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E-mail: bdea@buddhanet.net
Web site: www.buddhanet.net
Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.
Translated & Annotated under the Guidance of
Dharma Master Hsuan Jung
by Minh Thnh & P.D. Leigh
. T. Suzuki, Manual of Zen Buddhism (p. .6.):
Yakushi (thc Mcdicinc 8uddha) is thc 8odhisattva
doctor. Hc holds a mcdicinc jar in his hand and is
attcndcd by twclvc gods cach ol whom rcprcscnts onc
ol his twclvc vows. Tc main objcct ol his appcarancc
among us is to curc us ol ignorancc, which is thc most
lundamcntal ol all thc ills thc csh is hcir to.
May thc mcrit and virtuc
accrucd lrom this work
adorn thc 8uddhas Purc Land,
rcpaying thc lour grcat kindncsscs abovc,
and rclicvc thc sucring ol
thosc on thc thrcc paths bclow.
May thosc who scc or hcar ol thcsc corts
gcncratc 8odhimind,
spcnd thcir livcs dcvotcd to thc 8uddha harma,
and nally bc rcborn togcthcr in
thc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss.
Homagc to Amita 8uddha!


Taisho X!\, c
Translated and annotated under the guidance of
harma Mastcr Hsuan Jung
8y Minh Tanh & P.. Lcigh
InternationaI Buddhist Monastic Institute
aoor
Tc Sutra of the Medicine Buddha is among thc most popular tcxts in
ast Asia, along with thc Amitabha, thc Ksitigarbha and thc Lotus
sutras. Tis ncw translation, lrccly availablc to all scckcrs, includcs
thc oral commcnts ol scvcral contcmporary scnior monks.
aoor
Second edition
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Cover iIIustration
Stampcd 8uddha imagcs, abovc thc cciling ol an ancicnt tcmplc.
Amitabha Buddha (rst row)
Medicine Buddha (second & third rows)
]apan, ca. r
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vii
Contents
Acxxowivbcv:vx:s ....................................................................................... vii
No:v :o :nv xciisn bi:iox ................................................... ix
!x:vobuc:iox ................................................................................................................. xi
Su:v~ ov :nv Mvbicixv 8ubbn~ ............................................ .,
No:vs ............................................................................................................................................. ,
Gioss~vv ................................................................................................................................. ,
Acknowledgements
Vc would likc to acknowlcdgc thc guidancc ol thc lollow
ing spiritual bcnclactors, without whosc input this book
could not havc bccn complctcd.
Hcading thc list, in alphabctical ordcr, arc Mastcr
Tich Huycn ung, Mastcr Tich Phuoc 8on and
Rcv. K. Vatanabc, thrcc kalyanamitra with an intimatc
undcrstanding ol thc Sutra of the Medicine Buddha. Rcv.
Tzu Han (Antony) kindly rcad through and commcntcd
on thc tcxt. thcr bcnclactors havc also providcd crucial
assistancc: Upasaka Hicn Mat, a scholarpractitioncr ol
viii
thc Twclvc Grcat \ows ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha, and
incidcntally, a compatriot ol thc scnior cditor lrom thc
warmhcartcd land ol snow hc has adoptcd as his own,
Upasika Quynh Hoa, always thcrc whcn nccdcd an
accomplishcd diplomat, Upasaka Harry Lcong, a grcat
spiritual son ol thc sotcric tradition, Upasika Nancy
Luong, thc most chccrlul data spccialist wc havc known,
and, most importantly, Upasaka \u Xuan Hoai, our lcarncd
harma consultant lrom Connccticut, and Upasaka ick
M. Saundcrs, both ol whom pitchcd in with incisivc
commcnts. For this sccond printing, wc acknowlcdgc our
dcbt to Upasaka uong inh Hy a scholar ol Zcn and
ol ancicnt Chincsc who rcvicwcd kcy passagcs in rccord
timc.
Tc associatc cditor would likc to honor thc mcmory
ol two outstanding tcachcrs lrom Columbia Univcrsity
Prol. Charlcs Lo and Prol. Vang Chichcn whosc pro
lound mastcry ol classical Chincsc was matchcd only by
thcir subtlc grasp ol thc nuanccs ol thc nglish languagc.
Vhatcvcr small contribution shc was ablc to makc to this
translation is duc in largc part to thcir skilllul tutclagc.
Finally, wc acknowlcdgc our dcbt to thc latc Upasika
Nguycn Ti Hoang / icu Phung, our rst harma tcachcr,
and thc cbullicnt cxccutor ol hcr cstatc, Upasika Licn
Smith, along with hcr husband, Prol. Forrcst G. Smith,
lor support in thc complction ol this book.
mt / pdl
ix
Note to the English Edition
Tc prcscnt work is part ol a multilingual scrics ol Purc
Land and Purc Landrclatcd tcxts prcparcd sincc ..
by thc \an Hicn Study Group, in coopcration with thc
Sutra Translation Committcc ol thc Unitcd Statcs and
Canada and thc !ntcrnational 8uddhist Monastic !nstitutc
(USA).
Tis ncw translation is ol a Purc Landrclatcd tcxt,
thc Sutra of the Medicine Buddha. !t has bcncttcd lrom
six prcvious rcndcrings in both Sino\ictnamcsc and
nglish and incorporatcs oral cxplanations and com
mcnts providcd by scvcral contcmporary scnior Mastcrs.
xplanatory notcs and a glossary arc includcd lor thc
bcnct ol rcadcrs.

!n thc Mahayana tradition ol ast Asia, particularly


China, Japan, \ictnam and Tibct, 8haishajyaguru, thc
Mcdicinc 8uddha, (Yao -shih Fo, Yakushi, Du

c Su

Ph

t,
Sangye Menla), occupics a spccial placc in thc hcarts ol
thc dcvout. Spccializing in curing discasc, both physical
and mcntal ol which dclusion is thc root causc thc
Mcdicinc 8uddha is also thc 8uddha ol wisdom. His hcal
x
ing acts arc but thc prcludc to Suprcmc nlightcnmcnt lor
thosc scckcrs who havc thc good lortunc to lcarn ol his
vows or mcrcly to hcar his namc!
Toward this ultimatc goal, thc sutra contains a pas
sagc dcscribing thc stcps takcn by thc Mcdicinc 8uddha
to hclp monks, nuns, upasakas, upasikas, laymcn and
laywomcn who scck rcbirth in Sukhavati, thc Purc Land
ol Amitabha 8uddha in thc Vcst.
A kcy clcmcnt ol thc sutra is its cmphasis on thc
assistancc ol thc 8uddhas and 8odhisattvas, and its corol
lary ol singlcmindcd, cnlightcncd laith. Tis is thc crux
ol thc sutra, thc sourcc ol thc c cacy ol thc 8uddhas and
8odhisattvas vows. If you are utterly sincere, if you do not
harbor a single doubt, you arc lully conccntratcd you arc
in samadhi. Your mind is thcn in tunc with thc mind ol
thc 8uddhas, a proccss ol spiritual osmosis occurs whcrcby
thcir mcrits and virtucs bccomc your own. How can your
wishcs and hopcs thcn not bccomc rcality:
1
May all scnticnt bcings livc in pcacc, ultimatcly
attaining Suprcmc nlightcnmcnt undcr thc bcncvolcnt
light ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha in this world and thc
compassionatc light ol Amitabha 8uddha in the worlds
beyond!
2
\an Hicn Study Group
8haishajyaguru Fcstival
Nov. accc
xi
Introducion
!n thc vast Mahayana panthcon, thrcc 8uddhas stand
suprcmc: Sakyamuni thc 8uddha ol thc prcscnt agc,
Amitabha, thc Lord ol Sukhavati, thc Vcstcrn Purc
Land, and thc Medicine Buddha, thc Hcaling 8uddha,
thc octor ol 8ody and Soul. As cmbodimcnts ol
thc archctypical hcalcr watching ovcr thc living and
consolcr watching ovcr thosc long gonc, thc Mcdicinc
8uddha and Amitabha 8uddha rcprcscnt tcachings com
mon to all traditions ol 8uddhism.
3
r. Bhaishajya guru the Medicine Buddha
!n ast Asian tcmplcs, thc Mcdicinc 8uddha is usually
rcprcscntcd scatcd as part ol a massivc trinity with
Sakyamuni (in thc ccntcr) and Amitabha (on Sakyamunis
right). His right hand is raiscd, lorming thc \arada mudra,
thc handandngcrs gcsturc symbolizing ocring,
giving, compassion. Tc lclt hand usually rcsts on his lap,
holding a jar ol mcdicinc (or somctimcs a hcaling lruit or
stupa). Tc mcdicinc jar, paintcd dark bluc (thc color ol
thc gcmstonc lapis lazuli), is thc distinguishing lcaturc
ol this 8uddha, although it may bc missing lrom somc
statucs.
4
Tc Mcdicinc 8uddha should bc distinguishcd lrom
Aksobya 8uddha (whosc Purc Land is also in thc ast)
5

xii
and lrom thc Mcdicinc King Bodhisattva (rclcrrcd to in
thc Lotus Sutra).
a. Te Sutra of the Medicine Buddha
Tcrc arc currcntly vc cxtant Chincsc translations lrom
thc Sanskrit, donc bctwccn ~b ., and ~b ,c,, as wcll as
two Tibctan translations. Tc tcxt that lorms thc basis
ol this translation is that ol thc Patriarch Hsuantsang,
loundcr ol thc Chincsc Yogacara (Mindnly) school
and translator ol somc , 8uddhist sutras. Complctcd in
~b 6c, it is considcrcd thc most complctc and authorita
tivc vcrsion ol thc sutra.
Tc sutra is composcd csscntially ol thrcc parts, thc
rst dcscribing thc Twclvc Grcat \ows ol thc Mcdicinc
8uddha and thc sccond, his cxtcnsivc mcrits as wcll as
thc various ways hc comcs to thc aid ol thosc bcsct by
sucrings and calamitics. Tc third part scts lorth thc
vows ol thc twclvc Yaksa Gcncrals to bcnct scnticnt
bcings.
Tc sutra is inucntial throughout ast Asia, as it
combincs thc Purc Land tcachings on rcbirth and thc
csotcric practiccs ol rcciting dharani and lighting lamps
with thc promisc ol practical benets in cvcryday lilc. Tis
promisc (ol protcction against discasc and othcr pcrsonal
mislortuncs) is thc singlc most attractivc lcaturc ol thc
sutra.
xiii
. Teachings of the sutra
Tc sutra cmphasizcs laith in thc assistancc ol thc Mcdicinc
8uddha, whilc not ncglccting self-power, thc cultivation ol
thc dcvout.
Tc 8uddha thcn said to Ananda: il scnticnt bcings |bcsct by
hcavy karma| should hcar thc namc ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha
Lapis Lazuli Radiancc Tathagata, singlcmindcdly rccitc and
hold last to it without harboring a singlc doubt, thcn it will
bc impossiblc lor thcm to sink into thc vil Rcalms.
, Ananda! Tcsc sublimc practiccs ol thc 8uddhas arc
di cult to bclicvc in, di cult to undcrstand. Yct you arc
now ablc to uphold thcm. You should rcalizc that this is duc
to thc awcsomc powcr ol thc Tathagatas.
Howcvcr, thc qucstion rcmains as to how rcciting thc namc
and making ocrings to thc Mcdicinc 8uddha can ward
o discasc and calamity, bringing pcacc and joy to thc sick
and sucring. !n this contcxt, thc tcachings on thc trans
lcrcncc ol mcrit and on Mindnly comc into locus.
a) Mind-Only
All karma, good or bad, is crcatcd lrom thc mind. !l
through visualizing thc Mcdicinc 8uddha or rcciting his
namc, a pcrsons mind changcs lrom grccd, angcr and
dclusion to sclcssncss, compassion and wisdom, a changc
in his ncgativc pattcrn ol thinking is rcalizcd and his ncga
xiv
tivc karma changcs lor thc good. Tc drilting lilc is cast
asidc lor onc ol spiritual dcdication (John 8lolcld). Vith
thc rcmoval ol grccd, angcr and dclusion, most othcr ill
ncsscs, howcvcr physical thcir symptoms, arc also cvcntu
ally curcd.
b) Transference of merit
Somc ol us may ask whcthcr thc ccct ol cvil karma can bc
changcd by rcpcating thc namc ol KuanYin (Avalokitcsvara).
Tis qucstion is ticd up with that ol rcbirth in Sukhavati
(thc Purc Land) and it may bc answcrcd by saying that thc
invocation ol KuanYins namc lorms anothcr causc which
will right away osct thc prcvious karma. Vc know, lor
cxamplc, that il thcrc is a dark, hcavy cloud abovc, thc
chanccs arc that it will rain. 8ut wc also know that il a strong
wind should blow, thc cloud will bc carricd away somcwhcrc
clsc and wc will not lccl thc rain. Similarly, thc addition
ol onc big lactor can altcr thc wholc coursc ol karma. !t
is only by acccpting thc idca ol lilc as onc wholc that both
Tcravadins and Mahayanists can advocatc thc practicc ol
translcrcncc ol mcrit to othcrs. Vith thc casc ol KuanYin
thcn, by calling on Hcr namc wc idcntily oursclvcs with Hcr
and as a rcsult ol this idcntication, Hcr mcrits ow ovcr to
us. Tcsc mcrits which arc now ours thcn countcrbalancc
our bad karma and savc us lrom calamity. Tc Law ol Causc
and cct still stands good. All that has happcncd is that
a powcrlul and immcnscly good karma has ovcrshadowcd
thc wcakcr onc. (Lccturc on KuanYin by Tcch ng Soon
Pcnang 8uddhist Association, c. .6c. Pamphlct.)
xv
c) E cacy of the Vows
Tc kcy to thc sutras c cacy lics in thc complctc
abscncc ol doubt on thc part ol thc practitioncr. !l hc is
uttcrly sinccrc, hc is in a de facto statc ol samadhi thc vcry
statc ol thc 8uddhas and 8odhisattvas. His mind is thcn
thc mind ol thc 8uddhas thcir mcrits and virtucs bccomc
his own. How thcn can discasc or calamity dclcat him:

