Category Archives: Alternative Health & Yoga

Ayurvedic Astrology: The Body of Kal Parusha

This section focuses on how to understand our health thru an understanding of Vedic Astrology and Ayurveda. I am greatly indebted to the dedicated and pioneering works of Robert Svoboda, Vansant Lad & Dr. KS Charak in this regard. My teachers, Sanjay & David have also been a great help in understanding these basic concepts which are extremely useful in diagnostics. With this said, as far as I can tell, this is the first in-depth research that has been done (in the English language) to combine these two important traditional sciences (Ayurveda and Jyotisha) in this way. Since much of the remedial advice comes from Yoga and all of this follows in accord with Tantra, Indiaologists should find this page of great interest. I plan to continue adding and editing to this page and if you have anything to add or take away from this work I’m very open to sincere, informed & constructive criticism that will advance my own knowledge and help me to better serve my clients; all of those universal brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles who support my work.

Surya – Sun

Pitta, bilious, represents the heart, asthi dhatu, bones, teeth, nails, calcification, hair, right eye, blood circulation, provides the support for the body, protects the vital organs  Matures at 22. Represents mature people around 50 years old.

A strong well placed Sun gives forgiving, hard working & honest nature; strong bones, tall, strong teeth, nails, and hair; great endurance, strength, vitality, stamina. Their body will be rich in salts and minerals like iron, copper, zinc, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium & others.

Afflictions to the Sun primarily effects the bones, the blood circulation & mineral levels of the body, but these functions have far reaching effects on our body.

When the Sun is diminished by too much slow, wet, cold, heavy, dense kapha influence, affliction can cause bone spurs, bone fusions, scoliosis, hunchback lordosis and other spinal misalignment which will affect the way a person walks and moves. High levels of calcium can lead to deposits which affect the glands (Hypothyroidism) and soft tissues (Myofibrositis) contributing to tumors, blood clots, inflammation and high blood pressure. Extra teeth and excessive hair & nail growth are common as is a deep seated anger or fear and sensitivity to the cold.

When Sun is afflicted by excess heat or wind one may have a mineral deficiency causing weak brittle bones; receding hair line; hyper-irritability, poor blood clotting, tooth decay, receding gums; dry brittle nails. High metabolism is likely and severe affliction can lead to hyperthyroidism or hyperactivity of the parathyroid causing the break down of bone in order to release more calcium to the blood. Osteoporosis, osteoarthritis & rheumatoid arthritis are also common especially in latter years. They may have feelings of insecurity, loneliness, nervous for which they may try to compensate through over-activity or erratic activity and physical strain; they may suffer from the heat, dehydration leading to gallstones, kidney stones excess bile from liver heat. Their physical height may be short.

The Sun also relates with fevers, head aches, eye disease, burns, epilepsy, leprosy; injuries from fall, weapons, poisons; fear from quadrupeds, thieves, and serpents.

Chandra – Moon

Kapha, phlegmatic with an element of vata, wind when too close to the Sun. Rules over the rasa dhatu, the fluids of the body, especially the blood, lymphatics, white blood cells, lactation, breasts, the female reproductive system, chest, taste, emotional boundaries & digestion. Moon, along with Mars, controls the menstrual cycles. Matures at 24. Represents old person of 70.

A strong, well placed moon gives clear perception, strength, clarity, trust, stamina, great love, compassion & profound faith along with soft, beautiful, smooth skin; soft wavy hair & good complexion (colour pigment). A strong moon brings music and perfume to life.

Afflictions to the moon primarily affect the nourishment of the blood, fertility, the tides of the body & ones emotional comfort. This is where we look for psychiatric problems, emotional disturbance, tuberculosis, pleurisy, dropsy, dyspepsia, diarrhea, anemia, fevers associated with chills and rigours, fear from water and watery animals.

When moon is afflicted by too much slow, wet, overly nourishing kapha influence there can be congestion of the lymphs, veins, sinus, bronchial passages, water retention (edema), swelling, pallor, excess salivation. Heaviness of the heart, lethargy,  swollen or enlarged breasts.

When the moon is afflicted by too much hot, or cold, dry pitta and vatta influence there can be dehydration, skin problems (acne, hives, rashes) thirst, fatigue, dizziness, fever, shock, palpitations, anemia, blood poisoning, jaundice, slow and scanty menstruation, lack of taste (perverted taste), lack of clarity or perception, grief, sadness, anger, anxiety, hypersensitivity to sound, chronic fatigue syndrome, generalized body aches and pains, lack of faith.

Kuja – Mangal – Mars

Pitta, bilious, kakta dhatu, red blood cells, hemoglobin, bile, ones strength and the power of the body, courage, red bone marrow, inner lining of the uterus, the liver & the spleen. Matures at 28. Represents young children below school age.

A strong, well placed Mars gives a strong life force, healthy complexion, warm delicate skin, rosy cheeks, red lips, lustrous eyes, pink nails, pink hands and feet, and a strong immune system. They will be happy, wise, intelligent, bright, and will love to over come challenges. However, they may be sensitive and intolerant to heat, judgmental, critical, perfectionist.

Mars is a natural malefic that gives affliction as often as he receives it. Whatever Mars’ conjunction or aspect will bring some element of heat to that part of the body or area of life. Mars can cause acute illness and injury related to heat and inflammation, ulcers, fevers (especially eruptive ones), lacerations, cuts, surgery, aggression, fractures, hemorrhoids, diseases of the uterus, miscarriages, abortions, problems in the regulation of body temperature, herpes, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, appendicitis, epilepsy, most skin discolorations, blood clots, varicose veins, many auto-immune illnesses. Anger, hate, envy and most hot, sharp emotions.

Too much hot, wet pitta influence on Mars can cause bleeding tendencies, wounds, skin conditions (rashes, burns, eczema, itching, acne, nose bleeds, dermatitis), inflammations (infections, conjunctivitis, hemorrhoids, canker sores), hypertension, high blood pressure, stomach acid, jaundice, hepatitis, gall stones, dehydration, red warm hands & feet, red eyes, high blood pressure, aversion to meat, aversion to heat, poisoning enlarged liver or spleen. Considerable affliction can lead to auto-immune illness such as Lupus or HIV/AIDS.

Too much dry windy vata influence on Mars may cause dry, rough, cracked skin; pale lips, tongue, nails, bluish colour to skin, a craving for iron, hot spicy foods, sour citrus, meat, children may eat clay, anemia, breathless on exertion, loss of luster, lack of enthusiasm, weakness, cold hands and feet, emptiness of blood vessels.

Budh – Mercury

Tri-doshic, impressionable, majja dhatu, the whole nervous system, our capacity for learning, discrimination and reasoning, rules over the skin, the CNS, the ANS, the cranial nerves governing the senses  and the motor responses, tactile sensations (touch, pain, temperature, etc.) relates with the hypothalamus, the throat, nose, lungs, fore-brain, grey matter, cerebral cortex, communication, as well as eye gunk and some mucous related with elimination. Matures at 32. Represent youth.

When Mercury is strong, well aspected and prominent in the chart, the native is likely to have clear perception, right understanding, right comprehension. They will have attractive eyes, youthfulness, clever speech and will be capable of quick, articulate and effective response.

Mercury’s affliction results in misunderstandings, misconceptions, confusion, delusion, hallucinations, mental aberrations, nervous breakdown, mental instability, abusive language, speech defects, high strung temperament, vertigo, impotence, skin problems, some sensory defects especially those related with coordination or hallucinations, sudden falls, bad dreams.

When Mercury is disturbed by too much dry, windy vata influence perception will be shaky, there can be nervousness, anxiety, stress, insecurity, Attention Deficit Disorder, poor communication and understanding, nightmares, insomnia, tingling, numbness, paralysis, muscle twitching, anemia, cold hands and feet, sexual debility. they may lack muscular and hand eye coordination or have exaggerated reflexes. Under severe affliction, Parkinsons disease, Epilepsy, stroke or Schizophrenia could develop, as well as Osteoporosis, rheumatoid or Osteo-arthritis.

