Contrary to those who claim man is born with tabula rasa - a blank slate (in the mind), Vedanta teaches that the mind is filled with many influences from the past. The mind is the only thing that accompanies the soul from the previous birth. We don't bring our former body, our hair, our eye colour, our physique nor gender from the past. We bring attachments, we bring unfulfilled desires and we often bring the last thoughts, the last state of mind from our previous body with us. We also bring with us a selection from the store of past karmas - called prarabdha karma - along with the mind into the new foetus which emerges from the womb.
Other influences on the mind include what is sometimes called the family karmic pool - the karmas that are passed down from seven generations back. Some teachers aver that our deceased forebears (pitris, manes, ancestors) fulfil their desires through our own personal habits and preferences. Other influences on the mind come from our parents, our siblings, and other relatives.
There are also other influences that shape and form the mind: we have the learning environment, the influence of teachers, the (sometimes) deleterious influence of peers, along with that of society and culture. Einstein once said, "If you want to know who a man is, show me his friends". It is an of-repeated axiom that "culture shapes mind" and the impact of culture on mind is all-encompassing. We know of culture shock when people settle in a new environment with different language, customs and values.
The mind-body complex is made up of very fine instruments of perception (jnanendriayas) and action (karmendriyas). There is also the antarkaranas, the interior instruments of awareness and decision making. These comprise the mind (which is wavering in nature), the buddhi (or intellect) when the mind is concerned with thoughts, the Chitta - recollection and consciousness when the mind is concerned with self-inquiry and understanding, and ahamkara - the ego with its sense of I, Me, Mine. The mind is the key to the nobility of the human; turn the key to the world, the ahamkara takes over, and Rahu rules the roost. Turn the mind to self-inquiry and understanding and Jupiter (para vidya, higher knowledge and understanding) rules the roost.
When we come to look at the strengths of mind - evidenced by thoughts, words and action - we assess the character of a person. We can say a person has a strong character and is self-reliant. We can observe that another person has weak character and follows others without thinking for themselves. Strength of character rests on knowledge, skill, balance, insight and identity. These are the fine instruments of the mind that require diligence, practice and constant self awareness. Cultivation of these skills are simply fruit of delayed gratification, self control, self-discipline and self respect. Psychologists teach that those who practice delaying of gratification - in most instances - achieve the goals they set for themselves. Hence, we see that the mind and its strengths - or weaknesses - are all important in terms of understanding our character, understanding ourselves and crafting a path through life with our own gifts, skills and unique contributions to the game called life.
In this game called life, the planets play a role. Astrology is the unfolding of the life-map, the soul contract through the subtle influence of the planets, their benefic and malefic aspects, their strengths and weaknesses, their placement in the birth chart, the fructifying of the yogas indicated in the chart, along with transits through signs and houses. In this article, we look to the mind (represented by the Moon), Jupiter, the great teacher and guru propagating dharma - right conduct, and Rahu, the shadow-planet who causes desire and seeks fulfilment of desire.
The Veda says: Chandrama manaso jathaha chaksho suryo ajayatha mukhadindrascha agnishcha. The Moon is the presiding deity of the mind. The condition of the Moon in the birth chart reveals the prevailing tendencies of the mind. We can know the state and condition of the mind from the influences on the Moon. The Moon is exalted in Taurus, a fixed sign and traditionally the second house. This is a house of wealth - wealth in the form of family, learning, writing and career. Hence, it is also a sign of learning, for the second house is where we learn how to earn our wealth in the world. The wealth we may obtain in life is fruit of how we manage our mind. Taurus is owned by Venus, planet of gracefulness and beauty. It is an earth sign,
The Moon owns Cancer, a movable sign of kapha nature, and Moon is also moolatrikona (with greater strength) in Cancer. Cancer is a movable sign, of water nature and emotionally sensitive when afflicted. Traditionally this is the 4th house, house of family, property, vehicles and possessions. The 4th house speaks like so: 'My feelings, my mother, my home, my family'.
The Moon is debilitated in Scorpio, a fixed sign of water nature and signifier of moksha, liberation. As the traditional 8th house, Scorpio is a dushthana house (afflicting) and also the sign of hidden, occult matters, secrets, red-tape, delays and misfortunes.
The Moon has no enemies, is friends with Sun and Mercury, and neutral to Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and Mars. It is said that Ketu is enemy to the Moon (causing lunar eclipses) and that Rahu acts as enemy as it bedims the Moon.
The Moon is of vata/kapha nature (air/water) and rules taste, tongue, and the uro-genitary systems in the body. It also rules the circulatory system in the body. The Moon is significator of the Astral body and this (astral body) is discerned from the Moon's sign, and the nakshatra of the Moon, along with the 4th house and the 4th lord.
