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As we all know, the Buddha taught that everything is about mind -- including for example that Dukkha exists because of mind, because desire came into mind first no matter if it would affect us physically, because the main stream is the mind.

Even when the Buddha wasn't able to walk, yet he was enlightened.

So I would also ask if physical health would ever affect mind or mental health?

What about breaking precepts if it's matter of health -- for example if I'm suffering from headache then I can have aromatic therapy, or medicine including a little alcohol, or listening to music like that.

Why is the body important when one is enlightened or mindful? Can't we ignore what is happening with our body, and concentrate still on being calm, and focus on mind?

  • "why Buddha speaking about physical health?" -- Which speaking, which sutta, are you asking about? – ChrisW Nov 2 '18 at 23:53
  • @ChrisW I'm not asking about sutta but if it's matter of health or if there's health issue he permitted to break precepts. So that's why I've asked this question. – Swapnil Nov 3 '18 at 3:28
  • Sorry, I still don't understand the question. I think there are various vinaya rules which are relaxed when a monk is ill -- e.g. attending meetings, eating, medicine, slight quantities of alcohol. – ChrisW Nov 3 '18 at 9:45
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    I mean breaking precepts if it's matter of health. If I'm suffering from headache then I can have aromatic therapy or as you mentioned consuming alcohol. or listening music like that. So may you would understand if I would ask why body is important when that one is en lighted or mindful. Can't we ignore what is happening with our body and concentrate still being calm and focus on mind. – Swapnil Nov 3 '18 at 10:12
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The Bhikkhuni sutta recommends food, for example, as follows:

This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk, considering it thoughtfully, takes food — not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification — but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, [thinking,] 'Thus will I destroy old feelings [of hunger] and not create new feelings [from overeating]. I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort.' Then he eventually abandons food, having relied on food. 'This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.

I suppose that taking medicine is for a similar purpose -- i.e. it's to destroy old feelings (of pain), and not to create new feelings (from intoxication or sensual indulgence).

The vinaya for example permits medicines to monks if they're sick, including medicines which contain alcohol, if the alcohol is in more-or-less undetectable quantities (alcohol is useful when creating certain medicines because it's an effective solvent e.g. of alkaloids).


See also the answers to the topic Experiencing physical pain.

You might also want to read:

  • What nurses need to know about Buddhist perspectives of end-of-life care and dying

    Management of terminal pain and sedation

    Most Buddhists believe that the mind must be as alert as possible at the time of death.

    Taking into consideration overall well-being (including the mental state of the patient), nurses must balance the level of pain relief needed against the need for alertness in the dying Buddhist. Proper pain management can be achieved with minimal disruption of alertness by the use of the WHO analgesic ladder. The choice of non-opioid analgesics (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and weak opioids should be preferred over strong opioids and neurolytic block therapy whenever possible, with the aim of reducing adverse side effects (i.e. sedation and cognitive impairment), thus maintaining alertness of the individual so that effective spiritual practices may continue. However, if severe uncontrolled pain develops, cognitive impairment (e.g. delirium) may result that may require the use of strong opioids for effective relief to achieve the best cognitive function possible that would support meditative spiritual practices.

    The above is a small quote/extract, I recommend reading the whole article.

    In other words medical providers are advised to (more or less as usual) adjust the amount and type of medicine, according to the amount of pain, and according to the patient's ability to tolerate it. The difference is that Buddhist patients tend to prefer to avoid mind-altering drugs for as long as feasible.

  • A Buddhist Guide to Death, Dying and Suffering


Why is the body important when one is enlightened or mindful?

Part of Buddhist doctrine is a Middle Way, e.g. MN 36 explains something like this:

"I thought: 'Whatever brahmans or contemplatives in the past have felt painful, racking, piercing feelings due to their striving, this is the utmost. None have been greater than this. Whatever brahmans or contemplatives in the future will feel painful, racking, piercing feelings due to their striving, this is the utmost. None will be greater than this. Whatever brahmans or contemplatives in the present are feeling painful, racking, piercing feelings due to their striving, this is the utmost. None is greater than this. But with this racking practice of austerities I haven't attained any superior human state, any distinction in knowledge or vision worthy of the noble ones. Could there be another path to Awakening?'

