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Sūtra 36* (posted 11/2018)  Book information on Home page

Sūtra 36* on this webpage is not a sūtra, but the Translator’s Introduction copied from the Two Holy Grounds (Rulu 2014, 1–32), the book that contains my English translations of chapters 27–37 from text 279 (T10n0279), comprising 39 chapters in 80 fascicles, which is one of the three Chinese versions of the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment (Buddhāvataṁsaka-mahāvaipulya-sūtra). It summarizes the Buddha’s teachings in this sūtra and presents the theses of the Huayan School, founded on this sūtra. However, I have translated into English only chapters 26 through 38. Therefore, this introduction is placed before chapter 26, which is sūtra 36 on this website.

Rulu
November 5, 2018

Translator's Introduction

All Buddhas, in one thought, appear everywhere for the sake of all sentient beings ready to be delivered, and tell them to have no attachment to the Buddha body. All Buddhas, in one thought, go to all sentient beings on various life-paths everywhere in the dharma realm. All Buddhas, in one thought, go to all sentient beings, wherever they are, if they think of Buddhas. All Buddhas, in one thought, know all sentient beings’ understandings and desires, and manifest countless physical appearances to them.

Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment, fascicle 47
Translated from the Chinese Canon (T10n0279, 0251b10–16)


The Bodhisattva Way

He who is resolved to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi, the unsurpassed true enlightenment, to benefit himself and others, is called a Bodhisattva. This noble resolve is called the anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi mind, or simply, the bodhi mind. To transform himself from an ordinary being into a Buddha, he must train himself on a spiritual journey called the Bodhisattva Way, throughout which he accumulates merit and develops wisdom. He accumulates merit by benefiting sentient beings as he helps and teaches them. He develops wisdom in three ways: (1) hearing the Dharma, (2) pondering the Dharma, and (3) training accordingly.
    The Bodhisattva Way is a spiritual journey classified into six stages. Before entering the first stage, a Bodhisattva is an ordinary being who must cultivate the ten faithful minds. During this pre-first-stage, his roots of goodness are subject to regress. At the first stage, he trains through the ten levels of abiding; at the second stage, he trains through the ten levels of action; at the third stage, he trains through the ten levels of transference of merit. A Bodhisattva at these first three stages is a sage. At the fourth stage, he trains through the Ten Grounds; at the fifth stage, he trains on the eleventh ground, the Virtual Buddha Ground, and his enlightenment virtually equals a Buddha’s; at the sixth stage, he becomes a Buddha, standing on the twelfth ground, the Buddha Ground. Because those on the twelve grounds are holy beings, these twelve grounds are holy grounds.
    On the fourteenth day after His perfect enlightenment,[1] Śākyamuni Buddha (circa 563–483 BCE) gave definitive teachings in nine assemblies. In these assemblies, He revealed to advanced Bodhisattvas the hindrance-free dharma realm (dharma-dhātu) of the one mind, and gave them the One Vehicle to Buddhahood through the six stages of the Bodhisattva Way. These teachings are contained in the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment (Buddhāvataṁsaka-mahāvaipulya-sūtra).

Texts Related to the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment

Legend has it that about seven hundred years later, Ācārya Nāgārjuna (龍樹菩薩, circa 150–250) went—perhaps in his meditation—to a dragon palace, and a Bodhisattva dragon allowed him to enter the library of profound texts. There he saw, among many other texts, three volumes of the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment. According to Dharma Master Chengguan (澄觀, 738–839), the fourth patriarch of the Huayan School of China, the large volume contained countless stanzas in countless chapters; the medium volume contained 498,800 stanzas in 1,200 chapters; the small volume contained 100,000 stanzas in 48 chapters. The first two volumes are beyond the capacity of human minds, and Nāgārjuna took the small volume back to the human world (T36n1737, 0703c2–24).
    Although this small Sanskrit text is no longer extant, some chapters, in whole or part, emerged in India, and probably in Yütian (于闐), present-day Hetian (和田), in Xinjiang, China. For example, in the Chinese Canon (Taishō Tripiṭaka), text 280 (T10n0280) in one fascicle is the earliest Chinese version of a chapter of the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment. It was translated from Sanskrit by Lokakṣema (支婁迦讖 or 支讖, 147–?) sometime between 178 and 189, in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220). Such Sanskrit chapters were then compiled into the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment with many chapters in many fascicles. Its title will now be shortened to Buddha Adornment Sūtra.
    Texts 278 (T09n0278), 279 (T10n0279), and 293 (T10n0293) are the three Chinese versions of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra. Text 278, comprising 34 chapters in 60 fascicles, was translated from Sanskrit in the Eastern Jin Dynasty (316–420) by Buddhabhadra (佛馱跋陀羅, 359–429) from northern India. This text is referred as the old translation or the Jin translation. Text 279, comprising 39 chapters in 80 fascicles, was translated from Sanskrit in the Tang Dynasty (618–907) by Śikṣānanda (實叉難陀, 652–710) from Yütian (于闐). This text is referred as the new translation or the Tang translation.
    According to Chengguan, Nāgārjuna’s original small Sanskrit text contains 100,000 stanzas, but text 278 contains 36,000 stanzas and text 279 contains 45,000 stanzas (T36n1737, 0704a1–16). Text 278 has only 34 chapters because chapters 2–6 of text 279 are presented in text 278 as one chapter, chapter 2, and because chapter 27, “The Ten Samādhis,” of text 279 is absent from text 278. The differences between texts 278 and 279 are attributed to their translators and, perhaps, to the Sanskrit texts.
    Text 293, comprising one chapter in 40 fascicles, was translated from Sanskrit in the Tang Dynasty by Prajñā (般若, 734–?) from Kophen (罽賓), an ancient kingdom also called Gandhāra, in present-day Kashmir, northern Pakistan, and the eastern Afghanistan area. This text is comparable to the last chapter of texts 278 and 279, “Entering the Dharma Realm.” However, its 40th and last fascicle, in which Samantabhadra Bodhisattva teaches the universally worthy action vow (Rulu 2012b, 107–20), is unique. In addition, texts 294 and 295 (T10n0294–95) are comparable to parts of text 293 and to parts of the last chapter of texts 278 and 279.
    Texts 285–87 (T10n0285–87) are the three Chinese versions of the Sūtra of the Ten Grounds (Daśabhūmika-sūtra), each comparable to chapter 22 of text 278 and to chapter 26 of text 279. Text 285 in 5 fascicles was translated from Sanskrit in the Western Jin Dynasty (265–316) by Dharmarakṣa (竺法護, 3rd–4th centuries) from Dunhuang (敦煌), a major stop on the ancient Silk Road. Text 286 in 4 fascicles was translated from Sanskrit in the Later Qin Dynasty (384–414) by Kumārajīva (鳩摩羅什, 344–413) from Kucha (庫車), present-day Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang, China. Text 287 in 9 fascicles was translated from Sanskrit during the Zhenyuan (貞元) years (785–805) of the Tang Dynasty (618–907) by Śīladharma (尸羅達摩, 8th century) from Yütian. Text 285 is the shortest of the three texts, text 287 the longest. While texts 286 and 287 are similar in content, text 285, concise in its coverage, cannot be compared with the other two texts passage by passage. A comparison between text 286 and chapter 22 of text 278 reveals that they are almost the same. A comparison between text 287 and chapter 26 of text 279 reveals that the latter seems to be a shorter version of the former. They include some identical stanzas.
    Other texts related to the Buddha Adornment Sūtra include text 280 (T10n0280), which is comparable to chapter 3 and a part of chapter 5 of text 278 and to chapter 6 and a part of chapter 8 of text 279; texts 281 and 282 (T10n0281–82), each comparable to chapter 7 of text 278 and to chapter 11 of text 279; texts 283 and 284 (T10n0283–84), each comparable to chapter 11 of text 278 and to chapter 15 of text 279; text 288 (T10n0288), which is comparable to chapter 27 of text 279; texts 289 and 290 (T10n0289-90), each comparable to chapter 26 of text 278 and to chapter 31 of text 279; text 291 (T10n0291), which is comparable to chapter 32 of text 278 and to chapter 37 of text 279; text 292 (T10n0292), which is comparable to chapter 33 of text 278 and to chapter 38 of text 279.
    In 1984, Thomas Cleary was the first to translate the entire text 279 into English. In 2013, Rulu translated chapter 26, “The Ten Grounds,” into English (Rulu 2013, 111–243).

Teachings Given in the Nine Assemblies in Seven Places

According to text 279 (T10n0279), the Buddha gave definitive teachings in nine assemblies in seven places. Three places were in the human world: (1) the bodhimaṇḍa (bodhi place) under the bodhi tree in a wilderness in Magadha; (2) the Universal Radiance Hall;[2]] (3) Jetavana (Jeta Grove), a garden near Śrāvastī (later purchased for the Buddha from Prince Jeta by the Elder Sudatta, renowned as Anāthapiṇḍika, provider for the deprived). The other four places were celestial palaces of four desire heavens: (4) Trayastriṁśa Heaven, the second desire heaven; (5) Yāma Heaven, the third desire heaven; (6) Tuṣita Heaven, the fourth desired heaven; (7) Paranirmita-vaśa-vartin Heaven, the sixth desire heaven. Of the nine assemblies, the second, seventh, and eighth assemblies were convened in the Universal Radiance Hall. The teachings given by Śākyamuni Buddha in this world, in nine assemblies in these seven places, are summarized below.

The First Assembly in the Bodhimaṇḍa in a Wilderness in Magadha

As soon as Śākyamuni Buddha attains perfect enlightenment under the bodhi tree, His bodhimaṇḍa changes into a splendid place in the radiance of jeweled trees, flowers, towers, and banners. He immediately reveals Himself as Vairocana Buddha, in His sublime reward body (saṁbhogakāya),[3] and appears in all Buddha Lands. Forty-six groups of leaders, such as great Bodhisattvas, god-kings, and gods, together with their innumerable retinues, come to the assembly to praise and pay homage to the Buddha. He emits vast radiance from between His teeth, enabling all sentient beings to activate the bodhi mind. He also emits radiance from between His eyebrows, illuminating countless worlds in the ten directions, revealing innumerable Buddhas there. Then Samantabhadra Bodhisattva enters samādhi, appears before Buddhas in countless worlds, and expounds the Dharma. He describes oceans of worlds, including the Lotus Flower Store of Oceans of Magnificent Worlds,[4] and reveals the names of different Buddhas, who appear in different worlds.
    These teachings are contained in chapters 1–6 in 11 fascicles. They describe the virtues of Buddhahood, which are revealed by a Buddha’s sublime body and magnificent worlds, and inspire faith in and aspiration for Buddhahood.

