Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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quad
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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by quad » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:07 am

Not sure how taking refuge relates to whether this sutra tells the truth or not. But for what it’s worth, I took refuge. Genuinely and authentically. I felt refuge in the three jewels down to my core. I may still come out of this crisis of faith a Buddhist. But probably not a Mahayana Buddhist, because of sutras like these.

There’s no one promising (and apparently lying to) me about better health in the Pali Canon, beyond the Buddha telling his monks to intermittent fast for better health.

At this point I’ll try and refrain from criticizing Mahayana further. This isn’t the place for it and not my intention. I’m just feeling a little lost for now.

quad
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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by quad » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:20 am

tkp67 wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:59 am
Buddha healed me by making my mind clear enough that I could distinguish between what practice would heal and what it may not.

I have spent most of my life too sick to feel the process of healing as it was happening and it wasn't until I stopped using that as a measure that I was able to understand where the limits of my expectations where.

I tried to explain it indirectly and wish now I had simply been direct.

Either way I hope you find solace.
Thank you. I understood your story the first time but the clarification is welcome. It doesn’t negate that the medicine Buddha sutra appears to not work (for me and many others.) I’m sick enough that I’ll be dying within the year. And I practiced Medicine Buddha, attended many pujas, had many done for me, followed all the health advice given. It didn’t work. It lied.

I’m not doubting the potential benefits of Buddhism or meditation, or any number of practices, to clear the mind. I’m doubting the power of the Medicine Buddha, as promised in the sutra.

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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by humble.student » Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:53 am

quad wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:20 am
Thank you. I understood your story the first time but the clarification is welcome. It doesn’t negate that the medicine Buddha sutra appears to not work (for me and many others.) I’m sick enough that I’ll be dying within the year. And I practiced Medicine Buddha, attended many pujas, had many done for me, followed all the health advice given. It didn’t work. It lied.

I’m not doubting the potential benefits of Buddhism or meditation, or any number of practices, to clear the mind. I’m doubting the power of the Medicine Buddha, as promised in the sutra.
I'm curious to know if you feel the same way about the conventional allopathic medical treatment you must have received.

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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by quad » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:10 am

No one in allopathic medicine (or alternative medicine) made claims they would cure me. The Medicine Buddha sutra did though...

tkp67
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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by tkp67 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:25 am

I will remain hopeful for you in light of your suffering and in absence of answers.

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by 明安 Myoan » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:47 am

Just preserve the vows to help others, whatever you do.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche wrote:If we recite the Medicine Buddha mantra as a daily practice, all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas pay attention to us, just as a mother pays attention to her beloved child, and always guide us. Vajrapani, the embodiment of all the Buddhas’ power, the four guardians, and other protectors always protect us and guide us. It also purifies all our negative karmas and quickly pacifies diseases and spirit harms. It also brings success; everything succeeds exactly according to our wishes.
Last edited by 明安 Myoan on Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by Fortyeightvows » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:11 am

The op has already received plenty of unsolicited advice.

Can anyone answer his questions?

Here, I’ll try,
Maybe it’s like when you buy a product, medicine or even a cleaning product.
The bottle says it will remove stains.
And maybe it will, or maybe it won’t.
But it’s supposed to work.
And we hope it works.
Something like that maybe.

quad
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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by quad » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:50 am

明安 Myoan wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:47 am
Just preserve the vows to help others, whatever you do.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche wrote:If we recite the Medicine Buddha mantra as a daily practice, all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas pay attention to us, just as a mother pays attention to her beloved child, and always guide us. Vajrapani, the embodiment of all the Buddhas’ power, the four guardians, and other protectors always protect us and guide us. It also purifies all our negative karmas and quickly pacifies diseases and spirit harms. It also brings success; everything succeeds exactly according to our wishes.
In my experience, none of that is true. I've been practicing Medicine Buddha for years and I have never felt any guidance or protection, no pacification of disease, had my share of spirit harm, and no success, no wish fulfillment. I wrote to Lama Zopa once years ago. He suggested some practices, some extremely expensive pujas which I paid for (the entire Kangyur recited on my behalf at Kopan), and he even did some personal pujas for me. Didn't add to anything but my growing frustration with this religion.

quad
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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by quad » Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:08 am

Fortyeightvows wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:11 am
The op has already received plenty of unsolicited advice.

Can anyone answer his questions?

Here, I’ll try,
Maybe it’s like when you buy a product, medicine or even a cleaning product.
The bottle says it will remove stains.
And maybe it will, or maybe it won’t.
But it’s supposed to work.
And we hope it works.
Something like that maybe.
Thanks for keeping this thread on track.

