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Manjushri's Brother--Reflections on Samantabhadra

Manjushri's Brother--Reflections on Samantabhadra

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Published by dalegoodyear

How to bond with Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva of Joy, Freedom, Spiritual Practice, and Community. He steps down the light of Vairocana Buddha, and his 10 Vows are the base for all Mahayana Buddhist religious practice and right action in daily life.

How to bond with Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva of Joy, Freedom, Spiritual Practice, and Community. He steps down the light of Vairocana Buddha, and his 10 Vows are the base for all Mahayana Buddhist religious practice and right action in daily life.

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Published by: dalegoodyear on Apr 02, 2012
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09/17/2013

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MANJUSHRI'S BROTHER 
:REFLECTIONS ON SAMANTABHADRA,
 Bodhisattva of Joy, Community, and Freedom
by Dale Goodyear d_good_year@hotmail.com
Samantabhadra is especially significant because the practice of Mahayana Buddhism is based on his10 Vows, or Aspirations, listed in the Avatamsaka (or Flower Ornament) Sutra, one of the most important Buddhist texts ever written.Therefore, Samantabhadra can teach us how to put our spirituality into action. And it doesn't requirethat you be a formal Buddhist, either; because Samantabhadra is a Wisdom-Being who guides and inspires all sentient beings toward liberation and enlightenment.
Here we will explore the Way of Samantabhadra, bodhisattva of Right Action and bodhisattva-brother of Manjushri.Both bodhisattvas serve sentient beings under the BUDDHA Vairocana, Manjushri sponsoring theDHARMA (Teaching) and Samantabhadra the SANGHA (Community).Finally, while Manjushri expresses the immeasurable quality of Equanimity, Samantabhadra expressesJoy, including both taking joy in others and taking joy with others: i.e., Appreciative Joy andAssociative Joy (communal joy and celebration).
Reciting the Mantra
If you desire to chant a mantra to the bodhisattva Samantabhadra in Sanskrit, simply take the mantra tohis buddha, Vairocana, and substitute Samantabhadra's name:
 
ओंसमÛतभ] ओं
Om Samantabhadra Om
(om sa-man-ta-bha-dra om)
Samantabhadra is the
dhyani-bodhisattva
of the
dhyani-buddha
Vairocana, and he serves under him,stepping down Vairocana's great radiance into practical action in the world.You need no human being to transmit or empower for you this mantra to Samantabhadra;
Om Samantabhadra Om
Samantabhadra will empower it himself--just ask him in prayer and meditation. Now that we have the mantra, next I will explain how it turns out to be so appropriate, and so symbolicand potent, for bringing Samantabhadra into our life and world.
Om Samantabhadra Om
(This mantra is owned by no one and cannot be copyrighted or trademarked by any humanbeing. It is a gift from Samantabhadra-- so that He can come and act in you and through you,and make of you a Bodhisattva of Joy and Freedom just like He is!)
What, then, makes this mantra to Samantabhadra so special?For one, it has
7
syllables. The number 7 (and 3x7) features prominently in Samantabhadra'ssymbolism. The final section of the
Threefold Lotus Sutra
states that the elephant Samantabhadra isseated upon has
7
legs, and the elephant's feet hover 
7
feet above the earth; its saddle is adorned withthe
7
precious things. The ritual of confession and repentance for wrong thoughts, words, and deeds isto be done
3x7
days.In the
 Dharani Sutra
of the 1,000-armed Kuan Yin tradition, the 21st (3x7) saving power of Kuan Yinis the "
 Purple Lotus Flower 
"; the oral tradition (transmitted by Dharma Master Hsuan Hua and others)states that it is the
 Dharma of 
 
 Liberation
from karma and samsara. Samantabhadra is closelyassociated with liberation or freedom; he states in his Aspiration,
 May I free an ocean of beings
." 
In Western esotericism, of course, the number 7 is also associated with freedom and liberation.Secondly, the mantra both begins and ends with
OM
. Samantabhadra is the bodhisattva of the Sangha,the Community. Samantabhadra binds hearts together--the
OM 
in my heart to the
OM 
in yours, and soon and on. So from
Om
to
Om
, and the name
Samantabhadra
is the alternating Current of Goodnessand Goodwill, of Right words and deeds between sentient beings.The five syllables of Samantabhadra's name are also representative of the five fingers of the hand inaction. Samantabhadra is the bodhisattva of the
 Nirmanakaya
, the Buddha's "Body of 
 
Transformation", the Vehicle of the buddhas and bodhisattvas that acts, makes things happen for Goodin the world and in all beings. And his name actually means "Universal Good" !
The 3 Holy Ones
In the mandala of Samantabhadra, there is a trinity of 
Vairocana
,
Manjushri
, and
Samantabhadra
.And as I've said previously, Manjushri and Samantabhadra are the Dhyani-bodhisattvas under theDhyani-buddha Vairocana, and Vairocana represents the BUDDHA, Manjushri the DHARMA, andSamantabhadra the SANGHA.They also correspond to the
 Dharmakaya
(Vairocana), the
Sambhogakaya
(Manjushri), and the
 Nirmanakaya
(Samantabhadra).Manjushri represents Right Thought to Samantabhadra's Right Action. You might say that Manjushrisponsors "mind" while Samantabhadra sponsors "soul". We are speaking here about aspects of our evolving selfhood. (Vairocana, therefore, sponsors the aspect of "heart" in-between.)Samantabhadra's Right Action includes all right conduct and right practice. It includes all
activities
of the path of Dharma; all the sadhanas, rituals, songs and praises and mantras, dances and plays and pageants, and good works, of course--anything and everything that is action that leads to liberation andenlightenment.Samantabhadra's dominion over all action is what makes him so important to us, and for us. Asrepresentative of the Nirmanakaya aspect of the buddhas, he expresses the
 Buddha-in-Action
in theworld, including all Transformations of the buddhas and bodhisattvas that aid sentient beings. Indeed,he is the Lord of Transformation in each one of us--the transformations, and transmutations, weundergo in our path toward ultimate Freedom, based on our own karmic and dharmic actions.And as representative of the Sangha, he sponsors the coming together of minds-hearts-souls in true andrighteous community and communion, which (as I've indicated before) is so elegantly expressed by themantra
Om Samantabhadra Om
.Indeed, if we wish to honor all Three in mantra, we may sometimes say, "
Om Vairocana ManjushriSamantabhadra Om
".
The Sutra Sources
The Sutra sources for Samantabhadra are the last two chapters of the
Threefold Lotus Sutra
and large portions of the
 Flower Ornament (Avatamsaka) Sutra.
I will be referring to the traditions in these Sutras. In addition, however, I will add my own insightsand meditations when they seem useful.Samantabhadra is a Transcendental Being who serves all sentient beings, and has done so since long before historical Buddhism; and if ideas from other traditions than Buddhism will help us comprehendand bond with him, that's all for the good (and for the Universal Good who
is
Samantabhadra).

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Very beautiful and useful. Thank you.
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