Chapter 1 – Welcome to the Universe
What are the two things without which there would be no life on Earth?
“Oxygen” and “water” are sometimes mentioned. Others are more scientific and say things like “prana.”
The answer: The Sun and the Moon.
The power of the Sun has energized every being that has ever lived. Think about it for a second. Every physical body, every heartbeat, every thought, every act of photosynthesis in a plant, every microbe, everything that exists, has ever existed or will exist derives its power from the Sun – including you, right now.
The only reason you are alive to read this now is because the Sun didn’t explode last night while you were sleeping or so far today. As soon as the Sun explodes or stops shining, everything is dead immediately. After hearing the answer maybe you will slap your head and say, “Of course, the Sun.” Then, your mind goes on to the next thing without really grasping the impact and miracle of the Sun.
Don’t do it this time.
Let this awareness of the Sun sink in. Feel gratitude for it what it means.
We have no idea how the Sun does what it does, why it is doing it, or how it got there. The Sun is this gigantic star that for some reason is sustaining our life and all life on the Earth. It doesn’t ask for anything in return for this. It doesn’t demand, it just gives, and as soon as it stops giving we are all dead. That’s it. The game is over.
No Sun = no life.
The Sun gives the power, but the power of the Sun would be inert if it were not for the Moon. Her orbit around the Earth is what regulates the tides and water and maintains the seismic activities of the Earth. If it were not for the Moon all the weather patterns would cease, things would stop growing and life as we know it on Earth would cease. In fact, life on Earth did not flourish until the Moon reached the proper harmonic balance with the Sun (more on that later).
It takes the power of the Sun and the creative principle of the Moon for life to flourish on Earth. And just like the Sun, the Moon asks for nothing. The Moon doesn’t demand we praise her or worship her or even think of her at all. We need not do anything: the Moon will continue to circle the Earth, regulating the oceans and keeping the weather patterns and fertility cycles humming. We can land crafts or probes to her, explode projectiles on her surface and she will take it all.
Her love is unconditional, just like the Sun and the beautiful Earth they have given us. In fact, we can even pollute, destroy and degrade the Earth itself and the Sun, Moon and Earth will still continue to provide abundance.
We have no paradigm for this kind of generosity in our worldly, human mind and life. Perhaps the best example we see of this kind of selflessness is shown in the lives of the great saints who give tirelessly to humanity.<!‐‐nextpage‐‐>
The concept of maya is a very important one in Indian thinking. Translated loosely, “maya” means “illusion.” There is a famous story of “the snake and the rope” from the Vedic texts that illustrates the power of illusion.
On a dark night, we may mistake a rope in our path to be a snake. When such a mistake happens, our full mind, body and nervous system react to a snake, albeit an imagined one. For us, in that moment, the snake is real. We may scream, cry and run away at this site. However, later if a flashlight is produced and the rope is seen, we return to normal.
Once we see the rope (truth) for ourselves, we do not later forget and react to the same imagined snake again. The appearance of light/truth removes the illusion of the snake, immediately and permanently.
There are many illusions with our place in the cosmos, which can be shattered by simple contemplation or observation. For example, this very second, the Earth you are standing on is spinning at 1,000 mph at the equator and moving around the Sun at about 70,000 mph. Yet it is all happening with ease, in relative silence and stillness.
Perspective on the Aeons of Time
This amazing, cosmic equilibrium did not happen overnight. In fact, it took close to 4.5 billion years for life to evolve on Earth. Even though the solar system has been here for 4.5 billion years, archaic – modern humans have only inhabited Earth for the last 100,000 years.
These numbers are staggering and therefore lose relevance; 4.5 billion years or 100,000 years, they both sound like a long time. When we think of years in terms of our lifetime, 100 years is a long time, even 50 years seems like a long time. In term of years, five or six thousand years seems like forever, yet it is a blink of an eye when measured against the age of our solar system.
4.5 billion (4,500,000,000) years is the age of our solar system.
100,000 years is how long there have been “humanoids” on Earth.
If you were to stack 100, 450-page books one on top of the other to represent the age of our solar system, the age of humanoids (100,000 years) would be the last page in that stack.
The earliest records of the ancient Vedic, Egyptian and Sumerian people (dated to perhaps 3000 BC) would be 1/20th of that last page, perhaps the last sentence or two.
Our modern world, of the last hundred years or so, is 1/50th of that, perhaps the last word on the page.
Your lifetime is perhaps the “d” in the last phrase of the last book, “The End.”
We should see this timeline as analogous to how our body, mind and psyche were formed and how they operate. Our body/mind life on Earth is embedded with the intelligence of the entire cosmos. This intelligence reaches back into the mists of time through eons of patient forbearance.
