Ayurveda Day 73: The Buddhi

Today was a review day in class and not much new to talk about. I love these days because it gives me a chance to blog about things that I have kept on the back burner for a while, as more pressing blogs came to fruition. So today is a perfect day to do a review on a subject with all of you that is dear to my heart:

The Buddhi.

We have more than just our physical body. In fact, we have three bodies:

– The physical body

– The mental/emotional body

– The spiritual or causal body

We mostly live our lives through the first two bodies. Our body and our mind are interconnected via pranayama (breathing practices) which act as a sort of bridge. When we are physically breathing rapidly it is impossible to be relaxed mentally and emotionally. The breath is a tool we can use to effect the the mind/body connection.

In a similar way, there is a bridge between our mind and our higher self, or truth. This bridge can be thought of as our intellect. It takes in information, sensory input, data. But upon that bridge is an organ that is responsible for processing this information to serve one of two purposes:

– To serve our higher self, truth, and enlightenment

– To serve our lower self, our ego, our suffering

That organ is what we call the buddhi.

Buddhi obviously stems from the word Buddha which means “enlightened one” in Sanskrit. So it’s easy to remember our buddhi as a tool towards enlightenment.

But how does it work?

This is where the role of karma (cause and effect – not good or bad, just simply is!) and samskaras, or our tendencies, come into play.

We are born into this world with a sort of programming code that dictates what our tendencies will be. We come to know this as our constitution as described through vata, pitta, and kapha doshas.

But we also have the ability at any given time to overwrite these tendencies. This is why a person who displays pitta anger their whole life can still learn to have non-judgment. However, without proper training of our buddhi, we lean into our samskaras and further solidify them, forming habits. And unfortunately, the vast majority of the time, we tend to feed the habits that are disharmonious though non-intention and non-attention.

It requires deep intention and attention to be able to overcome that programming and make a better choice. This is one of the main causes of disease according to Ayurveda: the failure of our intellect, or the inability to make harmonious decisions.

The buddhi is just an organ of the mind/spirit connection. It will only do what we train it to do.

Let’s say someone cuts you off in traffic, an example most of us can relate to.

At this point, information has come into your brain. Then the mind can process it and decide what it wants to do. In the moment, your fight/flight/freeze instincts take over and you get angry, scared, or panic. This is just your programming. You do what you are used to. But here, the buddhi has a choice: Does it choose to recognize that this is not the way, and decide to pursue a path of peace, calm, and grace? Or does it just ignore the enlightened path and go straight into old habits driven by the ego?

The more we train the buddhi through inaction, the more it feeds that ego. Only through proper action can we overwrite our samskaras and bridge ourselves with a higher level of existence, of truth.

Ayurveda says there are three main causes of disease: misuse of our senses, failure of our intellect (buddhi), and decay due to time and motion.

However, there is always a fundamental cause of disease that if truly addressed ends our suffering, and that is remembrance of our true nature, beyond our first two bodies.

So when placed in situations that cause you that suffering, you must ask yourself:

“What is my buddhi training? My ego, or my higher self?”

There is always a thread of personal responsibility to everything that causes us suffering in life, no matter how convinced we may make ourselves out to be as a victim. We must own our own role in our existence, and recognize that everyone is responsible for their own wounds. But we are not without help. Our buddhi is there to solidify who we are, so long as we are willing to go through paths like Ayurveda (the science of personal responsibility).

With gratitude,

S

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