Light on Ayurveda Journal
Ayurveda, the traditional healing system of India, is often looked at as a way of optimizing the functioning of the body. Ayurveda is capable of assisting in the healing of many conditions as well as extending life itself. The knowledge of Ayurveda has its roots in the Vedas, the sacred texts of India from which many spiritual philosophies and religions have sprung. These include Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Yoga and others. It is a science not only of the physical body, but it goes beyond into the understanding of consciousness itself.
Ayurveda's sister, Yoga, is quite well known for its physical stretching exercises. Yoga is actually much more than this-it is a complete science and philosophy leading to enlightenment. Likewise, Ayurveda is much more than a science of understanding what foods are right for you. It is a science of using health as the basis of one’s journey toward enlightenment. In fact, Ayurveda and Yoga are two sides of one coin. Ayurveda keeps the physical body healthy so that one can pursue spiritual goals, while yoga is the path of spirituality. Ayurveda is not a religion any more than yoga is a religion. They are spiritual sciences applicable to one’s journey regardless of religious faith. Both sciences support a person on their journey toward self-realization or the direct knowing of their nature as spirit or soul. Scriptural study, whether it comes from the East or West, illuminates this journey.
Ayurvedic psycho-spirituality is based on the idea that we are all souls growing and evolving toward enlightenment or reunification with God. This can easily be viewed as entering the gates of heaven-for what is more heavenly then becoming one with God? Along this journey of our evolution there are naturally challenges which inspire us to grow and evolve. Some come to us in the form of health challenges; others are challenges in relationships or finances. They are, in a sense, gifts-for without them, there would be no motivating force behind our growth as spirits.
The three gunas are the grounds from which we come to understand ourselves emotionally and spiritually. Gunas are defined as the qualities of nature.
Sattva is the quality of clarity and purity. When our minds are sattvic, or pure, there is a natural innate connection between ourselves and God. With this awareness, our highest most virtuous qualities manifest. Our minds are much like a still lake and the light that reflects through it is the light of God.
Rajas is a state of activity and distraction where we forget our true nature as spirit and get wrapped up in the dramas of our lives. As a result we get caught in the experience of emotion and the challenging feelings of fear, worry, anxiety, anger, resentment, and attachment. If you imagine the clear lake of sattva, rajas is that lake after a rock has been thrown in and now it is disturbed. Each wave is a challenging emotion.
Tamas is a state of darkness and inertia. In this state of being, not only are we unaware of our connection with God or spirit, but we spiral down into our own darkness and become harmful to ourselves or others. With our darker nature being dominant, we take actions such as violence or vindictive behaviors, or possibly addiction and suicide. Any harmful act reflects our own tamasic nature. If you recall the clear lake of sattva which had become rajasic when the rock was thrown in, now it has been stirred up and is muddy. The darkness is tamas.