When you want to help someone who is severely suffering with their health and you don’t have the means to financially help them with their medical treatment (for example some are bankrupt and can barely even support their own family or perhaps they may just be too poor, but they definitely want to practice compassion and spiritually develop a bodhicitta mindset) then one can always learn to recite the Medicine Buddha dhāraṇī several times (3 to 21 times or more each time) and the most important last step is to dedicate the merits to the critically ill person. In my personal opinion precious dharma is valuable than any gold or even money.
Although I was comfortable reciting the short Medicine Buddha mantra (TADYATHA: OM BHEKHANDZYE BHEKHANDZYE MAHA BHEKHANDZYE RADZA SAMUDGATE SVAHA) in Tibetan for many years by now and even though it helped me the first two times I was severely ill, the third time I recently got severely sick and thought I was going to die, I was in so much pain that I knew I needed something even more powerful and that was the learning the longer dhāraṇī of Medicine Buddha in original sanskrit, one of Śhakyamuni Buddha’s language when he expounded the Medicine Buddha dhāraṇī in the sūtra.
I have suffered with excruciating pain on and off for more than 21 years and in 2009 I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and personally know the power of learning longer dhāraṇī. I had surgery to remove both my left and right thyroid glands, but I never stopped reciting the dhāraṇī because I’m still alive today to be able to share my story with you all. Whenever a brethen tells me someone in their family is critically ill, I’m very grateful to still be alive and to be able to recite the dhāraṇī and dedicate the merits to their family member so too may be able to heal over time.
When you already know a few basics cultivating some buddhist practices and practicing sādhanās, such as when I learned the shorter mantra and recited that for the first 15 years but once I knew I had cancer, the next logical step was to learn something more challenging to help advance my dharma spiritual practice and that was the longer dhāraṇī of Medicine Buddha because I was in even more pain than before.
When you are suffering so much in pain and for so long, whether it be mentally, emotionally, physically or even if you believe you have been spiritually attacked by spells, demons or ghosts, the dhāraṇī reminds the practitioner of Medicine Buddha’s 12 vows which is mentioned in his sūtra.
Knowing all this creates miraculous conditions to happen for oneself and especially for the person they want to help heal, because each word of the dhāraṇī has a specific meaning and calls up Medicine Buddha from his Eastern pureland of Vaidurya Light to bring his precious healing medicine and along with support from the 12 yakṣa generals whom are also introduced in the Medicine Buddha Sūtra at the end. It is said, that each general has an army of 7000 soldiers which equates to 84,000 in total to penetrate the pores of the sick person.
Most chant and recite Amitābha Buddha to be reborn in Sukhāvatī, his Western Paradise Pureland of Bliss after they die, but with Medicine Buddha practice, his 12 vows allows the living person who is ill to heal and extend his life to continue dharma practice and reach a higher spiritual state in this current life time.
The Twelve Aspirations of the Medicine Buddha
1. In my pure land, may all beings exhibit the 32 major marks and the 80 minor marks of a buddha. If this does not come to pass, may I not reach enlightenment.
2. May all sentient beings born in my pure land radiate glowing light – a light that dispels all dwelling in dark- ness. If this does not come to pass, may I not reach enlightenment.
3. Whoever is born in that pure land, may they always enjoy material abundance and be free of all worldly concerns. If this does not come to pass, may I not reach enlightenment.
4. May the beings in that pure land possess a stable vision of the pure view. If this does not come to pass, may I not reach enlightenment.
5. May those born in my pure land pay utmost attention to the purity of their conduct. May the results of negative karma due to previous actions be deferred to the time of most benefit to spiritual growth. If this does not come to pass, may I not reach enlightenment.
6. May they all emanate health and growth in body and mind. May they be relieved of any discomfort or disorder that hinders spiritual growth. If this does not come to pass, may I not reach enlightenment.
7. May my name become a mantra that heals all ailments. May the sound of my name and the image of my nirmanakaya be a balm that eases all pain. May the sound of my name or visualization of my image cure physical troubles and sickness. If this does not come to pass, may I not reach enlightenment.
8. May those who wish to change gender have that wish be fulfilled. May that choice lead directly to enlightenment. If this does not come to pass, may I not reach enlightenment.
9. May those who hold wrong views or beliefs regarding dharma immediately develop right view when they hear my name. As a result, may they engage in bodhisattva activities. If this does not come to pass, may I not reach enlightenment.
10. May those who live in fear and are easily controlled, who feel threatened with incarceration and punishment, leave behind their fears of catastrophe. If this does not come to pass, may I not reach enlightenment.
11. May those whose subsistence has depended on predation and the killing of other beings have all their material needs met upon hearing my name. May their freedom result in the recognition of their innate bodhisattva nature. If this does not come to pass, may I not reach enlightenment.
