Manifestation of the Tathagata:
from the Avatamsaka Sutra
Translated by Cheng Chien Bhikshu
Featured in Mountain Record 24.3, Winter 2006
It is its practical usefulness in providing inspiration and guidance to all those who have the maturity and wisdom to see beyond their self-imposed limitations and dedicate their lives to the highest good that makes the sutra truly meaningful. The Buddha of the Avatamsaka, glorious and inconceivable as he may appear to be, is truly very close to each of us. He is much closer than anything one can conceive of—pervading everything, there is no place that he does not reach. The realm of the Buddha is the very reality in which the drama of our existence takes place. That same reality manifests completely in the single thought of faith in the mind of each ordinary person. It is the fundamental reality from which unfolds the Bodhisattva Path, which is the cause for the accomplishment of the fruit of Buddhahood—fruit that has been there from the very beginning, imperceptible to those who lack the eye of faith.
The Body of the Tathagata
“Children of the Tathagata, how should Bodhisattva-mahasattvas perceive the body of the Tathagata, Arhat, Perfectly Enlightened One? Children of the Tathagata, all Bodhisattva-mahasattvas should perceive the body of the Tathagata in limitless places. Wherefore? All Bodhisattva-mahasattvas should not perceive the Tathagata in [just] one dharma, one phenomenon, one body, one land, one sentient being. They should perceive the Tathagata everywhere.
“Children of the Buddha, like space which is present everywhere, whether there are forms or not, without reaching or not reaching there. Wherefore? Because space is immaterial. Likewise, the body of the Tathagata is present everywhere, in all sentient beings, all dharmas, all lands, without reaching or not reaching there. Wherefore? Because the body of the Tathagata is immaterial—it is for the sake of sentient beings that he manifests a body. Children of the Buddha, this is the first characteristic of the body of the Tathagata. All Bodhisattva-mahasattvas should perceive it thus.