How Should Buddhists View Astrology?

Question: How should we view online circulated advice from some fortune-telling masters, about the fortune of those of different zodiac signs in the coming new year, about what best colour to wear and such? Is such advice authentic, or should we read with a pinch of salt?

Answer: Although believed by many to be true, astrology has never been substantially proven to be accurate through scientific statistical records. If astrology tells the truth with 100% accuracy, it would be a measurable science already.

However, the Buddha did not say all fortune-telling is total nonsense, though he made it a clear rule that monastics and those committed to the Bodhisattva precepts should not provide soothsaying advice. By extension, this would mean not using astrology too. The Buddha probably did not outright say all fortune-telling is nonsense because there might be rare cases of some fortune-tellers who indeed are able to catch a glimpse of potential futures due to their sharpened minds and observation of intertwined cause and effect in nature.

Exactly since if it difficult to tell whose predictions are accurate, it is best to avoid the slightest dependence on such predictions – lest this grows to be addiction, to the extent of being distracted from learning, practising, realising and sharing the Dharma – which is what really leads to liberation, True Happiness. The far and few cases of ‘accurate’ predictions create the phenomenon of survivorship (or confirmation) bias, of believers remembering only them, instead of failed predictions, which thus fortifies their belief in ‘accuracy’ of predictions. Fortune-tellers often offer free ‘wide’ predictions as opportunistic ads, to create new survivorship bias victims, who will be potential paying customers.

Also, even so-called highly accurate fortune-tellers can fail in their predictions, as the ones whose fortunes are told are as dynamic as their active choices, which thus alter their ‘destinies’ karmically. One of many classic cases is that of the young monk, who extended his otherwise ending lifespan by doing good, as can be seen at https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2009/10/the-old-young-monks-who-killed-saved-ants Ironically, fortune-tellers often say destinies to have been altered as excuses for their failed predictions! 

Broad generalisation of so many complex karmically different and habitually fluctuating humans into 12 or so constricting zodiac characteristics does not make sense too. Different cultures’ zodiac systems obviously contradict with one another too, as no one has yet to discover some how all systems can be seamless unified. If this is possible, someone should had discovered this ‘unification theory’ by now. And before that, which system should be blindly believed in? As cultural bias, people tend to blindly believe the zodiac systems they are ‘born into’ culturally.  

It does not make sense to have a standard ‘lucky’ colour to wear all year round, especially if one is uncomfortable with the colour, that thus makes one lose comfort and confidence. It also does not make sense to wear bright colours to solemn events for instance.

To summarise, there is no need to even read such predictions for advice at all, as they can create needless anxiety and offer false promises that lead to complacency. If you do read them, only do it to statistically prove to yourself of their inaccuracy. It is surely much more fruitful to keep dynamically transform ourselves to be kinder and wiser with down-to-earth Dharma learning, practice, realisation and sharing, which will surely improve life as we progress towards liberation.

Related Articles:
Should Buddhists Pray To Tai Sui?
Is It Alright To Be A Fortune-Teller?

1 Comment

  • Re: I believe that the dharma advises us always to be mindful of the INTENTION behind the thought, word and deed and so it is the same with astrology.

    Reply: There is no way to know for sure which astrologer has good intentions, or that the astrology behind his or her services is a truly accurate system. These are good reasons to never imagine astrologers offer truths greater than the Dharma.

    Re: If the client consults the astrologist with the intention of understanding the why of his or her suffering and the astrologist can throw compassionate light on this “why”, then the astrologist is also on the dharma. If the astrologist does his or her work with the WRONG INTENTION, then he or she is not on the dharma.

    Reply: True Buddhists will directly shed light in causes of suffering using the Dharma, instead of asking others to believe instead in the non-provable – which is itself against the Dharma, as the Buddha would not approve of this approach.

    Re: True astrology fills you with respect for the mysteries of the working of the universe and can also fill you with empathy, compassion and the desire to help others understand their suffering. Let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater. From (one of many I am sure) a compassionate astrologist

    Reply: Any system that demands respect for the ‘mysterious’ and non-provable is not what the Buddha would approve. This is while the Buddha taught us how to nurture empathy, compassion and of the like, with his teachings that directly guide us how to understand and overcome suffering.

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