Avatamsaka Sutra

the way of great Compassion
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Nicholas
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Re: Avatamsaka Sutra

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From Master Hua's commentary on chapter 28:
Chapter Twenty-eight: Ten Spiritual Powers. This chapter is the twenty-eighth chapter in the Flower Adornment Sutra, which [in Chinese] has eighty-one fascicles. This chapter discusses the ten spiritual powers that Bodhisattvas possess. If Bodhisattvas have these special abilities, Buddhas obviously possess them in full as well. Bodhisattvas acquired these ten spiritual powers through spiritual practice. If Bodhisattvas are capable of such achievements, all sentient beings who bring forth the bodhi resolve, walk the Bodhisattva Path, and cultivate Bodhisattvas’ practices, will obtain these ten spiritual powers. As long as you walk the Bodhisattva Path, you will acquire these ten spiritual powers without having to seek for them. As long as you continue to practice, you will realize such a feat.

In this Dharma-ending Age, many Great Sages of the Dharma Body and Bodhisattvas in various manifestations appear in the world to remind us to avoid wrong knowledge and views and maintain correct knowledge and views. Bodhisattvas cultivate the Bodhisattva practices and acquire these ten kinds of spiritual powers.

Should Bodhisattvas avoid revealing their spiritual powers? No. If Bodhisattvas have spiritual powers yet refuse to use them, then what would be the point of having such powers? It would be like a person who is unaware that he has a pearl hidden in his clothes. Consequently, he often goes hungry, unclothed, and homeless. Is he not a pauper? Is this person dissimilar from a pauper if he does not know how to use his precious gem? Bodhisattvas with spiritual powers are analogous to the fellow with the pearl. If people do not have such abilities, they can’t use them even if they wish to. If they have such capabilities, they may readily use them.

Many ordinary people who are ignorant, especially those masquerading as Buddhists, or Buddhists who only understand a fraction of the Buddhadharma, never want to investigate the truth. These individuals only know to say whatever everyone else says, rather than to probe the principle behind others’ words. Hence, people take small things and blow them out of the proportion. They claim that people should not possess spiritual powers during the Dharma-ending Age. Such words are just the seeds for the hells. If they even knew as little as one atom’s worth of Buddhism, one tiny part of Buddhism, they would avoid carelessly judging and criticizing Buddhism. Buddhism explains truths rather than duplicitous principles, deceptive principles, hypocritical principles of self-deceit, or principles that mislead everyone including oneself. Buddhism plumbs the depths of truth. One investigates until the truth manifests.

The eight divisions of gods and dragons will certainly protect and support truth wherever it exists. Wherever truth exists, the Buddhas of the ten directions will certainly protect and support it. Wherever truth exists, the Bodhisattvas of the ten directions will certainly protect and support it. Thus, as long as you understand the truth, you’re a true Buddhist. If you fail to understand the truth and are befuddled and you parrot whatever anyone claims, then you are quite likely to mislead yourself and others.
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: Avatamsaka Sutra

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Not surprisingly, in the 2000 or so years since this Sutra appeared in China many great Sages & Bodhisattvas have cultivated based on it. One Great One was the following:
Li Tongxuan (635–730), said of noble descent, was a legendary
lay Buddhist. Though without definite teachers, he was learned in
Confucian and Buddhist doctrines. In 719, Li went to stay in the
household of a generous man called Gao Shannu. Every day for three
years, he ate ten jujubes and a disk of bread made from wheat flour and cypress
leaves. Later, on his way to Guangai village, he encountered a tiger. He asked
the tiger to find a place for him to write a treatise on the 80-fascicle
Chinese version of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra. He put on the tiger’s
back his satchel, in which he kept the texts, and followed it to a cave. Then
the tiger crouched before it. This cave was in the Fang Mountain, in
Shouyang County, Shanxi Province.