The Second Assembly in the Universal Radiance Hall

Without leaving His seat under the bodhi tree, the Buddha appears in the Universal Radiance Hall, together with innumerable Bodhisattvas from worlds in the ten directions. Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva from the Golden World reveals that there are innumerable Buddhas who assume countless names. He expounds the Four Noble Truths, which are expounded in countless worlds. Then the Buddha emits vast radiance from the mark of a wheel on each of His soles, illuminating all worlds in the ten directions, revealing Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva giving teachings there. Prompted by Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva, nine Bodhisattvas whose names each contain the word “foremost” give teachings. Mañjuśrī teaches that a Bodhisattva should, in daily activities, make 141 wishes for himself and sentient beings, each wish prescribing a pure action. Foremost Worthiness Bodhisattva expounds the immeasurable merit acquired by activating the bodhi mind and the importance of having faith in Buddhas and the Buddha Dharma.
    These teachings are contained in chapters 7–12 in 4 fascicles. They emphasize that activation of the bodhi mind and cultivation of faith are the foundation of the bodhi path.

The Third Assembly in the Palace of Trayastriṁśa Heaven atop Mount Sumeru

Without leaving His seat under the bodhi tree, the Buddha ascends to the top of Mount Sumeru and appears in the palace of Śakra, god-king of Trayastriṁśa Heaven. The Buddha emits vast radiance from His toes, illuminating countless words. Innumerable Bodhisattvas from worlds in the ten directions come to praise His virtues. Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva, through the power of the Buddha, enters samādhi and receives blessings from innumerable Buddhas, who are all called Dharma Wisdom. Then he rises from samādhi and expounds the ten levels of abiding on the Bodhisattva Way. These ten are (1) Abiding in Activation of Resolve, (2) Abiding in Development of the Ground, (3) Abiding in Training, (4) Abiding in High Birth, (5) Abiding in Skillful Means, (6) Abiding in the True Mind, (7) Abiding in No Regress, (8) Abiding in Truthfulness of Youth, (9) Abiding in Dharma Princeship, and (10) Abiding in Blessings with Nectar Poured on the Head. Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva next teaches the Brahma way of life that observes the equality of dharmas in their emptiness. He explains that the merit acquired by activating the bodhi mind is immeasurable, and that Bodhisattvas should never abandon self-restraint.
    These teachings are contained in chapters 13–18 in 3 fascicles. They enable a Bodhisattva to understand that dharmas have no birth. Bodhisattvas training at any of the ten levels of abiding are low Bodhisattva sages at the first stage of the Bodhisattva Way.

The Fourth Assembly in the Palace of Yāma Heaven

Without leaving His seat under the bodhi tree, the Buddha appears in the palace of the god-king of Yāma Heaven. He emits radiance from the tops of His feet, illuminating all worlds in the ten directions. Ten Bodhisattvas whose names each contain the word “grove,” together with their retinues of innumerable Bodhisattvas, come to this assembly. Merit Grove Bodhisattva, through the Buddha’s power, expounds the ten levels of action on the Bodhisattva Way. These ten are (1) Joyful Action, (2) Beneficial Action, (3) Anger-Free Action, (4) Endless Action, (5) Delusion-Free Action, (6) Well-Displayed Action, (7) Unfettered Action, (8) Respectful Action, (9) Good Dharma Action, and (10) True Reality Action. Then he reveals a Bodhisattva’s ten endless stores: (1) faith, (2) precepts, (3) a sense of shame, (4) a sense of dishonor, (5) hearing the Dharma, (6) almsgiving, (7) wisdom, (8) memory, (9) retaining the Dharma, and (10) eloquence.
    These teachings are contained in chapters 19–22 in 3 fascicles. They instruct a Bodhisattva on how to train his mind. Bodhisattvas training at any of the ten levels of action are middling Bodhisattva sages at the second stage of the Bodhisattva Way.

The Fifth Assembly in the Palace of Tuṣita Heaven

Without leaving the bodhi tree or the two preceding heavens, the Buddha appears in the palace of the god-king of Tuṣita Heaven. He is attended by ten Bodhisattvas whose names each contain the word “banner,” together with their retinues of innumerable Bodhisattvas. He emits vast radiance from his knees, illuminating all worlds in the ten directions. Vajra Banner Bodhisattva expounds the ten levels of transference of merit on the Bodhisattva Way. These ten are (1) Transference of One’s Merit to One’s Saving All Sentient Beings, (2) Transference of One’s Merit to One’s Indestructible Mind, (3) Transference of One’s Merit to One’s Becoming an Equal of All Buddhas, (4) Transference of One’s Merit to One’s Arriving Everywhere, (5) Transference of One’s Merit to One’s Endless Store of Merits, (6) Transference of One’s Merit to One’s Confirming the Equality of All Roots of Goodness, (7) Transference of One’s Merit to One’s Regarding All Sentient Beings Equally, (8) Transference of One’s Merit to One’s Realizing True Suchness [bhūta-tathātā], (9) Transference of One’s Merit to One’s Liberation from Bondage, and (10) Transference of One’s Merit to One’s Entering the Dharma Realm.
    These teachings are contained in chapters 23–25 in 12 fascicles. They instruct a Bodhisattva on how to expand his mind by transferring his merits to attaining Buddhahood, to others, and to the dharma realm. Bodhisattvas training at any of the ten levels of transference of merit are high Bodhisattva sages at the third stage of the Bodhisattva Way.

The Sixth Assembly in the Palace of Paranirmita-vaśa-vartin Heaven

Without leaving His seat under the bodhi tree, the Buddha appears in the palace of the god-king of Paranirmita-vaśa-vartin Heaven, together with innumerable great Bodhisattvas from worlds in other directions. He emits radiance from between His eyebrows, illuminating countless worlds in the ten directions. Vajra Store Bodhisattva enters the Samādhi of Mahāyāna Radiance and receives blessings from Buddhas in worlds in the ten directions. He rises from samādhi and expounds the ten Bodhisattva grounds. These ten are (1) Joyful Ground, (2) Taint-Free Ground, (3) Radiant Ground, (4) Flaming Wisdom Ground, (5) Hard-to-Conquer Ground, (6) Revealing Ground, (7) Far-Going Ground, (8) Motionless Ground, (9) Good Wisdom Ground, and (10) Dharma Cloud Ground.
    These teachings are contained in chapter 26 in 6 fascicles. They reveal the training and attainment of a Bodhisattva who progresses through the Ten Grounds. Bodhisattvas training on any of these Ten Grounds are holy Bodhisattvas at the fourth stage of the Bodhisattva Way.

The Seventh Assembly in the Universal Radiance Hall

Without leaving His seat under the bodhi tree, the Buddha appears in the Universal Radiance Hall, together with innumerable great Bodhisattvas. He pronounces the names of the ten samādhis attained by a great Bodhisattva and, at His command, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva expounds them. Samantabhadra also expounds a great Bodhisattva’s ten transcendental powers and ten endurances. The Buddha reveals 121 high numbers only Buddhas know; Mind King Bodhisattva expounds on time scales in different worlds and Bodhisattva abodes in this world. Through the Buddha’s spiritual power, Blue Lotus Flower Store Bodhisattva expounds thirty-three inconceivable dharmas of Buddhas, each dharma comprising ten inconceivable dharmas. Then Samantabhadra Bodhisattvas reveals ninety-seven sublime characteristics of a Tathāgata’s physical appearance, and the Buddha reveals a Tathāgata’s secondary characteristics. Then Samantabhadra declares that no fault is as severe as a Bodhisattva getting angry with other Bodhisattvas, and teaches that a Bodhisattva should diligently take universally worthy actions. The Buddha emits vast radiance from between His eyebrows and then from His mouth, empowering Samantabhadra Bodhisattva to expound on a Tathāgata’s appearance in the world as the culmination of the Bodhisattva Way.
    These teachings are contained in chapters 27–37 in 13 fascicles. They reveal the fifth and sixth stages of the Bodhisattva Way, i.e., the eleventh ground (the Virtual Buddha Ground) and the twelfth ground (the Buddha Ground).

The Eighth Assembly in the Universal Radiance Hall

In the Universal Radiance Hall, the Buddha is accompanied by innumerable Bodhisattvas from worlds in other directions, who will attain Buddhahood in their next life. Samantabhadra Bodhisattva enters the Samādhi of Buddha Adornment. Upon his rising from this samādhi, Universal Wisdom Bodhisattva asks him 200 questions about the development of a Bodhisattva into a Buddha. Samantabhadra Bodhisattva gives ten answers to each question, totaling 2,000 answers. A Bodhisattva who trains to transcend the world never leaves the world because he continues to take universally worthy actions to benefit sentient beings without end.
    These teachings are contained in chapter 38 in 7 fascicles. They reveal a Bodhisattva’s universally worthy actions before and after attaining Buddhahood.

The Ninth Assembly in the Jeta Grove

The Buddha appears in a magnificent pavilion in the Jeta Grove, together with 500 great Bodhisattvas led by Samantabhadra and Mañjuśrī. The Buddha emits vast radiance from the white hair between His eyebrows, illuminating all worlds in the ten directions, enabling Bodhisattvas to see splendid things everywhere. However, the voice-hearers there cannot see them. Then Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva leaves his tower and travels south, followed by Śāriputra and 6,000 monks. He teaches them to ride the Mahāyāna (Great Vehicle) and train in universally worthy actions. They stop by a tower in the śāla grove east of Dhanyakara, the city of Fortune. Among the five groups that come to see Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva are 500 youths led by Sudhana (Good Wealth), who seek the Bodhisattva Way. Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva expounds the Dharma to them, enabling them to activate the bodhi mind, and directs Sudhana to see another teacher. Sudhana travels through 110 places and learns from fifty-three beneficent learned teachers, each referring him to the next. He completes all stages of the Bodhisattva Way and attains Buddhahood in one lifetime.
    These teachings are contained in chapter 39 in 21 fascicles. They are a demonstration of completing the Bodhisattva Way. Among the fifty-three teachers, Mañjuśrī exemplifies root wisdom, Samantabhadra exemplifies universally worthy actions with great compassion, and Maitreya Bodhisattva exemplifies attainment of Buddhahood (X09n0241, 0304a3–4).