If this simile is true, it scares me think what else might be hyperbolic in the Mahayana traditions. Example: Maybe Amitabha fulfills his vows...maybe not. Medicine Buddha certainly didn't fulfill his vow for me...so why should I have faith that Amitabha's vows are valid? Why should I have faith in ANY of this? Because a famous guru or writer (alive or dead) told me it's true?

When I first became a buddhist as a teenager, the thing I loved was it's empiricism. I could verify anything the Buddha said with self-verifiable evidence. It might have taken some effort and time, but eventually I could see the veracity of the teaching. That simply does not seem to be the case with this sutra. :shrug:

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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:20 am

quad wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:07 am
Not sure how taking refuge relates to whether this sutra tells the truth or not. But for what it’s worth, I took refuge. Genuinely and authentically. I felt refuge in the three jewels down to my core. I may still come out of this crisis of faith a Buddhist. But probably not a Mahayana Buddhist, because of sutras like these.

There’s no one promising (and apparently lying to) me about better health in the Pali Canon, beyond the Buddha telling his monks to intermittent fast for better health.

At this point I’ll try and refrain from criticizing Mahayana further. This isn’t the place for it and not my intention. I’m just feeling a little lost for now.

Is it possible you received something else from your practice, even though it did not cure your disorder in the way you wanted? If not, what can you do to come to terms? Surely just being frustrated with Mahayana/Vajrayana won't get you answers, or will it?

For whatever it's worth to you, i'll include you in my dedications, and i'm sorry for the pain you are going through.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche wrote:If we recite the Medicine Buddha mantra as a daily practice, all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas pay attention to us, just as a mother pays attention to her beloved child, and always guide us. Vajrapani, the embodiment of all the Buddhas’ power, the four guardians, and other protectors always protect us and guide us. It also purifies all our negative karmas and quickly pacifies diseases and spirit harms. It also brings success; everything succeeds exactly according to our wishes.
I don't know it's just because I came to Vajrayana late or what, but I have always viewed statements like the above as a hyperbolic form of Upaya. Practices are powerful and they work, Bodhisattvas are there and at work, people do get healed, but if every practice could fix everything and make samsara grand we probably wouldn't be having this conversation.

Nothing in samsara succeeds exactly according to anyone's wishes, it's not possible. That'd be living in a Pureland, and while we might get glimpses, I don't think we are there. Practice can do amazing miraculous things but we are seeing only the very tip of the infinite iceberg of our karma in this life, it is the nature of things here to not work out. I know that sounds shitty, but don't the teachings also say this is true? The Mahayana level of the teachings does not nullify all that Hinayana stuff.

Maybe reconciling the two messages is a worthwhile endeavor.

Anyway, I appreciate you sharing your experiences so openly, and I hope you can find a glimmer of peace in all this.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

quad
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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by quad » Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:36 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:20 am
quad wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:07 am
Not sure how taking refuge relates to whether this sutra tells the truth or not. But for what it’s worth, I took refuge. Genuinely and authentically. I felt refuge in the three jewels down to my core. I may still come out of this crisis of faith a Buddhist. But probably not a Mahayana Buddhist, because of sutras like these.

There’s no one promising (and apparently lying to) me about better health in the Pali Canon, beyond the Buddha telling his monks to intermittent fast for better health.

At this point I’ll try and refrain from criticizing Mahayana further. This isn’t the place for it and not my intention. I’m just feeling a little lost for now.
Why do you think it didn't help Quad? I mean, it sounds like you are faced with mortality here, you are about to make the journey.

Is it possible you received something else from your practice, even though it did not cure your disorder in the way you wanted? If not, what can you do to come to terms? Surely just being frustrated with Mahayana/Vajrayana won't get you answers, or will it?

For whatever it's worth, i'll include you in my dedications, i'm sorry for the pain you are going through.
I appreciate the dedications, Johnny.

No, I don’t believe I received anything. I swear to you that’s the truth. If anything, I feel like a more bitter and angry man for all the disappointment.

If it makes anyone feel better in a heavily depressing topic such as this, ONCE maybe 6 years ago, when I had taken up serious Amitabha practice, I felt waves of love and forgiveness for a few days and had strangely auspicious dreams. It was fleeting. I never felt anything again and due to the nature of my illness, mantra repetition eventually became too destabilizing (loong or Vata in Tibetan / Ayurvedic terms...honestly that’s a whole other topic worthy of discussion: they should warn people with Vata imbalances that heavy visualization and mantra will screw your health to all hell...but they don’t tell you that disclaimer.)

I don’t know why it didn’t work. I wish I did. I’m sincere when I ask you all why.

But after a decade, and now facing my own mortality, I’m angry about it. I feel conned. And a part of me wants to warn others who are seriously ill. Because THAT feels like the moral thing to do.

