This film deals with the science of healing incorporated in the philosophy of Buddhism, which defines human existence as a cosmic integrity. It is on the balance of this integrity that spiritual well-being depends as the basis for bodily health.

Tibetan medicine was first documented in the «Gyüschi» – «The Knowledge of Healing» – dating back to the 12th century. It approaches «health» and «sickness» in a completely different way to Western medicine, using highly sensitive diagnosis methods, and reveals a deep insight into the complex interrelationships between spiritual and bodily energies. It has nothing to do with folk medicine, but is a scientifically based medicine founded on over two thousand years of development, experience and accumulated knowledge. Since the 17th century Tibetan medicine has been taught in specialised medical schools similar to our universities. Tibetan medications comprise numerous natural products such as pure herbs, fruits and roots which are highly effective with minimum dosage – especially in cases of chronic illnesses and allergies which still pose the greatest challenges to Western medicine. Tibetan physicians treat illnesses at spiritual, physical and intellectual levels. Among others there exists a so-called «Simbhu-System», similar to the Western immune system. Very good results have been achieved in the treatment of modern diseases, such as suffered by radiation victims in Chernobyl or AIDS patients in Kalmuk.

The film tries to make Tibetan medicine understandable to the Western mind and illustrate its manifold healing possibilities. Rather than competing in any way with Western medicine, its object is to understand the entirely different concept of the human organism upon which the healing effect is based. The emphasis is on accepting these healing methods, practically unknown as yet in the West, as a possibility of complementing our own medical science.

Three main locations have been selected for this film. For political reasons, none of the scenes were shot in Tibet:

In the late nineteen-fifties and early sixties, practically everything to do with traditional Tibetan medicine was destroyed by the Chinese. Nearly all Tibet’s physicians lost their lives in the process, but those who managed to escape brought their know-how with them to exile, together with a good many invaluable books and documents. The first location is therefore one of the centres where these exiles have re-established themselves: Dharamsala in northern India. As a Buddhist teacher, H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama explains the teaching of bodily and spiritual interdependence, which is the philosophical basis of Tibetan medicine. His personal physician Dr. Tenzin Choedrak – one of Tibet’s last remaining medical authorities – introduces us to the concept and special features of Tibetan medicine.

Historically speaking, Tibetan medicine first became known – after Tibet – in Mongolia. Three centuries later it had spread north to Buryatia, where it is still practised today. At this second location in Buryatia, we pay a visit to the Tibetan doctor Chimit Dorzhi Dugarov and his patients. It is from Buryatia that the prescriptions were obtained for the only Tibetan medications industrially produced so far in the West today.

The third part of the film is set in Europe and Israel, where exhaustive clinical studies are proving the effectiveness of Tibetan medications. This research work was initiated thanks to the tireless efforts of Karl Lutz, a Swiss pharmaceuticals businessman. And finally we see at the Vienna Institute of Nuclear Research how natural science philosophies in the Western world are now approaching the Tibetan concept of integral healing.

Tibetan medicine is a jewel of Buddhism which can be of inestimable value to us all, including non-Buddhists. For as explained by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, true healing is a biophysical process which must not be confused with self-healing religious faith or rituals.

birdsnest_poster_150Documentary, CH 1996, 90′, colour, 35mm

Director Franz Reichle

Original: Tibetan, Russian, Buryatian, English, Swiss Dialect, German