|By Charlotte Benson|
Interview on August 21, 2009
Charlotte Benson: Thanks, Bill, for taking the time out of your amazingly busy schedule to answer some questions for us. First of which is: How in the world did you get involved with Jyotish?
William (Bill) Levacy: Well – actually, it was around 1983. I had been meditating since about 1970. As early as 1977, Maharishi (Mahesh Yogi) had been talking about Jyotish, but never did much about it. Then around ’82, he started talking about Ayurveda. And he was mentioning that a part of one’s health approach, one needed to know, in advance, about the onset of a disease, and how to treat it. And Jyotish was a tool to be able to anticipate the approach of a health problem, and treat it effectively. So I just started based on that. And then interestingly enough, I ran into a class, in West Hollywood, taught by Phyllis Kneip. She was one of the first people in the L.A. area to work with Sidereal, and basically Vedic astrology. We used to have group meetings and discuss charts. She was the one who taught me how to calculate a chart by hand. So, I did charts by hand for about 6 months. And I thought to myself how laborious, and repetitive this is. I had some friends who were computer specialists, and I talked them into developing a chart calculation and interpretation program. So I basically got about 15 or 20 books about Vedic astrology, and had them all computerized. And then did a text-extraction program to pull all the data out of all these books, and used it as a learning tool. And it really accelerated my learning of Vedic astrology.
Charlotte: I guess it would! That’s was a brilliant, modern method. So – what else were you doing at that time?
|Bill: Well, that’s interesting. You know, I worked for the TM (Transcendental Meditation) organization. I became a TM teacher around 1972, and taught TM full-time until 1982. I taught about 800 people to meditate – personally taught them to meditate. And I worked on Maharishi’s staff in Europe for 4 or 5 years. And was actually a course leader, on one of the teacher training courses, which was a great thrill. After I finished my term of being a full-time TM teacher, and working on Maharishi’s staff, one of the local meditators offered me a job as a consultant in an aerospace company. And I thought that would be an interesting thing to do, and I got into the aerospace business. Basically as a business consultant. Right around the same time that I started doing Jyotish – around 1982, ‘83. And when I thought about it, it was really|
|interesting because the division that I work with develops and launches satellites! Which are basically artificial Moons. I was working with real Moons and artificial Moons.|
Charlotte: That is kind of funny. Do you have something special going on with your own Moon, in your chart, that you would reveal to us, indicating how you were lead to become a Jyotishi? Such a well-known author, and teacher; and so committed to the on-line college?
Bill: In the past, I have not really revealed much of my chart, because most people don’t interpret it correctly. I even had a very famous astrologer look at my chart, many years ago. And he told me: “You have no leadership ability whatsoever!” And that was weird because that’s all everyone else has ever told me! He was looking at things in my chart, which are exceptions to the rule that most people miss.
One of the things that is part of who I am is that I am just curious about things. I like to know about things. And I like to do a good job. So – the two things I could say: I’m Libra rising. So my yoga karaka is Saturn. And one of the things that Maharishi constantly told us, while I was working on his staff – he would just say: “Focus.” He said you have to be focused. I really took that to heart. And he also said to be sure to pace yourself. So – focus and pacing – I basically learned those kind of skills. Being curious, focused, and pacing myself, I’ve kind of found my own rhythm with life, and am able to do a lot of stuff because I do what I enjoy doing, and try to do things that are suitable to my nature. And my motivation stays up. What’s interesting is that my Moon is in Taurus, which is exalted, in the 8th House. The 8th House is called the house of transcendental knowledge, the house of mystery, the house of research and uncovering hidden things. But the focus that I get from Saturn, as my yogakaraka, and my Moon in Taurus – I just find things fascinating. So – I like to learn about things, and know about things, and I like to do things well. Those are two characteristics of my chart that have served me well.
Charlotte: And those traits help you in your quest for knowing the vast subject of Astrology.
Bill: That’s true. In Vedic Astrology there’s really no end to what there is to learn.
Charlotte: And as you mentioned, the subtleties of the exceptions to the rules. There seem to be almost as many exceptions as there are rules!
