The Unobstructed Door



Then Sudhana, remembering that spiritual benefactor’s teaching of the universal eye, reflecting on that projection of buddhahood, keeping in mind those multitudes of statements of the Teaching, entering into those oceans of entries into the Teaching, pondering that method of teaching, plunging into the principles of that whirlpool of teaching, entering fully into the space of that teaching, clarifying that sphere of teaching, and contemplating that treasure island of teaching, gradually made his way to Sagaratira in Lanka, where he looked in all directions, desiring to see the monk Supratishthita. He saw Supratishthita walking in the sky, surrounded by countless hundreds of thousands of celestial beings.

Having completed the twelve-links of conditioning, Sudhana comes to the Realization that all former discriminations in his mind had become Bodhi-seeds of Buddhagnosis—as he plunges into the Primordial Principles of Sagaramegha’s Oceanic Teaching, swirling like a whirlpool and devouring all defiled garbha. He now makes his way to Sagaratira [in Lanka]. The Lankian landscape is so precipitous that it’s next to impossible to scale its heights. Yet, now that the sultry ocean of samsara has been transfigured into the deep ocean of Buddhagnosis, he found the climb as a mere trifle and ascended it unhindered. There he sighted the monk Supratishthita, who upon first glance Sudhana discerned that he was no ordinary monk—as he is found traversing the very skies and surrounded by a myriad of Celestial Beings and ornate layers of transcendent shapes and sounds.

Then Sudhana, seeing the monk Supratishthita walking in the sky, was
pleased, enraptured, transported, overjoyed, happy; he saluted and greeted
Supratishthita and said to him, “Noble one, I have set my mind on supreme
To this, Supratishthita replied, “It is good that you have set your mind on
supreme perfect enlightenment and ask about the qualities of buddhahood,
the qualities of omniscience, the qualities of independence. I have attained
the enlightening liberation ‘unobstructed door.’ Going in and out of this
`unobstructed door’ liberation, practicing it, analyzing it, examining it,
investigating it, and clarifying it, I have attained a light of knowledge called
`ultimate nonobstruction,’ whereby I am free from obstruction in awareness
of the mental actions of all sentient beings, knowing where all sentient
beings die and are born, entries into the channels to memory of past states,
associations with all beings in future ages, communications to all sentient
beings of the present time, knowledge of the conventions of languages of all
sentient beings, cutting off the doubts of all sentient beings, comprehending
the differences in the faculties of all sentient beings, approaching all sentient
beings at appropriate times to guide them to full development, comprehension of time divisions as being conceptual, and in noncorporeal pervasion of the buddha-fields in the ten directions, all by the attainment of nonbeing, nonabiding, and nondoing. By the realization of this mystic power of nondoing I walk, stand, sit, and lie down in the sky, disappear and appear,
produce smoke and flame. Being one, I become many; being many, I
become one. I become now visible, now invisible. I go through walls
unhindered, as through empty space. While sitting cross-legged I travel in
space, like a bird on the wing. I go in and out of the earth as if in water. I walk
on water unhindered as on the earth….”

Supratishthita’s ‘unobstructed-door’ and his exclamation, “Being one, I become many; being many, I become one”, reflects the very core-teaching of the Hua-yen. Or as Garma C.C. Chang would elucidate, “Non-Obstruction is the pivot of Totality”:

The mystery of Buddhahood can perhaps be summed up in two
words: Totality and Non-Obstruction. The former implies the all-embracing and all-aware aspects of Buddhahood; the latter, the total freedom from· all clingings and bindings. Ontologically speaking, it is because of Totality that Non-Obstruction can be reached, but causally speaking, it is through a realization of Non-Obstruction-the complete annihilation of all mental and spiritual impediments and “blocks”-that the realm of Totality and Non-Obstruction is reached…

Non-Obstruction is, therefore, the core of Hwa Yen philosophy. But what is obstruction? As understood by common sense, obstruction is something that blocks or stands in the way of some matter or act. Yet obstruction (Chinese: Ai) as understood in Hwa Yen has a wider sense than this; it implicitly refers to the “boundary-walls” that stand between the different realms. To explain this, let us return to our example of a cup of water.
In it we find many different realms. Although these different realms simultaneously exist and interpenetrate in a most harmonious way, between them stand definite “boundary-walls.” These boundary-walls may be “tangible” or “elusive,” “concrete” or “abstract,” “impregnable” or “breachable,” “unyielding” , or “submissive,” but they all have a definite restricting or limiting function…

Using the Hwa Yen expression, they are “blocks” standing in the way of Totality. A complete removal of these “blocking walls” will enable one to reach the realm of NonObstruction, which again is the aim and core of Hwa Yen…. (THE BUDDHIST TEACHING OF TOTALITY, The Philosophy of Hwa Yen Buddhism, Garma C. C. Chang, 1971)

One can discern from this exchange and Supratishthita’s discourse on the ‘unobstructed-door’, is how the core-teaching of the Hua-yen is also associated with the Doctrine of Voidness, for it is only the Void Alone that is devoid of all boundaries and obstructions, thus it can disband them all. This unobstructed-entry is the gate-less gate through which one enters into the Realm of the Unborn.

“Son, I know this enlightening liberation ‘unobstructed door,’ which is
everywhere at once engaged in the service of the buddhas, appropriate to the
development of all beings. How can I know the practice, or tell the virtues,
of the great enlightening beings who act on great compassion, who act in
accord with the practice of the Great Vehicle, whose conduct never deviates
Entry into the Realm of Reality from the path of enlightening beings, whose conduct is free from attachment, whose conduct always embodies the will of enlightening beings, who always act with the thought of enlightenment, whose action is focused on the way of the enlightened, who always act with the thought of omniscience, whose way of action is like the sky, whose conduct is independent of all mundane realms, whose conduct is flawless, whose conduct is uncorrupted, whose conduct is consistent, whose conduct is faultless, whose conduct is pure, whose conduct is unblemished, whose conduct is free from evil, whose conduct is honest, whose conduct is dispassionate, whose conduct is undefiled?
“Go south, son, to the Dravidian city Vajrapura. There lives a grammarian
named Megha. Go to him and ask him how an enlightening being is to learn
and practice the conduct of enlightening beings.”
Then Sudhana again paid his respects to the monk Supratishthita and left.

One can also discern from this encounter with Supratishthita that he has also far-transcended the ocean of existence and now resides unobstructedly in the domain of Perfect Suchness.

Here we find that both time and space have lost their meaning and power as we understand and experience them. Here is not merely a realm-embracing-realm ad infinitum, but a total change-over, a thorough liberation from all obstructions. Here is a perfect melting and merging of all realms, the all-in-one and the one-in-all, the dissolving of being and non-being, the convergence of Voidness and existence, the “simultaneous abrupt rising” and the “perfect mutual solution.” All these mysteries of Totality consist, however, in one basic principle; namely, all things of dependent-arising are void. (ibid, Garma C. C. Chang)

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