I believe in astrology to certain a extent, i.e. only to the degree to which it is accurate today – which is to say, not much. I do believe there was a scientific basis for it, but that it is beyond our reach today, to the extent it can no longer be called a science.
Astrology was a science, understood well by yogis (who had higher levels of consciousness/awareness than mere mortals). The text book astrology today are an outcome of the findings of yogis. I don’t believe there exists any astrologer today who has the same level of awareness or astute power of observation, such as to be able to write a book on astrology from scratch.
We are not of the same caliber as the yogis who discovered the relation between the grahas (planetary bodies) and its effect on us. We “interpret”, while the rishis saw through direct perception. The problem with interpretation is that it gets tainted by the conditioning of the interpreter (the culture, upbringing, and biases of the astrologer). Only a few things openly “stand out”, but for the most part a lot of it is simply too subjective.
The real problem is not with astrology itself, but with our human limitations – our ability to interpret it. I believe it was a science, but it no longer is, nor worthy of being called a science today, because of the inability of today’s minds to peer into higher (quantum-cosmological) levels of consciousness (whether directly or assisted by instruments).
In what way are we connected to distant bodies? Planets/stars are massive bodies of matter in the fabric of space-time. Matter is condensed energy. Energy is condensed consciousness. The later though yet to be affirmed by modern science, has been affirmed by numerous independent and indigenous spiritual traditions in India and in other indigenous cultures.
According to ancient yogis, prakriti represents our material constituents, which not only encompasses earth, wind, fire, and water… but also space (consciousness). Astrological forces are part of the space element of our material being. Just as energy pervades all matter, consciousness pervades everything, it is the substratum, the fabric of the universe. Everything is connected.
It is important to note that astrology is only one among the many forces that our bodies are constantly bombarded with. One could add to the list a zillion human generated EM waves that pass through your body (ranging from TV, radio waves, power lines, microwaves, cell phones, wifi, bluetooth, etc.).
When astrology was a science it was used to identify ailments, and based on which remedies were prescribed to mitigate any untowardly effects of quantum-cosmological forces. The irony is that even in those days astrology was not viewed fatalistically, but as a supplementary on how to guide/change certain aspects of your life. But today, when astrology is absolutely inaccurate (and cannot be called a science), when caution is needed the most, people take it very fatalistically.
The very definition of fate implies that we can predict that a certain event will happen with certainty (100% probability). Even if there is 1% inaccuracy in prediction that leaves room for free will. Being human we cannot predict anything with 100% accuracy, and especially so in the case of astrology. And given that astrologers are for worse than 1% inaccuracy, there is significant room for error and hence for free will.
While there is some scientific basis as to the impact of distant bodies on us, we are so incapable of using astrology as a prediction tool that it has no merit – I believe it is fraud.
A good test is to give your birth date to an astrologer and have him predict the past with concrete statements – like how many kids do you have, when you got married, how many brothers and sisters you have, whether you have great artistic talents. Have someone else deliver these question for you; don’t go in person. Note: if the astrologer gets even 50% of the questions answered correctly, people tend to get all excited and think he is a genuine astrologer! He needs to get 80% or more correct. Most astrologers won’t even accept this sort of probing. If they are not open to critical examination, they cannot claim it as a science, even remotely.
If at all you do insist on consulting an astrologer my advise is go by the law of averages: consult not one, but several astrologers. However, even if all results match, then that does not necessarily prove anything either (for example, they may all be using the same wrong book).
Given the subjectivity of the interpretations, the degree of accuracy that can be achieved, and the other forces, it is best that astrology is taken as guidelines and not fatalistically.
The best mitigation is to engage in the very astrological forces that would otherwise control you. That is, the forces around you and that makes up you, the planets, and everything – i.e. “God” (the Source, Soul of the Universe, or whatever you wish call it). The more you establish a relation with the Source, the more instead of being subject to the force, you become part of the force itself (God). Your karma is transmuted/dissipated in the intensity or the fire pit of your devotion or yoga.
I don’t believe in “astrological remedies” like homams, yajna, archana, puja, or wearing astrological gems. Unless, you do it yourself. Having someone else do it is pointless (and there are tons of soothsayers making a living off that). You have to have some real solid mental stamina and establish deep connection to the fabric of the universe to create a change in your life flow.
