Today we are going to continue our study of the Tao de Ching for Astrologers by looking at verses 25 and 26. In this series, we look at verses from the Tao de Ching, two at a time, and reflect on them as they apply to our study and intake of astrology. I think it's important to remind ourselves why we're doing what we're doing.
Hey everyone, this is Acyuta-bhava from Nightlight Astrology. And today, we are going to continue our study of the Tao Te Ching for astrologers by looking at verses 25 and 26. So for those of you who have been watching this series, you know that we're looking at each of the verses of the Tao Te Ching, two at a time, and reflecting on them as they apply to our study and intake of astrology. I think it's important to remind ourselves of why we're doing what we're doing. And so that's why we do this series.
Well, you guys know that I typically put the verses up on the screen. And I also recommend reading along from the Jonathan Star translation of the Tao Te Ching, which is from Tarcher Cornerstone editions. I'm going to go ahead and put the verses up on the screen. Yeah, there we go. So, we're going to read through each verse, and then I'll read through them a second time and offer some reflections. As an astrologer, how do these verses apply to us as students of astrology?
Something formless, complete in itself
There before Heaven and Earth
Tranquil, vast, standing alone, unchanging
It provide for all things yet cannot be exhausted
It is the mother of the universe
I do not know its name so I call it “Tao”
Forced to name it further
I call it “The greatness of all things” “The end of all endings”
I call it “That which is beyond the beyond” “That to which all things return”
From Tao comes all greatness –
I makes Heaven great
It makes Earth great
It makes man great
Mankind depends on the laws of the Earth
Earth depends on the laws of Heaven
Heaven depends on the laws of Tao
But Tao depends on itself alone
Supremely free, self-so, it rests in its own nature
The inner is foundation of the outer
The still is the master of the restless
The Sage travels all day yet never leaves his inner treasure
Though the views are captivating and beg attention he remains calm and uninvolved
Tell me, does the lord of a great empire go out begging for rice?
One who seeks his treasure in the outer world is cut off from his own roots
Without roots, he becomes restless
Being restless, his mind is weak
And with a mind such as this he loses all command below Heaven
Beautiful verses. Let's go back to 25. I'll read it again, and then I'm going to offer a few reflections afterward. So verse 25,
Something formless, complete in itself, there before Heaven and Earth, tranquil, vast, standing alone, unchanging, it provides for all things yet cannot be exhausted. It is the mother of the universe, I do not know its name, so I call it Tao, forced to name it further. I call it the greatness of all things, the end of all endings. I call it that which is beyond the beyond that to which all things return. From Tao comes all greatness. It makes Heaven great. It makes Earth great. It makes man Great. Mankind depends on the laws of Earth. Earth depends on the laws of Heaven. Heaven depends on the laws of Tao. Tao depends on itself alone. Supremely Free self-so, it rests in its own nature.
Beautiful verse and a number of really applicable things from this verse for us as astrologers. First of all, for ancient astrologers, the formlessness that is being spoken of here. Something eternal, divine unchanging, the source from which all things come providing for all things we've never exhausted.
When ancient astrologers looked at the sky, they saw two motions in the sky; One was called the primary motion of the sky, and the other was called the secondary motion. The primary motion of the sky would be associated with the rotation of the Earth on its axis, but from our geocentric point of view, it is the appearance of everything in the heavens, revolving around us, the sun rising, culminating, and setting going down into the underworld, nighttime, the stars, the moon, all of the stars along the ecliptic, moving through our field of view, round and round and round and round. This was called the primary motion by Plato. And the primary motion as a symbol in the night sky, this motion was a symbolic referent to eternity, to the same thing that comes before and after Heaven and Earth. Tranquil vast, standing alone unchanging, it provides for all things but can't be exhausted; this motion was thought to carry everything; everything is subject to this generative force, life. God, Tao. Force to name it further, I call it the greatness of all things. The end of all endings, I call it that which is beyond the beyond that to which all things return.
So there was another motion in the sky that ancient astrologers observed, called the secondary motion; that motion was the motion of the planets as a collection; the planets generally share some characteristics; they all move against the grain of the ecliptic, from the west toward the east, whereas everything else is carried by the primary motion of the sky from the east toward the west like the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. But if you track the planets against the backdrop of the Zodiac, they're often they're actually moving, though, much more slowly than the primary motion against the backdrop of the Zodiac from the west toward the east. So this secondary motion was symbolically reflective of the world of coming to be and passing away, the world of forms. Spirit descends into matter; the one becomes many in the many shows itself in diversity, in difference, and in coming to be in passing away.
