Das Wissen vom Heilen
CH 1997 90'
The first in-depth film on Tibetan medicine, one of the world's most highly developed, holistic approaches to medicine, with its own pharmacopoeia of herbs, roots, minerals, etc. Tibetans have been more successful than the West in treating certain chronic ailments. The film takes us to Dharamsala, in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, seat of the Tibetan government in exile, where Dr. Tenzin Choedrak the personal physician to the Dalai Lama, introduces us to Tibetan medicine, and the 14th Dalai Lama explains the Tibetan concept of health. At Ulan Ude and in the Buryat steppes we discover long-term ways of treating serious illnesses. Over to Switzerland, Vienna and Jerusalem, for a look at some of the uses to which this alternative medicine is being put, and some new scientific evidence as to its effectiveness.
"Fascinating and extremely relevent to both the healthy and those diagnosed as having inoperable afflictions, for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike (though the Dalai Lama does offer insightful comment on the healthful benefits of the belief in reincarnation), THE KNOWLEDGE OF HEALING presents a time tested, noninvasive, life-affirming path from sickness to recovery and optimal well being. Perhaps it will open a dialogue in America’s high maintenance medical community, among med students and specialists and bioscientists, among financially strapped hospitals and bottom lining health insurers."
"If this gentle, optimistic film about the wonders of Tibetan medicine, becomes popular, it could drive hordes of the terminally ill to seek the painstakingly concocted herbal remedies for which the physicians and researchers interviewed in the movie make dramatic claims. How valid those assertions are, of course, is anybody’s guess. But if what the “The Knowledge of Healing” says about the effectiveness of these cures is true, the Tibetan system, which dates from the 12th century, deserves serious consideration as a supplement to Western medical technology."
Stephen Holden, New York Times
I have found that some people regard Tibetan medicine as a kind of magic. This is wrong, since Tibetan medicine is in many ways thoroughly scientific. With regard to the spiritual aspect, for example, doctors recommend patients to hold certain prayer ceremonies (pujas). This is because most patients in Tibet are Buddhists, and the doctor harnesses the power of their faith to promote healing. These two aspects must never be confused, however. The healing process itself is extremely scientific. Normally when people ask me which healing method to use, I recommend combining Tibetan medicine with allopathical medicine, since health is the goal of both methods. The problem can be solved in different ways, but the target is the same. These two systems are complementary, and that is the best solution. Although some individuals and organisations have shown an interest in herbal medicine, so far there has been no comprehensive documentary film or the like dealing with this subject. I think your project is very good.''
It is particularly important to me to develop a specific form for each of my films, a form which is created directly from the contents or, more specifically, from the perceptions I have gained from working through the substance of the theme and the vision which then presents itself. Every single take - or scene if take might be misunderstood - for the film has several reasons and use of this take can have more than one function. For example, the scene can be apparently dramaturgical, narrative, or informative. But, as in any work of art, the take should also contain a message on a higher level, as a symbol or a metaphor. Consequently, the shots of the medical scrolls from the seventeenth century – lit with a flashlight – can certainly be interpreted as a “metaphor”. In the beginning of the film they immerse the viewer in the ancient history of Tibetan Medicine with its, as you say, “mystical” aspects, which are attached to it unjustly but which are still there. The flashlight is used to seek and illuminate fragments of this medicine, for which connections and real meanings are explained later on in the film and which are thereby demystified.