The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist Sutra (NONE)

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These explorations have found their formal expression in two academic monographs. The first, Beyond Enlightenment: Buddhism, Religion, Modernity Routledge, , focuses on Ajanta, an archaeological site in India famous for its Buddhist caves filled with sculptures and paintings. But rather than limiting itself to questions about Buddhism in its ancestral land, Beyond Enlightenment explores the politics of enlightenment. How do Buddhists and Christians, ancient Indians and modern Europeans, use the ideal of enlightenment to instantiate their own political desires; to make those desires seem natural and righteous, beneficial and valuable for all?

Intended for introductory courses in Buddhism and general readers, the book uses the Splendid Vision Sutra to open a window onto religious experience and practice in the contemporary world as well as that of the past.

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Writing is a joy, but so is performing. Though every successful professor is skilled at stagecraft, I have brought my passion for intellectual play into the realm of circus. As a member of Technomania Circus, and later as a founder and performer with Zirk Ubu, I explored my passion for the transformative possibilities, and perils, of abstract ideals.

In particular, I loved to create characters who luxuriate in their own fantasies; who hardly recognize, let alone conform to, social norms. My playful personae included the magic house in love with a chicken; Cliffie, the Disco Shaman; the execrably bad poet; and Peter Henderson, who along with his sister Muffy formed the world's only mixed-sex conjoined twin pair.

It is too soon to say whether my circus days are fully behind me. Presently my creative energies are directed in several other directions. As a long term project, I am writing a book entitled, This Side of Mystery.


This Side of Mystery explores such experiences of disjunction, treating them as legitimate and normal, rather than as pathologies of reason or religion. Another recent project of which I am quite proud is "At the Violet Hour, In the Goldhorn Shadow," which I created in collaboration with several dear friends for the Burning Man festival. As a long time participant at Burning Man, I have always brought performance pieces, never a work of material construction.

Destined for the "trash fence" — the lonely outer edge of the event — my installation created an interactive environment within which participants found an opportunity to purify themselves in a heated encounter with the words of Alan Ginsberg's Howl and T. Praising oneself and lying out of jealousy and for the sake of gain and honor. Deceiving others, claiming one has realized the profound teachings on emptiness when one has not.

Causing monastics to abandon their contemplative training and diverting offerings intended for contemplative monastics to benefit monastics engaged in mere recitation practice. This term has at least two distinct meanings in this text alone: on the one hand, a mystical formula to be repeated with the aim of fulfilling certain worldly and spiritual wishes, whether for oneself or others, and, on the other, a state of unfailing memory that bodhisattvas attain on the higher levels of realization.

Limitless, he provides beings with whatever they need; knowing no obstacles, he removes whatever may hinder them from seeing reality. Whenever confronted with problematic or difficult passages, we discussed the variants with the Tibetan scholars we worked with to select the reading most likely to be correct.


The task of translation inevitably coincides with the task of interpretation, and any translation will be only one of the possible readings of the text. With the resources at our disposal, we have tried our best to understand and translate those lines; but the clarity we have aimed for in the resulting English verses does not reflect the ambiguous nature of the Tibetan text, cryptic in many places.

We apologize for all instances where we did not do it justice.

The Diamond Sutra - spoken in English

In the process of trying to reconstruct their most correct Sanskrit reading, we faced many problems despite the assistance of a Sanskrit expert. Solving them would entail a separate research project, well beyond the scope of the present translation work. Thus did I hear at one time.

20 Important Suttas in the Pali Canon (for Lay Buddhists)

Many hundreds of thousands of precious wish-fulfilling jewels spread out and surrounded it. Everything appeared to be limitless, boundless, and ineffable like space. Indeed, the sentient beings assembled there could not even see themselves, or each other. For them, all visible manifestations of the great elements also ceased and became imperceptible to the eye. They could not perceive their bodies, their features, 25 or shape, nor did they have a sense of touch. They did not even see the orbs of the sun or the moon. The stars and the earth element, water element, fire element, and air element also became invisible to their eyes.