When Mercury is disturbed by too much hot pitta influence may create a feeling of heat in the body, hypertension, nerve conditions like sciatica, herpes, leading to chronic fatigue syndrome, Epstein Barr virus, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, cerebral hemorrhage, stroke. When Mercury is disturbed by too much think, heavy kapha influence the nervous system may be slow, slow reaction times, sluggishness, lack of awareness excess sleep. There can be tumors on the pineal or pituitary glands, or anywhere along the nervous system, fluid may accumulate in the brain.

Guru – Jupiter

Kapha temperament, meda dhatu, the fat of the body, generally offers a protective influence against injuries and disease, but can afflict thru growth and expansion causing congestion (typically) to the lymphatic system, circulatory system, liver, tumors and growths. Jupiter rules over the ears, hearing, gall bladder, spleen, part of the pancreas. Matures at 16. Represents young adults for 30ish.

A strong, well placed Jupiter gives ambition, responsibility, broad mindedness, energy, stamina, confidence, determination expansive love and compassion. They will have a balanced appetite, beautiful eyes, expansive voice  soft shiny hair and skin. They will be well nourished and they will tend to see the best in people and situations.

Afflictions to Jupiter typically relate with over nourishment or under nourishment; too much fat on the body (or in the wrong places of the body), or too little fat. By this point we can begin to see the different personalities that might be related to the various planetary arrangements.

Too much slow, wet, heavy kapha influence on Jupiter can cause obesity, lethargy, joint pain, breathless exertion, slow metabolism, profuse sweating, low libido, excess thirst, sweet taste in the mouth, cold clammy skin, hypertension, gallstones, high blood pressure, diabetes, spasms when passing the last drops of urine, fowl smell from armpits, fatty tumors on the organs or body, heart disease, high cholesterol, thick blood, arterial sclerosis, enlarged spleen, hypothyroidism, endorphins like serotonin are inhibited causing depression; Seasonal Affective Disorder , Steroid toxicity as the function of the liver and the thyroid are reduced, moon face, water retention, slow metabolism. Alcohol (Mars) leads to fatty liver (Jupiter).  Weak liver may also lead to low testosterone.

Too much hot, dry, light vata pitta affliction to Jupiter can cause dry skin, cracking aching joints, especially low back ache, stiff muscles, emaciation, protruding eyes, hair loss, hoarse, dry, foggy voice, insomnia, menstrual irregularities, constipation, craving for meat and cheese, emotional insecurity, fear, anxiety. Osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis), osteoporosis (bone loss), spontaneous fractures, lumbago, hyperthyroidism, low cholesterol, enlarged spleen. hyperthyroidism.

Shukra – Venus

Kapha and vata, cool, sweet & active, Venus rules over shukra dhatu, the reproductive fluids, the sex organs, urinary system, kidney, endocrine system (along with the moon), glands, the senses in general. the sense of aesthetic taste, artistic sensibility, throat, cheeks, sex drive, face, eye sight, tear glands, mid-gut, intestines, appendix, part of the pancreas. Matures at 25. Represents teenagers.

A strong, well placed Venus will give strong clear senses, a healthy appreciation for beauty and a balances sexual appetite.

Venus is typically the planet who brings harmony to a situation. When Venus is afflicted there is a lack of harmony in life and in our connection with the world of the senses where we connect inside with outside. If Venus is over stimulated, our senses will be over stimulated and we could become a slave to trying to satisfy our senses. On the other hand, if Venus is weak and bogged down, then our sensory connection with the world will reflect that and we can loose interest in life and in connecting with the external world. One extreme can be good if you’re a rock star; the other will work better for a sadhu.

When Venus is afflicted by excess they will have an increases sexual appetite and attraction tot he objects of the senses. there can be inflammation of the bladder, kidneys, urinary system, premature ejaculation, urinary cysts.

When Venus is afflicted by deficiency there can be growth of bacteria and infections due to a decreased discharge of urine and menses. They may have a low libido, fear of sex, pain during sex, lack of ovulation, impotence or infertility in men or sterility in women.

Sani – Saturn

Vata temperament with some kapha. Rules over mamsa dhatu, the muscles (skeletal, smooth, and cardiac), nerves, lymphatics, legs, feet, distal part of the colon and rectum, along with the bones it gives support to a person thru the appearance and personality. Matures at 36. Represents very old people over 100.

Someone with a well placed Saturn will have good muscular coordination, ambition, maturity, confidence, determination, responsibility, a meditative mind (love, compassion, total relaxation), no expectation that causes resistance to the reality of the experience; spontaneous action without motive for a particular result.

Saturn is probably most famous for giving affliction by contracting, blocking, holding, restricting, cooling & bringing stiffness and fear to whatever he touches thru aspect or conjunction. Saturn represents incurable or chronic disease, arthritis, rheumatism, emaciation, paralysis, deformities, insanity, glandular disease, elephantiasis, tumors, cancers, exhaustion, fatigue, depression, melancholy, constipation, injuries sustained by falling trees of thrown rocks (injuries from the air), muscle twitches, spasms, contractions, convulsions &  aches. Saturn is always involved in severe illnesses like  Bell’s Palsy, quadriplegia, paraplegia, multiple sclerosis.

Too much wet, slow, heavy kapha affliction on Saturn like poor diet, insufficient exercise, sleeping in the day, tonsillitis, enlarged bulky muscles, loss of proportion, muscle cysts, hernia, fibromaylgia, fibrocystic changes in the breasts, uterine fibroids, enlarged lips, cheeks, tongue.

Too much hot, dry, light influence on Saturn can cause one to work too hard, undertake too much physical activity, lack protein due to insufficient nourishment. This can result in muscle atrophy/wasting/rigidity, loss of muscle power, emaciation, fatigue, dislocation of joints, TMJ disorders, craving for meat, sunken cheeks, sunken eyes, many look like a walking skeleton, expression of grief and sadness, cold and hungry (but cannot adsorb the nutrients in food) profuse accumulation of ear wax, smegm. One may feel like they’re carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. Unresolved emotions accumulate to create tension, stress and stiffness fear, anxiety, grief, sadness, anger.

Rahu

Slowness of action, clumsiness, hiccup, insanity, unfounded fears, leprosy, debility, hemorrhoids, chronic boils or ulcers, incurable ailments, poisoning, snake bites, diseases of the feet. Gives phobias thru connection with the moon. Considered the same as Saturn. Matures at 48. Represents very old people over 100.

Ketu

Same as Rahu, but more uncertain cause, epidemics, eruptive forces, viral and infectious disease, parasites of intestines or blood, speech defects, diagnostic confusion, surgical intervention, same as Mars. Matures at 48. Represents very old people over 100.


Lantern festival
Lantern Festival – Chang Mai

The Houses

Aries/1st house

Fevers, headaches, whole body, brain, strokes, cerebral bleeding, injuries to the skull, head, difficulties at time of birth, eyes, back of head to base of skull.

Taurus/2nd house

Neck, throat, thyroid, obesity, face, mouth, jaw, teeth, childhood disease, like cough, cold, flu, mumps, measles, genetic illness, memory, larynx, cerebellum, vocal cords, faculties of speech, taste, tongue, sight, beauty, eating habits, hair, manner of speaking, the face one shows to the world, family values.

Gemini/3rd house

Cough, pulmonary problems, lungs, asthma, shoulders, arms, upper back, nervous disorders, mentality, muscular-skeletal coordination, agitation, movement and expression of the upper body, stress response, behaviours of the hands, mental illnesses related to mentality (argumentative, cranky, perfectionism, tantrums, stubbornness), the way one reaches out to the world.

Cancer/4th house

Chest problems, breast cancer, tumours, chest colds, rib cage, emotional comfort, boundary issues, front part of chest, elbows, watery pump action of heart, lungs, breasts, endocrine system, watery tides of the body, lactation, capacity for foundation education.

Leo/5th house

Vitality, heart, solar plexus, diaphragm, digestive juices, fertility, intelligence/intellect, menstrual problems, mid-back, small intestines, vitality produced by the heart, pitta of the blood.

Virgo/6th house

Digestion, absorption, gas, ulcers, allergies, hypoglycemia, diabetes, appendicitis, immune system weakness, bowel movements related to digestion, colon, large intestine, hands, they way we approach our health challenges.

