The Flower Ornament Scripture: A Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra

The Flower Ornament Scripture: A Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra

by Thomas Cleary
     
 

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Known
in Chinese as
Hua-yen
and in Japanese as
Kegon-kyo,
the
Avatamsaka
Sutra,

or
Flower
Ornament Scripture,

is held in the highest regard and studied by Buddhists of all traditions.
Through its structure and symbolism, as well as through its concisely stated
principles, it conveys a

Overview

Known
in Chinese as
Hua-yen
and in Japanese as
Kegon-kyo,
the
Avatamsaka
Sutra,

or
Flower
Ornament Scripture,

is held in the highest regard and studied by Buddhists of all traditions.
Through its structure and symbolism, as well as through its concisely stated
principles, it conveys a vast range of Buddhist teachings.

This
one-volume edition contains Thomas Cleary's definitive translation of all
thirty-nine books of the sutra, along with an introduction, a glossary, and
Cleary's translation of Li Tongxuan's seventh-century guide to the final book,
the
Gandavyuha,
"Entry into the Realm of Reality."


Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"There is no doubt in my mind that Thomas Cleary is the greatest translator of Buddhist texts from Chinese or Japanese into English of our generation, and that he will be so known by grateful Buddhist practitioners and scholars in future centuries. Single-handedly he has gone a long way toward building the beginnings of a Buddhist canon in English. . . . His translation of the Flower Ornament Sutra from Shikshananda's Chinese translation of the Sanskrit is one of the monuments in Buddhist Studies of our time."—Robert A. F. Thurman, Tricycle

"As to the Avatamsaka-Sutra, it is really the consummation of Buddhist thought, Buddhist sentiment, and Buddhist experience. To my mind, no religious literature in the world can ever approach the grandeur of conception, the depth of feeling, and the gigantic scale of composition, as attained by the sutra. Here not only deeply speculative minds find satisfaction, but humble spirits and heavily oppressed hearts, too, will have their burdens lightened. Abstract truths are so concretely, so symbolically represented here that one will finally come to a realization of the truth that even in a particle of dust the whole universe is seen reflected—not this visible universe only, but a vast system of universes, conceivable by the highest minds only."—D. T. Suzuki

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780834824096
Publisher:
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
07/08/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
2 MB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

From
Book One:
The
Wonderful Adornments of the Leaders of the Worlds

Thus
have I heard. At one time the Buddha was in the land of Magadha, in a state of
purity, at the site of enlightenment, having just realized true awareness. The
ground was solid and firm, made of diamond, adorned with exquisite jewel discs
and myriad precious flowers, with pure clear crystals. The ocean of
characteristics of the various colors appeared over an infinite extent. There
were banners of precious stones, constantly emitting shining light and
producing beautiful sounds. Nets of myriad gems and garlands of exquisitely
scented flowers hung all around. The finest jewels appeared spontaneously,
raining inexhaustible quantities of gems and beautiful flowers all over the
earth. There were rows of jewel trees, their branches and foliage lustrous and
luxuriant. By the Buddha's spiritual power, he caused all the adornments of
this enlightenment site to be reflected therein.

The
tree of enlightenment was tall and outstanding. Its trunk was diamond, its main
boughs were lapis lazuli, its branches and twigs were of various precious
elements. The leaves, spreading in all directions, provided shade, like clouds.
The precious blossoms were of various colors, the branching twigs spread out
their shadows. Also the fruits were jewels containing a blazing radiance. They
were together with the flowers in great arrays. The entire circumference of the
tree emanated light; within the light there rained precious stones, and within
each gem were enlightening beings, in great hosts like clouds, simultaneously
appearing.

Also,
by virtue of the awesome spiritual power of the Buddha, the tree of
enlightenment constantly gave forth sublime sounds speaking various truths
without end.

The
palace chamber in which the Buddha was situated was spacious and beautifully
adorned. It extended throughout the ten directions. It was made of jewels of
various colors and was decorated with all kinds of precious flowers. The
various adornments emanated lights like clouds; the masses of their reflections
from within the palace formed banners.

A
boundless host of enlightening beings, the congregation at the site of
enlightenment, were all gathered there: by means of the ability to manifest the
lights and inconceivable sounds of the Buddhas, they fashioned nets of the
finest jewels, from which came forth all the realms of action of the spiritual
powers of the Buddhas, and in which were reflected images of the abodes of all
beings.

Also,
by virtue of the aid of the spiritual power of the Buddha, they embraced the
entire cosmos in a single thought.

Their
lion seats were high, wide, and beautiful. The bases were made of jewels, their
nets of lotus blossoms, their tableaus of pure, exquisite gemstones. They were
adorned with various flowers of all colors. Their roofs, chambers, steps, and
doors were adorned by the images of all things. The branches and fruits of
jewel trees surrounded them, arrayed at intervals.

Clouds
of radiance of jewels reflected each other: the Buddhas of the ten directions
conjured regal pearls, and the exquisite jewels in the topknots of all the
enlightening beings all emanated light, which came and illuminated them.

Furthermore,
sustained by the spiritual power of all Buddhas, they expounded the vast
perspective of the Enlightened Ones, their subtle tones extending afar, there
being no place they did not reach.

