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....
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.
This passage discusses the Profound Subtlety of the Doctrine’s Intent. The intent is the tendency, the direction the intent is taking, is profound and subtle, mysterious and deep. Therefore it says: This is its intent. Its intent is:
Tallying true substance with the region of ten thousand transformations. Tallying means meshing, linking up true substance, that is, the basic substance, the Buddha’s Dharma Body, with the regions of ten thousand transformations. This describes the beginning of the creation of the world by transformation, and stands for transformational creation in general, which is why it is called “the region of ten thousand transformations.” The meaning of region is place, area, or arena, and it meshes true substance, the original substance, which is just the the Dharma Body of the Buddha, the basic Dharma Nature.
What is the Dharma Nature like?
The Dharma Nature is like empty space.
It cannot be grasped. It cannot be seen.
The nature emptied is the Buddha.
It cannot be limited by thought.
If someone wants to know the Buddha’s state,
He should purify his mind like empty space.
If you are able to bring the nature and substance to empty stillness, then that is the Buddha. It cannot be limited by thought. That state is inconceivable, and it is the Buddha’s state. If someone wants to know the Buddha’s state, he should purify his mind like empty space. This was discussed before. It is like empty space. Whoever is able to be just like empty space is a Buddha. If you are unable to be like empty space, you still have to cultivate. The Buddha and empty space are just the same, and so it speaks of tallying true substance with the region of ten thousand transformations. Although it is empty space, it still has wonderful existence. Wonderful existence can still come forth from within true emptiness. Wonderful existence does not obstruct true emptiness, and true emptiness does not obstruct wonderful existence. Therefore it says:
Displaying virtues’ marks in the doorway to the multiply mysterious. To display them means to make them appear. ‘Virtues’ marks refers back to the previous ten thousand virtues, the characteristics of the Buddha’s meritorious virtues, which are displayed in the doorway of the multiply mysterious. The multiply mysterious is the mysterious within the mysterious, while the doorway is just the gateway to the multitude of wonders. There is no way to describe fully the marks of the Buddha’s meritorious virtues, as in Lao Tzu’s “the mysterious within the mysterious, the gateway to the multitude of wonders.” Concerning which there is a verse that says:
Thoughts like kshetras’ dust could be counted and known.
The water in great seas could be drunk to the end.
Empty space could be measured and the wind be tied:
The Buddha’s meritorious virtues could not be fully described.
It says: “Thoughts like ksetras’s dust could be counted and known.” “Kshetras’ dust” refers to the unknowably many lands in the Dharma Realm, which has seas of kshetras many as fine particles of dust. Thoughts even as many as there are dust motes in kshetras could be counted up and a total arrived at and..“The water in great seas could be drunk to the end.” There is no way to drink up all the water in the great seas. Nevertheless, suppose that it could be drunk completely, that in a single gulp one could drink up all the water in the five rivers and the four great seas to the end, having that huge a belly.
“Empty space could be measured.” Basically empty space is immeasurable, but suppose that the amount of empty space could be measured, “and the wind be tied.” If you tried to take a cord and tie up the wind, you would not succeed. However, imagine that you did have the spiritual penetrations to tie up the wind, to measure how much empty space there is, to drink dry all the water in great seas in a single gulp, and to count up all the thoughts of the mind many as there as dust motes in kshetras that you could calculate and know them all. None the less, even then you would not be able to state how many meritorious virtues the Buddha possesses, “The Buddha’s meritorious virtues could not be fully described.” Consequently, in “Displaying virtues’ mark in the doorway of the multiply mysterious, “multiply mysterious” means multiplied inexhaustibly, inexhaustibly multiplied. So it says “display virtues marks in the door way of the multiply mysterious.”
Functions are legion and prolific, yet it is always such. Its employments are incredibly many. They are “legion and prolific.” “Legion” means many, and “prolific” means flourishing. The uses to which it may be put are many, “yet it is always such”. It is always such as it is, still and unmoving. Wisdom everywhere examines yet it is forever still. Examines means contemplates wisdom everywhere contemplates, yet it is forever still. Forever still is constant stillness, which is just peaceful fruition, not necessary yours or mine or anyone else’s for in the fruition, it is extremely peaceful and still.