Mahatma Gandhi believed that for an education to be worthwhile, knowledge must unite with practice. A cause for great celebration, not just for our graduating group of Ayurveda doctors, but for all students of Vedika Global, is that we have embodied this ideal through our curriculum. We are grateful to our teachers for their heroism in adopting such an approach, when it would have been all too easy to take a shortcut of adopting either knowledge or practice.
The journey of these past five years of study has been like climbing a great mountain, with much beauty, as well as challenges. At first, we were intrigued and curious and had set our sights to just make it to base camp, or the first year. We did not realize what it would take, but were willing to start the journey. It became quickly clear that we had undertaken a very profound and transformative path that could not stop after completing the first year.
We had to push on for ourselves and for all those clients we may have the opportunity to serve along our path. The journey became difficult at times and we may have wanted to quit, but we were inspired by the purity of the knowledge we were receiving, and the way Ayurveda, Vedanta and Yoga had combined at Vedika. While we do feel great at having finished five years of learning, and can take this time to congratulate each other, we are also clear that this is not the top of the mountain.
A much better metaphor that describes our feeling is from the martial art, Aikido, where after a student gets a black belt, the teacher declares, “Now, you are finally ready to learn.” We have been given powerful tools by our teachers, who have been stellar guides, reminding us not to stop climbing. The journey and the destination are one. The views we have received along the way have encompassed the wholeness of life and deeply enriched us, and we are learning that what we seek is to feel the richness of the present moment, and live it in its grandest beauty.
Recently, I read a passage by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, which draws a distinction between education and training:
“The root word of education — educare — means to lead forth a hidden wholeness in another person. A genuine education fosters self-knowledge, self-trust, creativity and the full expression of one’s unique identity. It gives people the courage to be more. Whereas a training is all about the right way and the wrong way to do everything. In a training, your own way of doing something can often become irrelevant. In such a milieu, students often experience their learning as a constant struggle to be good enough. Training creates a culture of relentless evaluation and judgment.
In response, students try to become someone different than who they are. … In Medicine, training is essential to technical competence. The real question is, is training good enough? My dream of medicine was not to become competent. My dream was to become a friend to life. It was that dream that enabled me to endure the relentless pursuit of competency required of me. But competence did not fulfill me then and could not have fulfilled me for my medical lifetime. Only a dream can do that.”
What we have received at Vedika Global is a dream to become a friend to life, and to see that we are life itself, not separate from it. Our teachers dared to stand up for this ideal, and not worry of being lone voices. It is the truth of their message that resounds in our hearts, and helps us echo it back manifold. We graduates feel so proud to be a part of this lineage that has combined Yoga, Vedanta and Ayurveda.
We also recognize the tremendous role played by the three core values of Vedika: Sadhana, or Inner Transformation, Seva, or Sacred Service and Sangha, or Noble Friendship. With Sadhana, we commit the need to invest time into understanding our true nature, which is far beyond all the disturbances we see on the surface. With Seva, we commit to treating service not as a chore or a process, but as sacred worship. When a patient gives us an opportunity to work with them and help them heal, it is a sacred opportunity, which cannot be quantified in value. We commit to feeling that sacredness. With Sangha, we commit to being noble friends to each other, on the hook for walking our talk and supporting each other to represent the very best ideals of humankind through Ayurveda.
None of this would have been possible without the support of our families for letting us build our wings and helping us fly and blessings from our lineage: our teacher’s teachers, and their teachers, and ultimately the sages who cared not for their name or fame, and bestowed their knowledge to humankind as a gift.
It is now our time to pay this gift forward.