One last prominent consideration pertaining to Hua-yen thought before proceeding into the sutra is “The Ocean-Seal-Samādhi”. Its composition is by Priest Ŭisang (625-702) who is the First Patriarch of Korean Hua-yen (Hwaŏm) Buddhism. All the major schools (Chinese, Korean, and Japanese) of Hua-yen consider his work as the quintessential distillation of the core of Hua-yen itself:

Ŭisang’s Ocean Seal encapsulates the inmost heart-mind of the Hwaŏm or Hua-yen metaphysical vision, which the indigenous tradition calls the “round” (wŏn) or “all-embracing” view, in a poem composed of only 210 Chinese characters, arranged in 30 verses of 7 characters each, with 4 sides, 4 corners and 54 angles, which is concentrically patterned like a winding maze, thus forming a beautiful Buddhist mandala or “mystic circle,” both beginning and ending at the center of the diagram: (Odin, Pg. xiii)


To this day Ŭisang’s Ocean Seal is chanted on a regular basis in Korean Buddhist Monasteries. This is in order to invoke a most effective dhāraṇī that resonates one into the Hwaŏm mystic familiarity of entering into the Ocean-Seal-Samādhi. This is a highly-concentrated contemplative envisaging of li-shih-wu-ai, or the “non-obstructive interpenetration of universal-principle with particular-phenomena” as well as shih-shih-wuai or the “non-obstructive interpenetration of particular-phenomena with particular-phenomena.”

Thus, due to the mysteries of li-shih-wu-ai and shih-shih-wu-ai, it is said that Buddhas absorbed in Ocean-Seal-Samādhi see all dharmas both near and far of the past, present and future without obstruction; they instantly travel to all Buddhalands the number of dustmotes without obstruction; they accomplish all inconceivable miracles according to their wish without obstruction; they emanate waves of immeasurable compassion and joy to all sentient beings without obstruction; they pervade all lands and seas without obstruction; they emit clouds of
radiance and orbs with satellite orbs of rainbow lights throughout all ten worlds of the dharma-realm without obstruction; they adorn all Pure Lands and heavenly abodes with a rain of lotus flowers without obstruction; and this multiplied to infinity. (ibid, pg. xiv)

When utilizing his diagram, one immersed within the Ocean-Seal Samādhi in essence enters into the Primordial-Realm of the Dharmadhātu. One literally experiences the “One is in All and Many is in One”. Yea, in just one minuscule particle of dust is contained the Ten-Directions. Many Blessings are thus bestowed as the contemplative returns to the Primordial Realm wherein “inexhaustible treasures” are inherent in what Alfred North Whitehead would exclaim as “in a certain sense, everything is everywhere at all times.”

In concluding this brief snapshot of the Ocean Seal Samādhi it is appropriate to include Ŭisang’s Ocean Seal poem; its depth constitutes the very essence of the Hua-yen:

Ŭisang’s Ocean Seal of Hwaŏm Buddhism

1. Since dharma-nature is round and interpenetrating,
It is without any sign of duality.
2. All dharmas are unmoving,
And originally calm.
3. No name, no form,
All (distinctions) are abolished.
4. It is known through the wisdom of enlightenment,
Not by any other level.
5. The true-nature is extremely profound,
Exceedingly subtle and sublime.
6. It does not attach to self-nature,
But manifests following (causal) conditions.
7. In One is All,
In Many is One.
8. One is identical to All,
Many is identical to One.
9. In one particle o f dust,
Is contained the ten directions.
10. And so it is,
With all particles of dust.
11. Incalculably long eons,
Are identical to a single thought-instant.
12. And a single thought-instant,
Is identical to incalculably long eons.
13. The nine times and the ten times,
Are mutually identical.
14. Yet are not confused or mixed,
But function separately.
15. The moment one begins to aspire with their heart,
Instantly perfect enlightenment (is attained).
16. Samsara and Nirvana,
Are always harmonized together.
17. Particular-phenomena (shih) and Universal-principie (li),
Are completely merged without distinction.
18. This is the world of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra,
And the Ten Buddhas.
19. In Buddha’s Ocean-Seal-Samādhi,
20. Many unimaginable (miracles) are produced,
According to one’s wishes.
21. This shower of jewels benefiting all sentient beings,
Fills all of empty space.
22. All sentient beings receive this wealth,
According to their capacities.
23. Therefore, he who practices (contemplation),
Returns to the primordial realm.
24. And without stopping ignorance,
It cannot be obtained.
25. By unconditional expedient means,
One attains complete freedom.
26. Returning home (the primordial realm) you obtain riches,
According to your capacity.
27. By means of dhāraṇī,
An inexhaustible treasure,
28. One adorns the dharmadhātu,
Like a real palace of jewels.
29. Finally, one reposes in the real world,
The bed of the Middle Way.
30. That which is originally without motion,
Is named Buddha. (ibid, pg.xix-xx)

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3 Responses to Ocean-Seal-Samādhi

  1. Tobias says:

    Thank you for this beautiful explanation. Do you have a link to a recorded Korean chanting of Ŭisang’s Ocean Seal?

    With Metta,

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