Ayurveda is grounded in the recognition of five fundamental material elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. These elements constitute our physical body. While we perceive our body as a single entity, it comprises two essential parts. The tangible, physical aspect, made up of these five elements, is the one we can touch, feel, and dissect. The subtler but equally significant part is our subtle body, consisting of the mind, intelligence, and ego.
At the time of death, we relinquish our gross body, which is mortal. The subtle body, immortal, endures and carries our karma – the accumulated consequences of our actions, both positive and negative.
The effects of our past karma manifest in our next life. So, virtuous actions in this life contribute to a positive outcome in the next.
In the world, we often encounter individuals who, despite appearing healthy or affluent, suffer mentally and physically. Medical science may not identify the causes of their suffering, which can be attributed to karmic imprints carried from one life to another. Ayurveda advises us to accumulate good karma during our human existence, reaping its benefits in this and subsequent lifetimes.
Beyond the subtle body exists the subtlest element – the spirit soul. In our materialistic pursuits, we often neglect nurturing the spirit soul. Wealth, possessions, and material achievements cannot nourish the spirit soul. It is the delicate thread connecting the beads of our gross and subtle bodies. Neglecting it weakens the connection, while mishandling it results in negative consequences, often affecting our physical and mental health.
To live a happier and healthier life, we must grasp our true nature. We cannot expect self-control without self-awareness. Ayurveda explains that we have ten senses, including five working senses (feet, hands, anus, genitals, and mouth) and five knowledge-gathering senses (ears, eyes, nose, tongue, and skin).
Above these is the mind, which governs all the senses. The mind is in turn guided by intelligence, which can be dominated by ego. Ego is a negative force, tethering us to materialistic desires. Nurturing spirituality diminishes ego. Even the process of shedding ego brings a profound sense of peace and contentment.
As ego evaporates, you come to understand your true self – the soul, which transcends all other aspects of your being. You gain the power to direct your intelligence toward positive actions, harmonizing your mind and senses. This self-awareness empowers you to better govern yourself and embark on a journey to understand the yoga of life.