Until we are reborn to the Pure Lands, how do we address our current life’s problems, like sicknesses, disasters, seeking a son or daughter, seeking wealth and good health, etc.?
The Other Often Neglected Buddha
Who else? That’s Akshobya Buddha or more commonly known as Medicine Master Buddha of the Eastern Vaidurya Pure Land.
When people speak of the Pure Land practice, it’s often construed to be recitation of Amitabha Buddha’s name to seek rebirth in his Western Bliss Pure Land. Many do not realize that Shakyamuni Buddha also transmitted the other Pure Land Dharma – Medicine Master Buddha Dharma. Practice it and you can be reborn in the Pure Lands: his Eastern Pure Land or Amitabha’s Western Pure Land.
There is another very important reason why Shakyamuni Buddha taught the Medicine Master Buddha Dharma, especially to help Living Beings in the Dharma Image and Dharma Ending Ages. Until we are reborn to the Pure Lands, how do we address our current life’s problems, like sicknesses, disasters, seeking a son or daughter, seeking wealth and good health, etc.?
Have no fear. The Medicine Master Buddha is already here to help lengthen life, quell disaster and boost our blessings.
Since we started cultivating the Medicine Master Buddha Dharma, we have been quite lucky – many of our students obtained responses quite rapidly.
Cultivating to Help Dependents
I have a disciple, named W; he and his wife have been white collar professionals for decades.
As a lead design engineer for a large multi-national firm, he’s under great stress. He has been practicing yoga for many years to help with his health.
A year ago, he decided to try our Chan class that started in February. We also happened to start lecturing on the Medicine Master Buddha Sutra in the afternoons.
He made progress very quickly. From zero samadhi, he quickly reached second Dhyana within a few months. He then decided to take refuge with the Triple Jewel and receive the Five Precepts.
He had to fill out an application form. When asked why he wanted to take refuge, his reply was not along the lines of lofty goals like to become enlightened or save the world. His only desire in cultivation was to unfold his wisdom to help his two sons.
In our second weekly meeting, he expressed concern about his oldest son, B, who had announced that he intended to join the Marines that summer  to fight the war in Iraq. He and his wife did not know how to talk B out of it.
As they soon learned about the Medicine Master Dharma, they realized that it can eradicate war disasters. W, therefore, decided to purchase a Medicine Master plaque for B. Very shortly afterwards, W approached me and said that B had firmed up his mind to go to Iraq to fight the war: “He [B) is serious [about enlisting]. I don’t think he [B] is doing it in order to spite us [W. and his wife]. Could you please have a talk with him?”
I agreed to try, even though I really did not expect a positive result – mostly because it seemed too late. This process had taken years for this very smart and strong-willed individual to arrive at his decision.
A week later, B arrived, as arranged, on a Friday afternoon. Following is a brief account of our meeting.
He rang the door bell of my place and appeared to be in a good frame of mind.
We went to sit in the living room, but he refused my offer of tea or refreshments.
I: Nice to see you again.
B: Thank you for seeing me.
I: When I saw you three years ago [when you’re in the 12th grade], your hair was shorter.
B: Was it that long ago?
I: What can I do for you?
B: My parents suggested that I should have a talk with you. It’s not only their idea – I also was interested in meeting with you.
They had already asked my younger brother, one of B.’s professors at college, to give it a try
B: This isn’t just their idea only.
B: I noticed that as soon as my parents started studying Buddhism with you, they changed overnight.
I: For the better I hope?
B: Yeah. We get along much better. Don’t get me wrong. I have great respect for both my parents. I admire their professional and financial success. But I think they’re happier.
I: They’re concerned about you, especially about your plans for the future. Are you going to college now?
B: Yeah, but I’ve been in and out. I just have no respect for my college teachers.
I: I don’t blame you. It’s hard to find a good State University professor nowadays, who has both the intellectual capacity and samadhi power. [B had already reached first Dhyana – both his parents started at zero: they did not have enough mental strength to create a good impression on B’s strong mind].
B: I refuse to fit in, to serve the institution. I just don’t see myself living like that.
I: But you’re still young. Sometimes, one has to pay one’s dues before one’s turn comes. You’ll change your mind when you have a family to feed and loved ones to take care of.
