History and Philosophy.
Ayurveda encompasses not only science but religion and philosophy as well. We use the word religion to denote beliefs and disciplines conducive toward states of being in which the doors of perception open to all aspects of life. In Ayurveda, the whole of life's journey is considered to be sacred. The word philosophy refers to love of truth and in Ayurveda, truth is Being, Pure Existence, The Source of all life. Ayurveda is a science of truth as it is expressed in life.
All Ayurvedic literature is based on the Samkhya philosophy of creation. (The roots of the term Samkhya are two Sanskrit words: Sat, meaning "truth", and khya, meaning "to know".) The reader is asked to cultivate an open mind and heart toward the philosophy of Samkhya because of its intimate connection with Ayurveda.
The ancient realized beings, rishis, or seers of truth, discovered truth by means of religious practices and disciplines. Through intensive meditation, they manifested truth in their daily lives. Ayurveda is the science of daily living and this system of knowledge evolved from the rishis' practical, philosophical and religious illumination, which was rooted in their understanding of the creation.
They perceived, in the close relationship between man and the univers, how cosmic energy manifests in all living and nonliving things. They also realized that the source of all existence is Cosmic Consciousness, which manifests as male and female energy - Shiva and Shakti.
The rishi Kapila, who realized the Samkhya philosophy of creation, discovered twenty-four principles or elements of the universe, of which Prakruti, or creativity, is the most basic.
Purusha is the male, while Prakruti is the female energy. Purusha is formless, colorless, and beyond attributes and takes no active part in the manifestation of the universe. This energy is choiceless, passive awareness.
Prakruti has form, color and attributes: it is awareness with choice. It is Divine Will, the One who desires to become many. The universe is the child born out of the womb of Prakruti, the Divine Mother.
Prakruti creates all forms in the universe, while Purusha is the witness to this creation. It is primordial physical energy containing the three attributes, or gunas, found in all nature, the evolving cosmos.
The three gunas are:
These three are the foundation for all existence. They are contained in balance in Prakruti. When this balance is disturbed, there is an interaction of the gunas which thus engenders the evolution of the universe.
The first manifestation from Prakruti is Cosmic Intellect - Mahad or Buddhi. From Mahad, ego is formed. Ego (Ahamkar) then manifests into the five senses (tanmatras) and the five motor organs, with the help of satva, thus creating the organic universe. The same Ego further manifests into the five basic elements (bhutas) with the help of tamas, to create the inorganic universe.
Rajas is the active vital life force in the body which moves both the organic and inorganic universes to satva and tamas, respectively. So satva and tamas are inactive, potential energies which need the active, kinetic force of rajas. Satva is creative potential (Brahma); rajas is a kinetic protective force (Vishnu); and tamas is a potential destructice force (Mahesha). Creation (Brahma), Protection (Vishnu) and Destruction (Mahesha) are the three manifestations of the first cosmic soundless sound, aum (Om), which are constantly operating in the universe.
The First Life Science.
Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine that is indigenous to and widely practiced in India. The word Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term meaning 'science of life`. Ayu means `life or "daily living and Veda is "knowing.' Ayurveda was first recorded in the Vecias the worlds oldest extant literature. This healing system has been prac- ticed in daily life in India for more than 5.000 years.
Ayurveda and Human Potential.
Ayurveda teaches that man is a microcosm a universe within himself. He is a child of the cosmic forces of the external environ ment, the macrocosm. His individual existence is indivisible from the total cosmic manifestation. Ayurveda views health and "dis ease" in holistic terms, taking into consideration the inherent rela- tionship between individual and cosmic spirit, individual and cosmic consciousness, energy and matter. According to the teachings of Ayurveda, every human being has four biological and spiritual instincts: religious, financial, pro creative and the instinct toward freedom. Balanced good health is the foundation for the fulfillment of these instincts. Ayurveda helps the healthy person to maintain health, and the diseased person to regain health. It is a medical metaphysical healing life-science, the mother of all healing arts. The practice of Ayurveda is designed to promote human happiness, health and creative growth Through studying the teachings of Ayurveda, the practical knowledge of self-healing may be acquired by anyone. By the pro- per balance of all energies in the body, the processes of physical deterioration and disease can be impressively reduced This con- cept is basic to Ayurvedic science: the capability of the individual for self-healing.
Ayurveda, Yoga, and Tantra.
Ayurveda Yoga and Tantra are the ancient life dicciplines that have been practiced in India for centuries. They are mentioned in the scriptures of the Vedas and Upauiskads. Yoga is the science of union with the Divine, with Truth Tantra is the most direct method of controlling the energy that creates the ultimate union with Truth and Ayurveda is the science of life The purpose of each practice is to help the individual to achieve longevity, rejuvenation and self-realization. Ihe object of the prac- tices of Yoga and Tantra is liberation, although only certain disci plinecl individuals are able to achieve this ultimate goal through these practices. However. Ayurveda can be practiced successfully by anyone for the achievement of good health and longevity. In the spiritual evolution of a man, Ayurveda is the foundation. Yoga is the body and Tantra is the head. It is necessary first to understand Ayurveda in order to experience the practices of Yoga and Tantra Thus, Ayurveda. Yoga and Tantra form an in- terdependent trinity of life None of these practices stands alone The health of the body, mind (*) and consciousness (* *) depends on the knowledge and practice of these three in daily life.
( * Mind in this context and in the following pages denotes the 0perations of the reasoning intellect, ** consciousness here denotes the intuitive operations of the soul in direct communication with the Divine Principle and source of all life.)
Ayurveda and the Western Mind.
Western medicine and thinking tend to generalize and to cate- gorize individuality For instance, according to the Western con cept of normality, what is common in a majority of people con- stitutes the norm. Ayurveda holds that normality must be evalua ted individually, because every human constitution manifests its own particular and spontaneous temperament and functioning. In the East, the key to understanding is acceptance. observation and experience; in the West, it is questioning, analysis and logical deduction. The Western mind, generally, trusts objectivity, while the Eastern gives more emphasis to subjectivity Eastern science teaches one to go beyond the division between subjectivity and objectivity. This difference in approach may explain why some Westerners experience difficulty in comprehending the methodology of Ayurveda.
Many statements made in this introductory text on Ayurveda may elicit the questions. 'How?' and 'Why?' The author reminds the reader that such questions, though inevitable, are not always answerable. Even in modern Western medicine, some concepts are proven to work without the reasons behind the phenomena being fully understood. For example, though antibiotics are used to destroy the bacteria which form toxins in the body, no adequate explanation exists to explain how and why toxins are formed from bacteria. Furthermore, Ayurveda is truly a holistic science, one in which the sum of mans elements comprises its Truth. To question details before a strong overview of the whole science is acquired will prove unproductive and unsatisfactory. The reader is therefore respectfully advised provisionally to accept statements that may at first appear to lack adequate explanation, until he has begun to master the body of Ayurvedic knowledge as a whole.
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