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Ayurveda Insights for the Spiritual Path



הסבר על שלוש הדושות: פיטה כפה וואטה וששת היסודות לחיים רוחניים

To more clearly appreciate the insight that the Ayurvedic approach to live foods offers, we need to develop an understanding of the subtle levels of the three doshas: kapha, pitta and vata. These subtle levels are called the three vital essences. For vata the vital essence is called prana; for pitta it is called tejas; and for kapha it is called ojas. The doshas, which are explained in later chapters in this book, need to be balanced in order to ameliorate or prevent disease. These subtle energy levels, prana, tejas, and ojas, have to do with how to maximize health and spiritual potential. In that context, they are energies more connected to the subtle and causal bodies.

In essence, proper balance and energizing of these vital essences creates positive life force. Prana, which is a term that most people are familiar with, can be considered as the basic vital life force energy. It is also understood as the subtle energy of air and ether, which is, in a sense, the guiding energy behind the psycho-physiological functions, the coordination of breath, senses and mind. Prana also is a driving force behind deeper spiritual states of consciousness. Tejas, we can refer to as the inner radiance or inner fire. It is also deeply associated with the fire of Kundalini. According to David Frawley in Yoga & Ayurveda, on an inner level it energizes and governs higher perceptual capacities.[i] Ojas, in essence, is the subtle energy of water and earth. It is the stored up energetic life force of the body or primal vigor. It involves the integrity and stored energy of protein, fat, reproductive fluids, as well as healthy gross tissue mass. The amount of ojas a person has correlates with the amount of physical, sexual, mental and spiritual endurance that a person has.

In essence, as we embark on the path of Spiritual Nutrition, the prana, tejas and ojas need to be balanced. Our physical and subtle physical foundations and balance depends on the strength of ojas. Tejas is the heat and light energy of ojas. Prana is the energy that radiates from ojas after it has been set on fire by tejas. Tejas also can be understood as the fire of the Divine or Kundalini. The term "Shehina energy" can also be used, but for one system clarity, for this section we will use the term Kundalini and the Ayurvedic terms. The nadi system, which is the subtle nervous system, interpenetrates all of the layers of the koshas and takes the spiritual energy into the koshas. The nadis have the ojas as their lining and are the conduit for the tejas and prana. The nadis also intersect to create the charkas. The nadis, in a sense, are metaphorically lined with ojas. The ojas, when it is sufficient, is set on subtle fire by the energy of the tejas or the Kundalini.

As the tejas moves through the nadis, it creates a spiritual heat, which many people often feel when the Kundalini is awakened. The burning of the ojas by tejas activates and amplifies the energy of the prana. If we do not have enough ojas, the fire of Kundalini, metaphorically, but practically, can burn up the subtle nervous system, or nadis. The prana, much like the wind blowing on a fire, also increases the flame of the burning of the ojas by the tejas. This becomes significant when we talk about eating for spiritual nutrition because if we do not have enough ojas, which is similar metaphorically to logs on a fire, and we just increase the prana with purifying live foods, asanas, and with pranayama, we create a fire that is so strong, that it rapidly burns up all the logs of the ojas. The result is a potential harm to the subtle nervous system or nadis, which had previously been protected by a lubricant lining of ojas. This is because when the ojas is burnt up, the fire may burn up the nadis next. Therefore, in Spiritual Nutrition, we emphasize live foods that sustain and build the ojas.

The task, therefore, for the spiritual aspirant, is how to increase all three forces, prana, tejas and ojas in a balanced way, so we can have maximal spiritual energy that helps us go to our highest spiritual potential and not deplete the ojas.

The Six Foundations for Spiritual Life, properly applied, protects the ojas, and builds the prana and tejas. As explained, the tejas is the inner fire, which really is the Kundalini energy in its activated or non-activated form. The Kundalini is an inner fire, a form of lightning or electrical energy at the subtle levels. The prana, the wind that blows the fire, comes primarily from pranayama, eating live foods, asanas and other sorts of high-energy practices. The key thing that isn`t as obvious is how to protect and build the ojas, so as prana and tejas increase, we do not burn out the ojas.

The ojas is sustained and increased by eating a pure diet and by what I would call dharmic living. Dharmic living, outlined in the great scriptures, is Foundation Four of the Six Foundations. In Foundation Four, we have the yama and niyamas of yoga, Ten Speakings of the Torah, the concept of living in a holy way from the Kabbalistic scriptures, the Eight-fold Buddhist path, the White Buffalo Medicine way in the Native American path. The holiness has to do with also a balanced mind, balanced emotions and senses that are all turned toward one thing…God, and experiencing the delight of God in all things.

