Flower Adornment Sutra Preface

With Commentary By The Venerable Master Hua

A.D. 700 | 42,486 words

The Flower Adornment Sutra (Avataṃsaka Sūtra) is one of the most influential Mahayana sutras of East Asian Buddhism. The Avataṃsaka Sūtra describes a cosmos of infinite realms upon realms, mutually containing one another. The Avataṃsaka Sūtra was written in stages, beginning from at least 500 years after the death of the Buddha....

Text of Preface to The Flower Adornment Sutra

Going and returning with no border,
Movement and stillness have one source;
Embracing multitudes of wonders, more remains;
Overstepping words and thought by far:
This can only be the Dharma Realm.

Opening and disclosing the mysterious and subtle,
Understanding and expanding the mind and its states;
Exhausting the principle and fathoming the nature,
Penetrating the result which includes the cause;
Deep and wide and interfused,
Vast and great and totally complete,
Surely this must be:
The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra!

Therefore, our World Honored One,
The ten bodies just fulfilled,
Proper Enlightenment first perfected,
Rides vows and conduct all-pervasive,
Unites with empty space in substance and nature,
Is wealthy with ten thousand virtues,
And cleansed without the finest dust.

The pellucid waves of his deep, sea-like wisdom are empty,
yet hold myriad reflections.
The full moon of his glistening, space-like nature
at once scatters in one hundred streams.
Without rising from beneath the King of Trees,
he extends to seven places in the Dharma Realm.

Unhindered by the bounds of ‘afterwards,’
He pervades the nine assemblies as he first succeeds.
Exhausting vast expanses of esoteric doctrine,
he aids the hard-to-conceive-of,
oceans-wide assembly.

The perfect sound continually scatters through ten kshetras,
yet suddenly is everywhere.
Host and attendants keep repeating to the limits
of the ten directions, yet in unison proclaim.

Although emptiness is emptied and the traces are cut off, still the sky of meanings’ stars glitter and blaze.
Although stillness is deepened so that words are lost, yet the sea of teachings’ waves are oceanic in extent.

As for the thousand doors which in secret flow, of multitudes of texts it forms the copious source.
The ten thousand virtues commingle and return, while companies of Sutras comprise its retinue.

This is its intent:
Tallying true substance with the region of ten thousand transformations;
Displaying virtues’ marks in the doorway to the multiply profound.
Functions are legion and prolific, yet it is always such;
Wisdom everywhere examines, yet it is forever still.

Truth and falseness interlink and mingle:
Within the ordinary mind one sees the Buddha mind.
Specifics and principle are together cultivated:
On relies on basic wisdom to seek the Buddha’s wisdom.

Principle changes according to specifics,
so one and many conditionally arise without bounds.
Specifics interfuse with principle,
so a thousand distinctions combine without obstruction.

Therefore he obtains:
Ten bodies in succession, yet mutually operative,
Six positions not disordered, yet reciprocally contained.
And so:
The vast and great can enter where there is no place,
Dust-motes and hairs envelope with nothing left outside;
Clearly arrayed, like mustard seeds within a jar;
Completely simultaneous, like drops of water in the sea:
One and many unobstructed,
like a thousand lamps in empty space;
Hidden and revealed together realized,
like the crescent moon in an autumn sky;
Layer on layer lights interlace,
like the Lord’s net of trailing pearls;
Thought after thought makes perfect fusion,
like an evening dream’s passing time.
Dharma doors pile up in layers,
like clouds billowing in space;
Myriad practices unfurl profusely,
like flowers blooming on brocade.

Too high is it for gazing,
So Bodhisattvas of accumulated practice are dried-up gills and scales before the dragon’s gate;
Too deep to be surveyed, so Sound Hearers of superior virtue stop seeing and hearing in the fine assembly.

Seeing and hearing act as seeds:
The eight difficulties leap to the echelons of the Ten Grounds.
Understanding and practicing in one’s person:
One life perfects the fruit of distant kalpas.

The Lion Sprints:
The Ocean-Wide Assembly suddenly certifies in the Grove.
The Elephant King turns ‘round:
Six thousand realize the Way as the words fall.

Dawn of understanding at the Chaitya in the east:
Fulfillment of wisdom does not differ from first thought.
Sojourning in positions while seeking in the South:
Perfected causes do not exceed a hair-pore.

Opening Fine Dust-motes’ Sutra scrolls:
Then in every thought the fruit is won.
Exhausting sentient beings’ vow doors:
then in every dust-mote practice is fulfilled.

It may truly be called:
Wonderful speech of constant duration,
Vast model of universal scope,
Ultimate expression congruent with the nature.
Main track of the single vehicle.

To examine its profound purport,
And then look into other Sutras:
It is like a sunrise glorious in the sky
Dimming multitudes of luminaries’ splendor;
Like Sumeru which spreads across the seas
Lowering retinues of peaks’ high altitudes.

Hence the Bodhisattva sought the secret in the Dragon’s Palace.
Great Worthies had it published in the Eastern expanse.
Considering that in the Proper Dharma Age
Its pure glory still remained concealed,
How fortunate that in semblance and final times
This profound teaching is happened upon!
Moreover, when one meets a sagely ruler,
obtaining it on Vulture Mountain,
Exhaustively reflecting on its esoteric meaning,
How can one but jump for joy?

The title reads: the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra.
That is the general name for inexhaustible Sutras.
The Wondrous Adornments of World Rulers,
Chapter Number One,
is a specific heading for one of many sections.

Great is extensive union with no boundaries
Means are proper Dharmas personally maintained.
Expansive says it fits the substance totality.
Buddha is awakened to this mysterious wonder.

Flower stands for virtues from the myriad conducts.
Adornment decorative Dharmas on the accomplished person.
Sutra is the flow without end of a bubbling spring,
Stringing deep crystalizations of wonderful meanings,
Attracting the boundless, sea-wide assembly,
It acts for late and ancient as a constant rule.

The Buddha and all kings are called the World Rulers.
Dharma doors dependent and proper are both styled Wonderful Adornments.
In dividing meaning-units and assigning chapter names,
What caps the other sections is called number one.

This Sutra has thirty-nine chapters,
This chapter comes first.
Therefore it is called the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra,
the World Rulers’ Wondrous Adornments of the World Rulers, Chapter Number One.

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