existed since ancient Babylonian times, and itself reveals an aspect of truth, though it can fall into the trap of being deterministic rather than dynamic. I believe that the karmic constellation of the birth chart symbolically represents the entirety of our life. It shows the qualities through which our enlightened state, or Buddha nature can be revealed. It is a symbolic map of both our unique potential and our immutable karma and tendencies (which can be transformed). The birth chart shows the horizon and planetary positions. However the centre of the mandala, for me, also symbolically represents the ninth consciousness, the pure source of enlightened wisdom and life-force. I believe that collectively and on an individual level, the outer and personal planets and their transits are a living map, representing via encoded myth the obstacles and inherent qualities we possess, leading to the realisation of our unique potential in this lifetime. The resolution of these problems is the other side of the same coin. Living through these influences is a process that is our own journey, and one that we cannot decide with our intellect. With insight, it becomes a rewarding challenge where we can use our wisdom, courage and compassion to bring out our own best qualities, continuously transforming difficulties into a cause for celebration and revealing more of our potential.
Here's an extract from the introduction of my children's book which I'm currently illustrating....
'One fine day, as the sea roared into a rugged coastline with coves and sandy inlets, a pod of Dolphins were playing in the sparkling green-grey water of a little bay. They swam this way and that, their fins sliding through the foamy water. From time to time they leapt up into the air in an arc shape, catching the late September sunlight on their backs, and showering the nearby fisherman with droplets as he was casting his giant net into the sea.
One dolphin was watching from the shallower water near the shore, gliding and having fun with the children who were splashing in their paddle boats and chattering. Dolphie made a whistling sound to his other dolphin friends, and they dived up and flipped their tails joyfully. He was wearing his patrol torch on his forehead. It was Autumn and he was almost ready for the long journey he would make away and over the ocean to distant lands. Dolphie, The Patrol Dolphin sang a little song to himself...
'Oh...how I love to be in the sea....there's no better place for a dolphin to be...'
His smooth forehead glistened above the waves as he saluted his dolphin friends with his nose, flipping his flippers in an excited way. There was nothing he liked more than a long journey to visit all his creature friends in the ocean and on land, to check they were safe and happy. He whistled a high soft note showing his little teeth and mouth that curved up into a smile at the corners, and winked his friendly eyes. The other dolphins jumped up, one by one in a big arc to wish him goodbye, rocking the fishing boat which bobbed from side to side.
'Goodbye Dolphie' said the fisherman, as he knew him well. 'That's a very special Dolphin' , thought The Fisherman,.....'