Shurangama Sutra – Chapter 9 (english)

“Ananda, all those in the world who cultivate their hearts but do not avail themselves of Dhyana and so have no wisdom, can only control their bodies so as to not engage in sexual desire. Whether walking or sitting, or in their thoughts, they are totally devoid of it. Since they do not give rise to defiling love, they do not remain in the realm of desire. These people, in response to their thought, take on the bodies of Brahma beings. Such beings are in the Heaven of the Multitudes of Brahma.”

“In those whose hearts of desire have already been cast aside, the mind apart from desire manifests. They delight in following the precepts. Practicing Brahma virtue at all times, such beings are in the Heaven of the Ministers of Brahma.”

“Those whose bodies and minds are wonderfully perfect, and whose majestic deportment is not in the least deficient, are pure in the precepts and have a thorough understanding of them as well. Governing the Brahma multitudes as Great Brahma Lords, such beings are in the Great Brahma Heaven.”

“Ananda, those who flow to these three superior levels will not be oppressed by any affliction. Although they have not developed proper Samadhi, their minds are pure to the point that all outflows are stilled. This is called the First Dhyana.”

“Ananda, those beyond the Brahma Heavens govern the Brahma beings, for their Brahma conduct is perfected. With their minds tranquil and unmoving, they emit light in profound stillness. Such beings are in the Heaven of Lesser Light.”

“Those whose lights illumine each other in an endless dazzling blaze shine throughout the realms of the ten directions so that everything becomes like crystal. Such beings are in the Heaven of Limitless Light.”

“Those who sustain the light to perfection accomplish the substance of the teaching. Creating and transforming the purity into endless responses and functions, such beings are in the Light-Sound Heaven.”

“Ananda, those who flow to these three superior levels will not be oppressed by worries or vexations. Although they have not developed proper Samadhi, their minds are pure to the point that they have subdued their coarser outflows. This is called the Second Dhyana.”

“Ananda, heavenly beings for whom the perfection of light has become sound and who further open out the sound to disclose its wonder arrive at a more vigorous level of practice. Arriving at the bliss of still extinction, such beings are in the Heaven of Lesser Purity.”

“Those in whom the state of purity is emptied experience the boundlessness of light ease in their bodies and minds, and they accomplish the bliss of still extinction. Such beings are in the Heaven of Limitless Purity.”

“Those for whom the world, the body, and the mind are all perfectly pure have accomplished the virtue of purity, and they consider this to be a superior abode in which they can return to the bliss of still extinction. Such beings are in the Heaven of Pervasive Purity.”

“Ananda, those who flow to these three superior levels will be replete with great compliance. Their bodies and minds are at peace, and they obtain limitless bliss. Although they have not obtained genuine Samadhi, the joy within the tranquility of their minds is total. This is called the Third Dhyana.”

“Moreover, Ananda, heavenly beings whose bodies and minds are not oppressed put an end to the cause of suffering and realize that bliss is not permanent–that sooner or later it will come to an end. They resolutely renounce both thoughts of suffering and thoughts of bliss. Their coarse afflictions vanish, and pure blessings arise. Such beings are in the Heaven of the Birth of Blessings.”

“Those whose renunciation of these thoughts is perfected gain a purity of superior understanding. Within these unimpeded blessings they obtain a wonderful compliance that extends to the bounds of the future. Such beings are in the Blessed Love Heaven.”

“Ananda, from that heaven there are two ways to go. Those who extend the previous thought into limitless pure light, and who perfect their blessings and virtue, cultivate and are certified to one of these dwellings. Such beings are in the Vast Fruit Heaven.”

“Those who extend the previous thought into a dislike of both suffering and bliss unceasingly intensify their renunciation until they perfect the path of renunciation. Their bodies and minds will become extinct; their thoughts will become like dead ashes. For five hundred eons these beings will perpetuate the cause for production and extinction, being unable to uncover the nature which is neither produced nor extinguished. During the first half of these eons they will undergo extinction; during the second half they will experience production. Such beings are in the Heaven of No Thought.”

“Ananda, those who flow to these four superior levels will not be affected by any suffering or bliss in any world. Although this is not the unconditioned of the True Ground of Non-Moving, because they still have the thought of obtaining something, their functioning is nonetheless quite advanced. This is called the Fourth Dhyana.”

“Beyond these, Ananda, are the Five Heavens of No Return. For those who have completely cut off the nine categories of habits in the lower realms, neither suffering nor bliss exist, and there is no regression to the lower levels. All whose minds have achieved this renunciation dwell in these heavens together.”

“Ananda, those who have put an end to suffering and bliss and who do not get involved in the contention between such thoughts are in the Heaven of No Affliction.”

“When the mind and states are disengaged, even the thought of investigating that involvement is gone. Such beings are in the Heaven of No Heat.”

“Those whose vision is wonderfully perfect and clear, view the realms of the ten directions as free of defiling appearances and devoid of all dirt and filth. Such beings are in the Heaven of Good View.”

“Those whose essence of seeing has manifested are able to transform at will without obstruction. Such beings are in the Heaven of Good Manifestation.”

“Those who exhaustively fathom the ultimate principle and the nature of form reach the border of emptiness. Such beings are in the Highest Heaven of the Form Realm.

“Ananda, those in the Four Dhyanas, and even the rulers of the gods at those four levels, can only pay their respects through having heard of the beings in the Heavens of No Return; they cannot know them or see them, just as ordinary people of the world cannot see the places where the Arhats abide in holy Way-places deep in the wilderness and the mountains.”

“Ananda, in these eighteen heavens are those who remain solitary and uninvolved but who have not yet gotten rid of their form. These heavens are called the Form Realm.”

“Furthermore, Ananda, from this summit of the form realm there are also two roads. Those who are intent upon renunciation bring forth wisdom. The light of their wisdom becomes perfect and penetrating, so that they can transcend the defiling realms, accomplish Arhatship, and enter the Bodhisattva Vehicle. They are called Great Arhats who have turned their minds around.”

“Those who dwell in the thought of renunciation and who succeed in renunciation and rejection, realize that their bodies are an obstacle. If they thereupon obliterate the obstacle and enter into emptiness, they at the Station of Emptiness.”

“For those who have eradicated all obstacles, there is neither obstruction nor extinction. Then there remains only the alaya consciousness and half of the subtle functions of the manas. These beings are at the Station of Boundless Consciousness.”

“Those who have already done away with emptiness and form eradicate the conscious mind as well. In the extensive tranquility of the ten directions there is nowhere at all to go. These beings are at the Station of Nothing Whatsoever.”

“The nature of consciousness is unmoving, yet within extinction they exhaustively investigate it, attempting to put an end to what is endless. Thus it is as if it existed and yet did not exist, as if it were ended and yet not ended. Such beings are at the Station of Neither Thought nor Non-Thought.”

“These beings who cultivate the path of sagehood from the heavens of no return by delving exhaustively into emptiness without fathoming the principle of emptiness are known as dull Arhats who do not turn their minds around. Just like those in the Heaven of Non-Thought and other externalist heavens who exhaustively investigate emptiness without knowing to turn around, these beings are ignorant and lost in (the heavens with) outflows. They will accordingly enter the cycle of rebirth again.”

“Ananda, the beings in all these heavens are ordinary beings receiving the fruits of their karmic rewards. Once their rewards are exhausted, they must once again enter rebirth. The lords of these heavens, however, are all Bodhisattvas who roam in Samadhi. They gradually progress in their practice and make transference to the way cultivated by all sages.”

“Ananda, these are the Four Heavens of Emptiness, where the bodies and minds of the inhabitants are extinguished. Concentration emerges, and they are free of the karmic retribution of form. This final group is called the Formless Realm.”

“The beings in all of them have not understood the wonderfully enlightened bright mind. Their accumulation of falseness brings into being false existence in the Triple Realm. Within this they falsely follow along and become submerged in the seven destinies. As pudgalas, they gather together with their own kind.”

“Furthermore, Ananda, there are four categories of asuras in the Triple Realm.”

“Those in the path of ghosts who, by means of their strength of protecting the Dharma, can ride their spiritual penetrations to enter into emptiness are asuras born from eggs; they belong to the destiny of ghosts.”

“Those who have fallen in virtue and have been dismissed from the heavens dwell in places near the sun and moon. They are asuras born from wombs and belong to the destiny of humans.”

“There are asura kings who uphold the world with a penetrating power and fearlessness. They are able to contend with the Brahma Lord, the God Shakra, and the Four Heavenly Kings. These asuras come into being by transformation and belong to the destiny of gods.”

“Ananda, there is another, baser category of asuras. They are born in the center of the great seas and live in underwater caves. During the day they roam in emptiness; at night they return to their watery realm. These asuras come into being because of moisture and belong to the destiny of animals.”

“Ananda, so it is that when the seven destinies of hell-dwellers, hungry ghosts, animals, people, spiritual immortals, gods, and asuras are investigated in detail, they are all found to be murky and embroiled in conditioned existence. Their births come from false thoughts. Their subsequent karma comes from false thoughts. Within the wonderful perfection of the fundamental mind that is without any doing, they are like strange flowers in space, for there is basically nothing to be attached to; they are entirely vain and false, and they have no source or beginning.”

“Ananda, these living beings, who do not recognize the fundamental mind, all undergo rebirth for limitless kalpas. They do not attain true purity, because they keep getting involved in killing, stealing, and lust, or because they counter them and are born according to their not killing, not stealing, and lack of lust. If these three karmas are present in them, they are born among the troops of ghosts. If they are free of these three karmas, they are born in the destiny of gods. The incessant fluctuation between the presence and absence of these karmas gives rise to the cycle of rebirth.”

“For those who are able bring forth Samadhi, neither the presence nor the absence of these karmas exists in that eternal stillness; even their non-existence is done away with. Since the lack of killing, stealing, and lust is non-existent, how could there be actual involvement in deeds of killing, stealing and lust?”

“Ananda, those who do not cut off the three karmas each have their own private share. Because each has a private share, private shares come to be accumulated, making collective portions. They are not without a fixed source, for they arise from falseness. Since they arise from falseness, they are basically without a cause, and thus they cannot be traced precisely.”

“You should warn cultivators that they must get rid of these three delusions if they want to cultivate Bodhi. If they do not put an end to these three delusions, then even the spiritual penetrations they may attain are merely a worldly, conditioned function. If they do not extinguish these habits, they will fall into the path of demons. Although they wish to cast out the false, they become doubly deceptive instead. The Tathagata says that such beings are pitiful. You have created this falseness yourself; it is not the fault of Bodhi. An explanation such as this is proper speech. Any other explanation is the speech of demon kings.”

At that time, the Tathagata was preparing to leave the Dharma-seat. From the lion throne, he extended his hand out and placed it on a small table wrought of the seven precious things. But then, he turned his body, which was the color of purple-golden mountains, and leaned back, saying to everyone in the assembly and to Ananda, “Those of you with More to Learn, those Enlightened by Conditions, and those who are Hearers have now turned your minds to pursue the attainment of supreme Bodhi; the unsurpassed, wonderful enlightenment. I have already taught you the true method of cultivation. You are still not aware of the subtle demonic events that can occur when you cultivate Shamatha-Vipashyana. If you cannot recognize a demonic state when it appears, it is because the cleansing of your mind has not been proper. You will then be engulfed by deviant views. You may be troubled by a demon from your own skandhas or a demon from the heavens. Or you may be possessed by a ghost or spirit, or you may encounter a mountain spirit (li mei). If your mind is not clear, you will mistake a thief for your own son. It is also possible to feel satisfied after a small accomplishment, like the Unlearned Bhikshu who reached the Fourth Dhyana and claimed that he had realized sagehood. When his celestial reward ended and the signs of decay appeared, he slandered Arhatship as being subject to birth and death, and thus he fell into the Avichi Hell. You should pay attention. I will now explain this for you in detail.