Building ojas with a diet of live foods requires a greater emphasis on: nut milks and seed milks; nuts and seeds; juicy and oily vegetables, such as avocado; using low glycemic fruits with particular emphasis on berries, such as goji berries; and other foods with a slight sweetness in taste, like berries, apples, carrots, and sprouted grains. Goji berries and bee pollen are not only high in anti-oxidants, but are tremendously rejuvenative. More oily, creamy, soupy types of food, such as smoothies, are all good for building ojas. It is important to increase the intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. Many people on a low fat, cleansing live food diet become depleted in the Omega-3 fatty acids. Lack of both short chain, medium and long chain fatty acids weakens the physical nervous system and depletes ojas. Purslane, a common herb that grows almost everywhere, is high in the long chain Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA. We grow it at the Tree of Life. Recent research by Dr. Timohir Lelas of Zagreb through the process of tribomechanical analysis has verified the existence of EPA and DHA in aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) (a.k.a. Klamath Lake algae/Blue Green Algae). …DHA, which is another important long chain fatty acid, especially for brain function, is available from a golden algae as well as AFA… Flax seed and hemp seed will provide most of the short chain Omega-3 fatty acids. Coconut oil is a great oil for building ojas, as well as hemp seed and macadamia nuts. Coconut oil increases the conversion of short chain to long chain Omega 3 fatty acids by 3-6%. Certain tonic herbs in general, and particularly ashwaganda, shatavari, ginseng, and licorice are good for ojas.

These are what Ayurveda calls soma-producing herbs. Spirulina and chlorella, which are high in protein, fatty acids like GLA (which is highest in mother`s milk, second highest in spirulina, and third highest in hemp seeds), sulfanolipids, minerals and vitamins, are both tridoshic (balance all the doshas) and are excellent as ojas builders. In my observation, the Klamath Lake blue-green algae is also important and useful for building ojas, particularly of the nervous system, because of the rejuvenative effects. Drinking plenty of structured water with non-heated full mineral salts in ionic form helps to build ojas and prevent dehydration. Crystal Energy helps to structure the water. Bee pollen as the semen of the plant world is an incredible food for building ojas. It is 20% protein (and gram for gram it has 5-7 times more protein than meat, eggs, or cheese), 15% brain building oils and lecithin, has 63 minerals, and most of the B vitamins, vitamins C and E, nucleic acids, 5,000 enzymes and co-enzymes, essential fatty acids. … Dr. Nokofai Tsifsin, a Russian botanist found that of those in living past 125 years, many were bee keepers whose main food was bee pollen.[ii] Much Russian research has shown that bee pollen has powerful anti-aging and regenerative powers. Bee pollen is the ultimate biogenic food and the procreative force of the plant world.

There are also some physical practices that help to build ojas. These include oleation (rubbing oil on the whole body). Oleation followed by a 5-10 minute hot shower, and then by repeat oleation is another style. Basti (oil enemas with or without herbs) is an excellent way to build ojas and decrease excess vata.

Protecting the ojas by controlling the sexual energy may be very important. This does not necessarily mean celibacy, but it means appropriate use of sexual energy. In many cases, many people protect ojas by using certain Taoist techniques, such as retention of semen. It is very clear that excessive loss of semen, or even excessive sexuality, even if you are maintaining your semen, still can deplete ojas. A classical sign of low ojas is weakness and fatigue immediately and/or for several days after ejaculation. In such cases, it is advisable to refrain from sexual activity until ojas is restored. Deep yang and yin kidney building herbs have been very helpful for this. Some teach that this depletion may also occur in women.

In my 35 years of clinical experience, no woman has ever cited this as a health problem. Perhaps its depletion seems to happen on a more subtle level. The world literature does suggest that sexual activity can prolong life, so there is no need to be celibate from a health and longevity standpoint. In the Lancet, a major study showed men from ages 45-59 had 50% less mortality who had sex 2-3 times per week. Similar findings were made in a study in Virginia . The studies on longevity for women were less dramatic, but suggested some longevity benefit, as well as amelioration of menopause symptoms.

Overworking, over-restraint, overplaying, or excess stress in general depletes ojas. Building and maintaining ojas means leading a life of moderation. This is hard for younger people to understand, because they have a lot of ojas to burn. For many people, the spiritual path is a long one, and you want your ojas to last you and to be regenerative.

גבריאל קאזנס הקהילה התגבשה ב-2003 בהנחיית ד"ר גבריאל קאזנס במטרה להקים חיי קהילה ברוח ששת היסודות,תוך שילוב סדנאות להרחבת המודעות, מסלול אקדמאי(.M.A)ומסלולי הכשרה בתזונה טבעונית,חקלאות אורגנית,יוגה ומדעי השלום בהשראת מרכז Tree of Life שבאריזונה,ארה"ב

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עם : גבריאל קאזנס