This universe that created us, implanted its genius everywhere and in everything, and it is not done yet. As such, we are remarkably durable and well-built. Our bodies can withstand extreme levels of trauma and abuse due to the redundant genius built into every cell, forged over 4.5 billion years. The higher levels of mind are supported by layers of more primal brains, backup systems and brilliance, down to the cellular level. Each cell contains the sagacity of the entire organism – independent, yet connected – simultaneously magical and practical.
And from where did this come? God, some might say. Well, if there is any need to call anything god, it would certainly have to include the Sun and Moon and the universe as main agents of her work. As you will see, the Vedic astrology texts are clear that the planets are the “visible form” of Lord Vishnu. Our bodies, minds and spirits are the product of 4.5 billion years of love and dedication from the Sun, Moon and the other planets.
Since we’re talking about illusions, I wonder if you’ve ever stopped to ponder something truly miraculous about the Sun and Moon. Have you ever considered how it’s possible that these two arbitrary celestial objects, although completely different in size and constitution, look exactly the same size to us from Earth? Have you ever pondered the odds that a giant ball of fire and a relatively small rock look exactly the same size from where we are?
The reason this happens is due to the phenomena of size and distance, and is based on the number 108. Most who have studied yoga know of the mystical number 108. Mala beads (prayer necklaces) have 108 beads on them to symbolize this ratio of size and distance.
L=Dx108 (length equals diameter multiplied by 108) is the formula that shows how the Sun and Moon maintain this symmetry.
The approximate mean length between the Sun and Earth roughly equals 108 x the diameter of the Sun. The approximate mean length between the Moon and Earth equals 108 x the diameter of the Moon. (Actually, the exact scale is closer to 109.) Images 1.1 and 1.2 show this graphically.
You can understand this more simply by visualizing that you could put 108 Moons between us and the Moon and 108 Suns between us and the Sun. The chances of something like this being “coincidence” are simply out of the question. This is an incalculable phenomena. In fact, in cosmic time it is also a very recent phenomena. Here’s why.<!‐‐nextpage‐‐>
The Explosion of Life
As we have just discussed, the Sun, Moon and Earth are 4.5 billion years old, approximately. For most of this time, there was no life at all. For nearly 2.5 billion years there was nothing on Earth, not even a single-celled organism. Then, for about a billion years, single-celled organisms flourished, then became double-celled organisms – essentially a microbe swimming around with a tail.
It was not until quite recently, in the scale of cosmic time, that we started to see life explode on Earth. This explosion of life is called the Cambrian explosion, and it happened 500 million years ago – after 9/10 of time on earth had elapsed.
So what made life suddenly start to appear on Earth?
Once the Moon neared the same “108” vibrational frequency as the Sun, life began to explode. You see, the Moon is actually slipping out of that 108 vibrational pattern by about 1.25 inches per year. She has been in this “108 sweet spot” for about 94,000 years. What a coincidence that this is the same period of time that intelligent life has blossomed on Earth.
There are many explanations for why 108 is important in yoga philosophy, but none are more important than this one. The reason there is life on Earth at all is because both the Sun and Moon have patiently energized her with the exact ratio of fire, water and the other elements for over 4 billion years, culminating in the last 95,000 years, where the perfect ratio has been achieved for reflective consciousness to develop.
Sadly, in 100 years mankind has altered this delicate balance, one that took 4.5 billion years to create.
Through incalculable eons of time, to this very moment, the Sun and Moon have worked their magic. We have no idea how these immense beings got here or why there is life at all. But we must reconnect and recommit to understanding the nature of our life in the cosmos if we are to restore dharma (truth) to this Earth. In fact, at this point we have little choice. We must reawaken or perish.
The Sun and Moon are the archetypes of masculine and feminine / yang and yin / spirit and matter. The other planets rule over important parts of our body, mind and soul as well. Astrology, like other Vedic sciences, is a tool to help us reunite with the highest truth, beyond the illusion that we are merely a mind / body / ego.<!‐‐nextpage‐‐>
Here is an example. Visualize light shining through a prism. In your mind’s eye, see a shaft of white light entering on one side, then being broken up into its seven component colors. Vedic astrology views the planet’s relationship to the world in a similar way.
Visualizing light through a prism, the world of maya (illusion) is represented by the fragmentation of the one ray of light into seven colors. It is through the prism of the mind / body / ego that light appears to be its seven component colors. The prism separates the colors from each other and from their source. In reality their rays are one with each other and with the source itself .
