According to legend, Avalokiteśvara, a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all the Buddhas, made a vow that he would not rest until he had liberated all the beings in all the realms of suffering. After working diligently at this task for a very long time, he looked out and realized the immense number of miserable beings yet to be saved. Seeing this, he became despondent and his head split into thousands of pieces. Amitabha Buddha put the pieces back together as a body with many arms and many heads, so that Avalokiteśvara could work with myriad beings all at the same time.
Avalokiteśvara (Chenrezig in Tibetan) is the patron Bodhisattva of Tibet and his meditation is practiced in all the great lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. Whenever we are compassionate or feel love for anyone, we experience a taste of our own natural connection with Chenrezig. Although we may not be as consistently compassionate as some of the great meditation masters, Tibetan Buddhists believe that we all share, in our basic nature, unconditional compassion that is no different from Chenrezig.
The Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader for both Tibetans and Western Buddhists. Respected and loved by many, he is believed to be an emanation of Chenrezig, just as the previous Dalai Lamas and the Karmapas. And indeed, as a simple Buddhist monk, he has devoted his life to spirituality – his birth chart is a testament to his devotion and compassion. So let’s have a look at it.
The Role of the Dalai Lama
The first thing that really caught my eye is that beautiful Grand Water Trine: Cancer Sun in the 1st House (conjunct Asc) – Scorpio Jupiter in the 5th (trine Asc) – Pisces Saturn in the 9th (trine Asc).
This literally looks like an astrological manifestation of the Triple Gem or the Three Jewels of Buddhism (called triratna in Sanskrit), which are: the Buddha (the enlightened one), the Dharma (the spiritual teaching or cosmic law) and the Sangha (the community).
The word lama is the Tibetan equivalent for the Sanskrit guru, meaning “teacher”, and in Vedic astrology the name of Jupiter is Guru. Jupiter is basically known as the planet of law, dharma and philosophy. So we can look at it as:
Cancer Sun/Asc 1H (the Buddha) ― Scorpio Jupiter 5H (the Dharma) ― Pisces Saturn 9H (the Sangha)
The greatest luminary in our sky, which determines our Sense of Self in life, is the Sun. In the Dalai Lama’s chart, it’s conjunct his Cancer Ascendant in the 1st House, and in his case represents the Enlightened Self as there is no underlying conflict over his identity or purpose in life. We can tell that his purpose is crystal clear to him by the Sun/Asc conjunction – taking on the role of a spiritual nurturer or emanating as Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, for the sake of all sentient beings. The amount of empathy contained in this chart is immense. As an astrologer, I would even say that Avalokiteśvara is the epitome of emotional intelligence.
Scorpio Jupiter in the 5th House alone speaks of a person who loves teaching or giving spiritual guidance to others. Like a messenger of the cosmic law on Earth, the Dalai Lama harmoniously combines a gentle Jupiterian approach with Saturnian discipline in his teachings and spiritual practices. If you look at Buddhism, you’ll see that it isn’t as much a religion as it is a science of the mind, or a philosophy by which one can lead a balanced life. It isn’t rigid within its core but rather, in the footsteps of Siddhartha Gautama, progressive and practical, following the Middle Way. This all matches perfectly well with the personality profile in the chart of the Dalai Lama. His Jupiter in Scorpio is probing, psychological and illuminating. And his 9th House Saturn in Pisces speaks of spirituality within a structural or disciplined community where he is revered as a great teacher. It’s a beautiful flow of water with that Sun/Asc conjunction in Cancer. Adaptable and deep, just as the meaning of his name, the Ocean of Wisdom. In Buddhism, the ocean symbolizes the source of all life, the connection with our sensitive side. It represents intuition and depth, and above all, the wisdom of all the Buddhas, the very symbol of mankind’s enlightenment.
“Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can drip and it can crash. Be like water, my friend, making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.”
