Health as Buddhist Practice

Subject Overview

In this subject, you will explore the meaning of health and illness and how different traditions – especially the Greek-origin European ‘science’ tradition, Indian-origin Buddhist understandings, and traditional Chinese medical approaches – conceive of and act on mind-body health and ill health.

The subject content will include the philosophy, history and political economy of health practices as they have developed within different cultural and environmental contexts. You will be introduced to a range of different medical approaches including indigenous Australian, Ayurveda and traditional Chinese as well as examining the reality of mainstream science-based medicine as it exists in Western societies.

You will be taught a range of practices that are said to influence health. You will be asked to adopt and critically examine the impact of one practice on your own health. How does your own experience compare to the reported expected outcomes and evidence base for this practice? What does the practice tell us about the ideas that are the implicit underpinnings of such a practice?

It is hoped that the mix of theoretical input and student experiences will allow us to explore health and illness in depth and in new ways.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the concepts, beliefs and world-views underlying mainstream, indigenous and Asian healthcare practices
  • Identify Buddhist approaches to both health and disease
  • Critically analyse fundamental issues involved in health, illness and healing practices
  • Understand and situate the health practices within a Buddhist framework as well as within biomedicine and traditional medicines
  • Critically evaluate and reflect on the historical construction of health practices, including what is considered healthy, how illness is conceived and the ways in which healing is said to be achieved
  • Develop an ability to recognise and evaluate what is chosen as evidence in evidence-based medicine
  • Experience and reflect on the application of specific health practices and their impact on wellbeing.

Subject Structure

This subject runs for five weeks, with the following structure:

Week 1: Pre-reading of prescribed texts
Week 2: Digital Intensive Classroom (5 days x 8 hrs/day)
Weeks 3 – 5: Submission of assessments online




Nan Tien Institute (NTI) is a private, not for profit, government accredited higher education provider offering studies in the areas of Buddhist studies, health and wellbeing, within an environment that incorporates contemplative education.

NTI offers postgraduate programs in Applied Buddhist Studies, Health and Social Wellbeing, Humanistic Buddhism, and Mental Health as well as customised Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programs and special interest subjects across the areas of meditation, mindfulness and health.