Karma & Free Will
A Contemporary View
Vedic Astrology is as new in America as it is ancient in its homeland of India. Its predictive basis of influences from past lives, what we commonly call "karma," is likely the only familiar term and aspect of this Eastern metaphysical discipline.
Yet, even karma is confusing or unclear to many. Karma is generally and inaccurately understood as an application of the Christian "what comes around, goes around" concept that discourages negative or harmful behavior and rewards good deeds. This view, in focusing only on the karmas that can be changed during the life, neatly dodges the broader concept of past life karmas. Notably, Eastern karmas expression of fate flies in the face of our Western cultures free will - our democracys promise of unrestricted choice and opportunities. We value our free will and dont like to think that we are blocked in any way from self expression.
On the other hand, if you want a fast race horse, breed two winners. Basketball players come from tall families. Artistic talent in the family background is a near certainty for musicians and painters. While we treasure our absolute freedom, we also take great pride in recognizing traits and abilities in our children.
How can we not find this contradictory? Dr. Spock's 1950's theory of environment overweighing genetics was accepted, with little scientific evidence, because it fit our cultural model. This decade, science is slowly convincing itself and the public that heredity dominates, with free will and environment only articulating DNA given potentials. The logic of science fiction's Mr. Spock is taking the upper hand in the old nature versus nurture debate.
Does this mean that karma describes science's DNA, what we call heredity? Does this also mean Vedic Astrology somehow reads the persons karmic DNA using only celestial observation when the person is born? Deductive reasoning indicates yes. How can this be? How does it work?
Vedic scholars talk about enlightened beings, called seers, who 5,000 years ago divined Indias sacred knowledge, which evolved into the many branches of Hindu metaphysics that seek to explain the universe -- from medicine to mathematics, yoga to mythology, astronomy to astrology.
Ancient Indian observatory at Jaipur
Astrology, they explain, unravels and translates the celestial map indicating the past life karmas playing out in this life.
Your square Vedic chart is a map of past life karmas (actions) experienced in this life.
The Dasa system is the predictive technique for which Vedic Astrology is famous. Dasas, routinely called planetary periods or planetary cycles, are intervals during which the person’s life corresponds to the energies of individual planets in sequence.
Dasas, then, are like a second birth chart. Their sequence dictates planetary activations - when the various planetary karmas will play out in the twelve houses. For example, during a Jupiter Dasa, the person may gain wealth and have children, and Mars Dasa is a time for adventures and sports. The birth chart can be compared to a dwelling, with the planetary Dasas indicating when lights in each room are turned on. Driving down a street of cookie cutter houses at night, they look different. The various lighted rooms individualize the Vedic houses illuminated by the Dasas.
The Vedic chart shows lifelong karmas.
The attendant Dasas (cycles) activate these karmas.
Vedic Astrology, then, can be under-stood as planetary DNA.
Vedic Astrology thereby rests on a spiritual authority. If you ask these scholars point blank, Explain in terms of objective reality, verifiable scientific truth, they discuss large scale empirical testing of charts comparing planetary placements with displayed traits. But if you really press them for a scientific theory, Vedic Astrologers retreat into an, I dont know.
That is the way with all metaphysics, and especially the occult sciences, for these are the hidden studies that seek to explain that which cannot be otherwise known.
Before we get into a box on this point and dismiss Vedic Astrology as just another spiritual fad, ask someone who has had a Vedic Astrology consultation about its eerie accuracy and surprising depth of information. Like other spiritual disciplines, Vedic Astrology depends upon awareness and acceptance -- belief, both by the practitioner and the client. Vedic Astrologers explain that only some souls are sufficiently liberated from karmic worldly attachments to embrace that which is not within the world.
Is the issue really this simple? No. Karma, as the very basis of Eastern philosophy, is highly complex and variable and thereby also so alien to Western concepts that objective grasp is like hugging a cloud, or holding an ice cube as it melts under examination. Free will is similarly multifaceted, for we create our own reality, manifest, invent self-fulfilling proficiencies and apply the powers of faith, prayer and meditation, plus many other well-founded psychological and spiritual concepts.
These waters are clouded beyond the scope of this essay to clarify. Learned people in both the East and West have long wrestled with the unresolved cultural gap between fate and free will. Perhaps an agreeable view is found in astrology author Dr. Gouri Kappors statement that, Fate and free will are two blades of a scissor, and we still do not know which blade operates in cutting the paper. The individual always retains the freedom to observe or not fates lighted path. Yet, scissors cut best with both blades.