A Comparison between Two Sūtras

Text 1485 (T24n1485) in 2 fascicles is the Chinese version of the Sūtra of the Garland of a Bodhisattva’s Primary Karmas, and its English translation is included in The Bodhisattva Way (Rulu 2013, 33–88). In this sūtra, 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 (T45n1870), fascicle 4, 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. /” (T10n0279, 0072b18–19). Although neither text 278 nor text 279 mentions the ten faithful minds, masters of the Huayan School of China consider them covered in the second assembly. Furthermore, they believe that upon fulfillment of the ten faithful minds, one attains Buddhahood. Fazang explains, “According to the all-embracing teachings in this sūtra, one position is all positions, and all positions are one position. Therefore, fulfillment of the ten faithful minds encompasses the five stages of the Bodhisattva Way, and one arrives at the sixth stage, the Buddha Ground” (T35n1733, fascicle 1, 0115c17–19).
    A holy Bodhisattva training on the eleventh ground is almost a Buddha and will attain Buddhahood in his next life. As stated in the Garland Sūtra, “Buddhas call him a Bodhisattva, but Bodhisattvas on lower grounds call him a Buddha” (Rulu 2013, 70). According to the Garland Sūtra, in the third dhyāna heaven the Buddha expounded on the eleventh ground (Ibid., 54), and in the fourth dhyāna heaven He expounded on the twelfth ground (Ibid., 70), though texts of these teachings are unavailable.
    However, the Buddha Adornment Sūtra mentions neither the eleventh ground nor the twelfth ground. According to Chengguan, teachings given in the seventh assembly in the Universal Radiance Hall pertain to these two holy grounds. These teachings are contained in text 279 (T10n0279), chapters 27–37 in 13 fascicles. He holds that chapters 27–32 address the eleventh ground, and chapters 33–37 address the twelfth ground (T36n1737, 0705c14–23). His determination for the eleventh ground is based on the words in chapter 27 in fascicles 40–43. A clue is found at the beginning of fascicle 40, in which Bodhisattvas who have completed their training on the tenth ground at first are unable to see Samantabhadra Bodhisattva in their midst. Then they are enabled to see him because, following the Buddha’s instruction, they make the same action vows as Samantabhadra’s. This implies that they have ascended onto the eleventh ground. A confirmation that they are on the eleventh ground is found later in fascicle 43, in which Universal Eye Bodhisattva asks Samantabhadra Bodhisattva whether a Bodhisattva who does amazing things as do Buddhas is a Buddha or still a Bodhisattva. Chengguan’s determination for the twelfth ground is convincing because the title of chapter 33 is “The Inconceivable Dharmas of Buddhas.”
    This book presents the English translations of chapters 27–37 in fascicles 40–52 of text 279, in two parts. Part I contains chapters 27–32 in fascicles 40–45, which cover the eleventh ground, the Virtual Buddha Ground. Part II contains chapters 33–37 in fascicles 46–52, which cover the twelfth ground, the Buddha Ground. One can study these two holy grounds in these chapters as stand-alone teachings or as a sequel to chapter 26, “The Ten Grounds,” the English translation of which is contained in The Bodhisattva Way (Rulu 2013, 111–243).

The Origin of the Name of the Huayan School

Buddhist texts came to China in a period of nine hundred years, from the first century CE, in Eastern Han Dynasty (25–200), to the Song Dynasty (960–1279). During this period, thirteen Mahāyāna schools emerged in China, but they came down to eight schools: (1) the Three Treatises School, extended from the Emptiness School; (2) the Faxiang (dharma appearance) School, extended from the Yogācāra School; (3) the Pure Land School, founded on Pure Land sūtras; (4) the Tiantai School, founded on the Lotus Sūtra; (4) the Huayan School, founded on the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment; (5) the Chán (dhyāna) School, emphasizing the experience of seeing one’s Buddha nature; (7) the Vinaya School, emphasizing observance of precepts; and (8) the Esoteric School, emphasizing visualization and mantra recitation.
    The Huayan School of China, founded on the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment, was established in the Tang Dynasty (618–907), during which Mahāyāna schools thrived. The Sanskrit title of this sūtra, Buddhāvataṁsaka-mahāvaipulya-sūtra, is translated into Chinese in seven words: da (great or vast), fang (correct or upright), guang (broad or pervasive), fo (Buddha), hua (splendid or flower), yan (adorn or adornment), and jing (sūtra).
    The Sanskrit word mahāvaipulya means “great extent,”[5] and its corresponding Chinese words are da fang guang. In the context of the sūtra, Huayan masters interpret that a Buddha is a fully enlightened person, who has realized the dharma realm, which is da (vast) in its body, fang (upright) in its nature, and guang (pervasive) in its use, because it is one’s mind. The Sanskrit word Buddha is translated into Chinese as fo. The Sanskrit word buddhāvataṁsaka means “Buddha garland” or “Buddha adornment,” and its corresponding Chinese words fo hua yan can mean “Buddha splendid adornment.” However, Huayan masters interpret that universally worthy actions and attainments on the Bodhisattva Way are likened to hua (flower). This flower bears fruit, i.e., Buddhahood, and fo (Buddha) is yan (adorned) with His virtues, i.e., merit and wisdom. Another interpretation is that the virtues of a Buddha are likened to a flower that adorns His reward body (saṁbhogakāya). Finally, the Sanskrit word sūtra is translated into Chinese as jing. Every sūtra in a Buddhist Canon contains Śākyamuni Buddha’s great teachings.
    In China, the title of this sūtra, Da fang guang fo hua yan jing (大方廣佛華嚴經), is abbreviated as Huayan jing. Hence Huayan is the name of the Huayan School. In the West, this sūtra is referred to as the Flower Adornment Sūtra or the Avataṁsaka Sūtra. In both cases the word Buddha is unfortunately omitted.

The Huayan Masters

Since its establishment in the Tang Dynasty, the Huayan School has continued through the effort of many Buddhist masters. They have expounded this sūtra, and written treatises and essays according to their understanding of its tenets. Their works are preserved in the Chinese Canon (Taishō Tripiṭaka) and the Extension of the Chinese Canon (Shinsan Zokuzōkyō). The biographies and contributions of a few illustrious Huayan masters are summarized below.

Huayan Masters from India

Ācārya Nāgārjuna
    Ācārya Nāgārjuna (龍樹菩薩, circa 150–250) was born into a Brahmin family in southern India, and converted to Buddhism early in life. In India, he is the founder of the Madhyamaka School, which in China is referred to as the Emptiness School because his treatises expound the emptiness of dharmas in the Mahāyāna perspective. In China, he is revered as the distant patriarch of eight Mahāyāna schools.
    The Huayan School recognizes him as its originating patriarch because he brought the Sanskrit text of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra to the world, and wrote a treatise on the Ten Grounds. Text 1521 (T26n1521) in 15 fascicles is the Chinese version of his Comprehensive Treatise on the Ten Grounds (Daśabhūmika-vibhāṣā-śāstra), which was translated from Sanskrit by Kumārajīva (鳩摩羅什, 344–413) from Kucha. However, this text contains only Nāgārjuna’s discussions on the first ground and part of the second ground.

Vasubandhu
    Vasubandhu (世親, circa 320–80) was the second of the three sons of a Brahmin named Kauśika, in the ancient kingdom of Gandhāra, in northwestern India. He and his older brother Asaṅga (無著, 4th century) laid down the foundation of Yogācāra doctrine, which is based on six Mahāyāna sūtras and eleven treatises.
    Vasubandhu wrote many treatises, and is revered in China not only as the originating patriarch of the Faxiang (dharma appearance) School, but also as an originating patriarch of the Pure Land School, because of his definitive treatise, Upadeśa on the Sūtra of Amitāyus Buddha (Rulu 2012b, 121–30). The Huayan School also recognizes him as its originating patriarch because of his treatise on the Ten Grounds. Text 1522 (T26n1522) in 12 fascicles is the Chinese version of his Treatise on the Sūtra of the Ten Grounds (Daśabhūmikasūtra-śāstra), which was translated from Sanskrit during the Yongping (永平) years (508–512) of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386–534) by Bodhiruci (菩提留支, 5th–6th centuries) and Ratnamati (勒那摩提, 5th–6th centuries), both from India.

Huayan Masters from China in the Tang Dynasty

The First Patriarch, Dushun
    Dharma Master Dushun (杜順, 557–640) was from Wannian (萬年), Yongzhou (雍州), north of present-day Lintong County (臨潼縣), Shǎnxi Province. He became a Buddhist monk at eighteen and practiced meditation under Dharma Master Daozhen (道珍). Then Dushun stayed in Zhongnanshan (終南山), the Zhongnan Mountain in Shǎnxi Province, studied text 278 (T09n0278), the 60-fascicle Chinese version of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, and expounded its tenets.
    Dushun gave oral teachings, some of which were recorded by Zhiyan. Text 1867 (T45n1867) in one fascicle contains his classification of the Buddha’s teachings into five levels. Text 1868 (T45n1868) in one fascicle presents the ten abstruse doors to fathoming the dharma realm of no hindrance among things. Dushun is revered as a manifestation of Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva.

The Second Patriarch, Zhiyan
    Dharma Master Zhiyan (智儼, 602–68) was from Gansu Province, and his family name was Zhao (趙). When he was twelve, Dushun came to his house, rubbed his head, and said to his parents, “This is my son. Return him to me.” Dushun took him to the Zhongnan Mountain, where he began to study texts day and night. He studied not only sūtras but also Vinaya texts and many treatises. At twenty, he became a fully ordained monk.
    Zhiyan expounded text 278 (T09n0278), the 60-fascicle Chinese version of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, and wrote treatises on it. For example, text 1732 (T35n1732) in 5 fascicles contains his explanations of this sūtra; text 1869 (T45n1869) in 2 fascicles contains his collection of fifty questions and answers about the tenets of this sūtra; text 1870 (T45n1870) in 4 fascicles contains his explanations of some difficult meanings in this sūtra. Zhiyan established the Buddha Adornment Sūtra as the king of all sūtras.

