Medicine Master Sutra

Discuss and learn about the traditional Mahayana scriptures, without assuming that any one school ‘owns’ the only correct interpretation.
cjdevries
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Medicine Master Sutra

Post by cjdevries » Fri May 01, 2015 9:33 pm

Does anyone have familiarity with the Medicine Master Sutra? I have been practicing it the last year or so and I have had good results. It seems to be a more obscure sutra, compared to popular ones like the Great Compassion Mantra, Heart Sutra, Amitabha, Lotus Sutra, etc.

It references the great vows made by Akshobya and his willingness to help those who are suffering, especially those who make an effort to uphold the precepts, make offerings, and recite his mantra. Does anyone do this practice or have insight into it?

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Boomerang
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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by Boomerang » Fri May 01, 2015 10:07 pm

Are you talking about Akshobya or Bhaisajyaguru (Medicine Buddha)? When I googled "Medicine Master Sutra" I found this sutra, which is about Bhaisajyaguru. Isn't Akshobya's pure land only available to 8th bhumi bodhisattvas?

Either way, I'm very happy to hear that the Buddhas have been answering your prayers. Keep up the good work.

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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by Admin_PC » Sat May 02, 2015 7:24 pm

This sutra was my main practice for probably about a year. Boomerang's statement covers everything that comes to mind regarding your questions. I'll try to help if I can.

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Jechan
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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by Jechan » Sun May 03, 2015 12:19 am

Hi.
I have been practicing it the last year or so and I have had good results.
How have you been practicing it and what results gave you received?
南無妙法蓮華経

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Boomerang
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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by Boomerang » Sun May 03, 2015 1:35 am

I recited the Medicine Buddha sutra a couple of weeks ago. Afterwards, I was really curious about Medicine Buddha's pure land. The sutra implies that his pure land is equal to Amitabha's in every way, so why isn't there a big community of people aspiring to go there like there is for Sukhavati? It seems like if you recite Bhaisajyaguru's mantra you get to choose either pure land when you die, but Bhaisajyaguru specifically promises to help devotees with worldly problems as well. I feel like Medicine Buddha devotees should be more numerous than they are. Am I missing something?

The sutra says that just hearing his name liberates you from the lower realms. That's pretty impressive. I wonder why all the Buddha names don't do that.

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Nosta
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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by Nosta » Sun May 03, 2015 2:22 pm

Boomerang, I cant remember the details, but I think that the Amitabha Buddha Vows are more "friendly" for people, I mean, the vows imply a much more easy way to reborn in Sukkhavati than in the Medicine Buddha Pure Land.

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Boomerang
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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by Boomerang » Sun May 03, 2015 3:03 pm

I don't remember a part where the sutra explicitly says what qualifies or disqualifies people from entering Medicine Buddha's pure land. It just briefly mentions that it has all the same merits as Sukhavati, which to me implies that you would get there the same way.
“Manjusri, as to these Great Vows made by the Medicine Buddha while he was following the Bodhisattva path – as well as the merits, virtues and adornments of his Buddha-land – I cannot possibly describe them all, not even if I were to speak for an aeon or more. However, this Buddha-land is utterly pure. You will find no temptations, no Evil Paths nor even cries of suffering there.

“In this land, the ground is made of lapis lazuli, the boundaries are demarcated with golden cords, the towns, towers, palaces, pavilions, as well as the balconies, windows and draperies are all made of the Seven Treasures. The merits, virtues and adornments of this realm are identical to those of Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land in the west.

In this land dwell two great Bodhisattvas, Universal Solar Radiance and Universal Lunar Radiance. Among the countless Bodhisattvas, they are the leaders. Each in turn will serve as successor to the Medicine Buddha and as the able guardian of His True Dharma treasury.

For these reasons, Manjusri, all devout men and women should vow to be born in this land.
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/medbudsutra.pdf

cjdevries
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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by cjdevries » Sun May 03, 2015 4:16 pm

Jechan,

So, I began by reciting the Buddha's name. The formal "Medicine Master Buddha Vaidurya Light Tathagatha" I have only occasionally and sporadically recited the mantra. For awhile I was doing the mantra regularly but I have found the other mantras I'm doing are more ingrained and they seem to work well.

About 6 months ago, I made a vow to meditate for a certain period of time each day for 60 days. I used to consistently meditate upwards of 3 hours a day, but have been extremely ill so I made a vow to meditate for an hour a day, which was tough. It was a grueling 60 days and actually I think I only made it about 52 days. The sutra talks about going into seclusion and doing nothing but meditation but I think there's always some flexibility if you do the best you can.

I noticed immediate improvement after the 60 days, better mood, better energy, etc. I recently began reciting the Medicine Buddha's name regularly and last night I had a very good experience while reciting and had a lot of energy begin to flow more smoothly through my head. I have a neurological illness and I can always tell when the energy begins to flow to areas where it has stagnant.

After this experience, I will do more of this practice. The main thing I keep in mind, and I think its part of the reason for success, is to stay as detached as I can for results. I have a very serious illness and so when I have improvements I immediately think "what if I recovered," which just causes problems. If I just focus on the spiritual benefits (increased peace, less obstacles) then that seems best. One dedication I made during the practice is that I be content with accepting healing whether its physical, spiritual, mental, etc. This seemed to help.

