There are many paths to liberation. Some Sadhakas choose Bhakti, others Japa, still others Pranayama, each Yogi deciding upon a course according to his or her own liking and capability. Irrespective of the number of paths available to the Sadhaka, their goal is the same, i.e. liberation. The methods, effects and time-frames of various paths are different, though. Some paths are long, some shorter, others curving and still others a straight-forward climb. Paths like Tantra and Aghora require extreme discipline, pin-pointed guidance and are fraught with dangers. Then there are paths more suited to and compatible with modern times, like Kriya, showing faster and more tangible beneficial results. I have also seen Sadhakas attempting liberation using sheer Jyotish as Eight Fold Yoga. Let us go over the eight parts of Yoga, point for point, and try and analyze the implications for Jyotish.
The ten commandments of Yama (non-violence, no lies, no sexual energy wastage, no theft, non-attachment) and Niyama (self-study, purity, contentment, self-discipline, surrender to God) are such that Jyotish has no problems in using them as a sound base.
The posture during the practice is Asana for Jyotish. The optimization of Asana for the practice of Jyotish would be to sit cross-legged, for this is none other than Sukh-Asana. The problem Jyotish faces here is of bending while writing. The moment the back is not straight, Kundalini cannot rise properly. Over long time-frames, a bent back can lead to a derangement of the rising Kundalini. One could argue, that the back is straighter while working on the computer. True, but the strain on the eyes and on the nerve endings at the palms and the finder-tips is exhausting for the vision and the nervous system over long-periods of time and detrimental towards spiritual evolvement. What helps here is firstly the use of liquid crystal displays as in laptops or even in some desktop monitors now (i.e. no emanating X-rays). Secondly, by not looking at the screen but at the fingers while typing (total contrast to typing rules!), the eyes are a little better off. Thirdly, one can try to curb computer activity a little if possible, and one can definitely work with special film-coated spectacles, even if they are no-number glasses. Furthermore, regimens like eye-exercises and washing the eyes with Trifla solution are very beneficial. So, according to these arguments, Jyotish is compatible with Asana with a few adjustments.
If the Astrologer refrains from getting addicted to stimulants like tea, coffee, tobacco, smoking and the like, Pranayama is an automatic bonus during the practice of Jyotish. As one gets more and more involved with a horoscope, the breath becomes slower, and over the years one loses consciousness of the breath. Slower and slower breathing leads to a change in brain-structure towards the divine. Stimulants lead to the breath getting faster. Faster breathing leads to a change in brain-structure towards animal nature. Slower breathing is evolvement. Faster breathing is devolvement. Those Astrologers attempting liberation through sheer Jyotish, who can avoid addiction to stimulants, progress to the higher states of Jyotish as Eight Fold Yoga. Of course there are exceptions to every rule.
Pratyahara, meaning withdrawal from the senses, is the culminating result of Pranayama. Here, the mind is interiorized enough to focus with its full potential on a particular subject, which is Dharana. Yogis choose to focus on the Lord. Astrologer-Yogis choose to focus on the horoscope. During Dhyana, the mind of the Yogi realizes the vastness and the nature of Cosmic Consciousness, and attempts to become one with it. The Astrologer-Yogi realizes first-hand the Lord’s handling of destiny and free-will patterns and the strands of Karma at play. The goal of Dhyana is Samadhi. Here, the Astrologer-Yogi, like his or her other Yogi counterpart, merges with Cosmic Consciousness.
Personally, I rate this path towards liberation as more difficult than many other prevailing options. Such is the intensity required of the Astrologer-Yogi, that the person can even become an epicentre of unfriendliness and lack of love. Apart from addiction danger, the time-frame required for the practice is much more than on paths like Kriya, where even 30 minutes each, morning and evening, can be adequate. Astrologers going through Grihastha Ashram risk being unfair to their family if they choose to devote more time for the practice at the cost of family life. Also, it is very difficult to incorporate the money angle and to practice Jyotish as a means for liberation simultaneously. In most cases, the Astrologer-Yogi chooses not to incorporate money into the picture. Involvement with Astrology at the cost of the body’s needs can be another problem. The Astrologer-Yogi must possess enough detachment from the subject so as to take proper care of the body’s health. If the body is not healthy, even the mind and the soul become unhealthy. Ambition, and the expectation of recognition because of the efforts put in, can be blockers of evolvement on this path. Each path has its own pitfalls.
Jyotish, for me, is a pillar of support to my Sadhana. I have chosen not to practice it as a sheer method of liberation. For that, Kriya suffices. The thing with Sadhana is that it leads the Sadhaka to one spiritual test after the other, each test being more difficult than the previous one. When a test comes, I like to face it with my good Karma bank account brimming-full. I utilize Jyotish, and now Ayurveda, as methods of earning good Karma to fill up this account. Then I’m well-armed to face the oncoming test.