Libra/7th house

Urinary problems, fertility issues for women, internal sex organs, venereal disease, sexual virility, lowest part of abdomen, lumbar, kidneys, pancreas, one on one relationships.

Scorpio/8th house

Hemorrhoids, bowel movement, blood disorders, impotence for men, external sex organs, urinary, sacrum, perineum, rectum, bladder, prostate, uterus, ovaries, sudden shocking events, deep healing.

Sagittarius/9th house

Arteries, obesity, hips, sacrum, paralysis below the waist, thighs, belief.

Capricorn/10th house

Weakness to bones, arthritis, knees, our standing in life.

Aquarius/11th house

Circulation, skin, nervous system, weakness to lower legs, calves, shins, joints, connective tissue.

Pisces/12th house

Feet, lymphatic disorders, hypoglycemia, diabetes, tumours, fungal infections, loss of vitality.


​What Causes illness or Injury in a chart?

Bread of life
Bread of Life in Varanasi.

Just as there often seems to be no end to the suffering in life, there are are numerous elements in the chart which cause affliction.

  • The Sun burns what he touches.

  • Mars bring heat and Inflammation to whatever he touches

  • Saturn brings coldness, stiffness, blockage and stagnation to whatever he touches.

  • Rahu excites what he touches.

  • Ketu numbs what he touches.

  • The 6th house and its owner brings illness that we must over come.
  • The 8th house and its owner brings illness that changes our life.
  • The 12th house and it’s owner brings a loss of vitality.
  • Poorly placed, weak & debilitated signs, houses & planets

Any part of the body signified sign, house, planet or nakshatra that is touched by any of these malefic signifiers will suffer. The degree of the suffering will depend on the number of malefic influences on that particular part of the body by checking the various signifiers for that part of the body as detailed below.

  • Tamasic combinations and planets will function thru the physical body in a spiritually dark way.

  • Rajasic will function thru the mind, emotions and intellect in a spiritually active way.

  • Sattwic will function thru the soul in a pure loving harmonious way acting as an instrument of the divine.


The Body of Kal-Parusha

IMG_0823
Keeping Warm at Agore Baba’s Dhuni. Varanasi, India.

(House Number also signifies the sign of that number)

1st house is the head

2nd house is his face and neck

3rd house is arms and shoulders

4th house is his chest

5th house his heart

6th house his stomach

 7th house is his groin

8th house is his anus

9th house is his thighs

10th house his knees

11th house his shins

12th house the soles of his feet

By Drekkana

(If the ascendant degree is between 0 – 10 degree, we follow first drekkana; if it’s 10 – 20 degrees, we follow the second drekkana; 20 -30 degrees we follow the third.)

1st house: Head, Neck, Pelvis

2nd house: Right eye, Right Shoulder, Right side of penis/anus

3rd house: Right ear, arm, testical

4th house: Right nostril, side of the body, thigh

5th house: Right temple, heart, knee

6th house: Right cheek, abdomen, calf

7th house: Chin, navel, feet

8th house: Cheek, abdomen, calf

9th house: Left temple, heart, knee

10th house Left Nostril, Side of the body, thigh

11th house: Left ear, arm, testical

12th house: Left eye, shoulder, penis/anus


2010-01-15 at 07-27-51
Narmada Pilgrims – Narmade-har!

The Body of Kal Parusha by Nakshatra

  1. Ashvini: Both knees & upper parts of feet
  2. Bharani: Head & bottom part of feet
  3. Krittika: Waist & top and back part of head
  4. Rohini: Both legs & the forehead
  5. Mrigashira: The two eyes & eyebrows
  6. Ardra: Hair & both eyes
  7. Punarvasu: Fingers & nose
  8. Pushya: Mouth & face (facial expression)
  9. Ashlesha: Nails, joints & ears
  10. Magha: Nose, lips & chin
  11. Poorva Phalguni: Private parts & right hand 
  12. Uttara Phalguni: Private parts, lips & left hand
  13. Hasta: The two hands & fingers
  14. Chitra: Forehead & neck
  15. Swati: Teeth, intestines & chest
  16. Vishakha: Both arms & breasts
  17. Anuradha: Heart, stomach, bowels & womb
  18. Jyeshta: Tongue, neck & right side of the body
  19. Moola: Both feet & the left side of the body
  20. Poorva Ashadha: Both thighs & the back
  21. Uttara Ashadha: Both thighs & the waist
  22. Shravana: Both ears & the sex organs
  23. Dhanista: Back & anus
  24. Shatabhishak: Chin & right thigh
  25. Poorva Bhadrapada: Both sides of the body, ankles & left thigh
  26. Uttara Bhadrapada: Both sides of the body, ankles & lower legs
  27. Revati: Both armpits, abdomen, groin & ankles

 

There are several ways to determine body parts thru the astrology chart. Of course no single method will be 100% accurate. These various methods allow us to check a body part in at four different ways (by sign, by house, by Dekkana & by Nakshatra). If the same part of the body is afflicted thru all four of these indicators, you can be sure that part of the body we suffer in some form. On the other hand, if all four signifiers of the same body part have benefic influence or beneficial yoga, you can be sure

Vedic Astrology: What is it? Who benefits? How to get a reading?

Who can benefit most from Vedic Astrology?

A wide variety of people us Vedic astrology for many reasons, but most of the people who come to me are looking to deepen their spiritual practice; or understand their place in society thru wealth, marriage, career; or perhaps they are concerned about their health, or their state of mind, or their family. 

Astrology shows how everything and everyone is connected so there are always things we can do to strengthen what is good in us and loosen our attachments what is dark and draining.

For remedial measures to work, we have to understand how and why they work, and they have to be something we are likely to follow. 

Like everything astrological, remedial measures have to be suited for this time and place.

What is Vedic Astrology?

Commonly known as Vedic Astrology because of it’s connection with Ayurveda, the science of life, Jyotish is the science of light. This science, as it’s practiced today, has it’s base in the Hora Shastra by Sage Parashara. The original book was written over one thousand years ago and my teacher still tells me to consult it before asking him questions.

Vedic astrology is unique from western astrology in several ways. The most obvious is that Parashara teaches us to use the sidereal chart which locates the true position of the planets in relation to the the time and place of ones birth. This means that compared to Topical chart used for western astrology, all of the planets will shift about 24 degrees (almost a whole 30 degree sign, x 12 gives us 360 degrees)). For example, in western astrology my Sun is in Sagittarius, but in the Vedic sidereal my Sun is in Scorpio. My Moon, however, is well advanced in Gemini in the western topical chart so it remains in Gemini in the sidereal chart, but at very low degrees. 

One of the other major differences is that the position of the sun is generally considered of lesser importance in Jyotisha than that of the Moon or the ascendant (rising sign). The ascendant changes sign every 2 hours, the moon every two days and the sun once per month, so it’s obvious where we will find the most individual and personalized reading. 

Jyotisha also has a system of planetary cycles called dashas that is missing from Western astrology which uses progression of planets to time predictions which is more cumbersome and does not offer the consistency of results offered by the dasha system.  The dashas allow for precise prediction and greater understanding of the cycles of this incarnation. We are connected to the planets as existing within ourselves and we are within them. All of the light which shines to illumine this world before us shines and is directed from within. We are that Shankara who is the source of the power of the wheel of energies. When we praise that Shankara, we praise the highest expression of our own selves by whose contraction and expansion this whole world comes into being and goes out again. 

The most important feature of Vedic astrology is how it works with Yoga, Ayurveda and Tantra to offer numerous remedial measures that can be personally tailored for anyone depending on their own will to gain the Supreme knowledge that nourishes, heals all wounds, allows us to form a union with ourselves, freeing us of all limitation.

How does Vedic Astrology differ from Western Astrology?

Vedic Astrology, known as Jyotisha, is the science of light which has been followed since ancient times in and around India where astrologers are still considered teachers, guides and counselors. The Vedic system of Astrology differs from the western system of Astrology by using the sidereal chart that accurately charts the locations of the planets which means that the planets in your charts will be shifted by about 24 degree. Considering each sign takes up 30 degrees, this means that the western topical astrology charts are out by almost an entire sign. This why many people find that their moons, for example, are in different signs in the two systems.

