Dr. Tsondue Gyatso
(Stanford Daily, Oct. 27, 2005)

Dr. Amchi Tsondue Gyatso
Lhasa Astro & Medical Institute, Tibet

"Introduction to Tibetan Medicine:
Diagnosis, Diet, & Behavior Advice"

Stanford Center for Buddhist Studies
Building 50, Room 51P, Stanford University
Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2004, 4:15-6:00 pm

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

Preface: Dr. Gyatso's talk was quite inspiring. Because he's not fluent in English, his son translated his lecture. This gave me more time to take notes and draw the diagrams on the blackboard prior to his talk. After the lecture his son gave me Dr. Gyatso's business card. I spoke to Dr. Gyatso in Mandarin and thanked him for his lecture. He confirmed that diabetes can be cured with two 30-minutes walking each day. One of my friends who attended the lecture had a dream the next morning. Here's her account: "I was in a large well-lit room with a group of people. I was sent into a darker smaller room with another person to meditate. I began chanting a mantra. The space in my head between my ears began to echo as if I was in a cave. Then I woke in my bedroom still chanting the mantra out loud, with the echo in my head. To this day, whenever I chant this mantra, I have this echo experience in my head. It is very soothing to me." She felt that Dr. Gyatso had given her this mantra. Sometimes later, she met a Tibetan Lama that moved into her condo building— H.E. Rigzin Dorjee Rinpoche, Founder & Director of the Nyingma Institute, Taktse, India. I didn't experience anything miraculous like that until today (Oct. 25, 2005). After receiving Hetty's email that I was welcome to attend Dr. Gyatso's Medical Seminar at the Stanford Medical School on Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 5:30 pm, I wondered where did I place Gyatso Buddhist Seminar notes taken on Jan. 21, 2004. With dozens of piles of papers, computer printouts, and lecture notes, I didn't even know where to begin my hunt. Then I lifted up a pile of papers near a bookcase, and there it was— the hand drawings that Dr. Gyatso had on the blackboard to diagnose illness which I had copied on the first page of my notes some 22 months ago. So finally after almost two years, I've typed them up along with the drawings rendered in Adobe Photoshop CS2 to share with all.

There is no pollution in Tibet. We have clear sky, white clouds. The geographic location is beautiful.
The medicine of energy is found in Tibet. You have to visualize what you didn't see. The energy of
the place itself in Tibet is a perfect setting to meditate and develop clarity of mind. For scholars—
blessings of the place that I was able to write volumes of text on Tibetan medicine. Tibet is a place
blessed by Buddha himself. During the 7th century, the Tibetan King Gumpo reigned. The Tibetan empire
grew and subjugated neighboring states. I'm not goint to talk about the powerful Tibet of the 7th century
when they bought scholars from all over the world. We bought lots of physicians from around the world.
The famed Roman physician Galen came to Tibet. Tibetan medicine took nectars from all the physicians
that came to Tibet. We had added knowledge from all over. America can buy scientists from all over the
world because it is the most powerful country right now. In the 7th century, Tibet did the same. I love
to talk about history. Tibetan medicine is very deep and colossal. It depends on the environment and the
person. We consider the nature of the body and nature of the environment itself. With technological
breakthroughs and advances recently, and with increase in number of doctors, we should expect diseases
to decrease. But SARS, AIDS, and cancer are all increasing. There are new diseases on the rise.
Tibetans talk about roots of disease. Westerners talk about leaves of disease.
From the root (inner) emanates the branches (outer) of diseases.
Point (1)— Gumpo, Father of Tibetan Medicine (most respected next to Buddha)
                  Guud-Shi is the Bible of Tibetan medicine.
                  It took 30 years to compile 4 volumes.
                  Text was written in a hidden dialect.
Point (2)— The three basis of Tibetan medicine.
                  Marepa is evil thought so one cannot identify the "I"

1) Desire -------> rLung (air)
2) Ego ----------> Tripa (fire)
3) Ignorance ---> Bekan (earth, water)

rLung controls meditation:
In the 21st century, people sit down, play some music, and meditate.
We need to have deep understanding of what is meditation.
rLung is control of wind balances for proper meditation.
The three natures of the body: rLung, Tripa, Bekan
rLung is primary constituents of our body— both good & bad
When rLung is good— the body is stable
When rLung is bad— the body is disturbed
Disease occurs when there is disturbance in rLung, Tripa, and Bekan.
Increase, Decrease, Disturbance
When the wind element of rLung changes:
Increase in rLung: sleep disturbance, decrease of sensitivity, talkative, feels cold
Decrease in rLung: lethargic, lost of memory and clarity of thought

rLung has 6 characteristics:
1) rought in nature— irritable, skin becomes coarse & rough
2) lightness in nature— body is weak, can't stay in one place, can't sit still
3) cold— draws person to beat ?
4) sharpness— cause hair to rise on end, animals raise their spine,
                        osterporosis (swims through bone marrow)
                        pain in shoulders and hip joints
5) hard nature— constipation problem (double dose of laxative)
6) mobile— shivering in the body & shifting pain around the body

Obesity: In Tibet, when they say "you're fat"— it's a compliment.
              It means you'r very lucky that you're well fed.
Gastric System (Stomach)
Instead of talking about God and Deities, that's beyond us,
so let's talk about what we all leave in us— the stomach

Digestive power—
essence absorbed into the liver
metabolites passed down,
it absorbs useful things,
and releases the dirt.
If the channels can't take in metabolites properly,
and can't release the toxic material—
then disease comes, vomit & diarrhea
When this channel is not working properly,
it leads to obesity.
If waste product are not eliminated properly,
there is stagnation in the body—
you call this cancer.

