Marsilio Ficino, the great Renaissance philosopher and

magus wrote in his Three Books on Life that Saturn
protects the student of Metaphysics. For the modern
individual raised essentially in the culture of the
Enlightenment, such a statement makes little sense as
neither Astrology nor the Gods are “alive” today. That
does not mean that mankind’s ability to perceive the
livingness of Gods have anything to do with their essential
reality. The truth rather is that the Divine Beings are not in
conscious participation with Humanity in this cycle of
evolution. The word “conscious” is all-important because
that is the fundamental distinction between us and the
ancients. They had a living intercourse with the Gods and
we have an unconscious and consequently distorted
relationship with them. The very fact that our present god,
Science is struggling to find answers to the essential
questions of existence, in fact has declared that meaning
is not the domain of Science, shows the spiritual poverty
of our times. The more unfortunate event is that because
Science is incapable of providing Meaning, by exalting
Science, we have also exalted its shortcomings, justified
them and so, surreptitiously surrendered the search for
meaning entirely. There have been ages where meaning
occupied the highest goal of its inhabitants. Invariably
they searched for the invisible truths behind the visible
realm for meaning resides not in the seen but what is
represented by it. To be sure, we are an actively mental
race but mind by itself is no indicator of greatness. It is
what the mind is occupied with that signals the dignity of
men. Science being concerned with the Hows of matter

it appears insufficient or even defective. it is only fair that we are a race of selfish acquisition and gratification whether that is symbolized by incessant wars or deteriorating family life. but at the same time.instead of the Whys. because that which gives causal linkage its convincing character resides equally in the unity of the thought and in the nature of the things. it is but expected that the major pre- occupation of Man is in deconstructing matter and trying to find answers to its functioning. it is true that it is always logical in the essence. the need for causality substantially depends on the mental level which is mechanistic or imaginative. ” The need for causality depends on the general preoccupations of an era. Matter is the realm of separateness in its essence and when Man prioritizes separation rather than unity. the causal argument of an era mentally different. Ibn Arabi commented on the pursuit of mechanistic causality prevalent even in 13th century Europe that its a feature of the pre-occupations of an era. except a certain order of realities. reasoning or intuitive. His comment is worth quoting in full. The great sufi mystic and philosopher. It is my attempt here to try to understand the Truth behind Marsilio Ficino’s statement and its relevance to our lives. As the mental horizon cannot englobe at a given time. because one can see the limits of its development only in the sense of an ulterior investigation. one forgets only too easily that all causal linkage within manifestation is essentially .

This is why we respect Thinkers. cannot be denied. the predominant tone of all worldly activity is based upon a mechanistic conception of the universe which fosters an attitude to manipulation for selfish benefit in general. I am not denying the occasional goodness of this knowledge but the topographical changes to the character this tendency brings in. and that the most vast and the most adequate conception of causality is precisely the one which is conscious of this symbolism and which considers all things within the relationship of the Unity of Existence’ (wahdat-al-wujud). indicating the principles which apply to all phenomena. It is the search for universal that defines Philosophy and Ibn Arabi’s sayings essentially is an exhortation to not get restricted to the details of life but widen oneself to receive the larger “meanings” reflected within “causality” as we know it. This happens since the only proper use of knowing the “HOW” of a thing is to make it serve you. It is in this sense that Ibn- Arabi’s words are a radical blow to the pre-dominant mood of our times. The very word “universal” has an inspiring tone to it.symbolic. Man is essentially defined by how broad his mental horizon is. Today.” These are words that need to be meditated upon and made a living presence within our hearts and minds. At its heart. (or used to ) and philosophers since they try to understand the root causes of things. It restricts man to the separative domain and also provides no real answer. An intuitive civilization will not search for causality . Universal happens to also be a specific term in Philosophy. causality is about limitation of thought.

Ibn Arabi’s understanding of the spacio-temporal nature of the search for causality tells us that in its focus will be on the place of individual events in the larger domain of meaning. This indicates a search for meaning which is inherent in Man but causality restricts him in the search for hows and thus. he tries to assign an immediate meaning to events and in the process. They only MANIFEST as a outward action. Every act of a human being is in response to needs or wants which in themselves are mostly non-material. A narrow Causality can tell us how a thing happened it its immediate sense but Man being what he is. Ficino through his sentence is trying to explain something of this journey. forgets to look deeper. This truth is . Outer events were just things to be tolerated and moved on. there is no causality as everything comes from the One who is in Himself not situated at a causal level. The truth that manifest life is a realm of symbols should firstly be accepted. The ancients were not very interested in the outward reasons for things as they were looking at what the event meant in the context of entire lives. the deep labour of excavating Meaning from the symbols of material existence is never done. Such is true of every thing in life. Meaning takes its first steps at this basic level and manifests ever more upwards until it knocks at the very doors of Divinity. There was no fuss made on the individual details of life. Desires can be felt but not seen. The way this journey is made upwards is the stuff of all scriptures and myths.

