The material world is a place of birth and death, there may be some fleeting pleasure but generally it is a hard struggle for existence, unless one has proper insight into the mysteries of consciousness and the nature of the physical body. Fortunately there are references from which one can learn about the qualities of the body and mind and thus see how they are much like a machine, that requires upkeep, and that can be tweaked in subtle ways, otherwise it causes us distress.
Beside learning about the physiology of the body/mind machine from medical literature, one can also learn about the more subtle workings of consciousness from the ancient yoga texts of India or the martial arts wisdom of China and Japan. They refer to the life force or chi/ki or prana, depending on which language you use, and how to harness it and manipulate it to get the best out of your body/mind vehicle.
The yoga postures for example, are all to be used as aids in shifting consciousness to a higher level. The art of tai chi chuan is also an internal Chinese martial art used by monks for enhancing health and longevity as well as self-defence, and ultimately meditation. The essential focus in this ancient art is one of creating a balance between the forces of yin and yang, or feminine and masculine within nature and in fact all things, including ourselves.
We all have both the artistic side and the logical side. This is seen in the hemispheres of the brain and balancing them is understood to be the way to harmony. By actively practising a specific technique, one can create a balance within oneself that leads to health, peace of mind and an awakened consciousness. All levels of existence can be perfected with the right practise based on authentic sources as well as some sort of daily endevour, or application of that practise.
There is no short cut really to attaining the perfection of life, namely enlightenment, or liberation. The Buddha and other avatars showed the way, but we have to walk the path ourselves, on a daily basis in order to really make progress. And even as we approach enlightenment or a sense of balance in our personal existence, still there will always be challenges or difficulties along the way. The “threefold miseries” as they are termed, are there in differing degrees for everyone.
These threefold miseries are described as:
1 Adibhautic: these are the miseries that come to us from other living entities, whether it is a mosquito or a person. We all face differing degrees of challenge from society and also the myriad of creatures that compete for existence on this planet.
2 Adidaivic: these are the miseries from the forces of nature, like the weather. Sometimes its too hot and sometimes too cold. We all go through the cycles yearly, of excessive heat and cold, or too much rain or not enough rain. The weather conditions are sometimes called “acts of god”, they are outside of our control and we are at the mercy of the patterns of nature. I remember my three visits to India as being particularly challenging when it came to the heat, for example, which drove me to find shelter back in my country of birth when the summer became too extreme to bear. Life can be harsh in many places of the world and Bhagavad Gita, the classic Sanskrit text on yoga, stoically reminds us to simply tolerate the non-permanent appearance of happiness and distress, just like we must tolerate the summer and winter seasons.
3 Adiatmic: these may be the most subtle or difficult to tolerate of all for they are the miseries brought to us by our own mind. They originate from ourselves, or from within the body/mind machine. It may be in the form of disease, or worse still, of our minds. We can drive ourselves mental when not in control of the mind, or can be driven insane under the pressures of life. Life today is like a madhouse, or enough to drive one to madness or suicide at worst, as life can be so removed from the connection with nature, the earth and the grounding that it brings, which ground or stabilize us.
A healthy existence, even for the aspiring yogi or seeker of consciousness, depends on keeping the balance between our two sides within us, the masculine and feminine, as well as tolerating the threefold miseries, by strengthening the mind, body and nervous system. Healthy eating, correct intake of stimulants and the regulation of daily activities will all assist the seeker in obtaining the optimum out of the body/mind machine so that it can carry us like a fitting vehicle, not only all about the surface of the earth, but also to heightened levels of consciousness, to levels of awakening that allow us to transcend even the mundane vehicle in which we find ourselves for a brief moment in the light of eternity.
Ayurveda, the Vedic science of health and well being, gives us some insightful wisdom regarding optimising the physical vehicle, treating each person as a unique combination of qualities in varying proportions, so that not all patients are treated equally with a generic drug, but rather analysed first to determine their type or make up before being administered a specific remedial programme suited to them. Generic blanket solutions are ill-advised, and giving the same medicine to any patient is a western attempt at “brute forcing” the solution upon the patient. Some things like pain medication may help for a time, but to get to the heart of the ailment, as opposed to simply treating the symptoms we need to be more specific. This subtle wisdom is there for those who wish to learn more about themselves, and in the process overcome the problems and obstacles on the path of perfection. Perfection is available for every one of us, for every one of us has the gift by default – it comes with the package. We just need to read the manual.