Watching the fear, anger and outbursts over the last several months I have same thought: It’s about time.
Disillusionment in Buddhist tradition is a great thing because you are remove your illusions. While many seem to think the United States changed in 2016, history suggests it actually stayed the same but much of the veneer was lost.
In Charles Dickens’ novel Martin Chuzzlewit published 1844, young Martin Chuzzlewit (there’s an older Martin Chuzzelwit as well) goes to America to seek his fortune. Even before young Martin lands on shore, Dickens points out the hypocrisy American culture as he describes the scene of an American gentleman who comes on deck with his belongings:
He likewise struck his hands deep into his pockets, and walked the deck with his nostrils dilated, as already inhaling the air of Freedom which carries death to all tyrants, and can never (under any circumstances worth mention) be breathed by slaves.
The men young Martin meets talk about one thing – dollars.
All their cares, hopes, joys, affections, virtues, and associations, seemed to be melted down into dollars. Whatever the chance contributions that fell into the slow cauldron of their talk, they made the gruel thick and slab with dollars. Men were weighed by their dollars, measures gauged by their dollars; life was auctioneered, appraised, put up, and knocked down for its dollars. The next respectable thing to dollars was any venture, having their attainment for its end. The more of that worthless ballast, honour and fair-dealing, which any man cast overboard from the ship of his Good Name and Good Intent, the more ample stowage-room he had for dollars. Make commerce one huge lie and mighty theft. Deface the banner of the nation for an idle rage; pollute it star by star; and cut out stripe by stripe as from the arm of a degraded soldier. Do anything for dollars! What is a flag to them!
In another passage, Dickens explains what traits American men admire in other men:
He was the greatest patriot, in their [American men talking by the stove] eyes who brawled the loudest, and who cared the least for decency. He was their champion, who in the brutal fury of his own pursuit, could cast no stigma upon them, for the hot knavery of theirs. Thus, Martin learned in the five minutes’ straggling talk about the stove, that to carry pistols into legislative assemblies, and swords in sticks and other such peaceful toys; to seize opponents by the throat, as dogs or rats might do; to bluster, bully and overbear by personal assailment; were glowing deeds.
Does this not sound exactly like today? Does this not describe, exactly, the current president?
Dickens criticized hypocrisy on both sides of the Atlantic. On the British side, the character Tom Pinch is kind, openhearted and guileless and one day, finally, sees the true and hypocritical nature of the man Pecksniff to whom he’s been employed most of his adult life and whom he believed to be a paragon of virtue in spite of the many people who tried to convince him otherwise. Rather than being angry at the scoundrel Pecksniff he has a very wise and rational perspective – the man he thought was Pecksniff never truly existed:
But there was no Pecksniff; there never had been a Pecksniff.
Pecksniff had gone out of the world – had never been in it – and it was as much as Tom could do to say his prayers without him. But he felt happier afterwards, and went to sleep, and dreamed about him as he Never Was.
There are surely some tangible things to lose right now like your house and your job; however, some intangibles we think we lost may never have existed such as peace, fraternity, liberty and democracy. It’s a realization, a clear-view, not a change in external reality, and is the first step in transformation.
Pluto in Capricorn-Manifest Destiny
In a couple years Pluto will return to the place it was in the US chart in 1776. Capricorn’s keyword is “I use” and that has been our evolutionary lesson since inception. The Capricorn desire to dominate and control has been given many names throughout our history including Manifest Destiny, Monroe Doctrine, Reagan Revolution, and recently War on Terror.
In Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History, Frederick Merk writes:
Manifest Destiny, by contrast, seemed on close examination, despite its breath-taking sweep, to be parochial. It’s postulates were that Anglo-Saxons are endowed as a race with innate superiority, that Protestant Christianity holds the keys to Heaven, that only republican forms of political organization are free, and the future – even the predestined future – can be hurried along by human hand, and that the means of hurrying it, if the end be good, need not be inquired into too closely. Undeniably, some Americans were satisfied with such ideals. But a large majority appraised them – at least in periods when the nation was at peace – at their true worth.
The greatest irony to me is that the freedom that Americans think they have or believe they had and have lost was most like the Native American cultures that existed in North America prior to contact. Those cultures had freedom of movement, no government, no police, no prisons, and no “owned” land. A free life means sometimes you move to find food. Sometimes you are killed by others. That’s freedom too.
Neptune in Pisces-Disillusionment and Escape
The current transit of Neptune in its own sign of Pisces provides energy for pure spiritual growth – the kind that is personal and internal and can’t be assessed by others. This kind of spirituality is about the paradox of connectedness and loss of self. But that loss of self is not the psychological kind where you relinquish accountability for yourself and actions by giving your power to another. It’s the kind that frees us from our self-inflicted prisons which make us feel separate.
Possibly Neptune in Pisces can help us understand that freedom is spiritual as well as political.
Neptune and Pisces gone bad is escapism and we see a lot of that too with drugs, alcohol and media abuse which is often encouraged by the outside world who know that disillusionment leads to change and fear it.
As Pluto returns to its natal position in the chart of the United States, there is increasing awareness that the ideals of our nation are pure, but, like Pecksniff, they never “were” for many segments of the population. Freedom was not for everyone.
As Merk says in Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History, while Manifest Destiny subsided during two world wars, mission did not:
Mission, on the contrary, remained alive and is as much alive at present as it ever was. It is still the beacon lighting the way to individual and political freedoms – to equality of right before law, equality of economic opportunity, and equality of all races and creeds. It is still, as always in the past, the torch held aloft by the nation at its gate – to the world and to itself.
Transform, it’s time!