Caring ourselves in Buddhist way

Caring ourselves in Buddhist way


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Supakorn Rojananin, M.D.

Chairman, Department of Surgery

Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University


Buddhism began in India for more than 2,500 years ago when Siddhartha Gautama discovered how to bring happiness into the world. Moderation or the middle way was articulated by the Buddha in his first discourse, teaching all men to avoid the extremes of sensory self-indulgence and self-mortification and practice in middle way.

This teaching (Dhamma) is still true and practicable in today world especially on your health. Bhudda’s Enlightenment of Four Noble Truths is a scientific fact including: 1) there is suffering, 2) suffering is caused by desire, 3) the cessation of desire leads to the cessation of suffering, and 4) there is a path that can lead to the cessation of all desire. Bhudda also taught how to end the suffering by practicing the Noble eightfold Path which encourages wisdom (right views and right intents), morality (right speech, conduct, and livelihood), and mental discipline (right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration).

The three universal truths in Buddhism are that; nothing is lost in the universe, every thing changes and the law of cause and effect. Nothing is permanent. Life is born, growing old, getting sick and dies at the end. Happiness is not permanent. Future is unpredictable, one day you will lose what you have such as your wealth, your lovers, your families, your position, or even yourselves. If you know this truth, you will be aware and well prepare yourselves to face all these things that keep changing.

The law of cause and effect is known as karma. We receive exactly what we earn, whether it is good or bad. We are the way we are now due to the things we have done in the past. Our thoughts and actions determine the kind of life we can have. If we do good things, in the future good things will happen to us. If we do bad things, in the future bad things will happen to us.

However some things in life sometimes are unable to predict or find the causes. The past can not be changed even in a second past. Let it be our lesson and learn from it. However, the future we can create in the good way by directing our action, experience and good mind.

When we apply the Four Noble Truths in medicine, you will find it closely match in to day practice. When we are ill and have the bad symptoms, this is a suffering. If the doctor just gives you some pills to relief the symptoms, sometimes the illness does not go away. One must identify the root cause of suffering and treat both the cause and the symptoms. The third truth is that we can bring an end to suffering by eliminating its causes. This is like the doctor who understands that these symptoms have a cause, and if we remove that cause, the symptom will abate of its own accord. The fourth truth is the path that leads to the end of suffering (the removal of the cause of suffering). This is like the doctor who relieves your symptoms, treats the cause, and teaches you how to prevent the cause from recurring—what a perfect doctor!
            Our desires are unlimited depending on how much ignorance and greed we have. Most of our illnesses come from over consumption; too much eating, working, drinking, or greedy for wrong kind of pleasures such as sex, nightlife, intoxicated pills, etc. These are all harmful to the bodies and peace of mind.

People should behave in the right manner. However, right or wrong is sometimes difficult to distinguish. Most of it is in the gray zone. Medical pill, vitamins, or minerals is quite useful when it is used in a proper way, but it turns to be toxic when used overdose. Eating is mandatory to nourish the body. Overeating from desire is something different; it will be harmful when one grows older. Hyperlipidemia, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease or even stroke is such a consequence. Every meal you eat, many lives had to be sacrificed. Don’t just kill other lives just for greed. Eating and exercise in a proper way or in moderation will keep your body fit and can stay away from the above diseases.

Alcohol use is a part of social activities which are common practice around the world. Occasional drinking in a small quantity or in moderation does not tend to result in a behavior change. The problem, however, is that taking one or two drinks can lead to taking three or four and then judgment and the ability to act sensibly is impaired. Long term and continuous drinking will be addicted and jeopardize both mentally and physically. The behavior change will be out of control and may ruin your life, your career, causing damages to property, or even other lives. Therefore, in Buddhist way, alcohol drinking is something to be avoided.

Not to mention about death, all must pass away. But all should keep one selves in as good quality as possible. Self awareness is most important to keep your life in good quality. Periodic check up in a proper time will acknowledge your health status and be able to adjust your lifestyle habit. Many cancers can be cured if detected earlier. Accident will be minimal if all keep conscious and concern to public.

Learn how to give to others (not just to your beloved ones) is a common practice in Buddhism. Giving things is not just for money, but lots that you can share such as giving help, love, forgiveness, knowledge, recognition, consideration, faithfulness etc. The more you give, many more you will gain. This practice will keep the world in peace and harmony.

Lastly, wishing you all a full of joy, happiness and prosperity in a sufficient way in the year to come.