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.
The act of bathing Buddha is to help us purify ourselves introspectively and unfold our Buddha nature. As moral is declining in nowadays’ society, even we cleanse our body, wash our clothes, the darkness residues inside of us may only be washed off with Dharma wisdom. The celebration of Buddha Bathing is an opportunity for us to purify our spirits.
As we sang and praised the Buddha, children, grandparents and other local folks offered candle lights, flowers and bathing Buddha with symbolic Three Dharma Jewel Offerings (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha). With the Buddha bathing ritual, may everyone have a peaceful mind and body. We wish for a harmonious world.
May we all observe our behavior, speech and mind in our daily life. May we all keep them fresh and pure. Wish you all maintain Visuddhi (Purity)!
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 (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.
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.