Summary by Jai Daemion 1-14-02. Edited by Mark Unno 1-15-02.
Thomas Cleary, trans., Entry into the Realm of Reality: The Gandavyuha (a section of the Flower Ornament Scripture) (Boston: Shambhala, 1989) 1-8, 49-58, 187-200.
Translator's Introduction: Cleary's introduction describes the text as an experiential tool which can be read at many levels and works directly through description as well as indirectly through provocation. According to Cleary, the scripture can also be used as: 1) as a model for visualization practice (p.6); 2) an affirmation of the infinity of the path; 3) as a tool for realizing the omnipresence of past-present-future; 4) a way of understanding the conditioning effects of culture, context and habit; and 5) a way of studying practice that transcends contextual limitations (p.8). Cleary also emphasizes this sutra's passion; its underlying message of the variability of appropriate practice based upon personal, social and contextual factors (upaya); and its use as the basis for a hermeneutic school of buddhism. // text skips to page 48 //
Sudhana makes total vows to become an enlightening being in service to all beings, and undertakes a journey to receive guidance in how one relates to enlightening beings; how enlightening beings relate to each other; and the relation of enlightening beings to attainment of ultimate liberation.
Manjushri - the great Manjushri, regarded as wisest of the bodhisattvas, is attended by thousands of seekers, one of whom is the boy, Sudhana (meaning, 'Good Wealth'). Sudhana recites deeply sincere vows. Manjushri is impressed by his sincerity and selfless dedication, and sends him to another teacher...
Megashri, who describes ways of showing seekers both mundane and transcendental things to communicate vision, mindfulness, and the omnipresence of all buddhas in all objects. Megashri then sends Sudhana to...
Sagaramegha, who teaches Sudhana about several 'minds' (p.59), all of which can be used to face all states of being, in pursuit of Thusness (p.59). // text skips to p. 186 //
The Night Goddess, Pramuditanayanajagadvirocana: The night goddess reveals to Sudhana the infinity of buddhas as expressed through her experience of several lands, each with a near infinity of buddhas, naming the first ten that she served in each land (p. 186), and send Sudhana to...
The Night Goddess, Samantasattvatranojahshri: this night goddess reveals to Sudhana the possibility of seeing all worlds at once; and guiding beings toward enlightenment regardless of their state of evolution/mind, without judgment or favoritism. The power of the goddess's transformation is ascribed to the power of these vows (p.189). The goddess also reveals many ages and lands, including one with a great king - who is eventually revealed as Manjushri, the buddha who initiated Sudhana at the beginning of his journey, linking herself to Manjushri as his wife in a former lifetime. The night goddess also describes many incarnations, and her practice through many eons (p.200).
* Throughout the text, time and numbers of buddhas, incarnations, lands and cultures are expanded out to cover trillions of years and manifestations.
* The text emphasizes the message that enlightenment is a nearly infinite path rather than a single lifetime's pursuit.
* Time is related to experiential infinity, and the manifestations of buddhas in accordance with the needs of both cultures and individuals (human and non-human) at all levels of evolution.