"Amrit Brings Grace Into My Life"
In this special newsletter, Hemant Kumar, filmmaker and writer at Maharishi Ayurveda, speaks with Don Arney of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, about his experience with Amrit.
Don Arney is an artist. Well, sort of. He discovers solutions to complex engineering problems. Only, his art does things that framed paintings don't. "I discover the solutions in my laboratory in consciousness," says Don, wiping aviation oil from the engine dipstick. He is running a series of checks before taking off for work. He flies to work and flies back home to his sprawling hilltop mansion overlooking the most breathtaking view I have ever seen.
Checks done, Don puts on his headset and steps into the shining new Robinson R-22 Mariner helicopter. I put on my headset and follow him into the cockpit. Inside, it's a tight squeeze for two people, but if you're not exceptionally tall, you can manage. I'm excited. We are taking an aerial tour of Salt Spring Island.
Salt Spring Island is a painter's dream. The largest of the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, it has snow peaks glinting brilliantly in the mirror-calm waters of the Georgia Strait, nestled between the mainland and Vancouver Island. It is not far from the bustling city of Vancouver, and yet, tranquility is its second name.
Drive up to a hilltop, step out, spread your arms and look. For miles into the distance you will see rolling green hills and the huge expanse of water punctuated by pristine snow-topped peaks that blend into the horizon. Close your eyes and listen to nature at work — this is the wonder called Salt Spring Island.
A perfect place for both body and mind.
Don Arney was not born here. He chose to live here.
At 55, Don Arney is an immensely successful entrepreneur. His inventions have turned into roaring businesses, bringing him millions of dollars in profits from around the world. Long ago, he designed a specialized bucket that helps fight forest fires. To douse such a blaze, firefighters pour huge amounts of water from aircraft. Don designed a bucket that hangs from helicopters and quickly scoops up thousands of gallons of water from ponds or rivers. Once above the fire, the bucket opens quickly, belching the water out like a torrent. Called the Bambi Bucket, this invention is the equipment of choice for firefighters around the world.
The Bambi and his other inventions have proven such commercial successes that Don can sit back and relax. So now, he takes one technological challenge at a time and, like a techno Sherlock, solves it. "It can be anything — from a portable, collapsible fuel cell which hangs from under a helicopter to hassle-free floats for landing aircraft on water. I look at the problem, and approach it from all possible angles. If there is a problem, the solution isn't far away. It's all about where you look and how," says Don, strapping his son's puppy on a leash and setting off on an hour-long walk in the woods.
"It's the same creative process as designing a mural or a sculpture. You dive into the innermost recesses of your consciousness. And one by one, all the elements just fall into place. And it's so thoroughly enjoyable — the whole process of starting with a problem and finally, having a solution," says Don, smiling.
"Everything's in nature — the problem and the solution. It's all a question of how settled and balanced you are, inside. And this comes from being connected to nature and its profound intelligence.
"I meditate twice daily and that takes care of my mental and emotional balance, sharpens my intelligence and keeps me fresh for all challenges. But more than that, I keep every cell in my body nourished with the same intelligence that nature is made up of."
Q: And how do you do that?
Don: Everything natural is suffused with the native intelligence of millions of years of evolution. But some of nature's gifts have that extra edge. I find that herbs have that edge. And when you find a well-crafted combination of a few potent herbs and infuse your physiology with them, you have the perfect recipe for permanent good health. Thousands of years ago, Vedic scholars roamed the Himalayan jungles studying such herbs. Thriving in the unforgiving Himalayan climate, these herbs had proven their potency. Generations of bright scholars put their heads together and formulated a recipe that would combine the life-giving properties of the choicest Himalayan herbs into one potent paste.
They named it Amrit Kalash, or the cup of immortality.
Q: How did you learn of Amrit?
Don: I remember reading about Amrit when it first came out 17 years ago. A lot of the research was anecdotal at that time. Still, somewhere inside, it seemed to fit: I felt like this was a good thing to be doing. And so, very quickly, I got an ongoing supply of it and I've taken it ever since. And I have an intuitive feeling that taking it has a very real influence on who I am.
