The discovery begins by observing:
we take out the 22 Major Arcana cards of the CAMOIN TAROT,
setting the numberless card The Fool aside for the moment.
We lay them out in three vertical rows of seven cards each.
What appears before us is the great stage on which the Soul (the Fool) journeys through life.

Row One, on the bottom, is the human realm.
Row Two is the angelic realm, the domain of the Bodhisattvas.
Row Three, at the top, is the celestial or divine realm, the domain of the Buddha, the Awakened One.

This is the path of the Soul's evolution, from the Juggler (birth as a child) to the World (enlightenment).

According to the teachings of Buddhism---and, we will discover, the Tarot as well---human beings,
in addition to learning and gaining physical experiences, are on a pilgrimage, a journey of soul learning and growth.

In Buddhism, this is all egorically described in the Pilgrimage of Zenzai Doji, or Seeker of Truth.
This ancient Indian parable entered Japan in the 8th century C.E. and is preserved in Todaiji Temple in Nara,
Japan, home of the Daibutsu, the statue of the Great Buddha.

This tradition survives in the Kegon or Avatamsaka "Flower Ornament" Sutra.
In this story, the Seeker of Truth meets 53 people on a journey, from the Manjusri Bodhisattva (Monju Bosatsu)
to Samantabhadra (Fugen Bosatsu).
The popular Japanese board game, "The 53 Stages of the Tokaido Highway Sugoroku", which resembles
the Western "Game of Life", was born from this tradition.

In the Kegon teachings, the holographic oneness of all things, nested infinitely within each other,
is taught along with the journey to enlightenment, to awareness of the interconnectedness of all creation.

Belgian Nobel Laureate and novelist Maurice Maeterlinck's
"The Blue Bird" is another story of growth and evolution of consciousness told using the theme of a journey.
In this famous story, siblings Tyltyl and Mytyl, who also symbolize the Soul, embark on a journey into the
Dark Forest in search of the bluebird of happiness.
When they return after many adventures, they discover the bluebird has returned to their own home.
Or to be precise, it has not returned, but rather was in their home the entire time.

The two children have grown and attained higher consciousness, and now they can see the bird:
they have become able to experience happiness.

The purpose of a journey is of course to reach the destination; and yet, by facing the challenges and
difficulties blocking the way, through each experience the traveler grows spiritually.

The paths of our lives could be described the same way.

The Journey of the Mandala

The word "Mandala" comes from Sanskrit, meaning "to grasp reality".
A mandala is a two-dimensional map; a three-dimensional map is called a Stupa.

Their meanings are similar, but can be experienced quite differently: if you walk in a circle around a Stupa,
your consciousness is drawn towards the center, spiraling upward to ascend the stairway of consciousness.

In Buddhist thought, human life is seen precisely as this sort of process: a path of spiritual discipline,
an ascending journey of growth and evolution of the soul.
We move through the world, growing through our various encounters and relationships with people along the journey.

The Truth is Hidden

Hidden inside the pictures in the Marseilles Tarot are the so-called heretical teachings of Gnosticism.
While the Orthodox Christians preached a doctrine of faith, claiming that salvation came to those who believed,
Gnostic thought, which was eventually deemed heretical, rather subscribed to the approach that "the truth is hidden".

A person's consciousness creates their world; thus there are as many "truths" as there are people.
By growing in consciousness, the reality one experiences unfailingly changes.

However, how that reality is interpreted depends on the person.

The monk Kukai put it this way: "Truth is not hidden by the Buddha, rather the discipleユs awareness creates his world.
So as your awareness grows and rises, your world will change."

The Marseilles Tarot and the World of Esoteric Buddhism

The Devil
The House of God
The Star
The Moon
The Sun
The Last Judgment
The World


The Hermit
The Wheel Of Fortune
The Hanged Man
"Nameless" Card 13

The Fool

The Juggler

The Popess

The Empress

The Emperor

The Pope

The Lover

The Chariot

(1)Imprinting of Societal Values

This world, the Human Realm, is the story of the journey of 0 The Fool, the Soul.
The first stage begins with 1 The Juggler.