Bill: Yes. There’s a saying in quantum physics that the parts of a system change according to their interactions within a system. And that’s one of the highly variable things about Astrology – is all the interactions of all the planets, signs, and houses. This makes each chart, in a way, its own particular reality – its own particular subject for interpretation. As you know from your own experience, there are so many variables in chart reading. But there is some common thread that pulls it all together. A few years ago, I did a TV special, on The Discovery Channel. It was really interesting. I started doing charts for people all over the world - Russia, Macedonia, Lebanon; all over Europe, Africa and Asia. What was neat about that experience, is that the chart worked the same for everybody, independent of their culture, their location, their traditional backgrounds. It was fascinating to see that.
Charlotte: These international clients found you from your Discovery Channel broadcast?
Bill: Yeah, it was amazing – it went on for years, actually. People would call me up, from all over the world, after seeing this show. It was called “Secrets of Astrology.” The camera crew actually came to my house, and I had one of my clients there, and she and I did a reading there together, live, for this TV documentary. I was very well done – they aired it quite a bit overseas. I didn’t know when they were going to broadcast this show . But one evening around 10.30 at night, my email just started going bonkers! I got over 400 calls that month. I did somewhere close to 100 readings that month.
Charlotte: That’s amazing! I’m always curious about what “causes” this kind of extraordinary event. What dasa were you running?
Bill: Well, the dasa I’ve been in since 1989 is Saturn. This is good for people to know – talking about Saturn as the yoga karaka, or indicator for, prosperity, and it’s the planet of focus. The mean rule of Saturn is to do what needs to be done, at the time that it needs to be done. There’s no slack with Saturn. But if you do the correct behavior, for the correct time – which is what Jyotish is - it’s trying to tell you what’s the right performance for the right time - you’ll end up getting a better part of your karma, or your destiny, acting in a more structured, more coherent way. Not rigid – that’s the opposite of structure. That’s a very fascinating sort-of self-laboratory, about the impact of Saturn. If you work with it right, it can bring you a lot of results. But you have to be very focused.
Charlotte: Hmm. It seems to be working very well for you. That must be some kind of a world’s record for doing that many consultations in a month! Bill, I’d like to follow-up on your adventures in text extraction. Which books were your references for that project?
Bill: I do want to say a couple of things about that. I spent a year with Maharishi, in Switzerland, meditating about 8 hours a day, during a special meditation course that he developed, for using consciousness as a research tool. There’s a saying in The Vedas “Seek out him who is awake.” So, in a sense, the knowledge is self-informing; self-expressive. And there’s a particular kind of skill mentioned in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. He has about 5 or 6 different techniques for astrologers that people don’t know about. If practice these techniques your skill as an astrologer would go way up. One of these techniques is called “Jyotish mati pragya” – some people translate this as “the effulgent light.” But part of Patanjali’s technique is putting your awareness within yourself. On certain areas of your own consciousness, or your own cognitive functioning. By putting your awareness on these certain areas, that particular cognitive ability gets enhanced. It’s kind of like self-referral, curving back upon yourself, and enlivening yourself. That’s what humans are great at – being able to recognize themselves, being self-aware. So these techniques really are a deeper part of a component of being an astrologer, in that it’s the development of consciousness – in terms of making an instrument of your analysis – your own cognitive function - making it sharp and clear and deep, through meditation practices. Things to calm, and still, and make your brain coherent. It’s an important part of being a good Vedic astrologer that isn’t talked about much here in the West, because it’s just not part of our culture. But a traditional astrologer will often have some kind of meditation technique that they do, to calm their mind. So what I have learned, is that, for example, you can take a basic book like Brihat Parasara Hora Shastra – which is a pretty good book. The value that you can pull out of a book like that is based on your own perceptual ability, and your own clarity; and your own ability to recognize patterns – and to put those kinds of things together. You know, a lot of Astrology is pattern recognition.
The thing is that you get a few books like Brihat Hora Shastra, and Brihat Jataka and Sarvata Chita Mani, and 5 or 6 others that are pretty much classics. If you read all of those, and meditate, and do lots of charts, you’ll start to develop your ability as an astrologer, by the combination of those kinds of approaches. You have the reading; the personal experience of deeper levels of consciousness and clarification of your own level of cognitive or perceptual ability; and then validating it by doing lots of charts.
|I’ve said this before – I don’t claim to have any astrology guru. I basically meditate, and read, and do lots of charts. The one set of literature that I’ve found to be extremely helpful has sort of gone into hiatus – but it’s B.V. Raman’s “The Astrological Magazine.” It was always a great source of knowledge for me. There were all the modern Indian authors writing on various subjects of Vedic Astrology, and then putting those into practice for myself.|
And the program that I had developed to do text extraction really helped me accelerate my learning.
