#14: the Ascendant spiritually understood

Why is the Ascendant of a birth chart given importance? And, from an esoteric point of view, how are we to embody the energies of the ASC?

The Ascendant of the horoscope is also called the Rising Sign because this point signifies the sign that was rising on the eastern horizon at the place and time of birth or of creation in the case of an event or business. For instance,I have Sagittarius rising. That is my Ascendant.

The Ascendant is important firstly because it sets the Wheel. That is to say, if Sagittarius is rising, then one knows where Gemini is located – directly across the chart – and, thus, what arenas of life Gemini is conditioning. By knowing the time and location of the birth of someone or an event, the Wheel is now oriented and said to be “set in motion.” If one’s chart/horoscope is not intercepted, then the vertical points (4th/10th houses) can also be set. In this example, they will be Virgo 10th and Pisces 4th; and the rest of the signs fill in accordingly. With an intercepted chart, all bets are off.

The Rising sign is important traditionally because:

  • it promotes the body type of a person and often emphasizes the part of the body corresponding to the sign of the ASC.
  • As mentioned in article #13, the ASC conditions or colors how a person starts things, as well as what he or she begins or is afraid to.
  • The ASC is the cusp of the 1st house. That house is the initial manifestation of the Wheel as an overall design for one’s life/ or one’s business/marriage, or other type of event. This might sound esoteric, but no. Whether one believes in one life as operative or many, this one is the one being lived. The energetics of this life are what are depicted by the astrological chart. No matter what level of Path one is on or capable of living from, the chart is a symbolic representation of the life’s potential, the likely challenges, as well as the spectrum of qualities and skills at one’s disposal to address challenges and to fulfill potential.

These factors are significant. They are all being lived and will be until the moment of death. Never dismiss the influence of the Rising Sign. Again, it alone sets the Wheel and puts it into motion. I hope everyone will contemplate their ASC with a fresh mind and heart. Our life is the embodiment of the Ascendant.

We begin with the same idea: the Ascendant sets the Wheel. The horoscope is a symbolic rendering of who you are at this point in your eons of multi-dimensional evolution. The great potential of Being expressing through Compassion as Action and the Creative Demonstration of Non-Dual Wisdom/Awareness is depicted in the chart. However, human beings have a tendency toward mediocrity which is also portrayed in the chart, specifically how the native will likely default. Curiously, we bring aplomb and pride to our mediocrity!

The horoscope illustrates the karmic challenges that we have been living for a long time as well as the antidotes or corrective measures to nullify or transform them. Certain houses, signs, and configurations tend to illustrate these facets. The same indicators usually configure to describe the one or two primary themes of the horoscope. How one lives those themes is up to the native.

The birth chart is illustrating multiple layers and, therefore, possibilities or dimensions all at once. This is because a human being is a multi-dimensional being whose possible expressions are beyond measure. That’s joyous to acknowledge and work from because doing so automatically pushes personal parameters while illumining comfort zones. It highlights habits of consciousness and default patterns while also clarifying how to change them. To live this ongoing insight and openness to personal transfiguration is creative and spontaneous. Being human, we will still eat the foods we like and have the friends we do, all the while spiritual awakeness is being cultivated. You are your chart. If old dynamics are not changed consciously in this life, they’ll be waiting in the next. As human beings, we can bring awareness to our life. What a blessing!

The Rising Sign is what can powerfully and benevolently arise within one. The attributes and qualities of the rising sign are this life’s agenda for personal spiritual maturation. Then, due to inter-being with all beings, each person’s spiritual maturing in any way and any measure is of benefit to myriad others. Consider, for example, someone who stops killing insects or eats less animal flesh or plants for the pollinators or feeds birds or chooses to be courteous to everyone every day. The ramifications of these small actions reverberate literally to countless beings. And, through such common activities one is embodying the qualities of the Ascendant.

The Master DK said that the Ascendant “indicates the intended life or immediate soul purpose for this incarnation.” EA pg. 18. His statement adds the level of soul to what was said in prior paragraphs about the ASC. But, let’s expand the term “soul” to include the higher nature called by various terms. Now it becomes clear that the ASC declares the evolutionary purpose and modality of the current incarnation.

