by Sandra Radja
Is our future predetermined or do we have free will? Why do so many people need to know answers to their future and do those answers help us or cause more confusion? Is the issue the inability to digest unwelcome news, be in the present moment or can a bigger picture perspective provide a guiding light in our Dharma on earth?
I once had an astrologer tell me that I would come to a cross road from which I would need to choose between the higher road and lower road. This plagued me for years, always wondering on the nature of what was higher and what was lower - a riddle to befuddle me. As you know things may not always be what they seem, what's good, what's bad, and so imagine being given an idea that would cloud every decision I had to make, creating a sliding doors moment to moment .
I went through motions of intrigue and sheer anger at the power of suggestion, depending on my state of mind that day. In all, I wonder whether the koan was just that, a koan to pull me out of my over active imagination, to not figure this one out, to surrender to the day.
But it has left me with a greater wonder about the whole in general- who doesn't want to know their purpose here. Read the Bhagavad Gita even once and it plants a seed of wondering, plus the magic of symbolism and archetypes and such. In all, I'm a story teller and there is no greater story to yourself than of yourself.
So I asked some colleagues on their experiences.
1. How were you feeling when you chose to get a reading?
"At the time I felt generally out-of-sorts with the world: I didn't know what my work/purpose/dharma was, I didn't know what my community was, I didn't know who my people were, and I didn't know where "home" was (or even if there was a place that I could feel at home). "
"I was in a seeking mode. I was feeling the need to have some divine directives."
"Like I needed information. Was getting ready to go into Rahu and wanted to set up positive things to do before it happened."
"I was ready for my first reading- ready, open and excited for some new view of my world. I was going through a divorce at the time."
2. Did you have specific questions you wanted answers for?
"To give you some back ground, during the 1st year of studying Ayurveda, there were numerous requests from my work friends/bosses to come back, and I was very much tempted thus I wanted to know if I was on the right track studying Ayurveda. :)"
"During my first reading (2008) I was really looking for any real soul guidance. Specifically what to do next to (and to) receive (relieve) pain and bring in more light into my world. During the last reading I had (2016) I was looking for confirmation on where I should physically live and spend my time. I was debating on whether I should move to LA or Stay in OR and look at buying a house."
"I did not have any specific questions going into the reading, I knew very little about Vedic Astrology, so I did some research prior to the call to maximize our time together. I didn’t want to use our time just setting the stage so to speak, but with the little I studied and the approach the practitioner provided, I received not only concise description of Jyotish as an Upaveda but also, the lay of the chart, and further enlightenment on how different planetary influences come together to impact me personally. If I were to have a 2nd read I would be more comfortable and able to inquire more clearly about things that I wanted to explore."
3. During the reading, did you feel empowered or confused?
"During the readings I felt empowered. To me knowledge is power and either I was given information that helped explain a situation or a way of being and helped me feel I was going in the right direction or shift a bit. It also helped me to know I was on the right track, to be patient and to focus on my desires/talents, which helped me to create a life I was striving and working towards."
"I sometimes feel a little nervous when I'm getting a reading -- much like waiting to receive the results of a test. I can feel a little naked, too. Receiving a jyotish reading is a vulnerable thing. You are wide open and looking for answers to -- or input on -- highly personal matters. I think it takes a lot of consciousness and responsibility to be a jyotishi. I've always felt respected, honored, and taken seriously in my readings, regardless of the questions I have asked. If I was ever confused, asking a clarifying question always helped. We have to remember that jyotish was developed 5,000+ years ago in a different age and from a different culture. The language of jyotish can be off-putting or confusing in the beginning, but if we stick with an understanding of the principles behind the language, the light comes on. "
"Both, and here’s why: Empowered - knowing that I had no choices except to study an ancient modality at this junction in my life. Confused - I didn’t understand all the Jyotish/Sanskrit terms let alone the name of the planets and etc."
"I would say both as it was a bit of a roller coaster. Some of the insights were general enough that I felt I could apply them to many things. This seemed useful, like a tool I have added to my tool shed. Other pieces were too defining causing me pause. I wondered if the more defining pieces caused me to want to play the blame game. Blame it on the planets instead and accepting something as tathaastu - so be it - it is what it is."
