Siddhartha Gautama was born a prince during the full moon in May. Since the full moon in May pits the sun in Taurus opposite to the moon in Scorpio, we know the prince was born into a life of privilege. Siddhartha lived a sheltered life of a lucky Taurus, which included a heavy dose of luxury, good food, beautiful people, musical education, sensuality, and any think pleasurable. However, his moon in Scorpio was searching for something else. It is a no-bullshit kind of moon, investigative, dark and associated with death and depth. The moon in Scorpio did what she does best, wait in the shadows. And so she did for 29 and a half years and when finally Saturn Return hit the charming prince, his moon came out of the shadow and occupied the main stage. Finally released from the web of superficiality.
When Sleeping Beauty was born, another famous Taurus, an uninvited witch came nevertheless bearing curses instead of gifts. When Siddhartha was born, a seer came (not clear if he was invited or not) and without being asked, started bubbling some sort of obscure super-positioned prophecy. The baby is destined to either be a great sage and liberate millions, or a famous warrior conquering nations. Of course they were actually very similar outcomes, two sides of the same golden coin, after all, Taurus rules money. However, the king, Siddhartha’s father, took only one thing from this prophecy: the boy must be sheltered from any signs of pain, sickness or suffering, kept safe from healers, priests, medicine men and women so that he takes the path of the warrior instead of the compassionate sage. His father reasoned that India is already overloaded with wild-haired soothsayers, long-nailed fakirs, unkempt monks, smelly ascetics, and arrogant yogis. His son will be a mighty warrior and bring pride, bounty, loot and pride to his small kingdom.
But Necessity had another plans and she conspired with Mother Nature, the true ruler of Taurus, to steer Siddhartha on a different path.
Raising Siddhartha was easy. He was a golden boy, excelled in wrestling, proved to be clever with math, and most important, a true charmer, seducer and lover of women. His father ordered anyone sickly, old, ugly or maimed out of the palace grounds. He also commanded everyone to dye their hair and stretch the wrinkles on their faces so Siddhartha would not have to witness old-age. You can say Siddhartha was practicing the earliest documented case of Social Distancing from a virus called life. The sun in Taurus in his chart was happy to ignore suffering and be comfortably numb. But his moon in Scorpio, after nearly three decades of this nonsense, simply had enough.
Saturn returns every 29 1/2 years to the place it occupied in your chart when you were born. When Jesus was 29 1/2 he started his 3 years ministry and when Siddhartha was that age, so the story goes, he heard from beyond the walls of his insular palace a woman voice accompanied by a sitar. The song was slow, sad, and deeply moving. Siddhartha, a true Taurus, the sign of music, was touched by the chanting. It was this melody that served as the inciting incident that later lead to his enlightenment. All his life he only heard happy frivolous pop songs with mindless lyrics that do nothing to one’s heart. Listening to the tune, simple yet so moving, Siddhartha felt a strange sensation in his eyes, they were wet from inside. He never knew that tears could be used to express anything else beside joy: is this sadness I am feeling?
Siddhartha asked his father permission to explore out of the palace and find the woman who was singing. His father at first refused but he knew Taurus can be stubborn and unmovable. So he eventually agreed for a controlled parade. The king planned the route carefully and instructed his soldiers to remove from the street sick, old and any other sad or poor looking folks. Just like the Chinese painted the grass green in the city before the Olympics, so did the king do to the path of the parade. So help me the gods and goddesses, he thought, I don’t want him to even witness a dead or dying plant.
Siddhartha was thrilled for this adventures and indeed all went according to plan. People cheered waving their hands throwing kisses at the handsome prince riding his golden chariot. Everyone in the crowd looks youthful, vital and happy. But his moon in Scorpio could stand it no longer. This blunt display of hypocrisy and superficiality was just too much and so the magic of his Scorpio moon begun to work. In the corner of his eyes, way in the periphery, Siddhartha caught a glimpse of an old man being pushed away from the crowd by palace guards. Siddhartha jumped off his chariot and ran towards the old man. When he faced the old man, he was devastated. A human wrinkled like dry earth in the desert. Hollow eyes expressing pain and suffering. It hit Siddhartha like an arrow in his heart. Then not too far he spotted a woman who was visibly sick. Siddhartha was confused, why is the woman’s body bleeding and full of repulsive swollen buboes? Then on the other side, he saw a pyre with a motionless body covered in white. He asked one of his guards what is that? The guard whispered “a dead man.” Thus the happy Taurus who was living a shielded life, got knocked out by his moon in Scorpio and returned to the place a different man. He decided then and there that he will find the source of human suffering and will not rest until he finds a cure.
The Strings of the Sitar
For six years Siddhartha was fixated (Taurus and Scorpio are fixed signs) on acetic life. He thought denouncing his Taurus nature and depriving himself from any pleasure would give him a solution. It was rumored that one day he walked, feeble, starving and close to death by the river. There it was again, music that served as a vessel of wisdom. He overheard a conversation taking place in a boat that passed by. A sitar teacher was instructing a young boy on how to tune the instrument. “If the strings are too tight they snap, if they are too loose, they cannot be played.” And then it dawned on Siddhartha that before, he led a loose life in the palace and then after, among the ascetics, his life was too tight. He realized that the solution lies in the middle path between extremes. Thus the child of the full moon, born when the gravitational forces of the great luminaries fought over the earth, came to the conclusion that the solution for human suffering must be in the golden mean between self-indulgence and self-mortification.
Thus Siddhartha decided it is time to nourish his body and find a worthy tree to meditate under and practice Vipassana, clear vision. He was determined to sit down for as long as it takes and not move until he finds the source of suffering and how to end it. This reminds me of a story from the Talmud about a Jewish scholar from the first century BCE called Honi Ha’Meagel or Honi the Circle Drawer. The story goes that there was a terrible famine and drought in Judea and so Honi drew a circle and sat inside proclaiming to God that he will not move until it rains. After a while it started to drizzle, but Honi told God it was not enough and demanded something more substantial. A few minutes later it started pouring. In Buddhism there is no God, and there is no bending God’s will. Buddhism is the art of crafting light. It is a mindful psychology or philosophy rather than a religion.
In the next email I will continue the story of our spiritual superhero and the adventures that happened to him while he was trying not moving under the Bodhi Tree. But what is important for us around the world right now is the take the lesson of moderation from this ancient story. Staying in a quarantine for too long might tighten the strings too much and cause us all to snap economically, emotionally, leading to unrest and much suffering. Loosening the lock-down too early can cause the sickness to spread again and kill many more. All around the world we are asked now, during the full moon in May, to find the golden mean. When, how much, and where to release some of the global self-mortification so it does not harm ourselves and others.
I always argued that myths are true stories that never happen. They are true because they help us deal with real issues by presenting powerful metaphors. Allegories that can help us get insight into our lives.
I wish you a happy Full Moon (May 7) and see you over zoom or in dreams or soon in physical form…
This is the opening clip from Bernardo Bertolucci’s Little Buddha, highly recommended to watch the movie in the next few days or on May 7: