J. Robert Oppenheimer: “I become Death, destroyer of worlds” (Subscriber Content)

On the 16th of July 1945, near a small town in New Mexico, the world’s first nuclear explosion was about to be detonated. The countdown began. Ten. Oppenheimer was anxious resting on a post in, 9, the main room to steady himself. He hardly, 8, breathed. A lot had been riding on this project, 7, it had been three years of, 6, hard work and with World, 5, War II ongoing and the onslaught, 4, of the forces of fascism, 3, nothing could be wasted. 2. Oppenheimer stared straight ahead. 1.


There was the whitest flash of light like lightning and the growling roar of the explosion. Oppenheimer breathed deeply, his body relaxing. At the sight of his success, his mind turned to two verses from a sacred Hindu text. The first was:

“If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one …”

Bhagavad Gita (XI, 12)

And the second was:

“I am become Death, the Destroyer of worlds.”

Bhagavad gita (xi, 32)

As stated by an eye witness, Physicist Isidor Rabi, Oppenheimer had a pleasure in his victory that was uneasy to watch: “I’ll never forget his walk…the way he stepped out of the car…his walk was like High Noon… this kind of strut.” A few weeks later at an assembly that took place on the evening of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Oppenheimer took to the stage and clasped his hands together “like a Prize winning boxer.”

Three days later after that assembly, and the Hiroshima bombing, the second atomic bomb was detonated in Nagasaki. The total killed is somewhere between 129,000 and 226,000.

Nine days after the Nagasaki bombing on the 17th of August, Oppenheimer traveled to Washington to hand deliver to the Secretary of War, a letter expressing his revulsion of the bombings and a wish to see nuclear weapons banned. Ray Monk, in his biography of Robert Oppenheimer, writes that he [Oppenheimer] and many of his staff were very upset about the bombing of Nagasaki, as they thought a second bomb unnecessary and unlikely to happen.

In October 1945, three months after the first nuclear explosion in New Mexico and two after the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Oppenheimer was granted an interview with President Truman. The meeting was a disaster. After Oppenheimer remarked he had “blood on my hands,” the President was furious and ended the meeting saying he didn’t want to “see that son of a bitch in my office again.”

I was commissioned to write this article to investigate, from my client’s view, as to why would someone rejoice when they looked upon ultimate destruction and think they were “death, destroyer of worlds.” Despite my semi-narrative story above, the truth is more complex.

I hope to analyse from a 5E perspective, Oppenheimer’s reactions and his legacy. To do this, I will focus more on his birth date patterns rather than his face, as it is more useful and insightful to this analysis. The next parts will focus on an overview of Oppenheimer’s birth date patterns and character, the context for those Bhagavad Gita quotes, and the final will link that character to his actions in the story above.

Again, the analysis I provide is only a highly educated interpretation. I might hit the nail on the head or strike the hammer far away from it.

My work uses astrology based on Chinese Medicine. This system is called Nine Star Ki. We all have three patterns in our Nine Star Ki birth dates.

The first pattern is our main personality. Our second pattern is our emotional self, stressed self, or who we were as children. The third pattern is our destiny which has two sides: the first is our ongoing challenge or theme running through out our lives which we need to surpass and learn from time and time again to reach the second side – our destiny, our true calling in the world.

These are Oppenheimer’s patterns:

Main Personality. Stressed or Child Self. Life purpose.

6. 3. 8

Archetypes Associated: Father, King. Blind Warrior. Exhausted Mother.
Patterns in Nature: Sky. Thunder/Oak. Mountain.

(Please note that this system uses numbers as symbols without numerical value. It’s a shorthand.)

Regardless of how the patterns of the face influence this birth date, all these yang patterns together speak of someone who is firm in their beliefs. They are not hesitant. They are hardworking and idealistic, a drive to do the “right thing.” They also have a tendency to be very and easily judgemental.

The first pattern, the 6, because it’s association with heavens or the sky, can be pulled towards religion and can be very spiritual. Or they can be skeptical atheists who like to study and understand the religious mindset.

When the 3 is placed in the stressed position, we are dealing with a debilitated expression – I’ve taken to calling this “the blind warrior” in this position. Any one who has the pattern of the warrior needs good vision. They need this vision to see clearly in the short term, to construct plans of action and then carry them out. These short term victories make them feel powerful and strong.

