About Medicine Buddha

Speaker: Ven. Miao Tan

Fo Guang Shan Hsing Ma Temple, Malaysia

I. Introduction

Auspicious greetings to all Dharma brothers and sisters online. This week most of our FGS branch temples are conducting Medicine Buddha’s Dharma Service. So I take this opportunity to share the topic on Medicine Buddha. Let me start with a simple introduction on Sutra of Medicine Buddha.

II. Brief Introduction to Sutra of Medicine Buddha

Sutra of the Medicine Buddha (藥師經) is also referred as the The Meritorious Virtues and the Original Vows of the Medicine Buddha of Pure Crystal Radiance Sutra, (藥師琉璃光如來本愿功德經). 

This sutra narrates how the Buddha, in response to Manjusri Bodhisattva’s request to speak to cultivated practitioners, bodhisattvas, kings and magistrates concerning the meritorious virtues of the Medicine Buddha’s Eastern Pure Land of Crystal Radiance and details of his twelve great vows that he made when he was a Bodhisattva.

This is a short sentence extracted from the sutra:

The Buddha said: Manjusri, twelve great vows evolved from the heart of Medicine Buddha of Pure Crystal Radiance as he advanced upon the bodhisattva path. These vows were made with the heartfelt wish that all sentient beings might fulfill their aspirations.

  1. May all sentient beings be equal to the Buddha
  2. May all sentient beings awaken and engage in beneficial actions
  3. May all sentient beings enjoy abundant resources
  4. May all sentient beings be established on the path of great vehicles
  5. May all sentient beings uphold precepts in perfect purity
  6. May all sentient beings be complete in all faculties
  7. May all sentient beings enjoy health and happiness in body and mind
  8. May all women who wish to let go of their female form be transformed into the male form
  9. May all sentient beings turn from evil to correct views
  10. May all sentient beings be liberated from sorrow and suffering
  11. May all sentient beings have exquisite food and drinks
  12. May all sentient beings have exquisite clothing and all material fulfillment.

From the content of the twelve great vows, we can see that the Medicine Buddha not only places importance of material aspect of life such as food and clothing, he is also concerned with the education of society, proper entertainment and enjoyment, so that everyone can truly live a life of peace and harmony.

There are questions raised by Buddhists, Why Medicine Buddha’s body is blue color and why he is named Medicine?

III. Why is Medicine Buddha’s body Blue in Color?

Usually we see the portraits of the Medicine Buddha emitting in bright blue color. Why? What does it symbolize?

Medicine Buddha’s light blue is not ordinary light blue, but the same color as the sky, sky blue. The sky has always symbolized brightness and color of struggle with darkness. Therefore, Medicine Buddha’s body is sky blue represents a guiding role for all sentient beings.

Another reason why Medicine Buddha’s body is light blue color, because he is the guiding teacher in the pureland called Eastern Pureland of Crystal Radiance, and this crystal is lapis lazuli and it’s color is bright blue in color like a cloudless sky. It is considered to be a protection from psychic attacks, bringing deep peace, harmony, compassion and self- awareness.

And in terms of color, each color will change, only one color will not change, that is, the color of the sky, so medicine Buddha appears in sky blue, represents him to eliminate all the diseases and all kinds of pain, is solidly never changed.

IV. Why is He Named Medicine Buddha?

Medicine Buddha”, is often described as a doctor who cures suffering using the medicine of his teachings. The analogy of the medicine is the teaching of Four Noble Truths.

The Four Noble Truths can be equated to an outline of Dharma, detailing the cultivational sequence enabling people to cross from this shore of fixation on suffering to the other shore of bliss and purity.The Four Noble Truths is like the process of treating an illness. The truth of suffering describes the painful experience of being ill; the truth of cause is the diagnosis of its symptoms; the truth of the path is the prescription for cure and the truth of cessation is the experience of full recovery from the illness.

V. The Guidance of Medicine Buddha

As normal human beings we have a tendency to think that illnesses are physically based and require physical solutions, but if one’s illness was created by greed, hatred and ignorance, spiritual practice is the only medicine to cure the body and mind. 

Medicine Buddha sought to cure both physical and mental illness, who put greater emphasis on treating the mind. He used the Dharma to heal illness that arise from the three poisons. He treats diseases starting from patients’ mind curing them from these poisons.

Specialist doctor treat illness by working with their patients on physical state which differs from Buddhist practice of treating the mind. With a cultivated mind, we are able to examine ourselves, clearly see the nature of our problems and then work to resolve them, we will then approach the path to true health. Regarding mental health, greed, anger and ignorance are understood as the three gravest psychological diseases. Medicine Buddha taught that greed could be cured by the contemplation of impurity, anger by contemplation and practice of kindness and the ignorance by the contemplation of the true nature of all things and the cultivation of wisdom. These are the medications that Medicine Buddha encouraged everyone to use in order to heal the diseases of both body and mind.

VI. What Can We Benefit from Medicine Buddha Sutra?

The occurrence of a disease is closely related to one’s mental health, physical health, spiritual health, such like, behavior, habits, living environment and even the society and culture in which one lives. Harmonizing all of these elements and engaging in specific practices can help to bring about optimum health and prevent illness.

Gaining awareness about the cause of illness and conducting our lives in a manner that nourishes and maintains long term good health can drastically improve our overall well being. The Buddha offers us several suggestions and practices that can serve as medicine for all aspects of our lives.

VII. Conclusion

As we know most of our sufferings are caused by our rigid attachment to an idea, if we can understand the true meaning of detachment and the true nature of emptiness and treat all illness with this awareness we will then have perfect miracle medicine to remove the roots of disease.

Medicine Buddha Sutra emphasizes the liberation of sentient beings from illness, suffering, disasters and misery, as well as the acquisition of prosperity and happiness in this lifetime. It is a Dharma treasure for solving the practical problem of life.

Both body and mind need to be taken care of, and the medicine of Buddhism is the ideal remedy. Use the dharma to heal your mind and the path of true health will open up for you.

I my conclusion I would like to share this quote from Humble Table, Wise Fare with you.

To have good health, eat moderately

To have good relationships, be sincere and humble

To have good family, be caring

To have good career, be diligent.

May Medicine Buddha bless everyone with a healthy and happy life in the path of practicing the Dharma.