Buddhism on Health and Illness

For Buddhism, physical suffering is an inevitable part of life. Like old age and death, sickness is unavoidable and bound to produce some degree of suffering. This does not mean that one should not mitigate pain through available medical means, but if suffering remains, it should be accepted and mindfully endured. Within the Buddhist tradition, physical pain and illness can provide an occasion for the cultivation of healthy and desirable mental states including forbearance and patience. Therefore, it is not illness but rather our response to it that has spiritual value in the Buddhist tradition. In his teachings, the Buddha condemned any form of self-mortification and mistreatment of either body or mind. Underlying this approach to health and illness is Buddhism’s view that the body and mind are interrelated and interdependent. Hence, the body is a valuable instrument whose good health is indispensable for maximizing spiritual development. Meditation techniques, a core part of the Buddhist tradition, are designed in part to prevent and address physical and mental illness.