Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Reworking Rene

The sun is in the 10th House, the house of ambition, in the sign of mental activity, Gemini. The moon is in the 11th House, the house of hopes, in the emotional sign of Cancer. Both are strong influences. When used in harmony, this combination can yield very positive outcomes. Else, there will be confusion and indecision.

Rene Descartes
was a philosopher who considered the dichotomy between mind and body. This dualism in philosophy states that either one could exist without the other. Of course, the way that our world is currently perceived, this is a complete hypothetical. Unless, of course, we're in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, but that's more head/body separation...(digression alert! you really shouldn't let me get off track so easily.) Descartes's reason for separating these two important parts of the human condition were two-fold: religious and scientific.

With all due respect to 17th century philosophers, I propose that the more widely used dualism is actually mind/heart. This seems to be a powerful conflict among many people around me. Recently, I had two people, almost simultaneously, say to me, "I don't know whether to follow my head or my heart." When the head is filled ambition in a house naturally ruled by an earth sign, it forces the person to "face reality." Counteracting this is the heart in the house of hopes and wishes. Head is traditionally associated with logic and practicality while the heart much more commonly corresponds to desires. Are these two motivations always so diametrically opposed? Most of the time, I would say no. The hardest moments of life are when they disagree with each other. Aligning heart and mind is a difficult but rewarding exercise, and unfortunately, most of the time, it seems to b the heart that must succumb to the mind's practicality.

Why is this? Why must we give up our desires? There are many songs, movies, books that urge us to listen to our hearts and believe that they will never steer us wrong, whether the goal be romantic love or other desires. Such a strong conflict we set up for ourselves. Do we dare to dream of more than the harsh reality we accept is willing to offer us? And is reality always in the wrong? "Follow your heart" is just as easily rattled off as "Use your head." So which is the right advice? Both are malleable facets of life. After all, you can "change your mind" or you can have a "change of heart." Which one needs to change so that I can be happy? I mean, that's he goal, right? Happiness. We've been pursuing it here in America for more than 200 years.

The lawmakers even wrote it into the American Constitution: "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." The first is fairly easily defined. We know what's living and what's not. Although, quality of life muddies the water, but for now, let's stick to living and non-living (leave the undead out of this.). Liberty; we nail that down as freedom or independence (the whole reason we established the country.). Pursuit of happiness...ah, here's where it becomes tricky. What is happiness? I checked with dictonary.com:


1. the quality or state of being happy.
2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.

Great. Thanks, dictionary.com. Very helpful, there. That doesn't help me settle my mind/heart conflict. How am I going to have a happy ending if I don't even know what it is? If only I could define it and say, "Okay, in this instance, my mind has the right idea and that's going to end in happiness. Perfect." It's not quite so easy, is it? That's part of what makes life so interesting, and highly frustrating at times.

Since life is all about compromise, perhaps we need to reconcile ourselves to the fact that heart and mind must work together in order to achieve any shred of happiness, whatever that is. Until they come up with a mathematical formula for happiness, I guess we'll all have to struggle through with the advice from our friends and therapists.

I wonder how Descartes would handle this.

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