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Kathleen Meadows

Buddhism and the Tarot teachings

April 3, 2017 | Comment icon 23 comments
Image Credit: Mark J Sebastian
The Tarot deck can be used as an instructional guide to psycho-spiritual development. Following the path of the Fool which is the number 0 in the Major Arcana, a third level of consciousness, the super-consciousness is achieved at a psychological apex which is represented by the World card, number 21. Among many tenets, this supra level of consciousness embraces the knowledge that all humanity are One.

Superficial differences among humans such as those observed with the naked eye (appearance, geography, class) can mislead us to believe that we are separate, unique and different, or even more insidiously, better or worse than each other. These differences are emphasized through the egoic perspective and are often sadly used to justify abusive, combative and cruel behaviour.


This supra level of consciousness is referred to in Buddhism, as enlightenment. Students of the Tarot who are interested in pursuing a more in depth study relating Yoga or Buddhism to the Tarot will find a number of interesting treatises available to support your study. Whole books and tarot decks have been published which have contributed significantly to understanding the connections between these two spiritual disciplines.

One of the connections between Buddhism and the Tarot can be made in the Swords suit. In Buddhist thought, the sword was a symbol of discrimination that penetrates the deepest recesses of philosophy in order to find truth. In the Tarot, the Swords suit represent the intellect and wisdom from the deepest places of human spirit.

Buddhism teaches that the stages to enlightenment will involve a confrontation between our attachments to the temporal, material plane, and the necessity to overcome and ultimately release these attachments. The smaller spiritual lessons of release prepare us to be ready to leave the physical world ultimately, and finally.

The Fool’s Journey in the Tarot
The Major Arcana is a depiction and description of the soul's journey in a physical existence. We are spiritual beings living in a body in a physical world. When we connect to the soul's journey we discover a higher purpose for our physical embodiment. The Major Arcana in the Tarot is a depiction of the powerful energies that affect our soul's journey. Becoming aware of our soul’s journey will lead to a discovery and acknowledgement of our higher life purpose. We may then apply ourselves to meeting the challenges that our path demands.

We reach the stage of the Hanged One, number 12, when we are prepared to make the egotistic sacrifices necessary to bring our authentic and true selves into the world.

Buddhism also guides adherents to making egoistic sacrifices (ultimately giving up the “I”) to reach a level of enlightenment whereby our consciousness opens so profoundly that we become aware our being has no boundaries or borders. The Tarot depicts this ego de-attachment in the Death card, and the Tower card with the lightening bolt striking the Tower.

Lightening as a Symbol of Bolt of Truth

Lightening has always been experienced by human beings as a manifestation of divine energy. Such a god figures in Buddhism as a symbol of the light of truth, which hypocrisy or falsehood cannot persevere.

A famous Zen Koan guides an adherent to know that, "While you are living, Know you are dying". Live your life with purpose, make every moment count and always act from your deepest values. Discovering what those are, is what the spiritual journey of the Tarot is constructed to do. Whether you are walking the path of wholeness as mapped out in the Tarot or on the Buddhist path to enlightenment, you must learn these lessons of embodiment to reach nirvana and wholeness.

To read more of Kathleen’s articles on the Tarot’s contribution to spiritual development, visit her web site

If you are interested in the esoteric sciences and psychic ability development you will find the articles on my web site an interesting read. Visit my web site Comments (23)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #14 Posted by Frank Merton 7 years ago
I think what you present is Aristotle; other Greek (the pre-Socratics) had all sorts of various schemes, but Aristotle's authority was so great it came to be dogma in the Middle Ages. The Chinese also have "metal."  
Comment icon #15 Posted by Sherapy 7 years ago
Thank you interesting stuff.  I do have a question for you, what is Kabbalah?   
Comment icon #16 Posted by back to earth 7 years ago
A lot ; many esotericists , most hermetic kabbalists, mystical Freemasons  , people in the western magical tradition ......    maybe even some  Jews.   Depends what you are used to . No one would buy them. I  am not trashy or popular enough, not showy enough ... peeps want all that nowadays. However, I do know what to do with a lear jet ; Aboriginal friends live on a 'mission' up north, the neighbouring property is a zillionaire.  He wanted to re do the fence between them, he bought the materials and said he pay the boys to do the labor. At the end he said 'Good job, come around for di... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by back to earth 7 years ago
Oh yeah Wooz ... I can also add Frank now , to people who would say stuff like that   ...  he knows    ' what I talkin'  'bout !  '    
Comment icon #18 Posted by quiXilver 7 years ago
here's the Chinese wheel of the elements
Comment icon #19 Posted by back to earth 7 years ago
Also '  ' Elyon' .... 'The Gods'  (note plural ) Adonai ( sorta - Lord )   Ehiah   ( I am ) El Shaddai ,   etc .  Lots of 'titles'  each one explains a function or specific relationship. In esoteric Kabbalah they can be placed on the Tree of Life to get an idea of their interrelationships ;  There is also this ;   Also it is  the YHVH   with a shin -letter of fire-  added -, showing the 'Son '  and flame spirit descending 'amidst the wings of Jehovah' ;  YH Sh VH - Yeheshewah / Jehoshua  . All these concepts and a LOT more got dumbed down to 'God'  also the concepts of spirit /... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by back to earth 7 years ago
Tricky ! Since 'Hinduism or Hindus'  didnt exist until way after Buddha .  Bing !  One of my areas of speciality   .    It seems that there was too and fro way before any mass movement of Indo Iranians ( the now better accepted term than Indo Europeans ) into the Indus Valley. There is evidence of an 'Indus  Civilization' trading centre in the Oxus basin  ( 'Aryan area' )  . There was a language mix earlier as well.  Also the Indus people ( pre Ayan settlement ) probably had sea trade along the North Arabian sea shore, up the gulf and into Mesopotamia .  I see what you mean , in a w... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by back to earth 7 years ago
  Yes, that is similar the idea of the humours and their effect on the body .
Comment icon #22 Posted by MWoo7 7 years ago
eeeeh have to get back to this, kind of busy.
Comment icon #23 Posted by MWoo7 7 years ago
Thanks BTE and others,  I'll have to get back later after reading, interesting inDEEEEED !   oh off topic a trace but thought important AGAIN !!!!! the tyson chicken dinners kid and others!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, just happen to forget when talking about visiting here or doing this that like its next door, cripes ,!! idiots...... thought to mention (the vast expanse out there, mind boggling)  ONE OF MANY EXAMPLES they NEVER MENTION, JACK0s.   THEY(bad as MSN) NEVER MENTION VASTNESS, like not in a million years could we EVER ! come up with something to travel out there, some!!... [More]

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