Friday, August 20, 2010

Medicine Buddha

"If one meditates on the Medicine Buddha, one will eventually attain enlightenment, but in the meantime one will experience an increase in healing powers both for oneself and others and a decrease in physical and mental illness and suffering."
—Lama Tashi Namgyal

"His radiant body is azure blue. His left hand is in the meditation mudra and holds a begging bowl full of long life nectar in his lap. As a sign that he gives protection from illness, his right hand is outstretched in the gesture of giving and holds the "great medicine", the myrobalan plant (a-ru-ra)"

In Tibetan images of the Medicine Buddha the left hand typically holds a blooming myrobalan plant. Tibetan medicine recognizes three basic types of illness, the root causes of which are the conflicting emotions -- passion, aggression, and ignorance. Myrobalan is the only herb in the Tibetan pharmacopoeia that can aid in healing each of these three types of diseases. This is like the action of the Buddha of Healing, who has the power to see the true cause of any affliction, whether spiritual, physical or psychological, and who does whatever is necessary to alleviate it.

"His right hand is extended, palm outward, over his right knee in the gesture called supreme generosity. In it he holds the arura, or myrobalan, fruit. This plant represents all the best medicines. The position of his right hand and the arura which he holds represent the eradication of suffering, especially the suffering of sickness, using the means of relative truth. Sickness can be alleviated by adjusting the functioning of interdependent causes and conditions by the use of relative means within the realm of relative truth, such as medical treatment and so on. The giving of these methods is represented by the gesture of the Medicine Buddha's right hand. 

"His left hand rests in his lap, palm upward, in the gesture of meditative stability or meditation, which represents the eradication of sickness and suffering— and, indeed, the very roots of samsara— through the realization of absolute truth. From the point of view of either relative truth or absolute truth, the fundamental cause of sickness and suffering is a lack of contentment and the addictive quality of samsara. Therefore, to indicate the need for contentment, in his left hand he holds a begging bowl."