The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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The Bhagavan Maha Vairocana is regarded as the Sambhogakaya or enjoyment body of the historic Lord Buddha Sakyamuni. In this subtle body of limitless form, the “Great one who comes from the sun” translated from Sanskrit resides in the highest pure realm of Akanistha. He is hailed as the primordial Buddha of great purity and peace 大日如來 (Dàrì Rúlái) or 毘盧遮那佛 in the Chinese schools of Buddhism, and a universal Buddha of great merits – the source of all Buddha as explained in the Mahāvairocana-abhisaṃbodhi-tantra or more fully as the Mahāvairocana Abhisaṃbodhi Vikurvita Adhiṣṭhāna Tantra a member of the Yoga Tantra, class of Tantras. Many buddhas issue forth from his Usnisha, Bodhisattvas from various parts of his Body, Mahakala from his heart, pratyeka buddhas from his knees so on and so forth.
Here, the source of all Buddhas should not be taken as Godhead but as the pure naked awareness and the enlightened state that we all posses since beginningless time.
In this majestic form of the highest merits, the Bhagavan posses four faces and sits upon a moon cushion upheld by a million golden stamens in the heart of a thousand petal lotus of the purest white. He wears a crown with precious jewels and jeweled tassels with armlets, bracelets, anklets and girdle in filigree of the finest gold studded with enormous amount of precious stones emitting rays of 5 colours with his first pair of hands in equipoise holding a golden Dharma wheel.
This Buddha is described as the One who has no back no front and is of a panoramic vision simultaneously perceiving all directions, a symbolic expression of the openness of consciousness transcending even the aggregate of consciousness.
The residing place of this most holy and pure Bhagavan is an auspicious square palace adorned with beautiful jeweled streamers, august victory banners, rubies as huge as mandarin oranges, diamonds, gold, turquoise and topped with splendid dome; again similar to the Lord himself. This magnificent palace though it is within the shape described however one can see no end nor fringe nor sides. This opulent sight comes third only after the Lord and retinues who are also dripping with jewels and layers of finest white silk.
This magnificent grandeur and most subtle form of the Buddha can only be perceived directly by other Buddhas and highly realised Bodhisattvas of immense merit. Out of great compassion, the Bhagavan taught the tantra to Samanthabadra and the rest of the great 8 bodhisattvas such as Avalokitesvara, Ksitigarbha, Akarsagarbha and the like. In the tantra, the Bhagavan taught the preliminary, application, and accomplishment and the 3 mandalas corresponding to the body speech and mind of Maha Vairocana.
It is said to view this very auspicious and wondrous Mandala complete with residence such as the historic Buddha Shakyamuni the great 8 bodhisattvas along with consorts, attendants, servants and protectors, one would purify kalpas of bad karmic debts, all of one’s obstacles are removed, one will be endowed with wisdom, merits, beauty and faith.
The Mahāvairocana Tantra is the first true Buddhist tantra, the earliest comprehensive manual of tantric Buddhism. It was probably composed in the middle of the 7th century, in all probability in north-eastern India. The authenticity of the age is evident in that Tara regally bedecked with jewels of all kinds dressed in fresh white silk is placed on the right side slightly lower than the Lord Avalokistvara in the Mandala.
Unlike other sutra and tantra, this Mahāvairocana Abhisaṃbodhi Vikurvita Adhiṣṭhāna Tantra does not begin with ‘thus have I heard,’ which denotes the time and place traceable back to the historic Buddha Shakyamuni. The tantra begins with a dialogue between the Lord and Vajrasattva and largely the Bodhisattva Vajrapani who clarifies and request for further elucidation of the teachings. The tantra is also written in a dissimilar fashion like other tantras which is coded and filled with double meaning or hidden meaning. The Mahāvairocana Abhisaṃbodhi Vikurvita Adhiṣṭhāna Tantra is written in a very straight forward form though one reading must be familiar with the association of mudras and the various systems.
