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PRACTICE: Self Healing
Tulku Thondup

The Buddhist Approach to Healing
by Tulku Thondup

Essay Excerpt:
The mind wants to be peaceful; this is really its natural state. But there are so many distractions and cravings that can obscure our peaceful nature. A characteristic of our time is the speed of our daily lives, especially in the West. Everything is a rush. Meditation can slow us down so that we touch our true nature. Any meditation can help us. The object of our contemplation could be a flower, a religious image, or a positive feeling. Or it could be our own bodies.

One especially rich way to develop a peaceful mind is to meditate upon the body. By doing this, we promote the welfare of our whole being...

...Mind and body are intimately connected, and the relationship of mind to body in meditation is very interesting. When we see the body as peaceful and beautiful, who or what is creating these feelings? The mind is. By creating peaceful feelings in the body, the mind is absorbed in those feelings. So although the body is the object to be healed, it also becomes the means of healing the mind -- which is the ultimate goal of meditation...

...Many of us... take no time to cultivate true happiness and may not even be sure what that is. Many writers are occupied with mere word games and theories. Many politicians promote their ideas only to gain power. Many rich people are trapped by the drive to amass more wealth or the fear of losing what they have. Many intellectuals are blinded by arrogance or intolerance. Many spiritual teachers run a business show or go on an ego trip to gain power over others. Many poor people, in their hard struggle for survival, are unable to take any pleasure from life. The wonderful skills and achievements of the modern age often end up as fuel for greed, obsession, bondage, pressure, worry, and pain... All these miseries could be healed by our minds...

...It can seem daring to open the door to healing. And yet cultivating peace of mind is actually not so strange or alien. It can help if we rekindle a memory of some quiet time when no outside pressures or worries were bombarding us. Such memories give us a clue about the mind in its true, peaceful nature and can become the focus of meditation.

If we can recall a peak experience when we felt whole and complete, it's possible to bring the feelings of this recollection forward to the present. The key is to remember the image, in all its details, then expand the wonderful feeling in our minds. This memory could be something triggered by a religious experience or a meeting with a joyful person... It could be a visit to a beautiful garden or being in mountains that are blanketed in snow or experiencing the silence of vast open fields...

...Focus on the positive feeling and rekindle it, as if you were returning to your old, cozy home after a long and tiring journey. Allow the feeling to expand and blossom until it opens up your whole being as you are today.


Tulku Thondup Rinpoche was born in Golok, Eastern Tibet in 1939. At the age of four he was recognized as the reincarnation of Kome Khenpo, a celebrated scholar and adept of Dodrupchen monastery, a famous institute of the Nyingma school. Tulku studied at Dodrupchen and in 1958 settled in India. He taught at Indian universities for more than a decade before moving to the United States in 1980, where he became a Visiting Scholar at Harvard until 1983. He has published many original Tibetan Buddhist works and translations, including Masters of Meditation and Miracles, The Practice of Dzogchen, and the highly successful The Healing Power of Mind, translated into nearly 20 languages. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.