The Scientific Approach to Buddhist Study ¡V
Food Purification and Health
Lecturer/Sun-Don Lee (Leader of the
A big tree, that is tens of kilometers high with a trunk as huge as to take several people to encircle, needs rather insignificant amount of nutrients when compared to what the animals would need. Why would an average person need so much food? Other than the amount, taste is also taken into consideration in order to satisfy the appetite. Man is indeed much more complicated than other living beings. However, is this phenomenon related to human¡¦s evolutionary process?
Sakyamuni Buddha has made a detailed description about the origin of the humankind in the Agamas Sutra:
"All Bhiksus should know about this: Once upon a time, the flood faded and the earth restored its original condition. At that time, with the earth came the nutrients, which were so delicious that they tasted better than sweet dews. Those nutrients smelled like sweet grape wine. All bhiksus should know about this: once upon a time, beings in light-sound heavens said among themselves, "We would like to go to Yen-Fu-Tee to observe the earth in its original condition."
Beings in light-sound heavens came down to the earth. They saw the nutrients on the earth and took with their fingers the nutrients into the mouth to taste. At that time, those beings that ate a lot of earth nutrients got less supernatural powers and were losing the brightness. With their body getting heavier and bone and flesh being born, they lost their deva foot and could not fly any more. Since those beings that ate less earth nutrients did not get heavier or lose deva foot, they could still fly in space. At that time, those beings that had lost their deva foot cried and said among themselves, "We are in a very desperate situation and have lost our deva foot. We can only live upon the earth and are not able to return to the heavens any more. We will just have to eat these earth nutrients."
From these words, we know that human beings came from
the beings in light-sound heavens that had to stay on the earth because
they had eaten too much earth nutrients. Our ancestors were affected by
"food" to cause the physical transformation so as to ever
since live upon the earth.
Food, Medicine, and Health
In a modern world, "You are what you eat" is a prevailing concept in the western society. To the Chinese people, it is "to supplement shape with like shape," such as to enhance the brain by taking pig¡¦s brain, or to enhance the kidney by taking pig¡¦s kidney, etc. Although from the medical point of view some exaggerated stories are not reliable, they are sometimes indeed correct as it is said under some special circumstances. In the western society, it is part of tradition that people take chicken soup as a way to treat the common cold. This once unproven treatment is now confirmed by medical studies to have the effect of shortening the recovery period of the common cold. It has long been a widespread notion among patients: taking animal cartilage to improve the symptoms, taking bone to supplement bone. The health food industry even promotes products of chondroitin and glucosamine to enhance the protective effect on the joints. All of these have never been taken into serious consideration in western medicine.
However, a recent clinical study published in a
well-known medical journal "Lancet¡A358¡F251-256¡A2001"
found that 212 patients of degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis)
involved in the double blind study who take 1.5 grams of glucosamine for
two consecutive months experienced alleviated pain by 26% and increased
vitality by 43%.
The related study found that the comparison of the
western medicine ibuprofen with glucosamine for the healing effect shows
that glucosamine has similar effects as ibuprofen in improving symptoms.
However, in terms of side effects, glucosamine results in absolutely no
stomach ulcer. Treating patients with glucosamine extracted from animal
cartilage orally, it is found that glucosamine forms polyglucosamine in
the cartilage to help the growth of cartilage and also to increase the
lubricant of the joints. Patients who are suffering from the
degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis) should take more cartilage to
According to statistics, 1/10 of adults over forty
are afflicted with diabetes while the ratio for females over sixty-five
is 1 out of 3. Women in menopause produce less insulin while insulin
resistance also increases with age. The study reports point out that 44%
of women experience increase in insulin resistance after menopause.
Hence, women after menopause have a higher chance of getting type II
diabetes than before menopause. For women who were not treated with
hormone replacement therapy, the risk of getting type II diabetes is
five times greater than those who were. In general, women after
menopause who take hormone replacement therapy show lower blood sugar
and insulin before meal with only slightly higher blood sugar 2 hours
after meal. Short-term intake of female hormone would lower HbA1c of
type II diabetes patients. Therefore, these findings may result in the
change of the pattern applied in treating women after menopause
afflicted with diabetes. Women patients with type II diabetes need the
protection of female hormone since their risk of having cardiovascular
disease is greater than an average person.
However, in 1995, a report by a medical research team in the medical school of Harvard University in the U.S. was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The report says that a study involving 500 nurses after menopause found that the breast cancer mortality for women taking female hormone increased two times, while endometrial cancer mortality increases 14 times. Due to this correct statistics by the medical school of Harvard University of the U.S., the female hormone which was once called elixir seemed to turn overnight into the major criminal responsible for endometrial cancer and breast cancer.