When we have stressed warriors we have blind warriors. This good vision of the short term or even long term affects is lost entirely. They may be able to carry out these short term tasks with no idea or impact into the long term, or may end up sacrificing the long term completely to just get the job done. People who have the blind warrior position have a greater likelihood to suffer from despair, depression, self destructive or obsessive behaviours, and thoughts of blaming and shaming themselves when emotional.

Chinese Medicine speaks of this as anger, their natural drive and energy, going inward.

So this pattern is also associated with violence, which always happens when this despair, this drive or the desire to move forward at any cost, is misapplied to hurting others or hurting themselves. And so forgiveness is placed under this pattern as well, so the warrior can understand, heal, and move on.

The last pattern, the destiny or legacy pattern, is the mountain here or mother. I believe with, Oppenheimer, that his challenge was the challenge of responsibility leading into him being a source of great strength and great support. That’s the best case scenario. When the navigation of these challenges has not happened effectively, to its optimum, a legacy is left that acts like a warning.

Religious Context

These words that are to appear in this section are not my own and are taken from an article written by James Temperton, dated Wednesday 9th August 2017, published online on Wired.co.uk.

Temperton writes and investigates the context behind Oppenheimer’s quotes:

“Oppenheimer, watching the fireball of the Trinity nuclear test, turned to Hinduism. While he never became a Hindu in the devotional sense, Oppenheimer found it a useful philosophy to structure his life around. “He was obviously very attracted to this philosophy,” says Rev Dr Stephen Thompson, who holds a PhD in Sanskrit grammar and is currently reading a DPhil at Oxford University on other aspects of the language and Hindu faith. Oppenheimer’s interest in Hinduism was about more than a soundbite, it was a way of making sense of his actions.

“The Bhagavad-Gita is 700-verse Hindu scripture, written in Sanskrit, that centres on a dialogue between a great warrior prince called Arjuna and his charioteer Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu. Facing an opposing army containing his friends and relatives, Arjuna is torn. But Krishna teaches him about a higher philosophy that will enable him to carry out his duties as a warrior irrespective of his personal concerns. This is known as the dharma, or holy duty. It is one of the four key lessons of the Bhagavad-Gita: desire or lust; wealth; the desire for righteousness or dharma; and the final state of total liberation, or moksha.

“Seeking his counsel, Arjuna asks Krishna to reveal his universal form. Krishna obliges, and in verse twelve of the Gita he manifests as a sublime, terrifying being of many mouths and eyes. It is this moment that entered Oppenheimer’s mind in July 1945. “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendour of the mighty one,” was Oppenheimer’s translation of that moment in the desert of New Mexico.

“In Hinduism, which has a non-linear concept of time, the great god is not only involved in the creation, but also the dissolution. In verse thirty-two, Krishna speaks the line brought to global attention by Oppenheimer. “The quotation ‘Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds’, is literally the world-destroying time,” explains Thompson, adding that Oppenheimer’s Sanskrit teacher chose to translate “world-destroying time” as “death”, a common interpretation. Its meaning is simple: irrespective of what Arjuna does, everything is in the hands of the divine.

“Arjuna is a soldier, he has a duty to fight. Krishna not Arjuna will determine who lives and who dies and Arjuna should neither mourn nor rejoice over what fate has in store, but should be sublimely unattached to such results,” says Thompson. “And ultimately the most important thing is he should be devoted to Krishna. His faith will save Arjuna’s soul.”

Behind his Course of Actions

If we return now to Oppenheimer’s actions and reactions on the 16th of July 1945, we can see he’s reacting and living from his middle pattern (as an aside: it’s entirely possible for someone to live and behave as their stressed selves for their entire lives).

He’s happy, he’s jubilant, he’s strutting. This because he’s blind. At this point in time, Oppenheimer has been working for three years straight, not knowing if this would work or not, that all he’s concerned with is getting the job done and it working, successfully detonating, not killing people. He’s relieved because the intense stress of the past three years is over. Also, at this point in time, he believes (and his colleagues) that this bomb will not be deployed or used.

It’s the blind warrior, happy that he’s completed the task with no long view considered.

The direction associated with warriors in the five elements (the system which is the basis for Chinese face reading), is up. And so to go up, you have to go straight. Straight cuts out a lot of nuance. Straight can also mean blunt. Unfortunately, when someone has this pattern, it can mean that sometimes they have difficulty understanding context or details because that’s “just fluff.”