Ananda stood up and, with the others in the assembly who had More to Learn, bowed joyfully. They quieted themselves in order to listen to the compassionate instructions.

(The skandha-demons of fifty classes)

The Buddha told Ananda and the whole assembly, “You should know that the twelve classes of living beings in this world of outflows are endowed with a wonderfully bright, fundamental enlightenment–the enlightened, perfect substance of the mind which is not different from that of the Buddhas of the ten directions. Due to the fault of false thinking and confusion about the truth, infatuation arises and makes your confusion all-pervasive. Consequently, an emptiness arises. Worlds come into being as that confusion is ceaselessly transformed. Therefore, the lands that are not without outflows, as numerous as atoms of universe throughout the ten directions, are all created as a result of confusion, dullness, and false thinking.”

“You should know that the space created in your heart is like a wisp of cloud that dots the vast sky. How much smaller must all the worlds within that space be! If even one person among you finds the truth and returns to the source, then all the space in the ten directions is obliterated. How could the worlds within that space fail to be destroyed as well?”

“When you cultivate Dhyana and attain Samadhi, your mind tallies with the minds of the Bodhisattvas and the great Arhats of the ten directions who are free of outflows, and you abide in a state of profound purity. All the kings of demons, the ghosts and spirits, and the ordinary gods see their palaces collapse for no apparent reason. The earth quakes, and all the creatures in the water, on the land, and in the air, without exception, are frightened. Yet ordinary people who are sunk in dim confusion remain unaware of these changes. All these beings have five kinds of spiritual powers; they still lack the elimination of outflows because they are still attached to worldly passions. How could they allow you to destroy their palaces? That is why the ghosts, spirits, celestial demons, sprites, and goblins come to disturb you when you are in Samadhi.”

“Although these demons possess tremendous enmity, they are in the grip of their worldly passions, while you are within wonderful enlightenment. They cannot affect you any more than a blowing wind can affect light or a knife can cut through water. You are like boiling water, while the demons are like solid ice which, in the presence of heat, soon melts away. Since they rely exclusively on spiritual powers, they are like mere guests. They can succeed in their destructiveness through your mind, which is the host of the five skandhas. If the host becomes confused, the guests will be able to do as they please. When you are in Dhyana, awakened, aware, and free of delusion, their demonic deeds can do nothing to you. As the skandhas dissolve, you enter the light. All those deviant hordes depend upon dark energy. Since light can destroy darkness, they would be destroyed if they drew near you. How could they dare linger and try to disrupt your Dhyana-Samadhi?”

“If you were not clear and aware, but were confused by the skandhas, then you, Ananda, would surely become one of the demons. You would turn into a demonic being. Your encounter with Matangi’s daughter was a minor incident. She cast a spell on you to make you break the Buddha’s moral precepts. Still, among the eighty thousand modes of conduct, you violated only one precept. Because your mind was pure, all was not lost. That would be an attempt to completely destroy your precious enlightenment. Had it succeeded, you would have become like the family of a senior government official who is suddenly exiled; his family wanders, bereft and alone, with no one to pity or rescue them.”

“Ananda, you should know that as a cultivator sits in the Bodhimanda, he is doing away with all thoughts. When his thoughts come to an end, there will be nothing on his mind. This state of pure clarity will stay the same whether in movement or stillness, in remembrance or forgetfulness. When he dwells in this place and enters Samadhi, he is like a person with clear vision who finds himself in total darkness. Although his nature is wonderfully pure, his mind is not yet illuminated. This is the region of the form skandha. If his eyes become clear, he will then experience the ten directions as an open expanse, and the darkness will be gone. This is the end of the form skandha. He will then be able to transcend the turbidity of time. Contemplating the cause of the form skandha, one sees that false thoughts of solidity are its source.”

“Ananda, at this point, as the person intently investigates that wondrous brightness, the four elements will no longer function together, and soon the body will be able to transcend obstructions. This state is called ‘the pure brightness merging into the environment’. It is a temporary state in the course of cultivation and does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence.”

“Further, Ananda, as the person uses his mind to intently investigate that wondrous light, the light will pervade his body. Suddenly he will be able extract intestinal worms from his own body, yet his body will remain intact and unharmed. This state is called ‘the pure light surging through one’s physical body’. It is a temporary state in the course of intense practice, and does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence.”

“Further, as the person uses his mind to intently investigate inside and outside, his physical and spiritual souls, intellect, will, essence, and spirit will be able to interact with one another without affecting his body. They will take turns as host and guests. Then he may suddenly hear the sounds of Dharma being spoken in space, or perhaps he will hear esoteric truths being pronounced simultaneously throughout the ten directions. This state is called ‘the essence and souls alternately separating and uniting, and the planting of good seeds’. It is a temporary state and does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence.”

“Further, when the person’s mind becomes clear, unveiled, bright, and penetrating, an internal light will shine forth and turn everything in the ten directions into the color of Jambunada gold. All the various species of beings will be transformed into Tathagatas. Suddenly he will see Vairochana Buddha seated upon a platform of celestial light, surrounded by a thousand Buddhas who simultaneously appear upon lotus blossoms in a hundred million lands. This state is called ‘the mind and soul being instilled with spiritual awareness’. When he has investigated to the point of clarity, the light of his mind will shine upon all worlds. This is a temporary state and does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence.”

“Further, as the person uses his mind to intently investigate that wondrous light, he will contemplate without pause, restraining and subduing his mind so that it does not go to extremes. Suddenly the space in the ten directions may take on the colors of the seven precious things or the colors of a hundred precious things, which simultaneously pervade everywhere without hindering one another. The blues, yellows, reds, and whites will each be clearly apparent. This state is called ‘trying too hard to subdue the mind’. It is a temporary state and does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence.”

“Further, as the person uses his mind to investigate with clear discernment until the pure light no longer scatters, he will suddenly be able to see various objects in a dark room at night, just as if it were daytime. Yet the things which were already in the dark room do not disappear. This state is called ‘refining the mind and purifying the vision until one is able to see in the dark’. It is a temporary state and does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence.”

“Further, when his mind completely merges with emptiness, his four limbs will suddenly become like grass or wood, devoid of sensation even when burned by fire or cut with a knife. The burning of fire will not make his limbs hot, and even when his flesh is cut, it will be like wood being whittled. This state is called ‘the merging of external states and the blending of the four elements into a uniform substance’. It is a temporary state and does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence.”

“Further, when his mind accomplishes such purity that his skill in purifying the mind has reached its ultimate, he will suddenly see the earth, the mountains, and the rivers in the ten directions turn into Buddhalands replete with the seven precious things, their light shining everywhere. He will also see Buddhas, Tathagatas, as many as the sands of the Ganges, filling all of space. He will also see pavilions and palaces that are resplendent and beautiful. He will see the hells below and the celestial palaces above, all without obstruction. This state is called ‘the gradual transformation of concentrated thoughts of like and dislike’. It does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence.”

“Further, as the person uses his mind to investigate what is profound and far away, he will suddenly be able to see distant places in the middle of the night. He will see city markets and community wells, streets and alleys, and relatives and friends, and he may hear their conversations. This state is called ‘having been suppressed to the utmost, the mind flies out and sees much that had been blocked from view’. It does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence.”

“Further, as the person uses his mind to investigate to the utmost point, he may see a Good and Wise Advisor whose body undergoes changes. Within a brief interval, various transformations will occur which cannot be explained. This state is called ‘having an improper mind which is possessed by a mountain sprite or a celestial demon, and without reason speaking Dharma that fathoms wondrous truths’. It does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then the demonic activities will subside. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence.”

“Ananda, all ten of those states may occur in Dhyana as one’s mental effort interacts with the form skandha. Dull and confused living beings do not evaluate themselves. Encountering such situations, in their confusion they fail to recognize them and say that they have become Sages, thereby uttering a great lie. They will fall into the Relentless Hells. In the Dharma Ending Age, after the Tathagata’s Nirvana, all of you should rely on and proclaim this teaching. Do not let the demons of the heavens have their way. Offer protection so all can realize the unsurpassed Way.”

“Ananda, when the good person who is cultivating Samadhi and Shamatha has put an end to the form skandha, he can see the mind of all Buddhas as if seeing an image reflected in a bright mirror. He seems to have obtained something, but he cannot use it. In this he resembles a paralyzed person. His hands and feet are intact, his seeing and hearing are not distorted, and yet his mind has come under a deviant influence, so that he is unable to move. This is the region of the feeling skandha. Once the problem of paralysis subsides, his mind can then leave his body and look back upon his face. It can go or stay as it pleases without further hindrance. This is the end of the feeling skandha. This person can then transcend the turbidity of views. Contemplating the cause of the feeling skandha, one sees that false thoughts of illusory clarity are its source.”

“Ananda, in this situation the good person experiences a brilliant light. A feeling arises in his mind as a result of excessive internal pressure. At this point, he suddenly feels such boundless sadness that he looks upon even mosquitoes and gadflies as newborn children. He is overwhelmed with pity and bursts into tears without knowing it. This is called ‘trying too hard to suppress the mind in the course of cultivation’. If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. If he realizes that and remains unconfused, then after a time it will disappear. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon of sadness will enter his mind. Then, as soon as he sees someone, he will feel sad and cry uncontrollably. Lacking proper Samadhi, he will certainly fall.”

“Further, Ananda, in this state of Samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. At that time he has a sublime vision and is overwhelmed with gratitude. In this situation, he suddenly evinces tremendous courage. His mind is bold and keen. He resolves to equal all Buddhas and says he can transcend three Asamkhyeyas of eons in a single thought. This is called ‘being too anxious to excel in cultivation’. If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. If he realizes that and remains unconfused, then after a time it will disappear. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon of insanity will enter his mind. As soon as he sees someone, he will boast about himself. He will become extraordinarily haughty, to the point that he recognizes no Buddha above him and no people below him. Lacking proper Samadhi, he will certainly fall.”

“Further, in this state of Samadhi the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. With no new realization immediately ahead of him, and having lost his former status as well, his power of wisdom weakens, and he enters an impasse in which he sees nothing to anticipate. Suddenly a feeling of tremendous monotony and thirst arises in his mind. At all times he is fixated in memories that do not disperse. He mistakes this for a sign of diligence and vigor. This is called ‘cultivating the mind, but losing oneself due to a lack of wisdom’. If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon of memory will enter his mind. Day and night it will hold his mind suspended in one place. Lacking proper Samadhi, he will certainly fall.”

