The Healer-King Curing the Three Poisons – Abstracts


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  1. BRIGHTLY, Briana, Harvard University
    Painting the Pure Land, Picturing Materia-Medica: A Design Manual (bkod yig) for the Medicine Buddha’s Pure Land from Early-Modern Tibet

    A Buddhist monk and self-described “physician of the degenerate age,” Deumar Geshé Tendzin Püntsok (b. 1672) wrote a number of Tibet’s most important treatises on medicine and craft. Today, he is perhaps best remembered as the author of the groundbreaking two-part pharmacopoeia A Lump of Crystal: A Rosary of Crystal (Shel gong shel phreng), which he composed in 1727. But almost a decade before Deumar wrote his magnum opus, the physician put his extensive knowledge of materia-medica toward a different end: namely, the creation of a design manual for the Medicine Buddha’s Pure Land titled the One Hundred Displays of Marvelous Maināka: A Design Manual for Tanaduk (Sprul ba’i sman zhing lta na sdug gi bkod yig ngo mtshar mai na ka’i gar brgya). The One Hundred Displays offers detailed directions to the artist and develops (in words) a comprehensive visual program for Tanaduk. The term Tanaduk refers to the abode of the Medicine Buddha, a paradisical city where every type of medicine grows and the site of the first preaching of the Four Tantras. This paper shows how Deumar drew upon medical learning to refine the visual representation of Tanaduk, thereby transforming a Buddhist icon into a repository for knowledge about the natural world. If realized, Deumar’s visual program would have been a uniquely hybrid form, at once Pure Land painting and illustrated materia-medica.

  2. CHEN Jinhua, University of British Columbia
    陳金華, 英屬哥倫比亞大學


  3. CHEN Ming, Peking University
    陳明, 北京大學
    As a Buddhist Vaidyaraja (Physician King)?: Imaginations of Jivaka’s Images across Asian Cultures


    Jīvaka was a doctor of the same era as Buddha, and due to his superb medical skills, he was known as the Vaidyarāja (“King of Medicine”) in the Buddhist scriptures. In the traditional medical texts based on Hindu theory, Jīvaka did not obtain such a status as the Buddhist King of Medicine. Since the Middle Ages, the stories, legends, and images related to Jīvaka have not only appeared in Gandhara, but also spread to the important towns along the Silk Road such as Kizil, Khotan, and Dunhuang, and spread eastward to the Korean Peninsula and Japan in East Asia. At the same time, they also spread to many regions in Southeast Asia along the Maritime Silk Road. On the basis of extensive collection of images related to Jīvaka, this paper focuses on analyzing the different types of these images in South Asia, Northwest China, East Asia and Southeast Asia and their cross-cultural transmission characteristics, so as to reveal the different imaginations of people in long-term, multi-regional and multi-ethnic groups on Jīvaka images, as well as the specific reasons for forming these imaginations.

  4. DIVINO, Federico, University of Antwerp
    The Dawn of the Physician: A Buddhist Approach to the History of Medicine

    The purpose of this intervention is to analyze the possibility that the role of the ‘physician’ in India may have been in some way shaped by the innovative contribution of Buddhist thought, and that the physician emerges at the intersection of various historical and cultural issues.

    More precisely, the roles of the physician and the Buddhist ascetic appear to emanate from a shared archetype of a healer, of which Buddhists inherit a portion, attesting also, in conjunction with their ‘therapeutic’ ethos, to the emergence of a technical therapist specialized in the treatment of ailments and dysfunctions.

    Scholars of Indian medicine have long pondered the origins of the āyurvedic tradition, discovering that the core concepts of this medical tradition appear to be first attested in Buddhist literature rather than in the Vedas, where a different type of medical thought was present. This research aims to reflect on the earliest attestations of the concepts of medicine and disease as found in the Pāli Canon, to reconstruct the Buddhist idea of medicine that branches out from the referenced ascetic tradition, and to hypothesize the sources that may have nourished such innovative conceptions in the Indian context of the time. Specifically, this research aims to be an expansion on themes previously addressed concerning the emergence of the physician figure within the Buddhist context, and how the Buddhist world innovated within the Indian tradition by establishing for the first time a form of empirical medicine. This innovation laid the groundwork for subsequent developments well-documented in the history of Buddhist medical traditions in Asia.

    The depiction of the physician (bhisakka/tikicchaka) and the ascetic (samaṇa) within early Buddhist thought appears to exhibit a degree of fluidity: both being ‘therapists’ (of illness or suffering), experts in the medical art. The two figures share many common aspects, but they are treated as separate, like in the case of Jīvaka, personal physician of the Buddha but not a real samaṇa. Nevertheless, the Pāli canon furnishes not only the earliest documentation of a structured epistemological framework within medical discourse—ranging from the theory of the three humors (dosas) to a comprehensive anatomical knowledge—but also marks the emergence of the physician as a distinct professional entity specializing in the treatment of illness (roga). Like a physician, the ascetic possesses medical knowledge and situates their practices within a therapeutic paradigm, whose primary concern remains the alleviation of dukkha and a holistic resolution of profound malaise. This analysis highlights a significant concern with crisis management that permeates both healers, as they contend with complex afflictions. Contemplation of the apocalyptic concept of the “end of the world” (lokanta) and the rationale behind the ascetic’s acceptance of it, rather than avoidance, offer insights into metaphysical dilemmas that unravel from the socio-cultural environment.