I believe and interpret that when Oppenheimer used those quotes from the Bhagavad Gita, he wasn’t thinking them as the article suggested above, in some holy “what ever will be will be,” but a in way that ignored the nuance of the religious context. In a quote that I cite later, his interpretation of Vishnu saying “I am death, destroyer of worlds” was that “Vishnu was trying to persuade…and impress [Arjuna],” not that Vishnu was trying to communicate with the prince that “it’s my responsibility to destroy and decide who lives or who dies. Not you. Carry out your duty regardless because I will decide.” Oppenheimer’s interpretation lacks nuance.

Oppenheimer thought of that quote to literally to portray how happy he was with destruction – because it meant his scientific calculations were correct. His hard work paid off.

And, sometimes with Warrior patterns (in any position), it can mean that someone is pulled towards violence or repelled by it. I believed Oppenheimer liked the explosion in the same way modern audiences turn up to watch action films with explosions. As an audience, we’re not thinking that people will be harmed, we’re just thinking about how big the bang and how bright it was. That’s why explosions are popular.

Oppenheimer here, is just reacting from his stressed emotional self. He has no sight on the long view or what the bomb was commissioned for. He is the blind warrior.

I know reading the above will may feel horrifying to you. That’s completely understandable. But compassion is needed if we are to understand and inquire, and then heal. Judgement doesn’t heal and repair. Empathy heals, both the other and ourselves. Chinese face reading and Nine Star Ki can facilitate this healing, reading Oppenheimer from this perspective allows us to empathise and sympathise with him.

Then after this reported happiness at his success, and after the horrific bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, we see Oppenheimer do a 180 degree turn in his behaviour. He understood the devastation and acted responsibly and quickly, ten days later hand delivering a letter to the Secretary of War. No one hand delivers a letter if they don’t care.

In an interview many years later, 1965, he described the atmosphere in the control room after the bomb had been detonated:

We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.

J. Robert Oppenheimer on the Trinity test (1965)”. Atomic Archive. Retrieved May 23, 2008

This response is at odds with his behaviour on that day from eye witnesses. We know that Oppenheimer was struggling with guilt from what he said to President Truman – “[I have] blood on my hands.” The first pattern in his birth date is that of the king. Kings in 5E are highly concerned with image and how they appear and appearances. I don’t believe that Oppenheimer giving a different versions of events is way of controlling or manipulating the public, but a way for his mind to cope.

If we look at the last sentence of that quote – “I suppose we all thought that one way or another” – I have found, based on personal experience, that individuals who want to hide will conflate and move their actions to a broader community. Sometimes when I read people’s faces, early in my career, and gave a basic description of what that feature on their face meant, some who were resistant to face reading would react with: “Isn’t that everyone though?” They said this because they were not comfortable being seen and wanted to hide.

It’s my belief that Oppenheimer wanted to hide from the shame and guilt he feels from even thinking that quote and move that sentiment to the broader collective, so it feels better. Those who have the warrior as their middle pattern, may turn to shame and feeling ashamed under stress. This is a coping mechanism developed so he can live. This is not blaming or redeeming Oppenheimer here. This is how the human mind works, finding odd ways to displace our actions so we can survive painful emotions and experiences. The oldest part of our brains, the amygdala, only cares about living and surviving. This is a coping mechanism developed by the amydala.


In the birth date section of this article I wrote: “When the navigation of these challenges has not happened effectively, to its optimum, a legacy is left that acts like a warning.” I also wrote previously that it’s possible to live your entire life from your middle pattern due to stress or trauma.

When someone behaves and lives from that middle pattern for so long, and has stumbled in navigating their life theme/challenges, their destiny alters and becomes a legacy that behaves like a warning. For Oppenheimer I believe it can be interpreted as warnings for the responsibility and consequences of extreme violence, and the guilt of not seeing.

I hope you enjoyed this article! Despite the difficult subject matter I found Mr Oppenheimer to be a thoroughly interesting study.

This article was made possible by those who sponsor me on Patreon – thank you so much! If you enjoyed this article and the level of detail I go into, then please consider checking it out and supporting me. More details of what benefits you will receive in return are on Patreon.

Thank you so much for reading!

Much love,


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