“Further, in this state of Samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. His wisdom becomes stronger than his Samadhi, and he mistakenly becomes impetuous. Cherishing the supremacy of his nature, he imagines that he is a Nishyanda (Buddha) and rests content with his minor achievement. This is called ‘applying the mind, but straying from constant examination and becoming preoccupied with ideas and opinions’. If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a lowly demon that is easily satisfied will enter his mind. As soon as he sees someone, he will announce, “I have realized the unsurpassed absolute truth. ” Lacking proper Samadhi, he will certainly fall.”

“Further, in this state of Samadhi the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. He has not yet obtained any results, and his prior state of mind has already disappeared. Surveying the two extremes, he feels that he is in great danger. Suddenly he becomes greatly distraught, as if he were seated on the Iron Bed, or as if he has taken poison. He has no wish to go on living, and he is always asking people to take his life so he can be released sooner. This is called, ‘cultivating, but losing expedients’. If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon of chronic depression will enter his mind. He may take up knives and swords and cut his own flesh, happily giving up his life. Or else, driven by constant anxiety, he may flee into the wilderness and be unwilling to see people. Lacking proper Samadhi, he will certainly fall.”

“Further, in this state of Samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. As he dwells in this purity, his mind is tranquil and at ease. Suddenly a feeling of boundless joy wells up in him. There is such bliss in his mind that he cannot contain it. This is called, ‘experiencing lightness and ease, but lacking the wisdom to control it’. If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon that likes happiness will enter his mind. As soon as he sees someone, he will laugh. He will sing and dance in the streets. He will say that he has already attained unobstructed liberation. Lacking proper Samadhi, he will certainly fall.”

“Further, in this state of Samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. He says he is already satisfied. Suddenly, a feeling of unreasonable, intense self-satisfaction may arise in him. It may include pride, outrageous pride, haughty pride, overweening pride, and pride based on inferiority, all of which occur at once. In his mind, he even looks down on the Tathagatas of the ten directions, how much the more so on the lesser positions of Hearers and Those Enlightened by Conditions. This is called ‘viewing oneself as supreme, but lacking the wisdom to save oneself’. If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon of intense arrogance will enter his mind. He will not bow to stupas or in temples. He will destroy Sutras and images. He will say to the Danapatis, “These are gold, bronze, clay, or wood. The Sutras are just leaves or cloth. The flesh body is what is real and eternal, but you don’t revere it; instead you venerate clay and wood. That is truly absurd.” Those who have deep faith in him will follow him to destroy and bury the images in the ground. He will mislead living beings so that they fall into the Relentless Hells. Lacking proper Samadhi, he will certainly fall.”

“Further, in this state of Samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. In his refined understanding, he awakens completely to subtle principles. Everything is in accord with his wishes. He may suddenly experience limitless lightness and ease in his mind. He may say that he has become a sage and attained great self-mastery. This is called ‘attaining lightness and clarity due to wisdom’. If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon that likes lightness and clarity will enter his mind. Claiming that he is already satisfied, he will not strive to make further progress. For the most part, such cultivators will become like the Unlearned Bhikshu. He will mislead living beings so that they will fall into the Avichi Hell. Lacking proper Samadhi, he will certainly fall.”

“Further in this state of Samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. In that clear awakening, he experiences a false clarity. Within that, suddenly he may veer towards the view of eternal extinction, deny cause and effect, and take everything as empty. The thought of emptiness so predominates that he comes to believe that there is eternal extinction after death. This is called ‘the mental state of Samadhi dissolving so that one loses sight of what is right’. If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon of emptiness will enter his mind. He will slander the holding of precepts, calling it a “Small Vehicle Dharma.” He will say, “Since Bodhisattvas have awakened to emptiness, what is there to hold or violate?” This person, in the presence of his faithful Danapatis, will often drink wine, eat meat, and engage in wanton lust. The power of the demon will keep his followers from doubting or denouncing him. After the ghost has possessed him for a long time, he may consume excrement and urine, or meat and wine, claiming that all such things are empty. He will break the Buddha’s moral precepts and mislead people into committing offenses. Lacking proper Samadhi, he will certainly fall.”

“Further, in this state of Samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. He savors the state of false clarity, and it deeply enters his mind and bones. Boundless love may suddenly well forth from his mind. When that love becomes extreme, he goes insane with greed and lust. This is called ‘when an agreeable state of Samadhi enters one’s mind, lacking the wisdom to control oneself and mistakenly engaging in lustful behavior’. If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon of desire will enter his mind. He will become an outspoken advocate of lust, calling it the Way to Bodhi. He will teach his lay followers to indiscriminately engage in acts of lust, calling those who commit acts of lust his Dharma heirs. The power of spirits and ghosts in the Ending Age will enable him to attract a following of ordinary, naive people numbering one hundred, two hundred, five or six hundred, or as many as one thousand or ten thousand. When the demon becomes bored, it will leave the person’s body. Once the person’s charisma is gone, he will run afoul of the law. He will mislead living beings, so that they fall into the Relentless Hells. Lacking proper Samadhi, he will certainly fall.”

“Ananda, ten of these states may occur in Dhyana as one’s mental effort interacts with the feeling skandha. Dull and confused living beings do not evaluate themselves. Encountering such situations, in their confusion they fail to recognize them and say that they have become Sages, thereby uttering a great lie. They will fall into the Relentless Hells. In the Dharma-ending Age, after my Nirvana, all of you should pass on the Tathagata’s teachings, so that all living beings can awaken to their meaning. Do not let the demons of the heavens have their way. Offer protection so that all can realize the unsurpassed Way.”

“Ananda, when the good person who is cultivating Samadhi has put an end to the feeling skandha, although he has not achieved the elimination of outflows, his mind can leave his body the way a bird escapes from a cage. From within his ordinary body, he already has the potential for ascending through the Bodhisattvas’ sixty levels of Sagehood. He attains the ‘body produced by intent’ and can roam freely without obstruction. Suppose, for instance, someone is talking in his sleep. Although he does not know he is doing it, his words are clear, and his voice and inflection are all in order, so those who are awake can understand what he is saying. This is the region of the thinking skandha. If he puts an end to his stirring thoughts and rids himself of superfluous thinking, it is as if he has purged defilement from the enlightened, understanding mind. Then one is perfectly clear about the births and deaths of all categories of beings from beginning to end. This is the end of the thinking skandha. One can then transcend the turbidity of afflictions. Contemplating the cause of the thinking skandha, one sees that interconnected false thoughts are its source.”

“Ananda, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone,* this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within Samadhi, his mind craves its perfect brightness, so he sharpens his concentrated thought as he greedily seeks for cleverness and skill. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks cleverness and skill, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. In an instant, he may appear to be a Bhikshu, enabling that person to see him as such, or he may appear as Shakra, as a woman, or as a Bhikshuni; or his body may emit light as he sleeps in a dark room. The good person is beguiled and fooled into thinking that the other is a Bodhisattva. He believes the other’s teachings and his mind is swayed. He breaks the Buddha’s moral precepts and covertly indulges his greedy desires. The other person is fond of speaking about calamities, auspicious events, and unusual changes. He may say that a Tathagata has appeared in the world at a certain place. He may speak of catastrophic fires or wars, thus frightening people into squandering their family wealth without reason. This is a strange ghost that in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells.”

“Further, Ananda, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within Samadhi, his mind craves to roam about, so he lets his subtle thoughts fly out as he greedily seeks for adventure. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks to roam, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. His own body does not change its appearance, but those listening to the Dharma suddenly see themselves sitting on jeweled lotuses and their entire bodies transformed into clusters of purple-golden light. Each person in the audience experiences that state and feels he has obtained something unprecedented. The good person is beguiled and fooled into thinking the other is a Bodhisattva. Lust and laxity corrupt his mind. He breaks the Buddha’s moral precepts and covertly indulges his greedy desires. The other person is fond of saying that Buddhas are appearing in the world. He claims that in a certain place a certain person is actually a transformation body of a certain Buddha. Or he says that a certain person is such-and-such a Bodhisattva who has come to teach humankind. People who witness this are filled with admiration. Their deviant views multiply, and their Wisdom of Modes is destroyed.”

This is a drought ghost that in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells.”

“Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within Samadhi, his mind craves spiritual oneness, so he clarifies his concentrated thought as he greedily seeks for union. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is actually possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks union, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. Neither his own body nor the bodies of those listening to the Dharma go through any external transformations. But he makes the minds of the listeners become ‘enlightened’ before they listen to the Dharma, so they experience changes in every thought. They may have the knowledge of past lives, or the knowledge of others’ thoughts. They may see the hells or know all the good and evil events in the human realm. They may speak verses or spontaneously recite Sutras. Each person is elated and feels he has obtained something unprecedented. The good person is beguiled and fooled into thinking the other is a Bodhisattva. His thoughts become entangled in love. He breaks the Buddha’s moral precepts and covertly indulges his greedy desires. He is fond of saying that there are greater Buddhas and lesser Buddhas, earlier Buddhas and later Buddhas; that among them are true Buddhas and false Buddhas, male Buddhas and female Buddhas; and that the same is true of Bodhisattvas. When people witness this, their initial resolve is washed away, and they easily get carried away with their wrong understanding. This is a mei-ghost that in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells.”

“Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within Samadhi, his mind craves to know the origins of things, so he exhaustively investigates the nature of physical things and their changes from beginning to end. He intensifies the keenness of his thoughts as he greedily seeks to analyze things. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks to know the source of things, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. His body has an awesome spiritual quality which subdues the seeker. He makes the minds of those gathered beside his seat spontaneously compliant, even before they have heard the Dharma. He says to all those people that the Buddha’s Nirvana, Bodhi, and Dharma-body are there before them in the form of his own physical body. He says, “The successive begetting of fathers and sons from generation to generation is itself the Dharma-body, which is permanent and never-ending. What you see right now are those very Buddhalands. There are no other pure dwellings or golden features.” Those people believe and accept his words, forgetting their initial resolve. They offer up their lives, feeling they have obtained something unprecedented. They are all beguiled and confused into thinking he is a Bodhisattva. As they pursue his ideas, they break the Buddha’s moral precepts and covertly indulge their greedy desires. He is fond of saying that the eyes, ears, nose, and tongue are the Pure Land, and that the male and female organs are the true place of Bodhi and Nirvana. Ignorant people believe these filthy words. This is a poisonous ghost or an evil nightmare ghost that in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells.”

“Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within Samadhi, his mind craves revelations from afar, so he pours all his energy into this intense investigation as he greedily seeks for imperceptible spiritual responses. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, completely unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks revelations, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. He briefly appears to his listeners in a body that looks a hundred or a thousand years old. They experience a defiling love for him and cannot bear to part with him. They personally act as his servants, tirelessly making the Four Kinds of Offerings to him. Each member of the assembly believes that this person is his former teacher, his original Good and Wise Advisor. They give rise to love for his Dharma and stick to him as if glued, feeling they have obtained something unprecedented. The good person is beguiled and fooled into thinking the other is a Bodhisattva. Attracted to the other’s thinking, he destroys the Buddha’s moral precepts and covertly indulges his greedy desires. He is fond of saying, “In a past life, in a certain incarnation, I rescued a certain person who was then my wife (or my mistress, or my brother). Now I have come to rescue you again. We will stay together and go to another world to make offerings to a certain Buddha.” Or he may say, “There is a Heaven of Great Brilliance where a Buddha now dwells. It is the resting place of all Tathagatas.” Ignorant people believe his ravings and lose their original resolve. This is a pestilence ghost that in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells.”

“Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within Samadhi, his mind craves deep absorption, so he restrains himself with energetic diligence and likes to dwell in secluded places as he greedily seeks for peace and quite. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks knowledge, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. He causes all of his listeners to think they know their karma from the past. Or he may say to someone there, “You haven’t died yet, but you have already become an animal.” Then he instructs another person to step on the first person’s ‘tail’, and suddenly the first person cannot stand up. At that point, all in the assembly pour out their hearts in respect and admiration for him. If someone has a thought, the demon detects it immediately. He establishes intense ascetic practices that exceed the Buddha’s moral precepts. He slanders Bhikshus, scolds his assembly of disciples, and exposes people’s affairs without fear of ridicule or rejection. He is fond of foretelling calamities and auspicious events, and when they come to pass he is not wrong in the slightest. This is a ghost with great powers that in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells.”

“Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within Samadhi, his mind craves more knowledge and understanding, so he diligently toils at examining and probing as he greedily seeks to know past lives. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks seclusion, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. There in the Dharma Assembly, inexplicably, that person may obtain an enormous precious pearl. The demon may sometimes change into an animal that holds the pearl in its mouth, or other jewels, bamboo tablets, tallies, talismans, letters and other unusual things. The demon first gives them to the person, and afterwards possesses him. Or he may fool his audience by burying the valuables underground and then saying that a “moonlight pearl” is illuminating the place. Thereupon the audience feels they have obtained something unique. He may eat only medicinal herbs and not partake of prepared food. Or he may eat only one sesame seed and one grain of wheat a day and still look robust. That is because he is sustained by the power of the demon. He slanders Bhikshus and scolds his assembly of disciples without fear of ridicule or rejection. He is fond of talking about treasure troves in other locations, or of remote and hidden places where Sages and Worthies of the ten directions dwell. Those who follow him often see strange and unusual people. This is a ghost or spirit of the mountain forests, earth, cities, rivers, and mountains that in its old age has become a demon. The person it possesses may advocate promiscuity and violate the Buddha’s precepts. He may covertly indulge in the five desires with his followers. Or he may appear to be vigorous, eating only wild plants. His behavior is erratic, and he disturbs and confuses the good person. But when the demon tires, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells.”

“Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within Samadhi, his mind craves spiritual powers and all manner of transformations, so he investigates the source of transformations as he greedily seeks for spiritual powers. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, truly unaware that he is possessed by a demon, also claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks spiritual powers, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. The possessed person may hold fire in his hands and, grasping a portion of it, put a flame on the head of each listener in the Fourfold Assembly. The flames on top of their heads are several feet high, yet they are not hot and no one is burned. Or he may walk on water as if on dry land. Or he may sit motionless in the air. Or he may enter into a bottle or stay in a bag. Or he may pass through window panes and walls without obstruction. Only when attacked by weapons does he feel ill at ease. He declares himself to be a Buddha, and wearing the clothing of a lay person, he receives bows from Bhikshus. He slanders Dhyana meditation and the moral regulations. He scolds his disciples and exposes people’s affairs without fear of ridicule or rejection. He often talks about spiritual powers and self-mastery, and he may cause people to see visions of Buddhalands but they are unreal and arise merely from the ghost’s power to delude people. He praises the indulgence of lust and does not condemn lewd conduct. He uses indecent means to transmit his Dharma. This is a powerful nature spirit: a mountain sprite, a sea sprite, a wind sprite, a river sprite, an earth sprite, or a grass-and-tree sprite that has evolved over long ages. It may be a dragon-goblin; or a rishi who has been reborn as a goblin; or again a rishi who, having reached the end of his appointed time, should have died, but whose body does not decay and is possessed by another goblin. In its old age it has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells.”

“Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within Samadhi, his mind craves to enter cessation, so he investigates the nature of transformations as he greedily seeks for profound emptiness. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks emptiness, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. In the midst of the great assembly, his physical form suddenly disappears, and no one in the assembly can see him. Then out of nowhere, he abruptly reappears. He can appear and disappear at will, or he can make his body transparent like crystal. From his hands and feet he releases the fragrance of sandalwood, or his excrement and urine may be sweet as thick rock candy. He slanders the precepts and is contemptuous of those who have left the home-life. He often says that there is no cause and no effect, that once we die, we are gone forever, that there is no afterlife, and that there are no ordinary people and no Sages. Although he has obtained a state of empty stillness, he covertly indulges his greedy desires. Those who give in to his lust also adopt his views of emptiness and deny cause and effect. This is an essence that was created during an eclipse of the sun or moon. Having fallen on gold, jade, a rare fungus, a unicorn, a phoenix, a tortoise, or a crane, the essence endowed it with life, so that it did not die for thousands or tens of thousands of years and eventually became a spirit. It was then born into this land and in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells.”

“Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within Samadhi, his mind craves long life, so he toils at investigating its subtleties as he greedily seeks for immortality. He wishes to cast aside the birth and death of the body, and suddenly he hopes to end the birth and death of thoughts as well, so that he can abide forever in a subtle form. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks long life, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. He is fond of saying that he can go places and come back without hindrance, perhaps traveling ten thousand miles and returning in the twinkling of an eye. He can also bring things back from wherever he goes. Or he may tell someone to walk from one end of the room to the other, a distance of just a few paces. Then even if the person walked fast for years, he could not reach the wall. Therefore people believe in the possessed person and mistake him for a Buddha. He often says, “All the living beings in the ten directions are my children. I gave birth to all Buddhas. I created the world. I am the original Buddha. I created this world naturally, not due to cultivation. This may be a Chamunda sent from the retinue of the demon in the Heaven of Sovereignty, or a youthful Pishacha from the Heaven of the Four Kings that has not yet brought forth the resolve. It takes advantage of the person’s luminous clarity and devours his essence and energy. Or perhaps without having to rely on a teacher, the cultivator personally sees a being that tells him, “I am a Vajra Spirit who has come to give you long life.” Or the being transforms itself into a beautiful woman and engages him in frenzied lust, so that within a year his vitality is exhausted. He talks to himself; and to anyone listening he sounds like a goblin. The people around him do not realize what is happening. In most cases such a person will get in trouble with the law. But before he is punished, he will die from depletion. The demon disturbs and confuses the person to the point of death. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells.”

“Ananda, you should know that in the Dharma-ending Age, these ten kinds of demons may leave the home-life to cultivate the Way within my Dharma. They may possess other people, or they may manifest themselves in various forms. All of them will claim that they have already accomplished Proper and Pervasive Knowledge and Awareness. They praise lust and break the Buddha’s moral precepts. The evil demonic teachers and their demonic disciples that I just discussed transmit their teaching through licentious activity. Such deviant spirits take over cultivators’ minds, and after as few as nine lives or as many as a hundred generations, they turn true practitioners entirely into followers of demons. When their lives are over, they are bound to end up as one of the demonic hordes. They will lose their proper and pervasive knowledge and fall into the Relentless Hells.”

“You need not enter Nirvana yet. Although you are completing your attainment to the level beyond study, hold nonetheless to your vows to enter the Dharma-ending Age. Bring forth great compassion to rescue and take across living beings who have proper minds and deep faith. Do not let them become possessed by demons. Help them instead to attain proper knowledge and views. I have already rescued you from birth and death. By venerating the Buddha’s words, you will be repaying the Buddha’s kindness.”

“Ananda, all ten of these states may occur in Dhyana as one’s mental effort interacts with the thinking skandha. Dull and confused living beings do not evaluate themselves. Encountering such situations, in their confusion they fail to recognize them and say that they have become Sages, thereby uttering a great lie. They will fall into the Relentless Hells. In the Dharma-ending Age, after my Nirvana, all of you should pass on the Tathagata’s teachings, so that all living beings can awaken to their meaning. Do not let the demons of the heavens have their way. Offer protection so that all can realize the unsurpassed Way.”

Shurangama Sutra – Chapter 8 (english)

“Ananda, each of these categories of beings is replete with all twelve kinds of upside-down states, just as pressing on one’s eye produces a variety of flower-like images. With the inversion of wonderful perfection, pure understanding of the true mind becomes glutted with false and random thoughts. Now, as you cultivate towards certification to the Samadhi of Buddha, you will go through three gradual stages in order to get rid of the basic cause of these random thoughts. They work in just the way that hot water mixed with the ashes of incense clease a vessel that has held poisonous honey. Afterwards, such a vessel can be used to store sweet dew.

“What are the three gradual stages? The first is to correct one’s habits by getting rid of the aiding causes; the second is to truly cultivate to cut out the very essence of karmic offenses; the third is to increase one’s vigor to prevent the manifestation of karma.

“What are aiding causes? Ananda, the twelve categories of beings in this world are not in complete in themselves, but depend on four kinds of eating; that is, eating by portions, eating by contact, eating by thought, and eating by consciousness. Therefore, the Buddha said that all beings must eat to live.

“Ananda, all beings can live if they eat what is fresh, and they will die if they take poison. Beings who seek Samadhi should refrain from eating five pungent plants of this world. If these five are eaten cooked, they increase one’s sexual desire; if they are eaten raw, they increase one’s anger. Therefore, even if people in this world who eat pungent plants can expound the twelve divisions of the Sutra canon, the gods and immortals of the ten directions will stay far away from them because they smell so bad. However, after they eat these things the hungry ghosts will hover around and kiss their lips. Being always in the presence of ghosts, their blessings and virtue will dissolve as the days go by, and they will experience no lasting benefit. People who eat pungent plants and also cultivate Samadhi will not be protected by the Bodhisattvas, gods, immortals, or good spirits of the ten directions; therefore, the tremendously powerful demon kings, able to do as they please, will appear in the body of a Buddha and speak Dharma for them, denouncing the precepts and praising lust, rage, and delusion. When their lives end, these people will join the retinue of demon kings. When they use up their blessings as demons, they will fall into the unintermittent hell. Ananda, those who cultivate for Bodhi should never eat the five pungent plants. This is the first of the gradual stages of cultivation.

“What is the essence of karmic offenses? Ananda, beings who want to enter Samadhi must first firmly uphold the pure precepts. They must exterminate sexual desire forever, not partake of wine or meat, and eat cooked rather than raw foods. Ananda, if cultivators do not cut off sexual desire and killing, it will be impossible for them to transcend the Triple Realm. You should regard sexual desire as a poisonous snake or a resentful bandit. First hold to the Hearers’ Four or Eight Parajikas in order to control your physical activity; then cultivate the Bodhisattva’s pure regulations in order to control your mental activity. When the precepts are successfully upheld, one will not create karma that leads to mutual rebirth and mutual killing in this world. If one does not steal, one will not be indebted, and one will not have to pay back past debts in this world. If people who are pure in this way cultivate Samadhi, they will naturally be able to contemplate the extent of the worlds of the ten directions with the physical body given them by their parents; without need of the Heavenly Eye, they will perceive the Buddhas speaking Dharma and receive in person the sagely instruction. Obtaining great spiritual penetrations, they will roam through the ten directions, gain clarity regarding past lives, and will not encounter difficulties and dangers. This is the second of the gradual stages of cultivation.

