Buddhist healing: strengthening health, helping others — downloadable text from Jason Espada: A Collection of Buddhist Methods for Healing
By Jason Espada
Here is the complete text, A Collection of Buddhist Methods for Healing in pdf format.
For ease of reference, I’ve made these two hyperlinked posts – one for the Introduction, and one for the Table of Contents
Since so many people these days are asking what they can do to strengthen their health, and to help others, I thought to offer this collection of Buddhist methods for healing. We have time now, and the strong motivation to practice, so if we connect with a Tradition, the result can only be to the good.
Sadhana: prayer, mantra and visualization
In Tibetan Buddhism, a sadhana is a method of accomplishment that uses prayer, mantra, and visualization, based on Buddhist philosophy. These are practices that people have used for centuries in Tibet, China, and India, and that are now becoming known in the West.
The first half of this collection includes sadhanas and commentaries that will hopefully make these practices as accessible as they can be for those new to these methods. For older students, the commentaries can clarify and encourage us to practice well.
The second half of this book is of a more general nature. It has advice on healing, essays, poetry, and prayers.
See what works best for you, and,
May you and all those you care for be blessed in every way.
An Overview of the Contents of this Collection
Lama Zopa’s teaching on Blessing the Speech makes use of the Sanskrit Vowels and Consonants, and the Mantra of Dependent Origination. These can be recited before any practice, or at its conclusion, to further empower and to stabilize the blessings.
The sadhanas, or methods of accomplishment in this collection come from the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition, and they are organized as follows:
The texts on the two most common practices used for healing – those of the Healing Buddha, and White Tara;
I am including here commentaries by great contemporary teachers, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Lama Lodro, Zazep Tulku, Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal, and Geshe Wangdu;
White Tara and the Deities of Long Life
White Tara is considered one of the Three Deities of Long Life, along with Namgyalma, or Ushnishavijaya, and Amitayus. They are often pictured together on thankas, and visualized as well in practice.
Their individual sadhanas are included at this point.
Their mantras can be also done along with a session of White Tara.
A recent message from Geshe Sopa’s Deer Park says
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has advised chanting the Tara mantra as much as possible to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.
We can supplicate Tara with deep faith recognizing that she is the embodiment of the enlightened activity of all the Buddhas.
Tara is known for her swift action, and is especially helpful in relieving fears of any kind.
Her mantra is
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA
Editor: White Tara guided visualization video:
Tara videos with mantras
Here are two videos with the mantra. Right-click and select ‘Loop’ to play continuously.
Next come the practices that are being recommended for the current conditions, in 2020:
The first is one called Vajra Armor
The Noble Bodhisattva Lama Zopa Rinpoche recently posted a video that includes a teaching on this practice. The accompanying notes read, ‘Watching this video attentively qualifies as having received the oral transmission of the following mantra and prayers.’
The reading transmission begins at the 36:40 mark.
A second practice that has been recommended is that of Black Manjushri
For me, this particular practice feels appropriate at this unique moment in time, dealing as it does with what they broadly call pollution as the cause of illness. Its effects in a short time have been powerful, healing and protecting.
There is a fine introduction to this practice on Buddha Weekly, that includes a wonderful video of a teaching by the Venerable Zazep Tulku.
The Prayer Liberating Sakya from Disease, by the Maha Siddha Tangtong Gyalpo is next. This uses the mantra of Avalokiteshvara, or Chenrezig, along with prayer to accomplish our purpose;
Various groups of practices have been recommended by Lama Zopa Rinpoche over the years for infectious diseases, and these include:
- Black Garuda, and
- Logyunma, also called Loma Gyonma, or Parnashavari which is an aspect of Tara.
- This is followed by A Vajrasattva Sadhana, and a brief commentary on this practice by Lama Lodro Rinpoche
We can see for ourselves which of these practices are effective for us.
Many commentaries exist, online and in books, and if we feel a connection with one or more of these methods, we should seek out those precious teachings.
For the Healing Buddha, there is Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Teachings from the Medicine Buddha Retreat, and Medicine Buddha Teachings, by Thrangu Rinpoche; Khenpo Kathar also has a book on White Tara Practice called The Wish Fulfilling Wheel;
There is an abundance of information online as well. Here is my Concise Set of Buddhist Healing Prayers and Practices. Knowing how to do any one of these practices in the traditional way, we’ll understand how to accomplish any of the others that are similar.
Jason Espade recites Medicine Buddha Sutra:
Connecting with and choosing a practice
My own feeling is that it’s possible for a person can connect with any of these practices by hearing or even just reading a mantra. Other practices take some time and application to have a feeling for their qualities. This much is commonly known in Indian Spirituality. To get the full benefit from any of these practices, in either case, we need to apply ourselves, with compassion for those who suffer, and with faith and energy. Then positive results are sure to come.
For ease of reference, just the names of the practices can be found here, and their mantras are on pages 132 to 134 of the pdf.
There is a karmic reason why we would have one practice, and another person would choose another. And there is a reason why a mantra may wake up at some time in our life, or in our world, and be effective. These are interdependent causes functioning in our lives.
For this reason, I don’t criticize any person’s practice, or even a practice I’m not doing or feeling any result from any particular time. Conditions can change, I have seen, and a mantra and its divine energy can awaken for us, and be a source of healing.
See for yourself what brings the most benefit for you, and all those you care for.
Lama Zopa said:
“Because of the flourishing of the five degenerations (lifespan, views, emotions, time, and beings), the diagnosis of sickness has changed and new disease patterns have emerged. Doctors have difficulty in recognizing the new diseases and do not know the treatment. These patterns are just as Padmasambhava predicted…”
The tantras have been collected and passed down over the centuries with this very purpose in mind, to help us to respond to difficult conditions as they arise. They are the result of compassionate and accomplished teachers who have preceded us, and left us their blessing in the form of pure energy, sacred texts and images.
In addition, new practices have been formulated, or revealed in response to the needs of the time. These terma, or revealed treasures are considered to have fresh blessings, to be more accessible and in some cases more effective methods. If we have a connection, they will work for us, just as they say.
Part Two of this collection has teachings, poetry and prayers, and essays on Vajrayana practice that may be useful, as well as Protective Chants from the Pali Canon.
Whatever methods we have that can help us to help each other should be shared now as widely as possible. This is the time. This is most decidedly what all of our study and practice up to now has been for, and this is why our spiritual ancestors have given us their gifts. They are exactly for this hour.
In these needful times, I turn again to my teachers, and with faith to these methods of accomplishment gathered from various sources.
May these practices be of extensive benefit, now and in the future,
as much as is ever needed
May all of our practice be deeply healing
May it bring us all complete freedom from fear
May all illness be dispelled
May excellent health and peace be firmly established for us all
and may all beings everywhere enjoy oceans of happiness and good fortune
A detailed Table of Contents follows, with links to audio and video, and online resources.
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Author | Buddha Weekly
Jason Espada is a writer and classical musician living in San Francisco; a steward of his father’s photography, and the founder of A Buddhist Library: http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com. Over the years, he’s made a number of recordings of Buddhist teachings. These days his focus is on the natural connection between spirituality and social action. His new website is at JasonEspada.com.