22 July 2009

Eclipse Misfortune? Perseverance Furthers.

Rahu, which in Western astrology is known as the north lunar node, was a demi-god or demon of the Hindu pantheon -- together with his headless body, Ketu (the south lunar node).

During battle against the gods, he pretended to be a god and received the immortality nectar. However, Mohini, an avatar of Vishnu, recognized what was happening with the assistance of Surya, the sun god, and Chandra, the moon good. Mohini used a special spinning disc and beheaded him before the nectar could pass through his throat making only his head immortal.

However, because of this Rahu is an invisible planet that occasionally (and temporarily) consumes the sun or the moon -- causing an eclipse. Western astrology/astronomy identifies this Hindu planet and his invisible body counterpart as the lunar nodes.

Astrologers in India, Thailand and China all predicted misfortune and troubled times ahead for those areas that directly experienced a total eclipse.

Buddhists have a slightly different take on the entire matter -- in general. After all, Buddha did reach Enlightenment!

In the Theravadin tradition, the Suriya Sutta (Surya Sutra) says (trans. Piyadassi Thera with modifications):

Thus have I heard:

On one occasion the Blessed One was living near Savatthi at Jetavana at Anathapindika's monastery. At that time Suriya, the sun god, was seized by Rahu, Lord of Demons. Thereupon calling to mind the Blessed One, Suriya, the Sun deity, recited this stanza:

i. "O Buddha, the Hero, thou art wholly free from all evil. My adoration to thee. I have fallen into distress. Be thou my refuge."

Thereupon the Blessed One addressed a stanza to Rahu, Lord of Demons, on behalf of Suriya thus:

ii. "O Rahu, Suriya has gone for refuge to the Tathagata, the Consummate One. Release Suriya. The Buddhas radiate compassion on the world (of beings).

iii. "O Rahu, swallow not the dispeller of darkness, the shining one, the radiant and effulgent traveler through the sky. Rahu, release Suriya, my son."

Thereupon Rahu, Lord of Demons, released Suriya, and immediately came to the presence of Vepacitta, Lord of Demons, and stood beside him trembling with fear and with hair standing on end. Then Vepacitta addressed Rahu in this stanza:

iv. "Rahu, why did you suddenly release Suriya? Why have you come trembling, and why are you standing here terrified?"

"I have been spoken to by the Buddha in a stanza (requesting me release Suriya). If I had not released Suriya my head would have split into seven pieces. While yet I live, I should have had no happiness. (Therefore I released Suriya)."

I am under the belief that this sutra is chanted in Buddhist countries during these rare and unusual times as a form of protection against whatever malefic force Rahu generates.

I know that the Hindu statue doesn't look scary, so here in a Tibetan tangkha painting of the Tibetan Buddhist version of the same.

From Western astrology, there are two schools of thought on the lunar nodes. Both agree that the north node is suffering (Rahu) and that the south node is comfortable (Ketu). Yet, as Jung says, "Neurosis is the avoidance of necessary suffering." So, in the school I tend to believe, Rahu/North Node is a positive thing forcing us out of our habit and box and what comes easily propelling us toward greater psychological and spiritual development.

So, where these astrologers say misfortune lies ahead, I say, perseverance furthers! Hopefully the leaders of India and China don't squander the opportunity and make life miserable for everyone else.

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