In the same sense, to supplement female hormone or not becomes a
dilemma for women after menopause. Although new medicines are currently
available to deal with the problem just mentioned, won¡¦t the new
medicines cause new problems again some day, just like the hormone
replacement therapy which was once considered to have all the benefits
for women after menopause? Some components of the natural food that have
long been applied, such as phytoestrogen found in plants, seem to have
similar effects. The study shows that the countries in the Southeast
Asia where people usually take more beans have a far lower risk of
getting cardiovascular diseases or related cancers than the countries in
the western world. However, Asian immigrants experience an increased
risk of getting cancer since living in the western society. This
difference is obviously related to the different eating habits existing
in the eastern and western lifestyles. The related fundamental research
also indicates that some specific component, such as genistein in
soybeans, is indeed associated with the prevention of certain diseases.
To take all these into consideration, doesn¡¦t it seem that you should
try food before you try medicine? Then, can food replace medicine?
All the viewpoints mentioned above are discussions
based on the material forms. From the Forshang Buddhism¡¦s viewpoint of
the integration of the ten great characters ¡V essence, form, wisdom,
virtue, principle, practice, energy, effect, time and space, the
discussion based on the material forms is only one of the ten
characters. The spiritual aspect of materials forms, which is also the
energy form, has never been explored. Therefore, certain things might be
very dangerous if the discussion only reach the level of the material
forms, for example, drinking.
In general, it is an already accepted fact that
drinking adequate amount of beer or red wine is good for the health. The
German Beer Manufacture Association pointed out recently that drinking
beer can lower the risk of getting cancer, stroke, and heart diseases
and thus encouraged German youngsters to spend their time in bar
drinking beer instead of in gymnasium. The president of this association
pointed out in a news conference that German people consumed on average
slightly over 123 liters of beer in the past year, which is less than
147 liters of ten year ago. He attributed the lower consumption of beer
partly to the trend for fitness and the energy drinks popular among the
Specialists and scientists also pointed out in the
Beer and Health one-day conference held in Brussels in October of last
year that not only does drinking beer have the sedative effect, but it
could also reduce cardiovascular diseases and prevent cancer and
osteoporosis. Holland scientists concluded in a study conducted on eight
thousand people in the beginning of this year that drinking adequate
amount of wine, whether it is beer, whisky or grape wine, can reduce the
risk of getting Alzheimer¡¦s disease.
All these studies supported modest drinking. However,
Master Lee always instructed us repeatedly and earnestly based on what
he had seen in deep mediation that drinking is forbidden to disciples
since Sakyamuni because drinking is harmful to our body, erosive to our
nervous system, or even destructive to our ether forbidden net. In order
to keep our body healthy, to abstain from alcohol is absolutely
Drinking would erode the nervous system!
Student: What are the opinions of Forshang Buddhism
Master: It is the best if a Dharma seeker does not drink. Drinking would do much harm to the spine, meridians, and the nervous system, which can never be recovered!
(Excerpted from Master Lee¡¦s instruction in the 60th
term class in Taipei on 11/19/97)
Student: Doctors often tell patients that it is good to drink a small cup of wine every day because it helps blood and energy circulation. Is that true?
Master: People usually take alcohol as medicine, which can physically promote the blood circulation, strengthen heartbeats, pulsation and the dilation of blood vessels. However, besides the advantages, there is also the drawback of hurting one¡¦s nervous system. A small cup every day may not show that much effect on the nervous system; however, constant drinking would erode one¡¦s nervous system more or less!
It is better that a Dharma seeker does not drink! A Dharma seeker¡¦s blood and energy would naturally circulate smoothly. Since we can make it with a safe and effective way, we don¡¦t want the side effect of alcohol. That is to say, since the advantage that alcohol may bring to most of the people can be obtained on our own, then we can spare ourselves from the disadvantage! If you want to promote the blood circulation, do "conquer the dragon and tame the tiger". I guarantee you that after three times you will breathe heavily and the blood circulates very fast.
(Excerpted from Master Lee¡¦s 5/8/99 class
instruction at Los Angeles Branch)
Master: In terms of spiritual practice, drinking is really dangerous! Human¡¦s biological energy always originates from the bottom of the spine, the last disc at the very bottom, actually being the origin of energy. The outermost layer is the biological energy, existing in most of the life forms. The second layer is called the starlight stratum, which is the Ling energy. Between the biological energy and the starlight stratum is the "Ether Forbidden Net".
