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Numerous texts were produced roughly between 150 and 1100 CE that introduced Indian medicine to East Asia. These have historically represented a relatively discrete corpus of health-related knowledge, relatively unintegrated into Chinese medicine and often ignored in mainstream Chinese medical historiography. Buddhist texts do not provide straightforward evidence of a unitary tradition of healing that was transplanted from India to China. However, these sources are critical to understanding the history of medicine in medieval China. In addition, it is not an exaggeration to say that this corpus offers one of the most voluminous sources of textual evidence for the transregional communication and reception of medical ideas in first millennium CE Asia that is available anywhere. Despite the fact that over the long term they were not nearly as significant in Chinese medical history as classical medical models, Buddhist ideas and practices deserve more attention than they have received thus far from our field. This brief research note is meant to introduce historians of Chinese medicine to one easily accessible collection of texts that can be used to begin to fill in this ‘missing link.’

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In: East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine

Abstract

This translation is an excerpt from a meditation treatise by one of the most important figures in East Asian Buddhist history, the Chinese scholar-monk Zhiyi (538–597). Zhiyi was notable as a systematizer and domesticator of Buddhist knowledge, and particularly for his writings on śamatha and vipaśyanā meditation. The excerpt translated below is a complete chapter from the shorter of his meditation treatises. It focuses specifically on how various strands of Indian and Chinese medical and religious knowledge could be employed to diagnose and treat illness while the practitioner remained engaged in seated meditation. Incorporating both foreign and domestic knowledge into the framework of śamatha and vipaśyanā, this chapter represents one of the earliest examples of systematic Indo- Sinitic medical syncretism, and one of the most important expressions of a unique medieval Chinese Buddhist perspective on healing.

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In: Asian Medicine
In: Asian Medicine
In: Asian Medicine
In: Numen

Abstract

While modernization and globalization have been sweeping the Korean medical industry of late, a perhaps seemingly contradictory trend toward more personalized care has also been unfolding in certain circles. This is a brief case study of a traditional Korean medical doctor who integrates Western mindfulness protocols into traditional Korean psychology/psychiatry in order to provide that connection with his patients. This practice report shows that his adaptation of mindfulness represents a Korean counterappropriation of a Western clinical tool that was itself created by appropriating Buddhist techniques. It argues that the multivalent resonances with both science and Buddhist methods give mindfulness utility as a site for this doctor to hybridize different bodies of knowledge, to reinterpret traditional insights in modern idioms, and arrive at new therapeutic innovations for his patients.

In: Asian Medicine

Abstract

The excerpts below were selected to introduce a number of disparate genres and types of discourses about healing, illness, and cure that are embedded within the Chinese Buddhist canon. They include an excerpt from a monastic disciplinary code concerning the storage of medicines, a scripture with a story of an encounter between a bodhisattva and a famous physician, a liturgy dedicated to a major healing deity, an author’s advice to doctors from a Buddhist perspective, and a devotional verse that plays on medical metaphors. Taken together, they indicate some of the diversity of perspectives and approaches of Buddhist materials and suggest the potential importance of often-overlooked Buddhist materials for the study of Asian medicine.

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In: Asian Medicine