The Wesak Festival
Subtle Meanings of the Full Moon in Scorpio 2007
Malvin Artley, our regular esoteric commentator examines the subtle meaning of the Full Moon in Scorpio for 2007, the Wesak Festival, honouring the liberation of the Buddha. This is Taurus's Full Moon, as the Moon is Full in the sign opposing the Sun. The full moon of Taurus (full moon in Scorpio) takes place on the 2nd of May at 10:10 hrs UT, which is 8:10 PM in Sydney and 5:10 AM in New York.
History was never one of my favorite subjects in school. I always had a difficult time remembering all the names and dates, let alone seeing what the relevance of something that happened, say, three thousand years ago had to do with what I was going to do the next day. Maybe it was because I just wasn't geared toward the subject or maybe I just had boring history teachers, but science always had a much greater appeal to me, along with girls once nature deemed fit to bless me with hormones in my teenage years. Of course, that was a long time ago – ancient history, shall we say? – and I have come to appreciate the importance of the subject, especially when it comes to learning not to make the same mistakes over and over again.
However, there is history, the subject, and then there is history – the kind that one never gets from books. When I refer to the latter, we begin to touch upon a subject that has quite an immediate importance to our lives and does indeed affect what we will do for the next day and all of our days to come, for what I mean when I talk about that is what most of us know as Soul-history. Soul-history forms a lot of what science calls the subconscious mind, which is the basic patterning that determines so much of how we behave. This is the patterning from relevant past lives that gives us our inclinations toward certain cultures, activities, foods, interests and talents, and it is that history that points toward an understanding of what our purpose is for life and how that is to work out.
It is a fascinating thing to watch children as they come into the world and grow up. They have certain distinct likes and dislikes. They gravitate toward certain people, objects, music, activities and so forth, each one as if there were something old and familiar in whatever they are drawn toward. I remember from my childhood that I was always attracted to the stars and science. When I discovered Chinese food in the fourth grade I was hooked. I could eat it at every meal and never grow tired of it. All things Chinese have held a deep fascination for me and, of course, music has been a huge influence in my life. There is one thing I always realized when I came across something new that spoke to me, though – if I felt pulled toward it, there was invariably a feeling of comfort, familiarity and peace about it. I didn't have to think about it or try to figure it out. I always knew it was right. It was as if I was simply remembering something instead of learning new things, which is actually very close to the truth. In the end, though, what eventually evolved out all that 'remembrance' was a more or less clear sense of a direction forward in life, and when I would get involved with things that really spoke to me there was never any question in my mind as to what I should do or how I should do it. I just knew. My path for the time or period was illumined, clear and compelling. Such clear knowing is a characteristic of the sign Taurus, and the concept of purpose as a steadily unfolding process is as well.
Certain themes of Buddhism seem to stand out to me this full moon. There has been a strong undercurrent with this letter and a prompting to look at the Buddhist tradition as it relates to human spiritual evolution. Many people call the Taurus solar festival (full moon in Scorpio) the 'Festival of the Buddha'. The phrase is actually a little unfortunate, for the Wesak period is not about the personage of Sakyamuni at all, but rather indicates an attainment or orientation to achieve a specific state of being – that of atmic consciousness, or spiritual bliss, if you will – which relates more to spiritual Will than it does to Love.
Many people have commented to me how difficult each Wesak period has since I started writing these letters, and I would have to concur. It is because the sign Taurus has such willful energy and a one-pointed focus that the Wesak period is difficult for many, especially for those who are more heart-oriented. One of the main tenets of Buddhism is compassion for all sentient beings, however, so although the Wesak interval might seem difficult each year, it does highlight that we are all in this together and that we should have compassion for the trials of those with whom we have contact. In that realization we find that the Wesak festival says a lot to us about the opening of the human heart and that it is not simply a time of purging, hard work or simple realization of purpose in life. So, just what is Buddhism and why is this full moon always associated with it?
What is Buddhism?
