A glamorous fashion consultant
was once diagnosed with cancer. This is how she
attempted to alleviate her suffering:
She sent a message through
a friend of hers, a student at the Vajrapani institute
in California, to ask for advice about healing
practices. She was advised to buy animals that
were in danger of being killed and to then free
them in a safe place, thus enabling them to live
This charming woman saved many
animals from places where they were going to be
killed. She actually freed two or three thousand
animals, mostly chickens, fish, and worms. She
had the chickens taken care of on a farm, and
she freed the fish in open water. She also bought
two thousand worms because they were cheap and
readily available, and released them in the garden
outside her home. Liberating worms was believed
to be a particularly good idea as they go straight
under the ground when they are released. Since
they have some protection there from predators,
they have a chance to live longer. It was less
certain that animals freed in forests, lakes,
or the ocean would have lived longer because they
have natural enemies in those places.
It is said that when she returned
to the hospital for a checkup after doing these
practices, the doctors could not find any trace
of the cancer. True or not, this story should
not come as a surprise to those subscribing to
the karmic theory. In the words of Deepak Chopra:
"No debt in the universe
ever goes unpaid. There is a perfect accounting
system in the universe, and everything is a constant
'to and fro' exchange."
Thus by granting those helpless
animals the boon of life the lady vindicated her
faith in the authenticity of the karmic law, namely
that "karma is both action and the consequence
of that action." The actions she took were
not magical or miraculous but rather a patient
planting of causes which eventually bloomed into
the effects of health and happiness. Indeed if
we want to create happiness in our own lives,
we must learn to sow the seeds of happiness for
others. As with Buddhist practices more generally,
the result one receives depend on one's past karma.
Indeed everything that is happening at this moment
is a result of the actions we have performed in
the past. This is but an illustration of the proverb
'as we sow as shall we reap.' If we have loving
kindness and compassion, our prime concern will
always be not to hurt others, and this itself
is healing. According to Buddhist belief a compassionate
person is the most powerful healer, not only of
their own diseases and problems, but also those
of others. Many of us will vouch that in a sickbay
a doctor's friendly smile among the prevalence
of disease and suffering all around can work wonders
for the overall well being of the patient. Truly
the use of love is to heal. When it flows without
effort from the depth of the self, love creates
In Buddhist tradition the first
and primordial healer was the great Buddha himself.
Known popularly as the Medicine Buddha he is said
to have revealed the teachings embodied in the
sacred bodies of texts known as the Four Medical Tantras. The whole of Buddhist medicine is said
to have derived from this sacred scripture. As
explained in the first of these texts, Buddha
the Great Healer was once seated in meditation
surrounded by an assembly of disciples including
divine physicians, great sages, non-Buddhist gods and bodhisattvas, all of whom wished to learn
the art of healing. Rendered speechless by the
radiant glory of his countenance, they were unable
to request the desired teachings. To accommodate
their unspoken wishes, the Medicine Buddha manifested
two emanations, one to request the teachings and
the other to deliver them. In this way, then,
the Buddhist explanation of the various mental
and physical ailments, their causes, diagnoses,
and treatment is said to have originated.
than that, the action of the Buddha in understanding
his disciple's needs without their explicitly
stating so is in itself a reminder of his infinite
compassion. Indeed healers such as the Buddha
are referred to as great physicians not because
of their medical abilities - as great as these
are - but because they have the compassion and
wisdom to diagnose and treat the root causes underlying
all mental and physical malaise.
In visual arts the Buddha of
healing is sometimes represented as golden in
color, though his characteristic color is blue.
In either representation his
left hand rests in his lap in the mudra of meditation,
supporting an iron begging-bowl. His right palm
faces outwards, offering, in a gesture of generosity,
a stem of the myrobalan plant. This is a healing
fruit well-known in Tibetan medicine and a symbol
here of the botanical realm's restorative fecundity,
reminding us that the earth provides freely, asking
for nothing to sustain her fertility but gentle care.
Buddhist science of medicine grants only a limited
application to external medicine. These are considered
sufficient only up to the level of removal of
external symptoms of the disease. The cure for
humankind's root illness is stressed to be spiritual
illumination, the way to which lies within our
own selves. Towards this end the Medicine Buddha
is often shown surrounded with various fragrant
and healing plants of the Tibetan pharmacopoeia,
as also innumerable gods sages, and other exalted
beings. Such a densely packed arrangement is referred
to as the 'Paradise of the Medicine Buddha.'
This paradise represents an
idealized universe where remedies exist for every
ailment. The Buddha himself is said to have stated,
"For as many sentient beings as exist
in this world system, there is a path to liberation."
According to Romio Shrestha
"The Medicine Buddha is our complete spiritual
apothecary. To discover the healing force within
our being is to enter the paradise of the 'master
of remedies.'" In other words this paradise
lies within our own selves, only a conditioning
of the mind is required to identify it and partake
of its pleasures. Romio Shrestha further says:
"Our body has the capacity to cure itself
of any ailment. Every plant, every herb, every
remedy has its counterpart within the subtle essences
of the human body."
We have the capacity to heal
not only ourselves but also those around us as
the following story will demonstrate:
was once a monk who lived in a small Tibetan village.