“What is the manifestation of karma? Ananda, such people as these, who are pure and who uphold the precepts, do not have thoughts of greed and sexual desire, and so they do not become dissipated in the pursuit of the six external defiling sense-objects. Because they do not pursue them, they turn around to their own source. Without the conditions of the defiling objects, there is nothing for the sense-organs to match themselves with, and so they reverse their flow, become one unit, and are no longer confined to six individual functions. All the lands of the ten directions then become as brilliantly clear and pure as a moon suspended in crystal. Their bodies and minds are blissful as they experience the equality of wonderful perfection, and they attain great peace. The secret perfection and pure wonder of all the Tathagatas appear before them. These people then obtain Patience with the Non-existence of Beings and Dharmas. They thereupon gradually cultivate according to their practices, until they reside securely in the sagely positions. This is the third of the gradual stages of cultivation.

“Ananda, these good people’s emotional love and desire are withered and dry, the sense-organs and sense objects no longer mesh, and so the residual habits do not continue to arise. Recognizing that the attachments of the mind are false, they use only wisdom. That wisdom shines throughout the ten directions, and this initial wisdom is called the Stage of Dry Wisdom. Although the habits of desire are initially dried up, they still have not merged with Dharma-water that flows from the Tathagatas.

“Then, with this mind centered on the middle, they enter the flow where wonderful perfection reveals itself. From the truth of that wonderful perfection there repeatedly arise wonders of truth. They always dwell in the wonder of faith, until all false thinking is completely eliminated and the Middle Way is totally true. This is called the Mind that Resides in Faith.

“When true faith is clearly understood, then perfect penetration is total, and the three aspects of skandhas, places, and realms are no longer obstructions. Then all their habits throughout innumerable eons of past and future, during which they abandon bodies and receive bodies, appear to them now in the present moment. These good people can remember everything and forget nothing. This is called the Mind that Resides in Mindfulness.

“When the wonderful perfection is completely true, that essential true brings about a transformation. They go beyond the beginningless habits to reach the one essential brightness. Relying solely on this essential brightness, they progress toward true purity. This is called the Mind of Vigor.

“The essence of the mind reveals itself as total wisdom; this is called the Mind that Resides in Wisdom.

“As the wisdom and brightness are held steadfast, a profound stillness pervades everywhere. The stage at which the majesty of this stillness becomes constant and solid is called the Mind that Resides in Samadhi.

“The light of Samadhi emits brightness. When the essence of the brightness enters deeply within, they only advance and never retreat. This is called the Mind that is Irreversible.

“When the progress of their minds is secure, and they hold their minds and protect them without loss, they connect with the life-breath of the Tathagatas of the ten directions. This is called the Mind that Protects the Dharma.

“Protecting their light of enlightenment, they can use this wonderful force to return to the Buddha’s light of compassion and to come back to stand firm with the Buddha. It is like two mirrors that are set facing one another, so that between them the exquisite images inter-reflect and enter into one another layer upon layer. This is called the Mind that Makes Transferences.

“With this secret interplay of light, they obtain the Buddha’s eternal solidity and unsurpassed wonderful purity. Dwelling in the unconditioned, they know no loss or dissipation.

This is called the Mind that Resides in Precepts.

“Abiding in the precepts with self-mastery, they can roam throughout the ten directions, going anywhere they wish. This is called the Mind that Resides in Vows.

“Ananda, these good people use proper expedients to bring forth those ten minds. The essence of these minds becomes dazzling, and their ten functions interconnect to a point of single-mindedness. That is called the Dwelling of Bringing Forth the Resolve.

“The discoveries made by that mind are like pure crystal within which can be seen pure gold. Based on those previous wonderful minds, they step up to this level called the Dwelling of the Ground of Regulation.

“When the mind on that ground connects with wisdom, both become bright and comprehensive. Traversing the ten directions then without obstruction is called the Dwelling of Cultivation.

“When their conduct is the same as the Buddhas’ and they connect with the Buddha’s spirit, then, like the body-between-skandhas searching for a father and mother, they penetrate the darkness with a hidden communication and enter the lineage of the Tathagata. That is called the Dwelling of Noble Birth.

“Since they ride in the womb of the Way, they are heirs to enlightenment just as a mature fetus has developed all human features. That is called the Dwelling that is Endowed with Skill-in-Means.

“Their physical appearances become those of Buddhas and their minds the same as well. That is called Dwelling in the Proper Mind.

“United in body and mind, they grow and mature day by day. That is called Dwelling in Irreversibility.

“With the efficacious appearance of ten bodies, which are simultaneously perfected, they are Dwelling as a Pure Youth.

“Completely developed, they leave the womb and become sons of the Buddha. That is Dwelling as a Dharma Prince. Reaching the fullness of adulthood, they are like a chosen prince to whom a mighty king turns over the affairs of state. Eventually that eldest son of the kshatriya king will be ceremoniously anointed on the crown of the head. That is called Dwelling in Anointing the Crown of the Head.

“Ananda, after these good men have become sons of the Buddha, they are replete with the limitlessly many wonderful virtues of the Tathagatas, and they comply and accord with beings throughout the ten directions. That is called the Conduct of Happiness.

“Being well able to accommodate all beings is called the Conduct of Benefiting.

“Enlightening themselves and enlightening others without putting forth any resistance is called the Conduct Free of Anger.

“Then they undergo birth in various forms continuously to the bounds of the future. Practicing that equally throughout the three periods of time and pervading the ten directions is called the Conduct Continued Endlessly.

“When everything is equally in accord, one never makes mistakes among the various Dharma doors. That is called ‘he Conduct of Freedom from Deluded Confusion.

“Then within what is identical, myriad differences appear.

Yet within the different appearances, an identity can be perceived.

That is called the Conduct of Wholesome Manifestation.

“That continues until it includes all particles of dust that fill up empty space throughout the ten directions. In each and every mote of dust there appear the worlds of the ten directions. And yet the appearance of dust motes and the appearance of worlds do not interfere with one another. That is called the Conduct of Non-Attachment.

“Everything that appears before one becomes a foremost paramita. That is called the Conduct of Veneration.

“With such perfect fusion, one can model oneself after all the Buddhas of the ten directions. That is called the Conduct Based on Wholesome Dharmas.

“As each and every one of those becomes pure and without outflows, they merge into a singular truth, unconditioned, that is the essence of the nature. That is called the Conduct of Reality.

“Ananda, when these good men replete with spiritual penetrations have done the Buddha’s work and are totally pure and absolutely true, they can remain distant from obstacles and calamities. Then they take beings across without being attached to the idea of taking them across. They direct the unconditioned mind toward the path of Nirvana. That is called the Transference of Saving and Protecting Living Beings, while apart from the Appearance of Living Beings.

“Destroying what should be destroyed and remaining far removed from what should be left behind is called the Transference of Indestructibility.

“Fundamental Enlightenment is profound indeed, an enlightenment on a level with the Buddhas’ enlightenment. That is called the Transference of Sameness with All Buddhas.

“When absolute truth is discovered, their level is like the level of Buddhas. That is called the Transference of Reaching all Places.

“Worlds and Tathagatas include one another without any obstruction. That is called the Transference of a Treasury of Inexhaustible Merit and Virtue.

“Since their level is like the Buddhas’, each and every cause they create at that level is pure. Based on the dispersing of such causes, they go straight down the path to Nirvana. That is called the Transference of the Good Roots of Following what is Basically Identical.

“When true roots are set down, then all beings in the ten directions are my own nature. Not a single being is lost, as this nature is successfully perfected. That is called the Transference of Following the Impartial Contemplation of all Beings.

“Being identical with all dharmas yet apart from all phenomena, they are not attached to either the identity or the separation. That is called the Transference of the Appearance of True Suchness.

“That which is thus is truly obtained, and there is no obstruction throughout the ten directions. That is called the Transference of Unfettered Liberation.

“When the virtue of the nature is perfectly realized, the boundaries of the Dharma Realm are destroyed. That is called the Transference of the Limitlessness of the Dharma Realm.

“Ananda, when these good men have completely purified these forty-one minds, they further accomplish Four Kinds of Wonderfully Perfect Aiding Practices.

“The enlightenment of a Buddha is just about to become a function of their own minds. It is on the verge of emerging but has not yet emerged, and so it can be compared to the point just before wood ignites when it is drilled to produce fire. That is called the Level of Heat.

“They continue on with their own minds to tread where the Buddhas tread, as if relying and yet not. It is as if they were climbing a lofty mountain, to the point where their bodies are in space but there remains a slight obstruction beneath them. That is called the Level of the Summit.

“When the mind and the Buddha are two and yet the same, they have well obtained the Middle Way. They are like someone who endures something when it seems impossible to either hold it in or let it go. That is called the Level of Patience.

“When numbers and limits are gone, no such designations as the Middle Way or as confusion and enlightenment are made. That is called the Level of Being First in the World.

“Ananda, these good men have successfully penetrated through to Great Bodhi. Their enlightenment reaches through to the Tathagatas’. They have fathomed the state of Buddhahood. That is called the Ground of Happiness.

“The differences enter into identity; even the notion of identity is gone. That is called the Ground of Leaving Filth.

“At the point of ultimate purity, brightness comes forth. That is called the Ground of Emitting Light.

“When the brightness becomes ultimate, enlightenment is full.

That is called the Ground of Blazing Wisdom.

“No identity or difference can be attained. That is called the Ground of Invincibility.’

“With unconditioned True Suchness, the nature is spotless, and brightness is revealed. That is called the Ground of Manifestation.

“Coming to the farthest limits of True Suchness is called the Ground of Traveling Far.

“The single mind of True Suchness is called the Ground of Immovability.

“Bringing forth the function of True Suchness is called the Ground of Good Wisdom.

“Ananda, all Bodhisattvas beyond this point have completed their cultivation and have perfected their merit and virtue, and so this Ground is called the Level of Cultivation.

“Then a wonderful cloud of compassion hovers over the Sea of Nirvana. That is called ‘the Ground of the Dharma Cloud.

“The Tathagatas counter the flow as the Bodhisattvas thus reach this point through compliance with practice. Their enlightenment is about to meet that of the Buddhas; it is therefore called Equal Enlightenment.

“Ananda, the enlightenment which encompasses the Mind of Dry Wisdom through to the culmination of Equal Enlightenment is awakening within the Varja Mind. That constitutes the Level of Initial Dry Wisdom. Thus there are totals of twelve single and grouped levels. At last they reach Wonderful Enlightenment and accomplish the Unsurpassed Way. At all these levels they use vajra contemplation of Ten Profound Analogies for the ways in which things are like an illusion. In Shamatha they use the Tathagatas’ Vipashyana to cultivate them purely, to be certified to them, and to gradually enter them more and more deeply. Ananda, because they put to use the three means of advancement throughout all of them, they are well able to accomplish the fifty-five stages of the True Bodhi Path”This manner of contemplation is called proper contemplation.

Contemplation other than this is called deviant contemplation.”

Then Dharma Prince Manjushri arose from his seat, and in the midst of the assembly he bowed at the Buddha’s feet and said to the Buddha, “What is the name of this Sutra and how should we and all beings uphold it?”

The Buddha told Manjushri, “This Sutra is called the Crown of Great Buddha, Sitata-Patra, the Unsurpassed Precious Seal and Pure, Clear, Ocean-like Eye of the Tathagatas of the Ten Directions.”

