The planets, karma and the mind: How astrology works.

Author: Krishna Darshan - Alan Wiuker
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Jyotish in the light of vedanta philosophy
Vedic astrology or Jyotish is an important branch or Vedic knowledge. It is called “the eye of the Vedas” and it is a science of understanding time and karma.
To understand how astrology works, we need to understand first about the relationship between the material universe, the mind and karma as explained in vedanta philosophy and Vedic/yogic classical scriptures.
When we observe the sky, the planets and the stars, we normally perceive them as objects that are very far away, separated from us, external to us.
But according to the teaching of the Vedas and the ancient Yogis and Rishis, the truth is that there is no such a separation or duality between the external universe and the mind or internal universe.
Such an affirmation is not just born out of a mental or philosophical speculation, but it comes from a direct experience, a direct knowledge obtained by accessing a higher state of consciousness known as Samadhi or super-conscious state.
In that state of samprajnata samadhi the universe and its objects are perceived “as they really are” in their own intrinsic nature, instead of being deformed, veiled, confused or stained by the individual mind in the ordinary waking state of consciousness.
Those yogis and Vedic astrologers explain that in fact there is no such a separation between one’s mind and the objects that we perceive as external and that such a separation is only a projection of our own mind. It is the mind that creates the external forms, and places them within time and space coordinates.
It is the mind the one that creates the concept of time and space. These two do not exist independently from the mind; they are a function of the mind.
Mind functions with this time/space parameters. If you remove time and space, you cannot think, the mind cannot work. And if you stop the mind, if the mind remains totally quiet, without “vrittis”, time and space disappear, cease to exist.
This cannot be fully understood with the mind/intellect because that intellect itself can only work within time and space parameters and cannot understand or grasp something out of them.
This is why only in the state called Samadhi or perfect meditation you can know the true nature of things as they are and not as the mind believes them to be. And even the knowledge of the mind itself can only be understood in the Samadhi state.
Samadhi is a very special state of consciousness, different than the common 3 states of consciousness that everyone knows: waking, dreaming and deep sleep.
The samadhi state is known as the 4th state of consciousness, and it is really only known to the advanced yogis. The mind needs to be specially trained to get it.
In the samadhi state there is a perfect and sustained focus or concentration of the mind and the silencing of all mental agitations. (There are different kinds and levels of samadhi too, but we are not going to get into this topic for now.)
In a similar way as when you wake up from a dream, you understand that the objects that you perceived in the dream where nothing but creations or projections of the mind from past impressions, similarly it happens when you “wake up” from the so called Waking state into the higher state of samadhi. Then, the objects that were perceived as real in the waking state are now understood to be just creations of the mind, just like a dream.
For the yogis, both worlds, the one perceived in the waking state and the one perceived in the dream state are us unreal and dependent on the mind’s content and past impressions.
They are “superimpositions” of the mind.
What does this term and concept of “superimposition” (adyaroopa) very much used in Vedanta mean?
To understand it, analogies are used: You walk in the darkness and three is a rope in the floor that someone had left. But in the darkness and lack of sight clarity you see a snake instead or a rope. In fact, the truth is that there is only a rope and there is not any snake, but your mind created the snake, it confused the rope with a snake and it really believes that there is an actual snake there. In the ignorance of the rope, the mind believes in the existence of the snake, it is actually “real” for you as far as you don’t know it’s a rope, and that creates emotions, like fear. Emotions affect the flow of prana in the Nadis. This creates changes in the physical body, like changes in the blood pressure, heart beat, secretion of adrenaline, and others. But when someone brings a light and points it to the apparent snake, then you recognize that there was only a rope and no snake. Then at that time the fear and its symptoms disappear and there you recover the calmness.
The mind has “superimposed” a snake on the rope.
So when we look at the universe, we don’t see it as it really is, but we superimpose our unconscious mind on it.
So when we are looking at the universe, what we are really seeing is just like seeing our own unconscious mind reflected in a mirror. Everything that we experience in life, every event, the forms we see, people, objects, our own body, beauty or ugliness, good and bad, are just projections of our own mind, which has taken a more gross state and we now called the “material” word.
To understand more this process of the mind becoming or projecting the material world, please refer to my article “Creation, mind and body”.
The ordinary mind is always in an extroverted and agitated state, it is always out-going. Because of that, it is not capable of understanding that everything that is “outside” is just a projection of the unconscious level of the mind. The outside is really inside.