The Third Patriarch, Fazang
    Dharma Master Fazang (法藏, 643–712) was given the family name Kang (康) because his ancestors were Kangjü (康居) nomads in central Asia. His grandfather moved to China and settled down in the city of Chang-an (長安). At twenty, Fazang began to study under Zhiyan, and became a fully ordained monk at twenty-eight. Because he was proficient in Sanskrit and Chinese, Empress Wu (武后則天) ordered him to participate in translating Sanskrit texts. He helped Śikṣānanda translate into Chinese the 80-fascicle version of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra and the 7-fascicle version of the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra. Fazang expounded both texts 278 (T09n0278) and 279 (T10n0279), the 60-fascicle and 80-fascicle Chinese versions of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, more than thirty times in his life, and even explained its abstruse meanings to Empress Wu.
    A prolific writer, Fazang wrote treatises on several sūtras. His works on the Buddha Adornment Sūtra include text 1733 (T35n1733) in 20 fascicles, which contains a treatise on text 278; text 1734 (T35n1734) in one fascicle, which contains an outline of the tenets of text 278; text 1866 (T45n1866) in 4 fascicles, which expounds the Buddha’s teachings at five levels, initially classified by Dushun; texts 1871–81 (T45n1871–81), which contain his essays; and more. By integrating the ideas of the first two patriarchs, Fazang officially established the Huayan School. Therefore, this school also called the Xianshou (賢首) School because the title Xianshou (foremost worthiness) Imperial Teacher was conferred upon Fazang.

The Fourth Patriarch, Chengguan
    Dharma Master Chengguan (澄觀, 738–839) was from Shanyin (山陰), Yuezhou (越州), present-day Shaoxing (紹興), Zhejiang Province, and his family name was Xiahou (夏侯). He became a novice monk at eleven, and was fully ordained at twenty. When he accepted the Bodhisattva precepts, he made ten vows to drive himself to make energetic progress in mastering the Buddha Dharma. Then he studied many sūtras, treatises, and Vinaya texts. In 776, the eleventh year of the Dali (大曆) years of Emperor Daizong (唐代宗), he settled down in the Great Huayan Temple in Wutaishan (五臺山), the Wutai (five-platform) Mountain in Shanxi Province, and expounded the tenets of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra. In 796, the twelfth year of the Zhenyuan (貞元) years, he was summoned by Emperor Dezong (唐德宗) to the capital city, Chang-an, to help edit text 293 (T10n0293), the 40-fascicle Chinese version of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, translated from Sanskrit by Prajñā (般若, 734–?). When he presented the completed Chinese text, the emperor was delighted and awarded him the purple robe. The emperor later summoned him to explain the tenets of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra. The Emperor conferred upon him the title Cool Imperial Teacher and told him, “You used the wondrous Dharma to cool my mind.”
    Chengguan lived through the reigns of nine emperors and expounded this sūtra to seven emperors. He was a prolific writer. Text 1735 (T35n1735) in 60 fascicles and text 1736 (T36n1736) in 90 fascicles contain his two treatises on text 279 (T10n0279), the 80-fascicle Chinese version of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra. Text 227 (X05n0227) in 10 fascicles contains his treatise on text 293 (T10n0293), the 40-fascicle Chinese version of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra. His other works include texts 1737, 1738, 1882, 1883 (T36n1737–38, T45n1882–83), 232 (X05n0232), and more. The Huayan School thrived through his effort and contribution.

The Fifth Patriarch, Zongmi
    Dharma Master Zongmi (宗密, 780–841) was from Guozhou (果州), present-day Xichong (西充), Sichuan Province, and his family name was He (何). In 807, the second year of the Yuanhe (元和) years of Emperor Xianzong (唐憲宗), he set out to take the examination for state office. On his way to the capital city, he happened to stop by a town and listen to Dharma Master Daoyuan (道圓) expound the Dharma. Then he renounced family life and became a fully ordained monk. Three years later, studying under Chengguan he began to delve into the Buddha Adornment Sūtra (T10n0279). In 816, he went to the Zhongnan Mountain, where he practiced meditation and studied all the texts in the Tripiṭaka, especially the Perfect Enlightenment Sūtra (T17n0842). In 828, the second year of the Taihe (太和) years of Emperor Wenzong (唐文宗), he was summoned to the palace to expound the Dharma, and the emperor awarded him the purple robe. Also recognized as a lineage carrier of the Chán (dhyāna) School, Zongmi collected teachings on meditation from different schools. He stressed that one should not separate meditation from doctrine as some radical Chán students did.
    Zongmi’s works include text 1884 (T45n1884) in one fascicle, which contains his annotations of the three observations of the dharma realm, as taught by Dushun; texts 1795 (T39n1795) in 2 fascicles and text 243 (X09n0243) in 3 fascicles, which contain his two treatises on the Perfect Enlightenment Sūtra; text 1886 (T45n1886) in one fascicle, which contains his refutation of the Taoist and Confucian views on the origin of man.

Huayan Scholar Li Tongxuan
    Li Tongxuan (李通玄, 635–730), said of noble descent, was a legendary lay Buddhist. According to his biography in text 223 (X04n0223), he was from Cang County (滄縣), Hebei Province. Though without definite teachers, he was learned in Confucian and Buddhist doctrines. In 719, the seventh year of the Kaiyuan (開元) years of Emperor Xuanzong (唐玄宗), Li went to stay in the household of a generous man called Gao Shannu (高山奴), in a village forty lis west of Taiyuan (太原), the capital of Shanxi Province. 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 (冠蓋村), he encountered a tiger. He asked the tiger to find a place for him to write a treatise on text 279, 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 loess cave. Then the tiger crouched before it. This cave was in the Fang Mountain (方山), in Shouyang County (壽陽縣), 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.
    Li Tongxuan’s treatise on the Buddha Adornment Sūtra is in text 1739 (T36n1739) in 40 fascicles. Between 849 and 859, a monk called Zhining (志寧) merged Li’s treatise and the sūtra into one text, text 223 (X04n0223) in 120 fascicles. In the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), two abridgements of text 223 were made: text 225 (X04n0225) in 4 fascicles by a lay Buddhist called Li Zhi (李贄); text 226 (X05n0226) in 3 fascicles by a monk called Fang Ze (方澤).
    Li’s other works include text 1740 (T36n1740) in one fascicle, which contains a summary of each of 80 fascicles of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra; text 1741 (T36n1741) in 4 fascicles, which presents ten themes of the teachings in this sūtra; text 1888 (T45n1888) in one fascicle, which contains his answers to ten questions on dependent arising of dharmas in the dharma realm. He says, “Not seeing a single dharma in the appearance of birth, continuation, change, or death, is called the door of unhindered dependent arising of dharmas with no birth” (T45n1888, 0770b14–15).
    Li agrees with the Huayan patriarchs that the dharma realm is all-encompassing and hindrance free, but he makes his own classification of the Buddha’s teachings. Moreover, he claims that the teachings in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra were given in ten assemblies in ten places.

Huayan Masters from China after the Tang Dynasty

In 845, near the end of the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Wuzong (唐武宗) destroyed Buddhist monasteries and texts, and persecuted monks and nuns; the Huayan School declined along with other Buddhist schools. Then in the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1279), Dharma Master Zixuan (子璿, 965–1038) revived the Huayan School. Following Zixuan’s footsteps was Dharma Master Jingyuan (淨源, 1011–1088), who continued to promote the Huayan School. He wrote essays on its theses; for example, text 234 (X07n0234) in one fascicle contains his summary of Chengguan’s treatise. His effort was continued by four renowned Huayan masters, who wrote commentaries on Dushun’s classification of the Buddha’s teachings.
    In the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368), there were six known Huayan masters. In the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), there were six known Huayan masters, including Deqing (德清, 1546–1623), who was also a renowned Chán master. Text 240 (X08–09n0240) in 80 fascicles contains his commentary on Chengguan’s treatise.
    In the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), well-known Huayan masters include Tongli (通理, 1701–82), who expounded the Huayan theses, and Xüfa (續法, 1641–1728), whose compiled commentaries are in texts 1024–28 (X58n1024–28). Xüfa also compiled the biographies of the five Huayan patriarchs, which are in text 1530 (X77n1530). After the Republic of China was established in 1912, Dharma Master Yuexia (月霞, 1858–1917) founded the Huayan Institute, to train future Huayan masters and scholars.
    The Buddha Adornment Sūtra is revered by all Mahāyāna schools of China. It is highly valued by Chán masters, such as Deqing. It is especially treasured by the Pure Land School because in the last fascicle of text 293 (T10n0293), the 40-fascicle Chinese version of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva wishes to be reborn in the World of Peace and Bliss to behold Amitābha Buddha, and transfers his merits, acquired by taking universally worthy actions, to all sentient beings for their rebirth there (Rulu 2012b, 118–19).
    Recognized as the highest teachings of the Buddha, the Buddha Adornment Sūtra transcends the boundaries of all Mahāyāna schools. Although the Huayan School has unavoidably declined, anyone interested in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra can study its texts and Huayan masters’ works.

Huayan Masters from Korea and Japan

In 650, during the Tang Dynasty, Dharma Master Yixiang (義湘, 625–702) came to China and studied under Patriarch Zhiyan. Then he went back to Korea and expounded the Buddha Adornment Sūtra. He is recognized as the first patriarch of the Huayan School of Korea. His contemporary, Dharma Master Yuanxiao (元曉, 617–?), also promoted the Huayan School, but only one fascicle of his commentary on the Buddha Adornment Sūtra is preserved in text 2727 (T85n2727). In 1085, in the Song Dynasty, Dharma Master Yitian (義天, 1055–1101) brought some Huayan texts back to China and studied under the Huayan master Jingyuan. Three years later, he returned to Korea with over a thousand fascicles of texts, and began to promote the theses of the Huayan School.
    In 736, in the Tang Dynasty, Huayan Master Daoxuan (道璿, 702–60) went to Japan and took with him many texts. He is recognized as the first patriarch of the Huayan School of Japan. The Korean monk Shenxiang (審祥, ?–742) also went to Japan. For three years, from 740 to 742, he expounded text 278, the 60-fascicle Chinese version of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra. He is also recognized as the first patriarch of the Huayan School of Japan. This school has been continued by Japanese masters to the present.