But we don’t think of causality in such wider terms so much. the manifest world is the world of falsity and the Absolute is the seat of Truth. Because if we did. One important first lesson which needs to be remembered from the symbolism idea of manifestation that the form of an OUTER event is only important as to the essential meaning of the event FOR THE INDIVIDUAL experiencing it. Truth and Falsity here correspond in a sense of Cause and Effect because all search for reasons and Causes is a search for Truth. Thus the focus on the outer form has to be lessened so that the individual can hone in on the inner meaning. Brahman or One. And this shift is essentially the truth of . Jagat Mithyam”. To be sure. but beyond. “Brahman Satyam. Mithya is untruth meaning. This effects a tremendous shift in perspective from the outward to the inward life. Such is but normal. This perspective of an infinite canvas is contained in the great Vedantic statement. if he comes to the enterprise with a true seeking and objectivity. there will be many events which will not make any sense initially.expounded in many ways in all religions which posit an Absolute. we would immediately conclude that our search for Causes has to take on a vast and essentially infinite canvas where Truth resides. Adi Sankara is asking us to not search for reasons here. emotional and mental realms but apparent is all what it is since there are realms beyond them from which forces and impulses of a cosmic nature descend into our three worlds where they Manifest as “causal” events. there is an apparent causality in physical. Now when a man first starts seeking answers to his own life in a wider canvas.

there must be a system which will co-ordinate these forces and channel them in space-time. Birth in the manifest level of creation involves the beginning of certain effects whose causes have already been set up. Astrology is widely mis-understood today because the “scientific” basis of the discipline is not understood anymore. To understand the truth of this. immaterial emotional or mental causes. The understanding of why only those sets of causes. The truth of astrology is that though the Planets are “causing” the events in our lives. Thus if they are causing events in our lives. is beyond the scope of this essay as it will take us into esoteric matters of deep import and which will be discussed at a later time. no cause in physical as explained earlier since every individual action or effect is the result of inner. Hindus and Buddhists call these causes.Astrology which is a science of the inner meaning of outer events. The essential understanding is that for any set of forces or causes. Birth is not so simple a matter as Death. This is much more a reflection of the causal pre-occupation of our times than it is about astrology itself. Prarabdha Karma is the set of effects which will play out in that life. Truly. . For any particular incarnation. Planets form the systemic forces for such unravelling. Karma. this causality is not something happening independent of us like in a master-slave relationship. A great mystic once said. themselves immaterial to unravel themselves in the material plane. some understanding of the nature of human birth and death is required. its because we ourselves have created the causes in previous lives by our actions and such causes are not in themselves physical.

They are FREE to pursue their Divinity.Thus astrology at the very basic level. The reasons for these are. They are Free to become what they essentially are. especially the Pranamaya Kosha so that the causes lodged there can be transformed and shredded to be replaced by more Divine forces. That is why the forces of the planets are able to work on us and cause the unfolding of karma. there is. “The Microcosm is the Macrocosm” or “As above. This is an essentially Yogic question and the very possibility of Yoga should answer the question. Human Beings are essentially Free in only one sense. Thus is Karma “burnt” and lives divinized. that the situations in life one is born into. we are already in the midst of many . This correspondence between the human and the stars is expressed in famous esoteric statements like. explains the causes which will play out in an individual life. These are of-course matters of yogic and esoteric processes. whether they be good or bad. They are the results to past karma and from then on. This also brings into focus one of the perennial mis-conceptions of our times about the presence of free-will in human life. are not accidental. It can well be asked if there is any way seat in the human body where these causes are “lodged”. That seat is the etheric body or the Pranamaya Kosha where miniature planets are found. In our etheric body. there are miniature planets and suns present as Chakras and Nadis. All Yoga is essentially a reworking of these inner bodies. Everything else in life is just a reaping of past causes. so below”. The answer is yes. One last thing about the physics of such cause-effect domains.

