Medicine Buddha Today

The illness is the fuel for the lamp of health

Posted on Dec 21, 2018

Recently I met with a friend who had taught Zen for years and we were discussing healing in the Zen tradition. He said, “The illness is the cure.” That was it! I loved the idea. I pondered this and began to think that at least part of healing is how working with the karma behind our illness helps us go beyond the illness in time. At some point I began to wonder if we could see Medicine Buddha as not just a similar approach to healing, which of course it is, but beyond that as a icon of health itself. The Ven. Thrangu Rinpoche told us that we are Menla. He did not say someday you might be like Menla.  He said we are Menla right now. That means we go beyond even the concept of illness as a problem.

My experience is that having an illness or problem helps me really get more fully into the practice as I do it. Illness helps Menla shine. And as my inner Menla begins to shine, I sense that my problem is not so much a problem as much as fuel for that illumination experience. I become more cheerful, more dedicated to being of service to others simply for the joy of it. Maybe that is health itself—We will all have problems at times, and we will all die. But that does not have to stop our radiance of the recognition of inherent health and our dedication to helping others.