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Health, travel, environment and other related topics. Tips and tricks for keeping your body in shape for spiritual life. Taking care of your health while traveling in India.

Medicine Buddha -

Radharaman - Tue, 29 Jun 2004 15:11:54 +0530
Within the Tibetan tradition the medicine Buddha is worshipped by doctors of traditional Tibetan medicine,it's said that doing this greatly increases the healing abilities of said doctors. Is anything similar found within the Vedic tradition, are vaidyas given specific mantras to improve their healing skills etc?.
nabadip - Tue, 29 Jun 2004 16:30:43 +0530
There are three categories of giving treatment. The first by "presence", the second by mantra, the third by medicine. Medicine is only given as the last recourse. Nowadays, people do not have that much power anymore to give treatment by doing mantra, so medicine is required. There are any amount of mantras in the context of Ayurveda for this or that ailment, as well as for empowering the vaidya. You'd have to google for the topic Tantra+medicine. Those mantras are mostly used together with yantras, kavajas, gemstones and the like. A complicated affair.

Naturally, it also depends upon the tradition one is with, whether one prefers more the vaishnava (Dhanvantari), sivaite (cf. Siddhas), or Shakti approach. With power-oriented people like Siddhas you get more of a powerful mantra-connection (remember, it's physical). One very powerful practice that initiate Siddha vaidiyas do is to observe their own breath while practizing, and saying (i.e. thinking) a simple mantra: va-si. It immediately balances their pranas (yours too if you do this). If this is done permanently you become clairvoyant. I have experienced this with an acquaintance who knows each time when I am thinking of him, let alone knows when I am coming to see him.

This breathing practice is the most powerful practice found and sung by the ancient rishis and siddhas. Buddha established his meditation teaching on its basis.
Openmind - Tue, 29 Jun 2004 20:24:29 +0530
[Just a note: actually, the Medicine Buddha (tib.: Sangye Menla) is not an object of worship in the theistical sense, nor is any other Deity in the Buddhist pantheon. A usual puja or sadhana of a Deity, in our case Sangye Menla, would be like this: First you visualize the Medicine Buddha in front of you in the space, and do some offerings mentally. Then you receive his blessings and energies, usually from the three main chakras (head, throat and heart) to your respective chakras, in the form of lights of different colors. Then, the Deity becomes light and dissolves into you, and you become the Deity, that is, Medicine Buddha. You visualize yourself as the Medicine Buddha, and chant his mantra. In the end everything dissolves in light, and you offer the merits of the practice for the benefit of all beings.]

As for some similar Divinity in Hinduism, I guess an incarnation of Vishnu, called Dhanvantari is in charge of healing. He has temples all over India, and I know of some energy-healers who work using His mantra and some visualization.

Namkhai Norbu, a Tibetan master of Dzogchen and Bon teaches and transmits an ancient practise of Garuda, with mantra and visualization. This practise is highly effective in preventing and curing illnesses caused by malevolent nagas, like cancer.
Attachment: Image
nabadip - Wed, 30 Jun 2004 15:47:59 +0530
This practise is highly effective in preventing and curing illnesses caused by malevolent nagas, like cancer.

Openmind, can you tell more about this? What is the idea behind diseases caused by nagas? What are they and how do they operate in Tibetan perspective?

Are there benevolent nagas also?
Openmind - Wed, 30 Jun 2004 17:15:04 +0530
According to the ancient spiritual tradition of Tibet, there are eight very powerful classes of superhuman beings. They are not necessarily evil, but they can be provoked easily and then they cause problems. One of these classes are the Nagas. Polluting the waters is a direct provocation, and in return Nagas cause different sicknesses, usually ones linked the the water element, like cancer and different skin problems. It is said that Nagas are quite ferocious beings, better not to mess with them. Interesting to note, that the ancient scriptures of Tibetan tradition consider smoking as an insult to the water element (which is embodied by the Nagas), both inside and outside our body.

The Garuda practise I mentioned is particularly for tumors. There are other practises that aim to control all the negative influences from the eight classes.
Radharaman - Fri, 02 Jul 2004 19:35:18 +0530
Thanks to both of you, some interesting stuff and great art work, I've always liked Tibetan art, very colourful and mystical.
nabadip - Fri, 02 Jul 2004 20:07:40 +0530
Just to correct Openmind's statement about Dhanvantari temples being found all over India, for the reader unacquainted with this it should be said that that is most likely not the case. At least the places I went I have never seen any. Has anyone ever seen one? There may be some modern temple somewhere, but I doubt there is any tradition worshiping him. Keshava would perhaps know. I would expect one perhaps in Maharastra, or Kerala, where Ayurveda is strongly present. In Tamil Nadu, where Shivaite Siddha medicine is practiced, and Ayurveda virtually absent (except for Coimbatore), one would not even know Dhanvantari. In Maharastra Datatreya is worshiped, besides Ganesh who gets a lot of attention. Mostly vaidiyas follow their own particular tradition, be it vaishnavite or shaktite, or shivaite.
nabadip - Fri, 02 Jul 2004 20:17:13 +0530
Another thing about nagas causing disease. Sounds like a local folklore. Also the success of mantras against them, in case of cancer, may be limited to local use. I know of at least one well known Tibetan Buddhist monk who died of cancer, in Geneva. I have also had contact with the Astro and Medical Institute of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, which is the official research and distribution institute of Tibetan Medicine. If mantras were an easy way against cancer, and successes had been observed, I doubt they would hide it.
Openmind - Fri, 02 Jul 2004 21:13:34 +0530
Of course these mantras are always accompanied by proper medical care. Medicines take care of the physical side of the problem, mantras and rituals may solve the subtle causes, like curses or provocations from malevolent spirits. And, this Garuda practise is not transmitted in all schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