In fact, there is no existence of a real division between “exterior” and “interior” outside and inside. It is only the mind that creates that concept.
In the same way each object that we perceive and each experience we have in life is a reflection of a part of our psychic world. The various kind of psychological activities, various kind of desires and impressions in our mind caused by past experiences and actions, (which we are mostly unaware of), manifest now as the various life events that we experience, body we are born with, kind of people we meet, objects that we are surrounded by, the nature and environment that we live on, and the experience of pleasure or pain that we obtain from them.
The experiences we have can be classified as: pleasant, painful, mixed or neutral.
That depends of the type of thoughts and actions performed in the past that created those events being more positive or negative or, in other worlds, the positive or negative mental impressions and karmas performed over innumerable past lives.
Due to that, each individual has a subjective experience of the material world, each one perceiving or experiencing the world in a different and unique way because each one superimposes their own mental impressions upon the world.
Sometimes we may coincide momentarily and perceive and experience something together or collectively and sometimes we perceive and experience life in a complete different individual way, like people living in two completely different worlds.
Some people live in a state where they are predominately joyful; they feel lucky and thankful, while at the same time, someone is living life as a hell in this very earth. Some feel life as a blessing, others as a curse, and some as a mixture of the two. That depends of the karma that each one has sown in the past and the mental tendencies that we have built up over many lives.
The joys and sorrows of life, the pleasure or pain that we experience do not happen just by mere accident but are the visible manifestation of what’s already there in our unconscious mind impressions, we called them karmic seeds that are sprouting in the form of events. While living them, experiencing them, we become conscious of them, even though in the ordinary state of consciousness we do not understand the connection between the two things.
To illustrate this better I will use an analogy of a movie:
The world that we perceive/experience, is just like a movie that our own mind projects. Each person is living in a “movie”, a drama in which he or she is the main starring character. All kind of dramas happen in that movie, which make us experience all kind of emotions, moods, joy, sadness, sorrow, fear, attraction, repulsion and etcetera.
But to see the movie in the movie theatre, there is one important condition needed: The theatre hall has to have the lights off!. If someone happens to turn on all the lights of the hall in the middle of the movie, the movie would disappear and we would only see a white screen and a projector. The illusion and emotions created by the movie would disappear.
Sometimes the movie that we see is a horror movie, a monster or evil murderer is chasing the nice boy or girl and causes him great torture. Then the spectator experiences fear and terror, his blood pressure rises, muscles become tense, and many other physical reactions happen.
At other times the movie is a romantic one, other times a laughing one, other times it is a spiritual one. All of them generate different kind of emotions and reactions in the spectator’s mind and body.
In this analogy, the projector of the movie is our own unconscious mind in the form of Vasanas and the spectator of the movie is the conscious mind and ego.
The projector projects light consist of a combination of 3 colors, yellow, red and blue. They are combined with each other in different proportions, and that is what creates all the different shapes, sizes and forms that make the movie. This triple color light is the Maya, which consists of the 3 gunas, satva, rajas and tamas. From the combination of the 3 gunas in different proportions, all the objects of the creation are created or perceived.
The movie itself that we see with its own script and dramas is nothing but the projection of the impressions in our mind created by the past karmas. The movie being either of a more joyful or horror nature is according to the nature of our past karma being good or bad, “punya” or “papa”, virtuous or sinful.
Behind the projector there is a person sitting, the operator of the projector machine. He knows how to use the machine, and he knows which movie to play at the right movie theatre and at the right time. That operator is “ISHWARA” or GOD. He is the one that distributes the movies but it is us the ones that have already chosen which movie we wanted to watch and have bought the tickets for that time. Ishwara just gives us the fruit of what we have already chosen. In this way, each of us by our own free will, have taken different options and decisions on our past. We have done actions based on that. Those actions have cause either good or suffering to other beings. These have consequences that will be experienced.
Based on that, God arranges our karmas and puts them in a format to be experienced. He does so by making us to take birth at a time and place where the position of the planets matches the kind of karmas ripe for us to be experienced.
Ishwara combines different past karmas of the individual which are compatible with each other and arranges them in the form of a particular birth, longevity and experiences. (prarabda karma)
