The Huayen School

The Huayen (Korean Hwao’m, Japanese Kegon) School is based on the Avatamsaka or “Flower Ornament Sutra”, and counts as one of the four major schools of Chinese Buddhism. Its teachings emphasize the integration of Buddhist practice with all aspects of life, and yet, Haiyun believes that they are particularly suitable for the modern age.

The school took shape during the Tang Dynasty (618-906), and although the monk Tu Shun or Fa Shun (557-640) is regarded as its First Patriarch, the real founders were Chih Yen (602-668) and his chief disciple Fa Tsang (643-712). Another important figure at the time was the hermit-scholar Li Tung Hsuan (63 5-730, or 646-740). After the Fourth Patriarch, Cheng Kuan (738-839), who wrote a massive commentary and subcommentary on the Sutra, and the Fifth Patriarch, Tsung Mi (780-8 14), who was also a lineage-holder in the Chan tradition, the Huayen School entered a period of decline, although its influence remained pervasive in East Asian Buddhism generally, and in the Chan (Korean S’on, Japanese Zen) School in particular.

Like other schools of Mahayana Buddhism, the Huayen School emphasizes the importance of understanding Emptiness (sunyata) and perceiving the true nature of the mind, of awakening the Aspiration of Enlightenment (Bodhicitta) and practicing the various stages of the Bodhisattva Path. But it also has its own distinctive approach to these teachings, based on the vision of Enlightenment and of the true nature of things revealed in the Avatamsaka Sutra.

A well-known metaphor used in the Sutra itself, and frequently elaborated on by the teachers of the Huayen School, is that of a great network of jewels said to be magically suspended above the palace of the god Indra. Each of these jewels is like a mirror, reflecting all the others, and each reflection reflects all the other reflections, and so on ad infinitum. This metaphor is meant to illustrate how all phenomena are empty or illusory but interconnected and inter-implicated. It is also meant to suggest that reality is inexhaustible precisely because it is empty, and that there is no duality between the illusory appearance of things and their true nature as Emptiness or Suchness.

Another way of summarizing the Huayen teachings is to be found in the scheme of Four Realms of Reality (dharmadhatu) first formulated by Cheng Kuan:

  1. The Realm of Phenomena.
    This is the world of things and events as normally perceived. In Fa Tsang’s Essay on the Golden Lion, in which he uses the golden statue of a lion to illustrate various aspects of the teachings, this Realm is represented by the perceived image of the lion. Fa Tsang says: “The lion has the quality of being empty; there is nothing there but gold.... Yet the lion seems to our senses to exist.’’
  2. The Realm of Ultimate Reality.
    This refers to single ultimate reality underlying the apparent diversity of phenomena. In traditional Mahayana Buddhist terms it corresponds to Emptiness, Dharmakaya, Tathata, etc. In Fa Tsang’s metaphor it corresponds to the gold itself. Apart from the gold, there is no such quality as “lion to be found... If one considers the lion correctly at the time when it comes into existence, it will be seen that it is only gold which comes into existence, and that apart from the gold not a single thing exists.”
  3. The Realm of the Nonobstruction of Reality and Phenomena.
    This refers to the nonduality of illusion and reality, Samsara and Nirvana, form and emptiness, it means that reality is not something separate from illusion, Enlightenment is not something separate from ignorance; they are merely two aspects of the same things (which is not a thing at all). So, Fa Tsang says: “Emptiness of the gold has no qualities in itself, and so is made manifest by form of the lion; this does not obstruct illusory existence of the golden lion. . . Although from start to finish there is nothing but emptiness, this does not obstruct the vivid manifestation of illusory existence.”
  4. The Realm of the Nonobstruction of Phenomenon and Phenomenon.
    This represents the vision of all things as contained in every individual thing that is expressed by the parable of Indra’s Net. So, for example, Fa Tsang says of the golden lion: “Every single hair contains the entire lion; the eyes are the ears, the ears are the nose, the nose is the tongue, and the tongue is the body; all exists freely without impeding or obstructing one another at all... the lion’s eyes, ears, limbs, joints and every single hair contain the golden lion in it is entirely in each hair of the lion simultaneously and all at once enters into a single hair, and each and every hair contains an unlimited number of lions.”

