The Medicine Buddha - our enlightened essence - is known as the great healer, the energy which releases all beings from affection. According to the Tibetan tradition, the Buddha emanated as Bhaishajyaguru, the "master of remedies," thousands of years ago. He established the Tibetan medical tradition in the form of texts known as The Four Tantras of Secret Instructions on the Eight Branches of the Essence of Immortality, which are more commonly referred to as Gyushi, "The Four Medical Tantras." The master of remedies holds in his right hand a spring of arura, or cherubic myrobalan, from which much of Tibetan medicine is compounded. His hand faces outward, symbolizing his bestowal of boons. In his left hand he holds a bowl containing three forms of ambrosia: the nectar that cures disease and resurrects the dead; the nectar that counteracts aging; and the supreme nectar that illuminates the mind increases knowledge. The Tibetan psysian yeshi Donden explained: Bhaishajyaguru is blue in color like the sky; his body is clear when looking from the outside and clear when looking outward from inside... Look carefully at how he is sitting, the shape of his eyes, the gesture that his hands are displaying... and think about his qualities and altruistic activities...Imagine that light rays spread out from the heart...radiating in the ten directions, entering into the four elements, and turning them into highly potentialized medicines. These light rays return and dissolve into the medicines in Bhaishajyaguru's begging bowl. This is how the power of mantra and meditative stabilization affects the potencies of medicines.' The Medicine Buddha's throne is supported by snow lions and flanked by dragons. In the sky above him are five Buddhas and other celestial beings. Below are fearful protectors of the path to wholeness. In the healing practices of Tibetan medicine, the unconscious energies that often sabotage our lives are restored to conscious awareness. When we recognize our inseparability from all life, healing often occurs spontaneously - the expression of natural abundance.
The Ambrosia Heart Tantra and essential text of the Tibetan medical tradition, states: The Supreme Healer, the King of Aquamarine Light, entered into meditative absorption, with rays of multi colored light radiating from his heart in all ten directions, dissolving the mental defilement of all animate beings and pacifying ailments which arise from ignorance. Then drawing the light rays back to his heart, the magical form of the Buddha Rigpa Yeshe emanated from his mind. Appearing in the sky before him, he beseeched the Sovereign Healer, "O Master. As we desire to obtain this bounty for the sake of ourselves and others, how may we learn the oral teachings on the science of healing?" (Above text: from lama Thangka.)
Medicine Buddha is also called Bhaisajyaguru and dispenses spiritual as well as physical healing. He wears monastic robes and sits in meditation holding in his left hand a medicine bowl. In his right hand he holds the myrobalan plant, known for its medicinal properties. " O Destroyer, complete in all qualities and gone beyond and you four medicinal goddesses, please pacify immediately the illnesses that afflict me now and help me avoid all future sickness."
Medicine Buddha is the embodiment of the collective healing power of all the Buddhas. He is the physician, the enlightened healer who protects living beings from physical and mental sickness, as well as other dangers and obstacles. Medicine Buddha helps all beings to effectively eradicate the three poisons of attachment, hatred, and ignorance, which are the cause of all sickness and suffering. He has the power to see the true cause of all afflictions, whether physical, psychological, or spiritual, and does whatever is necessary to alleviate this suffering. Medicine Buddha has his right hand outstretched in the gesture of supreme generosity, giving protection from illness and holding the great medicine plant myrobalan.
Ancient teachings tell us that merely seeing the Medicine Buddha, or even seeing an image of the Medicine Buddha, or hearing the name of the Medicine Buddha, can confer inconceivable benefits. 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."
Tibetan Buddhists consider the Medicine Buddha Empowerment to be the most powerful blessing for healing, dispelling sickness and for awakening the innate healing wisdom that lies within every individual. The practice of the Medicine Buddha meditation (sadhana), and all the other ways of connecting to the blessings of the Medicine Buddha (such as those discussed on this page) are said to be much more effective when one has received the Medicine Buddha Empowerment (Tibetan: lung ; Sanskrit: abisheka ) from a qualified lama (Tibetan Buddhist meditation master).
Medicine Buddha is one aspect of awakened mind, which the practitioner's (and the vajra master's) vast real unconditioned (non conceptual) mind. In this empowerment the lama reminds us, in a sense, of our deep innate connection with the Medicine Buddha.
This empowerment is given periodically at various Tibetan Buddhist centers and public venues around the world. It can be taken with the intention of practicing the Medicine Buddha sadhana or as a blessing. In either case it would be expected to enhance ones practical and spiritual efforts for the healing of oneself and others.