The Brahma Net Sutra - Vairocana

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The Brahma Net Sutra - Vairocana

Postby kirtu » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:51 pm

The Brahma Net Sutra

Translated by the Buddhist Text Translation Society in USA

I. Vairocana Buddha

At that time, Vairocana Buddha began speaking in general about the Mind-Ground for the benefit of the Great Assembly. What he said represents but an infinitesimal part, the tip of a hair, of His innumerable teachings -- as numerous as the grains of sand in the river Ganges.

He concluded: "The Mind-Ground has been explained, is being explained and will be explained by all the Buddhas -- past, present, and future. It is also the Dharma Door (cultivation method) that all the Bodhisattvas of the past, present, and future have studied, are studying and will study."

"I have cultivated this Mind-Ground Dharma Door for hundreds of eons. My name is Vairocana. I request all Buddhas to transmit my words to all sentient beings, so as to open this path of cultivation to all."

At that time, from his Lion's Throne in the Lotus Treasury World, Vairocana Buddha emitted rays of light. A voice among the rays is heard telling the Buddhas seated on thousands of lotus petals, "You should practice and uphold the Mind-Ground Dharma Door and transmit it to the innumerable Sakyamuni Buddhas, one after another, as well as to all sentient beings. Everyone should uphold, read, recite, and singlemindedly put its teachings into practice."

After receiving the Dharma-door of the Mind-Ground, the Buddhas seated atop the thousands of lotus flowers along with the innumerable Sakyamuni Buddhas all arose from their Lion seats, their bodies emitting innumerable rays of light. In each of these rays appeared innumerable Buddhas who simultaneously made offerings of green, yellow, red and white celestial flowers to Vairocana Buddha. They then slowly took their leave.

The Buddhas then disappeared from the Lotus Treasury World, entered the Essence-Nature Empty Space Floral Brilliance Samadhi and returned to their former places under the Bodhi-tree in this world of Jambudvipa. They then arose from their samadhi, sat on their Diamond Thrones in Jambudvipa and the Heaven of the Four Kings, and preached the Dharma of the "Ten Oceans of Worlds."
Thereupon, they ascended to Lord Shakya's palace and expounded the "Ten Dwellings," proceeded to the Suyama Heaven and taught the "Ten Practices," proceeded further to the Fourth Heaven and taught the "Ten Dedications," proceeded further to the Transformation of Bliss Heaven and taught the "Ten Dhyana Samadhi," proceeded further to the Heaven of Comfort From Others' Emanations and taught the "Ten Grounds," proceeded further to the First Dhyana Heaven and taught the "Ten Vajra Stages," proceeded further to the Second Dhyana Heaven and taught the "Ten Patiences," and proceeded further to the Third Dhyana Heaven and taught the "Ten Vows." Finally, in the Fourth Dhyana Heaven, at Lord Brahma's Palace, they taught the "Mind-Ground Dharma-Door" chapter, which Vairocana Buddha, in eons past, expounded in the Lotus Treasury World (the cosmos).

All the other innumerable transformation Sakyamuni Buddhas did likewise in their respective worlds as the chapter "Auspicious Kalpa" has explained.


:namaste:

Does anyone know of a commentary to the Brahma Net Sutra?

In particular, the Vairocana chapter opens in an extremely startling setting: an assembly of all the Buddhas apparently being "taught" in some form by Vairocana Buddha within which are innumerable Shakyamuni Buddhas.

I first read this sutra as a young person and was immediately captivated by the imagery and the perception of the profundity of the sutra. My first mental image was of a vast assembly of Buudhas on lotus seats in a vast cosmic hall, which was nonetheless intimate and presented an intimate setting. I also seem to remember a conversation between one buddha and another buddha where the first buddha explicitly stated that they had entered the path to enlightenment as the disciple of the other buddha (so perhaps there is more to the sutra than represented by the current translation?).

For me the imagery is still fantastic and deeply devotional: as bodhisattvas we would like to bring all beings into this vast and amazing Buddha Assembly.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: The Brahma Net Sutra - Vairocana

Postby malalu » Sat Feb 20, 2010 1:31 am

Hi Kirtu!

This reminds me also of the Ksitigharba Sutra (Sutra of the past vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva). And yes, I like your comment in terms of the imagery. As the Sutra unfolds, it is like a "who's who" of Buddha's and Bodhisattva's that are present in the assembly!
The past is but a present memory or condition, the future but a present projection, and the present itself vanishes before it can be grasped.- Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: The Brahma Net Sutra - Vairocana

Postby Huifeng » Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:04 am

kirtu wrote:...
Does anyone know of a commentary to the Brahma Net Sutra?


