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Chapter Nine, The Treatment of Disorders
When the practitioner establishes his mind in the cultivating of the Way, it may be that there develop disorders related to the four great elements. On account of the present use of the contemplative mind, the "drum" of the breath may instigate the activation of originally-existing disorders. Sometimes it happens that one is unable to skillfully and appropriately adjust the three factors of body, mind and breath. As a result, pathological calamities may occur due to interferences between the internal and the external situations.
Now, as for the dharma of sitting in dhyana absorption, if one is able to skillfully apply the mind, then the four hundred and four kinds of disorders will naturally be gotten rid of or cured. If, however, one fails in the correct placement of the mind, then the four hundred and four kinds of disorders may arise on account of that. Therefore, whether one is engaged in practice oneself, or whether one is teaching others, one must become skilled in recognizing the causes of disorders. One must know well the methods for treating disorders related to the subjective mind engaged in sitting [meditation]. If someday one activates a disorder, it may not simply be a matter of developing an obstruction to practice of the Way, it may be that one has to contemplate the loss of this one great life.
Now, in the explanation of the treatment of disorders there are two ideas [which must be set forth]. First one explains the signs which arise when disorders manifest. Secondly one explains the methods employed in the treatment of disorders.
First, the explanation of the signs which arise when disorders manifest. Although there are many different species of disorders which may manifest, when set forth in brief, they do not go beyond two categories. The first are the signs related to the increase or decrease in the four great elements. If the great element of earth becomes excessive, then there may be swelling, obstruction, submersion, or heaviness, and the body may become emaciated. One hundred and one maladies of this sort may arise.
If the great element of earth becomes excessive, then there may be the production of the thick and thin disease-related fluids and there may be edema and "fullness." Food and drink may not digest, the abdomen may be painful, there may be diarrhea, and one hundred and one different types of maladies may arise.
If the great element of fire becomes excessive, then there may be strong fever in which steaming heat [alternates] with coldness. The joints may all become painful. The respiration, urination and defecation may not occur with normal ease and there may occur one hundred and one different maladies of this sort. Hence a scripture states, "When a single great element is out of adjustment, one hundred and one kinds of disorders may arise. When the four great elements are out of adjustment, four hundred and four disorders may all be activated at one time."
When the disorders associated with the four great elements manifest, each of them possesses a characteristic appearance. One should examine [one's situation in this regard] when one is sitting and even during one's dreams.
Second, the signs which occur when the five "dzang" organs develop maladies. In the case where a malady has developed from [a cause associated with] the heart, the body may become either cold or hot and there may be headaches or such symptoms as dryness of the mouth on account of the heart's serving as the ruler of the mouth.
In the case where a malady has developed from [a cause associated with] the lungs, the body may become edematous, the four limbs may become aggravatingly painful, the heart may become depressed, or the nose may become stopped up, and so forth. This [latter symptomology] is on account of the lungs' serving as the ruler of the nose.
In the case where a malady has developed from [a cause associated with] the liver, there are usually no joyful thoughts. One may be distressed, worried, or unhappy. One may have melancholy thoughts or anger. The head may ache, the eyes may become dim, blurred, or dull. This [latter symptomology] is on account of the liver's serving as the ruler of the eyes.
In the case where a malady has developed from [a cause associated with] the spleen, in the body and on the face, a traveling wind goes throughout the body [causing] minor aching, itching, and pain, and food and drink seem to have lost their flavor. This [latter symptom] is on account of the spleen's serving as the ruler of the tongue.
In the case where a malady has developed from [a cause associated with] the kidneys, the throat may inclined towards feeling choked or obstructed, the abdomen may become distended, and the ears may become hard of hearing. This [latter symptom] is on account of the kidneys' serving as the ruler of the ears.
The disorders produced from the five dzang organs are of many different sorts. Each of them presents its own particular signs. One will be able to understand [one's particular situation] through examining it while one is sitting and even during one's dreams.
The causality involved in pathological maladies associated with the four great elements and the five dzang organs are not limited to a single type. The symptoms are of many different varieties. They cannot be completely described. If the practitioner wishes to cultivate the Dharma entryway of stopping and contemplation, perhaps there may be maladies which arise. One should become skillful in recognizing their causal bases. These two categories of disorder may both be activated through either internal or external [causes].
In the case of injury from external cold, wind or heat, food and drink may not digest properly and so the disorder may manifest through both of the avenues [of the elements and the organs]. One should know then that this has been activated on account of external [causes].
In the case where one causes maladies to arise in both places through incorrect adjustment of the mind, through contradictory and unorthodox contemplative practice, or through not understanding appropriateness in the give-and-take required when the dharmas of meditative absorption are manifesting, these are instances of pathological symptoms manifesting on account of internal [causes].
