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२१ सोमबार, फाल्गुण २०८०11th December 2023, 11:01:09 am

The Buddha & His ViewS of Health

२५ बुधबार , पौष २०८०२ महिना अगाडि

The Buddha & His ViewS of Health

Mr. Nhuchhe Ratna Tuladhar, Ph.D. (nhuchhe.tuladhar@gmail.com) - - - - - - 
In the pursuit of truth, Siddhartha Goutam adopted an extreme ascetic life but later he rejected because his extreme practices caused the ill health and was an impediment in his search of truth in life. He remembered his life in royal luxury amused by the instrument, he remarked that the strings will not work if they are too tight or if they are too loose. He realized that a “middle way” was necessary. He, after taking a bath in the river, accepted an offer (rice cooked in milk) from a local village woman named Sujata. It was only then with the nourishment from food the future Buddha could sit under the Bodhi Tree and later attained Enlightenment.
After becoming Buddha he spoke of health, as a first priority of life. He taught the Four Noble Truths of Suffering, the Eight-Fold Path; he promoted Madhyamaka 'The Middle Way' as the path to enlightenment rather than the extremes of mortification of the flesh or hedonism (Silacara 1953). It was clearly explained in Dhammapada, v. 204 that Health is the highest gain, contentment is the greatest wealth, the trusty are the best kinsmen and Nibbana is the highest bliss.
A happy life, a pleasurable life, is the bed dream of all the lay people. Relating with this the Buddha preached a sutta to Anathapindika (Pattakammavagga of the Anguttara Nikaya A II, 69) on the four types of pleasure of a layman: the pleasure of having material wealth (atthisukha); the pleasure of enjoying material wealth (bhogasukha); the pleasure of being debtless (ananasukha) and the pleasure of being blameless (anavajjaskha) (DeSilva, L. 1986)
The history showed that the majority of lay people always move ahead with love, loyalty, honesty and fairness in their work to fetch a happy life. They work hard and collect more and more possessions in this materialistic world, but they suffer somewhere in their tract of life. They could not get the life of satisfaction; and then they search for any peace in life. These peace seekers want to get relief from the troubles, pains, burdens of intolerable acts appearing in their day to day life. They want to achieve relief. The Buddha is the one whose teaching is closely linked to and intimate with the realities of our everyday life (Nehru J. L. 1958). Like a doctor who prescribes a remedy for an illness, the Buddha offers hope (the third Noble Truth) and a cure (the fourth). The Buddha's teachings thus give cause for an extraordinary degree of optimism in a complex, confusing and difficult world. The message of the Buddha is best communicated by the monks or the nuns.
Bhikksu Govind in his book (Govind, B. 1936) quoted the Buddha's saying "No one can change the world according to one wishes but one can change the attitude to find the happiness, a peace of life". The book further writes that this change can be expected from the Bhikksu and Bhikksuni. It’s because they are the communicator of the Buddha’s view of life. They express in the words that are used in routine life of lay people; their expression is simple and impartial in its quality of disseminating the message of the Buddha to the peace seekers. All these qualities of expression will be reduced if one is not in good shape of health.
Health is a quality of life for living. Health is a need for all activities of life. The progress of society depends on health of the people in their social life, custom and manner. Impact of culture on health practices spontaneously develop. Therefore the quality of care services or health care practices is essential for viability of social culture, custom and manner.
World Health Organization (W.H.O. 1948) defined health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely an absence of disease or infirmity. The factors responsible for the ill health refers to the poor environmental sanitation, poor personal cleanliness, unsafe water and unhygienic food intake. As mentioned in Buddhist scripture there are three categories of sickness. They are physical, mental and social sickness. The physical sickness is a disease affecting any part of body. Headache is one example of mental sickness; all types of cravings virtually afflict the individual at the mental level. Unhappiness at family or society level is the social sickness; the social well being one is usually free from greed, hatred and delusion.

The strength of the family unit is intertwined with the practice of religion. The social problems cause depression and damage to personal mental health. The damage of mental health obviously effect to the physical health also. The monks and religious leaders must address the today’s wrong of social practices to protect the family from those existed malpractices. The effects of unhealthy religious practice cause to downplay the physical and mental health of the lay people living in the community and distorts the true nature of religious belief (Fagan, P.F. 1996).
Depression weakens the personality and puts the person at greater risk for crime, addictions, and other social maladies. Depression is the absence of self-esteem. Self-esteem is linked to a person's image of God. Those with high self-esteem think of God primarily as loving, while those with low self-esteem think of God primarily as punitive (Bensen, P.L. and Spilka, B.P. 1977). Younger people, both male and female found that religious beliefs gave meaning to their lives and reduced the incidence of depression among them (Wright, LS et al, 1993).
The religious teachers, the influential people so called social reformer are to be believed for the necessaries of cultural changes particularly for the prolonging of life. The culture change, the food culture change, the food intake is viewed as a means of health promotion in religious practices for a very healthy living.