I’m not a fan of fatalistic thinking. I prefer free will. That may come as a surprise considering that I’m an astrologer and astrology is supposed to predict our fate. But let me explain. If I tell you that you’ll never have a happy married life, or that you’ll get fired from your job in July, how will that help you? You’ll most likely give up trying to improve these problem areas of your life. Why bother? Since your fate is carved in stone, simply sit back and try to enjoy the miserable ride!
I believe that astrology should have the opposite effect on us. It should help us engage our will, not paralyse it. To quote Sri Yukteswar, guru of Paramahansa Yogananda, “The message boldly blazoned across the heavens at the moment of birth is not meant to emphasise fate—the result of past good and evil—but to arouse man’s will to escape from his universal thralldom. What he has done he can undo. None other than himself was the instigator of the causes of whatever effects are now prevalent in his life. He can overcome any limitation, because he created it by his own actions in the first place and because he possesses spiritual resources that are not subject to planetary pressure.”
Prediction is not immutable
A prediction doesn’t presume fate, although that’s how people interpret it most of the time. A student asked me, “If humans really have ‘free will’ then the possibility of predictive astrology getting falsified becomes strong. I feel the concept of ‘free will’ and the ‘doctrine of predestination’ does not go hand-in-hand. Will you share your opinion on this?”
A prediction doesn’t presume fate, although that’s how people interpret it most of the time
How I see it is that fate and free will are interwoven. A prediction is a likely forecast, like a weather forecast. It assumes a relative degree of probability. If you’re driving at 60mph and are six miles away from New York city, you can easily predict that you’ll be there in 10 minutes. However, you are free to take an exit and change your course at anytime, so the prediction may not hold true. That is free will. But if the last exit is only 100 yards away, then the car’s velocity may make navigating that final turn difficult, and often, impossible. That is fate. The speed of the car represents the karmic momentum and based on that you can gauge the likelihood of someone being able to choose a different path. It’s like in the blockbuster movie Titanic when the captain realised that there was no way that the ship could be navigated around the iceberg. The momentum was too much to overcome. There was nothing left to do to change their fate, except pray for a miracle.
Most astrologers, in my opinion, jump the gun and make negative fatalistic predictions far too readily, often inciting great fear and scaring people into buying expensive astrological remedies. Giving a prediction in the context of free will with a relative degree of likelihood is a more balanced approach. For instance, last year I gave a reading to a couple who were expecting their first child and were hoping to hear that all would be okay with the birth of this baby. I predicted the likely date range of delivery, and also said that there was a possibility that the child would be born via C-section surgery. They, of course, wanted to avoid the surgery, so I encouraged them to take certain dietary precautions and herbal remedies, etc. After they gave birth they sent me this email:
“You are so amazing! You told me and my wife, that the baby will be born between April 5th and 25th via possible C-section surgery. And here she is on the 7th of April !! And she had to get a surgery after 2 days of pain. How do you do that?!”
Most astrologer, jump the gun and make negative fatalistic predictions far too readily
Of course, it’s nice to be told that the prediction was accurate. But more importantly, over the six months before the child’s birth, the mother benefited by making concerted efforts to optimise her health with the intention to avoid the surgery. Had I made a fatalistic prediction that she would have a surgery, she would’ve probably resigned to the fact and wouldn’t have taken the extra effort. The prediction of the delivery date also worked to the couple’s advantage because it helped ease their worries about a successful first birth.
Astrology is meant to empower
The bottom line is that astrology should be helpful. It should empower not disempower. I believe that the ancient sages who brought forth this great science intended this. “There is no better boat than a horoscope to help a man cross over the troubled sea of life,” wrote the sage Varahamihira nearly 1500 years ago.
Astrology is a tool, a map for navigating through time, similar to the physical map we use to navigate through space when we’re lost. As such, it should help us engage, rather than disengage, our will in the battles we face. It’s like Captain Picard in Star Trek commanding the crew to “Engage!” and put the ship into warp speed [high gear], or Krishna admonishing Arjuna in the Gita to fight the battle of Kurukshetra. Our growth lies not in the end result but in traversing the journey. Being engaged ensures that we don’t miss the opportunity to grow, no matter what the final outcome.
The great psychologist Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” In other words, history repeats itself—even personal history. It’s by becoming conscious of our karmic patterns, which we are unconscious of, that we learn to make better, empowered choices and navigate our karma intelligently. When predictions are made in the context of free will, astrology becomes a guide that helps us reflect and apply the wisdom to make the desired changes.
A version of this article was first published in the June 2016 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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