Most Hindu spiritual literature I’ve read talks about transcending things like astrology, by putting your faith in the Source/God (i.e. a much higher Supreme force, as opposed to the lower forces). The idea of you being controlled by the stars arises only when there is the concept of duality (dvaita) – i.e. “you” and “that”. When that differentiation fades (advaita) then you are no longer subject to the stars.
The planetary forces and God don’t have to be mutually exclusive. One can, with enough conviction, identify, a graha in its totality with God. For example some people identify the planet Saturn (Shani – the Ruler of Karma) as God in its own entirety (or part of Siva, Vishnu, or Shakti with all His/Her usual attributes).
Do distant bodies (planets, stars, etc.) effect us? They do. What was dismissed as superstition, modern science now confirms as fact. Let’s just take the effect of our closest heavenly body – the Moon.
- Human physiology is affected on full moon days. Not surprising – if the ocean level can rise a couple of inches based on full moon or new moon (high tide and low tide), it is natural that the same effect is experienced by the body which is 70% water.
- During full moon days serotonin levels are higher in the body (it has been found that positive ion concentration in air is higher on full moon days, which in turn triggers serotonin level).
- Emotions/passions are higher on full moon days (it has been found that serotonin has a direct effect on emotion).
- According to Ayurveda menstruation cycles are influenced by lunar cycles.
- Statistics shows that crime goes up on full moon days (article).
Let’s take the many other forces that have an effect on us. One such is the electromagnetic radiation from computer monitors (before emissions safety regulations), microwave ovens, and high voltage power lines. In fact medical findings advice pregnant mothers to limit their exposure to these. Why?
When the egg is developing, thousands of delicate processes are taking place at a lightning fast pace (with in fact with billions of electrons and energies exchanged like sparks of lightening). Just as light from every star we see reaches us, so does the manifold of forces from them. Physics tells as that weak forces (such as gravitational fields) have longer range (in terms of millions or billions of kilometers). So is it a surprise that these gravitational (and other waves) can impact and can also shape the zillions of forces in the developing fetus? See also Matter, Energy, and Consciousness.
The 9 grahas and the 27 nakshatras, though they are significant forces, are not the only forces that affect us. That is, why limit it to only astrology? There are others that need to be taken into account, for example:
- Vaastu (the science of energy flow in and around structures) of where you live.
Vaastu in turn has its limitations for it doesn’t take into for example power lines running through your walls that can dramatically effect the vaastu fields. Vaastu science originated thousands of years ago – when there was no electricity. Not to mention, many vaastu “experts” don’t take into account the geographical location of your land – vaastu in the southern hemisphere is different from that in the northern hemisphere. Not to mention the unit of measure – vaastu experts use “feet” as the unit of measure. But whose feet are we talking here? That unit of measure of introduces by the British. In ancient days, the “unit of measure” itself was actually calculated by a vaastu expert, based on the astrology of the person, the location, and the purpose.
- This may include the geophysical and meteorological properties of the Earth. There is no reason for astrology to mutually exclude other sciences – like geophysics or meteorology. When a meteorologist predicts violent hurricanes and earthquakes based on solar flare activity on the Sun, then he is also being an astrologer. FYI, solar flares cause powerful waves of ions from the Sun which disturb the Earth’s ionosphere, which in term disturbs the Earth’s magnetic field, which in turn causes disturbances in climatic currents that flow in the atmosphere and ocean, throwing them out of balance.
Astrology cannot explain why hundreds may lose their lives in a natural calamity – even though they may not all have been destined to die at that time and place according to their birth chart. But if one were to take into account seismology or meteorology as part of “astrology”, one might very well have predicted the natural calamity.
Reminds me of the funny sci-fi book, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, where these funny aliens from another planet wanted to blow up the Earth because of the amount of negative influence caused to those born (on their planet) under the influence of the Earth in their birth chart :-).
- The astrology of your kids and relatives and friends. For example if a father has a short life span and the horoscope of both his kids indicate the kid’s father will have a long life, then his life will be increased. But how many people take into account the horoscope of their spouse or sons and daughters?
- The timing. It’s all about the timing. Just like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and just like divining using an oracle like the I Ching, it’s all about the time and place, that you decide to ask that question. The position of the stars, the orientation of yourself, the pattern of your breath, etc. As you breath, so does the cosmic breath of the Universe. Everything is interconnected at the quantum level, and everything is One at the conscious level.
- And the last but not least other factor is: God. Depending upon how much you engage yourself with the Source, you change your destiny that much so.