He was quite ordinary, and spent his life going
about his monastic duties. One year a terrible
epidemic of small pox broke out in the village,
killing many people in the area, the monk also
contracted the disease and died. It was the middle
of winter, the ground was frozen and the wood
was scarce, so his body was taken to a lake and
put under the ice. Shortly after this, the epidemic
stopped. In the springtime, as the ice was melting,
people noticed a rainbow over the place where
the monk had been put. They went back and found
his body floating there, perfectly preserved.
He was brought back to the monastery and given
a special cremation ceremony. As his body disappeared
into the flames, rainbows came out of the pyre
into the sky, and relics were discovered in the
ashes. Everyone then recognized that this monk
had been an extraordinary person in the garb of
an 'ordinary' one, and credited him with purifying
the negative karma that had caused the epidemic
by taking it (absorbing it) into his own body.
In the world of Tibetan Buddhism, sickness can
be a manifestation of spiritual accomplishment
and a sacrifice made on the behalf of others.
This is something a mother can understand, who
gives her own vitality to nourish her children.
Indeed here some find the justification for the
wasting away of their bodies by rigorous ascetics,
treating sickness as the broom that sweeps away
bad karma, thus justifying their embracing of
the hardships and suffering on the spiritual path
as the highest form of purification.
An ordinary person has the
capacity for extraordinary healing. This ability
is gained by recognizing the suffering of others
as our own, by suffering as they are suffering,
by feeling one with them. Cultivating such sentiments
gives rise to a warm and caring heart, full of
compassion. Only then can be mobilized the boundless
powers of healing that reside within the infinite
depths of our consciousness. In fact disease and
suffering are believed to be particularly liberating
in as much as they offer us an opportunity to
experience our interconnectedness with other beings
by making us aware of our own mortality. There
is a story about an abbot of a monastery who had
gained much proficiency in the powers of compassionate
healing. One day while addressing his disciples,
he suddenly yelled in pain. When the lamas asked
what was wrong, he told them that a dog was being
beaten outside. Going out, they found an angry
man with a stick chasing away a dog. When the
man was called in the abbot pulled down his own
robes to reveal his back. On the same place where
the dog was hit were fresh cuts and bruises. This
is the sort of oneness that an ideal healer is
sought to possess.
The Buddhist tradition identifies
the Medicine Buddha as the ideal healer, and it
also stresses that the utmost powers of healing
lie within our own selves. According to Deepak
Chopra "We have a pharmacy inside us that
is absolutely exquisite. It makes the right medicine,
for the precise time, for the right target organ
- with no side effects."
by extension we come to the realization that the
venerable Medicine Buddha is within each of us.
The path to this realization lies through meditation,
specifically the meditation of visualization.
By meditating on him and visualizing him in front
of us we can come face to face with the Medicine
Buddha whose smile radiates compassion to the
universe, and whose gentle eyes melt with love
for all living beings.
Next, then, a ray of golden
light comes from the heart of the Buddha, and
gently penetrates our own heart. (Heart here means
'heart center' - the core of our being inside
the center of our chest, not the physical pumping
mechanism). This heart-center is defined as:
"Within you there is
a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat
at any time and be yourself. This sanctuary is
a simple awareness of comfort, which can't be
violated by the turmoil of events. This place
feels no trauma and stores no hurt. It is the
healing mental space that one seeks to find in meditation."
--- Deepak Chopra
This realization comes to us
as a flash of insight, and it is not verbal, nor
linguistically structured. It is a feeling of
sudden, liberating knowledge, when without words
we experience the truth. A truth gauged through
words is not spontaneous since a finite amount
of time is required to dwell on their meaning.
It is through this imaginative, symbolic and creative
spiritual experience that 'ordinary' beings are
transformed into extraordinary healers. This is
the way to relate to the Medicine Buddha, the
greatest of all healers.
No wonder then that doctors
believing in these ideals perform this meditation
and invoke the Medicine Buddha before they prepare
their medicines and when offering them to patients.
While doing so they also simultaneously chant
his mantra. This mantra is OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE
MAHA BEKANDZE RANDZE SAMUNGATE SOHA. As they
recite this sacred formula they visualize nectar
flowing down from the syllables of the mantra
into the medicine. The syllables then completely
dissolve into the medicine and grant it the potency
and power to heal.
This is a symbolic gesture
aimed at the realization that as the sacred syllables
making up the mantra grant the medicine its capacity
to heal, likewise by consciously following the
path of righteous karma, we are able to soak our
lives with the nectar which flows from the virtues
gained through such action.
Key TakeawaysThe Medicine Buddha is depicted with a blue body, which represents his ability to heal and purify negative emotions.There are many different versions of the Medicine Buddha mantra, which is believed to have powerful healing properties.The Medicine Buddha is often invoked during meditation or healing practices, and is associated with the cultivation of compassion and wisdom.The Medicine Buddha is not just a figure from Buddhist mythology, but is also an important symbol of the potential for healing and transformation within all of us.
The Medicine Buddha is depicted with a blue body, which represents his ability to heal and purify negative emotions.
There are many different versions of the Medicine Buddha mantra, which is believed to have powerful healing properties.
The Medicine Buddha is often invoked during meditation or healing practices, and is associated with the cultivation of compassion and wisdom.
The Medicine Buddha is not just a figure from Buddhist mythology, but is also an important symbol of the potential for healing and transformation within all of us.
Your email address will not be published *
Email a Friend