Accepting Loss, Grief, and Endings

In today’s post, I would like to talk about Saturn. I know I sound like a broken record whenever I mention this favourite planet of mine. However, as I was born under the sorrowful wings of Shani (Aquarius Sun, Moon, and Saturn), I have always felt a strong influence of this planet on my personality and behaviour. Please consider listening to the song below as you read this post. Autechre is one of my favourite electronic music bands and their Amber album is a masterpiece of cold and detached melancholy, which evokes Saturnine connotations. Indeed, whenever I listen to this particular track, I feel bleak images of sorrow, regret, and loss. I imagine an elderly lady standing at the desolate seashore. Directing her wistful gaze towards low, steel-like clouds, she mourns the loss of her children.

For as long as I can remember, I have always accepted changes and endings without too many inner turbulences. Even though a part of me is quite nostalgic, I would not describe myself as a sentimental person. I try not to hold on to people or situations that no longer serve any purpose. Having Rahu in my eleventh house (which deals with groups and network circles), friendships have always been the most unstable and changeable part of my life. As a result, I have learned not to take anything for granted. I have accepted that everything has an end. Significant people come to our lives to teach us something about ourselves and the world. Nothing is accidental, everything we experience in this lifetime is the consequence of our past life karma. In order to help us grow out of narrow frames of karmic conditioning, the universe separates us from what no longer serves our soul’s purpose. One thing has to end so that we can make room for something else.

Less knowledgeable people fear Saturn, due to its restrictive and separative nature. However, the purpose of Saturn is not to punish you, but to help you gain wisdom and proper perspective on life. It gives your ego an opportunity to let unnecessary things go. In bodily terms, Saturn rules the process of excretion, which is essential for a person’s physical well-being. Why would it be different with our minds? We fill our minds with so many subtle impressions (saṃskāra), most of which cause nothing but suffering and stagnation. Understanding the profound wisdom of Saturn is essential in the process of healing old emotional wounds and opening ourselves to new experiences required for further spiritual growth. People with a strong natal Saturn have a very mature and balanced approach to sadness, grief, loss, and endings. They accept them as a natural part of life. Contrarily, those who had not been blessed with a well-placed natal Saturn, struggle to see meaning and higher wisdom in their negative experiences. They are more likely to blame others for any misfortunes they come across.

There is a famous Stoic parable, which perfectly illustrates the art of letting go:

Consider when, on a voyage, your ship is anchored; if you go on shore to get water you may along the way amuse yourself with picking up a shellish, or an onion. However, your thoughts and continual attention ought to be bent towards the ship, waiting for the captain to call on board; you must then immediately leave all these things, otherwise you will be thrown into the ship, bound neck and feet like a sheep. So it is with life. If, instead of an onion or a shellfish, you are given a wife or child, that is fine. But if the captain calls, you must run to the ship, leaving them, and regarding none of them. But if you are old, never go far from the ship: lest, when you are called, you should be unable to come in time.

Epictetus, Enchiridion, Chapter 7

There are remarkable similarities between Stoicism and Buddhism. The Buddhist doctrine of anitya refers to the impermanent and transitory nature of all things. Human beings, caught in the continuous flow of life, death, and rebirth, experience dissatisfaction with themselves and their lives, inner restlessness, and suffering of conditioned existence (sankhara-dukkha). According to Buddhist teachings, the realization that there is no permanent, fixed Self (anātman) can contribute to one’s liberation and enlightenment (nirvana). This viewpoint, however, stands in opposition to what is taught in different schools of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism), as well as the earliest forms of Buddhism. They all recognize the existence of an eternal, permanent, and changeless Self (atman).

Whichever of these two teachings we wish to adhere to, it helps to imagine our positive and negative mental impressions as clouds in the sky. Isn’t it blissful to look at beautiful pink clouds slowly drifting through the twilit celestial dome? Yet we all know that they are impermanent. Conversely, very few of us find pleasure in contemplating the shapes of black and dull clouds on bleak November mornings. In the end, however, they are also transitory and fleeting. The same is true of pleasure and pain. For instance, an euphoric experience of a coitus has its beginning and its end. While it lasts, we should enjoy it in a Venusian manner. Then, it would be advisable to accept its end with a good deal of Saturnine detachment and humility.

May you find enough strength to accept and understand the role of changes and endings in your life. And if for some reason you struggle with these things more than others, please remember: we are all human. Sometimes we just need a word of encouragement or a silent hug of compassion.

Aum Shanti,

Karol

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