From Three Thousand Worlds...
...to Buddha Nature
If what we call the phenomenal world is the same reality that the Buddhas call nirvana, then our emancipation from this phenomenal world does not mean that we enter a different reality, but rather that we have altered our perception of the self-same reality. Therefore, the difference between being in the mundane world and entering nirvana is nothing more than our internal perception and our understanding of this reality, not the reality itself. It is open to all of us to alter our mistaken views and delusions to gain true insights; it is open to all of us to obtain salvation and reach nirvana. This very possibility lies in the fact that we all possess “Buddha-nature” from time immemorial. The universality of Buddha-nature is what makes it possible for everyone to attain Buddhahood and enter nirvana. [An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy, 297-8]
Constantly Sitting/Constantly Walking
Chih-i identifies the first of the four kinds of samadhi [the samadhi through constant sitting] with the practice known as i-hsing san-mei, rendered here as “one-practice samadhi.” ... As Chih-i describes it in the Mo-ho chih-kuan, one-practice samadhi is to be performed in a quiet room or a secluded and untrammeled spot. The essential requisite is that the immediate environs be free of any disturbance, human or otherwise. Only a single rope bed for meditation is to be placed in the hall; no other seats or daises should be added. The practice itself lasts for a fixed period of ninety days and may be performed alone or in a small group. Over the entire duration of this three-month period the meditator applies himself zealously to the practice of sitting motionless in the traditional “lotus” meditation posture. With the exception of brief stretches of walking meditation and attending to such necessities as eating and relieving himself, he vows never to sleep, lie down, stand, wander aimlessly about, or lean against any object for support. For this reason the practice is referred to as “constantly sitting.” ...
Chih-i distinguishes two basic approaches to meditative practice in this one-practice samadhi: the radical approach of directly contemplating the reality of the Dharma-realm (or the Dharma-body of the Buddha) and the more expedient approach of concentrating the mind on the name, idealized image, and merits (the body of form) of a particular Buddha. ...
Constantly walking samadhi is identified with the practice known as ... pratyutpanna samadhi, [shorthand for] “the samadhi wherein one finds oneself standing face to face with all the Buddhas of the present age.” ... Like the one-practice samadhi, the pratyutpanna samadhi is to be performed in isolation. The meditator selects and adorns a hall for practice, prepares all the necessary accoutrements of offering, and lays out various delicacies, fruit, incense, and flowers. Having washed himself thoroughly, he changes into a new set of robes, which is to be worn at all times in the inner sanctuary where the practice is performed. Whenever he leaves this chamber to tend to necessities, he changes once again into an older set. The practice itself lasts for a fixed period of ninety days, over the duration of which the meditator must continuously circumambulate an altar to the Buddha Amitabha. He vows never to entertain worldly thoughts or desires, never to lie down or leave the hall, and, aside from the times when he eats his meals, never arbitrarily to sit down or stop to rest until the three months are completed. [The Experience of Buddhism, 303-304]
Oesterle Library: 294.30952 M32s
Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness;
emptiness does not differ from form.
Form itself is emptiness;
emptiness itself is form.
Hua-yan Buddhism derived its name from the Hua-yan Sutra, translated as “The Flower Ornament Scripture” or as “The Flowery Splendor Scripture.” This extensive Buddhist text gives a very “flowery” description of the various stages of enlightenment; it also expounds the correct worldview, the correct ethical conduct, among other things. It probably was not composed by a single author, but was a compilation of various works circulating in India and its neighboring regions around the first and the second centuries AD. As far as we know no Indian Buddhist school was ever founded on the basis of this scripture.
The Hua-yan School, like its contemporary Tian-tai School, is indisputably a Chinese Buddhist school. Wing-tsit Chan says that it “represents the highest development of Chinese Buddhist thought.” The founder of the Hua-yan School was a Chinese monk named Du-shun (557-640). Though Hua-yan’s major sutra came from abroad, Du-shun established Hua-yan Buddhism by introducing new terminology to replace some key Indian notions.
