Very brief commentary on the Tibetan Medical Tradition

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Very brief commentary on the Tibetan Medical Tradition

Post by LauraJ on Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:28 am

The Tibetan Medical Tradition

Medicine is one of five traditional Tibetan sciences. It is called gSoba Rigpa or the science of healing. To the Tibetan doctor, disease is a sign of an imbalance of mind and body. The obscurations or mental poisons of attachment, hatred and delusion are considered contributing factors to disease. Therefore, spiritual practices including the recitation of mantras (as above) are considered a vital aspect of treatment.

The Gyu Shi [rGud-bzhi] are four tantras that constitute Tibet's oldest medical text. Originally in Sanskrit, this fourth century (CE) text is considered a compendium of the wisdom of the Medicine Buddha.

Under the auspices of Sangye Gyatso, a 17th-century Tibetan regent, the compendium of medical treatment known as The Blue Beryl (Tib: vai-dur-ya ngon-po) was produced. The original tangkas that illustrate The Blue Beryl are in Tibet, but accurate replicas made in the traditional way involving the grinding of precious stones to make the pigments have been on display at Tibet House in NY (July 2004.)

Nature of Diagnosis in the Tibetan System

The Tibetan system is somewhat reminiscent of European medicine during the Renaissance, and it shares many characteristics of both Taoist and Ayurvedic medicine. In this system, individuals are first classified according to three categories depending upon predominating "humours," and the mainly herbal remedies are prescribed in conjunction with appropriate diet.

The three humors or doshas of Indian Ayurveda are:

vata, or air which is similar to the Tibetan humor, lung (rLung]
pitta, or fire is equated with tee-pah [mKhris-pa]
kapha, the balance of water and earth is like the Tibetan bad-kan.

The late Dr. Tenzin Choedrak explained that although the two systems are similar in many ways, some aspects of Tibetan medicine set it apart: As a means to understanding the movement of fluids in the body, the Tibetan method incorporates the astrological system using the twelve animal signs and five elements.

According to Dr. Lobsang Rapgay, a trained Tibetan physician who is now a licensed clinical psychologist and director of UCLA’s Behavioral Medicine Clinic, since the Gyu Shi, Tibetan medicine continued to evolve.

"Tibetan medicine is the first integrated system of medicine which incorporates various aspects of Ayurveda, Chinese and Greek medicine and presents the concepts underlying these practices from a Buddhist perspective."

Traditional Remedies

Water and any other purifying substances used in rituals, ie. that have been empowered by visualization and mantra, are considered efficacious as treatments.

Remedies combine ingredients from plants, trees, resins, soil and rocks but 95% is derived from herbs that are increasingly difficult to obtain. Also, the formulation of the various remedies that may include rare components such as gold, silver and tiny amounts of such potential poisons as mercury is dependent on the phases of the moon. There are seven kinds of 'precious pill' or rinchen rilpo.

Some herbal preparations as they appear in a treatise on the alchemy of long life by Jamgon Kongtrul the Great as quoted in Beyer's Cult of Tara:

Mix arura [Myrobalan arjuna,] churura [Crataegus pinnatifida,] bhangaraja [Eclipta prostrata, 'king bee' -- its distillation will turn the hair black, supposedly] piling [Piper longum -- pepper] and iron filings. Mix with honey and sugar and roll into pills. By eating these for one month, one may live to 300 years.

Master Kokila says to mix equal parts of butter, honey and milk mixed in a vessel of oil; add one part barley malt, then decant and eat. Within 6 months the eyes and nails will be bright, and one can live for 1, 000 years!

Or, grind the dried root of nyeshing [Polygonatum falcatum] in fine powder and mix with milk. When it 'turns' churn it into butter, and eat some every morning for 21 days. It will clear all disease, and if eaten for 6 years, it will produce "life and freedom from the construction of non-reality."

Also, mixing the three fruits, arura, churura and barura [Terminalia chebula] with powdered bhrngaraja, butter and honey as it is being digested, eat some rice boiled with milk . . . .

The description is only an example. "Please don't try this at home" as they say on TV.
* We are not certain of the plants *Similar plants are not identical plants *Some of the substances are known to be poisonous or harmful, eg. iron filings *Ask your lama *Discuss it with your medical doctor.

-From Khandro.net

LauraJ

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Re: Very brief commentary on the Tibetan Medical Tradition

Post by Gerry on Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:30 pm

Thanks for posting this Ngawang Drolma!

I studied first with the Hindu Shaivite Yogis and over the years I have been amazed at how many - mostly western Hindus as well as western Tibetan Buddhists - know so little about the benefits from Tibetan Medicine or Ayurveda, especially as related to ones "spiritual" journey.

I didn't see it so much with the Tibetan Buddhists, but the Bönpos place a little emphasis on the Five Elements (Space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth) as do Tibetan Medicine and Ayurveda. Everything arises out of the Five Elements and dissolves back into them, keeping them in balance within the body is called "being healthy" (we literally are what we eat).

Perhaps one of the best translations of The Ambrosia Heart Tantra is by Men-Tsee-Khang - one page in Tibetan, the next in English; chapters 1 & 2, the rest is forth coming.

Best wishes.

Gerry

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Re: Very brief commentary on the Tibetan Medical Tradition

Post by sherab zangpo on Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:07 pm

Traditional Remedies

Water and any other purifying substances used in rituals, ie. that have been empowered by visualization and mantra, are considered efficacious as treatments.



Glacier water for "hot" disturbances and so on.

I hope people really start to take an interest in Tibetan medicine, it will really help them in their tantric studies, health, their practice and beyond.


Sherab


Last edited by sherab zangpo on Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:21 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Very brief commentary on the Tibetan Medical Tradition

Post by sherab zangpo on Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:12 pm



This is a good presentation in english of the four root tantras on medicine. You can get it on Amazon pretty cheap.


Sherab
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Re: Very brief commentary on the Tibetan Medical Tradition

Post by sherab zangpo on Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:17 pm

Gerry wrote:

Perhaps one of the best translations of The Ambrosia Heart Tantra is by Men-Tsee-Khang - one page in Tibetan, the next in English; chapters 1 & 2, the rest is forth coming.

Best wishes.

http://www.men-tsee-khang.org/publication/medbook/translation.htm





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