I was reading an article by David Michie, in a September, 2018 “Lion’s Roar” magazine, about “How to Invoke the Medicine Buddha,” and I immediately did the practice. In this time of threat and anxiety, it was just what I needed. It reminded me of healing visualizations and meditations I had done in the past and found helpful and enjoyable.
And afterwards, I wanted to invoke this Buddha for all of us. I wanted to stand before him and talk directly with him ⎼ or allow him to speak directly through me. I wanted the Medicine Buddha to speak to our nation, to help us all heal, heal our neighbors, this country, this world. We need so much medicine nowadays, medical supplies, an anti-coronavirus vaccine. An anti-ignorance vaccine. A pro-compassion vaccine.
Today we are seeing what society looks like when the whole is greatly stressed. I remember looking at paintings of the plague in the Middle Ages. And I look around me. The sky is still the sky. The birds still call. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes the sun shines. It doesn’t look like the plague. Unless, maybe, you go to some city hospitals and see the freezer trucks they are using to store the dead. Not quite a horse-driven wagon full of bodies, not the “Black Death,” thanks to modern science, but there are comparisons.
But as each level of our society is stressed, it is the small things that hold us together. It certainly isn’t our deluded leader, not the supposed head of the Federal government. Many state or local leaders are being helpful, and certainly first responders, doctors and nurses are risking their lives for others. Retired and other health care workers are volunteering to work in overstressed hospitals to care for patients. Cashiers and the people who stock the shelves in the grocery store. Individual people as well as the systems they maintain. It is our families and friends. Relationships. Even though we are all isolated, or maybe because of it, we are more sensitive to relationships.
My wife and I are getting along as well as ever. We take walks almost every day, mostly along our very rural road. And almost every time, we see one neighbor or another. One day, a couple, neighbors we haven’t talked to for 20 years, drove by in their truck and stopped, a good 7 feet away, opened their truck windows, said hello, and we talked for 10 minutes. On another walk, our neighbors from down the road, whose beloved dog died a few weeks ago, stopped 10 feet away and introduced their new puppy.
Another neighbor, a friend, called to see how we were doing. The phone is being resurrected as a communication device, not for texts but actual conversation. I’ve been on the phone a lot. Others are using the internet to see and speak live to people.
This is medicine we need.
To invoke the Medicine Buddha, start by dedicating the moment to your own good health, to being free of pain and filled with insight, enlightenment, and to wish the same for others. Then picture this Buddha, this image of health, and make it as real as possible. You see him. You feel the presence of healing. And then ask for what you need and feel it, in your toes, feet, stomach, heart, face. Feel his light.
If you want to do the practice, and I recommend it, read David Michie, but this is the idea. To fill yourself with as concrete a sense of a being of healing and light, maybe any being that evokes such positive energy for you, and then to wish for a healing for others. To dedicate yourself to caring for yourself so you can care for and relate well with others.
Or if you want a simpler healing exercise, just imagine a smile, your own or someone you like, or imagine being happy, joyous. Then imagine that smile on your face. As you breathe in, imagine it spreading out, filling your chest cavity, your lungs. It is like you’re breathing in joy. You can accent the smile with a color you love, blue, white, whatever, and breathe it in surrounded by light. And as you exhale, let your whole body relax, settle down, and rest in the feeling of smiling, laughing.
I look out my window and a squirrel runs along the branch of a bush towards the bird feeder my wife keeps stocked. Despite the virus, the birds will eat. And I think about how hard this time is on so many people. So many losing their jobs or businesses. So many sick. Many living alone. So many, maybe everyone, waiting, wondering, what will come next? When will the pandemic be over? When will we feel safe again? When will we return to the lives we once knew ⎼ or will we ever return to the lives we once knew? Life has become a question. Or maybe it’s become more obvious a question since we never really knew what would transpire. But now, we breathe and we share these questions. They open us up. So we can use the energy for something healing.
As the relationships which form the true base of our lives become more stressed because more is asked of them, we can think about how important this other person, standing in front of us, is. We can realize that it is the relationship that is most important, not always getting our way. Not always being the one with the right answer. But the quality of our caring.
And when we visualize the medicine Buddha, we can not only dedicate our invocation of him to others but imagine it ⎼ imagine those we care about walking through their homes, eating with, speaking with, being filled with healing. Ask yourself ⎼ who needs healing today? Then picture it, feel it happening. Write about it. Paint it. Hang it on the outer walls of your house to share with your neighbors. Start a medicine Buddha movement. Let the previously empty streets be filled with compassion.
As our new situation more and more reveals that the questions we have and the relationships we depend on are what can save us, that new revelation becomes the medicine that can heal our lives. It becomes the medicine Buddha we can invoke, for the good of ourselves and others.