    It is imperative to bear in mind that medical culture inherited its ideas of care and therapy, which, however, were rooted in an entirely different model: there did not exist the figure of a ‘physician’ as a professional of illness, but rather medical capacity was embodied by sacred operators, proposing a medicine in which “healing may be conceived broadly in terms of magical rituals during which specialized priests exorcised demonic diseases by means of spells and amulets or other apotropaic devices”. This view of illness will remain predominant even in Brahmanism, thus creating a gap, according to Zysk, between the more empirically based medicine advocated by Buddhists and the magical-religious medicine of the Vedic tradition. The reason for this gap may certainly lie in the fact that the Buddhists were custodians or heirs of non-Indo-Aryan traditions that envisioned another medical conception, but it is equally true that the emergence of this model as an alternative may also involve the problem of crisis and therefore its management, which with this therapeutic model appeared to be more effective. This entailed a higher conception of crisis and the necessity to reform unsustainable, ‘sick’ social models.

    This shift corresponds to the evolving positions of Indian medicine as described by Zysk: in the earliest, or Vedic, stage of Indian medicine diseases were connected to divine punishment or sorcery, whereas in the second stage, the humoral theory comes in. This conception “has no antecedents in Vedic medicine”, and that’s the reason why it is difficult to determine its origin. What differs the most however is not just the conception of the disease, but also the consequence of this epistemology, which led to the emergence of the physician as a specialized figure capable to deal with roga or vyādhi (in Pāli: byādhi).

  5. GAO Junling, University of Hong Kong (co-authors: LEE George, WU Bonnie, SIK Hinhung)
    The Power of the Buddhist Mind: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Reducing Suffering and Promoting Well-being in the Modern World

    In an era where physical ailments are increasingly well-managed through advancements in medicine and science, the psychological and spiritual dimensions of human suffering persist (Kearney & Siegman, 2013). The Buddha, as the “Supreme Healer,” recognized that the root causes of suffering lie in the three poisons of greed, anger, and ignorance (Goleman, 2003). These afflictions, primarily psychological and intellectual in nature, continue to plague modern society despite progress in treating bodily diseases (Ekman et al., 2005). Buddhism offers a wealth of insights and practices that can help alleviate these mental and emotional afflictions, promoting individual and collective well-being in the contemporary world (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).

    The relevance of Buddhist wisdom in addressing modern psychological and spiritual challenges has been increasingly recognized by scholars and practitioners across various fields (Wallace & Shapiro, 2006). Mindfulness meditation, a practice rooted in Buddhist tradition, has been extensively studied and shown to reduce stress, alleviate pain, and promote mental well-being (Hölzel et al., 2011). Moreover, the cultivation of compassion, a central tenet of Buddhist teachings, has been identified as a potential antidote to the destructive effects of prejudice, hatred, and conflict in contemporary society (Ricard, 2015). As neuroscience advances our understanding of the brain and human psychology, there is growing recognition of the compatibility between Buddhist insights and scientific findings (Hanson & Mendius, 2009). The study of the neural correlates of religious and contemplative practices, such as Buddhist chanting, has yielded promising results, suggesting that these practices can help counterbalance negative emotions and establish positive mental schemas (Gao et al., 2017).

    To fully realize the potential of Buddhist wisdom in promoting well-being in the modern world, it is essential to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and consider global historical perspectives (Kirmayer, 2015). By bringing together scholars and practitioners from diverse fields, including neuroscience, psychology, medicine, engineering, computer science, and Buddhist studies, we can generate new insights and practical applications that can benefit individuals and societies worldwide (Davidson & Lutz, 2008).

  6. GAO Xi, FudanU
    高晞, 復旦大學
    Between Protestantism and Buddhism: The medical charity of Huang’s father-son
    A thinking of the Chinese Elites idea of the medical charity in Modern China

    在中國近代史,尤其是慈善史的書寫中,黃春甫與黃涵之父子是處在兩個不同的層面,受到不同的研究者所關注。 黃春甫作為基督教在上海第一家西式醫院——仁濟醫院的醫生、第一位華人西醫生而為醫學史和傳教史研究者所重視,他所從事的醫療慈善活動在晚清上海成為美談,屢屢 登上《申報》。 而其子黃涵之則被譽為近代佛教居士領袖,出任中國佛教會執行委員江蘇佛教聯合會暨江浙佛教聯合會常務委員,上海特別市佛教會執行委員,佛教淨業社副社長、世界佛教居士 林理事會等職。 黃涵之自喻自己從事醫療慈善活動甚至為官之道都受其父親的影響,“仰承先志,嗜善如命,凡慈善事業無役不與”, 為己任官治民“一以父師訓 型為從政之本」。 顯然,黃氏父子留存在於世的名望都是基於其以醫療慈善行為為社會作出重要的貢獻,父子倆都是自己所處領域的翹楚。這是晚清民初中國家庭中基督教與佛教並存的典型例子,是一種特殊的文化現象。本文透過檢視父子倆慈善活動的模式、理念和方式,以及在慈善活動中所擔當的角色,分析兩個問題:一、既然黃涵之受父親影響深重,為何他會轉向佛教,並成為滬上乃至 江浙地區最有影響力的佛教居士領袖,引領醫療慈善事業? 二、從活動內容考察,黃氏父子所從事的慈善事業基本相同,但擔當的角色和處理方式卻有所不同,由此,本文試圖透過黃氏父子的個案研究,探討在佛教慈善活動近代轉型 過程中,與基督教慈善模式的相關性,考察兩者理念的異同處,由此呈現佛教醫療慈善的現代性和社會意義。