Other past karmas which are not compatible with that birth will have to be experienced in a future different birth, under different conditions.(this left past karma that is stll unexperienced in this life and is to be experienced in some future births is callad sanchita karma)
The upanishads declare that it is Ishwara the one who distributes the karmas to all living beings. Ishwara is the creator, preserver and destroyer of the macro-creation, the whole universe, which comprehends all the individual universes. The supreme intelligence and omniscience of Ishwara is such that he can arrange to coordinate the karmas of everyone to be experienced at the right time and moment when they cannot be in contradiction with each other.
He arranges for people who have similar karmas to be watching the same life “movie” at the same time. Or that people of very different karmas experience it in such a way that it complements each other.
For example, I’ll make a little story: Suppose the person “A” has stolen to person “B” in a past life. Now in this life, perhaps without knowing each other, person “C” comes and stills the money from person “A”. “A” feels very “unlucky” because he doesn’t remember that he has stolen in his past life. But as the police is chasing “C” , he drops the money in a bag on the street. Suddenly, person “D”, who happen to have given a lot of charity in his past life, is walking in the street and just finds a bag of money that was dropped by the thieve. He doesn’t know where it came from. Nobody claims that money bag. So he feels it was some good luck, so he keeps it and uses that money to help other people, creating more good karma, because he already has that tendency. And you can imagine how it continues…
Like that things happen, perhaps my story is very simplistic, karma is more complex than that, but nevertheless this story illustrates how karma works and how Ishwara has coordinated everyone’s karmas to be experienced in such a proper time and place so that they are always complementarily to each other so that everyone will always get what has sowed in the past.
So, in this way we collectively experience a “reality”, a material world that is made from the interaction of all our individual karmas which are ripe to be experienced.
That also explains why two or more people meet at a particular time and may be experiencing the same or similar situation at the same time, that’s because they have some common or complementary karma from the past.
Sometimes we see a whole nation suffering the miseries of a war or an epidemic disease or draught, or hunger, or enjoying the prosperity and power of their place, or celebrating together in a party, or being in a jail at the same time, nothing of this collective good or bad events happen by accident but it is all been ordained and arranged by Iswara’s supreme knowledge and immeasurable intelligence needed to manifest all this, based on each one’s karmas.
And Ishwara does all this, delivering the karma to the individuals, through the agency of the 9 Planets or Grahas. Then each individual is born when the Grahas are in such a placement in the sky that corresponds to the karmas created in the past that have to be experienced in this life.
So it is that when the Rishis meditated in depth they got the revelation that every heavenly body is a symbol of the various dimensions of the mind and life, or similar to what the psychologist Carl Young named as “Archetypes” of the unconscious mind.
And within those heavenly bodies, there are 9 which were called the “9 Grahas”, normally translated as 9 planets, but the word Graha means “that which grabs” or “to hold”. So their function is to hold us to the fruits of our past karma and create the corresponding experiences.
So, the 9 Grahas are the instruments by which Ishwara delivers the karmas to all living beings.
Those Grahas govern or direct the process of creation, evolution, transformation and the combination of the 5 elements onto the manifestation of our experiences of life. Each of the Grahas is in charge of a specific aspect of life and a particular element of nature and the creation process that we have analyzed in Creation mind and body .
All the 9 Grahas have a beneficial function and are instrumental in the maintenance of the cosmic Dharma and are favorable to our own evolution.
Even the so called “malefic” planets are in fact positive Divine instruments, manifestations of Ishwara to sustain Dharma and destroy Adharma, and show us the right path to follow.
Every time we do an unrighteous action, a wrong action or what we call a “Sin”, it creates a disturbance and an enemy relationship with a particular Graha, according to the kind of action. Then, those Grahas, instead of giving us their blessing and positive qualities, they become our enemies and punishers. And every time one does a dharmic or good action, which benefits the creation and the divine plan, the corresponding Grahas turn favorable and friendly towards us and bless us with their most positive qualities.
In this way, we can see at the time of birth, which planets are placed in position called “auspicious”, which will bring blessings to the person, and which are in “inauspicious” placements which show one has misused that energy in the past an created the bad karmas and now this kind of energy becomes unfriendly to us and a cause of sufferings.
So each individual has a particular, more or less friendly relationship with each of the Grahas and those will deliver to the person what he has sowed in the past.
By studying the movements of the Grahas we can even predict when those results will be delivered.
Now I will proceed to briefly mention just a few of the functions that are governed by each of the 9 Grahas. If you want to see more details, please refer to my article "Meaning of the planets” .