So this verse is pointing to the Tao as that primal eternal, you could say, oneness, you could say, source, that is running in, in through all things that all of the many are expressions of, that all of the adventures of life are coming from and returning to. In astrology, we have the same exact philosophy as early as Plato, who was a progenitor of some of the philosophies that went into the formation of horoscopic astrology. So many scholars have debated at length about which philosophers you know were the earliest ones practicing Astrology, practicing Astrology are where what kind of philosophical school astrology comes from, and but it is certain if you read Timaeus, Plato's Timaeus, that the primary and secondary motion pointed to the same kind of yin yang dichotomy here that Tao moves through the one moves and expresses itself through the many. So sometimes, you might, you know, you could read a Taoist text like this and think, Well, you know, I like spiritual stuff, but you may not know just how much a text like this has in common with what we're studying. The movements of the planets reflect the greatness that the movements of the planets reflect the coming to be in passing away of all things. And that the greatness of all of those things is reflected in the primary motion that eternal life-giving source.
From Tao comes all greatness. It makes Heaven great. It makes Earth great. It makes man great, and by great, we don't mean better than, or we're not pointing to greatness as in tyranny or corruption. We're talking about these the greatness of things as in the inherent worth, dignity, beauty, rightness, in you know everything in its right place. That all of that comes from this divine source.
Mankind depends on the laws of Earth. So we're bound by the laws of material nature. But Earth, the material laws of nature are in turn dependent upon the laws of Heaven. This is exactly the way that ancient astrologers thought as well. The planets are administrators of the forces of nature here on Earth. There's a kind of correlation or mirroring between them, but the laws of Heaven that planets are in turn dependent upon the laws of the Supreme, or the divine or God or Tao or that which is divine eternal and beyond this world in some way, although in it at the same time. Tao depends on itself alone; it is the source from which all things come. It is self so, resting in its own nature. This is exactly how ancient astrologers looked at the cosmos so beautiful. Of course, it's different, you know, there are many different schools of philosophy that practiced astrology, but these ideas would not have been alien to ancient astrologers. Now verse 26,
The inner is foundation of the outer. The still is master of the restless. The sage travels all day; it never leaves his inner treasure. Though the views are captivating and beg attention. He remains calm and uninvolved. Tell me, does the Lord of a great empire go out begging for rice. One who seeks his treasure in the outer world is cut off from his own roots. Without roots, he becomes restless. Being restless, his mind is weak. And with a mind such as this, he loses all command below Heaven.
What I like about this verse is, first of all, that we see in that there, so there is this Tao; verse 25 describes it beautifully. But then, in verse 26, we see what a sage is or does in relation to the Tao. That the sage somehow, although they have a life to live, and they have lots of movement and activity, the sage travels all day. But they never leave that identification with Tao. Well, what were the views of the earliest astrologers? The views of the earliest astrologers you can find all over, whether you're talking about Platanus, Neo Platanus, Pythagorean hermeticists, Stoics, orfics, was that the planets reflect the world of coming to be and passing away. And that if you get identified with that world and go out into it, seeking your treasure, losing track of your eternal nature, and this eternal, unchanging, beautiful mystery that is present, in all seasons, all seasons come from and return to this divine place. This place that is also who we are. If you lose track of that, you're lost. So why do we study astrology not to go and get lost in what astrology reflects, but in reflecting upon what the planets are doing. We stay home in the heart; we stay in touch with the soul.
One who seeks his treasure in the outer world is cut off from his own roots, planets in Indian astrology called Grahas, grabbers. They move us around like puppets on strings. But for the sage, you can travel all day; you can be moving through the world of karma, which the planets reflect, and yet you don't have to lose your inner treasure, your joy, your peace, your happiness, your sense of humor and curiosity. You can be like the Lord of a great empire, and that empire is your heart.
Not the greatest analogy these days considering how probably how few of us really appreciate, you know, empires and governments and things like that. But still, the analogy holds up there is a kingdom inside of us in our heart. If you stay wealthy within that kingdom, you don't have to go out begging for things in the world that pale in comparison.
So, Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah, the second verse of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, tells us that yoga means the cessation of the revolutions of the mind. That word vrtti has an etymological connection to the image of the revolving heavens; we study astrology because the heavens are always revolving, and our lives are filled with the reflection of their turnings coming to be in passing away. We're traveling all over, and yet we are looking, despite those revolutions, to be at home in the heart. Astrology helps us with that, and so does the wisdom of the Tao teaching.
So I hope that you have enjoyed this episode today and gotten something good out of it. I think it's good to pause even though the viewership on these videos is never what it is for my transit videos; I will keep doing this kind of stuff until I die because this is why I do astrology. This is what astrology means to me. And if I don't say it regularly, you know, then I will be seeking something outside of the kingdom of my own heart. That's the truth. So I hope it can be a truth that you share or that's helpful for you as each week we explore the transits and reflect on them and help us; they help us understand all of the adventures of life and they're worth living. But not without this perspective in hand, and heart at the same time, so, on that note, I hope you guys have a great weekend. And I'm looking forward to starting to unpack a bunch of really good transits next week. Alright, that's what I've got. Take it easy, everyone.