    In the historiography of modern China, particularly in the realm of philanthropic history, the father-son duo of Huang Chunfu (黄春甫) and Huang Hanzhi (黄涵之) occupies distinct positions, drawing attention from different scholars. Huang Chunfu, as the first Chinese Western-style physician at the Chinese Hospital (仁濟醫院), the first Western hospital in Shanghai established by Christian mission society(London Mission Society), attraction from researchers in the history of medicine and Protestant in Modern China.His endeavors in medical philanthropy became legendary, frequently referred in the media such as the Shen Bao (《申報》) in late Qing Shanghai.On the other hand, his son Huang Hanzhi is acclaimed as a leader among modern lay Buddhists. He held prominent positions within Buddhist organizations, including Executive Committee member of the China Buddhist Association, Executive Committee member of the Jiangsu Buddhist Federation and the Jiangsu-Zhejiang Buddhist Federation, Executive Committee member of the Shanghai Buddhist Association, Vice President of the Buddhist Pure Land Society, and Council member of the World Buddhist laity. Huang Hanzhi himself attributed his engagement in medical philanthropy and even his approach to governance to the influence of his father, stating, “I look up to my father’s aspirations, and my love for charity is as strong as my life. I participate in every charitable endeavor without hesitation,” and “I consider my father’s teachings as the foundation for my career in governance.” Clearly, the fame and reputation of the Huang father-son duo are rooted in their significant contributions to medical philanthropy within their respective domains of expertise. Their coexistence within a single family as adherents of Christianity and Buddhism, respectively, exemplifies a distinctive cultural phenomenon in late Qing and early Republican Chinese society. This article aims to address two key questions by examining the models, ideals, approaches, and roles adopted by the father-son duo in their philanthropic activities respectively: first, Given Huang Hanzhi’s profound influence from his father, why did he convert to Buddhism and emerge as the most influential lay Buddhist leader in Shanghai and even the Jiangsu-Zhejiang region, leading the medical philanthropy cause? Despite engaging in similar philanthropic activities, the roles and approaches taken by the Huang father-son duo differ. Therefore, through an analysis of primary sources and historical context, the divergent motivations and methods employed by the Huang father-son duo shed light on the intersection of religion, medicine, and philanthropy in Chinese society. This paper seeks to explore the correlation between Buddhist and Christian philanthropy through the case study of the Huang’s family, examining the similarities and differences in their ideals, roles, and approaches. Through this exploration, it aims to rethink on the modernity of Buddhist medical philanthropy.

  7. KHAN, Mujeeb, University of Utah
    Early Japan and the ‘Buddhist’: In Medicine or As Medicine?

    In the earliest periods of the Japanese intellectual milieu, Buddhism quickly shifted from a foreign import to a local institution. Travel to and from the continent was normal with Chinese monks such as Jianzhen (Jp. Ganjin, d. 763) establishing local temples whose legacies continue until today. Japanese missions to visit the continent became commonplace during the Sui and Tang dynasties, from about 600 until 894. However, no further missions were sent following the fall of the Tang dynasty. It is no surprise then that the Yamato state established a new capital in Nara (710-784) and then in Heian (794- 1185) with Buddhism institutionalized into the infrastructure of these capitals. However, the end of these missions coincided with the mid-Heian period, a period of local development based on imported knowledge. Histories of Buddhism and medicine in Japan often emphasize the post-Heian period, when clearcut Buddhist medical texts, like those of Kajiwara Shōzen (d. 1337), are identifiable. But what about the earlier periods of Buddhism and medicine in Japan? Most histories of Buddhism of early Japan take Buddhism as an appropriated object or a foreign import. In the context of medicine, itself a localized foreign tradition, the role and presence of Buddhism becomes obscured. The result is a quandary over how to address the tripartite construction of the adjectival modifiers ‘Japanese,’ ‘medical,’ and ‘Buddhist,’ which invariably lead to the diminishing of one or more of these in the analysis of early Japan. To overcome this, this paper explores the mid-Heian to the late Heian period as a cultural moment of medical production and Buddhist intersectionality.