!n thc cnd, thc tcaching ol thc Sutra of the Medicine


Buddha is onc ol lilc and hopc, innitc trust and boundlcss
compassion in othcr words, a tcaching ol thc hcart.
Vhat is told is just what thc wondcr imagcs in thc tcmplcs
tcll. Somcbody arrivcd, innitc ycars ago, who promiscd
rclcasc lrom miscry, salvation. Trust in this promisc, hold
last to thc namc ol this 8uddha. !l a man oncc hcard His
namc, a ncw hopc has comc into his lilc this hopc is his
trcasurc, hc must not squandcr it. (V. Licbcnthal)
And squandcr it hc must not, bccausc this hopc lcads
to nothing lcss than cvcntual nlightcnmcnt and
8uddhahood.
6
mt / pd
Faith is thc basis ol thc path, thc mothcr ol virtucs,
Nourishing and growing all good ways
Faith can incrcasc knowlcdgc and virtuc,
Faith can assurc arrival at nlightcnmcnt.
(Avatamsaka Sutra)

.,
(Translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by the
Tang dynasty Tripitaka Master Hsuan-tsang)
[Translated into English by Minh Tanh & P.D. Leigh ()]
Tus havc ! hcard: ncc 8uddha Sakyamuni, thc Vorld
Honorcd nc, was travcling throughout thc various
lands to tcach and convcrt thc pcoplc. Vhcn hc arrivcd
in \aisali, hc rcstcd undcr thc Trcc ol Music, accompanicd
by ,ccc grcat 8hiksus. An immcasurably grcat Asscmbly,
including 6,ccc grcat 8odhisattvas as wcll as kings, grcat
ministcrs, 8rahmins, laymcn and womcn, thc ight Typcs
ol ivinitics and othcr human and nonhuman bcings,
gathcrcd rcspcctlully around thc 8uddha as Hc prcachcd
thc harma.
At that timc, thc 8odhisattva Manjusri, Princc ol
thc harma, rccciving thc awcsomc spiritual powcr ol thc
8uddha, rosc lrom his scat, adjustcd his robc to barc his
shouldcr and knclt on his right kncc. Hc bowcd dccply,
and with palms joincd, rcspcctlully addrcsscd thc 8uddha:
VorldHonorcd nc, may ! plcasc rcqucst you to cxplain
.
thc various namcs and titlcs, thc grcat, past vows and thc
supcrlativc virtucs ol thc 8uddhas, so that thosc who arc
listcning to you will bc lrccd ol karmic obstructions, whilc
in thc luturc, scnticnt bcings in thc harma Scmblancc
Agc will also dcrivc grcat bcnct and joy.
Tc 8uddha praiscd thc 8odhisattva Manjusri, saying:
xccllcnt! xccllcnt, Manjusri! ut ol grcat compas
sion, you havc urgcd mc to cxplain thc namcs and titlcs,
7

mcrits and virtucs and past vows ol thc 8uddhas, in ordcr
to libcratc thosc who arc bound by karmic obstructions
and bring bcncts, pcacc and joy to all scnticnt bcings in
thc harma Scmblancc Agc. Now, listcn attcntivcly and
rccct vcry carclully upon what ! am about to say.
Tc 8odhisattva Manjusri rcplicd: So bc it, Vorld
Honorcd nc. Vc will joylully listcn to whatcvcr you wish
to tcach.

Tc 8uddha thcn said to thc 8odhisattva Manjusri:


ast ol this world, past countlcss 8uddhalands
morc numcrous than thc grains ol sand in tcn Gangcs
Rivcrs thcrc cxists a world callcd Purc Lapis Lazuli.
Tc 8uddha ol that world is callcd thc Mcdicinc 8uddha
Lapis Lazuli Radiancc Tathagata, Arhat, thc Pcrlcctly
nlightcncd, Pcrlcct in Mind and ccd, Vcll Gonc,
Knowcr ol thc Vorld, Unsurpasscd 8cing, Tamcr ol
.
Passions, Tcachcr ol Gods and Mcn, 8uddhaVorld
Honorcd nc.
Manjusri, whcn thc VorldHonorcd Mcdicinc
8uddha was trcading thc 8odhisattva path, hc solcmnly
madc Twclvc Grcat \ows to grant scnticnt bcings what
cvcr thcy dcsircd.
Fir Great Vow
! vow that in a luturc lilc, whcn ! havc attaincd Suprcmc,
Pcrlcct nlightcnmcnt, brilliant rays will shinc lorth lrom
my body, illuminating innitc, countlcss boundlcss rcalms.
Tis body will bc adorncd with thc TirtyTwo Marks
ol Grcatncss and ighty Auspicious Charactcristics.
Furthcrmorc, ! will cnablc all scnticnt bcings to bccomc
just likc mc.
Second Great Vow
! vow that in a luturc lilc, whcn ! havc attaincd Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt, my body, insidc and out, will radiatc lar
and widc thc clarity and awlcss purity ol lapis lazuli. Tis
body will bc adorncd with supcrlativc virtucs and dwcll
pcacclully in thc midst ol a wcb ol light morc magniccnt
than thc sun or moon. Tc light will awakcn thc minds ol
all bcings dwclling in darkncss, cnabling thcm to cngagc
in thcir pursuits according to thcir wishcs.
ac
Tird Great Vow
! vow that in a luturc lilc, whcn ! havc attaincd Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt, ! will, with innitc wisdom and skilllul
mcans, providc all scnticnt bcings with an incxhaustiblc
quantity ol goods to mcct thcir matcrial nccds. Tcy will
ncvcr want lor anything.
Fourth Great Vow
! vow that in a luturc lilc, whcn ! havc attaincd Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt, ! will sct all who lollow hcrctical ways
upon thc path to nlightcnmcnt. Likcwisc, ! will sct thosc
who lollow thc Sravaka and Pratycka8uddha ways onto
thc Mahayana path.
Fifth Great Vow
! vow that in a luturc lilc, whcn ! havc attaincd Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt, ! will hclp all thc countlcss scnticnt bcings
who cultivatc thc path ol morality in accordancc with my
harma to obscrvc thc rulcs ol conduct (Prcccpts) to
pcrlcction, in conlormity with thc Trcc Root Prcccpts.
vcn thosc guilty ol disparaging or violating thc Prcccpts
will rcgain thcir purity upon hcaring my namc, and avoid
dcsccnding upon thc vil Paths.
a.
Sixth Great Vow
! vow that in a luturc lilc, whcn ! havc attaincd Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt, scnticnt bcings with impcrlcct bodics
whosc scnscs arc dccicnt, who arc ugly, stupid, blind,
dcal, mutc, cripplcd, hunchbackcd, lcprous, insanc or sul
lcring lrom various othcr illncsscs will, upon hcaring my
namc, acquirc wclllormcd bodics, cndowcd with intclli
gcncc, with all scnscs intact. Tcy will bc lrcc ol illncss
and sucring.
Seventh Great Vow
! vow that in a luturc lilc, whcn ! havc attaincd Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt, scnticnt bcings a ictcd with various ill
ncsscs, with no onc to hclp thcm, nowhcrc to turn, no
physicians, no mcdicinc, no lamily, no homc who arc
dcstitutc and miscrablc will, as soon as my namc passcs
through thcir cars, bc rclicvcd ol all thcir illncsscs. Vith
mind and body pcacclul and contcntcd, thcy will cnjoy
homc, lamily and propcrty in abundancc and cvcntually
rcalizc Unsurpasscd Suprcmc nlightcnmcnt.
Eighth Great Vow
! vow that in a luturc lilc, whcn ! havc attaincd Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt, thosc womcn who arc cxtrcmcly disgustcd
with thc hundrcd a ictions that bclall womcn and wish
aa
to abandon thcir lcmalc lorm, will, upon hcaring my namc,
all bc rcborn as mcn. Tcy will bc cndowcd with noblc
lcaturcs and cvcntually rcalizc Unsurpasscd Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt.
Ninth Great Vow
! vow that in a luturc lilc, whcn ! havc attaincd Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt, ! will hclp all scnticnt bcings cscapc lrom
thc dcmons nct and lrcc thcmsclvcs lrom thc bonds ol
hcrctical paths.
Should thcy bc caught in thc thickct ol wrong vicws,
! will lcad thcm to corrcct vicws, gradually inducing thcm
to cultivatc thc practiccs ol 8odhisattvas and swiltly rcal
izc Suprcmc, Pcrlcct nlightcnmcnt.
Tenth Great Vow
! vow that in a luturc lilc,, whcn ! havc attaincd Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt, thosc scnticnt bcings who arc shacklcd,
bcatcn, imprisoncd, condcmncd to dcath or othcrwisc
subjcctcd to countlcss miscrics and humiliations by royal
dccrcc and who arc sucring in body and mind lrom
this opprcssion nccd only hcar my namc to bc lrccd lrom
all thcsc a ictions, thanks to thc awcsomc powcr ol my
mcrits and virtucs.
a
Eleventh Great vow
! vow that in a luturc lilc, whcn ! havc attaincd Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt, il scnticnt bcings who arc tormcntcd by
hungcr and thirst to thc point ol crcating cvil karma
in thcir attcmpts to survivc should succccd in hcaring
my namc, rccitc it singlcmindcdly and hold last to it, !
will rst satisly thcm with thc most cxquisitc lood and
drink. Ultimatcly, it is through thc avor ol thc harma
that ! will cstablish thcm in thc rcalm ol pcacc and
happincss.
Twelfth Great Vow
! vow that in a luturc lilc, whcn ! havc attaincd Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt, il scnticnt bcings who arc uttcrly dcstitutc,
lacking clothcs to protcct thcm lrom mosquitos and ics,
hcat and cold and arc sucring day and night should
hcar my namc, rccitc it singlcmindcdly and hold last to
it, thcir wishcs will bc lulllcd. Tcy will immcdiatcly
rcccivc all manncr ol cxquisitc clothing, prccious adorn
mcnts, owcr garlands and inccnsc powdcr, and will cnjoy
music and cntcrtainmcnt to thcir hcarts contcnt.
Manjusri, thcsc arc thc Twclvc Sublimc \ows madc
by thc VorldHonorcd Mcdicinc 8uddha Lapis Lazuli
Radiancc Tathagata, Arhat, thc Pcrlcctly nlightcncd,
whcn hc was cultivating thc 8odhisattva path.
a

