“It’s important to understand that Ayurveda sees everything in this world as both medicine and poison.”
Kyle Roberts Biography
Kyle Roberts is a graduate of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico where under the tutelage of Dr. Vasant Lad he studied the theoretical and clinical aspects of Ayurveda. Before, during, and after his formal Ayurvedic training Kyle has studied Jyotish (classical vedic astrology), Ashtanga Yoga, Sanskrit, and herbology, as well as various practices of meditation and pranayama. He has studied throughout the United States and in India, working to integrate both eastern and western cultures into digestible forms of practical information. Kyle’s efforts are spent teaching various subjects within yoga and Ayurveda as well as integrating classical healing practices with modern practicality for individual health concerns.
Q: What was it about Ayurveda that first attracted you to study it and eventually take on as primary path of practice?
A: When I was studying Ashtanga yoga in Mysore, India I encountered a few individuals detoxifying through various Ayurveda cleansing routines. These processes seemed so unusual to me but it was obvious that radical health changes were being made and I saw a style of health that previously unknown. I was fascinated by the depth of well-being Ayurveda could instill through these unique practices so I began to explore the science more in-depth by talking to various students and doctors in Mysore. My initial attraction was captivated by these personal experiences in India that encouraged me to delve deeper into the practice once I returned to the states. Later when I met my teacher Dr. Vasant Lad in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I was able to study directly from a master and witness his unique personality on a daily basis. Ultimately, it was Dr. Lad’s profound personal representation of Ayurveda that lead me to undertake this practice as my primary spiritual path.
What do you think are some primary differences between Western medicine and Ayurveda in terms of the “view” they hold about illness and wellness.
Western medicine is highly analytical and precise, which uses advanced technology and medicine to achieve wellbeing. Ayurveda is more esoteric in nature but addresses an individual on all levels of physical and mental disposition, which intends to support one’s purpose in life. Whereas, western medicine views health as the absence of disease, Ayurveda states that health is only achieved when the totality of an individual is fully integrated within their environment and free of toxicity. Western medicine relies on synthetic medication for immediate results, which generally comes with side effects. Ayurveda endorses herbal and mineral medicines, which have little to no side effect but require more time to achieve the desired result. Currently it’s very important that these two systems work together and understand their limitations in order to bring great health care options to the masses. In this regard, animosity between eastern and western healing culture can be diminished which will provide greater health in all communities.
Q: What are some common misconceptions about Ayurveda that you often have to address in your workshops?
A: The most troubling misconceptions are when individuals approach Ayurveda for a “quick fix.” It’s easy for practitioners to make blanket statements with helpful suggestions for chronic imbalances but all too often Ayurveda gets the blame when the desired result isn’t achieved. I try my best in my workshops to encourage patience during the healing process, and make known that a path to wellbeing is an enormous time commitment. These slow and steady changes in one’s health generally lead to permanent change and transformation within the current life situation. Like in all practices, much is unknown in the beginning and over time uncertainties dissolve while knowledge prevails. As much is unknown when approaching the way of Ayurveda, I always encourage practitioners to be calm and wait for a healthy result. This way Ayurveda can be understood based from personal experience resulting from committed practice rather than preconceived judgments.
Q: Are you seeing any common ailments lately that are due to the intake of harmful substances in food or the environment?
A: Ayurveda views that all imbalances are a result of an inability to completely digest and eliminate food. Considering that certain foods are nutritionally distorted for enhancing retail value, many people are having great difficulty in digesting their meals. Much of the food available in grocery stores today are far different than what was offered seventy years ago. This is not only seen in the increase of packaged foods but the perpetual availability of meats, seasonal produce, and GMOs. Needless to say, the human body is having difficulty in adapting to the shifts of the modern food crisis simply because food today is far different that what it once was. The result of this issue is increased risk of imbalance. The majority of the ailments people come to me with usually stems from issues in their diet and many times making easy corrections to what and how an individual eats instills radical healing.
Q: I know the use of metals in Ayurveda has come under some scrutiny from health organizations and selected products have been pulled from the shelves because the manufacturing process has allowed a dangerously high level of metal material in the product. Could you tell us more about the usage and purpose of metals?
A: It’s important to understand that Ayurveda sees everything in this world both as medicine and poison. The use of heavy metals such as mercury has been used within Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years but is prepared and processed in a manner which makes it safe for human consumption. The various metals being used as medicine never expire, unlike herbs and require very minute dosage. This helps when approaching imbalances that are more severe which requires stronger medicine. Furthermore, as Ayurveda is concerned with longevity, these metals help sustain life in the body as they work against the aging process by not expiring. I have personally ingested medicines containing metals such as mercury, gold, and copper for extended periods of time without negative side effects that have produced positive results. Despite the benefits of these medicines I never recommend their use for others. However, I do feel there is room for research so as to alleviate fear and misconception of medicinal metals.
