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Pierce Salguero, Buddhism and the Sacred Art of Thai Massage, August 12, 2014

Where then did I get my longing to see the world, that burning desire to travel, to go to the ends of the earth?
Why, when I arrived in Asia, did I feel so much at home that I stayed there?
It came from another source, that brought with it a baggage of old yearnings and homesickness for latitudes known to me in some life before this one.
Tiziano Terzani, A Fortune Teller Told Me

Cardinal Points welcomes Pierce Salguero, interdisciplinary humanities scholar, researcher and historian. Pierce shares with us his areas of interest Buddhism and Thai massage. He has been interested in many of the religions of the East “for as long as I can remember.” South East Asia pulled Pierce to it just out of college where he spent many years traveling and studying . He spent much of his time between the Old Medicine Hospital in Chiang Mai learning about traditional Thai medicine and a meditation retreat center outside of Bangkok learning about Buddhism. It is then he realized how much Buddhism and traditional medicine are “intertwined.”

There are many different views and ideas about who the Buddha was and what he represented. Pierce then tells us the story of who the Buddha was from a scholar and historian’s perspective. “It’s a story that captures the coming of age; the transition and crisis that is available for all humans.” It’s a good message that there are alternative paths available to all of us that is not necessarily the main stream. “The Buddha is an ideal whose story is meant to inspire us.” There are many different Buddhist traditions throughout Asia who have varying understandings about what Buddhism is. Buddhism was born in Northeast India but “spread far and wide’ in it’s growth. From Iran, Pakistan, Southeast Asia, Japan, parts of Siberia, China and now to the West. Each local tradition added their own local flavor to Buddhism. “Buddhism has a philosophical connection with healing.” Meditation, chanting, rituals, and prayer can assist in healing.

Pierce then effectively describes the healing art of Thai massage as Dim Sum; a variety of foods that are mixed and matched according to the culinary desires of the individual. Dim Sum can be steamed, fried, boiled, baked, or broiled, and this wide range of options makes for a lively and varied meal. There is no pure form of Thai massage; the ingredients a blend of  influences from Yoga, Chinese medicine and Shiatsu.” Thai massage in Thailand is always deeply informed by indigenous Thai culture and the Thai way of seeing things.” It is diversity that characterizes Thai massage. It is an art form that is an expression of ourselves and creativity as practitioners. I recommend that you all experience this healing practice. It will be a bodywork like no other you’ve ever experienced. Like Dim Sum it will keep you coming back for more.


Pierce Salguero

Pierce Salguero is an interdisciplinary humanities scholar interested in the role of Buddhism in the cross cultural exchange of medical ideas. He has a Ph.D. in History of Medicine from Johns Hopkins University, and teaches Asian history, religion, and culture at Penn State University’s Abington College, located near Philadelphia. The major theme of his teachings are the interplay between the global transmission and local reception of Buddhist knowledge about health, disease, and the body. He is fascinated by the study of the intersection of religion and medicine in cross cultural perspective. His research integrates methodologies from history, religious studies, translation studies, literary studies, and anthropology, among other fields, and he is continually seeking opportunities to cross disciplinary lines in publishing and presenting his work. It also is important to him to present his research in ways that are accessible for non-scholarly audiences, particularly for practitioners of Buddhism and healthcare professionals.

Website: www.piercesalguero.com