Why the Buddha is Regarded as the Supreme Healer; plus, a daily healing meditation anyone can practice.
Excerpt from “A Collection of Buddhist Methods for Healing” ebook (free to download), used with permission. Note: Healing meditations, even though effective, are not a replacement for the advice of your health-care practitioner. For links to all of Jason Espada’s resources, see our earlier story>>
By Jason Espada
Buddha, the Supreme Healer
To my mind, there are two reasons why the Buddha has been regarded throughout time as the Supreme Healer.
The first is that the Buddha saw not only suffering, but its causes as well, rooted in ignorance, and, from his very first talk, proposed a remedy to all suffering. By developing the wisdom of insight into our own nature, the Buddha taught that we can become free from all karma and delusions, and all harm. This is a radical proposition that, over two millennia, many have investigated and verified.
If a person goes to an ordinary doctor, with one problem or illness, that is what they will be treated for. By comparison, it is said that this profound remedy goes to the cause of the entire range of our sufferings. Next to a medical model that treats only one symptom, or a few symptoms, this is vastly different, as it goes unimaginably further. It aims to
cure all the oceans of samsaric sufferings, over countless lifetimes, that living beings experience.
A second reason why the Buddha as been thought of as the Supreme Healer is the scope of the enlightened person’s concern, which includes every aspect of our life, health and well being, from the material and psychological, to the most subtle, spiritual levels.
It is care that is comprehensive, all-inclusive, and it is for all living beings. It is this range, the depth as well as this breadth of love and compassion, that distinguishes the Buddha.
Over two millennia, then, born of wisdom and compassion, many Skillful Means have been developed by the followers of the Buddha, and those with realizations, to meet the needs of beings.
- Related Feature: Buddhist Healing by Jason Espada>>
- Link to Table of Contents of book A Collection of Buddhist Methods for Healing on Jason Espada’s site>>
- Link to Jason Espada’s introduction to the Collection>>
Different methods from varying traditions
There are many ways for the Divine Light and Healing Energy to pour into this world. If we feel we have an affinity with these teachings, we are invited to try these methods and see if they work for us. When we do, we may have the experience that we are supported as well by all the great pure energy of the Saints and Noble practitioners of the Lineages.
All of this has its source in the life of wisdom and compassion of the Founder. All of these teachings and practices can be seen as the continuation of the activity of that realized life. And so I join my voice with those of the past and present, and sing with them, as part of one traditional verse of praise:
Homage to the Completely Perfected, Fully Awakened Being, the Supreme Guide
Homage to the Fully Awakened One, The Glorious Conqueror, the Subduer from the Shakya Clan
And, from the Seventh Dalai Lama:
Honor to Buddha, the supreme sage, the cosmic overlord who awakens
all beings from drunken ignorance by manifesting the hundredfold light of truth’s brilliant door.
May all the benefit that can come from healing practice be received by all living beings,
each according to their need,
and, in whatever way I can, may I be the cause of that
– From A Collection of Buddhist Healing Prayer and Practices
The Meaning of the Praise and Mantra of Medicine Buddha
Edited and condensed from a talk during Medicine Buddha Puja by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Land of Medicine Buddha, 28 July 2001.
To the Bhagawan with equal compassion for all
Whose name when just heard dispels lower realms’ suffering Dispeller of disease and the three poisons
I prostrate to Medicine Buddha Lapis Light.
tayatha om bekandze bekandze maha bekandze radza samudgate soha.
The Fifth Dalai Lama explains that the first verse expresses what Medicine Buddha is and talks about the qualities.
Bhagawan means “Destroyer Qualified Gone Beyond One” or Chom Den De in Tibetan. “Destroyer” means not only destroyer of one’s own gross and subtle defilements, the delusions, but also destroyer of other sentient beings’ delusions and defilements. “Qualified” refers to six qualities. “Gone Beyond” means gone beyond the oceans of samsaric suffering.