Huayan Classifications of the Buddha’s Teachings

To help students better understand the scope and depth of His teachings, the Buddha has made certain classifications. For example, in the Lotus Sūtra, He summarizes His teachings into the Three Vehicles: the Voice-Hearer Vehicle, the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle, and the Great Vehicle (Mahāyāna), respectively likened to a goat carriage, a deer carriage, and an ox carriage, all of which are then replaced by the One Vehicle, likened to a great jeweled carriage drawn by a giant white ox (T09n0262, 0012c6–24). In the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, fascicle 10, the Buddha uses five flavors to describe holy beings at different spiritual levels. He likens voice-hearers to milk, Pratyekabuddhas to cream, Bodhisattvas to fresh butter and melted butter, and Buddhas to ghee (T12n0374, 0423b1–4). In the Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning, He classifies His teachings by the time periods in his life, saying that “the teachings given in the beginning, in the middle, and in the end use the same words but their meanings are different” (Rulu 2012a, 203). His teachings are good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end.
    By the time of the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420–589), many Buddhist texts had been translated into Chinese, and organization of the Buddha’s teachings was sorely needed. Quite a few Chinese masters, based on their study and understanding, classified the teachings into categories or levels according to certain criteria. Masters of the Tiantai School and the Huayan School, after evaluating earlier classifications, established their own systems, which have since been recognized as models.
    Based on the teachings in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, Huayan masters note that the Buddha gives teachings in various time spans. Xüfa (X58n1025) states that the Buddha gives teachings (1) in one thought everywhere in the dharma realm; (2) from the fourteenth day after His enlightenment until His parinirvāṇa in this world; (3) throughout countless past, present, and future kalpas; (4) throughout same kinds of kalpas, whether long, short, pure, or impure; (5) throughout different kinds of kalpas; (6) thought after thought, each encompassing same and different kinds of kalpas; (7) thought after thought, each encompassing kalpas, which encompass thoughts that each encompass kalpas, where thoughts and kalpas are like the jewels of the god-king Indra’s net reflecting one another, with their reflections endlessly reflecting one another; (8) throughout all kalpas in different kinds of worlds, such as pure, impure, coarse, fine, large, and small; (9) throughout all kalpas in same and different kinds of worlds, with kalpas and His thoughts endlessly encompassing each other; (10) throughout an ineffable number of kalpas, because time is beyond classification into long and short, kalpa and non-kalpa. Thus the Buddha constantly gives teachings, never resting.
    To be specific about the Buddha’s teachings in His life in this world, the Huayan School classifies them by time periods and by level. These two classifications below are based on Xüfa’s summary (X58n1025).

Teachings Classified by Time Periods

In the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, fascicle 50, chapter 37a, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva says, “When the sun rises in Jambudvīpa, it first illuminates Mount Sumeru and all great kings of mountains, then the black mountain, then plateaus, and then the entire great earth. . . . Likewise a Tathāgata’s wisdom illuminates all without discrimination. However, the radiance of His wisdom-knowledge differs according to sentient beings’ preferences and capacities” (T10n0279, 0266b3–19). Inspired by this analogy, Huayan masters classify the Buddha’s teachings into three time periods: (1) sunrise, (2) moving sunshine, and (3) sunset.

Sunrise
    During this period, the sun at the horizon shines its light onto the highest mountaintops, just as the Buddha turns the root Dharma wheel, revealing in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra His perfect realization of the hindrance-free dharma realm. The One Vehicle He presents is a special teaching (別教) for the most advanced Bodhisattvas. These are His good teachings in the beginning.

Moving Sunshine
    During this period, the Buddha skillfully gives different teachings by turning the wide-ranging Dharma wheel three times. First, He turns the Hīnayāna Dharma wheel for sentient beings of low capacity, revealing in the Āgamas the Four Noble Truths and the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising. Second, He turns the Three-Vehicle Dharma wheel for sentient beings of middling capacity, revealing in vaipulya sūtras that dharmas are projections of one’s consciousness, to turn riders of the Two Vehicles to the Mahāyāna. Third, He turns the Mahāyāna Dharma wheel for sentient beings of high capacity, revealing in Tathāgata-store (Tathāgata-garbha) sūtras the definitive teachings of the One Vehicle. These are His good teachings in the middle.

Sunset
    During this period, the sun at the horizon once again shines its light onto the highest mountaintops, just as the Buddha turns the return-to-the-root Dharma wheel for His sharpest disciples, replacing the Three Vehicles with the One Vehicle, confirming the agreement of His teachings in the Lotus Sūtra with those in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra. These are His good teachings in the end.

The Huayan School considers that the One Vehicle presented in the last two periods is a unifying teaching (同教) for riders of the Three Vehicles. The One Vehicle presented in the first period is a special teaching (別教), the highest teaching.

Teachings Classified by Level

The Huayan School takes into consideration not only the classifications of teachings by the Tiantai School but also the tenets of the Chán (dhyāna) School and the Faxiang (dharma appearance) School. Dushun (T45n1867) classifies the Buddha’s teachings into five levels, each with a different view on the one mind (eka-citta). Later Huayan masters also expound them in their commentaries. These levels are (1) Hīnayāna teachings, (2) beginning Mahāyāna teachings, (3) mature Mahāyāna teachings, (4) immediate-realization teachings, and (5) all-embracing teachings.

Hīnayāna Teachings
    These teachings are for those incapable of accepting the Mahāyāna doctrine. They expound that there is no self in a person and expound the emptiness of a person composed of dharmas, such as the five aggregates, but cover little of no self in a dharma and the emptiness of a dharma. Followers of these teachings recognize only one’s six consciousnesses and the dependent arising of dharmas from one’s karmas. Striving to end their cycle of birth and death, they do not know a holy Bodhisattva’s changeable birth and death.[6] These teachings relate to the one mind as the mind that creates karmas, which lead to corresponding requitals.

Beginning Mahāyāna Teachings
    These teachings expound more on dharma appearances than on dharma nature (dharmatā). Based on prajñā-pāramitā sūtras, they state that dharmas have no selves and are empty. They emphasize the dependent arising of dharmas from one’s ālaya consciousness (eighth consciousness) as taught in the Sandhinirmocana Sūtra (T16n0676), and do not expound the Middle Way.[7] These teachings relate to the one mind as ālaya consciousness.

Mature Mahāyāna Teachings
    These teachings expound more dharma nature than dharma appearances, which all come down to dharma nature. According to sūtras such as the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra (T16n0670) and  Śrīmālādevi Sūtra (T12n0353), all sentient beings have the Tathāgata store (tathāgata-garbha), which is synonymous with true suchness (bhūta-tathātā), and they all will attain Buddhahood. These teachings introduce the dependent arising of dharmas from true suchness, which remains changeless. They relate to the one mind as the Tathāgata store.

Immediate-Realization Teachings
    These teachings are based on dharma nature only. Because dharmas by nature are true suchness, one can come to realization of the truth immediately, without using words or skillful observations, just as Vimalakīrti Bodhisattva, in the Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa Sūtra (T14n0475), explains the non-duality of dharmas by his silence. As proclaimed by the Chán School, if one does not have a single thought, one is called a Buddha.[8] These teachings relate to the one mind as the mind free from words and mental activities. By contrast, the Mahāyāna teachings at levels two and three are gradual-realization teachings.

All-Embracing Teachings
    These teachings are contained in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra. They encompass all teachings and present the One Vehicle as a special teaching for the most advanced Bodhisattvas. These teachings expound the one mind that encompasses all dharmas. In the dharma realm of the one mind, dharma nature is like an ocean that dissolves all dharmas into one, and the interdependent arising of dharmas is hindrance free. All-embracing teachings are also immediate-realization teachings as revealed in this sūtra, fascicle 17, chapter 16, in which Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva says that upon a Bodhisattva’s initial activation of the bodhi mind, he attains anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi (T10n0279, 0089a1–2).

The Dharma Realm of the One Mind

The Sanskrit word dharma means anything (mental, physical, event). For example, a dharma can be a dog, a tree, any of a sentient being’s components, such as the five aggregates, or a mental object, such as an emotion or a thought. Every dharma obeys its law and stays within its boundaries, without confusion with another dharma. For example, a dog and a tree are different dharmas, each having its own appearance and living its own life. However, this word has a special meaning when it is capitalized: the Dharma means the Buddha Dharma, i.e., Buddhist doctrine.
    In the West, dharma is often equated to phenomenon. Although such dharmas as a sunrise, a war, a fashion trend, or an epidemic are phenomena, it is doubtful that such dharmas as walking, drinking, thinking, a teaching, a sentient being, a mountain, a river, a table, a galaxy, or a dust particle can be called phenomena.
    Different minds perceive dharmas differently. For example, humans perceive water as water, but hungry ghosts perceive water as ashes or filth (Rulu 2012b, 173). Therefore, the Tiantai School of China recognizes ten dharma realms: (1) hell dwellers, (2) hungry ghosts, (3) animals, (4) humans, (5) asuras, (6) gods, (7) holy voice-hearers, (8) Pratyekabuddhas, (9) holy Bodhisattvas, and (10) Buddhas. The first six dharma realms are also called the six life-paths, through which ordinary beings transmigrate by doing good and evil karmas. The last four dharma realms are experienced by holy beings at different levels of spiritual attainment. However, Buddhas, who are fully enlightened and enlighten others, are beyond classification as a being or a nonbeing.
    By contrast, the Huayan School, based on the teachings in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, expounds the hindrance-free dharma realm of the one mind. This dharma realm is also called the one true dharma realm.
    In the 10-fascicle Chinese version of the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, fascicle 1, the Buddha says, “Nirvāṇa is called the one mind; the one mind is the Tathāgata store” (T16n0671, 0519a1–2). Chengguan says that the one mind, beyond existence and nonexistence, is the body of the true dharma realm. The one mind encompasses all things, which are not apart from it (X05n0229, fascicle 2).
    The Huayan School’s theses on the dharma realm include (1) dependent arising in the dharma realm, (2) the four dharma realms, (3) the three observations, (4) the ten abstruse doors, and (5) the six appearances. They are summarized below.

Dependent Arising in the Dharma Realm

Dependent arising has different meanings and implications in different teachings. For example, the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising explain saṁsāra, the cycle of birth and death, as a sequence of events; voice-hearers, out of disgust for saṁsāra, seek to enter nirvāṇa. Dependent arising from ālaya consciousness is driven by pure and impure seeds; one seeks to end impure seeds and keep pure seeds. Dependent arising from the Tathāgata store means that sentient beings arise and transmigrate until they attain Buddhahood, because true suchness, though changeless, follows conditions. The Esoteric School teaches dependent rising from the six domains—earth, water, fire, wind, space, and consciousness—and claims that these six are the fundamental body of the universe.
    The Huayan thesis of dependent arising in the dharma realm of the one mind expounds all-encompassing interdependent arising. As all dharmas constantly arise without end, one dharma is the condition for many dharmas to arise; many dharmas are the conditions for one dharma to arise. As manifestations of the one mind, all dharmas are like mutual reflections of the jewels of the god-king Indra’s net, all reflections reflecting one another, forming endless reflections. All dharmas identify with one another and enter one another, hindrance free. There are no opposites or paradoxes, such as saṁsāra versus nirvāṇa, purity versus impurity, true mind versus false mind, Buddhas versus sentient beings. As all dharmas remain different, they are in complete unity.
    All dharmas arise through causes and conditions because dharma nature is emptiness (śunyatā). For example, in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, fascicle 50, chapter 37a, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva explains, “Buddha-Sons, through countless causes and conditions, a Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World forms. Such is the nature of dharmas. There is no producer, no maker, no knower, and no accomplisher. Nevertheless, a world forms. . . . Likewise a Tathāgata’s appearance is accomplished through countless causes and conditions, . . . This is how a Tathāgata attains true enlightenment. It is attained without birth or act, because such is the nature of dharmas” (T10n0279, 0263b10–24). Therefore, dependent arising in the dharma realm is also called dependent arising from dharma nature.

The Four Dharma Realms

To delve into this dharma realm, Huayan masters teach that one can view it as four dharma realms: (1) the dharma realm of things,[9] (2) the dharma realm of the principle, (3) the dharma realm of no hindrance between things and the principle, and (4) the dharma realm of no hindrance among things. These four dharma realms are listed in Chengguan’s treatise on the three observations of the dharma realm (T45n1883) and Zongmi’s explanations of the three observations (T45n1884).

The Dharma Realm of Things
    All dharmas, such as mountains and seas, galaxies and atoms, sentient beings, and their physical and mental components and activities, appear to be separate things, like ocean waves arising, changing, and perishing through causes and conditions. They are manifestations of the one mind, like reflections in a clear mirror.

The Dharma Realm of the Principle
    Dharmas that arise and perish through causes and conditions have no self-essence (svabhāva), i.e., no inherent existence. The Sanskrit word svabhāva means “own being,” similar to the Kantian term noumenon, “thing-in-itself.” Without self-essence, dharmas are empty. Emptiness (śunyatā) is their nature and true reality (bhūta-tathātā). This changeless dharma nature is the underlying principle of all dharmas manifested from the one mind.

The Dharma Realm of No Hindrance between Things and the Principle
    As dharmas are founded on the principle, the principle is implicit in dharmas. Although dharmas appear and disappear, the principle is changeless. Although the principle is formless and timeless, it is revealed through dharmas with illusory appearances. In the analogy of a gold lion, gold is likened to the principle and the lion is a thing in a particular appearance. Without gold, a gold lion cannot appear. Therefore, without the principle, nothing can arise (T45n1880, 0664a24–25).

The Dharma Realm of No Hindrance among Things
    Chengguan (T36n1738) classifies dharmas into ten groups: (1) physical things, from one dust particle to vast worlds; (2) minds, pure or impure, and their functions; (3) time intervals, from moments to kalpas, and all time frames; (5) places, from the tip of one hair somewhere to worlds in the ten directions; (6) bodies of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, voice-hearers, and sentient beings, from one pore to the entire body; (7) directions, from one direction to the ten directions; (8) meanings of words, from one meaning to all meanings; (9) actions, from one action to all actions; (10) positions on the Bodhisattva Way, from the first level of abiding to the Buddha ground.
    Because the true reality of all things is emptiness, their illusory appearances do not hinder one another. For example, in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, fascicle 49, chapter 36, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva says, “All worlds enter the tip of one hair; the tip of one hair enters all worlds. All sentient beings’ bodies enter one body; one body enters all sentient beings’ bodies. An ineffable number of kalpas enter one thought; one thought enters an ineffable number of kalpas. The teachings of all Buddhas enter one teaching; one teaching enters the teachings of all Buddhas. An ineffable number of sensory fields enter one sensory field; one sensory field enters an ineffable number of sensory fields. An ineffable number of faculties enter one faculty; one faculty enters an ineffable number of faculties. All faculties enter one non-faculty; one non-faculty enters all faculties. All perceptions enter one perception; one perception enters all perceptions. All sounds of words enter the sound of one word; the sound of one word enters the sounds of all words. The three time frames [past, present, and future] enter one time frame; one time frame enters all three time frames” (T10n0279, 0258b27–c6).

The Three Observations

To fully understand the first dharma realm, one needs to fathom the last three dharma realms by making three observations. Attributed to Dushun, they are the first three of the five observations in Fazang’s essay on activation of the bodhi mind (T45n1878). Chengguan also explains these three observations in his treatise (T45n1883). Then Zongmi (T45n1884) annotates them, and Xüfa (X58n1025) summarizes them. The three observations are (1) the true emptiness of things, (2) no hindrance between things and the principle, and (3) pervasive mutual encompassing of things.

The True Emptiness of Things
    To fathom the dharma realm of the principle, one should observe the emptiness of dharmas in the dharma realm. Using form as an example, Chengquan (T45n1883) observes form in four ways: (1) form is emptiness because it has no self-essence; (2) emptiness, like a clear mirror that displays images, is form; (3) emptiness and form do not hinder each other because form is illusory and emptiness does not destroy form; (4) observing form without thinking, and without relying on views, such as those in (1) and (2), leads to realizing its true emptiness.
    As form is true emptiness, so too are all other dharmas. True emptiness is revealed in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, fascicle 16, chapter 14, in which All Wisdom Bodhisattva says, “Observe that dharmas / Have no self-essence. / Their births and deaths / Are false names. / All dharmas have neither birth / Nor death. / If one can have this understanding, / Buddhas always appear before one. /” (T10n0279, c11–14).

No Hindrance between Things and the Principle
    The first observation leads to realizing the true emptiness of things as the principle, but does not reveal things as useful manifestations of true suchness. To fathom the dharma realm of no hindrance between things and the principle, Chengguan teaches that one should see the oneness of things and the principle through ten doors.
    (1) The principle, which is free from differentiation, pervades all things.
    (2) Things, which can be differentiated, encompass the principle.
    (3) Things, which have no self-essence, rely on the principle to arise. They are like pictures painted by an artist, i.e., one’s mind.
    (4) Things reveal the principle because their appearances through causes and conditions indicate that their nature is emptiness.
    (5) The principle transcends all things, like the open sky unchanged by worlds in existence or destruction. In the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, fascicle 52, chapter 37c, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva says, “Buddha bodhi neither increases nor decreases, whether anyone attains or does not attain true enlightenment. Why? Because bodhi is beyond appearance and no appearance, one and many” (T10n0279, 0275a27–29).
    (6) Things conceal the principle because things are detectable, but the principle is not. Therefore, sentient beings perceive dharma appearances, but not dharma nature.
    (7) The principle is things, like water in the appearance of waves.
    (8) Things are the principle, like waves made of water.
    (9) The principle is not things because the principle is true and things are false appearances.
    (10) Things are not the principle because things arise and perish through causes and conditions, and the principle is changeless.
    While doors 7 and 8 reveal that things and the principle are the same, doors 9 and 10 reveal that they are different. Therefore, things and the principle are neither same nor different. Nevertheless, they are one and there is no hindrance between them.

Pervasive Mutual Encompassing of Things
    Through the second observation, one sees the oneness of things and the principle. Therefore, as the principle, like the sky, is pervasive and all-encompassing, so do things pervade and encompass one another, hindrance free. To fathom the dharma realm of no hindrance among things, Chengguan teaches that one should observe their pervasive mutual encompassing through ten doors.
    (1) The principle is like things. Because it appears as different things, seeing anything is seeing the principle.
    (2) Things are like the principle. Therefore, even a dust particle pervades all things as does the principle.
    (3) Everything displays no hindrance between things and the principle. Because things and the principle are neither same nor different, one thing can encompass one or many things; many things can encompass one or many things. When one thing encompasses one or many things, the latter pervade the former. When many things encompass one or many things, the latter pervade the former.
    (4) There is no hindrance between a particular place and many other places. Because things and the principle are different, a particular place is defined by its location; because things and principle are the same, places have no locations as does the principle. Therefore, anything can remain in its place and be everywhere in the ten directions; a Buddha can remain on His seat in one world and expound the Dharma in all worlds.
    (5) There is no hindrance between small and large things. Because things and the principle are different, things have different sizes; because things and the principle are the same, things have no sizes as does the principle. Therefore, a dust particle that remains small can encompass Mount Sumeru as can the principle.
    (6) There is no hindrance to one thing encompassing many things. For example, each of the ten mirrors facing a light in the center of a room encompasses the reflections of the other nine mirrors.
    (7) There is no hindrance between encompassing and entering one or many things. As one thing encompasses many things, it also enters them. As many things encompass one thing, they also enter it.
    (8) There is no hindrance to mutual encompassing and entering one or many things. One thing can encompass and enter one or many things, and one or many things can encompass and enter one or many things. For example, as the reflections of nine mirrors enter one mirror and are encompassed by it, its reflection enters nine mirrors and is encompassed by them.
    (9) There is no hindrance to entering, together with encompassed things, one or many things. One thing can encompass many things and, together with them, enter one or many things. For example, one mirror encompasses the reflections of many mirrors and enters, together with these reflections, one or many mirrors.
    (10) In sum, all dharmas are in complete unity, hindrance free.

