Master of Healing Buddha
(Tibetan: Sangye Menlha)
The “Master of Healing Buddha” or Bhaisajyaguru Buddha is a very popular Buddha among Mahayana Buddhists. He is revered in Tibet, the Himalayan region, China, Korea and Japan. Historically, Bhaisajyaguru Buddha can considered as the result of a natural development of an epithet of the historical Buddha. The historical Shakyamuni Buddha is referred to in the early sutras as the “Master of Healing” as he is seen as the supreme physician who removes the source of all illness – ignorance (Sanskrit: avidya). Once ignorance is uprooted, all illnesses and diseases are dispelled. Spiritually, Bhaisajyaguru Buddha embodies the healing aspect of all Buddhas. He heals both ordinary illnesses as well as the ultimate illness of ignorance. By relying on Bhaisajyaguru Buddha, a practitioner is able to dispel all illnesses and ultimately ignorance. In the Tibetan tradition, the name “Master of Healing Buddha” refers not to one individual Buddha but to a group of 8 Buddhas of which Shakyamuni is included as one. However, they are often collectively represented by one Buddha figure as seen in the thangka above.
In the prayer to Kyobpa Rinpoche as Master of Healing Buddha, Kyobpa Rinpoche is identified as the “Master of Healing Buddha.” This is a common practice in Tibetan Buddhism – to consider the Guru as embodying all Buddhas and other enlightened beings. To the extent that we can see the Guru as the Master of Healing Buddha, to that extent we will receive the healing blessings of the Guru. Hence, in that particular supplication prayer, one invokes the healing powers of the Guru who is inseparable from the “Master of Healing Buddha(s).” From the ultimate point of view, all Buddhas are inseparable in the state of the Body of Reality (Sanskrit: Dharmakaya). Hence, we should not consider one enlightened being as totally separate or distinct from another. But for the sake of helping sentient beings that are still clouded by notions of difference and separation, the Body of Reality manifests and emanates countless different Buddhas with their different names, appearances and aspects. Through these varied manifestations and emanations, sentient beings are led onto the Path that leads to the attainment of Supreme Buddhahood.
The prayer also refers to the “five poisons.” These five poisons refer to ignorance, avarice, anger, pride and jealousy. These are considered the five poisons that are the causes of all other illnesses that manifest on the external level. As long as these five poisons are not purified on the inner level, all kinds of sicknesses and illnesses will continue to manifest on the external level. Hence, the best cure for all sicknesses is the antidote that can purify the inner five poisons. In this prayer, we supplicate to Kyobpa Rinpoche to activate his healing blessings to assist us to purify these inner poisons.
Although the Buddha’s teachings mainly deal with the inner aspect (i.e the mind), there are also teachings that deal with the outer aspects. In this context, there is a sophisticated medical system related to the practices of the Master of Healing Buddha. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, it has an important Indian Buddhis text known as the “Four Tantras” (Tibetan: Gyud-zhi) which forms the basis of the Tibetan medical system. This medical system is holistic in its approach. It is firmly grounded in the Buddhist tradition by insisting that all diseases and sicknesses are ultimately caused by the inner poisons. On the other hand, these diseases can also be treated through medicine, diet and exercises. By combining both inner (meditation, prayer, mantra-recitation) and outer aspects of healing (ingesting medicine etc.), the Tibetan medical system has thrived for generations and has recently caught the attention of modern medical researchers.
The following is a short prayer extracted from a Master of Healing Buddha meditation-text (sadhana) compiled by the Ven. Khenpo Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche:
Guru and Sovereign of Healing, the Exalted One
With the spontaneous accomplishment of benefiting self and others
May sentient beings afflicted by the Three Poisons
Attain the healthy state free from illness; happy and blissful!
The short mantra of Master of Healing Buddha:
TAD-YA-THA/ OM BHE-KHA-ZAY BHE-KHA-ZAY MAHA BHE-KHA-ZAY BHE-KHA-ZAY RAZA SA-MUN-GA-TAY SOHA!