The Buddha – our enlightened essence – is known as the great healer, the energy which releases all beings from affliction. According to the Tibetan tradition, the Buddha emanated as Bhaishajyaguru, the “master of remedies,” thousands of years ago.
The master of remedies holds in his right hand a sprig of aurora, or cherubic Myrobalan, from which much of Tibetan medicine is compounded. His hand faces outward, symbolizing his bestowal of boons. In his left hand he holds a bowl containing three forms of ambrosia: the nectar that cures disease and resurrects the dead; the nectar that counteracts aging; and the supreme nectar that illuminates the mind increasing knowledge.
He established the Tibetan medical tradition in the form of texts known as The Four Tantras of Secret Instructions on the Eight Branches of the Essence of Immortality, which are more commonly referred to as Gyushi, “The Four Medical Tantras”.
The mantra of medicine Buddha is:
TAYATA OM BEKANZAY BEKANZAY MAHA BEKANZAY RADZA SAMUDGATAY SOHA
Medicine Buddha is also called Bhaishajyaguru Vaiduryaprabha, the healing master of Lapis Lazuli Radiance. Like Amitabha he wears the robes of a monk. He holds the myrobalan plant which is used to heal mental and physical disease. Traditionally medicine Buddha is depicted with seven other Medicine Buddhas including Shakyamuni Buddha. Tibetan medicine is based on teachings given by Medicine Buddha. The root of all illness is explained to be the three primary delusions of attachment, hatred, and ignorance.
From the wonderful Medicine Master Sutra:
“Manjushri, when that World Honored One, Medicine Master Vaidurya Light Tathagata, was practicing the Bodhisattva path in the past, he made twelve great vows that enable all sentient beings to obtain what they seek.”
The first great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life, when I attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi, my body will shine with dazzling light that will illumine measureless, countless, boundless worlds. My body will be adorned with the thirty-two heroic features and the eighty subsidiary characteristics, and I will enable all beings to become as I am.’
The second great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, my body will be as bright and clear as vaidurya, flawlessly pure, vastly radiant, majestic with merit and virtue, abiding at ease, adorned with blazing nets brighter than the sun and the moon. Beings dwelling in darkness will be illuminated and will succeed in all their endeavors.'”
The third great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, I will, by means of limitless, unbounded wisdom and skill-in-means, enable all sentient beings to obtain an inexhaustible supply of material necessities so they are without the slightest want.’
The fourth great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, I shall lead those sentient beings who practice deviant paths to reside in the Way of Bodhi, and those who travel on the vehicles of the Hearer or Pratyekabuddha to abide in the Great Vehicle.’
The fifth great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, I shall enable limitless and boundless numbers of sentient beings who cultivate Brahma conduct within my Dharma to perfectly uphold the three clusters of precepts without exception. Should there be any violation, upon hearing my name, they will regain their purity and not fall into the evil destinies.’
The sixth great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, if there are sentient beings whose bodies are inferior and whose faculties are imperfect, who are ugly, dull, blind, deaf, mute, deformed, paralyzed, hunchbacked, or afflicted with skin disease, insanity, or various other sicknesses and sufferings, upon hearing my name they shall all become endowed with upright features, keen intelligence, and perfect faculties, and they shall be free of sickness and suffering.’
The seventh great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, I shall cause sentient beings who are oppressed by many illnesses and who are without aid, without a place to turn, without a doctor, without medicine, without relatives, and without a family, who are poverty-stricken and filled with suffering to be cured of their sicknesses upon having my name pass by their ear, so they are peaceful and happy in body and mind. They will have a family and relatives, and acquire an abundance of property and wealth, and even realize unsurpassed Bodhi.’
The eighth great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, if there are women who give rise to a deep loathing for their female body and wish to renounce it because they are oppressed and disturbed by the myriad sufferings of being female, upon hearing my name, they will be able to turn from women into men who are replete with male features and ultimately realize unsurpassed Bodhi.'”
The ninth great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, I shall liberate sentient beings from the nets of demons and the bonds of external sects. If they have fallen into the dense forests of evil views, I shall lead them to have proper views and to gradually cultivate the practices of Bodhisattvas so they will quickly realize unsurpassed, proper and equal Bodhi.’
The tenth great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, I shall cause sentient beings who fall into the hands of the law and are bound, interrogated, whipped, fettered, imprisoned, sentenced to execution, or subjected to endless disasters, hardships, abuse, and humiliation so that they are torn by grief and distress and suffering in body and mind, to obtain, upon hearing my name, liberation from all worry and suffering by means of my blessings, virtue, and awesome spiritual power.’
The eleventh great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, I shall cause all sentient beings who are so plagued by hunger and thirst that they create all kinds of bad karma in their quest for food, upon hearing my name and single-mindedly accepting and maintaining it, to be filled with delicious food and drink and afterward, by means of the flavor of Dharma, to settle in ultimate peace and happiness.’
The twelfth great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, if there are sentient beings who are poor and without clothes so that day and night they are troubled by mosquitoes and flies, and by cold and heat, upon hearing my name and single-mindedly accepting and maintaining it, they shall obtain all kinds of fine and wonderful garments that accord with their tastes, as well as a variety of precious adornments, flower garlands, fragrant balms, and the enjoyments of music and various kinds of talents, so that all their hearts’ delights will be fulfilled.’
“Manjushri, these are the twelve sublime and wonderful vows that the World Honored One, Medicine Master Vaidurya Light Tathagata, One of Proper and Equal Enlightenment, made while cultivating the Bodhisattva Way.”
“Moreover, Manjushri, if I were to speak for a eon or more about the great vows made by the World Honored One, Medicine Master Vaidurya Light Tathagata, when he practiced the Bodhisattva Way and about the merit, virtue, and adornments of his Buddhaland, I could not finish.”
“Manjushri, if you see a man or a woman who is ill, you should single-mindedly and frequently clean and bathe him and rinse his mouth. Provide him with food, medicine, or water that is free of insects, over any of which the dharani has been recited 108 times. After the sick person has taken it, all his sicknesses and sufferings will be gone. If this person has a wish, he should recite this mantra with utmost sincerity. Then he will obtain whatever he wished for, and his life will be prolonged and free from illness.”
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