In this article we will discuss the relationship between Clinical Ayurveda and Ayurvedic Counseling on one hand, and between Ayurvedic Counseling and Vedic Counseling on the other. Our goal is to make it clear to the reader what Vedic Counseling is and how it relates to other Vedic disciplines, notably Ayurveda.
First we will examine the relationship between Clinical Ayurveda and Ayurvedic Counseling. There are two primary models of Ayurvedic practice available today for those who are looking to work in the Ayurvedic field.
- The first is a clinical model aimed at the treatment of disease, much like other primary health care practices and the work of doctors of various types.
- The second is a counseling model aimed at teaching the principles and practices of right living, wellness and longevity, a more educational approach.
The clinical model includes powerful Ayurvedic herbs and clinical therapies like special types massage and Pancha Karma. It aims to diagnose and treat serious diseases and ultimately to become a type of primary care practice. Modern Ayurveda, as in the BAMS doctor program in India, aims more at clinical Ayurveda, though it accepts the value and necessity of some degree of Ayurvedic counseling. Modern Ayurvedic doctors in India are mainly doctors and clinicians and seldom counsel patients.
Yet the clinical model is much more difficult to practice in the West as it works best with licensing and legal recognition which Ayurveda so far does not have in the West. So far the clinical model of Ayurveda in the West is moving along slowly and may take many more years for full recognition, though it is making some progress. To treat disease of any serious nature Ayurvedic practitioners may require the recommendation or support of licensed medical practitioners, at least to be safe at a legal level.
In the West the clinical model of Ayurveda is usually divided into an Ayurvedic practitioner program and an advanced Ayurvedic doctor program (which is still being developed). The Ayurvedic practitioner is not a doctor or fully trained clinician but does do some clinical therapies of herbs and massage. There is also often some cross over between the Ayurvedic practitioner and the Ayurvedic counselor, with Ayurvedic practitioners doing some counseling work. The divide is that counselors will not treat diseases directly.
The counseling model of Ayurveda remains more practical and easier to do because it is primarily a wellness model aimed at promoting positive health, not trying to treat serious disease. In Ayurveda, counseling relates to behavior and lifestyle changes to improve our physical and mental health. These include daily and seasonal health regimens, constitution balancing, and adjustment for stages of life, like old age. But it extends to promoting a positive vitality and a peaceful psychology through natural living, Yoga and meditation. This is all included in an Ayurvedic lifestyle that is the foundation for both treating diseases and preventing them from occurring in the first place. It may include some prescription of herbs, but generally of a mild nature, and massage therapies even Pancha Karma done as part of wellness procedures or seasonal purification and rejuvenation.
Such a counseling model is not as developed in modern medicine, which aims more at drugs and surgery, and can be of benefit for those studying modern medicine as well. In addition, there are various modern counseling fields. Much of modern psychology is of this type and many other forms of career or relationship counseling, life guidance and spiritual counseling, as well as a number of health wellness therapies.
Generally work as an Ayurvedic counselor requires less training and much less expense than as a clinician, or even as practitioner. It is often a good place to begin moving from counseling to practitioner to doctor, which may take many years to accomplish.
Vedic Counseling and the Four Goals of Life
Next we will examine the relationship between Ayurvedic Counseling and Vedic Counseling. As Ayurvedic Counseling and Vedic Counseling are similar terms, there can be some confusion between the two.
The question arises: What is Vedic counseling and how does it relate to Ayurvedic counseling? Some people may confuse the two and think that Ayurvedic and Vedic counseling are the same. The fact is that they are related but different. Vedic counseling is a larger field of counseling concerns that includes not only Ayurveda, but the other primary Vedic disciplines of Yoga, Vedanta, Vedic Astrology and Vastu. In other words, all Vedic disciplines are forms of counseling or life guidance.
Another way to look at the relationship between Vedic counseling and Ayurvedic counseling is relative to the Vedic goals of life. These are well known as fourfold as Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.
- Dharma is the pursuit of right action and higher values according to our individual nature, karma and capacities, yet also relative to our role in the universe as a whole.
- Artha is the achievement of goals and objectives, including wealth and the proper means of livelihood and developing prosperity.
