Facing in all Directions

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Maitrayani

Sudhana gradually made his way to the city Simhavijurmbhita, looking for the girl Maitrayani.

Maitrayani is the princess daughter of King Simhaketu (also known as Lion Banner).

He was told, “The girl Maitrayani, daughter of the rajah Simhaketu, with
a retinue of five hundred girls, is up on the roof of a palace of radiant jewels,
sitting on a seat set on sandalwood legs and draped with nets of strings of
jewels and arrayed with celestial cloth, expounding spiritual teaching.”
He also saw the girl Maitrayani, with dark eyes, black hair, and golden skin…
She said to Sudhana, “Look at the adornments of my palace.”
He saw reflected images of the buddhas in the cosmos, with their first inspirations, spheres of practice and vows, manifestations of emergence in the world, mystical transformation on attainment of enlightenment, turnings of the wheel of teaching, and displays of ultimate extinction. This he saw in each and every object. Just as the sun, moon, and stars in the sky are seen reflected in a clear, limpid pool of water, so did all the buddhas of the cosmos appear reflected in each object of the luminous jewel palace, this as a result of the girl Maitrayani’s past roots of goodness.

Maitrayani’s palace is a veritable cosmic hologram. Undefiled by sensate phenomena, her skin is a radiant golden-hue and her jet-black eyes reflect an infinite domain of the “arrangement of totality”, in essence quite similar to the simile of Indra’s Net. Sudhana inquires about the nature of this sphere of perfect wisdom “by way of the arrangement of totality.”

She said, “Focusing my attention on this means of access to perfect wisdom
by way of the arrangement of the totality, meditating on it, following
it, pondering it, contemplating it, making it familiar, keeping it in mind,
putting it in order, putting it into effect, perfecting it, thoroughly examining
it, I developed a mental control called ‘facing in all directions,’…

This specialized mental control of ‘facing in all directions’ is really a token of the Avataṃsaka Sūtra as a whole, as it bespeaks of the Beacon-of-Totality that shines in infinite array across the vast synthesis of Dharmadhātu. We will soon focus on another denizen of Dharmadhātu who is graced with a similar mechanism of mental control, the young monk Sudarshana, but for now Maitrayani takes center stage as her profound mystic ability weaves in and out of the “medium the of mystic emanations from the concentrations of buddhas.”

…in the sphere of which mental control incalculable tens of hundreds of thousands of media of the Teaching operate, assemble, become visible, become accessible, and develop—for example, the medium of buddha-lands……the medium of great kindness, the medium of tranquility, the medium of speech, the medium of reason, the medium of attainments, the medium of distinctions, the medium of unity, the medium of ultimate nonattachment, the medium of totality, the medium of the principles of buddhas…The medium of the magic powers of buddhas, the medium of the projected forms of buddhas, the medium of buddhas’ knowledge of what is on the minds of others, the medium of spiritual transformations of buddhas, the medium of abiding in the state of satisfaction, the medium of the works ofbuddhas up to the manifestation of ultimate extinction, the medium of works for the benefit of infinite beings, the medium of the profound doctrine of emptiness…

Maitrayani states that she “knows this means of access to perfect wisdom which is the array of total mindfulness.” Her Gnostic-Eye perceives inconceivable Buddha-realms unhindered and in so doing becomes a perfect vehicle of refuge for all beings. Yea, she is the perfect mistress of Hua-yen hospitality whose kiss reflects unbounded compassion.

 

Sudarshana

Turning now to a less-exotic but no-less a perfected figure of supernal gnostic-abilities, we have before us the young monk-boy, Sudarshana:

Looking for the monk Sudarshana in towns and cities, marketplaces and
villages, in herding stations, in hermitages, in the provinces, in mountains,
caves, and forests, he saw Sudarshana walking around in a certain woods,
young and handsome, with the physical marks and embellishments of a
great man, his gaze steady, mindful, of vast intelligence, intent on the sphere
of insuperable knowledge, his mind free from all vacillation, vain imagination, idle fancies, and false ideas, abiding in pure knowledge, aware of the vast range of enlightened knowledge, firmly resolved to guide all beings to full development, with a vast sphere of great compassion, aiming to bear the eye of the teachings of all buddhas, aiming to produce the light of knowledge in all sentient beings, ever-mindful of the way of the enlightened,
treading it for the sake of all sentient beings, walking quietly and steadily,
neither quickly nor slowly, dressed like the deities of the pure abodes, surrounded by all kinds of beings.

Sudarshana is far advanced in Buddha-gnosis for his young age. He is indeed a spiritual prodigy who keeps company with such mystic-beings as “fire deities; sky deities; ocean deities,” yea deities whose very actions cause the world to turn. He also keeps company many diverse Buddhas as well:

Sudarshana said, “I am young, and have only recently become a monk. At that, in one life I have performed religious practice in the company of as many buddhas as grains of sand in thirty-eight Ganges Rivers. With some I performed spiritual practice for a day and a night, with some for a week, with some for a fortnight, with some for a month, with some for a year, with some for a century, with some for a millennium, with some for a hundred millennia, with some for a million years, with some for a trillion years…

In keeping such supernal company Sudarshana “realized all those “buddhas’ purification of the transcendent ways, by the power of setting out on universally good practice.” He also developed that aforementioned mental control of facing in all directions:

“In a single thought untold practical principles for sentient beings appear to me, for the fulfillment of the knowledge of the ten powers, by the power of carrying out the vows of practice of universally good enlightening beings…
“In a single thought, untold oceans of concentrations become manifest to me, for the purification of all spheres of concentration, by the power of carrying out the vow to comprehend all ways of concentration in one way of concentration…
“So I know the enlightening liberation ‘the lamp of knowledge which is never extinguished.’

In these two examples of a young woman and a young man who harbored mystic abilities outstretching the known imagination, we have a glimpse of the vast array of such personages who grace the Avataṃsaka. We will soon encounter many more, some even portraying different sentient features all together—for such is the Total-Portrait of the Gandavyūha that is so universally accumulative and cosmic in scope. A vast Web of interconnectivity that is perhaps best represented in Indra’s Net.

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