12. Upon hearing my name, may those who suffer from any kind of hunger, thirst, or cold have all their needs provided for. May their food, drink, and clothing free them from mundane concerns so that they may begin to benefit others. If this does not come to pass, may I not reach enlightenment. After the great Medicine Buddha made these bodhisattva vows, he kept these promises throughout all his lifetimes as a bodhisattva. When we practice the Medicine Buddha, we should remember these commitments and aspire to do the same, for the sake of all living beings. If we do this with love, compassion, and bodhichitta, it will benefit us and all other living beings.
In the Bhaiṣajya-guru-vaiḍūrya-prabhā-rāja Sūtra or Medicine Buddha Sūtra as it is usually known as, the Medicine Buddha is described as having entered into a state of samādhi called “Eliminating All the Suffering and Afflictions of Sentient Beings.” From this samādhi state he spoke the Medicine Buddha Dhāraṇī in sanskrit:
Medicine Buddha Dhāraṇī in Sanskrit: Namo Bhagavate Bhaiṣajyaguru Vaidūryaprabharājāya Tathāgatāya Arhate Samyaksambuddhāya Tadyathā: Oṃ Bhaiṣajye Bhaiṣajye Bhaiṣajya-Samudgate Svāhā
Listen to how to recite it at this link. The meaning of each sacred sanskrit word below:
Medicine Buddha Dhāraṇī in Tibetan:
༄༅ༀ་ནམོ་བྷ་ག་བ་ཏེ་བྷཻ་ཥ་ཛྱ་གུ་ཪུ་བཻ་ཌཱུརྻ་པྲ་བྷ་ཪ་ཛཱཡ། ཏ་ཐཱ་ག་ཏཱ་ཡ། ཨརྷ་ཏེ་སམྱཀྶཾ་བུདྡྷ་ཡ། ཏདྱ་ཐཱ། ༀ་བྷཻ་ཥ་ཛྱེ་བྷཻ་ཥ་ཛྱེ་མ་ཧཱ་བྷཻ་ཥ་ཛྱ་ས་མུ་ངྒ་ཧེ་སྭཱ་ཧཱ། OM NAMO BHAGAVATE BHEKHANDZYE/ GURU BAIDURYA/ PRABHA RADZAYA/ TATHAGATAYA/ ARHATE SAMYAKSAM BUDDHAYA/ TADYATHA/OM BHEKHANDZYE BHEKHANDZYE MAHA BHEKHANDZYE (BHEKHANDZYE)/ RADZA SAMUDGATE SVAHA
Namo: Means Homage
Bhagavate: Similar to Bhagavān, meaning ‘The Blessed One’
Bhaiṣajya: Medicine Buddha’s name in sanskrit also meaning doctor or physician that heals from all sufferings.
Guru: Means teacher or master
Rājā or Radza: Means King
Vaidūrya: Healing jewel of precious medicines from his Eastern Paradise
Prabha: Light rays of radiance
Tathāgatāya: One who has thus come and gone: Beyond all coming and going – beyond all transitory phenomena
Arhate: One who is worthy as a “perfected person” having attained nirvana. Alternately means “Foe destroyer” or Venerable”
Samyaksambuddhāya: Fully awakened one
Up to this part of the dhāraṇī, it translates simply to:
Homage to the blessed medicinal teacher, to the king of jewel-like radiance, to the one who is like that, the worthy, the fully awakened one, thus:
And then continues on below with the rest of the dhāraṇī that is actually the shorter mantra of Medicine Buddha.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaches on the meaning of the shorter mantra below and states,
“The Fifth Dalai Lama explains that the first verse expresses what Medicine Buddha is and talks about the qualities.”
Tadyathā or Tayatha: Means “Like this”
Oṃ: Is composed of the three pure sounds A U and MA, which signifies one’s own body, speech and mind that get transformed into the vajra holy body, speech and mind.
Bhaiṣajye Bhaiṣajye or Bekandze Bekandze: Means “eliminating pain, eliminating pain”. What eliminates pain is medicine. This pain is not ordinary pain – even animals do not want to experience that. The first eliminating pain is true suffering, the second is the true cause of suffering. The medicine that eliminates pain is first the graduated path of the lower capable being, and second the graduated path of the middle capable being.
Mahābhaiṣajya or Maha Bekandze: Means “the great eliminating pain” is the graduated path of the higher capable being, which eliminates the subtle defilements.
So Bhaiṣajye Bhaiṣajye Bhaiṣajya or Bekandze Bekandze Maha Bekandze contains the whole path to enlightenment, the ultimate medicine.
Radza: Means King.
Samudgate: Means of ocean of goodness.
Svāhā or Soha: Means well said or so be it. It also means to establish the foundation in the heart, the blessing, the devotion from which the realization comes.
Note: Reciting the full Medicine Buddha dhāraṇī can even cure suffering of drug addiction.