Kanji for Muryoko

'Infinite Light'

Journal of Shin Buddhism

Harold Stewart

Autumn Landscape Roll
A Divine Panorama

Personages Represented
Cantos 5 to 8
Cantos 9 to 12
Cantos 13 to 16
Cantos 17 to 20
Cantos 21 to 24
Cantos 25 to 28
Cantos 29 to 32

[ Synopsis and Introduction ]



A timeless flash of Insight! In the West
On Vajrabodhi's left, amid the air
Instant Enlightenment makes manifest
The Diamond World and so completes the pair:
Mandalas that are nine and yet are one,
Where Vairocana's Moon reflects his Sun
To radiate the Dharma everywhere.

Seated in adamantine pose before
The statue burning white hot on the floor,
The mystagogue attains the fourth degree
Of lofty contemplation, so can see
The peerless Vairocana reappear
Environed by his cool cerulean sphere,
Wherein his full-moon face and figure glow
Arrayed in robes of incandescent snow.
Brahma collected wandering stars to deck
With spiral nebulae this Buddha's neck,
While Indra chose the brightest from the Net
Of jewels for his crown, where five are set.
All wonder at the radiant glory spread
Around his body in a diamond blaze
A fathom wide, which haloing his head
Is split, as by a prism, into rays:
Violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, red
Ribbons of swirling light, in which the six
Stripes of the rainbow meet and intermix,
Until by confluence they reunite
Into their source's pure and perfect white.

Now Vairocana couples dual fists,
The right upon the left, before his breast,
A gesture copied by the liturgists.
The left thumb, folded in the palm, is pressed
Beneath the other fingers, all recessed
Except the left forefinger, pointing straight
Upright alone so as to penetrate
The higher hand, whose fingers are enwrapped
Around its index, which.the thumb has capped.


"Eye of the Buddha, metacosmic Sight
Whose starry contemplation never nods,
Shine out above the topmost heaven's height
With unitive yet million pointed Light,
Surpassing God and all the lesser gods!
Light of the Universe, supremely bright,
Shoot forth from white hot Omniconsciousness
Your world awakening shafts that incandesce
With Wisdom, glowing both by day and night!
Monarch of Mind, compassionately wise,
Inmost Illuminator, you alone
With ever present Vision look out through
Manifestation's multitude of eyes
From each unique spectator's point of view!
Singular Seer, whose plural is unknown,
We are not isolated lights who live
By what five narrow senses grasp and give,
So that the sixth, coordinating thought,
Perceives the outer world from their report,
For all that passes through our gates of sense
Is known within by your Omniscience,
Your sole Awareness, ever listening, hears
Through an innumerous audience of ears
This chant, which our concordant voices raise
With joyful exaltation in your praise!"

At once from Vairocana's frontal Eye
Swiftly successive rays of Vision fly
In four directions through transcendent Night,
Till each dilates a global satellite
To hold his aspects, figured as the Four
Victors who issue from his glowing core,
While four Great Bodhisattvas form a ring
Of liberation round each Dharma King.

The Cosmic Elements, personified
As gods to guard the Jewel Palace, set
One in each, corner, now have opened wide
Their arms and, leaning on the parapet
Of Heaven, uphold within their vast embrace
The ring of diamond vajras that surround
The Five Great Buddhas, when each takes his place
Upon a seal-red lotus, unified
Amid the quatrefoil of moons inside
The Centre's square of consecrated ground.
The celebrant's mudra now duplicates
Akshobhya's : right hand resting on his knee,
Palm downward, he extends the middle three
Fingers to touch the Earth and iterates
The bija 'HUM!' For in that deepest tone
The Buddha called her from beneath his seat
To watch his rout of demons in retreat
From steadfast calm, as bedrock as her own,
And witness his magnanimous defeat
Of Mara, who had claimed the vajra throne.


