Twelve hundred years ago the people of Tibet developed a comprehensive medical system. They understood how the mind affects the body. They knew subtle ways of changing the body’s chemistry with medicines made from plants and minerals. They blessed their medicines in lengthy rituals. And they encoded this knowledge in a series of elaborate paintings called thangkas.
Some key insights from Blue Buddha: Lost Secrets of Tibetan Medicine (scroll down for video)
The qualities necessary for a physician are to be knowledgeable and experienced. Another very important thing is that the doctor has to be kind-hearted and have a loving, compassionate nature.
Buddhist doctors believe that the healing they offer their patients is part of their own spiritual growth, a way to practice compassion on the path to enlightenment.
Western medicine is good for acute cases and for emergency cases, as when there are traumatic injuries; whereas Tibetan medicine is good for long-standing conditions or chronic diseases. Its particular strength is getting at the root cause of diseases, rather than masking or just treating the symptoms.
Initially almost every disease stems from an unwholesome diet or improper behavior which causes imbalances in the body. According to the Tibetan knowledge of healing, the four main methods of treatment are correct diet, and behavior, the appropriate medicine, and accessory therapies like massage and acupuncture.
Your hands have to be like this, try not to leave them in cold water for very long. Also make sure you wear gloves if you hold a hot cup. You have to take care of these three fingers. So if you want to enhance their sensitivity, you should soak them in warm milk. Remember as you diagnose your patients, these fingers are our weapons against disease.
They rely on a sensitive touch, careful observation, and quiet listening. If the patient is too young for a conversation, it’s all the more important to be aware of body language, the color of the skin, and overall energy. With a baby, pay special attention to the face, it shows everything that would indicate inner diseases.
A typical treatment starts with herbal medicine and changes in diet.
Buddhist doctors pray for each of their patients to regain their health and be free from suffering — they believe through prayer they can help strengthen the healing power within the patient.
Here, there are no frantic attempts to prolong life at any cost — a patient’s death isn’t a failure, it’s a transition, awakening from the dream of life.
Buddhism and Tibetan medicine go together, they are inseparable. Other people may think differently, but I believe you have to know the foundation of Buddhism to understand the foundations of the medicine. You need to understand it with your body, your mind, and your soul. Buddhist medicine will be alive for as long as we pass on the heritage to new generations. As long as patients want to be treated with Emchi Lamas, we will keep our tradition, and I believe people will come to us for health as long as Buddhist medicine has the power to heal.
Human beings face four main sufferings, they are part and parcel of life …
- old age
Blue Buddha: Lost Secrets of Tibetan Medicine traces the odyssey of traditional Tibetan medicine from it’s roots in ancient Tibet, to a worldwide interest in it’s traditional medical wisdom.
We meet several leading physicians in India, as the program introduces us to the basic concepts of this ancient system of healing.
We also trace the fate of the 77 thangkas that comprise the Atlas of Tibetan Medicine, the great mnemonic device that encodes the entire system of healing. From the snows of Siberia and the Himalayas to the vital culture of Tibet in exile, in Dharamsala, India, this is a stunning high-definition look at where Tibetan medicine has come from.”
Blue Buddha: Lost Secrets of Tibetan Medicine
Transcript of the Dalai Lama from “Knowledge of Healing 1997” …
Well, I have been taking Tibetan medicine since long, since my childhood. I have relied strongly on Tibetan Medicine.
Also, when still in Tibet, I have taken allopathic medicine which works particularly for emergencies.
Since coming to India I take it occasionally. Mostly I take Tibetan medicine.
Within Tibetan medicine there are different kinds of Tibetan medicine: Some can be taken daily, regularly, and are similar to a tonic. They don’t treat a particular illness and they don’t work fast but they help to harmonize the different elements within the body. They are like a general medicine. This is one kind.
Another kind of medicine works when you are having a specific illness, which is an imbalance of the elements and they work particularly against that. This is another kind of medicine. If you were to eat such a medicine, a medicine that counteracts imbalances of the body’s elements, regularly in good health, then this would make you unwell.
There is another very gentle kind of medicine. These are preventive medicines: when taken when the body is feeling well then they prepare the body in advance for an illness. They are very beneficial. That’s why I usually take this kind of medicine. I eat them almost every day. They are very beneficial.
One cause for imbalance is one’s diet. For example, when one eats food that is unhealthy. It is important to eat food according to one’s constitution, to the outside weather, and to one’s personal taste.
Likewise, for instance, I think that there are a variety of foods and they have certain chemical compounds. When eating these substances they most surely, gradually become part of our physical body, part of our nature. This is the natural process. That is why it is important to feed the body what is natural to its fundamental need what corresponds to its nature. That is why at the time of eating it is important to take these facts into consideration.
Similarly it is important in regards to behavior. For example, how the body moves, what it does, how much it is active, how much it is exercised and if this behavior is not in balance with the body and so forth that also creates disorder.
Equally when the body is strained and exerts itself then also sickness can arise.
Another factor is the lifestyle. Lifestyle definitely plays an important role for health. A person who has a pleasant mind, who is relaxed, his natural elements remain at ease and are calm too. Somebody whose mind is agitated is stressed, whether it is due to studying or due to leading a stressful life, or it is because of fear of oppression or whatever — there are many different causes and conditions that can arise — such a person’s agitated mind has certainly an effect on the body’s elements.
Therefore, for example, nowadays with the modern ways of life, if we look on the surface we have developed a lot and are better off. But if we look more profoundly life has become more stressful, more hectic, and is like a rotating machine. Lifestyle is like a rotating machine and I think that this definitely has an effect on our health.
One of the characteristics of Tibetan medicine is that is induces the calm mind and the peacefulness of mind and considers it very important. This is very true. However calm and relaxed a person’s mind is the less sickness that person has and when he is sick, the faster he restores his health. There seems to be a relevant connection.
Now having a calm mind or having a rigid or strong mind this very much depends on having an altruistic mind. The more we have of such an altruistic mind the more the mind can become peaceful, and when difficulties arise, then such a mind remains firm and stable.
Now, when a mind is angry, is jealous, and has such a strong disposition then one’s natural balance and peace is destroyed and this leads to the mind’s agitation. Correspondingly, this mental disturbance leads to a disturbance of the elements. Without doubt there is this relation.
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