    In 984, Tanba no Yasuyori (d. 995) presented the court with his Essential Medical Methods (Jp. Ishinpō), based on earlier Chinese and Korean works, including continental Buddhist texts. In fact, even Jianzhen’s formulary is cited as a source, identifying an intersectionality in the earliest extant medical work of Japan. It should then be no surprise that Yasuyori’s practice of sourcing medicine can be observed in his continental predecessors as well. However, Yasuyori’s Essential Medical Methods also discloses a historical reality of the intersection of Buddhism and medicine in early Japan. This story continues through the Heian period with the works of Tanba no Masatada (d. 1088) and Koremune Tomotoshi (d. 13th c.), both of whose works remain understudied, especially with respect to the larger narrative of medicine and Buddhism. Masatada’s Redaction and Synopsis of Medicine (Jp. Iryakushō) and Tomotoshi’s Selection of Medical Accounts (Jp. Idanshō) are two very different medical works, but both reveal aspects of an increasingly Buddhist-connected medical imagination. Taken together with Yasuyori’s Ishinpō, it is possible to discern not only a history of medical writing but also a history of Buddhism in local medical formulations from the mid-Heian period to just after its end. This paper analyzes the use of Buddhist sources and concepts in each text, including comparatively. It will reveal the changing nature of the relationship between Buddhism and medicine within the context of medical literature while also identifying how the agency of each author affects this intersectionality. In its analysis, the paper will also consider how the cultural moment of the Heian period facilitates a reconsideration of how to understand Buddhism and medicine in early Japan. In particular, I hope to use this as an introductory study to reassess the relationship between Buddhism and medicine, both textually and conceptually, in early Japan.

  8. LANGENBERG, Amy Paris, Eckerd College
    Female Reproductive Health According to the Bhikṣuṇī-Vinaya


  9. LI Tiehua, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine
    李铁华, 上海中醫藥大學
    Medical and Health Columns in Buddhist Periodicals during the Republic of China


    During the period of the Republic of China(1912-1949), there were more than 300 periodicals founded by Chinese Buddhist community, and many of them had medical and health columns which features flexible column settings, rich knowledge content and diverse participants. As regards the column settings, there were medical Q & A, health research, medicine nursery, prescription, etc.. In terms of the content, they mainly focused on traditional Chinese medicine, combined with knowledge of western medicine, as well as public health and vegetarian health. As far as the participants concerned, both monks and lay Buddhist doctors, as well as medical specialists hired by the Buddhist Community, as well as monks and laymen patients. The establishment of these columns made it convenient for monks and laymen to seek medical treatment and medicine, and provided opportunities for discussions and solutions on issues such as preaching health and treatment of Zen diseases within the Sangha. It also provided a platform for the inheritance and exchange of medical and health knowledge among monks, laymen, and medical practitioners, and helped preserve a large number of literature and materials on the interaction between modern Buddhism and medicine. This article will conduct a comprehensive investigation into the establishment of medical and health columns in Buddhist magazines in the Republic of China. While providing a detailed introduction to column settings, participants and knowledge content, it will also analyze the internal and external background of the establishment of medical and health columns in Buddhist magazines, which will present one aspect of the multi-dimensional interaction between Buddhism and society during the Republican era.

  10. LI Wei, Henan University
    李巍, 河南大學
    Cleaning, Healing and Offering: An Examination of the Ritual of Willow Twigs and Purified Water

    Yangzhi jingshui 楊枝淨水(willow twigs and purified water) originated from India, travelled via Central Asia to China, and became one of the most typically venerated offerings in Chinese Buddhist practices. In Buddhist scriptures, there are numerous praises for the purifying function of willow twigs. Accounts also record stories of the Buddha chewing on willow twigs and spitting them out, then they grow into trees immediately. The scriptures frequently mention the right order of using willow twigs in the process of cleaning.In order to preserve dental health and eliminate bad odours, in daily facial related cleaning process, the Vinaya texts specifies rules for chewing willow twigs (aka chimu 齒木, toothbrush) as tooth brushing which has some therapeutic benefits.

    Willow twigs and purified water are also frequently employed in Esoteric rituals, where they are combined with dhāraṇīs to create intricate ceremonies that have the power to heal illnesses, ward off bad luck, and bring about happiness and tranquilly. The usage of willow twigs and purified water was not originally connected to any particular deity, but later on, it became the symbol of Avalokitêśvara (Guanyin,觀音) who used them as a crucial tools for healing and saving lives. The symbolic meaning of using willow and water has been thoroughly discussed by Master Zhiyi 智顗(538-597). The Yangliu Guanyin (Avalokitêśvara with the willow-branch), one of the 33 forms of Guanyin, rose to prominence in the Tang Dynasty, and the willow-vase took the place of the lotus as the key Guanyin symbolic objects. People pray to Yangliu Guanyin for health and carve and print her image in an effort to drive out evils.

    As for the specific medical practices of monks, in The Biographies of Eminent Monks (Gaoseng zhuan 高僧傳) , Jīvaka (Qiyu 耆域,d.u) saved sick people and trees and Fotu Cheng 佛圖澄 (232?-348) brought Shile’s 石勒son Shibin 石斌(?-349) back to life using willow twigs and purify water. There are other accounts from later centuries of monks ( including the monk as emanation of Avalokitêśvara) treating people’s illnesses using willow branches and purified water, among them. This formed the narrative system of tells of the Buddha, Guanyin, and monks using willow branches and pure water to save people or trees. The use of “willow decoction” (yangzhi tang 楊枝湯) in Tang Dynasty medicine can be seen as a remnant of analogous medical procedures found in ancient Chinese medical texts.