Manjusri, as to thcsc Grcat \ows madc by thc Mcdicinc


8uddha whilc hc was lollowing thc 8odhisattva path as
well as the merits, virtues and adornments of his Buddha-land
! cannot possibly dcscribc thcm all, not cvcn il ! wcrc to
spcak lor an acon or morc. Howcvcr, this 8uddhaland is
uttcrly purc. You will nd no tcmptations,
8
no vil Paths
nor cvcn crics ol sucring thcrc.
!n this land, thc ground is madc ol lapis lazuli, thc
boundarics arc dcmarcatcd with goldcn cords, thc towns,
towcrs, palaccs, pavilions, as wcll as thc balconics, windows
and drapcrics arc all madc ol thc Scvcn Trcasurcs. Tc
mcrits, virtucs and adornmcnts ol this rcalm arc idcntical
to thosc ol Amitabha 8uddhas Purc Land in thc wcst.
!n this land dwcll two grcat 8odhisattvas, Univcrsal
Solar Radiancc and Univcrsal Lunar Radiancc. Among
thc countlcss 8odhisattvas, thcy arc thc lcadcrs. ach in
turn will scrvc as succcssor to thc Mcdicinc 8uddha and
as thc ablc guardian ol His Truc harma trcasury.
For thcsc rcasons, Manjusri, all dcvout mcn and
womcn should vow to bc born in this land.
9

8uddha Sakyamuni thcn told thc 8odhisattva Manjusri:


Tcrc arc scnticnt bcings who cannot tcll right lrom
wrong. Tcy arc grccdy and mcan, do not practicc charity
a
and do not undcrstand thc rcwards ol gcncrosity. Tcy
arc ignorant and unintclligcnt. Lacking thc loundations
ol laith, thcy amass richcs, which thcy assiduously hoard.
Vhcncvcr thcy comc across anyonc sccking charity, thcy
bccomc annoycd, il lorccd to givc, thcy lccl as much
pain and rcgrct as il thcy wcrc parting with thcir own
csh.
Morcovcr, thcrc arc also countlcss scnticnt bcings
who arc miscrly and avaricious. Tcy spcnd timc amassing
wcalth, whilc not daring to spcnd it cvcn on thcmsclvcs,
lct alonc on parcnts, spousc, childrcn, scrvants or bcggars.
Upon thcir dcath, thcsc stingy pcrsons will dcsccnd onto
thc paths ol hungry ghosts or animality.
Howcvcr, cvcn though thcy may sucr such a latc, il
in a prcvious cxistcncc in thc human rcalm thcy happcncd
to hcar thc namc ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha, and now rccall
and rccitc his namc, cvcn bricy, thcy will immcdiatcly
vanish lrom thc vil Paths to bc born oncc morc among
humans. Howcvcr, thcy will rcmcmbcr thcir stay on thc
vil Paths and, drcading thcir past sucring, will ccasc
to wallow in worldly plcasurcs. Tcy will gladly practicc
charity thcmsclvcs, praisc othcrs who do so and will no
longcr bc stingy.
vcntually, thcy will cvcn bc ablc to donatc thcir
hcad, cycs, limbs, blood, csh or othcr parts ol thcir bod
ics to thosc who nccd thcm, not to mcntion mcrc matcrial
posscssions.
10
a6

Morcovcr, Manjusri, thcrc arc scnticnt bcings who havc


acccptcd thc tcachings ol thc Tathagata but havc violatcd
thc Prcccpts (moral rulcs). r, thcy havc not violatcd thc
Prcccpts, but havc brokcn thc rcgulations. r clsc, whilc
thcy havc violatcd ncithcr thc Prcccpts nor thc rcgulations,
thcy havc disparagcd Right \icws, or thcy havc not dis
paragcd Right \icws but havc abandoncd cxtcnsivc study
ol thc harma and thus cannot cxplain thc prolound
mcaning ol thc sutras prcachcd by thc 8uddha. r clsc,
although thcy may bc lcarncd, thcy havc grown conccitcd.
8ccausc conccit clouds thc mind, thcy bclicvc that thcy arc
in thc right and othcrs arc in thc wrong. Tcrclorc, thcy
dcprccatc thc corrcct harma and ally thcmsclvcs with
dcmons.
Such dcludcd pcrsons not only lollow wrong vicws
thcmsclvcs, thcy also lcad countlcss othcr scnticnt bcings
into thc samc grcat pitlall. Tcsc scnticnt bcings arc bound
to wandcr cndlcssly on thc paths ol hcll, animality and
hungry ghosts.
Yct, il thcy should succccd in hcaring thc namc
ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha, thcy will abandon thcir cvil
conduct lorthwith to cultivatc wholcsomc ways, and thus
avoid dcsccnding upon thc vil Paths.
11
vcn thosc who cannot abandon cvil practiccs or
cultivatc wholcsomc tcachings, and thus dcsccnd onto thc
a,
vil Paths, can still bcnct lrom thc awcsomc powcr ol
thc Mcdicinc 8uddhas past vows. !l through this powcr,
thcy should hcar his namc cvcn bricy, thcir livcs on thc
vil Paths will cnd and thcy will bc born again in thc
human rcalm. Tcy will hold corrcct vicws, diligcntly
pursuc thcir practicc and tamc thcir minds. Tcy will
thcn bc ablc to abandon thc homc lilc to bccomc monks
or nuns. Tcy will uphold and study thc harma ol thc
Tathagatas rathcr than disparaging and violating it. Vith
corrcct vicws and cxtcnsivc study, thcy will lathom thc
cxtrcmcly prolound mcaning ol thc tcachings, abandon
all conccit and ccasc to disparagc thc corrcct harma.
Tcy will no longcr havc dcmons as companions, but
will gradually cultivatc thc practiccs ol 8odhisattvas and
swiltly pcrlcct thcm.
Morcovcr, Manjusri, thcrc arc scnticnt bcings who
arc avaricious, cnvious, jcalous and accustomcd to prais
ing thcmsclvcs and disparaging othcrs. Tcy arc bound to
sink onto thc thrcc vil Paths, sucring intcnsc miscry lor
countlcss thousands ol ycars. Vhcn this intcnsc sucring
comcs to an cnd, thcy will bc born in thc human world as
oxcn, horscs, donkcys or camcls. ltcn bcatcn and mis
trcatcd, thcy will sucr hungcr and thirst and constantly
travcl along thc road carry ing hcavy loads. !l thcy succccd
in rcturning as human bcings, thcy will bc among thc
poor and lowly, always scrving othcrs, constantly rccciving
ordcrs, ncvcr bcing lrcc.
a
Howcvcr, il any ol thcm, in a lormcr incarnation as a
human bcing, havc hcard thc namc ol thc VorldHonorcd
Mcdicinc 8uddha and, as a rcsult ol this good causc, now
rcmcmbcr and singlcmindcdly takc rclugc in him, thcy
will, thanks to this 8uddhas spiritual powcrs, cscapc all
sucring. Tcir scnscs will bc sharp and thcy will bc wisc
and lcarncd, constantly sccking thc suprcmc tcachings,
and mccting with good spiritual lricnds. Tcy will brcak
lorcvcr through Maras nct, smash thc shcll ol dclusion,
dry up thc rivcr ol a ictions and thus cscapc all thc worry
and sucring ol birth, old agc, discasc and dcath.
Morcovcr, Manjusri, thcrc arc scnticnt bcings who
lovc to quarrcl, crcatc schisms and cngagc in lcgal dis
putcs. Tcy constantly snakc thcmsclvcs and othcrs sucr,
crcating and incrcasing all kinds ol cvil karma with body,
spccch and mind.
Tcy plot against onc anothcr without mcrcy, whilc
invoking thc spirits ol mountains, lorcsts, trccs and tombs.
Tcy kill scnticnt bcings and usc thcir csh and
blood to propitiatc thc Yaksa and Raksasa dcmons.
Tcy may also writc down thc namcs and makc
imagcs ol thosc against whom thcy harbor grudgcs, cursc
thcm with cvil mantras or try to harm or kill thcm with
potions, witchcralt or dcmonsraiscdlromthcdcad.
12
Howcvcr, il thc victims succccd in hcaring thc namc
ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha, nonc ol thcsc cvil practiccs can
harm thcm. Morcovcr, cvcryonc conccrncd will dcvclop
a
compassionatc minds, cndcavoring to bcnct and bring
pcacc and joy to othcrs.
Tcy will abandon thcir harmlul thoughts and thcir
angry, spitclul minds and all partics will bc happy and
satiscd with what thcy havc.
Tcy will ccasc to cncroach upon othcrs but will
instcad scck to bcnct onc anothcr.

Morcovcr, Manjusri, within thc Fourlold Asscmbly ol


8hiksus, 8hiksunis, Upasakas and Upasikas, as wcll as
among othcr mcn and womcn ol purc laith, thcrc arc thosc
who arc ablc to adhcrc to thc ight Prcccpts lor a lull ycar
or lor thrcc months a ycar, dcdicating thcsc good roots
toward rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land ol Amitabha,
thc 8uddha ol !nnitc Lilc, so as to listcn to thc corrcct
harma.
!l thcir rcbirth in thc Purc Land is still unccrtain,
but thcy hcar thc namc ol thc VorldHonorcd Mcdicinc
8uddha, thcn, at thc timc ol dcath, cight grcat 8odhisattvas,
namcly,
Manjusri, Avalokitesvara,
Mahahamaprapta, Aksayamati,
Ratnacandana, Bhaishajya-raja,
Bhaishajya-samudgata, and Maitreya,
c
will travcrsc spacc and dcsccnd to show thcm thc way.
Tcy will thcrcupon bc rcborn spontancously in jcwclcd
owcrs ol many hucs.
Morcovcr, thcrc arc thosc who arc born in thc cclcs
tial rcalms, thanks to |hcaring thc namc ol thc Mcdicinc
8uddha|. cspitc thcir birth in thc cclcstial rcalms, thcir
good roots arc still not cxhaustcd, and thus thcy will not
bc born again on thc vil Paths. Vhcn thcir lilcspan in
thc cclcstial rcalms comcs to an cnd, thcy may rcturn to
thc human world as Vhcclturning Kings, ruling ovcr
thc Four Contincnts |around Mount Sumcru|. Vith awc
somc virtucs and casc, thcy will sct countlcss hundrcds
ol thousands ol scnticnt bcings onto thc path ol thc Tcn
\irtucs.
r clsc, such pcrsons may bc born as Ksatriyas (thc
military ruling class), or 8rahmins or laymcn ol grcat
lamilics, with abundant wcalth and ovcrowing grana
rics and storchouscs. Tcy will bc cndowcd with noblc
lcaturcs, numcrous lamily mcmbcrs and rctaincrs, as wcll
as intclligcncc, wisdom, bravcry, vigor and thc imposing
dcmcanor ol a grcat hcro. Likcwisc, il thcrc is any woman
who hcars and singlcmindcdly holds last to thc namc ol
thc Mcdicinc 8uddha, shc will ncvcr again bc born in
lcmalc lorm.
13