“With equal compassion for all” means Medicine Buddha’s compassion is equal towards all sentient beings, there are no discriminating thoughts. Buddha doesn’t just help those who have faith in him. Medicine Buddha has compassion to every single living being, equally-and that includes us.
Then, “Whose name when just heard dispels lower realms’ suffering”.
Any living being who hears the name of Medicine Buddha never gets reborn in the lower realms — that’s the benefit, the power of just hearing the name, the mantra. The reason there is so much power is due to Medicine Buddha’s compassion. In the past when he was a bodhisattva he made so many prayers and dedications with strong compassion for his name to be wish-fulfilling, to bring happiness.
When he became enlightened, one of the ten powers of a Buddha is the power of prayer — that means that all the prayers that have been made get fulfilled. So it is extremely important in our daily life to practice Medicine Buddha and to chant his name for the animals. It’s an unbelievably easy way to liberate yourself and to help others too.
Medicine Buddha practice also purifies any broken vows, like Pratimoksha vows, or precepts. It is very powerful for purification and for healing sickness. Normally people think that Medicine Buddha is for healing but it’s not only that, it’s also very powerful for purifying negative karma and very powerful for success. The Medicine Buddha practice is so precious. It seems that you can do Medicine Buddha Puja for ANY purpose, ANY problem, ANYTHING. You can use the Medicine Buddha practice for any kind of problem, for court cases, to stop wars, to stop violence, anything. It is very good for business, for mothers who are pregnant to give birth successfully, anything.
The practice can be done for anything. It is very powerful for success and of course, the most important success is to have the realizations of the Lam Rim, the path to enlightenment: to realize emptiness, develop wisdom, bodhicitta and guru devotion – to be able to give extensive benefit to other sentient beings.
“Dispeller of disease and the three poisons” – the three poisons are ignorance, hatred and attachment, the sicknesses of the mind from which come the physical sicknesses-cancer, depression, etc.
“I prostrate to Medicine Buddha Lapis Light.”
The meaning of the Mantra
Medicine Buddha’s mantra is:
tayatha om bekandze bekandze maha bekandze radza samudgate soha.
Tayatha – means “like this”.
Om – is composed of the three pure sounds A U and MA, which signifies one’s own body, speech and mind that get transformed into the vajra holy body, speech and mind.
Then bekandze bekandze -“eliminating pain, eliminating pain”. What eliminates pain is medicine. This pain is not ordinary pain – even animals do not want to experience that. The first eliminating pain is true suffering, the second is the true cause of suffering. The medicine that eliminates pain is first the graduated path of the lower capable being, and second the graduated path of the middle capable being.
Then maha bekandze -“the great eliminating pain” is the graduated path of the higher capable being, which eliminates the subtle defilements.
So bekandze bekandze maha bekandze contains the whole path to enlightenment, the ultimate medicine.
Radza – is king.
Samudgate – (ocean of goodness)
Soha – to establish the foundation in the heart, the blessing, the devotion from which the realization comes.
By actualising the meaning of the path contained in bekandze bekandze maha bekandze, the whole Lam Rim, you cease the defilements, gross and subtle, and purify the ordinary body, speech and mind into the vajra holy body, speech and mind. After this you are able to do perfect works for other sentient beings.
The Healing Buddha
A Practice for the Prevention and Healing of Disease Translated and composed by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche
No matter what you do, it is essential to generate a positive motivation. Therefore, think as follows:
“The purpose of my life is to free all living beings from all their problems and the causes of these problems, which are in their minds, and to bring all beings peace and happiness, especially the peerless happiness of full enlightenment, which they desperately need. For me to be able to do this, my mind and body must be perfect, pure and healthy. Therefore, to benefit living beings equal to extent of space, I am going to practice this healing meditation.”
Visualize yourself in your ordinary body, with your heart at the center of your chest, inverted, pointing upwards. Inside your heart is a white, eight- petalled lotus. At its center is a moon disc, upon which is seated the Healing Buddha in the aspect of the supreme transformation. His holy body is clear and in the nature of dark blue light, and he holds an arura plant in his right hand and a begging bowl in his left.
