Former Affairs of the Bodhisattva Medicine King
"Former Affairs of the Bodhisattva Medicine King" chapter
薬王菩薩本事品 (Jpn Yakuo-bosatsu-honji-hon )
Abbreviated as the "Medicine King" chapter. The twenty-third chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
Following the Ceremony in the Air, the assembly returns to Eagle Peak and this chapter begins.
It opens with Bodhisattva Constellation King Flower imploring Shakyamuni Buddha to talk about the past practices of Bodhisattva Medicine King.
In reply, the Buddha explains that there was once a bodhisattva named Gladly Seen by All Living Beings who heard the Lotus Sutra from the Buddha Sun Moon Pure Bright Virtue.
In gratitude, he burned his body as an offering to the Buddha and the Lotus Sutra for twelve hundred years.
Born again in the land of the Buddha Sun Moon Pure Bright Virtue, he burned his arms as a further offering for seventy-two thousand years.
After relating this story, Shakyamuni Buddha sets forth ten similes and twelve analogies illustrating the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra and the benefit of faith in the sutra.
Toward the end of the chapter, he urges propagation of the sutra in the future.
This section includes the passage: "After I have passed into extinction, in the last five-hundred-year period you must spread it abroad widely throughout Jambudvipa and never allow it to be cut off."
According to Chang-an's Biography of the Great Teacher T'ient'ai ;Chihche of the Sui Dynasty, T'ient'ai (538-597) obtained a great awakening through the "Medicine King" chapter after practicing for fourteen days the recitation of and meditation on the Lotus Sutra he had learned from his teacher, ;Nan-yüeh.