The Avatamsaka Sutra

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by Tariki, Mar 26, 2007.

  1. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

    Sep 5, 2003
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    I'm currently reading the Avatamsaka Sutra (also known as the Flower Ornament Scripture) It is a vast text, running to over 1500 pages. D T Suzuki speaks of it as follows........

    (As) the consummation of Buddhist thought, Buddhist sentiment, and Buddhist not only deeply speculative minds find satisfaction, but humble spirits and heavily oppressed hearts too, will have their burdens lightened...........abstract truths are so concretely, so symbolically represented here that one will finally come to the realization of the truth that even in a particle of dust the whole universe is seen reflected.....

    As a "humble spirit" myself....:) .......I do indeed find many burdens lightened by reading and reflecting upon the words of this scripture. I relate it to the guidance of oya-sama, a Japanese word used to embrace the understanding of Amida, the Buddha of Infinite Compassion. "Oya-sama"........has no equivalent in English. It means either a father or a mother and also both of them as has no gender. It is neither 'he' nor 'she'......It is the one whose heart is wholly occupied with looking after its own children's welfare. It is probably more motherly than fatherly in that it is not the mighty master or head of a family who reproves, chastens and punishes, but all-embracing love. (Kenryo Kanamatsu, from his book "Naturalness")

    Getting back to the Avatamsaka Scripture, its opening chapter, of over 100 pages, extols the virtues, the ways and means, of how enlightenment has manifested itself to infinite numbers of Bodhisattva's. For a Pure Land Buddhist like myself, it speaks of the infinite ways that Amida comes to the human heart, as oya-sama. Drawn virtually at random, here is a small excerpt from the opening chapter.....

    The Buddha's ocean of unexcelled virtues
    Manifests a lamp which illumines the world:
    Saving and protecting all sentient beings,
    He gives them all peace, not leaving out one.

    The Buddha's virtues are boundless -
    No beings hear of them in vain -
    He causes them to be free from suffering and always happy:

    The powers of the Buddha are all complete -
    His array of virtues appears in the world
    And all sentient beings are harmonized.

    The Buddha cultivated an ocean of compassion,
    His heart always as broad as the whole world;
    Therefore his spiritual powers are boundless.

    Buddha always appears throughout the world;
    None of his methods are employed in vain,
    Clearing away beings' delusions and torments.

    Buddha is the great ocean of knowledge in the world,
    Emanating pure light which reaches everywhere,
    Whence is born all great faith and resolution.

    Buddha, observing the world, conceives kind compassion,
    Appearing in order to aid sentient beings,
    Showing them the supreme way of peace and joy.

    Buddha, in all worlds,
    Brings freedom from sorrow, creating great joy;
    All potentials and aspirations he purifies.

    The Buddha appears in the world,
    Observes the inclinations of all beings,
    And matures them by various means....

    As the translator, Thomas Cleary, explains in the appendix, the "miracles of awareness and existence are 'miracles' of Buddha. They are constantly edifying in the sense that all things are always teaching. The miraculous transformation performed by the Buddha for the enlightenment of all is, from this perspective, the shifting of the mental outlook to experiencing everything as a learning situation"
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  2. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

    Jul 10, 2003
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    Namaste Tariki,

    thank you for the wonderful post and a sharing of the Sutra!

    i enjoy Cleary's translations quite a bit.


  3. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

    Sep 5, 2003
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    I think we owe a great debt of gratitude to those like Thomas Cleary and Bhikkhu Bodhi who must devote so much time to the translation of various Buddhist texts (Mahayana and Theravada) so that the likes of you and I are able to access them - not knowing the original lingo! (Well, possibly you do!) And to the early pioneers.......Rhys Davies, I.B. Horner, Edward Conze etc etc.

  4. Nicholas Weeks

    Nicholas Weeks Bodhicitta

    Jul 21, 2010
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    Known as the King of all Sutras, the Avatamsaka or HuaYan in Chinese is the only Mahayana Sutra one needs. Complete translations into English (other than Cleary) are in progress. Mainly by BTTS started by late Master Hsuan Hua (d. 1995) and BDK publishers, where the lead translator is Bhikshu Heng Shou. BTTS is very slow and BDK is faster but it still may be two more years or so until they publish.

    A traditional commentary was given by Master Hua over many years. This site shows the chapters with his comments that have been put online as of May 2020:

    Here the chapters of the root text only that are available:

    The print version in several volumes, with Master Hua's comments (in hardback) is available as Flower Adornment Sutra.
    Last edited: May 10, 2020

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