On the night of his arrival, a storm struck near the cave and uprooted an
old pine tree. Its ground became a deep pond filled with clear water. People
called this pond the elder’s spring. Every morning, two maidens dressed in
white appeared. They brought him a good meal, water, and burning incense,
and provided him with paper and brush. Never speaking a word, they vanished
after he had completed his treatise. People thought that they were
transformations of two white cranes.
Here is a sample from Li Tongxuan's Guide to the final chapter of the Sutra:
The inherent baselessness of physical and mental objects is called reality. The
interpenetration of one and many, the disappearance of the boundaries of the real
and artificial, of affirmation and negation, is called the realm.
Also, the realm that is purely concomitant with knowledge and not with emotional
perceptions is called the realm of reality.
Furthermore, actually to realize that the seeds of unenlightened consciousness
are purely functions of knowledge and are not subsumed by delusion is the sphere
of independent knowledge and is called the realm of reality.
What is more, since the substance of knowledge has no abode and is all-pervasive,
one sees the absolute and the mundane to be totally inconceivable. In
the infinite realm where all beings and objects reflect one another, buddha-lands
are multiplied and remultiplied, sages and ordinary people are the same whole, and
the forms of objects interpenetrate. This is called the realm of reality.
And when one subtle sound pervades the universe, a single hair measures infinity,
views of great and small disappear, others and self are the same body, conditioned
consciousness and feelings are gone, and knowledge pervades without obstruction,
this is called entry into the realm of reality.
This is the eternal goal of all buddhas of all times, without beginning or end. The
progressive practices of the preceding stages all have this as their substance. At
this point practice is complete; allowing knowledge to act, it returns to its original
state—fundamentally there is no change.
As to the setting of this scripture, it takes place in the human world to illustrate
that the garden of the human world is the very garden of the reality realm, that the
nature of living beings is the nature of the reality realm, and that the world of living
beings is the world of true awakening.
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: Avatamsaka Sutra

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More from Li Tongxuan's Guide:
So once Sudhana had awakened [bodhicitta] the thought of enlightenment, he asked
Manjushri how to learn to act as an enlightening being and practice the path of
enlightening beings—he asked no more about the thought of enlightenment.
Because the methods of progress expounded in the previous assemblies of the
Avatamsaka Sutra had not yet been realized by an ordinary human being, in the
Gandavyuha [chapter] Manjushri wants to make Sudhana a signpost for later generations of
seekers.
Also, the names of the teachers and their abodes—people holy and ordinary,
spirits, royalty, mendicants, lay people, non-Buddhists, humans, celestials, males and
females—represent certain principles.
Furthermore, the South, the direction of Sudhana’s pilgrimage, is used to stand
for truth, clarity, and openness. When you arrive at open, clear, true knowledge
without subjectivity, then everywhere is the South.
Therefore Manjushri sent Sudhana south to call on spiritual friends and
benefactors, each of whom sends him onwards that he may progress and not
dawdle over past learning. This is why the friends always praise the virtues of those
Sudhana has yet to meet.
In the realm of principle, Manjushri stands for knowledge of the fundamental.
Samantabhadra stands for knowledge of differentiation, and Maitreya stands for
the uncreate realization within Manjushri and Samantabhadra.
These three principles are all in the fifty spiritual friends—representing the five
ranks of enlightenment—that Sudhana meets on his pilgrimage, so there are fifty-three
teachers.
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: Avatamsaka Sutra

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From chapter 12, Foremost Worthy - this Bodhisattva says:
If there be a bodhisattva who has brought forth the initial resolve
vowing to strive for realization of the bodhi of a buddha,
his merit is boundless,
such as cannot be weighed and such as is incomparable.

How much the more so when, for countless and boundless kalpas,
one cultivates the qualities of the grounds and perfections.
Even if all tathāgatas of the ten directions
jointly praised this, they could never reach the end of it.

I shall now describe but a small portion within
such boundlessly great merit as this.
It is comparable to the tracks left in the sky by a bird
and also like a single dust mote compared to the great earth.

When the bodhisattva generates the will to seek bodhi,
this is not such as is without causes and without conditions.
Developing pure faith in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha—
It is on account of this that one initiates such vast resolve.

One does not seek the five desires, the position of a king,
wealth, personal pleasure, or great fame.
It is solely in order to forever extinguish beings’ sufferings
and benefit those in the world that one generates the resolve.

Constantly wishing to benefit beings and make them happy,
one adorns the lands, makes offerings to the Buddhas,
takes on and upholds right Dharma, and cultivates all wisdom.
It is to achieve realization of bodhi that one generates the resolve.

With an ever pure deep mind of faith and understanding,
one reverently honors and esteems all buddhas
while also doing so with the Dharma and the Sangha.
As an ultimately sincere offering, one generates the resolve.

