Ayurveda in the West
Updated: Jun 1, 2019
Today, in the Western world, beset by strife, moral confusion, conflict, and disease, there is more need than ever for the kind of wisdom and vision that can save humanity from itself and restore harmony. There are positive signs that the time is right for Ayurveda in the West. Increasingly, people have come to understand the links between mind and body, and complementary therapies are in demand as never before.
There is also a new awareness of the oneness of creation, reflected in the growth of a strong green movement, a trend to vegetarianism, and an emphasis on eating healthier, organically grown whole foods. There is a also a sense of spiritual awakening in the West, and an interest in the religions and beliefs of people around the world.
Unfortunately, there is a habit in the West of referring to everything in decades, not centuries or yugas (Hindu ages). People say that this was the fashion in the 1960s, something else in the 1970s, and so on.
To those born in the East where the Mahabharata, (an epic of ancient India) which happened 4,000 years ago, is still retold to a newborn child in the family, the rise and fall of fads in the West is disconcerting as the tendency to trivalize, commercialise, and exploit even profound and sacred knowledge leads to the kind of amorality and confusion of values that is rampant in the West today.
Ayurveda, in this sense, is the latest "craze" to arrive in the West after yoga, transcendental meditation TM, and levitation, not to mention the self-grown techniques like aromatherapy, Rolfing, the Alexander technique, and a host of others. However, the profound history, tradition, and spirit of Ayurveda set it aside from faddish new theories.
To preserve Ayurveda in its true form, it is necessary to prevent the dilution and distortion that have happened in the case of meditation, yoga, and such esoteric practices as Tantra and Vajrayana Buddhism. The Western need to adapt all spiritual disciplines to appease consumer demand at any cost is a mutagen that Ayurveda will have to try hard to resist.
There is, however, a very serious incongruity between the extensive "hype" that Ayurveda has recently received in the West and the absence of fully qualified Ayurvedic practitioners and authentic medicines in the same countries.