"I thought: 'I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then following on that memory came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening.' I thought: 'So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?' I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities, but that pleasure is not easy to achieve with a body so extremely emaciated. Suppose I were to take some solid food: some rice & porridge.' So I took some solid food: some rice & porridge. Now five monks had been attending on me, thinking, 'If Gotama, our contemplative, achieves some higher state, he will tell us.' But when they saw me taking some solid food — some rice & porridge — they were disgusted and left me, thinking, 'Gotama the contemplative is living luxuriously. He has abandoned his exertion and is backsliding into abundance.

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Not even more importand then a good destination, not to speak about awakening. There is no, no reason and valide excuse to break the precepts, not for others, not for oneself.

"What do you think Dhanañjani? There is the case where a certain person, for the sake of his father&mother, wife & children ... his slaves & workers ... his friends & companions ... his kinsmen & relatives ... his guests ... his departed ancestors ... the devatas ... the king, does what is unrighteous, does what is discordant. Then, because of his unrighteous, discordant behavior, hell-wardens drag him off to hell. Would he gain anything by saying, 'I did what is unrighteous, what is discordant, for the sake of the king. Don't [throw] me into hell, hell-wardens!' Or would the king gain anything for him by saying, 'He did what is unrighteous, what is discordant, for our sake. Don't [throw] him into hell, hell-wardens!'?"

"No, master Sariputta. Even right while he was wailing, they'd cast him into hell."

"What do you think Dhanañjani? There is the case where a certain person, for the sake of refreshing & nourishing his body, does what is unrighteous, does what is discordant. Then, because of his unrighteous, discordant behavior, hell-wardens drag him off to hell. Would he gain anything by saying, 'I did what is unrighteous, what is discordant, for the sake of refreshing & nourishing my body. Don't [throw] me into hell, hell-wardens!' Or would others gain anything for him by saying, 'He did what is unrighteous, what is discordant, for the sake of refreshing & nourishing his body. Don't [throw] him into hell, hell-wardens!'?"

"No, master Sariputta. Even right while he was wailing, they'd cast him into hell."

Dhanañjani Sutta: To Dhanañjani

As for health: the Buddha supported always best care, yet in ways which are not harmful for oneself and all others. One needs this body to cross to the other shore, Nyom Swapnil.

[Note: this gift of Dhamma is not thought for commercial purpose, trade, stakes and exchange for any kind of wordily gains]

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When the mind is full of rapture, the body becomes tranquil. SN35.97

Often, our minds become entangled with this and that, causing the body to suffer from neglect. One can get headaches and backaches from staring at a computer screen or any other demanding fixed task. If this is the case, then breaking precepts to "solve" a problem is simply negligence. Take breaks, walk around, meditate, etc. Often these suffice and don't involve breaking precepts.

If you have a severe illness that is causing pain, you still have choices. In fact you always have choices that you can align to the precepts with compassion for all including yourself. You can choose to follow the breath in meditation sitting, standing, or lying down. If you have enough attention to be soothed by music, you have enough attention to follow the song of your breathing. However, if the doctor is amputating your gangrenous leg, you might wish to consider anesthetic to avoid painful thrashing that would cause more injury to yourself and others.

(Why) can't we ignore...

Because choosing ignorance to run away from a painful feeling doesn't end well. Relinquish ignorance and self-mortification. Be skillful. :)

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The state of your body can directly impact the state of your mind. An unhealthy stomache will have very negative impacts on your state of mind, emotions, and thoughts due to possible malnutrition, feelings of light headedness, nausea, inability to think clearly, etc. And thus the mind goes where the body goes, however, the body also goes where the mind goes.

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