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PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 10:44 pm 
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This is the commentary on the Avatamsaka Sutra by Upasaka Li Tongxuan (635-730). Would like to see an English translation; any rumors to support this wish?

Does the commentary include all of the root text also? What about a biography of this sage - anything in English?

Cleary has a condensed version of this great layman's comments on the final chapter 39 of the Avatamsaka.

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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2013 4:15 am 
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Just bouncing this up in hopes that Bhikshu Indrajala or Ven. Huifeng will respond to the OP.

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PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 9:08 pm 
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Will wrote:
This is the commentary on the Avatamsaka Sutra by Upasaka Li Tongxuan (635-730). Would like to see an English translation; any rumors to support this wish?

Does the commentary include all of the root text also? What about a biography of this sage - anything in English?

Cleary has a condensed version of this great layman's comments on the final chapter 39 of the Avatamsaka.


There are four different texts by Li Tongxuan in the Taisho, three are brief and one is a forty fascicle commentary. No it doesn't contain the entire root text verbatim - none of them do that - that would make a massive text altogether. Instead, the passages being discussed are cited as abbreviations. It's the same as with the others. I'm not sure how current it is in the scholarly community, but there is a good article and translation of Li's biography by Robert Gimello in _Studies in Ch'an and Hua-yen_ published by the Kuroda Institute in 1983. (Google Play has an ebook edition ...)

Charlie.


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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 4:13 pm 
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Thanks Charlie, but I am too cheap to pay $13 for the e-book of Gimello's 30 year-old piece.

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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 4:28 am 
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Will wrote:
Thanks Charlie, but I am too cheap to pay $13 for the e-book of Gimello's 30 year-old piece.


Long story short, Li Tungxuan is a semi-legendary figure who is kind of lost to the mists of time in terms of specifics. He is thought to have been a nobleman - relative to the Imperial Li family in some fashion, though not prominently - who retired to a life of hermit-contemplation in Shansi province. He become a sort of local legend. He used the Avatamsaka as a major source of inspiration and wrote a number of different texts about it, of which a few have survived. He was just a local "hero" in the Sangha for centuries until a bhiksu thought his 40 fascicle commentary deserved more attention and collated it into the Avatamsaka Sutra to create an edition with interlineal comments included (that is probably what you were asking about). This text was later included in the official Buddhist canon and then found its way to Korea and Japan, where it became the major influence on Chinul and Koben (?). It continued to be famous from time to time in later ages in Sung, Ming, and Qing dynasties in China as well. The thing that made his writings interesting and accessible was that he wasn't doing what the other commentators were doing - always regurgitating the Indian doctrines of Yogacara, Madyamaka, etc and trying to reinterpret the Sutras in those contexts. He was writing with his own voice and his own ideas.


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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 3:25 pm 
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Cleary gives a (or part of, I forget) "Ming dynasty distillation" of ch. 39 where he often gives the symbolic meanings. For example:

Quote:
The names of the teachers and their abodes—people holy and ordinary, spirits, royalty, mendicants, lay people, non-Buddhists, humans, celestials, males and females—represent certain principles.
Furthermore, the South, the direction of Sudhana's pilgrimage, is used to stand for truth, clarity, and openness. When you arrive at open, clear, true knowledge without subjectivity, then everywhere is the South.
Therefore Manjushri sent Sudhana south to call on spiritual friends and benefactors, each of whom sends him onwards that he may progress and not dawdle over past learning. This is why the friends always praise the virtues of those Sudhana has yet to meet.
In the realm of principle, Manjushri stands for knowledge of the fundamental. Samantabhadra stands for knowledge of differentiation, and Maitreya stands for the uncreate realization within Manjushri and Samantabhadra.


Li Tungxuan does this for each of the 53 stages in ch. 39 - so I think if his full commentary were translated, it would help many Buddhists greatly in their understanding of the Avatamsaka Sutra.

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PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 6:02 am 
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Will wrote:
Cleary gives a (or part of, I forget) "Ming dynasty distillation" of ch. 39 where he often gives the symbolic meanings. For example:

Quote:
The names of the teachers and their abodes—people holy and ordinary, spirits, royalty, mendicants, lay people, non-Buddhists, humans, celestials, males and females—represent certain principles.
Furthermore, the South, the direction of Sudhana's pilgrimage, is used to stand for truth, clarity, and openness. When you arrive at open, clear, true knowledge without subjectivity, then everywhere is the South.
Therefore Manjushri sent Sudhana south to call on spiritual friends and benefactors, each of whom sends him onwards that he may progress and not dawdle over past learning. This is why the friends always praise the virtues of those Sudhana has yet to meet.
In the realm of principle, Manjushri stands for knowledge of the fundamental. Samantabhadra stands for knowledge of differentiation, and Maitreya stands for the uncreate realization within Manjushri and Samantabhadra.


Li Tungxuan does this for each of the 53 stages in ch. 39 - so I think if his full commentary were translated, it would help many Buddhists greatly in their understanding of the Avatamsaka Sutra.


You've succeeded in reminding me of an interest I had had in Li's Commentary years ago when I was looking at the various commentaries on the Avatamsaka and I have begun reading it again. I may try and work it into my own project in some way or another ...

Charlie.


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PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 3:20 pm 
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Charlie,

I do hope you will translate Li. The first section of the first chapter of the Buddha Garland, the section about the Bodhi Tree, for example. I wonder what he wrote about that bejeweled tree.

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