You hear this from all sorts of enthusiastic religious people. Christians insist that astrology is devilish and that all you need to do is accept Jesus, you don’t need astrology or anything else to be happy and fulfilled. Muslims (and probably Jews?) say that it is a sin of pride to seek such divine knowledge; it is the “forbidden fruit” one should avoid and which incurs the wrath of God.
Well thats one of the reasons I didn’t get into western religion. I went from New York all the way to India on my spiritual quest. My specific branch of astrology comes from there, “Vedic Astrology.” I personally practice a form of spiritualism that originates in “Vedic India” and maybe close to a quarter of my regular clients are from the same background: Gaudiya Vaishnav practitioners of Bhakti Yoga.
Well (as one of my favorite songs goes) seems I couldn’t outrun that mentality. It followed me all the way to Vedic Astrology and Bhakti Yoga.
Fellow spiritual practitioners ask me, in a good measure of sincere confusion, “The advanced yogis say that all you need to do is chant Krishna’s name once and all your karma disappears! Or just clap your hands during worship in a temple and all your karma changes! They say that spiritualists shouldn’t go to astrologers!”
You can translate this into any religious terminology, and it means the same thing. “My pastor says that all I need to do is accept Jesus and pray to him and I will go to heaven. All I need to do is come to church and believe in Jesus and he will take away all my sins. He says astrology is of the devil because it tries to know God’s mind and tries to make me better by ‘works’ not ‘faith.’”
In some ways I actually agree that it can be counterproductive to go to astrologers when you are fairly advanced (compared to the common person) on a specific spiritual path of evolution. My reasoning is that the astrologer gives you divine guidance by granting you access to knowledge you could not otherwise obtain, and therefore functions in the role of a guru. If you approach an astrologer who is at a lower stage of spiritual evolution than you – or even one who is just evolving along a path which is quite different from yours – you may be accepting an unqualified guru or a guru from an incompatible school, and his or her guidance may well wind up confusing and disrupting your smooth progress along your specific spiritual path.
To this extent, I agree: If you are a very spiritually active person you should be sensitive and careful to obtain a relationship with an astrologer who is similarly active and who has deep understanding of (or at least respect for) your personal spiritual path. If you can not find such an astrologer, it’s probably better to hold off on astrology until you can find him or her.
Still, there will be those too vociferous and hardcore to accept what I just wrote. They will insist that all we need to do is “accept Jesus” or “chant Hare Krishna” or what-have-you. To them I say, “Fine please ‘accept Jesus’ to your heart’s content. Chant Hare Krishna with complete enthusiasm day and night. ‘Ki Jai!’ and ‘Amen Brother!’”
But that never works. Because these people are almost always also die-hard evangelists. They want others to accept their opinions and their ways of thinking, and (sorry to be rude) they just don’t seem to ever shut up about it.
You can’t change their minds. I’m not going to try. But I do want to talk to the people they are busy evangelizing too (I guess that makes me a bit of an “evangelist” too, huh?). What I want to say is: These fanatics are basically right. The only problem is that, despite being essentially right, they are completely unrealistic.
It is true that spirituality, and especially prema-bhakti (even in the stage of sadhana – practice) is transcendental to karma, can work miracles beyond destiny, and is sva-tantra, i.e. it requires no outside support or assistance.
If one can indeed “Just chant and be happy” and transcend all material desires and needs – then by all means, just chant and be happy!
Being realistic, though.I’m guestimating that there are less than 12 dozen people on the entire planet at this point in time who are REALLY at that level of spiritual development. The rest of us are half and half. We are half-trying to practice transcendental evolution at the same time that we are half-unable to let go of our material egos, and therefore unable to escape the karma resulting from current and past ego-centered actions and desires.
Telling a person who is really honest and sincere about their spirituality to “just accept Jesus” or “just rely on Krishna” is really a great disservice to their spiritual evolution. That is why all truly effective spiritual missionaries and preachers are not fanatical purists. They include ancillary support systems to help sincere practitioners deal with the “half” of themselves that’s not really ready to give up their karma and destiny. Social support groups, psychotherapy… these are some examples of such ancillary support systems that help honest, humble and practical spiritual practitioners advance toward their noble goals. In Indian or “Vedic” terms this support system goes by the name of varnashrama-dharma. Astrology in the west is one aspect of the psychotheraputic spiritual support system. In the east Astrology is one aspect of the Brahminical culture in Varnashrama dharma which supports practical and gradual spiritual advancement of human beings.
Not every spiritualist will need the exact same karmic support therapy. But basically all of us do need something. Some of us need and benefit from astrological guidance with our karma, some of us need other things. Why make a big deal out of it? Be honest about what you need, and get that support for yourself.