Rishabhanatha sitting in two stages of meditation, cca. 1680. San Diego Museum of Arts via Sutra Journal

* Scroll to the bottom of this post for a video of me reading this post with some commentary.

Your astrological chart is just one facet of “you”. The chart is a map of your karmas in this lifetime.

Even though it seems like the information that can be gleaned from the birth chart is endless — information about your personality, information about your sister’s personality, information about your job, information about your spouse’s mom, etc…

The birth chart as I understand it today, after over a decade of study, seven years of practice, and a lifetime of philosophical questioning, is that the birth chart is a map of the karma of an individual in this lifetime. In every lifetime, different karmas are ripe to be experienced in that time. If someone has the karma to meet the King of France, they would have to be born during a time when that is likely to occur. If someone has the karma to meet any ole King and have a particular experience that helps their soul to move through and beyond that experience, then maybe it doesn’t matter the historical period in which they are born, or whether they meet a King at all. Maybe it’s sufficient that they meet the female Prime Minister of New Zealand, and that interaction is enough to catalyze the internal process it is supposed to, so that that person’s soul can have the experience they are slated to in this lifetime, and then potentially processing integrating and moving beyond the magnetic draw of that type of experience. Right? There has to be a magnetism there for the person to have the experience.

When I am reading a birth chart, it is with the firm belief that the ultimate truth of who we each are is immortal eternal beings. I believe we are one being, differentiated; individual embodiments of a singular Divinity. However, the simple fact is that most of us do not occupy this level of awareness. Most of us as are not the Yoganandas and Anandamayi Mas of the world. Most of us are very much tethered to our preferences and aversions in our routine lives. We want happiness, we want love, we want things to go our way, and we don’t want to suffer. If we really thought that person in Syria was basically like the index finger of our right hand, would we cut them off from our body? No.. our natural instinct is not to harm ourselves.

So most of the time we are not in this exalted state of oneness right? I have not reached that samadhi. But my soul is always in that samadhi! I, Ichrak, am just not aware of that. And that’s the point. The point is that while we get caught up in our stories and the polarities associated with experiencing our karmas on earth, we would help ourselves to reduce our suffering if we remember an eternal truth every now and again. If we remember that we can choose to move beyond our attachment and aversion du jour….. and take a larger perspective on our lives.

So if we look at the natal chart as representing you, and that’s it, we miss the bigger picture. It’s like looking at yourself as comprised only of a series of biological processes. The soul and spirit become absent from our understanding. And any way, the birth chart can’t tell us, for example, a person’s gender, or a person’s sexual preference, or how they are going to respond to the person who cuts them off on the road.

The chart COULD tell us the individual’s response tendency. Tendencies can be determined from the chart to a reasonable degree of accuracy. If for example someone has a lot of fire, or a fire Mars in a day chart square Jupiter with a fire element rising sign….. MAYBE they would have a tendency to respond impulsively or get swept up in the feeling of the moment.

But that same person could have worked to develop restraint and forbearance. That same person could be very spiritual! Yogananda had several planets in fire signs.

So we choose our attitude. We choose our response to life. And we choose what to make of our circumstances. And I believe at some point there is a certain freedom switch that is activated when we take ownership for that level of our human sovereignty and free will.

But in the sense that we have a choice to cultivate moment to moment awareness of our internal world in the context of our circumstances… At that point, we don’t need a birth chart. We don’t need to know the birth chart or what’s in it. That’s my belief. I think that moment to moment awareness and a commitment to a practice of awareness and maybe even a grounding in a belief system that extols our human sovereignty (but grounds us in humility at our smallness, or our dependence on others).. I think that is enough.

But in times when the mirror is obscured, or in times when there is a longing for a contextualization of experience and a map for moving through experience, a shortcut for moving through karma….. The birth chart helps.

Ultimately, you are your own best astrologer, your own best seer, your own best self-knower, your own best psychic, your own best counselor. Your inner compass trumps any outside voice.

You can change your karma

Awareness helps change our karma. Meditation helps change our karma. Doing good to other people and living beings helps change our karma. Prayer helps change our karma. Prayer for help helps change our karma. Other people praying for us helps change our karma.

I don’t know this definitively, but I had the great fortune to be able to ask my spiritual teacher this question. I asked her if we can change our karma. And she said yes. You can do any number of things to change your karma. And if you don’t do these things, other people can pray for you and their prayer can change your karma.

My intention is to use astrology to give you a name for the qualities of experience you are having.

By grouping otherwise disjointed experiences, understanding they are associated with a Sagittarius Sun conjunct Jupiter or this experience is characteristic of a Uranus transit, I can group disparate parts of life and provide a timeline of the experience, if it’s a transit, or an understanding of a natal configuration. Astrology provides these groupings and it provides a template for navigating them. Knowing this brings peace of mind.

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