Normal Diet:
Keep the stomach—
50% solid
25% fluid
25% space

Need space to mix the solid & liquid food.
Give easily digested food to the stomach,
otherwise the stomach will give you problems. even if you chew a lot.

Advice to walk a lot after eating.
You say eat and stay. We say eat and walk.
Maintain harmony in the stomach.
Stomach heat— stomach fire. Stomach is our engine.
Not only physical well-being, but also clarity of mind.
Drink lots of hot boiled water. Drinkable temperature.
When we drink cold water, stomach has to adapt to temperature change.
Hard to convince people to drink boiled water; most drink bottled cold water.
Boiled water is good for asthma patients and for weight reduction.
In Tibet, we have only two yogurts— butter & no butter.
Here in America, you have 300 kinds of yogurts.
Boiled water is not just for killing bacteria,
but also for higher energy.
There is heaviness in bottled cold water.
There is lightness of boiled hot water.

Hands: Left— physician; Right— patient
Examine wrist: rLung pulse— like balloon (hollow)
high viscous blood flow.


Q & A Session (5:35 pm)

Q: Western medicine— the doctor or nurse takes my pulse
A: In Tibet, doctor detects pulse not just for heart rate.
     Holistic attitude— body & soul
     last integrated medicine as a whole.
Q: On the nutrition value of garlic and onion
A: No generalized dietary advice. Each pulse reading will determine diet.
     Diabetes can be cured with diet and behavior.
     Taking two brisk-paced 30-minutes walks
     every day will help in curing diabetes.
Q: Is desire, ego, and ignorance the cause of disease?
A: General indication of desire giving rise to rLung
     ego giving rise to Tripa, ignorance to Bekan.
     Primary conception of your father and mother
     that give rise to you. This diagram is simplified.
Q: What about karmic disease?
A: There is karmic disease & physical disease.
     The Tibetan physician regards karmic disease
     as fate. It is harder to treat than physical disease.
Q: Treatment of behaviorial problems.
A: ?
Q: On drinking boiled water— hot or let it cool down.
A: Drink warm water.

When the bubbles stop, then it's ready to drink the 1/3 of remaining water.

Thanks to the Lord Buddha.

The Q & A session ended at 6 pm.


Books on Tibetan Medicine at the Stanford Libraries:
1) Rechung Rinpoche, Tibetan Medicine (illustrated)
    University of California Press, Berkeley, 1973 (paperback 1976)
    R603.T5.R4.1973f (Lane Medical Library)
2) David Crow, In Search of the Medicine of Buddha: a Himalayan Journey
    Jeremy Tarcher/Putnam, New York, 2000
    R603.T5.C76.2000 (Green Library)
3) Stephan Kloss, Tibetan Medicine among the Buddhist Dards of Ladakh
    Universität Wien, Vienna, 2004
    R607.L33.K56.2004 (Green Library)
4) Eliot Tokar, Compassion Is Our Business?
    a Tibetan Buddhist medical perspective on modern health care
    (An address on March 6, 1996 at the Asia Society, New York City)
5) Laurent Pordié, The Expression of Religion in Tibetan Medicine
    (ideal conceptions, contemporary practices, and political use)
    French Institute of Pondicherry, India, 2003
6) Jürgen C. Aschoff, Annotated bibliography of Tibetan medicine (1789-1995)
    Fabri Verlag, Ulm, 1996

Web Sites on Tibetan Medicine:
Tibetan Medicine Resources
(News, Directory, Internet, Training)
Tibetan Medical & Astrological Institute
(Official site of H. H. Dalai Lama: www.tibetan-medicine.org)
What is Tibetan Medicine?
(Official Site: The 3 Principle Energies, A Healthy Body, Medical Treatments)
Four Tantras
(The basic text of Tibetan Medicine)
Introduction to Tibetan Medicine
(By Dr. Tamdin Sither Bradley, first Tibetan doctor resident in Great Britain)
The Healing Tradition of Medicine Buddha
(By Robert Sachs, Buddhism Today, Vol. 8, 2000)
Tara Rokpa: Traditional Tibetan Medicine
(History, Basic Principles, Diagnosis, Therapeutic Methods, Medicines)
Tibetan Medicine (www.tibetanmedicine.com)
(By Eliot Tokar: Explanation, Practice, Commentary, Articles, Clinical Resources)
Traditional Tibetan Medicine
(Dr. Keyzom Bhutti: Tibetan Healing, Overview, Interview, Web Links)
Resource Guide for Tibetan Medicine
(By Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, OR)
The Art of Healing: A Tibetan Buddhist Perspective
(By Ron Leifer, with emphasis on metaphysical principles in Tibetan medicine.)
Spiritual Healing in Buddhist Tibet
(Tools for Healing, Relaxing and Awakening)
Tibetan Medicine :  Health Through Balance (Dr. Yeshi Donden in Dharamsala)
(By Lama Chuck Stanford, IndiaNest.com January 2000)
Tibetan medical practices in America (Dr. Dickey Paldon Nyerongsha of California)
(By Ji Hyun Lim, AsianWeek.com August 23, 2002)
Tibetan doctor connects East and West [Tsondue Gyatso]
(By Patrick Fitzgerald & Bob Borek, Stanford Daily, Oct. 27, 2005)

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© Peter Y. Chou, WisdomPortal.com
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: peter(at)wisdomportal.com (10-26-2005)