"I felt more empowered. Got good information on Rahu and how he is seated in my chart, and Upaya's for the cycle. Also my Joytishi brought up things to be aware of within my family, like potential problems in communication and choices that might be made. Those things did arise (resentments regarding family property, different ideas of how it should be used) and they were tough times! I felt like I had a head start in how I could/would react. Though it wasn't always comfortable and I did have strong and angry feelings and words at times, the awareness helped me navigate it and no lasting damage occurred."
"I felt mostly empowered, but confused about my rising sign being a capricorn as the main theme of my chart. I always related to my western sun sign as cancer and they were so different. For me it took some time to understand my defining myself as a cancer was simply a matter of conditioning, and seeing both energies in myself now feels aligned."
"I have been given specific upayas to do to remedy my chart. From chanting specific mantra, to bowing to brown cows, to offering coconuts to a moving body of water. I still do these practices after years. That is very practical and empowering as it feels we can shift our karma and heavy energies."
4. Do you feel one reading is enough? Have you had the experience of follow ups?
"I have had follow ups as it seemed necessary to expand upon the interpretation. One could be enough but as usual, it depends. If something continues to surface or you have felt a shift that may benefit from knowing more detail about your specific nakshatras, you need to have a follow up."
"I may follow up with this person (male) again but I am also considering finding someone else from the same linage. I'm curious about getting a feminine perspective."
"I love to have a reading anytime I feel ready. Usually its about 1.5 years. Or when I feel called to work with a new astrologer."
"I don’t think that one reading was enough. However, it was enough to get started, and it stood alone on its own. In fact, the information was so on target, as far as characterizing many aspects of myself, I had to let it just sit on the shelf for a while rather than dig into it further. Your inquiry has led me to re-listen and consider more in detail the layout of my natal chart and begin to consider a follow up reading."
5. How did you choose the practitioner?
"My first experience came through a gift from a co-worker. Her brother in Mumbai wrote Jyotish software and offered friends and family consultations. My next reading I surveyed the community to hear about the different communication styles. It was important for me to find someone that stayed positive."
"A flyer at the Chopra Center."
"All my choices have been made by referral. I ask around or someone will tell me about what they've experienced and I'm interested in receiving insight from whom they've seen."
6. Any other advice?
"A good reader is important! Experience is also good but isn't as important as someone who understands they have a very big responsibility to you to help you understand yourself/situation without programming you or giving you advise/insight that could be detrimental. They must come from a good place in their heart and know they must do good by you."
"Jyotish is a wonderful modality for understanding psychology -- ie: a person's primary perception of the world as well as what motivates someone. It also shows potentials for health challenges. I think the only caution I would make to someone regarding getting a jyotish reading would revolve around finding a jyotishi who seems to have similar interests to you and/or who speaks in a style that you can relate to. I know of another jyotishi who is quite well-learned and well-respected but who speaks in a very quick, fast manner that I find chaotic. He kind of jumps around in his explanations so that I find it difficult to follow him, and I feel confused and even drained of energy. He knows his material, but it seems to me that he has a difficulty with forming his thoughts into a coherent presentation. Or maybe I'm too linear. :-)"
"But in the end, you can change everything even the things that are charted out in your birth chart - that was what her message! A true yogi is aware of the planets transit he/she is in, and act and live life accordingly, if so, you don’t even need to know or have any chart reading done."
"There are many levels of Jyotish readers (practitioners), but most often, at least in my experience, the length of the practice doesn’t match up with qualities, so as you said it can be a crap shoot experience. I once went to a person who supposedly was “one of THE best”, and trained by De Fouw and Dr. Svoboda, but the reading I had was not that great. First of all, the reader completely lacked an understanding as to why I was there, and rather wanted to be treated as someone “important”, not as a messenger with compassion delivering a message from beyond with clarity. Another case, this person was fairly new in the business per se, but the person was full of information, compassion, and insight, and the reading went over the time limit, but we went on. That reader delivered the message with everything! There’s a saying “ When a Jyotish reader gives a reading, their work dissolves the Karma, not accumulates/add-on."
"I remember that although I knew this individual through online presence, how different it was to have a phone conversation, and I was uncertain how much I should interact in the reading process. Again, not wanting to take away from the time we had together, but clearly thinking it was important to interject or comment sometimes. I know I did, but the recording only recorded her voice, so 1 yr. later I have no idea what I asked or commented on! Thanks for taking part!"
