If you were the only person on this planet, would you be tall or short? Beautiful or ugly? Without the “other,” many of your qualities would disappear in the void of reflection.
In The Cosmic Serpent, a book about DNA-like images in the visions of Amazonian shamans, we see a picture from Egypt of the double-headed serpent. This serpent, we learn, provides attributes. Attributes need duality.
If you were the only person on the planet, would you be happy or sad?
Without the “other,” you still have feelings. But how many of our feelings are reactions to the “other?”
If you removed all the feelings you have that are reactions to others, what is left? What do you feel that is not a reaction?
Aries, the first sign of the zodiac is known for its focus on self which includes competition. Its ruler, Mars, figures prominently in the charts of athletes (physical competitors). Aries’ focus on the self brings an independent and headstrong nature.
Opposite of Aries is Libra, the seventh sign of the zodiac known for its focus on others which includes partnerships from friendship to marriage to business ventures. Libra’s focus on others brings a dependent nature as the identity is formed through reflection off others.
This self-other axis seems the energy that produces competition. The reflection off others that forms identity for Libra becomes competition when the response to that reflection is to exceed what that other is doing to increase the Aries sense of self.
Libra may see your shirt, enjoy its qualities then seek one like it or something different that provides the same sense of pleasure. Aries may see your shirt, enjoy its qualities then seek something it sees as superlative to that shirt (more expensive, more colorful).
According to a recent NPR story, it’s around the age of five that kids start playing to win (i.e., become competitive). Interestingly enough, that’s the age where kids begin the socializing process called “school.”
At the age of six Jupiter forms its first natural opposition to its natal placement (because it has a 12-year cycle). Your natal Jupiter’s social awareness is understood through Jupiter’s opposing social pressure. I want to eat lunch at nine; the school wants me to eat it at noon. I’m told to be myself, but I’m also told to stop my many quirky habits.
At age six, at this first Jupiter opposition, you learn there’s a social world out there that’s going to make you its member, willing or unwilling.
Twelve years later, in many cultures, Jupiter makes that same opposition it made when you were six. Now it’s time to face the social world outside of school as we turn 18 and enter higher education or the adult world of home and work.
The NPR story concludes that good competition helps you improve yourself, not merely excel over others. Bad competition, of course, is about winning for its own sake.
The socialization process creates competition both good and bad. Maybe what we need to do is see what Jupiter is up to.
Is Jupiter culture asking you to be more physically fit and studious? Or is Jupiter culture telling you to buy expensive jeans and watches?
Those that are exceedingly competitive are more reactive than average to the culture and others. By extreme reaction, the self is lost as it extends outward to whatever the culture has deemed valuable, to whatever the culture has laid in its path. If the culture has promoted building character, competition becomes “good.” If the culture promotes greed, competition becomes “bad.”
Maybe rather than looking at competition as good or bad we need to look competition in the eye and see what the culture is up to. Then we can look back in that mirror of reflection and ask, “Is this really who I am?”