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Being Human in a Buddhist WorldAn Intellectual History of Medicine in Early Modern Tibet$
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Janet Gyatso

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164962

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164962.001.0001

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Tangled Up in System

Tangled Up in System

The Heart, in the Text and in the Hand

(p.251) 5 Tangled Up in System
Being Human in a Buddhist World

Janet Gyatso

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines a case where the commentators of the Four Treatises had to correct an empirically untenable gender difference in the heart's position, suggested by the medical text itself. They did so by subtly changing the text's anatomical specifications, but also by recourse to tantric gender associations, which Zurkharwa Lodrö Gyelpo would later suggest were but conventions. According to Four Treatises, the heart tips in opposite directions in the thoracic cavity for males and females. That assertion affects how the pulse of people of each gender is read. In this the Four Treatises suggests an idealized system of gender difference, and Zurkharwa's nemesis Jangpa Tashi Pelzang tried to extend its reach further. But Zurkharwa resisted the elaboration of system and challenged Tashi Pelzang's proliferating essentialisms. This chapter shows how tantric channels became a way to help medicine conceptualize gender.

Keywords:   gender difference, heart, Zurkharwa Lodrö Gyelpo, Four Treatises, pulse, Jangpa Tashi Pelzang, tantric channels, medicine

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