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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by cjdevries » Sun May 03, 2015 4:25 pm

Porkchop and Boomerang,

Thank you. I am interested in feedback. Any suggestions or further insights? One of my practices since becoming ill is to recite Amitabha's name before bed and upon waking, with the aspiration to be born in Sukhavati at some point. From what my first Buddhist teacher taught, which was passed down from her master in China, is that the pure realms are open when enough karma has been purified and I think you can go to the one you'd like if you're an advanced practitioner or have lived a very virtuous life. But who knows for sure? It seems clear that a virtuous life has future benefits, as well as bringing peace of mind. I glimpse it for a few hours or a few days and it passes but the reminder is always there.

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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by Admin_PC » Wed May 06, 2015 2:14 am

Traditionally, the "merits and adornments" of Sukhavati are the pools with the lotuses, the things made of the 7 treasures (gold, silver, lapis lazuli, seashell, agate, pearl, and carnelian - which represent the seven powers of faith, perseverance, sense of shame, avoidance of wrongdoing, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom [or alternatively: conviction, virtue, conscience, concern, listening, generosity, and discernment]), etc.

The Medicine Master Sutra has the 12 vows, which aren't geared to providing rebirth in his land (in the east asian version), but rather helping with mundane concerns (clothing, etc), concerns dealing with health, concerns dealing with conduct, and concerns dealing with advancement along the Mahayana path. The only vows that don't fit into these categories are the ones regarding Medicine Buddha himself and the adornments of his land. The Medicine Buddha vows are thus very much oriented towards this very life. The 11th vow says "Ultimately, it is through the flavor of the Dharma that I will establish them in the realm of peace and happiness" (this realm sounds an awful lot like Sukhavati). Page 29 in the Buddhanet document goes on to say:
"Moreover, Manjusri, within the Fourfold Assembly of Bhiksus, Bhiksunis, Upasakas and Upasikas, as well as among other men and women of pure faith, there are those who are able to adhere to the Eight Precepts for a full year or for three months a year, dedicating these good roots toward rebirth in the Western Pure Land of Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Life, so as to listen to the correct Dharma.

If their rebirth in the Pure Land is still uncertain, but they hear the name of the World-Honored Medicine, Buddha, then at the time of death, eight great Bodhisattvas, namely:

Manjusri, Avalokitesvara, Mahasthamaprapta, Aksayamati, Ratnacandana, Bhaishajya-raja, Bhaishajya-samudgata, and Maitreya

will travers space and descend to show them the way. They will thereupon be reborn spontaneously in jeweled flowers of many hues."
So it really does seem like calling on Medicine Buddha is for help in this life, while at the same time establishing one for rebirth in Sukhavati.


As far as purifying all karma, there are some statements about it in the Visualization Sutra, but it is not listed as a prerequisite for rebirth in Sukhavati. For help from 8 bodhisattvas to guide one towards rebirth in Sukhavati, in accordance with the Medicine Buddha Sutras it seems to imply that one would need to observe the Eight Uposatha Precepts for 3 months a year. So I'm really not sure what that buys you that isn't already covered in the Pure Land sutras. Maybe it helps with doubt? I'm really not sure how to interpret that passage.

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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by Heterodox Garden » Wed May 06, 2015 6:36 am

Reading this thread I am reminded of an issue that has nagged at me for some years. Perhaps one of you could clear it up.

Bhaisajyaguru is 藥師如來 in Chinese and and is the figure I think of associated with the term "Medicine Buddha" or "Medicine Master." He seems to be associated with "Lapis Lazuli" and in some sources with the Eastern Pure land.

Akshobhaya is 阿閦如來 in Chinese and is one of the five wisdom Buddhas and very clearly associated with the Eastern Pure Land Abhirati. However in the (limted) reading in which I have come across this figure, he seems to be less associated with healing and he is often shown in red color, as opposed to the deep blue associated with Bhaisajyaguru. He seems connected more with the quality of "immovability" than medicine or healing per se.

The names and characters in both Sanskrit and Chinese are different, as are their iconography, yet if I am not mistaken they are both connected with the Eastern Pure Land. So my question is, what exactly is the relationship between these two beings?

The picture is further complicated when I consider a being in one of the latter chapter of the Lotus Sutra who is given then name "the Medicine King." The Chinese characters here are "薬王" if memory serves (Sorry I can't recall the Sanskrit). This is yet a third rendering and I see this being conflated with Bhaisajyaguru in many Internet sources (such as Wikipedia which is of course less than reliable), but here too the iconography and the presentation in the Lotus Sutra suggests a different type of being altogether -- my reading suggests he is not a Buddha at all but perhaps another kind of being (Deva? Wisdom King? Bodhisattva?) He burns his finger as an offering to the Lotus Sutra which, in my humble opinion, does not seem consistent behavior with a high-level Buddha like Bhaisajyaguru (although I could be wrong), in a passage that was often invoked by self-immolaters of various medieval East Asian traditions. So my hunch is that the "Medicine King" of the Lotus Sutra is not the same as the "Medicine Buddha" Bhaisajyaguru. However I can't seem to get a straight and reliable answer on this.

