Ayurveda teaches that our body, composed of matter, is by its very nature fragile, impermanent, and verily a house of distress and disease, always vulnerable to death at any given moment. Anyone at any time can become a victim of any disease and often the body collapses before the soul’s work is finished, or even before the allotted time is up.
Such is the collapsing, shuddering, weak, tentative, and ephemeral nature of the human body. This is why we humans pray for a full and healthy life.
According to Ayurveda, it is natural for humans to crave happiness and bodily comfort, and in the same manner, it is quite natural for humans to shun pain of any kind.
Ancient Ayurvedic Sage Charaka writes that although activities of all creatures are directed intuitively towards happiness, the good and bad course they adopt depends upon the knowledge and ignorance (of each creature) respectively.
Definitely, to live and live fully and happily is the most natural instinct of any living thing. This is what we dream about, and this is what we pray for. Scratch the surface of any heart, and we find hidden deep within, the desire to have health, possess vitality, and longevity. This is why even the mere thought of a chronic or fatal illness strikes such terror in our hearts. An extra growth, some strange symptom gives us sleepless nights. When we see a physically or mentally unfortunate person, we feel numb and nervous at the same time, and we quickly shift our eyes away, trying to suppress our own inner fears.
This urge to prolong life, avoid bodily harm or injury, and live a life ‘fully’ has been acknowledged by all Indian scriptures and statements of authority. This ‘lust for life,’ or jijivisha, is intrinsic to the journey towards Moksha, or Self-Realization, or else the game plan would fail.
All creatures, big or small, wish to live and live happily. However, all creatures under the same sun, do not meet the same fate. It is the sum total of intelligence that any creature possesses in a given moment that decides the course of action the creature will embark upon (in that moment), and more importantly, it is with the consequences of such action (the law of karma is eternally operating), that the creature will have to live with. Based upon the given intellect, Charaka has categorized humans into the wise and the ordinary.
Sage Charaka says that one should not use food articles from either attachment or ignorance; rather, one should use the wholesome food item after the examination (through analysis), because the body is a product of food. Thus, according to Ayurveda, those who blindly seek to satisfy the senses, and run to please every craving, run hither and thither to satisfy every impulse, and do what it takes to feed each and every mental frenzy, suffer, sooner or later.
One may be born with good health (and even good genes), but slow and steady abuse of the body through consistent intake of detrimental foods and indulgence in self-destructive mental and social thoughts and activities result in slow and steady depletion of good health. It is only a matter of time.
No amount of health supplements visiting the spa, or taking vacations will restore what is depleted and destroyed on a daily basis. It is the moment-to-moment decisions, which we make under the spell of our own attachments and aversions that take a heavier toll. This explains why Ayurveda teaches an entire lifestyle that promotes health. The Ayurvedic path is not a one to three-month intensive. There are no ‘off days’ in Ayurveda, no points to count, and no calories to burn. Ayurvedic wisdom is an unfolding of wisdom as a continuous ‘way of life.
Ayurveda is an everyday application of intelligence, a spiritual and inner decision to reconnect with the flow of life, a resolution to make decisions after due consideration, a move to reclaim our right to think for ourselves, and a celebration of the fact that our higher Self will always guide us ‘wisely’ in any given moment – if we so decide. Ayurveda will guide us to our cherished goal – a healthy, happy, full life.
Since the Vedic Indians understood and appreciated the fact that leading a balanced, disciplined life, eating in moderation, and adopting an ethically and morally superior code of conduct, keeps the body and mind relatively free of disease, the specialized branch of the Vedas – Ayurveda, was keenly and systematically developed by ancient sages and saints to benefit one and all. To achieve the goal of health and pain-free life, Ayurveda is necessary to the human being. Without the guidance of Ayurveda, there is a chance that human souls may get lost in route.
This article by Acharya Shunya Pratichi Mathur was originally posted on www.ayurvedalifestylemedicine.org