.
Manjusri, altcr thc Mcdicinc 8uddha attaincd Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt, hc rcalizcd, by virtuc ol his past vows, that
scnticnt bcings cndurcd various ailmcnts, such as cmacia
tion, crippling disabilitics, lcvcr, dyscntcry, jaundicc, ctc.
Somc wcrc thc targcts ol black magic or various poisons,
whilc othcrs sucrcd short livcs or untimcly dcath. At that
timc, sccking to put an cnd to thcsc miscrics and lull
thc dcsircs ol scnticnt bcings, hc cntcrcd a samadhi callcd
liminating All thc Sucring and A ictions ol Scnticnt
8cings.
ncc hc cntcrcd that samadhi, a brilliant light shonc
lorth lrom his urna as hc uttcrcd a grcat harani:
Namo bhagavate
Bhaishajyaguru-vaidurya
Prabha-rajaya
Tathagataya
Arthate
Samyak-sambuddhaya
Tadyatha
Om Bhaishajye Bhaishajye
Bhaishajya-samudgate Svaha.
14
As soon as thc Mcdicinc 8uddha, in his radiancc, had
uttcrcd this harani, thc cntirc cosmos rumblcd and
shook. 8rilliant lights shonc lorth, allowing all scnticnt
bcings to cscapc discasc and sucring and cnjoy pcacc and
happincss.
15
a
Manjusri, il you comc across any man (or woman)
sucring illncss, you should constantly clcansc him, bathc
him and rinsc his mouth. You should singlcmindcdly
rccitc this harani .c timcs on his bchall, ovcr his lood,
mcdicinc or watcr lrom which insccts havc bccn rcmovcd.
ncc hc has consumcd thc lood or drink, his illncss and
sucring will disappcar.
!l thc paticnt has a particular wish and singlc
mindcdly rccitcs this harani, his wish will bc lulllcd.
Hc will bc lrcc ol discasc, cnjoy a longcr lilc and, at dcath,
bc born in thc rcalm ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha. Hc will thcn
bc bcyond rctrogrcssion and cvcntually rcalizc Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt.
Tcrclorc, Manjusri, any man or woman who singlc
mindcdly rcvcrcs and rcspcctlully makcs ocrings to thc
Mcdicinc 8uddha should constantly rccitc this harani,
ncvcr lctting it out ol his mind.

Morcovcr, Manjusri, upon hcaring thc various namcs ol


thc Mcdicinc 8uddha Lapis Lazuli Radiancc Tathagata,
Arhat, thc Pcrlcctly nlightcncd, mcn and womcn ol purc
laith should rccitc and hold last to this namc.
ach morning, at dawn, having bathcd thcmsclvcs
and clcancd thcir tccth, thcy should makc ocrings ol
lragrant owcrs, inccnsc, pcrlumc and various kinds ol

music bclorc an imagc ol this 8uddha. Furthcrmorc, thcy


should copy this sutra or havc othcrs do so, as wcll as
singlc mindcdly rccitc it and listcn to cxplanations ol its
mcaning.
Tcy should ocr all thc ncccssitics ol lilc to thc
harma mastcrs who tcach this sutra, making surc thcy
lack nothing.
!n this way, dcvout mcn and womcn will bc undcr
thc protcction ol thc 8uddhas. All thcir wishcs will
bc lulllcd and thcy will cvcntually rcalizc Suprcmc
nlightcnmcnt.

Tc 8odhisattva Manjusri thcn rcspcctlully addrcsscd


thc 8uddha: , VorldHonorcd nc, ! vow that in thc
harma Scmblancc Agc, ! will usc cvcry skilllul mcans to
hclp mcn and womcn ol purc laith hcar thc namc ol thc
VorldHonorcd Mcdicinc 8uddha. vcn in thcir slccp,
! will awakcn thcir consciousncss with thc namc ol this
8uddha.
, VorldHonorcd nc, il any dcvout pcrsons
should rcad, rccitc and uphold this sutra, or lccturc upon
it, cxplaining its mcaning to othcrs, or copy it or havc
othcrs copy it, or il thcy should pay it thc utmost rcvcr
cncc, adorning it with lragrant owcrs, pcrlumcs, inccnsc
powdcr and sticks, garlands, nccklaccs, banncrs, canopics,

dancc and music and protccting it with prccious, multi


colorcd cloth and il thcy should prcparc a clcan sitc, crcct
a high altar and placc thc sutra upon it thc Four Grcat
Cclcstial Kings, thcir rctinucs as wcll as countlcss hundrcds
ol thousands ol othcr divinitics, will thcrcupon procccd to
this placc to makc ocrings and guard this sutra.

VorldHonorcd nc, whcrcvcr this trcasurc ol a sutra has


sprcad and thcrc arc pcoplc capablc ol upholding it, you
should know that, thanks to thc Mcdicinc 8uddhas past
vows, his virtucs and thc powcr ol his namc, thc placc
will bc lrcc ol untimcly dcath. !n that placc, thcrc will no
longcr bc cvil dcmons or spirits to sap thc vital cncrgy ol
thc pcoplc.
vcn il thcrc wcrc, thcsc dcvout mcn and womcn
would rccovcr, cnjoying good hcalth and pcacc ol mind.

Tc 8uddha thcn spokc to Manjusri:


So bc it, so bc it, Manjusri. !t is just as you say. !l
mcn and womcn ol purc laith wish to makc ocrings to
thc VorldHonorcd Mcdicinc 8uddha, thcy should rst
makc an imagc ol this 8uddha, and thcn placc it upon a
purc, clcan altar.

Tcy should scattcr all kinds ol owcrs, burn all


varictics ol inccnsc and adorn thc placc with banncrs and
pcnnants. For scvcn days and nights thcy should adhcrc
to thc ight Prcccpts, consumc only purc lood, bathc and
pcrlumc thcmsclvcs, put on clcan, lrcsh clothing and kccp
thcir mind undclcd, lrcc ol angcr or malicc. Tcy should
dcvclop lcclings ol kindncss, compassion, joy and cqua
nimity toward all scnticnt bcings, whilc bringing thcm
bcncts, pcacc and happincss. Tcy should play music and
sing thc praiscs ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha, whilc circumam
bulating his imagc in a rightward |clockwisc| dircction.
Morcovcr, thcy should bcar in mind his mcrits, virtucs and
past vows, whilc rcading and rcciting this sutra, rcccting
on its mcaning and cxplaining it to othcrs.
Vhatcvcr thcy wish will thcn bc lulllcd whcthcr
it bc longcvity, wcalth, or anything clsc, such as o cial
position or thc birth ol sons and daughtcrs.
Morcovcr, il any scnticnt bcings suddcnly sucr
nightmarcs and witncss all kinds cvil omcns such as ocks
ol strangc birds, or hundrcds ol ominous signs throughout
thcir homcs thcy nccd only vcncratc thc VorldHonorcd
Mcdicinc 8uddha with all kinds ol wondcrlul ocrings,
and thc nightmarcs, cvil omcns and inauspicious signs will
all disappcar, no longcr ablc to causc thcm harm.
!l any scnticnt bcings arc in lcar ol watcr, rc, knivcs,
poison, lalling o a prccipicc, or ol vicious bcasts such
as wild clcphants, lions, tigcrs, wolvcs, bcars, vcnomous
6
snakcs, scorpions, ccntipcdcs, millipcdcs, |inlcctious|
mosquitos or gnats thcy nccd only singlcmindcdly
rccall and rccitc thc namc ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha, whilc
rcspcctlully making ocrings to him, and thcy will cscapc
all thcsc tcrrors. !l a country should bc subjcct to lorcign
invasion, banditry or rcbcllion, thc inhabitants nccd only
rccall and rccitc thc namc ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha, whilc
paying homagc to him, and all thcsc calamitics will likc
wisc disappcar.
Morcovcr, Manjusri, thcrc arc mcn and womcn ol
purc laith who throughout thcir livcs havc not worshippcd
any dcitics, but havc singlcmindcdly takcn rclugc in thc
8uddha, thc harma and thc Sangha and uphcld thc
Prcccpts thc vc or tcn lay Prcccpts, thc cc 8odhisattva
Prcccpts or thc ac 8hiksu or cc 8hiksuni Prcccpts.
16

Howcvcr, il any ol thcm havc violatcd thc Prcccpts thcy
havc takcn and lcar lalling onto an cvil path, thcy should
conccntratc on rcciting thc namc ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha
and rcspcctlully makc ocrings to him. Tcy will thcn
ccrtainly avoid rcbirth on thc Trcc vil Paths.
!l womcn who cxpcricncc cxtrcmc pain during
childbirth can, with utmost sinccrity, rccitc thc namc ol
thc Mcdicinc 8uddha, praisc, vcncratc and makc ocrings
to him, thcy will bc rclicvcd ol thcir sucring.
Tc childrcn born to thcm will bc without dclccts,
attractivc in appcarancc, causing thosc who scc thcm to
rcjoicc. Tcy will bc cndowcd with kccn scnscs and intclli
,
gcncc, along with a quict disposition. Tcy will scldom
bccomc ill, nor will cvil spirits sap thcir vital cncrgy.

Tc VorldHonorcd nc thcn askcd Ananda:


! havc just cxtollcd thc mcrits and virtucs ol thc
VorldHonorcd Mcdicinc 8uddha. Tcsc mcrits and vir
tucs arc thc cxtrcmcly prolound practiccs ol all 8uddhas,
but arc di cult to cxplain. o you havc laith in thcm or
not:
Ananda rcspcctlully rcplicd: , Grcat \irtuous
VorldHonorcd nc, ! do not havc any doubts about thc
sutras prcachcd by thc Tathagatas. Vhy: !t is bccausc
thc Tathagatas karma ol body, spccch and mind arc all
purc. , VorldHonorcd nc, thc sun and thc moon may
lall, Mount Sumcru, thc majcstic king ol mountains, may
trcmblc, but thc words ol thc 8uddhas can ncvcr changc.
, VorldHonorcd nc, somc scnticnt bcings, whosc
roots ol laith arc dccicnt, may hcar ol thc sublimc prac
ticcs ol thc 8uddhas and think, how can wc obtain thcsc
mcrits, virtucs and grcat advantagcs just by rcciting thc
namc ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha alonc: 8ccausc ol this
lack ol laith, thcy cvcn dcvclop disparaging thoughts, thus
lorlciting grcat bcncts and rcmaining in thc long, dark
night |ol ignorancc|. Tcy dcsccnd onto thc vil Paths,
rcvolving along thcm without cnd.

Tc 8uddha thcn said to Ananda:


!l thcsc scnticnt bcings should hcar thc namc ol
thc VorldHonorcd Mcdicinc 8uddha, singlc mindcdly
rccitc and hold last to it without harboring doubts, thcn
it will bc impossiblc lor thcm to sink onto thc vil
Paths.
, Ananda! Tcsc cxtrcmcly prolound practiccs ol
thc 8uddhas arc di cult to bclicvc in, di cult to undcr
stand. Yct you arc now ablc to acccpt thcm. You should
rcalizc that this is all duc to thc awcsomc powcr ol thc
Tathagatas.
, Ananda! vcn thc Sravakas, Pratycka 8uddhas
and 8odhisattvas who havc not rcachcd thc Tcn Grounds
(Stagcs) cannot undcrstand and bclicvc in this truth.
nly thc 8odhisattvas who arc onc lilctimc away lrom
8uddhahood can.
, Ananda! A human rcbirth is di cult to achicvc,
howcvcr, to bclicvc in, rcspcct and honor thc Triplc Jcwcl
is cvcn morc di cult. To hcar thc namc ol thc Vorld
Honorcd Mcdicinc 8uddha is morc di cult still.
, Ananda, thc Mcdicinc 8uddha has cultivatcd
countlcss 8odhisattva practiccs, cmploycd countlcss
skilllul mcans and madc countlcss lar rcaching vows.
!l ! wcrc to takc an acon or morc to rccount thcm, thc
acon would comc to an cnd bclorc ! could cxhaustivcly
dcscribc all thcsc wondcrlul practiccs, vows and skilllul
mcans.