    People’s hearts are firmly imprinted with the picture of Guanyin holding a vase and willow leaves from Chinese literature. A pivotal scene can be found in Journey to the West (Xiyou ji 西遊記),in which Guanyin using willow branches and purify water to save the Ginseng Tree at the Wuzhuang  Temple 五莊觀. The occurrence of “yangzhi jingshui” in poetry is frequently connected to Guanyin, primarily highlighting the central idea of healing ailments and preserving life. But it also serves useful purposes like adornment, providing gifts, and worship, therefore it became a standard offering item. Therefor, these worship objects can also refer to Maitreya Buddha, not just Guanyin in particular.

    Overall, through the medical narratives of monks, believers’ worship of Yangliu Guanyin, and the exaltation of Yangliu Guanyin in poetry and literature, the transformation of the yangzhi jingshui from cleaning objects in scriptural stories to daily tools in monastic precepts, and then to ritual implements in healing ceremonies centered on Guanyin in Esoteric Buddhism, evolved into common Buddhist offering objects. There have been new additions through time, but the central idea of healing and purification has mainly not changed.






  11. LIU Qing, Hirosaki University
    劉青, 日本弘前大学
    Yasen Kan’wa 夜船閒話 and the breathing method of Hakuin Ekaku 白隱禪師


  12. LOK, Irene, University of Cambridge
    Healing the Mind: Expansion and Importance of the Medicine Buddha in Medieval China

    In Dunhuang Grottoes Mogao Cave No. 220, the images of Bhaisajyaguru, Medicine Buddha, are illustrated on the whole of the north wall. The Cave was constructed in 642 CE. The mural was rediscovered in the 21th Century.  There are Seven Medicine Buddhas from the Oriental Pure Land depicted instead of one Medicine Buddha in the mural, unlike the other iconography of Medicine in Dunhuang Caves. Why was it so? What was the connection with the sutra translation then? And what was it to do with the mural painting and the famous family of the donors of the cave?  What were the medical methods to deal with life and death, sickness and longevity in life in the Tang Dynasty? According to the Medicine Buddha Sutra, Medicine Buddha have two attending Bodhisattvas, the Suryaprabha, Sunlight, and the Chandraprabha, Moonlight, and twelve Medicine Heavenly Kings.  They are protecting lives from the nine misfortunes, all illnesses and hardships. This paper intends to review the spread of Medicine Buddha Belief in Tang Dynasty through analysis of the contents of the mural in Dunhuang Cave 220, as well as the manuscripts from the Library Cave in Dunhuang.

    在敦煌莫高窟第220窟,整個北壁繪有藥師佛經變。 該窟存題記紀錄洞窟開鑿建於貞觀十六年(西元 642 年)。 這幅藥師佛經變壁畫在21世紀被重新發現。 畫中描繪的是東方淨土的七尊藥師佛,而不是一尊藥師佛,這與敦煌石窟中的其他藥師佛圖像不同。為何如此? 這現象與當時的經典翻譯有何關係? 這幅壁畫和名門望族窟施主又有何關係、互動和影響? 唐代面對及處理生命生死、疾病、長壽的醫學方法和態度有那種? 據《藥師佛經》記載,藥師佛有日光、月光兩大菩薩及十二藥天王。 他們保護生命免九橫死、一切疾病和苦難。 本文擬透過對敦煌第220窟壁畫內容以及敦煌藏經洞出土文獻的分析,回顧唐代藥師佛信仰的傳播情況。

  13. LOMI, Benedetta, University of Bristol
    Nightmares and Premonitions: Healing Dreams in Medieval Japan


  14. MACOMBER, Andrew, Oberlin College
    Pathogens and the Precepts: Re-Moralizing Corpse-vector Disease Treatment in Kōshū’s Keiran shūyōshū


  15. MCGRATH, William A., New York University
    A History of Buddhist Medical Ethics: Instituting the Bodhisattva Physician in Tibet

    To ethically orient their practice of medicine, biomedical physicians have the Hippocratic Oath. Similarly, some might argue that practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine have the “Perfect Integrity of the Great Physician” by Sun Simiao (fl. late seventh century). Where have the bodhisattva physicians of Tibet turned for prescriptions on Buddhist medical ethics? This paper explores ethical instructions for the practice of medicine in Tibet, from advice found in the early scriptures of Sowa Rigpa, to the institutionalization of Tibetan medical ethics during the period of Mongol-Sakya hegemony (ca. 1250–1350). According to the Four Tantras (Rgyud bzhi), for example, the physician must be careful to protect his reputation, even if it means deceiving clients and rejecting terminally ill patients. Once Tibetan medicine was instituted at Sakya monastery, however, the physician-patient relationship was reimagined as that of the parent and child, much like the ethical codes of ancient Greece and medieval China. Unlike the followers of Hippocrates and Sun Simiao, however, according to these early Tibetan sources, the bodhisattva physicians of Tibet should cultivate the mind of enlightenment and practice medicine on a Tantric path to buddhahood. By situating Buddhist medical ethics in their historical and practical contexts, this study argues that the details of medical ethics often depend upon institutional support, and that the Buddhist medical prescriptions developed at fourteenth-century Sakya have long served as a model for the subsequent flourishing of bodhisattva physicians in Tibet and beyond.

