In a message to the Second International Congress on Tibetan Medicine being held in Washington, D.C. from November 5 to 8, 2003, the Dalai Lama said this is a critical issue which must be addressed by all those interested and using traditional medicine. The Dalai Lama said our health is dependent on a healthy planet and that this requires us to wisely protect and manage our natural resources.
Following is the full text of the Dalai Lama’s message:
It gives me great pleasure that the Second International Congress on Tibetan Medicine in the West (ICTM-2) is being reconvened. I am sure that since the first one, in 1998, some new developments and research have taken place that will help people better understand and appreciate the areas in which the Tibetan medical system can make a genuine contribution.
Tibet developed a unique and highly skilled medical tradition which was practiced successfully for more than a thousand years, and which for centuries was sought after by many of its neighboring countries in Asia and Central Asia. Tibetan medicine represents in essence an integrated system of many distinct traditions of medicine: the native indigenous Tibetan medical system, the Ayurvedic system coming from India, as well as the Chinese medical tradition, and finally the medical practice that was widespread in Afghanistan and Iran known as the Unani tradition. It is perhaps this sophisticated medical knowledge, which combined with the inner science of knowledge of Buddhism that makes this complex system of health (both physical, mental and spiritual) so unique.
I have always maintained that Tibetan medicine must be understood on its own terms, as well as in the context of objective scientific investigation. Recently some important scientific research has taken place with Tibetan Buddhist practitioners that is showing a range of health and healing benefits that come from meditative practices and the cultivation of compassion, mindfulness and equanimity. Similarly, research on Tibetan medicinal formulas is showing some interesting results. Science is playing an important role in validating and recognizing age-old knowledge and practices which were developed by many great sages and wise-people of Tibet.
I am glad that the meeting will also focus on issues of environmental sustainability of medicinal plants in the Himalayan range. This is a critical issue which must be addressed by all those interested and using traditional medicine. Demand seems to be threatening the survival of many species; our health is dependent on a healthy planet, this requires us to wisely protect and manage our natural resources.
Today, as we face new and growing difficult times, as well as devastating epidemics and diseases, we must work to find new ways to bring peace and healing to the world. I think some of these “new” approaches might be found in old, traditional knowledge and wisdom – it is my sincerest hope that Tibetan medicine and Buddhism will make a contribution to the health and healing of all humanity.
July 8, 2003