B: Perhaps, I’m sure there are ways to contribute without compromising myself.
I: I hope that you’ll find your path.
B: Me too. I still have time.
I: I heard you’re going to Iraq to fight the war. Isn’t that serving the institution?
B: It’s different.
I: How so?
B: It’s something I must do before I can do anything else.
I: Would you mind explaining to me your reasons?
B: I’ve thought long and hard about it. It’s to prove that I can do it. Until I pass this test, my life would be meaningless.
I: A test of manhood? To see if you can survive danger and hardship?
I: That’s a true test of bravery.
B: Just a thing that I must do.
I: So you’ll be killing a lot of young children.
B: Not necessarily. I hope to land in the recon (naissance) team. They don’t often engage in battles in populated areas.
I: So you’ll be killing a lot of young children’s fathers.
B: It may happen. It’s part of war.
I: That’s some test. You’re quite gutsy. I admire that.
B: Thank you.
I: Have you considered the flip side?
B: What do you mean?
I: That you might get hurt.
B: It could happen.
I: You’re probably mentally prepared to pay that price, but what about your family? Suppose you come back seriously wounded, let’s say that you become an invalid. I’m sure that your parents would welcome you home and will take care of you until they die. You know how much they love you. Let’s say that you lose part of your face after you come back home. You’ll find your parents and younger brother ecstatic that you’re alive and at home. They would lovingly take care of you, of their hero who helped the family pay its debts to this great country.
B: Yeah, it would probably be quite hard on them.
I: But they’ll be the last ones to tell you. You know, your young brother who’s always looked up to you. He’ll be so glad to spend more time with you. But when he retires to his room, his heart is probably broken into a million pieces. He’d cry to himself saying: “Dear God, what have you done to my beloved brother? He used to be so handsome and full of life!”
B: [thoughtfully silent]
I: Have you considered the price your family has to pay should you come back seriously wounded? Are you willing to submit them to such tests?
B: I guess they would be devastated.
I: For the rest of their lives.
B: That would be terrible.
I: We all have to face our tests. Have you considered other kinds of tests?
B: Like what?
I: Like the kind that should you fail, it would not place such a heavy toll on your family for your failure.
B: Such as…?
I: There are plenty of tests, or rites of passage (to manhood). Actually, there are much better tests which are constructive instead of being destructive. We don’t need to destroy or inflict pain on others to prove our toughness and/or our superiority.
B: I guess so.
I: I can think of so many such tests. When you think under such lights, you’ll surely discover plenty of them. I can give you one right now that you won’t believe is one such test.
B: Yeah. Please tell me.
I then lifted my monk’s precept sash to show that my legs were locked in full lotus – for a couple of hours by then.
I: This is an extremely tough practice that most people fail. It can hurt a lot and yet no one knows.
B: I must admit that my mind was made up when I first came. Now I’m not so sure.
B later took leave of me. I told him that I was impressed, that his head was screwed on right, and that he would be all right.
Until today, I have not told anyone about this encounter. When his mother asked me about our meeting, I told her that I did not want to say anything until B made up his mind, because I did not want to influence his decision in any way.
A few weeks later, he came to visit his parents and announced to his family that he had abandoned his plan to go to war. He asked his father to help finance his training to be an emergency room medical technician. His father’s immediate reply was: he’s got it. So B changed from going to war in Iraq to going to war with death in the emergency room. He went from risking his life for a short-term to risking it professionally. What character!
The moral of the story: I was most amazed with B’s receptiveness because I know many much more intelligent and savvy people have tried to counsel B. After I agreed to meet with B, I honestly had no idea what to expect or what to say. Apparently, we were able to temporarily postpone B’s killing habit energies [from prior lifetimes]. Who knows what else this bright and determined young man will dream of to test himself! It’s my sincere hope that he’ll apply himself in an industry which builds rather than destroys.
Had it not been for Medicine Master Buddha’s help, this foolish monk would not have been able to add much. Personally, I’m resigned to it: people don’t come to us until they have gone through the best and the brightest.
I can tell you my secret: miracles come from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who are just too modest to claim credit for themselves.