Dhanvantari Ayurveda Center Michael Dick, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Leesburg, Florida e-mail: email@example.com
Inside This Issue
Health and Science in the News
Infectious Disease and Ayurveda
The Book Corner Yoga of Sight
Sanskrit and Your Consciousness
Health and Science Headlines:
Meditators live longer: A longitudinal study (18 years) published in the American Journal of Cardiology showed that meditators lived on average 23% longer than non-meditators. They have 30% less cardio-vascular disease-related deaths, and 49% less cancer mortality.
Alan Gaby, MD in Townsend Letter, 10/2005, pp. 26-28, reported the following studies:
Magnesium and vitamin B6 supplementation have been shown to be 90% effective for treatment and prevention of kidney stones. Study used 300mg/day magnesium oxide (about 180 mg elemental magnesium) and 10mg pyridoxine.
In another study it was shown that patients with chronic renal failure (even dialysis-dependent) benefited greatly from supplementation of CoQ10. Researchers gave 60mg. three times daily.
Researchers reported that Vit D3 (cholecalciferol) is more potent than Vit D2 (ergocalciferol). The body naturally synthesizes D3 in a process triggered by sunlight contact with skin. Vit D2 is made by irradiating yeast with ultraviolet light. The study suggests that D2 may be only 10% as effective as D3.
In yet another study whole wheat and rye grains were shown to have high fractions of alkylresorcinols (ARs)—a class of phenolic lipids that help form monolayers and phospholipid bilayers of cells. Refined grains having no bran are devoid of these substances. ARs in the diet are associated with higher tissue levels of Vit E, which have been shown to be cardio-protective and anti-tumoral.
The bran fraction is high in vitamins and minerals.
In another study supplementing 100mg/day Vit C was shown to significantly (74%) reduce the incidence of premature rupture of the chorioamniotic membrane. Vit C has a role in the synthesis of collagen, which promotes strength in this tissue.
A Super Bowl party was the setting of another study which demonstrated that the size of the serving bowl with food items was positively linked to food consumption/calories levels. If the food was in small bowls participants ate less than those served food in larger bowls.
Essential fatty acid supplementation received another boost from a study examining the effects of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) on COPD. Researchers found that exercise capacity increased from nutritional factors not from known anti-inflammatory factors.
Infectious Disease and Ayurveda -- More:
In prior issues of The Ayurvedist we have discussed the advantages of disease modeling along the lines suggested by the term vidhi in Caraka. One must know the type or category of disease before choosing a therapy. The concept of germ was introduced by Louis Pasteur in the 19th century and propelled the “Germ Theory of Disease” prominently onto the medical stage of diagnosis and treatment. This category of disease often is studied in Ayurveda through the window of ojas. Ojas is that category of substances that is responsible for immunity—usually referred to as vyadhibala virodhitva. The immune response is carried out by a diverse array of agents: T-cells, B-cells, leukocytes, macrophages, phagocytes, lymphocytes, NK cells, antibodies, eosinophils, basophils, neutrophils, complement, IGA/IGE/IGG, etc., and so on. Some of these are cells and others are chemical molecules. As a group they comprise the material expressions of ojas.
While ojas is responsible for immunity against infectious agents it is also the subtle essence of the doÃas and dhatus. All tissues, organs, and sub-ordinate tissues arise from ojas and in this sense comprise another form of immunity studied as vyadhi kshamatva--referring to the specific strength of doÃas, dhatus, and malas (wastes). When one views the modern array of pathogens-- krimi (invisible) and krimi (visible) through the window of Ayurveda they are studied in terms of ojas—its depletion and disturbance—as well as in terms of fevers, symptoms, and so on. This array yields diversity among treatment options too. Also a new class of diseases has emerged—auto-immune disorders—such as rheumatoid arthritis (ama vata).
The vector of spread may be contact via, air, food/water, sex or other skin areas. Some pathogens are contagious and some are not. Some destroy human cells and tissues and others poison the system with metabolic wastes. Some cause acute challenges resulting in death while others merely hang around producing chronic inconveniences. Some reproduce in the body and others not. Some, being resisted by immune agents, lead to altered structure and function from eosinophil (etc.) accumulations, while others attack the tissue directly—also leading to altered structure and function. Some live within the cell and some in the interstitial fluids. Some are resistant to gastric acids and others are not.