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Fa Dao
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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by Fa Dao » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:33 pm

I think everyone here has had doubts as to the efficacy of certain practices....were human, comes with the territory. However, that being said, heres a thought that crossed my mind...you said you have been doing this practice for a decade now, right? Is it remotely possible that you were meant to die of this illness oh say 9 years ago and that it is the practice that has kept you alive? Healing doesn't always happen quickly and we never know whats just around the corner. Perhaps Medicine Buddha in his infinite Wisdom has been helping you all along...perhaps the suffering you have been enduring for such a long time was meant to awaken compassion/wisdom in you for others? Anyways, blah blah blah...just some thoughts...
"But if you know how to observe yourself, you will discover your real nature, the primordial state, the state of Guruyoga, and then all will become clear because you will have discovered everything"-Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by 明安 Myoan » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:45 pm

Your vows will protect you.

This really is workable. I'll have confidence on your behalf :smile:

Message me if you want to talk about Amitabha sometime. Wish I knew more about the Medicine Buddha, I think there is an answer for you. At the very least, consider the benefits of thinking of a buddha, including its indirect impact on those in your life.

Good luck!
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

tkp67
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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by tkp67 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:55 pm

There have been several times in my life when I had circumstance I could not transcend NOR fathom. It simply left me broken to be in that place regardless of what the outcome was going to be. I learned to take refuge moment by moment for the sake of trying to capture just a moment away from all thought surrounding the situation. My expectations were limited to but a moment of quiet mind. I was able to find that much even in light of unknown outcomes and circumstances.

If there is a part of this practice you still believe in I hope you can find refuge in it even if for a moment.

Regardless of what might be, now is the moment in which all life existing abides. Past this moment is a dream to all of us with no guarantee that we will wake from it. If one can find refuge for a moment it can be perpetuated.

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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by Queequeg » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:34 pm

Here is an explanation why it does not work. I'm presenting it here for your consideration and mean nothing else by it. I'm not wise enough to evaluate its truth. IME, it has held true so far. There's reasons why I probably ought not state this. It is an upsetting message for people in some circumstances. But, as explained below, we're beyond the time for hiding things. There is no time to do anything but blurt certain things out.

The dispensations of all Buddhas have a limited period of efficacy due to the nature of the beings of a given world and their world itself. This Saha world, Shakyamuni's land, is particularly harsh. The beings born here are of meager merit - our life spans are short, we're particularly susceptible to degradation, our faculties are, in comparison to the beings in other words, dull. We're stubborn, petty, mean spirited, plagued by the poisons. Nothing lasts very long here. Shakyamuni's teachings have, in comparison to the teachings of Buddhas in other worlds, a very short shelf life - according to various sources anywhere from 500 to 2000 years. No matter how you add it up, no matter which authority you rely on, the teachings are past their good-through date. This is the Degenerate Age of Dharma that will last for 10,000 years. We are on the steep, downward slope and it will continue, with no brakes, until all traces of Shakyamuni and his teachings are erased. Some time after, Maitreya will descend from Tushita and appears in Saha as the next Buddha, to set the Wheel in motion again.

All of the teachings that Shakyamuni taught during the forty-eight years, from the awakening at Gaya to his parinirvana at the Sal grove, are said to have lost efficacy, not because the teachings are false, but because WE do not have the karmic conditions to respond to the medicine that was intended for the people who lived in the first two ages of the Dharma.

If you are looking to Mahayana teachings for your healing, then you really need to consult the Mahayana teachings about why they don't work, and its there. The above is the synopsis of orthodox Mahayana view.

All hope is not lost, - The Buddha's awakening is beyond time, beyond arising and degradation. The Buddha's teachings taught without regard to the particular causes and conditions of living beings is always efficacious. However, because the Buddha's awakening is not presented in response to the capacities of particular beings, is not taught in language or other modes of communication we conditioned beings are limited by, it is difficult to understand and difficult to believe. If you can grok this, the only efficacious Buddhist teaching now is the Buddha's body itself, stripped of interpretations and explanation. If there is any healing for you, now, that's it. This age of the Degenerate Dharma - the one wonderful thing about this from a Buddhist perspective is that this teaching of the Buddha's body will emerge and spread.

***

I've seen many people fervently pray to overcome serious, mortal illnesses. Some were cured and live or have now passed but had their lives extended. I've also seen people who have not been cured. And who knows how many sincere practitioners avoided deaths that they had no idea were upon them. I'm pretty sure I've had numerous brushes, but I'm still here.