― Bruce Lee
The Triple Gem is a symbol of taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The manifestation of this in the Dalai Lama’s chart, along with the South Node, shows that he gained the protection of the Three Precious Jewels by birth, and that he must have “taken refuge” prior to rebirth. The South Node conjunct Pluto in the 1st House reveals a position of great power or leadership in his previous lives. A role in which he was seen as a Sun for his own people, an emanation of Chenrezig, a spiritual leader on the throne, highly revered by his countrymen. This is the placement of an external focus on the self where one’s identity shines with great confidence and importance, where one gains status amongst the people of his nation (Cancer). However, his North Node’s placement in the 7th House creates a stark contrast to the glory and shine of the 1st House and the previous lives. In this life, it meets the energy of Capricorn, a grounded and earthy sign, signifying the emergence of a different type of leader – a leader with no palace, no throne, no belongings (opposition to Pluto). So what does this all mean for the Dalai Lama? Well, the 7th House being the opposite of the 1st is all about other people. It speaks of an inner motivation or need for the person to move away from the focus on the self and his homeland, and to direct that focus toward the opposite end of the spectrum – others and the world in large. You could almost say that, as of yet, the 14th Dalai Lama is the most compassionate manifestation of Chenrezig. The 7th House is like the point where you are forced to cross the river in order to evolve further (after having mastered the first quarter of the Chart Wheel) to leave behind all the familiar, and to experience your intimate relationship with the rest of the world, to grow with it, to learn from it, and to emerge from it with a renewed identity and purpose in the eyes of the universe.
The Chandra symbol of his North Node says (replace the word “God the Father” with “Chenrezig” and the context becomes more clear):
An old priest using oil to anoint a carved stone lingam.
The masculine life-force brought to its highest expression. The wise, wakeful, fully present activation of the masculine aspect as something to be reckoned with. Formidable and directly impressive. Bearing such a pronounced potency of being that one can readily take charge of any situation. A karmically well prepared, magnificently endowed attainment. Such intensive awareness of self that you know very well that you are standing in for God the Father as a pure vessel. Nonetheless, you are called to become the quintessential higher masculine as completely as possible to the deepest roots of your being, in order to make a difference and to bring the shared energy and attention to a focal point of the true central clarity and meaningful direction onward from here.
Neptune/Moon in the 3rd House and Uranus in the 11th also form a Kite with the Grand Water Trine. Now, if we really make an astrological stretch, then a 2nd Kite is formed by the Ascendant and Saturn in the 9th House, and there’s even a 3rd one with the Asc and Uranus in the 11th. This effectively puts Uranus, Moon/Neptune and the Asc all at the Apexes and activates the Triple Gem thrice, making his connection with the Buddha’s teaching even more powerful. But our focus should really be the Kite without the Asc, which puts Moon/Neptune (spirituality) and the 3rd House at the biggest spotlight in the Dalai Lama’s chart. A formation such as this creates inner tension within the individual and his surroundings, a conflict of responsibility as a political leader and one’s role as a spiritual monk. Such a tension can be solved by the planets in sextile to his Sense of Self (the Sun) and his strong identification with the suffering of his people and his homeland. Communication, practical spiritual guidance and spreading awareness via the written word or speech, active participation in society as a Buddhist figure, and making a difference in the world by embracing his unconventional role – all these things provide the release for that tension in his chart. The tension also points toward another force, an invisible enemy, taking the Sun away in an attempt to devour the light. But before we get to that part, let’s examine the Dalai Lama’s childhood a little, and how he became the Dalai Lama in the first place.
Early Childhood & Becoming the Dalai Lama
According to Tibetan Buddhism, the child is able to remember fragments of his/her past life until the age of 5 (and sometimes even beyond, but that is rare). After that crucial age, the memories slowly begin to fade and the crown chakra starts to close up, and the child develops an ego. This is why tests are conducted before or during the age of 5 for children who are believed to be potential reincarnated masters. The 14th Dalai Lama was found in the same way. This process can take several years: it took four years to find the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. To start the search, high lamas may have a vision or dream. If the previous Dalai Lama was cremated, they watch the direction of the smoke to indicate the direction of rebirth. When these visions have been followed up and a boy found, there are a series of tests to ensure that he is the rebirth. There is a secret set of criteria against which the child is assessed. In addition to this, the main test consists of presenting the boy with a number of items to see if he can select those which belonged to the previous Dalai Lama.
