How Medicine Buddha Helps
Medicine Buddha can help in many ways. First, as we resonate with the practice and sense of Menla and call him into our mind and heart, we lessen any tendency to rely on fear-based thinking. Our sense of who we are and what is happening in our life will become more bright and clear. This alone can help with whatever health problem or conflict we face. When our mind is more clear, we can more fully invoke the natural health within and in all the universe, and we can bring these two experiences of health together into one, powerful healing force. Second, knowing Menla can inspire us, even if only in little ways at first, to not only care for ourselves, but to go beyond the confines of any illness or problem, to a bigger, braver, more caring and joyful vision of opening to our world. This is the goal of all Buddhist practice—to be well enough so that we can help our world. And finally, eventually Menla will take us to complete enlightenment.
A central theme of Menla practice is joining the ultimate, spiritual health in our heart, mind and life, with the often complicated, difficult details of ordinary daily life experience.
The Buddha depicted here is Shakyamuni, who lived nearly 2600 years ago and who, it is said, transcended all fear and fully woke up. As such, he has no further needs of his own, and he lights the ways to the completion of all paths of benefiting others. Like Menla, he holds a bowl in his left hand, and he touches Earth with his right hand, expressing his practical connection with life. He works with the here and now. Yet he is timeless.
As you can see, he is surrounded by representations of various healing modalities——mainstream, alternative, physical, psychological——everything we ourselves may use. Menla brings all this together, uniting the transcendent, total wakefulness of a Buddha (or whatever your spiritual vision), with the mundane path of helping us with whatever illness and problems we may face in whatever way we need in order to someday attain full wakefulness and the ability to ourselves more effectively help others in whatever way they need.
In addition to uniting the transcendent and the mundane, Menla shows us the interior of how all health and healing work.
Wanting to be healthy can be like wanting your watch to be on time. Great when it happens, but you might not find out your watch is off until you miss an appointment. It can pay to go inside and keep the gears clean and oiled, even when things seem to be going well. Menla takes us to the innermost mechanism of health, cleans out any debris of fear and sets everything back in good working order.
Medicine Buddha joins the discipline focused foundation path of individual liberation, the compassion-focused Buddhist path of helping all others, with the direct, energy-focused path, generally called Tantra. As such, it may not be as rapid a path to full enlightenment as the direct paths available in the tantric practices, but it accomplishes the same goal eventually and does a lot of good along the way. It is also said that if one does Medicine Buddha as one’s only practice, one is sewing the seeds of a monastic life in the future. This may relate to how healers generally must step out of gender roles while doing their work. However we do it, the point is establishing a working basis from which we can live in a way that is helpful to ourselves and others. Menla helps our life work in the way we need most.
If you are working with a problem There are no guarantees, of course. Please work with your health care provider. As in all health care, each of us will have our own path. However, over time, you might see some of the following bright spots as you move along.
Ordinary World Changes:
- A sense of being better able to manage your problem
- A more effective way to work with your problem
- A lessening of symptoms of your problem
- A greater capacity to be present with others and offer help
Transcendent Life Issues
- A greater sense of connection with your spiritual path
- A connection with the teachings of the Mahamudra Buddhist traditions of Tibet, in particular as embodied by the great master, The Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche
- The eventual ultimate liberation of complete enlightenment
Bridging Ordinary and Transcendent World Issues Together
- A lessening of despair around your problem
- A greater sense of inspiration in your life path, whatever it brings
- A greater delight in doing all you can to be of service to your world
If you are a care provider You may gain a deeper understanding of and appreciation for and both your healing art and those you care for. You may find more joy in your work and in your life.
If you are a person who just cares about our world Your compassion and skill in working for and with yourself and others will expand. Your good intentions will have a good effect.
Perhaps most important of all, no matter what your problem, Medicine Buddha helps open your mind to a bigger, brighter, more inclusive understanding of what all health means. Thus, your problem changes from being an enemy to being your friend. This is unconditional liberation from all fear and suffering. It is being fully awake.
This practice is open to everyone, regardless of religious inclination. Doing this practice does not make you Buddhist. It makes you a healer.
Below we see a section of lapis lazuli, also known as vaidurya. In ancient days, this stone was held to be more precious than diamond. This is the color of the sky we might see high in the mountains. Light shines from and in all directions. Everything is brightly lit.
On the road to health, Menla is the guide, the journey and the destination.