Ayurveda has a view of duality (opposites of extremes) such as big-small, hard-soft, etc, to describe the world, but that’s where it ends. Beyond our descriptions there is no concept of duality and this ancient philosophy of life and wellbeing recognizes it’s only ever a description to get communication going to yourself or a care-taker. How do you feel, heavy or light, small or big, hot or cold? The duality is only a way to describe a sensation or perception, such as a bodily reality or a mental interpretation. (Read more about those so called Gurvadi Gunas here.)
I have studied Ayurveda, the scripts in their original Sanskrit and many interpretations of the same scripts over the past 25 years and in no part is Ayurveda a dualist philosophy. As many other ancient philosophies it’s only ever a description of a swaying motion of back and forth to seek balance, but the ultimate “truth” is always a singular flow and the source of creation. It recognized that we perceive life differently depending on the who (or what) is perceiving it. It also recognizes that whatever we observe is intriguingly connected and affected by those observing it and the act itself, which akin to what quantum physics also acknowledge today. Hence the Observer, the act of observation and the observed is one and the same.
This includes the observation of ourselves as well. The I is probably the one who observes the I the most in life and yet after ten thousand years of human philosophy we still don’t know who the I is, really. It’s the most common word we use in all languages and if we don’t know who the I is I think Ayurveda could shed some light. In class I describe life and the form it takes, say a human one, and I visualize it with this equation:
Body + Mind = Life Energy (Prana) -> Water + Riverbed = Flow
The “soul” Atma would be where you are located in this life-river, or experience, on your way to the Ocean. I describe life as a river to my students, with water (body), a riverbed (mind) and the flow of the river (life energy, spirit or Prana), wanting to join the Ocean, whether it understands it or not, it’s where it wants to go and is going. How it gets there would be our Karma for those who believe in reincarnation, which is not necessary in order to heal with Ayurveda.
Hence the question of what is good and bad, or any answer, will always depend on the being asking, and never be more relevant than for that single drop of time and space when it is being asked. It’s a momentary river of consciousness within the Ocean of Consciousness it’s heading to. Maybe it hasn’t even arrived there yet, or maybe it has arrived to the Ocean but still hasn’t perceived the whole with it’s vastness and beauty.
These differences or perceptions depend on the river we are born to be, which water (body), which society (mind) and which flow (life energy) depends on our level of consciousness. Ayurveda describes the I, hence the one asking, by the system of elements classified in Tridoshas. These can fluctuate with the environment that affects us such as the climate, the seasons, the time of the day, age, influencers and things around us. I illustrate the Tridoshas something like this:
When life flows (life energy) life is pleasant and connected, with a peaceful mind (riverbed) which is wide and free, and the body (water) is clean and pure, with high conductivity and high speed communication within and without for self-regulation and balancing (immune system).
In order to clean dirty water the riverbed makes it whirl and foam to make it “breath” by encountering stones, fallen trees and other to create friction in the river, and if it doesn’t need a cleanse it stays peaceful. The water will on the other hand rub and polish the stones or decompose the fallen branches in the riverbed to make it a wide and smooth riverbed (mind) in order to pass freely and therefore flow faster to the Ocean. It’s easy to understand that the water reaches the Ocean faster when it’s kept pure and clean. Once there the last lesson on the soul’s journey is to flow with and within the Ocean, to be the Ocean of One, a pure one all-connected, high conductivity flow which the universe and all in it wants and were created to be.
So what each individual perceived as right is found within for the moment, as a ‘gut feeling’ or a heart or head feeling for that matter depending on the Dosha, in the water, the riverbed and in the flow. If the body is polluted the mind has no chance to create a flow and when the mind creates friction the body is confused, taking detours, hitting rocks, being smashed and sometimes being forced to deviate into sidetracks.
If we all have a job here on Earth it is to create wide, free flowing riverbeds so that our bodies can flow to the Ocean of One. The bodies are here to decompose the obstacles on our way in the riverbed (mind), by letting us know as fast as possible through the breath or if it takes time for the mind to understand through the body (pain and suffering) to clean the water and the riverbed as much as possible and together they create the flow (life energy) to reach the Ocean.
It can only be done by getting to know the water and riverbed in the first place and Ayurveda describes well how that is best done. There are million rivers of all sizes and structures, and they are all meant to exist, for the simple reason that they do exist, and they all coexist whether they like it or not. Observe the fellow earthlings to learn about your river, compare but don’t categorize them as good or bad, as there is no right or wrong rivers, there are only rivers. Notice and accept all the differences and you’ll understand your own. Help your own and you’ll get to the Ocean faster and help others. The fastest and most peaceful way to get there is probably nonviolent and through cooperation, cleaned from toxins, shame and blame, competition and revenge. It’s for sure not about fancy cars or watches, which would only make the water heavier and the river flow slower.
The way can be long so the healthier we live the better the chance of arriving and not having to start all over again to get there. You’ll meet other rivers on the way, you’ll join some and some will be joining you, and some will chose other ways better for them. You’ll sense and feel what is right for you with the body, and the mind will adapt and learn the best way to get you there and avoid obstacles and narrow paths to keep the flow up. When we all arrive to where there is no time and space, no start, no end, only a continuous flow of constant being, then we are done and that is a Go(o)d feeling of arrival.
As within so without.
We are the cells of the collective universal water, and the collective universal consciousness is the riverbed. Each cell has its own river and inherited wisdom. A heart cell knows to become a heart or a neuron knows to become a nerve, the path for this particular river. If not obstructed, shamed or blamed, they will want to share their knowledge and cooperate to reach the flow within the organ, and the body, the nature around and ultimately the universe. If they take the path of separation and competition they can’t communicate to neighboring cells and such are tumors. Their flow is obstructed in their part of the body, follow by dis-ease and maybe decay, to only go back to be reassembled into a new river to try to get to the Ocean again.