Ayurveda is the finest way of looking at the body, but also the mind.
To gain a basic knowledge of Ayurvedic psychology is really easy, as we will see.
Ayurvedic Psychology is four dimensional, it is based on Samkhya Philosophy.
The four dimensions are MANAS, BUDDHI, CHITTA and AHAMKARA. For those unfamiliar with these terms please don’t panic and switch off as all will soon become clear and simple!
MANAS is the outer layer of the mind. Through our senses we take in impressions from the world around us. They are then collected in the mind flooding it with sensory information. The mind is very sensitive and can be traumatised by bad sensations and events such as war and violence, or nourished by good events such as a kind word or a loving touch. Manas gathers and deposits information and facts which are known as the chitta.
CHITTA is composed of all the random thoughts and sensations collected by the manas. If chitta is not put under proper control, the thousands of impressions and experiences accumulated during the present and past, will all compete for attention and recognition. Beneficial thoughts will dance unfettered with those that need to be silenced and put to one side. If this is not done properly, the mind will be like a troop of monkeys leaping all over the place, it needs to be put in order.
AHAMKARA is the ego - it gives each of us a knowledge and sense of self. It is the feeling “I am me”. It makes us feel different and separate from others around us. The ego arises through our ability to only be able to focus on one thing at a time. Our thoughts are objects and when we are thinking about one thing, we cannot be thinking of something else. The ahamkara makes us proud and this can result in selfishness and greed. Unfortunately, it is the root of our personal and social problems, pride can cause us to look down on others. It causes us to justify our selfishness, rather than being kind and considerate to others. This can lead to war and disharmony! The ego is a strong force that is difficult to keep under control. The ahamkara organises the thoughts and impressions within the chitta and the manas becomes manipulated to obtain the ego’s own selfish desires and needs from the senses. Ayurvedic psychology teaches us that if we are mindful of our actions towards others, the manas will be inclined to function altruistically. Our consciousness will be easy to keep in order by the unclouded application of our intelligence. This mindfulness of the world can only happen, when our ego is encouraged to be more universally aware and compassionate, this can be done by our buddhi.
BUDDHI - The buddhi is the mental instrument of intelligent perception. We use it to discriminate between right and wrong and what matters to us and the rest of the world around us and what does not. It is our emotional and rational intelligence allowing us to discern truth from lies and decide what is good and what is bad. Through its power we can also gauge what is eternal and what is merely temporary and transient. It helps us resolve doubts. The mind is speculative and imaginative. The chitta needs to be under intelligent control. Unless we enter deeper into the thought process by using buddhi, we will forever remain doubting and in continual emotional and intellectual turmoil. We need to use our buddhi effectively to tame the selfish desires that arise from our ahamkara. If we are not vigilant, the buddhi can become clouded by the many needs of the ego. It is important to look after it and clear it using yoga, meditation, diet, herbs and pranayama breathing. Through past experience we know that pain is inevitable, but it is our true intelligence or buddhi that reminds us that suffering can be optional.