East Meets West at Penn State Abington

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”


Dr. Pierce Salguero, Assistant Professor of Asian History, is a researcher of Buddhist medicine, a system of healing that spread widely throughout Asia in the first millennium CE along with Buddhism. Originating in India, Buddhist medical ideas are closely related to Indian Ayurveda and ancient Greco-Roman medicine. Historically, this system spread as far as Iran, Mongolia, Japan, and Indonesia. Today, it is still the foundation of traditional medicine in Tibet, Thailand, and other parts of Asia. At the same time that Buddhist medicine has become a transnational tradition, however, it has been reinterpreted locally through the lenses of the many different cultures that have adopted it. His research explores this interplay between transmitted and indigenous knowledge.

Dr. Salguero’s current work primarily focuses on the reception of Buddhist medical doctrines in medieval China. This historical process is a fascinating window onto China’s involvement in a Eurasia-wide network of cultural exchange via the Silk Road and maritime trade routes. It is an important case study of the role of translation in the transmission and reception of medicine. The exploration of this topic also touches on larger theoretical questions, such as what we mean by “religion” and “medicine” in a global historical context, and how to theorize the interactions between cultures.

In his work, he employs interdisciplinary methodologies and perspectives from History of Medicine, Religious Studies, Sociology, and Translation Studies, among other disciplines. It is also important for him to present his research in ways that are accessible for practitioners of Buddhism and traditional Asian medicine, as well as for general audiences.

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