As for Lamas who died of cancer: as you surely know, there is a practise in tibetan Buddhism called Tonglen or Lojong, consisting of taking the suffering of all beings upon ourselves and giving our happiness to them. It is said that when really advanced masters do this practise with infinite compassion in their hearts, they actually can take some negative karma from this world. His Holiness the XVI. Karmapa, for example, one of the greatest siddha masters of Tibetan Buddhism, also died of several sicknesses, including cancer. But no Buddhist would think that this was his bad karma, rather, through his compassion (Karmapas are incarnate teachers like the Dalai Lama and are considered the manifetastions of Chenrezi, the Buddha of Great Compassion) he took the suffering of beings upon himself. Also interesting to note that Karmapa was fully conscious on his deathbed. Doctors simply could not understand how he can still be alive despite of the dozens of lethal sicknesses he had.

Let me copy a short text from a Buddhist site:
In 1981, the Karmapa began to manifest signs of cancer, and his life was known to be near its end.  His Holiness went through various recurrences and remissions.  He was soon brought to the Clinic Hospital in Zion, Illinois.

His Holiness began contracting various harmful illnesses, all taken upon by himself to rid the suffering of others, and he allowed the doctors to experiment on him.  They found that no matter how much sedatives were given to the Karmapa, these medicines had completely no affect on his mental clarity. One day an illness was cured, and the next a new one would be found. The doctors were baffled at how the machines would somehow be turned on and off automatically.

Through all this, they were amazed at the serene atmosphere the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa created.

In the evening on November 5th, 1981, His Holiness passed away.  For three days, the heart region of the Karmapa’s body remained warm to the amazement of the medical staff, and as the medical physician put it, “I have no medical explanation for this.”  His body was left in the room for these days and remained in meditation position. 
nabadip - Fri, 02 Jul 2004 21:54:39 +0530
I tend to accept this as factual what you relate here in the form of the Karmapa's story. My intention of putting my doubt in was to prevent either over-promise or false hope, or ridicule. This whole procedure is meaningful for Tibetans or those following the believes and practices. Really good medicine for cancer can cure that without mantras also. It is a particular paradigm that assumes subtle causes for the disease. While such causes are not exluded as impossible, they are not necessarily the rule with everyone, and most likely are not present at all with the majority of patients.
Openmind - Fri, 02 Jul 2004 22:04:12 +0530
In the Tibetan healing system (and in other shamanistic traditions of the world) these negative energies coming from outside play an important role. Of course, some believe in this, some don't.

As for Karmapa's story: I have seen an interview with one of the doctors from that hospital. His voice was choking, he was apparently struggling with tears when narrating these incidents (he was not a buddhist "devotee", just an ordinary doctor). That makes the story credible to me.
nabadip - Fri, 02 Jul 2004 22:27:10 +0530
Well, you have to see, that Tibetans are or were living in an environment full of ghost-practices, cursing and all. Of course they needed protection against that, and with them any calamity might have been seen in connection with subtle influences. There are all kinds of interesting paradigms as to the cause of diseases, and a subtle aspect is always part of it. But just speaking from practice and exposure to patients I want to warn against the distribution of such beliefs because they have diverse effects on people suffering from difficult diseases. If a Tibetan has cancer he or she desires a therapy of his or her cultural tradition, and it is meaningful that it be applied in that fashion. But if you come to a European setting with a Tibetan or shamanistic folklore paradigm, this can cause all kinds of havoc in the patient. Such paradigms can cause either total negligence in doing something by themselves, namely taking the disease seriously and act in a therapeutic way, or the opposite, complete faith into something that may or may not help; normally what happens then, is that such therapy is done until the point of no return, and then later also subtle excuses are found as to why it did not help.

People here in Europe who believe some outside force is at fault for their disease, are evading their responsibility, and they are a nusance for alternative practitioners; they blame others and care a damn to do something themselves. Not everyone, sure. But for someone who is serious it is helpful to know that there are other forces, such as electromagnetic vibrations with which our world is fully loaded nowadays and which are statistically proven causes of disease, including cancer (the increased occurence of cancer cases near Radio and TV stations, or in the line of Radar beams, and now the increasing evidence about cellular phone antennas), and other subtle causes.