"See to the East Akshobhya first appear
Seated in his translucent sapphire sphere,
Wearing aetherial blue amidst a white
Circle of Vairocana's lunar Light.
Lord of the Vajra Order, he can hold
As attribute a five pronged bolt of gold.
He is the Sun when it begins to rise
And bring Enlightenment to waking skies
Above his Wisdom's clear reflective ocean,
Whose perfect stillness mirrors all that lies
In Heavens never troubled by commotion.
His vast round speculum, serene and wise,
Upon its shining surface, too, reflects
The myriad forms forever rearranged,
While in its hidden depths it recollects
And hoards all changes, yet remains unchanged.
There Cosmic Memory stores whatever seems,
Pure or defiled, in Heaven, Earth, and Hell:
Imagination's fount of myths and dreams,
Of which a poet's tongue alone can tell.
As Vajrasattva's crystal Consciousness
He hides in every mind, still imageless,
Until the pilgrim passes through decease
Of self to reach the ultimate release
Into Nirvana's oceanic peace."
Next, incantations by the priest repeat
The mantric 'TRAM' which can evoke and greet
The second Buddha, while he imitates
The sign by which that bounteous hand donates
The Dharma's help to all who may entreat,
Because its open gesture can express
Spontaneous generosity's largesse.


"Look to the South, where on midsummer's day
Ratnasambhava in a golden orb,
His topaz aura, by his fervour turns
Self clouded minds to clearness as he burns!
He is the Sun that holds meridian sway
Over the grateful Earth, whence we absorb
The warmth of kindness that his right hand gives
From his impartial Heart to all that lives;
While on his left hand vital Wisdom frames
The Triune Gem with lambent crested flames.
Lord of the Jewel Order, brightest power
Born from Compassion's opening lotus flower,
With adamantine Insight he can see
How thoughts and things that differ in degree,
Vastly diversified in form and name,
Are yet in their sheer essence all the same
And, equally devoid of self, are free
From finite limits set by earth and sea.
Master of Mantrayana's magic rites,
His whispered wordof power initiates
The novice, who beyond those perilous gates
By spiritual practice that delights
With rare felicities, can climb the heights.
So from his zenith throne may he bestow
The King of on all below."

Now Amitabha's faithful devotee
Invokes his presence by the bija 'HRIH'
Three fingers on his right hand overlie
Three on his left, so that they unify,
While his forefingers bend their middle joints,
Upraised and back to back, to meet the points
Of both his thumbs and form adjacent rings;
For through this mathematic sign for none,
They indicate by their twin openings
The Dharma's round perfection, two yet one.


"Gaze with attention turned directly West
Where Amitabha rules with solar power,
By whose regard all sentient lives are blest!
Both shoulders covered by his crimson robe,
He sits at day's most meditative hour,
Glowing amidst his ruby aura's globe.
Embodiment of boundless Life and Light,
He is the Sun returning home to rest
After he has achieved Nirvana's quest,
When he enjoys the rapturous trance of being
As seer and seen are both absorbed in seeing.
For now his perspicacious earthly sight
Turns into Vision, marvellously bright,
Observing qualities, innate, unique,
Of which a Buddha's tongue alone can speak.
Lord of the Lotus order, he discerns
By Intuition's deep divining Eye
The Buddha-nature in a heart that yearns
For birth in his Pure Land beyond the sky.
May his compassionate alchemic fire,
Refining basely sensual desire
Within our ardent hearts transmute the cold
Leaden indifference of men to gold.
Then all imprisoned in Samsara need
But call his holy Name and so be freed."

Lastly the adept chants the dauntless 'AH!',
Amoghasiddhi's bija granting calm,
While with all fingers raised and out turned palm
His right hand makes that heartening mudra
Which mimes its meaning: "Have no fear of harm!"


"Behold : a beam of indigo, the fourth
Of Vairocana's glances, toward the North
Emits Amoghasiddhi, seated there
Amid his aura's luminescent ball
Of blue black deeper than indicolite!
As Lord whose wisdom can Accomplish All,
His Sun, occulted at the noon of night,
Rules in the nadir over active Air
And darkly dazzles by excess of light.
Armed with the two crossed thunderbolts, his pair
Of vajras, triple pronged, he can unite
Their powers and so refine the ruthless will
To pure benevolence by his selfless skill,
Which he adapts to each disciple's need.
Since at the solar midnight he presides
Over the secret ritual, he guides
The mind to sublimate its carnal senses,
Prompting it by mysterious influences
To seek for Wisdom, following his lead.
For he was Shakyamuni, Sage of sages,
Who vanquished every demon that distracts,
And by perfecting thoughts and words and acts.
Will be Maitreya, too, in future ages,
Furthering every pilgrim on his road
To reach Nirvana's limitless abode."