There are numerous categories of infectious agents ranging in size from extremely tiny—20-300nm to 3m:
Prions—(Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy / mad cow disease)
Bacteriophages, Plasmids, Transposons—mobile genetic elements that infect bacteria and can indirectly cause human disease by encoding bacterial virulence factors; e.g., adhesions, toxins, or enzymes that confer antibiotic resistance
Viri—Transient (measles), Chronic Latent (Herpes Simplex), Chronic Productive (Hepatitis B), Transforming (EBV)
Bacteria—Gram-Positive (Staphyloccus), Gram-Negative (Whooping Cough), Mycobacteria (TB), Spirochetes (Syphilis), Anaerobic (Clostridia), Obligate Intracellular (Chlamydia)
Fungus--Yeasts (Candidiasis), Molds (Aspergillis)
Parasites/Helminths—Protozoa (Malaria), Metazoa (Tape Worms)
Ectoparasites—spiders, ticks, mites, lice, bedbugs
There are a few diagnostic rules: Neutrophils are more commonly present in bacterial infection than in viral infection. Most viruses that cause diarrhea affect the small intestine and do not cause ulceration or invade the mucosa. Cytomegalovirus is one virus that does not follow this rule, as it causes ulceration secondary to ischemic necrosis and direct invasion. However, CMV is not a common cause of infectious diarrhea in the immunocompetent host. Giardia lamblia does not secrete toxins; the mechanism of damage is probably related to a block in nutrient absorption when the organisms cover the epithelial cells or mechanically damage the microvilli.
Turmeric is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and
essential oils are powerful antibiotics. Echinacea has demonstrated T-cell
inducing capacity. Be well...
The Book Corner
THE YOGA OF PERFECT SIGHT by Dr. R. S. Agarwal Sri Aurobindu Ashram Trust, 1979
Dr. Agarwal is an ophthalmologist who was interested in the works and findings of another ophthalmologist, Dr. W. H. Bates of New York. This book is largely a presentation of Bates work supplemented by Dr. Agarwal’s knowledge of and interest in Yoga. Interestingly, while Dr. Agarwal gives evidence supporting the theory that refractive sight problems are largely reversible, not once does he directly link perfect sight with Yoga explicitly in the body of the work, only in the title of the work.
Quoting Dr. Agarwal’s introductory remarks about the state of science: “Almost every eye specialist of the world believes that for refractive errors there is not only no cure but practically no preventive also. From such a belief any rational mind will conclude that science is in a very imperfect stage. What some writers on Ophthalmology wrote two hundred years back about the incurability of the refractive ailments, is continuing as a dogma even today, in the days of advanced science...”
Dr. Agarwal continues with a description of old guard thinking about the cause for the general decline in sight in the modern age:
“The old writers tell us that the visual organ of man was never intended for the uses to which it is put now. In the early ages there was no school, no printing press, no electric light and moving pictures. In those days the eye served the needs of the human animal perfectly. Man was a hunter, a farmer, a fighter, He needed only distant vision for which no muscular action was required. It is in near vision that some muscular action is required to correct the focusing, but at that time the use of eyes for near was rare and of very short duration....The prevailing method of treatment for the errors of refraction is by means of compensating lenses. But very little has ever been claimed except that these contrivances neutralize the effects of the various conditions for which they are prescribed as a crutch enables a lame man to walk. This incurability of errors of refraction is based on the theory that the eye changes it focus for vision at different distances by altering the curvature of the lens. And both myopia and hypermetropia are supposed to be permanent conditions.”