The First ApproachFirst is the ordinary experience of existence that reveals the “realm of phenomena” (Chinese: shih), or the myriad dharmas. According to Hua-yen, this is the vision of the cosmos with which the early Buddhist tradition, such as Theravada, works in order to gain Nirvana by the purification of the negative phenomena in one’s consciousness. [Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience, 214]
The Second ApproachSecond is the experience of existence that reveals the emptiness of all phenomena, the true suchness of all things. This is the “realm of principle” (Chinese: li), with which Mahayana works in order to attain Buddhahood. Through this second vision, one realizes that the real and inherent “principle,” or nature of things, is always pure. While phenomena may be either pure or impure, in essence they are empty of the independent nature one conceives them to have. Realizing this emptiness, the dependent arising of existence, reveals the inherent purity as the Buddha-nature of all phenomena. This inherent purity as the principle of existence is likened to a clear mirror. While the mirror may reflect pure and impure images, its essential clarity is never lost. [BIBE, 214]
The Third ApproachNow we come to the third experience of the cosmos, namely, seeing “the realm of the non-obstruction between principle (li) and phenomena (shih).” This non-obstruction refers to the fundamental Mahayana identity of emptiness with phenomena, or Nirvana with samsara. For Hua-yen, these two aspects of reality “interpenetrate” such that the essential purity of suchness is not lost, and the diversity of dependently arisen phenomena is maintained.
The Fourth ApproachFinally we arrive at the fourth experience of the cosmos in which one sees “the realm of the non-obstruction between phenomena (shih and shih).” Here, we are not looking at the relationship between emptiness and phenomena, but at the relationship between the phenomena themselves. For Hua-yen, the vision of this non-obstruction reveals that the dependent arising of all phenomena exists as a totality of dynamic interrelatedness. It also reveals that the phenomena making up this totality are related to one another by what Hua-yen calls “mutual identification” and “mutual penetration.” [BIBE, 215]
Mutual IdentificationThe mutual identification of all things does not imply a kind of static identification by which one might say, for example, that fire is the same as ice. Rather, in the Hua-yen vision, all phenomena in the cosmos are dependently arising together simultaneously. Each phenomenon provides a condition for the arising of the whole cosmos, and the particular totality of the cosmos is dependent on the conditions provided by all of its parts. If one part, one thing, was different or not present, the totality would itself be different. In dependent arising, each phenomenon plays an identical role in the mutual forming of the universe. ... In realizing this mutual identification, a person discovers that he or she owes his or her existence to countless beings throughout the universe. This discovery gives one a deeper sense of gratitude and respect for other beings. One also feels a deeper sense of responsibility for how one uses his or her existence, given its effect on the universe. This discovery will also give one a greater aspiration to benefit all living beings (bodhicitta). [BIBE, 215-6]
Mutual PenetrationThe idea of mutual penetration takes this notion of mutual identification a step further. In the Hua-yen teaching about the mutual penetration of phenomena, we find the high point of Hua-yen experience that has been so important to defining East Asian Buddhism. ... Fa-tsang says that even though the forms of life are distinct, they also interpenetrate so that they “contain” each other. By this he means that in dependent arising, the very presence of each phenomenon influences or conditions the other phenomena of the cosmos. The conditioning influence of one phenomenon “enters” into all other phenomena, Fa-tsang says, like reflections of objects enter a mirror. Note here that Fa-tsang does not say that the phenomena physically enter each other.
Once, in order to demonstrate this interpenetration to Empress Wu, Fa-tsang placed a statue of the Buddha with a lamp in the middle of a room with mirrors all around it. He then showed the empress how the image of the Buddha-statue (representing emptiness), while physically remaining at the center of the room, was reflected in each mirror (representing phenomena). He also showed her that each mirror, while physically remaining where it is, was reflected in all other mirrors, and that their mutual reflection (representing mutual penetration) was repeated infinitely. In a similar way, each phenomenon in the cosmos contains the presence of all other phenomena in the cosmos, while at the same time retaining its uniqueness. [BIBE, 216-7]
Huayan in PracticeIn Hua-yen practice, tranquility meditation is used to enable a person to find emptiness as the quiescent nature of all things. This leads to detachment and inner calm in the midst of the world. Then through insight meditation one sees this emptiness functioning as the forms of the world. This functioning is experienced as an interpenetrating, fascinating, and wonderful matrix of dependent arising. This insight, in turn, leads to a rejection of world renunciation and a compassion for all living beings who fail to see this hidden harmony and are caught in afflictive mental formations. Thereby, one dwells spiritually neither in samsara nor Nirvana but courses freely as a bodhisattva in the matrix of the cosmos seeking the benefit of others. Hua-yen’s vision of this matrix of mutual identification and penetration, where all things are interwoven in perfect balance and harmony, was very appealing to the Chinese world, which had always appreciated both harmony and nature. [BIBE, 218]