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This chapter centers on Tibetan Buddhist patterns and themes of healing and addresses the inter-relationship of medicine and religion in the practice of Tibetan medicine, also called Sowa Rigpa (gso ba rig pa), the “science of healing,” and how Buddhist rituals are employed to enhance the potency of medicines and to protect the pharmacy and the people working in it from accidents and obstacles during difficult manufacturing processes. Examples focus on the refinement of mercury in mercury sulphide ash for use in “precious pills” (rin chen ril bu). The chapter establishes an argument for a parallel between Buddhist ideas of “taming” demons into becoming protectors of the religious teachings and the pharmacological transformation of poisonous substances, especially the pharmacological practices of “taming” mercury into a potent elixir, and what this tells us about Tibetan medical approaches to what is considered “beneficial” and “harmful.”

"As an incredibly diverse religious system, Buddhism is constantly changing. The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism offers a comprehensive collection of work by leading scholars in the field that tracks these changes up to the present day. Taken together, the book provides a blueprint to understanding Buddhism's past and uses it to explore the ways in which Buddhism has transformed in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The volume contains 41 essays, divided into two sections. The essays in the first section examine the historical development of Buddhist traditions throughout the world. These chapters cover familiar settings like India, Japan, and Tibet as well as the less well-known countries of Vietnam, Bhutan, and the regions of Latin America, Africa, and Oceania. Focusing on changes within countries and transnationally, this section also contains chapters that focus explicitly on globalization, such as Buddhist international organizations and diasporic communities. The second section tracks the relationship between Buddhist traditions and particular themes. These chapters review Buddhist interactions with contemporary topics such as violence and peacebuilding, and ecology, as well as Buddhist influences in areas such as medicine and science. Offering coverage that is both expansive and detailed, The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism delves into some of the most debated and contested areas within Buddhist Studies today. "--