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on 18 August 2011
This is a monumental and magnificent translation of a very long mahayana sutra, which expounds in well-chosen words many tenets of buddhism such as the interconnectedness and lack of intrinsic nature of all objects, the impossibility of describing reality in words, the equality and non-discriminating nature of all times and places and also reality as being born from actions, presenting it (reality) as an all-accepting field in which the wise and virtuous beings (bodhisattvas) should untiringly sow seeds of goodness to produce future fruits of goodness for the benefit of all. The sutra draws on the principle that its main characters are already highly developed beings capable of projecting goodness on all lands of the universe in an instant. These beings know the minds of all the universe and use skillful means to further enlighten all these minds without exception. The sutra also describes the universe as being of a fractal-like nature - the whole universe is contained in an atom and conversely an atom contains all lands of the universe. The text often uses powers of ten to ennumerate actions, virtues, beings, lands or phenomena.

To me this is the best manual on awakening bodhicitta and developing the practices of bodhisattvas.

The work is both dense, cryptic, and logic and plain at the same time. I believe it is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.
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on 31 January 2010
The Avatamsaka Sutra (The Flower Ornament Scripture) is one of the richest texts of Buddhism, revered as a treasure of sensual imagery and as a vast storehouse of wisdom. Known in Chinese as Hua-yen and in Japanese as Kegon-kyo, this translation contains all 39 books of the sutra from the Chinese translation done by the Khotanese monk Shikshananda (652-710 C.E.), along with an introduction, glossary and a translation, also by Cleary, of Li Tongxuan's commentary to the final book, the Gandavyuha, or Entry into the Realm of Reality. The Flower Ornament Scripture gave rise to its own school which took the scripture as its central text. For several works that explore the Flower Ornament (Hua-yen) school, I recommend Entry into the Inconceivable: Introduction to Hua-Yen Buddhism,Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra (Iaswr Series) and The Buddhist Teaching of Totality: Philosophy of Hwa Yen Buddhism. It's importance was not, however, by any means limited to the special Flower Ornament school, and its influence is particularly noticeable in the literature of the Chan/Zen schools.

D.T. Suzuki, whose books and essays on Buddhism, Zen and Shin were instrumental in spreading interest in these traditions and Far Eastern philosophy in general, to the West, said of the Flower Ornament Scripture:
"The Avatamsaka is really the consummation of Buddhist thought, Buddhist sentiment and Buddhist experience. To my mind, no religious literature in the world can ever approach the grandeur of conception, the depth of feeling and the gigantic scale of composition attained by this Sutra. Here not only deeply speculative minds find satisfaction, but humble spirits and heavily oppressed hearts, too, will have their burdens lightened. Abstract truths are so concretely, so symbolically represented here that one will finally come to a realization of the truth that even in a particle of dust the whole universe is seen reflected - not this visible universe only, but a vast system of universes, conceivable by the highest minds only."

I cannot personally speak as to the quality of the translation, as I am not qualified to do so. However Dr Cleary is a well respected translator and I have no doubt that this is a more than competent translation. Indeed, Robert A. F. Thurman, speaking in Tricycle magazine has said:
"There is no doubt in my mind that Thomas Cleary is the greatest translator of Buddhist texts from Chinese or Japanese into English of our generation, and that he will be so known by grateful Buddhist practitioners and scholars in future centuries. Single-handedly he has gone a long way toward building the beginnings of a Buddhist canon in English. . . . His translation of the Flower Ornament Sutra from Shikshananda's Chinese translation of the Sanskrit is one of the monuments in Buddhist Studies of our time."

It is certainly a translation that is able to both make my heart sing and move me to tears at the sublime beauty and wonder of Buddhism.

As indicated above by D.T. Suzuki, the text covers a wide range of types of teaching, from the highly abstract and symbolic to the more straight forward philosophical. As such, there will no doubt be parts of this work that appeal to any given reader, more or less, depending on their individual character or frame of mind at the time. I would therefore recommend that if you find you start to read this work and it is doing nothing for you, either continue with patience or try another chapter (an overview of the chapters is given in the introduction). This is a work that will reward you for a lifetime.

This is not a cheap book. Indeed it is probably the most expensive book I own by quite a way. However, for the money, you get a treasure beyond price. I am extremely grateful to Dr. Cleary for making this wonderful Sutra available for an English speaking audience. For the practicing Buddhist I cannot recommend this work highly enough.
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on 2 November 2014
This powerful book is actually my favourite spiritual book I've ever owned. It's an absolute treasure on my bookshelf and I often find myself seeking solace in its pages.

With such a book as this, it can transform, it can brighten and it can bring you peace. It is worthy of being called "a holy book"... unlike some others I can mention....

So with that in mind, I learned much about the Buddhist thought from this excellent translation by Thomas Cleary. He also translates excellently to English other works. But this one is my favourite of his.

The book itsself is well made, feels like a special book, hardcover. Thick and well bounded. Pages are light, and words are beautiful. Can't go wrong.
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on 28 February 2016
I absolutely CANNOT begin to understand the rave reviews here. I was tempted to buy based on the reviews but given the price decided to download a pdf version first. SO glad I did - I have rarely read anything so dull ( and I am a Buddhist ). Just continual repetition of imagined titles over and over and over again! I was expecting some beautiful exposition of Buddha-dharma but, to be honest, you'd be as well reading the telephone directory. Cannot believe the other reviewers here are talking about the same book. Just awful.
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on 7 February 2014
This Sutra is quite obviously the most precious Sutra there is. If you are buying this sutra its not for the concern of the price tag, there is no price on these teachings. The Dalai Lama himself has this book at his side throughout his practice. Its a must buy for anyone who is taking on the practice of Buddhism.
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on 20 December 2014
Thank you Mr Cleary. Now the Kindle edition joins the hard copy I have known for years. A wonderful scripture, all embracing, all giving. To dip into it, reading many pages or just a few lines, is to know the Buddhist Faith.
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on 19 September 2014
Ineffable and impossible to describe. Beautifully translated by Thomas Cleary. May all sentient beings
achieve complete liberation and ultimate enlightenment.
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on 1 July 2014
A classic. Brilliant book of the scriptures which were seminal in many Buddhist Sects.
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