On Shadow, Pluto in Aquarius, and Violation of Boundaries
Originally published on the author’s Substack
A note to readers: This article discusses sensitive topics surrounding religion, power, and children. You may wish to read at a time when you feel you can handle this discussion, or pass this piece by.
I sat for a week on whether to publish this article. I came to the conclusion that my observations are meaningful enough to me, and perhaps to some of you, to share. I mention this so you know that I take these things to heart and truly process them through before putting them out into the world.
On Monday morning of this week, I opened up Twitter on my phone. I had only had the app installed for a day or two, as there were a couple of accounts I was interested in. I went to the app to have a quick look before uninstalling it. I was very clear that, as I had decided back in 2020, the app added nothing to my quality of life and was an unnecessary time sink, as I feel most social media apps are (though I admittedly do enjoy Instagram off and on).
Funny thing happened upon opening the app: While I do not follow @dalailama, at the very top of my Twitter feed was a special colored, featured tweet, placed strategically so I would be sure to see it as a member of the general public. It said,
A video clip has been circulating that shows a recent meeting when a young boy asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama if he could give him a hug. His Holiness wishes to apologize to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused.
His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident.
Odd, I thought. Oh, here we go with more of the culture wars. Now it’s hip to cancel the Dalai Lama for joking around. I took a screenshot, and sent it to my husband, as a reminder to discuss it later. I took no further note of it and went about my day, figuring if it was important enough, I’d hear about it some other way.
A few hours later, a link appeared in my email inbox from a writer I follow on Substack. Now I was curious. I looked at the video clip and felt three things in this order:
Yes, I went numb. That’s a self-preservation strategy of the psyche. Once you see something, you can’t unsee it, however.
To sum it up, the clip circulating shows the XIV Dalai Lama in an encounter with a young Indian boy. The edited portion showed the boy, who had asked the DL for a hug, in an embrace with the religious and spiritual leader. Then, the DL asked the boy for a kiss, which the boy gave in return. Finally, the DL asked the boy to “suck his tongue.” Giggles from the DL, his attendants, and crowd members, whether uncomfortable laughter or not, came through the recording. It doesn’t appear that the boy reciprocated on the “suck my tongue” request.
As the day went on, the disturbed part of my reaction increased. By evening, I was extremely disturbed, and it would not go away. I started to write, and to process. I called a fellow astrologer to discuss the astrological influences likely at hand – Generational Pluto’s recent entry into Aquarius (see discussion below); the malefic Mars in Cancer currently transiting the Dalai Lama’s Ascendant and natal Sun); and karmic Saturn in Pisces square sexual Venus in Gemini.
The next day, my friend sent me a reaction video by a member of the Tibetan community that had gone viral. This video, filled with flowery music and loving imagery and praise of His Holiness, gave a step-by-step explanation as to why the circulating edited clip was Chinese propaganda, and it was specifically implanted into the culture to undermine his reputation.
I was unsurprised by this explanation video, as well.
And… I got lots to say.
Pluto in Aquarius, Manipulated Technology, and What is Reality?
For those less well-versed in astrology, Pluto correlates to, among other things, shadow, the underworld, the dark, Shiva, breakdowns, and that which is disowned. Aquarius rules technology, humanity, the future, and Uranian, lightning flashes of insight. Aquarius is also the Eleventh House of organizations, including religions, as well as “communities,” “friends,” smart phones, and social media like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (also an Aquarius that shares my February birth date).
Pluto has just entered Aquarius as of March 23, 2023, where he will be for the next twenty years (with a bit of backpeddling back into Capricorn through 2024).
Astrologers and seers the world over are very clear on a main theme of this transit: Artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and media manipulation and the dangers of technology are going to be on rampant display. There is a danger in a collective consciousness being disconnected from the embodied human.
In this age of media and manipulation, it has become almost impossible with solely our logical minds to know if what is being shown to you, is actually real. Whether it is taken out of context, or manufactured with AI, or edited to show a specific narrative, everything that we see on a screen is likely to have been altered in some way. The news that is presented has been approved by corporate sponsors. The advertisers have used specific techniques and algorithms to reach you, specifically. And politics are interwoven with tech, corporate interests, and power, all across the board.