Sounds did not resonate in their ears. Odors were not perceived by their noses. The great elements were also imperceptible. At that place, the bodhisattvas dwelling on the tenth ground, who had achieved the meditative concentration of brave progression , and who were bound by one more life and in their last existence, looked and saw, yet were not at all frightened, afraid, or terrified, because they realized that all phenomena are by nature endowed with final reality, suchness, and emptiness.

Therefore, they were not at all frightened, afraid, or terrified. They were bewildered about what was here and what was there, and in their confusion they were not able to perceive one another. That is to say, they must understand the nature of the great elements to be arising and perishing. Only then should they familiarize themselves with the idea that all phenomena are in essence inexpressible, non-arising, non-ceasing, not perceptible, and not in the slightest way existing.

Once they have ceased to relate to phenomena with attachment, [F. He is like a supreme victory banner among all bodhisattvas. He is like a treasure of all the roots of virtue. For all who suffer, he is like a wishing vase; for those engulfed in darkness, like the sun; for those who have lost their way, like the moon; for the frightened, like Mount Meru; for those severely tormented by the sickness of afflictions, like a medicinal elixir; for those who have severed the roots of virtue and fallen, like a walking stick.

Thus does he appear.

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For all who are engaged in negative views, he is like a weapon because he severs; for those afflicted beings entangled in latent tendencies, he is like a vajra because he overcomes. The demons cannot conquer him.

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  6. For those of skillful means, he is the measure of time; 29 for primordial wisdom, he is discernment. For those sentient beings who receive donations, he transforms into a container; for bodhisattvas, into a chariot. He is the gatekeeper of the city of Dharma. Therefore, all of you who have gathered here should now welcome him.

    Honor, venerate, and revere him. Sweep his path, adorn him with ornaments, and praise him in different ways. All of you will also acquire excellent qualities like his, and before long become vessels like him. With overjoyed hearts, happily smiling faces, and eyes full of admiration, they stood with palms joined and gazed at him. It was free of mountains, high lands, rocky landscapes, caves, ravines, abysses, grasses, walls, soil, thorns, unpleasant odors, and so on, and was smooth like the palm of a hand. He manifested melodies sung by the glorious gandharvas; [F.

    He also caused all of the trees, grass, dry wood, and leaves, everything on the ground , to appear as if made of the seven precious materials. He pacified all the sufferings of hell beings, and of those abiding in the animal realms and in the world of Yama, the lord of death. These beings received food, drink, clothing, Dharma robes, and ornaments. They were possessed of good bodies, alluring beauty, sublime excellent complexions, and perfect limbs.

    The bright radiance of an illuminating orb of light, free of dust and dimness, made them even more beautiful. They were free of mental afflictions, their minds were very calm, inclined to every kind of virtue, and their faith in the Three Jewels deepened. Next, he manifested precious jewels in the hands of all the beings gathered in this assembly, each jewel radiating its own light rays.

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    Different kinds of melodious sounds also emanated from those jewels as a rain of a multitude of jewels showered down. Rains of various fine garments, of ornaments, of flowers, incense, garlands, parasols, vessels, and of fruit [F. On both sides of the road, right and left, he produced manifestations of residences resembling the celestial palace of Indra and divine mansions made of the seven precious materials.

    From these ornaments the sound of melodious songs of the five qualities, even more beautiful than divine music, also emerged. The grass, woods, leaves, flowers, fruit, and everything on the ground , too, emitted scintillating music of five qualities, even more beautiful than divine music, from which words of praise emerged.

    The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist Sutra (NONE) The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist Sutra (NONE)
    The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist Sutra (NONE) The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist Sutra (NONE)
    The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist Sutra (NONE) The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist Sutra (NONE)
    The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist Sutra (NONE) The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist Sutra (NONE)
    The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist Sutra (NONE) The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist Sutra (NONE)

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