In front of the Healing Buddha is the white medicinal goddess, Actualized Wisdom; to his right is the yellow medicinal goddess, Simultaneous Wealth; behind him is the red forest goddess, Peacock’s Throat; to his left is the green tree goddess, Radiant One. Each goddess is in the nature of blissful radiant light and has one face and two arms.
An arura plant is in each goddess’s right hand, with a vase adorned with various ornaments in the left. The four goddesses sit cross-legged, not in the full vajra position but in the aspect of offering respect to the Healing Buddha.
Then make this request:
O Destroyer, Complete in All Qualities and
Gone Beyond (1) and you four medicinal goddesses, please pacify immediately the illnesses that
afflict me now and help me avoid all future sickness.
Light rays of the appropriate colour emanate from each of the five deities at your heart. Your heart and body are full of blissful light, which completely purifies all disease, spirit harms, and negative actions and their imprints. Beams of five-coloured light radiate from all the pores of your body, while nectar flows down from the Healing Buddha’s begging bowl and the vases held by the four goddesses, completely filling your heart and body. Generate the strong recognition that you have vanquished all disease forever and will never be sick again.
While concentrating single-pointedly on this visualization, recite the short or long Healing Buddha mantra seven, twenty one, one hundred and eight, or more times.
Short Healing Buddha mantra
TAYATHA / OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE / MAHA BEKANDZE RANDZE / SAMUNGATE SOHA
Long Healing Buddha mantra
OM NAMO BHAGAWATE BEKANDZE /
GURU BENDURYA PRABHA RANDZAYA / TATHAGATAYA /
ARHATE SAMYAKSAM BUDDHAYA / TAYATHA / OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE /
MAHA BEKANDZE RANDZE / SAMUNGATE SOHA
If you are sick, after you have finished reciting the mantra, put some saliva on your left palm, rub it with the tip of your right ring finger, place the tip on this finger at the entrance of your right and left nostrils, where the so- called All-Doing King Nerve can be found, and apply the saliva to the afflicted parts of your body. Then recite as many mantras of the Sanskrit vowels and consonants as possible, along with the mantra of the Heart of Dependent Arising.
OM A AA I II U UU RI RII LI LII E AI O AU AM AH SVAHA
OM KA KHA GA GHA NGA / TSA TSHA DZA DZHA NYA / TA THA DA DHA NA/
TA THA DA DHA NA/
PA PHA BA BHA MA/
YA RA LA VA/
SA SHA SA HA KSHA SVAHA
The Heart of Dependent Arising
OM YE DHARMA HETU-PRABHAVA HETUN TESHAN TATHAGATO HYA VADAT/
TESHAN CA YO NIRODHA / EVAM-VADI/ MAHASRAMANAH YE SVAHA
This practice, a Dharma treasure (terma) of Padma Sambhava, protects you from both the illnesses troubling you now and those you have yet contracted.
Because of all my positive actions of the past, present, and future, which bring happiness, may the ultimate good heart – which cherishes all living beings and is the source of the three-time happiness of myself and others – arise in those minds where it has not yet arisen, and increase in those minds where it already has sprung.
Because of my three-time positive actions and those of all holy beings, whose attitude is the purest, may all the kind father and mother sentient beings have happiness. May I alone be the cause of this, and may the three lower realms be empty forever.
May the prayers of all holy beings – those who dedicate their lives to the happiness of others – succeed immediately, and may I alone be the cause of this.
Because of my three-time positive actions and those of all holy beings, may I achieve the peerless happiness of full enlightenment – the state of mind that is free of all error and complete in all positive qualities – and lead all others to that state.
This healing practice was translated by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Tara Institute, Melbourne, Australia, on September 1, 1991. The Motivational and Dedication have been added to the original text.
1. An epithet for the Healing Buddha.
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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.