As mentioned regarding Pluto’s Aquarius transit, this is going to be a theme ad nauseam, and it’s going to be everywhere you look, literally. As techy as I am with my Aquarius Sun, Midheaven, and North Node, I am at heart a natural woman. I am a liberated, embodied and integrating being, and an advocate for things that are analog, earthy, and connected to nature.
In this age of AI and tech constantly manipulating the public, mainstream narrative, it is going to be an increasingly important task for critical thinkers and natural humans to pay attention to other cues as to what is “real.” Look to the physical body. To the intuition, to the Spidey sense, which lives in the prickling of the hair on the skin, in the gurgling of the gut, the tensing of the jaw, the speeding up of the pulse.
How will you know what is real, especially if reality is subjective, based on perception? How will you know what is true, what is actually happening, or what actually did happen?
The Ultimate Truth is that no one knows anything outside of This Moment. This is what is actually happening, this I Am-ness of Existence. And now… it is gone. Everything in the so-called past or future, from the Absolute point of view, is false in the sense that it comes and goes. That which is perceived, or thought, or conceptualized, can never encompass the Whole of What Is in the Eternal Now.
Knowing this nondual reality is helpful on a practical level as well as a spiritual level. The more seated, and embodied or grounded, that one is in the Now, the more one is a clear channel, an empty vessel. Thus, when something comes into the field (through the sense doors of perception or through the airwaves of intuition), it is immediately if not instantly obvious if it is good and right and true for you.
But what about relative truth? Relative truth, in duality, is pertinent here, with such a controversial video clip circulating. When can you believe what CNN or MSNBC or FOX or NPR or Twitter or Facebook present as reality? In short, Who or What can you trust?
It is fundamental to develop a deeper relationship with one’s own body. With one’s own needs and goodness-of-fit. With one’s wholeness, and what contributes to one’s health and harmony and serenity. These are just some of the things that can’t be argued with. And, the more one is in touch with them, intimate with these needs and strengths and delicacies, the less they can be manipulated by outside. You will know what is good and true and right for you. And that is what matters.
Thus, regarding this video clip, the most important thing is to see what it brings into Awareness. Regardless of whether it is a planned character assassination of a much-loved religious leader, ask yourself: What does this bring up for me? Have I done my own looking at these themes in society and in myself? Am I aware of the shadow that enters power and organizations, no matter how revered a leader is?
Staying awake in the face of conflicting evidence is pertinent to every global news story or narrative – from the pandemic to the war in Ukraine to global warming to gender to racial injustices to child abuse allegations. Awareness is the most important thing. Do your own work. Examine your own biases, your own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual reactions. Do your own research. Check your filters. Check the culture. How free can you be to truly think for yourself?
And, most importantly: what is true and good and right for YOU?
Child Sexual Abuse is Often Explained Away as “Joking,” “Tickling,” and “Playing”
Sorry, dear reader. I know this is uncomfortable. Yet, unless we are willing to talk about this, and keep it in the forefront of our awareness, the sexual abuse of children, which is rampant in this world and in some religious institutions, is going to continue to be the secret, passed over, disowned shadow of humanity. There is a saying in recovery groups, “We are only as sick as our secrets.” Awareness is critical.
The DL’s office, and the Tibetan president in exile that spoke in his defense, as well as other Tibetan spokespersons who revere His Holiness, explained that he was only joking and playing with the child when he asked him to suck his tongue. Like the discussion of subjectivity and technological manipulation above, this is a tricky area.
Was it play? When is “play” still damaging? When is it violating if not the actual physical, bodily boundaries of a child, but just as, if not more important, violating the energetic and essential spiritual core of the child. In other words, it is invasive to use, consciously or unconsciously, the child’s innocence and natural sense of wonder and curiosity for the adult’s advantage, perversely intended or otherwise.
Just Because a Parent or Caregiver is Present, Does Not Mean the Violation Did Not Occur
Sexual and other forms of child abuse often happen right under the nose of a caregiver or adult. Whether a parent is sitting right there (as in this video example), or in the next room, can make no difference. Sexual and other sorts of violations occur in a micro-instant. It can be right on camera. It can be a glance, a subtle use of force, a sneaky touch. The tricky aspect of such violations is a perfect storm, the confluence of energies that occurs that fast between the victim, the perpetrator, and the protectors or enablers (whether absent or otherwise). This is one of the reasons I’m publishing this article: to increase awareness. To take it seriously. It happens all the time. And it can take years, sometimes a lifetime for a person to heal from a deep violation, especially when it comes from an authority figure. Especially when it comes from someone like a priest, or a politician, a loved teacher, or a revered and globally-loved religious leader.
