Major Theme: Attaining Peace and Ease in the Present LifeThe Sutra on the Original Vows and Merits of the Medicine Master Tathagata of Lapis Lazuli Crystal Radiance-- also known as the Sutra of the Medicine Master (Sutra of Medicine Buddha)-- begins by portraying the Eastern Pure Land of Lapis Lazuli and expounding the original vows and merits of the Medicine Master Tathagata. The Medicine Master Tathagata is named Bhaiṣajya-guru-vaiḍūrya-prabhā-rājāya in Sanskrit--commonly referred to as the Medicine Master Tathagata of Lapis Lazuli Crystal Radiance or the Medicine Buddha for short. According to Buddhism, all sentient beings’ vexations are derived from the body and mind. Mental problems need to be treated with the medicine for the mind, and Buddhadharma is the best medicine for the mind. All the Buddhas are great doctors who are well versed in treating various mental problems of sentient beings. In addition to mental illness, the Medicine Buddha also treats sentient beings’ physical illness, which is the main focus and distinguishing feature of the Dharma Gate of the Medicine Buddha.
The Causes and Conditions of Expounding the Teachings
The Sutra of the Medicine Buddha was a teaching expounded by the Buddha in the woods outside the City of Vaisali when he travelled throughout the Ganges River and spread teachings to those needing them. The Sutra of the Medicine Buddha is an important Buddhist sutra delivered by the Buddha. It relates to the Eastern Pure Land of the Medicine Buddha which, upon the request of the Bodhisattva Manjuri, the Buddha expounded after the Western Pure Land of the Buddha Amitabha. The Eastern World of Lapis Lazuli is the Pure Land built from the vows of the Medicine Buddha of Lapis Lazuli Crystal Radiance. According to the Sutra of the Medicine Buddha, this Buddha land is located as far as the sands of ten Ganges rivers east to our Saha world. There is a Buddha on that land named the Medicine Buddha of Lapis Lazuli Crystal Radiance.
In his book The Way to Buddhahood, Venerable Master Yin-Shun pointed out that the Twelve Great Vows in the Sutra of the Medicine Buddha were made by the Medicine Buddha before attaining Buddhahood, when he was still practicing the Bodhisattva path. The goal of Medicine Buddha’s vows was to heal those with physical disabilities, to enable those who are poor to have abundance in clothing and food and enjoy peace and joy, to keep people away from evil demons and heretics, as well as to help all sentient beings achieve enlightenment, etc. Venerable Master Yin Shun emphasized that the practice method of Pure Land in the Sutra of the Medicine Buddha is not aimed to seek for enjoyment after one is deceased. Rather, if one practices in accordance with the vows of the Medicine Buddha, one can gain benefits even in one's present life.
While the Buddha was alive, Vaidehī, consort of the king of Magadha in ancient India, deeply felt the pain of living in this world and wished not to be reborn into it. Therefore, the Buddha explained to her the bliss of the Western Pure Land of Amitabha for the purpose of introducing her to the practice method of Amitabha's Pure Land. However, in order to assimilate people into Buddhism--- especially those who aren’t ready to renounce mundane pleasures such as good health and family harmony on the path toward enlightenment--- the Buddha gave teachings on the Pure Land of the Medicine Buddha. This clearly reveals the differences between delighting in one's future life and living happily in the present moment.
After the Twelve Great Vows are explained in the sutra, the merits, virtues and adornments of the Eastern Pure Land of the Medicine Buddha are compared to those of the Western Pure Land of Amitahba. Describing the merits and wisdom of the Suryaprabha Bodhisattva and Candraprabha Bodhisattva adds radiance to the qualities of the Medicine Buddha. Afterwards, three expedient methods are introduced: (1) remembering and reciting the Buddha's name, (2) chanting mantras, and (3) making offerings to help sentient beings stay away from evil and cultivate wholesome qualities.
The Sutra of the Medicine Buddha starts with the analysis of the Pure Land, elucidates the Twelve Great Vows, and, finally, provides practice methods that are centered on the present life. All of these teach us how to correctly view and understand our life, to attain peace and ease in the chaotic world, and be liberated from all kinds of pains and sorrows. The Sutra of the Medicine Buddha introduces a grand dharma that truly focuses on people’s present life, which is the unique and extraordinary characteristic of this sutra.
Major Theme: Attaining Peace and Ease in the Present Life
Medicine Buddha's Twelve Great Vows As an Example of Buddhism Practice
How to Practice the Medicine Buddha's Dharma Method
Resource: Issue 331 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Photos: Issue 331 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Editing: YKL, Keith Brown