Similarly, there is a false sense of separateness that we have from each other and from our collective source. We try to understand the wholeness of reality through these limiting qualities of form and thought. Without a prism there would be no separation of light. Similarly, without the ego and the limitations of the body / mind phenomena there would be no division of the true self into the component qualities of the smaller self.
The ego / prism of maya is caused by our karma, the actions we have taken in the past, and the need to take more actions in order to evolve (Karma will be explained in great detail later in the book). Actions that unfold more easily are shown by planets in good dignity or disposition. More painful lessons are seen by the planets that are not in good dignity and / or influence.
The seven rays of light indicate the planets and their forces. All seven colors fully shined and integrated comprise the original, single ray of light. Yet we struggle with even the individual rays in their full expression.
From an astrological perspective, spiritual growth is learning how to express the full energy of all of the planets (signs and houses too). It is learning to allow the rays of each planet to shine through us fully. Enlightenment is the state that occurs when someone has fully reintegrated all seven rays into their being, fully understanding the forces behind them. But since we are not yet complete, we express their energies through our limitation. Astrologically speaking, all human suffering is a result of the inability to express the full energy of the planets.
For example, Venus in her full expression brings devotion to pure love and beauty itself, not to an outer form of momentary pleasure or happiness. We try to express this devotion and beauty through the love we make with our partners, but we suffer in love because we fall short of this fullness. Lust, attention-seeking, vanity, and over-sensuality are the counterfeit versions of Venus, her eternal wisdom filtered through our limited ego.
Yet Venus gives exactly what we need to love fully all of the time. But we are not able to express her full energy until we purify the fears and desires associated with our smaller self, the ego. Thus, yoga and other disciplines give methods on how to purify.
Suffering in love feels like a loss of self, because at our very core we ARE this Venus love, respect and beauty. We feel it, but we cannot express it through our limited bodies and perceptions. We suffer when we experience love through our limitation. In the case of love, we experience Venus in limitation.
With Mars, for example, we suffer when we experience limited “strength” – becoming frustrated when something outside of us has power over us. This usually makes us angry.
With Mercury, limited skills and knowledge causes suffering. With Jupiter, limited understanding, hope and meaning is painful. I discuss each of these things in greater detail in the chapter on planets.
Through astrology we see which of our energies are stronger and weaker, as shown by the planets. The chart below shows the highest lesson and the lowest expression of each of the seven main planets in Vedic astrology as well as the North and South nodes.
Use the table below to reference and compare each planet functioning in full power contrasted with its nature when filtered through our ego.
There is a more detailed explanation of the evolutionary process of each planet in the chapter on the planets. For now, however, the following table can act as a guide to the seven rays of light emanating from the planets into form
Astrology of the Past and Future
Every wise and dharmic culture of the past practiced some form of astrology as they were all tuned in to the sacred universe creating beings and experiences. But Vedic astrology is miraculous in that we still have a direct link to the cultural texts and teachings, and see how it worked, and still works, as a revered system of healing in everyday life.
But the sad truth is, like many metaphysical systems, astrology took a beating in the dark ages. Its practitioners were branded as heretics (witches), ostracized and even killed. Not surprisingly, the Church also labeled as a heretic any scientist who produced facts inconsistent with Church doctrine. Indeed, many scientists and astronomers were also astrologers. Isaac Newton, Kepler, Benjamin Franklin and others in the West were students of astrology. Of course, in the East, astrology continued even through the dark ages.
But even Eastern astrology suffered mightily during the dark ages (commonly called the Kali Yuga in the East). Rather than the precise techniques of great rishis like Parashara and Jaimini, medieval Vedic astrologers relied on imprecise methods, endless and bewildering permutations of planets, a wild overemphasis on certain difficult combinations of planets and many other sloppy practices. Astrology itself also became inextricably linked with the Brahmin class (the Church and priests), becoming more and more superstitious, political and suspect.
To many, astrology became a tool for scaring people into getting remedies to remove curses and their practitioners less and less scientific, less and less connected to the deeper heart of dharma and the universal truths we are discussing.
Sadly, some of these stereotypes still exist today, especially in the West where astrology is hardly considered a serious science. In fact, even worse, there are many who still consider astrology in the same extreme terms as in the dark ages – as being satanic or against the Church and religion. Astrologers are still commonly labeled as charlatans, said to be preying on people’s fears and duping suckers out of their money.
Recently, as astrology has become more popular, there are many who call themselves professional astrologers after just taking a few workshops and gathering information from the internet. Many are very sloppy and imprecise about what they say, often using general astrological archetypes to riff on their take on spiritual counseling, and in general give many reasons not to take astrology seriously.
