The 29th day of the ninth lunar month is the birthday of Bhaisajyaguru Buddha, i.e. the Medicine Buddha. He is also known by other names, such as Bhaisajyaguru Tathagata, Bhaisajyaguru Lapis Lazuli Tathagata, the Great Medicine King Buddha, and the Buddha of Twelve Great Vows. He is the Buddha of the Pure Land of Lapis Lazuli - Light in the East. The meanings of Lapis Lazuli Light are as follows:
1.Medicine – We can obtain medication from drug stores, pharmacies, etc. to heal our sickness, however, we need Buddhist Dharma to cure our mental and emotional problems. Therefore, this ‘medicine’ is even more important than those in the drug store.
2.Master – In this world, there are many teachers, but only those who have the greatest influence on us are called masters. Chinese culture emphasizes respect towards great teachers and the true path in life. In Buddhism, we call monks and nuns to be Dharma masters, meaning that they take the Dharma to be their teacher, and by doing so, teach people with the Dharma; thus they are the teachers of Buddhist Dharma.
3. Lapis Lazuli – It is one of the seven precious substances. In our world, there are physical treasures, such as gold and silver, pearls, agate, cornelian, etc. However, in relation to the Medicine Buddha, the lapis lazuli represents the spiritual treasure of his wisdom. It refers to a kind word or a Buddhist book to liberate us from afflictions. Thus, it is even better than worldly treasures. We should also be like the lapis lazuli for others, to help them and render happiness. Sometimes, it is not necessary to help others with money, but with our effort, our words and deeds. We all have within each of us an inner treasure, but we do not necessarily know how to make use of it. Perhaps, one may say that one does not know how to make an effort, to say good words or to do good deeds, but at least one has good intentions. One can pray for others wholeheartedly, wishing them to have peace and joy, more blessing and wisdom. Regardless of whether other people actually benefit from your prayers, your kind intentions are conveyed to all Buddha in the ten directions, so your merits and virtues are also immeasurable and boundless.
4.Light – In the Dharma assembly of Medicine Buddha, many lamps are lit. Why are they lit? It is because light can break through darkness and give us warmth, like the fire in the stove. Is there anything that is comparable to light in the world? Yes, only Buddha. The Buddha’s light is illuminating. Our mind is opened up when we recite Buddha’s name. It gives us warmth and support. Only if we have light in our heart, we can become sages, and attain Buddhahood in perfection.
1.I vow that my body shall shine as beams of brilliant light on this infinite and boundless world, showering on all beings, getting rid of their ignorance and worries with my teachings. May all beings be like me, with a perfect status and character, upright mind and soul, and finally attaining enlightenment like the Buddha.
2.I vow that my body be like crystal, pure and flawless, radiating rays of splendid light to every corner, brightening up and enlightening all beings with wisdom. With the blessings of compassion, may all beings strengthen their spiritual power and physical energy, so that they could fulfill their dreams in the right track.
3.I vow that I shall grant by means of boundless wisdom, all beings with the inexhaustible things that they require, and relieving them from all pains and guilt resulting from materialistic desires. Although clothing, food, accommodation and transport are essentials, it should be utilised wisely as well. Besides self-consumption, the remaining should be generously shared with the community so that all could live harmoniously together.
4.I vow to lead those who have gone astray back to the path of righteousness. Let them be corrected and returned to the Buddha way for enlightenment.
5.I vow that I shall enable all sentient beings to observe precepts for spiritual purity and moral conduct. Should there be any relapse or violation, they shall be guided for repentance. Provided they truly regret their wrong-doings, and vow for a change with constant prayers and strong faith in the Buddha, they could receive the rays of forgiveness, recover their lost moral and purity.
6.I vow that all beings who are physically disabled or sick in all aspects be blessed with good health, both physically and mentally. All who pays homage to Buddha faithfully will be blessed.
7.I vow to relieve all pain and poverty of the very sick and poor. The sick be cured, the helpless are helped, the poor be assisted.
8.I vow to help women who are undergoing sufferings and tortures and seeking for transformation into men. By hearing my name, paying homage and praying, their wishes would be granted and ultimately attain Buddhahood.
9.I vow to free all beings from evil thoughts and its control. I shall lead them onto the path of light through inculcating them with righteousness and honour so that they will walk the Buddha way.
10.I vow to save prisoners who have genuinely repented and victims of natural disasters. Those who are sincere will be blessed by my supreme powers and be freed from sufferings.
11.I vow to save those who suffer from starvation and those who committed crime to obtain food. If they hear my name and faithfully cherish it, I shall lead them to the advantages of Dharma and favour them with best food and eventually lead a tranquil and happy life.
12.I vow to save those who suffer from poverty, tormented by mosquitoes and wasps day and night. If they come across my name, cherish it with sincerity and practise dharma to strengthen their merits, they will be able to achieve their wishes.
During his Bodhisattva cultivations, the Medicine Buddha, he made twelve great vows, wishing to relieve sentient beings from suffering, and let them to have sufficient capacities to enter the way of liberation. Those who follow his vows in the practice of Buddhahood can be reborn in his Lapis Lazuli Pure Land, which is as adorned as Suhkavati, the Western Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha.
(Source: IBPS Vancouver)