“It is also called The Cause for Saving a Relative, the Rescue of Ananda and the Bhikshuni Nature, and the Attaining of the Bodhi-Heart and Entry into the Sea of Pervasive Knowledge.”

“It is also called The Tathagatas’ Secret Cause of Cultivation that Brings Certification to the Complete Meaning.”

“It is also called The Great Expansive Means, the Wonderful Lotus Flower King, the Dharani Mantra which is the Mother of all Buddhas of the Ten Directions.”

“It is also called The Foremost Shurangama, Sections and Phrases for Anointing the Crown of the Head, and All Bodhisattvas’ Myriad Practices.”

“Thus should you respectfully uphold it.”

(In-depth explanation on causes and retributions)

After that was said, Ananda and all in the great assembly immediately received the Tathagata’s instruction in the secret seal, the meaning of Patra, and heard these names for the complete meaning of this Sutra. They were suddenly enlightened to Dhyana, advanced in their cultivation to the sagely position, and increased their understanding of the wonderful principle. Their minds were focused and serene.

Ananda cut off and cast aside six sections of subtle afflictions in his cultivation of the mind in the Triple Realm. He arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, places his palms together respectfully, and said to the Buddha, “The Great, mighty and Virtuous Bhagavan, whose compassionate sound knows no limit, has well instructed beings as to their extremely subtle submersion in delusion and has caused me on this day to become blissful in body and mind and to obtain enormous benefit. Bhagavan, if the wonderful brightness of this truly pure and wonderful mind is basically all-pervading, then everything on the great earth, including the grasses and trees, the wriggling worms and tiny forms of life are originally True Suchness and are themselves the Tathagata- true embodiments of Buddhahood. Since the Buddhas’ embodiments are true and real, how can there also be hells, hungry ghosts, animals, asuras, humans, gods, and other paths of rebirth? Bhagavan, do these paths exist naturally of themselves, or are they created by beings’ falseness and habits?

“Bhagavan, the Bhikshuni Precious Lotus Fragrance, for example, received the Bodhisattva Precepts and then indulged in lustful desire, recklessly saying that sexual acts did not involve killing or stealing and they carried no karmic retribution. But after saying that, her female organs caught fire, and then the raging blaze spread throughout all her joints as she fell into the Unintermittent Hell alive. And there were the Mighty King Crystal and the Bhikshu Good Stars. Crystal exterminated the Gautama clan and Good Stars recklessly said that all dharmas are empty. They both sank into the Unintermittent Hell alive. Are these hells fixed places, or do they arise spontaneously? Is it that each individual undergoes whatever kind of karma he or she creates? I only hope the Buddha will be compassionate and instruct those of us who do not understand this. May he cause all beings who uphold the precepts to receive this definitive instruction with joyful respect upon hearing it and be careful not to transgress it.”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “What a good question! You want to keep all living beings from adopting deviant views. You should listen attentively now and I will explain this matter for you.”

“Actually, Ananda, all beings are fundamentally true and pure, but because of their false views they give rise to the falseness of habits, which are divided into an internal aspect and an external aspect.”

“Ananda, the internal aspect refers to what occurs inside living beings. Because of love and defilement, they produce the falseness of emotions. When these emotions accumulate without cease, they can create the fluids of love. That is why living beings’ mouths water when they think about delicious food. When they think about a deceased person, either with fondness or with anger, tears will flow from their eyes. When they are greedy for wealth, a current of lust will course through their hearts and their skin will become lustrous. When their minds dwell on lustful conduct, spontaneous secretions will come from the male or female organ. Ananda, although the kinds of love differ, their flow and formation is the same. With this moisture, one cannot ascend, but will naturally fall. This is called the Internal Aspect.”

“Ananda, the External Aspect refers to what happens outside living beings. Because of longing and yearning, they give rise to fantasies. When these fantasies persist without cease, they can create an uplifting energy. That is why when living beings uphold the precepts in their minds, their bodies will be buoyant and feel light and clear. When they uphold mantra seals in their minds, they will command a heroic and resolute perspective. When they have the desire in their minds to be born in the heavens, in their dreams they will have thoughts of flying and ascending. When they cherish the Buddhalands in their minds, then the sagely realms will appear in a shimmering vision, and they will serve the good and wise advisors with little thought for their own lives. Ananda, although the thought varies, the lightness and uplifting is the same. With flight and ascension, one will not sink, but will naturally become transcendent. This is called the External Aspect.”

“Ananda, all beings in the world are caught up in the continuity of birth and death. Birth happens because of their habitual tendencies; death results inflow and change. When they are on the verge of dying, but when the final warmth has not left their bodies, all the good and evil they have done in that life suddenly and simultaneously manifest. They experience the intermingling of two habits: an abhorrence of death and an attraction to life.”

“Endowed solely with thought, they will fly and can certainly be reborn in the heavens. If fly into the heart, with blessings and wisdom, as well as pure vows, then their hearts will spontaneously open and they will see the Buddhas of the ten directions and all their pure lands and they will be reborn in whichever one they wish.”

“When they have more thought than emotion, they are not quite as ethereal and so they become flying immortals, great mighty ghost kings, space traveling-yakshas, or earth-traveling rakshasas who roam the Heaven of the Four Kings, going where they please without obstruction. Among them may be some with good vows and good hearts who will protect and uphold my dharma. Perhaps they protect the pure precepts by following and supporting those who hold precepts. Perhaps they protect holy mantras by following and supporting those who hold mantras. Perhaps they protect those who practice Dhyana Samadhi so they can cultivate Dharma-Ksanti(forbearance)s. These beings will be close to the Tathagata beneath his seat.”

“When their thought and emotion are of equal proportions, they neither fly nor fall, but are born in the human realm, where the brightness of thought leads to intelligence and the darkness of emotion leads to dullness.”

“When they have more emotion than thought, they enter the animal realm. With heavier emotion, they become fur-bearing beasts; with lighter emotion, they become winged creatures.”

“When they have seventy percent emotion and thirty percent thought, they fall beneath the wheel of water and are bordering on the wheel of fire, where they experience the full force of the raging blaze. In the bodies of hungry ghosts, they are constantly burned to a crisp. Even water harms them, and they have nothing to eat or drink for hundreds of thousands of eons.”

“When they have ninety percent emotion and ten percent thought, they fall through the wheel of fire until their bodies enter a region where wind and fire interact. With lighter emotion they are born in the intermittent hell; with heavier emotion they are born in the unintermittent hell. When they are possessed entirely of emotion, they sink into the Avici Hell. If in their minds they slander the Mahayana, defame the Buddha’s pure precepts, irrationally speak dharma, are greedy for offerings from the faithful, recklessly accept the respect of others, commit the five rebellious acts and the ten major offenses, then they are further reborn in Avici Hell throughout the ten directions. Although one receives one’s due according to the evil karma one has created, a group can undergo an identical lot, and there are definite places where it occurs.”

“Ananda, it all comes from the karmic responses which living beings themselves invoke. They create ten habitual causes and undergo six interacting retributions. What are the ten causes? Ananda, the first consists the habit of lustful intercourse which gives rise to mutual rubbing. When this rubbing continues without cease, it activates a tremendous raging fire, just as warmth arises between a person’s hands when he rubs them together. Because these two habits set each other ablaze, there come into being the Iron Bed, the Copper Pillar, and other such experiences. Therefore the Tathagatas of the ten directions look upon the act of lust and name it the ‘fire of desire.’ Bodhisattvas avoid desire as they would a fiery pit.”

“The second consists of the habit of greedy scheming, which gives rise to a suction. When this suction continues without cease, it produces intense cold and solid ice where freezing occurs, just as a sensation of cold is experienced when a person draws in a blast of wind through his mouth. Because these two habits clash together, there come into being Cold Hells such as chattering, whimpering and shuddering; blue, red, and white lotuses; and other such experiences. Therefore the Tathagatas of the ten directions look upon excessive seeking and name it ‘the water of greed’. Bodhisattvas avoid greed as they would a sea of pestilence.”

“The third consists of habits of arrogance and resulting friction which give rise to mutual intimidation. When it accelerates without cease, it produces torrents and rapids which create restless waves of water, just as water is produced when a person continuously works his tongue in an effort to taste flavors. Because these two habits incite one another, there come into being the river of blood, the river of ashes, the burning sand, the poisonous sea, the molten copper which is forced down one’s throat, and other such experiences. Therefore, the Tathagatas of the ten directions look upon self-satisfaction and name it ‘drinking the water of stupidity.’ Bodhisattvas avoid arrogance as they would a huge deluge.”

“The fourth consists of habits of hatred which give rise to mutual defiance. When this defiance binds one without cease, one’s heart becomes so hot that it catches fire, and the molten vapors turn into metal. From it is produced the mountain of knives, the iron cudgel, the tree of swords, the wheels of swords, axes and halberds, and spears and saws. It is like when a person harbors a grudge and the urge to kill surges forth. Because these two habits clash with one another, there come into being castration and hacking, beheading and mutilation, filing and sticking, flogging and beating, and other such experiences. Therefore, the Tathagatas of the ten directions look upon hatred and name it ‘sharp knives and swords.’ Bodhisattvas avoid hatred as they would a massacre.”

“The fifth consists of habits of deception and misleading involvements which give rise to mutual guile. When such maneuvering continues without cease, it produces ropes for strangling and wood for imprisoning. It is like how grass and trees grow in an irrigated field. Because the two habits perpetuate one another, there come into being handcuffs and fetters, cangues and locks, whips and clubs, sticks and cudgels, and other such experiences. Therefore, the Tathagatas of the ten directions look upon deception and name it a ‘treacherous crook.’ Bodhisattvas fear deception as they would a savage wolf.”

“The sixth consists of the habit of lying combined with continual fraudulence which give rise to mutual cheating. When false accusations continue without cease, one becomes adept at corruption. From this there come into being such filthy impurities as dirt, excrement and urine. It is like the obscuring of one’s vision when the dust is stirred up by the wind. Because these two habits augment one another, there come into being sinking and drowning, tossing and pitching, flying and falling, floating and submerging, and other such experiences. Therefore, the Tathagatas of the ten directions look upon lying and name it ‘robbery and murder.’ Bodhisattvas regard lying as they would treading on a venomous snake.”

“The seventh consists of the habits of enmity and mutual suspicion, which give rise to grievances. From this there come into being the experiences of being pelted by flying rocks or gravel, being imprisoned in a box, car, or urn; and being bagged and struck. It is like a treacherous person who harbors evil in his mind. Because these two habits swallow one another up, there come into being tossing, pitching, seizing, striking, and banging, and other such experiences. Therefore, the Tathagatas of the ten directions look upon animosity and name it a ‘perverse and harmful ghost.’ Bodhisattvas regard animosity as they would drinking poisonous wine.”

“The eighth consists of the habit of expressing (wrong) views, such as those of satkayadrishti, prohibitions, grasping, and other deviant insights and the karma involved in these, which result from contradiction and opposition. From these there come into being court officials and deputies holding documents, whom one meets as if they were people coming and going on the road. Because these two habits influence one another, there come into being official inquiries, baited questions, examinations, interrogations, public investigations, exposure, the youths who record good and evil, carrying the record books of the offenders’ arguments and rationalizations, and other such experiences. Therefore, the Tathagatas of the ten directions look upon evil views and name them the ‘pit of views.’ Bodhisattvas regard having false and one-sided views as they would standing on the edge of a steep ravine full of poison.”