On Mount Sumeru's summit there ascends
That Diamond Palace where twin columned portals
Facing the compass points admit immortals.
Above, its five-peaked roof of gold impends
Over the sovereign Buddhas, who inside
On crimson lotus thrones sit glorified,
Each in a orb as numinously bright
As autumn's full moon on a cloudless night.

As all resume in Vairocana's crown
The jewels whence his Knowledge flashes down,
Their brilliance, reunited in this rite,
Spirals centrifugally through the nine
Mandalas, till it fills each square design
And its assembly with celestial Light.
For by that path the Buddha can disperse
His lunar W1sdom through the universe,
Illuminating all by his divine
Intelligence serene and crystalline.
Following Vajrabodhi's lead, who bows
Deeply with triple reverence before
Those Five Triumphant Buddhas, all the brows
Of monks and laymen humbly touch the floor.


Fa Tsang, the foremost though the third in line
Of Hua Yen Masters, since his works enshrine
The boundless outlook that the Buddha gained
After Nirvana's peak had been attained,
Was once invited by the Empress Wu
To court and granted private interview
At which, by her request, he might expound
Such Hua Yen doctrines as were too profound
For her to fathom. As a wordless clue
He used ingenious means to intimate
Those meanings which his wit would demonstrate.

Fa Tsang

"First on a great round table top I placed
Ten silvered mirrors, cast in bronze, that faced
Each other in a circle at the eight
Points of the compass, standing equal spaced
Ten feet apart. Then with a strong silk thread
I tied the ninth to hang above the head
Of Buddha's statue in their midst below,
Which on the tenth was seated, lotus based
And lighted by an altar candle's glow,
For this arrangement would instantiate
What no abstraction could elucidate.

All was prepared and ready now to show
Her Majesty the answers she would know.
The Empress took her seat and then surveyed
The cosmic paradign that I displayed.
Her silent wonder for a long time gazed
Pondering its significance, amazed,
Until her own astute intelligence
Grasped the ideas embodied there in sense,
Though puzzled still when she would meditate
On how the small might comprehend the great.
Withdrawing from my sleeve a crystal ball
No bigger than a hailstone in a squall,
I held it on my palm to illustrate
How Buddha, mirrors, candle flame and all
Could be contained at once within the small.

But if, I pointed out, one could rotate
This table, like the bookcase where monks store
The scriptures that record the Buddha's Law,
The mirrors, as they turned, would rearrange
All the reflections that reciprocate.
Their simultaneous presence would gyrate
In endless interplay before her eyes,
As time and space, which merge and harmonise
In motion, turn Samsara's wheel of change.

Instead the Empress rose and walked around
The table with the same effect : she found
The golden Buddha, like a central Sun,
Mirrored at once in each and every one,
With all to one and all to all connected,
As their reflections were in turn reflected.

So long obscured, her spark of Bodhi brightened:
Without a word from me and needing none,
The imperial mind was suddenly enlightened.
Her image mirrored in the Buddha's Mind,
While his appeared in hers, were thus defined:
Distinct and yet nondually combined.

In this way Fa Tsang inwardly empowers
All monks and laymen present, who behold
The Vision that the Buddha's Light revealed
In his first sermon,called "The Wreath of Flowers".
The Dharma's glorious realm therein extolled
Had struck his audience dumb and will astound
And silence these monastics, so profound
The Wisdom that its symbols have concealed.
A cloud of pilgrims through the sky conveys
The Dharma's message on sidereal rays,
Which during contemplation emanate
From Vairocana's omniconscious gaze,
Whereby all Buddha lands communicate.

Arriving from their starry fields in Space,
The whole celestial host amazes sight:
Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, shining ones
Brighter than all of heaven's moons and suns,
Converging from the three times, now unite.
As each assumes his hierarchal place,
Enlightened minds become One Mind of Light,
By whose inherently creative power
Their luminous assembly, wise and skilled
In sacred craftsmanship, begins to build
Out of the Five Great Elements a Tower.