  16. MEI Ching Hsuan, Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts
    梅靜軒, 法鼓文理學院
    Prioritizing Body Care Before Meditation

    This paper aims to elucidate the importance of attending to one’s physical well- being before engaging in meditation. This is a pivotal preparatory stage that, regrettably, has frequently been overlooked by both scholars and practitioners alike.

    The textual sources under scrutiny encompass a chapter dedicated to bodily healing from the esteemed work Essentials of Practicing Samatha and Vipassanā Meditation《修習止觀坐禪法要》authored by the renowned sixth-century Tiantai Patriarch, 智顗 (538-597). In tandem with dissecting the contents of this chapter, a comparative analysis will be conducted. I will investigate The Lamp for the Eye of Contemplation (bSam gtan mig sgron) by Nuchen Sangye Yeshe (10th C.). This is a tenth-century Tibetan meditation text which also featuring a section on the maintenance of physical health and the management of illness. Despite these materials receiving scholarly attention, the critical nexus between corporeal well-being and the meditative process has often been overlooked. This paper endeavors to address this scholarly lacuna and illuminate the pivotal role of nurturing and caring for the body in facilitating effective meditation practice.

    In short, this paper seeks to address the overlooked issue of pre-meditative body care and its implications for effective meditation practice. By examining key textual sources and conducting a comparative analysis, this study aims to fill a notable gap in the existing scholarship and contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the interplay between physical well-being and meditative efficacy.

  17. POLETTO, Alessandro, Washington University in St. Louis
    薄樂陀, 美國華盛頓大學 (聖路易斯)
    Precepts, the nenbutsu and moxibustion: the toolkit of a Buddhist healer in medieval Japan


  18. SALGUERO, Pierce, Penn State University’s Abington College
    Buddhist Healing in the Lanna Region of Northern Thailand


  19. SARBACKER, Stuart, University of Oregon
    On the Borderlands of Religion and Science: Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Contemplative Traditions and Psychedelic Medicine

    The current “Second Wave Psychedelic Movement” or “Psychedelic Renaissance” promises to transform contemporary medicine, particularly psychological and psychiatric therapies, in profound ways. As psychedelic therapies have become increasingly mainstream, issues have emerged regarding the salience of religious and philosophical issues to these interventions.

    Roland Griffiths, a leading researcher on psychedelics, argued that the therapeutic potential of psilocybin-based therapy can be correlated with participants’ reporting of profound spiritual or even “mystical” experiences. Religious communities have increasingly been compelled to address the spiritual implications of psychedelic therapy, with responses that range from explicit prohibition to the establishment of practices of “psychedelic chaplaincy” and certification programs in psychedelic-assisted therapy. In this paper, I examine the response of contemporary Indo-Tibetan Buddhist traditions to psychedelic medicine among both “ethnic” and “convert” Buddhist communities in light of Pali and Sanskrit canonical discussions of prohibitions against alcohol (majja/madya) and discussions regarding the use of herbs (oṣadhi) as a means to achieve extraordinary accomplishments (ṛddhi). On this basis, I argue three things: (1) that if psychedelics are argued to be medicine (bhesajja/bhaiṣajya) as opposed to being akin to alcohol (majja/madya), they fall into a “therapeutic” as opposed to an “enhancement” sphere and are defensible as a medical intervention via Buddhist Vināya ethics; (2) that many “traditionalists,” on the other hand, connect the notion of “heedlessness” (pamāda/pramāda) to all intoxicants, widening the scope of the fifth precept to a range of substances that induce cognitive and behavioral distortions and thus include psychedelics within the prohibited sphere; and (3) that Indic sources convey an understanding that herbs (osadhī/oṣadhi) are a known, if not legitimate, source of extraordinary experiences and capacities (ṛddhi) and thus provide conceptual grounds supporting the contemporary linkage among Buddhist communities between psychedelic and meditative experiences.

  20. SKILTON, Andrew, University of Oxford


  21. SOGO, Alexander, Columbia University
    Healing as Statecraft, Statecraft as Healing: Bureaucracy, Benevolent Rule, and Buddhist Healing in Ancient Japan

    This paper is a chapter from my forthcoming dissertation titled “Social Welfare in Ancient Japanese Buddhism: Disease, Disability, and Healing in the Ritsuryō Polity.” I examine how eighth-century Japanese aristocrats in the fledgling Ritsuryō state deployed Buddhist ideals of health and charity imported from the Asian continent in the construction of Japan’s first welfare institutions, the Seyaku-in 施薬院 and Hiden-in 悲田院. These institutions were emblematic of the idiosyncratic fusions of Confucianism, Buddhism, and local clan politics that characterized the rapid transformation of the Yamato kingdom into a Chinese-style bureaucratic state. My paper shows how the notion of Buddhist medicine in the Ritsuryō period extended far beyond the treatment and healing of individuals—Buddhist medicine was a key piece of state ideology, and conversely proper statecraft was imagined as the central karmic force that could heal the sick throughout the realm.