At that timc, a Grcat 8odhisattva in thc Asscmbly, namcd


Salvation, arosc lrom his scat, adjustcd his robc to barc his
right shouldcr, knclt on his right kncc, bowcd and, with
palms joincd, rcspcctlully addrcsscd thc 8uddha:
, Grcat \irtuous VorldHonorcd nc, in thc
harma Scmblancc Agc, thcrc will bc scnticnt bcings
who sucr numcrous calamitics, and arc always sick and
cmaciatcd, unablc to cat or drink, thcir throats dry and
lips parchcd, thcir cycs sccing darkncss cvcrywhcrc. As
thc signs ol dcath appcar, thcy arc surroundcd by parcnts,
lamily, lricnds and acquaintanccs wccping and lamcnting.
As such a paticnt lics in bcd, hc sccs thc mcsscngcrs
ol Yama arrivc to lcad his consciousncss bclorc this King
ol Justicc. Now, all scnticnt bcings havc inborn spirits who
rccord cvcrything thcy do, both thcir transgrcssions and
thcir mcrits.
17
Tcsc spirits thcn prcscnt thc paticnts cntirc
rccord to King Yama.
At that timc, thc King qucstions thc dying pcrson
and tabulatcs his good and bad karma bclorc dcciding
upon his latc.
!l, at that point, thc rclativcs and acquaintanccs ol
thc paticnt arc ablc to takc rclugc in thc VorldHonorcd
Mcdicinc 8uddha on his bchall, invitc monks and nuns to
rccitc this sutra, light scvcnticrcd lamps and hang multi
colorcd longcvity banncrs, his consciousncss may rcturn
c
thcn and thcrc, and hc will scc himscll clcarly, as though
in a drcam.
r clsc, altcr ,, a., or days, whcn his conscious
ncss rcturns, as il awakcning lrom a drcam, hc will rccall
his good and bad karma and thc conscqucnccs thcrcol.
18
Having pcrsonally witncsscd thc conscqucnccs ol
karma, hc will ncvcr again crcatc cvil karma, cvcn il his
lilc is in dangcr. Tcrclorc, mcn and womcn ol purc laith
should uphold thc namc ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha, vcncratc
and makc ocrings to him according to thcir mcans.

Ananda thcn askcd thc 8odhisattva Salvation: Good


Man, how should wc vcncratc and makc ocrings to thc
VorldHonorcd Mcdicinc 8uddha and how should wc
makc thc longcvity pcnnants and lamps:
Tc 8odhisattva Salvation rcplicd: \irtuous nc,
in ordcr to hclp thc paticnt rccovcr, you should adhcrc to
thc ight Prcccpts lor scvcn days and scvcn nights, makc
ocrings ol lood, drink and othcr ncccssitics to a |group
ol| monks and nuns in accordancc with your mcans, pay
homagc and rcspcctlully makc ocrings to thc Vorld
Honorcd Mcdicinc 8uddha six timcs a day and rccitc this
sutra lortyninc timcs.
You should light lortyninc lamps, makc scvcn
imagcs ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha and placc scvcn lamps,
.
cach as largc as a cartwhccl, bclorc cach imagc, lctting
thcm burn continuously lor lortyninc days and nights.
You should also makc multicolorcd banncrs, lorty
ninc handlcngths long.
Furthcrmorc, you should rclcasc lortyninc spccics
ol animals |thus sparing thcir livcs|.
Tc paticnt may thcn cscapc dangcr and will not bc
undcr thc sway ol cvil dcmons, nor subjcct to untimcly
dcath.
19
Morcovcr, Ananda, whcn thc anointcd Ksatriya
kings nd thcmsclvcs bcsct by calamitics, such as cpi
dcmics, lorcign invasion, intcrnal insurrcction, an advcrsc
alignmcnt ol thc stars, an cclipsc ol thc sun or thc moon,
unscasonablc storms or a lailurc ol thc monsoons, thcy
should dcvclop compassionatc lcclings toward all scnticnt
bcings.
Tcy should also pardon prisoncrs and makc ocr
ings to thc VorldHonorcd Mcdicinc 8uddha in accord
ancc with thc ritcs dcscribcd carlicr.
Tanks to thcsc good roots and thc powcr ol thc
Mcdicinc 8uddhas past vows,
20
pcacc and stability will
immcdiatcly rcturn to thc acctcd countrics, thc rains
and winds will bc lavorablc, crops will maturc on timc
and cvcryonc will bc hcalthy and happy. Tc country will
bc lrcc ol cvil Yaksas out to harm thc populacc. All thc
cvil omcns will immcdiatcly disappcar, and thcsc anointcd
Ksatriya kings will cnjoy grcatcr longcvity and vitality,
a
ncr appcarancc as wcll as grcatcr hcalth and lrccdom
than cvcr bclorc.
, Ananda, thc quccns, consorts, princcsscs, royal
hcirs, grcat ministcrs, court ladics, o cials or commoncrs
who sucr discasc and othcr mislortuncs should also makc
ocrings to thc Mcdicinc 8uddha. Tcy should makc
multicolorcd longcvity banncrs, light lamps, cnsuring
that thcy burn continuously, libcratc all kinds ol animals,
scattcr owcrs ol various colors and burn various kinds
ol inccnsc rcnowncd lor thcir lragrancc. Tcy will thcn
rccovcr lrom discasc and cscapc mislortunc.
Ananda thcn askcd thc 8odhisattva Salvation: Good
Man, how can an cxpiring lilcspan bc lcngthcncd:
Tc 8odhisattva Salvation rcplicd: \irtuous nc,
did you not hcar thc Tathagata cxplain thc ninc lorms ol
untimcly dcath: ! would urgc cvcryonc to makc longcv
ity banncrs and lamps and cultivatc mcrits and virtucs.
Tanks to such cultivation, thcy will cscapc sucring and
mislortunc throughout thcir livcs.
Ananda lurthcr askcd: Vhat arc thc ninc lorms ol
untimcly dcath:
Tc 8odhisattva Salvation rcplicd:
Somc scnticnt bcings contract a minor illncss which
gocs untrcatcd lor lack ol a physician or mcdicinc, or clsc,
cvcn though thcrc is a physician, hc prcscribcs thc wrong
mcdicinc, causing prcmaturc dcath. r, thc paticnts,
bclicving thc lalsc pronounccmcnts ol carthly dcmons,

hcrctics or practitioncrs ol black magic, may panic unablc


to calm thcir minds. Tcy may thcn cngagc in divination
or pcrlorm animal sacriccs in ordcr to propitiatc thc
spirits, praying, lor blcssings and longcvity all in vain.
Trough, ignorancc, conlusion and rcliancc on wrong,
invcrtcd vicws, thcy mcct with untimcly dcath and sink
into thc hclls, with no cnd in sight. Tis is thc rst lorm
ol untimcly dcath.
Tc second lorm is cxccution, by royal dccrcc.
Tc third is losing oncs vitality to thc dcmons through
hunting, gambling, dcbauchcry, drunkcnncss or cxtrcmc
dissipation.
Tc fourth is dcath by rc, thc fth is dcath by drown
ing. Tc sixth is bcing dcvourcd by wild animals.
Tc seventh is lalling o a mountain or a cli. Tc
eighth is dcath by poison, incantations, cvil mantras or
dcmonsraiscdlromthcdcad. Tc ninth is lrom hungcr
or thirst, lor lack ol lood and watcr.
Tcsc arc thc ninc lorms ol untimcly dcath , mcn
tioncd by thc Tathagatas. Tcrc arc also countlcss othcr
lorms, which arc too numcrous to dcscribc.
Morcovcr, Ananda, King Yama is rcsponsiblc lor
kccping thc karmic rcgistcr ol cvcryonc in thc world. !l
scnticnt bcings havc bccn unlial,
21
committcd thc Fivc
Cardinal Sins, disparagcd thc Triplc jcwcl, brokcn thc
laws ol thc land or violatcd thc major Prcccpts, King
Yama will mctc out punishmcnt according to thc inlrac

tion. Tcrclorc, ! urgc scnticnt bcings to light lamps, makc


banncrs, libcratc animals and cultivatc mcrits in ordcr to
avoid sucring and mislortunc.
22

At that timc, thcrc wcrc twclvc powcrlul Yaksa gcncrals


in thc Grcat Asscmbly namcd:
Kumbhira, Vajra,
Mihira, Andira,
Anila, Sandila,
Indra, Pajra,
Makura, Sindura,
Catura, and Vikarala.
ach was accompanicd by a rctinuc ol ,,ccc Yaksas.
Tcy all raiscd thcir voiccs in unison and said rcspcct
lully to thc 8uddha:
, VorldHonorcd nc, today, thanks to thc
8uddhas awcsomc powcr, wc havc succccdcd in hcaring
thc namc ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha and no longcr lcar
dcsccnding onto thc vil Paths.
Togcthcr, with onc mind, wc takc rclugc in thc
8uddha, thc harma and thc Sangha lor thc rcst ol our
livcs and plcdgc to support all scnticnt bcings bringing
thcm gcnuinc bcncts and joy.

Vhcrcvcr this sutra circulatcs or whcrcvcr thcrc arc


scnticnt bcings who hold last to thc namc ol thc Mcdicinc
8uddha and rcspcctlully makc ocrings to him, whcthcr
in villagcs, towns, kingdoms or in thc wildcrncss, wc will
all protcct thcm.
Vc will rclcasc thcm lrom all sucring and calami
tics and scc to it that all thcir wishcs arc lulllcd.
23
Scnticnt bcings a ictcd by discasc or calamity and
wishing to cscapc should also rcad or rccitc this sutra.
Tcy should knot our namcs with multicolorcd strands
untying thcm whcn thcir wishcs arc lulllcd.
24
Tcrcupon, 8uddha Sakyamuni praiscd thc grcat
Yaksa gcncrals with thcsc words: Good indccd, good
indccd, grcat Yaksa gcncrals! Tosc ol you who wish
to rcpay thc bcncvolcncc and thc virtucs ol thc Vorld
Honorcd Mcdicinc 8uddha should always bcnct and
bring joy to all scnticnt bcings in this way.

Ananda thcn askcd thc 8uddha: VorldHonorcd nc,


what should wc call this tcaching, and how should wc
adhcrc to it and put it into practicc:
8uddha Sakyamuni rcplicd to Ananda: Tis tcach
ing is callcd thc Past \ows, Mcrits and \irtucs ol thc
Mcdicinc 8uddha or thc harani ol thc \ows ol thc
Twclvc Yaksa Gcncrals to 8cnct Scnticnt 8cings or
6
radicating ol All Karmic bstaclcs. You should uphold
it as such.
Vhcn 8uddha Sakyamuni nishcd spcaking, thc
grcat 8odhisattvas, as wcll as thc grcat Sravakas, kings,
ministcrs, brahmins, laypcrsons, dcvas, nagas, yaksas,
gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras, mahoragas and
othcr human and nonhuman bcings all rcjoiccd at thc
8uddhas words. Tcy laithlully acccptcd thcm and put
thcm into practicc.
Sutra of the Medicine Buddha
Lapis Lasuli Radiance Tathagata:
His Past Vows, Merits and Virtues
Homage to the Medicine Buddhas
Great Assembly of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Tc 8uddhas ol thc Tcn ircctions


