Consciousness and Immunity
Strong immunity is the basis for physical and mental health. It has ramifications outwardly relative to our social order and natural environment, and inwardly for our own deeper awareness. This includes karmic factors at individual and collective levels.
A good immune system requires an expansive connection to Prana as the healing force of nature, and Consciousness at a universal level for integrating us with the creative energies of all existence. Learn to look at your immune system from a yogic and Vedic perspective.
Immunity and Nature
Our first foundational level of immunity is ecological. This consists of the integrity of our biosphere and the quality of our food, herbs, water and air, from our soils to the atmosphere. Immunity is not just an individual affair but an ability to adapt to the forces of life.
This ecological foundation of well-being affects all creatures on Earth, which we cannot separate ourselves from. We live in an era in which our ecological immunity is stressed by the disruption of our natural environment and its diverse ecosystems, and by our artificial urban and technological lifestyles, in which electrical and mechanical forces dominate our energy, so much so that nature can become an alien force for us. Restoring our natural ecosystems is the basis of immunity in nature.
Yet this requires not just an outer protection of our ecosystems but an inner awareness of our own internal ecosystems. Only when we embrace ecology within ourselves can we harmonize ourselves with the planetary energy. Our bodies and minds are our own ecosystems and need to be cultivated like our gardens. We must recognize their patterns of harmony and disharmony , as indicated by the elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether), doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) and gunas (Sattva, Rajas, Tamas) operative within them, and the particular factors of our karma. We must understand how our prana works and what we are holding not only in the tissues of the body but in the memory banks of our minds.
Immunity and Society
One of our greatest vulnerabilities evidenced by the coronavirus, is how disease can move globally through our interconnections via travel, particularly by air, and our wide social contact. Yet society has challenges to both individual and collective immunity from the aggressive nature of our social orders, indicated by our collective history of war and genocide to crime and abuse at personal levels.
Society can be as much a threat to our immunity and wellbeing as it can be a help. Social laws, rules and regulations of conduct and human rights help, but the power of the individual and collective ego to subvert laws has always remained strong. In addition, what may be considered right and normal in one social order may not be tolerated in another. Today communication and media influences can magnify human conflict as much as reduce it
The solution to right conduct is to link our human society with the Universal Dharma, principles like the Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga and Vedanta from non-violence and self-discipline to purity and contentment, and a recognition of the unity and interdependence of the whole of life. Importantly, we should learn the principle of non-interference in which we don’t disrupt the existing natural order or way of life of others.
Our social activity is the basis of our thought and awareness as we are social beings overall. It must be aligned with nature’s intelligence and a cosmic vision, not simply with belief systems or political ideologies produced by the human mind or the machinations of the human intellect. There is an organic basis to society. We are not simply machines or all the same. We have different roles and functions in the social order and beyond it, as integral parts of the collective social organism.
Consciousness and Immunity
Here I want to bring in a radical idea in modern education, but is a common insight in dharmic traditions. Consciousness is the ultimate power of immunity, at individual, ecological and social level – for physical immunity, psychological immunity and spiritual immunity. Here we mean Consciousness not as brain or mind (creaturely consciousness) but Universal Consciousness, which transcends body, mind and karma – what great yogis have always cultivated at the Atman or Purusha, the One Self behind the universe a whole, the inner Seer and Knower.
This inner unity consciousness provides us immunity from the conflicting dualities of life, attraction and repulsion, happiness and sorrow affecting body and mind. Indeed, if we are rooted in a Universal Consciousness we have achieved an immunity of oneness with all (perhaps the ultimate herd immunity). The very forces of nature and cosmic intelligence must support us.
This deeper awareness may not free us from all physical disease and suffering, which is inherent in life and the aging process, but it can remove psychological pain and ignorance while reducing physical suffering. If we are one with the Self of all beings, what other entity can there be to oppose us or for us to oppose? All of nature’s powers become our own energies.
We should cultivate immunity at the level of Consciousness, which begins with the individual that holds the light of Consciousness. We must strengthen our inner unity Consciousness. This immunity of Consciousness is closely linked with that of our natural environment, which we must embrace as part of our own being as the extension of our Consciousness to life as a whole. Detached awareness removes us from emotional affliction as well as helping us deal with physical pain.
Yoga practices of pranayama, pratyahara, ritual, mantra and meditation are factors of a higher immunity. Consciousness by its boundless connections wards off negative energies and forces of entropy and duality. Ayurveda teaches us immunity at the level of Ayu or life as a whole, not simply as an isolated personal or social phenomenon. It defines Ayu as the harmony between body, prana, senses, mind and Atman, with the Atman as the integrating factor.
Consciousness is the ultimate factor in healing, immunity and Self-realization. But that is an inner Consciousness beyond body and mind, and behind the world of nature. As the Upanishads say, Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma, everything is Brahman or the cosmic reality. The Self is Brahman. This message of universal integration in awareness is the basis of the ultimate immunity, which is to find that the entire universe dwells within us.
Practice concentration and meditation to develop your inner shield of Consciousness. Let the mind, the main force of agitation and unhappiness in life, be turned within and offered into a deeper flame of awareness. We live in a dualistic world outwardly but inwardly have access to a unity that can embrace and transcend it.
Remember your inmost Consciousness as one with all! Then you will be immune to all sorrow.
Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley)