parable of the skilled physician and his sick children ［良医病子の譬］ ( rōi-byōshi-no-tatoe): Also, parable of the skilled physician. One of the seven parables in the Lotus Sutra. Shakyamuni relates it in the “Life Span” (sixteenth) chapter to explain that the Buddha uses his own death as a means to awaken in people a desire to seek his teaching. The parable describes a skilled physician who has a great many children. One day while he is away from home, the children mistakenly drink poison. Returning to find them writhing on the ground in agony, he quickly prepares for them a medicine that possesses excellent color, fragrance, and flavor. Some of the children take the medicine and are cured instantly, but others, their reasoning distorted by the working of the poison, refuse it despite their great agony. The father therefore devises an expedient to induce them to take the medicine. Telling them, “I will leave this good medicine here,” he sets off for another land. From there he dispatches a messenger, who informs the children that their father has died. Grief-stricken, they finally come to their senses, take the medicine their father has left them, and are immediately cured. Thereupon their father returns. Shakyamuni explains that the Buddha is like this physician: If he were always present in the world, people would begin to take him for granted and would no longer seek his teaching. Therefore, although the Buddha’s life is eternal, he uses his death as a means to arouse in people an aspiration for enlightenment.