From the analysis study on “Buddhism and Holistic Health”, the writer has raised the question in the introduction section about Holistic Health whether in a Buddhist and Western context there is conformity or difference in some dimensions or not. This includes the meaning of life, disease, factors causing diseases, holistic health and management methods for holistic health. According to the analysis in all dimensions, the writer has found many interesting issues which are summarized here as the four core issues, considered as the heart of this study, as follows.
(1) The aim of developing a contemplative foundation to holistic health: traditional Medicine emphasizes treatment rather than prevention. More importantly, it gives weight to treating the body instead of treating the mind. Instead, Holistic Health encourages human beings to realize a “life treatment”, meaning both physical and mental coherent treatments. In Buddhism, we have been taught to recognise that we are composed of mind (Rūpa) and matter (Nāma). That does not mean however that sentient beings should be attached and cling to Rūpa and Nāma. Rūpa is a place where Nāma can live and also a tool in learning. The Lord Buddha taught us that “The world is this fathom long body along with perception and thought.” So just as the world is a place where a human being lives, the body is a place where one’s mind resides. Hence, all sentient beings should see this world or this body as ruled by the power of the Three Characteristics (Trilakkana) which are: all conditioned things are impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self.
For this reason, if one can understand life in both the dimensions of “Rūpa and Nāma” or “body and mind”, it will affect how one sees health as “life” without any separation in body, environment, mind and wisdom (Paññā). Moreover, while the body and environment, which is Rūpa, perform their duty; Nāma as mind and wisdom have to perform its duty in noticing, inspecting and paying attention to the body in order to work with power and capability. This helps Nāma, namely mind and wisdom, to concentrate, observe and acknowledge the ongoing act of matter (Rūpa) or volitional act of formations (Sakhāra). Therefore, to realise its full potential the maintenance of good health means the maintenance of all components, namely body, environment, mind and wisdom. This will turn the health arena into the field focussed on obtaining the ultimate truth in Buddhism while developing oneself through self-awakening and spreading joy within society.
(2) Western health focuses on worldly happiness (the mundane state of mind) but Buddhism steps forward to the development of other-worldly happiness (a supramundane state of mind): The prominent part of Western health condition occurs because of the disappointment in which human beings see health in separation. Then, people try to fulfill such health to have more inclusive and deeper dimensions than learning and taking care of the body as a touching and receptive thing. They find out that an answer to endurance of the health development is how people have a holistic health. As the ultimate goal of holistic health development is “mundane happiness”, a person can discover a deep inner self of each individual; of which is a feeling of delicacy and relationship with something. This creates willpower, hope, cheerfulness, focus on the goal and confidence which can help a person to face unexpected circumstances without loneliness, misery and hopelessness. Such a person is healthy, happy and perfectly fulfilled in both mind and body. However, the happiness which is searched for and known of by the Western world is limited and circled around the worldly thing that is called a “human treasure”.
On the other side, though, Buddhism accepts such mundane happiness that every human being desires, wishes to achieve and taste especially when it comes from non-disease. However, the phrase “No disease is an ultimate wealth of all.” does not refer to only the wealth that a human being deserves to receive in this world only. It means an escape from mentally disease, which is an act without greed, hatred and delusion as a source to create an ill-will and narrow-mind. Accordingly, Buddhism reminds all human beings to treat their physical diseases and also develop their minds to be free from psychological disease. This is to attain the happiness with a supramundane state of mind which is lasting with no coming back for sickness over and over again as all human beings facing and are tortured by in this life.
(3) Spiritual mind engenders the source of energy but Wisdom ceases the suffering in this Samsāra: Although the Western holistic health scholars try to explain that “spiritual dimension is an important part and has an effect on individual liveliness. It also causes an effect on another dimension of being a human. It is delicate feeling that creates willpower, hope of an individual and makes people feel that they are meaningful and capable of facing everything that might be happening. Such delicacy is feelings of bond, admire, love and respect to something that creates an individual willpower”. However, such energy is considered to be the power of external dependent factor or beyond humanity. The advantage of this power is that it makes a human being feel like there is some supportive thing and stimulate one’s self confidence to survive and live.
The underlined question is for how long human beings have to depend on different external factors which depict our happiness and suffering. Nevertheless, the Buddhism has realized this point then taught us that “Wisdom is the light of the world” and “There is no light equate with the wisdom”. For this contextual wisdom, it is an intellectual of human beings in whom we have to develop and practice. The real practice can transform a normal person into the perfect one as said by the Buddha that “Amongst all human beings, those who are well-trained are the perfect ones”.
In relevant, the well-trained intellectual has a direct impact on an individual attitude towards sickness and disease. This kind of wisdom performs its function in learning, perceiving and understanding. In terms of Buddhism, the word “learning” means “development of the Five Aggregates (Khandhas)”. These five aggregates are the ones that face with pain by realizing and understanding that these five Khandhas are impermanent, changeable and unable to compel or control as the wish of a sentient being. The Lord Buddha is the remarkable role model in adopting sickness as a tool for practicing dhamma. As can be seen from “the Four Sights (Deva Dhutta”, the Buddha saw the sick man and realized that He did not wish for the five Khandhas to face this worldly pain. Here, the “pain” in this context is not scary and disgusting but rather an important tool for sentient beings to use our wisdom in learning and searching for the path to end reborn, old age, sickness and death forever.
(4) Maintaining a healthy balance for happiness means maintaining all holistic dimensions: Both Buddhism and the Western science have conformably designed the method of holistic health treatment which covers the dimensions of body and mind. It emphasizes on the exercises of body, society or environment, mind and wisdom. In Western world, this type of wisdom is called “spiritual” as mentioned earlier.
Moreover, an interesting exercise of health in this present era is “Psychotherapy”. Nevertheless, Buddhism has been advanced in psychotherapy field for more than 2,600 years by adopting the “Meditation Therapy” as a tool in psychotherapeutic treatment. Hence, meditation is considered to be a tool for one’s mind to attain and understand the knowledge, awakening and joy trough the path of enlightenment factors (Bojjhaϊga).
One of another interesting treatments found in Buddhism is “Natural Therapy”. The Buddha finds the five aspects of natural law (Niyàma) that all sentient beings can adopt as a framework in personal health treatment. Consequently, the natural therapy consists of Physical laws (Utu-niyàma), Biological laws (Phija-niyàma), Psychic laws (Citta-niyàma), Moral laws (Kamma-niyàma) and the general law of cause and effect (Dhamma-niyàma). Hence, this kind of therapy by applying the existing nature focuses on the realization in weather, agriculture, condition of mind and daily behavior of human beings. All of these factors have direct and indirectly effect on the human health. So, the treatment by adopting natural therapy can help leading to the answer of the holistic health treatment.
However, the notice about “Natural Therapy” regarded by the Buddhism is that all human beings are the natural property because we come from earth, water, fire and air. Thus, humans are not alienated from the nature. When human beings have to face with sickness or chronic diseases, it is appropriate that we should turn back to find the vaccine from nature as a tool for human health treatment. However, the current problem in this present day is due to the fact that human beings try to separate and recede themselves from the nature as well as ignore the natural coherent way. These put an effect on human beings to be foreign substances and alienation from the nature. In order to return to the nature, we should take into account the natural therapy as a way for us to live our lives harmoniously with the nature. By doing so, the human beings can naturally live with holistic joy both in body and mind.