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The Spiritual Healing of Traditional Thailand

By C. Pierce Salguero
Findhorn Press, 2006
143 pp., $19.95

Thailand, in relation to health, has been in the news recently as part of the phenomenon of medical tourism: patients from the west traveling there to obtain treatments at a fraction of the price that one would pay, say, in the United States. However, The Spiritual Healing of Traditional Thailand, focuses on traditional Thai medicine that originate from Buddhist teachings that are thousands of years old.

At the basis of Thai healing is the Circle of Life, which says that three essences are always present and are interconnected: body, citta, and energy. Citta translates into mind-heart, and if I understand the author correctly, in other systems of medicines might be the equivalent of prana or chi. One cannot have an imbalance in one area without the others being affected. Traditional Thai healing might include herbal teas or soothing saunas as part of the treatment.

To fully understand Thai medicine, one must become familiar with Thai Buddhism. This is not the same Mahayana Buddhism that one finds in China, for example. The Buddhism discussed in this text is an early form called Theravada (Teaching of the Elders). The author, Salguero, goes on to explain the basic premises of this branch of Buddhism and even outlines two meditations, a mindfulness of breathing meditation and the loving kindness practice. Salguero goes on to explain that meditation is usually learned by having a teacher, and these exercises are meant to give the reader only a general idea of some healing meditations.

This text has literally dozens and dozens of gorgeous color pictures that are worth the price of this book alone. By the way, 10% of the author’s proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to charities working with healthcare in Thailand. The photos in some chapters depict Buddhist shrines. The author has spent much time and care in showing what a traditional Thai altar – a must for any healing work to take place – looks like. Photos of laughing Buddhas with big bellies are explained not to be what one is searching for when one is constructing their Thai altars, and drawings are included to show the proper arrangement of candles, offerings, and the centerpiece Buddhist icon.

A whole chapter is spent on healing amulets, and what is interesting is that many of these include healing tattoos which the men traditionally wear. A yan, or mystical picture, is often incorporated into a tattoo and the artist doing the inking will chant appropriately while administrating the design.

There are two prior books in this series which I’ve not seen: Encyclopedia of Thai Massage and A Thai Herbal.. I would like to read both now having read and enjoyed this, the latest one. Salguero includes other books and sources in an “Additional Reading” segment at the end of each chapter and, again, the photographs are quite lovely to look at. I recommend this book to those who want to learn more about Buddhism as well as those who would like to learn more about different systems of healing.

The Spiritual Healing of Traditional Thailand, by C. Pierce Salguero, Findhorn Press, 2006, 143 pp., $19.95

Review by Diane Saarinen

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