Always kccp thcm in mind and protcct thcm,
Vhcrcvcr thcy arc rcborn,
Tc 8odhisattvas arc thcir lricnds.
(Brahma Net Sutra)
,
Notes
.. Tis is thc singlc most important point ol thc sutra.
!l you havc utmost laith in thc words ol thc sutra, thcn all
thc promiscs ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha arc truc. !l, howcvcr,
you harbor cvcn a tracc ol doubt, no amount ol rccita
tion or lamplighting will bring thc bcncts dcsircd. Tis
crucial point is common to all sutras. Tis intcnsc statc
ol laith is usually accompanicd by tcars strcaming down
oncs lacc, as cxcmplicd in thc Avatamsaka Sutra by
Sudhana in thc prcscncc ol his primary spiritual bcnclac
tor, thc 8odhisattva Manjusri:
Tcn Sudhana, plcascd, cnrapturcd, transportcd with joy, dclightcd,
happy, and chccrlul, laid his hcad at thc lcct ol Manjushri in rcspcct,
circlcd Manjushri hundrcds and thousands ol timcs, and lookcd at him
hundrcds and thousands ol timcs with tcars strcaming down his face as
he wept, and lclt Manjushri (Tomas Clcary, tr., \ol. !!!, p. 6). 8~cx
a. Representation of the Medicine Buddha:
!n latcr Chincsc 8uddhism (apparcntly bcginning in thc Sung pcriod),
8haisajyaguru (thc Mcdicinc 8uddha) was dcpictcd in a dicrcnt sort
ol asscmbly. Hcrc thc 8uddha ol Hcaling is joincd by Amitabha and
Sakyamuni to lorm a basic trinity important in Chincsc 8uddhism to thc
prcscnt day. Tis group, oltcn dcpictcd in massivc sculpturc, commonly
is lound on thc principal altar ol thc main asscmbly hall ol Chincsc
8uddhist tcmplcs. Hcrc thc ccntral imagc ol Sakyamuni rcprcscnts thc
basic 8uddha principlc 8haisajyaguru to thc cast (thc dircction ol his
paradisc) watchcs ovcrall living bcings, protccting thcm, strcngthcn

ing thcir hcalth, and prcvcnting thcm lrom sucring untimcly dcath,
Amitabha to thc wcst is thc compassionatc lord who carcs lor thosc in thc
spirit world altcr dcath, who watchcs ovcr thcm in his Vcstcrn Rcalm
ol 8liss (8irnbaum, p. aaa).
!n Mahayana 8uddhism, thc Mcdicinc 8uddha watchcs ovcr
scnticnt bcings in thcir currcnt lilctimcs, granting thcm pcacc, happi
ncss and lrccdom lrom discasc and othcr calamitics. Amitabha 8uddha
watchcs ovcr scnticnt bcings altcr thcir dcath, cnsuring thcm a lavorablc
rcbirth in his land. Tc combination ol currcnt and luturc pcacc and
happincss lcads cvcntually to ultimate peace, happiness and liberation, that
is, 8uddhahood (Mastcr Tich Ticn Huc). 8~cx
. Tc lull namc ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha (8haisajya
guru) is rcndcrcd in this tcxt as Medicine Buddha Lapis
Lazuli Radiance Tathagata. Plcasc notc othcr variants
occurring in thc litcraturc:
Hcaling 8uddha Azurc Radiancc Tathagata
Mastcr ol Hcaling \aidurya Light Tathagata
Mastcr ol Mcdicinc 8cryl Radiancc Tathagata.
Morcovcr, many popular books usc thc Japancsc namc
Yakushi.
According to \. dc \isscr (Ancient Buddhism, vol. !!), most ol thc
8odhisattvas in thc Mcdicinc 8uddhas Asscmbly arc also dcpictcd
surrounding Amitabha 8uddha, in paintings ol Amitabhas dcsccnt to
wclcomc thc laithlul (Raigo). Tis is anothcr cxamplc ol thc closc rcla
tionship bctwccn thc Mcdicinc 8uddha and Amitabha 8uddha in thc
Mahayana tradition. 8~cx

. Tc mudra is not xcd. !n thc Tibctan tradition, lor cxamplc,


instcad ol thc \aruda (compassion) mudra, thc Mcdicinc 8uddha is
somctimcs dcpictcd lorming thc taking thc carth as witncss mudra.
Morcovcr, rathcr than lorming a mudra, thc right hand may hold thc
hcaling lruit (myrobolan) as wcll as its stcm and lcavcs. Furthcrmorc, thc
cntirc body ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha is paintcd bluc. (ctails graciously
providcd by Upasaka Harry Lcong.) 8~cx
. Plcasc notc, howcvcr, that in thc \ajradhatu Mandala ol thc
sotcric School, thc Mcdicinc 8uddha is apparcntly associatcd with
Aksobhya 8uddha (Louis Frcdcric). 8~cx
6. Tc Mcdicinc 8uddha providcs support to Purc Land cultivators
who may nccd lrccdom lrom mundanc conccrns (discasc, matcrial nccd,
calamity, untimcly dcath, ctc.) in ordcr to conccntratc singlcmindcdly
on thcir goal ol rcbirth in Sukhavati. Tis may cxplain thc rcprcscnta
tion, on thc major altar ol many Mahayana tcmplcs, ol a massivc trinity
ol Sakyamuni 8uddha, thc Mcdicinc 8uddha and Amitabha 8uddha.
nc notablc cxamplc ol this trinity is in thc Mahayana Tcmplc complcx
in South Cairo, NY (USA).
xponcnts ol Tibctan tantric practicc and ol thc Chincsc / Japancsc
lorms ol Purc Land practicc will rccognizc closc a nitics bctwccn what
thcy havc lcarncd and what is advocatcd in thcsc Hcaling 8uddha sutras.
Tosc lamiliar with works about Kuan Yin (Avalokitcsvara, Chcnrcsigs)
will nd that thc powcrs attributcd to thc Hcaling 8uddhas, and thc
rcasons lor thosc powcrs, arc vcry similar in charactcr to thosc attributcd
to that 8odhisattva. !t can bc condcntly asscrtcd that similar mcth
ods and valucs pcrtaining to thc Hcaling 8uddhas arc acccptcd by thc
vast majority ol Mahayana 8uddhists, no mattcr to which school thcy
bclong (John 8lolcld).
!n Mahayana 8uddhism, thcrc arc many popular 8uddhas
and 8odhisattvas. Tc rcason why somc pcrsons scck thc
c
hclp, lor cxamplc, ol thc 8odhisattva Kuan Yin whilc
othcrs call upon thc Mcdicinc 8uddha, is rclatcd to thcir
past a nitics (causcs and conditions) with a particular
8uddha or 8odhisattva. Tc important point to rcmcmbcr
is that thc Mcdicinc 8uddha spccializcs in curing discascs
particularly incurablc oncs!
Tc Mcdicinc 8uddha and Amitabha 8uddha cach
has his own Purc Land, thc Lapis Lazuli Purc Land and
Sukhavati, rcspcctivcly. 8oth arc idcal, transccndcntal
rcalms whcrc practitioncrs can lurthcr thcir cultivation
and ultimatcly attain 8uddhahood. Tc main dicrcncc
bctwccn thc two Purc Lands (indccd bctwccn Sukhavati
and any othcr Purc Land) lics in its acccssibility. !t is thc
dicrcncc bctwccn a country which rcccivcs immigrants
and onc which activcly gocs out to rccruit thcm. Tc
Mcdicinc 8uddhas spccial mission is to prcvcnt calamitics
and curc illncsscs, whilc thc principal vow ol Amitabha
8uddha is to makc his Purc Land a placc ol rclugc lor all
scnticnt bcings. Scc also Notc a. 8~cx
. Names of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas:
Tc namc ol a 8uddha or a 8odhisattva is prcsumcd to cmbody his
virtucs and powcrs. Hcncc, invocation ol thc namc ol a 8uddha or a
8odhisattva activatcs thosc virtucs and powcrs (Luis . Gomcz, Te
Land of Bliss, p. ..).
Tis cmphasis on namcs is lrcqucntly strcsscd in thc Mahayana
tcachings about 8odhisattvas and 8uddhas, in thcsc tcachings, thc
.
namcs ol grcat bcings arc hcld to bc prccious. 8y hcaring thc namc ol
thc grcat bcing, onc can gain contact with his spiritual lorcc and protcc
tion (8irnbaum, p. c). 8~cx
. Tc original wording in thc sutra is no womcn. Vc
havc translatcd it, lollowing Prol. Raoul 8irnbaum, as
no tcmptations. !n thc 8uddhas timc, somc a,cc ycars
ago, thc clcrgy was ovcrwhclmingly malc, and thcrclorc
thc sourcc ol tcmptation to abandon cclibacy was vicwcd
as largcly lcmalc. Tc contcxt ol thc sutra also suggcsts
tcmptations as thc bcttcr rcndcring. 8~cx
. Plcasc notc that thc word uscd hcrc is birth, not
rcbirth as in thc Amitabha Sutra. Scc also notc 6, last
paragraph. 8~cx
.c. To succccd in cultivation, it is csscntial to dcvclop
thc 8odhi Mind (i.c., to scck 8uddhahood lor thc bcnct
ol scnticnt bcings). To do so, thc advanccd practitioncr
must sct asidc thc cgo, scvcr attachmcnt to thc scll, and
thus bc willing to sacricc himscll lor scnticnt bcings
(donatc his cycs, cars, ctc.). Tis important point, illus
tratcd timc and timc again in thc Jatakas (accounts ol thc
prcvious livcs ol thc 8uddha), is cxplaincd in dctail in thc
Brahma Net Sutra, Sccondary Prcccpt no. .6. Tis sutra
is availablc lrcc ol chargc lrom thc !ntcrnational 8uddhist
Monastic !nstitutc (tcl. ..,), thc Sutra Translation
Committcc ol thc US and Canada (tcl. ,.c6a.), thc
a
8uddha ducational Foundation in Taiwan (tcl. 6a
a.., cmail: ovcrscasCbudacdu.org.tw).
nc ol thc lorcmost cxponcnts ol Chan in modcrn China, Hsu Yun,
burncd o his ngcr in sacricc lor thc sakc ol his dcccascd mothcr in
his ltycighth ycar. Tis is discusscd in his autobiography translatcd by
Charlcs Luk, mpty Cloud: Te Autobiography of the Chinese Zen Master
Hsu Yun (Rochcstcr, Ncw York .,), pp.a,a (8irnbaum, p. ). 8~cx
... According to thc sutra, thc c cacity ol thc Mcdicinc
8uddhas namc is absolutc. All karma, cvcn Fixcd
Karma, or thc hcavy karma crcatcd by thc Fivc Cardinal
Sins, is crascd through conccntration on thc Mcdicinc
8uddha. 8~cx
.a. Tc notion that a ghost or dcmon can bc invokcd
through an cvil mantra is by no mcans limitcd to Asia:
!n thc soil bcncath a mango trcc, liczcr, onc ol Zohars sons and thc
authors lathcr, draws thc outlinc ol a human gurc and trics to conjurc
a golcm out ol thc ground. !n Jcwish mysticism, a golcm is a supcr
natural crcaturc crcatcd lrom dirt and with magical words. Likc thc
Frankcnstcin monstcr, golcms arc supposcd to bc bcnign and protcctivc,
but as thcy arc madc by man, not God, thcy arc impcrlcct and lrcqucntly
run amok (NYT Book Review, .c/aa/accc). 8~cx
r. Rebirth as a male:
Tc suddcn translormation ol a woman into a malc mcans nothing but thc
transccndcncc ol thc dicrcnccs bctwccn malc and lcmalc. Sakyamuni

8uddha asscrtcd that animals, birds, worms, plants and trccs, as wcll
as human bcings, posscss thc 8uddhanaturc. How could hc thcn dis
criminatc bctwccn mcn and womcn: !t is impossiblc. bscrvcd with thc
8uddhas cycs, all living bcings arc cqual. Vc must ncvcr misundcrstand
this (Niwano, Buddhism for Today). 8~cx
.. Plcasc notc that whilc thc quotation bcgins with
Namo bhagawatc (homagc to thc Mcdicinc 8uddha),
thc harani (Mantra) itscll is thc phrasc bcginning with
thc word m and cnding with svaha. 8~cx
.. An cxplanation lor this cosmic changc is ocrcd bclow:
Vhcn thc 8uddha taught, our world bccamc a cclcstial abodc. Tc powcr
ol his articulatcd wisdom madc it possiblc lor thosc prcscnt to scc bcyond
mundanc rcality, into thc inhcrcnt purity and cosmic prcscncc that ctcr
nally surround us. Tc mandala that appcarcd around him is a vision ol
humanitys potcntial: cnlightcncd mind in harmony with naturc, work
ing lor thc bcnct ol all. !t is thc archtypal pristinc world inhabitcd by
bcings living in a goldcn agc ol spiritual achicvcmcnt: hcavcn on carth.
!t is our world, altcr thc gloom ol ignorancc and conlusion ol mcntal
dclcmcnts havc bccn rcmovcd by thc lights ol purilying awarcncss, and
thc glorious prospcrity ol naturc rcncwcd by trcating thc carth as a sacrcd
gardcn ol mcdicinc (. Crow, !n Scarch ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha). 8~cx
.6. Tcrc arc minor dicrcnccs in thc way thc prcccpts
arc lormulatcd in thc various Mahayana schools, which
accounts lor somc discrcpancics in thcir numbcr. Tc
principlcs undcrlying thc prcccpts arc, howcvcr, thc samc.

