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Ethical Considerations in Astrology

all articles basic astrology

Vaughn Paul Manley, M.A.


Recently I was asked by a student about Do’s and Dont’s when giving an astrology reading. So, here’s a few key ideas that come to mind in response:

The main point is to have the primary motive of being of service, helping the individual, above any other motive like profit or power. If you have this intention then most pitfalls will be avoided. Here’s a couple of quotes by my Jyotish guru, K.N. Rao:

The reading should empower and not leave the person with fear. Fear paralyzes the will, and everyone needs their will to take the next positive step in their lives. More importantly, there is always God’s grace operative above the laws of astrology, so never paint a negative, fearful, 100% fatalistic picture. To assume that you know that something negative will definitely happen should never be said. Astrology only shows likelihoods, not inevitabilities. That said, the chart may show an extreme likelihood, a dridha or fixed karma, indicating a slim chance for avoiding a negative outcome. Still, there’s God’s grace that may intercede, which the astrologer may not see, but that is easily seen by an omniscient yogi or highly intuitive individual.

On the other hand, we don’t want to sugar coat or white wash an interpretation either by being unrealistically optimistic. I like how Bill Levacy, author of Beneath a Vedic Sky, put it:

Therefore, the best approach is to give a realistic analysis, while still conveying the hope of a positive outcome resulting from right effort and remedial measures like spiritual practices, etc. the reading will be empowering.

The main guideline is to ask yourself, “Will this be helpful to the individual?” If it’s not, then don’t say it.  The Dalai Lama put it very succinctly when he summed up ethics by saying:

I’ve heard some astrologers argue with this by saying, “Heck with that being sensitive to the client stuff. I’m going tell it like I see it. Period. That’s my job. It’s up to them to digest it, and face their karma.” Then they proceed to describe upcoming periods when the person will contract a fatal disease, get in a fatal car accident, their spouse will leave them, or lose the life of their child, etc. How helpful is that? The client leaves shaking with fear, feels like they’ve been beaten up by their karma, and lives the next some months with anxiety, depression, and a sense of helplessness. The astrologer may have thoroughly impressed them by their skill in being able to give the dates and times that these fateful events will happen. Worse yet, they may have suggested expensive remedial measures like gemstones as the only way out. Who benefits from this? Certainly not the client.

It’s not like astrologers shouldn’t talk about negative or dangerous possibilities. The point is to do so in an empowering way, by encouraging right action. If someone’s been overworking and seriously neglecting their health, then the dashas and transits could indicate an upcoming period of illness, even serious illness. It’s always best to believe that they have the free will to change that, so that the person applies themselves fully to the solution. The solution is inherent within the problem, but many astrologers only focus on the problem, and a negative outcome. It’s a wasted opportunity. Malefic indications in the chart always represent the possibility of transformation through right effort. If, on the other hand, the astrologer gives wise advice that leads the person toward the transformation of negative karma, then it’s a win/win for both the client and the astrologer. If it doesn’t work out, and the person still falls ill, they will at least have benefited by the process. Then they can accept it as their destiny knowing that it couldn’t have been avoided.
It’s easy to bloat our egos by impressing others with our ‘special’ knowledge and amazing predictive skill. Avoid all that, by fixing your intention on sincerely wanting to help the individual. Then astrology will help you spiritually, otherwise it won’t and can even be detrimental.

The astrologer’s intention is either focused on helping the client or helping themselves. There’s no other option. The three gunas, sattva, rajas, and tamas will be operative based on the intentions of the astrologer while giving a reading. This is how I break it down:

  • Sattvic: Intention to Serve
  • Rajasic: Intention to Impress
  • Tamasic: Intention to Exploit

Astrology is the most comprehensive form of counseling because it can address any area of life. It’s also a predictive super science and an astrologer needs to realize the power of their words for good or ill. These are some of the main points I’ve learned from my Jyotish guru, K.N. Rao, about giving a reading.

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