7.3.9 The Medicine Buddha

The Medicine Buddha [1]

The Medicine Buddha is a powerful cosmic buddha who manifests the healing essence of all enlightened beings. Meditating fervently on this buddha, with a mind made pure by faith and devotion, is acknowledged by followers of the Buddhist tradition to be the best way of curing disease.

The Medicine Buddha looks very similar to Shakyamuni Buddha, but with two essential differences. The first concerns the body colour, for the body of Shakyamuni is golden while that of the Medicine Buddha is bright, lapis blue. The second lies in the hand mudra. Shakyamuni’s right hand is in the touching-the-earth gesture, while the Medicine Buddha’s right hand is in the mudra of giving with the palm facing outwards so that the sign of the wheel is visible on his inner palm. Both buddhas hold a bowl in the left hand, but while Shakyamuni’s bowl is traditionally a begging bowl, that of the Medicine Buddha contains the nectar of cures and healing herbs.

The Medicine Buddha is said to be so powerful that anyone just hearing his name – Bhaishajya Guru, pronounced by Tibetans as ‘bekhandzye-guru’ – and reciting his mantra, will never be reborn in the lower realms! This particular advice was transmitted by none other than Shakyamuni himself and was recorded by his attendant, Ananda.

[1] Contents of this web page prepared by Len Warren of Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha, Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington 6151 Western Australia, January 2018. Extracts from the book The Buddha Book by Lillian Too, Gramercy Books: New York, 2003, page 90

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