“The ninth consists of the habit of injustice that comes from instigating false charges and libeling. From them are produced crushing between mountains, crushing between rocks, stone rollers, stone grinders, plowing, and grinding. It is like a slanderous villain who engages in persecuting good people unjustly. Because these two habits join ranks, there come into being pressing and pushing, bludgeons and compulsion, squeezing and straining, weighing and measuring, and other such experiences. Therefore, there Tathagatas of the ten directions look upon harmful accusations and name them ‘a treacherous tiger.’ Bodhisattvas regard injustice as they would a bolt of lightning.”

“The tenth consists of the habits of litigation and the mutual disputations which give rise to covering. From them are produced the mirror that reflects and the lamp that shines, exposing one just as if one were in direct sunlight and had no way to hide one’s shadow. Because these two habits bicker back and forth, there come into being evil companions, the mirror of karma, the fiery pearl, exposure of past karma, inquests, and other such experiences. Therefore, all the Tathagatas of the ten directions look upon covering and name it a ‘hidden villain.’ Bodhisattvas regard covering as they would having to carry a mountain atop their heads while walking upon the sea.”

“What are the six retributions? Ananda, all living beings create karma with their six consciousnesses. The evil retributions they call down upon themselves come from the six sense organs.”

“What are the evil retributions that arise from the six sense organs? The first is the retribution of seeing, which brings an evil result. The karma of seeing intermingles, so that at the time of death one first sees a raging conflagration which fills the ten directions. The deceased one’s spiritual consciousness takes flight, but then falls. Riding on a wisp of smoke, it enters the unintermittent hell. There, two kinds of phenomena may occur. The first is clear perception, in which one sees all sorts of evil things. This causes one to experience boundless fear. The second is obscure perception, which is a stillness devoid of seeing. This causes one to experience boundless terror. When the fire that comes from seeing burns the sense of hearing, it becomes cauldrons of boiling water and molten copper. When it burns the breath, it becomes black smoke and purple fumes. When it burns the sense of taste, it becomes scorching hot pellets and molten iron gruel. When it burns the sense of touch, it become white-hot embers and glowing coals. When it burns the mind, it becomes sparks of fire that shower everywhere and whip up and inflame the entire realm of space.”

“The second is the retribution of hearing, which brings an evil result. The karma of hearing intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees gigantic waves that drown the whole world. The deceased one’s spiritual consciousness falls into the water and rides the current into the unintermittent hell. There, two kinds of phenomena may occur. One is open hearing, in which it hears all sorts of noise and its essential spirit becomes confused. The other is closed hearing, in which there is a stillness devoid of hearing, and its soul sinks into oblivion. When the waves from hearing flow into the hearing, they become scolding and interrogation. When they flow into the seeing, they become thunder and roaring and evil poisonous vapors. When they flow into the breath, they become rain and fog permeated with poisonous organisms that entirely fill up the body. When they flow into the sense of taste, they become pus a nd blood and every kind of filth. When they flow into the sense of touch, they become animals and ghosts, and excrement and urine. When they flow into the mind, they become lightning and hail which ravage the heart and soul.”

“The third is the retribution of smelling, which brings an evil result. The karma of smelling intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees a poisonous vapor that permeates the atmosphere near and far. The deceased one’s spiritual consciousness wells up out of the earth and enters the unintermittent hell. There, two kinds of phenomena may occur. One is penetrating smelling, in which one is thoroughly infused with the evil vapors and one’s mind becomes distressed. The other is blocked smelling, in which one’s breath is cut off and there is no passage, and one lies stifled and suffocating on the ground. When the vapor of smelling invades the breath, it becomes cross-examination and torture. When it invades the seeing, it becomes fire and torches. When it invades the hearing, it becomes sinking and drowning, molten metal and boiling liquids. When it invades the sense of taste, it becomes putrid or rancid foods. When it invades the sense of touch, it becomes the actions of ripping apart and beating to a pulp. It also becomes a huge mountain of flesh which has hundreds and thousands of eyes and which is sucked and fed upon by numberless worms. When it invades the mind, it becomes ashes, pestilent air, and flying sand and gravel which cut the body to ribbons.”

“The fourth is the retribution of tasting, which brings an evil result. This karma of tasting intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees an iron net ablaze with a raging fire that covers over the entire world. The deceased one’s spiritual consciousness passes down through this hanging net, and suspended upside down it enters the unintermittent hell. There, two kinds of phenomena may occur. One is a sucking air which congeals into ice so that it freezes the flesh of his body until it bursts open. The other is a spitting blast of air which spews out a raging fire that roasts his bones and marrow to a crisp. When the tasting of flavors passes through the sense of taste, it becomes what must be acknowledged and what must be endured. When it passes through the seeing, it becomes burning metal and stones. When it passes through the hearing, it becomes sharp weapons and knives. When it passes through the sense of smell, it becomes a vast iron cage that encloses the entire land. When it passes through the sense of touch, it becomes bows and arrows, crossbows, and darts. When it passes through the mind, it becomes flying pieces of molten iron that rain down from out of space.”

“The fifth is the retribution of touching, which brings an evil result. The karma of touching intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees huge mountains closing in on one from four sides, leaving no path of escape. The deceased one’s spiritual consciousness then sees a vast iron city. Fiery snakes and fiery dogs, wolves, lions, ox-headed jail keepers, and horse-headed rakshasas brandishing spears and lances drive it into the iron city toward the unintermittent hell. There, two kinds of phenomena may occur. One is touch that involves coming together, in which mountains come together to squeeze its body until its flesh, bones, and blood are totally dispersed. The other is touch that involves separation, in which knives and swords attack the body, ripping the heart and liver to shreds. When this touching passes through the sensation of touch, it becomes colliding, striking, stabbing, and piercing. When it passes through the seeing, it becomes burning and scorching. When it passes through the hearing, one hears the sounds on the path to the hells, at the gate to the hells, and in the courts of trial. . When it passes through the sense of smell, it becomes enclosures, bags, interrogation, and binding up. When it passes through the sense of taste, it become plowing, pinching, chopping, and severing. When it passes through the mind, it becomes falling, flying, frying, and broiling.”

“The sixth is the retribution of thinking, which brings an evil result. The karma of thinking intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees a foul wind which devastates the land. The deceased one’s spiritual consciousness is blown up into space, and then, spiraling downward, it rides that wind straight into the unintermittent hell. There, two kinds of phenomena may occur. One is extreme confusion, which causes it to be frantic and to race about ceaselessly. The other is not confusion, but rather an acute awareness which causes it to suffer from endless roasting and burning, the extreme pain of which is difficult to bear. When this deviant thought combines with thinking, it becomes locations and places. When it combines with seeing, it becomes inspection and testimonies. When it combines with hearing, it becomes huge crushing rocks, ice and frost, dirt and fog. When it combines with smelling, it becomes a great fiery car, a fiery boat, and a fiery jail. When it combines with tasting, it becomes loud calling, wailing, and regretful weeping. When it combines with touch, it becomes sensations of large and small, where ten thousand births and ten thousands deaths are endured every day, and of lying with one’s face to the ground.”

“Ananda, these are called the ten causes and six retributions of the hells, which are all created by the confusion and falseness of living beings.”

“If living beings create this evil karma simultaneously, they enter the Avici Hell and endure limitless suffering, passing through limitless kalpas.”

“If each of the six sense organs creates them and if what is done includes each state and each sense organ, then the person will enter the Eight Unintermittent Hells.”

“If the three karmas of body, mouth, and mind commit acts of killing, stealing, and lust, the person will enter the Eighteen Hells.”

“If the three karmas are not all involved, and there is perhaps just one act of killing and one of stealing, then the person must enter the Thirty-six Hells.”

“If the sense organ of sight alone commits just one karmic offense, then the person must enter the one hundred and eight hells. ”

“Because of this, living beings who do certain things create certain karma, and so in the world they enter collective hells, which arise from false thinking and which originally are not there at all.”

“And then, Ananda, after the living beings who have slandered and broken the precepts, violated the Bodhisattva precepts, slandered the Buddha’s Nirvana, and created various other kinds of karma, pass through many kalpas of being burned in the inferno, they finally finish paying for their offenses and are reborn as ghosts.”

“If greed for material objects was the original cause that made the person commit offenses, then, after he has finished paying for his crimes, he will take shape when he encounters material objects and will become a strange ghost.”

“If it was indulgence in lust that made the person commit offenses, then, after he has finished paying for his crimes, he will take shape when he encounters the wind and will become a drought ghost.”

“If it was indulgence in lying that made the person commit offenses, then, after he has finished paying for his crimes, he will take shape when he encounters animals and will become a mei ghost.”

“If it was hatred that made the person commit offenses, then, after he has finished paying for his crimes, he will take shape when he encounters worms and insects, and will become a gu poison ghost.”

“If it was the harboring of grudges that made the person commit offenses, then, after he has finished paying for his crimes, he will take shape when he encounters degeneration and will become a pestilence ghost.”

“If it was arrogance that made the person commit offenses, then, after he has finished paying for his crimes, he will take shape when he encounters gases and will become a hungry ghost.”

“If it was injustice to others that made the person commit offenses, then after he has finished paying for his crimes, he will take shape when he encounters darkness and will become a paralysis ghost.”

“If it was attachment to wrong views that made the person commit offenses, then, after he has finished paying for his crimes, he will take shape when he encounters essential energy and will become a wang liang ghost.”

“If it was deception that made the person commit offenses, then, after he has finished paying for his crimes, he will take shape when he encounters brightness and will become a servant ghost.”

“If it was the practice of forming factions that made the person commit offenses, then, after he has finished paying for his crimes, he will take shape when he encounters people and will become a messenger ghost.”

“Ananda, such a person’s fall is due to his totally emotional level of functioning. When his karmic fire has burned out, he will rise up to be reborn as a ghost. This is occasioned by his own karma of false thinking. If he awakens to Bodhi, then in the wonderful perfect brightness there isn’t anything at all.”

“Moreover, Ananda, when his karma as a ghost is ended and the consequences of his emotion and thought are over, he comes into the world to meet his creditors and settle his accounts with them. He is born as an animal to repay his debts from past lives.”

“The retribution of the strange ghost of material objects is finished when the object is destroyed and it is reborn in the world, usually as a species of owl.”

“The retribution of the drought ghost of the wind is finished when the wind subsides, and it is reborn in the world, usually as a species of uncanny creature which gives inauspicious prognostications.”

“The retribution of the mei ghost of an animal is finished when the animal dies, and it is reborn in the world, usually as a species of fox.”

“The retribution of the gu ghost in the form of worms and insects is finished when the gu is exhausted, and it is reborn in the world, usually as a species of venomous creature.”

“The retribution of a pestilence ghost found in degeneration is finished when the degeneration is complete, and it is reborn in the world, usually as a species of tapeworm.”

“The retribution of the ghost which takes shape in gases is finished when the gases are gone, and it is then reborn in the world, usually as a species of animal used for food.”

