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Is It Your Karma to Change Your Karma?

Karma probably confuses people from Western and Judeo-Christian cultures more than any other Eastern spiritual or philosophical concept. Most just seem to dismiss it as the simplistic idea of “what comes around goes around.” I remember a friend – a loyal, well-intentioned guy who could, nonetheless, get quite worked up when he felt somebody had taken advantage of him or personally wronged him – exclaiming about the downfall of a man he felt had cheated him in some way, “That’s karma! Karma will always get you!”

I almost brought up holocaust victims or school shootings, but decided I could get across the same general point without creating such an awkward mood. Making it into a bit of a joke, I asked, “What happened? Was this guy mean to you, so he got eaten by a tiger?” My friend knew I was teasing him – and probably also knew I was trying to get him to think more deeply about what he’d said. His reply was something along the lines of, “Come on… of course he didn’t get eaten by a tiger, but he screwed me over, and now it’s his turn. What do you think karma is?”

The problem with many people’s conception of karma is that “bad things” happening to “good people” seems unfair to them (and “fairness” is a modern cultural ideal), so some just dismiss the idea of karma completely because they see “unfairness” happen too often throughout the world; others, perhaps even more misguided, figure there must be reasons that fit their limited frame of reference. (e.g. “That baby must have really been an asshole in a past life to end up with spina bifida!”) The concept of some sort of inevitable “punitive” karma destined to smite evildoers is also used as a comforting mechanism by many who feel bitter and/or vengeful.

However, what we think of as “good” and “bad” is actually quite subjective. Most people have no problem eating animals kept in horrible conditions and slaughtered for (unhealthy, unnecessary, environmentally problematic) food or with buying products made by child slave laborers. If you want full disclosure, I’m quite careful not to do the former and pay very little attention to the latter. Maybe a tiger will only eat half of me?

A hundred years ago, a doctor willingly performing an abortion would be seen as an evil act by most people, but now the majority of developed nations feel abortion should be a woman’s personal choice. Blasphemy is considered a serious crime by most Muslims, yet perceived as an indispensable element of free speech by most Westerners. Social programs Americans and Europeans currently take for granted, such as emergency medical care and public schools, used to sincerely worry well-meaning traditional capitalists.

Still, you may ask, what about more “basic” morals, such as not killing, stealing or committing adultery? Well, what about other old standbys involving specific rules for how to sell one’s daughter into slavery or the correct way to torture witches to death? Stuff changes. And we have far more trouble predicting what will change, why and when than most people like to admit.

In other words, the world is in flux. Constantly. And that’s okay.

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Vedic Dress for (NBA Basketball) Success

You may know that each day belongs to a specific planet in Vedic Astrology and that each planet has its own mantra. It’s also considered an astrological fundamental that each planet is connected to a specific color or color scheme. People can use this information to create more harmony in their lives by wearing a planet’s color(s) on its day of the week or by regularly wearing the color(s) of a planet whose specific energies are currently desired. Yet, as I’ll explore in this post, there may be another more competitive and rather intriguing possibility involving the planetary colors. If you’re familiar with those colors, feel free to skip the next paragraph, but here’s a quick cheat sheet:

The color of the Moon is white or silver, Mars reps red, Mercury gets green, Jupiter features yellow or saffron, Venus picks pretty pastels, Saturn sports sterner shades, such as dark blue and black, while the Sun blasts a bright orangey pink. 

So, yes, there’s a reason Vedic monks wear saffron and why green is considered “lucky” throughout so much of Asia. The connection between color, astrology and fate actually has a long tradition.

As an NBA basketball fan, I’ve observed more than once that the same teams win a disproportionate number of titles for a 30-team league that incorporates features such as a salary cap, revenue sharing and a draft that gives the worst teams the best chance at the top prospects. Not only that, but with only five players on the court at any given time (compared to the much larger numbers of players in a baseball, football or soccer game), theoretically, a star player or two should change the fortunes of any NBA team tremendously.

Yet, the same teams win, win, win, like it’s fated.

Team colors have long been an integral part of organized sports and they make up a memorable element of any NBA franchise’s identity, ranging from jersey colors to the team logo to promotional material and even communal impressions (such as associating the Boston Celtics with the “lucky green” connected to the team’s Irish-inspired nickname).

So, why wouldn’t the same teams, featuring their fortunate color schemes, win much more often? This was easy for me to explore, at least somewhat superficially, as there’s a clear general consensus about the greatest NBA teams.

The Boston Celtics claim the most titles in league history. I personally consider their 67-15 1986 title team, which played in the league’s greatest era and cruised through the playoffs with a record of 15-3, to be the best single-season squad in NBA history. That’s far from the whole story though… back in the late 1950s and 1960s, the Celtics won 11 titles in 13 years, which is a level of consistency that has never been and likely never will be matched in any pro sport. For years, rival sportscasters and columnists would joke, half-bitterly, about the lucky “leprechaun” that seemed to make sure Boston emerged victorious. We all know what color leprechauns are 🙂

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Generated by IJG JPEG Library

“Notice how my mustache adds a flourish of Jupiterian yellow?”

The Los Angeles Lakers boast five titles in the 2000s, which, added to another five during the golden age of the 1980s (and a great 69-13 title season in the early 70s), makes for quite an impressive combination. You can also add a ridiculous number of 2nd-place finishes to the record, as the Lakers ran into a near-unstoppable Celtics squad multiple years in the late 50s and 60s NBA Finals. Known for doing everything big and bold, this Hollywood franchise uses yellow, represented by Jupiter, as its base color, and combines it with flourishes of rich, velvety purple. Some people feel the color purple is related to Saturn, but I think, at least in the present era, it’s more connected with Rahu, as it is so often associated with fame or prestige. (The musician Prince, who has Rahu in his Ascendant and his Moon in the Rahu-ruled constellation of Satabishak, may have the strongest association with the color purple in modern popular culture.)

Lakers_88

“Yes, Kareem, we know you’re Muslim… just trust us on this color thing.”

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Nakshatras Beyond the Moon

One of my favorite parts of Vedic astrology is the nakshatras, a series of 27 fixed stars. They’re most commonly utilized in reference to the Moon, but they also relate to the other planets. After all, in the same manner that the Moon is located in a specific nakshatra at any given time, so are all the other planets. Nakshatras are just like the normal zodiac signs in this way.

In fact, I wonder if the emphasis on the Moon nakshatra is mostly just because Vedic astrology is an ancient system and people didn’t tend to have precise birth times until recently. If somebody isn’t sure about his or her birth time, the ascendant changes too often (about every two hours) to conclusively determine it. When this happens, astrologers will generally make a “Chandra Lagna” (Moon Ascendant) chart, placing the Moon in the first house and positioning the other planets accordingly. Even when the ascendant is known, looking at the chart from the Moon, as well, remains a valuable technique. Continue reading

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