Medicine Buddha

Today's empowerment is a combined empowerment from the old tradition of Guru Padmasambhava and from the three new traditions. of Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelugpa. It is important to have the motivation to benefit others as well as yourself. It's important to have loving kindness and compassion. According to tantra yoga practices, the empowerment has a most important role. The ritual has to be correct, without missing anything. If anything is missing the empowerment is not complete. So I will explain as I do the empowerment. This may be difficult as my English is limited. So you will have to be patient. The Medicine Buddha sadhana was taught by Shakyamuni at the Yangbuchen. It was requested by Manjusri. Then it was passed on to Vajrapani. From there it was passed to Khenpo Bodhisattva. There are two Khenpo Bodhisattvas, the older and younger. Both got the empowerment from Manjusri directly. Khenpo Bodhisattva taught it to Trisong Detsen. That is the old, or Nyingma tradition. The benefit of the practice is to cure mental and physical sickness by purifying the body's energy. Now we will go though this ritual.

In this practice we are requesting all our negative karma be removed, the purification of all our obstacles and diseases and protect us from untimely death and temporary obstacles such as curses, so that we have good fortune and are reborn in the pure land of Medicine Buddha.

You have already heard a lot of teaching on the generation and completion stages. I'd like to give a practical talk on how to practice, rather than a philosophical talk. Philospophy is useful, but there may be problems when you try to practice. Sometimes philosophy is helpful, and sometimes not. When practicing mahamudra, at that time there is not much benefit from logic and philosophy. I enjoyed philosophy and it is useful for teaching others, but the point is when you really try to understand the nature of things through meditation, it is not so useful. Since we don't have much time in the West, a teaching on how to deal with the afflictive emotions is more useful.

When you meditate on the generation stage of Medicine Buddha, first visualize a lotus flower. The lotus flower should be inseparable from your own mind. It's not correct to have the lotus flower somewhere and your mind somewhere else. The lotus flower should be inseparable from your mind. First meditate on the lotus flower for a few minutes. Then visualize a moon disk on the lotus flower. It also is inseparable from the mind. On top of the moon disk is the syllable HUNG. If you don't know the Tibetan character you can visualize the English letters stacked. Meditate until you have a clear visualization of the syllable. It is blue, radiating light. It represents the nature of your mind. Then after the visualization is clear, it becomes transformed into the form of medicine Buddha. Now you become Medicine Buddha. You have to see each aspect of the Medicine Buddha. That is very important. Each has a meaning. He is seated in the Vajra position. He is blue, wearing the three robes of a monk. The lower robe is yellow. The upper under robe is yellow. The covering top robe is yellow. Medicine Buddha has the major and minor marks of a Buddha. He is holding a begging bowl filled with medicine. His right hand is holding a branch from the medicine tree [the arura]. With your mind visualize this as clearly as possible, until whether you are meditating or not, the form of Medicine Buddha clearly arises. Visualize Medicine Buddha surrounded by five rainbow colored lights. So that is the generation stage visualization. If you can do this visualization, each deity practice will be a little different, but not much. So you have to practice until you have a clear visualization.

Milarepa was asked by a student, how do you practice generation stage? Milarepa said, "When we meditate the body appears as Medicine Buddha, but at the same time it is the selfless nature of the rainbow body. So how to practice the speech. Speech becomes an echo, like the emptiness. And the mind itself is naturally empty, like the light of the sun and moon." This explanation is very useful. We need to get the essence teaching and put it into practice. The idea is that in Tibetan tantra yoga, generation is the pure visualization of all sentient beings as a deity, as Medicine Buddha himself. What makes sense for me when doing this practice is to have no negative thoughts to others. Just stop. Bring more loving kindness and thoughts of compassion to others. So it is very useful to do this kind of practice.

For human and nonhuman beings to be born it is necessary to have the seed. From the energy of the male and female the physical body grows. You also need all the secondary conditions for the child to grow perfectly. Likewise the same thing is true when you do the meditation. You need a clear visualization. When you receive the empowerment for deity practice and when you become accomplished at generation stage practices, you don't have much pain or suffering during the process of birth. And your mother has unusual experiences.

After the generation stage comes the completion stage. Whatever Medicine Buddha is holding or wearing dissolves into light into the form of the Medicine Buddha. And Medicine Buddha's form dissolves into the seed syllable HUNG. The seed syllable dissolves from bottom to top. Then the top dissolves into the state of emptiness. Then you should remain for a few minutes in this state of emptiness, according to your time and ability. Then reappear in the form of Medicine Buddha.