He is playing with toys spread out on his table, but keeps glancing around as if nervous.
Then Grandmother, 2 The Popess , reads him an old story.
At this he falls into a peaceful sleep.

The next morning he awakens to the dominion of his Mother 3 The Empress,
symbolized by her scepter.

Then follows the scepter that signifies the rule of Father 4 The Emperor.

Eventually he grows old enough to go to school, and meets a new authority
in the triple scepter of the Teacher 5 The Pope (reading writing and arithmetic?).

Society also imprints upon the child that in the future, he or she will get married
6 The Loverown two cars(chariots!)and own a house 7 The Chariot"

In Buddhism this world of earthly desires, of societal values, is called Samsara,
the World of Suffering (also known as the Cycle of Death and Rebirth).

(2) The Stages of Discipleship or Ascetic Training

However, when these desires are unfulfilled, he prays to the Gods or to the Buddhas for their intercession.
Then Achala (or Fudo Myo-o), the Immovable One 8 Justice, needs to step in. The rope around the neck
depicted in the eighth card, 8 Justice, is held in the left hand in Buddhist iconography.

It affirms that the person has begun to deny the mundane world by cutting away societal values
with the sword (of wisdom), held in the right hand.

Notice that still in the left hand of Justice are the scales of Good and Evil, a dualistic concept.
Buddhism is ultimately a non-dualist philosophy, but we are still only part of the way down
the path of conscious growth.

When the traveler realizes that the world is nothing like his parents and teachers have taught him,
this wisdom takes him to the level of 9 The Hermit , and he begins a journey carrying a red wand (sets out on a quest).

He shines his lamp in search of the truth.
At the same time, this lamp lights the way for others following him on the spiritual path.

When we look at the world through the eyes of the Hermit, we realize something else: how the world works.
The mechanism of destiny becomes clear to us: it is a world of monkeys, controlled by their desires, and dogs,
endeavoring to control their desires, all struggling and spinning their wheels endlessly in this World of Suffering.

This is what Buddhists call variously the Wheel of Life, the Cycle of Rebirth, or the Six States of Sentient Existence.
At the top, controlling all of this is a low-level deity.

To the Gnostics, the "god" who created the material world was called a "demiurge" from the Greek for "craftsman",
and in esoteric Buddhism he is called Yama (Enma), and is depicted as holding the wheel of life between his jaws.
10 The Wheel of Fortune invites us to liberate ourselves from this wheel, to escape from the wheel of societal values.

(3)A New Journey

11 Strength symbolizes the courage to face the new world that has revealed itself.
We fight with the lion---the powers of the old establishment.

However, a miracle does not happen;
we feel deeply disappointed and detached from reality.
We are haunted by 12 The Hanged Man.
We are trapped.

Many young people find themselves "beamed up" into this state (of disappointment)
directly from 5 The Pope(school), becoming recluses or withdrawing from the world. "Beaming up",
a sudden shift to a different level, can also be experienced by someone who suffers heartbreak:
many people suddenly surge from 6The Lover to the nameless Card 13,
due to the grief of losing a love.

Card 13 depicts a man tilling the fields (the black earth) of the Unconscious.
That dark ground is packed with past memories that cannot be discarded.
The outspread hands symbolize desires.

Once the suffering of Card 13 passes, the aspirant becomes an angel of healing 14 Temperance,
represented in the Far East as the Bodhisattva Kwan Yin.
In esoteric teachings, the Self and the Other are One.

In other words, we cannot truly separate ourselves from other people.
The jars full of compassion (water) that the figure holds in the left and right hands symbolize this teaching.
Kwan Yin also carries a water jug as an attribute.

However, if we stumble from the path and misuse our angelic power, we can fall from grace and
become 15 The Devil.
People love to find a guru(the Devil)and follow his teachings, even gladly putting on their own
"deer horns" in imitation of their master.
They do not notice that they are bound.

Believing in the teachings of another means abdicating oneユs own wisdom (Gnosis).

(4)The Six Perfections
(The ladder of spiritual discipline)

The Angelic realm in Buddhism is known as the Path of the Bodhisattva.
The stages to reach this state are known in Buddhism as the Six Perfections,
the Six Disciplines that lead to Enlightenment.

