When I teach LU JONG I explain the practice has its origins in the merging of three sources of wisdom: Tibetan Medicine, Bon, and Tibetan Buddhism.
I usually get many questions about Tibetan Medicine so why not, in the spirit of ‘Back To School’, take a brief look at what this is all about?
**Before we proceed any further I would like to clarify that I am NOT a doctor of Tibetan Medicine, nor do I diagnose and/or treat people in this area of expertise.
My knowledge comes from what I have learned from my teacher and Root Lama, the venerable Tulku Lobsang Rinpoche, who IS a doctor of Tibetan Medicine in addition to being a high Buddhist master.
TIBETAN MEDICINE – WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
Tibetan Medicine is one of the oldest medical systems practiced in Asia, along with the Indian Ayurveda and Chinese medicines. All of them have several thousands of years of history and practical experiences and offer combined aspects of spirituality, philosophy and psychology.
By the 7th century AD, Tibet had become the center of cultural, artistic and spiritual development. Tibetan kings specially recognized three foreign medical systems (Persian (Galenic), Indian and Chinese) and allowed them to be practiced and diffused along with the native Bon Medicine. From that historical background and from the Buddhist ‘Four Medical Tantras‘, the Tibetan art of healing developed and shaped its own characteristics, evolving into that which today is called Tibetan Medicine.
Tibetan Medicine is a holistic system that honors the interconnectedness between the body, mind and external environment. Each of these areas must be addressed to live a healthy life. The basic concept of the cause of disease and its symptoms, or suffering, as being part of life and its evolution; and the method to cure and prevent suffering temporarily and permanently, are the foundation of this system.
The first official training systems were established from the 7th century AD to the 9th century, however until the 17th century, the education offered among the schools in monasteries and those of family traditions were probably not similar.
During the 5th Dalai Lama’s reign, his regent Desid Sangye Gyatsho (1653-1705) built the Chakpori Medical College and made an official curriculum for medical training and certification system. Even if changes in curricula have happened over time, the present Tibetan Medicine trainings in Tibet and India are still made on this basis.
By their practice, based on Buddhist ethics and a doctrine without discrimination of caste, race or wealth, Tibetan physicians quickly won the hearts of the Tibetan people and spread this precious art to the central Asian countries, keeping it alive until now.
Tibetan Medicine explains that everything existing or non-existing in the world derives from the mind and the five elements of space, wind, fire, water and earth.
The mind and the elements manifest particular energetic qualities that, in their densest states, also take on their familiar forms:
- Wind has the quality of movement.
- Fire has the quality of heat and transformation.
- Water has the quality of fluidity and cohesion.
- Earth has the quality of solidity and stability.
- And space is the balance of the other four elements in addition to being responsible for creating separation—space—between things.
On a more subtle level, the mind and the five elements manifest in the form of energy and gross materials into three aspects – Body, Energy and Mind, which in the human body are reflected in the form of ‘three principles of function’, or three Humors: Lung (Wind), Tripa (Bile) and Beken (Phlegm).
The three humors are the vital substances of the body and collectively are responsible for all bodily functions. They are the energy that constantly flows in the human body and sustain physical health with mental awareness.
Tibetan Medicine first puts forth a specific definition of health in its theoretical texts:
To have good health, Tibetan medical theory states that it is necessary to maintain balance in the body’s three humors.