Vedic Astrology uses the rising sign chart, the Moon chart, the Sun chart and the Navamsha chart to uncover the mysteries of an individuals universe. Western astrology uses only the sun chart. From the Vedic perspective the sun is the soul of man, this makes it more difficult for us to understand than our mind, represented by the moon, and our physical existence, represented by our rising sign chart. It’s only a few who are blessed to not only recognize their own, but to be able to articulate it as well. Our mind and our body we can generally have a coherent conversation about, this is why Vedic astrology generally discusses only these more manifest karmas.

Vedic Astrology has a dasha system that allows for accurate prediction of events on a time line. The dashas are the periods of our life that are ruled by the different planets. The Vedic system uses 9 planets: the seven main ones (Sun , Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn), and Rahu and Ketu (the north and south nodes), dark spots in the sky that cause eclipses whenever they come over the sun or moon. These nine plants each rule over a span of years which combines to 120 years. Saturn, for example, rules over 19 years. Within Saturn’s 19 years, each planet again rules a period of time so that the time periods of all nine planets equals 19. So the 19 year dasha period of Saturn has nine sub-periods, each sub-period again has nine sub-periods. The dasha‘s are used to understand more specifically what karmas are arising at different periods of your life.

The predictive capability allowed by the dasha system is how Vedic astrology proves itself. When the dasha periods are combined with the transiting planets, astrological prediction can be amazingly accurate. But making such predictions does not necessarily serve the client or the astrologer. The more specific an astrologer tries to be in their prediction, the more likelihood there is of making an error and leading a client down a wrong path. Also, in most cases, one cannot be sure of an exact birth time or location coordinates which will always have a subtle effect on a chart and a life. But more importantly, not all karmas are so fixed as to be certainties.

Free will plays a huge role in how we are affected by karma. One of the main jobs of an astrologer is to help people use their free will most effectively by pointing out the benefics and malefics in their life and suggesting subtle remedies based on the desires and abilities of the client. The predictive capabilities of Vedic astrology should not be taken to suggest that we are completely ruled over by fate, but rather we could be if we don’t maintain some kind of vigilant awareness of our mind, body and spirit.

Vedic astrology can be an excellent tool for such personal awareness, especially when combined with the complimentary tools such as yoga, Ayurveda, and other spiritual practices.

If you have any questions about Vedic astrology please contact me at holliday.michael@gmail.com

Om Namah Shivaya

How does a reading work? 

There are generally five parts to a reading. First, I take the birth data you give me and caste the chart. Next, I look into your past to find details about your life and family so that we might gain confidence in the data, and the client can be assured that astrology is a working science. The third step goes thru a broad array of past and future and personal characteristics. Vedic astrology loves specific questions that it can answer clearly and directly so we address these in the fourth part of the reading, as well as philosophical questions that this science often provokes from people. The last part is the most important part where we discuss remedial measures. 

What kinds of remedies are available?

The astrology chart is like a doctors pathology report. For the client, much of the karmic script is just meaningless data; what’s important is the medicine. “What can I do?” This is what is most important: what can we do to help ourselves, to help others, and to help this world. Thru the remedies, astrology shows us the ways we can connect to that universal energy in order be more effective in the three worlds.

Vedic astrology is supported by all of the remedial measures of yoga, tantra & ayurveda. Classical remedies include gem stones, metals, colours, weekdays, mantras, offering service, charity or donation, or actively harmonizing with some part of nature, giving worship to specific deities. I can also offer individual advice for meditation and asana practice. Some generalized health, diet and lifestyle advise is also possible.

Reading
Mike Holliday at his desk in Varanasi, India.

Astrological Services

Initial Consultation: 1.5 – 2 hours ($50 – $300) 

  • Full chart assessment of the past, present and future karma

  • Evolution of consciousness

  • Major life themes

  • Remedial measures suited individuals in the modern world

  • Includes one Skype call (or detailed e-mail), one e-mail with basic information before the call and another follow up e-mail to address question afterwards.    

Follow-Up Consultations: 1 hour ($50 – $200) 

  • To answer specific questions 

  • To give an annual report

  • These can be completed by call or e-mail.

Chart Matching to assess suitability for marriage and advise on relationship challenges that the individuals are likely to face, both as individuals and as a couple. Traditionally this is used for partner selection, but it can also be a great relationship tool for couples to understand what brings then together and the lessons they are here to learn thru their relationships. I also give advice on marriage gem stone selection since diamond is not always the most supportive gem stone for marriage. (Average donation $250 for both charts.)

Payments can be made by e-mail interact transfers or PayPal.

For information about astrology readings, courses and information sessions please contact me at holliday.michael@gmail.com 

 

 

 

 

The Ground of Yoga: Why is yoga different from everything else we do?

What is the ground of Yoga? What is it that makes yoga unique and special setting it apart from all the other activities we perform on the course of the day or throughout our lives?

According to Patanjali, Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.

yoga cittavrtti nirodaha

Thru tradition we are advises to ground ourselves in our practice in a similar way.

Om shree ganesha namaha

Any kind of spiritual exercise begins with supplication to Ganesha, famous as the remover of obstacles, and our mind being the biggest obstacle to spiritual realization. The little rat (rodent) he uses as a vehicle is always chewing like the mind. You’ll also see his image or some symbol relating to him at the entrance ways of temples and some homes.

 

A fairly famous way of opening into a spiritual practice like yoga and meditation goes like this:

Om shree ganesha namaha

Om aparvitro pavitrova sharva vashtang

gato o piva yashmaret pundari

kaksham asavantra suchii

Om madhai namaha

Om keshai namaha

Om Rishikeshai namaha

Om pundari kakshan punatu x 3

Om apsarpantu te bhuta, ye bhuta bhuvi sanshitas

ye bhuta vignakartarste nashyantu

Shiva jnana

Om namaha shivaya

After supplicating Ganesha, it goes on to purify the body internally and externally thru supplication to Vishnu the great preserver and operator of the three gunas within the main trinity of gods at the level of Ishwara. After the purification rights (pundari kakshan punatu), we insist that ghosts, latent desires (apsar) and mental impressions of the past be banished from disturbing us from our practice. This will happen by reaching the level of Shiva knowledge (Shivajnana); universal consciousness. So from this we want to practice from a ground of Shiva consciousness.

As we continue our contemplation of the earth tattva, we have to remember that Shiva descended as far as earth and then stopped. He could have descended further, he can do as he likes, thus they say, he likes earth the best. Shiva descends to the most impure gross dense point of earth before making the ascension back thru the tattva.

In this regards, I think of all these people who ask about past lives and such things. If we consider the tattva of tantra, the individual soul exists below the maya tattva, so even our soul is subject to time and the rest, which allows for linear progression and thus past lives. Time, of course takes on a different dimension relative to the birth and death of that soul so when we think about past lives we need to consider that that soul too will make a complete cycle from purity to impurity to purity once again. Such a realization might be the Sankya ideal of kaivalaya for the duality is still there, but Tantra advises to press on beyond the knots, otherwise known as the universal womb, that separate us from from the supreme consciousness, which is the realization of the non-difference between the universal and the individual: moksha; liberation in this life. Patanjali’s yoga cittavrttinirodha is both the the definition of yoga and the means to stopping the fluctuations. We stop (nirodha) the fluctuations (vrtti) of the mind (chitta) by bringing them together in union (yoga). You could say that the project of yoga is to harmonize the mental fluctuations; the cittavrtti.

Going back to the original question of this article, what makes yoga unique. Yoga shares many similarities to creative projects like dance and the arts which also seek a kind of harmony between the artist and the mythical spirits which moves his hand to draw of feet to dance. But there is a subtle. Of course, one could make arguments for dancers at the highest levels reaching a kind of samadhi; but this says little stress, tension and competition that mark the a climb. The truth is that dance very typically has numerous undesirable side effects related to vata and pitta excess and diminished kapha. This is the exact opposite of what yoga is trying to do: cool, calm, lubricate and nourish the body and ultimately the universe. Harmony is something we seek on all levels, but only when we act for something far greater than ourselves or our limited sphere of perception to we strive for yogic perfection: balanced body, balanced mind, balanced spirit.

