The Sanskrit medical word Ayurveda means “Science of Life.” Life, the physical state of being alive, includes both the mind and the body.  It is the ultimate goal of the mind, its intrinsic nature, to pursue happiness and to reject suffering.  The cause of the happiness and the suffering experienced by the mind is the result of what happens to the body.  This creates the dynamic experienced by all living beings: The mind rejects suffering because its destination and goal is happiness, yet the existence of suffering is an inescapable truth for all corporeal sentient beings.  Therefore, our minds, from our first breath, take on the task of leading our body away from suffering.

img_0136The body and mind are the inexorably linked physical and metaphysical units of life.  The function of these two units and how they mutually coordinate is the main subject of Ayurveda.  Ayurveda deals with how to achieve happiness via the proper understanding of how to avoid suffering and attain happiness.  The body, the physical cause of pain and suffering, is capable of misleading the mind.  The mind when misled cannot function in the proper way.  That is to say, when functioning properly, the mind is focused and will strive to lead the body towards happiness.  But the mind can lose its control over the body, and such loss invariably leads towards suffering.

The word suffering, from the point of view of medicine, is simply another word for disease.  Disease is that which destroys the physical construction of the body.  Disease is thus a destructive force.  Happiness, in the medical sense, is that which strengthens bodily construction.  Happiness is therefore a constructive force.  The constructive and destructive forces within the body are the two major factors of life.  The constructive force of happiness that exists naturally when the body is in balance encourages the mind to guide the body towards proper activities.  The destructive forces of disease that occur when the body is out of balance awaken the mind, signaling it to be alert and to change its activities, with the goal of restoring the natural balance.  In this sense, a balanced life leads to health, while life’s imbalances are the fundamental cause of sickness.  This is true not only for individuals, but also for ones progeny and for society as a whole.

The knowledge gained by mankind about how to maintain the balance of these two major factors, generation after generation for thousands of years, is the main subject of Ayurveda.  Therefore Ayurveda means the science of life, and it deals with the good of life and the bad of life.  It deals with the happy life and the unhappy life.  It strives to discern what things are good for life and what things are bad.  It seeks always to restore life to proper balance.

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