Interview with Juan Arnau: "the sole right of man is the pursuit of knowledge"

Philosopher and essayist, specialist in philosophies and Eastern religions, his latest book is India medicine. According to the sources of Ayurveda (Kairos). "What more I interested of the ayurveda was the mode in that attends by equal to the body, to the mind and to the spirit". Interview of Koncha-pine Pey for space MIMIND.

Juan Arnau

Juan Arnau is philosopher and essayist, specialist in Oriental religions and philosophies. There are been Professor of the University of Michigan and the University of Barcelona. Among his works stand out: Foundations of half life, Legend of Buddha, The word from the vacuum, Cosmologies from India, or Anthropology of the BuddhismThis last published by Editorial Kairos. India medicine. According to the sources of Ayurveda It analyzes the embryology, dreams relate to health, mental derangement, medical education, the incidence of psychological, ethical and emotional behavior in the body and the Buddhist contribution to the medical knowledge in ancient times

When I start to breathe your work, one has the feeling of being in front of a person that has lived long. Of course you haven't been prisoner of customs; you've been a sailor, you've traveled through Africa and lived in India, studied Astrophysics, Sanskrit, languages and oriental cultures, taught cinema and literature. Who does not risk does not change? What do you remember of the home?
In the beginning, the less that I remember, there was a river and a voice. That voice I read stories of Tagore next to a Brook of Albarracín. The voice was, how not, my mother. Perhaps there was born my attraction to the India. I don't know it. Who can know where is the origin of our inclinations? According to Buddhists, only the awake know it and sometimes not even them.

From The word from the vacuum to the search for the self, what these looking for philosophy? What is your hypothesis?
More than a hypothesis is is more of a search. Lessing said that if offered you the truth in one hand and in the other that same truth seeking, would choose the latter. The question is Trickster, because in their budgets are is your solution. The hand that chooses Lessing is the hand that defines the human condition. Have arrived to this world and, of the countless tasks that have of rushing, there is an inescapable and at the same time fruitful: the search of the knowledge. Many are who claim to the birth his right to the happiness and that is an error of perspective. The only inalienable right of man is the pursuit of knowledge. If this happens the happiness, better than better. And does not create that search has to be exclusively in the books. Throughout history we have come to know many illiterate sages, who never wrote a single line and that in a sense rejected the book culture. The tradition of ayurveda is a good example of this attitude. Although has arrived to us through extensive encyclopedias, the knowledge medical in the antique Indian was work of numerous groups between which had yerberos, shamans, sellers of remedies, midwives and healers of temples, many of them illiterate, and not by this worst medical...

Philosopher, astrophysicist, writer, translator and Professor... It seems to me watching the emanation of a Yogi to the style of Nagarjuna or Patanjali. Do you want to be when you were little?
The first football player, like many children; My Idol was Kempes. Then, perhaps by the summers spent in the high mountains, began to interest me the stars and I decided on astrophysics. The answers that I found in the faculty, the portrait of the universe there offered me was not attractive. Today I have the certainty that the portrait is a portrait as any other, with its advantages and disadvantages, but not at all more reliable than what we can find, for example, in the cosmologies of India, especially in the samkhya and Buddhism, where the universe is a map of the mind. All these issues began to interest me and I got a scholarship to study in Varanasi and learn more. I lived a year in the India and that completely transformed my academic orientation. From there I went to Mexico, where I learned Sanskrit a great sage and poet, Rasik Vihari Joshi.

What is your meditation practice or yoga if you have it?
Let's say that my favorite way to meditate is to walk. Others do asanas and there are those who practice the so-called Iberian yoga, NAP)laughter). There are many ways to do it. For me the most useful is the practice of care. There are many moments of the day in that the speech mental, them concerns, them tasks and those duties, we steal the present, the here and the now. In those moments I is useful to stop the mind and contemplate something, possibly a tree or some being live. There are certain objects of attention do not maketh the mind, they activate it (for example, when I see my daughter Lucia), so some less intensity, an olive tree or a poplar, is more convenient to be moved by the wind.

I have read some of your books and recently finished the last, India medicine. According to sources of the Ayurveda, Editorial Kairos. In your work, I do not see the dualist Western mentality, nor the tendency to dissolve East... what deep fusion has done in this book?
My mentality is very Buddhist. Many of the problems of Western philosophy are, from a Buddhist perspective, fake problems, and this is a great relief. But do not believe that these perspectives are unique to one region of the world. In Europe find also philosophers whose proposed is located very near the proposed Buddhist (that is basically the of a culture mental), as for example Berkeley, with which am fascinated and to which you have dedicated a book. Interestingly, in the University of Benares, Berkeley has many readers and is a very popular philosopher, when here it was almost completely forgotten and misunderstood, because of, among others, Kant.