My grandmother was a wonderful human being. A truly fine person of the highest moral fiber. I say that not out of some blind affection, but as a middle aged person who has lived life a little and knows how hard it is and knows that her life was exponentially harder than mine. At her core, she was profoundly devout lay woman who regularly started her day attending morning services at her temple at 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning, and recited sutras late at night after she put everyone else in the household to sleep. She was also sickly her whole life, racked by the constant pain of arthritis for the last three decades before she died. Despite the crippling pain, she made monthly pilgrimages to her main temple up in the mountains. Her prayers were to see her children and grand children happy, and to live long enough to be the support we all needed. All of her grandchildren got to know her and she has made a profound impact on all of us as a model of human behavior.

My grandfather, who had one lung because the other was shot out of him when he was a marine, chain smoked and was in poor health for years. My grandmother always worried that she would die first and he'd be left alone. But that's not how it happened. He died, and she died a few months later, of a stroke, no doubt caused by her decades of exposure to second hand smoke. She went to a beauty parlor, and on the way home collapsed, fell into a coma. My sister, who was very close to her, fervently prayed for her to recover - I can't imagine prayers more sincere and pure than those of child. One night, she wet her bed. She was too old for that kind of accident. She woke my mother who changed her and put her back to bed, noting the time. The next morning we got a call that my grandmother had passed, just at the time that my sister woke my mother. We also learned that my cousin, who had been in a motorcycle accident and in a coma, woke up that morning.

Maybe its all coincidences.

My sister, I don't think prayed again, so discouraged that her prayers didn't heal my grandmother, until she was in a harrowing situation while backpacking alone in India. She was incidentally saved, but that's another story. She's since been Buddhist in name, but at least she holds that thread, which is due to my grandmother no matter how its considered.

What is the benefit from Dharma practice? We all get sick. If we're lucky, we get some decades in relatively good health. We all die and our traces are blown away in the wind. As a Bodhisattva you took a vow to save beings. Isn't this life you have an opportunity to save beings? Don't you have an opportunity to inspire others on this Path?

***

There's a parable in the Lotus Sutra, a Mahayana sutra, about children playing in a burning house. The father wants to get them out, but there is no time to drag each one individually - the roof is about to collapse. The father tells the children there are toys outside the house, if they will only come out and claim them. The children, excited by the idea of the toys, come rushing out of the house. The father is relieved that they are saved from the burning house. He doesn't actually have toys for them, and the children plead with him as children do when they are promised gifts. The father is so happy and wealthy he gives them toys, but the toys are far beyond the meager promise he made.

You've taken refuge in this teaching that is rarely encountered. You've spent time practicing Dharma, drawing close to teachers. Maybe the illness of your body is not healed, and this or something else will eventually end your life, but you've walked the path of the Buddhas for at least a little while. Would you have walked this path based on just the 4 Noble Truths? Would the promise of nirvana gotten you to practice these ten years? Are you sure you shouldn't have died years ago? Are you sure this time is not bonus time?

I wish you the best. Fare well.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

tkp67
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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by tkp67 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:44 pm

What an amazing post.

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by 明安 Myoan » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:51 pm

Of note also is the mental pain body, which any remembrance of a buddha has the power to heal through the simple fact of replacing a rotten peg with a new one. So in this respect, the mantra restores your capacity to act as a Bodhisattva by remembering the causes of virtue and abandoning the causes of confusion, and having something else to think about than your own situation. This leads to your future well-being. Consider also the transformation body you will receive in any buddha's pure land. Isn't that a healing as well? :shrug:

I respect your suffering and feel some understanding having a terminal father. But there are simply other ways to approach this situation which, for example, explore new teachings or inspire you to even greater positive aspirations.

It is always workable, with even a seed of the Dharma.

Since you sincerely connected with Amitabha, I think you have less to worry about than the present nightmare seems. The 18th Vow remains unfulfilled for me specifically, until I die, so I see it indirectly through the other vows which I can recognize in my life as positive changes and developments. A relationship is not just one experience.

I suppose I had that much more to say. I feel sympathy for your situation so I'm following the conversation. It's a good one to have :group:
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by Miroku » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:10 pm

Q, that was one of the finest posts I have ever seen here. Very beautiful!
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by 明安 Myoan » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:26 pm

:good:

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Re: Why doesn’t Medicine Buddha heal me?

Post by quad » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:18 pm

Thank you Queequeg. I think that’s probably as good an answer as I will ever get.
Queequeg wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:34 pm
If you can grok this, the only efficacious Buddhist teaching now is the Buddha's body itself, stripped of interpretations and explanation. If there is any healing for you, now, that's it. This age of the Degenerate Dharma - the one wonderful thing about this from a Buddhist perspective is that this teaching of the Buddha's body will emerge and spread.
Can you elaborate on this?

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