The Beauty in an Aging Brain

Poignant and touching. In my late 60s, not too far in the future.

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Birth of Pāṇḍavas, the Heroes of Mahābhārata

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Jyotish Star of the Month

SueAnn McKean

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By Vachaspati Christina Collins
Interview Date: 01/12/2017

Christina Collins: Hi SueAnn! Thank you so much for interviewing with the Jyotish Star.

SueAnn McKean SueAnn McKean: So good to be your February Star! Thank you for the honor.

Christina: You came very highly recommended from several sources, who suggested an interview with you, and we are glad you said yes!

Christina: So, I understand that your father was a pilot in the military and that you lived all over the world! That must have been exciting growing up!

SueAnn: Pretty typical of the experience of a “military brat” growing up, my father was absent much more than present explaining perhaps a craving for guiding dharmas that I have sought in different paths and philosophies. We lived in Japan in the early 60s which was fun and different for a 13-year-old

from the beach culture of Southern California, but the most exciting part was when Dad got stationed in Vientiane Laos during a civil war. I wrote a little piece about Dad for my nakshatra teacher, Dr. Arjun Pai explaining his job.

(My 9th lord is Jupiter is aspected by Mars, in the 10th in Ashwini) :

“The Aswini Kumars, the celestial healers, rule all forms of transportation and fast travel. They excel especially at rescue work like ambulance drivers and emergency medical workers. They are “Swift like the Falcons.” Dad spent his career in the military as an airplane navigator – the one who plots the flight path by tracking the stars; One of the Kumars is a mathematician and astrologer. Celestial Navigation in the 1940s – 1960s, before the age of computers, Dad used his strong math skills and abilities with tools such as a periscopic sextant and the magnetic compass.

The other Kumar is a driver of horses through the sky. After retirement, Dad got his pilot’s license and drove “horses in the sky,” into hot zones. Aswini ‘s shakti is Shidravyapani shakti: the power to quickly reach things

SueAnn McKean

or to quickly attain one’s objectives. Result is the world becomes free from diseases.

The clandestine missions were to deliver supplies to isolated villages, weapons to allied tribes and to rescue the wounded. The mission, from the perspective of the West, was to halt the spread of communism which, at the time was feared to be spreading like a cancer.

Living there, on my own as a young teenager, uncertain if my father would return, sowed the seeds of my future preoccupation with being safe, strong and independent. It is when I started reading books on karma and reincarnation, in order to understand how one could be so lucky to be born in safety and affluence compared to the misery and poverty I was surrounded by in Southeast Asia.

Christina: What a profound start to life! Please tell us how you first began your journey to become a Vedic astrologer? Did you begin with Jyotish, or did you learn western astrology or rather Tropical astrology first? Did you grow up around these influences from other family members? Is there anything specific in your chart that led you in the direction of Jyotish?

SueAnn: Astrology was never on my radar until 1990 when I traveled to India, I thought, to do rebirthing with my breathwork teacher Sondra Ray, instead we went to an ashram in the Kumaon mountains in the Himalayan foothills. We lived there for about a month before going to another ashram, higher into the Himalayas, for Navashivaratri. I was having daily kundalini experiences. I had no idea what was happening to me but as a trained martial artist I learned to ride the waves. The experience left me in awe and wonder, so when I returned home to Northern California, I went on a quest to understand what and why this very significant initiation happened to me as I had no conscious intention to be initiated. This whole period leading up to going to India I felt that something beyond me grabbed me and started steering me in an unknown direction. Realizing the force was going to have it’s way with me I surrendered control to be a passenger.

The following year I was walking by a bookstore and saw a flyer that said Vedic Astrology readings. I had a feeling some clues to my search could be revealed. The astrologer was Dr. Dennis Harness(Dayananda Saraswati). I was amazed that you could learn to look at a piece of paper and see stuff about a person’s life. I asked Dennis where I could learn more. There was one book in the book store “Astrology of the Seers” by David Frawley (Pundit Vamadeva Shastri) and I gobbled it up. I understood it completely it seemed, on some ancient collective unconscious level. I was hooked. Dennis started offering classes at the book store and I was on my way.

Christina: Ah Yes, its so interesting how the knowledge gets passed down, and how fortunate you are to have begun your journey with two of the great astrologers of our times! You have a deep background in spiritual practices with several Jyotish Gurus and spiritual teachers, would you like to tell us about them and how they influenced you?