- Kama is enjoyment, happiness, love and relationship, which is possible in a lasting manner only through the fulfillment of Dharma and Artha.
- Moksha is the liberation of the consciousness from the bondage of karma and desire, the way of Self-realization. Moksha proceeds through the practice of Yoga and meditation according to Vedanta and its science of consciousness.
These four primary goals of life are based upon a fifth goal as their foundation, which is Arogya, or health and wellbeing of body and mind. Health, vitality and mental composure are the basis for pursuing the main goals of life, which are otherwise difficult to accomplish in an enduring manner.
Ayurveda clearly is specifically designed to deal with Arogya or health and wellbeing, specifically the treatment of disease that obstructs them. This is done in order to facilitate the four main goals of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, which Ayurveda addresses only indirectly and are not the direct topic of Ayurvedic study or treatment
Vedic counseling, on the other hand, is designed to help us directly achieve Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha as its primary concern, but recognizes the foundation of Arogya or health and wellbeing through Ayurveda, which it is more inclined to address indirectly as part of right living and behavioral practices.
Vedic counseling includes Ayurveda as its health and wellness aspect, but is not limited to it and has other considerations relative to the whole of life. Vedic counseling is based upon the examination of dharma and karma as primary factors, even as behind health and wellbeing. It is more of a spirituality, psychology and way of Vedic living.
Vedic Counseling: A Broader Model that can include but is not limited to Ayurvedic Counseling
This means that an Ayurvedic counselor is not necessarily a Vedic counselor. It also means that a Vedic counselor is not likely to be an Ayurvedic clinician, which is a more specialized discipline. Ayurvedic counseling can fit into the broader scheme of Vedic counseling, but can also stand on its own. Vedic counseling can also stand on its own apart from Ayurveda. One may need to go to an Ayurvedic counselor or practitioner for some issues in life and to a Vedic counselor for others, as indicated by the different goals of life above.
For an Ayurvedic counselor to be a full Vedic counselor, he or she would have to study the other fields of Vedic knowledge as Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology. He or she would need to develop the capacity to deal with other domains of life like career, prosperity, relationship, or yogic spirituality, not just health. Naturally, that is a large range of concerns for any single counselor to deal with effectively.
In fact, Vedic astrology or Jyotish is probably more central to Vedic counseling than Ayurveda as it alone can deal with all the four goals of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha as well as health and wellness or Arogya, which are all indicated in various aspects of the birth chart.
Yet the broadness of the Vedic vision makes this possible to integrate these various Vedic disciplines. Such factors as the three gunas, the five elements, the five sheaths or koshas, the seven chakras, the nature of mind and consciousness, and an understanding of karma and dharma, are common to all the Vedic fields, though addressed from different angles. This allows an integration of Ayurveda into Vedic counseling to various degrees, depending upon the interests and capacities of the counselor and how he or she may wish to develop their practice. In fact one can and should use all these Vedic disciplines together, though as a practitioner one may need to focus more in one than the other.
In other words, an Ayurvedic counselor or practitioner can expand their range of concerns to include more of Vedic counseling. Meanwhile, a Vedic counselor should at least know the basics of Ayurveda. In terms of a career practice, a Vedic counselor and an Ayurvedic counselor cannot be simply equated. An Ayurvedic counselor can benefit by knowing the basics of Vedic counseling, as a Vedic counselor can benefit by knowing the basics of Ayurveda. An Ayurvedic counselor is a specialized form of Vedic counselor, while a Vedic counselor will usually take a more general life guidance role with a more spiritual perspective and can specialize in Yoga, Vedanta, Jyotish or Vastu as well.
Note our book the Art and Science of Vedic Counseling and our new Institute Integral Vedic Counseling on-line training program for more information. Note also the author’s other books integrating Vedic knowledge like Yoga and Ayurveda, Ayurveda and the Mind, Ayurvedic Astrology, Vedantic Meditation and Vedic Yoga.
The focus of our work at the American Institute of Vedic Studies is in this broader model of Vedic counseling that includes a good foundation in Ayurveda but extends to Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, with a background in the Vedic way of life, aiming more at the psychological and spiritual dimensions of the human being, not just the physical body.