Some excerpts from Chapter 40, The Avatamsaka Sutra: "ON ENTERING THE INCONCEIVABLE STATE OF LIBERATION THROUGH THE PRACTICES AND VOWS OF THE BODHISATTVA SAMANTABHADRA"
The Kumara Sudhana said to the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra:
"What course shall we follow, O Holy One, to fulfil all these virtues, from "rendering homage to Buddhas" to "turning over one's own merits" to all beings?"
The Bodhisattva Samantabhadra replied to the Kumara Sudhana:(1) To pay the highest homage and respect to all Buddhas.
"O Noble-minded Man, as to what is said regarding the "homage and respect of the Buddhas", it means that by the power of the Virtues and the Vows of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, I ("I" means any person) have profound faith and deep understanding, as though I were face to face simultaneously with all the Buddhas of all the Buddha-Worlds (such Buddhas) equal to the (flying) smallest dust-motes in number, throughout the worlds of Dharma and the empty space of the ten directions and the three periods of time. I worship and adore them constantly with my pure deeds viz. the bodily, vocal, and mental deeds."
My homage will end when the limitation of infinite space is ended, as the space is boundless, so also is my homage to the Buddhas without end.
So is it, when the spheres of beings are ended, the karmas of beings are ended, the sorrows of beings (klesa) are ended, these too are endless: even so is my homage to all the Buddhas endless. Thought following upon thought without interruption, and in bodily, vocal, and mental deeds without weariness.(2) To preach (the virtue of) and to praise (the glory of) the Tathagatas
"O Noble-minded Man, what signifies "to preach (the virtues of) and to praise (the glories of) the Tathagatas"? It means that in the smallest dust-motes of all the worlds of the ten directions, and the three periods of time throughout the Dharma-circles and the empty space, upon each speck of dust, there the Buddhas are dwelling, equal in number to the smallest specks of dust of all the worlds.
And each Buddha is surrounded by an assembly of Bodhisattvas, as wide as the ocean.
I shall apply my profound insight and my temporal knowledge to fathom them till I thoroughly understand, then will I praise them with my oration, as though it was with the angelic and eloquent tongues of the Goddess (Sarasvati). Each tongue emitting a boundless ocean of all forms of sound, each voice emitting a boundless ocean of all forms of speech, proclaiming the ocean of the merits of all Tathagatas. Such praises shall continue without cessation through endless time and the limitless realms of the Dharma-Worlds.
My praises will cease when the void of space is ended, (or) the spheres of beings are ended, (or) the karmas of beings are ended, (or) the sorrows of beings are ended. But all the things from the void of space even to the sorrows of beings are endless: so also are my praises endless; thought succeeding thought without interruption; and in bodily, vocal, and mental deeds without weariness."(3) To make abundant offerings for the veneration to the Buddhas.
O Noble-minded Man, what is meant by "abundant offerings out of veneration to the Buddhas"? It means that in the smallest dust-motes of the Buddha-domains of the Dharma-circles and of empty space, and of the ten directions and three periods of time, in each speck of dust exists the Buddhas, equal in number to the smallest dust-motes of all worlds.
Each Buddha is surrounded by an ocean-wide assembly of Bodhisattvas, in whom, I have profound faith and reverent understanding through the power of the Vows of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra.
I will offer them the most rare and wondrous gifts such as the flowery-clouds, garland-clouds, heavenly music-clouds, celestial tapestry-clouds, angelic garment-clouds; all kinds of heavenly perfumes, scented balms, aromatic incenses, aromatic powders, each equal in quantity to Mount Sumeru (the king of mountains).
I will present lighted lamps of various kinds, such as the cream lamps, the oil lamps, and the lamps of sweet perfumes. The wick of each lamp being in size as Mount Sumeru, and the burning oil of each as great as the water of the ocean. Ceaselessly will I offer such gifts, in veneration.
O Noble-minded Man, among all gifts, the crown of them is the gifts of Dharma. Such gifts are called: the offering of "Following the instructions (of all Buddhas), the offering of benefits for all beings, the offering of taking upon oneself the suffering of others, the offering of fostering the root of merit diligently, the offering of swerving not, from the Bodhisattva vows; and the offering of departing not, from the love of the Bodhicitta."