Sankya will take you to a firm notion of duality, while Vedanta will soften that sense of duality with the Brahman, but will maintain some sense of maya, while Buddhism is said to take you to the void, Tantra is said to carry us beyond the void to the very source of the arising, sustenance, falling away of every mental impression, experience, and the whole universe. I suppose you could say that dance will allow one to harmonize with some few others, Sankya will aid in harmonizing with most others, but only Tantra seeks harmony with the entire universe.

Yoga Therapy Client Relations: Homework

  1. What does it mean to create a safe container?

Every sort of therapy, regardless of the intensity requires the client to feel a sense of safety and security in the space and in the presence of the therapist. W

One of the main roles we play as yoga teachers and traditional therapists is just to see people for who they really are; which from my perspective is Shiva; lord of the universe. The truth being that everyone is filled with divine beauty. Darshan is the Hindu expression for divine vision: they go to the temple to both give darshan and to receive darshan; to see god and be seen by god.

Darshan involves seeing without judgment; acceptance without condition. People can feel this and they generally feel safe in such an atmosphere. This sort of attitude of acceptance also involves ensuring that our expectations are balanced so that the client may feel empowered to take control of their own lives and be successful on their own terms.

I think it’s equally important for students and clients to understand that they are the ones doing the work and that healing will arise from within. It certainly is not the role of the yoga instructor to take any credit for any changes (or healing) that takes place. People who praise us for our helping hand would be better to direct their praise to that Shankara who is lord of the wheel of energies. This is just our luck to be present and to be used as a instrument for healing.

  1. Telling a student what is best for them vs encouraging them to find out for themselves?

This issue has been raised many times in different ways throughout the workshops I have been attending at Ajna. On the one hand, the body is incredibly strong and can handle almost any posture that we enter into voluntarily, on the other hand, the body is an incredibly fragile thing that can be injured for almost no apparent reason.

Yoga relies on several forms of knowledge including scriptural (knowledge of the experts) and experiential (knowledge gained thru our own experience). As yoga teachers’ people come to us because we have prior experience and study of a practice they would like to incorporate into their lives. From this perspective, it’s our job to advise them based on our own experience or personal study of the scriptures (modern scientific research on yoga could be considered scriptural knowledge in the modern context since modern scientist often play the role of guru these days).

However, telling people what we have learned thru experience or scripture is only half of our job. We must also inform students that if they have any doubt about our teachings, they should discover it for themselves either thru their own personal experience contemplative meditation.

The examples from Patanjali emphasis surrender to that divine will which is always guiding our material being, but there is another side of yoga that emphasizes personal responsibility. If everything is arising from within then the truth is that we cannot blame any of our injuries on our yoga teacher; we have to take responsibility for that. (We cannot blame anything on anyone else for the events of our lives or the way we perceive them). We cannot expect to be healed by our yoga teacher, as this is also our own responsibility.

…. This will be continued in the answer to question #4: “owning” ones own practice.

  1. How does my awareness of privilege (or lack of privilege) affect my actions?

By all appearances I am a middle aged white male; top of the heap.

I’ve spent considerable time traveling places like India where my white skin quickly distinguishes me as a wealthy and privileged person of this world. Add this to a society where the “guest is god,” then I most certainly take a privileged position in Indian society. In Canada, this travel is seen as leisure, which also creates an appearance privilege (how many times have I heard: “You’re so lucky.”)

On the other hand, I’m hard of hearing, metis, forest loving traveler following some foreign beliefs. I can let my appearance get pretty rough, and of course isolation has it’s own effects. Other than being a white male, whatever privileges society offers are swept away in the way marginalized people get swept away in almost any society.

Perhaps I’m especially privileged that I can choose one appearance over the other. Knowing I can choose, I generally prefer to choose the role of marginalized. It’s part of the lesson for people to look beyond appearances. On the other hand, it can be very useful to play into these appearances, polish myself up and assert my privilege to get what I want from society.

The important thing is to recognize that the world of appearance does not change what we have inside, which is where our true strengths and weaksnesses lie. We cannot take it personally when someone gives way to our privilege, nor should we take it personally when someone takes advantage of theirs. It’s always give and take and it all arises from within.

  1. How to empower our students to “own” their practice?

I often tell my students that my role is only to teach them yoga so that they can go back home and make their own practice in the bedrooms and private spaces. I teach pretty close to the same routine every class and try to remind them (and myself) that it’s their class; I can adjust to what they want. I often tell them that listening to me is actually taking away from a much greater inward experience that they could have at home. I ask them about their own practice (yogic or otherwise) and encourage them to follow that and perhaps discover the yoga in it even if it doesn’t seem at all like a yogic activity. I try to inform clients on the various kinds of yoga that are not necessarily asana based and encourage them to connect with those things that bring them a clean and clear sense of joy. It’s also not uncommon for me to go to people’s homes and practice (or teach) yoga with them there. And of course always trying to direct their awareness inward where they can experience their power and realize their own personal responsibility.

  1. Strengths based practice: how does this intersect with how I’ve been taught to teach yoga?

This field is perhaps one of the main ways that yoga and other forms of traditional healing differ from healing in the west. The experience of most traditional healers that we are not really healers at all; but perhaps, at best, we are instruments of healing in the same way almost anything can act as such an instrument when the time for healing comes. The true healing, of course, comes from within the individual. I have often been taught that my job is just to do my job to the best of my ability and not worry about results. Not everyone will get the same results and certainly not everyone is looking for the same results; they will get from me whatever they have in them to get and I will get the same from them.

This is traditional ways: give up seeking results, give up your attractions and repulsions, forget your prejudices, be aware and see people deeply for who they really are which in yoga essentially means to see ourselves deeply for who we really are: we are that shiva nature, that consciousness permeating everything, that joy and freedom that underlies everything. Be aware of who you really are and then express that in the therapeutic model that resonates with you, master your own practice (whatever that is) and share it with others, it will resonate with some people and others will be repulsed by it. This is not personal.

Yoga talks about the different kinds of students, this relates also with healing: some will be healed miraculously from the slightest hint, some will need some explanation, some will need practice and explanation, some will need even more work for just the slightest understanding, others will never get anything from us; some might get a small token, others a fortune. These things are not for us to be concerned with; this is all karma. By some combination of their luck and our luck things will happen. However, we are still very much personally responsible, so, in the context of yoga therapy our job is twofold: 1. to keep up to date with the latest therapeutic models; and 2. to cultivate inner yogic awareness. Put another way, we must be aware of all the tattva (which is all this science and nature we are studying from this guruji who has so many impressive years of experience); know them by scripture (specialists) and know them by personal experience. These classes are modern form scripture, however life experience is always the highest knowledge.

We will heal to that tattva for which we have awareness. The more pervasive our awareness the deeper is our ability to heal… ourselves….. and then we see that we are not different from those who come in front of us.

Our job is not to heal, but to be ourselves to the greatest possible degree. If our dharma is too heal, then we have a particular responsibility to be the absolute best version of that healers self we can be. If we want to teach empowerment we have to realize it in ourselves. Prove that the method works on your self and then teach that method to others.

I would love to hear your comments.

Tantric and Astrological means to Self-Relaization

Part 7: How do we prevail?

Aath pinde, tat brahmade

[As the world is inside, so it is outside.]”

(Manduka Upanishad)

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Self knowledge, the equal of universal knowledge in most of India, is one of the most prized areas of knowledge. Various sciences and systems have been created just for this purpose. One of the oldest branches of knowledge in India is called Samkya. This is a dualist and materialistic branch of knowledge that sought to map out and categorize the various elements of existence that allow us to have this human experience. After some time, many of the philosophers and rishis began to understand that there was more to life than meets the eye. The material designations of Sankya are fine they said, but something was clearly missing since all this matter is inert, insentient and incapable of the complexity that we see in life. So, the rishis and philosopher looked deeper and eventually expanded the categories of tattvas to include several higher elements that connect us to a divine well-spring of power that infuses matter with sentience.

