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This book has explored the disparities between medical mentality and religious soteriology in Tibet and the ways Buddhism positively affected the ways and means of Tibetan medicine. Medical knowledge in Tibet faced at least two challenges, both having to do with ideals. The first is the incongruity between the need to catalogue information and the need to heal individuals. The second has to do with a proclivity to favor ideal bodies—now in the sense of optimal or perfected—over ordinary ones. This is the problem of how the perfect and divine relate to the human body with which medicine deals. The <i>Four Treatises</i>'s bid for a religious authority of its own did not solve all of the problems that medicine encountered as it evolved in Tibet. By way of conclusion, this book evaluates the conceptual challenges faced by Tibetan medicine and the strategies it marshaled to further medical knowledge and attend to patients in locally credible ways. It also discusses the complex interaction of medicine with Buddhist formations, and proposes ways to account for both influence and difference.

<p>In this paper, Gyatso looks at Tibetan historians' accounts to sketch out a history of the gcod tradition. Good reference for primary source materials in her citations. (BJN)</p>

This book deploys the categories of science and religion as heuristics to investigate the processes by which Tibetan medicine forged a certain distance between itself and the ways of knowing associated with ideals of human perfection and supernatural realms. Focusing on academic medicine in Tibet, it explores how medical learning fostered a probative attitude to religious authority and takes into account the important role played by Buddhism in the development of Asian and global civilization. By discussing how medical learning grew to maturity within the great institutions of Tibetan Buddhism, the book highlights the disjunctions—and conjunctions—between scientific and religious approaches to knowledge. It also considers moments when learned physicians set aside revealed scripture in favor of what they observed in the natural world. More importantly, it reveals the methodological self-consciousness that allowed certain leading medical theorists to intentionally mix disparate streams of thought and practice. In the process, they confronted, in unprecedented ways, the possibility that the Buddha's dispensation did not encompass everything that needed to be known for human well-being.

This chapter examines the debate about the authorship of the root text of Tibetan medicine, the <i>Four Treatises</i>, which had been attributed to the Buddha himself. Compiled in twelfth-century Tibet, the <i>Four Treatises</i> is interpreted as the “Word of the Buddha.” Some scholars have pointed to signs that cast doubt on the <i>Four Treatises</i>'s more quotidian Tibetan origins. The chapter considers these scholars' arguments using a critical approach to mythological language, while preserving the virtues of enlightened authorship. It also discusses Zurkharwa Lodrö Gyelpo's account of the true origins of the <i>Four Treatises</i> and his domestication of those origins in Buddhist ethical terms. Finally, it analyzes Zurkharwa's approach to medical learning and his essay entitled <i>Old Man's Testament</i>, in which he looks back on his life, specifically his education and his colleagues, and his rhetorical style in representing it.