Dr. Agarwal cites the findings of Dr. Bates, who saw over 30,000 patients in his career, which showed that the lens is not a factor in accommodation. “The eye adjusts its focus for different distances just like a camera, by a change in the length of the organ, and this alteration is brought about by the action of the external eye muscles called oblique muscles.” These are some of the findings of Dr. Bates which were listed:
1. Myopia and hypermetropia could be produced at will.
2. Myopia was not caused by reading but by a strain to see distant objects.
3. Strain at the near point caused hypermetropia.
4. No error of refraction was ever a constant condition.
5. Lower degrees of errors of refraction were curable while higher degrees could be improved.
6. Reading fine print when it can be done without any discomfort proves extremely beneficial.
7. Preservation of good eyesight is almost impossible without eye education and mental relaxation.
Dr. Agarwal went on to describe numerous myths about sight which had been dispelled by Dr. Bates. The most remarkable discovery of Dr. Bates was that fine print is a benefit to the eyes while large print is a menace. The reason is that while reading fine print one sees a tiny area at a time, while in reading large print one has to see a large area at a time and the eye feels strain in such an attempt. Reading in bright electric or sunlight is not beneficial, nor is use of sunglasses, and reading at arm’s length as currently believed. Reading in a moving vehicle is not harmful, nor is reading while lying down, and nor are fluctuations of light.
Dr. Agarwal states there are 5 factors of seeing:
1. an object of seeing
2. an organ of seeing
3. a sense function
4. an interpretation of mind
5. the attention of mind
According to Dr. Agarwal correct seeing is perfect coordination of mind and eye and implies a normal condition of the mind with perfect imagination and perfect memory. Vision is a process of mental interpretation of retinal images. Its quality is functionally related to mental processes and states. Brain tension of one or more nerves always means disease of nerve ganglia. When ganglion cells in brain are diseased the function of all parts of the body are not normally maintained. When strain decreases, function becomes normal. Therefore a mind at rest produces proper physiology. Defective vision is the result of an abnormal condition of the mind, i.e., strain, stress, mental boredom. The source of life is life energy which pervades in the universe. Its flow in the organ or organs of the body is disturbed by strain due to any reason. In the case of visual defects the strain immediately appears when there is an effort to see. Vision impairment further impairs the condition of the mind. Thus the effect becomes the cause in a vicious circle of declining function. When vision is imperfect memory and imagination are imperfect. When imagination is imperfect the mind adds imperfections to the imperfect retinal images. Therefore part of the phenomenon of imperfect sight is imaginary or not accounted for by derangement of the visual apparatus. Finally, it’s impossible to imagine and remember perfectly without perfect relaxation. Perfect sight can only come when imagination is perfect and without effort in sight. The sense organs normally work without effort and so does the normal eye. Strain leads to mental boredom. The mind controls the eyes and its condition therefore affects the eyes. Eye strain may cause functional and organic eye disease. Glasses do not alter, fundamentally, the condition of the mind. These are Dr. Agarwal’s “Seven Truths of Normal Sight:”
1. Normal sight can always be demonstrated in the normal eye, but only under favorable conditions.
2. Central Fixation: The letter or part of the letter regarded is always seen best.
3. Shifting: The point regarded changes rapidly and continuously.
4. Swinging: When the shifting is slow the letters appear to move side-to-side or in other directions with a pendulum-like motion.
5. Memory is perfect. The color and background of the letters or other objects seen are remembered perfectly, instantaneously and continuously.
6. Imagination is good. One may even see the white part of letters whiter that it really is, while the black is not altered by distance, illumination, size, or form of the letters.
7. Rest or relaxation of the eye and mind is perfect and can always be demonstrated.
When one of these seven fundamentals is perfect all are perfect. Items 2-4 are normal illusions of the normal eye and are absent in defective eyes. These optical illusions imply a deeper way of seeing wherein the superficial/ outer becomes more attractive and beautiful. Thus there is normal and imperfect illusion.