A key issue with the Moon in the zodiac is that it is frequently under malefic influences. The Moon turns malefic when it is within 60° of the Sun, and does not turn benefic until it is further away beyond 60°. The Moon is frequently afflicted by the malefic planets, Sun, Mars and Saturn, along with Ketu and Rahu ( who behave like Mars and Saturn, respectively). A Moon under malefic aspect reveals a mind suffering afflictions of one kind or another, signified by the planets afflicting and the house or sign where that planet resides. If the Moon is between two malefic planets, then this is called (papa ketari) (hemmed in) (scissors yoga) wherein the Moon is said to be under severe affliction. It is most difficult to pursue dharma - righteousness - and experience peace when the Moon is so afflicted.
Rahu is a shadow planet that interrupts the delivery of light to and from the Moon - as shadows block luminosity, light. The Moon is one of the two natural luminaries, the other being the Sun. In Vedic myth, Rahu was formed when the cunning demon Swarbhanu attempted to obtain the nectar of immortality and was beheaded for his efforts. The head is called Rahu, the headless body is called Ketu. The head is forever seeking, desiring wholeness and this explains to us how Rahu is significator of desire, and fraud; Rahu fraudulently sat among the gods to receive the nectar and his deception was exposed by Sun and Moon. Hence the eternal animosity of Rahu to Sun (causes eclipses) and Moon (bedims Moon).
At a glance, Rahu is called the North Node, is exalted in Taurus, debilitated in Scorpio, co-lord of Aquarius (with Saturn) and has digbala (directional strength) in the 10th house. Rahu magnifies the effect of its Lord, and that of any planet it is conjunct. Rahu is of vata (airy) nature and rules the astral and possessions. Medically, Rahu is giver of incurable chronic diseases, snake bite, difficulties in breathing, chronic illness and mental illness.
Rahu signifies worldly desires, foreign lands, use of drugs and alcohol, separation, harsh and grating speech, insanity, fear and adversity, and the status of Rahu is out-caste. Rahu is said to be self-seeking, a deceiver, manipulator, ambitious and generally dissatisfied with life. There is always more, and Rahu, chalakaraka, (giver of fraud) will obtain more by any means possible. Rahu is always dissatisfied and seeks validation, higher status and office. Rahu - by fair or foul means - will take possession of any instrument that will empower the ego. Position, pride, greatness. In these affairs, Rahu cannot control himself. With Rahu, Station in life is nearly always improperly obtained and cannot be sustained as fraud is usually exposed soon after.
we began saying Rahu signifies desires. In fact, due seeking of desires, Rahu is the one planet that is said to cause reincarnation, which happens when desires remain unfulfilled. Desires are due discontent, seduction (of the mind) and mental delusion. There are the haves and have-nots in this world, and Rahu - who wants what he sees - goes around the rules, disregards boundaries and is always hungry for more. Rahu always surges with desire for the next thing, unhappy with anything that has been obtained. Think of cars on the highways and byways that have to overtake you and are disconsolate to stay on the speed limit and follow the laws of the road - unhappy at any speed - and you get an idea of Rahu.
Rahu and the Mind
To use a metaphor, the mind is like a little boy. We have to bring up that boy, train him not to do harmful things and to be safe and careful. We have to train that little boy into good habits, and repetition reinforces good habits. We teach that little boy right from wrong, truth from lie, good from bad. We inculcate good habits and elicit the values within. We bring up that little boy, train him to become wiser and wiser and caress him onto good ways. We make him aware that all objects are 'seen' are just products of his own illusion, remove all his fears and foibles, and focus attention steadily on one goal only, Doing the Truth.
Rahu, on the other hand, will strip away the carefully placed boundaries within the mind with discontent and desire. Rahu will tell the mind that 'the grass is greener on the other side', and push the mind to disobey the inner voice of truth within and obtain the object of desire at any cost. Rahu hates to follow dharma - righteousness - for righteousness is simply a barrier on the journey to fulfilment of desire. Rahu - shadow planet of smoke and haze - fans the fires of desire and the smokescreen produced wafts away all steadiness and balance. As an example, you might think of Toad of Toad Hall, totally infatuated with the auto-mobile. Toad desires an auto-mobile at any cost, re-enacts the sights, sounds, smells, touch and feel of the auto-mobile and wastes time in airy remininsces of the same. Infatuation, in any other word. Rahu makes the mind infatuated with the object of desire.
