Ancient teachings tell us that merely seeing the Medicine Buddha, or even seeing an image of the Medicine Buddha, or hearing the name of the Medicine Buddha, can confer inconceivable benefits. – Spiritual Bliss
Bhaisajyaguru, commonly known as the Medicine Buddha, is the Buddha of healing and medicine in Mahayana Buddhism. He is a fully enlightened being capable of healing both, the outer and the inner, suffering or dukkha by applying his teachings as medicine. He has unbiased compassion for all sentient beings. He offers protection from physical harm and mental afflictions, as well as others dangers and obstacles. He helps them to eradicate the three unwholesome roots (poisons) or kleshas of attachment, hatred and ignorance that are considered to be the source of all suffering.
He was described in a Sanskrit manuscript called Medicine Buddha Sutra (Bhaisajya-guru-vaiḍūrya-prabhā-rāja Sūtra) as a bodhisattva who upon enlightenment made twelve great vows:
- To illuminate countless realms with his radiance and enable anyone to become a Buddha.
- To awaken the minds of sentient beings through the light of lapis lazuli.
- To provide all sentient beings with all necessary material needs.
- To correct heretical views and inspire all sentient beings toward the enlightened path of the Bodhisattva.
- To help all sentient beings follow the Moral Precepts of Buddhism even if they have failed before.
- To heal sentient beings born with deformities, illness or other physical sufferings.
- To help relieve the destitute and the sick from their suffering.
- To help women who wish to be reborn as men achieve their desired form of rebirth.
- To heal sentient beings from their mental afflictions and delusions.
- To help the oppressed be free from their suffering.
- To relieve those who suffer from terrible hunger and thirst.
- To help clothe those who are destitute and suffering from cold weather or mosquitoes.
The idea of Buddha as a metaphorical healer is as old as Buddhism itself and goes back to the historical Buddha who found the cure for suffering and presented his formula as the Four Noble Truths.
Medicine Buddha is one of the emanations of the Gautama Buddha as understood in the Mahayana Buddhism. He is venerated in China, Japan and Tibet. He is often depicted as a seated Buddha wearing the three robes of a Buddhist monk with a stem of the Aruna fruit (Terminalia chebula) and a lapis lazuli medicine bottle.
namo bhagavate bhaiṣajyaguru
vaidūryaprabharājāya tathāgatāya arhate
oṃ bhaiṣajye bhaiṣajye
The practice of Medicine Buddha is considered to be a very powerful tool for liberation from suffering. The faithful recite either the dharani or the mantra that helps them overcome the inner “sickness” of attachment, hatred and ignorance. It also helps ease the outer, physical suffering and purify the negative karma.
By Dominique Allmon
Image: Blue-Faced Medicine Buddha by Dominique Allmon