Medicine Buddha Today

The Science and Spirit of Healing



Golden Buddha.March 3, 2020

In an article reported in the journal Cancer Nursing, 2016, entitled

Spiritual Well-being May Reduce the Negative Impacts of Cancer Symptoms on the Quality of Life and the Desire for Hastened Death in Terminally Ill Cancer Patients,

the authors found that “Appropriate spiritual care may reduce the negative impact of severe cancer symptoms on quality of life and the desire for hastened death in terminally ill cancer patients.” Thus, spiritual care, in whatever form is appropriate to the person involved,  is really part of responsible holistic health care.



We ourselves all have Medicine Buddha within, and every act of kindness, every effort to help ourselves and our world, expresses that healing force within. Every kind act joins us to the universe in a healing way.

While Medicine Buddha is our basic nature, it can help to see this personal and universal healing force by studying the healing work of others——philosophers, mystics, scientists, artists, and anyone working with the real issues of ordinary life. These works can help us join health as we might experience it in the ordinary world of day to day details with the health of big picture of timeless, transcendent wisdom beyond words.

January 29, 2020

Numerous studies have demonstrated the efficacy of visualization, or guided imagery, in benefiting performance in various forms of sports. One recent review in Journal of Sports Sciences, Vol 34(24), Dec, 2016 states “The review is based on 18 studies, employing 584 soccer players aged 7–39 years. Cognitive strategies, particularly imagery, appear to improve sports performance in soccer players.” Imagery has also been reported to be helpful in many other problems as well, including phantom limb pain, children with developmental disorders, social anxiety disorder, and ina program for youth at risk, called the Best Self program.

While imaging ourselves as Menla with the goal of fostering health seems a long way from playing soccer, but one might wonder. Does visualization, with its long and positive history, have a place in helping us meet the needs of self and others in modern life? Seems worth a try.

January 6, 2020

I have appreciated the profundity of the formal Buddhist teachings as I have studied them now for many years. At the same time, I take great delight when I see the truth of these teachings in the ordinary world. One recent instance of this was in seeing an article by Prof. Linda Vanasupa in Science and Engineering Ethics. Vol 12, Issue 2, 2006, called Global challenges as inspiration: A classroom strategy to foster social responsibility. I loved this article.

In this article Prof. Vanasupa discusses the fact that part of the Engineer’s Creed is to place “public welfare above all other considerations.” Yet, this pledge often seems to be ignored. She discusses how in her class she guided attention to five key principles improved a sense of commitment to that creed from 18% to 79%.

These key principles are: 1) Everything is connected 2) The Earth is a closed thermodynamic system 3) Make responsible choices early in the design phase 4) The sun is the Earth’s energy source, and 5) Optimize rather than maximize.

I felt very inspired with what I saw as similarities of these principles to key Buddhist ideas, such as co-dependent origination and working for the good of society rather than self. Do you see any other similarities to Buddhist thinkig? Interestingly, I contacted Prof. Vanasupa and asked for details of how she taught these principles, and she replied that she had found some ideas to guide her work with students that may work better in another article. I will report on that idea in my next post on this page.

24 December, 2019

Here is an interesting study on the benefits of spirituality in general on resilience in the face of major life challenge.

2016;38(10):921-35. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2015.1066884. Epub 2015 Jul 20.

Does spirituality facilitate adjustment and resilience among individuals and families after SCI?



The purpose of this scoping review was to investigate the role of spirituality in facilitating adjustment and resilience after spinal cord injury (SCI) for the individual with SCI and their family members. METHOD-DATA SOURCES: Peer reviewed journals were identified using PsychInfo, MEDLINE, CINAHL, Embase and Sociological Abstracts search engines.


After duplicates were removed, 434 abstracts were screened applying inclusion and exclusion criteria.


The selected 28 studies were reviewed in detail and grouped according to methodological approach.


Of the 28 studies relating to spirituality and related meaning-making constructs, 26 addressed the adjustment of the individual with SCI alone. Only two included family members as participants. Quantitative studies demonstrated that spirituality was positively associated with life satisfaction, quality of life, mental health and resilience. The utilisation of meaning-making and hope as coping strategies in the process of adjustment were highlighted within the qualitative studies. Clinical implications included recommendations that spirituality and meaning-making be incorporated in assessment and interventions during rehabilitation. The use of narratives and peer support was also suggested.


Spirituality is an important factor in adjustment after SCI. Further research into the relationship between spirituality, family adjustment and resilience is needed.


Higher levels of spirituality were associated with improved quality of life, life satisfaction, mental health, and resilience for individuals affected by spinal cord injury. Health professionals can enhance the role that spirituality plays in spinal rehabilitation by incorporating the spiritual beliefs of individuals and their family members into assessment and intervention. By drawing upon meaning-making tools, such as narrative therapy, incorporating peer support, and assisting clients who report a decline in spirituality, health professionals can provide additional support to individuals and their family members as they adjust to changes after spinal cord injury.

18 December 2019

The Buddhist six-worlds model of consciousness and reality. Metzner, Ralph; Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Vol 28(2), 1996 pp. 155-166. Publisher: Association for Transpersonal Psychology; [Journal Article] Abstract: Describes the Mahayana Buddhists’ ‘Wheel of Flowing Together,’ a 6-segmented mandala and a map of consciousness, portrayed in paintings found all over Tibet, in temples and shrines. It shows the 6 worlds of existence: the heaven realm, the realm of rage and conflict, the realm of animals, the hell realm, the realm of frustrated craving, and the human realm. It is possible to interpret the meaning of the 6 worlds at four levels: metaphysical/ecological interpretation, reincarnational interpretation, personality typology, and states of consciousness typology. The meaning of each phase of the 12-fold chain of interdependent origination, which is laid out along the outer rim of the Wheel, is summarized. They include blindness/unconsciousness, karmic activity, conceptual thinking, words/images, sense perception, contact/attraction, judgment/fixation, satisfied thirst, clinging/desire, conception/becoming, birthing/creating, and dying/releasing.

22 June, 2016

According to the Buddhist tradition, people inherently possess buddha nature; that is we are  basically and intrinsically good. From that point of view, health comes first. Illness is secondary. Chogyam Trungpa, The Sanity We Are Born With, an Approach to Buddhist Psychology

15 June, 2016

Statue of boy with bid in handA recent review published in Integrative Cancer Therapy, May 2016, looked at 22 studies using spiritual interventions in breast cancer survivors. The findings were that  “Compared with control groups, intervention groups demonstrated positive mental health outcomes and improved or stable neuroendocrine-immune profiles, although limitations exist.” The most common measure of overall stress and health was  serum cortisol levels.

8 June, 2016

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances. Victor Frankyl, Man’s Search for Meaning

1 June, 2016

In the Journal of Affective Disorders entitled, The relationship of self-compassion and depression: Cross-lagged panel analyses in depressed patients after outpatient therapy, Krieger, Berger, and Holtforth found that lack of self-compassion often led to depression, where as depression per se did not specifically lead to loss of self-compassion. This would suggest how important it is that we care for ourselves in this difficult life we all must lead. It is important to remember that we generally try to do our best. We can give ourselves credit for being learners.