Q: After 17 years of taking Amrit, do you think it has worked for you?
Don: Let me tell you a story. Maybe that'll answer this question more completely for you. You see, I'm a pilot, and every year I have to have a physical exam to continue flying. Now this is very interesting — listen to the whole story.
The doctor who performs my exam is a very well known physician — he is the past president of the Canadian Medical Association. We've come to know each other well over the years. Each year, my exam goes like clockwork at his office. I show up, we chat for a while and he takes my blood pressure and pulse. I wait for him to tell me his findings and he says to me, "Your blood pressure and your pulse are exactly the same as they were last year, the year before that, and the year before that. What do you do that it stays so steady?" We launch into a long discussion about ayurveda, meditation and Amrit.
But even more amazing than this was a few years ago, when I once visited a heart specialist for a physical exam required for an insurance policy.
This gentleman was in his sixties and an allopath to the core. He started with asking the usual questions about my diet, health and lifestyle and we starting chatting. I asked him if he had heard of ayurveda. He hadn't and, moreover, was not very interested in hearing about it.
One of the questions he asked me was whether I did any physical exercise like walking, jogging or aerobics. And I said I hadn't had the time lately, and that I was essentially a couch potato. "So what do you do to stay fit?" he asked me. And I told him that I was deeply interested in ayurveda, and that I meditated and took Amrit twice daily. Unimpressed, he pressed on.
Eventually, he got through his list of questions and said he would proceed next to the stress test. This is a test designed to gauge the fitness of the heart and its arteries. Wired with dozens of probes, you walk on a treadmill for a few minutes. If there's anything wrong with your heart, or your arteries are clogged, this test will quantify it. Typically, your heart will beat faster, elevating your blood pressure and pulse. And once the heart rate reaches the standard for the test, doctors take readings.
They took me into another room and got me all wired up with the probes.
The treadmill started and I began walking. So I walked and I walked, and the puzzled attending nurse kept glancing from her counters to me and back to her counters. I got a little curious and was about to ask her why she looked so puzzled, when the doctor walked in again. He looked at the counters, spoke to the nurse briefly and turned to me: "Looks like your heart rate is not up. We'll have to increase the speed of the treadmill."
"No problem," I said, and the treadmill moved faster. The doctor said he would be back in about five minutes to take the readings. When he returned, I had been walking more quickly for five minutes, but my heart rate was not up yet. Then he said he would have to take the speed of the mill to its highest level. Still not the expected effect! He returned to notice that my heart rate was still quite normal.
Really perplexed, this time he said he would have to raise the ramp angle. Now, when you raise the ramp angle, you actually change the whole exercise from a walk into a climb. That's a lot of strain for anyone. But my heart rate was still where it had been at the beginning of the test. They raised the ramp angle again, and again. Finally, after 20 minutes of non-stop exercise, and the mill going at full speed at its steepest angle, my heart rate started rising. It had to — I was doing the equivalent of briskly climbing up a steep hill. They took the readings and we all heaved a sigh of relief.
What it essentially meant was that it took a lot of exertion to get my heart to start pounding. This is the kind of fitness you'd expect from athletes, climbers and marathon runners. And I had not been exercising at all.
After the tests were done and the doctor was free, he came up to me and said, "What was that thing you said you were doing — that ayurveda? Whatever it is, it seems to be working!" He said he had not seen anyone perform that way on the treadmill without doing any exercise. He was really impressed. I thought that was an amazing demonstration of the health-giving properties of Amrit.
Q: Were you surprised?
Don: No, not really. I had read of research that had been done on Amrit and its beneficial effects on the heart. I knew what free radicals can do to your coronary arteries and how little the body can do to defend itself. So this research study appeared particularly impressive when it spoke of the anti-oxidant power of Amrit and its ability to neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals.
It showed that Amrit essentially protected the body from the free radical onslaught — whether it was in the heart or the brain or the skin. When free radicals can't damage your physiology, you have a healthier, more youthful body and it shows.
Q: Is Amrit a habit with you?