But first they dedicate the sacral ground
With edifying rites, wherein they trace
Their visionary plan : the foursquare base
Of that five floored pagoda which they found,
Laying the yellow cube of Earth as shrine
To Mi-lo-fo, the Buddha next in line.
On this they balance Water's liquid ball,
As white as foam beneath a torrent's fall,
And on its polar summit next aspire
To raise the scarlet pyramid of Fire,
So that its ardent apex then can bear
The nadir's hemisphere of midnight Air,
A jet black bowl upholding Aether's drop
Of brightly azure flame with lambent top.
So by divinely architectural power
They can achieve the world-astounding Tower
Of Vairocana, storey after storey
That rises skyward into dazzling glory!

Marvelling at, the sight, Fa Tsang prostrates
Before this monument, whose awesome height
He reverently circumambulates,
Keeping its sanctum always on his right,
To honour Mi-lo, for he would invite
His mentor's presence, whom he venerates.

Fa Tsang

"Embodied as a man, Immortal Friend,
From Tushita's beatitude descend
At this accelerating cycle's end
And tell me, as my spiritual guide,
When will the doors that block my way divide?"


"Now is the time to pass without a pause
Between adjacent seconds' opening doors.
Enter at once before they close again
Else you can never reach the transmundane!"

He snaps his fingers! As the doors swing wide
Both, in that timeless instant, step inside.

Immediately this one tower multiplies
Beyond enumeration! Tower on tower,
Envisioned by Maitreya's votive power
In mindful trance, appears to crystallise
Out of the unseen Void before their eyes!
Floating above Mount Meru in the blue,
This pure celestial city soars beyond
The highest heaven,and hewn from diamond,
Whose facets by reflection correspond
Along each wide divergent avenue,
Recedes in all directions through the skies
Until its infinite vistas fade from view ....

So, overwhelmed by wonder, Fa Tsang sees
The Dharma Realm's transpicuous mysteries
Within these spacious never ending halls.
Entering one, they enter all, for here
Immuring limitations disappear,
Since these apparently opposing walls
Are veils of light, which interpenetrate
Without obstruction. Doors in passageways
That geometric gem stones tessellate,
Lead into stately rooms, a lucid maze
Where exquisite treasures singly coruscate
But mingle in a many jewelled blaze.
Images mirrored here, although complete
In each minute detail, do not compete
With rival brilliance : equally deployed
In mutual dependence, all are void.

From earthly roots amid the lowest room
There grows a radiant yellow lotus bloom,
Whose petals, like the spokes of Dharma's Wheel,
Opening round its golden hub reveal
The first of those five centres, each a seat
Of subtle power where mind and body meet.
Sown in the flesh's fundamental ground,
Two vital energies now germinate
And by their intercourse regenerate
Its growth to self transcendence. Skyward bound
Sage and disciple start on their ascent
To seek the mind's supreme Enlightenment
By contrary stairways, steeply serpentine,
Spiralling round the centre column's spine,
Which passes through each floor to gain a higher
And penetrates the tower from base to spire.
To reach the exalted storeys overhead,
Fa Tsang must climb the lunar steps of white
Arising from the left, while on the right
Mi-lo ascends the solar steps of red,
Crossing on each floor where they alternate
As male and female forces circulate.

Arriving at the floor above, they enter
To see a snowy lotus-bud, the centre
Four finger widths below the navel, rise
From visceral waters. Here it purifies
Defiling appetites that would delay
Their quest for Light, till all are washed away
By those asperging drops of deathless dew
Which its unfolding petals freely strew.
Reaching the third and middle floor, they view
A sanguine lotus flower, whose heart of flame
Melts and transmutes all sensual desire
Into compassion through alchemic fire,
So that the aspirant can achieve his aim:
To be a Bodhisattva, whose return
Will rescue sentient beings, lest they burn
In purgatories for which they are to blame.

Out of the fourth floor's midst begins to grow
A lotus bloom as dark as indigo,
Whose secret petals, centred in the throat,
On breathing's gentle undulations float.
For Mi-lo's voice has rhythmically stirred
Silence from which is born the mantric word
That can, through his invocatory prayer,
Call on divine assistance from the air.