Dr. Agarwal lists four fundamental principles of perfect eyesight:
1. many blind persons are curable
2. all errors of refraction are functional and therefore curable
3. all defective vision is due to strain in some form
4. strain is relieved by relaxation
To relieve strain a triune process is to be adopted based upon these principles:
1. elimination of toxins, bad habits, wrong use of the sense organs
2. stimulation of vitality by certain methods (right use of sense organs)
3. relaxation of mind and nerves by certain methods
In regard to point number 1 Dr. Agarwal has given numerous suggestions:
· avoid staring at an object for long periods of time
· avoid bright reading lights especially in bright sun
· avoid straining by excessive reading/concentration
· avoid use of sun glasses
· avoid non-blinking and blinking where lids touch with a jerk
· avoid hiring teachers who wear glasses as this correlates with increased vision problems in children
· avoid hiring teachers with poor hand or board writing
· avoid moving eyes while keeping head fixed = strain
In regard to point number 2 above Dr. Agarwal has given many suggestions especially in the form of exercises:
· while writing follow point of pen moving sight with it
· movies--sit comfortably erect, raise chin and lower upper eyelids and don’t stop blinking
· alternate good light and candle light when reading
· move object close and far when reading
· shift glance frequently to avoid staring
· covering a weak eye for several days to help strengthen it through exclusive use
· read at close distance = 12”
· games with balls = table tennis etc. help improve eyesight
· while regarding eye chart focus on one side of a letter or on the white center of the letter
· perfect imagination of letter O = improves sight of other letters
In regard to point number 3 above there are numerous relaxation techniques suggested:
· rest mind and eyes through relaxation techniques (relaxation carries into activity)
· reading/focusing at distances greater than 20’ = rest
· concentration on candle flame for 100 breaths 2 placed 9” apart may be used also
· for students in school read the Snellen Test Card for 5’ beginning each day
· reading through small hole in a card to allow viewing of small area
· read fine print whenever possible
· cool water eye wash (also collyrium)
· ginger pads on eyes
· involuntary concentration = relaxation (as in meditation) ; voluntary concentration is impossible
Dr. Agarwal lists many kinds of vision and eye disorders which are benefited by using these techniques
· optic neuritis
· optic atrophy
· early cataract
· field vision
· color blindness
· spasm of external eye muscles
· retinitis pigmentosa
· hypermetropia (far sightedness)
· retinal diseases
· photo phobia
· double vision
Sanskrit and Your Consciousness
Quotes excerpted from: “Sanskrit” in AI (Artificial Intelligence) Magazine in Spring of 1985 written by NASA researcher, Rick Briggs.
“Sanskrit is the most ancient member of the European family of languages. It is an elder sister of Latin and Greek from which most of the modern European languages have been derived. The oldest preserved form of Sanskrit is referred to as Vedic. The oldest extant example of the literature of the Vedic period is the Rig-Veda, being strictly in verse, the Rig-Veda does not give us a record of the contemporary spoken language.”
“The very name "Sanskrit" meant "language brought to formal perfection" in contrast to the common languages, Prakrits or "natural" languages. The form of Sanskrit which has been used for the last 2500 years is known today as Classical Sanskrit. The norms of classical Sanskrit were established by the ancient grammarians. Although no records are available of their work, their efforts reached a climax in the 5th century B.C. in the great grammatical treatise of Panini, which became the standard for correct speech with such comprehensive authority that it has remained so, with little alteration until present times.”
“Until 1100 A.D., Sanskrit was without interruption the official language of the whole of India. The dominance of Sanskrit is indicated by a wealth of literature of widely diverse genres including religious and
philosophical; fiction (short story, fable, novels, and plays); scientific literature including linguistics, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine; as well as law and politics.” This statement points to the side-benefit of Sanskrit study, i.e., that a whole culture of ideas becomes available to one knowing Sanskrit. Our often-mentioned Jyotish is written about primarily in Sanskrit. Ayurveda, Sthapatyaveda, yoga, vedanta, and many, many others fields are best studied in their original Sanskrit form.
“In the past twenty years, much time, effort, and money has been expended on designing an unambiguous representation of natural languages to make them accessible to computer processing. These efforts have centered around creating schemata designed to parallel logical relations with relations expressed by the syntax and semantics of natural languages, which are clearly cumbersome and ambiguous in their function as vehicles for the transmission of logical data. Understandably, there is a widespread belief that natural languages are unsuitable for the transmission of many ideas that artificial languages can render with great precision and mathematical rigor.” (The “term natural” language is used to denote those oral communication-oriented languages. The term “artificial language” denotes forms such as mathematical language.)
“The discovery is of monumental significance. It is mind-boggling to consider that we have available to us a language which has been spoken for 4-7000 years that appears to be in every respect a perfect language designed for enlightened communication. But the most stunning aspect of the discovery is this: NASA the most advanced research center in the world for cutting edge technology has discovered that Sanskrit, the world's oldest spiritual language, is the only unambiguous spoken language on the planet (Italics mine).”