At
that time, the Buddha, the World Honored One, in this setting, attained to
supreme, correct awareness of all things. His knowledge entered into all times
with complete equanimity; his body filled all worlds; his voice universally
accorded with all lands in the ten directions. Like space, which contains all
forms, he made no discrimination among all objects. And, as space extends
everywhere, he entered all lands with equanimity. His body forever sat
omnipresent in all sites of enlightenment. Among the host of enlightening
beings, his awesome light shone clearly, like the sun emerging, illumining the
world. The ocean of myriad virtues which he practiced in all times was
thoroughly pure, and he constantly demonstrated the production of all the
buddha-lands, their boundless forms and spheres of light extending throughout
the entire cosmos, equally and impartially.

He
expounded all truths, like spreading great clouds. Each of his hair tips was
able to contain all worlds without interference, in each manifesting
immeasurable spiritual powers, teaching and civilizing all sentient beings. His
body extended throughout the ten directions, yet without coming or going. His
knowledge entered into all forms and realized the emptiness of things. All the
miraculous displays of the Buddhas of past, present, and future, were all seen
in his light, and all the adornments of inconceivable eons were revealed.

There
were great enlightening beings numerous as the atoms in ten buddha-worlds
surrounding him. Their names were: Universally Good (Samantabhadra), Light of
the Supreme Lamp of Universal Virtue, Lion Banner of Universal Light, Subtle
Light of Flames of Universal Jewels, Banner of Oceans of Qualities of Universal
Sounds, Realm of Enlightenment of Radiance of Universal Knowledge, Banner of
Flowers of a Topknot of Universal Jewels, Pleasing Voice of Universal
Awareness, Light of Inexhaustible Virtue of Universal Purity, Mark of Universal
Light, Great Brilliance of the Light of the Moon Reflected in the Ocean,
Undefiled Treasury of Light of Oceans of Cloudlike Sounds, Born of Wisdom and
Adorned with Virtue, Great Light of Sovereign Virtue, Brave Lotus Topknot, Sun
Banner of Clouds of Universal Knowledge, Greatly Persevering with
Indestructible Courage, Light Banner of Fragrant Flames, Deep Beautiful Sound
of Great Enlightened Virtue, Born of Wisdom with the Light of Great Virtue.
These and others were the leaders—there were as many as there are atoms in ten
buddha-worlds.

These
enlightening beings had all in the past accumulated roots of goodness along
with Vairocana Buddha, and were all born from the ocean of roots of goodness of
the Buddha. They had already fulfilled the various means of transcendence, and
their wisdom eye was thoroughly clear. They observed all times with
impartiality. They were thoroughly purified in all states of concentration.
Their eloquence was oceanic, extensive and inexhaustible. They possessed the
qualities of buddhahood, were dignified and honorable. They knew the faculties
of sentient beings, and taught them according to potential and necessity. They
entered into the matrix of the cosmos, their knowledge was nondiscriminatory;
they experienced the liberation of the Buddhas, exceedingly deep and immensely
vast. They were able to enter into one stage, according to technical
expediency, yet maintain the virtues of all stages, supported by the ocean of
all vows, always accompanied by wisdom, throughout the future. They had
thoroughly comprehended the rarely attained, vast secret realm of all Buddhas.
They were familiar with the equal teachings of all Buddhas. They were already
treading the Buddhas' ground of universal light. They entered the doors of
boundless oceans of concentrations. They manifested bodies in all places and
participated in worldly activities. Their memory power was enormous, and they
assembled the ocean of all the teachings. With intelligence, eloquence, and
skill they turned the wheel which never turns back. The vast ocean of virtuous
qualities of all Buddhas entered entirely into their bodies. They went
willingly to all the lands in which there were Buddhas. They had already made
offerings to all Buddhas, over boundless eons, joyfully and tirelessly. In all
places when the Buddhas attained enlightenment, they were always there,
approaching them and associating with them, never giving up. Always, by means
of the vows of universal goodness and wisdom, they caused the wisdom-body of
all sentient beings to be fulfilled. They had perfected innumerable such virtues.



What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"There is no doubt in my mind that Thomas Cleary is the greatest translator of Buddhist texts from Chinese or Japanese into English of our generation, and that he will be so known by grateful Buddhist practitioners and scholars in future centuries. Single-handedly he has gone a long way toward building the beginnings of a Buddhist canon in English. . . . His translation of the Flower Ornament Sutra from Shikshananda's Chinese translation of the Sanskrit is one of the monuments in Buddhist Studies of our time."—Robert A. F. Thurman, Tricycle

"As to the Avatamsaka-Sutra, it is really the consummation of Buddhist thought, Buddhist sentiment, and Buddhist experience. To my mind, no religious literature in the world can ever approach the grandeur of conception, the depth of feeling, and the gigantic scale of composition, as attained by the sutra. Here not only deeply speculative minds find satisfaction, but humble spirits and heavily oppressed hearts, too, will have their burdens lightened. Abstract truths are so concretely, so symbolically represented here that one will finally come to a realization of the truth that even in a particle of dust the whole universe is seen reflected—not this visible universe only, but a vast system of universes, conceivable by the highest minds only."—D. T. Suzuki

Meet the Author

Thomas Cleary holds a PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. He is the translator of over fifty volumes of Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, and Islamic texts from Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, Pali, and Arabic.

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