O Noble-minded Man, truly the merit to be derived from the offering of (material) gifts, such as those enumerated, are infinite; yet, in comparison with a single thought of Dharma (they are as nothing).
Those merits (derived from material offerings), would not be equal to a hundredth part (of the merit of a thought of Dharma); nay, not to a hundred thousandth part of koties, of nayutas, of kalans, and of upannishads.
And why? Because the Dharma is held in the highest esteem by all the Tathagatas. Moreover, all Buddhas are begotten from the Dharma, through the perfecting of their conduct in accordance with it. If the Bodhisattvas make offering to the Dharma (to the Buddhas) then their offerings to the Tathagatas are completed.
Thus do the Bodhisattvas present the truest offering of gifts to the Tathagatas.
My offering of such great and noble gifts to the Buddhas will only cease if the void of space is ended, (or) the spheres of beings are ended, (or) the karmas of beings are ended, (or) the sorrows of beings are ended. But as all the things from the void of space to the sorrows of all beings are endless; so also will my offering to Buddhas endless. Thought succeeding thought without interruption, in bodily, vocal, and mental deeds without weariness.(4) To repent and confess one's evil deeds and evil karma.
"O Noble-minded Man, what is meant by "repenting and confessing one's evil deeds and evil karma"?
A Bodhisattva would think thus: 'All the evil deeds I have committed hitherto during the Kalpas without beginning of the past, caused by the emotion of lust, hatred, and stupidity leading to bodily, speech, and mental actions are boundless.
If such deeds were corporeal and in forms, all the empty spaces unlimited as it is, could not contains them.
I now confess and repent them all, by my three purified deeds of body, speech, and mind, and with a sincere heart, pledging myself not to commit any evil deed here-after.
I will always keep myself pure in the prohibitive precepts, and in all active moral deeds.'
I will lay this repentance before all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of all worlds and Dharma-circles equal in number to the smallest dust-motes.
My repentance will cease when the void of space is ended, (or) the spheres of beings are ended, (or) the karmas of beings are ended, (or) the sorrows of beings are all ended.
But as all the things from the void of the space to the sorrows of beings are endless, so also is my repentance endless.
Thought succeeding thought without interruption, in bodily, vocal, and mental deeds without weariness."(5) To approve of and rejoice at the merits and virtues of others.
"O Noble-minded Man, What is meant by "approving of and rejoicing at the merits and virtues of others"?
In Buddha lands, the Buddhas, equal in number to the smallest dust-motes of all the worlds, throughout all the Dharma-circles and empty space, of the ten directions and three periods of time, have devoted their lives to the sole purpose of acquiring all wisdom, and diligently accumulating merit.
Since they began to direct their minds (toward Bodhicitta), throughout the duration of unutterable and innumerable kalpas and in Buddha-domains, equal in number to the smallest dust-motes of all worlds.
During each Kalpa, having sacrificed their heads, eyes, hands, and feet, in unutterable and incalculable number as the smallest dust-motes of Buddha-spheres, having thus overcome all difficulties, and accomplished all the arduous tasks, perfected the various stages of paramitas, passing through the experiences of the Bodhisattva-wisdom, and accomplished the highest Bodhi of Buddhas till entered into Parinirvana, whereupon they distributed the sariras.
All such good roots of merit I emulate and rejoice in.
Moreover, whatever merit or virtue may be possessed by any being either, of the six realms of existence, or belonging to the four kinds of birth, or belonging to any species of life in the worlds of the ten directions, though such merit may be as infinitesimal as a grain of dust, all will have my support and corresponding regard. With all such I rejoice.
Again, all the Sravakas, the Pratyeka-Buddhas, Arhats, and those who are still to be advanced on the path of discipline, all such are the saints of the ten directions and the three periods of time, with whom I rejoice at their merit if any may be possessed.
All the Bodhisattvas who through infinite self-sacrifice and boundless achievement have overcome all obstacles and having formed the wish to attain the highest goal of Bodhi, with them also I rejoice in their vast merits.
