(Click on image at left to read Gandhi’s Guide to Health)
Preventing disease and curing our bodies naturally is the goal of the 5,000 year old practice of Ayurveda (pron: eye-yur-veda). It literally means the science (veda) of life (ayur) and its approach is to nourish the whole person–mind, body and spirit. One of the most interesting aspects of ayurvedic medicine is the way that it looks for cures in the environment around us. Perhaps try this flower growing around your house or this nut from the tree in your backyard to work on what ails you. Ayurveda confirms that all of life is teeming with wisdom if we were trained to recognize and harness it.
Gandhi was fascinated by health, from caring for his ill father to running an ambulance corps in the Boer War in South Africa, and then finally, to the day to day well-being of those who came to him. He often expressed the wish to become a nurse, and in letters to his devotee, Madeleine Slade, for example, he will ask questions about her regularity and diet. His experiments in health do not fall too far from the tree of nonviolent social action either. For when we see into the power of nonviolence, is it not also a preventative and curative medicine for societal malaise? Isn’t nonviolence more effective when we engage it for our whole, integral being, and not just in word or deed alone? Did Gandhi not stand convinced that nonviolence was the science of the the law of life? We can say with confidence that he was always a physician at heart–and that the relationship between nonviolence and the body, between social and physical health, is not just metaphorical: the same principle of the science of life is at work on both levels.
Consider how the more we come to understand our own bodies and minds speaking to us, and the more we honor their health, the more easily we can understand and nurture others nonviolently.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org