    I begin with a study of the “Laws of Medicine” (Ishitsu-ryō 医疾令) section of Japan’s earliest extant law codes, the Yōrō ritsuryo 養老律令, showing how Japanese literate elites inherited a culture of rulership rooted in classical Chinese sources that demanded a mechanical bureaucracy capable of dispensing of medicine to the populace. I then demonstrate how the impersonal, systematic institution idealized in these law codes was quickly overshadowed by private family monopolization of medical resources at Buddhist temples. I reveal how Kōfukuji, the family temple of the Fujiwara clan, oversaw the development of the first Seyaku-in and Hiden-in, paired institutions that functioned as an apothecary and welfare center. These extra-legal institutions were privately funded and justified through a Buddhist vocabulary of the elimination of suffering for all sentient beings. However, through an examination of eight-century medical dispensation records, I show how the primary consumers of the medicine stocked at Buddhist temples were aristocratic patrons and monks, not the masses. The juxtaposition of ideological requirements for universal benevolence with the inward focus of severely limited medical infrastructure encouraged eight-century elites to settle instead for a notion of cosmic medicine: the act of producing and gathering medicine itself was imagined to generate karmic merit which on its own would heal the masses beyond the reach of the urban center.

  22. TEISER, Stephen, Princeton University
    太史文, 普林斯頓大學
    Minions of the Medicine Master Buddha: Healthcare Pantheons in Medieval Chinese Buddhist Practice

    Among the deities who cure illness, protect health, and ensure longevity in medieval Chinese Buddhism, the figure of Bhaiṣajyaguru 藥師 (Medicine Master) Buddha was surely the most powerful. And yet, this Buddha’s name is mentioned only infrequently in the considerable number of liturgical texts used in healing rituals that survive among the Dunhuang manuscripts.

    This paper explores the range of deities beseeched in the curing rituals performed for a wide range of people. It also reflects on why deities subordinate to Medicine Master were invoked so often, how manuscript sources on the performance of ritual contribute to our knowledge of Buddhist practice, and possible models for understanding pantheons in premodern Buddhism.

  23. WU Junqing, Liverpool University
    Buddhism and Healing in the Southern Song society

    This article explores the utilization of Buddhist symbols in healing practices at the local level in Southern Song society, drawing primarily from the twelfth-century colossal collection of folk stories, Yijian zhi 夷堅志 by Hong Mai 洪邁 (1123-1202). Hong Mai meticulously documents supernormal stories from around the country, providing valuable insights into the intersection of Buddhism, folk beliefs, and healing methodologies. I hope to demonstrate the intricate connections between these elements, diverging from the teachings found in canonical texts.

    For analytical purposes, I categorize the Buddhist healing stories into four distinct groups. The first category highlights instances where the Buddhist Dharma alone serves as the remedy. Here, practitioners are miraculously healed through diligent and repetitive recitation of a Buddhist sutra or incantation. In the second category, the stories centre on the manifestation of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. In these narratives, the Buddha or a Bodhisattva intervenes by delivering a magical medicine or performing a miraculous surgery. It is noteworthy that the Buddha or Bodhisattva frequently appears in the form of a monk within these accounts. In the third category, we explore the role of healing monks, who were revered for their ritual power and expertise in curing diseases. Frequently sought after by the laity, these monks were invited to conduct healing and exorcism rituals. It is important to recognize that within the religious marketplace, monks competed with other religious professionals to provide healing services. Notably, Buddhist-oriented healing rituals, including specific spells, were predominantly associated with monks. This suggests that in the Southern Song society, monks were largely regarded as representatives of Buddhist teachings. In the fourth category, we examine cases where Buddhist ritual healing fails as a result of the patient’s unresolved karmic debts. In such instances, demons or ghosts are perceived as having the “legitimacy” to inflict harm. This underscores the significance of karmic retribution in the Song understanding of disease and healing.



  24. YI, Dan, University of Tokyo
    伊丹, 東京大學
    Buddhism’s Imprint on Medical Narratives: Exploring the Intersection of Spirituality and Medicine in China and Japan Through the Lens of the Face-Like Tumor

    The Face-Like Tumor known as Jinmensō, characterized by its human-like facial features, represents one of the more peculiar afflictions within traditional East Asian medical and spiritual literature. Originating from the Tang Dynasty, its earliest documented account appears in the “You Yang Za Zu” – an eclectic collection of essays, which has become synonymous with the archetype of this ailment. However, it is within Buddhist scriptures that one finds divergent narratives, particularly those associated with figures like Wu Da Guo Shi-Zhi Xuan from the same era, offering unique insights into the condition’s spiritual interpretations. From the Song dynasty onward, medical texts began to describe Jinmensō as a consequence of false accusations and karmic retribution, prescribing repentance followed by medication as a treatment, thus underscoring the profound influence of Buddhist thought on medical practices. Extensively documented across a variety of literary genres, these narratives of Jinmensō have permeated both Chinese and Japanese cultures, impacting literature, religion, and medicine alike. This presentation aims to meticulously trace the lineage of Jinmensō stories, analyze pertinent texts from Japan and China, and evaluate the significance of Zhi Xuan’s contributions to these narratives. By employing visual aids to illustrate these intriguing cases, this study endeavors to elucidate the complex interplay between literature, Buddhist scriptures, and medical theory, using Jinmensō as a focal point to explore broader themes of spirituality and medicine in historical contexts.

