In Indian astrology the 12th “house,” or 12th segment into which the sky is partitioned in order to analyze a horoscope, signifies incarceration but also the seclusion of the mystic, of the meditator—which they believe is a path to “inner” or “true” freedom.
Depending on the condition of the planets associated with it, whether “afflicted” or “un-afflicted,” the same signifier is used to glean the experience of the worst loss of freedom or of the gain of real freedom.
What comes as a punishment for one comes as a blessing for another.
Can the paradox that emanates from this view provide relevant food for thought today?
It’s ironic that a modern society that has achieved unprecedented external freedom (at least for those with access to some money) is being forced into a lockdown.
Going to airports, on airplanes, is one of the most powerful symbols of personal liberty. But to go anywhere and partake of everything that is significant, beautiful, comforting or exciting is suddenly risky.
The pictures of thinned out airports and sports matches without spectators are coming in slowly, one after another, threatening to reach an airport or stadium near you.
Whether we have the virus or not we’re all in recovery mode right now. Something has gone out of its natural equilibrium. The recommendation, when someone gets sick, is rest–always. We’re all in need of a pause apparently, whether we want it or not.
One of the suggestions to avoid the virus is having fresh air, staying a few meters away from others who may be carriers. But in the last century we have shifted from being mostly rural dwellers to mostly urban, we have closed the physical space between us, but we have also decreased the flow between us in many ways.
In many modern places of work the windows don’t open. But maybe the real problem is that we have become more alienated from ourselves than from the natural environment.
We don’t like to be alone, we don’t know who we are by ourselves. We feel uncomfortable without a distractor, our phone, whatever—even when we ostensibly gather with others, when we constantly go from here to there, a party, a concert, a weekend trip, a rally, a restaurant, a theater.
Is the virus only the symptom that we have gone too far away from ourselves collectively, that we need some of the mystic’s seclusion to regain some balance?
Could that be the actual prescription from nature hidden in the present circumstances?