SueAnn: Reading “Autobiography of a Yogi” In my senior year of high school (1970) I wanted to be a kriya yogi and practiced the kriya yogi energizing exercises in preparation to be initiated. I became involved with a TM’er who persuaded me to learn TM (Transcendental Meditation). I was really happy with the technique and jumped on the bandwagon to save the world in 1975, going to MIU (Maharishi International University) in Fairfield Iowa for the first teacher training in the USA. I loved spending all day meditating and rounding (yoga) and listening to Maharishi on the latest technology, VHS tapes. I was blessed by the great master’s darshan as he visited while there.

It was a beautiful time of light and love followed by a decent into rajasic and tamasic realms of sweat, strain, struggle and burnout. I was an Icarus who, in his hubris and exuberance, flew too close to the Sun and crashed into the sea of worldly maya. I became engrossed in training, nicknamed “Mean McKean, the Aikido Machine” by my Aikido teacher. I lost my self but not my soul; never totally losing touch with the background of pure witnessing consciousness revealed by TM practice.

SueAnn McKean and Arnold Schwarzenegger In 1981 the fitness craze hit the USA. Recovering from an Aikido injury, I was working out at a gym that happened to be having a bodybuilding contest for women.The guys in the gym encouraged me to participate so I did. It lead to a 6 year international career culminating in a top ten placement in the Ms. Olympia, the highest professional championship contest in the world.

In 1988 I was tired of the heavy world of international sports and competition and it would take years, with the help of Jyotish, to realize that it was exactly the karma I needed to experience, and again remined me that I was never in charge even though I had forgotten temporarily.

Christina: Whoa, what a contrast! And, how integrating! You also have a great reputation as an Aikido master. How did that come about and what influenced you in that direction?

SueAnn: I started training in Aikido the same time I started TM (1973). Aikido was conceived and developed by an enlightened Shinto master and very accomplished Budo (martial arts) master. I experienced no difference philosophically between the two except TM is practiced from the mind inward and Aikido, the mind outward. Aikido is Creative Intelligence in action. I did not have a plan to make it a career but it grabbed me, (something I began to understand with the study of Jyotish) and I went on to get a black belt in 1977 and started teaching.

Since 1991 I have been teaching Aikido at a transpersonal psychology graduate school. This college valued whole person education, mindfulness and spiritual awareness. They felt Aikido would fit with those values as Aikido is a non-resistant martial art based on harmonizing with an attacker or, as most of our lives, is more about dealing with stress and difficult people like the future clients that these future therapists will encounter. At the present time, too, I am teaching at an innovative, private middle school in San Francisco where the founder, a student of mine, felt that if only 11-year old’s could learn to be mindful, respectful, kind to each other, etc. Not an easy task!

Christina: I was especially interested in reading about your work with the Enneagram system. Many of our readers may not know about this system, could you elaborate on it and how you use it in combination with your Vedic Jyotish work?

SueAnn: Enneagram was very popular in my San Francisco Aikido circle in the 70s & 80s, I studied it with Helen Palmer, becoming a certified teacher in 1991, and integrated the system with my Aikido classes at the grad school where I teach Aikido and Enneagram separately as well.

Briefly, the Enneagram is a personality system of 9 world views based on emotional passions. On another level these are seen as “ego fixations,” meant to reveal to the spiritual aspirant the primary mind based obstacle to growth that is tripping them up as it is “hiding in plain sight.” It is understood that the ego does not want to change or evolve no matter how much we think we do, so it must be gently dealt with using acknowledgment and acceptance.

The origins of the Enneagram are mysterious, some say the Sufis, others look as far back as the desert fathers of early Christianity 4th century, others yet see connections with Vedic or Buddhist principles. It has been used by the monks and nuns to assist in living in communal harmony with their brothers and sisters, as the enneagram helps us to “see the world through the eyes of others.” It teaches how to understand why others seem so alien at times, with perspectives so divergent. We can also, by using the enneagram as a tool for self-understanding have more empathy for ourselves and the others.

