“Children of the Buddha, as the sun and the moon always appear and shine on [both] the high mountains and the deep valleys without any bias, likewise the Tathagata’s wisdom universally shines on all, without discrimination; in accord with the differences in the capacities and the predilections of all sentient beings, the light of wisdom displays various differentiations. Children of the Buddha, this is the fourth characteristic of the body of the Tathagata. All Bodhisattva-mahasattvas should perceive it thus.
“Further, children of the Buddha, when the sun rises, those beings that are born blind cannot see it due to their lack of sight. Although they have never seen the sun, nonetheless they obtain benefits from its light. Whence? Because of it they can know periods of the day and the night and can avail themselves of clothing and food, making their bodies feel at ease, free from adversity. It is the same with the sun of the Tathagata’s wisdom: those born blind, without faith and understanding, who break the precepts and hold erroneous views, who support themselves by improper livelihood, because they lack the eye of faith, they cannot see the sun disk of the wisdom of all the Buddhas, [yet] they are still benefited by it. Whence? Because the awesome power of the Buddha effects the effacement of their physical pain and their afflictions, which serve as causes for future suffering.
“Children of the Buddha, the Tathagata has a light called ‘accumulation of all merits’; has a light called ‘pure and free effulgence’; has a light called ‘emanating supremely sublime sounds’; has a light called ‘understanding all speeches and bringing joy to others’; has a light called ‘the realm of freedom which reveals the permanent obliteration of all doubts’; has a light called ‘free universal effulgence of non-abiding wisdom’; has a light called ‘free wisdom which universally obliterates all false differentiations’; has a light called ‘emanating sublime voices according to needs’; has a light called ‘emanating pure free voices, adorning the lands, and bringing sentient beings to maturity.’
“Children of the Buddha, each pore of the Tathagata emits thousands of lights like these. Five hundred of these lights universally illuminate all congregations of Bodhisattvas at their sites of the various Buddhas in the various lands of the upper regions, while the other five hundred universally illuminate those in the lower regions. When those Bodhisattvas perceive these lights, they for a time attain the realm of the Tathagata, with ten hands, ten feet, ten stages, and ten wisdoms, all of them pure. All stations and stages that have already been consummated by all those Bodhisattvas become purer upon perceiving these lights; all their wholesome roots are brought to maturity, and they advance toward all-encompassing wisdom. Those of the two vehicles have all their defilements obliterated. Those other beings who are born blind, their bodies already rapturous, their minds purified, pliant and composed, are thus capable of cultivating mindfulness and wisdom. Those beings who dwell in the hells and the realms of hungry ghosts and animals all obtain happiness. They are released from their suffering, after the ending of the present life to be reborn in the heavens among humans.
“Children of the Buddha, all those sentient beings have no awareness or understanding of the causes and preternatural influences by which they are reborn here. Those born blind think: ‘I am Brahma, I am manifestation of Brahma. At that time the Tathagata, abiding in the samadhi of universal freedom, emanates sixty kinds of sublime voices, telling them, ‘You are not Brahma, nor are you manifestations of Brahma, neither were you created by Sovereign Shakra or the guardians of the world (lokapalas). All this is due to the awesome preternatural power of the Tathagata.’
“When those sentient beings hear this, by the Buddha’s preternatural power, they all recollect their past lives and become enraptured. Because their hearts are enraptured, they spontaneously produce clouds of udumbara flowers, clouds of incense, clouds of music, clouds of robes, clouds of canopies, clouds of pennants, clouds of streamers, clouds of fragrant powders, clouds of jewels, clouds of lion pennants and crescent towers, clouds of songs and eulogies, clouds of various adornments, and reverentially offer them all to the Tathagata. Whence? Because all these sentient beings have obtained pure eyes. [Then] the Tathagata gives them prophecies about their attainment of anuttara-samyaksambodhi. Children of the Buddha, in this way the sun of the Tathagata’s wisdom benefits those sentient beings who are born blind, effectuating their wholesome roots to reach full maturity. Children of the Buddha, this is the fifth characteristic of the body of the Tathagata. All Bodhisattva-mahasattvas should perceive it thus
Venerable Cheng Chien was born in Yugoslavia and became a monk in Sri Lanka in 1983. He is the author of Sun-Face Buddha: The Teachings of Ma-tsu and the Hung-chou School of Ch’an.
Excerpted from Manifestation of the Tathagata: Buddhahood According to the Avatamsaka Sutra by Cheng Chien Bhikshu, © 1993 by Mario Poceski. Reprinted with permission of Wisdom Publications, 199 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144. www.wisdompubs.org.