Monday, March 2, 2015

A few thoughts on astrology

My family knew a very interesting old Viennese man called Dr Oskar Adler, who has influenced me in some surprisingly different ways.  He was what we call a polymath, one of those now rare breeds of multi-disciplined people with interests and training in widely ranging areas of life.  He was a musician, a marvellous violinist who, I was told, had taught the composer Arnold Schoenberg the violin, a mathematician and – and this was where he most influenced me – a widely respected astrologer.  I have on my bookshelves a copy of his large four-volume treatise on astrology (in German).  It is beautifully written and very profound, one of those works which has given me deep insights into human behaviour.

I have a rather confused understanding of astrology.  I think I would have described myself years ago as a sceptic, and yet time has changed me.  One of the changes came about by attending a short astrology course in London years ago, when for the first time I began to appreciate that there were indeed individual human characteristics which could be symbolized by a person’s relationship to the planets in the heavens.  At first I needed a lot of convincing that this could be so, until the class was one day given the astrological chart of a famous anonymous person and was asked to try and work out who that person might be.  To my utter surprise we came up with the correct answer (it was Princess Diana, much in the news at that time).  We then compared her chart with that of Prince Charles.  This comparison clearly showed that they were set on a collision-course, aspects of the one chart clearly clashing violently with those of the other.  This was my first venture into the arcane world of astrology.  As a surprise by-product, it has added much to the understanding of human nature which my five element studies were teaching me. 

There are 12 astrological signs and 12 officials spread between the five elements, though unfortunately we cannot equate one with the other.  If we could we would have an easy way of diagnosing an element simply by asking our patients their birth dates.  But the 12 different areas of life in both systems have certain surprising similarities.  The fact that human characteristics reveal themselves in different ways but with features that can roughly be summarized in 12 categories in both acupuncture and astrology has always added greater depth to my understanding of the elements.  In a way this is a comforting reminder that there really is nothing new under the sun.  And my deeper understanding of the psychological relevance of what a study of astrology shows us came originally from these four books of Dr Adler’s.

Of course there is also a branch of acupuncture which relies heavily upon Chinese astrology, something I know little about, but which represents another diagnostic tool used by acupuncturists.

I treasure deeply two things Dr Adler taught me.  He said that each of us owes it to the world to pass on whatever we have learnt so that we can give others the opportunity to learn from us in turn, even though we may never know where our thoughts land and whose lives they will enrich.  There is one phrase of his which has echoed for me down the years (in German, but I will translate it).  “What would have happened if Mozart had not written down his music?”  And Mozart, we must remember, died a pauper with no idea that his work would resonate for millions in future generations.  This gave me, and still gives me, the impetus, and almost the duty, to write and to continue writing, in the belief that what I write may help somebody somewhere learn in turn from what I have learnt from life.  We all owe it to others to hand down whatever thoughts we have had in whatever medium – blogs such as this one, novels, poems, paintings, music, sculpture.  Only in this way will we help preserve for future generations what is valuable in human culture.  And however insignificant we feel our contributions may be, we should still find the courage to make our thoughts public in the hope that they may contribute something to the lives of others.

The second, more esoteric, lesson I learnt was Dr Adler’s insistence that if we cannot find something we have lost, however hard we search, then that object has really disappeared and will not allow itself to be found.  We must then try to put it from our mind because it will reappear at some point in the future when the time is right and usually at quite an unexpected time and in quite an unexpected place.  I have put this to the test numerous times, and it does appear to be true.  I remember once frantically looking for something in a room where I knew I had last put it, only to find it two weeks later in a room I rarely used right at the back of a drawer I would have sworn I had never opened.  I also found my house keys at the bottom of the dustbin after losing them for a few days!  In both cases I had no recollection whatsoever of putting the things where I found them.  Now if I lose something, I just wait, and usually, but not always, it reappears in an unexpected way, long after I have given up searching for it.  Try this.  You may find that Dr Adler was right.

1 comment:

  1. This is so true! The day before, I happened to find my lost earning after I had given up looking for it and bought a new pair. I found it at the most unexpected places, on my door mat, where I change my shoes twice a day! My conclusion is also that never try to looking for things that seems to be disappeared, it will have itself reappeared one day.