The Wonderful Adornments of the Leaders of The Worlds

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by Beautiful, Jan 6, 2020.

  1. Beautiful

    Beautiful Active Member

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    Hi everyone :) I wanted to share this text from the Mahayana which I find particularly beautiful. For download as a scan (all +1000 pages of it) go here: https://gofile.io/?c=RMeYeK

    For the full text just click the link below and go on the right where it says FULL TEXT.

    https://archive.org/details/TheFlow...tamsakaSutraByThomasClearypdfdtyxxytd/page/n2


    From wikipedia: The sutra, among the longest Buddhist sutras, is a compilation of disparate texts on various topics such as the Bodhisattva path, the interpenetration of phenomena (dharmas), the visionary powers of meditation and the equality of things in emptiness.[1 The East Asian view of the text is that it expresses the universe as seen by a Buddha (the Dharmadhatu), who sees all phenomena as empty and thus infinitely interpenetrating, from the point of view of enlightenment.[15] This interpenetration is described in the Avatamsaka as the perception "that the fields full of assemblies, the beings and aeons which are as many as all the dust particles, are all present in every particle of dust."[17] Thus, a buddha's view of reality is also said to be "inconceivable; no sentient being can fathom it."


    "Endless action arises from the mind; from action arises the multifarious world. Having understood that the world's true nature is mind, you display bodies of your own in harmony with the world. Having realized that this world is like a dream, and that all Buddhas are like mere reflections, that all principles [dharma] are like an echo, you move unimpeded in the world" (Trans in Gomez, 1967: lxxxi)[18]


    Excerpt from the INTRODUCTION

    In this scripture the teachings of emptiness and existence
    are not applied singly — noumenon and phenomena, emptiness and exis-
    tence, interpenetrate, reflecting each other. All the books of the whole
    Flower Ornament Scripture interpenetrate, all the statements intertwine.
    All the sayings in the scripture point to the same thing — when one
    becomes all become, when one disintegrates all disintegrate. In the
    totality, because the essence is equal, the time is equal, and the practice
    is equal, every part of the scripture is equal, and so the explanations of
    the Teaching arc equal. Therefore attainment of buddhahood in the
    present means equality with all Buddhas of past, present, and future:
    consequently there is no past, present, or future — no time.




    BOOK ONE

    The Wonderful Adornments of the Leaders of the Worlds



    THUS HAVE I HEARD. At one time the Buddha was in the land of Magadha, in a state of purity, at the site of enlightenment, having just realized true awareness. The ground was solid and firm, made of diamond, adorned with exquisite jewel discs and myriad precious flowers, with pure clear crystals. The ocean of characteristics of the various colors appeared over an infinite extent. There were banners of precious stones, constantly emitting shining light and producing beautiful sounds. Nets of myriad gems and garlands of exquisitely scented flowers hung all around. The finest jewels appeared spontaneously, raining inexhaustible quantities of gems and beautiful flowers all over the earth. There were rows of jewel trees, their branches and foliage lustrous and luxuriant. By the Buddha’s spiritual power, he caused all the adornments of this enlightenment site to be reflected therein.

    The tree of enlightenment was tall and outstanding. Its trunk was diamond, its main boughs were lapis lazuli, its branches and twigs were of various precious elements. The leaves, spreading in all directions, provided shade, like clouds. The precious blossoms were of various colors, the branching twigs spread out their shadows. Also the fruits were jewels containing a blazing radiance. They were together with the flowers in great arrays. The entire circumference of the tree emanated light; within the light there rained precious stones, and within each gem were enlightening beings, in great hosts like clouds, simultaneously appearing.

    Also, by virtue of the awesome spiritual power of the Buddha, the tree of enlightenment constantly gave forth sublime sounds speaking various truths without end.

    The palace chamber in which the Buddha was situated was spacious and beautifully adorned. It extended throughout the ten directions. It was made of jewels of various colors and was decorated with all kinds of precious flowers. The various adornments emanated lights like clouds; the masses of their reflections from within the palace formed banners.

