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Author: Frances Garrett

This article considers a Tibetan anthology, the Eighteen Additional Practices (Cha lag bco brgyad), that includes some of the earliest indigenous Tibetan medical works still extant, and examines more closely its first text, a history of the Four Tantras. Several of these works display an explicit concern to show medicine to be part of Buddhist history. Other texts in the collection exhibit the heavy influence of what we might call religious practice on the work of medical healing. The anthology's first text articulates an explicit connection between Tibetan medical literature and Indian Buddhism. This article compares this work's structure and content to other Tibetan medical histories and addresses its role in early medical history.

In: Asian Medicine
Author: Frances Garrett

Abstract

Beginning with stories of hunger and food magic in Tibetan biographies, I explore a dietary practice of total abstinence from material foods. Buddhist meditators are said to enjoy “the food of meditation” or “the food of the sky.” Texts teach meditators how to use visualization and yogic movement to “extract the essence” of breath and use it as food. When discussing illnesses that may be experienced by retreatants, these texts identify hunger as illness. Examining how dietary teachings for Buddhist contemplatives are also medical textbooks, I propose that these food practices reconstruct the pathology of hunger, turning hunger into a tool for enlightenment. After a quick look at dietary asceticism in Indic and other traditions, I suggest that in these Tibetan examples, dietary abstinence is ultimately about self-perfection.

In: Asian Medicine
In an era of environmental crisis, narratives of ‘hidden lands’ are resonant. Understood as sanctuaries in times of calamity, Himalayan hidden lands or sbas yul have shaped the lives of many peoples of the region. Sbas yul are described by visionary lamas called ‘treasure finders’ who located hidden lands and wrote guidebooks to them. Scholarly understandings of sbas yul as places for spiritual cultivation and refuge from war have been complicated recently. Research now explores such themes as the political and economic role of ‘treasure finders’, the impact of sbas yul on indigenous populations, and the use of sbas yul for environmental protection and tourism. This book showcases recent scholarship on sbas yul from historical and contemporary perspectives.