As a human being, no one can avoid birth, old age, sickness, and death. Children going to school, adults going to work; family life, in everything we have reasons for worries. Our work not rewarded, meeting someone we don’t want to see, desires not satisfied, endless sufferings, bitterness burning our heart, this is our life. Under such pressure, how can we live without some kind of illness?
The ultimate way to get rid of these sufferings is to look at them as emptiness. They are all void; nothing lasts forever. Get rid of our wants and desires! Only by doing this can we gain peace of mind; health comes with peace of mind. Although our house is filled with gold and jade, full of extravagance, we can not get rid of our life sufferings. Human has a greedy mind; our wants and desires never end. We reap the fruits of our actions. We have planted the seeds, we must harvest the fruits. Everyone will get old and then die; no one can get away from this cycle.
This world is but nothing; when we know that nothing is real existence and nothing lasts forever, we let our hands of all things, and we can be free from life and death. Bu who in this world agree to this and can be so enlightened? Today, when I talk about the reasons of nothing like life and death, the reasons of no heart, no anything, and the truth of longevity, no one will believe in me. No one here will understand what I am talking about. Only the Buddha can understand. So I am not going to talk about this. I am only going to talk about something that you might understand, that you might believe. So today I will talk about the methods to set your mind at peace, the way to good health. This you may understand. These are the first steps to deeper waters.
The greatest suffering of life is uneasiness of mind. The fundamental cause of bad health is daily uneasiness of mind, worries about gains or loss.
Living in today’s society, we work hard to make a living. For this purpose, we travel far, to and from, always on the go. We suffer from this hard work. For some people, they may suffer from love affairs with their girl friend or boyfriend, the heart and feelings hurt with tears; for some people, to support a family, they need to work overtime and have lots of hardships.
Eighty to ninety percent of our wants and desires may not be met or satisfied. Our school work may not be good enough; our colleague relations may not be good enough; our life quality may not be good enough. We are under lots of stress; they press our mind hard. We have too many worries during the day time and we have frightening dreams at night. Our health problems may start from lack of sleep, bad appetite; then we may have bowel constipation; our liver may be deficient with fire; we may not normal breaths with our lungs. When sickness arises, we start to feel weak, lack of vitality and our health deteriorates.
The cause of this—it’s all about our mind. We have too many wants and desires; we are not willing to put them aside; that’s the reason we feel uneasy. The way to recovery is but setting our mind back to peace. Only when we have correct thinking, the right mind, we can have a recovery. With peace in mind, we gain vitality that helps our blood and breaths flow naturally through our body.
In order to set our mind in peace or to balance it, we firstly need to know about our mind. When we have known about our mind, and we can control it, we can set limits on our wants and desires, and we can gain a peace of mind. Our eyes, ears, nose, and body are the tools. The eyes catch color; the ears hear voices; etc. That triggers an image; our mind differentiates this image, over and over. In Chinese, the character想is made up of two words: mind(心)and image(相); there is an image over the mind. When we think about things over and over, our mind becomes a consciousness, an unreal mind.
Our consciousness has a good side and a bad side. The good side, it can create things; human civilization is built on it; it can create a happy life. The bad side, it causes all the worries; it mixes the right things with the bad ones; it does all the evil things. Life is like a dream, but everyone lives in this dream and does not know how to wake up. Some people dream of having lots of money; some people dream of having lots of sex.
Therefore, enlightenment is important. A man of enlightenment shall never have greed or bad temper. He shall not take the wrong as the right; he shall not do things for his own benefits, with no regard for the well being of others. He shall not sit there still all day and do nothing. He shall not be a cold blood animal, having no care for society.
All our body parts are connected to each other. Once an organ collapses, all the others follow. So the cause of disturbances lies in the mind. To recover from illness, we should set our mind in peace. To achieve this, we have to cut our wants and desires. Why should we cut our wants and desires? It’s because they are unreal. This is about knowing about our mind. And it is a process of enlightenment. The Buddha has tried very hard to tell us about this; he has urged us to wake up from our dreams.
Our unreal mind, working on our own body, also shows the good side and the bad side. The good side, it can help us to balance the blood and breaths, and help us to live long. The bad side, this mind can bring about a fire, attracted by liver-wind. Fire melts down gold; that means our lungs can suffer from this burning fire. So a person who works too hard shall feel weak in his heart and feel a burning fire in his liver. The liver is like wood, it defeats the soil, which is the digestive system. When our spleen and stomach suffer, we shall have bad digestion. Lack of energy again makes us uneasy at night. Soil defeats water, so our kidney water shall be in shortage. With this shortage of water, the fire will burn harder. Our heart is closely related to our kidney; we will have weaker breaths, and this is the cause of lung diseases.
