Around 1500 B.C. the book, the Charak Samhita discussed these spiritual principles. It said that even if Ayurvedic doctors had a complete knowledge of Ayurveda but could not reach the inner Self or soul of the patient, they would not be effective healers. Furthermore, if the practitioner were more concerned with fame and fortune, and not with spiritual development (Self-Realization), they would not be effective healers.
To understand the spiritual nature of Ayurveda, we must know something about the Vedic roots of philosophy, spirituality, and universal religion. According to the ancient Vedic scriptures of India there is a goal to life. We are not simply born, to live, and then to die without some meaning or purpose. Albert Einstein reflected this idea when he said God does not play dice with the universe. Order and reason exist in life. According to Vedic philosophy life is Divine and the goal of life is to realize our inner Divine nature. Ayurvedically speaking the more a person realizes their Divine nature the healthier they are. Thus it is the responsibility of the Ayurvedic doctor to inspire or help awaken the patients to their own inner Divine nature. Positive thinking or love is the best medicine.
When patients are taught they have this Divinity within themselves, they feel a connection to life and God (however each patient defines God). For atheists, we speak of the greater mystical power, which is synonymous to God. This connection allows patients to feel they have a handle on life and an ability to develop their own inner nature. After this, secondary therapies of herbs, diet, meditation, etc. are offered.
Even modern medical doctors are finding a link between their healthy patients and the patient’s degree of spiritual faith. Spirituality changes the definition of health, giving it an added dimension. Two types of health can now be seen diagnosed health and true health. Often when a patient is diagnosed as healthy, they still may not feel healthy or alive. This is due to psychosomatic conditions where a troubled mind affects the health of the body. The deepest level of mental agitation is the longing for a deeper spiritual connection. Ayurveda suggests true health is based on the healthy functioning of four areas of life; physical/ mental health, career or life purpose, spiritual relationships, and spirituality. First one needs to be physically and mentally able to do work and play. Then persons need to work to support themselves and afford a social life. Work however is defined as making a living doing something meaningful or purposeful. To do this type of work one needs to use their innate or God-given talents; they need to work at something they love to do. It is this love that cultures spirituality.
All too often we find people working at jobs that they dislike. Often people are forced into a “practical” career by parents or societal beliefs. Other persons lack the self-worth and confidence to challenge themselves to find and live their dreams. Working in meaningless, unfulfilling jobs can create mental and physical disorders.
The most extreme example of illness caused by lack of purpose is cancer. Ayurveda considers cancer an emotionally caused disease. By not having a purpose in life (i.e., suppressing life) people create life within their body—cancer. When seriously ill people discuss what they would love to do (instead of what they are told to do) life returns to their eyes. As they begin to follow up on these ideas, some remarkable recoveries are seen. Purposeful career is then an aspect of this new definition of health.
The third realm of health is spiritual relationships. When persons are healthy and purposefully working, they can now begin to truly enjoy their social life. These days we have become acutely aware of the emotional and physical abuses that exist in many people’s relationships. Co-dependency and enabling are often used terms to describe relationship diseases. From the spiritual standpoint if one is dependent on anything other than God, co-dependency exists. People look for something lasting or permanent; only God is eternal and everlasting. Spiritual development directs one to focus inwardly to discover their eternal nature instead of the ever-changing outer realm of life. For relationships to be healthy all people must continue to develop their individual inner spiritual lives. Then they are able to share their growing spiritual fullness with their spouse and others.
Too often individuals are attracted to one another because they see a quality that they think they do not have. In reality each person has all the human qualities within themselves because inner eternal Divinity, by definition, contains everything.
Further, if one can see a quality in another they must have it within themselves in order to recognize it. When the main focus in people’s lives is the Divine, then troubles that seemed like mountains are seen as molehills. Thus the third dimension of health involves healthy spiritual relationships.
Once people are sound in body and mind, work in a purposeful career and have fulfilling spiritual relationships, life develops a state of grace. People then become eager to devote more time to spiritual development, the final dimension of health. Personal spiritual development is seen on many levels. The body becomes more relaxed, the mind more calm and alert; and one becomes more personable in relationships. Yet the most profound developments take place inwardly; Divinity grows within. Gradually one also begins to see the Divinity in others and all of life.
This is the multi-dimensional definition of health according to Ayurveda. Life is composed of many elements; it is not seen as independent parts. If one aspect of life becomes imbalanced all the other aspects are affected. Rather than merely treating a symptom, Ayurveda looks to the root cause or underlying reasons of illness. The body may be sick because of mental or career stress. Rather than instruct the patient to merely take a drug or an herb to heal the physical condition, the practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine looks to restore balance within the patient (e.g., calming the mind or finding a more purposeful job). The deepest root level is spiritual development. Thus, all four areas of life must be cultivated; mind/body, career, spiritual relationships, and inner spiritual development.