Undertaking the study of traditional Ayurveda is a monumental task that can be interpreted through an infinite amount of perspectives. In America it is popular to look at Ayurveda either through a metaphysical Eastern approach or a simplistic-reductionist Western approach. According to Martin Heidegger, a German philosopher, the Western approach has lost sight of being and people find themselves within ontological presuppositions.
Using this description, a metaphysical Eastern approach is more reflective and insightful than a Western approach. In an effort to describe Ayurveda in its cultural and religious context, Hinduism, the description of Ayurveda will be through a metaphysical Eastern approach. The Western approach to Ayurveda generally downplays or omits religious and spiritual aspects of Ayurveda.
In the Western medical community there is a scientifically secular perspective and a spiritually rejuvenating perspective. In a secular scientific community there is little room for metaphysical concepts like a soul. This is different from a spiritually based community, which infuses one’s physical and mental health with a person’s consciousness. Consciousness, or soul, is more than a psychological state but a reflection of one spiritual maturity and stability. Traditional Ayurveda believes in a consciousness.
For over a year I studied the Vedas and spent about a month in India have come to define Ayurveda as the healing and rejuvenation of the mind, body, and soul. It is an ancient Hindu medical practice that finds its roots in Hindu religiosity. The science within the practice of Ayurveda consists of biology, physiology, herbology, astronomy, and one must have a well-rounded understanding of the Vedas in order to practice traditional Ayurveda. In a synergetic effort all the skills and knowledge of an Ayurveda physician contributes to the health and wellbeing of his or her patients. For this reason Ayurveda, not just in the traditional sense, can be a life altering and spiritually enlightening experience.