There have been many definitions of the mind and how to set the mind in peace. Confucius says “set your mind upright”; Taoism says “clear and clean your mind”; Confucius scholars of the Song Dynasty told us to put our mind in our empty body. What on earth is mind? “Mind” is gathering of ideas and thinking; mind is wants and desires for something; mind is likes and dislikes.
The truth of our consciousness is about two minds: the real mind and the unreal mind. The unreal mind comes from the real mind. In that sense, the unreal mind is same as the real mind.
We give an example here. The real mind is water; the unreal mind is waves. Waves are results of wind onto water. When the wind stops, there will be no waves, only water. Water and waves are one thing, not two things. Stupid people see them as two things, but wise men see them as one. When waves flatten, it is water. When the unreal mind disappears, our real mind appears. The real mind is neither existence nor non-existence. If we say it is existence, we cannot find its form. If we say it is non-existence, it is everywhere. In fact, the real mind is like a shadow in a mirror, or an image within a mirror. We can release our mind, control our mind, restrict our mind or hold our mind. This is referring to the unreal mind.
Whenever there are separated ideas, like or dislikes, that means the unreal mind. A person’s view-points, opinions, perspectives, ideas and thinking, whether good or bad, right or wrong; they are all part of the unreal mind. Even the idea of getting rid of the unreal mind is an unreal mind. All wants and desires, even no wants or no desires, are results of the unreal mind. They are all the waves, not the water.
The above reasons may sound confusing and not easy to understand, but they are the truth. As the human, we have our worries and sufferings; these are the results of misunderstanding of our mind. Our sufferings and worries shall be interpreted this way: sufferings come from worries; without worries, sufferings will disappear. Worries come from the mind. If we do not know that the mind is but emptiness, we will think of worries and sufferings as being real existence. This is away from enlightenment. This is the karma. Our sufferings follow the karma.
Buddha says all illnesses are related to the mind. All living beings have four kinds of reasons that result in illness: greed, bad temper, unaware of the karma, and pride. Effects follow the causes. Symptoms are fever, lung diseases, vomiting, uneasy skin or body, disturbed heart, diarrhea, an ache in the eyes or ears, back pains and stomach ache, crazy-minded, or bewitched by evil creatures. Buddha says: worries, past karma, and retribution for sins are three kinds of fatal diseases.
Worries refer to our greed, bad temper, doubts, anger, confusion, hatred, jealousy, selfishness, craftsmanship, slander, no regrets, pride, indulgence, elegance, quarrels, flattery, unreasonable wants, and desires, no respect for others, not following teachings, close relation with bad friends, endless pursues, greed for good food, bad ideas and thoughts, evil deeds, being too talkative, weakness in speeches, etc. Past karma refers to serious criminal acts like killing one’s own parents. Retribution for sins refers to rebirth as a hell being, ghost, animal or other evil forms.
All these diseases as obstacles to enlightenment and longevity are caused by our mind. From the concept of karma, the Buddha says there are two methods to get rid of them: one is to have mercy for all living beings; the second is to give medicine to patients. The idea to nourish our mind is fundamental.
We live with some sorts of health problems. We are the person who should know about our health conditions best. When we get sick, we know that it may be caused by weather changes, from hot to cold or from cold to hot; we know that we might have eaten something wrong; we know that if it is an injury from accidents. We are the one to know about the causes and conditions best.
If the case is serious, we shall go for doctor or emergency. Most of the case, we might be feeling weak; or it is a long lasting problem; it might be an ignorance or lack of medicine in the past. Except for serious cases like fatal injury inside or excessive loss of blood, we can deal with most problems ourselves. If we know the treatments, we can take proper measures. We can take precautions, and we can use simple methods for recovery of simple problems. The recovery process relies more on our own efforts than the doctor’s help. If you have learned the basic reasons as I have told today, you must be able to deal with many problems, and this is a good guide to your health.
Let’s talk about the reason of why we should be our own doctor. My daughter is in primary school now. Since her birth, I have been watching her grow up and from the first month to 3 years old, it was me who helped her with her bath. She is physically strong and healthy under my guidance of proper exercise. Even in cold winter, I do not let her put on too many clothes; I walk her to school every day instead of driving a car.
She is most of the time active. I don’t have that much precaution for her or give her too much protection. I don’t give her much good food or many beautiful clothes. I only have the idea of letting her grow more naturally. When she is sick with minor problems, I do not take her to see the doctor; instead, I try to help her with my own hands and simple treatments. Weather changes and food are the major causes of her problems, same as other people, so I pay extra attention when it comes to these two problems. When we take care of our children this way, they will not have serious problems.
