Spirit Grooves Blogs
"That He Not Busy Being Born is Busy Dying"

Published on November 14, 2014

A quote from Bob Dylan's song "It's Alright, Ma (I'm only Bleeding)." I can't speak to what Dylan meant by this line, but it sticks in the mind and illustrates a phenomenon pointed out to me very early-on by my first dharma teacher, that life is more of a parabola rather than just linear as most assume. In other words, life begins, reaches a high point (which extends for a time) and then goes into a gradually decline.

We all know this intuitively and, of course, every magazine and advertisement pays homage to the human body and what is called the "Prime of Life," the physical highpoint of the body that is reached at about thirty years of age. Yet what is not so obvious (or not spoken about) is that there is a spiritual arc that accompanies this prime of life arc.

I have long contemplated this phenomenon and find (as an astrologer of fifty years) that it is best represented by the symbol of Sun which rises, reaches Noon, and gradually sets. Astrologers also celebrate this prime of life by observing what is called the Saturn Return, when the planet Saturn returns to its birth position at about 29.4 years of age heliocentrically. I have written about this before.

My teacher Andrew Gunn McIver, who was a traveling Rosicrucian initiator, pointed out very carefully to me that we spend our first thirty years (that first Saturn return) building our inner (and outer) vehicles and he likened it to a space capsule, something built to withstand not only being launched, but to endure as long as possible the pressures of time after being launched.

I could spend a lot of time here painting the correlations between the growth and decline of our physical body with what happens spiritually at the same time. I trust that each of us understands that the physical body grows and dies, describing a parabola as it goes. We all know this. What I want to spend some time on here is to point out the spiritual ramifications of this.

At the prime of life, somewhere around thirty years of age, we have a second birth (rebirth), this time a spiritual birth that marks in a very real way not only the midpoint of life physically, but what can be called a spiritual rebirth right in the midst of our physical life. I don't want to put too much of a fine point on it, but when there is a rebirth, a death always has to proceed it, just as the cause of an effect (like in karma) is always the effect of a previous cause, etc. This is what the Buddhists call Samsara, the cyclic nature of mundane existence.

My teacher pointed out that, in a very real way, we each die around the age of thirty years and begin to detach from our physical body. What I am saying is the real death that most of us fear does not come at the end of life, but rather right in the middle of life. And my teacher would say things to me like:

"Never trust anyone over thirty"

"When did Christ die on the cross? At 33 years of age."

"When does ice melt? At 33 degrees."

"Note the Freemason initiation at 33 years."

He would go on to explain that until around our first Saturn return we are, as Dylan writes "Busy being born," and after that return we are busy dying. That first 30 years or so we are building not only our physical body but, just as important, a spiritual vehicle that is launched into inner space at thirty years of age. That is the point where our inner cord snaps and we begin to float free of the body (leave the body); this is when we detach from our physical body. This is when death happens and spiritual rebirth takes place.

I mentioned earlier that this initiation passes pretty much unnoticed in our society, so there are no birthday parties or celebrations, although there should be, as this is a huge transition point. There is one group that is aware of this initiation and that is the evangelical Christians, who call this event being "born again."

Most people go through this rebirth with their heads down and eyes closes (like a baby), unaware of what is happening, this little death and detachment. When they do wake up to it, which can be many years later (or never), this is what being born again is all about. It is a very real transition, and does not belong just to the Christians. We all go through and should become aware of it because it is a major rite of passage for all of us.

My teacher Andrew McIver (who was in his eighties) would sit me down and day after day point this rebirth out and encourage me to go through this initiation with my eyes open rather than with my head down. I was in my middle twenties at the time, so I was able to experience this passage somewhat aware of what was happening, with my eyes open.

As pointed out, when we do become aware of what has happened to us, it is like being born-again. This realization can take place any time after the age of thirty. If we have not had this realization, then it is waiting for us. I wrote an entire book about this back in the late 1960s and early 1970s called "Astrology of the Heart: Astro-Shamanism." This book is a little raw, but it is all about the Saturn Return and the phases we go through in this particular rite of passage. You can find it here:


I understand that this level of esoterica will not interest everyone and I apologize if it is too weird for you. I wrote a poem years ago that describes the esoteric meaning of the Sun. This poem refers to this initiation, but is perhaps more oriented to those of you who have not realized this born-again experience yet. It might be useful.
The Point of No Return

A Poem for My Daughter Michael Anne

The point of the “point of no return” is that:
When you have reached the point of no return,
From which there is no return,
The point is to turn and return.

That is the turning point.

Every life has a turning point,
Whether it’s in the echo of age,
Or in the very midst of life’s prime.

As we reach our point of no return,
We pause,
Then we turn.

And, in turning, we begin to reflect.

In our reflection,
And rising into view,
Perhaps for the very first time,
The Sun.

Where before it was we who were seen,
And others seeing,
Now we are the mirror in which they see themselves,
And we can see our self in them,

What we once saw shining before us, as youths,
That which we gladly embraced in our prime,
And what we now see etched
In the mirror of reflection,
Is our eternal Self,
The Sun,
Ever burning in the darkness of our life.

That’s it.

I understand this.

What I find harder to understand,
Yet still believe is:

We didn’t know it then;
We don’t know it now.

We never knew it.

In truth,
It never was.

It never will be.

It is not now,
And still, it is.

It still is:

This most brilliant illusion,
Shining in the mirror of the mind.

[Pencil rendering of The Bard.]