The soul is immortal
Ayurveda divides life into the phases childhood, middle age, adulthood and old age. Aging takes place in all three sections of life. In Ayurveda, aging and death are natural characteristics of living matter. They are a part of life.
In the Vedic tradition the god of death, Yama, is known as a teacher for the spiritual secret of life, which leads to freedom from life, death and the sufferings that are associated. According to the Vedic doctrine only then when Atman – the soul – is present in the body the human perception may develop awareness over the senses and express itself.
“The body is the temple, in which the soul dwells.”
A temple must be kept clean – both in gross and subtle matter. The consonance and harmony of the body, the mind and the soul enable a healthy development on the physical, mental and spiritual plane. Vedic philosophy describes the soul as the inhabitant of the body. It is immortal and invulnerable. It is consciousness and bliss in divine harmony and carries within itself the wisdom of all times as well as the light of God. Whatever happens on the physical or mental plane, pain or injury – the soul is perfect and cannot be hurt.
Conception, birth, and death are probably the three most important natural initiations that the human soul experiences. With the procreation the soul slips through a needle-eye – the dimension of space and time in its sensation is changed. Structure and linear time characterize the biological processes and the awakening human consciousness. For the soul, thinking leaves the reality of the other dimensions behind the pure veil of oblivion. The journey through life begins.
Having a body may initially have a limiting effect on the soul, however it must learn how to handle with the new conditions. It learns to express itself, to unfold, to deal with human needs, feelings and emotions and to use the body as an instrument of communication. It experiences the richness of human being in all facets. This includes the painful and sorrowful experiences, which man would like to do without. It is honed as a precious stone.
“Aging and death are natural features of living matter.”
Three spheres of life
Ayurveda divides the life into the steps of childhood, adulthood and old age. Becoming older happens in each of the sections – from childhood to adulthood. Up to the age of 40, aging is mostly characterized by beauty, change and success and it is observed and appreciated with joy.
But then the first physical signs of aging become visible. Here and there a wrinkle, a gray hair, the one or other minor ailment are anxiously observed and cosmetically covered. In our modern society aging is often linked with illness, early decay, and death through the media and health care system. The fear of dying leads to the fact that death becomes a taboo that is not spoken about. It is therefore nearly impossible for us to respect and to honor this life stage respectfully.
In Ayurveda, aging and death are natural features of living matter. They are part of life. Their accompanying conditions of suffering are referred to as natural diseases (svabhava-bala-pravrtta-roga), which are treated with effective medical preparations and therapies. In the ancient Ayurvedic source texts they are already described in relation with a rejuvenation therapy (Rasayana) to slow down the aging process and to support cell regeneration. They emphasize, however, that immortality of the human body is not possible.
Fear of one’s own death
What is the reason that one’s own death seems so frightening to us humans, whereas every day the media talk about death, illness, disasters, wars and violence? Does today’s reporting make us to disaster junkies and desensitizes our ethical sensitivity?
Often, seriously sick people are told that they will die – a seemingly austere message during medical examination between medical and technical devices. Where are the nurses of the past – today’s modern nurses – who cared for the seriously sick person and accompanied her/him through this stage?
“You will die” sounds like a death warrant. This is an incautious sentence, which can lead to a state of mental torture and may inhibit recovery. There are indeed quite a few “miracles” in the history of medicine that made the seriously ill person get healed.
It is not a matter to turn a blind eye on the approaching death, but to support the soul, the self-healing forces and the quality of life, to be present and to accompany the dying person with love and respect. It would be desirable for our society to regain a more sensitive approach to the subject of death and disease, both for the sick and the dying as well as for the people who accompany them: relatives, friends and medical staff.
Aging and death are the natural and inevitable essential characteristics of life. Whoever accompanies other persons along this path should be aware of his/her own transience and accept it.
Juvenility in old age
The source texts of classical Ayurveda medicine describe in one of the eight sectors – the specialist field Rasayana – the possibility how to slow down the aging process and to maintain juvenility in old age.
The vitalization and regeneration of the body tissues are considered to be a particularly precious treasure in ayurvedic healing. Treatments have positive physical, mental and psychosomatic effects on all body tissues and parts.
They can support to:
- Gain a long life
- Prevent from premature aging and to preserve juvenility
- Maintain and promote good health
- Increase resistance against diseases
- Improve the mental forces
- Gain a positive structure in personality
Rasayana therapy mainly means to maintain good health and recommends adaptation to natural laws and the reduction of stress factors in the way of life.
Daily routines, healthy food, a balanced change between tension and relaxation and health-promoting activities are also part of the therapy as well as measures for a season-adapted lifestyle and internal cleansing of the body. In addition to medication, the sattvic (to the contentment-oriented) way of life, which adheres to ethical and moral principles, has a supporting effect.
Expand the spiritual horizon
Aging is associated with leave-taking from youth, which on the physical plane shows a loss of strength and a reduced regeneration capacity of the tissues. Mentally it should be time to take a different perspective on the perception of life. The gathered life experiences may increase the mental horizon when we are able to break up rigid thought patterns.
When we understand transiency, old age, and death as a natural process, the willingly restrained conditions can take their place in the cycle of life – as well as the miracle of birth. In ayurvedic philosophy, it is not the material or professional success which is put in the balance at the end of life. It is the overall picture of the experienced life, the spiritual essence that brings about inner satisfaction.
The mental and the physical vitality are in a constant interplay, so Ayurveda equally cares for their preservation. Since the cells of the body do no longer regenerate by themselves in this phase of life, they need special support. For this reason regular physical and mental cleansing is recommended both for physical and mental vitality. This includes a balanced diet and lifestyle, yoga, meditation and the intake of special herbal preparations (Rasayanas) to stimulate the structure of the particular tissues and nourish Ojas, the life energy.
Humanic life skills for everyday life
Ayurveda – the science of a long and healthy life – works on the basis of a realistic, life-oriented lifestyle for qualitative and quantitative life improvement. With this sustainable medical, philosophical, psychosocial way of life, it accompanies us through all phases of life. In each of the three phases of life, it supports the forming, maintenance and the regeneration of physical and mental health, as well as the training of self-awareness and self-responsibility. The basis for a healthy third life phase is already laid in the first two phases of life, but it is never too late to start.
“It is about supporting the quality of life.”
The myth of the fountain of youth, of eternal life, of beauty and immortality, has accompanied mankind since the beginning of history, as well as the ceremonies and celebrations around birth and death. The pain of death is still as present for the dying person and the surviving dependants as at the beginning of mankind. It is important that the ritual transitions again take their place in the social structure in order to unveil the sight on grief and to redirect it to the entire whole: the immortality of the soul.
“Death is the decisive moment of our lives, and each one of us should be able to die in peace and fulfillment, knowing that the best possible spiritual guidance is given.”
…..to be continued
CH-2502 Biel / Bienne