    A boundless host of enlightening beings, the congregation at the site of enlightenment, were all gathered there: by means of the ability to manifest the lights and inconceivable sounds of the Buddhas, they fashioned nets of the finest jewels, from which came forth all the realms of action of the spiritual powers of the Buddhas, and in which were reflected images of the abodes of all beings.


    Also, by virtue of the aid of the spiritual power of the Buddha, they embraced the entire cosmos in a single thought.

    Their lion seats were high, wide, and beautiful. The bases were made of jewels, their nets of lotus blossoms, their tableaus of pure, exquisite gemstones. They were adorned with various flowers of all colors. Their roofs, chambers, steps, and doors were adorned by the images of all things. The branches and fruits of jewel trees surrounded them, arrayed at intervals.

    Clouds of radiance of jewels reflected each other: the Buddhas of the ten directions conjured regal pearls, and the exquisite jewels in the topknots of all the enlightening beings all emanated light, which came and illuminated them.


    Furthermore, sustained by the spiritual power of all Buddhas, they expounded the vast perspective of the Enlightened Ones, their subtle tones extending afar, there being no place they did not reach.


    At that time, the Buddha, the World Honored One, in this setting, attained to supreme, correct awareness of all things. His knowledge entered into all times with complete equanimity; his body filled all worlds; his voice universally accorded with all lands in the ten directions. Like space, which contains all forms, he made no discrimination among all objects. And, as space extends everywhere, he entered all lands with equanimity. His body forever sat omnipresent in all sites of enlightenment.

    Among the host of enlightening beings, his awesome light shone clearly, like the sun emerging, illumining the world. The ocean of myriad virtues which he practiced in all times was thoroughly pure, and he constantly demonstrated the production of all the buddha-lands, their boundless forms and spheres of light extending throughout the entire cosmos, equally and impartially. He expounded all truths, like spreading great clouds.



    Each of his hairtips was able to contain all worlds without interference, in each manifesting immeasurable spiritual powers, teaching and civilizing all sentient beings. His body extended throughout the ten directions, yet without coming or going. His knowledge entered into all forms and realized the emptiness of things. All the miraculous displays of the Buddhas of past, present, and future, were all seen in his light, and all the adornments of inconceivable eons were revealed.

    There were great enlightening beings numerous as the atoms in ten buddha-worlds surrounding him. Their names were: Universally Good (Samantabhadra), Light of the Supreme Lamp of Universal Virtue, Lion Banner of Universal Light, Subtle Light of Flames of Universal Jewels, Banner of Oceans of Qualities of Universal Sounds, Realm of Enlightenment of Radiance of Universal Knowledge, Banner of Flowers of a Topknot of Universal Jewels, Pleasing Voice of Universal Awareness, Light of Inexhaustible Virtue of Universal Purity, Mark of Universal Light, Great Brilliance of the Light of the Moon Reflected in the Ocean, Undcfiled Treasury of Light of Oceans of Cloudlike Sounds, Born of Wisdom and Adorned with Virtue, Great Light of Sovereign Virtue, Brave Lotus Topknot, Sun Banner of Clouds of Universal Knowledge, Greatly Persevering with Indestructible Courage, Light Banner of Fragrant Flames, Deep Beautiful Sound of Great Enlightened Virtue, Born of Wisdom with the Light of Great Virtue. These and others were the leaders — there were as many as there are atoms in ten buddha-worlds.



    These enlightening beings had all in the past accumulated roots of goodness along with Vairocana Buddha, and were all born from the ocean of roots of goodness of the Buddha. They had already fulfilled the various means of transcendence, and their wisdom eye was thoroughly clear. They observed all times with impartiality. They were thoroughly purified in all states of concentration. Their eloquence was oceanic, extensive and inexhaustible. They possessed the qualities of buddhahood, were dignified and honorable. They knew the faculties of sentient beings, and taught them according to potential and necessity.