Each feels a lifetime's load of karma lighten,
His pure awareness widen, deepen, heighten,
As he surmounts the last aspiring stair
To reach aethereal Space, which everywhere
Vibrates with countless radiant points of light.
As male and female currents reunite,
Their wise compassion on the highest stage
Enters the spinal channel in the Sage.
Immortal nectar generously pours
Spilling down throughout the lower floors
From brain to throat to heart. Its overflow
Fills with felicitous life from head to toe,
Until the mind and body's tower of clay
Dissolves in waves of bliss and drops away!

Both the .initiates, overpowered by awe,
Prostrate until their foreheads touch the floor
Nine times, so deep their reverence before
The Great Illuminator, who alone
Sits on the thousand petalled lotus throne
Amid his aura's sphere of diamond,
Which radiates to all the worlds beyond,
Unblinding ignorantly human sight
With total revelation's burst of Light!

His interstellar image bearing rays
That strew with galaxies the formless night,
Brighten it by miraculous displays
Of such celestial splendour that they reach
The most remote of realms where Buddhas teach
The Dharma, each amid his crystal sphere,
A global ocean or a pendant tear.
Minutely close, immeasurably far,
In every grain of sand, in every star,
All are envisioned by the central Seer.

His concentration's point is so intense
While in supernal trance that he can spin
The web of Oneness, delicate, immense,
Out of a single filament of Light.
As glinting spokes and spiral interlace,
It winds through every period and place
To weave from.skilful Wisdom, stored within,
The Net of Indra that enmeshes night
And holds the constellations in suspense.

For Hua Yen's cosmoramic view resembles
A spiderweb festooned with drops of dew
Strung on its wheel of thread, where dawn assembles
Her necklace, which the sunrise sets alight,
Sparkling in turn with each prismatic hue.
But when the breeze of transience stirs the Air,
That finespun silken rigging, as it trembles,
Shakes down the liquid sparks along its snare:
A shower of shooting stars that leave it bare.
Yet all the diamonds shed at once disperse
Centrifugal ripples through the universe
To break against the Iron Mountains round
Its utmost rim. Vibrations thence rebound
To interlink, like widening water rings,
Each world and influence its myriad things,
For thus the Dharma's crystalline domain
Can be perceived while on this earthly plane.


K'uei-chi, as chief disciple who recorded
Hsüan-tsang's lectures on the Fa Hsiang School's
Doctrines that fill a hundred fascicules,
Invokes the Prince of Buddhist Wisdom, lauded
In verse, so all can hear his voice intone
This paean raised to Consciousness Alone,
Wherein Wën-shu with every formal mark
Appears before the Second Patriarch.


"Out in the Void, the universal base
Of shunyata, whose dark transcendent Sea
Looms beyond Being, immanently place
Your molten point as Centre, Manjushri!
Lord of Essential Splendour, may your grace
Radiate thence in pure lucidity,
And let its brightly conscious glow condense
Into a globe of white Intelligence!

Out of the gulf that opens momently
Between two thoughts, disclosing inner space
With all its galaxies, shine forth to be
Bringer of Wisdom to the black haired race!
Hearing your mantric Name pronounced by me
In evocation, show your orient face.
Personify its supernatural Light,
Emerging from imagination's night

As gradually radiant yet as strange
As full moonrise behind a mountain range.
Vision awakes: within your Lunar Sphere's
Luminous mirror your remindful form,
Primordially wise and calm, appears
0 most celestial youth, whose sixteen years
Of virgin beauty never age nor change,
Rapt as you contemplate the doctrine's Norm.

Subtly embodying that silver glare
And glory, your omniscient Consciousness,
A Bodhic moonglow seems to overbrim
Your godlike image, elegantly slim
Of figure. Round each cool ceramic limb
Circlets of gold supply the only dress
Of holy nudity. Your breast is bare
And pale as porcelain, except for where

Initiation's heavenly scarf equips
Those noble contours, from one shoulder dips
Diagonally down, and baldric wise
Meets at your waist the golden belt that ties
A skirt of jade green gauze about your hips.
Woven in thread of gold, the Dharma's wheels
Enrich the silken tissue, which conceals,
Yet with diaphanous veiling hints at, thighs

Slender as tusks of polished ivory
Antiquely tinted by a golden tea.
Dressed in the boyish style of T'ang to stand
Above your tranquil brow, five hair knots rise,
Blacker than ink slabs glossily japanned,
In five round summits that recall Wu T'ai's
Mountain of monasteries in North Shansi,
Which your reflective moonlight sanctifies.