1. The Sun represents the Atman or Soul, the internal light, the pure consciousness, the witness of everything, the true Self. But as far as one is still in the state of Avidya or ignorance of one’s true nature, The Sun manifests as our ahankara or individual ego. It also rules over the health and vital energy, also the fire element, energy and activity. (Also Mars affects these areas). The Sun destroys mater to produce energy and light, (just as fire consumes fuel to transform it into energy and light). The sun represents power, authority, government, the king. It is out-going, active, hot, male, and it predominates during the day time and summer season and during the waning moon face or dark fortnight.

2. The Moon is the opposite pole to the Sun; it governs the mental/emotional functions in general and especially the “manas” in particular. It also rules over nutrition, water and liquids, the mother, the female, the receptive principle, it is nourishing, if transforms energy into substance (opposite to the Sun) It is cool and predominates during the night, the winter and the waxing moon fortnight.

3. Mars governs over the fire element, energy, transformation and action. It is the warrior’s energy, the capacity to fight against obstacles, oppositions or enemies and defend one’s own principles. If it is misused, it becomes and attracts violence, war, pain and destruction.

4. Mercury rules over the Buddhi or intellect, and over the capacity to communicate, speak, think, memorize process information and calculate. He rules over the earth element and the sense of smell.

5. Jupiter rules the ether element and the experiences through the sense of hearing. He also represents the Guru or teachers, priests, religion, spirituality, wisdom, dharma, expansion and good karma.

6. Venus governs over the water element and the sense of taste. He also rules over the experience of sensual pleasure, sexuality, relationships, arts, beauty, the female, the wife, and the urinary and reproductive organs.

7. Saturn governs over the air element and sense of touch. He signifies discipline and austherity, hard work and deep focus. It rules over the experience of pain and sorrow, as well as the strength and endurance to that.

8. Rahu represents our subconscious desires, fears and the shadowy hidden side of the mind and also the search for the unknown or secret. It represents that which is out of the norms, out of the established rules, the outcaste and the foreign.

9. Ketu represents our past memories and also the subconscious, but more related to our rejections and dissatisfaction. He rules over the search for the liberation from suffering and samsara and attainment of Moksha. He is one who doesn’t fit in the society but wants to get out of it, the renunciate or sadhu, the mendicant and the ascetic monk.

There are many more experiences and things ruled by these planets besides the few I mentioned here.

The importance of the Moon and its effect on the Nadis
Among these planets, in Jyotish, the Moon Is considered as the most important Graha. It is also very important to see its interaction with the Sun and the other planets.
The Vedic calendar or Panchanga is based on the moon’s placement in the sky and its relationship to the Sun.
By analyzing the placement and connections of the moon at the time of birth we can understand which is the structure of the mind the mental tendencies, or samskaras that one is born with. In order to asses that, the first things we have look is if the moon is waxing or waning and If it is close to the full moon or to the new moon. That indicates if the moon is reflecting more or less light.
The Sun represents the Atman. It is the source of light. That light is reflected in the mind and then manifested as concrete experiences in life.
During the new moon or Amavasya, the moon does not reflect any light from the sun, and the reflection is maximum during the full moon.
The changing and alternating cycle of the moon during the month makes the energies of the moon and Sun be predominating also in cycles. For example, during the day there is more sun energy and during the night the moon predominates.
During the waxing fortnight of the month the moon energy predominates and during the waning time it is the Sun.
During summer time the sun predominates, during the winter the moon predominates. Also if we divide the day in different portions or hours we will see that there are hours where the sun predominate and others the moon does.
In this way, the Sun-Moon alternation creates cycles, sub-cycles, sub-sub-cycles and so on.
These cycles have a strong influence over our breath and the flow of Prana in the Nadis. The two main Nadis are Ida and Pingala, which correspond to the right side of the body and right nostril (Pingala) and left side, left nostril (Ida).
The alternation between Ida and Pingala, right and left nostril and also inhalation-exhalation, is like the paddling of a bicycle, or the up-down movement inside an engine. This motion is what allows the vrittis, thoughts or mental agitations to happen, or you can also say that it is the deep seated samskaras and Vasanas that make the prana become agitated therefore allowing the actualizing of the Vasanas into present thought waves. In whatever direction you look at it, the movement of the prana and the movement of the mind always go together.

