The three aspects of Huayen
Strictly speaking, when talking about Huayen there are three aspects that one should take into account. One is the teaching of the Avatamsaka Sutra itself, another is the teaching of the Huayen School, and the third is the point of view of the person who is expounding the Sutra. But it is the last of these three that people usually get to hear most of Fruit-sellers are bound to say that their own fruit is the sweetest, and in the same way, every priest, monk or nun is bound to say that the doctrine they are teaching is the best, otherwise there would be no point in their teaching it at all. So, the Huayen teachings that I would like to introduce to you today are based on my own personal reading of the Avatamsaka Sutra and on the conclusions that I have reached after studying the Huayen School as a whole. But if you really want to know what the Sutra has to say, you should go and study it for yourself, absorb its message directly, and then judge and choose for yourself, in accordance with your own wisdom. For when someone else expounds the Sutra, even though their exposition may be based on the text, when they try to convey its essential spirit or its deeper significance, they can hardly help doing so from their own point of view. Even a teacher who is already fully enlightened, let us suppose, will still be expressing his or her individual way of understanding the teachings that are being transmitted. After the realization of Enlightenment, every Buddha preaches the Avatamsaka Sutra, although when I say “preaches”, I am not referring to a verbal exposition, but to a direct manifestation of the realm of Enlightenment. Although each Buddha’s realization is equally profound, the way in which that realization is manifested is not necessarily going to be the same in every case. When different Buddha preach the Avatamsaka Sutra, therefore, different realms of Enlightenment may appear.