The Ten Abstruse Doors

Understanding the dharma realm of no hindrance among things that endlessly arise through causes and conditions leads to an understanding of the abstruse meanings in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra. However, it is difficult for human minds to comprehend this dharma realm. Building upon the meanings of the preceding ten doors, Huayan masters propose another ten doors to describe this dharma realm revealed by the Buddha. They are called the ten abstruse doors, also called the ten abstruse doors of hindrance-free dependent arising of dharmas, or the ten abstruse doors of the Huayan One Vehicle.
    The ten abstruse doors expounded by Zhiyan (T35n1732, T45n1868) and Fazang (T45n1866) are attributed to Dushun and referred to as the old ten doors. Then Fazang (T35n1733, T45n1871) changes their order and replaces two doors. His ten doors are referred to as the new ten doors. Chengguan (T35n1735, T36n1736, X05n0232) expounds these new ten doors, and Xüfa (X58n1025) summarizes them. These ten new doors are (1) all things in simultaneous responsiveness, (2) no hindrance between small and large things, (3) one thing and many things encompassing each other and remaining different, (4) things identifying with one another unhindered, (5) things being simultaneously manifest and concealed, (6) a small thing encompassing many things with no change in sizes, (7) all things in the state of Indra’s net, (8) things bringing an understanding of the dharma realm, (9) things in any of the ten time frames, and (10) everything arising as a principal in complete unity with its companions. Their summaries below are based on Chengguan (X05n0232).

All Things in Simultaneous Responsiveness
    All things simultaneously respond to one another, free from before and after, beginning and ending. They are like reflections in a tranquil ocean seen in the Ocean Seal Samādhi (sāgaramudrā-samādhi). Everything is like a drop of ocean water that contains the flavors of all river waters. This door is the general door that leads to the next nine doors, and all ten doors encompass one another.

No Hindrance between Small and Large Things
    Everything is like the principle, which has no boundary. Therefore, small is large, and large is small. Everything is like a small mirror that can contain the reflection of a huge mountain. Therefore, a lotus flower can span the entire dharma realm.

One Thing and Many Things Encompassing Each Other and Remaining Different
    When one thing enters many things, many things encompass it, all remaining different. When many things enter one thing, one thing compasses them, all remaining different. For example, when a thousand lamplights illuminate one another, they look like one light, but remain different.

Things Identifying with One Another Unhindered
    Things identify with one another unhindered, like waves made of the same water. One thing identifies with many things; many things identify with one thing. One Buddha’s words are all Buddhas’ words; entering One Dharma Door is entering all Dharma Doors. Different positions on the Bodhisattva Way are the same, as revealed in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra. In its fascicle 17, chapter 16, Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva says that upon a Bodhisattva’s initial activation of the bodhi mind, he attains anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi (T10n0279, 0089a1–2).

Things Being Simultaneously Manifest and Concealed
    When one thing encompasses many things, one thing is manifest and many things are concealed. When many things encompass one thing, many things are manifest and one thing is concealed. Because one thing can simultaneously encompass many things and be encompassed by many things, it can be simultaneously manifest and concealed, like a secret. Those who see a Buddha in heaven do not see Him in the human world; those who see a Buddha in the human world do not seem Him in heaven. All groups simultaneously see a Buddha in their worlds, but not other worlds.

A Small Thing Encompassing Many Things with No Change in Sizes
    When one thing encompasses many things, one and many retain their sizes. For example, when a dust particle encompasses many large worlds, it conforms to dharma nature and is like a crystal vase, and many large worlds are like mustard seeds in the vase. However, the dust particle does not become large, and the worlds do not become small. In one thought, all subtle meanings clearly emerge. In one thought, a Bodhisattva knows all sentient beings’ different minds.

All Things in the State of Indra’s Net
    As every jewel of the god-king Indra’s net displays reflections of all other jewels, all reflections reflect one another without end. One dust particle encompasses countless worlds made of dust particles, each of which encompasses countless worlds. It continues in this way without end, like the endless reflections in Indra’s net.

Things Bringing an Understanding of the Dharma Realm
    Because there is no difference between things and the principle, anything can bring an understanding of the dharma realm. Therefore, upon seeing a flower or hearing a bell, a Chán student sees his Buddha nature. Whatever one does, whether standing still, raising one’s hand, or touching something, reveals the inconceivable dharma realm.

Things in Any of the Ten Time Frames
    Each of the three time frames has three time frames: past has its past, present, and future; present has its past, present, and future; future has its past, present and future. These nine time frames are encompassed in one thought, the tenth time frame. Although the ten time frames seem to be separate, things and time are in complete unity. One thought is countless kalpas; in a dream, one can pass through one hundred years.

Everything Arising as a Principal in Complete Unity with Its Companions
    In the dharma realm of dependent arising, nothing arises alone. Everything arises as a principal in unity with its companions, like a polar star surrounded by lesser stars. One teaching is accompanied by many teachings. When a Buddha emits radiance, it is accompanied by billions of beams of light as its retinue. When Samantabhadra Bodhisattva expounds the Dharma, Bodhisattvas from other worlds come to testify that they expound the same Dharma. When they expound the Dharma, each is a principal accompanied by other Bodhisattvas as his companions.

Of these ten doors, the first three are the base, which produce the last seven. The first produces the fourth, fifth, and sixth; the second produces the seventh, eighth, and ninth; the third produces the tenth. Everything in the dharma realm, large or small, can be observed through these ten abstruse doors because they reveal the dharma realm of no hindrance among things.

The Six Appearances

The term “six appearances” comes from the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, fascicle 34, chapter 26a, in which a Bodhisattva on the first ground makes ten vows. His fourth vow is to take vast Bodhisattva actions and explain truthfully the six appearances of every action. These six are (1) general, (2) particular, (3) same, (4) different, (5) completed, and (6) undone (T10n0279, 0181c25–26).
    According to Huayan masters, every dharma, not just a Bodhisattva action, has these six appearances. Their explanations of the six appearances are based on the relationship between a thing and its components. A thing’s general appearance disregards its components. Its particular appearance arises from its particular components. Its components have the same appearance because they belong to the same thing. Its components have different appearances because they are different components with different uses. A thing has a completed appearance when it is completed through dependent arising of its components. It has an undone appearance when its components go separate ways.
    For example, the general appearance of a team is a group of people. Its particular appearance arises from its particular members. Its members have the same appearance because they belong to the same team. Its individual members have different appearances and skills. A team has a completed appearance because of the union of its members. It has an undone appearance when its members go separate ways.
    Every team member has these six appearances as well. His general appearance is a human body. His particular appearance arises from his particular sense organs and other features. His sense organs have the same appearance because they belong to him. His sense organs have different appearances because they are different organs with different functions. He has a completed appearance because of the union of his sense organs. He has an undone appearance when one or more of his sense organs are missing or useless. Then every sense organ has these six appearances. It goes on like this, down to a tissue, a cell, an atom, and even a sub-atomic particle.
    Of these six appearances, the first and second reveal the equal importance of the general and particular appearances of a thing; the third and fourth reveal that its components belong to it but remain different; the fifth and sixth reveal the completion and dissolution of a thing because of its components; the first, third, and fifth reveal unity; the second, fourth, and sixth reveal differences. As unity and differences are not apart from each other, all six appearances are in unity. As every dharma has these six appearances, all dharmas in the dharma realm are interconnected.

Why Dharmas Are in Complete Unity

To explain why dharmas are hindrance free and in complete unity, Chengguan (T35n1735, X05n0232) gives ten reasons.
    (1) Dharmas are manifestations of the one mind, like waves lifted by the ocean.
    (2) Dharmas have no definite nature. Manifested by the mind through conditions, large is not definitely large; small is not definitely small; one is not definitely one; many are not definitely many.
    (3) The dharma realm is a great arising of interdependent dharmas. As different dharmas are mutual conditions for arising, they respond to one another.
    (4) Dharma nature pervades all things. Therefore, there is no hindrance among things, as revealed by the ten abstruse doors.
    (5) Dharmas are illusory. When a dreamer travels to near and far places, there is no difference between near and far. When a magician conjures many things from one thing, and one thing from many things, there is no difference between the conjured one and many things. Therefore, when a sentient being conjured by the Tathāgata store does illusory things, there is no difference between one and many illusory things he does.
    (6) Dharmas are like reflections. Manifested from the mind, they are like endless mutual reflections of two mirrors facing each other.
    (7) Causes of dharmas are countless. One cause has countless causes, each of which has countless causes. For example, in the past, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have taken universally worthy actions, observed dependent arising of dharmas, made great vows, transferred their merits, and created other excellent causes. Such countless causes lead to their hindrance-free attainments.
    (8) A Buddha has realized the ultimate truth. He is adorned with merit and wisdom, which indicate that perfect causes have led to perfect effects.
    (9) Profound samādhi enables one to experience the hindrance-free dharma realm. In the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, fascicle 40, chapter 27a, the Buddha says, “If a Bodhisattva enters these samādhis, he acquires the endless power of the dharma realm and walks across the open sky hindrance free” (T10n0279, 0213a7–8).
    (10) All Buddhas have achieved inconceivable liberation and acquired spiritual powers. In fascicle 47, chapter 33b, Blue Lotus Flower Store Bodhisattva says, “Buddha-Bhagavāns have ten hindrance-free liberations. . . . All Buddhas can manifest in a dust particle an ineffably ineffable number of Buddhas appearing in worlds in the ten directions. . . . All Buddhas can manifest in a dust particle all past, present, and future Buddha work” (Ibid., 0251b5–17).
    The eighth, ninth, and tenth reasons imply that the hindrance-free dharma realm is revealed by Buddhas, who are fully enlightened and have transcended human perception, and is experienced by advanced Bodhisattvas in samādhi. They set an example for those with enough faith to enter the dharma realm through spiritual training.