Because of the blockage of the ether forbidden net, the phenomena of your life force, the biological energy derived from your thoughts cannot enter the starlight stratum, in which supernatural powers are developed. The ether forbidden net hinders you from becoming the saint, the sagacious, and the Bodhisattva; it also prevents you from turning into the devil, the demon, or from being invaded by foreign spirits. Some people were interfered by the foreign devils or spirits and became mentally disordered. Actually that was because the ether forbidden net was broken! We won¡¦t find out anything if we only study the brain cells. Actually your brain cells were affected when the ether forbidden net broke under strong shock. Your brain cells being stimulated and shocked by the outside energy, your brain being affected by the outside waves, your mind being under such influences, these are the physical state of what we described as "the mental disorder and the invasion of foreign devils".
In our cultivation process, we are turning the biological energy into Chi energy. This is the first stage. In the following stage, we turn Chi energy into Ling energy and begin to have the supernatural powers. Beyond the Ling energy is the mental energy, which is the great supernatural powers. The level beyond the mental energy is the light energy, which is the last obstacle before attaining enlightenment. Beyond the light energy is the state of Buddha and Bodhisattvas.
In the stage of Ling energy, the five supernatural powers will gradually be revealed except that the energy still wave and therefore is yet unstable. In the stage of mental energy, we practice to gain the 24 hours concentration when your energy will be built up slowly to reach the stability. When you are able to have the complete concentration, you have reached the state of mental energy, and also the state of great supernatural powers. Your internal is able to influence the external. For example, your being able to affect typhoon, or earthquake are the phenomena of the mental energy. Beyond this level are the three illuminations: the physical illumination, the mental illumination, the energy illumination, being able to realize that the impermanence is the permanence. After the three illuminations are perfectly harmonized, we enter the Dharma nature, or the Dharma enlightenment. The supernatural powers are now even more powerful and are able to influence a lot of things not only on the earth, but also into the future. Between the mental energy and the light energy, there is a very critical stage called "the sixth supernatural power", when all the sufferings are eradicated. Beyond this stage and the light energy, one will attain the first level of Boddhisattvahood. The spiritual body is shapeless, formless. Light is still a form. Light is the lowest level of energy form visible to humans. Actually, light is only a descriptive expression, which is ultimately a kind of energy, shapeless and formless.
In order to transform the biological energy into Chi energy and even further into Ling energy, we have to break through this ether forbidden net.
At this point, your power of concentration becomes more and more important; otherwise, foreign spirits or foreign devils might be invoked. Then, how about drinking? Alcohol is liquid but will vaporize into gaseous state after entering our body. The gaseous particles are so delicate that they can penetrate the ether forbidden net. Also because alcohol is erosive, it will erode the ether forbidden net! The broken ether forbidden net would be easily invaded by foreign devils. Thus, aren¡¦t there a few people who suffer from cerebral paralysis, or losing liver functions because of drinking? Doesn¡¦t the liver have the function of neutralize poisonous substance? In addition to dissolve the poisonous substance in the material forms which you take in, the liver has another function: "to dispel foreign devils", dissolving the fat of the negative energy in the outside. Therefore, drinking is the worst thing to the liver and will weaken the liver functions more and more because your ether forbidden net is being eroded away, is being broken down. If you are a Dharma seeker who drinks, you are in great danger! Because you don¡¦t have yet enough power of concentration, you won¡¦t be able to expel the unpleasant energy or to bring in only pleasant energy. Once your concentration is lost, you invoke foreign spirits or devils. Your energy field will again interfere with things in your surroundings. Therefore, it is the best not to drink alcohol at all!
(Excerpted from Master Lee¡¦s 4/28/91 lecture on the
To Practice the ten unlimited mind is the best for
Student: In terms of keeping the achievement in every causation, what is the healthiest way of eating?
Master: Human life force continues because of, first of all, its "vitality", secondly, the extensiveness of the "force".
"Vitality" means the incessant rebirth of cells. When a human cell mutates, it is called the cancerous cell. As the cell changes from aerobic to anaerobic, less and less oxygen could be absorbed in the blood and the vitality of cells is taken away while functions of internal organs are weakened. At the present time, humans have no way to treat cancer because we take the pathological approach to the study of cancer! Yet, cancer itself is not bacteria, but rather the mutation of cells. If you can change the magnetic field in your body, you will not generate the oscillation of a certain kind of energy so as to avoid cancer. Why was this disagreeable energy generated in your body? That is because you are not in the right state of mind. Any cancer patient is caught in greed, anger and ignorance. Therefore, in order to treat cancer, treat our mind first. Change to the right state of mind to clean up our own karma ¡V our own karma changes with our own thoughts! When the thoughts accord with the ten unlimited minds, karma is also cleaned up.