Health can be seen from very different perspectives, but what makes a philosopher contemplating the Indian medicine?
Well, let's just say that what I wanted to offer was the vision of the man from the perspective of Indian medicine. A kind of medical anthropology. Without a model of man, without a model of a person, it cannot define and develop different strategies for their healing. All medicine presupposes an anthropology. Whether what is prolonging life, at the cost that is, strategies will be ones. If of what is is is of facilitating an output worthy and aware, the strategies will be well different. What I am interested in ayurveda was the way in which serves equally to body, mind and spirit, its concern with harmony with the environment, with the emotional life of the patient and how they adapt treatments to the Constitution of each person, not just the physical Constitution, but also to the psychic Constitution.

According to historians, science was born in Europe, but you in your book claim that '' is just a local issue, and a historical topic", do you mean with that?
The history of science has taught us that all science is local and, having countless locations and cultural environments, plural. Not there is a science capital, unified and coherent, but different efforts, political, social, technological, by win legitimacy, funding and authority in the different societies, included the our, that can encompass is in the category of them technological.

If the disease is consequence of them moods, what attitude must have faced with the disease? a karmic vision or a secular view?
What is cure? The term "cure" covers different perspectives and interests related to the disability, pain, social integration, affective behavior and self-realization. Health can be understood in many different ways, from the anthropological perspective, from the history of religions, sociology and the history of Medicine (from a purely clinical perspective the question is if it actually makes some sense). In most cases, healing in the broadest sense, it will be repair or amend a situation of rupture, and the art of curing will be a "rescue" from a State of affliction and isolation, as in the case of a failure of the past or of an infection. I think that in the ayurveda coexist the two positions, although in that time lacked of sense the word "secular".

What is the Buddhist contribution to the medical knowledge in ancient times?
In the ancient India medical knowledge was not only developed in Brahman circles. Them schools mendicant and itinerant heterodox to the Brahmanism, them vagabonds of the drama, as is would say now, among which had Buddhist and Jain, also made its contribution. These people they were a more ethical than sacramental life and roamed the India at least from the time of Buddha, if not before. It is likely that the first projects of accumulation and preservation of medical knowledge began in these circles. The Buddhist if we know that he became, thanks to the monastic codes that have been preserved, one of the oldest strata of Buddhist literature. In these collections, we can find case studies and treatments that account for different ailments mental and bodily. The Buddha himself was considered the wisest among the doctors and the Buddhist tradition would play a fundamental, and little studied role in the transmission of medical knowledge throughout the ancient and medieval period.

Why you think that there is both distrust towards by the medicines alternatives?
In general, investigations into the medicine in ancient India have been distorted by a series of ideological bias. The first of them could be called is it mystification orientalist. According to this perspective Sanskrit medicine, ayurveda, is immutable and historic changes waterproof wisdom, still in some cases remedy medico-spiritual of all human ailments. This perspective often finds points of contact with the second of the threats, the nationalism mitologizanteIndianthat he enjoys a golden age in which all knowledge was established once and for all and for which the present moment is but a State of decadence and corruption. At the opposite end is Eurocentric posture, heir of Victorian and colonial mentality, and some poorly understood illustration, who saw these traditions infected magic and superstition. Facing these approaches, the research academic recent assumes without reticence the historicity and provincialidad of them categories scientific, its linkage to different forms and places of production, organization and distribution of the knowledge.

How do you think that circulates the knowledge in the universe?
Good, here would have to distinguish between the knowledge public and the private, between the exoteric and the esoteric. In the first involved numerous agents social, historical and political, them institutions, the funding of certain lines of research, the search of prestige that will facilitate that funding, the creation of interests "public" (it science is especially skillful in make believe that their interests are them interests of a society to whose state is asking funding). That would be a type of circulation of knowledge. Then there is another, more secret, which goes from mouth in mouth or eyes glance, which allows us to distinguish the wise man of the engolado, which makes us feel that recognition is not necessarily knowledge.

"Which not know a language foreign, not known it his own". Is diversity necessary to understand?
The phrase is of Goethe and is a great truth. Leave out your grammatical jail allows you to see that same jail and, in a sense, be reconciled with her, make her house. The same goes for the cultures. Get out of your own culture and assume other budgets (an assumption that is never complete) allows to take distances with respect to certain problems, inherited most, which eventually disbanded. This of course has its risks, and I do not think that radical, among other things break is very healthy because it is not possible.

But who is that understood, if at the end we don't have a real identity?
Perhaps I would not be so radical. We have an identity that is defined, transitive, in March, and in that sense can tell that it is not fully real because it is done. But you do have a conventional nature, which allows others to us position in the world, we recognize and appreciate, wanting us, ultimately, what you are looking for the majority of human beings. The understanding of this situation is crucial, and in this sense there is much confusion with what Buddhists, especially Nagajuna, wanted to say the word vacuum)Sunyata). But this would be a topic for another discussion...

Thanks John for this interview, for introducing us to this rigorous study on the art of healing and an alternative way of life.


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By • Sep 20, 2013 • section: General