Tuesday, 16 December 2008


I was wondering the other day on The Buddha Diaries about healing. The proximate cause was a sit, last Sunday, during which my attention had wandered continually to a friend who is currently fighting a battle with cancer, and the practice of metta, sending goodwill and wishes for her happiness, seemed somehow... inadequate, let's say, to her predicament. My thoughts turned to my father, an Anglican priest, who in his lifetime believed in the laying-on of hands and who practiced it himself with some success. Also to the Tibetan Buddhist practice of tonglen which, as I understand it, is a use of the breath to draw out toxins and replace them with healthy energies. I asked our sangha's teacher, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, about Buddhist healing practices, and--much as I expected--heard that in his (Thai Forest) tradition, it's largely a matter of metta. I would be interested to hear from others what their experience or practice is when it comes to healing. Is there such a thing as a Buddhist "miracle"?


  1. A Buddhist miracle? I rather doubt it, although you'll find stories of miracles in every religion. What we can do is use our practice to heal some suffering. Maybe that is miracle enough?

  2. Sure there are Buddhist "miracles", especially in the crazy yogi (mahasiddha) tradition of Vajrayana. However, it's pointed out that the ability to perform miracles is considered a lessor/ordinary power (siddhi). According to Dharma, the greater/extraordinary power is in the yogi's ability to liberate beings from samsara, from suffering, which, as we know, is a mental affliction rather than physical. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Suffering happens when you resist the pain.

    In that regard, being able to share the Dharma in a skillful way, as appropriate to the person and situation, and helping to bring about their own healing, is certainly what I consider a "miracle".

    As for my personal practice - Tonglen - all the way! Especially effective when you need some healin' for yourself.