How everything can be lost
Taking the rule in astrology sani vat rahu - Rahu behaves like Saturn - then we may expect Rahu to foster and multiply intense periods of inactivity and inaction. Intense, due the time filled with desire. Time that is not filled with beneficial activity leads to inactivity, idleness. This can lead to loss of capacity to discriminate right from wrong. Idleness is a trap; it can lead to a loss of discrimination. Idleness generates desire, desire comes up against frustration, and Rahu, like Saturn, is giver of persistent frustration. Desire produces an expectation that it be fulfilled, and disappointment when it is not fulfilled. Disappointment leads to anger, which then leads to a state of mind called sammoha, stupefaction of the mind. The mind loses its inner connection to the instruments of wisdom (called jnanendriayas) and is filled with aberrations. It can no longer connect to the intellect and receive guidance. Memory loss of right from wrong along the guidance of the voice of conscience are lost, the intellect is destroyed. Then everything is lost. We lose our true humanness in the unbridled pursuit of desire. We have to examine how we use time, and how misuse of time can disconnect us from the voice of the intellect within.
We never deal forcibly with the mind; it will yield easily to tenderness and patient training. Correct its waywardness by means of the attitude of renunciation, Destroy its ignorance by means of instruction in the knowledge of the soul. Strengthen the interest by which it is already endowed toward the realisation of God; let it give up the attraction toward the evanescent and the false mirages created by fancy and fantasy; turn its face inwards, away from the external world. By these methods, concentration can be firmly established.
The Veda tells, na sryeo niyamam vina, there can be no progress without adherence to discipline. Taking our metaphor earlier of the mind being like a little boy whom we caress along the right paths with tenderness and patient training, this is the discipline we offer the child in order to progress through life. Rahu is undisciplined and can cloud two very important functions of the intellect: detachment and discrimination, vairagya and viveka.
According to Vedanta, detachment (vairagya) is not abandoning one's family and living in the forest. One is required to live in society and perform one's duties while keeping the mind free from desires and attachments. The mind is like a piece of cloth, the desires are like the strands of thread. To lighten the mind through the journey of life, we remove the desires one by one, day by day.
Discrimination (viveka) is the capacity to recognise the nature of the objective world. Discrimination teaches you how to choose who and what you will have in your life. It teaches you the relative importance of objects and ideals. Discrimination as part of the intellect, is the faculty of reason. Where our reason is thwarted or clouded, we will not be making sensible decisions in line with our essential character. The journey of life will go off the rails. We lose the direction, we do not know the path, and we cannot reach the goal.
There are four goals in life, purusharthas, the four great goals of dharma (righteous living), artha (wealth), kama (desire) and moksha (freedom from the cycle of birth-death-rebirth). Where one goal overtakes and clouds the other goals, then it is like a tyre of a motor vehicle, the tyre is pumped up with too much air and bursts. The car ends up in the ditch, we are going nowhere because we do not have a proper balance within. Therefore, discrimination and detachment are important. It is perfectly all-right to have money, it is perfectly all-right to have desires for our basic needs according to our station in life. It is perfectly OK to have clean clothes and to present yourself neat and tidy. It is perfectly OK to own a car if you need one to get to work or take the children to school. These are not symptoms of excess. Such needs and acquisitions can be kept under constant surveillance and the surplus can be used for Naryana seva, feeding and clothing the needy.
- Rahu is ambition over-leaping itself (as Shakespeare wrote) and ignoring the rules, the boundaries of propriety behaviour.
- Jupiter is awareness of the goals of life, practice of dharma - righteousness in behaviour, speech and thought
- Rahu is the great fraud dissatisfied with the state of affairs and seeks any means to raise his or her status higher
- Jupiter is steadiness in pursuit of learning, application of learning to artha - how we earn our wealth and observance of proper boundaries
- Rahu hates boundaries and will seek any way to bend the rules including outright fraud (charakaraka), cheating and deceit.
- Jupiter enjoys the good things of life - in fee simple or large - whatever is possible - and sails down the middle of the river of life, careful of the bunds.
We have used the metaphor of a little boy, a child. We lead the child along with the caresses of love, and we guide the child along the right path in life. Ditto our mind, we establish a strong foundation of good character, integrity, behaviour reflecting the values within. We develop discrimination and detachment, we cultivate delay of gratification and follow our goals in life. Jupiter is a planet of largesse, expansion. Rahu magnifies, multiplies the effects of the planet it is conjunct with, and that of its Lord. We have a situation where Rahu can multiply desires, needs and wants, and as charakaraka, dispositor of fraud and obtaining the objects of desire any-which-way, then we can understand that we need to find balance within and rest upon the tried and true values that others have taught us and inspired us with their example. We understand the need to exercise caution and vigilance over expansive desires and needs, resorting to the familiar inner paths of our discrimination and detachment. We reiterate, the tried and true paths within, for Rahu clouds the intellect.