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 six levels consciousness - these 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 also lies the possibility however, of 'tapping' into the ninth, or what is known in Buddhism as the 'Amala' consciousness. In the buddhist teachings, which are a profound explanation of the workings of consciousness and the universe, this level exists beyond the repository of earth-bound karmic influences (or immutable Karma), which are stored at the eighth level.
By evoking this 'Amala' consciousness which is at one with the fundamental rhythm of the universe, we have the potential to make gold from our negative tendencies and to transform the roots of negative causes and their manifest effects. 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 is called 'Ichinen Sanzen' or the mutual possession of the ten worlds, which means that each human being or object can manifest any one of 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 and the universe.
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, manifesting this through these other levels of consciousness in daily life.
As sending clear water through a dirty pipe works to cleanse it, by tapping into this world, studying and taking action, any negative karma from this, and previous lifetimes can be transformed.
The original 'Gohonzon' (object of worship) is the scroll on which Nichiren Daishonin inscribed his life. It contains the characters of this mantra along with the three thousand conditions of life, thus representing the entirety of the universe. As a chemical formula symbolises its content, the Gohonzon serves as a mirror of this fundamental life condition of Buddhahood, and the entire universe.
Therefore chanting this phrase to the Gohonzon powerfully evokes the Buddha nature from the 9th consciousness. It enables us to make fresh new causes based on the enlightened state of mind, which contains qualities of hope, courage, wisdom, compassion and gratitude. It also functions as a lens through which to observe our innate tendencies. This process is signified in the Japanese word 'Kanjin' which mean 'observation of the mind'.
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. This is known as the 'mutual possession of the ten worlds', and as the principle of 'Ichinen Sanzen', or the potential for three thousand possible states in a single moment of life.
Hence a person experiencing hunger, or any state that causes suffering can transform this into a yearning for a better world, or for beautiful things to uplift and inspire others. Though this example may seem simplistic, the actual workings of this philosophy of life are extremely profound and beyond the grasp of the human intellect.
Life contains both rational and mystic elements which we can see living in the development of Western civilization. This is exemplified through the historic thread of 'Romanticism' versus the 'Enlightenment', or scientific progress, and the unfolding dialogue and opposition between the two. For any truth or religion to be lived in practice it is necessary for there to be a balance of both, hence the concept of 'The Middle Way'.
Eastern wisdom places great emphasis on action first, and by putting into practice the revelation of this truth i.e. chanting 'Nam-myoho-renge-kyo' to the Gohonzon, studying, and taking action based on this, the theoretical becomes the actual, and the proof gained by action leads to developing faith. Faith means having absolute confidence in the unlimited potential of our lives, and our identity as 'the buddha of absolute freedom'.
The mystic principle of 'Myo' enables us to have a truth-gateway experience as we perceive the entirety of our being through the lens of Buddhahood. We can subsequently take action based on 'buddha' vision, and create the highest value in our lives.
(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. When used judiciously, and with open-mindedness I believe it can be a valuable lens.
I see 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 chart itself shows the horizon, angles and planetary positions. In addition, the centre of the mandala, for me, also symbolically represents the ninth consciousness, the pure source of enlightened wisdom and life-force, 'space' or 'spirit'. It is a living map incorporating five fundamental elements, Air, Earth, Water, Fire and Space (Spirit). It is through the latter that we can draw on the possibility of spiritual renewal and live out our fullest potential. The 'Spirit' or 'Space' element to me symbolically represents the buddha nature and unlimited potential for growth and transformation.
I believe that collectively and on an individual level, the outer and personal planets and their transits are a living map, representing via element and 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 which is as vast as the universe.
An extract from a children's story...
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.
The fisherman waved.
'That's a very special Dolphin', he said to himself..