Many times people don't want to know about their future because they dread hearing something negative. It's like refusing to go to the doctor because you don't want to find out how bad your disease is. This way of thinking ignores the fact that the doctor has knowledge of medicines and procedures that can remedy, or at least reduce, the health problem. Likewise, in Vedic Astrology, there are remedies that can make a difference in the outcome of a given situation. The proposal is that destiny, at least to some degree, is negotiable; there is some choice in any matter. (Here we have to interject that there are destinies that are unavoidable; these are called 'hard karmas', e.g.: you are going to die some day.) Vedic Astrology comes from a culture that was not just interested in a theoretical understanding of the human plane, but wanted to know how to achieve improvement of the human condition on a practical level, and on an individual basis.
Let's start with the fundamental idea that everything is produced by energy patterns, and that the Vedic Astrology Birth Chart is a personalized 'map' showing how these energy patterns are operating at any particular time in your individual case. This map of your energy patterns is only representational; the paths that the energy takes cannot be measured and examined by modern scientific methods. Though not responding to our Western sciences, the data presented in the birth chart can be analyzed using the techniques of the ancients, and the information obtained through this evaluation shown to be accurate with verifiable, real-live results.
The next question becomes, can we do anything to alter the outcomes of these subtle energy patterns? It turns out that the ancient people wondered the same thing, tried various techniques, and passed on what they found to work. But is direct manipulation of Celestial influences something available to those of us who are neither tantriks nor adepts? Maybe we can't make use of the more extreme esoteric methods, nonetheless there are plenty of proven procedures that can be incorporated into our modern Western lives without having to move into an ashram or a cave.
The first and most obvious approach is being aware of what is coming up and taking appropriate action. The Path of Action is one that appeals to Westerners, since we are culturally so devoted to the idea of 'free will'. But here we are asked not to go blindly forward driven by will and desire. Rather we are to consciously align our actions with the planetary forces that are currently in operation. Using the information provided by the astrological analysis, it's possible to make intelligent choices for improving the chances for a more desirable result.
Here's an example: as I am writing this, Mars and Mercury are conjunct in the Heavens. This sets up the energy pattern of Argument (Mars: forceful, plus Mercury: speech). The awareness of this energy pattern applied to me the individual person will lead to, broadly speaking, one of two possible outcomes: I am the arguer, or, I am the victim of the arguer. So, knowing this, I can be preparing myself for the likelihood of argumentative people coming my way this week, and/or: this is a good time to present an argument to further some cause or idea of my own. A more detailed analysis of other astrological factors, such as the placement of the Mars-Mercury conjunction relative to the particulars of my own birth chart, will tell which of the two potential paths the energy is likely to take.
One very important traditional method we can make use of for guiding the energy pattern towards a more desirable result is the use of Prayer. The technique of prayer is certainly not unique to India. In fact, it seems somehow imbedded in the human psyche, manifesting in all cultures through all time.
The idea basically is to petition the forces, the 'Gods' of the planets, for their consideration of our suffering. Whether or not there is someone listening I choose not to argue. We can provide an acceptable scientific reason for this practice by pointing to the modern research that shows a connection between the entrainment of the human mind through the repetition of a thought through words and feelings and a measurable effect on the material world. The findings of Quantum Physics validate this, as well as the anecdotal evidence from many people's direct experience.
By making use of the birth chart analysis, we can be more explicit about what planetary force pattern we need to direct our prayers to. Within Vedic lore there are many specific prayers, mantras, rituals and instructions on just how to go about accessing the energy of a particular planet. Or you can experiment with your own inventions for helping to attune your energy with that of the cosmos. What seems to matter most is the strength and integrity of the effort, and the application of that effort on a daily basis.
Just like the medical doctor prescribes for healing on the physical plane, the Vedic Astrologer prescribes for healing on the subtle forces plane. There are 'medicines' in Vedic lore that encourage the energy patterns associated with individual planets. An analysis of the birth chart will determine which of the planets are best suited to help a person in their current dilemma, and the appropriate remedy is recommended. The substances and techniques used range from herbs, scents, and foods to diagrams (yantras) and talismans. In this last category are the Vedic gems, where each of the planets has a particular gem that can enhance that planet's energy when the gem is worn in contact with the body. The birth chart has to be evaluated to determine which gem would be most appropriate in an individual's case.
Another of the remedies resorted to, which can be used in a generalized way for everyone, is the Path of Service. Similar to the 'path of action' as described previously, but with a twist: rather than asking you to align yourself with a specific energy pattern shown in the chart, the Path of Service is recommended as general relief for the consequences of your selfishness. Some people, such as those with a dominant Virgo or 6th house position in their chart, may be inclined to act this way naturally. But what is suggested here is the making of some sacrifice, to step outside of oneself, to sincerely contribute to others' welfare to relieve their suffering, and coincidently, to get some chits placed on the positive side of your karma ledger. To each planet there have been ascribed specific remedial acts of service that the astrologer can recommend. The Path of Service is always available to us, and using it can do much to compensate for your own difficult karmas, although the mechanism that creates the payback is another of those unmeasureable, 'unscientific' mysteries.