Copyright (c) 2007 Stephen Lau
Buddhism is more than an Eastern religion: it is a healthy longevity promoter.
Buddhism focuses on the balanced interaction between the mind and the body as a prerequisite for healthy longevity; disease is a result of their imbalance and disharmony. The Buddhist approach to health and wellness is its emphasis on spiritual strength of the mind to overcome illness and disease. Concurring with Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who believed in the innate healing power in humans, Buddha also believed that you could seek cure through a drastic change in lifestyle and healthy attitudes towards the real meaning of life and existence.
Healing begins with the mind first, not the body. The reason is that disease originates from the disharmony of the mind and the spirit, leading to their imbalance with the physical body, resulting in disease. Optimal health for longevity is achieved when the mind and the body are functioning and interacting together as one entity.
One of the most damaging factors to the mind is stress. Nowadays, stress comes in many forms. Stress adversely affects your physical, mental, and spiritual health. In the Buddhist world, there is no stress, and you create your own stress through your ego-self, which is essentially your “no-self” because it simply does not exist, except in your own mind. Buddhism focuses on “emptiness” ‘ which is not self-denial, but rather the wisdom of knowing the impermanence of materials things and therefore the abandonment of the futile pursuit of these elusive and evasive goals in life. With enlightenment, you will change your perception of what you really are, and more importantly, the insignificance of your attachment to all materials things, including success and love of money. Buddha said, “Craving is the fountainhead of all human miseries.” Once your craving ceases, your stress dissipates, and you are filled with composure, which constitutes wellness in your body and mind.
Even if there are remnants of stress, they can be dispelled through Buddhist meditation. According to Buddha, everyone has a “light” within him or her. To find that “light”, you need to practice meditation. Through meditation, you are awakened to self-knowledge, which opens the door to ultimate wisdom: you see who you are, and what is important to you in life. In other words, you begin to see the realities of things around you; you begin to prioritize your life; and you begin to perceive the true meaning of your existence.
Natural healing of the mind, body, and spirit begins with a healthy love relationship in which Buddhist compassion and loving kindness naturally thrive. In Chinese, the word “compassion” means “removing suffering and giving happiness.” From Buddha’s view, true compassion has the power to root out the cause of misery in people’s lives and direct them to the true cause of happiness.
Loving kindness, closely connected with compassion, is also a prominent feature of the Buddhist way of live. Compassion and loving kindness complement each other. Extending good will, care and consideration to all beings is critical to mental and spiritual health of an individual.
If you are truly committed to altruistic compassion and loving kindness, you will be armed with inner strength to face any health adversity in your life, thereby instrumental in inspiring hope in others, and by doing so, helping relieve their own suffering. Aging and illness simply provide an opportunity for you to inspire others through your own example.
Healing is a natural blend of science and philosophy of living. Buddhism certainly plays a pivotal role in the philosophy of living for healthy longevity.