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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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Ways and Means for Medicine

(p.397) Conclusion
Being Human in a Buddhist World

Janet Gyatso

Columbia University Press

This book has explored the disparities between medical mentality and religious soteriology in Tibet and the ways Buddhism positively affected the ways and means of Tibetan medicine. Medical knowledge in Tibet faced at least two challenges, both having to do with ideals. The first is the incongruity between the need to catalogue information and the need to heal individuals. The second has to do with a proclivity to favor ideal bodies—now in the sense of optimal or perfected—over ordinary ones. This is the problem of how the perfect and divine relate to the human body with which medicine deals. The Four Treatises's bid for a religious authority of its own did not solve all of the problems that medicine encountered as it evolved in Tibet. By way of conclusion, this book evaluates the conceptual challenges faced by Tibetan medicine and the strategies it marshaled to further medical knowledge and attend to patients in locally credible ways. It also discusses the complex interaction of medicine with Buddhist formations, and proposes ways to account for both influence and difference.

Keywords:   medical mentality, religious soteriology, Tibet, Buddhism, medicine, human body, Four Treatises, medical knowledge

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