We can also see this process in the Dalai Lama’s birth chart if we subtract his natal Moon 9° from Uranus 4°, the Apex planets of his Kites. This gives us the number 5 and also reveals which houses played a role in the test. The 4th House is in Virgo and its ruler resides in the 12th House in the sign of the Gemini. The natural ruler of the 4th is the Moon, which is conjunct Neptune in his chart. And as most astro enthusiasts know, Neptune is the natural ruler of the 12th. This placement means that his body, mind and speech are of the spiritual dimension and that it comes naturally to him. Gemini shows that he was presented with multiple choices or items to pick from, and that he had to choose and recognize the ones that belonged to him in his previous life (12th House). The 11th House Uranus shook up his peaceful life at home and brought him the most unusual change. A change that led him onto an Aquarian path of enlightened activity. At such a tender age, the fun and the play he was used to no longer fit into his daily life as a monk (Uranus opposite Jupiter in the 5th House of hobbies and interests), and with a change like this the Grand Water Trine and the Kite were activated, setting his karma and original motivation as Chenrezig into motion. Because deep down in his heart the Dalai Lama had always been on a spiritual quest and search for truth. This is his “spiritual fortune” as the Part of Fortune is in the 11th too, trine his Moon/Neptune.
With this kind of mixture of water and intellectual Mercury in his chart, we can assume that he utilised both his intellectual mind and his intuition in selecting the items. It has been said that he picked those items with confidence (Sun/Asc). The Dalai Lama himself is a very practical, and I’d like to say, intelligent person, and prefers the use of logic over superstitious nonsense. Unlike most religious people, he has a keen interest in science and all the wonders of the universe. In the West, he leads a collaboration between science and Buddhism at the Mind & Life Institute:
The mission of the Mind & Life Institute is to alleviate suffering and promote flourishing by integrating science with contemplative practice and wisdom traditions.
This down-to-earth mindset is rooted in his Virgo Moon and Mercury in Gemini in the 12th House. The 9th House Saturn also uses logic and skepticism before blindly following any religious or philosophical ideas. The Dalai Lama’s chart has an excellent combination of both spirituality and realism. Personally, I believe this is why people find him so relatable as he doesn’t put himself on a religious pedestal. His Venus in Leo makes him generous at heart and Mars in Libra gives him tact and diplomacy when faced with dire circumstances. The White Moon (Selena) is also conjunct Neptune, the ruler of his MC in Pisces, and sextile his Jupiter in the 5th and Cancer Sun in the 1st. His spiritual intentions are as pure as a white lotus unsoiled by the world, no doubt about that. We can also see True Black Moon (Lilith) conjunct his Moon/Neptune and trine Uranus, indicating that he has conquered his shadows, so to speak, and mastered both the light and the dark aspects of himself. This is an emotionally composed individual who analyzes and processes information in harmony with the intellect and the gut, and who speaks with warmth and compassion (Venus in Leo, Moon in 3rd).
Meeting with Mao Zedong
The synastry chart of the Dalai Lama & Mao Zedong says quite a lot about the relationship between the two. They have several mutual oppositions involving the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Uranus. This pattern automatically creates huge tension between them – their core values, moral codes, identities, speech and philosophical views are all in conflict. The Chinese claimed that they were “peacefully liberating” Tibet, to which the Dalai Lama responded with Buddhist wisdom:
Ironically, Mao Zedong had an unaspected 12th House Sun in his natal chart, isolating the energy of that Sun from the rest of his chart – a lonely placement. I do wonder if he secretly felt vulnerable in the presence of the Dalai Lama’s Grand Water Trine. Although he said “religion is poison”, that unaspected Sun in the 12th probably craved spirituality but the ruler of the 12th, Jupiter, was heavily afflicted by an opposition to Mars at the cusp of the 11th House and a square to Moon/Venus. In addition, that Moon and Venus were in opposition too.