So, anyone wishing to follow the philosophical schools of India should have some cursory knowledge of the tattwas as outlined by Sankya as well as the more subtle tattwas as outlined in Tantra. In this section I wish to share some of the notes I have made regarding the tattwas. I cannot claim this as original work, but since it’s an area of study that I find myself continuously coming back to, I’ve come to believe that a basis in this knowledge is necessary for the more intellectually minded self seeker.

The Bhagavad Gita has said that there are four kinds of people who worship god: 1. the distressed, 2. seekers of knowledge, 3. seekers of wealth, 4. people of knowledge. In his summary of Chapter 7 of the Gita, Abhinavagupta wrote that, “Pure devotion is the wish fulfilling tree by means of which one may fulfill hopes proper to be desired by the sadhaka.” (p186) And elsewhere it has been said that knowledge is better than practice, meditation is better than knowledge, but renunciation of the fruits of action is better than meditation.

Spiritual inclination is grace! Spiritual effort is grace!

Part 8:

Tantric Upayas: Mean of Liberation

Whatever act I may have performed without knowing its good or bad consequences or knowing the proper order of its performances; whatever act I may have performed without concentration or with any other lapse of my intellect; all of that, O Shambhu, you who are compassionate, forgive me, your miserable and ignorant devotee. Through this strota I surrender myself to you and let me never again become the abode of misery for no good reason.” (Abhinavagupta p264)

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So with all of this in mind we can then then use these clues about our true nature to help lend us the faith and knowledge that we all need to begin or continue our spiritual practice. In tantra the means to self-recognition are said to be four-fold; these can be understood as both different stages of practice, as well as different means that can be used in different circumstances. The point of any Tantric sadhana is to efface the ego while cultivating a sense of universal love and oneness with those (and that which is) around you.

Ultimately we all have to accept that this comes only by grace, but a touch of that grace seem to already apply to those whose aim in life is spiritual. In any case these are the four means of liberation.

  1. Shambhav-upaaya: Philosophical and mental means of liberation. Iccha-shakti; method of will. Theory of reflection. A kind of direct perception or pure understanding that form is merely a reflection of the Supreme. There is no method here other than being established in your own will; seated in the self; seated in the heart or however you want to put it. Matrkachakra: this is the awareness of pure thought without constructs; in other words sound. Pratyahara: this is spontaneous absorption which comes only by grace. When one is established in the self what need to be done. Abhinavagupta described pratyahara as, “When, like a turtle which withdraws its limbs on all sides, the yogi withdraws his senses from the sense objects, then his wisdom becomes steady.” (Gita 2/58) We expect our saints to be living at this level of awareness. Accords with the dream sleep when the mind dwells in the throat.
  2. Shakt-upaaya: Contemplative concentration of void. (ex. Gap between two thoughts) Jnana-shakti. Uninterrupted awareness. Discovery of reality of void thru subtle means of conscious awareness. Practices that involve the mind and various higher levels of consciousness. Spiritual teachers are perhaps expected to be practising here. Accords with the dreamless sleeping state when the mind dwells in the heart.
  1. Anava-upaaya: Depends on breathing (uccaara), sense organs (karana), and mental concentration (dhyana). Concentrate on space between inhale and exhale. One pointed concentration with any sense organ (ex. Trataka). Dyana without form like mantra. Dyana with form like yantra. Devote yourself to God thru puja, japa, homa, study of the scriptures. All the practices that make use of the organs of sense and action. This of course is where most of us are trying to practice and learn. Accords with the waking state when your mind dwells in the navel.
  1. An-upaaya: No method. Only remain aware that nothing has to be done. Abide in one’s own self. Surrender your actions to God. This is the back up plan. This is perhaps the practice of the average person. Accords with the 4th state when the mind dwells in the head.

All of the methods we use for self-recognition and self-improvement will fit into one of these categories. For most of us we can only apply an-upaaya. We’re busy completing our karma, we’re engrossed in what we’re doing and that’s ok. We just have to remember that nothing truly needs to be done; we just have to be. For many people, this isn’t enough, we want to go deeper and try to understand and perhaps perceive the subtler aspects that are indeed ensuring that everything will be ok in the end (or it won’t and that’s ok too). We want to apply some upaaya, some means for greater self awareness; we want to apply ourselves and improve our organs of sense and action (anava-upaaya); we want to use study scripture, practice various forms of meditation and yoga that can help get us or keep us in touch with some divine that we all sense is a part of our lives. We generally feel pretty good about ourselves doing all of this until someone reminds us that nothing really needs to be done. At which point we stop doing so much and sit and do it all in our minds: conscious awareness; subtle awareness; shakt-upaaya. We have to do something so we continue, but we try to keep in mind that the doing doesn’t really matter so much; it’s not really part of the job profile of the individual self the individual soul that is still a part of the universal self that we’re all trying to get in touch with has made many of those decisions (after all, astrology clearly teaches us that the universal self is taking care of most of the doing down here on earth). The individual self can, however, move it’s awareness around and put it where ever it likes. (The oldest texts on yoga talk about entering other bodies.) Some say we are to put our awareness on prayer, others say to look for pleasure and satisfaction in life, a few other dare to claim we should focus on combining the two. All would perhaps agree that we should first have some idea who we really are. In the end, grace is our only hope. By grace some people become seated in themselves and there is nothing more to be done (shambhav-upaya). When we withdraw our senses from the objects of sense we experience the pure taste of whatever flavour we have inside of us; we get that pure flavour we crave on account of the wheels of energies that are operating inside of us.

The withdrawal of the vital channels (pranayama), the conquest of the elements (dharana), freedom from the elements (pratyahara) and the separation of the elements (Svachinanda).

(Shiva Sutra 3/5)

…he who constantly tries to discern the spanda (vibration) principle rapidly attains his own true state of being….” (Stanzas)

Vijnanabhairava it the classical text outlining 112 methods of Tantric and Yogic methods of union or self-realization. Some suttras give very specific instruction, others leave the door wide open for you to follow what comes natural to you: a word, an object, a thought, anything at all; fix your mind on it and don’t let it waver. “The expansion of consciousness that takes place when one is engaged in a single thought should be known as the source from whence another arises. One should experience that for oneself.” (Stanzas 41) Or find that point between two breaths, two thoughts, or two actions and try to rest your mind there. Meditate on being both the perceiver and perceived (the subject and the object). Then establish a state of awareness of that which links the two. Become fully aware of the state of perceiving, free from both subject and object. Abhinavagupta has described it as a bird swooping down upon it’s prey. That moment moves fast and we must be swift.

Much of the Vijnanabhairava teaches a kind of concentration or focus, when we can take this power of focus and put it where we like, then we can do what we want. Of course we also have to have he self knowledge to know if we have the various abilities of mind sense and action to get that thing. This is why yoga seems to focus so heavily on health, exercise, learning and study; because if we’re strong healthy, flexible and knowledgeable we will be able to access and heighten all of our natural abilities. If we have looked at and studied the self merely by observing the various faculties of the self we will be more comfortable in our bodies, our minds, and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. This comfort allows us to take our awareness away from the body, mind and circumstances and focus instead on those higher aspects of ourself that reach throughout the cosmos rather than remaining trapped in our tiny worlds of suffering and woes. Contemplate each tattva respectively and disattach from it: from least pervasive to most pervasive; from the elements, up thru the senses, mind, intellect, maya and consciousness itself. (See chapter on tattva’s.)

Anything that brings us closer to recognizing and realizing that we are that universe can be considered a means to liberation. Many of the Indian sciences have their own upayas depending on which parts of us we are focused on healing and getting into touch with. But every upaya also affects the whole. So if you’re following Ayurvedic diet to heal your body, that healing is also bringing more awareness of your soul. But of course everything must be followed in balance or you get some excess or deficiency.

In regards to healing, we can often look at to the activity of the senses to see if what is happening on the inside is the same as what is happening on the outside. Food, acupuncture, the clothes and ornaments we wear, the the people we associate with and the activities we perform can all be used to heal. It’s all a kind of worship and ritual. Swami Laxmanjoo made a point when he said that worldly life is pragmatic, worship should be appreciated as theater: art for arts sake. In the Stanzas on Vibration it says: “Constantly attentive and perceiving the entire universe as play, he who has this awareness is undoubtedly liberated in this very life.” With equal gusto it has been advised to ignore the cycle of birth and death; the cycle of life is higher, only it is eternal. If we live for an eternity there is always time and reason for healing and self recognition. It’s cautioned, however, that while participating in sense enjoyment, we are to be enjoying the bliss of self, not the pleasure of the sense object.