It is due to profound faith in the Buddha and Buddha’s Dharma
as well as to faith in the path practiced by the sons of the Buddha
and faith in the unsurpassable great bodhi.
On account of this, the bodhisattva generates the initial resolve.

Faith is the source of the Path and the mother of merit.
It brings about the growth and nourishment of all good dharmas,
cuts away the net of doubts, causes escape from the river of passion,
and opens forth and displays the unsurpassed path to nirvāṇa.
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: Avatamsaka Sutra

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Rulu has an excellent survey of the Huayan corpus, lineage & teachings:

http://www.sutrasmantras.info/introbook5.html

Also has hot links to Glossary.
In thisSūtra of the Garland of a Bodhisattva’s Primary Karmas the Buddha concisely expounds the six stages of the Bodhisattva Way. Therefore, this Garland Sūtra can be regarded as a summary of the Bodhisattva Way elaborated in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra.

Although both the Garland Sūtra and the Buddha Adornment Sūtra present the One Vehicle to Buddhahood, the former does not reveal the endless dependent arising of dharmas in the hindrance-free dharma realm, as does the latter. Therefore, in text 1870, Dharma Master Zhiyan (智儼, 602–68), the second patriarch of the Huayan School, determines that the One Vehicle presented in the Garland Sūtra is a unifying teaching for riders of the Three Vehicles, while the One Vehicle presented in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra is a special teaching for the most advanced Bodhisattvas.

A Bodhisattva on his way to Buddhahood must accomplish four things: (1) faith in the Three Jewels, (2) understanding of the Dharma, (3) training according to the teachings, and (4) verification of the truth as taught by the Buddha. Therefore, faith is the beginning of his spiritual journey to Buddhahood, and sustains him throughout his journey. In the Garland Sūtra, fascicle 1, the Buddha says, “Before reaching this level [the first level of abiding], a Bodhisattva must cultivate the ten faithful minds: (1) faith, (2) mindfulness, (3) energetic progress, (4) wisdom, (5) meditative concentration, (6) observance of precepts, (7) transference of merit, (8) protecting the mind, (9) relinquishment [almsgiving], and (10) making pure vows. After cultivating these ten minds for one, two, or three kalpas, he can then enter the first level of abiding” (Rulu 2013, 41).

However, the Buddha Adornment Sūtra does not mention these ten faithful minds. In the second assembly in the Universal Radiance Hall, prompted by Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva, Foremost Worthiness Bodhisattva expounds the importance of faith. He says, “Faith is the beginning of the bodhi path and the mother of merits, / And nurtures all good dharmas. / It destroys the web of doubts, ends the stream of love of being, / And indicates the unexcelled path to nirvāṇa. /”
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: Avatamsaka Sutra

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Here is that summarizing Garland Sutra of the larger & more profound Avatamsaka Sutra:

http://www.sutrasmantras.info/sutra34a.html
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: Avatamsaka Sutra

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All of those bodhisattvas employed all different sorts of understandings, all different sorts of paths, all different sorts of gateways, all different sorts of means of entry, all different sorts of import, all different sorts of compliance, all different sorts of wisdom, all different sorts of provisions essential to the path, all different sorts of expedient means, and all different sorts of samādhis to enter the skillful means gateways associated with the Buddha’s sea of spiritual abilities as numerous as the fine dust motes in ten ineffably great numbers of Buddha realms.
From chapter 39.
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: Avatamsaka Sutra

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The new edition of the Ten Vows of Samantabhadra chapter is now online:

http://www.cttbusa.org/avatamsaka/avatamsaka40new.html
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: Avatamsaka Sutra

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Sea Cloud Bhikshu said, "Good Man, if living beings have not planted good roots, they cannot bring forth the resolve for [full buddhahood] anuttarasamyaksambodhi. One must obtain the light of good roots of the door to universality, become replete with the samadhi wisdom-light of the true path, give rise to various vast and great seas of blessings, and nurture pristine and pure dharmas without laziness or resting. One must serve good knowing advisors without becoming tired or satiated. One must disregard one's body and life. One must not conceal or hoard. One's mind must be level, like the earth, without ups or downs. One's nature must always compassionately pity all living beings. With concentrated mindfulness, one must never forsake all destinies of existence. One must constantly take delight in contemplating the Thus Come Ones’ states. In such a way one can bring forth [bodhicitta] the Bodhi resolve.