    They entered into the matrix of the cosmos, their knowledge was nondiscriminatory; they experienced the liberation of the Buddhas, exceedingly deep and immensely vast. They were able to enter into one stage, according to technical expediency, yet maintain the virtues of all stages, supported by the ocean of all vows, always accompanied by wisdom, throughout the future. They had thoroughly comprehended the rarely-attained, vast secret realm of all Buddhas. They were familiar with the equal teachings of all Buddhas. They were already treading the Buddhas’ ground of universal light. They entered the doors of boundless oceans of concentrations. They manifested bodies in all places and participated in worldly activities. Their memory power was enormous, and they assembled the ocean of all the teachings. With intelligence, eloquence, and skill they turned the wheel which never turns back. The vast ocean of virtuous qualities of all Buddhas entered entirely into their bodies. They went willingly to all the lands in which there were Buddhas. They had already made offerings to all Buddhas, over boundless cons, joyfully and tirelessly. In all places when the Buddhas attained enlightenment, they were always there, approaching them and associating with them, never giving up. Always, by means of the vows of universal goodness and wisdom, they caused the wisdom-body of all sentient beings to be fulfilled. They had perfected innumerable such virtues.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
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  2. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Famous scripture. Thanks for the scan!

    I always have a bit of difficulty getting into the mood. If I try to imagine the scenery, it is like a desert of jewels...

    The first three pages set the scene and mood, right? Or is there something I missed?

    We could do a more systematic reading and discussion of this text here. It would be a longer-term commitment. Interested?
     
  3. Beautiful

    Beautiful Active Member

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    You are very welcome, Cino ^_^ Unfortunatley with scans we can not copy/paste, so I have posted the text format in the original post.

    I would love to systematically read it with you ! We can start wherever you want n_n for me something extremley striking is how the writer decided to name the gods

    "There were great enlightening beings numerous as the atoms in ten buddha-worlds surrounding him. Their names were: Universally Good, Light of the Supreme Lamp of Universal Virtue, Lion Banner of Universal Light, Subtle Light of Flames of Universal Jewels, Banner of Oceans of Qualities of Universal Sounds, Realm of Enlightenment of Radiance of Universal Knowledge,


    I find the meaning its trying to express extremley acurate. Its very much like Phenomenology, Hegel and Heidegger and company, where the point of philosophy is to pierce into the essence of things. To name these enlightened beings as "Universally Good" or "Realm of Enlightenment of Radiance of Universal Knowledge" or "Greatly Persevering with Indestructible Courage" or "Pleasing Voice of Universal Awareness" or "Light of Inexhaustible Virtue of Universal Purity," is very adjacent to my own experiences. And this is why I love these texts. Most of the times I totally see whats trying to be expressed and I cant believe they managed to express it. I think its a very impressive literary technique, to say the least. As far as mysticism and alchemy and hermeticism goes, I would very much use their ideas so as to epistemologically explain how words are a form of magic, and how that magic can be seen in scriptures such as this. But we'll leave that for another day :) I want to hear your thoughts.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
  4. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Yeah, highly idealist in the Hegelian sense. I think it is a bit extreme, after all, neurological change is highly disruptive to the pure dharma realm phenomenology - if you've ever tried to meditate when very tired or drunk, you'll know what I mean-, so I think it's no use ignoring the materialist side of things. But then, maybe the monks who wrote this were really good at keeping the precepts and were never drunk or on drugs, so they were not confronted with this fact of life as much. Just speculating.

    That list of names reminded me a lot of an interesting Tibetan Buddhist text, the Apology and Amendment to the Realm of Nagas, which contains a similar list of names of Naga Kings, like "Victorious Skull", or "Thorn Wing", and other lists of names in other scripture, like the Biblical genealogies, or the list of dwarfs in the Norse Eddas... We humans like our spirits neatly listed and named, gives us a sense of being on top of things and in control, I speculate. Good stuff!

    A couple of paragraphs before the list of Bodhisattvas, there is a passage that reads almost like a meditation manual, which I enjoyed a lot:

    ... Like space, which contains all forms, he made no discrimination among all objects. And, as space extends everywhere, he entered all lands with equanimity. His body forever sat omnipresent in all sites of enlightenment. ... The ocean of myriad virtues which he practiced in all times was thoroughly pure...

    So the thoroughly pure, myriad virtues he practiced in all times, that certainly helps with keeping the entheogens off synapses and facilitates a purely idealist world view.

    This passage, the "as space ... entered all lands", also sets the stage for the teachings on interpenetration which according to Wikipedia are a major topic of the sutra.