We live in Australia. Normally when our child is sick with coughing and colds, fritillary and loquat cough mixture will help. When she is having a bad appetite and cannot sleep well, some Chinese herbal tea will do. As a parent, we shall be the person who knows best about our child’s health. You do not have to go to a doctor for everything.
Once my daughter had her foot burnt with boiling water in St. George Hospital and it was quite serious. There was no specialist in the hospital, regret to tell, for treatment and she was sent to West Mead Children Hospital in Sydney west. A specialist told me that she needed an operation, and they were going to cut a portion of skin from her thigh to cover her burnt foot. I asked them repeatedly:” Do we have better options?” They said no. I was a bit disappointed and somewhat frustrated. I asked them to try to open their mind wider and think of better options.
When they insisted on an operation like this; I refused their help. I took my child home and have my own treatment with herbal medicine. My wife and I helped her to clean the wounds daily and cover the burnt area with herbal paste. When she felt extreme pain, we just gave her some pain killers. In about two weeks, her burnt become good and she was recovering very well. After this accident, my child learned her lesson and has become stronger both physically and mentally.
I remember my childhood in the countryside in the south of China. There was no hospital there, not even a clinic. Although poor at home, every day only grains and vegetables for food, meats only during the Spring Festival and on birthdays, often hungry in primary and middle school days, I seldom had an experience of sickness.
I can remember the first time I went to a hospital at the age of twenty-one after graduating from university and entering a government office. When I asked my colleagues how to register for the first time with the hospital, they laughed at me. But from that time on, I moved from the country to live in big cities. Overtime work plus irregular diet brought about the allergic rhinitis, hepatitis B, and other long lasting illnesses. Only after twenty years later when I migrated to Australia, I started to regain health.
When the first time I smelt the scent of flowers in Sydney parks, I was extraordinarily amazed because it had been many years I could not smell things. Our health like other happenings of life needs reasons of changes for recovery.
The middle way is the standard for good health. The middle way means normal. When a baby is born with normal health, regular milk, and warm clothes are enough to keep his middle way; and he will grow fast. We may see babies with swollen limbs; that is normal because his body is expanding. Without outside factors to disturb him, his functions work naturally and his body develops normally. If a baby feels too hot, he will suffer from excessive heat. When his pores are open, he is easy to catch a cold; or as a result of disturbance, he gets the inflammation of the throat or chronic bronchitis. If a baby eats too much, or he is caught with a cold, or his mother’s milk is not clean, he is easy to get short of breath, or to have vomits, or diarrhea. That is a disturbance as well.
Children under the age of fifteen have many chances to suffer from disturbances. Their problems are nothing more than eating too much or being exposed to bad weather, or hurting themselves in sports. When they get sick, conditions may become really bad if there is a lack of care.
As to us adults, we have too many reasons to get sick. Our wants and desires are all causes of disturbances. When we cannot keep this physical body well, it gets ill. When we do not have enough energy to deal with all those daily chores, we become sick. In the beginning, they may be just minor problems; as days go by, they get serious, and there are times we have delays in treatment. Therefore we should wake up now. Since we have known about some basic reasons about health, we shall stop for a fix. Try to fix this machine now; it has been running very hard; it needs some rest and it needs some help.
Think about one thing, for many years you have been working really hard, day after day, night after night, without giving your mind a rest. Your machine is no longer working normally. If you keep on like this, you will have time for illness, or even die of hardship. If you are in bad spirit, with worries, you shall have a bad appetite and eat less. An uneasiness of your digestive system makes you roll about at night without good sleep. You start to have problems. With a liver fire burning and kidney water dry, your heart and back will suffer. As weather changes, it is easy for you to have bronchitis. Bad digestion and block of breaths must cause lung diseases. A person with dry kidney must have a stronger desire for sex.
In modern society, many people give birth to unhealthy babies because they have brought about too many problems to their own body. Under such circumstances, no one can save them but themselves. Today we have the chance to learn about the reasons, and we shall make some changes from today. Today I ask you to put aside other things and pay attention to your mind, putting it under your foot. The center in the bottom of your foot is the Springs Point. It leads the water upwards and the fire downwards.
Why not put your mind under the navel? If you do that, breaths will go in there and it’s easy to have problems. We hold and lead our breaths or mind towards the bottom center of your foot, away from under the navel but still connected to the navel area; this is a way of treatment. We do this naturally, in no hurry; and only let our body parts rest in peace, without outside disturbance. This is a way of treatment that will bring about good results.
By Lianlong (莲龙居士)