Health care involves taking care of oneself, which, depending on who you ask, can range from physical, emotional, and what is sometimes described as the soul. The first two are well accepted among all humans. However, when it comes to the soul, disagreements are everywhere you look. Part of it is because the soul somehow always gets associated with god, and arguments start right away among those who believe, or do not believe in god. This is a subject that no matter how much each side tries to convince the other that their opinion is correct, it only leads to more arguments. Perhaps there is another way to see things.
In the western society, a person comprises of the physical, manifested body. To monitor health, we see doctors who can take blood samples and tell us how we are doing physically. Outward appearance can also give an indication of this kind of health. However, even physical health is not always easily discernible.
Mental and emotional health care are tied to a person’s mental state, and this is accepted in the western society as a person’s being. It is after this point that disagreements happen as to whether there is anything else. In the eastern philosophies of India, there is. In fact, according to the Vedanta philosophy, what we see as physical bodies is just the tip of the iceberg. The real person is much deeper within. It is almost impossible to describe the nature of this deeper self from this point of view, but there are many who have experiential knowledge of their inner being. And this is how they describe it.
When it comes to health care, a person is not just a body, or for that matter, just a soul. A person is a body, which is the outermost, and the only manifested part of the being. After the body is the mind. Mind is different from the brain because brain is part of the physical being that can be seen, whereas the mind is subtle in nature. It does not have a form. If one was to ask where this mind is, it cannot be shown. But we know it exists. For example, we all have a brain, but we also have our own mind, which changes frequently, depending on the situation. One way to look at it is that a person makes up his or her mind, and not their brain.
Going deeper, beyond the mind is the intellect. This may require deeper thought to comprehend fully, the difference between the mind, and the intellect. One way to look at it is, we all have a mind, but our intellect is different. A person may have made up his mind that he is going to have chocolate ice cream, but his intellect tells him that he needs to refrain from sugar. Another way to see the difference between the mind and the intellect is that when a person goes to college, he made up his mind to do so. However, just going to college does not give the person intellect. Intellect is added later.
Now, if one can get as far as the intellect within, the question arises, “how come the other layers were not known before this discussion?” After all, the other layers are within the person. An example to illustrate how this can be is that, it happens all the time. We are not aware of most of our bodily functions going on endlessly within us. We are not aware of things inside us as we are of things outside of us. This is because all our senses are pointed outward. Our eyes see things that are away from us. We hear sounds that travel to us from outside. Touch, smell, taste, all these senses work from things on the outside of us. Our senses are numb to what is happening within us. Therefore, we do not know many things at a deeper level inside.
So, what is beyond the intellect?
To answer this question, one must ask another question. Who is the one asking the question? And the answer cannot be the physical being because the physical being was there before the discussion started, and this physical being did not know the deeper layers of the self.
According to the eastern philosophies, the one upon which the intellect, and the mind, as well as the physical body are superimposed, is the soul. It is this soul that you were born with, and the same soul that has been with you when you were an adolescent, then a young adult, and it stays with you all the way till the end. In fact, it is the only thing that one ever truly possesses because the body is nothing but cells that it sheds all its life. Every single cell of a human body is recycled every 10 years. But the soul remains the same. When you see your photographs from childhood, changes are obvious. It is the same with the mind and the intellect as well. As you grow older, your mind changes, as well as your intellect. However, what remains the same is the soul.
So, if the soul, along with body, mind and intellect, is such an integral part of one’s being, it stands to figure that it must be a part of one’s health care too. Amazingly, to take care of the soul, one does not need a doctor. Those who have experienced the soul say you just have to know it, and it heals the mind and the body from the inside.
Opinion by Amit Singh