Your mild round countenance has smoother skin
Than pale magnolia petals : it outvies
Their cream complexioned bloom with cheeks and chin;
And like the two black bees that sip therein
Beatitudes of honey are your eyes.
Nirvana gives your lips their serious smile.
Around your neck a jadeite pendant lies
And pendent jades weigh down your earlobes, while

An emerald halo with a fine gilt rim
Enshrines your head in zero's mystery;
As when the earliest moonfire from the crescent,
Burning in twilight depths above the sea,
Holds in its ring, serenely incandescent,
An enigmatic shadow, greenish, dim;
Or from the jet eyed feather of a pheasant
Glances of malachite and copper skim.

Wholly awakened Radiance, now behold
Your loyal mount, a mythic Lion of gold,
Born from the aggregates of air and fire,
Disciplined mind and purified desire,
Advancing valiantly to show his bold
And ardent spirit! Summoned by your call,
His heart ignites, his courage would aspire
To carry your Enlightenment to all.

His dazzling golden pelt is so ablaze
With right resolve, it blinds my inward gaze.
He burns alive, a sacrificial pyre
Of selfhood, in his own ascetic rays.
For if the deadly lust for life expire,
Its baser ore, transmuted till renewed,
Forges heroic joy in fortitude.
Under ferocious brows bristling with ire,

His eyeballs glow, intenser in their glare
Than dual suns : foreboding from afar
His fierce approach with slow majestic pace,
Those angry orbs are red as cinnabar.
The ruff of flames around his solar face,
A lambent aureole of amber hair,
Discharges such a blast of power and grace,
His kingly will appals the timorous air.

And when he lashes his determined tail
So that its tufted torch forcefully swirls
In fiery spirals, while aroused again
To toss the red hot ringlets of his mane,
Then their voluminous involuted curls
Of vital fire invigorate the brain,
And lest the body's efforts faint or fall,
Energy whips them with its fervent gale.

His nostrils flare defiance : they emit
A sheaf of vivid whiskers from his snout,
Whose scarlet snarl cracks like a ripe grenade
Revealing, where its global rind has split,
The treasure hoard of ruby seeds inlaid
Within its cavern; for he seems about
To gape his savage jaws apart and spit
A peony flower of wrathful crimson out.

Your archetypal Lion opens wide
His sanguine gorge : a loud triumphant roar
Pours forth, announcing with exalted pride
Victorious Arahats when they attain
Unbounded freedom on the Farther Shore;
For then the Dharma, as the raft that bore
The conquerors toward release, is cast aside
With all restrictions, pious or profane.

Leonine fearlessness, his rage controlled
And docile, crouches waiting at your feet;
So mount his back, and on the lotus throne
Whose delicate shell pink petals there unfold
Space in the eight directions that uphold
Your sacred presence, take the central seat
Amid their flowering compass, fully blown
In four corollas tipped with rosier tone.

His saddle-cloth is red, of rich brocade,
And hung with bells and tassels, bands of braid
Harness his eager breast; for mounting whom
The green seed cone amid a lotus bloom
Serves as a stirrup where your foot can stand.
With sword and sutra held in either hand
And crossed and interlocking legs, resume
Your adamantine pose until you land.

Order your Lion, still on bended knee,
To rise and carry you across the Sea:
A level chequer board of emerald waves,
Whose simultaneous intersection paves
The enduring deep of aeveternity
In squares gilt edged with foam. At once he braves
Those everlasting waters that extend
Before and after him without an end.

Of royal caste, endowed with stately strength,
He measures out in eighty giant strides
The golden latticed ocean. He divides
Four and sixty aeons of equal length,
And as he times their periodic tides,
His paws with rosy lotus cups are shod,
For cosmic seeds, sown from the spatial pod,
Spring up and flower wherever he has trod.

Behold, when you have reached this temporal shore,
A rift reveals you in the gloomy clouds
Illumined by a hidden lightning streak,
Riding your regal Lion and armed for war
Against this dense obscurity that shrouds
The middle air above the Ch'ing-liang peak,
Where misbelief, amassing leaden crowds,
Darkens the realms of Light that men should seek.