The subject is said to be the lord when, in the midst of phenomena, (he experiences them) as his own body. (But he is) a fettered soul when, sullied by karma etc., (he experiences) conflicts (klesha) in the midst of diversity generated by maya.

(Ishvarapratyabhijna)

Part 9:

Jyotish Astrology Upayas

the City of Eight consists of the inner mental organ along with the senses of knowledge and action. Others say that it is [also] made up of the five breaths, the five subtle elements, desire, karma and ignorance.” (Tattvaprakasha)

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Jyotish astrology, as the science of light, also seeks to engage the subtler perspectives and provide upayas for self recognition. Astrology acts as the mirror of the individual self and suggest remedial measures for helping you to realize your connection with the universal self. For anyone with any experience with Jyotish astrology, we often find that our limits in the material world are much greater that we at first suspected. The extent of our fettered is almost unimaginable, but still we get this wonderful experience of free will. So how do we explain this contradiction between our experience and the knowledge.

Astrology is of course an ocean of a science, and the astrologer merely a pearl diver. The ocean is vast, and the diver is just one small simple man. The client has his or her chart (the ocean) and the astrologer also has his own chart, which is but a wet-suit compared to the ocean. If both charts are favorable, the client will receive a good reading and go away happy and receive the fruits he or she expects to receive. Perhaps the person will even get a glimmer of the divine forces to which are inseparably linked. If, however, just one chart is not favorable, many things can easily go awry. The astrologer can have a bad day and miss something, or the data might not be quite right, or the client might not understand correctly. In any case, it’s always our own fate, we cannot blame others for our misery.

Traditional healers generally maintain that they do not actually perform any healing. The client comes (we always hope) with that healing already inside of them. The healers job is merely to point them in the direction of healing. The healer is just an instrument of healing. This is why such a variety of scientific and non-scientific methods all work to heal; because it’s not the method which is providing healing, but the patients own life force. Astrologers need to impress upon people that what they generally decoding for them is what they have inside of themselves; and not necessarily some outside force. There are no upayas that can bring you anything you don’t already have inside, all they can do is help you to reach the highest and best potential of what you already have.

From an astrological perspective, what is outside of us and outside of us are merely reflected versions of each other that are constantly acting and interacting together. We get a combined effect of the reactions that are produced. We often say that an astrology chart is like a pathology report. The astrologer is like the doctor who interprets that report. The client doesn’t really need to know the details of the report, what the client needs is the remedial measures.

In truth, most people know themselves fairly well. They don’t really need an astrologer to tell them about themselves, what they need are ways which will help them understand the interconnectedness of everything. Giving specific selfless service is said to be one of the best ways of overcoming or understanding our suffering. When we serve those who share our suffering or represent our fears then we dissipate that negative quality; life become just a little bit lighter.

Meditation and any spiritual practice in general can been good, but even these things can be fine tuned with astrology. Of course gemstones are easiest for most people with a few extra dollars, but without grace, I can’t imagine the effect to be as strong as with some practice which can include service and ritual, but also tapas, worship, mantra, the study of scriptures and other such engaging practices.

What is important to remember is that “Identification with the City of Eight is bondage.” This may come as a surprise to many people who have been taught to identify with their own inner soul, rather than with their body, but these lessons of the City of Eight suggest that even the deepest essence of our individual soul is binding, as of course it must be, since freedom is not an individual experience but rather a universal one.

Part 10: The Goal

Meheshwar

Somewhere within all of this is supposed to be some goal. We want something for all of this work performed. What exactly we want is not easy to describe. Many words get used such as enlightenment, self-recognition, self-empowerment, freedom, liberation. Many other describe as self-improvement or self-betterment. We are not, after all, merely doing this for our health. So what should we expect? The truth is that we should not expect anything. Of course everything is always changing so there will be change, but fundamentally nothing will change. You will still have the same fate and karmas to perform. As Krishna said in the Gita: “we cannot avoid action, not even thru non-action.”

What changes is our awareness? By gaining deeper more focused awareness we are able to recognize how we are ourselves the universe. This is self-recognition. We come to recognize the eternal subject which is ourselves, as well as the relationships of that subject with the various objects of the world beginning without own body. We are not this limited individual self, we are the universal self in part and in whole.

Some beliefs bring people to an emptiness once the individual self has been over come, Tantra promises a fullness like a pot boiling over. The fullness is the dynamic interplay between subject and object, the movement and change of the world. To be aware of this is said to be freedom. The practice of yoga is the practice of being aware of all those things that connect us with ourselves and the other (which is who all the gods essentially represent) We should be aware of consciousness, breath, energy levels, rituals, mantra and worship. Expanded awareness is the only goal and these are the tools (our body and this world) This is the same awareness which shows us that there really is no distinction between fate and free will.

This is a big concern for many people who feel as though they are being led thru life like a draft animal. Many people who hear about astrology feel like this whole concept of astrology somehow interferes with their free will. Most people is this world are very attached to the ignorance they call free will. This common idea that we are the body and thru the body we can do what we like thru free will is a very narrow and ignorant perception of freedom and will. If we start to recognize that we are all of this, only then will we recognize the place from where that freedom and will arise.

We recognize our free will when we are aware of that all of this is emanating from the free will of that Shiva which is inside of us; that which which is us. Freedom is exercised on the levels between Shiva and maya, not on the level of our minds, bodies and senses. These things are merely the tools for exercising that freedom. Of course once a choice is made, we have to live by the karma of that choice. As soon as an individual soul takes a body, the time and place of that activity becomes crucial for the rest of ones life. This is of course the time and place of our birth and first breath, and whatever karma is given to us at that precious moment will determine the extent of the work to be do in this life. The trick is to recognize all of this and maintain that awareness that we are Shiva, we are the chooser, and have chosen to experience all of this. What is inside is outside so we have as much power inside of ourselves to affect events in our lives and this world as the Sun and the Moon have to affect the life cycles of this universe. It’s a fully reciprocal relationship between ourselves and the world. The more we recognize this, the more harmony comes into our lives and the world. The truth to life and freedom are vast; they range far beyond the mundane details of life. We can be sure, however, that everyone will play their role and each of us will get that taste we most crave; the quality of that flavour will be up to us.

Note to the Yoga Critics: Educational Model of Yoga

I’m going to start this in a very easy way with a discussion of the various levels of education and how this is related to yoga teachers and teaching. I will make broad reference to the kinds of yoga discussed in the Gita, which in many ways parallels the upayas (means of liberation) outlined by Abhnavagupta among others.  In many ways the books of yoga are about knowledge and how we can come by it. Of course I will be speaking broadly and simply so as to leave plenty of room for criticism.

Everywhere we find stages thru which one must progress in order to gain entrance into higher realms. Of course it’s always best to just know everything, but most of us have to work at whatever level we are at to get us whatever benefits we happen to want. First you have to do one thing before you can do the next. Yoga is no different. Most of us begin without any knowledge at all; without even knowing what knowledge is; we have merely heard of this thing called yoga.

So it should be no surprise that many people begin with social yoga/beginner yoga; a kind of bhakti primary education where people are told to do this or that without being given much detail or depth about what they are doing. As long as they know “A” is for “apple” and “B” is for “butterfly,” we are happy; and if they are inclined, they will eventually learn that “A” is also for appendix and “B” is for “buxom.” Many people will come to this next step, but how many will do their PhD in grammatical theory. So at this primary level, we just want to make people sensitive to the teachings of yoga. We want them to have fun, know the names of the main deities and a few of their qualities; just enough so that they maintain their interest and continue learning: some music, maybe some singing and dance, just some program to give them a broad spectrum and help them absorb the basics and get a nice feel for yoga. If they are inclined, they will continue to study more deeply or not; that is in their own heart; but in the mean time almost all of the scriptures agree that even this primary path can bring moksha.