8 Justicecorresponds to Ethical Discipline(following rules)、
9 The Hermit is Wisdom, also known as Deep Reflection、
10 The Wheel of Fortuneteaches understanding of the Wheel of Samsara(the soulユs eternal nature)、
11 Strengthis Enthusiastic Effort. focusing and acting with strength、
12 The Hanged Man=Concentration(learning to enter samadhi)、
Card 13 is Patience, also known as Enduring Hardship、
14 Temperance is Generosity(treating others charitably, as if it were oneself).

(5)The Divine World
(The land of the Buddhas, the Pure Land)

16 The House of God depicts a thunderbolt striking a house made of bricks,
which symbolizes the physical body.
The thunderbolt, "Vajra" in Sanskrit and "Dorje" in Tibetan, symbolizes the Bodhi tree
and the moment of enlightenment in esoteric Buddhism.

Both traditions thus represent Enlightenment as an energy entering the body.
As the Crown Chakra opens to allow the energy to descend into the body,
the lower selves are forced out.

The Soul, then moves quickly through the stages from 17 The Star to 20 Judgment
like a board game which tells the player to advance five spaces, reaching 21 The World.

The human who has merged with the Divine and dances with ecstasy is called a Dancing Shiva,
or Nataraja, in India.

It seems we have reached the endムbut have we?

No, the path continues.
The Divine Being the traveler has become, wrapped in a sky-blue oval ring, is looking back
at the path that has brought her this far.

That's right, she knows that the reason for climbing this path was not simply to reach
21 The World (the Pure Land).

This journey was to gain the Wisdom to liberate people still suffering from their bondage to societal values.
You could say that at the entrance to The World, there is a sign that reads "Go back to the beginning"!

Ah, that's right. The true reason you have climbed up to Heaven--is to return to Earth and help to liberate humanity.
To live on the earth as a Bodhisattva.
And as your values will be very different than those you meet, they will no doubt call you a Fool.

Shinran, founder of Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism called himself Gutoku, the "balding fool",
while Zen monk and celebrated poet Ryokan called himself Taigu, meaning "great fool".
For a Buddhist monk, to live as this kind of fool is how it should be.

(6)Kukai's "Essentials of the Three Teachings"

A young Kukai, who later became the father of esoteric Buddhism in Japan,
was studying in his youth at a university that taught Confucianism, and
realized that the subjects were limited to only worldly values.
Further studies of Taoism demonstrated that this philosophy denied the mundane world,
teaching that through discipline one could gain supernatural powers to sail away
from this world and into the clouds.

But Buddhism, while also acknowledging supernatural powers, understood them
as byproducts of developing consciousness of Universal Oneness, and directed them
to be used only for the good of humanity.

Expressing the magnificence of Buddhism in this way, at the age of 24 Kukai wrote
his famous dialogue comparing the three great teachings of his time.
Leaving traditional academics behind, he took special ascetic training in a mountain 
and had a spiritual vision, achieving enlightenment.

From this perspective, the three realms of the Tarot---the Human Realm, the Angelic Realm,
and the Divine Realm---correspond to the realms and concerns of Confucianism,
Taoism, and Buddhism.

(7)Heretical teachings

In the West, medieval Christian churches, in collusion with the rulers of their time,
closed off access to the wisdom of the soulユs path of growth and evolution.
Even to speak of such things invited condemnation for heresy.

To protect the teachings, they were encoded and hidden within occult systems
such as Astrology, Cabala and Tarot.
These esoteric teachings---and their history---are now becoming known again,
even popular, as reflected in the phenomenal success of Dan Brownユs novel The Da Vinci Code.

In astrology, it is said that in the Age of Aquarius, information will once again
be freely available to the people.
Perhaps soon the "history", as written by Christianity, will be rewritten.

The "Essentials of the Three Teachings", or Sango Shiiki, are a dialogue between a Confucianist,
a Taoist, and a Buddhist.
The discourse demonstrated the superiority of Buddhism over the other two philosophies.