It also seems that they were both connected by previous lives. Mao Zedong’s South Node conjunct the Dalai Lama’s Mars in the 4th House is interesting. His Saturn also touches the Dalai Lama’s Mars. This could mean that a conflict from a previous life carried over into this lifetime, and that Mao Zedong escalated it further with an act of aggression against Tibet, opening up a deeper wound (Chiron on the Dalai Lama’s IC). This whole tragic experience probably made the Dalai Lama re-evaluate the meaning (Mao’s Uranus conjunct the Dalai Lama’s Jupiter) of his own spirituality, the Buddhadharma, as it shook the foundation of the Triple Gem in his chart. Ironically, Mao’s North Node actually pushed the Dalai Lama into solving the tension of the Kite by leaving his homeland and fulfilling his real purpose in this world. Perhaps years later, the Dalai Lama himself realized this as well, which might explain why he has been quoted saying that one’s own enemy is the best teacher. Still, the Moon in the Dalai Lama’s chart is opposite his 9th House Saturn, which reveals the kind of emotional suffering he must’ve gone through (and probably still feels) over the loss of his country.
The Chandra symbol for the degree of the Dalai Lama’s IC, the 4th House angle (which represents one’s home), says:
A fire breathing dragon the size of a mouse.
Incarnation, embodiment. Coming to the brink of immense commitment into the Earth, you have a craft, a fine touch of beholding, witnessing, and responding to each facet of life unto itself. The most rigorous of paths–to be there into the details. Will and mind become one, a discipline, a harnessing that is magnificent and very hard to accomplish. Yet you recognize that this is what remains to be done, to light up the jewels of life and let them arise everywhere.
I believe the “fire breathing dragon” here represents China.
The Chinese Annexation of Tibet
I was not sure about the timing of this event, so I decided to check the transits that occurred on the 24th Oct 1951 in the Dalai Lama’s birth chart. This is the chart of the day when Tibet was officially (by a dubious agreement), albeit unwillingly, annexed by China and incorporated into the Central People’s Government.
Upon examination of these transits we find that the painful role of the tr. Saturn falls into the Dalai Lama’s 4th House – Tibet. It squares his Sun, his identity and role in his homeland, and conjuncts his Mars in the 4th, a sign of war. Tr. Mars is also conjunct his Moon/Neptune in opposition to his natal Saturn, which speaks of an attack on the Buddhist core of the Tibetan people, forcing the Dalai Lama to flee the country and go into exile. Dark unforeseen forces operate in the 1st House via the tr. Lilith conjunct Uranus, a shadow over Tibet’s independence and freedom. It is also hard not to notice the repeating South Node pattern, another indication that this is probably karmically related to a past life ordeal or “unfinished business”. The transits really reveal how strongly the Dalai Lama felt the attack on the culture and the spirituality of his nation. Astrologically speaking, Saturn represents the enemy in this chart and also the “harsh teacher”. It is, unfortunately, quite likely that the Dalai Lama will also pass away in exile as the ruler of the 8th House is Saturn itself in the 9th, opposite his Moon (home). The 4th House represents our final resting place too and the ruler of his 4th, Mercury, is in the 12th House (exile).
The Dalai Lama himself thinks that this life could also be his last (although he has said that he is not quite sure about it), but I would say that I do not think this will necessarily be the last. Why? Because after death the 1st House becomes the 12th, which will put his natal Sun, along with the South Node, into the 12th. According to Vedic astrology, this is a placement for moksha or potential enlightenment, and could mean that the cycle of death and rebirth will end if the native exhausts his karma and leads a virtuous life dedicated to freeing other beings from suffering. Perhaps then, in his next life, he will be reborn into a time where the freedom of Tibet might actually be a possibility. Perhaps he will be the one to really take action. And I also believe that he will be reborn outside of Tibet/China as the 12th House Sun indicates distance from one’s native home or previous land.
Whatever the future brings, I truly hope and pray that justice will prevail someday, that human rights, independence and freedom will shine once again in Tibet, that their suffering will finally come to an end. My sincere sympathy and deepest condolences go out to the people of Tibet and the Dalai Lama.