Medicine Buddha

‘East of this world, past countless Buddha-lands – more numerous than the grains of sand in ten Ganges Rivers – there exists a world called Pure Lapis Lazuli. The Buddha of that world is called the Medicine Buddha Lapis Lazuli Radiance Tathagata, Arhat, the Perfectly Enlightened, Perfect in Mind and Deed, Well Gone, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed Being, Tamer of Passions, Teacher of Gods and Men, Buddha-World-Honored One.’

“The Buddha then said to the Bodhisattva Manjushri: -The Medicine Buddha Sutra

The Medicine Buddha is often depicted wearing the robes of a monk and seated in the lotus posture. His left hand is in dhyana or meditation mudra on his lap holding a begging bowl containing amrita, the nectar of immortality. His right hand rests on his knee facing outward in a gesture of supreme generosity, giving blessings. In this hand, he holds an arura or myrobalan plant, known as the king of medicines due to its unsurpassed effectiveness in healing physical and mental illness.

The Root Tantra is the first of Four Medical Tantras that form the basis for the Tibetan system of medicine. It says that the Medicine Buddha was once seated in meditation surrounded by four circles of disciples, divine physicians, great sages, gods, and bodhisattvas who wished to learn the art of healing. Rendered speechless by his radiance, the assembly was unable to ask for the desired teachings, and so to fulfill their unspoken wishes, the Medicine Buddha manifested two emanations, one to request for the teachings and the other to deliver them. Thus he is revered as the origin of the Tibetan healing arts.

In the Tibetan system as well as in many other ancient cultures and traditions, it is a false perspective of reality that keeps sentient beings in the bondage of suffering connected to samsara, the cycle of existence. This false perspective creates the three mental poisons of attachment, anger, and ignorance. These poisons produce 84,000 affective emotions that create the imbalances that cause all physical, mental, and emotional illness.

On the surface, the results obtained by the practice of Medicine Buddha might seem limited to physical, mental, and emotional healing because of our restricted view of reality. To understand the power of this practice on a deeper level, we can go back to the -The Medicine Buddha Sutra :

“After the Medicine Buddha attained Supreme Enlightenment, he realized, by virtue of his past vows, the suffering that sentient beings endured. Seeking to put an end to the suffering and to fulfill the desires of sentient beings, he entered a Samadhi called ‘Eliminating All Suffering and Afflictions of Sentient Beings’. In that state, a brilliant light shone from his urna as he uttered a great Dharani:

Namo Bhagawate Bhekanze Guru Bendhruya Trabha Ranzaya

Tathagataya Arhate Samyaksam Buddhaya

Teyatha Om Bhekanze Bhekanze Maha Bhekanze Ranza Samung Gate Soha.

As soon as the Medicine Buddha, in his radiance, uttered this Dharani, the entire cosmos rumbled and shook. Brilliant lights shone forth, allowing all sentient beings to escape disease and suffering and enjoy peace and happiness.”

When we receive the Empowerment of the Medicine Buddha, we accept the transmission of this teaching from Karmapa. We allow our energy to be connected to the Medicine Buddha, thus planting the siddhi of enlightenment in our consciousness.

Once we are empowered, when we do the practice and chant his mantra, the key is complete and perfect trust. In that state of sincere trust, our suffering and ignorance are eradicated. We allow the Twelve Great Vows that he made while he was on the bodhisattva path to manifest and be fulfilled in us. We are restored to our original state of balance, happiness, purity, and peace as we awaken to Reality.

  • The Twelve Great Vows of the Medicine Buddha:
  • To illuminate infinite, countless boundless realms with light shining from his body and enable anyone to become a Buddha like him.
  • To awaken the minds of all beings dwelling in darkness with his lapis lazuli radiance and enable them to engage in their pursuits according to their wishes.
  • To provide the sentient beings with an inexhaustible quantity of goods to meet their material needs.
  • To set those with heretical views on the path to Enlightenment and inspire beings toward the path of the bodhisattva .
  • To help all beings who cultivate the path of morality follow the Moral Precepts and to restore the purity of those who have violated them.
  • To heal beings born with physical deformities and mental deficiencies and free them from illness and suffering.
  • To relieve illnesses in the destitute and the miserable and give them peace and contentment.
  • To help women who wish to abandon the female form be reborn as men and endow them with noble features.
  • To help sentient beings free themselves from the bonds of heretical paths and lead them to correct views and practices of the bodhisattva .
  • To free those suffering from oppression from their afflictions.
  • To relieve those who suffer from terrible hunger and thirst in order to prevent them from creating evil karma in their attempts to survive.
  • To clothe sentient beings who are destitute and suffering and fulfill their wishes to support their realization of Enlightenment.

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Stupas are places where the energy of the Buddhas is all abiding; physical embodiments of the Enlightened Minds of the Buddhas,the perfection and balance of compassion and wisdom.