The Great Calm-Observation, Volume 1, Part 2, Page 2


The gradual and indeterminate methods of Calm-Observation have been established but are not discoursed upon further. Now we depend upon The Flower Garland Sutra1 to further clarify the Total and Sudden Calm-Observation. The Sutra says:
"Having reached a very deep and wonderful moral authority, The Bodhisattva
Countenance of Virtue2 spoke:
'From the very first inspiration of mind, Bodhisattvas in the realm of Life & Death earnestly seek enlightenment. Strong, firm and unshakeable are the merits and virtues of this single thought that is deep and broad without bounds. The One That Has Come
3 has described and taught of it for an inexhaustible number of lifetimes4.’”

These Bodhisattvas hear the Total Teaching, raise the Total Faith, establish the Total Practice, and dwell in the Total Rank. With these Total Merits & Virtues, they are adorned. With the Total Use of these powers, they establish these benefits for living beings.

1. What is ‘Hearing the Total Teaching’? It is hearing that:

Although there are three named, there are not three separable entities. Although there is but a single entity, we establish the three names. These three are identical with the single True Spiritual Aspect of Reality. In reality they are inseparable.

The Spiritual Body is everywhere, and Prajna and Liberation are also everywhere.
Prajna is pure, and the others are also pure.
Liberation is at will, and the others are also at will.

One hears that all things are like this, and that the Buddha’s enlightenment possesses all things without anything being excluded. This is called ‘Hearing the Total Teaching’.

2. What is ‘Total Faith’?

It is believing that all things are empty, are temporary, and are the mean.

Being neither veiled nor illumined, they are ultimately everywhere, pure, and at will.

This is called having ‘Total Faith’.

3. What is the ‘Total Practice’?

One sole earnest wish is Supreme Enlightenment. This agrees with the extremes, and yet is the mean. Facing nothing else, the three truths are totally cultivated. Unchanging serenity is without bounds. The bounds change without changing the serenity, and one simply enters into the middle way.

This is called the ‘Total Practice’.

4. What is Entering into the ‘Total Rank’?

This is the time that one first enters into and abides in the Spirituality of the Dharma7. Each and every abode8 is ultimately everywhere, pure, and at will.

This is called the ‘Total Rank’.

5. What is the ‘Total Adornment of Mastery’?

The Flower Garland Sutra elaborates on the aspects of mastery.

When one reaches the conclusion of this teaching, whether one is entering into true perception or manifesting it, both entering into it and manifesting it, or neither entering into it nor manifesting it, for each and all of the sense-faculties and sensations, it is at will, whether it is through one’s own direct retribution or through the indirect retribution of one's environment. This is called the ‘Total Adornment of Mastery.’

To illustrate this, compare it to the light of the sun that orbits the four quarters14 below heaven:

The turns of the wheel are not the same. Everywhere there is the one sun, and yet in the four directions it is seen differently. The mastery of the Bodhisattva is also like this.

6. What is the "Total Establishment of Benefits for Living Beings"?

Some emit a single ray of light, and are able to make living beings attain the benefits of the totally blended three truths15, as well as the benefits of entering into true perception, manifesting it, both entering into it and manifesting it, and neither entering into nor manifesting it. Whether walking, standing, seated, lying down, speaking, silent, or performing deeds - all these relationships are seen as eyes sees the light. Without the relationships, there would be no awakening. The blind will always be in the darkness. So we use the example of the Dragon-King16 as an illustration:

The Bodhisattvas are also like this. Inside, they have penetrated and reached emptiness, that which is temporary, the mean, and the unchanging Nature of Spirituality19. And yet they make living beings attain various benefits and they fulfill various needs. This is called "The Total Use of Power and the Establishment of Benefits for Living Beings".

With the beginner's mind already being like this, how much more so is that of the intermediate or advanced mind?

The One That Has Come20 enthusiastically praised this teaching, and those that heard it rejoiced.

In The Diamond Sutra, it says that even if one were to give up his life three times each day for as many days as there are sands in the River Ganges, it could not equal the power of accepting and embracing a single phrase from the Sutra. Similarly, having both shoulders carrying the load of the Buddha for a hundred thousand myriad of lifetimes25 could not repay the blessings that come from the Buddha’s Enlightenment. The teaching of this one scripture is like this. Those of others scriptures are as well.


