The full name of the medicine Buddha depicted here is Bhaishjyaguru Vaiduryaprabha, the healing mater of Lapis Lazuli Radiance. Like Shakyamuni and Amitabha he wears the robes of a monk and is seated in the full acreoos – legged posture. His left hand is in the meditation mudra, resting in his lap and holdings a begging bowl filled with medicinal nectar and fruit. His right hand rests upon is knee with palm facing outward in the mudra of granting blessings and hold a steam of myrobalan plant (terminalia chebula), renowned as the king among medicines because of its effectiveness in treating both mental and physical diseases.
In traditional Tibetan tangkas, the Lapis Healing Master is often shown in the company of seven other medicine buddhas, one of whom is Shakyamuni himself. And in depictions of his eastern Buddha ream known as pure Lapis Laxuli, the healing master is generally flanked by the two leading bodhisattva of that pure land, Suryaprabha and Chandraprabha, respectively All – pervading Solar and Lunar Radiance. In keeping with the clear and direct style of this series of paintings, however, the Lapis Healing Master has been presented without any entourage and is shown seated within transparent aura of blue light.
The most distinctive feature of this medicine Buddha is his color, the deep blue of lapis lazuli. This precious stone has been greatly prized by Asian and European cultures for more than six thousand years and, until relatively recently, its ornamental value was on a par with, or even exceeded , that of the diamond. An aura of mystery surrounds this gemstone, perhaps because its principal mines are located in the remote Badakshan region of north-east Afghanis-
tan, an all- but inaccessible are located beyond the Hindu Kush. One commentator has written, “The finest specimens
of lapis, intensely blue with speckled waves and swirls of ….shining god-colored pyrite, resemble the night aglow with
myriads of stars.” traditionally this beautiful stone was used to symbolize that which is pure or rare. It is said to have a curative or strengthening effect on those who wear it, and its natural smoothness allows it to be polished to a high de-
gree of reflectivity. For all these reason – plus the fact that deep blue light has a demonstrable healing effect on those who use it in visualization practices – lapis is the color of the principal medicine Buddha.
The lapis Healing Master is one of the most honored figures in the Buddhist pantheon. The sutras in which he appears compare his eastern pure land with the western paradise of Amitabha, and rebirth is said to be as conductive to enlightenment as is rebirth in Sukhavati. Recitation of his mantra, or even the mere repetition of his holy name, is said to be sufficient to grant release from the lower realms, protection from worldly dangers and freedom from untimely death. In one of the main sutras concerning the Medicine Buddha, Shakyamuni tells his close disciple and attendant Ananda:
If these sentient beings [ those plunged into the depths of samara’s suffering] hear the
Name of the Lord Master of Healing, the Lapis Lazuli Radiance tathagata, and with
Utmost sincerity accept it and hold on it, and no doubts arise,
Then they will not fall into a woesome path.
In Tibet the Medicine Buddha is revered as the source of the healing art for it is through him that the teachings embob-ied in the four medical tantras, the basis of Tibetan medicine, came into being. As explained in the first of these four tantras, the Lapis Lazuli Healings master was once seated in meditation surrounded by an assembly of four circles of disciples including divine physicians, great sages, non-Buddhist gods and bodhisattvas, all of whom wished to learn the art of healing. Rendered speechless by the radiant glory of his countenance, they were unable to request the desired teachings. To accommodate their unspoken wishes, the medicine Buddha manifested two emanations, one to request the teachings and the other to deliver them. In this way, then, the Buddhist explanation of the various mental and physical ailments, their cause, diagnoses and treatment and the maintenance of health is said to have originated.
According to the Four Tantras, the fundamental cause of every disease is to be found in the three poisonous delusions – ignorant bewilderment, attachment and hatred – occupying the hub of the wheel of samsaric existence. These three root delusions lead to imbalances in the three so-called humors (blood, flesh, bone, etc.) and waste products, or impurities( excrement, urine and perspiration), all of which are analyzed in twenty five divisions. The root tantra says:
Thus if all these twenty five are in balance and the three factors of the (1) tastes and (2) inherent qualities of one’s food and (3) one’s behavior are wholesome, one’s health and life will flourish. If they are not, one’s health and life will be harmed.
And further on:
Attachment, hatred and bewilderment are the three causes producing imbalances of wind, bile and phlegm.
Along with these, the four contributing circumstances of time, spirits, food and behavior cause the humors
To increase and decrease. The imbalance then spreads over the skin, increases in the flash, moves along the
Vessels, meets the bones and descends upon the solid and hollow organs.