Today marks the anniversary of the Buddhist master Longchenpa, whose death – and enlightenment (in what Buddhists call a Parinirvana) – falls on the 18th day of the twelfth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar. Tibetan tradition celebrates the parinirvana dates of beloved masters, as these are considered to be ideal windows for communing with the ever-present spiritual essence of enlightened teachers. As bodhisattvas, these teachers are said to continue after death in both their “rainbow bodies” of blessings, and in physical “reincarnations” too. Every astrologer studies birth charts, but “rebirth charts” are less established! Let’s see how Centaurs can help us bridge this mystery.
Longchenpa was born in 1308 and died in 1364, and believed to be the incarnation of a Princess who lived and died in the time of the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Guru Padmasambhava. From his predecessors, Longchenpa inherited a special lineage called the Heart Essence of the Dakinis, those mysterious feminine beings who conceal secret wisdom. In turn he granted extraordinary visions to Jigme Lingpa (b. 1729), who lived four centuries later and continued that lineage. The content of these visions formed the basis of a Buddhist path that is still influential in our time, the Longchen Nyingthig (“Heart Essence of Vast Expanse”). It is believed that Jigme Lingpa then reincarnated as Do Khyentse, the first of many lamas to bear the Khyentse title meaning (holder of) “Wisdom and Compassion”.
Throughout my study of the astrology of spiritual visions and peak experiences, while focusing on the Centaur planets Chiron, Pholus, Chariklo and Okyrhoe, one trans-Neptunian object always shows up on the distant sidelines and holding an astrological message. That is TNO Altjira, a minor planet far far away that was named in honor of an Australian Aboriginal deity, or more accurately, a spiritual concept. I’ve written about this TNO and how its namesake is more of an adverb (for “being timeless”) than “sky god”, in an upcoming article for the Federation of Australian Astrologers. (My next blog here at the Centaur Space will delve into some of the complex anthropological and philosophical issues brought up by our convention of naming TNOs after Indigenous and Aboriginal spiritual ideas.) Indeed, both astrologers (such as Sally Hildreth in her TMA piece on TNOs), and anthropologists have commented on how “the timeless” can be a fine way to avoid saying anything meaningful at all – but I will use it as a placeholder word for the idea of something that spans “all time” (even if that contradicts timeless).
Buddhists refer to past, present, and future as “the three times”. If a master, through their meditational acumen, attains sightlines across these three times, they are designated as kunkhyen or “all-knowing” – and one such master is Kunkhyen Longchenpa.
Here I will briefly trace how TNO Altjira works alongside the Centaurs and Outer Planets in the fascinating application of astrology to “reincarnational synastry,” or the astrological connections between rebirths of individuals who are considered to be beads on a chain of embodiments of the same enlightened mind.
Considering the life-streams between Longchenpa, Jigme Lingpa, and the first Khyentse (from Do), all three of these figures are related through synastry with the earliest lama’s natal Altjira. At the birth of Longchenpa (March 2, 1308*) our TNO was at 25°16 Sagittarius, in future visionary synastry with Jigme Lingpa’s Okyrhoe (23°51 Sagittarius). Here Okyrhoe forms a bridge between generations just as she is an astronomical link between the inner planets and the slower Centaurs (Jupiter’s 12-year, Okyrhoe’s 24.5-year, and Chiron’s 49-year cycles in a ratio of 4:2:1). Jigme Lingpa’s own Altjira (13° 33 Gemini) is exactly conjunct the Chariklo (13° 36) of his future reincarnation, Do Khyentse. The latter’s Mercury at 26° 38 Sagittarius falls within a degree of founder Longchenpa’s Altjira, whose teachings the Khyentses uphold into the present in Bhutan and elsewhere. It seems that the dakini wisdom beings tell this astrological story through their corresponding Centaur nymph planets (Okyrhoe and Chariklo), in concert with the distant knower of vast Time, TNO Altjira.
The first Khyentse, from Do, was an outlier both within society (known as “the mad yogi from Do”) and on the rebirth tree; while Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo became the famous trunk of the mighty tree of tulku rebirths. Not only did Wangpo’s Uranus connect to the stream in Sagittarius leading all the way back to Longchenpa’s root Altjira, but his Jupiter in Pisces (conjunct Okyrhoe’s discovery degree) opposed Altjira, in alignment with the lunar Nodes.
The series of reincarnations that stem from Longchenpa through the present Khyentses include one linking lama who is held to be the direct rebirth of Longchenpa: Pema Lingpa, named for the Princess (Pema Sal) whom they each reincarnate. Jigme Lingpa, meanwhile, is known as the rebirth of the King (the Princess’ father). In a prayer he wrote about his own lives, Jigme Lingpa implies he is a reincarnation of Longchenpa (and thus the Princess), too. These stories exceed our rational mind: as religious stories meant to instill devotion don’t really have to “make sense” to us. Further proliferating into the unknowable, such rebirths from one tree are categorized into many branches: the body, speech, mind, (plus “quality” and “activity”) incarnations can all stem from the same master’s single intention to propagate a lineage through time and space.
Jigme Lingpa and reincarnations with reference to Longchenpa:
- Jigme Lingpa: Okyrhoe to Longchenpa’s Altjira
- Pema Lingpa: Jupiter to Longchenpa’s Altjira
- Do Khyentse (body): Mercury to Longchenpa’s Altjira
- Khyentse Wangpo (mind): Uranus, (‘higher octave’ of Mercury), to Longchenpa’s Altjira
- (The speech incarnation known as Paltrul Rinpoche has no known birthday)
“Reincarnational synastry” is a fascinating study, one that probably won’t impress skeptics but can inspire the “believers”, of both astrology and of the saints and sages who lead various spiritual traditions. Astrology provides the symbolic apparatus upon which we may place such unknowables as the existence of lives beyond death, and the newer planets in our Solar system may hold some crucial new keys to this mystery.
*For Longchenpa, there is discrepancy among traditional sources over day of week so here it is enough to say “early March 1308.”
Jigme Lingpa: 6 February 1730, Tibet
Source Biography, “born in early morning of 18th day of the 12th month of the Earth Bird year 1730, Thondup p. 118
Do Khyentse 1 December 1800, Tibet (on Full Moon, Moon applied to Chariklo)
Thondup p. 180 “born on the fifteenth day of the tenth month of the Iron Monkey year of the thirteenth rabjung cycle.”
Pema (Padma) Lingpa: His birth was on the fifteenth day of the second month of the male iron-horse year of the eighth cycle, corresponding to March 7 1450.
Treasury of Lives: https://treasuryoflives.org/zh/biographies/view/Pema-Lingpa/3000
Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala: 1996
Further Reading about Longhenpa: https://www.shambhala.com/longchenpa-a-guide-for-readers/