“... There is at least one language, Sanskrit, which for the duration of almost 1000 years was a living spoken language with a considerable literature of its own. Besides works of literary value, there was a long philosophical and grammatical tradition that has continued to exist with undiminished vigor until the present century. Among the accomplishments of the grammarians can be reckoned a method for paraphrasing Sanskrit in a manner that is identical not only in essence but in form with current work in Artificial Intelligence. This article demonstrates that a natural language can serve as an artificial language also, and that much work in AI has been reinventing a wheel millennia old.”
“The unique organization of the Sanskrit alphabet serves to focus one's attention on qualities and patterns of articulated sound in a way that occurs in no other language. By paying continuous attention to the point of location, degree of resonance and effort of breath, one's awareness becomes more and more consumed by the direct experience of articulated sound. This in itself produces and unprecedented clarity of mind and revelry in the joy of language. Every combination of sound in Sanskrit follows strict laws which essentially make possible an uninterrupted flow of the most perfect euphonic blending of letters into words and verse.” This statement means that one’s intellectual capacity in terms of memory, clarity, focus, efficiency, and so on are likely to be improved just by the recitation of this language. It’s formal study opens other doors, too.
“The discussion until now has been about Sanskrit, the language of mathematical precision, the world's only unambiguous spoken language. But the linguistic perfection of Sanskrit offers only a partial explanation for its sustained presence in the world for at least 3000 years. High precision in and of itself is of limited scope. Generally it excites the brain but not the heart. Sanskrit is indeed a perfect language in the same sense as mathematics, but Sanskrit is also a perfect language in the sense that, like music, it has the power to uplift the heart.”
“It's conceivable that for a few rare and inspired geniuses, mathematics can reach the point of becoming music or music becoming mathematics. The extraordinary thing about Sanskrit is that it offers direct accessibility by anyone to that elevated plane where the two, mathematics and music, brain and heart, analytical and intuitive, scientific and spiritual become one. This is fertile ground for revelation. Great discoveries occur, whether through mathematics or music or Sanskrit, not by the calculations or manipulations of the human mind, but where the living language is expressed and heard in a state of joy and communion with the natural laws of existence.”
The rishis have declared it to be the language of nature—meaning that its sounds express all of the fundamental processes in nature. According to the expert one wants to quote there are from approximately 100 to 2400 verbal roots, from which all other words are derived. These sounds have a “nama rupa” or name and form relationship—the sound is the seed form which is capable of manifesting the named thing. It is a force in potential and when thought or spoken becomes lively as a creative force in the universal soup of Consciousness. Mantras derive their force from this relationship in this manner. One should take note that the naming ceremony in India (giving the newborn child a name) is extremely important in the culture. Generally, the name is guided by jyotishical considerations for the constellation in the ascendant of the birth chart. The tradition involves choosing spiritually laden sounds, which will serve to reinforce in the subject that he/she indeed is divine. The mechanism for this is in part: where attention goes—grows. This maxim of Vedic science asserts that the act of bringing one’s attention to a thing promotes identification (Ahamkara) with it and this leads to more and more expression of the process of absorption into the object of perception.
Commonly the sounds of Sanskrit are depicted in a script; the Devanagari script for “Sanskrit” is given here --(.doc version only). While many of us prefer to read it in a transliterated form—our familiar Roman script--Sanskrit. No matter how one reads Sanskrit both renditions are suitable to convey the proper pronunciation, sounds, and meanings. One advantage for reading the Devanagari is that the symbols tend to be smaller than our 12 pt. Roman script font and more compact from the vowel sounds being imbedded with the consonant symbol. This provides for more ease of reading and less tendency for the need to use glasses. This fact is based upon the notion that the eyes naturally try to focus. Focus means to come to a fine point. It’s easy to see the period at the end of the prior sentence as it’s tiny—focused. The eyes see this at once. However, each word on this page is much larger than a point, thus requiring the eye to “unfocus” to “see” or grasp the entire word. Thus it is that a word is harder to read or focus on than a point is. One statement in this regard attributed to an ancient rishi comes to mind: “The discovery of writing will be the end of sight of man.”
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