Compass of the Times 164

Compass of the Times 164

To Discover the Constellation of Life

Keiko Takahashi

Constellations That Provide Paths in the Night Sky

The stars that shine in the night sky have provided humans various meanings since ancient times. One example of this is the way that people have superimposed their destiny on the movements of the stars.

Astrology is thought to have originated in ancient Babylonia, where people thought that the stars were connected to the gods and that signs in the sky were presaging future events on earth. This study was then introduced to the Greeks, leading to the horoscope (astrological forecast using the 12 zodiacal signs) and its idea that the position of the stars at birth controls people’s destiny.

Until several centuries ago, astrology was highly valued by authorities who governed nations. Further, one of the foremost scientists, Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), who was an advocate of heliocentric theory (Copernican theory), was an astrologer as well as astronomer.

However, astrology is now in the hands of its professionals and astrology enthusiasts. On the other hand, in Japan, it has gained great popularity and many weekly magazines have a specific section devoted to a horoscope. This might be an indication of our desire to feel connected somehow with the source of our existence.

The constellations in the night sky have also been loved by many people from all over the world, being integrated into myths and legends in the context of people’s culture and history.

Egyptian astronomer Claudius Ptolemy (100-168) created a star atlas which listed 48 constellations.

Over the next 2,000 years, new constellations were added, others removed, while many underwent a name change. It is significant to note that during the Age of Exploration it became possible to sail to all the continents of the world, which led to the study of the stars of the Southern Hemisphere and contributed to the advancement of astronomy, leading to the addition of many more constellations.

About 90 years ago, in 1928, the modern 88 constellations were formally defined at the general assembly of the International Astronomical Union.

These constellations are based on the positional relationship of the stars that we see from earth. Astronomically speaking, there is no significant relationship of the stars grouped in each constellation, with an exception of the Pleiades (an open cluster in Taurus), which is known by the name of Subaru in Japan. Why then did astronomers end up officially certifying these groups of stars into constellations?

One of the reasons was that different groups of people would create their own set of new constellations, causing confusion. In such a circumstance, astronomers needed to settle this problem. However, this cannot be the only reason.

There is no doubt that constellations provide a means by which people may feel a connection to the starry sky as well as the universe that is the source of everything. Being drawn to constellations, many people become interested in the world of stars. The perspective of constellations makes the amorphous sky, in which just countless stars are seen everywhere, link to humans and their lives.

To Discover the Constellation of Life

In our lives, there is also something that we should call a constellation.

It is made of countless encounters and events that accumulation the stage of life. If you are an adult then you must possess a tremendous number of fragments of reality.

Although we can be overwhelmed when responding to events that occur one after another in our daily lives, we should find something that is more than those cumulative events, in the whole picture of our life. Our lives contain something like this and it means none other than our constellation of life.

Events in our lives that seemed to happen by chance are linked together, having a meaning beyond simple chance. I live today because this happened, or because of a series of encounters. Numerous experiences are connected as one by a single thread that has a meaning, through which we learn our path of life, and the objective of our life.

What is the reason why we live now? What must we accomplish in life? What are the themes and objectives we must respond to from now on? The constellation of life reveals the answers to such questions, and this is what we must seek and look for.

When we discover the contour of the constellation of life, we begin to live a new stage in our lives. This is the moment when we start responding to our mission—the task that our entire life is calling us to fulfill.