Yes, there are quite a few commentaries to the Brahmajala Sutra in Chinese. Huseng is studying some of them at the moment, particularly Fazang's (= Huayan). There are also notable ones from Zhiyi (= Tiantai), too.
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Re: The Brahma Net Sutra - Vairocana

Postby catmoon » Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:31 am

Well, is that the whole thing? It looks like just the first page, an introduction of sorts.
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Re: The Brahma Net Sutra - Vairocana

Postby kirtu » Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:08 pm

catmoon wrote:Well, is that the whole thing? It looks like just the first page, an introduction of sorts.


No that is the chapter situating or introducing the sutra. The entire sutra has 10 or so short chapters and is primarily a vehicle for teaching about the Bodhisattva precepts.

I first encountered this sutra as a teenager and it had a deep impact on me.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: The Brahma Net Sutra - Vairocana

Postby Indrajala » Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:53 am

There are a number of commentaries on the sutra in Classical Chinese, but none of them are translated into English.

I'm slowly going through Fazang's commentary. His commentary focuses on the Bodhisattva precepts.

Give me a few more years and I'll have a complete translation of it hopefully. :smile:

There are various theories about the origin of the sutra. It seems to have been composed in China rather than in the Indosphere or Central Asia. It is completely unknown outside of the Sinosphere and no translation of it exists in Tibetan let alone a Sanskrit original being extant.

If you've got access to a university library, you could find a lot of articles on the sutra. :reading:



Unfortunately despite its influence it tends to get neglected (along with scholarship on the Vinaya and other less fashionable subjects like Bodhisattva precepts).

The following work might be useful:

Reflecting mirrors : perspectives on Huayan Buddhism / edited by Imre Hamar

http://books.google.com/books?id=XVrYAA ... LXXCg&cd=1

Aramaki outlines his theory on the origin of the text. He suggests that it was composed by one of Kumarajiva's disciples (rather than Kumarajiva himself) and Xuangao, a Chinese disciple of the Huayan sutra translator Buddhabhadra. He also looks at a potential relationship between Vairocana statues and the text.
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Re: The Brahma Net Sutra - Vairocana

Postby kirtu » Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:18 pm

Huseng wrote:There are a number of commentaries on the sutra in Classical Chinese, but none of them are translated into English.

I'm slowly going through Fazang's commentary. His commentary focuses on the Bodhisattva precepts.

Give me a few more years and I'll have a complete translation of it hopefully. :smile:


Well that's a tempting computational linquistics project because I can't really wait a few years.

...seems to have been composed in China rather than in the Indosphere or Central Asia. It is completely unknown outside of the Sinosphere and no translation of it exists in Tibetan let alone a Sanskrit original being extant.


As you certain? There seem to be references to a Tibetan version.

If you've got access to a university library, you could find a lot of articles on the sutra. :reading:


I have access to several university libraries and also the Library of Congress is down the street (well, really across the city).

Unfortunately despite its influence it tends to get neglected (along with scholarship on the Vinaya and other less fashionable subjects like Bodhisattva precepts).


That's unfortunate. The sutra seems to assert that the awakening of one's Buddha Nature is dependant upon practicing the Bodhisattva Precepts.

The following work might be useful:


Thanks! :namaste:

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: The Brahma Net Sutra - Vairocana

Postby kirtu » Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:21 am

Huseng wrote:There are a number of commentaries on the sutra in Classical Chinese, but none of them are translated into English.


It turns out that the Buddhist Text Translation Society, associated with Dharma Realm Buddhist Association has a Hui Seng's commentary in two small editions (Part 1 and Part 2) in English!

Kirt
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Re: The Brahma Net Sutra - Vairocana

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:58 am

Huifeng wrote:
kirtu wrote:...
Does anyone know of a commentary to the Brahma Net Sutra?


Yes, there are quite a few commentaries to the Brahmajala Sutra in Chinese. Huseng is studying some of them at the moment, particularly Fazang's (= Huayan). There are also notable ones from Zhiyi (= Tiantai), too.


One of my colleagues, a Chinese bhiksu from Singapore, is actually doing a comparative analysis of all the various commentaries right now.

However, I think he is writing his Ph.D dissertation in Japanese. However, he might do it also in Chinese. I should ask him about that.

It is definitely a largely unexplored area. There are a lot of commentaries. I imagine there are actually a lot that are not in the Taisho or other major canons. Here in Japan there are a lot of private collections and once in awhile some prominent but supposedly lost text surfaces from an archive chamber.

I know Jan Nattier mentioned some Chinese sutras, which were thought to be completely lost, being found in some Japanese temple or private collection. It makes you wonder what else is being stashed away here in Japan. :thinking:

Not only Chinese, but there might even be some old Sanskrit texts stashed away somewhere.
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Re: The Brahma Net Sutra - Vairocana

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:12 am

kirtu wrote:
As you certain? There seem to be references to a Tibetan version.



