In these times, times of unknowing and for having faith in our scientists and world leaders, we are called to action in ways that we have never been asked before. We are called to distance ourselves socially, to show extreme diligence in our personal hygiene, and to adhere to the expertise of our healthcare providers in order that we all play a role in the "flattening of the curve" of this current virus, COVID-19.
In times such as these it may seem that on an individual level there is so little that we can actually do in playing a role towards the betterment of the good of all, but it is exactly that, the small things that we are doing to help, that play the biggest role in the solution. One of the smallest and easiest things we can do is chant, meditate or pray. These practices take very little time and effort and yet produce profound effects in ways sometimes unnoticeable at first. You will immediately feel more calm and at ease. You will feel more useful. You will feel that you are contributing to the ease of suffering of all beings on the planet, and right now, that is precisely what we need as a whole.
Mantras act very simply and intelligently. They are words or verses that help to steer our mind into healthy and impactful ways of thinking. When one takes on a mantra, the repetition of this mantra for a sustained period of time, will develop into a rhythm, a flow, as if creating a pathway in the brain; a pathway our brain will recognize as new thought patterns. This helps to create new modes of thinking; allowing us to use our mind instead of letting it run astray. We can lead our mind by guiding it with proven ancient practices that will strengthen us mentally and soothe us emotionally.
The mantra I share today is a beautiful one dedicated to the Medicine Buddha, for illness and disease, but also for protection, purification and to solve global problems (such as war, violence, etc.). It seems extremely suitable to our current conditions. I have been chanting it at home for days now, and will continue to. It feels as if it helps me understand the course of all that is happening around me, on a cellular level. It helps me digest what I am seeing and hearing, allowing me to softly process it.
Teyata Om Bekanze Bekanze Mahabekanze Bekanze Radza Samutgate Soha
Medicine Buddha, you are the King, the Supreme Healer. Please remove illness, illness and the great Illness. Now I offer this prayer.
In the article I have attached below, you will read a beautiful explanation of how this mantra works and for what reasons. I am also including an audio recording of myself chanting the mantra in my home practice. May you listen to this 5 minute clip, as many times as you need, and add your voice as you chant aloud, soothing your spirit and praying for the ill, praying for a solution to this global health crisis.
I smile as I write this to you, in the hopes that this mantra brings you ease. When you sit to chant, sit upright with a very tall spine, or against the wall if you have back pain. Sit with your legs stretched in front of you or with your legs crossed. Place your palms in your lap facing up or down (notice which feels right for you), soften your chest even as you hold your shoulders open. Close your eyes once you have learned the words, and mouth the words, then whisper them, then begin to chant out loud. Notice how the sound and vibration feel in your chest. Notice how your sacred heart space feels, how your throat feels, how your mind feels.
Enjoy this practice. Leave a comment below to let me know how it felt :)
Peace, love and blessings, always,
Meaning of the Praise and Mantra of Medicine Buddha
Edited and condensed from a talk during Medicine Buddha Puja by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Land of Medicine Buddha, 28 July 2001
“To the Bhagawan with equal compassion for all Whose name when just heard dispels lower realms’ suffering Dispeller of disease and the three poisons I prostrate to Medicine Buddha Lapis Light.”
tayatha om bekandze bekandze maha bekandze radza samudgate soha.
The Fifth Dalai Lama explains that the first verse expresses what Medicine Buddha is and talks about the qualities.
Bhagawan means “Destroyer Qualified Gone Beyond One” or Chom Den De in Tibetan. “Destroyer” means not only destroyer of one’s own gross and subtle defilements, the delusions, but also destroyer of other sentient beings’ delusions and defilements. “Qualified” refers to six qualities. “Gone Beyond” means gone beyond the oceans of samsaric suffering.
“With equal compassion for all” means Medicine Buddha’s compassion is equal towards all sentient beings, there are no discriminating thoughts. Buddha doesn’t just help those who have faith in him. Medicine Buddha has compassion to every single living being, equally-and that includes us.
Then, “Whose name when just heard dispels lower realms’ suffering”.
Any living being who hears the name of Medicine Buddha never gets reborn in the lower realms-that’s the benefit, the power of just hearing the name, the mantra. The reason there is so much power is due to Medicine Buddha’s compassion. In the past when he was a bodhisattva he made so many prayers and dedications with strong compassion for his name to be wish fulfilling, to bring happiness.
When he became enlightened, one of the ten powers of a Buddha is the power of prayer – that means that all the prayers that have been made get fulfilled. So it is extremely important in our daily life to practice Medicine Buddha and to chant his name for the animals. It’s an unbelievably easy way to liberate yourself and to help others too.
Medicine Buddha practice also purifies any broken vows, like Pratimoksha vows, or precepts. It is very powerful for purification and for healing sickness. Normally people think that Medicine Buddha is for healing but it’s not only that, it’s also very powerful for purifying negative karma and very powerful for success. The Medicine Buddha practice is so precious. It seems that you can do Medicine Buddha Puja for ANY purpose, ANY problem, ANYTHING. You can use the Medicine Buddha practice for any kind of problem, for court cases, to stop wars, to stop violence, anything. It is very good for business, for mothers who are pregnant to give birth successfully, anything.
The practice can be done for anything. It is very powerful for success and of course the most important success is to have the realizations of the Lam Rim, the path to enlightenment: to realize emptiness, develop wisdom, bodhicitta and guru devotion – to be able to give extensive benefit to other sentient beings.
“Dispeller of disease and the three poisons” – the three poisons are ignorance, hatred and attachment, the sicknesses of the mind from which come the physical sicknesses-cancer, depression, etc.
“I prostrate to Medicine Buddha Lapis Light.”
Medicine Buddha’s mantra is: tayatha om bekandze bekandze maha bekandze radza samudgate soha.
Tayatha – means “like this”.
Om – 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.
Then bekandze bekandze -“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.
Then maha bekandze -“the great eliminating pain” is the graduated path of the higher capable being, which eliminates the subtle defilements.
So bekandze bekandze maha bekandze contains the whole path to enlightenment, the ultimate medicine.
Radza – is king.
Samudgate – (ocean of goodness)
Soha – to establish the foundation in the heart, the blessing, the devotion from which the realization comes.
By actualising the meaning of the path contained in bekandze bekandze maha bekandze, the whole Lam Rim, you cease the defilements, gross and subtle, and purify the ordinary body, speech and mind into the vajra holy body, speech and mind. After this you are able to do perfect works for other sentient beings. ♦