A Small Part of Translating Totality in Parts

The following is an excerpt from Translating Totality in Parts: Chengguan’s Commentaries and Subcommentaries to the Avatamsaka Sutra by Guo Cheen. Published by University Press of America.
Book launch on May 9, 2014. Please purchase and review the book on Amazon.com that day!
Book review:   “Guo Cheen has made a substantial contribution to contemporary Buddhist Studies. Chengguan’s commentaries on the Avatamsaka/Huayan Sutra were among the most important endeavors in Chinese Buddhist philosophy. Having them now available in English translation extends our realization that the philosophy of ‘interrelatedness’ is one of the greatest gifts from the Buddhist tradition to our moment in time.”  — Dale S. Wright, Gamble Distinguished Professor 
of Religious Studies/Asian Studies, Occidental College

Commentaries to the Flower Ornament Sūtra
with Greatly Proper and Extensive Discourses by the Buddhas

Going and returning without bounds,
the source of movement and stillness is but one.
The extraneous exists, for it contains a multitude of wonders;
the outstanding soars, for it transcends words and thoughts
it can only be the Dharma Realm.
It splices and shatters the esoteric and subtle,
illuminating and expanding the mind and states.
It reaches noumena exhaustively and the inherent nature thoroughly,
penetrating consequences and covering causes.
An oceanic expanse profound and profuse,
it is vast, huge, and replete with everything.
It can only be The Flower Ornament Sūtra
      with Greatly Proper and Extensive Discourses by the Buddhas!
So when our World Honored One’s
Ten Bodies were initially perfected
and his Proper Enlightenment first realized,
he rode about the universe on his conduct and vows,
infusing into the nature of his essence, emptiness
rich with myriad virtues
swept clear of any fiber of dust he has.
The translucent waves of the pellucid sea of wisdom
nominally contain the myriad phenomena.
The full moon in the bright sky of his inherent nature
spontaneously cascades into streams in the hundreds.
Without arising, the king of trees
extends to seven places in the Dharma Realm.
Without negating future bounds,
upon his initial realization, he proclaims flowingly at the nine assemblies.
Exhausting the vast expanses of this profound study,
he blankets the inconceivable, oceanic assemblies.
Droplets of splendid sound flow forth
instantly circulating throughout the ten lands.
Over and over again, the host and his companions
simultaneously sing to reach the edge of the ten directions.
Though emptiness is emptied and devoid of one trace,
stars sparkle across the sky of meaning.
Though stillness is stilled and bereft of words,
waves in the sea of teachings tumble tumultuously.
Thousands of gates submerge only to gush forth,
casting a colossal fountainhead with a multitude of texts
so that the myriad of virtues intersect and return,
gathering-in various sūtras as retinue.
This is the purport.
The orphic true body in the realm of a myriad of transformations
reveals virtues’ form at the gate of exceptional quandary.
Functions flourish so they are everlasting;
wisdom pervasively mirrors and yet is always still.

The true and the false intersect thoroughly
so that through the ordinary mind the mind of Buddhas is seen.
Cultivate both phenomena and noumena
by relying on fundamental wisdom while seeking the wisdom of the Buddhas.
Noumenon changes according to phenomena
as boundless conditions give rise to the one and the many.
Phenomena become integrated with noumenon,
as thousands of differences relate without impediment.
So the Ten Bodies he attained are distinct but work together.
He interferes not with the Six Positions and enfolds them furthermore.
They are so vast they melt into ceaselessness.
Embraced and accommodated by a dust or a hair,
     nothing is outside of them.
Distinct and radiant, they manifest simultaneously
like mustard seeds in a jar.
Complete and concurrent,
they are droplets occupying the sea.
Obstructing neither one nor many,
equivalent to a thousand lamps in an empty hall.
Delivering both concealment and revelation,
such as a slice of moon in the autumn sky.
Layers and layers of their reflections intersect,
as if those on the dangling pearls of the Lord’s Net.
Perfect and interpenetrating are they in thought after thought,
similar to centuries in a dream overnight.
The Dharma doors stack up,
like clouds, mounting across the long sky.
The scent of their myriad of conduct drapes over,
comparable to flowers blooming on brocades.
Too lofty to behold,
just as Bodhisattva Accumulating Conduct
      exposes himself like a dessicated fish at the dragon gate,  
Too profound to catch a glimpse of,
just as the supremely virtuous Sound Hearers
      were visually and aurally obstructed at the celebratory assembly.
Seeing and hearing are seeds
in transcending the Eight Difficulties as steps to the Ten Stages.
Personally practice understanding and action,
in one lifetime, the fruits of vast eons are perfected.
The lion bolts
the oceanic multitudes spontaneously reach certification in the forest.
The elephant king turns
six-thousand realize the Way as soon as the words fall.
His enlightened explanation at the Eastern temple
shows that his wisdom is full, no different than the initial mindstate.
Entrusted with positions, he sought southward
consummating causes without having to exceed the bounds of a pore.
In dissecting the fascicles of the Sūtra in a particle,
fruitions are realized in thought after thought.
Through the door of fulfilling sentient beings’ vows,
his conduct is perfected in dust mote after dust mote.
Truly it can be called wondrous articulation throughout forever,
as these prevalent rules are versatile for any direction.
An ultimate expression that matches the inherent nature
and the essential track of the One Vehicle.
In the search for the esoteric aim,
I have browsed other sūtras;
but this one is like the radiant sun on a sunny day,
robbing brilliance from numerous other scenes,
as if Sumeru across the seas,
clipping the heights of summits in multiples.
Hence the Bodhisattva searched for the mystical in the Dragon Palace
and greatly worthy ones proclaimed it in China.
Concerned only about how in the era of the Proper Dharma
a clear illumination is shrouded still.
Fortunately during the concluding hours of the Image Age,
we occasion mysterious transformations.
Not to mention encountering a sagely lord
at the top of Vulture Peak.
So we ponder earnestly the mysteries of this School
how can we not jump for joy?
The title The Flower Ornament Sūtra
      with Greatly Proper and Extensive Discourses by the Buddhas
is a general name for an inexhaustible sūtra.
Chapter one, Wondrous Adornments of Leaders of Worlds,
is a distinct topic for a variety of meaning in these sections.
“Greatly” vastly covers boundlessness.
“Proper” upholds the orthodox Dharma on its own.
“Extensive discourses” reach with their consistent essence.
“Buddhas” awaken to that which is esoteric and wondrous.
“Flower” is a metaphor for the meritorious virtues of a myriad of conduct.
“Ornament” refers to the adorned Dharmas that make for people.
Sūtra” is the eternal spring pouring forth,
threading the wonderful meanings mystically coalesced
and gathering-in limitless seas of assemblies
as the perpetual guidelines throughout eternity.
Buddhas and all kings
are both called lords of worlds.
All Dharma doors that rely on externals
are termed wondrous ornaments.
Divided into types of meanings to clarify the titles of books,
the crowning chapter among them is called the first.
This Sūtra contains 39 books.
This chapter is initial in form,
therefore it is named Chapter One of The Flower Ornament Sūtra