Nowadays, thc 8odhisattva prcccpts arc usually rcckoncd


as tcn major and minor prcccpts, whilc thc 8hiksuni
prcccpts arc listcd as . 8~cx
.,. !n Asian popular bclicl, cach pcrson is born with two
innatc spirits, who rccord all his dccds good and bad. !n
8uddhism, thcsc spirits stand lor thc Alaya consciousncss
(scc Glossary), which lollows a pcrson lrom lilctimc to
lilctimc. 8~cx
.. n thc signicancc ol thc numbcr scvcn in
8uddhism:
According to thc sotcric School, thc numbcr scvcn is thc ultimatc
numbcr in thc cyclc ol 8irth and cath. Tcrclorc, in thc bardo stagc,
|bctwccn rcincarnations| thc soul must undcrgo changcs cvcry scvcn
days, and to bc c cacious, mantras should bc rccitcd at lcast scvcn
timcs. Starting with thc numbcr scvcn and multiplying it by thrcc or
scvcn, wc havc twcntyonc or lortyninc. Tcrclorc, thc sotcric School
tcachcs that mantras should bc rccitcd |at lcast| scvcn timcs to bc ccc
tivc, twcntyonc or lortyninc timcs il thc mind is wcak and agitatcd
(Tich Ticn Tam, Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith, p. .,). 8~cx
.. How is it possiblc lor a dying pcrson to recover imme-
diately, upon reciting the Medicine Buddhas name? !t
should bc rcmcmbcrcd that in 8uddhism, cvcrything is
Mindmadc, Mind nly, including birth and dcath. Tus,

in Zcn litcraturc, lor cxamplc, truly accomplishcd Zcn


mastcrs arc always dcscribcd as abovc birth and dcath,
rcturning to quicsccncc at a timc and placc ol thcir own
choosing. Hcrc, as cvcrywhcrc clsc in this sutra, thc kcy
clcmcnt is laith: thc strongcr oncs laith, thc dccpcr oncs
lcvcl ol samadhi. ncs powcr ovcr thc cnvironmcnt likc
wisc incrcascs, cvcn to thc point ol turning dcath into lilc,
not to mcntion curing discasc!
Tc practicc ol lighting lamps and hanging banncrs
is a skilllul mcans dcsigncd to hcightcn thc laith ol thc
dcvout. 8~cx
ac. Plcasc notc thc crucial combination ol self-help
(good roots and practicc on thc part ol thc cultivator)
and other-power (thc assistancc ol thc 8uddhas and
8odhisattvas). 8~cx
a.. !n Mahayana sutras, thc word parcnts rclcrs to
all scnticnt bcings, as throughout thc acons ol timc in
Samsara, all bcings havc bccn our lathcrs or mothcrs at
onc timc or anothcr. Tus, to bc unlial is to transgrcss
against any scnticnt bcing (Brahma Net Sutra, Sccondary
Prcccpt ac). 8~cx
aa. Tis passagc shows that all karma, cvcn thc hcavicst,
can bc dissipatcd through conccntrating on thc Mcdicinc
6
8uddha and cultivating mcrits and virtucs. Tus, thcrc is
no discasc or calamity that cannot bc allcviatcd. 8~cx
a. Tc vows ol thc Yaksa Gcncrals to comc to thc
assistancc ol all scnticnt bcings dcrivc lrom thc virtucs
and powcr ol thc Mcdicinc 8uddha. Tcy constitutc
anothcr important mcans ol curing discasc and prcvcnt
ing calamitics.
Plcasc notc that thc numbcr ol Yaksa gcncrals (.a)
multiplicd by thc sizc ol thcir rctinucs (,,ccc mcmbcrs
cach) cquals ,ccc thc total numbcr ol harma mcthods
cmploycd by thc 8uddha to tcach and convcrt scnticnt
bcings. 8~cx
a. Lit., strand ol vc colors. Tc ritual ol Knotting thc
namcs ol thc Yaksa Gcncrals consists ol singlc mindcdly
rcciting thc Mcdicinc 8uddha harani (Mantra) onc or
thrcc timcs, lollowcd by thc namc ol a Yaksa gcncral, whilc
simultancously tying onc knot. Tis continucs until all
twclvc namcs arc rccitcd and twclvc knots arc ticd. Plcasc
notc that this practicc is a skilllul cxpcdicnt dcsigncd to
dccpcn thc laith ol thc dcvout.
Scc Mastcr Hsuan Hua (Medicine Master Sutra,
p. .,):
A vccolorcd thrcad symbolizcs thc Fivc ircctions (i.c., all dircctions),
cach ol which has a dcmon associatcd with it. Vhcn thc vccolorcd
thrcad is ticd into knots, it brings stability to insccurc placcs. 8~cx
,
Glossary
Alaya Consciousness. All karma crcatcd in thc prcscnt
and prcvious lilctimcs is storcd in thc Alaya Consciousncss.
Tis is rcgardcd as that which undcrgocs thc cyclc ol birth
and dcath (Sokk: ).
Tc conccpt ol Alaya \ijnana (consciousncss) consti
tutcs thc basis ol thc mindonly doctrinc ol thc Yogachara
|school| and stands at thc ccntcr ol this schools thcory ol
individualization, according to which past karmic sccds
cntcr into thc Alaya\ijnana, whcncc thcy arisc again to
occasion thought activity. Tis individuatcd thinking is
riddcn with ignorancc and cgotism, which instigatc thc
notion that it constitutcs a rcal pcrson in thc rcal world
(Sham: ).
Amitabha Buddha. Amitabha is thc most commonly
uscd namc lor thc 8uddha ol !nnitc Light and !nnitc
Lilc. A transhistorical 8uddha vcncratcd by all Mahayana
schools (TicnTai, sotcric, Zcn) and, particularly,
Purc Land. Prcsidcs ovcr thc Vcstcrn Purc Land (Land ol
Ultimatc 8liss) or Sukhavati, whcrc anyonc can bc rcborn
through uttcrly sinccrc (i.c., singlcmindcd) rccitation ol /
mcditation on his namc.
!n thc Purc Land schools ol China and Japan,
Amitabha is thc intcrmcdiary bctwccn Suprcmc Rcality

and mankind, and laith in him cnsurcs rcbirth in his


Paradisc (Sukhavati). Symbolically, Amitabha is Highcr
Scll (or ScllNaturc) (Humphrcy: c).
Amitabha Buddha at the higher or noumenon level
represents the True Mind, the Self-Nature common to the
Buddhas and sentient beings innitely bright and everlast-
ing. Tis dccpcr undcrstanding providcs thc rationalc lor
thc harmonization ol Zcn and Purc Land, two ol thc most
popular schools ol Mahayana 8uddhism.
Ananda. A cousin ol thc 8uddha, thc brothcr ol
cvadatta. nc ol thc tcn grcat disciplcs ol thc 8uddha.
Ananda accompanicd thc 8uddha lor morc than twcnty
ycars and was thc Mastcrs lavoritc disciplc. Hc attaincd
nlightcnmcnt altcr thc dcmisc ol thc 8uddha undcr thc
guidancc ol Mahakasyapa. Hc was lamcd lor his cxccl
lcnt mcmory and rccitcd thc SutraPitaka (thc scrmons
containcd in thc Tripitaka) at thc First 8uddhist Council
(aito: ).
Dharma. Tc word harma has scvcral mcanings:
a) Tc tcachings ol thc 8uddhas (gcncrally capitalizcd in
nglish), b) law, doctrinc, c) things, cvcnts, phcnomcna.
Dharma Semblance Age. Tc timc lollowing 8uddha
Sakyamunis dcmisc has bccn dividcd into thrcc pcri
ods: i) thc Perfect Age of the Dharma, lasting cc ycars,