I am not saying these things to disparage well-meaning people who call themselves astrologers. I know many are simply trying to help others and raise their spiritual vibration. But I want to give context to how many view astrology, given the beating it has taken for centuries and the shoddy applications of many who “believe in it.” Today. In fact, that is also one of the big problems: believing in astrology. There is no need to “believe in” astrology.
Astrology is not a religion, it is a science.
Make no mistake about it, astrology is a science. Like every science, it is remarkably consistent. Any person who studies astrology will see it work. Down to a very deep level, astrologers and serious students know exactly what they are looking at when they read an astrology chart.
For instance, if I were to say a person was born when Mars was in the 7th house, aspecting Venus in the first house and joined Mercury in the 7th house. Any person who has studied astrology, even at a basic level, would know many things about the person with that birth chart. The things said would be correct and everyone would agree about those things (minus specific “predictions” that only the most advanced would make).
Diagnosis of tendencies and understanding in astrology, across ALL systems, is remarkably uniform. There would be very little to debate about such placements. If the planets were changed and it was the Moon in the 7th house, the astrology students would modify their indications accordingly – and again, the modifications would be correct and people would agree on them.
This is no different to when you go to the doctor and receive blood tests. Anyone trained to read that blood test chart would know what they are seeing. They have been trained to look for a certain ratio of chemicals in the blood. They know what certain chemical anomalies might mean. For instance, a lack of iodine may mean a weak thyroid, the presence of insulin would alert to the pancreas, etc.
The same is true with reading an astrology chart. Astrologers see the planets and their relationship to each other and their location as a certain “soul DNA,” revealing certain strengths and weaknesses, tendencies and levels of intelligence. But astrology also shows the timing of when things happen and what they mean and feel like to the person.
Reading an astrology chart is like reading sheet music. To those who know how to read sheet music, the notes on the page actually make music in their heads. To those who can’t read the notated language, there is no music. Sheet music is useless to them.
I can hear you now asking, “So how does astrology work? How does the movement of rocks in the sky influence me on Earth. Is it gravity? Do the planets emit rays?”
No one knows how astrology works. But here is the thing: no one knows how anything works.
What do I mean by that?
In the West we refer to things like “The Scientific Community” as a sort of catch-all group of experts that we trust to validate the Sciences. We believe that certain “sciences” have been approved by this scientific community, so we “believe” in those sciences, like, for example, Western medicine.
We believe in it as a “proven science.” We believe that a doctor knows “how” the body works, and that other “real scientists” (not wacky astrologers) can actually prove their assertions based on “scientific fact.” The truth is, scientists and doctors do not know any better than astrologers how their sciences work, we just believe they do based on our cultural bias.
For instance, let us say you go to the doctor’s office and observe a conversation between a child and your doctor. It may go something like this:
Child: “What does the heart do?”
Doctor: “It pumps blood through the body so we can stay alive.”
Child: “How does the heart do that?
Doctor: “The heart is controlled by a part of the brain that automatically sends an electrical impulse to it.”
Child: “How does the brain do THAT and how does the brain know HOW MANY times the heart should beat and for how long?”
Doctor: “Ah, such a curious little girl, aren’t you?” (looking for a piece of candy to give the child)
Any five-year-old child can bring the curtain down quickly on our mental arrogance, and our thinking we understand how things work.
The truth is that no one understands how these things happen. Just because we have been able to isolate and observe the areas of the brain that control autonomic functions, like the heart beat and breath, does not mean we understand how it happens – any more than astrologers know how astrology works.
Doctors, the medical system, and others who are high on a perch of “scientific proof” are playing with the same deck of cards as metaphysicians. They are just shielded from accountability by the belief system of the masses. People believe doctors are practicing science and astrologers are following a weird belief system. But astrologers and doctors do the same things. Both conduct experiments, observe the effects of these experiments and predict what will happen next.
People ask things of astrology that they completely overlook in other “sciences” they believe in. If we dismiss astrology because the astrologer cannot answer “how,” then we must dismiss medicine and every other science as well.
How do the planets influence? No one knows.
What is the origin of the electrical impulse that is sent forth from the R-Complex of the brain that keeps our heart beating and body breathing? No one knows.
How does the digestive system know exactly what to do with every chemical compound in food and micromanage every little function each second? No one knows.
Doctors have no idea.
Astrologers have no idea.
The ancient yogis and rishis knew. Everything comes from the divine universe and we can see into that using astrology. We can see the what, the why, the who, the when – but not the how. No one knows “how,” only god – or you could say, that mysterious creative genius behind it all is god.<!‐‐nextpage‐‐>
We are at a point in human history where we have to plot a new course. As a species, our shortsighted ways now demand of us nothing less than a full renaissance of culture, economics and spirituality. Many see this as a bleak and dangerous time, but it does not have to be.
