Wisdom of the Sages
As Mars enters Pisces it forms a square to Saturn. During its journey through the sign of the fishes, the final sign of the zodiac, the notion of fierce compassion comes to mind. This is the compassion not of a purely tender heart which breaks at the suffering of the world, but of a mighty heart which simply expands to accommodate it no matter how overwhelming. This is the heart which will stand up for what is right and true in the face of denial and lies; that will protect the vulnerable no matter the cost and speak the truth no matter how unpopular. This is the heart sustained not by personal interest but by divine presence which strengthens and upholds in the face of life’s challenges. This mighty heart is needed now, not only towards our fellow humans but towards all sentient beings and the very planet on which we live. We cannot continue living the old ways of domination and objectification but must be prepared to embody an entirely new way of co-existence upon this beautiful planet we call home. As Mars travels through Pisces we can understand more deeply the needs of this time and do our bit to meet them.
Saturn in Sagittarius reminds us of the importance of commitment to our ideals and a willingness to follow through on what we know to be true no matter what doing so demands of us. It requires patience when we want quick results, wisdom when we would rather make snap judgements which support our long-held beliefs and a willingness to admit when our world view is challenged by direct experience of life. Together with Mars in Pisces, it requires honest appraisal of our responses to suffering, our own and that of other people, and a continued commitment to recognising where we contribute to that suffering and where we mitigate it.
As we embark on this new year we are challenged to broaden our view to accommodate not only our own struggles but those of the other seven billion people on the planet! Okay, of course we can’t do it individually, but remembering that there is always someone struggling with the same feelings we are, somewhere, can help put our own experience into the context of a wider phenomenon existing the world over: namely the suffering that being human entails! It starts from the moment of birth until we die. The human realm is full of experiences which can cause us to suffer. The challenge we each face is to recognise it is not the conditions themselves but our reaction to them which ultimately dictates our experience. When we can manage that reaction we can lessen or remove our suffering. When we don’t we suffer unabated.
Of course, putting it that way makes it sound far simpler than it is. Few of us want to suffer and yet we continue to do so. We must ask ourselves why this is and what we can do about it. Sages throughout history who have gained such deep insight into the nature of suffering that they have risen above it once and for all speak of knowing the mind so deeply that they recognise its causal role in pain: identification with a sense of self that must be defended and upheld in the face of life’s challenges and attacks; resistance to the present moment and clinging to a desire for it to be different than what it is; equating the contents of the mind with reality. All of these are highlighted by those who have penetrated the deeper recesses of the psyche to come to understand what causes us to suffer. As Saturn travels through Sagittarius and Mars enters Pisces we can drink from this stream of wisdom and penetrate our own minds in such a way as to spot what we do to perpetuate the very feelings and emotions that we seek to avoid.
It’s a subtle science, understanding our inner world. We are so close to it we can overlook its twists and turns, embracing our justifications for the status quo rather than the possibility of change. But whoever we are and whatever our circumstances all minds essentially function in the same way, resisting the present moment, creating duality and telling us lies. When circumstances are desperate it can be almost impossible to recognise the mind for what it is and no one would expect someone in a war zone or living in a refugee camp having lost everything and everyone, to simply recognise their mind for what it is. But for those of us living in relative comfort despite our personal tragedies, trials and challenges we can take pause for thought and consider what really perpetuates our suffering: Circumstances or our attitude towards them? Other people or our beliefs about them? Life itself or our assumptions about it?
The mighty heart of Mars in Pisces recognises that suffering is central to the human experience and we all do it. It looks out rather than in and sees the pain of others as motivation to reduce the suffering we contribute to the world on a daily basis. Whilst we may not be able to ease their pain we can take our own mind in hand and refuse to add to the collective pool of suffering by allowing it to unquestioningly call the shots in our own life. And as we ease the pain in our own tiny corner of the world we have increasingly more space to look with unflinching compassion upon the pain of others who may be in situations we can barely even bring ourselves to contemplate. Thus the mighty heart is born, resonant with the sea of suffering and aligned with its cessation, fired by compassion and forever expanding to contain and heal all that it encounters throughout the world.