Learn about how the ancient wisdom of The Vedas makes sense in our modern world.
by Grace Edmunds
Have you ever read something out of a book or text and it just felt right? As if you had seen or thought those exact words before? This is what happened to me when I first started reading the Veda’s. It shocked me when I discovered that these ancient texts contained wisdom that could be applied to my life today, thousands of years after they were written.
What are the Vedas?
Veda is a Sanskrit word for “wisdom” or “knowledge”. The Veda’s are a group of four ancient, sacred texts of the Hindu religion: Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, Atharva Veda. The wisdom in these texts was thought to be passed down from sages and spiritual masters for hundreds of years until they were finally written on palm leaves in 500 BCE. Hindus consider these texts to be the word of the divine, and wisdom that can help them to access the divine. The oldest Veda is the Rig Veda, dating back to 1500 BCE and containing the first mention and definition of the word “yoga”. All of the texts contain a mixture of hymns, ritual instructions and philosophy.
How Ancient Scripts Can Teach Us Modern Lessons
Pay Attention to Your Mind
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.”― Krishna Yajur Veda
Mindfulness has popularized in the last decade as a way to manage stress, regulate difficult emotions, and feel more at ease in the body and mind. This quote from the Upanishads is talking about a specific mental function that we strengthen when we practice mindfulness called meta-attention. Most of the day we are wrapped up in our thoughts without realizing that we’re day dreaming. Mindfulness develops our ability to become aware of our thoughts, words, action, and habits. Clearly, the popularization of mindfulness shows that this piece of ancient wisdom is still relevant today.
Give From an Un-biased Place
“One should perform karma for the benefit of humanity with an unbiased approach because bias gives birth to evil, which creates thousands of obstacles in our path. ”The Rig Veda
‘Karma’ in the Veda’s refers to our actions. This quote is suggesting that we should be unbiased in our positive actions. We all live with inherent bias that we have learned from being raised in a society or under a certain belief system. We are now starting to see the detrimental effect that bias has on our communities. Luckily there is a way to notice our own bias so that we can operate in a new way, and that is through mindfulness. If we apply the presence of mind, we will see how our bias are limiting our ability to connect with certain people and choose instead to connect with them anyway. The more we can operate past our own biases, the more empathy and connection we will feel with all humans.
Do Good For Others
“The Person who is always involved in good deeds experiences incessant divine happiness.”– The Rig Veda
This piece of the Veda’s ancient wisdom rings true today yet so many people miss it. We are all seeking to be happy, no matter who you are or where you live on the planet, we all want it. However, many people look to material possessions, wealth or fame as a way to become happy. If you look close enough, you will be able to tell that these are unsustainable sources of happiness. However, there is a way to happiness that is sustainable and that is through generosity and compassion, ie. ‘good deeds’. The more one performs these acts, the happier one will become.
Experience Stillness of Mind
“When thoughts become silent the soul finds peace in its own source”– The Upanishads (Rig Veda)
Meditation is a practice that many on this planet are now engaging in to help attain inner peace. The Veda’s gave instruction on this practice thousands of years ago. Luckily, there are many centers and teachers you can learn from today. Once you get the hang of meditation, you may catch glimpses of this peace in your sitting practice from time to time. This inner peace is a feeling of relaxation, ease, and a sense that everything is going to be okay. There is no need to worry or get caught up in the stresses of the mind. A clear mind is a byproduct of a meditation practice that happens in time. Do not worry or think self-critically if you do not experience it right away. This experience takes time, practice and patience.
Ancient Meets Modern
The most fascinating part of recollecting this wisdom from The Veda’s, is reading about the modern science that supports the ancient knowledge that the wise people shared. There is so much we are still yet to learn about our inner-world that we can look to these ancient books for as reference. I hope that they help you in the tending to your own soul!
Photo: Priscilla Du Preez
Do you know of any other ancient scripts that apply to the modern day? Share them in the Comments Below!