Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Integrative Public Health Model to Heal Violence

Tibetan Medicine & Public Health
My thanks to Haifa University for access to d-bases and literature
and to John Hopkins School of Public Health OpenCourseWare.





 War and depression are in the expected top 10 causes of disability worldwide.
Other causes are also related to poverty and stress. 

 Most social intervention and funding focus on the predisposing situations.
Very little is invested in personal cultivation of compassion.
(White text is mine.)

Cultures around the world have herbs for anger and depression. Here are three examples. 
Herbs are palliative and helpful, but do not treat the root cause of violence. 
Let's look at Tibetan traditional medicine.

 The Medicine Buddha is central to Tibetan medicine. 
Here depicted in his celestial palace surrounded by medicinal plants

 The three root causes of suffering:
1. attachment/craving/passion/lust/greed, 2. aversion/anger/hatred, 3. ignorance.

A Tibetan amchi's private practice.
The Medicine Buddha sits atop an herb rack in the center of the clinic.
Left top: Drawers with herb pills
Left bottom: Acupuncture & cupping
Right top: Pulse diagnosis
Right bottom: Examing urine

Left: Removing a demon after all patients have left the clinic
Right top: Applying a blessed stamp, here for fertility
Right bottom: Humor & laughter; Amchi-lak jokes with his patients

 Traditional representations of the three root causes of suffering. 
What do these pictures mean? Tibetans have learned from this pictures for centuries.

 Individual predisposition to violence arises in the mind. 
Our tendency to see others as "all good" and "all bad," called splitting in Western psychology, gives rise to our intent to harm others. "All good" = Buddhist attachment, "all bad" = Buddhist aversion.
Splitting arises from our grasping to a mistaken view of "I" or self. 

For Students of Buddhism: Please note that the model also presents the three stages on the Path to Enlightenment. 1. Abandoning the intention to harm others by the practice of ethics is the basic stage, which represents a gross level of (self) awareness (Hinayana); 2. Abandoning attachment and aversion (splitting) by cultivating equanimity and the wish to help others as much as one can, the Mahayana stage, represents a more advanced and more subtle level of awareness; 3. Finally, at the most subtle or deepest level of awareness, we "tame that mind of ours" and uproot the underlying cause of suffering, the mistaken notion of "I," by cultivating wisdom, the understanding of emptiness of independent existence.

The integative model shows that the mistaken view of self is the root cause of violence. 

 Left: Prof. Richard Davidson, University of Wisconsin neuroscientist
and Matthieu Ricard, formerly a biologist at the Pasteur Institute in France,
now a Tibetan Buddhist meditation adept.
Right: Matthieu Ricard's point on far left is 4.5 standard deviations from the bell curve! 
Matthieu Ricard has been dubbed "The Happiest Man in the World."

Above screenshots are from this TED talk, "The Habits of Happiness" by Matthieu Ricard:

 Examples of contemplative neuroscience research.

 My humble efforts. 

If more individuals cultivate compassion, the left-hand side of the bell curve, indicating greater happiness and compassion, will increase; the right side will decrease, and we will have a more compassionate, less violent society.

  Education is key for cultivating compassionate individuals. 
The wish to help others and to relieve the suffering of others can be cultivated.

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