I have wondered if the degree of the rising sign points to where in a cycle of incarnations the current life is. For example, does 0-5 indicate a new cycle, zenith degrees (14-19) imply middle-way through, 25-28 state that a cycle is completing? Furthermore, 29 and 0 are actually void of course degrees for signs including that of the ASC. What might that spiritually indicate? All this is speculation, but – for me – degrees have intuitively suggested the above; and such an interpretation is usually restated in other features of the horoscope.

The soul or higher nature is seeking to accomplish features, skills, or qualities of the ASC. For instance, the mode might be significant this life (cardinal, fixed, or mutable). It might be being established (independence, stability, or flexibility) or act as a mirror. I know a few people with Leo rising. They all exhibit something in common: the fixity of personal routines. This example is one of mirroring. All of these people are on the Path but don’t recognize this behavior. Now, I also have behaviors that I don’t recognize, so no better-than-thou here. The point in the example is fixity. My challenge is completions (Sagittarius rising). The only exception is gardening. I collect and dry my own seeds, start as many plants indoors as possible, collect and dry herbs and seeds, tend the soil, and do it all over again. Completions are an excellent cultivation of diligence, and I am grateful for each opportunity.

Examine your life through the lens of the rising sign: its mode, element, plethora of qualities and skills, as well as afflictive tendencies. What is being embodied? Is the ASC demonstrating through our life and service? What about personal spiritual training, the observer, and self-reflection and transmutation processes? Just as it was rising on the eastern horizon when we were born, we are to arise as the ASC.

All three rulers of the Ascendant qualify the Wheel. Point on Path will determine how robust an influence each is. Because we are incarnated, the traditional ruler is active. Because we are a soul or higher nature that incarnated, the esoteric ruler is a constant force. Because, we are pure beingness unfettered by causes and conditions, pure beingness that has emanated an illusory manifestation into an illusory world, the hierarchical ruler is in play.

The Rising Sign is often called “the stretch.” This characterization implies stretching beyond personal comfort zones, habits, and frames of reference. Look to the esoteric ruler of the ASC for the look and feel of the stretch, to what extent it has been accomplished and embodied, as well as the mechanisms for doing so. As mentioned in #13, the hierarchical ruler requires that the esoteric ruler’s gifts be established within one’s consciousness or conscious awareness. The hierarchical ruler is, basically, a wider demonstration of the self-less-ness of the esoteric ruler’s powers. The hierarchical ruler is not about one’s personal life anymore than the sky is.

Reflect on the ASC’s ruling planets’ qualifying of your life. Both the traditional and esoteric should be fairly obvious. Use these many posts to help with the attributes of the planets on their various levels. Below is the chart of rulers. Use it to go to the house correspondent to the sign. For example, Leo rising would go to the post on the 5th house.

The entire chart is designed to assist the soul/higher nature in its agenda for the life. The ASC reports that agenda. This means that every feature of the horoscope plus the transits, solar returns, and progressions generated from it all are in support of the higher nature’s purpose, goals, and intentions. True happiness for self and others lies in this embodiment.

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Meditation: things as they are

Seeing correctly includes seeing things as they are. Vipashyana is like everything: multi-faceted and multi-layered. We are that too, as is perception, reality, every being, event, and circumstance. The joy that vipashyana offers is discovery of the more. Eventually, all the layering gives-way. One realizes that it all is adornment put on by the mind, emotions, habits of consciousness, karmic patterns, and pattern recognition. With that realization, phenomena including people empty. At some point, the voidness thus infinitude of anything and anyone arises in one’s awareness. One also recognizes that the infinitude was always present, that emptiness is the womb of all that appears and flits through experience, and that voidness and phenomena are not two separate kinds of phenomena, but a fundamental no-thing-ness that is simultaneously all that appears and appears to exist. It sounds complicated and abstract, maybe even kooky. But, anyone will come to this through the gifts of vipashyana, if one applies “looking correctly” and “seeing things as they are” with some consistency and open to the humor it engenders.

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Meditation: impartial like the sky

The sky pays no attention to the features of bird or plane, rain drop or snowflake, butterfly or autumn leaf dropping. The space that the leaf falls through is neutral to the leaf. The leaf is without characteristics to the space.

The second contemplation in practicing looking correctly is that everything is without the features or characteristics that the habits of our mind-emotions put upon, impute, ascribe, prefer or push away of those things. People, events, and circumstances, too. Classically, the phrase given for this is that “all phenomena are without characteristics.”

