Modern medicine has performed wonders for human in the past centuries. Many of the historical scourges such as polio and smallpox have long been eradicated and are no longer a threat to humanity. Average lifespan have continued to rise globally, even though at a slower rate in the developing countries as compared to the developed. Nevertheless, medical science has got its shortcomings. As much as it is doing well in fighting acute infections and in surgery, it does little in the preventive measures of diseases that lifestyle and stress play a greater part. These diseases include hypertension, HIV and AIDS, and cancer. In brief, modern medicine predominantly concentrate on human physiology, but it is deplorably unprepared to battle and cure a mass of draining disorders that are either aggravated by emotional, mental, or spiritual factors. The interpretation of good health within the Buddhists is similar, though with much vehemence on the balanced interaction between the body and the mind and also between life and its surroundings. Illnesses tend to develop when this equilibrium is upset, and the aim of the Buddhist practice and theory is to strengthen and maintain this equilibrium. However, Buddhists do not in any way reject the modern medicine in disease treatment together with the powerful wide array of therapeutic and diagnostic tools at its disposal. Instead, it says that these can most effectively be used in fighting illnesses when reinforced by, and based on a clear understanding of the inward, subjective processes of life.
Meditation and Healing
Most modern healing techniques consider successful healing as the presenting physical illness cure, be it symptoms of AIDS, cancer, or some other type of illness. In case the individual does not successfully recover from the presenting physical illness, or if that illness recurs or some other develops afterwards, then this may be considered a failure. It is common in these situations for the organization or therapist that has been assisting the patient to deduce that the person must have skipped or not followed the instructions; say they did not strictly stick to the diet, medication, meditation or whatever else they were required to do. These instances can make the patient become angry, guilty or depressed and in most cases, the patient will just lose hope. In order to avert these problems, it is advisable that one considers a more comp form of healing that comprises not only physical therapeutic but also mental (Johnson, 2010). A Buddhist conception of the mind is an important starting point for one to understand healing from the perspective of a Buddhist. The mind is nonphysical, formless, colorless, genderless, and shapeless but has the ability to know. From the perspective of the Buddhists, the mind creates health and sickness; in fact, it is conceived to be the cause all the human problems (West, 2000). This paper seeks to dwell on the Buddhism spiritual therapy.
Meditation on teachings called thought a transformation is a powerful form of healing in the Tibetan Buddhism. This method allows an individual to see the sickness or problem in the positive rather than negative perspective. A problem is regarded a problem only if one labels it a problem. If one looks differently at a problem, then that person can see it as an opportunity to practice or to grow and see it as something positive. In short, it is ones concepts that often bring the greatest fear and suffering. For instance, owing to a set of symptoms and signs, a doctor may label a disease as cancer or AIDS. Most at times an individual forgets that that is just a label and that there is not really a truly existent or permanent cancer or AIDS hence the individual ends up getting distressed (Atkins, 2002).
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Buddhism is so practical and all of the Hindu deity is based on the discovery of Buddha that suffering is unneeded. Once the reality that suffering exists dawns on man, then they can dig more deeply so they can discover its origin; and when the origin is discovered to be dependent upon certain conditions, then possibilities of getting rid of those conditions can be explored. Buddha taught lots of ways of doing that many of which have been refined and preserved over hundreds of years by the Tibetans (Jones, 2003). The Buddha stated that every individual needs to be happy and is searching for freedom from suffering. Everything that he taught was inclined towards this liberation. He taught on how to achieve peace of mind through awareness and mindfulness. Life is full of contradictions and therefore the mind must be used to heal the mind. Utilizing such tools as patience, self-observation, mediation and an attitude of loving-kindness for oneself, one is able to find prize that is waiting at the inner being of oneself, one’s own Buddha nature (Fenton, 2005).
Buddhism teaches that happiness and suffering are states of mind and that one’s life experience is majorly subjective. Sure enough, outside events and individuals do affect one but ones joyfulness or suffering is based predominantly upon ones internal interpretation of the events (Sachs, 1997). The psychological and spiritual entanglements that resulted to suffering can also lead to illnesses of all kinds. Many of the Tibetan Buddhist tools and methods for awakening or removing the entanglements, promote healing and relaxation as well. Practicing meditation as well as using prayer flags, incense, wheels as well as other methods entirely work hand in hand with Tibetan medicinal drugs in healing sicknesses and sustaining health within the conventional Tibetan culture. Therapy often offers an opportunity to examine life and oneself through different lenses (Fenton, 2005).
Dealing with Suffering
Suffering is regarded in Buddhism as a spiritual phenomenon, an inherent part of a person’s daily existence that has neither a beginning nor an end. Buddhist philosophy sees suffering as an emotional condition whose primary cause is rooted in craving and attachment. Attachment is a state of emotion that leads to craving. Buddhism provides an affirmative, spiritual approach towards coping with suffering. Individuals are comprehended as having the ability to make a choice and assume responsibility for their actions (Sachs, 1997). The 12 step program on the other hand recognizes the importance of a person’s suffering and surrenders and views both as essential for recovery. It therefore offers the addicts a practical way to deal with suffering by way of surrender as it is a positive process of incorporating clear thinking that will create a literal readiness for acceptance (West, 2000).
Buddhism Approach to Healing and Health
Disease and health have been key concerns since the human species emergence and according to the Buddhist approach on this; more emphasis is put on spiritual strength together with a prevailing sense of purpose in life, based upon an act of compassion toward others. Although the therapeutic efficaciousness of these attributes is not widely recognized yet by the medical body, Buddhism maintain that they make it a reality for individuals to create value in the face of severest adversity as well as an opportunity for them to forge personal growth. There are several factors why Buddhism holds this approach. One noted factor is the inseparability of life’s physical factors from the spiritual, emotional and mental- stress being the commonly encountered harmful principal in action. Therefore the optimum condition of health is achieved when body and mind is functioning well and are together interacting as one (Johnson, 2010).
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Moreover, in the Buddhists point of view, life’s force is strengthened by qualities such as courage, hope and strong conscious awareness of purpose in life; the last of which is particularly critical. Just like an athlete who is driven by the ever demanding goals that they set to achieve greater performances, one should set high goals in their lifelong mission that they can enjoy. A person who has profound commitment to such a mission is capable of creating enriching; life-asserting values out of any difficulties and is able to use any problem as a spring board to further developments (Jones, 2003).
For an individual possessing such an unshakeable inner strength, physical health alone can no longer be a determining factor for individual happiness. Instead, the challenge to overcome an illness itself become a significant bodhisattva practice as it encourages and animates hope in other people and by doing so, it assists in relieving their suffering. Death which is also a part of human life just like aging and illness provides a chance for inspiring others by way of example. The Buddhists perspective of modern medicine and health are therefore mutually compatible and can serve as a complement to one another (West, 2000).
The Tibetan way of healing is an extremely sophisticated tradition that has withstood the transition of time with its practices. The Buddhist medicine puts much emphasis on an integrated approach in order to comprehend the root cause and how to treat those illnesses. It requires an intellectual understanding of metaphysical, physical and emotional interrelationships as observed on the human microcosmic and universal macrocosmic levels. Buddha’s significance as the supreme healer in then Tibetan medicine for freeing a person from suffering is a model metaphor for the mysterious elements which are ubiquitously inherent in the healing custom. The tradition is really a holistic approach to the suffering problem, both personal suffering and universal suffering conditions.