By Dan Burow Ph.D.

One of the primary problems facing anyone on the spiritual path in the west is the vast canyon that exists between religion and philosophy. In eastern cultures particularly the culture Hindu culture of India this split between religion and philosophy does not exist. Religion, philosophy and science are all seen as different perspectives that blend into each other as all colors blend into white. The price we pay for this in the west is that consciousness has become a question for philosophy and a problem of science but we do not believe that religion has any bearing at all.

In the west consciousness has come to be equated with awareness as the vague background of our thought process. It is primarily considered a mental phenomenon that exists between the subjectivity of our minds and the objects outside us. With this perspective it is unreasonable to expect anyone in the western world to treat consciousness as an independent principle let alone concede that consciousness might be an ultimate principle of existence that we generally refer to as God. Ayurveda however, suggests that this is exactly the case.

Ayurveda suggests that that our ordinary everyday consciousness or awareness which is within the experience of every human being is an expression of the reality which we refer to as God. This is often hard for western minds to accept as we are taught that God is a divine being that is removed from us and not accessible unless he/she chooses to be. To consider God the very substratum of our life and expressing him/herself through our own consciousness can be seen as blasphemy. Ayurveda states however, that this is the primary truth of the human life.

Ayurveda does not remain satisfied with worshipping God from a distance and taking part in rituals however beautiful and positive they may be. Ayurveda states that we can find God and know God as an ever-present Reality within our own hearts. To do this however, we have to give up the reliance on mere faith and emotional satisfaction that is the hallmark of orthodox religion and what we are lead to believe is the real substance of religious life. Ayurveda states that it is possible to actively search for God within your own heart and know your consciousness as Divine and to become one with this Divine source. The techniques that are used for this search include service, yoga and meditation.

The yoga of sadhana or meditation is something of a mystery to the western mind. The “mystery” is best described as “knowing by becoming”. This process of knowing by becoming is the primary method used to achieve self realization. It is the idea that one consciousness can come in direct contact with another and know the reality of that consciousness.