Bhaisajyaguru, commonly referred to as Medicine Buddha, presides over the pure land Vaiduryanirbhasa (Lapis Lazuli Radiance), located in the east. In accordance with the description of Medicine Buddha’s dharma-body found in the scriptures, this image is cast in azure blue, the color of the sky, representing an ever-present guiding light. Amongst the twelve vows Medicine Buddha made while still a bodhisattva, the second begins, “I vow that in a future life, upon attaining enlightenment, my body will be like lapis lazuli, bright and limpid inside and out.” This vow has been Loretta H. Yang’s guiding inspiration in producing glass sculpture over several decades. Sitting in meditation posture on a jeweled lotus throne, Medicine Buddha is depicted with all the distinguishing characteristics of a buddha, including a benevolent countenance, a solemn demeanor, elongated earlobes, and the traditional monastic robe; he is backed by a nimbus decorated with an auspicious cloud motif. This piece consists of three parts: the figure, the nimbus, and the base. The flames on the rim of the nimbus represent the illuminating wisdom of enlightenment, and its circular shape symbolizes equality, harmony, and perfection. At the upper center portion of the nimbus is an image of Sakyamuni Buddha. On either side of the nimbus are six celestial buddhas. Medicine Buddha is typically depicted seated, holding in his left hand either a pagoda or a medicine bowl, while making a gesture (mudra) with his right hand, including the gesture of fearlessness, the wish-granting gesture, and the meditation gesture. On the palms of his hands are the “wheel of the Dharma,” the traditional symbol of Buddhism. As is customary for Buddhist statuary, the fingers and toes are joined together, like the webbed feet of a duck, symbolizing the consummation of spiritual endeavor. The base is decorated with auspicious motifs; it features scenes from edifying stories from the Buddhist scriptures, as well as depictions of the 12 guardian deities who protect the Medicine Buddha Sutra day and night. This image of Medicine Buddha is modeled on the one found at the Yakushi Temple in Nara, Japan.
The second great wish of the Medicine Buddha states:
"May the moment come when I attain enlightenment, the body, even the soul, become as liuli. Pure, transparent, flawless."
Despite the immense difficulty in the task of forging this artwork, Loretta H. Yang created the expertly crafted Blue Medicine Buddha in unlimited edition as a blessing of health for all art lovers around the world. Recalling the Medicine Buddha’s vow to help and heal all the sick and injured of the world, it is a testament to Yang’s personal struggles and the fortitude to overcome them that this artist’s piece is shared universally.