This lifting is the truth of Yoga and meditation and also Metaphysics. the truth does not change that he has been only flowing in a stream which his current incarnated personality did not choose simply because the personality itself is the stream. some one dumb and someone jealous and conceited. Modern man is wont to think that doing what one feels or thinks is asserting Freedom but he quietly forgets that what one feels or thinks is to a large extent determined already by his emotional and mental body which he comes equipped with at birth due to the same karmic causes set up in the past lives. This is the true understanding of the idea of Imprisonment in Life and Liberation from existence. none of which are in our control. True freedom is only possible when Man can abstract away from his set mental. Some one is born blind. Freedom in the manifest plane is a lie because most of what our personalities are right now is already decided beforehand by our past actions. Their feelings and mental patterns are fixed and if not corrected. Whether that pulling lands him is a good or bad place. societies and nations.complex forces or family. What we call Character is a simple way of describing these karmic patterns. they will pull him or her in a specific direction in life. We cannot prevent the unfolding of karmic causes we ourselves have set up but we can lift ourselves out of the domain of Karma itself. emotional and physical patterns of behavior else all he will be doing is reaping karma. .

it has a huge role to play in clearing out the blocks to its Realization. It is well known in Astrology that Saturn is the planet of Karma. it is called Shani and when Shani is heavy on you. He teaches you lessons which otherwise we would never learn. But if we take the symbolism of outer life seriously. But there are an infinity of levels to which Man may go if he so chooses. they are just whiling away their life in chasing idle objects of pleasure. a lot of unpleasant events are about to happen. The “extent” is important because not every man is ready to know himself at his most deep. If he so chooses. These times force a man to face himself and facing himself is only a dramatic way to indicate his coming to terms with his own inner truths to the extent he can surmise. There are levels to which he may go at to this extent. Platonic dialogues all proclaim the essential divinity of Man. Saturn is the disciplinarian is an esoteric sense. It is a Truth that for many people.The study of metaphysics is something which has occupied only the best minds of any civilization. Its the search for Truth for truth’s sake. times of pain and misery are the only periods when they are serious and intense. or so is the popular understanding. Saturn forces him to reach. Vedas. . The Upanishads. At other times. Although. This has always been so because it requires a certain amount of detachment from the individualized personality to speculate on truths which have no relation to the individual life. absolute Truth is not to be found by thinking only. we should look at the underlying causes of such unpleasant events. In Hinduism. Here we come to Saturn and Ficino’s comment.

takes the mind away from the field of individual highs and lows to the realms of the infinite. In everyday language. Why. by taking us into these realms. by freeing the Man from his narrow personality interests. he becomes polarized in the formless domains of reality away from the realm of Form where he has been previously stationed. we are so used to a sensual reality of forms that we tend to think in pictures and in referents to outer reality. Plato. he is “There but not There”. There is nothing in embodied life which has previously prepared him for these texts. These are not realities encased in Form. Thus Metaphysics. we frequently say. being an initiate of a high order had reached such levels of reality where Beauty could be perceived independent of its Form. But essentially. Esoterically. Beauty is a realm of Truth where what we call beauty resides. Metaphysics. But there is no form we can use in thinking of Being or Nothingness. Basically someone’s mind is not involved in his immediate surroundings. Ordinarily. Its a simpler way of explaining a . He may join with the Absolute Himself. We know that a Man is what he Thinks. widens our small and conceited personalities and takes us into more purer and divine realms.he may reach the Gods and even surpass them. That is only an enrobed outer cloak which Beauty has taken. Anyone who tries tackling the Parmenides of Plato or Hegel’s Science of Logic will immediately understand the monumental obstacles that confront him when he tries to penetrate into the symbols of the words which appear in these texts. When Plato mentions Beauty he is not talking of something beautiful as “seen” in the realm of outer life.

much greater esoteric truth that man essentially builds his home in his Mind. the forces of the planets get transformed in us. . Thus Saturn is happy when we seek the Truth this way and become a helper instead of a disciplinarian acting against our will. are being transformed into purer forms. His body is just a location in space-time and though. it constrains him in some ways. we are contacting the Mind who wrote these texts and in esoteric terms. over time. The relevance of Saturn is that He wants to teach us the great lessons which will lead us into our Divinized selves. When we are delving into Metaphysical texts. through our mental exertion. Metaphysics is one Great Way to reach that realm. it cannot bind him. our pranic energies. Thus.