Finally, though one has realized the true emptiness of the individual and phenomena, one does not yet realize that the natural state of mind is the Tathagata’s inherent Awareness and that it is the all-pervasive Body of Vairocana with all the manifested Buddha realms. Therefore one must transcend even emptiness with the emptiness of emptiness, when it is seen that the mind is primordially unborn and unarisen, quoted from a scholarly resource of the Tantra. This much can be revealed of the tantra for now.
DAINICHI NYORAI / MAHAVAIROCANA / VAIROCANA
The universe in its' ultimate form, totality, and reality is called Dainichi Nyorai or Mahavairocana. The name Mahavairocana means "Great Shining One" which translates into Japanese as Dainichi Nyorai; meaning "Great Sun Buddha". Dainichi Nyorai is literally everywhere and is .... everything. All the other Buddha's and Bodhisattvas are various emanations or aspects of Dainichi. The many Buddha's and Bodhisattvas hold distinct, yet overlapping fields of energy, that are Dainichi's love, compassion, wisdom, and other activities. If you revere and/or worship any particular Buddha, you are perfectly worshipping Dainichi and if you revere and/or worship Dainichi, you are worshipping any of his Buddha's and Bodhisattvas.
Dainichi Nyorai is the central figure in both the Kongo-kai (Vajradhatu) and Taizo-kai (Gharbadhatu) Mandaras (Mandalas). The two aspects of Dainichi's existence -his Teachings and the Understanding of them, is called in Japanese "Ri" (the principle / reason) and "Chi" (wisdom). A Buddhist follower aspiring to manifest his or her full Buddha potential must possess both of these to perfection. One may consider this as static Wisdom and it's active Application. Wisdom, to be truly alive and vibrant, must have Application. Without Application, Wisdom remains useless, no matter what the best intentioned energies. Consequently both these aspects of the Absolute - Understanding and it's Application must be made part of our own lives, if we ever hope to achieve anything of value in life.
As one of the aspects and later designation of Vairocana (var. Virocana/Verocana), or the Luminous One, Mahāvairocana is a very important figure in the Buddhism of East Asia, Tibet, Nepal, and Java. In the same way that the sun deity Mithra is the personification of ultimate truth in Manichaeism, Mahāvairocana, or the Great Illuminator, is the chief deity of Esoteric Buddhism, and is generally referred to as “Great Sun Tathāgata” (Jpn. Dainichi-nyorai 大日如来). In contrast to the emphasis on the teachings of the historical Buddha Śākyamuni in his physical body (Skt. nirmanakāya), Esoteric Buddhist theosophy places the timeless teachings of the Buddha in his cosmic or dharma body (Skt. dharmakāya, Jpn. hosshin 法身) at the center of its doctrinal universe. This “cosmic Buddha” is called Mahāvairocana and is beyond all conception of worldly duality, but its essence is within all phenomena (Skt. dharmas) as their Buddha-nature or “seed-to-enlightenment” (Skt. bodhicitta). Whereas Vairocana is the ultimate perspective realized through insight, Mahāvairocana is realized concretely in ritual practice. In Esoteric Buddhist soteriology, enlightenment means to realize that one’s own Buddha-nature is identical with Mahāvairocana, and can even be achieved in this lifetime while possessing a human body (Jpn. soku-shin jōbutsu 即身成仏). Thus, all other buddhas and bodhisattvas are various emanations or aspects of Mahāvairocana, who is depicted amidst them in both the Diamond World (Skt. vajradhātu, Jpn. kongōkai 金剛界) and Womb or Matrix World (Skt. garbhadhātu, Jpn. taizōkai 胎藏界) mandalas. In the Tantric systems of East Asia, Vairocana forms the center of the five buddhas (Skt. pañcabuddha, Jpn. gobutsu 五佛), while in Tibetan traditions he has largely been superseded by Akṣobhya. Alternate spellings include Vairocana = Piluchena = Birushana; Mahavairocana = Dari = Danichi.