The Origins of Traditional Healing (Tibetan Medicine)
The Tibetan Science of Healing was established almost two thousand years ago and the approach is similar to Ayurvedic and Chinese concepts of healing. Tibetan Medicine originates from the teaching of the Buddha, and is present with us in the form of Four Medical Tantras or texts. The original Sanskrit texts were translated into Tibetan in the 8th century. They were supplemented with extra texts and illustrated with over 80 beautiful scroll paintings. The texts are likened to trees with different branches, leaves, flowers and fruit.
Buddhism is the root of this healing tradition and cannot be separated from it. The Buddha taught that everything is impermanent and changing. Everybody will suffer at some point. Birth, sickness, old age and death are part of our very existence. The root of suffering is always with us, but not apparent, just as the shadow of a bird soaring in the sky is only visible when it lands.
The medical Tantras are the basis of the tradition but the experience of the doctors is equally important. Previously the monasteries were the greatest repositories of learning and many doctors were also monks and highly realized masters of meditation and the Buddhist teachings. Although the Chinese communist invasion of Tibet did affect this linage it is still unbroken and the wisdom and experience of these teachings are is still available even in these modern times. For instance it was not until 1981 that the tradition of making Precious Pills was reintroduced at MenTseKang in Dharamasala when the renowned doctor Tenzin Chodra escaped China.Now 7 different kinds of Precious Pills are available.
Tibetan Medicine is now an important alternative form of health care in the occidental world, as people are increasingly dissatisfied with allopathic medicine. There are now over 30 Tibetan clinics around the world offering health care to thousands of people. However, for Tibetan medicine to be of use in the western world the traditional use must be preserved or the effectiveness will be reduced.
This is an extract from the exhibition on Sowa Rigpa, the art of Himalayan Healing. To see the full exhibition please link to the himalayan-healing-exhibition