    Nice start to this project! I don't think it's realistic to expect we'll do all 1465 pages here, but right now, it's highly enjoyable. Next 3 pages, 58-60 now?
     
  5. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    There's an alternate translation by the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas: http://www.cttbusa.org/avatamsaka/avatamsaka_contents.asp Might help with some of the technical terms:

    Cleary: "enlightening beings" / 10kBuddhas: "Bodhisattvas"

    Or introducing the name list: "great enlightening beings" / "bodhisattvas mahasattvas"

    In case someone reading along was wondering what an "enlightening being" was - or, what a bodhisattva was.
     
  6. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I'll be over here on the pillows...
     
  7. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    They better be jewel-encrusted and supported by vajras in all 24 corners ;)
     
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  8. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Chugging along... pp. 58-60.

    The next section lists "Thunderbolt-bearing" beings (thunderbolt=vajra), with cool names. I like "Jewel Topknot of Lotus Light", reminded me a lot of some neighbors here in the hip part of town :) "They had reached the other shore" - at least in Theravada, which I'm most familiar with, this is a reference to Nirvana. So, highly enlightened Thunderbolt-toting beings.

    A section on "multiple-body spirits". Is this a reference to one of the magical attainments, being able to appear in many places at once? Bollywood superhero movies sometimes use this to hilarious effect... Anyway, again one of them is called "Flower Topknot Adornment". Definitely the hipster contingent.

    Lists of Footstep-Following spirits, Sanctuary Spirits, City Spirits, Earth, Mountain, Forest, Herb, Crop, River, Ocean, Water, Fire, Wind, Space, and Direction Spirits, all very diligent practitioners, and each group with a superpower of their own. Go to the wind spirits to dispel a mentality of conceit, or to the fire spirits to make irritations go away, for example. Useful!

    Again, this reminded me of certain meditation manuals. The practice of contemplating the elements one by one, the parts of the body, qualities of the Buddha or other enlightened beings - all time-honored hands-on techniques.

    Next up: pp.61-3
     
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  9. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    The list continues with:
    • Day spirits (certain faith in the sublime truth)
    • Titan kings (energetically conquer pride)
    • Kinnara kings (contemplate all things, blissfully roaming mind)
    • Garuda kings (expedient means to liberate all beings) - one of them is called "Unbreakable Jewel Topknot", which is a cool name for a giant bird spirit - a feathery topknot!
    • Mahoraga kings (skill in method to tear apart nets of ignorance)
    • Yaksha Kings (guard and protect all living beings)
    • Kumbanda Kings (great scholars and also light sources)
    • Gandharva Kings (deep faith and appreciation of the teaching) - aren't these the musical jesters of the various heavens? A celestial circus troupe?
    • Moo Deities (light of the mind-jewel)
    • Sun Deities (benefit living beings)
    • Kings of the 33 heavens (benefit living beings and increase their root of goodness) - Indra and his hipster pal "Kind Eyes Jewel Topknot" among others, these are the "classic" gods with parallels in the Greek and Roman pantheons, for example
    • Kings of the Suyama Heavens (bring forth great works in the world)
    • Kings of the Tushita Heavens (keep in minds names and epithets of the Buddha) - these heavens are where Bodhisattvas are born before their final birth as Buddhas. Must be a serene place. "Ocean Bliss Topknot" is there, I guess the Craft Ginger Ale must be sublime.
    • Kings of the heavens of enjoyment of emanations (tame living beings and help with liberation)
    • Kings of the heavens of free enjoyment of others' emanations (really knowledgeable about independent skill in means). Um, yeah, enjoyment of others' emanations. I'll have to remember that one.
    • Kings of the great Brahma Heavens (great compassion).
    • Kings of the heavens in which light is used for sound (great peace, tranquility, joy, bliss) - that list of qualities reminds me a bit of the four Jhanas, the meditative states taught in the Pali scriptures.
    • Kings of the heavens of universal purity (work to benefit the world)
    • Kings of the heavens of vast results (peacefully living in a palace of tranquility)
    • Kings of the heavens of great freedom (equanimity and impartiality)
    We're through with the lists of beings in this assembly, continuing with pp.64-6 - anyone want to join the fun? @Beautiful?
     
