Sadhguru: Fundamentally, the word “health” comes from the root word “whole.” What we call, “feeling healthy,” is that we have a sense of wholeness within us. If we are free of diseases medically, that is not health. If we feel like a complete human being in our body, mind and spirit, that is when we are really healthy. There are any number of people who are medically healthy, but not healthy in the real sense because they do not experience a sense of wellness within themselves.
If one has to experience this sense of wholeness and oneness, it is important that one’s body, mind and above all, one’s energy, functions at a certain level of intensity within themselves. Physically, as per medical terms, a person may be healthy, but energies may be lethargic, and they may wonder why things don’t happen in life the way they should, both inside and outside. This is simply because he is not taking care of the wellbeing of his energy.
When it comes to health, no human being gets to live in perfect conditions. The pressures of life, the food that we eat, the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, all these can affect us in many ways. The more our activities are in the world; the more we are exposed to many things that can throw our chemistry off balance and create health problems. But if the energy in our system is properly cultivated and kept active, these things will not have much of an effect.
Medical science is always busy studying disease. I think they should take time to study health rather than disease because human nature has always been like this: wherever the problem is, that is where you put your attention. Right now, there is a disease that is a problem so you put your attention there. This is a very rudimentary way of thinking and functioning in the world. But unfortunately, that is how the world is functioning right now – if there is a problem you attend to it, if there is no problem you don’t attend to it.
In yoga, when we say health, we don’t look at the body or the mind, we only look at the energy – the way it is. If your energy body is in proper balance and full flow, your physical body and mental body will be in perfect health. There is no question about it. Keeping the energy body in full flow is not about doing any kind of healing or things like that. This is about going to the foundations of your energy system and activating it in a proper way, building a foundational yogic practice that establishes your energy in such a way that your body and mind are naturally fine.
Energy – The Fundamental Basis
For every physical or psychological situation that you go through in life, there is fundamentally an energy basis, which also manifests as a chemical basis. In a way, modern allopathic medicines have become just chemistry. For every problem that arises in your body, you are just trying to take in some medicine – a chemical – and come to some kind of balance. If you use a chemical to bring down one aspect or enhance another, there is also a side-effect to this. For this side-effect, there is an antidote. For the antidote, there is another antidote. It is an endless chain. Whatever is happening on the chemistry level in your body is controlled by the way your energies function. Because a man has got excess acids within him, you put some alkaline medicine into him. But why does he have excessive acids? Because of the way his mind, his body, and above all, his energy functions.
The body does not need medicine; it is only the disease which demands medicine. So, depending upon the type of ailment you have, accordingly the treatment should be given. If you have an infection, there is nothing better than allopathy. With the advance of medical science, we have been able to contain so many infections. Almost every infection that can arise today, you have some solution for it. But look at the simple ailments which man is creating for himself, like diabetes, blood pressure, migraine headaches or whatever else that he causes from within. Today, there are so many kinds of specialists, and a lot of money and time is being spent on just managing these chronic diseases for people within certain limitations. Please see, medical science is not offering any solution. It is only offering to manage the diseases and is never really talking about freeing people from those diseases.
So, if you have chronic ailments, allopathy is not a good thing to start with. For an emergency, allopathy is the best. If you are in an emergency state, do not go to an ayurvedic doctor. You go to an ayurvedic doctor only when you have time to recover. When your problems are ongoing and evolving, then Ayurveda and other systems are very effective means of treatment.
Ayurveda – The Science of Life
Ayurveda means – ayur means life span, veda means the scripture about how to keep your full stretch of life span. Ayurveda comes from a completely different dimension of life and a completely different understanding of what life is. In the ayurvedic system, the fundamental understanding is that this body, the way it is today, is an accumulation that we gathered from the planet. Whatever the nature of the planet, whatever the nature of the five elements which make the planet, are very much manifest in this physical body. Fundamentally, this whole body is just a play of five elements. Whether it is the individual human body or the larger cosmic body, essentially, they are made of the pancha bhutas or the five elements – earth, water, fire, air and space. What you call as “myself” is just a mischief of these five elements. If you want to handle this physical body in such a way that the most productive result has to be produced by your life – which is a combination of time and energy – it is very important that everything that you do about this body has a relationship with the planet on which you are walking.
Ayurveda says that every root, every leaf, every tree bark found on this planet has medicinal value. We have learnt how to use only a few. The rest of them, we are yet to learn how to use. What this statement is trying to say is, health is not something that falls upon you from the sky. Health is something that has to grow from within you, because the body is something that grows from within you. The input comes from the earth but it grows from within you. The essence of Ayurveda is such, we understand that if we go deep enough into this body, this body is not an integrated thing; it is a continuous process which involves the earth upon which you walk. If this relationship does not come through, these subtle systems of medicine which work from within, will fail to work. Without taking care of the whole system, just trying to do one aspect of it may not be very fruitful.
A holistic system does not mean just treating the body as a whole. A holistic system means treating life as a whole, which includes the planet, what we eat, what we breathe, what we drink – all of that. Without attending to all those things, the true benefit of Ayurveda will not be seen. If Ayurveda becomes a living reality in our lives and our societies, people can live like gods.
– Ranked amongst the 50 most influential people in India, Sadhguru is a Yogi, mystic, visionary and a New York Times bestselling author. Sadhguru has been conferred the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India in 2017, the highest annual civilian award, accorded for exceptional and distinguished service. He is also the founder of the world’s largest people’s movement, Conscious Planet – Save Soil, which has touched over 3.91 billion people.