An Old Way of Living by The Stars

An Interview with Drew Lawrence, the internationally acclaimed Vedic Astrological Consultant and Sanskrit scholar. Reprinted from Shared Vision magazine.

So you've always thought of yourself as an Aries? Well there's a good chance you're not. According to the oldest system of astrology - Vedic Astrology - you might really be a Pisces.

Vedic astrology predates Western astrology (which originated with the Greeks) and comes from India, perhaps the oldest civilization on the earth. It is described in the Vedas, the sacred Indian writings that date back to 5,000 B.C.

Drew Lawrence is one of the few Westerners who has actually studied this system directly from the Sanskrit and is recognized as a Vedic astrological authority in the West. He has been practicing Vedic astrology for twenty years, has clients all over the world and has authored The Way of Kings- Ancient Strategies for Today's Leaders, a translation from the original Sanskrit.

Drew's interest in yoga and eastern philosophy began at age nineteen. He determined that if he was going to dedicate himself to the study of this ancient wisdom, he would need to learn it directly from the Sanskrit language. He studied Sanskrit on his own initially, then worked as a Sanskrit editor and translator and visited India many times, both for academic reasons and for personal pilgrimage. At 27 he renewed an earlier interest in astrology and put the two systems, Western or tropical and Vedic or sidereal to the test in an attempt to discover which had the greatest validity. Concluding that the Vedic system held the deepest truths, Drew began

to study Vedic astrology from the classical Sanskrit texts, many of which had not yet been translated into English as they are today.

QUESTION: What is the difference between Western and Vedic astrology?

REPLY: Because I am familiar with both systems, I was able to compare the two systems through practical application and experimentation. I found that the Vedic system is far more comprehensive and accurate because there are more means with which to draw conclusions and to make determinations.

Western astrology is based on a movable zodiac and the planetary positions are calculated according to the sun's position in relation to the earth, both of which are movable points. Western astrologers say that the zodiac begins on or about March 22nd, when the Sun enters zero degrees of Aries, the first sign of the zodiac.

Vedic astrologers do not take an arbitrary date like March 22nd as the start of the zodiac year. Instead, they look for a fixed point of reference to determine when the Sun enters zero degrees of Aries. They observe the fixed stars or constellations and use them as a backdrop to gauge the movements of the planets in and out of zodiacal signs. For example, zero degrees Aries corresponds to the first constellation known as Ashvini, the horse. Zero degrees Ashvini equals zero degrees Aries.

As the earth spins on it axis, it has a slight wobble. This causes the equinox, (equal day and equal night) to move backwards about 50 seconds each year. Consequently, what Western astrologers believe to be zero degrees of Aries today is in actuality about six degrees of Pisces, the previous sign. This means that the Western and Vedic zodiac are about 23 degrees off from each other. Therefore, when we make a Vedic chart and compare it to the

Western calculation for the same person, we find that the planets' relationship to each other does not change and that most of the planets will be in the same houses in both systems. However, many of the planets will end up in the previous sign in the Vedic system. For example, someone with the Sun positioned in Cancer in the Western system may have their Sun in Gemini, the previous sign in the Vedic calculation. The same applies to the rest of the planets and the ascendant.

In Western astrology, the sun signs change on the 21st or 22nd of each month, while in Vedic astrology, they change between the 12th and 16th of each month. For instance, instead of Aries being March 21st to April 21st, in Vedic astrology the Sun moves into Aries about 23 days after the dates calculated in Western astrology.

QUESTION: What information would I need to supply you with for a Vedic astrology reading and what should I expect to gain from a reading?

REPLY: Just like Western astrology, the birth date, birth time and birth place are required.

Astrology can tell you what can happen when and is used by many people as a means of fortune- telling. That is not my approach. It is important to understand why things are happening and what we are meant to learn from them. What is our purpose in this life and what is the ultimate thing we have come to do that is in harmony with our nature? What did we come into this life to learn and what are our strengths and weaknesses? With Vedic astrology, we get a practical perspective and we see how our karma is unfolding throughout the course of our lifetime.

We often set ourselves a schedule: for example, by the year 2000 we plan for this and that to happen, but many times our lives do not unfold in accordance with our scheduled plans. If we were to understand our karma we would see more clearly what our schedule really is and how we can work in harmony with it rather than against it because every period of life is meant to achieve certain things. If we plant a crop, we don't sow seeds in October because we wouldn't get a crop. We need to sow seeds in harmony with nature's growing season. This same principle must be applied to our own lives, our friends, our families, our nations - as people living on the planet in harmony with mother nature as well as our own nature.

In Western society, we are too yang, too aggressive. There is not enough yin energy to balance and to heal. This is the cause of many of our problems. We need to learn to yield when required. In the West, man is on an endless quest to conquer nature. Look at the results! In the East man's endless quest is to act in harmony with nature.

Vedic astrology brings us a more balanced outlook on life. Sometimes, not doing something is the best course of action. Conversely, there are recommended times of action when it is most appropriate so that the results you want will be there.

QUESTION: What are some of the more technical differences between Western and Vedic astrology?

REPLY: The signs and planets generally have the same meaning and symbolism in both systems. Vedic astrology uses more calculations and more comprehensive methods, that is, more tools are available, such as major and minor cycles of planetary influence based upon a 120 year life cycle. This cycle is alluded to in the Vedas and agreed upon in the Old Testament of the Bible and even by scientists who study biorhythms. The 120 year life-span is divided and subdivided into various periods or cycles of planetary influence, such as a 1 year minor period of the Sun within a 20 year major period of Venus, just as we divide hours with minutes and minutes with seconds - cycles within cycles.

Other tools are subdivisional charts on any particular area of life and reading them separately from the major birth chart. The best way to determine things to be true using astrology is by seeing a particular influence repeat itself from several viewpoints. For example, if we see that a person will be a wealthy man or woman in their birth chart, we look for that influence to be duplicated in their lunar chart and in their navamsha (major subdivision or ninth part harmonic chart). If we see that indication present in all three charts, then we can conclude without a doubt that this person will be wealthy. The more charts in which a particular indication appears, the more we can be assured it will come to pass.

QUESTION: Would you tell me if a particularly difficult time in my life was coming up if you saw it in my chart?

REPLY:Yes I would. I can tell you how long it will last, why it's coming about and what the lessons are that it is meant to teach you, and what it's source may be - sometimes too its genesis in a previous life. Now the choice becomes yours. You can choose to disempower the old behavior or reaction pattern that you have repeated many times before in your life, or, if you choose not to learn the lesson at this time, another opportunity to do so will arise again in the future. It's like wanting to plant tiger lilies this spring but you kept putting it off and now it's too late. However, next year you'll have another opportunity to plant them again. Opportunity always comes back around, sometimes returning to haunt us because we neglected to deal with it the last time.

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