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The Inner Cosmology of Tibetan Medicine: Images and Myths of the Sacred City of Medicine

An illustrated talk by Barbara Gerke

Saturday, April 10, 2010
5:00 PM–6:30 PM

According to Tibetan medical tradition there is a place called Tanaduk (“Auspicious to Behold”) where the Medicine Buddha bestowed medical teachings to his disciples. In the center of Tanaduk is the sacred royal palace of the Medicine Buddha, which is surrounded by four mountains, each of which has specific healing qualities and is the perfect environment for specific medicinal plants, metals, minerals, and types of healing water.
This lecture explores the external, internal (meditative), and secret (subtle body) realms of Tanaduk utilizing images of Tibetan medical paintings and translations from the famous twelfth-century Tibetan medical treatise called the Gyushi, the “Four Treatises.” The medical teachings of Tanaduk were written in the form of a poetic dialogue between two sages: Rigpa Yeshe, the teacher, and Yilekye, the chief disciple, who are both manifestations of the Medicine Buddha.
Barbara Gerke, born in Germany, moved to India in 1989 to study Tibetan language and Tibetan medicine with private teachers in Dharamsala and at the Chagpori Medical Institute in Darjeeling. She holds degrees in Tibetan language and literature from Visva Bharati University (Shantiniketan) and North Bengal University. Arising out of personal study and research she co-founded the International Trust for Traditional Medicine (ITTM) together with Mongolian and Indian scholars in Kalimpong, in the North Eastern Himalayas, in 1995, where she moderates ITTM research projects and assists international students in their fieldwork in the area. She completed her M.Sc. in Medical Anthropology (ISCA, Oxford University) in 2003, and is currently in pursuit of her D.Phil. at the same department on concepts of longevity and rejuvenation in Tibetan medical texts and contemporary Tibetan societies.
The New York Times Community Affairs Department is a media sponsor for this event.
BRAINWAVE is made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.