Thus, even though the void of space, together with the states of beings, with the karmas of beings, with the sorrows of beings, though all these be ended, yet, my approval and joy in the merits of all beings will not be ended. Thought succeeding thought without interruption, in bodily, vocal, and mental deeds without weariness."(6) To request the Buddhas to set in motion "The Wheel of Dharma"
"O Noble-minded Man, what is meant by requesting the Buddhas to set in motion "the Wheel of Dharma"?
It means that I will apply my bodily, speech, and mental efforts, and various expedient means, and the most skilful methods, earnestly to request the Buddhas to rotate the wondrous Wheel of Dharma.
Such Buddhas are incalculable in number as the smallest (flying) dust-motes of the Buddha-domains of the ten directions, and the three periods of time, throughout the Dharma-realms and the empty space; each dust-motes respectively contains therein unutterable and innumerable vast Buddha lands, equal in number to the smallest dust-motes. In each country dwell innumerable and ineffable Buddhas equal to the smallest dust-motes in number.
Each moment there are Buddhas, equal to the smallest dust-motes in number, who are attaining enlightenment, and each are surrounded by an ocean-wide assembly of all Bodhisattvas.
I constantly request such Buddhas to turn the Wheel of Right Dharma.
Thus, even though the space of void has ended, and likewise the states of beings, the karmas of beings, and the sorrows of beings, all have ended, yet my request is endless. Thought succeeding thought without interruption, and in bodily, vocal, and mental deeds, without weariness."(7) To request the Buddhas to remain in the world
O Noble-minded Man, what is meant by "requesting the Buddhas to remain in the world"?
"The Buddhas are infinite in number as the minutest dust-motes of the ten directions and three periods of time throughout the Dharma-realms and empty space; and so are the Bodhisattvas, the Sravakas, the Pratyeka-Buddhas, the Arhat, the partly learned ones, and the well learned laymen, when they set their minds on the attainment of Nirvana; I entreat them all to remain in touch with living beings, instead of entering Nirvana; even to the duration of kalpas of Buddha lands, equal to the minutest dust-motes in number, in order to benefit all living beings.
Thus even though the void of space has ended, and likewise the states of beings, the karmas of beings, and the sorrows of beings, though all such have ended, yet, my request to the Buddhas is endless.
Thought succeeds thought without interruption, and in bodily, vocal, and mental deeds, without weariness."(8) To be faithful follower of "The Teaching of the Buddhas" forever
"O Noble-minded Man, what is meant by being "Under Buddhas' guidance forever"? It means, for instance, the Buddha Sakyamuni, who was the vehicle for the power of Tathagata Vairocana of the Saha-World, who from the beginning, when He made an earnest wish (for obtaining Buddhahood, in order to deliver all beings), and having made the exquisite advance by continuous skilful exertion, and sacrificed of His lives and bodies, in unutterable and countless number, for the sake of almsgiving. He stripped off His own skin for paper, used His own blood for link, and His bones for writing-instruments. Thus the scripture have been written in bulk as great as Mount Sumeru. In appreciation of the Dharma, He would disregard the royal thrones, kingdoms, palaces, gardens, and all that belonged to Him.
He spared no energy in his arduous and painstaking career, until He accomplished the great Bodhi under the sacred Bodhi Tree.
Then He displayed various exalted powers (Abhidjnas), manifested various transmutations, revealed various Buddha-figures of the three kayas, and presided at the various assemblies; such as the assemblies of Great Bodhisattvas, the assemblies of Sravakas and Pratyeka-Buddhas, the assemblies of cakravarti (world rulers) and petty kings (scattered corn kings) and their retinues, the assemblies of kshatriya (warrior-statesmen), brahmin, elders, and laymen, the assemblies of devas (gods), nagas (dragon), eight divisions of supernatural beings, human, and non-human.
At these assemblies and sanctuaries, He spoke with the full and round voice of thunder, with expedient means and skilful methods, teaching the beings in manner befitting their inclinations and happiness.
Thus He led them to the maturity (or Bodhi), until He entered into Nirvana.
