The Flower Adornment sutra

One of the more valuable sutras ever to come into print is The Flower Ornament Scripture by Thomas Cleary.  To date, the entire sutra has not been published online in English.  Cleary’s translation boasts over 1500 pages in one volume.  It sells for $125 dollars but it is well worth the investment.  Of course, if you can obtain a used copy it will be cheaper and a real find.

Buddha Shakyamuni preached this particular sutra in heaven shortly after his attainment of Buddhahood.  The sutra reveals many detailed explanations of the stages towards full awakening.  For those individuals that have developed great compassion, this sutra would be profoundly helpful.  Some of the main chapters are:

  • chapter 26 – The Ten Stages
  • chapter 27 – The Ten Concentrations
  • chapter 28 – The Ten Superknowledges
  • chapter 29 – The Ten Acceptances
  • chapter 30 – Asamkhyeyas
  • chapter 31 – Life Spans

I have found this sutra to be very precious because it goes into greater depth than other sutras do about the ten bhumis.  These bhumis are literally stages the bodhisattva must go through in order to obtain Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi – supreme perfect enlightenment.  It also reveals how to enter Avatamsaka World (Buddha’s world) from the Saha World from the view of the third-turning of the wheel of dharma. 

To date, not all of this deep sutra has found its way on line.  The following are some wonderful quotations that are not commonly known:

The Ten Stages chapter:

The enlightening being Moon of Liberation said, “With how much virtue do they become imbued who hear the book on the way into the teaching of accumulation of the qualities of omniscience?”

The enlightening being Diamond Matrix said, “As much as derives from omniscience, that much would the quantity of virtue be, owing to the objective embraced by the determination for omniscience.  As much virtue as accrues from the objective embraced by determination for omniscience, that much virtue would be attained by turning to this teaching.  Why?

None but enlightening beings can hear this book on the way into the teaching of accumulation of the qualities of omniscience, or devote themselves to it, or take to it, or take it up, or hold it, or preserve it, much less cultivate it, act on it, apply it, foster it, or attain it.

Thus it is those who follow the way to omniscience that can preserve it, those who hear this book on the way to accumulate the qualities of omniscience, and, having heard it, devote themselves to it, preserve it, and apply it in practice.”

The Sagely City of 10,000 Buddhas website has the The Flower Adornment Sutra posted but unfortunately only 16 out of 40 chapters are translated.  The full title is the “Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra” which is the longest Sutra in Mahayana Buddhism.  It is often referred to by Buddhist scholars as “the King of Kings of Buddhist scripture”.

The merits of giving this sutra to others (to read) is as follows:

Whoever wants to honor the buddhas,
Or individual illuminates or Buddhist disciples,
Should rouse firm determination for enlightenment
And always give this lofty scripture.

For this is the king of all good messages;
It has emerged from all the buddhas.
The Buddha is in the house
Where this scripture-jewel is placed.

Who passes on even one line from this scripture
Will attain pure and endless light;
One who gives this scripture to others
Will not be deprived of a syllable, of a meaning.

Supreme is that one among guides of humanity;
No being can be found like this one;
Having heard and accomplished this teaching,
One will be inexhaustible as the ocean.

The Ten Concentrations chapter:

These are the gates of the characteristics of the principles of enlightening beings; these are the gates of the knowledge and awareness of enlightening beings; these are the gates of the invincible knowledge of all means of liberation; these are the gates of the practices vowed by the Universally Good enlightening being; these are the gates of the undertakings of penetrating spiritual powers; these are the gates of all mnemonic command and powers of elucidation; these are the gates to the differentiations of all things of past, present, and future; these are the gates of manifestations of all buddhas; these are the gates to stabilizing all beings by universal knowledge; these are the gates to beautifying and purifying all worlds by means of spiritual powers of buddhas.

What are the ten concentrations?

  1. the great concentration of universal light
  2. the great concentration of subtle light
  3. the great concentration of successive journeying to the buddha-lands
  4. the great concentration of the action of the pure profound mind
  5. the great concentration of knowledge of the stores of adornments of the past
  6. the great concentration of the treasury of light of knowledge
  7. the great concentration of knowledge of the adornments of the buddhas of all worlds
  8. the great concentration of the differentiated bodies of sentient beings
  9. the great concentration of freedom in the elemental cosmos
  10. the great concentration of the unimpeded wheel

The result of the fifth concentration:

“When those great enlightening beings emerge from this concentration, they receive ten kinds of inconceivable anointment from the Enlightened, and also attain, purify, consummate, enter, realize, fulfill, and hold them, comprehending them equally, the three spheres pure.

What are the ten?

One, explanation not violating meaning; two, inexhaustibility of teaching; three, impeccable expression; four, endless eloquence; five, freedom from hesitation; six, truthfulness of speech; seven, the trust of the community; eight, liberating those in the triple world; nine, supreme excellence of roots of goodness; ten, command of the wondrous Teaching. These are the ten anointments.

When enlightening beings enter this concentration and emerge from it, immediately they become like a spirit when it enters the womb, the consciousness instantly being born therein — in the same way, when the great enlightening beings emerge from this concentration, in the presence of the Enlightened they instantly attain these ten qualities. This is called the technical knowledge of the great enlightening beings’ fifth great concentration, the concentration of knowledge of the stores of adornments of the past.”

Additional Note:

If you like sutras feel free to join our Buddhist Sutras Yahoo group for inspirational quotes such as the ones above.

Be well,


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