Divine Defender, Judge of Buddhist Law,
Suddenly from a storm cloud's scabbard draw
Your Intellectual lightning for a sword!
Hero who guard the Dharma, Shining Lord
Sublime in your detachment, grasp its hilt,
A double vajra wrought from bronze and gilt.
Flourish its flaming blade to overawe
And drive before you Mara's hideous horde!

Prince of Illumination's instant flash,
The vertical spark of Prajna, strike and slash
With swift intuitive swordsmanship! Dispel
Delusive demons, quenching into ash
Hatred and greed that stoke Avici's hell!
Oh, liberate with mindfulness and fell
Entangled karma, severing at a glance
The bonds of man's original Ignorance!

As Indra's mighty chariot of thunder
Rolls on insolent iron wheels around
His courts of storm, whose cloudy walls resound
With warning, till their crystal floor is ground
Into an icy gravel, showered thereunder;
So your magnanimous beast with throat of awe
Proclaims each Turning of the Wheel of Law,
And all the heavens reverberate with wonder.

His roar's deliverance can even wake
This underworld of mind conforming dead,
Who in mundane monotony must tread
Their daily round of drudgery with dread.
They trudge no more, asleep with staring eyes
Drugged by the cult of work for working's sake,
But up from dull forgetful prisons rise,
Shocked into live awareness by surprise.

Sage with Transcendent Insight, cleave and clear
False and confusing fogs of form and name,
The nebulous murk of error in retreat
Before your judgment's gleam! Immediate Seer,
Brandish your blade whose mettle is austere,
Tempered in concentration's whitest heat
And edged with bright discriminating flame,
To signal Mara's ultimate defeat!

Illusive mists dissolve and leave behind
This midnight blue vacuity of Mind
Waiting, entranced, on meditation's height.
Still your immortal Moon sheds everywhere
Its single selfless Light, which is aware
And witnesses in all. Oh may one rare
Selenic ray, descending through this night
Of Shunyata, bring spiritual sight!

Patron of Sacred Scriptures, who protect
The Buddha's words from doubt or disrespect,
Who hold a lotus stem as sceptre, see:
Its closed cerulean bud spontaneously
Opens its inmost petals, row on row,
Till at their esoteric Heart they show
The Book of Perfect Wisdom.Oh, bestow
The secret Jewel in its midst on me!

0 Manjughosha, Genius of Speech,
Intelligible Voice of Silence, teach
Centripetal attention how to reach
Its precious point of diamond. Consent
To cut doctrinal knots for me with ease
And pierce through paradox and puzzlement,
Until my frontal eye awakes and sees
This dewdrop's crystalline profundities.

For when my individual drop of dew,
Evaporating in the Sun, breaks free
To seek the infinite aethereal blue
And slips into Nirvana's shining sea,
Time at its terminating gyre will stop,
And since in essence they were never two,
The sea will slip into the shining drop,
Whose crystal instant holds eternity."


When Wën Shu on his Lion ends their glide
Gracefully down to China, both alight
Together on the Buddha's left hand side
To partner P'u Hsien, who attends the right
Riding his Elephant, for Wisdom should
Balance Compassion, paired in Buddhahood.

Chi Tsang, who was the Older San lun sect's
Fifth Patriarch, profoundly introspects
To seek that ultimate exhaustless Void
Never created nor to be destroyed:
Infinite Nothing which, surpassed by none,
Out of its Zero manifests the One
And Only Consciousness that can survey,
Calm and detached, the cosmic interplay
Of opposites. He walks the Middle Way
Whereby Nagarjuna annihilated
The fourfold sophistry of logic's rules,
And solely by negation reinstated
Suchness alone. Refuting with precision
The futile arguments of all the schools,
Since of Nirvana nothing can be spoken,
Chi Tsang reveals instead this final Vision.