Benefits of the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment

The Bodhisattva Way culminates in attainment of Buddhahood. At the beginning of the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, Śākyamuni Buddha, in His first assembly under the bodhi tree, displays the glory of Buddhahood. He reveals Himself as Vairocana Buddha in His sublime reward body (saṁbhogakāya), which is the main requital for completing the Bodhisattva Way. He also reveals the Lotus Flower Store of Oceans of Magnificent Worlds, which is the reliance requital.[10] In the ninth assembly, the youth Sudhana demonstrates entering the dharma realm by completing in one lifetime all six stages of the Bodhisattva Way. The first assembly reveals the Buddha one believes in, and the ninth assembly reveals the believer becoming a Buddha. Universally worthy actions are the perfect cause, and Buddhahood is the perfect effect. Cause and effect are equal in the hindrance-free dharma realm of the one mind.
    Fazang (T45n1871) lists ten benefits of this sūtra. They are (1) seeing or hearing a Buddha, (2) activating the bodhi mind, (3) taking actions, (4) taking spiritual positions, (5) ascending to heaven or a Bodhisattva ground quickly, (6) removing hindrances, (7) giving others benefits, (8) acquiring benefits through training, (9) acquiring benefits immediately, and (10) conforming to dharma nature.

Seeing or Hearing a Buddha

Studying a Buddha’s teachings is seeing and hearing a Buddha. In the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, fascicle 52, chapter 37c, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva says, “Whoever makes offerings to the ground walked by a Tathāgata or to His memorial pagodas acquires roots of goodness, ends the trouble of his afflictions, and experiences the joy experienced by sages and holies. . . . If sentient beings see or hear a Buddha, though they do not elicit faith or delight because they are fettered by karma-hindrances, they still plant their roots of goodness without fail and will ultimately enter nirvāṇa” (T10n0279, 0277b14–18).

Activating the Bodhi Mind

In fascicle 17, chapter 17, Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva says that as soon as a Bodhisattva activates the bodhi mind, he is praised by all Buddhas in worlds in the ten directions, and can expound the Dharma and teach all sentient beings in all worlds (Ibid., 0091c17–19).

Taking Actions

Taking even one universally worthy action leads to taking all spiritual positions. In fascicle 49, chapter 36, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva says that a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva who retains the teachings on universally worthy actions will, with a little effort, quickly attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi and acquire the entire Buddha Dharma (Ibid., 0258c24–26).

Taking Spiritual Positions

Every position on the Bodhisattva Way encompasses all positions, from the first level of abiding to the Buddha Ground. Therefore, one ground encompasses the virtues of all grounds (T09n0278, 0395b25–26). All positions are one position. Therefore, upon fulfilling the ten faithful minds, a Bodhisattva attains Buddhahood.

Ascending to a Heaven or a Bodhisattva Ground Quickly

In fascicle 48, chapter 35, when hell dwellers encounter the radiance emitted by Vairocana Bodhisattva in Tuṣita Heaven (the fourth desire heaven), they gain a respite from suffering, and acquire ten purities of their eyes, ears, noses, tongues, bodies, and minds. After death, they are reborn in Tuṣita Heaven and become god-sons (T10n0279, 0255c16–20). When they hear Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s vast transference of his roots of goodness, they ascend to the tenth Bodhisattva ground and are adorned with powers and samādhis (Ibid., 0257a5–6).

Removing Hindrances

In the same chapter, these god-sons repent of their grave sins and remove all hindrances by doing pure body, voice, and mind karmas (Ibid., 0257a6–7). When they make an offering to Vairocana Tathāgata, a cloud of lotus flowers is emitted from every pore on their bodies, and fragrant clouds rain down fragrances everywhere. Those whose bodies are suffused with the fragrance experience peace and joy and all their karma-hindrances are removed (Ibid., 0257a13–18).

Giving Others Benefits

In the same chapter, those who see that cloud canopy plant roots of goodness as numerous as the sands of the Ganges (Ibid., 0257a23–24). Those who encounter even briefly the radiance of a Bodhisattva who abides in the position of Pure Gold Web Wheel-Turning King will ascend to the tenth Bodhisattva ground (Ibid., 0257b6–8).

Acquiring Benefits through Training

In chapter 39 in fascicles 60–80, the youth Sudhana activates the bodhi mind, takes universally worthy actions with faith under the guidance of fifty-three beneficent learned teachers, and attains Buddhahood in one lifetime.

Acquiring Benefits Immediately

In fascicle 61, chapter 39b, Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva teaches 6,000 monks led by Śāriputra to cultivate ten tireless minds in order to ride the Mahāyāna, and they immediately enter the samādhi called Hindrance-Free Eye That Sees the States of All Buddhas (Ibid., 0331b21–29).

Conforming to Dharma Nature

As all dharmas conform to dharma nature, so too do sentient beings. In fascicle 52, chapter 37c, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva says that when a Tathāgata attains true enlightenment, in His body He sees all sentient beings activate the bodhi mind, train in Bodhisattva actions, attain true enlightenment, and even enter parinirvāṇa. These events have the same nature, i.e., no self-essence. Knowing that all dharmas have no self-essence, He acquires all wisdom-knowledge and endless great compassion to deliver sentient beings (Ibid., 0275a19–26).

Entering the Dharma Realm

The all-embracing teachings in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra reveal the interdependent arising of all things in the dharma realm. All things identify with and enter one another, hindrance free. These teachings are beyond the human experience of space and time. Therefore, Huayan masters expound these teachings in their theses, and use their logic to explain why there is no hindrance among things. Although the theses are referred to by scholars as the Huayan philosophy, they are not intended for philosophical debates, but intended to convince students to believe in the dharma realm revealed by the Buddha. As all things in the dharma realm are in unity, the Huayan theses are in unity with meditation practice.
    Although some may find Huayan masters’ explanations hard to comprehend, those who believe in more than three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension may not find it hard to accept the dharma realm of no hindrance among things. To enter this dharma realm is to realize the wisdom mind, which transcends the human experience of space and time. However, the object is not merely to experience things hindrance free, but to rescue sentient beings from suffering and teach them to enter this dharma realm. Therefore, on one’s spiritual journey, one should always keep in mind that the Mahāyāna is founded on wisdom, and compassion for all sentient beings. Sustained by the bodhi mind and one’s faith in the teachings in the Buddha Adornment Sūtra, one must take universally worthy actions through all stages of the Bodhisattva Way.
    Those who treasure this sūtra and carry out its teachings are true Buddha-sons, as affirmed by Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. In fascicle 52, chapter 37c, he says, “This precious sūtra falls only into the hands of a Dharma King’s true sons, who have been born into the Tathāgata family and planted roots of goodness to acquire a Tathāgata’s appearance. Buddha-Sons, without these true Buddha-sons, this Dharma Door will soon vanish. Why? Because no rider of the Two Vehicles hears this sūtra, much less accepts, upholds, reads and recites, copies, or expounds it. Only Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas can do these things. Therefore, when a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva hears this Dharma Door, he should feel great joy and accept it with the highest esteem and reverence. Why? Because a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva who believes and delights in this sūtra will soon attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi” (T10n0279, 0277c7–15).


Notes

    1. Texts 278 (T09n0278), 279 (T10n0279), and 293 (T10n0293), the three Chinese versions of the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment, make no mention of the Buddha giving these teachings on the fourteenth day after His perfect enlightenment. However, text 287, the Chinese version of the Sūtra of the Ten Grounds, states that the Buddha, on the fourteenth day after His perfect enlightenment, presided over His sixth assembly in the palace of Paranirmita-vaśa-vartin Heaven, where He empowered Vajra Store Bodhisattva to expound the ten Bodhisattva grounds (T10n0287, 0525a29–b2). Therefore, Bodhiruci (菩提留支, 5th–6th centuries) claims that the Buddha gave teachings in His first five assemblies on the seventh day after His enlightenment, and gave teachings in His other assemblies on the fourteenth day. There is another theory that His ninth assembly was convened at a later time. According to text 189, the Chinese version of the Sūtra of Past and Present Cause and Effect, fascicle 3, during the first seven days after His perfect enlightenment, the Buddha heard the repeated request of Great Brahma King and the god-king Śakra to give teachings, but remained silent. For the second seven days, with His Buddha-eye He observed sentient beings’ capacities and afflictions (T03n0189, 0643a13–22). Dharma Master Fazang (法藏, 643–712), the third patriarch of the Huayan School of China, is convinced that the Buddha gave teachings in all nine assemblies on the fourteenth day after His perfect enlightenment (T35n1733, 0127b24–c12). (Return to text)
    2. The Universal Radiance Hall, also called Universal Radiance Dharma Hall, was near the bodhimaṇḍa where the Buddha attained perfect enlightenment. According to Chengguan, this hall, southeast of the bodhimaṇḍa, at the bend of the Nairañjanā River, was built for the Buddha by dragons (T36n1738, 0712a12–15). At another level of understanding, this hall symbolizes the Buddha mind filled with radiant wisdom. (Return to text)
    3. See “three bodies of a Buddha” in the glossary. (Return to text)
    4. The Lotus Flower Store of Oceans of Magnificent Worlds is described in detail in text 279 (T10n0279), fascicles 8–10. In the center ocean of fragrant water is a huge lotus flower. On its top are twenty layers of world systems, each containing worlds as numerous as an ineffable number of dust particles. (Return to text)
    5. Vaipulya sūtras are one of the twelve categories of sūtras in the Chinese Canon. See “sūtras in the twelve categories” in the glossary. (Return to text)
    6. See “two types of birth and death” in the glossary. (Return to text)
    7. The word middle does not mean a midpoint or a compromise between opposites, nor is it their union. The Middle Way means that emptiness is non-dual, above the plane of polar opposites, which are illusory appearances of dharmas through illusory causes and conditions, all under false names. Emptiness is also a false name. Although the Buddha often likens emptiness to the open sky, one should not take emptiness as nothingness or as a metaphysical base for saṁskṛta dharmas (Rulu 2012a, 25). (Return to text)
    8. A Buddha defined in this way has not fulfilled merit and wisdom to be called Two-Footed Honored One or to be called by His ten epithets. The Tiantai School qualifies use of the name Buddha to six levels, from a Buddha in principle (a sentient being) to a Buddha in fulfillment (a perfectly enlightened one). (Return to text)
    9. Perhaps to avoid the redundancy of “dharma realm of dharmas,” Huayan masters use the word things. In their writings, they use the words dharmas and things interchangeably. (Return to text)
    10. For an ordinary being, his body is the main requital for his past karmas; the living environment his life relies on is the reliance requital, e.g., a birdcage holding a bird. Although a Buddha Land is called His reliance requital, a Buddha in His reward body does not rely on a living environment. His body is no different from the worlds where He appears. (Return to text)


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