  25. YOELI-TLALIM, Ronit, Goldsmiths, University of London
    Buddhist medicine: lessons from the past


  26. ZHAI Yunyao, Harvard University
    Healing the Overlords: The Worship of Medicine Buddha in the Yuan China (1279-1368)

    In the zenith of the 13th century, the ascendency of the Mongols to power in China catalyzed a parallel elevation of Buddhism, witnessed through the conversion of a considerable Mongol elites and generous imperial patronage. Within the scholarly discourse concerning the Mongols’ religious inclinations, the strategic embrace of Buddhism—fueled by its practical efficacies—is frequently overlooked. This paper then will cast a discerning eye on one pivotal yet underestimated dimension: the worship of the Medicine Buddha (Skt. Bhaiṣajyaguru), which significantly influenced the Mongols’ religious proclivities.

    The Mongols, as once the Franciscan Friar William of Rubruck (1220-1293) observed, had a profound zeal for longevity, as they constantly inquired whether the Catholic Pope was five hundred years old. This curiosity underscores the significance of longevity within Mongol culture and belief, framing it as one of the decisive factors in their contemplation of religious conversion. For example, as it is attested by the Chinese monk Nianchang 念常 (fl. 14th century) that Qubilai (1215-1294) was much interested in the worship of the Medicine Buddha that he commissioned the translation of several ritual texts into Chinese.

    This paper will conduct an analysis of both Chinese and Tibetan narratives, including the Yuan shi 元史, Fozu lidai tongzai 佛祖歷代通載and the De zhin gshegs pa bdun gyi mdo (Skt. Āryasaptatathāgatapūrvapraṇidhānaviśeṣavistāra) to examine the practices associated with the  Medicine Buddha in the Yuan period. It posits that the Medicine Buddha’s worship and its attributed healing powers were instrumental in consolidating the Mongols’ faith to Buddhism. The distinct healing efficacy attributed to Buddhism pertaining to the Medicine Buddha carved a unique niche for the religion amidst a competitive milieu for imperial endorsement. This historical exploration delineates how spiritual faith and pragmatic benefits were intertwined in the Mongols’ religious conversion and illustrates the singular influence of the Medicine Buddha’s worship in the broader context of Yuan religious life.

    在13世紀中葉,蒙古人在中國的崛起催化了佛教地位的提昇,這一點從相當一部分蒙古貴族的歸依和慷慨的皇家贊助中可以得到見證。在現當代關於蒙古人宗教傾向的學術論述中,學者們紛紛探究究竟為何蒙古人在眾多宗教信仰中選擇了佛教,其中常常被忽視的一點就是佛教在蒙古人軍事和日常生活中所擁有的重要「實際效用」。本文將仔細審視一個關鍵而被低估的維度:藥師佛(梵文:Bhaiṣajyaguru)的崇拜,這顯著地影響了蒙古人的宗教傾向。 正如方濟各會修士魯不魯乞(William of Rubruck,1220-1293)所觀察的,蒙古人對「長壽」有著深厚的熱情,在與魯不魯乞的交往中,他們不斷詢問天主教教皇是否有五百歲。這種好奇心證明了長壽在蒙古文化和信仰中的重要性,並且成為他們考慮宗教轉換的決定性因素之一。例如,據14世紀的中國僧侶念常記載,元世祖忽必烈(1215-1294)對藥師佛的崇拜非常感興趣,以至於他委託將幾個藥師佛相關的儀式文本翻譯成中文。 本文將對包括《元史》、《佛祖歷代通載》和《七如來所作願經》(梵文:Āryasaptatathāgatapūrvapraṇidhānaviśeṣavistāra)在內的中文和藏文敘述進行分析,考察元代與藥師佛相關的實踐。筆者認為,藥師佛的崇拜及它的治癒能力,在鞏固蒙古人對佛教的信仰中發揮了重要作用。有關藥師佛的獨特治癒效能,為佛教爭取皇家支持的競爭環境中為宗教創造了獨特的市場。這一歷史探索闡明了蒙古人宗教轉換中精神信仰與務實利益是如何交織在一起的,並揭示了藥師佛崇拜在元代宗教生活更廣泛背景下的獨特影響。

  27. ZHANG Yuanyuan, Ningxia University
    張園園, 寧夏大學
    The Interpenetration of Traditional Medicine and Buddhist Medicine: On the Formation and historical Evolution of the knowledge of the Three Corpses