Charaka Samhitta explains that suffering and disease is a result of three main causes.
The body and mind constitute the substrata of disease and happiness. Balanced utilization of time, mental faculties and objects of the sense organs is the cause of happiness. (Ca. Sutra 1:55)
The causes of disease relating to both body and mind are three-fold; wrong utilisation, non-utilisation and excessive utilisation of time, mental faculties and objects of the sense organs. (Ca. Sutra 1:54)
Wrong use of time - Parinama
Time is considered as a cause of disease and also relates to external environmental factors.
It is further influenced by our ability to respond and adapt to our external environment. This may be challenged by unusual seasonal activity leading to an increase or decrease in normal temperatures or seasonal duration, or widespread viral or bacterial epidemics. The harmful effects of parinama commonly occurs during changes in season for example, the common cold and flu during the onset of winter, or hay fever at the beginning of spring. Parinama may also cause imbalance if we are faced with unexpected high levels of stress or trauma.
Wrong use of mental faculties- Pragnyaparadha
Or the misuse of intelligence quite simply, is the act of going against our inner wisdom. How many times have we succumb to second servings at the dinner table when we know we’ve had enough to eat, or that second glass of wine we know will lead to us waking in the morning feeling foggy and lethargic? Ayurveda explains this lapse in appropriate decision making to be a result of impaired discernment, conviction and memory.
Wrong use of sense organs - Asatmya indriyartha samyoga.
Improper contact of objects of perception with sensory organs; this is when our sensory organs (eyes, nose, ears, tongue and skin) are damaged as a result of excessive, wrong or non-use.
These days more often than not over exposure is the predominant cause of sensory reduction such as spending too much time on electronic devices, excessive artificial lighting between dusk and dawn or just long hours at work without adequate recovery time. When the organs of perception become impaired, we become limited with our capacity to engage in the world. This is asatmya indriyartha samyoga.
Secondary causes of disease stated in Ayurvedic texts result from inherited, physical trauma, spiritual or karmic influence.
Initially we might consider our environment to be our greatest threat due to the potential risk of viral and bacterial infections, widespread epidemics or various other unavoidable natural disasters like floods, earthquakes or droughts.
Interestingly, Charaka considers the misuse of intelligence to be the foremost driver of human suffering, the second being the improper relationship between our sense organs and objects of perception, and the third being of external causes largely beyond our control.
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