‘ayur‘ meaning life or longevity and ‘veda‘ meaning knowledge

Reflection

As is the human body, so is the cosmic body.
As is the human mind, so is the cosmic mind.
As is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm.
As is the atom, so is the universe
– The Upanishads

lotusAs you go through this chapter it might be helpful to read the Sanskrit terms and concepts over a few times. They will come up throughout the course and their meaning will digest and integrate over time. They are profound concepts and you will probably need to contemplate them and find ways to understand them as we have done and continue to do as we get to know ourselves through Ayurveda. This is not something you need to “get” on first reading.
India

The traditional healing system of India, Ayurveda is believed to be the oldest surviving complete system of knowledge in the world. It embodies an ancient philosophy based on a deep understanding of eternal truths about the human body, the mind and the spirit. As ancient as Ayurveda is, it is based on basic observations of life that have remained relatively unchanged and are still absolutely relevant today. It embraces all aspects of life including philosophy, medical science, physiology, psychology, ecology, cosmology and spiritual understanding, as well as astrology and astronomy.

“The Universe is not a collection of objects, but is an inseparable web of vibrating energy patterns in which no one component has reality independently from the entirety. Included in the entirety is the observer”
– Paul Davies

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The name Ayurveda is derived from its ancient Sanskrit roots – ayur meaning life or longevity and veda meaning knowledge, learning, wisdom or spiritual science. It is a vast body of knowledge and profound wisdom about how to live in a way that we can cultivate health (swasthya), happiness and longevity. So Ayurveda is much more than just a system of medicine; it provides us with a way of life that aims to enhance our health and well-being and increase longevity through a union of physical, emotional and spiritual health. This union is the prerequisite for attaining moksha, or liberation from suffering, bliss and enlightenment. The ultimate aim of Ayurveda is to free us from disharmony and disease and to enable us to follow a truly spiritual path. Imbalance, disharmony or disease in mind or body is considered an obstacle to attaining moksha; when we are afflicted by disease our spirits are tied down by worldly concerns and unable to soar.

While Ayurveda addresses every different facet of life, at its heart lies the understanding that “all is one”, that everything exists in relation and not in isolation. Body affects mind and mind affects body; thought processes have physical effects and disorders of the body cause psychological problems also.

“The most important characteristic of the Eastern world view – one could almost say the essence of it – is the awareness of the unity and mutual interrelation of all things and events, the experience of all phenomena in the world as manifestations of a basic oneness. All things are seen as interdependent and inseparable parts of this cosmic whole; as different manifestations of the same ultimate reality”
– Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics

The Ayurvedic approach emphasises the importance of addressing the roots of disease rather than the thousands of disease symptoms which arise from these roots. It is an approach which is simple without being simplistic and can be grasped by any of us wanting to maximise our healing potential though an understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

GingerVast in its scope, Ayurveda offers us a whole spectrum of practical tools and treatments to prevent us from becoming unwell and to return us to balance when we are. These tools include lifestyle guidance, herbal medicine, nutrition, detoxification, massage, bodywork, yoga and spiritual practices.

Ayurveda is based on the accumulated knowledge and understanding of thousands of years, yet it continues to offer up-to-date, effective treatment for many modern disorders affecting mind and body. Clinical trials are being carried out at major Ayurvedic institutions, researching the benefits of herbs and treatments that are safe and effective. Ayurveda’s ancient wisdom has stood the test of time for countless generations, and is increasingly being verified by modern research.