Q: Has their been a particularly successful Ayurvedic treatment that worked so well it even surprised you?
A: The greatest joy of offering Ayurveda to the community is when witnessing profound healing take place. I hold great respect for the various herbs I use in my practice and have faith they can heal the imbalances people come to me with. Some years ago I met a man wanting to avoid a costly surgery, which involved the partial removal of his intestines as well as post-surgical therapy. I was almost sure the surgery would happen as when he came to me the imbalance was chronic and intensity of pain was high. We developed a strict diet and intricate herbal routine which he followed religiously without fail. Within six months of practice his symptoms dramatically decreased and surgery was completely avoided. What impacted me most during this time was his determination and hope to heal, which I feel was one of the most important factors in regaining his health. We continue to meet at various times of the year to discuss Ayurveda and still refine aspects of his health as it relates to his current life situation. When I meet new clients who are confronted with complications in health, I reflect on this man’s determination and achievement which helps me see endless potential in the Ayurvedic healing process.
Q: As a segue into our following three wisdom questions, could you share a bit about how Ayurveda sits within a larger metaphysical picture from the Indian subcontinent?
A: India has a special quality within it that seems to accelerate the burning of one’s karma. For the westerner that arrives in hopes of spiritual progress, it usually isn’t long until a stomach bug or something super unusual happens that defers the intended track of practice. For some, this experience with India is too intense and their trip is cut short or prejudices are made, as I often saw during my time there. I believe Ayurveda, along with all of India’s spiritual sciences plays a role in this onslaught of karmic healing throughout India. Negative emotions and painful physical symptoms are seen as obstacles to bliss within Ayurveda, which is why it’s also regarded as a spiritual practice. India views that Ayurveda has limitless potential towards evolving consciousness and therefore has the power to transform individuals into new radical states of being. The longer one stays with the practice the deeper the Ayurveda techniques will guide an individual liberation.
Because these interviews are an extension of Vasudhaiva’s mission to cultivate and aid in the realization of wisdom, we make a point to ask several questions directly about wisdom in each interview.
Q: How do you define “wisdom” in the context of your spiritual life?
A: Wisdom is a result of sustained awareness on an aspect of reality that has cultivated a sense of intuition. As this type of intuitive knowledge evolves into higher consciousness, wisdom becomes expressed through the intensity of one’s presence. When presence within a moment is intended to support spiritual purpose then wisdom acts as the aid for discovering bliss.
Q: What particular texts have had a profound impact in your cultivation of wisdom and could you describe briefly why?
A: Due to its accessibility and practicality, the Bhagavad Gita has helped me tremendously. I reflect often on certain expressions and points it makes which has supported me through different life situations. Much of why I work within Ayurveda is a result of the Gita, which states, “It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.” This sutra alone has brought to life the importance of aligning with my personal dharma and committing to the higher virtues of living with purpose. Without staying focused on the intention for spiritual practice things can become overwhelming which restricts one’s purpose in life. Though the answers to my deepest life questions weren’t exclusively found in books, the Bhagavad Gita always pushed me in a direction to find my experience of truth.
Q: Can you tell us one or more specific wisdom teachings that have deeply touched you and briefly describe why?
A: The most impactful wisdom teachings I’ve encountered were simple moments with Dr. Lad. He had a way within his teaching where he seriously avoided telling someone they had an incorrect answer but rather stressed these individuals to look deeper into the questions at hand. One day as a friend and I were practicing pulse diagnosis we asked Dr. Lad to give us a definitive answer to our conflicted findings. After checking the pulse we were analyzing, Dr. Lad looked at us both and casually said “correct.” We then reminded him that our findings differed and were hoping to have an affirmative diagnosis to which he responded again with, “correct.” He smiled and didn’t say anything else. Initially, I was worried as I really wanted the answer to the pulse but as time continued I saw his intention was to invoke trust in personal knowledge. Though our findings differed he knew correcting something as mystical as pulse reading would lead to doubt which ultimately restricts intuition. From then on I’ve always tried my best in as many moments as possible to trust my intuition and allow Ayurveda to work through me. This approach in more ways than not has helped me see the beauty of spiritual practice and experience the grace of Ayurveda. I feel its tremendously important to connect with a teacher that works from this depth of being, which allows for progress within the spiritual pursuit. These types of teachers can see directly into the student’s insecurities and ego, which becomes dissolved through their interactions over time. Rather than specific teachings of Dr. Lad it was day-to-day interactions with him that allowed for Ayuvreda to grow within me. The teacher will provide the real sources for wisdom and the intensity of this relationship will rely upon the commitment teacher and student have for each other. In simple terms, to find wisdom means to find the teacher.
For more about Kyle Roberts visit www.krveda.com