The follwing is excerpted from my book Signs of the Zodiac: Clothing of the Self, which can be purchased direct from myself. Note the Buddha by legend was born, attained enlightenment, and died on the Full Moon in the month of May.
Buddhism, as befits its Taurean founder, is the only major religion that is rigorously empirical in approach. It refuses to appeal to authority – even to the words of the Buddha himself – or to enter into metaphysical speculation about life after death or any other questions that do not pertain to the cessation of suffering and attainment of enlightenment in this life. It’s clear headed common sense is exemplified in this injunction of Buddha: ‘It is proper to doubt. Do not be led by holy scriptures, or by mere logic or inference, or by appearances, or by the authority of religious teachers. But when you realize that something is unwholesome and bad for you, give it up. And when you realize that something is wholesome and good for you, do it.’
In a similar vein he states: ”Believe nothing that binds you to the sole authority of your masters or priests. That which you have tried yourself, which you have experienced, which you have recognized as true, and which will be beneficial to you and to others: believe that and shape your conduct to it.”
The evolutionary dynamics of the sign are beautifully revealed in the life of Gautama the Buddha. Raised in a royal family of great wealth, he enjoyed all the delights that earthly life has to offer, yet, when confronted with the realities of old age, sickness and death in his late twenties, the realization dawned that no earthly pleasure could offer lasting happiness. Thereupon, at 29, the age of the ‘Saturn Return’, he rebelled against paternal expectation and abandoned the life of luxury to embark upon a path of renunciation. In walking that path he associated with learned teachers from whom he hoped to gain answers to his deepest existential questions, and practised austerities with all the perseverance and determination that Taurus is renowned for. However, after years of such enquiry and practice, and with his body having degenerated into a state of enfeebled emaciation, he concluded that what he was doing was not working. The path of asceticism had failed to deliver the wisdom and happiness he was seeking. Thereupon, he took food and ceased to deny the needs of the body, and, subsequent to his enlightenment, which he finally attained whilst meditating sitting under a tree, he advocated the adoption of a middle path between the extremes of sensual gratification and ascetic denial as the best foundation for the attainment of wisdom and inner peace.
Even the way Buddha is physically depicted is thoroughly evocative of Venus ruled Taurus. Venus is the god of love and beauty and harmonious form, and the most common depiction of Buddha has him seated in calm repose emanating an aura of ineffable stillness, his inner and outer beauty as one, a defining image of tranquillity and serenity.
Then there is the popular laughing Buddha iconography, which has him reclining on a sofa, rotund belly protruding. A paradigmatic example of a ‘happy fatty’ you could say. How different to the iconic Christian image of Christ crucified on the cross, with its connotations of unutterable suffering and sacrifice!
Let us end with a Buddhist song of praise, rich in symbolic wisdom just right for Taurus: ‘O thou of perfect form and beauty rare / Of fairest parts and lovely to behold / Exalted One! As lotus born within a lake / By water no wise is defiled / But groweth fragrant, beautiful / So is the Buddha in this world / Born in the world and dwelling there / But by the world no wise defiled / Even as the lily by the lake.’