Additionally, there are three different categories of causes and conditions for becoming afflicted with disorders: The first consists of excesses and deficiencies in the four great elements and five dzang organs as discussed earlier. The second consists of disorders gotten through the actions of ghosts and spirits. The third consists of disorders gotten as a result of karmic retribution. Disorders such as these are very easily cured if they are treated immediately when first contracted. If they go on for a long time, then the pathology becomes established. If the body becomes emaciated and the disorder becomes bound in place then, in the treatment of it, it may be difficult to cure.
Second, explaining the methods for treating the disorders. Having deeply understood the origins of a disorder's arisal and manifestations, one should implement a method for treating it. The methods employed in the treatment of disorders are of many types. To bring up those which are essential, they do not go beyond the two skillful means of stopping and contemplation. How does one use stopping as a treatment for the symptoms of a disorder? There are masters who say that if one simply establishes the mind in stopping at the site of the disorder one will be immediately able to cure the disorder. Why is this? The mind is the ruler of this one period of effect-phase retribution. This is just as whenever a king goes somewhere, the bands of rebels immediately scatter.
Next, there are masters who say that one inch below the navel is known as the udaana. This refers to what we know as the "dan tyan." (lit. "the field [for cultivating] the pill [of immortality].") [They state that] if one is able to stop the mind and guard [its position] at this location without becoming scattered, then after one has done this for a long time, then in most cases, there will be that which is remedied.
There are [other] masters who say that if one constantly anchors the mind's [attention] beneath the feet without regard to whether one is walking, standing, or lying down to sleep, one will be able to cure disorders. Why is this? This is because it is on account of non-regulation of the four great elements that most illnesses occur. This is brought about by the mind's consciousness becoming anchored in a higher position, thus causing the four great elements to become unregulated. If one anchors the mind below, then the four great elements will naturally become appropriately adjusted and the various disorders will be gotten rid of.
There are masters who state that one need only realize that all dharmas are empty and that nothing whatsoever exists. If one refrains from seizing upon the symptoms of illness while quiescently abiding in stopping, then in most cases there will be that which is cured. Why is this? This is because the mind's recollective thought pumps up the four great elements and therefore disorders arise. If one puts the mind to rest in harmony and happiness the various disorders will then be cured. Hence The Vimalakiirti Sutra states, "What is it that constitutes the origin of disease? It is the so-called 'manipulation of conditions.' How does one cut off the manipulation of conditions? This is done through what is referred to as 'non-attainment on the part of the mind.'" All sorts of explanations such as these which promote using stopping to treat the symptoms of disease are not limited to just a single type. Hence one should understand that through skillful cultivation of the dharma of stopping one is able to treat a multitude of disorders.
Next, the explanation of using contemplation to treat disorders. There are masters who state that one need only engage in contemplation which employs the mind's [visualizing] thought while also employing six kinds of breath to treat disorders. This is just a case of contemplation being able to treat disorders. What are the six kinds of breath? The first is blowing (chwei). The second is exhaling (hu). The third is mirthful tittering (syi). The fourth is puffing (he). The fifth is drawn-out breathing (syu). The sixth is normal breathing (sz).(1) These six kinds of breath are all created within the lips and mouth and are a skillful means employed by the visualizing mind as one turns to the side. They are done in a soft and subtle manner. A verse states:
There are masters who say that if one is skillful in using contemplative visualizations in implementing twelve different kinds of breath one is able to treat a multitude of maladies. The first is an ascending breath. The second is a descending breath. The third is a "filling" breath. The fourth is a burning breath. The fifth is a breath of extended length. The sixth is a destructive breath. The seventh is a warm breath. The eight is a cool breath. The ninth is a forcefully exhaled breath. The tenth is a "retained" breath. The eleventh is a harmonious breath. The twelfth is a restorative breath.
All twelve of these breaths arise from the visualizing mind. We now briefly explain the counteractive features of the twelve types of breath. The ascending breath counters sinking and heaviness. The descending breath counteracts emptiness and suspendedness. The "filling" breath counteracts emaciation. The burning breath counteracts distention. The breath of extended length counteracts injury through wasting away. The "destructive" breath counteracts excessive repletion. The warm breath counteracts coldness. The cold breath counteracts heat. The forcefully exhaled breath counteracts obstructions which do not open up. The "retained" breath counteracts shaking. The harmonious breath counteracts disharmony in the four great elements. The restorative breath fortifies deterioration in the four great elements. If one is skillful in using these kinds of breath one may be able to treat a multitude of maladies. If one extrapolates from this one will be able to reach an understanding.