Chi Tsang

"The Buddha's cry of triumph has awoken:
Man's karmic prison, built by mutual strife
From self delusion, hatred, lust for life,
Is cracked and crumbles with its roof tree broken!
from Mara's stronghold fear, dismay, and doubt
Flee in defeat, an ignominious rout!
At once the Dharma's Crown Prince summons forth
The Four Celestial Kings who govern Space:
Each on Sumeru's summit takes his place,
Guarding its towers to east, south, west, and north.
A swordsman's self annulling art enables
Wên Shu to sever those aethereal cables
Which to the central mountain's corner peaks
Fasten Indra's interdependent Net
Of Gems that constellate the dome of jet.
Sharply, with four impartial lightning streaks,
He cuts the triple chiliocosm free!
The mighty Lords of Space begin to lift
The star hung network, lest it spin adrift
And founder in that black vacuity.

The Buddha's startling laughter now arouses
Monks whose nodding meditation drowses.
Erupting from a vast majestic joy,
His mirth's four outbursts suddenly destroy
The temple roof, which soundlessly explodes
With awe, disclosing numinous abodes.
Where overhead the coved and coffered ceiling
Has opened up with wonder, so revealing
The universal vault of midnight blue,
Heaven's luminous concourse passes through,
Spirally soaring skyward, while their wheeling
Highlights intensify as they converge,
Till in one white hot Point they meet and merge
Into the zenith, vanishing from view!
But though remotion hides them in that Void
Transcending Vision, all are still deployed
In empty plenitude, not one debarred.
For those immense unmanifested seas
Of shoreless night are infinitely starred
By sparks in milliard on milliard
That teem with glittering possibilities!
'Gone, gone, gone to reach the Farthest Shore,
'Gone yet beyond: 0 Bodhi's treasure store!'"

Before the statue's embers can expire
Shan Tao, transferring on a spill its fire,
Awakes to throbbing flame the conic wicks
Of crimson candles in each pair of sticks
Set on the triple altar. As they bloom
A warmly golden glow pervades the room.
Black lacquered tablets with memorial names
In gold, bestowed upon exalted priest
Or humbler monk, who long ago deceased,
Are lighted by their upward pulsing flames,
Which dimly glimmer on the hanging scrolls,
The frescoed walls, the fretted aureoles.
Contour softening candlelight dispreads
A hazy radiance round the tonsured heads
Of Lohans, seated on their double stand
Along the side walls, eight on either hand,
And gleams on vases cast in sombre bronze
Wherein, arranged by some devoted bonze,
The lotus buds and flowers of gilded wood
With pods that hold the seeds of Buddhahood,
Promise rebirth in Omit'o's Pure Land.

Shan Tao

"Only because our candles will ignite
And burn, can tallow be transformed to Light."

Hui Nêng

"If he who lights a candle does not first
Extinguish self, the dark is not dispersed."

Wu Tao-tzü

"Ah, but our selfish burning, which you blame,
Has been put out already by the Name!"

Hui Nêng

"Why do you rake among the ashes? Could
Preceptor Tao-Hsüan expect to find
A Buddha's jewel relics left behind
After cremating that mere block of wood?
Does not the 'Diamond Cutting Sutra' say
That if one hears or sees in any form
The Buddha's body, one has gone astray?
Had I not burnt this blockage in your Way
Would you enlightened monks have understood
That Shakyamuni's formless Buddhahood
Upholds all beings as inherent Norm?
This statue's heat no longer keeps us warm,
And so may I, before its flames expire,
Take down another one to stoke the fire?"


"No! It is late and we should all retire."

Once more the hall is silent, empty, still,
As when Wu Tao-tzü stepped across the sill.
The Buddha's presence here that quenched desire
Has gone beyond the Round, beyond return,
Into Nirvana. Now his smouldering pyre,
Consumed by human envy, hatred, ire,
At last dies out. No passion left to burn,
The statue's charred wood crumbles to a dark
Stupa of ash without renewing spark.


At that same moment in the palace, where
Ming Huang still rapt in admiration, gazed
On Wu's last masterpiece, he stood amazed:
Wonderment was demolished into air,
The landscape vanished, all at once erased.
Leaving the scroll of silk as blank and bare
As though a painting never had been there.


Personages Represented
Cantos 5 to 8
Cantos 9 to 12
Cantos 13 to 16
Cantos 17 to 20
Cantos 21 to 24
Cantos 25 to 28
Cantos 29 to 32

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