“I was only playing,” can be a form of gaslighting.
Now, in this day of cancel culture and victim identification being bandied about, I do not bring this topic up lightly. I am talking about actual violations, not feeling offended because someone chose the wrong word to refer to a group of people, or not feeling recognized in a way that is coddling to the ego.
I am talking about that which is truly not okay: adults in positions of power, with power over others, feeding off of others’ vulnerability. Whether this is what you sense in this particular example, or not, may not be as important as becoming more aware of its occurrence and the tendency of ourselves and our collective psyches to move past the issue as quickly as possible. Do we try to protect certain leaders, because we believe we need them on that pedestal so much? What happens if we see ginormous leaders as just people, capable of everything, feet made of clay?
Which brings me to my fourth point.
On Teachers and Transgressions
Someone asked me the other day for my perspective on why so many gurus, yoga teachers, and spiritual leaders end up with controversy, whether involving sex, money, power, and other forms of manipulation. This is a huge topic. But I will leave you with this:
- Power, Fame, Recognition, Charisma, and Even Enlightenment Do Not Automatically Equate to a Person with Healthy Boundaries, Integration of Shadow, and an Integrated Human Beingness.
- The teaching itself, the wisdom transmitted, is NOT the same thing as the individual personality.
- One does NOT need to throw the baby out with the bath water. If one has received incredible yogic or Buddhist or nondual or bhakti (divine love) transmission from a spiritual teacher, and that teacher is found out to be a flawed – even in some cases psychopathic – it does not mean that the wisdom is flawed.
- Whether one is aware and awake to the flaws of the teacher, or the dangerous aspects of the teacher or his/her organization, is up to the individual’s capacity at that moment, to see accurately, and to have the sovereign strength to take action or leave or stay. It is not up to an outsider to judge. It is only up to each of us as an individual to take responsibility for our own awareness and needs, to the best of our ability, subject to our up-to-date conditions and conditioning.
- The most astute or awake spiritual warrior/warrioress, of any age, may not be able to deflect a micro or macro-violation or abuse of power. It can still happen. The most important thing is the awareness one can cultivate at any point. The awareness and acceptance of reality will be the immediate, most reliable guide to the appropriate action, or non-action, to take.
Many spiritual writers and healers discuss the concept that “as the light increases, so does the dark.” This may be true, and it is one explanation as to the perceived heightened craziness in our world today.
I will make the point that the dark and the light have always coexisted. One doesn’t exist without the other. Everything exists under the sun. And, true freedom means facing everything. Even that which disgusts us, terrifies us, offends us. This is often called shadow work. Obviously, it does not mean we act out the shadow; it means, we become aware of shadow, and integrate, and heal.
The more we are willing and able to do this work for ourselves, internally, the less it can hold power over us, collectively. Seeing the darkness, accepting that this too is part of Existence, can paradoxically reconnect us to the innocence that lives inside of us, no matter what age.
This is an evolutionary moment, a shared and global moment, of the possibility of increased awareness, honesty, and astuteness to this issue. We can see through the illusions of hero worship when they become harmful. We can stand up for and speak up for that part of our body-mind that is susceptible to violation, and that deserves to be protected. This is how our hearts can remain open. This is how we preserve beauty, truth, and innocence.
Your comments are welcome below.
Thank you for taking exquisite care of yourself.
One of our country’s most important freedoms is that of free speech.
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1 reply added
I love this reflection on the Dalai Lama scandal!!!!! So on the spot! Thank you Erin! Reminds me of repeated uproars in the intellectual scene, e.g. the indignation over at first revered East-German writer‘s alleged Stasi collaboration and the following smirching of their work. It‘s as if we stopped loving Picassos because he was an asshole with women. Authentic art stands for itself and doesn‘t loose it‘s relevance, no matter it‘s creator‘s smut. Though shining a light on the latter can be crucial necessity for involved individuals. Discrimination needed between the precious cargo and it’s trivial vessel! The case of spiritual leaders is delicate, as they are seen to incorporate the message. This projection results in problematic personality cults which generate tempting abuses of power. But the DL is more than his message: he‘s a political figure. Very tricky!