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1. The Flower Garland Sutra: (S. Avatamsaka Sutra) The Great Vehicle Sutra about the first enlightenment of the Buddha Sakyamuni.

2. Countenance of Virtue: S. Bhadramukha

3. The One That Has Come: (s. Tathagata) the highest praise of The Ten Titles of the Buddha – Literally the one that has come as have all the Buddhas, the one that has come down from the infinite absolute reality and manifested itself for the sake of humanity (and so also returns back to that absolute)

4. Lifetimes: (S. kalpas) aeons

5. The Spiritual Body: (S. Dharmakaya); The Spiritual Life; The Embodiment of Spiritual Truth

6. Prajna: Spiritual Insight

7. Spirituality: Dharma

8. Abode: Here meaning the place where one abides in Spirituality (the Dharma). A reference to the Ten Abodes, the different levels of spiritual attainment, q.v.

9. True perception: (S. Samadhi)

10. The six sense-faculties: (Literally roots, S. Indriya) #1 The Body (skin) #2 Tongue #3 Nose #4 Ears #5 Eyes and #6 The thinking mind

11. To Teach: of the Dharma, of Spirituality

12. The six sensations: #1 Contacts #2 Tastes #3 Smells #4 Sounds #5 Sights #6 Elements of reality (dharmas)

13. The ten directions: #1 North #2 Northeast #3 East #4 Southeast #5 South #6 Southwest #6 West #7 Northwest #8 North #9 Below #10 Above

14. The Four Quarters: The 4 continents of the world around Mt. Sumeru, indicating the whole world. See The 25 States of Existence for an elabration.

15. Totally blended three truths: This is #1 emptiness #2 that which is temporarily existent and #3 the mean all being inseparable and simultaneous in reality. See The Three Truths.

16. Dragon King: (S. Nagaraja) Nature as the creator of storms and other violent acts. This illustration comes from the Flower Garland (Avatamsaka) Sutra

17. The Six Heavens: The Six Heavens in the Realm of Desire; see The Realm of Heaven or The 25 States of Existence for an elaboration.

18. The Four Frontiers: The four corners of the world, the four continents, representing the world breadth of the world below heaven. See The 25 Realms of Existence for an elaboration

19. Nature of Spirituality: The Nature of the Dharma, Dharmata

20. The One That Has Come: (S. Tathagata) the highest of The Ten Titles of the Buddha – Literally the one that has come as have all the Buddhas, the one that has come down from the infinite absolute reality and manifested itself for the sake of humanity (and so also returns back to that absolute)

21. The Bodhisattva Ever Wailing (S. Sadapralapa): In the Pancavimsati (the Long Chapter of the Maha Prajna Paramita Sutra), there is the story of Sadapralapa who, seeking the perfection of wisdom (prajna paramita), heard the Buddha’s voice telling him to go east and not spare life or limb in the search. After having gone east, he realized that he had forgotten ask to precisely where he should go and who he should seek out, and so we wept for seven days & nights like a father weeping over the loss of his only son. The voice then again spoke to him and gave him more detailed instructions.

22. The Disciple Wealth of Good (S. Sudhana): In the Gandavyuha (the last chapter of The Flower Garland (Avatamsaka) Sutra, the is the story of the Bodhisattva Sudhana (meaning ‘Wealth of Good’) who seeks 53 teachers in seeking the Dharma before finding Manjusri hearing his explanation of the thought of enlightenment. He then attained realization.

23. The Bodhisattva Medicine King (S. Bhaisajyaraja): In the 23rd Chaper of the Lotus Sutra, the Bodhisattva Medicine King (in a former life as ‘Eye of Purity’) burned his arms as a sacrifice to the Buddha.

24. The King Universal Light (S. Samantaprabasa): In The Sutra of the Benevolent Kings (C. Jen Wang Ching) and other literature, the King Universal Light (Samantaprabasa or Sutasoma) is captured by a Prince Kalmasapada, who has vowed to kill a thousand Kings in order to become one himself. King Univeral Light, however, asks the Prince to spare him until he can fulfill a promise to give alms to a certain Brahman ascetic. After allowing him this reprieve, the King relented and decided to spare his life.

25. Lifetimes: (S. Kalpas) Aeons


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