Taking food is for sustaining the "force" but it has not much to do with the "vitality" of cells. It is said that "Enough energy replaces food." If you intensify the vitality of cells, you reduce the demand of food. The purpose of food is to supply enough energy and nutrition for your activities. Thus, food is the lowest form of energy, which is required to sustain your life. For example, vegetarian food has lighter energy. Food of heavier energy is considered to carry heavier karma as said in Buddhism. This energy will spread all over your body and thus affect the health of our life.
However, if you are doing really well in your spiritual practice to a level that you can dissolve the poisonous substance you take in, or in other words, to deliver the karma, whatever you eat is Okay! I don¡¦t particular favor food in the family of fungi because fungi grow in dark and damp places, such as the cracks of the decayed wood, dim and very moist. The wood itself absorbs not much the essence of sun and moon. Strictly speaking, it is better not to eat those things.
Taking the ice is really not good! A life form usually remains at a steady temperature. After taking the ice, the internal organs and the meridians will contract to an extent that the cells cannot take it any more, resulting in the decreased vitality of cells. Why does the snake hibernate? It is because the coldness is more than it can take so that the vitality of its cells and internal organs are also reduced!
Also, do not eat before sleep. If you want to make faster progress in your cultivation process without any side effect, the best way is to eat only up to 80% of your appetite and also put the quality of food before the quantity of food. The rest part is your spiritual practice. "Try food before you try medicine; increase energy before you increase food; develop mind before you develop energy." The mind refers to your ten unlimited minds. When the state you reach in your cultivation process is in the same essence and the same transformations as the entire universe, it does not matter what you eat. You eat to keep up with your spiritual practice. The basic principle is this: "put quality before quantity; eat only up to 80% of your appetite." That is it.
(Excerpted from Master Lee¡¦s 8/3/91 lecture on the
Food purification ¡V to bring out the purified
energy from food
Student: There is a Korean medicine that talks about pressing on meridian points to see what food you should take. Does this have anything to do with what we said about body and mind?
Master: That has nothing to do with our teachings. When we take food into our body, the energy of the mass transforms into biological energy to be absorbed by us. This kind of energy cannot help change or clean up karma. It only nourishes our body, the way of healthy living as said in the Chinese medicine.
Most of the diseases cannot be dealt with simply by nurturing our body. The existence of a disease indicates the lack of understanding, or the abused effect of Buddha nature. The Buddha nature is full of glory, perfection and goodness by nature, and is expressed through discipline, concentration, and wisdom. It is ourselves that apply the effect of Buddha nature incorrectly to greed, anger, and ignorance. How do we bring out the best effect out of the food we take into our body? Since any food, which is composed of electrons, will project energy in the absorption, how can we make sure that all the energy thus projected is purified? This is far more important than the kind of food we take. Of course, it saves our body a lot of trouble to digest the food if we eat properly.
If you look at the Dharma seeker of the ancient time who has testified up to the 3rd level of Bodhisattvahood or above, even if he takes the most poisonous substance, arsenic compound, it will still not do any harm to him. That is because he is capable of thoroughly purifying these food so that they project only pleasant energy but not the unpleasant energy. Therefore, we recite the Worship and Repentance Prayer in the beginning of "Food Purification Doctrine" to purify our mind for the body to accord with the purity. When we are in purity, even if the food we take is poisonous, it won¡¦t be as bad as it should be. That is because if we are not in accordance with the poison, no oscillation will occur. Of course, there is still a chance that you might be poisoned. However, the higher achievement you get, the less chance there will be. In other words, greater accordance brings out greater effect; less accordance brings out less effect. If there is a good part in the food, it will be easy for us to absorb and transform. There are three Nine Word Zen Prayers toward the end of "Food Purification Doctrine". The first time is for Da Zi Zai Wan Fo¡¦s light to shine upon the food, and it is meant to purify the food one more time so that it will only project pleasant energy as much as possible but not the unpleasant energy.