Many of those who move on from this primary path will go to yoga for health and fitness (what we could call Ayurveda yoga) to maintain or improve mental and physical health. This is a natural direction take. Many will choose to continuing with some broad spectrum yoga while others will find some specific program for their personal constitution. For most people with families and careers and positions in society this is likely the preferred direction. If someone is satisfied with their life, what need is there for moksha. And even if they are not satisfied with their life, but are satisfied with this platform of yoga then again scripture agrees that this is enough.

Some few people will not stop with Ayurveda. Thru either love of wisdom or complete dissatisfaction with society they will go even deeper into yoga seeking a Masters or PhD level knowledge in some particular path of their personal practice. This will be a small number; each to his own dharma. I suppose the more rabid commentators on the modern yoga phenomena feel themselves in this group. They have themselves wandered they various paths of yoga for many years before discovering some path that they consider true yoga.

Each level, of course, needs it’s own teachers. A distinguished professor of astrophysics doesn’t even bother with teaching the teachers of primary mathematics, much less showing up to teach 2+2=4. So we end up with teachers at the primary level who may very well know 2+2=4 without knowing anything about Pathogorm theorem. Why should we expect yoga to be any different? It’s true, there will be many bad yoga teachers, but this is true also in India. How many bad guru’s does India have? And what is a bad teacher? Not everyone needs a model of sattwic saintliness to tell them not to smoke, not to eat meat, to wake up a 4am every day and do practice and meditation for the next four hours before going to work to serve society in some altruistic fashion. People need teachers who are at their level. We can debate forever who are bad teachers and who are good teachers; in the end there will be very little agreement just as there is very little agreement about the greatness of great men like Ghandi, Baba Ramdev, the current Sankaracharayas, or the Pope for that matter.

We need teachers who can not only help guide us on our path, but who are also on our path. If I’m Christian, the Pope is likely closer to my path than Baba Ramdev and if I’m a young Indian, then Baba Ramdev is closer to my path then Sankaracharaya. But of course few of us will ever actually meet these luminaries or even meet people who they have personally instructed. We might gain something from the lineages that they represent; and we will decide for ourselves if it is good for us or not. In this regard, the Gita has a powerful lesson for teachers and students alike.

 
You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty. (Gita Chapter 2, Verse 47)

Much of our identity is merely the measuring our of Maya to form karmic agents so that that which is above Maya (i.e. Our Svasvabhava, or who we really are for real, or universal self) may take enjoyment. In any case we, as karmic agents are bound to carry out the various functions and activities that are within our power, but “never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities.” This, of course, is ethically dangerous territory for the those who are not acquainted with the laws of karma which are based on our place and time in the universe; and many people are very much attached to the idea that they are personally responsible for the fruit of their actions. In absence of such personal responsibility mayhem is imagined without ever stopping to think that mayhem is very much the case regardless of the laws and social codes which are supposed to keep such irresponsibility in check. In any case, the thief is no more personally responsible for stealing from you than you are for punishing him. None of it is personal, it’s universal karmic agents colliding in the way of atoms as they dance destruction-creation.

It’s often said in healing professions that one is merely an instrument of healing. We cannot personally take credit when a patient is healed. It was their luck to be healed and that luck is merely reflected to the healer. Perhaps any instrument would have healed them, but doctors luck is that the patient came to them. The healing arises from within. Everything arises from within. This is fate, the inner cosmos which is reflected outward.  Whatever someone has inside will come out. Any judgement is merely politics: my school is better than your school children games. High School kids bullying elementary kids. There is of course no truth in any of it. Such bickering can only lead untruth, greater ignorance, division; none of which has anything to do with yoga.

This is not to say yoga is not happening; yoga is always happening. Just think of the sort of connection we are making with Remsky every time we mention his name. Such karma that will surely get us a kick in the ass someday if the opportunity should ever arrive for him (a bit of benevolence can be as much of a kick to an enemy as the sole of the foot), that, of course, will be up to him.

This doesn’t mean it’s not fun. This doesn’t mean you’re wrong in doing it. I think Remski is as much of a clown as anyone doing the circuit and I don’t mind a little controversy, a little masala sometimes. Of course masala mixes with yoga about as well as espresso mixes with meditation. But that’s the way things are, just because we stop for a shot of java in the morning doesn’t mean we have to skip yoga class.

So I suppose in the end, I support the “anything goes” mentality to yoga. I also support  the critics who like to give out a thorough thrashing where ever they see fit. In the end, the students will decide, and our favorite kicking posts like Remsky will be supported or not. Once again we all just have to keep doing whatever it is we do without expecting some result.

 

Who is doing yoga? The joke is on us!

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For Markji!

It seems to be very easy these days to point fingers at what is not yoga, I’ve also caught myself doing this at times. These attitudes become in vogue for a little while to criticize this or that and for a culture to have a look at itself. What I see is western yogis looking at western yogis and saying “wow, what a joke!” But every single person seems to think that they are themselves exempt from the joke. None of us are exempt from this joke. Buddha and Christ and these sorts of fellows may have been exempt from the joke, but the rest of us are just joke. We’re nothing, we’re just wandering thru life passing time thinking we’re this or that limited thing at odds against against some other limited things. All we see are these limits, these others, these things that need to get done, these things going on around us, these people and things that are separate from ourselves.

And yet we criticize. We look at others and we laugh at them. The athletes are laughing at the merchants selling yoga, the merchants are laughing at the masses who’s money their taking, the masses are laughing at how serious everyone is taking themselves, and the elitist intellectuals are laughing at everyone who will never know as much as they know. The intellectuals of yoga so fascinated with the topic hoped for years that the masses might discover the beauty of this knowledge and practice of yoga. They gave the knowledge freely to anyone who might have wanted it. It’s unlikely they even thought much about what would become of yoga.

It’s commonly taught in Vedanta that we are not the actors, we are merely instruments of divine consciousness. In other words, we are nothing and there is only the divine. This view is often considered fatalistic, but this is only for people who are afraid of the death of their body; people so attached to their activity and choices that to stop identifying themselves with these things would be paramount to death. But if what we are really is divine consciousness then we are everything. We give up this small limited perception of who we are and discoed that we are really unlimited. If this is indeed the way things work, then one can hardly call such a broad perception fatalistic. It would be much more fatalistic to perceive the world from this tiny space of the ego all the time facing some threat, some fear, some other.

This is what all of this criticism amounts to: fear. Fear that it is we who are doing everything wrong, fear the we ourselves do not know the way.

But what is it we’re practicing for? Why do we do this yoga? For others? Or, for ourselves! If yoga is a spiritual practice for you, then you’re likely doing it for your own self improvement; or for your own spiritual evolution. In this case, yoga should become a very special thing for you. Something you treasure and keep close to your heart, smothered in sentimentality and personal feeling. Nothing is so precious as ones own practice. We cannot expect others to understand what is closest to our heart.

It’s no different than being in love with someone and being told by your friends that “She’s not very pretty.” “She has a funny voice.” Or maybe they have some bad rumour from her past. What is the point in trying to defend your love? Nobody will understand it or appreciate it the way you do. Of course we want to share those things which have the most meaning to us; but in truth, unless a person really sees us for who we are then they will not understand our love or our precious practice which has given us so much. Most people will just wipe their dirt feet all over our most precious sentiments.

When we display our practice in front of the world, we cannot expect people to understand. What has meaning to one person is meaningless to the next. On the other hand, when we see people for who they really are, our hearts open to them and we are able to accept what is precious them and we are able to forgive many of their faults. Their joy becomes our joy and we identify with them like we do with our closest family.

The internet makes this difficult to identify with the people who are writing articles and sharing their views. I recently read a comment on one of these articles complaining about yoga in the west. The commenter asked: “ …are we really shedding tears over this woman’s mid-life crisis? Can we please elevate the discourse?” When I thought about it, the mid-life crisis is perhaps the most spiritual time in the lives of most western people. Perhaps if we did shed a few tears over this woman’s mid-life crisis, we would all come just a little closer to union. But who’s to judge, I’m not enlightened and I doubt if you’re enlightened, which brings me the one question we should all be asking ourselves: Why not?

 

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