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Star Trek and Dharma

By Michael Laughrin (

It's time to come out of the closet. I have to admit it.

I am a Trekkie. I am an unrepentant devotee of Star Trek in all its iterations. We own them all—all 28 years of Star Trek episodes. We have just begun to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation for the fourth time. One can never get enough upliftment, progressive values and truth.

For me and my wife, Star Trek reinforces our adherence to dharma, that ancient Hindu word that includes righteousness, religion, right behavior, law, enlightenment—and maybe more.

How so? Let me see if I can simply enumerate the Star Trek philosophy as I see it:

Cultural Integrity—Each culture has a right to conduct its affairs without being unduly disturbed by others.

Freedom—Each individual (whether human or not) is free to do as he/she/it chooses as long as that action does not infringe on the rights of others.

Happiness—Each person ought to seek happiness and be happy to the best of his or her abilities. This includes maximizing your full potential through creative, educational or athletic pursuits in addition to your regular job.

Relationships—An individual can love anyone without restriction as long as those feelings are reciprocated.

Exploration—The grand goal of the sentient beings on Star Trek is to constantly learn more, become more, and express more.

Equality—No gender and no species are superior to any other gender or species.

Self-defense—While Starfleet officers are not military and they always prefer peaceful communications to violence, they will readily use violence (at the minimum level appropriate) if it is deemed necessary.

Rule of Law—Slavery and repression of the basic rights of any sentient being are not tolerated.

Reverence for Life—In all its diverse forms, life is revered and respected.

Environmental Protection—A primary concern is protecting the natural environment
from wanton destruction.

Personal "Enlightenment"—All personnel on the Enterprise D are on the path to personal, spiritual, psychological, and evolutionary development. This is encouraged by Captain Picard and indeed expected.

How do these ideas relate to the ancient Hindu dharma? Hinduism (I prefer the phrase Sanatana Dharma or "Eternal Teaching") allows freedom for all cultures to do their own thing. It is basically non-violent and liberal, but it is also conservative because it continues to firmly uphold eternal verities without regard to the passage of time. It never tries to convert anyone by force. However, self-defense is appropriate when one is attacked by a violent enemy. With the teachings of re-incarnation, you are free to pursue any and all human endeavors as you strive for eternal Happiness or Enlightenment. The Rule of Law allows each individual or group to pursue its goals without disturbance. All religions are allowed as long as they do not try to interfere with other religions.

Furthermore, Sanatana Dharma definitely shows extreme reverence for life in all forms; indeed many followers of the Vedic path are ardent vegetarians. In Star Trek, most people we see eat food from a replicator, which is neither animal nor vegetable, but qualifies as vegetarian because no animals are killed.

Every living Hindu or Buddhist guru that I know of is decidedly pro-environment. Indeed the earth as a whole is considered to be a goddess and we must worship, nurture and take care of her as she is our Mother.

Here I must admit that the "Star Trek philosophy," as I call it, is really a compendium of Eastern dharma and philosophies derived from the American constitution. Concerning relationships, dharma seems more restrictive than the modern American idea of each one being entitled to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Regarding equality, I do not believe that the Hindu caste system was intended to put one group of people over another. Rather, I think it was designed help young people make their way in life without stress by learning the skills of their forefathers and foremothers.

Concerning exploration (and fulfillment), most certainly modern America holds these values at the core of its being. Each person is free to explore his skills and/or potentials to the best of his abilities, thereby enhancing his own life and improving society at one fell swoop. Modern India, increasingly, seems to be moving in the same direction. Sat Yuga (the ancient "Golden Age" of India) was supposed to be a time when everyone was happy, fulfilled and healthy, with each person expressing his maximum potential without strain. Therefore, it seems to me that freedom of expression and freedom to reach your full potential are as much a part of dharma as of modern America.

Equality, in the eyes of dharma, hinges on the idea of moksha (liberation) or Enlightenment. The Absolute is the essence of each of us, whether rich or poor, male or female, black or white. We are all expressions of that Eternal Infinite Intelligence that was never born and never dies. Therefore, in a very real but primordial sense, we are all equal in our potential to gain moksha or Enlightenment regardless of different circumstances at birth.

What does all this have to do with Astrology? It seems to me that each of the main "Star Trek: Next Generation" characters typifies one sign or the other. (Note: While it is true that these characters may have dates of birth, this list is my interpretation of their signs based on their personalities. No need to get literal here.)

Counselor Troy, the psychic intuitive, obviously has most of the qualities of Pisces: boundlessness, feelings over thinking, and she "goes with the Flow" to a very great degree indeed.

Lieutenant Worf, a prime example of the Klingon warrior race, obviously represents Mars, perhaps the impetuous Mars in Aries but I think more likely an exalted Mars in Capricorn. After all, he is a Starfleet officer and he does follow orders quite well.

Commander William Riker represents Taurus the Bull: strong, stable, a big hit with the ladies and a trombone player.

Data, the mechanical man, is the sign of Gemini taken to a ridiculous extreme: maximum calculating abilities, no feelings, perfect memory, amazingly quick, and eternally youthful.

Dr. Beverly Crusher is the perfect Virgo: smooth, practical, a skilled healer, and quietly sexy in a demure, contained manner.

Geordi La Forge represents the planet Uranus and the sign of Aquarius. He is very modern, with his abilities to "see" or "perceive" vastly more than most humans by using his visor. He is Data's best friend. In astrology, Aquarius and Gemini get along marvelously well with each other. Uranus rules electricity and all that is modern. Geordi is an engineer par excellence. He is deeply learned in all the most advanced laws of physics and electromagnetism. But, like the quintessential nerd that he is, he is not very successful at "making time" with the opposite sex.

Most likely, Captain Jean-Luc Picard is a Sagittarius with a healthy dose of Leo thrown in for good measure. He is extremely intelligent. (Sagittarius is supposed to be the smartest of signs.) He is optimistic and always wants to discover new corners of this and other galaxies. Sagittarius always wants to go, go, go. Also, Sagittarius has a strong religious/philosophical side that Captain Picard perfectly portrays. He is always reading in his spare time, usually a hefty tome of deep philosophy. Jupiter is the most traditional of planets and deeply respects tradition. Captain Picard's main hobby is archaeology, the deep study of ancient civilizations. The Leo is seen as he is, most definitely, the king on his own ship—although a very good and modest king.

To me, Star Trek is THE ultimate myth for our time. It shows us how to behave, how to get along with others, what to believe and what to feel. Also it gives us many wonderful examples of the deep meaning of friendship, comradeship and co-operation. It looks forward toward the future while still appreciating the past. As far as I am concerned, it unites the eternal teachings of the Vedas and modern American constitutional philosophy, and cloaks them in 21st (and 24th) century garb.

Live long and prosper!

(c) copyright 2007 Michael Laughrin.

From the October/November 2007 issue of Michael Laughrin's North American Jyotish Newsletter. Click to subscribe to this free Jyotish newsletter.

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