  10. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Trying to close jaw...
     
  11. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    I picture you yawning. @Beautiful is not participating.

    But I'm having fun. If nobody tells me to stop, I'll continue for the time being.

    So, p64 starts off with a passage about Vairocana Buddha (there used to be a giant statue of him in Bamiyan valley in Afghanistan, if I am not mistaken) who in previous lifetimes had helped all these assembled beings in some way or other, during his stint as a Bodhisattva.

    Celestial King "Ocean of Subtle Flames" then bursts into verse in praise of the Buddha.

    The final passage in today's reading details the exact dharma doors some of the enlightened beings took, such as the "door of liberation of manifesting inconceivable Buddha-lands in a single pore without hindrance". (flashback to the movie "The Princess Bride", where Inigo Montoya utters his immortal one-liner about the term "inconceivable").

    pp67-69 next time. Will celestial king "Banner of the Delightful Light of Truth" be able to fathom the inconceivable realm of the Buddhas? Tune in learn how this continues...
     
  12. Truthseeker9

    Truthseeker9 Active Member

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    Thanks for that scripture, Beautiful. It was beautiful, though at times hard to understand.
     
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  13. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    More like intrigued, some valued insight to the process...
     
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  14. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    My notes on pp67-9:

    More celestial kings utter their wisdom in verse. "Banner of the Delightful Light of Truth" expounds how the Buddha will dispense wisdom to fathom the inconceivable, as any other being has no chance of doing it on their own.

    Celestial King "Repute of Pure Wisdom" also utters a long passage in verse, a mini-summary of Buddhist doctrine.

    These kinds of listings, first of celestial kings, then of other entities, each with the door to liberation which they found, and occasional longer teaching verses, goes on until the end of the chapter, on p149. Not sure I will continue with this chapter. The Dharma summaries in the verses uttered by the beings are straightforward.

    The chapter's title "The Wonderful Adornment of the Leaders of the Worlds", describes the contents very well - I don't think any rulers of any worlds are left out :)

    I'm looking forward to exploring the chapters on the "Ten Bhumis" - the mystical "map" of the Bodhisattva Path. Maybe similar to the "Seven Valleys" and the "Four Valleys", @Truthseeker9 ? According to Wikipedia, it is in Chapter 26. Would you be interested in skipping forward and going through it, and you could give your thoughts on any Baha'i correspondences?
     
  15. marceltr

    marceltr Member

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    That seems interesting. Thank you for share it.
     
  16. Beautiful

    Beautiful Active Member

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    I don't remember that one-liner :O that was a pretty nice Robe Reiner movie.

    hahaha....where did you get that from? :) Can you point me to where you learned about this marvelous celestial circus troupe?

    Indeed, its a great title. There is something to be said about what is found in other realms; wonderful adornments, jewels, and the making of the greatest imaginable offerings and gifts upon entering. All this and much more is the content of this chapter--and of much of the scriptures.

    I think you've done a great job of nailing down all this vastly complex stuff and I appreciate this reading filtered through your brain :) you add a degree of clarity to what is otherwise very obscure, very hard to understand.
     
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  17. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." (in reference to the Sicilian saying "inconceivable" repeatedly)

    [​IMG]

    That movie is wonderful on so many levels. The obvious joy of the cast in making it, the story in and of itself is not too bad, and there are so many words of wisdom sprinkled throughout...

    Being nature spirits, they are stock in many Indian myths. And I personally encountered them in meditation, they like to appear in the hypnagogic state, right before one dozes off, making mischief... (at least, that's one of the funnier ways to relate playfully to these experiences, and how I learned about them initially, from my teacher at the time).

    Wikipedia has a nice summary, which also details the different roles they play in the different traditions.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gandharva

    Thank you!

    Would you be interested in discussing the more technical material of the ten bhumis, as mentioned above? This being Mahayana scripture, I doubt it would be as joylessly dry as a Theravada text.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
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  18. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Not a participant, but deffo a follower ... I'd be interested ...
     
  19. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    This lurker still treading water, and gasping for air. Keep going, I'll catch up.
     

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