There are masters who say that if one is skillful in employing visualizing contemplations in the sphere of the conventional one will be able to treat a multitude of disorders. For instance if a person is afflicted with coldness one may visualize the fire energy arising within the body and then be able to counteract the coldness. This accords with the Agama Sutra's extensive discussion of seventy-two secret therapeutic techniques.
There are masters who say that one need only employ stopping and contemplation to carry out investigative analyses within the body [so as to realize that] the disorders of the four great elements cannot be gotten at and that the disorders of the mind cannot be gotten at. Thus the multitude of disorders will then be cured of themselves. There are all sorts of explanations such as these whereby one employs contemplation to treat disorders. Their implementations differ. However, if one realizes well their meanings they all may be able to treat disorders.
One should understand that if one realizes well the meanings inherent in the two techniques of stopping and contemplation, there is no disorder which will not be cured thereby. However, the faculties and potential of people of the present age are shallow and dull. When they carry out these contemplative visualizations, they often fail to succeed. Thus they do not circulate widely in the world. As an additional point, one must not go beyond these techniques to pursue the study of energy-manipulation skills or diets requiring desisting from cereal grains. It is feared that one will then develop heterodox views. Mineral and herbal medicines can be useful in the treatment of disease. They too may be consumed [for this purpose].
If it is a case of a disorder caused by ghosts one should employ a forceful mind in the application of mantras, using them as a means to help with the treatment. If it is a case of a disorder brought on by karmic retribution, then it is essential to cultivate merit and [purifying] repentances. The malady will then disappear. In the case of these two types of methods for the treatment of disorders, where a person has realized well a single concept he may share his own practice experiences with others, how much the more is this acceptable where one has reached a complete and penetrating realization.
However, if one has no knowledge of any of this then a disorder may arise for which there is no treatment. Then not only would this constitute a wasting away of one's cultivation of right Dharma, but one fears it might also be a case of one's very life being in danger. How then could one employ one's own practice experience as a basis for teaching others?
Therefore, a person who wishes to cultivate stopping and contemplation must well understand the techniques for treating disorders which lie within the province of one's own mind. Those techniques are not limited to a single approach. The realization of the concept is something which is particular to each person. How then could one be able to transcribe such a thing in writing?
Furthermore, when one applies one's mind to the treatment of disorders while engaged in sitting meditation, it is still essential to also include ten dharmas of which there are none which fail to provide benefit. The ten dharmas are: First, faith; second, utilization; third, diligence; fourth, staying constantly focused on the [selected] objective condition; fifth, distinguishing the causality of the disorder; sixth, skillful means; seventh, long-enduring practice; eighth, understanding selection and relinquishing; ninth, upholding and protecting; and tenth, avoiding obstacles.
What is meant by "faith"? This refers to having faith that this technique is certainly able to cure the disorder.
What is meant by "utilization"? This refers to constant utilization at all times.
What is meant by "diligence"? This refers to utilization of the technique in a focused, intense and unceasing manner wherein one takes the achievement of a cure as the standard [for finally desisting].
What is meant by "staying focused on the objective condition"? This refers to the subtle mind abiding in reliance on the dharma in every single thought-moment while not straying off onto different objective conditions.
What is meant by "distinguishing the causality of the disorder"? This is as discussed above.
What is meant by "skillful means"? This refers to being skillful while not failing in appropriateness as one brings to perfection subtle meditative respiration, application of the mind, and objective visualizations.
What is meant by "long-enduring practice"? This means that if when one utilizes a technique and does not gain immediate benefits from it, one ignores the passage of days or months while continuing to be constant and unfailing in carrying on the practice.
What is meant by "understanding selection and relinquishment"? This means that where one becomes aware of benefits [in a given technique] one is then diligent whereas where one discovers harmfulness [in a given technique] one immediately relinquishes it. One is extremely subtle in the turning of the mind to the task of making adjustments and implementing treatments.
What is meant by upholding and protecting? This means that one is skillful in recognizing the [potential] interference threatened by [straying off onto] different objective conditions.
What is meant by avoiding obstacles? This means that if one realizes some benefits [in one's practice] one does not broadcast it to others, whereas where one has not yet seen any harmfulness [in a particular technique] one refrains from developing doubts and slanders.
If one relies upon these ten dharmas in the application of treatment it will definitely be efficacious and [one's efforts] will not have been in vain.
[End of section nine]
1. Dhyana Master Bao Jing cautions the reader to not rely on the actual meaning of the character so much as on intoning the sound of the character while exhaling very subtly and performing the related visualization. He refers us to an extended discussion of this technique in the mwo-he jr-gwan. [back]