Our modern civilisation claims to be very productive, creative and resourceful but a hundred years ago we did not have many of the diseases that exist today. Every day more diseases are being created. For although we are alive, the majority of us experience only the art of existing. Very few of us have really cultivated that technique which is called the art of living. The reason for this is that life today has become very artificial. Man’s whole life seems to be kept busy in trying to get rid of self created suffering. Is there nothing higher for human beings than freedom from these ailments?
There is no remedy in any system of medicine for such self created conditions expect to be aware of the fact that it is the individual who creates these miseries for himself and that only he can learn how to prevent them. With the bounty of nature outside and the center of consciousness within, we should be living in health and harmony. But having built boundaries, both externally and internally, we have lost direct contact with these forces. All human beings have the inner potential and skill to be completely healthy.
By first paying attention to the physical being, we become aware that all our actions, emotions, and feelings are governed from within by the conscious and unconscious mind. Finally, we realize that the mental aspect of health is more important than physical and the spiritual health is of greater importance than either of these. When we start paying attention to the various zones of our being and learn to transcend them, the most subtle level of existence comes into consciousness. Ultimately we become aware of the center of consciousness within, that which flows outward in various degrees and grades. This particular level is called spiritual health. Those who understand this are practicing the art of living and being. One who remains constantly aware of this center enjoys all the gifts of life.
The yoga approach to health is extremely simple, logical and practical. It lays stress on the words ‘yukthahara viharsaya’ eating and living as they should be done. By simply studying your own capacity and learning how to regulate your dietary habits, external activities and thinking process, it is possible to gain control over your life and remain healthy. Yoga is the science of self effort, self examination and of self awareness. It is a scientific discipline perfected over millennia.
There are three categories of people travelling through the procession of life: time oriented, goal oriented and purpose oriented. Time oriented people move in the world without understanding why they are moving. They do not any true vision of the future. They spend their lives fantasising some idyllic future or analysing triumphs or defeats from the past. They lack self discipline and purpose. The second category of people is those who are goal oriented. They can physically and mentally discipline themselves to a certain extent, and they can conduct their duties according to circumstances, but their vision remains limited. Their goals are confined to worldly attainments as “I will have a house, a wife, a car, a job and many other comforts”. For lack of a higher purpose their lives remain oriented toward material goals. They think that these things will satisfy them and fulfil the purpose of life but after attaining them, they feel lost because they do not know why they had sought them in the first place.The third category of people is composed of those few individuals who are purpose oriented: whatever they think, speak, and do is in accordance with their purpose in life. They regulate their habits and know that physical and mental health is not two different things, but are inseparable units which are essential for maintaining holistic health. For them maintaining a good health is like preserving two fine instruments which can be used to carry out the purpose of life. What label one attaches to this purpose – happiness, perfection, nirvana – is immaterial. The people of this last category are rare, but they are healthy in all aspects. We cannot understand what happiness really is until we attain freedom from all anxieties.
To achieve this understanding we must have a practical philosophy of life. This begins to evolve the moment one realises that it has been missing. Buddha developed a very practical approach to life. Fe said there are four noble truths; if you become aware of them you will be able to understand the whole philosophy of human life. Buddha says first that you have to accept that there is misery in life. Do not ignore it; instead analyse and understand it. Second, he says that misery has a cause. Third, he says that there is a way of eliminating the cause. And fourth, he claims that there is a state which is free from all miseries. But as long as the human mind is going through pain and misery, it never realise the truth. So Buddha says that if you learn to face life’s miseries and become a witness rather than a victim, then you will begin to enjoy life.
There is nothing higher enjoyment than life itself. The best enjoyment in the world is in life, not in the objects of the world. We worry a great a deal about the world and about others, but we do not have any awareness of what is happening within.
All the ancient scriptures and great men of the world teach how to attain that spirit of mind which is balanced and tranquil. Why should it not be possible to attain this understanding? If someone has done in the past, someone can do it today; then everyone can. But we need to systematize this knowledge. We must first understand and then apply those techniques which will help us attain a holistic health.
How do you go about attaining the state of holistic health? The first step is to learn to accept that which makes you unhappy, for only then can you build a positive attitude. Learning to accept those aspects of the personality which cause unhappiness will lead to an understanding of the sources of the misery. And it is only after this understanding and acceptance that you can begin to consciously make positive changes and reconstruct habits.
There are many abilities at your disposal which can be consciously cultivated to freedom from all pains, miseries, diseases and disorder. These are described in the ancient yogic scriptures. But the idea of holistic health should not be buried in the books: it should be brought into practical use in order to build a healthy society. This is possible and can be achieved by applying these truths in a systematic way. The process begins by gaining control over the laws governing bodies.