Maitreya and Vairocana’s Tower



We are now entering into the climatic-conclusions of the Gandavyūha-sūtra. First up: Maitreya and the Marvelous “Tower of the adornments of Vairocana”. Throughout this sutra, as well as the Avataṃsaka as a whole, we see that Vairocana rather than Gautama, occupies the premier-position of Supreme Buddha, remaining a silent—Resplendently Transcendent—figure bracketing the entire Avataṃsaka Enterprise. The Tower symbolizes the entire Dharmadhātu, the realm of Suchness, wherein the All interpenetrates the all—the entire macro and micro cosmos. Thus in the Undivided and All-Encompassing Realm of the Dharmadhātu, all things are interpenetrative. Hence, this tower is also illustrating what we referred to in an earlier blog of this series: the Fourth Dharmadhātu, or complete and undivided interconnectedness. What Sudhana will encounter in the Tower are emanations of the ultimate quiescence of All Buddhas, or the True Reality of THAT which Vairocana represents. When Sudhana gazes at the Tower, he comes to the ultimate realization:

…this is the abode of those who dwell in full awakening, in the state of the unity of the Dharmadhatu . . . , the abode of those who dwell in the state of the entering of one eon in all eons and all eons in one eon, where one land is not distinct from all lands and all lands from one land, where one dharma is
unopposed to all dharmas and all dharmas are unopposed by one dharma, where one being is not different from all beings and all beings are not different from one being, where one Buddha is not separate from all Buddhas and all Buddhas not separate from one Buddha, where all meanings enter into one moment, where [one] goes to all lands with the arising of a single thought.

What Sudhana also comes to realize here is the true vision of equanimity. Long before entering it, he prostrates himself at the door of the Tower:

And just as he prostrated himself before the great tower of the chamber of
the adornments of Vairocana, in the same way he prostrated himself before
all the aforementioned beings and objects throughout the cosmos.
“In this way, continuously mystically manifesting the eons of the endless future, by equanimity like the infinity of space, equanimity like the nonobstruction of the reality realm, equanimity toward the omnipresent ultimate limit of reality, the equanimity of absence of false notions in those who realize Thusness, the pervasiveness of perceptions of reflectional knowledge, equanimity toward thoughts as being like dreams, equanimity toward the representations of all worlds as being like reflections, equanimity toward conditional origins being like echoes, equanimity toward nonorigination, equanimity toward formation and disintegration, and equanimity toward the evolution of causal conditions as being equal to nonexistence…
[Thus] “This is abode of those who dwell in the state of emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness; this is the abode of those who dwell in the state of nonconceptualization of all things, those who dwell in the state of the unity of the cosmos, those who dwell in the state of ungraspability of the realm of beings, those who dwell in the state of the nonorigination of all things, those who dwell in the state of nonattachment to all worlds…
[Yea,]”This is the abode of those who have dropped all attachments to the world yet appear in the abodes of all beings in order to develop them to maturity.

Sudhana then arises and beckons the arrival of Maitreya in a beautiful verse format, beginning with:

Here is the compassionate, pure-minded Maitreya,
Radiant with love, striving for the good of the world;
At the stage of coronation, heir of the buddhas,
He dwells in contemplation of the enlightened realm.

Maitreya, of course, is the forthcoming Buddha in our own saha-world. He is also the fifty-first Bodhisattva, of the spiritual benefactors, whom Sudhana has encountered in his quest of enlightenment. Yea, here he is portrayed as the guardian of the door to the Great Tower of all Mystical Towers, and as such, is the herald of Absolute Suchness Itself. Maitreya sings praises of Sudhana’s acquired virtues along the way of Self-Realization, thus welcoming the indefatigable one:

Attentive to all fields of awareness, born of the treasures of every
Developing the treasuries of all buddhas; welcome, indefatigable one…
Seeking the realm of the Victors, pursuing the practice of the undefiled,
Inquiring into the ocean of vows, this indefatigable one has arrived…
They bestow the treasures of buddhas,
They guard the treasuries of the Victors;
They are holders of the secrets of the buddhas”-
Thus this wise one follows the Friends…
Having given up all comforts, home, family, and wealth, like an immortal,
He attends the Friends as a servant…
Aiming to develop all virtues, inquire into all truths,
And break through all doubts, he serves the Friends with diligence…
The Friends are indefatigable, firm in will, and sure in application;
Those who follow such Friends as these will soon become guides

Of course, the “Friends” of which Maitreya speaks, are the Royal Spiritual Benefactors. Thus from the mouth of the Future Buddha Himself, one is firmly and unequivocally assured there is no higher privilege than to follow their sacred paths and meet their Blessed Acquaintance, thus accruing their resplendent virtues.

Maitreya also makes another bold proclamation concerning Sudhana’s spiritual advancement, one that Lankavatarians are most familiar with, since they too partake in such spiritual riches of the Dragon Mind and Womb untold:

Born of the dragon of the mind of enlightenment, ascended into the
sky of reality,
Raining the teachings everywhere, he fosters all good fruits.

He will light the lamp of truth, the pure wick,
Dispelling the darkness of defilement,
The lamp in a strong vessel of love and awareness,
Glowing with the pure flame of the spirit of enlightenment.