Central to this paradigm shift is the awakening and empowerment of each individual. We have to choose boldly and with expanse. These unprecedented times also present unprecedented opportunities for growth and a higher consciousness to again take root on Earth.
All around us we see evidence of the new heart and soul-centric world of the future. There are many Mahatmas (great souls) on this Earth now spreading mystical wisdom to all corners and resurgence in the spiritual traditions and techniques of the past. Yoga, tantra, tai chi, chi gung and many other spiritual systems and approaches are once again becoming commonplace, and not only in medicinal settings.
These amazing spiritual sciences are a perfect example of where science and spirituality meet. Yoga and Ayurveda are a perfect example of this merging of science and spirituality, and now it is time to also return astrology to its rightful place among the spiritual sciences.
It is unfortunate that even in many traditional yoga and Ashram communities how Vedic astrology is seen as outdated, superstitious and inferior to the other Vedic sciences. The truth is, Vedic astrology was considered the supreme science of them all. Vedic astrology was revered as the great science, called the “Eye of the Vedas.” Of course, the eyes allow us to see beyond the illusion.
Every wise and ancient culture knew the importance of our connection to the universe. Our descent into the hyper-literal scientific culture we are now trying to dig our way out from directly mirrors the discredit of astrology through the ages. This antiseptic world view, where our impeccable logic is king, is exactly the mindset that has left us so disconnected from spirit and on the verge of self-destruction.
Sadly, even many who practice modern Western or Vedic astrology do so with this modern hyper-logical bent, where everything is seen as a way to intellectually conquer the universe in some way – to overcome the problems.
Don’t get me wrong, Vedic astrology has many remedial measures to help us avoid trouble. But in many circles astrology is seen as one more tool to help us get what we want from life rather than as a tool for self-knowledge – similar to how yoga is just seen as good exercise. This limited perspective separates us from the source, rather than connecting us to it.<!‐‐nextpage‐‐>
Our spirit takes form on Earth with a body and mind that experience pain and pleasure very easily. This is to ensure that we get immediate feedback on our soul’s progress and the things we think we have learned.
The planets are the energies of intelligence in our mind, our eternal teachers and the agents of that karma.
The first chapter of Brihat Parashara Hora Sastra states:
“Janardana, in the Form of the Grahas (Planets), gives the fruits of karma of the living beings. To destroy the strength of the Daityas [demons], to increase the strength of the Devas, aiming to establish dharma. Janrdana (Vishnu) from grahas took many auspicious births successively.”
This is the truth of astrology and why it works. The planets are incarnations of Lord Vishnu (Janardana), the conscious forces of creation that form our being and everything we call “life”.
In yoga / tantra, the planets are the energizing forces in our chakras, the inner zodiac and the archetypes of all the deities (more on that later).
In Ayurveda, the planets form the Pancha Mahabhutas (the five great elements) and the Dhatus (the seven sacred tissues).
We are not separate from the universe and the planets, any more than our body is separate from our mind. Yoga is the science of unifying the body, mind and heart. The term “Hatha yoga” literally means to unite the Sun and Moon. Many yogis and yoga students know this, but see it as poetry. It is not just poetry.
The Sun and Moon rule the ida and pingala nadis (right and left nostrils respectively) – the active and passive breath, the hot and cool, the yang and yin. The same polarities of life originated 4.5 billion years ago from the Sun and Moon, not just poetically, but scientifically.
Our illusion of the snake and the rope is the opposite of the classical yoga story. We have snakes in our path and we think they are just ropes. We need to produce a flashlight and shine it on these snakes. We need Jyotish.
Our soul comes to this limited world with a limited form in search of divine experiences. How vast the gap often seems between form and spirit!
Yoga is the science of connecting the limited form to the unlimited spirit. It gives us practical tools in the moment, in form, to reawaken our divine nature.
That body and awakening self was given to us by the agents of intelligence and love – the planets. We call this our “karma.” Astrology is the study of karma – the study of the living, divine universe that creates all beings and their experiences.
You can get the complete book here
Sam Geppi (Sadasiva) is the author of “Yoga and Vedic Astrology” and “The Ascendant-108 Planets of Vedic Astrology”. He is the founder of the American Academy of Vedic Art and Science – which offers level 1-3 Certification programs in Vedic Astrology. Currently the Academy has more than 250 students enrolled. Sam is certified level 1 and 2 through ACVA and CVA.
If you want to formally study Vedic astrology and more deeply connect to the cosmic wisdom, visit Sam’s website for hours of free astrology classes.