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Avatamsaka literature

Avatamsaka literature. An important and extensive literary compilation in Mahāyāna Buddhism centring on the Avatamsaka-sūtra, also known as Buddhāvatamsaka-sūtra (Sutra of the Garland of Buddhas; Chin., Hua-yen ching; Jap., Kegon-kyo). Most of the Skt. original of the work, reputedly extending to 100,000 verses, has been lost, but several translations exist in Tibetan and Chinese. Several chapters became revered as important sūtras in their own right, such as ‘The Ten Stages of a Bodhisattva's Career’ (Daśabhūmika-sūtra) and the ‘Entry into the Absolute’ (Gaṇḍavyūha-sūtra), these being the only parts, in consequence, which survive in Sanskrit.

Throughout the text the Buddha is portrayed as the focal point of all the spiritual energies of the universe which coalesce into a magnificent cosmic unity. The Avatamsaka-sūtra rapidly became popular in China with the Hua-Yen school, in Korea, and especially in Japan with the development of the Kegon school. Doctrinally it embraces Yogācāra/Vijñāvāda idealism, Mādhyamaka, and Tantric elements, which it weaves together into a rich metaphysical tapestry. Underlying the apparent diversity in the world is a complex mesh of interdependence and interpenetration of phenomena illuminated and energized by the compassion of the cosmic Buddha (Vairocana). No part of the whole exists in isolation and there is complementarity and mutual identification between all entities in a grand harmonious unity. Elements which appear to be separate are in fact subtly linked like jewels which reflect their brilliance upon one another.

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