“Too often in the west we fail to realize that even in eastern disciplines the spiritual life is not meant as an escape from the worldly life. There is karma to be fulfilled on earth, within the dharma of necessity.”
We are born with a certain kind of engine which has a given quality. Some people are born with a small engine (great for driving around in the city, not really suited for long journeys), others are born with race-car engines (great for getting around fast) and others are born with big-truck engines (great for going long distances with heavy loads). We cannot change the nature of our engine. We need to recognize and embrace our individual capacity, learn to live within it and to keep it running in good condition.
An engine’s capacity is described as a constitution – a combination of the three Doshas (vata, pitta & kapha). A constitution is usually described as having one primary & dominant quality. For example:
An engine that is Pita (fire) dominant – has a big fire (which usually needs a a lot of fuel, which means either a big gas tank or frequent refueling).
An engine that is Vata (air) dominant – has plenty of air flow (which usually needs regulation).
An engine that is Kapaha (water) dominant – has plenty of fuel available to it (and needs to be used. otherwise it gets heavy and cumbersome).
An engine has a natural given potential – this is called Prakriti. Prakriti is determined by the constitution of parents at the time of inception. It is an individual balance, unique to that engine – it is the optimal configuration for that engine. Engines that are constantly used usually shift away from their optimal balance.
An engine’s current mode of operation is called Vikriti. Vikriti is determined by the circumstances in which the engine is currently running. If the engine is well maintained then it ma be running close to it’s full potential – its Vikriti will be similar to its Prakriti.
If an engine is worn down and out of tune, it is as if it is another engine altogether – an engine that is not aligned with it’s natural tendencies (taking a family sedan to the race track). An engine that is not in tune is said to have a defect.
A core idea of Doshas is that when an engine is out of tune, it’s defects will manifest as an excess in it’s dominant quality – “too much of a good thing”:
When a Pitta (fire) dominant engine goes out of balance it is most likely to burn too strong (overheat).
When a Vata (air) dominant engine goes out of balance it is most likely become irregular (erratic flow).
When a Kapha (water) dominant engine goes out of balance it is most likely to flood (overflow with fuel).
The literal translation of Dosha is “defect”. When we are ill, the illness will most likely manifest as an excess of our dominant quality – our dominant Dosha.
Each of the three doshas are associated with an area in the body – this is said to be the “seat” of the dosha:
Vata (air) is associated with the lower abdomen. It’s manifestation can be gas (flatulence) – an excess of air in the abdominal area. Vata is associated with catabolic processes which lead to of dispersal of energy and elimination
Pitta (fire) is associated with the mid-torso area. It’s manifestation can be heartburn – a burning excess of heat. Pitta is associated with metabolic processes which lead to conversion of fuel into energy.
Kapha (water) is associated with the chest area. It’s manifestation can be phlegm which may inhibit flow of breath. Kapha is associated with anabolic processes which lead to growth and building.
When I was still working on a Windows XP computer I enjoyed Evernote. Evernote is a combination of a web-service and client applications for note-taking. Most of the time I used Evernote’s Windows client application for keeping my notes organized. Though there are additional application for mobile devices and what not – I didn’t need or use them. I enjoyed the Windows client greatly. I was greatly disappointed when I discovered that Evernote did not have a client for Linux and did not give signs that they intended to provide one (though the topic appeared many times in online forums).
I looked around a lot for an alternative note application for Linux but couldn’t find one I liked. Until not too long ago I came across a heartful recommendation for a relatively unkown application called KeepNote. It’s a clean, simple, no frills and straighforward application. It stores the notes in folders and standard HTML files and it’s easy to use. I loved it from first sight.
I also wanted to be able to share my notes across numerous computers (like I did with Evernote). This was very easy to do with my Dropbox account. Dropbox is a great service that enables synchronizing files across numerous computers. It has a client application for Windows, Mac & Linux operating systems. It operates quietly in the background and automatically keeps files syncronized.
So all I have to do is place my KeepNote folder in my Dropbox folder and that’s it – all of my notes are synchronized through my Dropbox account. When I change/delete/create a note on one computer that gets syncronized with my Dropbox account and then all the other computers automatically sync with that. So now I can create a note on one computer and have it immediately available on another computer.
KeepNote is a great substitute for Evernote. I like it so much that I doubt I would go back to Evernote even if they did bother to create a Linux client. It is an open source project.
A metaphor that has helped me understand and relate to Doshas is that of an engine. In an engine a mixture of fuel and air is ignited to create controlled explosions of energy. The fire inside the body is a similar mechanism – driven by three qualities called Doshas:
Vatta describes a quality of air.
Kapha describes a quality of water (fuel).
Pitta describes a quality of fire.
These qualities come together to feed a fire that constantly burns – in varying qualities. A fire can be anywhere between intense and blazing hot, it can be steady and warm and it can burn very low – almost extinguished.
Pitta represents a core fire. To keep it burning, a fire needs to be maintained and fed by a mixture of fuel (Kapha) & air (Vata).
Kapha is the fuel that keeps the fire burning. Different kinds of wood burn differently in a fire place – some wood catches on easily and burns fast, some wood is dense and burns very slowly (lasting for a longer period of time). If you place a lot of fast-burning wood into a hearth it quickly creates a lot of flames and heat, then you can put in some dense, slow-burning wood which will sustain the warmth for a longer period of time. It’s very difficult to start a fire with slow-burning wood, the fire doesn’t catch on (and adding more wood doesn’t help). Similar patterns work inside the body in response to different foods. We feed our fire by eating. When the fire is just right we experience good appetite, digestion and elimination. When the fire is too strong we can experience heartburn(!).
Vatta is the complementary element to fuel. Without air a fire cannot burn. Once a fire is burning it is controlled by the air supplied to it. In a fireplace, an open air intake will keep the fire burning high (like a blacksmith uses a bellows to blow air into a fire to increase the heat), a closed air intake will keep a fire burning low or even put it out. Breath is the means by which we bring air to the fire inside.
Ken Robinson is unrelenting in his journey to reshaping education. If you haven’t already seen his famous talk at TED about schools and creativity – maybe now is a good time to treat yourself to 20 minutes of inspiration.
Mozilla Firefox is my primary (open source) web browser and one of my favorite addons to is was XMarks. It enabled me to easily synchronize bookmarks between my computers. It worked great. At some point the XMarks service was extended to store and synchronize passwords as well. Though I can’t say why, I didn’t trust them enough to store my passwords with them.
Sometimes later XMarks made an attempt to capitalize on the information I (and supposedly many other trusting users) had entrusted with them. They provided an additional addon which was used to enhance search results by looking at all the bookmarks they had collected from their users. My thoughts on this were:
I can understand &appreciate their motivation to grow and maybe even generate revenues through their freely offered service.
When I gave their search addon a try I was very disappointed with it – it was noisy and useless.
Though they have not (to the best of my knowledge) exposed my personal bookmark information, they never asked for permission to use that information for any other purpose.
They betrayed me. They dishonestly offered me a “free” service, only to later name their price in terms of “compromised privacy”.
There was no way I would trust them with more information, especially not my passwords.
Then, a couple of months ago, Mozilla released Weave. It works silently in the background does much more then XMarks. It synchronizes bookmarks, passwords, browsing history & open tabs. It also has applications to make that information available on mobile devices. It does all this securely and privately. When it is installed you are required to enter an encryption key that is used to encrypt all of your information. You will not be able to access your information without this key so store it well. The point is that no one else will be able to access (or try to capitalize on) your information…. and of course it’s open source and in the spirit of Mozilla’s Manifesto.