Tuesday, May 29, 2007


A few quotes that struck me today......

"If one believes in only what modern nihilists can see, one cannot believe that there is anything beyond ordinary existence. With this view, there cannot be any religion with a spiritual foundation. If one only wants to believe what ordinary nihilists believe, one cannot be spiritual, because being spiritual means believing in what is sacred and beyond the ordinary."

"Defined simply, nihilism is disbelief in anything beyond what is perceived by ordinary, shortsighted senses, and spirituality is belief in what is beyond these senses, which is the basis that sustains all religions.......If one were to believe only in material reality, there would be no immaterial object of faith as a basis for belief, and therefore no spiritual path to follow or result of enlightenment to attain."

"If there is no belief in spiritual appearances, then one cannot create positive phenomena, because no matter what religion is followed, positive phenomena originally come from believing in spirituality......All the divine messages of the Koran, the Vedas, the Bible, and the Buddhist scriptures, as well as celestial appearances of heavens, gods, and purelands, cannot be canceled just because they are not perceived with obscured senses."

Excerpted from: A Cascading Waterfall of Nectar, by Thinley Norbu

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Age and Fertility

While there is no question that age is related to reproductive capability, I often see infertility patients who feel pressured into the western assisted reproductive technologies ("ART") in the fear that the proverbial "clock is ticking."

One of the beauties of Chinese medicine is that it is able through its diagnostics (particularly, pulse diagnosis) to distinguish between chronological age and biological age. Often, infertility patients may present with a biological age greater than their chronological age. Kidney and adrenal insufficiencies, poor circulation and nourishment to the reproductive organs and a whole host of other issues can account for this.

An important point to bear in mind is that by strengthening the Kidneys and reproductive organs, and by addressing the imbalances related to this inconsistency between the biological and chronological age, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can go a long way to reversing this phenomenon. We seek to have a younger biological age, or in the very least, for it to be consistent. Understanding this, through treatments, we can rewind the "clock" and the urgency of ART can be lessened, if not eliminated.

Herbs Don't Treat Symptoms

One of the biggest misconceptions and misuses of herbal medicines is trying to match up an herb to treat a symptom. Many people have heard that gingko treats poor memory or that ginseng gives energy. And so this one-to-one correlation creeps into the westerners mind about trying to find the right herbs for each of their symptoms. In fact, this is one of the downfalls of western pharmaceuticals. We take one medicine for our heartburn and that causes another symptom so we take another med for that, but that causes additional symptoms so we take even more medications.

But one has to look beyond the symptomatic relief if one wants any understanding of the mechanisms behind how the herbs work. No herb will work for everyone with a given symptom. The reason is that people's symptoms while they may appear similar (poor memory, low energy) can be caused by a multitude of imbalances. For example, poor memory can be caused by poor cerebral circulation or by phlegm misting the orifices or by blood deficiency or by qi deficiency, etc., etc. And low energy can be caused qi and/or blood deficiency, qi depression/stagnation, etc., etc.

So, if one has poor memory from blood deficiency and they take gingko which enhances blood circulation in the head, they will receive no benefit. That doesn't mean that gingko doesn't effectively treat poor memory. It just means that it was used improperly in the wrong individual because it does not treat symptoms. It has a particular dynamic or function that it performs once ingested. Without understanding that dynamic or function, there can be no success using this herb other than sheer hit or miss.

Same goes for ginseng and every other herb that is touted in the media for treating particular symptoms. Ginger for nausea. But what if the nausea is caused by Stomach heat? Ginger is very hot and will probably cause vomiting.

So, understanding the mechanism behind an herb's actions and a proper diagnoses of the exact causes of an imbalance are what is required to use herbal medicines successfully.


Ever have something happen to you that you couldn't control, or have a loved one sick with no means to stop their suffering? This feeling of powerlessness while so often seen as a source of tremendous suffering to us, can be turned around (so I am told :-)) to provoke a deep sense of freedom. Once we accept that we have no control over our lives, we can start to quiet our expectations and simply bask in the in appreciation for what we have and how lucky we are. Even in the midst of our suffering, we can see things from a different perspective. And we can be there for others more fully to help them gain a different perspective as well.

