Thangka of The Medicine Buddha
The Shang Shung Institute of America’s School of Tibetan Medicine originates from the ancient lineage of Traditional Tibetan Medicine practitioners who received authentic knowledge of Traditional Tibetan Medicine in the historic oral tradition. The oldest existent Treatise of Tibetan Medicine, the Bön, gSo rig ëBum bzhi, grew out of this oral tradition that finally, in one generation, was written down. The treatise is a transcription of the teachings on Tibetan Medicine given by Sherab Miwo, who lived twenty-five centuries BC. The chain of lineage holders who continue to transmit this knowledge remains unbroken.
Menpa Thubten Phuntsog
The Shang Shung Institute of America (SSIA) was founded by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in 1994. In the fall of 1997, Professor Namkhai Norbu and the SSIA Board of Directors requested Menpa Thubten Phuntsok, a Distinguished International Fellow and renowned Traditional Tibetan Medicine practitioner, to direct the beginning development of the Institute’s Tibetan Medicine programs in the US. Soon after his acceptance to the appointment, the Institute began presenting studies in Traditional Tibetan Medicine. Menpa Thubten, together with the SSIA, went on to establish the first full-length certification courses in Traditional Tibetan Medicine available in North America.
Menpa Phuntsog Wangmo (Ping Cuowangmu)
Menpa Phuntsog Wangmo (Ping Cuowangmu) joined the school’s faculty in 2001, and later succeeded Menpa Thubten as director of the school. Under her leadership and guidance, and with the arduous perseverance of a growing number of dedicated faculty, staff and volunteers, the Shang Shung Institute of America was licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a Licensed Secondary Private Occupational School in 2005. With this distinction, the school began offering a Four-Year Tibetan Medicine Program from which the first cohort of students graduated in 2009. The SSIA four-year TM program was developed in alignment with the traditional curricula of Traditional Tibetan Medicine programs offered in universities in the autonomous region of Tibet. Graduates of the Four-Year programs are honored to be invited to participate in internships under senior Traditional Tibetan Medicine practitioners at Xining Tibetan Medical Hospital.
First Graduates of Four-Year TM Program, 2009
Massage Therapy is an integral part of Traditional Tibetan Medicine practice. Known by the Tibetan name KuNye (or the application of oil by rubbing), Massage Therapy in Tibetan Medicine practice employs a very wide range of modalities that include the use of stones, salt, and dry cupping, as well as relaxation and therapeutic massage. In 2008, the Shang Shung Institute worked closely with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Board of Registration of Massage Therapy to ensuring compliance with state regulations for Massage Therapy licensure. The Shang Shung Institute repeated this process in 2017; students who successfully complete the Massage Therapy and Tibetan KuNye External Therapies Program are eligible to apply for a Massage Therapy license in Massachusetts. More details about programs can be read in the Programs pages.
Serious interest in learning Tibetan Medicine through other, international Shang Shung organizations arose in Russia in 2012, and has steadily increased in Italy, Australia, Spain and other parts of the world. Russia currently has a Four-Year TM Resident Program. Both the Australian and Russian Shang Shung organizations are diligently preparing to offer a hybrid curriculum of On-Line distance learning combined with On-Site practical intensives in both countries. The Shang Shung in Italy currently offers various Tibetan KuNye courses to meet the needs and interests of its students.
The SSIA School of Tibetan Medicine celebrated its 10th Anniversary in 2015-2016.