How do systems work? In the West there is a tendency to look at situations – be they medical, political or environmental – in isolation. Whereas traditionally in the East, things are viewed in their entirety. Everything feeds into everything else, meaning everything is an aspect of the whole picture. And the whole picture is what we need to strive to be able to see.
There is a philosophy in Ayurveda that goes Pindi te Brahmandi Nyaya. It means: ‘the principles that make up the body, also make up the universe’. Or that which is in pindi (the body), is in the brahmandi (universe) too. For example, there are seven layers of tissue making up a body, 7 continents on the earth, as well as 7 seas, 7 colours in the rainbow, and even 7 lokas, or layers to the atmosphere and sky.
I have been advised by my teachers to get to know myself and everything that is going on – down to the most subtle cellular level – and I will understand how the universe has come about. This is how the ancient scribes of this science were able to explain the anatomy, physiology and pathologies of the body as well as the astronomy and astrology of the universe without so much as a microscope or telescope.
How Systems Really Work
When you look at a cell, you see it has a heart, a brain, muscles that convert glucose to energy, soldiers that fight disease, a skeleton that gives it structure. You see these structures reflected in communities: the backbones, doers, thinkers, defenders. As well as being reflected in our nations, continents, the world, and cosmos.
I believe this is the key to systems that work: each constituent part has integrity and purpose. Starting with the cell, is it in health? Is it in balance? Then an organ made up of these cells, then an organ system, and a collection of them that make up a body.
Ayurveda teaches us what creates obstructions in our systems, leading to toxicity, and it shows us how to clear them in order for there to be clarity and health. We are all in flux, coming in and out of sticky situations constantly, on a micro and macro scale, and all we really have control of is our response to these changes. Health could be defined as the body’s ability to remain in balance amidst environmental changes, responding to the fluctuations that are happening every moment of the day, week, month and year.
What does this mean for us?
I believe we need to be flexible and clear, understand what we need in any given environment on an individual level (be it via food, lifestyle, or motivations) in order to stay strong, then acknowledge that that makes up a larger system, community, company etc. All our actions have consequences. What we do and say, what examples we set, what we think about, and what we put our energy into; this collectively creates a whole, and eventually spills out into who represents us and what they stand for.
What we do today creates the reality of tomorrow, so let’s all take care of what we put our energy into.
By Selina Van Orden