Medicine Buddha: The healing Master of Lapis Lazuli

The Healing Master, Medicine Buddhamedicine Buddha thangkaMedicine Buddha as depicted here is also called Bhaishajyaguru Vaiduryaprabha. He is the Healing Master of Lapis Lazuli Radiance. Like other Buddhas, he wears the monk's robe and seats on a cross-legged posture.

His left-hand rests in his lap in meditation mudra. There is a begging bowl filled with medicinal nectar and fruit.
His right hand is in granting mudra, holding a stem of a myrobalan plant (Terminalia chebula).
He is the king of all medicines in treating both mental and physical diseases.
 
In Medicine Buddha thangka, he is shown along with seven other Medicine Buddhas. One of the Buddha is Shakyamuni himself.
 
And while depicting him on the eastern buddha realm, Pure Lapis Lazuli, he is accompained by the two bodhisattvas. They are Suryaprabha and Chandraprabha, all-pervading Solar and Lunar Radiance.
 

What is Lapis Lazuli?

The most unique feature of Medicine Buddha is his deep blue color of lapis lazuli. This precious stone considered precious in many Asian and European cultures for ages. Relatively, its ornamental value is compared with that of the diamond.
 
An aura of mystery surrounds this gemstone. Its principal mines are found in the remote Badakshan region of northeast Afghanistan.
"The finest specimens of lapis, intensely blue with speckled waves and swirls of shining gold-colored pyrite, resemble the night aglow with myriads of stars."
 
This beautiful stone symbolizes purity and rarity. It posses a curative effect on those who wear it. Its natural smoothness allows a high degree of reflectivity. The deep blue light has a healing effect on those who use it in visualization practices.
Hence, the Lapis Lazuli is the color of the principal Medicine Buddha.
 
Medicine Buddha is one of the important figures of the Buddhist pantheon. His eastern pure land is often compared with the western paradise of Amitabha Buddha. Rebirth here is said to be as conducive to enlightenment as is rebirth in Sukhavati. Recitation of his mantra is said to grant release from the lower realms and protection from worldly dangers. Merely repeating his name also is said to access freedom from untimely death. sutras concerning the Medicine Buddha.
 
In one of the Sutra, Shakyamuni tells his close disciple and attendant Ananda:
If these sentient beings hear the name of the Lord Master of Healing, the Lapis Lazuli Radiance Tathagata, and with utmost sincerity, accept it and hold on to it, and no doubts arise, then they will not fall into a woesome path.

Medicine Buddha in Tibetan Healing Arts

In Tibet, Medicine Buddha is taken as the source of the healing arts. His teachings embody the Four Medical Tantra which is the basis of Tibetan medicine.
In the first of these Four Tantras, he was once seated in meditation surrounded by disciples. His assembly included divine physicians, great sages, non-Buddhist gods, and bodhisattvas. There were speechless by the radiant glory of his appearance. And hence, they could not request the desired teachings.
 
However, Medicine Buddha addressed their unspoken wishes, as he manifested in two emanations. One emanation requested the teachings and the other delivered them. Thus, the Buddhist explanation of mental and physical ailments, their treatment, and the maintenance of health originated.
 
As per the Four Tantras, the main causes of every disease are three poisonous delusions-ignorant, attachment, and hatred. They occupy the center of samsaric existence. These three roots lead to imbalances in the three parts (phlegm, wind and bile). They also effect the various bodily constituents (blood, flesh, bone, etc.) and waste products, or impurities (excrement, urine, and perspiration). All of these are analyzed in twenty-five divisions.
The Root Tantra says:
Only if, all these divisions are in balance along with the three factors of the (1) tastes, (2) inherent qualities of food, and (3) behavior, our health will flourishAttachment, hatred, and bewilderment cause the imbalances of wind, bile, and phlegm. The other four factors (time, spirits, food, and behavior) cause the humor to increase and decrease.
This imbalance when spread over the skin, increases in the flesh, moves along the vessels. They meet the bones and descends upon the solid and hollow organs.
 
Treating diseases and maintaining sound health is crucial to balance all these elements of the body. And this is achieved through four progressive types of treatment.
 
The first two are the changes in the type of food we eat and the behavior we engage in. When these changes no longer bring effect, then the physician prescribes medicines. And when this also fails, external forms of treatment such as cauterization are performed. However, without spiritual transformation, none of these effects will last. If ignorance and delusions still fester inside us, they will surely rise to diseases. And they cause the miseries of cyclic existence.
 
Hence, Shakyamuni and Medicine Buddha are great physicians. They not only have the medicinal qualities but they have compassion, wisdom, and skillful means to diagnose and treat. They help us clear the root delusions underlying all mental and physical malaise.
The following prayer to the Lapis Healing Master:
I beseech you, Blessed Medicine Guru,
Whose sky-colored, the holy body of lapis lazuli
Signifies omniscient wisdom and compassion
As vast as limitless space,
Please grant me your blessings.
I beseech you, compassionate Medicine Guru,
Holding in your right hand the king of medicines
Symbolizing your vow to help all the pitiful sentient beings
Plagued by the four hundred and twenty-four diseases,
Please grant me your blessings.
 
I beseech you, compassionate Medicine Guru,
Holding in your left hand a bowl of nectar
Symbolizing your vow to give the glorious
undying nectar of the dharma
Which eliminates the degenerations of sickness, old age, and death, Please grant me your blessings.The Healing Buddha

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