Hua-yen

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Hua-yen (Jap., Kegon, lit., ‘Flower Adornment’ school). A major school of Chinese Buddhism, which derived its name from the title of the Chinese tr. of its main text, Buddhāvatamsaka-sūtra (see AVATATAṂSAKA). Its main organizer was Fa-tsang (3rd Patriarch) (643–712), although its roots are earlier (e.g. Tu-shun). Important teachers were Cheng-kuan (737–820), regarded as the incarnation of Mañjuśrī, and Tsung-mi (780–841). Hua-yen was taken to Japan in 740 by Shen-hsiang, where it is known as Kegon.

Hua-yen regarded itself as the culmination of the Buddha Śākyamuni's teaching after his enlightenment. This teaching maintains the interdependence and equality of all appearance, the ‘teaching of totality’. Appearances may be in different states, but they are necessarily interdependent in constituting the universe of phenomena, and in equally manifesting the Buddha-illumination of enlightenment. Thus when Fa-tsang was summoned by the formidable empress Wu to expound the sūtra, he took a golden lion in the room as illustration: the lion is the phenomenal world, shih, but it is constituted by gold, li, the underlying principle which has no form of its own. By analysis into shih and li, every manifestation is identical to every other, and is an expression of the buddha-nature (buddhatā). This key perception of the interpenetration of all existences is expressed in Fa-Tsang's image of Indra's net, which spreads across the universe, with a perfect jewel in each of its links: each jewel reflects every other jewel in the whole net.