From the embryo of the aspiration for enlightenment, compassion,
and love,
Gradually developing the limbs of enlightenment, this baby buddha
is growing.

He will develop the embryo of virtue and clarify the path of knowledge;
He is recognized as an embryo of knowledge, developed in accord
With the womb of vows…

Then Sudhana respectfully circumbulated the enlightening being
Maitreya and said, “Please open the door of the tower, and I will enter.”
Then Maitreya went up to the door of the tower containing the adornments
of Vairocana, and with his right hand snapped his fingers; the door of the
tower opened, and Maitreya bade Sudhana to enter. Then Sudhana, in greatest wonder, went into the tower. As soon as he had entered, the door shut. He saw the tower immensely vast and wide, hundreds of thousands of
leagues wide, as measureless as the sky, as vast as all of space, adorned with
countless attributes; countless canopies, banners, pennants, jewels, garlands
of pearls and gems, moons and half moons, multicolored streamers, jewel
nets, gold nets, strings of jewels, jewels on golden threads, sweetly ringing
bells and nets of chimes, flowers showering, celestial garlands and streamers, censers giving off fragrant fumes, showers of gold dust, networks of upper
chambers, round windows, arches, turrets, mirrors, jewel figurines of
women, jewel chips, pillars, clouds of precious cloths, jewel trees, jewel railings, jeweled pathways, jeweled awnings, various arrays of the floor,
chambers of jewels, jeweled promenades, rows of golden banana trees, statues made of all kinds of jewels, images of enlightening beings, singing birds, jewel lotuses, lotus ponds, jewel stairways, ground of masses of various jewels, radiant gems, arrays of all kinds of jewels. Also, inside the great tower he saw hundreds of thousands of other towers similarly arrayed; he saw those
towers as infinitely vast as space, evenly arrayed in all directions, yet these
towers were not mixed up with one another, being each mutually distinct,
while appearing reflected in each and every object of all the other towers.
Then Sudhana, seeing this miraculous manifestation of the inconceivable
realm of the great tower containing the adornments of Vairocana, was
flooded with joy and bliss; his mind was cleared of all conceptions and freed
from all obstructions. Stripped of all delusion, he became clairvoyant without
distortion, and could hear all sounds with unimpeded mindfulness. He
was freed from all scattering of attention, and his intellect followed the
unobstructed eye of liberation. With physical tranquility, seeing all objects
without hindrance, by the power of production everywhere he bowed in all
directions with his whole body.
The moment he bowed, by the power of Maitreya, Sudhana perceived
himself in all of those towers; and in all those towers he saw various diverse
inconceivable miraculous scenes. In one tower he saw where the enlightening
being Maitreya first aspired to supreme perfect enlightenment, what his
family was, what his basic goodness was, how he was inspired, how he was
encouraged by spiritual friends, how long he lived, what age he lived in,
what buddha he met, what land he adorned, what assembly he was in, and
what kind of special vows he undertook. He also perceived the length of life
of the beings and the buddha of that time, and saw himself in the presence of
that buddha, and saw all of his works…

Sudhana mystically perceives here the panoramic life and ministry of Maitreya in which he, like all faithful Bodhisattvas, promotes the Buddhadharma. He also sees how Maitreya is part and parcel of the archetypal pattern of all Buddhas—achieving Buddhahood in one lifetime. Yet, at the end of all these mind-blowing marvels, Maitreya snaps his fingers and awakens Sudhana from his fantastic-voyage through the Tower(s):

Then the enlightening being Maitreya, entering the tower and relaxing
his magical force, snapped his fingers and said to Sudhana, “Arise. This is the
nature of things; characterized by nonfixity, all things are stabilized by the
knowledge of enlightening beings, thus they are inherently unreal, and are
like illusions, dreams, reflections.”

Emptiness is thus shown as the imageless platform from which “all these majestic images” naturally revert to after the magnificent spectacle–the very Essence of True Thusness. Yet, Sudhana still inquires from whence all these displays came from?

They came from the effectuation of the magical power of knowledge of enlightening beings, and it resides in that very magical power. It does not go or come at all, it is not an aggregate or an accumulation, it is not uniform and unchangeable, it is not abiding or fixed in existence, it is not located in any place. It is like the network of clouds of the water spirits which do not appear from body or mind and yet are indeed seen in masses; by the mental power of the water spirits measureless clouds emerge, by the wonder of the realm of the water spirits. In the same way, those supernal manifestations are not internal or external, yet it is not that they are not seen, by the magical power of the enlightening being, and because of your own capacity.
“Just as the illusions of a magician manifesting illusory objects do not
come from anywhere or go away, nor are they in transit, yet they appear by
the power of spells and drugs, in the same way those supernal arrays have
never gone or come, nor accumulated, but they appear by proper learning of
the inconceivable magic of knowledge of enlightening beings, by mastery
of knowledge empowered by past vows.”

This is perhaps the best definition of what we interpreted earlier: Right Magic, or the portal to Absolute Liberation from all forms and formlessness and beyond…

Maitreya said, “This liberation is called the sanctum of supernal manifestations of unconfused recollection entering into knowledge of all objects of past, present, and future. And an enlightening being assured of enlightenment in one lifetime attains untold liberations like this.”

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