All these examples I will follow, not only that of the present World-Honoured One Vairocana, but of all the Tathagatas of the Buddha lands, equal in number to the dust-motes of the ten directions and three periods of time, throughout the Dharma-realms and empty space. I will follow the examples of the Buddhas from thought to thought.
Even though the void of space has ended, and the worlds of beings, the karmas of beings, the sorrows of beings all have ended, yet, my practice and following of the examples of the Buddhas will not be ended.
Thought succeeds thought without interruption, and in bodily, vocal, and mental deeds, without weariness."(9) To be always in harmony with all beings (bestowing on them gifts according to their needs)
"O Noble-minded Man, what is meant by "Always in harmony with beings"?
It means always accommodate and benefit all living beings of the worlds of ten directions and three periods of time, throughout the Dharma-circles and empty space; they are known as the beings to be born from the womb, form the egg, from moisture, and produced by metamorphosis.
They live in different elements, either abiding on earth, in the water, in the fire (that is heat), or in the wind (air).
There are also some beings dwelling in space, living in forests and bushes.
They are of various species, forms, appearances, life-spans, names, natures, knowledge, habits, characteristics, manners, costumes, and diets.
They dwell at innumerable abiding places; in towns, villages, cities, and palaces.
They comprise the devas, the nagas, the eight divisions of supernatural beings, human, and non-humans; some have no feet, some two feet, some four feet, and others have many feet; some are with form, some without form; with sense, or neither with or without sense.
All of these shall be accommodated and served by me (according to their needs and their natures), as attentively as I would show filial respect to my parents, due respect to my teachers, to elders, and arhats, up to the Tathagata, all in equality.
A Bodhisattva should thus benefit all beings in equal treatment, and bestow his loving care on all beings alike. And why? Because if a Bodhisattva serves all beings that is equal to serving the Buddhas dutifully.
To hold all beings in high esteem, and render them respectful services, that is equal to revering and serving the Tathagatas.
To make all beings happy, is to please all Tathagatas. And why?
Because the Great Compassionate Heart is the essence of Buddhahood. For the sake of (delivering) all beings, (the Bodhisattva) develop Great Compassion, and from the Great Compassion spring the Bodhicitta, and from Bodhicitta comes the Enlightenment.
Look upon all beings with impartial mind and equality, thus will the Great Compassion be brought to the state of fullness and completion.
To bestow the Great Compassion upon all beings, that is equal to serving the Tathagatas (to their satisfaction).
My compassionate embrace of all beings shall never cease.
Even though void of space has ended, the worlds of beings, the karmas of beings, and the sorrows of beings are all ended, yet, my boundless compassion is endless. Thought succeeds thought without interruption, and in bodily, vocal, and mental deeds, without weariness."(10) To dedicate all of one's merits to (benefit) all beings
"O Noble-minded Man, what signifies "Dedicating all one's merits (to benefit all sentient beings)"?
This means that all one's merits acquired from the first vow of paying the highest homage and respect to all Buddhas, up to and including the vow to dedicating all one's merit to all beings.
All these shall be transferred to all beings throughout the Dharma-worlds and immeasurable spaces of the universe, wishing them to be constantly peaceful and happy without sickness or suffering.
I will see all beings' evil projects fail, and all their virtuous intentions will be quickly achieved.
I will close the door against evil destinies, and open the right paths of Nirvana to men and devas.
If the beings are suffering the most terrible tortures in expiation of their accumulated evil doings, I will substitute myself and take upon myself the sufferings that their evil deeds have brought upon them, so shall they be released (from their evil deeds), and finally attain the supreme Bodhi.
Thus do all the Bodhisattvas devote themselves to the cultivation of virtue and merit, and dedicate all the rewards over to the benefit of all beings (in this way).
My loving embrace of all beings is eternal.
Even though the void of space has ended, (or) the worlds of beings, (or) the karmas of beings, (or) the sorrows of beings all have ended, yet my compassion for all beings, by turning over my rewards of merit to them is endless.
Thought succeeds thought without interruption, and in bodily, vocal, and mental deeds, without weariness.