      with Greatly Proper and Extensive Discourses by the Buddhas

往復無際、動靜一源.含眾妙而有餘、超言思而逈出者,其唯法界歟。剖裂玄微、 昭廓心境.窮理盡性、徹果該因.汪洋冲融、廣大悉備 者.其唯大方廣佛華嚴經焉。故我世尊十身初滿。正覺始成。乘願行以彌綸。混虛空為體性。富有萬德。蕩無纖塵。湛智海之澄波。虛含萬象。皦性空之滿月。頓落百川。不起樹王。羅七處於法界。無違後際。暢九會於初成。盡宏廓之幽宗.被難思之海會.圓音落落, 該十剎而頓周.主伴重重,極十方而齊唱。雖空空絕跡。而義天之星象燦然。湛湛亡言。而教海之波爛浩澣。若乃千門潛注。與眾典為洪源。萬德交歸。攝群經為眷屬。其為旨也。冥真體於萬化之域。顯德相於重玄之門。用繁興以恒如。智周鑑而常靜。真妄交徹。即凡心而見佛心。事理雙修。依本智而求佛智。理隨事變。則一多緣起之無邊。事得理融。則千差涉入而無礙。故得十身歷然而相作。六位不亂而更收。廣大即入於無間。塵毛包納而無外。炳然齊現。猶彼芥瓶。具足同時。方之海滴。一多無礙。等虛室之千燈。隱顯俱成。似秋空之片月。重重交映。若帝網之垂珠。念念圓融。類夕夢之經世。法門重疊。若雲起長空。萬行芬披。比華開錦上。若夫高不可仰。則積行菩薩曝腮鱗於龍門。深不可闚。則上德聲聞杜視聽於嘉會。見聞為種。八難超十地之階。解行在躬。一生圓曠劫之果。師子奮迅。眾海頓證於林中。象王迴旋。六千道成於言下。啟明東廟。智滿不異於初心。寄位南求。因圓不逾於毛孔。剖微塵之經卷。則念念果成。盡眾生之願門。則塵塵行滿。真可謂常恒之妙說。通方之洪規。稱性之極談。一乘之要軌也。尋斯玄旨。卻覽餘經。其猶杲日麗天。奪眾景之耀。須彌橫海。落群峰之高。是以菩薩搜祕於龍宮。大賢闡揚於東夏。顧惟正法之代。尚匿清輝。幸哉像季之時。偶斯玄化況逢聖主。得在靈山。竭思幽宗。豈無慶躍。題稱大方廣佛華嚴經者。即無盡修多羅之總名。世主妙嚴品第一者。即眾篇義類之別目。大以曠兼無際。方以正法自持。廣則稱體而周。佛謂覺斯玄妙。華喻功德萬行。嚴謂飾法成人。經乃注無竭之涌泉。貫玄凝之妙義。攝無邊之海會。作終古之常規。佛及諸王。並稱世主。法門依正。俱曰妙嚴。分義類以彰品名。冠群篇而稱第一。斯經有三十九品。此品建初。故云大方廣佛華嚴經。

One thought on “A Small Part of Translating Totality in Parts

  1. Amitofo! Congratulations on the work you've been doing since I last saw you, years ago. Your translation above is very interesting, and I'm looking forward to reading this book, it hasn't arrived yet. I've been working on the Av. myself for the last 2 years — but not for any organization — so I know that Master [Cheng Guan] Qing Liang's commentary will be really helpful.
    Peace in the Dharma!

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