In a meditation session, the understanding is that whatever arises in the mind, including stories, memories, or fantasies about a future event are void of the importance or character that each of us puts upon such. Furthermore, if the story is from the past – the past is gone. If the projection or fantasizing is of the future – the future does not yet exist. Therefore, both of these types of arisings are about that which is non-existent, thus the thoughts themselves have no basis. Since these have no true foundation (because the past is gone and the future does not exist), then one can bring impartiality to those arisings. With practice, they will arise less and less; and awareness-mind will remain spacious and impartial like the sky.

Through one’s day, one would chose to listen to the ascriptions and imputations, projections and preferences going on inside so as to pay attention to how frequent these are. Then with that self-recognition, one can smile, take a long slow deep breath and smile again. These self-imposed characteristics are just that: self-imposed! One can chose to be impartial, neutral, open, and free.

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Meditation: looking correctly

We’ve talked about vipashyana/vipassana before, but let’s once again engage this vast topic, its application in life, and the freeing that results from doing so.

Vipashyana is an ancient meditation technique. It is found in all ancient Indian texts in one way or another. This practice underlies all shamanic traditions, though the Sanskrit word would never be used. A shaman’s role is precisely to perceive correctly, to have insight into a situation or someone’s body or the other-worldly reasons for circumstances. Looking correctly has enabled a shape-shifting shaman to correctly understand that the human form in which his/her consciousness dwells is merely a costume. The shaman can, therefore, put on any costume he or she likes!

In truth, the majority of a vipashyana practice has to be off the cushion in the moment to moment of one’s life. It is there that the habits of not looking correctly, not perceiving things as they are occurs repeatedly. For most people that means with every thought. This is easy to see with one’s self. Expectations are a good example. Expectations are predicated upon a past experience. The experience could be imaginary – such as an feeling or momentary reality conjured from reading or from child’s play, or the experience could have been “lived” in this life or another. Features of that experience are projected forward and, importantly, desired or feared. Like all projections, expectations are imagined. However, if an expectation were examined before allowed to run one’s emotions or mental processes, one would be able to catch the emotions as they arise and quell them because they are responding to something made up in one’s own mind.

Vipashyana is easily approached through a few lenses that the meditator would choose to wear through a period of time. It is suggested in this meditation that we acknowledge and perceive change as much as possible for today and tomorrow. Classically, change is called impermanence but that might sound stodgy or like dogma; so, change, fluid, changing, up for grabs, malleable, constantly adjusting, flow and flowing, coming and going, arising and falling, and so forth could be thoughts or observations that we hold before us and open to for a day or two.

Examples: Obama rose then subsided as president; the seasons come and go; the physical body goes through a variety of up/downs, feeling strong/feeling weak; for years one could do the same task and then one day things change: a fall or slip or twist of the a shoulder or ankle. The impermanence of youth means that we grow, grow up, grow fat or slim, grow wise or senile, grow old and die. Maybe we don’t have to “fight disease?” But, instead work with what’s going on to bring well-being forward in all stages of body functioning. Imagine how health and healing would change if the ideas of fighting, conquering, or eradicating were released from how the mechanisms of change in the body were addressed.

Examples of the practice of vipashyana are in every moment. For instance, once one starts feeding birds, they quickly have expectations! So, we are not alone. But, we human beings can observe this behavior of emotion-mind and recognize the ongoing color-commentary that is going on within.

We begin with noticing change and noticing all the ways that we think it’s not so, wish it weren’t, and plan as if it is not. Laugh with your insights. Have fun with awakening. And, remember, smile and take a long, slow, deep breath with each insight.

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Meditation: each moment a vast expanse

Mindfulness has become a trendy term. Aspects of the original techniques taught by Buddha Shakyamuni have been excised from the fullness and discipline of those methods in order to become what is taught to children, those dealing with distraction or stress, or with pain. It is tremendous that any measure of mindfulness is being offered in these ways as training to so many people of all ages.

My aspiration with these online meditations and the training embedded within them is more of the pith of what he taught because, for example, stress cannot truly be managed unless one comes to the actual source of the stress – one’s mind-emotions, plus one’s choices.

Another example is used in this sitting: our present experience.

May all beings awaken.

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