whcn thc 8uddhas tcaching was corrcctly practiccd and


nlightcnmcnt oltcn attaincd, ii) thc Dharma Semblance
Age, lasting about .,ccc ycars, whcn a lorm ol thc tcach
ing was practiccd but nlightcnmcnt scldom attaincd,
iii) thc Dharma-Ending Age, lasting somc tcn thousand
ycars, whcn a dilutcd lorm ol thc tcaching cxists and
nlightcnmcnt is rarcly attaincd.
Eight Precepts. Tc cight prcccpts which a lay 8uddhist
should obscrvc on certain retreats (.) not killing living
bcings, (a) not stcaling, () not having scxual intcrcoursc,
() not tclling lics, () not drinking intoxicants, (6) not
wcaring bodily dccoration, not using pcrlumcs, not sing
ing and dancing, and not going to scc danccs or plays,
(,) not slccping in a raiscd bcd, and () not cating altcr
noon (!nagaki: 6,).
Eight Types of Divinities. Tcsc arc various classcs ol
nonhuman bcings that arc rcgardcd as protcctors ol thc
8uddhist harma and oltcn appcar as part ol thc audi
cncc attcnding thc 8uddhas scrmons. Strictly spcaking,
not all arc cclcstials, but most ol thcm inhabit thc cclcstial
or hcavcnly sphcrcs ol a world systcm. Tc cight classcs,
arc: (.) gods (dcva), (a) asuras, () thc gandharvas and
() thc kinnaras, local spirits known as () yakshas (yaksa),
somctimcs associatcd with thc Tushita Hcavcn, but usually
locatcd on thc human planc, two kinds ol mythical scrpcnts,
6c
(6) thc mahoragas and (,) thc nagas, and () thc cclcstial
caglcs known as thc garudas. (Gomcz: aac).
Eighty Auspicious Characeriics. 8odily attributcs ol
a 8uddha, morc subtlc than thc thirtytwo auspicious signs.
xamplcs: youthlul complcxion, a solt body, lips colorcd
likc a rcd, bright gourd, lacc likc a lull, clcar moon, cmit
ting lragrancc lrom thc porcs and mouth, dcportmcnt as
awcsomc as that ol a lion, gracclul and stcady gait. (Chan:
6). Scc also Tirtytwo Marks ol Grcatncss.
Evil Paths. scc Trcc vil Rcalms
Great Vehicle. scc Mahayana
Karma. Action lcading to luturc rctribution or reward, in
currcnt or luturc lilctimcs.
(.) Collective karma: thc dicrcncc bctwccn pcrsonal
and collcctivc karma can bc sccn in thc lollowing cxamplc:
Supposc a country gocs to war to gain ccrtain cconomic
advantagcs and in thc proccss, numcrous soldicrs and
civilians arc killcd or maimcd. !l a particular citizcn vol
untccrs lor military scrvicc and actually participatcs in thc
carnagc, hc commits a pcrsonal karma ol killing. thcr
citizcns, howcvcr, cvcn il opposcd to thc war, may bcnct
dircctly or indircctly (c.g., through cconomic gain). Tcy
arc thus said to sharc in thc collcctivc karma ol killing by
thcir country.
6.
(..) Fixed karma: in principlc, all karma is subjcct
to changc. Fixcd karma, howcvcr, is karma which can bc
changcd only in cxtraordinary circumstanccs, bccausc it
dcrivcs lrom an cvil act committcd simultancously with
mind, spccch, and body. An cxamplc ol xcd karma would
bc a prcmcditatcd crimc (vcrsus a crimc ol passion).
Lapis Lazuli. Lapis lazuli is a dccp bluc gcmstonc
markcd by sparkling goldcn crystals ol iron pyritc, likc
thc night sky awash with bright stars (8irnbaum: a.).
Mahayana. Tc Great Vehicle, onc ol thc two
major schools ol 8uddhism, thc othcr bcing Tcravada.
Mahayana aims at bringing all scnticnt bcings to
8uddhahood. |Advanccd| lollowcrs ol Mahayana arc
callcd 8odhisattvas. At thc outsct ol thcir carccr, thcy
makc vows to savc all bcings, and in ordcr to rcalizc thcm,
cultivatc wisdom and accumulatc mcrits. Vhcn thcir vows
arc lulllcd, thcy bccomc 8uddhas. Although historical
cvidcncc shows that Mahayana arosc a lcw ccnturics altcr
thc 8uddhas dcath thc csscntial part ol thc Mahayana
tcaching was rcvcalcd by thc 8uddha |during his lilctimc
to advanccd practitioncrs| (!nagaki: c,).
Mahayana radically changcd thc conccption ol thc
adcpt: hc no longcr aspircs to Nirvana but to thc con
dition ol a 8uddha two things arc ncccssary lor thc
8odhisattva and his practicc ol wisdom: Ncvcr to aban
6a
don all bcings, and to scc into thc truth that all things arc
cmpty (liadc: a.).
Manjusri. Manjusri, a lamous 8odhisattva, is wor
shippcd as thc |pcrsonication ol transccndcntal| Visdom,
and popularly dcpictcd riding on a lion, thc symbol ol
bravcry. Hc gcncrally holds a sword in his right hand,
whilc in his lclt hc has a lotus, on which a book |or sutra|
is laid. His imagc is oltcn sccn in thc sccond hall ol thc
8uddhist monastcry by thc sidc ol that ol Sakyamuni
8uddha (Vill: cnc /a6).
Medicine Buddha. 8uddha who hcals thc ills ol body
and spirit including that ol ignorancc, popular gurc in
carly Mahayana 8uddhism, rcigns ovcr thc Purc Lapis
Lazuli Paradisc in thc ast (kazaki: .,).
Pratyeka-Buddha. Tcsc 8uddhas bccomc lully
cnlightcncd by mcditating on thc principlc ol causality.
Unlikc thc Pcrlcct 8uddhas, howcvcr, thcy do not cxcrt
thcmsclvcs to tcach othcrs (A. 8uzo and T. Princc).
!n 8uddhism, Pratyckabuddhas gcncrally mcan thosc
who livc in a timc whcn thcrc is no 8uddha but who awakcn
to thc Truth through thcir own corts (Sokk: ).
Precepts. Rulcs ol conduct and disciplinc cstablishcd
by thc 8uddha (Yoko: a.c). !n addition to thc Prcccpts,
6
thcrc arc a numbcr ol rcgulations cstablishcd cithcr by thc
8uddha or, latcr on, by hcads ol 8uddhist ordcrs or major
monastcrics. Tc rcgulations arc dcsigncd to clarily thc
rulcs or Prcccpts or thcir modc ol application.
Sakyamuni Buddha. Historical loundcr ol 8uddhism,
Gautama Siddhartha, thc 8uddha Sakyamuni, who |livcd|
circa .c. n.c. as thc rst son ol King Suddhodana,
whosc capital city ol Kapilavastu was locatcd in what is
now Ncpal. At thc agc ol twcntyninc, hc lclt his lathcrs
palacc and his wilc and child in scarch ol thc mcaning
ol cxistcncc. nc morning at thc agc ol thirtyvc, hc
rcalizcd nlightcnmcnt whilc practicing mcditation
scatcd bcncath thc 8odhi trcc. Tcrcaltcr, Hc spcnt thc
ncxt lortyvc ycars, until his dcath at thc agc ol cighty,
cxpounding his tcachings in ordcr that all scnticnt
bcings might rcalizc thc samc nlightcnmcnt that hc had.
Nowadays, thc tcrm a 8uddha dcnotcs anyonc who has
rcalizcd nlightcnmcnt, whilc thc 8uddha rclcrs to thc
historical 8uddha, Sakyamuni. 8uddhas, naturally rclcrs
to all cnlightcncd bcings (Yoko: ..).
Seven Treasures. Traditionally listcd as: gold, silvcr,
lapis lazuli, crystal, agatc, rcd pcarl and carnclian. Tcy
rcprcscnt thc scvcn powcrs ol laith, pcrscvcrancc, scnsc ol
shamc, avoidancc ol wrongdoing, mindlulncss, conccntra
tion and wisdom.
6
Sravaka. Litcrally, hcarcr. Also translatcd as disciplc.
Tosc who lollow |thc carly tcachings ol thc 8uddha| and
cvcntually bccomc Arhats as a rcsult ol listcning to thc
8uddhas and lollowing thcir tcachings (T. Princc: .).
!n Mahayana 8uddhism |thc tcrm Sravaka| rclcrs
to a pcrson in thc Tcravada school who cxcrts himscll to
attain thc stagc ol Arhat by obscrving ac prcccpts in thc
casc ol monks and in thc casc ol nuns. Tis is a lowcr
stagc than that ol 8odhisattva (Yoko: a).
riginally a tcrm lor any practicing disciplc ol thc
8uddha (cspccially thosc who had adoptcd monastic vows),
thc word cvcntually camc to rclcr in Mahayana litcraturc
to thosc who wcrc mcrc disciplcs, that is, thosc who did
not scck to cmulatc thc 8uddha by taking thc 8odhisattvas
vows. !n this scnsc, thc word is oltcn uscd in contrast to
8odhisattva (Gomcz).
Sumeru. Also callcd Polar Mountain. A mountain
thought to stand at thc ccntcr ol thc world, according
to ancicnt !ndian tradition. Tc god !ndra rcsidcs on
thc summit, whilc thc Four Hcavcnly Kings livc hallway
down thc lour sidcs (Sokk:. .a).
!n 8uddhist cosmology, thc univcrsc is composcd ol
worlds upon worlds, ad innitum. (ur carth is only an
innitcsimal part ol onc ol thcsc countlcss worlds.) Tc
Polar Mountain (Mount Sumcru) is thc ccntral mountain
ol cach world.
6
Ten Grounds (Stages, Bhumi). Tcn Stagcs (or Tcn
8humi) through which thc practitioncr advanccs in
8uddhist practicc. !n thc systcm ol thc ltytwo (or lty
thrcc) lcvcls ol 8odhisattva practicc, thcy arc vicwcd
as thc lortyrst through lticth lcvcls (Sokk: ). !n
othcr words, thc Tcn Stagcs arc among thc highcst lcvcls
achicvcd by 8odhisattvas bclorc attaining 8uddhahood.
Tirty-two Marks of Greatness ( Auspicious Signs).
Tc major signs adorning thc visiblc body ol a 8uddha or
that ol a univcrsal monarch. Somc cxamplcs arc: a protu
bcrancc on thc crown, a curling, whitc hair bctwccn thc
cycbrows, a goldcn complcxion, a long, broad tonguc, a
halo tcn lcct in radius, an cxccllcnt voicc (Chan: ). Scc
also ighty Auspicious Charactcristics.
Tree Evil Realms (Paths). Tc thrcc lowcr statcs ol
Samsara: hclldwcllcr, hungry ghost, and animal. To bc
born in a miscrablc statc is thc rcsult ol cvil karma com
mittcd in a past lilc. Vhcn thc rctribution lor that karma
is complctcd, onc will again bc born in a highcr statc
(Chan: ,).
Tcsc paths can bc takcn as statcs ol mind, i.c., whcn
somconc has a vicious thought ol maiming or killing
anothcr, hc is ccctivcly rcborn, for that moment, in thc
hclls.
66
Animals and hungry ghosts, hcavcns and hclls (or
paradiscs and purgatorics) arc mctaphors lor spiritual con
ditions and spiritual progrcss. Tcy cmbody thc states of
mind whosc pain and conlusion motivatc us to scck salva
tion, and thc happincss and casc that lorcshadow salvation
(Gomcz / Land ol 8liss: c).
According to 8uddhist tcachings, karmic rcsults lol
low incluctably upon thc pcrpctration ol acts, irrcspcctivc
ol conscious attitudc or moral conscicncc (although thc
quality and lorcc ol thc act may bc signicantly acctcd
thcrcby). Tus bcings in thc lowcr statcs, animals lor cxam
plc, do indccd accumulatc karma and must sooncr or latcr
cxpcricncc thc conscqucnccs ol thcir actions, cvcn though
thcsc may bc pcrlormcd undcr thc irrcsistiblc inucncc ol
instinct. And thc Karmic situation is compoundcd, rathcr
than mitigatcd, by an unconsciousncss ol thc harma. Tc
strcngth ol instinctual habit and thc ignorancc ol what
bchavior is to bc adoptcd and what bchavior is to bc aban
doncd constitutcs onc ol thc principal miscrics ol cxistcncc
in statcs othcr than that ol thc prccious human condition
(Shantidcva: .c).
Tree Root Precepts (Tree Bodies of Pure Precepts).
Trcc groups ol prcccpts which lorm thc basis ol all
8odhisattva practicc: (.) o not what is cvil, (a) o what
is good and () 8c ol bcnct to all scnticnt bcings.
6,
Tc Mahayana Trcc Root Prcccpts arc similar to a
lormulation in thc Pali Canon, cxccpt lor thc last clausc
which rcads in thc lattcr, Kccp thc mind purc. Tc dil
lcrcncc highlights thc altruistic cmphasis ol Mahayana
8uddhism.
All scts ol prcccpts, including thc 8odhisattva prc
ccpts, arc dcrivcd lrom thc Trcc 8odics ol Purc Prcccpts,
thc root prcccpts in 8uddhism. Tcsc prcccpts may in
principlc bc administcrcd to 8uddhists in licu ol thc lull
sct ol 8odhisattva prcccpts dcscribcd in thc Brahma Net
Sutra.
Triple jewel. !n 8uddhism, thcrc arc thrcc lundamcntal
aspccts known as thc Trcc jcwcls (triratna) bccausc
ol thcir prcciousncss which lorm a basis lor bclicl and
practicc. Tc rst Jcwcl is thc 8uddha, who, altcr ycars
ol scarching lound thc path to nlightcnmcnt and subsc
qucntly taught it to othcrs. Tc sccond is thc harma, thc
tcaching or thc truth about thc way things arc. Tc last
onc is thc Sangha, thc community ol monks, nuns, and
laypcoplc who practicc and hclp othcrs to practicc thc
tcaching (Clarkc: ..).
Wheel-turning King. !n thc !ndian mythological his
tory ol thc world, a univcrsal monarch occasionally appcars
who is supposcd to bc a most powcrlul and mcritorious
king capablc ol ruling thc cntirc world (Chan: ).
6
Wherever the Buddhas teachings have ourished,
either in cities or countrysides,
people would gain inconceivable benets.
Te land and people would be enveloped in peace.
Te sun and moon will shine clear and bright.
Wind and rain would appear accordingly,
and there will be no disasters.
Nations would be prosperous
and there would be no use for soldiers or weapons.
People would abide by morality and accord with laws.
Tey would be courteous and humble,
and everyone would be content without injustices.
Tere would be no thefts or violence.
Te strong would not dominate the weak
and everyone would get their fair share.
6
Vith bad advisors lorcvcr lclt bchind,
From paths ol cvil hc dcparts lor ctcrnity,
Soon to scc thc 8uddha ol Limitlcss Light
And pcrlcct Samantabhadras Suprcmc \ows.
Tc suprcmc and cndlcss blcssings
ol Samantabhadras dccds,
! now univcrsally translcr.
May cvcry living bcing, drowning and adrilt,
Soon rcturn to thc Purc Land ol
Limitlcss Light!

! vow that whcn my lilc approachcs its cnd,
All obstructions will bc swcpt away,
! will scc Amitabha 8uddha,
And bc born in His Vcstcrn Purc Land ol
Ultimatc 8liss and Pcacc.
Vhcn rcborn in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land,
! will pcrlcct and complctcly lulll
Vithout cxccption thcsc Grcat \ows,
To dclight and bcnct all bcings.

,c
Namo Amitabha
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