The Avatamsaka Sutra

The Huayen Ching or Avatamsaka Sutra is the largest sutra in the Chinese Canon and presents itself as being given immediately after the Buddha’s Enlightenment. It was first translated into Chinese by Buddhabhadra in 418-422, and a second, slightly longer, translation was done by Siksanada in 695-699.

The Sutra teaches a vision of reality, or enlightenment, in which there is no obstruction between phenomena, so that all things interpenetrate, and the whole of time and space is contained within even the tiniest object. Hence the Sutra abounds in such statement as “All the worlds and the three periods of time— past, present, and future—appear within a single atom,” “the tip of a single hair can contain all the worlds.” “In every atom the buddhas reveal the glories of as many buddha realms as there are atoms in all the worlds”, and so on.

But the Sutra’ s main concern is with the practice of the Bodhisattva Path, which the Huayen School divides into 52 stages, and with the initial Aspiration to Enlightenment, the first firm and unshakeable commitment to follow the Path on Buddhahood (bodhicittotpada). However, since past, present and future, beginning and end all contain one another, the Sutra also claims that the ultimate conclusion of the Path (i.e. Buddhahood) is already present as soon as it is truly begun. So it declares that “Perfect Enlightenment is accomplished the moment one truly aspires to it.”

More than just a text, the Avatamsaka Sutra, as a direct expression of the Buddha’s enlightenment, is itself a concrete embodiment of the Teachings, as well as a guide to practice. So Ven. Haiyun points out that “the Avatamsaka Sutra is not an ordinary text to be explained and commented on, but a teaching for practice and realization. “He adds that “Huayen has a very rich tradition of practice, and the Sutra itself will take you into that realm.”

In the Sutra two bodhisattvas in particular are of great importance, Manjusri and Samantabhadra, who symbolize wisdom and the commitment to practice respectively. According to Ven. Haiyun, “Manjusri represents faith, understanding and wisdom, while Samantabhadra stands for ultimate reality, essential truth and enlightened conduct.” For the Huayen practitioner, therefore, Manjusri is the initial inspiration and guidance on the Path, while Samatabhadra is the practice itself. So Ven. Haiyun says, “Whatever practice you follow, it is based on the vows and practice of Samantabhadra, it will encompass all other practices.”

~ “Huayen World” by Venerable Master Haiyun Jimeng


Triple Crane Monastery June classes & events

EVENTS Open House / Tour Tuesday & Wednesday 10~3:30 PM Saturday: 1-5 PM Sunday: 9 AM~1 PM Or call for appointment. (exclude retreat) Daily service (Open to public and chant in Chinese) Early Morning: 5:30-6:00 am Part 1. 6-7 am Part 2. Morning:8:00-8:30 am Evening: 3:30-4:15 pm Fee: all TCM classes/one day retreat are donations. Chinese Tea Ceremony Come to enjoy the traditional Chinese tea ceremony, Oolong tea, pastries and snacks, sharing interesting conversations about Chan/spiritual practice experiences. Free and all are welcome Trial Walking Meditation Time: 9:30 am~12:00 pm Place: Waterloo recreation area/ Pinckney recreation area

The Buddha bathing Festival

Triple Crane Monastery held the Buddha Bathing Festival on May 11, 2019, the birthday of Sakyamuni Buddha. The flowers in Monastery are blooming everywhere. Tulips and daffodils in both front and back entrance of Chan Hall are announcing Spring is here and welcome local folks to join the celebration of Buddha’s birth. Inside the Dharma Hall, the Mandala of Buddha bathing is floated with beautiful pedals, and the little Buddha statue stands in the middle of them, waiting for us to wash out dust in our body, mind and spirit.

Abbot Haju of Ann Arbor Zen temple visiting TCM

Abbot Haju of Ann Arbor Zen Temple visited Triple Crane Monastery on Tuesday May 07, 2019. The last time she visited was five years ago. Master Hai took Haju for a tour of the Monastery. Haju said she was amazed by the remodeling of the Monastery and all the improvements. She felt everyone's effort through these changes.