In the second time, you unite your spiritual body with the food. The spiritual body, full of glory, perfection and goodness, are united with your mouth, your physical body, and all the forms in your earthly life even before your act of eating begins. Therefore, you are not eating others. You are eating you yourself because of the one united form. The prayer in which you take the pitying vow is not only for you to obtain the inner purity but also for you to have the most candid communication with food in the meanwhile, enabling the food to project the best energy it can get to offer you, to support you. This is the scientific perspective on the physical effect brought out by the Buddhist spiritual practice. The issue of what kind of food we should take thus becomes less significant.
(Excerpted from Master Lee¡¦s 12/26/98 class
instruction at the L.A. branch in the U.S.)
Fasting brings harms rather than benefits to health
Student: What we called the fasting therapy is not
developed for Dharma seekers. If someone is heavily ill, can this help?
Master: Fasting is a subject we talk about after we attain the preliminary spiritual body. Do not go ahead no matter what. It brings no good to your body. If we follow this theory, then the refugees in Ethiopia, Uganda should not get sick at all (it is not that they are fasting, but that they have nothing to eat). Then, why is the situation there one worse than another?
Fasting has to be applied with many related doctrines when our Chi energy transforms into Ling energy in order to reduce the obstacles generated in the process of the material forms changing into biological energy. It has to be accompanied by a set of tightly structured physical cultivation doctrines. You cannot go ahead without considering the consequences. Fasting has to be applied only when your essence can generate very refined energy. At that point, it can really help you speed up your cultivation process and reach a higher level of achievement sooner.
If a patient is very ill already and he cannot take any food any more, that is because he cannot help it. As long as he still can take food, we should provide him good food. What good can fasting bring him? His own body cannot generate energy of a higher state, will you still not provide him food so as to reduce his immunity? That doesn¡¦t sound right! In order to do the self-healing, we have to be able to generate the energy of a very refined state, which would only revive the good cells and the part that has the immunity while at the same time reduce the vitality of bacteria or cancerous cells. That should be the right thing to do!
(Excerpted from Master Lee¡¦s instruction in the 38th
term class in Taipei on 6/14/95)
Student: In March of this year I went on a seven-day
fast and only drank fluid for two weeks. On the fourth week, I felt
completely weak and collapsed. The hospital could not figure out the
problem, but why have I not been having any strength?
Master: That is not the way fasting should be. Fasting can only be applied when the energy has been elevated to the level of Ling energy, or the preliminary spiritual body has been testified. Why is that? It is because we conduct the mass-energy conversion everyday. After the food we take is digested and absorbed in our stomach and intestines, it changes into biological energy to support us. If you fast, you reduce the source of biological energy. What do you have then to replace that? You have nothing!
Even if someone practices Chi Kung, he still cannot fast. Those who practice Chi Kung constantly extract energy from biological energy to supplement Chi energy. In fasting, there will be no source for biological energy, and therefore there will be no way to supplement energy.
It is only allowed under one particular circumstances, that is, when you reach at least the level of Ling energy because you have already united your physical state and your mental state. When your mind is in peace and harmony, what you replace will be the Ling energy. Once you go on a fast, the energy of a lower state decreases to be replaced by the Ling energy ¡V a more refined energy. In the process of constantly expelling the energy of lower level, you will be replenished by the energy of a very refined state. This is the real meaning of fasting. Before you reach that state, fasting is rather harmful to your body. Therefore, you should not go on a fast no matter what!
(Excerpted from Master Lee¡¦s 8/19/96 class
instruction in Taipei)
All forms in the universe could be used for healing.
Student: I, the disciple, took a blood test last week
and found that the white blood cell count was too low. There was only a
little bit more than two thousand. An average person has about six or
seven thousands or more¡K?
Master: Eat stewed kelp, tomatoes, and watch Chun-Hsung Huang¡¦s glove puppet show ¡V the story of eagle-hunting heroes. All forms in the universe could be Buddhist doctrines. Since they are Buddhist doctrines, they could be used for healing. It does not always take the tongue to taste, the teeth to chew or eat to be a medicine. Your listening to Nine Word Zen Sound Dharani with your ears can be medicine. Watching movies with your eyes can also be medicine. Be it eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, or thought, anything can be a medicine!
(Excerpted from Master Lee¡¦s instruction in 12/9/99
mental doctrine class)
All forms in the universe could be used for healing. That is great! The modern medicine has also proven Lycopene and Vitamin A to indeed be associated with immunity, while iodine in kelp will help the synthesis of thyroid hormone and furthermore closely related to immunity. The part of the energy form is related to the mental relaxation while watching glove puppet show. It would be such a natural thing to recover without any medical help.
Up to this point, everybody must already have a completely new impression. Forshang Buddhism is the turning point of human civilization in the 21st century. That is something inevitable.