“The wise see ‘inaction in action’ because they know that they are not the Doer. The wise act without desire or motive, and thus their karma – the accumulation of past actions done in attachment – is burned up in the Fires of Knowledge” (Bhagavat Gita (IV.18).
Vedic Astrology (Jyotish) is the single most valuable tool employed by Yogis in India for thousands of years to develop self-knowledge and attain spiritual liberation. It has also been a part of the daily life of people in India for thousands of years for more mundane aspects of life such as health, wealth and marriage. While it is the daily tribulations of life that usually brings the client to the astrologer, the spiritual benefits that the readings provide turn out to be the most profound.
Jyotish allows us to see first hand how karmas that have been set into motion many lifetimes ago are bearing fruit in this life. As our understanding of our horoscope deepens, we slowly learn to act with passion and compassion but without “desire, motive and attachment” to the results of our action, as sanctioned by the Yogic scriptures. We accept that our efforts in life are not always going to be commensurate with the results – both negative and positive. Therefore, we neither take pride in our successes, nor become despondent when our efforts don’t bear fruit. Far from being a depressive or negative perception of life, sincere practice of Jyotish is the ultimate Yoga and meditation, as it helps us to become a neutral observer of our life events.
Jyotish does not preclude the power of free will to affect our destiny – a neutral observer is not someone who is fatalistic or defeatist about the future. However, he is open to all possibilities in life. In other words, sometimes we use the foretold future to avert our difficult karma, but sometimes to simply surrender to it. In both cases, we are utilizing our free will to avert suffering and inviting divine purpose into our life. As such, Jyotish readings are not the best divination path for the those who have a tremendous amount of fear and dread about what the future holds, or for those looking only for “yes” and “no” answers. Under these circumstances it is best to explore other types of counseling paths. Jyotish readings should never create fear or dependency on the horoscope. Rather, they should help us access our inner inventory of resources and guides and give us an understanding that there is a “cosmic purpose” to our lives.
The horoscope can offer us knowledge and intelligent awareness of our “pre-programmed” expectations from life. Each planet sends its own signal to the brain, for example, Saturn says, “be careful, watch your step,” Mars, “go for it and throw caution to the wind.” These patterns in our psyche get activated during the planetary periods (dashas) allowing the astrologer to make predictions. It is always possible to disrupt these signals in our brain, but only if we are open to questioning our deep rooted impulses. In other words, if we want to gain free will and overcome our difficult karma, we have to let go of wanting and needing things to be a certain way.
The main goal of yoga practice is to develop detachment and surrender. The horoscope shows us the difficult karmic combinations in the horoscope that are causing our suffering, which indicate our negative attachments such as anger, greed, fear, impatience, guilt etc. A spiritual seeker watches even the beneficial karmic combinations carefully, as they show our positive attachments, such as cravings for great achievements, attaining knowledge or serving humanity, which can turn into judgments and obsessions.
There are many new age teachers and even some Vedic Astrologers that offer quick fixes and self help methods that promise virtually effortless cures for what ails us. These end up causing more pain and suffering in the long run. Sincere practice of Jyotish allows us to truly dissolve our embedded negative subconscious patterns (samskars) through time, effort and sacrifice. In the yogic tradition this is called tapasya, it is one of the observances of self-control (Niyama) as stated in the Yoga scriptures. Tapasya implies self-discipline and austerities willingly undertaken, both in restraining our desires and in actively pursuing a higher purpose in life. Through tapas, a yogi or spiritual seeker can “burn off” or prevent accumulation of negative karmas, clearing a path toward spiritual evolution.
Finally, the most valuable teaching of Jyotish is that each of us is responding to life from our unique “planetary constitution.” This releases the compulsion to blame and judge ourselves and others. It also sets us free from judging our situation and circumstances. This is Yoga – this is the what the Yogi’s call liberation.