Master Swami Sivananda explained this very well:
“The lunar days influence the function of the Nadis (astral energy channels).
It should be born in mind that the Moon exercises a powerful influence over the human mind. In the Purusha Sukta you will find:-Chandrama Manaso Jatah- the Moon is born of the mind of the Virat Purusha or cosmic being.
In the cosmos, the Moon is controlled by the cosmic mind. The individual mind being a speck of the cosmic mind has therefore the connection with the Moon, and being only a speck it feels controlled by the Moon.
When the Moon waxes and wanes, its connection with the mind also fluctuates and thus, there arises a sympathetic reaction in the mind. Hence, the relationship between the flow of the breath and the lunar days.” Sri Swami Sivananda

To read more about the different effects of the lunar days, you can refer to my article: Tithi-Lunar day.

Besides the lunar cycle, we have to observe also in which part of the sky the moon is, as seen from the earth. So we can locate it in front of a Rashi (zodiac constellation or sign) or in a specific Nakshatra (star) within the constellation or at a specific placement in the sky in relations o the earth horizon. That will give us a lot of information about what influences the moon/mind has, what kind of “colors” it is stained with, all of which has an influence in the light that the moon/mind is reflecting.
An example: if I am looking at a white wall I see everything white. But if I wear some green colored eye glasses, then I will see everything as green. If I wear red glasses, the I will see everything red.
In this way the Moon, meaning, our mind, is the glasses through which we are looking at the world. The world is just light. Everything is made of light. But each individual mind perceives it differently, according to what kind of stains it has, what kind of colors are in the mind. If the mind is darkened or cloudy I will see everything as dark and highlight the more dark or negative aspects of live. If the mind is more clean and shiny, I will perceive more the positive things in a more optimistic way.
So, according to the placement of the moon in the sky, it will be stained by different combination of colors and shades, which make our individual outlook and experience of life.
Besides the Rashi (sign) and Nakshatra (star), there are the influence of the other planets. The other Grahas can be strongly influencing the moon/mind either by being very close to it (conjunction) of by being in a place where they are “looking” at it (Drishti) and this is what is translates as “planetary aspects”. (Different than western astrology aspects)
We will also look at where these other Grahas are located in reference to the Moon, for example, in the second house from it, the 5th house from it, etcetera, this will tell us a lot about their influence on the mind. (For example, Jupiter placed with the moon or in angle with it shows an optimistic mind, good intelligence and material prosperity.)
Besides their placement at the moment of birth (birth chart) we will also see that the Grahas keep moving in their cycles around the Sun. This is called the planet’s transits. There are times when those planets reach a point where they coincide with the placement of planets in our birth chart, or coincide with certain houses, which represent the different domains or dimensions of life experience.
At those times, the planets deliver their effects according to our karma, so these transits trigger the manifestation of events, experiences, in our life.
Besides those transits there are other calculations used in jyotish to predict when the different karmas will manifest and in which ways.
But remember again that it is not that the planets are influencing our mind, but the planets are really indicators of what is already in our mind, what we are born with, our tendencies and karmas. Their motion and cycles determine when we are going to experience their effects, when are the different scenes of the “movie” of our mind going to be displayed, in the form of actual events and experiences.
Coming back to our analogy of the movie and the projector:
If the projector is the mind and the drama of the movie is the manifestation of our karmas, the Grahas can be compared to the parts of which the projector is made of, the elements that allow the projector to display the movie, like the lamp, the film, the lens, the motor, etcetera.
And behind all that, if we switch the lights on we will see that the only permanent reality is the Screen. That screen is the Param-Atman, the Self, the witness of all, the immutable consciousness, upon which all the drama is projected and sustained by, but the screen is never affected by the movie and drama at all.
The light of the movie hall allows us to see the screen and recognize the real nature of the movie. The light is the Jnana or supreme knowledge of the Self.
Only in the darkness of the hall the movie takes an apparent reality, but disappears when the light is on.
If there is fire in the movie, the screen doesn’t get burned, neither the spectator.

The Bhagavad Gita explains that the Atman cannot be burnt; cut, destroyed of affected by anything that happens in the drama of the mind, neither in the physical manifestation of it.
Bhag. Gita, II-23, 24,25
“Weapons cut It not, fire burns It not, water wets It not, wind dries It not.
This Self cannot be cut, burnt, wetted nor dried up. It is eternal, all-pervading, stable, ancient and immovable.
This (Self) is said to be unmanifested, unthinkable and unchangeable. Therefore, knowing This to be such, thou shouldst not grieve."

Hari Om Tat Sat


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