The Astrology of Bad Karma

“Why is life so unfair?” “It feels like I am cursed.” “ My Moon must be in Feces.” “What have I done to deserve this?” The Vedic answer to these questions generally comes down to “you must be dealing with some Bad Karma.” The notion of karma is popularly perceived as the Law of Cause and Effect. If we include the potential “causes” as extending back into actions committed during your countless past lives, it starts to sound like eliminating bad karma is close to impossible.

The technical meaning of karma is “Dust on the Mirror” –the mirror being the soul as a reflector of the Divine Spirit; the obscuring dust being the accumulation of impressions produced by the experiences of many lifetimes. It doesn’t matter if the dust is beautiful rainbow dust from delightful experiences –the soul is still obscured, i.e., still experiencing a false view of reality. This is the nature of human existence.

Stuck as we are in our individualized life-dramas, the prospect of complete escape, i.e., full Realization of Divine Consciousness, seems a rather remote possibility. Naturally we wish for our lives to be at least relatively free of pain and misery. Yet in spite of living seemingly “good” lives, inevitably we all come to experience hard times, times of unhappiness and difficulty.

Why is this? From the multi-lifetimes point of view, it’s some of your past evil karma that has popped up. How was this evil karma created? Why is it manifesting now? How do I get rid of it? When will it be over? These are some of the questions people ask and which Vedic Astrology tries to answer. The specifics of how the bad karma was created in the first place we may not be able to answer. We only have the birth chart of the current lifetime. Yet within this natal chart there are indicators of the inherited karmas of the past –both good and bad –that are scheduled to show up as events in this life. Timing –when the karmas are to be activated –can be determined through using the various predictive techniques. These same techniques show the duration, i.e., answering the question “When will it be over?”

But to be truly useful, Vedic Astrology’s analysis needs to offer some guidance on how to eliminate or at least diminish this mysterious bad karma that contaminates our lives. First there are the traditional remedies that are common to all spiritual and religious systems: the doing of good deeds, the fulfillment of family duties, the practice of rituals and ceremonies honoring the deities. To these Vedic Astrology adds specific suggestions derived from birth chart analysis. The structure of the birth chart clearly distinguishes between personal life and community life. Pursuing only the selfish gratification of your personal desires without participating in something larger keeps you stuck on the spiderweb of attachment to sensual experiences. Stepping out of that sticky web is key to finding a way out of the bad karma syndrome. By interpreting the meaning of the placement of the planets in the signs, including the lunar signs (nakshatras), and the arrangement of the planets in the houses (departments of life), the astrological analysis draws a picture of your potential roles in this lifetime. Using your free will, you can then choose from amongst your potentials a course of action that generates positive, i.e., good karma. By leading a virtuous, service-oriented life you then start to counteract the Bad Karma of the past.

But this approach, although helpful, does not necessarily release you from the inherited negativity resulting from lifetimes of ignorance, selfishness, fear, greed, and indulgence. The karmas shown in the astrology chart have real inertia. “Living your Life Skillfully” means to acknowledge and cooperate with the natal energy pattern, but does not mean we should blindly accept it. Some karmas are negotiable, some are not. In order to make real progress towards eliminating negative karmas, we need to cultivate Spiritual Wisdom; we need to step back from our own self-importance and see our lives in a larger context. Within the natal chart there are also indications for an individual’s best spiritual path.

Bad Karma means it is necessary to pay back for past lifetimes full of misdeeds, transgressions, willfulness, criminal behavior. This seems terribly unfair if we insist on maintaining the limited view of a single life being all that we are responsible for (which itself is another form of ignorance, adding even more dust to the mirror). From the Vedic viewpoint you, your soul, needs to work through it all; to “burn up” your bad karma. From this larger perspective, it may be necessary to experience a rotten marriage, or live in a damaged body, or fail in your business, in order for the soul to “shed” the accumulated dust from another life. Eventually the pain and misery forces us to accept truths about ourselves and the true nature of reality. The world of excess no longer fascinates, and we are finally on the path towards enlightenment. The astrological birth chart can provide a shortcut towards these realizations, if we are willing to listen to its wisdom.