Chapters 13-21 addresses the spiritual careers of bodhisattvas accompanied with prescriptions for right conduct and proper ways in which to reverence the Lotus Sutra. Chapter 16 is unique on its own since it focuses on the vast spiritual career of Śākyamuni, one that stretches across endless eons. It’s in this chapter that he declares that his supreme awakening beneath the Bodhi-Tree during this present life-cycle was not the first such instance, as the original occasion took place inconceivable kalpas ago. Ever since that time he has been present in our saha-world teaching the Buddhadharma; what’s even more remarkable in all of this is that such passages infer that he is still present even now, not only in our own particular realm but in countless others as well, in his Sambhogakāyic-form. In light of this it’s apparent that his Supreme Teaching Career will be a Spiritually-Perpetual One, stating, “I abide forever with you without entering parinirvana.” He also points out that his awakening and apparent entry into nirvana was essentially all skillful means at his disposal in order to encourage an awakening in the Mind of all living beings who hunger for the Buddhadharma. Take a moment and absorb this spiritual-realization. Śākyamuni’s Spirit is with us even now, in Sambhogakāyic-form. This would be equivalent in Western Spirituality of Jesus still being present to devotees in the mode of the Holy Spirit. Hence, Śākyamuni is still present both in Sambhogakāyic and in Dharmakāyic (Absolute Dharma-Body of Perfect Suchness) Realizations. Of course, deluded people (those still not awakened to their own Buddha-nature) will not be aware of his ever-abiding presence. In order to counteract this, the Blessed One supplied the following parable as the prescription against the disease of avidya:
“Suppose there were an excellent doctor. He is wise, knowledgeable, his prescriptions are effective, and he has skillfully cured a variety of diseases. This man has many sons, say ten, twenty, or even one hundred in number. For some reason, he has to go far off to another country and, while he is away, his children, whom he has left behind, drink some poison. The poison starts to take effect and they roll on the ground in agony.
“At this moment their father returns home. Some of the children who have taken the poison are delirious, while others are not. Seeing their father in the distance they all rejoice greatly and kneeling respectfully address him, saying:
It is good that you have returned safely. In our ignorance we took this poison by mistake. We entreat you to cure and save us, and restore us to life.
“Seeing his children suffering in this way, the father searches for beneficial herbs possessed of good color, aroma, and flavor, according to the medical manual. Blending them together after grinding and sifting, he gives the mixture to the children and says:
This is an extremely beneficial medicine with good color, aroma, and flavor. All of you take it! It will quickly remove your pain and you will never be afflicted again.
“Then the children who have not become delirious see this beneficial medicine of good color and aroma, and immediately take it. The affliction is completely removed and they are cured. The remaining children, those who are delirious, seeing their father coming to them, rejoice and ask him to seek a cure for their illness. Although he offers them the medicine, they will not take it. Why is this? The poison has so deeply penetrated them that they have become delirious. They do not think that the medicine with good color and aroma is good.
“The father thinks:
These children are to be pitied. The poison has completely warped their minds. Although they rejoiced upon seeing me and sought a cure they will not take this beneficial medicine. I will now cause them to take this medicine through skillful means.
“Then he says to them:
You should know that I am now old and feeble, close to death. I will now leave this beneficial medicine here. You should take it. Do not worry about not recovering.
“Having left these instructions he goes to another country and sends a messenger back home to tell them: ‘Your father has already died.’ Upon hearing that their father is dead, the children become very distressed and think:
If our father had lived he would have taken pity on us and protected us. But now, abandoning us, he has died in a distant country.
“They now consider themselves orphans having no one to rely upon. Through constant grieving their minds become clear, and only then do they realize that the medicine has fine color, aroma, and flavor. They immediately take it and the poison is completely driven out. The father, hearing that all his children have completely recovered, immediately returns and makes his appearance.”
The doctor in the parable is the Buddha, we are the children. The poisons are all of those unhealthy dark desires that are inflicted upon us by Mara, the evil one. The Healing Medicine is the Teaching of the Buddhadharma. The whole point of the parable is that if we choose to focus exclusively on the Nirmanakayic-person of the Buddha, we will fail to take the good medicine of the Buddhadharma. This is analogous to Jesus telling his disciples that if they focused only and exclusively on his person, then they would never receive the greater gift of the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the Gospel. Indeed, the hidden elixir of the Primordial-Bodhi, one nourished through the Buddha-gnosis of the Buddhadharma, is what is needed now in order to break the spell of a diseased consciousness that has been corrupted through worldly poisons. As was stated in the Lankavatarian Book of the Dead Series, “The elixir of Primordial Bodhi restores the innate knowledge and capacity of the original essence—going back to the fundamental, primordial-principle; returning to the root-source.”