symbolize our virtuous nature. All Bodhisattvas and
Arhats symbolize the virtue of practice. Without the
virtue of practice, the innate virtuous nature cannot
be revealed. This complementary relationship is why
the Buddha Table includes both Buddha and Bodhisattva
images. The Buddha represents original nature and the
Bodhisattvas represent the application of this nature.
This original nature is empty, as it has no set form.
All creations or form arise from this original nature
and once there is form, there is application. The Buddha
represents the original nature and the Bodhisattvas
represent form and application. This is why in the Flower
Adornment Sutra, the Buddha does not comment on the
teachings, for the original nature that is empty has
nothing to say. But the Bodhisattvas do have something
to say since they apply the principles. Not only is
the original nature unexplained but also no thoughts
arise from it. The saying that ¡§Whenever I open my mouth
I blunder; whenever I have an idea I am wrong¡¨ is said
in terms of original nature represented by one Buddha.
Why are there two Bodhisattvas to represent application?
The infinite and innumerable form and application are
divided into two categories; wisdom and practice or
understanding and behavior. Practice corresponds with
understanding. Understanding is the principle and practice
is the application.
When we see
the image of Buddha Shakyamuni, usually Ananda and Kasyapa,
two great Arhats are on either side of him. Buddha Shakyamuni
represents our original nature. Ananda, who is foremost
in hearing, represents understanding and wisdom. Kasyapa,
who is foremost in asceticism, represents practice.
We may also see Buddha Vairocana, the wisdom body of
Buddha Shakyamuni, with Manjushri Bodhisattva and Universal
Worthy Bodhisattva on either side of him. Manjushri
Bodhisattva represents understanding. Universal Worthy
Bodhisattva represents practice.