2019 Spring Huayen retreat

Another blissful three day bi-lingual HuaYan retreat end on April 30th . It focuses on the preliminary practice for Huayen Chan Kuan in the form of Yoga and meditation. Over dozens of participants composed of new and veteran practitioners from US and Canada attended, and all of them have devoted their effort whole heartedly and experienced profound inter transformation.

Triple Crane Monastery May classes & events

EVENTS Open House / Tour Tuesday & Wednesday 10~3:30 PM Saturday: 1-5 PM Sunday: 9 AM~1 PM Or call for appointment. (exclude retreat) Daily service (Open to public and chant in Chinese) Early Morning: 5:30-6:00 am Part 1. 6-7 am Part 2. Morning:8:00-8:30 am Evening: 3:30-4:15 pm Fee: all TCM classes/one day retreat are donations.

What is Huayen?

The Huayen School of Chinese Buddhism takes its name from the scriptural text on which it is based, known in Chinese as the “Huayen Ching” and in Sanskrit as the “Avatamsaka Sutra”. (“Huayen” literally means “flower adornment” or “flower ornament”.) It was founded as a separate lineage in the seventh century and has continued down to the present day.

The Spirit and Distinctive Features of the Huayen Teachings By Venerable Master Haiyun Jimeng

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.

The Huayen School

The Huayen (Korean Hwao’m, Japanese Kegon) School is based on the Avatamsaka or “Flower Ornament Sutra”, and counts as one of the four major schools of Chinese Buddhism. Its teachings emphasize the integration of Buddhist practice with all aspects of life, and yet, Haiyun believes that they are particularly suitable for the modern age. The school took shape during the Tang Dynasty (618-906), and although the monk Tu Shun or Fa Shun (557-640) is regarded as its First Patriarch, the real founders were Chih Yen (602-668) and his chief disciple Fa Tsang (643-712). Another important figure at the time was the hermit-scholar Li Tung Hsuan (63 5-730, or 646-740). After the Fourth Patriarch, Cheng Kuan (738-839), who wrote a massive commentary and subcommentary on the Sutra, and the Fifth Patriarch, Tsung Mi (780-8 14), who was also a lineage-holder in the Chan tradition, the Huayen School entered a period of decline, although its influence remained pervasive in East Asian Buddhism generally, and in the Chan (Korean S’on, Japanese Zen) School in particular.

An Introduction to the Origin and Development of Northern Mahayana Buddhism

Two ways to understand the ‘origin’ of Buddhism The ‘origin’ of Buddhism may in fact be understood in two ways. First, it may refer to the Buddha’s awareness, upon his enlightenment, of the ultimate truth of the universe and the meaning of life itself, an awareness that transcended the traditional concepts of the Indian society of his day. In Brahmin belief, there was a higher-than-human sphere, occupied by a God who created and governed the world. Since the Buddha had, through his profound practice and realization, attained the state beyond that of the heaven where there is neither thinking nor not-thinking (Naivasamjnanasamjnayatana), the doctrines that emerged from his spiritual experience where obviously bound to be different from those of other religious figures. In this sense it is the Buddha’s own supreme Enlightenment that is the ‘origin’ of Buddhism as a universal teaching which has transformed our world.

DAILY LIFE IN ONENESS

Humility - humble yourself in The eyes of The God. Merge into oneness through complete surrendering to the nature of is'ness. Rid yourself of separateness and allow Divine union to help you experience who and what you are. ~ACIM Please Join us this special event at Triple Crane monastery.

Triple Crane Monastery April classes & events

Chinese Tea Ceremony Come to enjoy the traditional Chinese tea ceremony, Oolong tea, pastries and snacks, sharing interesting conversations about Chan/spiritual practice experiences. Free and all are welcome

Huayen Chan Kuan Bilingual Retreat Saturday

Please join us at Triple Crane Monastery for a 3 day Huayen Chan Kuan Bilingual Retreat directed by the Venerable Master Haiyun Jimeng, who will be visiting the Monastery from Taiwan. Practices will be lead by Master Zhong Hai (winnie) under the direction of Master Hai Yun.