The following passage is from the Flower Ornament Scripture (in Sanskrit, the Avatamsaka Sutra, also known as the Scripture of Inconceivable Liberation), a vast collection of some of the richest and most highly regarded teachings in the Mahayana tradition. In this passage, Ocean of Subtle Flames, one of the innumerable enlightened beings who was present at the time of Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment at Magadha, is filled with insight.

This excerpt is taken from The Flower Ornament Scripture, translated by Thomas Cleary, and is reprinted with permission from Shambhala Publications.


 Miroku Bosatsu (Maitreya Bodhisattva), Kaikei (1158-1223), Japanese, Kamakura period, wood and gilding. Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Miroku Bosatsu (Maitreya Bodhisattva), Kaikei (1158-1223), Japanese, Kamakura period, wood and gilding. Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The buddha body extends throughout all the great
assemblies:
It fills the cosmos, without end.
Quiescent, without essence, it cannot be grasped;
It appears just to save all beings.

The Buddha, King of the Teaching, appears in the world
Able to light the lamp of sublime truth which
illumines the world;
His state is boundless and inexhaustible:
This is what Name of Freedom has realized.

The Buddha is inconceivable, beyond discrimination,
Comprehending forms everywhere as insubstantial.
For the sake of the world he opens wide the path of
purity:
This is what Pure Eyes can see.

The Buddha’s wisdom is unbounded—
No one in the world can measure it.
It forever destroys beings’ ignorance and confusion:
Great Intelligence has entered this deeply and abides there in peace.

The Buddha’s virtues are inconceivable;
In beings who witness them afflictions die out.
They cause all worlds to find peace:
Immutable Freedom can see this.

Sentient beings, in the darkness of ignorance, are always deluded;
The Buddha expounds for them the teaching of dispassion and serenity.
This is the lamp of wisdom that illumines the world:
Sublime Eyes knows this technique.

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