© Ed Zadlo AD (Acharya Premanand)
A basic premise upon which we base much of our modern thought is that of our individual identity. Our society defines our humanity in terms of our individuality, of our being superior to and distinct from the lower, animal forms of life. We are said to be special, separate beings who come into this crude, natural world to claim dominion over it for the betterment of mankind and civilization.
Nurturance of this individuality is felt to be a sacred right, which we call independence. Thus, we feel blessed to live within a society, which equates life with liberty and the pursuit of happiness, where liberty is defined as autonomy and happiness as the fulfillment of all the needs and desires of the individual.
Of course being an individual does come with some side effects. Since we don’t live in a stable, certain universe, everything about us constantly changes. As individuals, we often see ourselves as being alone, in an uncertain, competitive world with every other individual ‘out there’ trying to get the same things that we need.
Happiness is not only something we must continuously pursue; once any of it is found, it must also be maintained and defended. In addition, it seems, that the more we get the more we need. The greater our efforts to find happiness and peace of mind, the more sophisticated and demanding our requirements become. Life can often feel like a hopeless struggle against the forces of a hostile world where fleeting moments of contentment and joy are not worth the struggle.
This struggle, surprisingly enough, is not new. The ancient Sages of India observed it many centuries ago and pondered it deeply within their meditation. Among the many discoveries that resulted, from those meditations, was that there is an underlying, universal truth which connects all life and which is also connected to our own personal identity. They even concluded that the real cause of life’s struggle is connected to ignorance of our true identity as human beings.
They concluded that, the premise that we are individual, independent entities who come into a hostile world to struggle through life seeking happiness and fulfillment is false. If we start life with a false premise, it follows that all of our subsequent conclusions will also be false.
As we view the fields of Health and healing, from within this false premise, from our idea that we are separate bodies cast into a hostile world, we are lead to view disease as a type of invasion. We see hostile, outside forces attacking our perfect body-selves to ravage and destroy us. Our response is to attack back. Like soldiers in a war, we look for militaristic weapons against the attackers. Strong weapons like fire and knives. Strong drugs to kill the invaders or as a last resort, surgery to cut off and destroy any part of ourselves that has been permanently invaded.
Ayurveda arose from the revelations of the meditating Sages; that we are not independent individuals. We don’t come into the universe from some outside heaven to blaze like a spark and then die. We come out of the universe as part of the life process.
All life and universal processes are connected and interdependent. We are part of the process, not separate from it. God is not outside somewhere watching and controlling everything. God wells up from within the very heart of life, both as the creator of the process and the stuff of which everything is made.
Our own realization of the truth within these ideas leads us to a completely different view of health and the healing process. Rather than seeing disease as external to our separate selves we see it more as the pain of our attempt to separate from life. Realizing the illusion of our separateness becomes the key to the healing process, not only for ourselves, but for all of life.
Beyond the limits of mind and body or time and space,
There is something which is pure, uncreated, conscious existence.
It is within all form, but all form is only a part of it.
It is to life, what energy is to matter.
It is the purest form of energy, but it is also conscious and aware.
It is the thinker of thought and the experiencer of experience.
It alone remains stable while all created phenomena happen around it.
It never changes.
It is always true.
It is Truth itself.
Being beyond the fluctuations of pleasure and pain or happiness and sadness,
It is pure joy.
only vaguely related through such ideas as Consciousness, Truth and Joy
and infitely beyond all ideas,
is the source of life;
the force behind the creation, operation and dissolution of all things.
Being everywhere, all the time,
It is present within us.
It is the essence of life that we call the Soul,
Our own inner faculty of consciousness.
It exists within us all, as the changeless Self,
unaffected by time and environmental manipulation of body, mind or personality.
It does exist and its manifestations within us are real and definitive
and they can be realized by anyone who sincerely wishes to do so…
The Yogic and Ayurvedic Approach to Treatment.
The approach to treatment of illness by both Yoga and Ayurveda is always to return to the Self. To first perceive the inner Self, then to merge with it; to celebrate “the higher Self”, not to dwell on negativity. “Ignoring our inner wisdom” is a prime cause of even physical symptoms. Suffering is inherent in human life, it is part of the life process. But the Yogic view of its cause and the way out of it, is quite different than the typical western view.
Yoga’s approach to alleviating suffering is challenging and radical – it makes us turn our attention to the cause of the pain and attempt to eradicate it forever. The ultimate answer is always the spiritual answer.
The view of Ayurveda is similar to Yoga, in that it also emphasizes finding root causes rather than just treating symptoms.
Ayurveda’s focus is on life events, or life-style and genetic (constitutional) or Karmic factors which can cause imbalance in the Mind/Body Complex. Ayurveda uses Yogic practices, herbal medicines, diet and life-style changes to clear imbalances. Therefore, it is more similar to the western approach than Yoga alone would be, but it comes from the same fundamental approach as Yoga and all the Vedic sciences; we are Spirit, working through mind and body.
Ayurveda aims at living a balanced life, in harmony with natural law. It is not necessarily different from Yoga. Both approaches are able to be utilized together as a balanced therapy.