"Well, my original astrologer looked at my chart and told me that my mother had had knee surgery (she had). And, strictly between you and me, he saw in my chart that I had chosen abortion and confirmed that it was the right thing for me to do. I was dumbfounded and though I knew I had made the right choice, it was incredible to have him tell me that it was appropriate and ok. No judgment, no right or wrong, just love and that it was ok. Confirmed that children weren't for me this lifetime. He was from a very deep Indian tradition so it surprised me and somehow took a burden from me. I loved him for talking about it with me and for his bigger awareness of lifetime after lifetime. He also confirmed that I had not done something terribly wrong that I would need to atone for or that it would come back to bite me next time around."
"What I have worried about is the mental process with this type of knowledge and insight. How we leverage this information or does it become noise to our thought process. How do we use this tool in a way that is truly supportive and not another crutch. It is fascinating with its mathematical precision yet so subjective to the delivery that we need to hold proper space for the value and contribution it can have. The day I found a new level of appreciation for this process of planetary guidance was when a man walked into Dr. Lad's city clinic in Pune. The Indian man walked past the exam table and sat down at the desk. He pulled his birth chart out and put it on the table. He had nothing to say. The Westerners went straight to the exam table and pin pointed their specific issues. This tiny narrow view of their imbalance being centered in this tiny spot. While the Indian man who has lived his life by this rumpled birth chart in his pocket had no defining things to share other than his chart. Tell me what the planets say about the big picture of my health. The expanded consciousness of all that contributes to our well being."
A magical real life story of how to incorporate Vedic astrology told to me by a colleague~
In 2005 by brother committed suicide. In 2007 my nephew was born. We were so in love with him, but he could never sleep and had colic. As he turned two he started to have night terrors. It was indeed terrifying to be with him during his terrors. He was in another realm and had no awareness of his family near him, inconsolable. He would see witches in the walls, and scream of having bees in his eyes. My heart would race. It was the most terrifying experience I've had. About that time is when I started studying Ayurveda and had my first Astrology reading. After a few readings I decided to have my nephews chart read. I learned that my nephews veil between this world and others' is very thin, and that all young beings veils are thin as they transition into this world. It turns out that my brother's soul was attaching to my nephew. Of course there was no malicious intent to harm or scare, but that my brother was "stuck in limbo" and wanted to be close to his family (he loved my sister and I very much).
I was advised to do a strict month long (I need to check my notes for exact number of days-I think it was 39 or 41) sadhana to support my brothers transition.
I made offerings to our ancestors (white sesame seeds), offerings to Saturn (black sesame seeds), engaged my brother in law to toss mustard seed in the fire place and chant the Gayathri mantra (Ravi shankar version since Vedic mantra was not his thing) visualized my deceased grandparents and animals holding his hands to support his moving forward and transitioning into a new life. I wrote him a firm and loving letter that I read to him at my altar every night. I placed rocks from the ganga around my room (I was living with my sister and family at the time across the hall from my nephews room) to create a protected space. I placed salt and tulsi in my nephews room to protect him. I chanted the Durga mantra with him and put a Durga yantra that I painted in his room (see photo). I took him to the lake on Saturdays to offer coconuts to Saturn and taught him a mantra to Saturn. The list goes on!
On the last day of the sadhana I took my sister, nephew and her family to Chinese food to celebrate (my little brother always celebrated special occasions with General Tso's chicken). Later that night I did my last practice (several mantras, praying to family, pictures of grandparents on the altar) blew out my white candle and said my last good bye to my brother. I burned the letter I was reading to him each night and felt complete and at peace. I knew my job was done. Just after I got into bed, my little dog went nuts and started barking (he never barks) and sniffing the parameters of the room. I checked outside my two story bedroom and didn't see any dogs walking around. Then I remembered my astrologer telling me that dogs can smell/sense spirits. It was my brother saying goodbye (I have truth bumps as I type!). My dog had then jumped up in the bed and was staring over my head. I said a final prayer and offered my love, burned an incense to clear the space and turned out the light. It was one of the most peaceful nights I've ever experienced.
The sadhana for my brother has been the most important work I've done in my life. Without my astrologers guidance, my family and I might have suffered for many more years or even lifetimes. I sense that I was able to serve seven generations behind and in front of me. I'm really forever grateful to my astrologer (she is also a teacher I've done many retreats with), she now feels like family.