Charlotte: Then you have two distinct pieces of advice to students: Practice meditation. And get yourself a subscription to the newly revived "The Astrological Magazine"
Bill: Yes, and reading, and do lots of charts. And also, this is something that Maharishi told me about trying to understand Vedic knowledge. He basically said: “Don’t try to understand.” I think that’s really good advice for beginners. The study of Vedic wisdom is fascinating. But it’s like they say – it’s like trying to drink out of a fire hose. You just can’t consume it all. Students get kind of burned-out by trying to assimilate too much, too soon. Or just trying to understand something that may, at that particular point of their study may not be able to be grasped. So that’s why I think this admonition to don’t try to understand is good – just enjoy it, keep it easy, and learn what you learn.
Charlotte: Well that’s a relief – to have permission to take it as it comes.
Bill: Yeah! It’s the straining that blocks your awareness.
Charlotte: I know that you’re pursuing your Ph.D. in Education. How is that going for you?
Bill: I got interested in on-line education in 2000, when Boeing offered to pay for me to get a Master’s degree – I thought it would be really interesting to get a Master’s degree on-line. I got it from the University of Phoenix. Then I thought – this would be great to take this knowledge of on-line learning to put together a course of study for ACVA – to be able to teach anywhere, anytime around the world through the internet. So people have greater access to the knowledge, that was independent of their knowledge skills, or their language skills. That’s what motivated me initially. And we’ve been going 6 or 7 years now. And now I’m in my dissertation phase of my Ph.D. About this time next year, I should have my Ph.D. in Education, with a specialization in “Human Performance Improvement.” That was as close as I could get to Astrology! Because that’s what Astrology is trying to teach us – what’s the best behavior for the best time. So it’s all about improved performance that leads to healthier and happier living.
Charlotte: So ACVA’s new model is pretty much all on-line, all the time?
Bill: Well, from my own personal experience with the University of Phoenix, and Capella – I’ve taken the best of their education strategy and incorporated it into the course design of ACVA. What I found fascinating was – last December I went to a Ph.D. colloquia, where the president of the college announced to us that Capella had been approached by Harvard University for a permission to use Capella’s course design at Harvard. This is amazing and wonderful because we’re using part of Capella’s course design for ACVA. So, in a sense Capella, Harvard, and ACVA on-line have something in common.
Charlotte: That is impressive! I’m taking the Level I course, myself – and I just love it – it’s beautifully organized. It’s actually a joy to log on and absorb Jyotish this way. What else is on the horizon for you?
Any more books in your wonderful series?
Bill: Well – after my dissertation will probably be a book on relationships. There’s a lot in Vedic knowledge about relationships – relationships with others; relationships with ourselves. You know, the relationship we have with others is really an expression of the relationship we have with ourselves. You know the saying: “the happier you are – the cuter you get.” (Laughter.) So, it’s a matter of people finding themselves in order to find somebody else.
Charlotte: Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Bill: Yes – developing consciousness component is really important, in order to be an effective astrologer. And also: not trying to understand. I’m doing some research on Vedic astronomy. And I’m writing an article for the Indian magazine “Modern Astrology”.
Charlotte: Thank you very much, Bill, for your time – I’ve learned a lot from you – again!
William R. Levacy Biography:
William R. Levacy holds a B.A. in literature and an M.A. in education; has been a practitioner of Vedic astrology (or Jyotish, as it’s called in India) since 1983; and is the Dean of Curriculum at the American College of Vedic Astrology (ACVA). Bill also received a master’s degree in the Science of Creative Intelligence in 1977 in Switzerland from Maharishi European Research University, where he concentrated his studies in Vedic Science. In 1996, he received the prestigious Jyotish Kovid award from the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences (ICAS). His two decades of experience as a business consultant in the aerospace industry contributes to the practical yet personal nature of his readings.
William R. Levacy
P.O. Box 88852
World Way Center
Los Angeles, CA 90009 USA
web site: www.vedicsky.com
phone: 310-670-7593 fax: 310-670-7638
Charlotte Benson (Jyoti Devi)
Diplomate: AFA, NCGR, ISAR
Executive Director, American College of Vedic Astrology, Inc.
President, Arizona Society of Astrologers, Inc.
Phoenix, AZ USA.