Twelve hundred years ago the people of Tibet developed a comprehensive medical system. They understood how the mind affects the body. They knew subtle ways of changing the body’s chemistry with medicines made from plants and minerals. They blessed their medicines in lengthy rituals. And they encoded this knowledge in a series of elaborate paintings called thangkas. Blue Buddha: Lost Secrets of Tibetan Medicine traces the odyssey of traditional Tibetan medicine from it’s roots in ancient Tibet, to a worldwide interest in it’s traditional medical wisdom.

We meet several leading physicians in India, as the program introduces us to the basic concepts of this ancient system of healing. We also trace the fate of the 77 thangkas that comprise the Atlas of Tibetan Medicine, the great mnemonic device that encodes the entire system of healing. From the snows of Siberia and the Himalayas to the vital culture of Tibet in exile, in Dharamsala, India, this is a stunning look at where Tibetan medicine has come from. Blue Buddha: Lost Secrets of Tibetan Medicine focuses on the life of a Buddhist monk and a doctor who practices traditional Tibetan medicine in Siberia. It hasn’t always been easy.

At times he’s been hounded by the KGB and forbidden to leave the country. Through it all he’s kept his faith in the power of Buddhist medicine. This documentary follows Tuvan Lama, in his role as vital member of this remote community, as he treats his patients, conducts traditional rituals and passes on this vast medical heritage to the next generation. Just as Buddhism informs the rituals of this community, Tuvan Lama believes Buddhism and Tibetan Medicine go together, as they are inseparable. He believes one has to know the foundation of Buddhism in order to understand the foundations of the medicine. To his mind, it needs to be understood with the body, the mind, and the soul.

According to the Four Medical Tantras followed by Tibetan Buddhist healers, every disease of the body originates from the three principal delusional diseases of the mind that poison the body gradually. These diseases are the delusions of ignorance, hatred and attachment. For any patient to be effectively cured, the healers have to be able to correctly diagnose the “roots” of the disease which is in the mind. The healing process is immeasurably enhanced with the help of meditation upon the Medicine Buddha.

As it is not an easy task to grasp the connection between the physical disease and the mental or emotional health of the patient, the meditation traditions associated with the Medicine Buddha requires that an “initiate” should receive instructions from a highly qualified lama or guru. Patients who are recovering from an ailment are also encouraged to meditate upon the Medicine Buddha and recite his mantra several times a day, with the correct motivation.

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