Suttas or Buddhist sources regarding psychosomatic illnesses?

Having googled around on this, nothing substantial surfaces, other than new age discussions and some Tibetan references. Apologies for that distraction.

[quote=“SarathW1, post:10, topic:5843, full:true”]

There are many Suttas with “hot blood coming from the mouth” [/quote]

That sounds pretty serious (to vomit hot blood). Since the phrase seems to pop-up, at least 4 times in the same way, could it have been some kind of idiom, or a symbolic expression? Does the Pali (vomit AND hot blood) unambiguously refer to physical symptoms, or are there perhaps metaphorical uses in the language of the time? (In a previous post, we saw that Ven. Analayo hinted at this possibility.)

From a modern medical perspective, it could indicate something like stomach ulceration (though possibly also tuberculous – the mouth is opening to respiration as well as the GI tract), which we know can relate to extreme stress. Would make sense for Sañjaya as having your students leave sounds stressful for a teacher. And the Buddha’s rather extreme discourse (the Aggikkhandhopama-sutta) could have been critically stressful for the 60 bhikkhus whose practice wasn’t that solid.

“Blood” doesn’t appear in any of the indexes of B. Bodhi’s Nikaya translations, but text-searching digitized translations (the MN) comes up with many instances of the word; most of them having to do with blood as one of the 31 or 32 “body parts” (more a commentary / abhidhamma theme, but appearing also in the sutta-s), or just mention of things like where someone gets wounded and bleeds.

A PTS Dictionary search finds “lohita” as primarily meaning “red”, but also used as “blood” per se. Most references to canonical texts there appear to be other than EBT, except for one citation in AN and one in Sn:

The first sutta citation for lohita (given in PTS as in A.iv.135 = B. Bodhi Book of Sevens, “72(8) Fire”) is, it turns out, the one covered in that 2011 lecture by V. Analayo, brought up by Aminah, and VA’s discussion presented in my two previous posts here.

(However, just noticing that VA, in the PDF outline that goes with the lecture, identifies MA 5 – “Discourse on the Simile of the Heap of Wood” – as “Parallel to the Aggikkhandhopama-sutta, AN 7.68 / AN IV 128.” But, at least in B. Bodhi’s translation, AN 7.68 (p. 1080) is titled “One Who Knows the Dhamma”; here it’s “72 (8) Fire” (p.1090) that appears to be the Aggikkhandhopama-sutta – “Fire (aggi) Mass (khandha) Simile (opamma)”. VA must have been very busy that summer, or didn’t have a good proof-reader.)

Also, the PTS Dict compares this sutta to a “similar” passage in the Milinda-panha, which, according to Bhante S. (in the concurrent thread “Dating the Buddha (563 BCE)”) is among the latest texts in the Pali Canon. So the Aggikkhandhopama-sutta is perhaps not that early? Or is actually EBT but copied / quoted in the Milinda?

The second PTS citation (Sn 433, aka “3:2 Exertion” in Thanissaro’s translation; Nyanaponika translates it as “Der Kampf” – “the struggle”) has the Buddha poetically replying to Mara’s trying to persuade for him to continue on with life and it’s pleasure: “Why, when my mind is resolute, shouldn’t my blood [lohita] dry away? As my blood dries up gall & phlegm dry up. As muscles waste away, the mind grows clearer; mindfulness, discernment, concentration stand more firm. Staying in this way, attaining the ultimate feeling [TG: jhanic equanimity], the mind has no interest in sensuality, See: a being’s purity!

This would seem opposite of psychosomatic illness – the body wasting away on its own, the mind, without trying to alter that, exults in purity.

One more reference to the use of “lohita” from the PTS Dict, interesting and on-topic (the OP mentions Suttas or the Buddhist sources”): Visuddhimagga 409 (XIII,9) (however, this passage is numbered “401” in the CST4.0 version of the Pali Canon – seems everyone has trouble getting the correct citation?) – penetration of minds (Cetopariyañāṇakathāya) by the Divine Eye (dibbacakkhuvasena): the bhikkhu observes the color of blood in another’s (physical) heart – red (like banyan-fig fruit) when joy is present, blackish (like rose-apple fruit) with grief, and clear (like sesame oil) with serenity.
This could be considered psychosomatic as the mental state influences the body, tho not strictly in terms of illness.

(btw: philological detail: Pali / Sanskrit vamati (to vomit) is listed as related to Latin vomo, vomitus, and hence our English word.)

Interesting idea, I guess such a possibility would be likenable to the modern English phrases such as “spitting feathers” or “frothing at the mouth”.

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Yes. Another such image I recall in some sutta-s is where some Brahmin or other skeptic dialogs with the Buddha, doesn’t get it, and goes away “with his tongue wagging” – or something like that.


Just in case of interest, I thought I’d link you to this thread, please ignore if irrelevant.


Dear @Aminah, thanks for the link…I had not seen this thread at the time it was created. Very interesting. " Ven. Analayo treats the phenomenon of “hot blood coming from the mouth” which (to memory) he shows to be something in the suttas that seems to occur as a result of / or indicates a psychological shock."

Again, I had not seen this reference before, so it’s good to have this explained to me. I still react to reading Lion’s Roar sometimes, but hopefully not to the point of hot blood. :slight_smile:

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