Don: A spoonful of the paste each day. Once you get into the habit of taking it regularly, then you gauge the measure of how important it is to you. If somebody came along and said, "Well, I'm sorry, but I can't give you Amrit any more," I think I'd be very distraught. Because I think that would take away something very significant from my life.
Q: Do you remember what you felt with your very first experience of taking Amrit?
Don: At first I didn't like the taste of the herbal paste. And that's a very individual thing. My father used to take it, and he would literally spend five or ten minutes eating a spoonful of paste, because it was so delicious for him. But I would just wash it down. That was the immediate sort of reaction to taking Amrit for the first time. But soon after, I said to myself, "It feels good."
You know something very significant is going on in the physiology with Amrit. The experience starts to build, and you begin to recognize the little things that are going on inside. And that very, very quickly convinces you that Amrit is something that's going to be part of your daily routine. And it just becomes an unquestioned thing. This is what you do in the morning; this is what you do at night.
Q: Do you find that Amrit gives you enhanced immunity?
Don: It's interesting that you should ask that, because this is the sort of thing that you see building up over time. I find that the time of the year when everybody's coming down with the annual "bugs," I'm essentially wearing some sort of a shield. We have a son in elementary school. And when there's a bug around, he inevitably brings it home. But for both my wife and me, it's very, very rare that we get sick. And on the rare occasion we ever find ourselves coming down with something, it's in and out really fast — like a day or two, typically. And, it's not debilitating. It's not like I have to spend the day in bed or I've got a raging headache, or anything like that. It's a very different experience.
Yes, I'm convinced that Amrit gives me an enhanced level of immunity that I know I didn't have before.
Q: Do you find Amrit to be a tool for success and longevity?
Don: For me, more than anything else, taking Amrit is a tool because it brings so many benefits. So why wouldn't a person use it like they use so many other things in business?
And many of my business associates see all the things that my business partner and I accomplished. Over time, many ask, "What is the secret to this success?" They learn that we meditate on a daily basis, and that we take our Amrit on a daily basis. So those are contributors to our success. And people can see that, you know. And some of them have decided they want to take Amrit for themselves, too. And they enjoy its benefits in their lives.
I definitely find Amrit to be a tool for success and longevity. It's something that's been a major contributor to my life, my well-being, my success. And it's something I would never consider not taking on a regular basis.
I've read the scientific research. Perhaps not all of it, but most of it. Some of the benefits I can feel directly: people often say I look younger than I am, and that I attribute to taking Amrit.
It's proven in my life to have been a major contributor to keeping me healthy and keeping me on my toes — allowing me to perform to the maximum. There can always be more, and that's what our daily evolution is about. But each day, I know that Amrit is a major contributor to my success.
Q: Do you think herbs have an inner intelligence?
Don: Everything has intelligence. But there's a very powerful intelligence in Amrit that's totally unique. It's not found anywhere else that I've examined or explored. It's very unique.
The direct connection between taking Amrit and the qualities of success, longevity, good health and general well-being, is the intelligence that comes into my body when I ingest this paste everyday.
There's no question that Amrit has made a very profound contribution to my life. And taking it, I feel extremely nourished on a very profound inner level.
Amrit brings an element of grace, or flow, into my life, and it definitely enhances intelligence. It definitely enhances my own personal creativity and makes me stronger — just gets me more anchored.
It fills in the gaps in my physiology. Since it's not a perfect physiology yet, there are stresses that take their toll. But the impulses that are found in Amrit, help to fill in those gaps and make me a more complete human being, a better functioning human being and ultimately, a more successful human being.
In 1986 I was the recipient of the Ernest C. Manning Award, which is Canada's foremost award for product innovation. In the citation, they referred specifically to the fact that my innovation, the Bambi Bucket, had proven itself effective at saving lives and property around the world.
Q: Do you tell others about Amrit?
Don: We give it to a number of our employees that are interested in enjoying it. I give annual supplies to friends as a Christmas gift. And it's a gift that's very much appreciated. Even though they know they're going to get it each year, they really appreciate it when it arrives.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.