In the Flower Ornament Scripture, the Avatamsaka Sutra, Chapter 3 is entitled, "The Meditation of the Enlightening Being Universally Good."
Universally Good is like a meta-ally, a being bestowed with knowledge by the Buddhas, who guides sentient beings far and wide.
In this incredibly cosmic text, it's so endearing to read that the Buddhas extend their wisdom to Universally Good in part by patting them on the head.
"Then the Buddhas of the ten directions each extended his right hand and patted Universally Good on the head... As in this world Universally Good was patted on the head by all the Buddhas of the ten directions, so in all the oceans of worlds, and in each atom of those worlds, the enlightening beings Universally Good there were patted on the head by the Buddhas of the ten directions."
Reading that, it's like Universally Good is a forest ecosystem of allies. The network of all the allies.
There's so much luminosity in every sentence of this book. And I wanted to zoom into just one small paragraph. Here, on p.186 in Cleary's translation:
Sentient beings are muddled by afflictions,
Their conceptions and inclinations are not the same;
According to their mental states they perform inconceivably many acts,
Thereby forming the oceans of all lands.
The oceans of all lands is I believe a metaphor for life as we experience it before our eyes. What we call the world. And in the Flower Ornament Scripture, lands are vastly varied and virtually innumerable. We can barely conceive of the universes and worlds described therein, a true multiverse.
Children of Buddha, the oceans of worlds have various different forms and characteristics. That is to say, some are round, some are square, some neither round nor square. Some are shaped like whirlpools, some like mountains of flames, some like trees, some like flowers, some like palaces, some like living creatures, some like Buddhas. There are as many forms such as these as there are atoms in an ocean of worlds.
And what is the nature of all these worlds?
All the vast lands
Are like reflections, illusions, or flames
We can look directly in front of us and ask ourselves, what does it mean, to understand the world that appears to us, as a reflection, illusion, or flame?
How might that liberate us from the fixed thinking that we might find on Twitter, let's say?
I was also struck by these words from the prior passage: According to their mental states they perform inconceivably many acts / Thereby forming the oceans of all lands.
A declaration that the mental states of sentient beings serve to form the oceans of all lands, as mediated by their acts. We so often think of ourselves as the product of the universe, rather than that which is giving birth to the universe itself.
It's quite radical to bring it back to the world as it appears to us, and consider, that the very world itself, in its moving and evolving oceanic form, is the formation of all sentient beings — bacteria, plant, animal, human, and more. It reminds me of that J. Krishnamurti quote, "You are the world."
And so what might happen, if we imaginalize our minds? Imaginalize our mental states. As Ibn 'Arabi says, "All of existence is imagination within imagination."
What might we conceive?
How might each of us receive the voice, the wisdom, of Universally Good?
Image: Black Whirlpool/Shozo Shimamoto