‘No Place They did not Reach’

From the tow-path of the Lancaster Canal

Clouds of radiance of jewels reflected each other: the Buddhas of the ten directions conjured regal pearls, and the exquisite jewels in the topknots of the enlightening beings all emanated light, which came and illuminated them.
Furthermore, sustained by the spiritual power of all Buddhas, they expounded the vast perspective of the Enlightened Ones, their subtle tones extending afar, there being no place they did not reach.

The Avatamsaka Sutra, aka as The Flower Ornament Scripture.

As I sit here at Throssel in my room, recently returned from a visit to Cumbria and Lancaster, the not so ‘subtle tones’ of a chain saw whirring away enters my ears. I can hear it as I type, I didn’t hear it as I read the sutra earlier (perhaps it hadn’t started then). The chainsaw noise is part of a ‘sound scape’ just as visually there is a ‘visual scape’. They come together in my awareness. Not to mention, now I bring my mind consciously to my fingers, and the rest of me as well.

The chain sawing is a noise, it gets my attention. It is constant. Is that noise opposed to the peace that pervades when it isn’t there? Is the rubbish on one side of the canal opposed to the tranquil scene of the barge puttering up the canal?

From the visual, the radiance of jewels reflecting each other, to the subtle tones of the audible, the expounding of the teaching in the Flower Ornament brings EVERYTHING, every separate everything, together. That is the profound teaching of the Avatamsaka. The separate things are a product of our wonderful imaginings and are essential, on a particular level, to our human functioning. Are they not? I can no more bend my mind to make the noise a sound, any more than I can not recoil at the sight of the overflowing rubbish bin.

Very recently I have come to appreciate the profound link between the perception of audio and visual input, between sound and sight. The realization? Part of that is letting sound and sight come into (to receive) my senses eyes and ears, rather than going out and drag that in. Our senses, in themselves, are void (of individual self nature), unstained, and pure (empty of individual self nature). So sings the Scripture of Great Wisdom.

Why not read the extract from the sutra again, slowly. Then read it again more slowly. Perhaps read it again even more slowly? Perhaps now read the words aloud, the sound of your voice as you read to be there too.

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4 thoughts on “‘No Place They did not Reach’”

  1. Nice reflections and musings Rev. Mugo. I followed your advice to reread the above scripture slowly, and totally get how much of value that affords us… so tightly packed with imagery and content, one misses so much reading at ‘normal pace.’ Great idea!

  2. Lovely boat picture, missed the rubbish picture at first.
    Brought to mind the Bin wo/men have accepted a decent pay offer which they deserve, working all through covid years. Nobody clapped them.
    Gratitude to them for clearing up our mess.
    And to you for the beautiful words.

  3. I was thinking this very thing while hiking amidst ancient rainforest today; the connection between sight and sound. My wife stood atop a giant fallen nurse tree, which augmented the three dimensional space of the verdant forest around her. In the distance you could hear a breeze approaching, rustling the leaves of pacific maples and alders. As the rustling grew closer, and louder, I could eventually see the effect of the wind on the vegetation around us. Then it passed, receding into the distance and continuing along its trajectory, this invisible force called wind that is only visible by way of the influence on the objects which it disturbs.

    Early in my training, these sorts of experiences would send me down rabbit holes of contemplation. Should I enjoy them? Should I indulge my senses? Why should I pick and choose between ugly and beautiful? Like the chainsaw buzzing, to which you referred, Reverend Master. Today I simply say, ” it is what it is.” Impermanent. Wether one smiles or cringes is really just the circumstance of this mundane existence. Thanks for posting your wonderful thoughts. I look forward to them always🤓

  4. “Perhaps now read the words aloud, the sound of your voice as you read to be there too”. When I am thinking, or reading, I do hear the sound of my voice. But when I hear my recorded voice it sounds like it is from another person.

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