The Buddhist Tradition of Healing
Twenty-five hundred years ago in a part
of what would now be the Kingdom of Nepal, the first son of
a clan chief was born with a multitude of auspicious signs.
It is said that his birth caused his mother no pain and that
from the first second from the womb he could stand on his
own two feet. He took seven steps in each of the compass directions,
and where his feet touched the ground, flowers bloomed. In
front of his mother and her attendants, he vowed that this
was to be his final lifetime and that he had been born to
rip out the causes of suffering and to liberate all sentient
beings. He was named Siddhartha, meaning "he whose aim
is accomplished." We call him Shakyamuni Buddha (the
Fully Enlightened One, the Sage of the Shakya Family).
From the time of Lord Buddhas first
teaching on the Four Noble Truths at the City of Sarnath and
from the first assemblies of the Sangha, there have been physicians
and healers who were themselves a part of the Buddhist tradition.
Lord Buddha even called himself the Superior Physician because
of his ability to offer refuge and nurturing to beings trapped
Mahayana Buddhism further expanded on
these teachings with instruction in the practice of the Buddha
of Spiritual Medicine, also known as the Buddha with the Body
of Lapis Lazuli, and the practices of Compassionate Bodhisattvas,
who vowed to help beings attain liberation until the very
last being had been liberated.
Reiki and Buddhism
Reiki is the most well-known practice
of healing that originates from the Buddhist Tradition. As
we know it today, Reiki is the work of a Buddhist physician
and teacher named Master Mikao Usui. Usui-sensei is said to
have discovered a Tantra, or Esoteric teaching, originally
given by Shakyamuni Buddha on the practice of the Buddha of
Spiritual Medicine. Due to visions he had of the various Buddhas,
and the guidance of his own spiritual teacher, he fasted and
meditated on the practice and received empowerment directly
from the Buddhas. He then adapted the teaching so that it
could be practiced by anyone who wished, including non-Buddhists.
Some believe that Usui-sensei transmitted several forms of
Reiki one for non-Buddhists, one for Buddhists, and
one for Tantric (Vajrayana) Buddhists.
The most recent development in the Reiki
story came due to the blessings of a local teacher, Lama Drügpa
Yeshe Trinley Odzer, the Ninth Drügmar Rinpoché, a Tibetan
Buddhist Lama in the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions. While in
Japan, Rinpochés father embraced the Shingon School
of Tantric Buddhism, and purchased a number of texts and teachings.
Among these was a Medicine Buddha / Healing Teaching called
the Tantra of the Lightning Flash Which Illumines the Mind
and Heals the Body, as well as copies of the notebooks
of Master Usui (the founder of Reiki) and Master Watanabe
(his pupil). With these, Rinpoché worked to recreate the Reiki
Tradition in keeping with both Lord Buddhas and Master
All Healing Is Buddhist
When you reach to the heart of what healing
is removing the causes of the suffering of others -
you see how close it is to the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism
and the Bodhisattva principles. To quote the poet Shantideva:
"May I be the doctor and the
medicine, and may I be the nurse, for all sick beings in
the world, until everyone is healed."
In keeping the Bodhisattva Vows of the
Mahayana Doctrine, we vow to be all things to all people.
We vow to be reborn in a variety of forms to assist others
on the path of liberation. We vow to be reborn in forms where
we can take on and remove the suffering of others and extend
our blessings and merit to them.
"For as long as space endures,
and for as long as living beings remain, until then may
I too abide, to dispel the misery of the world."
We can continue this practice by remembering
to dedicate all actions of good merit for the liberation of
the sick and infirm, and for all sentient beings. We can practice
meditation on Loving Kindness and Impermanence. We can do
the Tibetan practice of Giving and Receiving (Töng-len). We
can pray and make supplication to Awakened Beings.
There are a wealth of resources out there
for people interested in studying the Buddhist Tradition of
healing. Thanks to the kind patronage of His Holiness the
Dalai Lama, the Tibetan College of Astrology and Medicine
has been rebuilt near the site of the Tibetan Government in
Exile, in Dharmasala India.
However, you dont need to be a
Doctor of Medicine, Tibetan or otherwise, to accomplish the
Healing tradition set down by Lord Buddha. You simply need
to understand the nature of suffering, and truly want to remove
it. I hope and pray that all physicians, therapists, and healers
of all modalities will receive these teachings and put them
to good use.
~ May any
positive merit gained by any virtuous act I do be offered
up to remove the sufferings of all sentient beings. May I
take on their sufferings with a pure and open heart and see
them purified. May any who read this find the fortune to completely
E. "Raven" Clayton, D.Div. Randolph E. "Raven"
Clayton, D.Div. is a teacher, massage therapist, master of
seven different forms of reiki, and practicing Tibetan Buddhist
in the Nyingma tradition. He is the administrator of North
Carolina Dharma Online, and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.