In Tibet the Medicine
Buddha is revered as the source of the healing arts for it is through
him that the teachings embodied in the Four Medical Tantras, the basis
of Tibetan medicine, came into being.
The Buddhist view holds
that everything within the universe is in a constant state of flux, that
all phenomena are characterized by impermanence, and that their only
permanent feature is impermanence. It is this very impermanence of
creation that causes every being, at one stage or another, to suffer.
The Buddha traced the
root cause of all suffering to Ignorance, which obscures our mind from
understanding the Reality of Phenomena. This gives rise to the "three
poisons" of attachment, hatred and delusion. According to the Four
Tantras, the fundamental cause of every disease is to be found in these
three poisonous delusions which give rise to imbalances in three humors
of Bad-kan, Loong and Tripa (phlegm, wind and bile). Along with these,
the four contributing circumstances of time, spirits, food and behavior
cause the humors to increase and decrease. The imbalance then spreads
over the skin, increases in the flesh, moves along the vessels, meets
the bones and descends upon the solid and hollow organs.
Treatment of disease
and the maintenance of health are therefore primarily a matter of
bringing the various elements of the body back into balance and this is
accomplished through four progressive types of treatment. The first two
involve changes in the type of food we eat and behavior we engage in.
Only when these prove ineffective is the physician advised to prescribe
medicine and only when this also fails is he or she to resort to
external forms of treatment such as cauterization and the like. However,
none of these types of treatment will have a lasting effect unless they
are accompanied by spiritual transformation. If ignorance and its
associated delusions remain festering inside, sooner or later they will
give rise to disease and the recurring miseries of cyclic existence.
Thus Buddhas such as Shakyamuni and the Lapis Healing Master are
referred to as great physicians because they have the compassion, wisdom
and skillful means to diagnose and treat the root delusions underlying
all mental and physical malaise.
Tibetan medicine is a
science, art and philosophy that provide a holistic approach to
healthcare. Tibetan medical theory states that everything in the
universe is made up of the five proto-elements sa (earth), chu (water),
me (fire), rLung (wind) and nam-kha (space). Although the five
proto-elements are responsible for the formation of each tissue cell of
the body, each element has a specific influence: sa exerts a greater
influence over the formation of muscle cells, bones, the nose and the
sense of smell; chu is responsible for the formation of blood, body
fluids, tongue and the sense of taste; me is responsible for body
temperature, complexion, the eyes and the sense of sight; rLung is
responsible for breathing, skin and the sense of touch and nam-kha is
responsible for body cavities, the ears and the sense of hearing