Enneagram Monthly (EM) website is quite informative for those unfamiliar with it. The EM was started by my spouse Jack Labanauskas in 1995 and remains the only world-wide continuously published magazine on the enneagram. Jack has been absorbing Jyotish for the last 10 years, coming along on those months long trips to India to be with Pundit Sanjay Rath and his crew of brilliant astrologers. We had several brainstorm sessions with Sanjay on how the Enneagram system might dovetail with Jyotish. Jack has been incubating these ideas with his previous studies in Macrobiotics and acupuncture and with what came out of those sessions. It has started coming together and he has recently started publishing his theory that synthesizes or rather relates how type systems like Enneagram Sueann and Jack

can be useful in connection with Jyotish and supplement what is generally lacking in one system with what the other has in spades. He’s very excited about it.

Christina: Thank you for that – I will be sure to check it out. I was typed 40 years ago in my 20’s, so I will be interested to see if that has changed at all over the years! Have you written books, eBooks? Or do you plan to write in the future?

SueAnn: I am gradually getting into writing in the last couple of years starting with the AIAC Times, a free publication offered by the guru of AIAC classes Souvik Dutta (Jyotish Star in March 2015) and his students. He teaches in the Chicago area as well as conducting classes in Jyotish and other spiritual subjects online. Souvik has been instrumental in my Jyotish education with his gift of being a cross cultural translator. He has tremendous depth of Jyotish knowledge with the ability to unpack it for a westerner.

I have a blog that I sporadically write for. I guess I am waiting for a good dasa for writing! Posted there are the Jyotish & Enneagram series.

My thing has always been teaching. With Pushya lagna, Jupiter and Mercury in the 10th and exalted Jupiter in the navamsa 10th, it is my dharma. I remember in the early days getting a reading with Chakrapani (Ullal) and him saying that I would have been a dancer if only that Mars was not all over my planets in the 10th and 11th houses which lead to my Aikido teaching career.

When I give a reading, the emphasis is often about how to better deal with self, a problem, a person, a situation. I generally feel my role is teacher more than a prognosticator. I much rather give readings on the general state, talents and difficulties that the chart reveals than making predictions for specific outcomes. My studies with the Enneagram and in psychology, as well as decades of Aikido honed my ability to read the energy of a person much better than what their future may hold. I’m particularly fond of working with the Nakshatras and using intuition more than calculation.

Christina: You have also completed advanced studies in Jaimini with dear Pundit Sanjay Rath – we would love to hear more about that.

SueAnne McKean and Sanja Rath SueAnn: I met Pundit Rath in 2005 at a conference in California. He totally blew my mind with his amazing breadth and depth of Knowledge. I wanted to learn from him no matter what he was teaching. When the opportunity came to go to Almora in the Himalayas to study Jaimini Sutras with him I did not hesitate. Guruji is an incredibly generous and brilliant guru and I feel blessed and honored to have had the opportunity to learn from him and be part of his clan of brilliant shishyas.

Christina: You also have quite a following teaching Jyotish online, please tell us about this and how people can find you?

SueAnn: It started with Pundit Rath making me a mentor for the Parashara Jyotish Program online. He put me in charge of 12 shishyas. YIKES! I had to learn quickly. An important lesson I learned is that I did not have to be a know-it-all…I had much more advanced shishyas than I

(like Souvik Dutta) but they treated me with respect and we shared and learned together.

When I joined the AIAC school, Pundit Dutta asked if I would become a mentor. I have been teaching the level 1 foundations and level 2 more advanced materials like visesa lagna, ayurjyotish, panchanga and yogas with fellow Jyotishi Amit Garg.

Christina: Thank you so much SueAnn for meeting with us today, it was a pleasure – our readers are going to be very pleased with your interview, as I am!

SueAnn: I appreciate the invitation to be in your illustrious magazine.

SueAnn McKean SueAnn McKean Biography:I teach intensive seminars of the Jaimini Sutras and Brihat Parasara Hora Shastra. After five years, in 2011, I completed and was certified to teach the Jaimini Sutra Upadesa.

I currently I enjoy teaching Jyotish courses locally and online to beginners, and more advanced students while building my Jyotish reading practice.

To enhance our knowledge, my husband Jack and I, in 2007 began to attend a weekly Vedanta study group at Stanford University, We study the Bagavad Gita, the Upanisads and the teachings of Swami Vivekananda under the sharp tutelage of Swami Vedananda of the Ramakrishna Order.

I live in the hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay Area with my husband Jack.
Phone: 208 240-6034

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Mahavakyam – Part 2

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Purusha Suktam – Explanation of the first six verses

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Mahavakyam – Part 1

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Solis Invicti

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