Rinpoche's Tibetan Monastery and Medical Clinic

Rinpoche is reconstructing a monastery and medical clinic in Tibet. As it is a large project, anyone wishing to contribute is welcomed. You can access the site here with descriptions of the plans as well as other information. In the future, we also plan on having a school and clinic for Rinpoche here in NJ!

(The pictures of the ceremonial objects from the Medicine Buddha empowerment on this page took place at my home.)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Our Girl Has Arrived!

Tatum Devani Rosen ("Cheerful Shining Celestial Goddess Full of Spirit") was born at 5:05 am and is perfect. Ann as usual did amazing.

Labor of Love?

Game on. Ann's in labor. About 4.5 cm dilated. Regular contractions. We should have a new addition to the family in a couple hours......

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Am I Good Enough?

I was struck today by a patient whom I have treated for a couple of years and whom I respect as a very intelligent, caring, loving person and friend who came in feeling acute anxiety, panic and fear over a (mis)belief that perhaps she was not a capable and adequate mother. So many of us struggle with profound insecurities, whether it be in our personal, social or professional lives, and these beliefs begin to shape the way we feel about ourselves, interact with others and ultimately create our reality.

And while it is human nature to question ourselves, to suffer from jealousy, anger, ignorance based upon our karmic imprints, I did want to write this post if only to remind myself and this friend of our unstained Buddha-nature hiding behind all of our delusions. These insecurities and "bad" feelings must be recognized for what they truly are: false beliefs forced upon us by our deluded minds from habituated thoughts. Recognizing this is the first step in breaking this unconscious habituation and thus obtaining freedom from these insecurities.

Friday, May 4, 2007

A Good Time To Die

It seems appropriate (at least to me) to contemplate death on a regular basis, and especially at significant times in one's life. After all, we know two things are certain; we will all die, and we are not sure when. So, even while the excitement of the imminent birth of my child grows, being aware of my mortality is always in the picture.

And it seems fitting that this past week I have had the pleasure once again to host Lama Doctor Tsewang Ngodrup Rinpoche, this time for a three part teaching on the Bardo, the intermediate stages of consciousness (some of which deal with our experiences with death and in the afterlife). A main thrust of these teachings, in similar fashion to most of Buddhism, is to do virtuous deeds, to collect merit and good karma as it is only one's karmic imprints that follow the consciousness once it has been separated from the body. Good karmic imprints propel one towards better future lives and the chance at achieving enlightenment for the good of all sentient beings.

Of course, being comfortable with the idea of death is difficult, and here I must admit that at the current time I am not. But, I do find it helpful to think that the more good I do, the more patients I care for and try to heal, the more good karma I collect, the more love I feel and share with my family and friends, the better my chances are of securing future happiness.

So, then, when is a good time to die? I suppose, once one feels secure in the amount of merit and good karma collected.....

A Good Time To Be Born

When is the right time for a baby to be born? The obvious answer is when he/she is ready. But so often this momentous occasion is interfered with, expedited, hurried for the sake of others, whether it be for impatient parents-to-be or perhaps obstetricians who would rather schedule a delivery than be woken up in the middle of the night or during a busy patient shift resulting in loss of income. Insufficient knowledge regarding the significance of the birthing process to the health of the baby has led to unnecessarily scheduled inductions and C-sections at a great cost to the health of our children. (See some of my prior posts on birthing trauma.)

So, currently I am waiting for the birth of my third child. The excitement cannot be described and can only be known by other expecting parents. But, I am waiting. As patiently as I can. Despite that the due date is approaching (and, in fact, is today according to the updated due date given at the 20 week sonogram). Of course, due dates are constantly being pushed forward based on sonograms (despite the accuracy of which is plus or minus 10 days or so). Why? The cynic in me believes it probably allows doctors to schedule inductions in the belief of preventing a baby from going too far past its due date (not the original due date). But, in my experience of three pregnancies, and a significant number of my patients, the original due date is the correct one. Another instance whereby technology fails to achieve the accuracy of nature.

So, I wait. I can't wait. I am very excited!