There is another text called Brahmajala-sutra (Brahma Net Sutra), but it isn't the same as the Chinese Mahayana text Fanwang-jing 梵網經. The later borrows a lot of elements it seems from the Buddha-avatamsaka-sutra (Huayan-jing; Flower Ornament Sutra).


I have access to several university libraries and also the Library of Congress is down the street (well, really across the city).


Cool! Then you can probably find a lot of quality materials for your research. :coffee:



That's unfortunate. The sutra seems to assert that the awakening of one's Buddha Nature is dependant upon practicing the Bodhisattva Precepts.


The one thing that I find really intriguing is the statement that Vairocana's teachings are taught and studied by the Buddhas and Bodhisattva's of the past, present and future.

《梵網經》卷2:「是過去一切佛已說。未來佛當說。現在佛今說。三世菩薩已學當學今學。」(CBETA, T24, no. 1484, p. 1003, b11-13)


Now, here are Fazang's comments regarding this:

初法應爾故者。
1. The Dharma responds as such.

謂此菩薩三聚淨戒既為道場直路種覺圓因。是故一切諸佛出興于世利樂眾生皆依古法。
These three sets of pure precepts of the Bodhisattvas are the direct route to the site of enlightenment and the perfect cause for omniscience, therefore all the Buddhas manifesting in the world to benefit beings all rely on this ancient Dharma.

法爾、初時結於菩薩波羅提木叉、為宗本之要。
The Dharma being such: the first time one binds oneself to the Bodhisattva prātimokṣa is a requisite for the [ascertaining of the] origin of truth.

如大王路法爾常規故須說也。
Like the Great King’s Way – the law being such, it is always regulated, so it must be explained.

《大方廣佛華嚴經疏》卷18〈15 十住品〉:「今初。謂三世佛果無不由此。十住因成。如大王路法爾常規。故同說也。」(CBETA, T35, no. 1735, p. 635, a9-10)

是故下云。各坐菩提樹誦我本師戒。
Thus it is stated below, “Each sit under the Bodhi tree and recite my original teacher’s precepts.”

《梵網經》卷2:「各坐菩提樹誦我本師戒」(CBETA, T24, no. 1484, p. 1004, a8-9)

又云。是盧舍那誦。我亦如是誦。
Again it is said, “This Vairocana recites. I too recite it like this.”

《梵網經》卷2:「是盧舍那誦我亦如是誦」(CBETA, T24, no. 1484, p. 1004, a12)
解云。既佛本師戒。復但云誦不言說者。明則本法非新制也。
When it says, “Buddha’s original teacher’s precepts,” it only states recite and does not say elucidate – it is clear that this original teaching is not a new regulation.

又云。三世諸佛已說今說當說。故知同說也。
Again it is stated, “The Buddhas of the three realms have taught it, are teaching it and will teach it.” Therefore we know it is the same teaching.



So it might be said that the Bodhisattva precepts are indeed an ancient teaching and that all Buddhas of the past relied upon it.
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Re: The Brahma Net Sutra - Vairocana

Postby Huifeng » Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:13 am

The Tibetan is probably the Sarvastivada Agama version, one of the "Mahasutras", not the Mahayana sutra version.

The idea of "Vairocana's teachings are taught and studied by the Buddhas and Bodhisattva's of the past, present and future" is very common amongst not only much of Mahayana literature, but even later sectarian buddhism, too. This is the older definition of "dharmata", the spiritual laws of the universe.

Not only is there a lot in Japan, nowadays the Chinese are starting to re-publish their old canons, lots of them. Notice that the new version of CBETA also has not only the Xu canon, but also the Jiaxing canon, too? Wait a few years, there are more being done right now. They are all HUGE, too.
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Re: The Brahma Net Sutra - Vairocana

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:53 am

Venerable

Unfortunately a lot of the stash tucked away in private collections in Japan are unlikely to become digitalized anytime soon. They don't even necessarily let scholars have a look at them. But then it also seems much of it isn't even catalogued!

One professor back home said something about old manuscripts of the Tale of Genji being stashed away, but the owners were reluctant to let scholars have a look at them. A lot of Classical Japanese scholars would kill to get ahold of it and possibly find one of those legendary missing chapters or something. :reading:

So, it isn't even just old works of fiction that they're not letting out it is also religious works. :crying:
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Re: The Brahma Net Sutra

Postby Will » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:02 pm

Here is a 8th c. Korean commentary by Master Taehyeon on the sutra: http://www.international.ucla.edu/media ... sb-osg.pdf
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Re: The Brahma Net Sutra - Vairocana

Postby Jikan » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:54 pm

That's a good find. Thanks!
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