by Robert Wilkinson
Today's post takes a look at one of the intersections of fate and free will. One misconception about Astrology is that because our birth chart shows it's a "good" time or "bad" time then we are powerless to change the course of events and must accept the inevitable "good" or "bad" that is supposed to follow. This of course ignores the fundamental fact that we alone manifest our lives through the consequences of our actions and inactions.
To quote some timeless wisdom from The Bard, "The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves if we are underlings." It is our responsibility to act as we should and not act as we shouldn't. It is in our actions or non-actions, and whether these are in our best interests and can really get our intention accomplished, that determines much of what happens in our lives.
Our stars cannot make anything happen of themselves, nor can any Astrological, Tarot, psychic, or "spiritual" self-help reading make a thing happen or not happen. In my book "A New Look At Mercury Retrograde," there is an explanation about why planets do not cause anything:
Even if we use astrology, we still live our own lives and make our own choices. Invariably, we are either acting, not acting, or being acted upon. Planetary configurations are relevant to us in our chosen field of activity, in our life energies, and the varying circumstances that influence us. An astrological configuration cannot make us act appropriately, or solve a problem in and of itself. Many configurations completely pass us by, with the "good ones" not magically bringing expected good nor the "bad ones" visiting disaster upon us. Any configuration only manifests to the degree we are living life, and not merely being spectators waiting for something to happen.
No matter how great the aspects in our chart are, if we are limited we cannot achieve the best use of those aspects. If we avoid looking at key limitations and choose to push forward with something, or fail to follow through at critical moments due to fear, attachment, or buying into illusions, then we will experience failure. These teach us to accept or get beyond those limitations, and not blame circumstances or someone else for our failure.
While sometimes things seem to turn around "magically," usually the "success" or "failure" of something involves several factors, among them circumstances, effort, and timing. If these are not correct, then usually we don't achieve the desired results. The last two are within our control, while the first usually isn't. And if the circumstances are not correct, then no amount of effort or right astrological timing will make our project succeed.
"Real world" circumstances influence our choices to act or not act in our best interests, and while we don't control the circumstances, we always control our responses to those circumstances. Some circumstances do not permit "success" as we envision it, and even when they do, if we don't do the right things in the right ways and times, we cannot succeed.
For example, we cannot drive two thousand miles with only $20 for gas (unless we have revolutionary technology!) We cannot catch trout in a bass pond, nor can we plant potatoes in great soil with the Moon in a fertile sign and get a crop when there is snow on the ground. We cannot sell products to people who want to buy something else, or make someone "do the right thing."
We cannot make someone else want to be in a healthy relationship with us if they don't want that. And while we can pray for some things, we cannot make them come. Some things are beyond our control.
That brings up a key point. If we visualize a desired end clearly, have the skills and resources that must be used to that end, start it at the right time in the right way, and persevere in doing what we must to achieve the result, then usually we get some measure of success. HOWEVER! If in doing that effort we violate one critical factor, then no matter what, our efforts will never succeed.
Regardless of what we believe is good or desired, we must not violate our integrity and what we're here to learn and Be, or at some point our "truth of being," or karma, or guardian angel, or another Spiritual component in our lives will put a stick in our spokes to keep us from error. Something about "leave us not in temptation" comes to mind. Spirit has many ways and means to redirect us from erroneous aim, whether we think we are in error or not.
If our desires are pulling us away from what we are to learn about selfless service this life, then at some point our desires will be frustrated or wrecked altogether. We can effort mightily toward some end, but if it's fundamentally not true for us, or is leading us away from our best and Highest Self and purpose for being on Earth, or the "failure" is part of our higher path of Self-realization, then our efforts cannot bring us the success we hope for. This helps us learn detachment, dispassion, and discrimination.
When our best efforts have failed, it's important to do reflective work using objectivity and compassion to understand if we were in error, and if possible make appropriate corrections. We cannot afford to find fault in circumstances or any other external thing, even if these were involved in what did or didn't happen. Ultimately it's all about our responsibility to act or not act appropriately, and see what constitutes "right view," "right effort," "right action," and "right realization."
Of course, compassion also dictates that we remember the hard human truth that even if we do everything correctly, "sometimes the answer is no." A crop failure may not come from our actions or inactions, but it's always important to take responsibility for whatever part we did play in the larger event, and if we "failed," examine how we can become better people for the experience.
Our willingness to find appropriate ways to rise to our challenges determines how the outcome of those challenges affects our lives. How we respond determines future possibilities of succeeding in fulfilling our purpose. Sometimes just rising to the occasion brings forth our better Self, whether we "succeed" or "fail" at whatever. An apparent defeat today can bring forth skills and understandings that could be an important key to future successes.
I'll close this brief essay on our responsibility to drive our own boat and not blame externals for our apparent worldly failures and frustrations with a reminder from The Three Truths: "Each man is his own absolute law-giver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself; the decreer of his life, his reward, his punishment." Something to consider as we move and groove through the intersections of fate and free will.
(Rewritten from an article originally published in February 2008)
© Copyright 2010 Robert Wilkinson