The six most important things I have learned so far about astrology:
- You can’t “think outside the box” without knowing what the box is.
- Experience and observation is overrated and under documented.
- Everything you ever need to know, you learn in kindergarten.
- Intuition is not mystical.
- It’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.
- Don’t be “right,” be helpful.
Thinking Outside the Box
If you really want to think outside of a box, first of all you must thoroughly know the dimensions and location of that box! Otherwise, you don’t really know if you are in or out of it. You’re not thinking outside the box, you are “all over the place.”
Are we enamored to learn “out of the box” stuff about Lilith, Neptune, Galactic Centers and what-have-you, without using or perhaps even understanding the “in the box” stuff like extra-normal planets (upagraha)? I’m not suggesting that we restrict ourselves to thinking “inside the box.” Fundamentalism is a zombie, I say. But the most important thing I have learned about astrology is that the only way to truly get out of the box is to deeply, intimately, patiently and thoroughly comprehend it.
Don’t be eager for new principles. Be eager for new understandings.
Overrated, Under Documented
Yes, we must apply our intellect to astrology via practical observations and experiences, but don’t lose perspective on the proper place of this principle. Even if you have tons of experience – hundreds or thousands of happy clients – put that into perspective. Compare it to the hundreds and perhaps thousands of years of accumulated experience recorded in jyotiṣa śāstra (the scriptures of astrology) by persons far more divinely rooted than any of us. Be real: If your observational experience arrives at a conclusion which contradicts the ācāryas of our ancient science, where is the first and most likely place the error lies: in your observation or in the ācārya’s?
Let’s also be honest as to the quality of our observation. If we are going to go out on a limb and depart from the traditional descending process of acquiring knowledge through submissive inquiry from guru-paramparā, if instead we will embrace the ascending process of gaining knowledge through empirical observation and research, let us not masquerade in white lab-coats without truly becoming scientists. Scientific method demands hundreds and thousands of carefully chosen test subjects, duplication of observations by peers, and full disclosure of the methodology, variables and constants involved. Only then does observation warrant a new hypothesis being validated as a working theory. For sure, you have the right to observe and feel that “Neptune really affects” lots of people (your mom, uncle, babysitter, girlfriend and sister) but is this really a scientific observation worthy of adjusting, amending or redefining our ancient systems?
Be humble. Strive to correct yourself, not your teacher.
Everything I need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
A kindergarten genius is preferable to a post-doctorate fool. Don’t get high, get deep.
Astrology is simple. There are a few dozen core symbolic images to become intimate with, each of which can be clearly encapsulated in a few simple symbolic words. These simple elements interact with one another to form sophisticated karmic structures. The outcome is fantastically complex, but the components are not.
Astrology seems hopelessly complicated when we don’t deeply understand its fundamental components clearly and simply. I have never become a better astrologer by trying to adapt some new complex calculation or technique or system. Every time I have improved as an astrologer it has been a result of trying to more clearly and simply understand fundamental components like the 9 planets, 12 houses, and 12 signs.
“I know the basics.” Erase that phrase from your mouth. Never say it. Never think it. Strive for absolute simplicity. In simplicity dwells harmony, symmetry, perfection, and beauty. It is the birthplace of intuition.
Intuition is not Mystical
Intuition is the ability to make connections between things that have no obvious connection.
Astrology requires intuition. You can’t be a descent astrologer without it. The good news is that you can learn intuition and constantly improve it. We don’t so much improve our intuition by sitting pretzel-legged on a Himalayan glacier as we do by becoming the best kindergarten student in the history of the school.
The more deeply I understand the planets and houses, for example, the more succinctly my mind can amalgamate the information about them into compact, easy to handle images and phrases. These compact, meaning-rich symbols are the very atoms which combine in the alchemy of intuition. They are full of connectors to other astrological symbols. Thus by becoming intimate with them I learn to make rapid, deep connections between patterns and situations in a horoscope – connections which become semi-subconscious and rapid and appear to an onlooker as mystical intuition.
A kindergarten genius is intuitive. Strive for that.
It’s Not What you Say, It’s What They Hear
Once you actually understand something about a person’s fate… now the huge challenge is to give that understanding to the person. This is at least as difficult as understanding the chart in the first place. It is not enough to know the truth, we must speak it. And it is not enough to speak the truth, the truth must be understood by whom we speak it too!
Therefore communication skill is as important as astrological acumen. To communicate effectively we must put ourselves in the querent’s shoes and ask, “would what I am saying make sense to me if I were them? How might I misunderstand it?” Edit yourself accordingly.
I have found that I can usually decipher a dozen or more important things about someone’s karma by looking at their birth charts for a few minutes. But it takes one, two, even three hours to explain all of what I see in an effective way. I have found that I give better readings by spending less time analyzing the charts, selecting fewer topics from it to discuss, and giving most of my time and energy to clearly and patiently explaining these few points and their ramifications and practical implications.
Concentrate on communication as much as you concentrate on astrology.
Don’t Try To Be Accurate
Obviously you should try to be accurate. It should not, however, be your prime motivation. Your prime motivation must be seva – service. We astrologers are not here to be looked up to or admired for being accurate, right, and “the best.” That is all māyā-sukhāya, illusionary gratification, and pratiṣṭha, false prestige. We are here on Earth to be servants of God and of humanity. Do not ask to be called a “pundit” (expert), call yourself “dāsa” (servant). Water never flows up a mountain! Similarly divine knowledge never flows to someone who thinks himself high and mighty, big, knowledgeable, expert and important. Be a humble kindergarten student of the astrological masters, and be the humble servant of anyone who comes to you for a reading.
Scriptures reprimand us not to be motivated for donations. Do not practice astrology to collect donations towards your pride and ego! Your first motivation must be to serve in whatever manner you can. Help people! Assist them! Serve them! In pursuit of this only, desire to be accurate.