To begin with, there are countless Buddhas in our local universe – not just one. Each one of us is a buddha in our higher nature. We each have the Buddha within us, literally and figuratively. The Wesak festival is a celebration of that fact. What does it mean to be a buddha, though? Loosely defined, a buddha is one who has achieved liberation from the wheel of rebirth (one who has reached a stage of relative perfection in the human sense and no longer needs to be reborn in this world) – an Adept, in esoteric parlance – one who dwells fully and always in a state spiritual bliss (full functioning and consciousness in the realm of buddhi) and who has achieved a measure of consciousness in the realm of Nirvana (anupadaka).
There is a great deal implied in this definition that would take too long to explain, but what has just been described is the simple truth of the matter. In short, a buddha is one who has completely gone beyond all association with the personal and who thus works purely in the spiritual realms, even though they might still be found with a physical form. The fact is that they are simply not identified with anything personal, and it is that term 'identification' that gives the key to buddha-hood. However, humanity has had one shining example of our own kind who reached that exalted state of affairs and that was in the personage of Guatama, the Buddha. Through his own struggles in life he came to certain realizations and was liberated from the need to struggle. His message was one of great simplicity, yet profound in its import, and it gave us the keys needed for our own liberation and realization of the essential purpose for our lives. His message goes something like this:
There are three basic laws of existence.
- All phenomena is impermanent (change is the great constant in life)
- Identification with phenomenal existence is unsatisfactory (to do so causes suffering because form is always changing)
- There is no fixed essence (sense of Self), only becoming (all is evolving spiritually).
In addition, he gave us the Four Noble Truths.
- Attachment to form is suffering.
- Desire is the cause of suffering.
- Suffering can be ended by the attainment of Nirvana (not the band, the state of being)
- One should avoid all extremes of self-mortification and/or self-indulgence (the Noble Middle Path)
The Noble Eight-fold Path
These laws and truths give rise to the Noble Eight-fold Path (the method of attainment), a simple statement but difficult of accomplishment, and those eight requirements are: Right view, Right intention, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness and Right concentration. There is a lot more to his teaching, but this will suffice for the purposes of this article.
If we look at it, the Noble Eight-fold Path outlines a sequence and thus a process, all of which leads to one of the things for which Buddhist practice is best known: meditative discipline. It is only through meditative discipline that the exalted states of consciousness for which a buddha is known are achieved. Those exalted states of consciousness are beyond what we know as life, for what most people think life is about is all about what goes on around them, not who they are. So caught up in the drama of circumstance, ensnared by the thoughts that others have foisted upon us, bound by the duty of care and the necessities of modern materialism, we all lose track of our essential Being, yet it is there – we are there – at all times.
In the West we tend to separate ourselves and talk glibly about this or that realm of existence and our other 'bodies' as if they were a thing somehow outside us, yet we live and move and have our being at every level simultaneously. We have simply lost our identification with what is real, only to replace it with what we perceive through the senses. It is an abstruse subject, but it is grist for the mill of Buddhist practice, for everything comes down to mental training in the end, all with the aim of going beyond that and back into our true essence, whatever that is. Even then, once attained, we are told even that essence is still in a process of 'becoming'. Evolution goes of ad infinitum.
A Process of Becoming
So, if we had to take one piece from the Buddhist tradition and relate it to our current world situation, what might that be? Basically, every being is in a long process of becoming – on the Path of 'return', so-to-speak. Taurus gives the Light which illumines that Path and points to the steady progress forward needed to attain the goal. Thus, we celebrate the Festival of the Buddha at the full moon of Taurus, whether Guatama was actually born in that sign or not. Since we are all in the same process of becoming, then we owe a duty of care to those who are not as far along and we should feel compassion for the struggles of those who may or may not see the issues at hand in those struggles as clearly as we do. On that path of becoming we find a sense of purpose in each life, for our purpose is to fulfill the obligations associated with our chosen way and to make the way easier for those who follow. We simply call that duty of care by the name 'service'.
In part two of this article Malvin concludes his discussion of the esoteric impact of the 2007 Wesak Moon. He discusses the influence of the degrees and the aspects, as well as some further features of the Buddhist teachings, including the meaning of tantra.
Now read part two of The Wesak Festival 2007.