What’s on your Mind when we say “Astrology?”

I see many people’s astrological charts; most of them are absolutely fine.  They show lives that are just as they should be – decent health, decent wealth, decent family relations, and so on.  But the owners of these charts do not see it.  They’re worried, depressed, disturbed, and continually hankering for something more than what they’ve been handed in life.

They believe that they’re unfortunate and suffering.  And there is one thing about these people that I’ve seen again and again.  All of their plans for more pleasure and happiness always end in more pain and misery.  Their wishes for satisfaction only end in frustration.

I often see ways that people can be happier and more peaceful.  They could invest time and energy into obtaining lasting results that would truly improve their lives.  But people are led by common misunderstandings about astrology or by unscrupulous “astrologers” who are not qualified to give readings, and they end up losing out in many areas of their lives.

For astrology to be effective, we must work on the level of identity.  Astrology should be a finger that points you back to your true identity in this life.  Circumstances may be pleasant or unpleasant, but they will always exist in whatever situation you find yourself.  We all must find our own internal balance that is independent from the forces that surround us – sitosna sukha dukhada: we need to tolerate both pleasure and pain.

The effort to rush into pleasure already causes us pain – a hankering for good feelings.  When you are so focused on pleasure, you will be vulnerable to pain.  And who ever told us that there shouldn’t be pain in life?  Who do you think you are that you should only have joy, pleasure and good things in life?  It is essential to understand your position in this universe in order to see why you must tolerate bad circumstances as well as good ones in life.

If you’re in prison, you try to get out.  You don’t paint the walls and try to liven up your cell with some plants or colorful curtains.  Likewise, when in this life experiencing birth, death, old age, disease, and suffering it is not enough to just think of improving your present circumstances; you must also try to find the ultimate solution.

Astrology is a vedanga, a support to the Vedas; hence, the ultimate solution is also mentioned in the Vedas.  It says vedaishcha sarvair aham eva vedyo – “He is to be known by all the Vedas.” Bhagavad Gita also gives solutions to all problems if properly studied and understood.  These solutions come from authoritative sources through a succession of disciples, or guru-parampara.

When something good happens, like the overcoming of an addition or the break-up of an unwanted relationship, we say, “My astrological chart says so.”  On the other hand, when it’s a failure in business, sudden bad health, or the break-up of a desired relationship, we can’t accept it.  We want to fight, to find comfort and a solution that satisfies our desires.

Astrology should help people understand their lessons in life.  It is not meant to focus on the temporary enjoyment you want out of life.  Astrology should be used to make every challenge an opportunity to grow and learn, and to move on to a better next life, or to return to the spiritual world completely.  For that, one must be ready to work more deeply, to understand the goal, and to know really how to get the most out of astrology – it could be way beyond what you think you need.

What is the Difference between Vedic Astrology and other Astrological Systems?

Vedic Astrology is known for its unique system of predictions and calculations.  Western astrology bases predictions primarily on the sun signs.  Indian astrology takes into account the moon sign, which is broader, more personalized, and more accurate.  While Western astrology sees the human race as split into twelve zodiac “types” according to their sun signs, each zodiac sign in Indian astrology is further subdivided into 9 categories, making it more accurate.  Zodiac signs are classified not only according to constellations, or nakshatras as they are called in Sanskrit, but also by the placement of each planet in relation to these constellations.

Indian astrology is based on the Parasara system, named after the author of Brhad Parasara Hora Sastra, which is the conventional system still used today with some modifications made over the years by authors like Varahamihira.  Varahamihira is a legendary figure in Indian astrology and there is no second work that matches his Brihatjathaka.

Apart from this system for making predictions, Indian Vedic astrology also follows the Dasa system which is based on the constellation of the natal moon in the birth chart to predict the precise timing of events.

Since the philosophy of Vedic astrology revolves around the karmic theory (Vedanta), it is not a fatalistic one.  In other words, things are not preordained.  People often ask me whether life events are predetermined or changeable.  If they were unchangeable, there would be no point in consulting an astrologer.  Things would happen as they are ordained to, no matter what you do.  But on the other hand, if this system allows you to change things, how can it make predictions?

It takes knowledge and patience to understand the complex answer to this question.  First, all of us are born with the karmic balance, and each of us suffers or enjoys the same amount in this life.  But at every moment we’re given chances to react to what life gives us and make choices.  If our karma is determined, we can follow the Vedic rules and create a wonderful future for ourselves.  Even if we wanted to pay off the accumulated karma at one stroke, it would be difficult if not impossible to do so in this life.  It is not a requirement of life that we achieve its highest goal of understanding God and reestablishing our relations with Him.

Because of our karma, we have certain tendencies, desires, and inclinations.  Do you want these desires to be pure?  Wouldn’t you rather have desires that give you the best possible results?  According to Bhagavad Gita, the best path to take in ending the cycle of birth and death is to take shelter in the Supreme and do everything in His name.  If we do not choose the path of dharma (or “God consciousness”), then it is difficult to change this and therefore the cycle of karma becomes unending.

With our own limited intelligence, we cannot get out of the clutches of birth and death.  We need aguru who follows the scriptures, and we need to associate with those who also follow the scriptures.  The Vedic scriptures clearly explain the law of karma and how to get out of the cycle ofkarmic reactions.

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