This blog was published at Patheos.com.
Recently, I invited my Facebook friends to submit questions on the topic of Buddhism and medicine. I collated the questions together, and wrote the brief responses below….
Is there such a thing as “Buddhist medicine”? Is medicine really something central to Buddhism? How did medicine influence Buddhism?
Every Buddhist tradition of which I am aware has something to say about illness, health, and healing. An interest in the mind-body relationship and its relationship to mental and physical suffering goes back to the very origins of Buddhism. The tradition developed in India in the last half-millennium BC, at the same time and in the same social circles as other ascetic groups. These “shramana” collectively developed a variety of mental and physical self-discipline practices that, in the long run, developed into what we know today as meditation, yogic exercises, pranayama, and so forth. These practices led to increasing insights into the relationship between the body, mind, emotions, and breath, which is a topic that Buddhists have continued to write about over the centuries between the ancient period and today.