If you could answer the question what is the cause of disease, don’t you think that would be important?
Because if you knew the answer, then you could determine the cure for whatever ails you.
Every system of medicine has its own unique model or answer to this critical question. For instance, if you ask your doctor “what is the cause of disease”… He would most likely say junk food, sedentary lifestyle, genetics, alcoholism, smoking, stress, etc.,…
And from a western perspective, he’s right…
But with so many factors that can cause disease and make you sick… Wouldn’t it be better if you could categorize them for a better understanding of how to prevent them?
Definitely! That’s what Ayurveda has done!
What does Disease Mean?
Let’s look at how Ayurveda understands disease.
The word disease means “Dis-ease,” or not at ease. It simply refers a lack of harmony within the body.
Dis-ease happens when the Intelligence of the body cannot carry out its functions optimally because there are blockages in your energy flow which restrict the full expression of your being.
Ayurveda recognizes that if you want to truly heal you must work on the level of cause. You must understand why you have the disease in the first place. Only this will help you unravel the cause of your illness so that it doesn’t recur.
Now, let’s get back to learning the causes of diseases according to Ayurveda.
What is the Cause of Disease – An Ayurvedic Perspective
Ayurveda has categorized the cause of diseases into 3 main types plus a primordial cause.
3 Causes of Disease
Prajnaparadha: Not Using Your Intellect
Asatmendriyartha samyoga: Misuse of the senses
Knowing the causes of diseases will help you understand what steps to take to heal your life.
#1: Not Using Your Intellect – (Prajnaparadha)
Prajnaparadha (prag-nya-parad) involves using your intelligence or common sense. Very often we get sick because we disregard our own knowledge or wisdom. When we don’t use our intelligence, we make careless choices and disregard what we already know is best for us.
Prajnaparadha literally means “crimes against wisdom”. In other words, it means knowing you shouldn’t do something and doing it anyway.
How many things do you already know, that if you did, you would be healthier than you are right now? You probably have quite a few. Like getting to bed earlier, eating better, or getting regular exercise, etc.,
Yet, in spite of knowing better, we act in a way that is contradictory to our health and well-being. Why is it so hard to put into practice what we know is best for us?
The Answer Lies in Understanding Yogic Philosophy
Put simply, we like status quo. Or at least our ego likes status quo. The ego fears change. It likes how things are right now, not how we’d like to be, (even if it means improving ourselves). This makes change difficult because the ego perceives change as its own death.
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The Job of the Intellect
The job of the intellect is to make choices based on our understanding of past experiences.
When we do things we know we shouldn’t do, or we know are not right for us, we set a vicious cycle of disharmony in motion.
Our intellect is connected to both our ego and our soul. The difference is the ego speaks loudly and the soul whispers.
For instance, when you’re trying to take a decision as simple as what you should have for dinner… Your soul or intellect whispers “steamed vegetables and rice,” while your senses or ego shouts “BURGER & FRIES”!!!
This is where we enter a state of disharmony because we listened to the shout of our senses as opposed to the whisper of our soul. For the most part, this eventually leads us to a state of disease.
Make Harmonious Choices
To sum up, without soul awareness, we perceive ourselves as just a body and mind. But we can learn to listen to the whisper of the soul by cultivating a relationship with it.
Spending time in nature, meditation and yoga are tools to hear the subtle whisper of your soul. When we are in harmony with our soul, we experience peace of mind and optimal health.
#2: Misuse of Your Senses
When you don’t use your intellect and make careless choices repeatedly, you end up confusing or damaging your senses. This confusion blocks or disrupts the flow of your life force. If you take in nutrients and impressions that support life, you will experience health. If you take in things that are disharmonious, your body and mind will suffer. This cause of a disease is called Asatmendriyartha samyoga.
Misusing your senses leads to over-indulging in things, which are detrimental to your health
For example, you find it hard to resist the temptation to eat the entire bag of potato chips while watching your favorite TV show.
Why? Because it pleases your senses! So, you go on munching the bag of chips without even realizing when you actually feel full.
You are so engrossed in watching television that you don’t pay attention to how much you have eaten and you end up overeating. The reason is you ignore your sense of fullness because the chips taste good and that makes you feel good.
This is a perfect example of misuse of senses
This sense of feel-good does not allow you to go to the gym and sweat it out for a better health. Misusing your senses causes common lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes, cancer, high cholesterol, heart attack, and stroke.
What you must understand is that your senses have an ability to discriminate between what is harmonious and disharmonious to your being. Pay close attention to what you see, taste, hear, smell or feel.
What nurtures and pleases your senses? Intelligently tune into your senses and pay attention to what they tell you. You can avoid many diseases if respond intelligently.
#3: Time and Motion – Parinam
The third cause of disease has to do with aging. Parinam means time and motion. It is the natural rhythmic process of decay that occurs as you age. It is an inevitable part of life.
There are two kinds of time: Linear time and Biological time
Linear time is the passing of time in years, days, hours, minutes and seconds. It’s static and not possible to reverse, so there’s little we can do to stop or slow the process of linear time.
Biological time is dynamic. Biological time is the aging process. The speed or pace of biological time can be controlled in response to the motion.
In other words the faster we move, the faster we age. If you can slow down your biological time, you’re essentially slowing down the aging process.
Biological Time is Affected by the Movement of the Mind
What Parinam really refers to is the movement of the mind. If you have a very active mind, and you have consistent levels of stress and anxiety, time is moving faster biologically for you. So biological time is dependent on your internal state.
Your body ages much faster when our mind is constantly in a state of motion or internal chatter. This speeds up biological time causing us to age more quickly!
This is bad news if your body and mind are always going 100 miles per hour in different directions. You’re internal clock will sense this and you will age must faster.
But, when your mind is still, as occurs in the state of meditation, the passage of biological time stops, which helps to slow down the aging process.
As we age, our body becomes weak and starts to deteriorate, which is unavoidable.
But, Ayurveda offers an easy way to slow down biological time.
Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises are great ways to slow down the biological clock and get your mind and soul in a static state to prevent the age-related diseases.
Parinam is responsible for degenerative diseases associated with aging. For example, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis all occur due to the wear and tear and declining ability of the organs and tissues to function optimally.
Primordial Cause of Disease
It is said that even beyond the 3 root causes of disease listed above, there is a primordial cause of all disease.
And that is simply…
Forgetting your true nature as Soul or Spirit.
When we forget our true nature as Soul or Spirit, we perceive ourselves only as a body and mind.
When we perceive ourselves as just a body and mind we get sucked into our stories and dramas, which cause mental and emotional upsets.
Meanwhile, these mental/emotional upsets affect our digestion. And when digestion is compromised, it has an effect on the biological energies of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, which then sets us up for a disease.
The goal of Ayurveda is to create an environment where we are being animated by the intelligence of the Soul. Don’t get caught up in theory. Get the benefits of experiencing the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda in your everyday life.
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