There are two primary models of Ayurvedic practice available. 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.
Such a counseling model is not as developed in modern medicine, which aims more at drugs and surgery. There are various modern counseling fields, however. Much of modern psychology is of this type and many other forms of career or relationship counseling, life guidance and spiritual counseling. Modern Ayurveda also, as in the BAMS program in India, aims more at clinical Ayurveda, though it accepts the value and necessity of some degree of Ayurvedic counseling.
In Ayurveda, counseling relates primarily 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 peaceful psychology through recommending 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.
Vedic Counseling and the Four Goals of Life
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.That is one important way to understand it.
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.
Vedic counseling, on the other hand, is designed to help us directly achieve Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, 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.
In other words, Vedic counseling includes Ayurveda, but is not limited to it and has other primary considerations. Vedic counseling is based upon the examination dharma and karma as primary factors, even as behind health and wellbeing.
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.
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 the 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.
Yet the broadness of the Vedic vision makes this possible at least to some extent. 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 other words, an Ayurvedic practitioner can expand their range of concerns to include more of Vedic counseling. A Vedic counselor should at least know the basics of Ayurveda. Yet 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.
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.