What is the purpose of the completion stage? The purpose is to master the process of death. Death is not easy. Anyone who works in a hospital knows this. The process of death is the same as the completion stage. We can feel the energy of everything we sense and do. When we become old, our physical body doesn't work any more, and we can no longer feel the energy we used to feel. So everything is dissolving. The body no longer works at the time of death. The energy of the elements no longer function. We experience the process of death and what happens at that time. With the practice of the completion stage, we are more aware of what happens, and the fear of death goes away. The accomplished practitioner has total confidence and no fear of death. They have a strong energy of the mental states. Normally the mind loses its energy at death. In an accomplished practitioner, the mind becomes much more stable than it was before at death. That is a brief description of the generation and completion stage. The person who has accomplished the practice has a very strong energy and can benefit others fearlessly and without doubt. If someone is mean to the practitioner, their mind is unchanged. So benefiting others is much easier than before.

Here is a story about Milarepa and his master Marpa. Milarepa at that time wasn't an accomplished practitioner. He was practicing alone in a cave and was tired and missed his master Marpa. He prayed to Marpa and said that he needed his help. Though Marpa had passed away, he appeared in front of him. This story shows the realization of the generation and completion stage leads to realizing the unborn stage of dharmakaya. Marpa had this accomplishment, as did Milarepa himself.

Here is another story about Milarepa's disciple Rechungpa. Rechungpa was very smart and had been meditating since he was nine with Milarepa. Milarepa asked Rechungpa to go to India and bring some teachings back to Tibet. Because Mila was old he couldn't go himself. Rechungpa walked to India. Milarepa through his clear light meditation saw Rechungpa in India and saw he was doing very well and would soon return to Tibet. But he was also studying black magic, which he didn't have permission to do. Rechungpa was proud and thought he was very smart. Milarepa read his mind and Milarepa didn't greet him with any special respect when Rechungpa returned. Milarepa only asked, how did you do, what did you study. The two were going to make tea. Milarepa said, "I will go for water, and you go for wood." Milarepa manifested the form of wild animals, which distracted Rechungpa and made him return late. When Rechungpa returned, he saw his teachings had been burned by Milarepa in place of the firewood. Rechungpa was very angry and totally upset. He wanted to leave Milarepa. Milarepa tried to show his meditation power to Rechungpa by manifesting as different deities. Rechungpa wasn't happy with this and said this was just a magic display. Milarepa said all the teaching you brought for the sake of sentient beings is still available. I gave it to the dakinis. I burned the texts because you brought magic texts with you. Those were the texts I burned. So Rechungpa became calm. Milarepa told Rechungpa I told you many times not to study black magic.

The seed syllable HUNG if you know Tibetan, the U dissolves into the small A, which dissolves into the HA, which dissolves into the crescent, which dissolves into the dot, which dissolves into emptiness. If you don't have the text, you can recite the mantra. In a retreat you can do many thousands of mantras. At the end of practice saying the dedication prayer is very important. So I hope I didn't miss anything. I just tried to discuss what is in my heart.

Question & Answer

Q: Could you say something about the praise and offering part of the practice?

A: The offering is very important. You can offer anything external, like flowers or water. The purpose of the offering is to learn nonattachment. Different offerings are related to the physical body. Offering a flower results in the good karma of having a good physical body. Each of the seven offerings has some reason. Through visualization we can make extensive offerings to others. One thing I found from Garchen Rinpoche, He is very careful to offer anything that is offered to him to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. A great Nyingma Khenpo also did like this. If a small bottle was given to him, he would clean it and put water or a flower in it and offer it to the Buddhas. A lama told his students any time you have difficulties, just make prayers to me. I pray to all the root masters, then the lineage masters, then the great teacher of our lineage. As I understand more about the dharma and how to develop the inner qualities, the more I discover that prayer makes a strong connection to the lineage masters. Each lineage has its essence prayers. There are so many prayers, but the lama khyeno prayer brings all the prayers into one. The important part is to do visualization at the same time. The teacher is the inseparable nature of all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. The master turns into light and dissolves into you and you become inseparable from the master. In the Kagyu they believe very strongly that prayers, faith, and devotion toward the master leads to realization of the nature of mind. My personal experience is that I found some very interesting things from the traditional beliefs. When you meditate by yourself a lot of different thoughts are there. But the purpose of mediation is to deal with that. The perfect teaching, the supplication to the masters, helps so much. Sometimes it makes you cry for hours. This is unconditional crying, crying for the missing master, as well as the suffering for sentient beings.

Q: Did I understand you correctly when you said Medicine Buddha wore three yellow robes?

A: Yes