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Buddhadharma : Fall 2006
buddhadharma| 25 |fall 2006 Chinese huayan Buddhism is considered by many Buddhist scholars to be one of the high points of mahayana thought, even of world philosophy. The huayan worldview – which emphasizes interconnectedness and employs provocative holographic meta- phors such as indra’s net – is a fascinat- ing, illuminating resource that can be very useful to contemporary Buddhist practi- tioners, even though very few know much about it. it was hardly predominant in ancient times either. The major huayan commentators were active in China for a relatively brief period – from the sixth to ninth centuries – and their profound, dense, and challenging writings were never widely read. Furthermore, the school they established in China never achieved any lengthy institutional prominence, and in Japan, huayan barely survives formally today as the Kegon school. nevertheless, huayan – with its intricate dialectical philosophy – provides the philosophi- Taigen Dan LeighTon is a priesT anD Dharma heir in The Lineage of suzuki roshi. he Teaches aT The graDuaTe TheoLogicaL union, anD LeaDs The mounTain source sangha in The san francisco Bay area anD The ancienT Dragon zen gaTe in chicago. he is The eDiTor anD co-TransLaTor of Dogen’s exTensive recorD. The Phenomenal Universe of the Flower Ornament Sutra The Huayan, or Flower Ornament Sutra, with its vivid metaphors and extravagant visions, is not widely known in the West, yet it has had a profound and lasting impact on the way Zen and Chan Buddhism are practiced. Taigen dan leighton explores the sutra’s teachings on interconnectedness and the inspiration that it holds for practitioners today. (Opposite) Bodhisattvas of the Ten Stages of Enlightenment China, ming dynasty, 1454 hanging scroll cal underpinning for Zen and much of the rest of popular east asian Buddhism and its offshoots in the West. as a result, huayan perspectives, and the practical instructions that grow out of them, have an enduring influence and applicability to modern Buddhist practice. The FlowEr ornamEnT SuTra The starting point for huayan Buddhism is the extravagant, lengthy Flower orna- ment Sutra, or avatamsaka Sutra in san- skrit, considered the most elevated scripture by the huayan school. (avatamsaka is translated as Huayan in Chinese, which is read as Kegon in Japanese.) The Chinese ©TheClevelandMuseuMofarT,Johnl.severanCefund1973.70.1