We all agree that the problems on our beleaguered planet are escalating – our very climate is changing, society is breaking down, and people’s health and well being is suffering. Just what is happening? What has gone so very wrong?
Ayurvedic thinkers generally agree that the planet is becoming increasingly pitta-dominant, as the element becomes stronger in western culture, and western culture, especially capitalism spreads also to the developing world.
“In today’s world, pitta is usually the dosha most commonly out of balance because the world has an overabundance of agni at this time. Electromagnetic radiation, acidic food and water, toxins in our environment, and a high-pressure lifestyle, that includes a lack of adequate sleep, all contribute to the increase of pitta in the physiology.”
Similarly, the Hopi Native Americans believe that the west was originally given the principle of fire to explore and develop, but this has fast became problematic. This modern day pitta overload equates to their idea of Koyannisqatsi or ‘life out of balance’.
Pitta loves the principles of achievement and competition. These are fast becoming the primary guiding principles for everyone these days, to the detriment of human relationships, our health and well being, and our environment. Our ideal person is held up as the ultimate pitta – fiercely intelligent, competitive, powerful and efficient. There is competition for jobs, competition between companies, competition for people to be busier, more important and more wealthy than their neighbours. There is competition for money, land, for oil, for markets, causing widespread wars and civil strife.
Efficiency, another pitta goal, is becoming the be-all-end-all of everything. Even in things where efficiency should not belong – such as in human interactions. The care of our very young children (the kapha life stage) and very old people (the vata stage) is becoming increasingly more commercialised. Underpaid strangers are providing ‘care’ for large groups of these vulnerable people, so that their families can continue to participate ‘efficiently’ in the economy. Children and the elderly are missing out on real care and love from their own families. This crass heartless commercialisation is creeping into every facet of our lives.
We are all forced to use pitta substances to survive the pace of this life. Meat, alcohol and coffee play a dominant part in our diets. We drink coffee throughout the week to maintain productivity at work, smoke cigarettes to combat the stress, then down alcohol all weekend to forget our hellishly busy weeks. We kill animals en masse in factory farms for meat to eat every night, making a fetish of animal flesh as a symbol of our power over nature.
It is the dominant principle of pitta that has led us to create atomic energy, computers, the internet, tv, cars, mobile phones. The entire western economy runs off the combustible energy of petrol and oil. We stare at screens, we burn petrol for our cars, oil for our plastic, nuclear energy for our power.
If we even think about the term ‘global warming’, it is clear there is too much heat in our world, too much pitta. Temperatures are starting to soar when they shouldn’t. Ice caps are melting. Typhoons are becoming super-typhoons over warm seas. There is rain and flooding in deserts. Everything is becoming acidified, including our oceans and our own bodies.
So what is the answer?
It is clear that everything is unbalanced by too much pitta. The only remedy for this is to introduce and nurture the principles of vata and kapha in our lives. We need the wisdom and creative thinking of vata back, as well as the loving calmness and reflectivity of kapha. Vata and kapha need a voice again. Vata and kapha people are being fast becoming marginalised from society, or forced to act like pittas. I see it all the time. Their particular strengths need to be acknowledged again. The balance needs to be restored. Things need to cool down and slow down. We all need to relax more, think more, and think of new, better ways to live our lives. Before it is too late.