23 February 2009

Treatment of Sickness

As sickness rises from wrong conditions or maladjustments of good conditions, the followers of Buddha, by observing the Precepts, following the Noble Path and practicing meditation, should be largely if not wholly free from sickness. Wise control of the mind is the best preventative of sickness and is the best method of cure. If our body, mind and breathing are well regulated and our circumstances are in harmony with the teachings of Buddha, we should be able to throw off most sicknesses and heal most wounds. We should do everything we can to keep well, because sickness is a discredit to our enlightenment; besides being a hindrance to our practice of meditation.

There are two divisions of this subject that should be kept in mind: First, the nature of the sickness, its development and its symptoms; second, methods of treatment. Under the first heading we should distinguish between sickness caused by external conditions and sickness caused by irregularities within our own minds. In either case we should notice the beginning of sickness and try to prevent its becoming serious by remedying the conditions both external and internal as early as possible. What are the best remedies? The best remedy is the practice of stopping and insight. Stopping means removing dangerous conditions and ending bad habits. Insight means an examination of and reflection on the emptiness aspect of all phenomena. If we cease to let the mind dwell upon symptoms and hold it to a reflection upon the unreality of both body and ideas concerning its state, then the mind will speedily become tranquil, and the symptoms will disappear. The reason for this is that most of our sicknesses come from irritations within the mind; and if these can be controlled by right mindfulness, then the mind will become kind and tranquil and the sickness will disappear. Medicines made up of either minerals or herbs or both may be used if they have some correspondence with the sickness. The same thing is true, also, in the application of ways and means for practicing insight – each practice must have correspondence with its mental sickness,

In the treatment of sickness by some process of insight, it is necessary for us to do so in ten ways, if we are to expect good results. The ten ways are:
(1) Faith. We must believe that the remedy is going to help us.

(2) Application. We must make use of the remedy in the right way and at the right time.

(3) Diligence. It means to apply the remedy whole heartedly, without relaxation until the sickness is cured.

(4) Permanent conditions, This means that we are to keep the mind concentrated upon the Dharma.

(5) Discernment of causes.

(6) Expedient means. This means that we are to keep our right breathing, right practice, and right use of our thoughts in good adjustment and balance.

(7) Long practice. This means that if we are benefited by the means or practice, we are to continue it faithfully without regard to the passing of time.

(8) Choice of means. This means that we are to use observation to note whether a remedy is useful or harmful and be governed as to its continued use accordingly.

(9) Maintenance and protection. This means that we are to protect the body by the best use of our mind.

(10) Hindrances. This means that if we are benefited by our practice of meditation we shall not boast of it to others, and if we are unsuccessful in getting rid of hindrances we must not give rise to doubts and slanders.
If we treat our sicknesses in these ways, no doubt we will have good results.
[Selections from Chinese Sources, Dhyana for Beginners, A Buddhist Bible, pgs. 488-489]
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