Monadic Dust-Motes and the Avatamsaka Sutra

Kenji's singular state of consciousness and Buddhist ascetic meditation
One connection between Kenji's singular sense and Mahayana Buddhist philosophy is his strange and vivid sensation of the movement of minute particles in natural phenomena and the feeling it gives him of witnessing something elemental, that may be linked to the image in the Avatamsaka Sutra of the whole world contained in a tiny dust-mote.
As we saw in the essay "Reciprocal Permeation of "I" and "All Else"," Kenji's describes his sensitive perception of the movement of minute particles during singular states of consciousness when his sense becomes strangely razor-sharp a state triggered by nights when moonlight illuminates the interiors of clouds drifting across the half-moon.

We find an example in Scenery and a Music Box,

(ah...the moon is out)/This is the radiantly pointed quarter moon in a silver fabric/Polished on truly sharp autumn dust/And the angles of crystal-rimmed clouds/The handrails on the bridge are still dripping with raindrops/This whole place is simply seething with nostalgia

translated by Roger Pulvers, published by Chikuma Shobo.

Phrases such as "sharp autumn dust" and "crystal-rimmed" (with powdered glass) describe Kenji's fine perception of the shining cloud particles lit by the moon.

A similar description can be found in Aomori Elegy 3,

Outside is filled with nephrite and silver monads/Gas spewed out by the half-moon/Moonlight penetrates/the entrails of cirrocumulus
When Kenji views these minute shining particles illuminated by the half-moon,
Near dawn the smell of apples/flows in like a transparent cord/From the cold window glass
the flow of shining particles arouses his sense of smell, bringing "the smell of apples." (Kenji is not speaking metaphorically; when in this state, he actually smells apples.)

Inclining Wind, dated the same day as Scenery and a Music Box, can be taken as an alternative expression of Kenji's mental state on that night. In a passage that describes a sight similar to that above,

(the factor that forms all worlds is found in the wind and sighs of grief)
On nights like the ones described in Inclining Wind and Scenery and a Music Box, when clouds drift across the half-moon effecting in Kenji a strangely razor-sharp consciousness, he is able to distinguish in fine detail the moving particles in clouds drifting by; this causes him to imagine that he might even be able to perceive the root factor of all worlds.
Kenji's monadic sense and the Avatamsaka Sutra Kenji's feeling that he can perceive the root factor that composes the kind of world he experiences in his singular state of consciousness is intimately related to the philosophy repeatedly set forth in the Avatamsaka Sutra that the whole world is contained in a dust-mote.
The relation between Kenji's descriptions of this state of consciousness and the Avatamsaka Sutra and Mahayana Buddhist philosophy can be interpreted in two ways: A) Kenji's intoxication with Mahayana Buddhism led to his use of poetry to describe images similar to those in the Avatamsaka Sutra in order to enlighten people on its philosophy, or B) Kenji's experience of a singular state of consciousness possibly preceded his acquaintance with Mahayana Buddhism, and the great similarities between this singular sense and the Avatamsaka Sutra and Mahayana Buddhist philosophy account for his strong attraction to them. We believe that a reading of Kenji's works in sequence clearly reveals that B), which places emphasis on the causal association, is the more persuasive argument.

The world view of the Avatamsaka Sutra that the whole world is contained in a dust-mote arose from the deep meditative consciousness of Buddhist ascetics; it appears that the singular state of consciousness Kenji experienced resembled this in many respects. The similarities with his own experiences of singular consciousness strongly attracted him to the world he read about in the Avatamsaka Sutra and other Mahayana Buddhist scriptures that shared philosophies in common with it. His readings of the scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism enabled him to position his singular perceptions with the accumulated thought of seekers after the truths of Buddhism.

Monadic sense and a sensation of transparency In the poems Inclining Wind and Scenery and a Music Box, treated in the essay "Reciprocal Permeation of "I" and "All Else"," Kenji points out that in his razor-sharp singular state of consciousness, the distance between "I" and "all else" diminishes and results in a relationship in which they seem to melt into each other. This reciprocal permeation of "I" and "all else" and a heightened state of consciousness in which Kenji imagines he might perceive the root factor that composes the world are connected with what he describes as a sensation of "transparency."
In Taneyama and Taneyamagahara, which is the early version of the poem Taneyamagahara, we find the following passage,
Ah, everything has become transparent/Clouds are composed of wind and water and sky and light and nuclear dust/Wind and water and the earth's crust and I/Are identically formed/Even as I am part of the water and the wind and their nuclei/I perceive this/Because water and light and wind in their entirety are myself
The poem describes a relation of reciprocal permeation between "I" and "all else." "I" and "all else" substances like water, light, and wind are formed from the same factor; concurrently "I" am a part of "all else," and water, light, and wind in their entirety are myself. We may assume that Kenji's sensation of "transparency" is accompanied by this reciprocal permeation of "I" and "all else." Later on, Kenji would scrupulously develop the themes of transparency accompanied by reciprocal permeation of "I" and "all else," and a state of consciousness that seems almost to perceive the root factor of the world in Night on the Milky Way Train.
From Spring and Ashura in The Complete Works of Miyazawa Kenji Vol.1, Chikuma Bunko

->Kenji's Sense of "Elemental Time" and the Lotus Sutra

The World of Kenji's Works
The World of Kenji Miyazawa