Special Topics

Q7: When ill, is it more effective to recite the name of Medicine Buddha or Guanyin Bodhisattva?

A: When sick, it is only natural for many Buddhists to want to rely on the mercy and the power of the Medicine Buddha (Bhaiṣajyaguru-vaiḍūryaprabhārāja) and Guanyin Bodhisattva (Avalokiteśvara) by invoking their names, hoping to recover from illness as soon as possible. However, you do not necessarily need to suddenly change your routine practice by reciting the names of Medicine Buddha or Guanyin Bodhisattva as an alternative to your regular practice. You can simply stay with your original regular practice, depending on your physical condition; at least you can recite the Buddha's name to keep your mind calm and steady. If you still want to seek blessings from the Medicine Buddha, then you can additionally recite his name, together with the Medicine Buddha Sutra and the Medicine Buddha dharani, right after your personal regular daily recitation.

Many people think that they need to invoke the names of various buddhas for different purposes-- thinking, for example, that praying to the Medicine Buddha helps one recover from illness and gain longevity; praying to Guanyin Bodhisattva helps one avoid misfortune and troubles; and reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha is only necessary at one's death-bed for seeking rebirth in the Western World of Ultimate Bliss. In fact, all Buddhist approaches lead to the same goal. With a sincere and concentrated mind, whichever method of practice we choose can always benefit ourselves and others. 

The key to Buddhist practice is to delve deeply into one single approach and thoroughly engage in it. Changing approaches too often just to meet different purposes, we will only end up compromising our practice. Just concentrate on one approach, by reciting the name of any Buddha and His dharani, and you'll be able to alleviate your misfortune and troubles, enjoy wellbeing and longevity, eliminate your affliction and karmic obstacles, and develop compassion and wisdom, thus benefitting both your present and future lives.

Extended Reading:

Let's Recite the Buddha's Name

Q1: Why do Buddhists always greet each other with "Buddha Amitabha (Amituofo, in Chinese)"?

Q2 : To perform Buddha-name recitation, should we limit ourselves to only reciting Amitabha Buddha"? Or would reciting several Buddhas'names afford additional blessings and protection?

Q3: Is reciting the Buddha's name a practice exclusively for the sick and the elderly?

Q4: Are prayer beads or counters necessary when reciting the Buddha's name?

Q5: What is the difference between reciting the Buddha's name and chanting a dharani?

Q6: Is it proper to recite the Buddha chant while having a shower or using the toilet?

Q7: When ill, is it more effective to recite the name of Medicine Buddha or Guanyin Bodhisattva?

Resource: Issue 392 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Photos: Shu-ting Zhong (鍾淑婷)
Translation: Beatrice Yang (楊淑玲) 
Editing: Chia-chen Chang (張家誠), Keith Brown