"As for bringing forth the bodhi resolve:

It means one brings forth a great, compassionate mind, in order to universally save all beings. One brings forth a great kind mind, in order to equally protect all worlds. One brings forth a tranquil and happy mind, in order to cause all beings to destroy their sufferings. One brings forth a mind of beneficence, in order to cause all beings to separate from evil dharmas. One brings forth a sympathetic mind, in order to guard all those who are afraid. One brings forth an unobstructed mind, in order to leave behind all obstructions. One brings forth a vast, great mind, in order to pervade all Dharma realms. One brings forth a boundless mind, because one is equal to the realm of empty space, and there is nowhere one does not go. One brings forth a broad, extensive mind, because one sees all Thus Come Ones. One brings forth a pure mind, because one does not contradict the wisdom of the dharmas of the three periods of time. One brings forth the mind of All-Wisdom, because one universally enters the seas of All-Wisdom.
From chapter 39, "Entering the Dharma Realm". This very long pilgrimage chapter is not fully translated here, but there is enough to inspire:

http://www.cttbusa.org/avatamsaka/avatamsaka39.asp.html
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: Avatamsaka Sutra

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Here are three ways to sample the Ten Grounds chapter 26 in PDF format. One is Nagarjuna's commentary, mainly on the first two grounds. Then there are two traditional translations of the entire chapter 26, with no comments. All three of these are also available in print form too.

http://kalavinka.org/Jewels/jewels_toc.htm
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: Avatamsaka Sutra

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Part of a bodhisattva's function:
I help them to renounce that which does not accord with Dharma. I help them to cease their contention and debate. I help them to get rid of fighting and warring. I help them to stop their rage and competition. I help them to dispel their resentment and grudges. I help them to untie their fetters. I help them to come out of their prisons. I help them to be free of terror. I help them to stop their killing, up to prohibiting deviant views, all evil karma, and those deeds which are forbidden, so they come to a halt. I help them to compliantly practice all good dharmas. I help them to cultivate and study all skills and arts. In all worlds, I benefit them. I discriminate the various different theories for them. I help them to produce happiness. I help them to gradually come to maturity. I speak with wisdom for those who comply with externalists. I help them to cast off their myriad views. I help them to enter the Buddhadharmas.
From chapter 39, "Entering the Dharma Realm"
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: Avatamsaka Sutra

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Mahadeva on bodhisattvas, from ch. 39:
All Bodhisattvas are difficult to get to see and difficult to get to hear. They rarely appear in the world. Among living beings they are foremost, like pundarika flowers among people. They act as the refuge of living beings, and the salvation of living beings. They act as a haven of security for all worlds. They act as a great light for all worlds. They guide those who are confused and deluded along the proper path of security.

They act as great guiding teachers. They lead all living beings into the doors of the Buddha-dharmas. They act as great Dharma generals, who can well guard and protect the city of all wisdom. In these ways the Bodhisattvas are difficult to get to meet. Only those whose body, speech, and mind are without error can get to see their appearances and listen to their eloquence. Then at all times, they will appear before those beings.
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: Avatamsaka Sutra

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Nicholas wrote: Sat Jul 10, 2021 9:56 pm The new edition of the Ten Vows of Samantabhadra chapter is now online:

http://www.cttbusa.org/avatamsaka/avatamsaka40new.html
The new edition's very helpful commentary by Master Hua is also online:

http://www.cttbusa.org/fas40new/fas40.html
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: Avatamsaka Sutra

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The notion of cycles in human affairs is old and pervades many ancient systems of thought. What much of humanity now considers regression to moral chaos has happened before. Many eons or kalpas ago humanity was like this:
Their lifetimes were short and passed by quickly.
They were wanting for essentials and wealth.
Their physical appearances were ugly.
They experienced an abundance of suffering and only a minor amount of happiness.
They neglected to cultivate the ten good karmic paths.
They exclusively devoted themselves to evil karmic actions.
They engaged in mutual anger and disputation.
The disparaged and vilified each other.
They abandoned their families.
They were envious of others’ glory and good fortune.
They gave free rein to their emotions and generated the various sorts of views.
And they indulged desires in ways contrary to the Dharma.
Chapter 39
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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