Of course, at the deepest stratum all these beings and all Dharmas are united in the Dharmakaya, but leaving that aside for the momement, what exactly is the relationship between these three beings, which seem to have diffeeent names, attributes, and iconography?

Can anyone shed some light on this? Thanks in advance.
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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by Admin_PC » Wed May 06, 2015 11:54 am

I've always seen Akshobya and Medicine Buddha both depicted blue.
They each have their own sutras which paint different pictures.

I have only been able to read summaries of Akshobya's sutra, but from what I gathered, he made a vow to become Buddha in a land where people had longer lifespans and vowed to never become angry in his quest for Buddhahood. He represents the immovable nature of the Dharma. His Pure Land is in the east, but there are many Buddhas with Pure Lands in the east, which can be seen in the Amitabha Sutra. Like you said, he's a Dhyani Buddha, with his own symbolism there as well.

Medicine Buddha (Bhaisajaguru) is also blue, but his background is a bit different. In fact, they don't go into a whole lot of detail in it in his sutra. As I summarized, his vows cover mostly in-this-life benefits - but his help seems to also involve the paramitas and the eight precepts.

Bhaisajaraja (Medicine King) and Bhaisajyasamudgata (Superior Physician) are both bodhisattvas and are said to be brothers.

As far as I can tell, there are no other relationships involved aside from 2 being brothers and 2 being Buddhas in the same direction (East) and having the same color (blue).

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Heterodox Garden
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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by Heterodox Garden » Wed May 06, 2015 12:48 pm

PorkChop,

Thanks for the clear and helpful reply; much appreciated! The picture becomes much clearer now.

:applause:
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写経 仏典を訓読してみませんか
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Aemilius
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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by Aemilius » Thu May 07, 2015 1:44 pm

In A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras: Selections from the Maharatnakuta sutra by Garma C. C. Chang, in Chapter six, On Pure Land, there is translation of the Akshobhya sutra.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by Admin_PC » Thu May 07, 2015 3:33 pm

Aemilius wrote:In A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras: Selections from the Maharatnakuta sutra by Garma C. C. Chang, in Chapter six, On Pure Land, there is translation of the Akshobhya sutra.
Thanks! Just added it to my wishlist.

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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by zengen » Sat May 09, 2015 7:57 am

You can download the Medicine Master Mantra in this website: http://www.chanpureland.org/mantras-and-ceremonies/

There's also an explanation of the mantra in the website :smile:
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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by zengen » Sat May 09, 2015 8:36 am

Boomerang wrote: The sutra says that just hearing his name liberates you from the lower realms. That's pretty impressive. I wonder why all the Buddha names don't do that.
Does this mean that hearing Medicine Buddha's name once, all our past negative karma which will lead us to rebirth in the lower realms in the future are purified? But if we continue to create negative karma, we will still be reborn in the lower realms despite having heard Medicine Buddha's name once?
There is no meaning to cyclic existence.

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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by Losal Samten » Sat May 09, 2015 9:41 am

That sounds to be overly powerful I think based on the powers of other mantras and purification practices that I know of. The Ākāśagarbha states that hearing his name (Ākāśagarbha's)*, a person will be freed of the lower realms "...at the time of death and their senses have ceased to function but before the consciousness leaves, Ākāśagarbha will appear to them... he will teach them the four truths. Understanding them, they will be reborn in the higher states. For those among them with faith in the buddha, Ākāśagarbha will appear as a buddha and teach them the dharma. They will die in a state of joy, thinking of the buddha, and will be reborn in a buddha pure land" so maybe it's something along those lines?

*It should be noted that depending on translation other conditions in addition may be necessary for this to occur such as making offerings etc. I'm not sure which translation and set of conditions is definitive.
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zengen
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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by zengen » Sat May 09, 2015 10:13 am

Mother's Lap wrote:That sounds to be overly powerful I think based on the powers of other mantras and purification practices that I know of.
It does sound very powerful, so perhaps there are conditions not mentioned? After doing some more research, I encountered the following statement:
Lord Buddha told his attendant Ananda that even animals who hear the Medicine Buddha mantra will never be reborn in the lower realms
But again, no condition is mentioned. I took the above statement from: http://www.lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect=article&id=221

If someone can explain, that'd be very helpful.
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Boomerang
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Re: Medicine Master Sutra

Post by Boomerang » Sat May 09, 2015 2:19 pm

zengen wrote:
Mother's Lap wrote:
Lord Buddha told his attendant Ananda that even animals who hear the Medicine Buddha mantra will never be reborn in the lower realms
But again, no condition is mentioned. I took the above statement from: http://www.lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect=article&id=221

If someone can explain, that'd be very helpful.
Perhaps hearing his name is the cause of a future event that happens sometime before a being's next rebirth (i.e. in the bardo state) that results in said being never suffering an evil birth again. Some people attain enlightenment simply by hearing a Buddha's words, without meditating once in their lives, and that's possible because the event of hearing "activates" past stores of merit or something like that.

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