Thich Nhat Hanh, after a lifetime of service to Buddhism, died recently at age 95. Born 11 October 1926 in central Vietnam, he entered a monastery at age 16, where his primary teacher was a Zen master. He received training in the Vietnamese tradition of Mahayana Buddhism, and was ordained as a Bhikkhu in 1951. In 1961, he studied at Princeton’s Theological Seminary, and was subsequently appointed lecturer in Buddhism at Columbia University. In addition to his native Vietnamese, he became fluent in French, Classical Chinese, Sanskrit, Pali, and English.
In 1963, he returned to Vietnam to aid his fellow monks in their non-violent peace efforts. Later, he founded a School of Youth for Social Services in Saigon, a grassroots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, and resettled families left homeless during the Vietnam War. During a visit to the USA, however, he was denied re-entry into Vietnam by the Communist regime, and subsequently took up exile in France. There he largely remained for the rest of his life, except for speaking tours in which he helped to establish an international network of retreats and monasteries dedicated to engaged Buddhism. Over his lifetime he authored some 130 books, including more than 100 in English, which have sold over 5 million copies worldwide.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s birth time is unknown but his chart does offer an ideal opportunity to apply the next-best-option so often employed in Jyotish — the Chandralagna chart. There are two different ways to construct such a chart. The first is to calculate the chart for noon using the birth date and location (Quang Ngai, Vietnam), and then rotate the chart to place the Moon in the lagna. The other method, which I have used here, is to tweak that noon-hour “birth” a couple of hours earlier or later to arrive at the moment when the Moon was actually rising in that location.
One common problem with a Chandralagna chart is that, by using a hypothetical noon birth, we might end up with a Moon in the very early or late degrees of a sign. If the Moon at noon is in the early degrees of a sign, that means that if birth actually occurred in the morning or pre-dawn hours, the Moon would be in the previous sign. Conversely, if the Moon at noon is in the late degrees of a sign, that means that if birth actually occurred in the afternoon or evening, the Moon would be in the next sign. In either case, depending on the Moon’s actual degrees by sign for that hypothetical noon birth, significant portions of that calendar day would leave us uncertain regarding the Moon’s likely sign, and therefore not knowing which of two possible lagnas would be the more appropriate.
But when the Moon calculated for noon is 13SC02, as it is for Thich Nhat Hanh, we are on comfortable ground, with zero ambiguity regarding its sign, no matter what time of that day he was actually born. Since the Moon moves on average only one degree every two hours, that means his true Moon can only be six degrees on either side of the noon position, in other words, a range between approximately 07SC00 and 19SC00. Seeing that, I could have been content to simply rotate the chart to Scorpio and leave well enough alone. In this instance, seeing local moon-rise was not that far removed from noon, I simply tweaked the birth-time earlier in the day until I arrived at 09h02 in the local time zone.
However, let’s not obsess over the actual time used. The only point of this preamble was to illustrate that Thich Nhat Hanh’s Moon is definitely in Scorpio, and that’s all we need to know in order to approach the Chandralagna chart with confidence.
Once we have that in place, we commence our analysis with lagna vichara, wherein we assess the condition and position of the lagnesh, as well as any influences upon the lagna itself. His lagnesh is a powerful Mars — both swa-rashi and retrograde — which aspects back into the lagna itself. This immediately evokes several themes — robust health, fighting spirit, service, and Buddhism itself. With the Moon in Anuradha in the lagna, we note themes of determination and focus, exactitude and perfection, coming to terms with ego, as well as lost battles and triumphant returns.
The association of 9th lord Moon with 4th lord Saturn is a true Raja yoga, a marriage of education, psychology, moral precepts and spiritual attainment. Additionally, the pairing of these two grahas, especially under the aspect of Mars, is reminiscent of certain combinations for asceticism, which lifestyle he followed.
He also has a Parivartana yoga formed via the mutual reception of Mercury and Venus, the sign lords, respectively, of the 11th and 12th bhavas. Among the many themes for such a combination are social services, non-profit and charitable organizations. Mercury turns out to be a pivotal planet in this chart because it’s also involved in two other yogas, one of which is a Dhana yoga wherein 1st lord Mars is in mutual aspect with 11th lord Mercury. Since this occurs on an axis running through the 6th and 12th bhavas, we can again discern a powerful theme of charitable service.
The other yoga in which Mercury is involved merits a larger discussion. Viparita Raja yoga is formed via two different circumstances. In the first of those, a trik lord must move to another trikasthana not its own, and there exhibit strength, meanwhile remaining untouched by association or aspect from any lord of a positive house. In his chart, the trik lords are Mars, Mercury and Venus. Although occupying a trik, 6th lord Mars remains in its own sign, and therefore doesn’t fulfill the first condition. Meanwhile, 8th lord Mercury has gone to the 12th, indeed another trikasthana not its own, but there enjoys no dignity of any sort.
The other way for Viparita Raja yoga to be formed is when two trik lords form sambandha via association or mutual aspect, occupying any bhava(s) in the chart, and at least one of the grahas exhibits strength, while both remain independent of contact from any other non-trik graha, which would incur collateral damage. Now consider the Mars/Mercury pair and see that these two trik lords are in mutual aspect and one of them, Mars, is very strong, thus empowering the yoga. Critically, neither is associated with nor aspected by any other graha. Although by coincidence these two occupy trikasthanas, this was in fact not necessary under the second rule of formation, and within the framework of some charts, other bhava locations might have been possible, so long as one graha achieved strength, and both eluded influence from non-trik grahas.
Viparita Raja yogas are relatively rare; the first type requiring only a single trik lord in another trikasthana turns up in only 3% of charts, while the second type requiring a linked pair of trik lords in any bhava(s) turns up in 10% of charts. However rare, Viparita Raja yoga is powerful, and typically invokes success after trial, tribulation and/or trauma. The notable strength of Mars in this horoscope brings us back to where we started, ie, with a powerful lagnesh aspecting back into the lagna which holds a true Raja yoga formed by Moon and Saturn.
Thich Nhat Hanh was a spiritual warrior, and his Chandralagna chart is compelling evidence of a man who fulfilled his destiny.
Alan Annand is a longstanding student of Hart de Fouw. He’s a graduate of the American College of Vedic Astrology and a former tutor for the British Faculty of Astrological Studies. Aside from his consultation services, he provides private tutoring to students of jyotisha.
He’s also the author of several books. Kala Sarpa is a first-of-its-kind reference text on a unique pattern in jyotisha that is not discussed in shastra yet is part of India’s rich oral tradition. Stellar Astrology, Volumes 1-3 offer a wealth of time-tested techniques via biographical profiles, analyses of world events, and technical essays. Parivartana Yoga is a reference text for one of the most common yet powerful planetary combinations in jyotisha.
Aside from his Montreal-based crime novels, his New Age Noir crime series (Scorpio Rising, Felonious Monk, Soma County) feature astrologer and palmist Axel Crowe, whom one reviewer has dubbed “Sherlock Holmes with a horoscope.”
Websites: www.navamsa.com, www.sextile.com