Last class of my “Introduction to Buddhism” course. It was a great opportunity for me personally to refresh my reading and understanding of the Great Buddhist texts in Chinese: Prajñāpāramitā 般若, Diamond Sutra 金剛, Lotus Sutra 法華, Vimalakīrtinirdeśa Sutra 維摩詰, and above all, Avataṃsaka Sutra 華嚴. The cosmography and cosmology of the last Mahāyāna text are absolutely fantastic. No wonder so many Chinese intellectuals were fascinated by this work throughout the past 1500 years. But what is truly beautiful about the text is not just the fantastic description of the different worlds or galaxies, numerous like sands of Ganges, with different lifeforms and sentient beings, but the teaching of unconditional empathy, altruism, and an equanimous form of wisdom – to understand that everyone is at their own stage of development and by helping and nurturing others in a skilful way, one grows also in true Buddhist wisdom.

Most people, even Buddhist scholars I know, have never read through these important sutras. They are laborious to go through. I think those who are fluent in classical Chinese have a distinct advantage. Most of the early Mahāyāna Buddhist texts survive in their entirety only in Chinese. Moreover. once this linguistic skill is developed, the students can absorb an exceptional large body of knowledge in relatively short time. Perhaps it’s useful to read also the Tibetan version. But the next thing I hope to do with the students is to read these sutras in Sanskrit with them.佛學入門10.001 佛學入門10.002 佛學入門10.003 佛學入門10.004