“The retribution of the ghost of darkness is finished when the darkness ends, and it is then reborn in the world, usually as a species of animal used for clothing or service.”

“The retribution of the ghost which unites with energy is finished when the union dissolves, and it is then reborn in the world, usually as a species of migratory creature.”

“The retribution of the ghost of brightness and intellect is finished when the brightness disappears, and it is then reborn in the world, usually as a species of efficacious creature.”

“The retribution of the ghost that relies on a person is finished when the person dies, and it is then reborn in the world, usually as a species of domestic animal.”

“Ananda, all this is due to the burning out of his karmic fire in payment for his debts from past lives. The rebirth as an animal is also occasioned by his own false and empty karma. If he awakens to Bodhi, then fundamentally none of these false conditions will exist at all. You mentioned Precious Lotus Fragrance, King Crystal, and Bhikshu Good Stars. Evil karma such as theirs was created by them alone. It did not fall down out of the heavens or well up from the earth, nor was it imposed upon them by some person. Their own falseness brought it into being, and so they themselves have to undergo it. In the Bodhi-Heart, it is empty and false–a cohesion of false thoughts.”

“Moreover, Ananda, if while repaying his past debts by undergoing rebirth as an animal, such a living being pays back more than he owed, he will then be reborn as a human to rectify the excess. If the creditor is a person with strength, blessings, and virtue, then he can pay what he collected in excess without having to lose his human form. But if he lacks blessings, then he will be reborn as an animal to pay the outstanding balance.”

“Ananda, if the debt involves money, material goods, or manual labor, then once it is paid, the debt is resolved. But if in the process of repayment the lives of other beings were taken or their flesh eaten, then it will start a cycle of mutual devouring and slaughtering that will send the debtors and creditors up and down endlessly for as many eons as there are atoms of universe. There is no way to put a stop to it, except through Shamatha or through a Buddha’s coming to the world.”

“You should know that when owls and their kind have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are born as obstinate people.”

“When creatures that are inauspicious have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are born as abnormal people.”

“When foxes have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are born as people who are simpletons.”

“When creatures of the venomous category have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are born as malicious people.”

“When tapeworms and their like have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are born as lowly people.”

“When the edible types of creatures have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are reborn as weak people.”

“When creatures that are used for clothing or service have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are reborn as people who do hard labor.”

“When creatures that migrate have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are reborn as literary people.”

“When efficacious creatures have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are reborn as intelligent people.”

“When domestic animals have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are reborn as sophisticated people.”

“Ananda, these are all beings that have finished paying back former debts and are born again in the human realm. They are involved in a beginningless scheme of karma and delusion and spend their lives killing and being killed by one another. They do not get to meet the Tathagata or hear the Proper Dharma. They just abide in the wearisome dust, passing through a repetitive cycle. Such people can truly be called pitiful.”

“Furthermore, Ananda, there are people who do not rely on Proper Enlightenment to cultivate Samadhi, but cultivate in some special way that is based on their false thinking. Holding to the idea of perpetuating their physical bodies, they roam in the mountains and forests in places people do not go and become Ten Kinds of Immortals.”

“Ananda, some living beings with unflagging resolution make themselves strong with specially prepared foods. When they have perfected this method of dieting, they are known as earth-traveling immortals.”

“Some of these beings with unflagging resolution make themselves strong through the use of grasses and herbs. When they have perfected this method of taking herbs, they are known as flying immortals.”

“Some of these beings with unflagging resolution make themselves strong through the use of metal and stone. When they have perfected this method of transformation, they are known as roaming immortals.”

“Some of these beings with unflagging resolution make themselves strong through movement and stillness. When they have perfected their energy and essence, they are known as space-traveling immortals.”

“Some of these beings with unflagging resolution make themselves strong by using the flow of saliva. When they have perfected the virtues of this moisture, they are known as heaven-traveling immortals.”

“Some of these beings with unflagging resolution make themselves strong with the essence of sun and moon. When they have perfected the inhalation of this essence, they are known as all-penetrating immortals.”

“Some of these beings with unflagging resolution make themselves strong through mantras and precepts. When they have perfected these skills, they are known as immortals of the Way.”

“Some of these beings with unflagging resolution make themselves strong through the use of thought processes. When they have perfected thought and memory, they are known as illuminating immortals”

“Some of these beings with unflagging resolution make themselves strong through internal union. When they have perfected the response, they are known as immortals of essence.”

“Some of these beings with unflagging resolution make themselves strong through transformations. When they have perfected their awakening, they are known as immortals of the ultimate level.”

“Ananda, these are all people who smelt their minds but do not cultivate Proper Enlightenment. They obtain some special principle of life and can live for thousands or tens of thousands of years. They retire deep into the mountains or onto islands in the sea and cut themselves off from the human realm. However, they are still part of the turning wheel, because they flow and turn according to their false thinking and do not cultivate Samadhi. When their reward is finished, they must still return and enter the various destinies.”

“Ananda, there are many people in the world who do not seek what is eternal and who cannot yet renounce the love that exists between themselves and their wives. But they have no interest in sexual misconduct and so their purity develops and their light is revealed. When their life ends, they are born in the Heaven of the Four Kings next to the sun and moon.”

“Those whose sexual love for their wives is slight, but who have not yet obtained complete purity when dwelling in solitude, transcend the light of sun and moon at the end of their lives, and reside at the summit of the human realm. Such people are born in the Trayastrimsha Heaven.”

“Those who become temporarily involved when they meet with desire but who do not dwell upon it when it is finished, and who, while in the human realm, are active less and quiet more, abide at the end of their lives in light and emptiness where the illumination of sun and moon does not reach. These beings have their own light, and they are born in the Suyama Heaven.”

“Those who are quiet all the time, but who are not yet able to resist when stimulated by contact, ascend at the end of their lives to a subtle and ethereal place; they will not be drawn into the lower realms. The destruction of the realms of humans and gods and the three disasters at the end of a kalpa will not reach them, for they are born in the Tushita Heaven.”

“Those who are devoid of desire, but who will engage in it for the sake of their partner, even though to them the experience is as flavorless as chewing wax, are born at the end of their lives in a transcendental place of transformations. They are born in the Nirmana-rataya(Bliss by Transformation) Heaven.”

“Those who have no worldly thoughts while doing what worldly people do, who are lucid and beyond such activity while involved in it, are capable at the end of their lives of entirely transcending states where transformations may be present or absent. They are born in the Para-nirmita-vasa-vartin(Comfort from Others’ Transformations) Heaven.”

“Ananda, although the beings in these six heavens have physically transcended desire, traces of it still remain in their minds. The levels of existence so far discussed are known as the Realm of Desire.”

Shurangama Sutra – Chapter 7 (english)

“Ananda, you asked about collecting one’s thoughts; I have now begun to explain the wonderful method of cultivation for entrance into Samadhi in order to seek the Bodhisattva Way. First one must be as pure as glistening frost in keeping these four rules of deportment. One must refrain from all superfluous behavior and then the three evils of the mind and the four of the mouth will have no cause to come forth. Ananda, if one does not neglect these four matters, and, further, does not pursue forms, fragrances, tastes, objects of touch, and the like, then how can any demonic deeds arise?

“If people cannot put an end to their habits from the past, you should teach them to singlemindedly recite my Light Atop the Buddha’s Crown Unsurpassed Holy Mantra: Maha-Sitata-Patra. It is the None-Can-See-The-Top Hallmark atop the crown of the Tathagatas’ heads. It is the mantra-heart proclaimed by the Buddhas of the Unconditioned Mind who come forth from the crowns in a blaze of light and sit upon jeweled lotus flowers.

“What is more, your past lives with Matangi’s daughter have created accumulated eons of causes and conditions. Your habits of fondness and emotional love go back not just one life, nor even just one eon. Yet, as soon as I proclaimed it, she was freed forever from the love in her heart and accomplished Arhatship. Even that prostitute, who had no intention of cultivating, was imperceptibly aided by that spiritual power and was swiftly certified to the position beyond study; then what about you Hearers in the assembly, who seek the most supreme Vehicle and are resolved to realize Buddhahood? For you it should be as easy as tossing dust into a favorable wind. What, then, is the problem?

“Those in the final age who wish to sit in a Way-place must first hold the pure precepts of a Bhikshu. To do so, they must find as their teacher a foremost Shramana who is pure in the precepts. If they do not encounter a member of the Sangha who is truly pure, then it is absolutely certain that their deportment in precepts and rules cannot be accomplished. Having kept the precepts well, they should put on fresh, clean clothes, light incense in a place where they are alone, and recite this holy mantra spoken by the Heart-Buddha 108 times. After that, they should secure the boundaries and establish the Way-place.

“Then they should beseech the unsurpassed Tathagatas abiding in their lands throughout the ten directions to emit a light of great compassion that anoints the crowns of the cultivators’ heads.

“Ananda, when any such pure Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, or white-robed donors in the Dharma ending Age who can get rid of greed and lust even at the mental level, hold the Buddhas’ pure precepts, and in a Way-place make the vows of a Bodhisattva and can bathe upon entering and exiting each time, continuing that practice of the Way day and night for three weeks without sleep, I will appear before these people in a physical form and rub the crowns of their heads to comfort them and enable them to become enlightened.”

Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, enveloped in the Tathagata’s unsurpassed, compassionate instruction, my mind has already gained an awakening, and I know how to cultivate and be certified to the Way beyond study. But how do those who cultivate in the final age and want to establish a Way-place, secure the boundaries in accord with the rules of purity of the Buddhas, Bhagavans?”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “If there are people in the Dharma-ending age who wish to establish a Way-place, they should first find a powerful white cow in the snowy mountains, one which eats the lush and fertile sweet-smelling grasses of the mountains. Since such a cow also drinks only the pure water of the snowy mountains, its dung will be very fine. They can take that cow dung, mix it with chandana, and plaster the ground with it. If not from the snowy mountains, the cow dung will smell bad and cannot be used to smear on the ground. In that case, select a level place, dig down five feet or so, and use that yellow earth. Mix it with chandana incense, ‘sinking-in-water’ incense, jasmine incense, continuously permeating incense, tulip incense, white paste incense, green wood incense, fragrant mound incense, sweet pine incense, and ‘chicken-tongue’ incense. Grind these ten ingredients to a fine powder, make a paste, and smear it on the ground of the platform. The area should be sixteen feet wide and octagonal in shape.”

“In the center of the platform, place a lotus flower made of gold, silver, copper, or wood. In the middle of the flower set a bowl filled with dew collected in the eighth lunar month. Float an abundance of flower petals on the water. Arrange eight circular mirrors at measured intervals around the flower and the bowl. Outside the mirrors place sixteeen lotus flowers and sixteencensers, so that the incense-burners are adorned and arranged between the flowers. Burn only sinking-in-water incense, lighting it with an ember, not an open flame.”

“Place the milk of a white cow in sixteen vessels, along with cakes made with the same kind of milk, granulated sugar, oil cakes, milk porridge, turushka, honeyed ginger, clarified butter, and filtered honey. These sixteen are set around the outside of the sixteen flowers as an offering to the Buddhas and great Bodhisattvas.”

“At every mealtime and at midnight, prepare a half-pint of honey and three tenths of a pint of clarified butter. Set up a small incense burner in front of the platform. Decoct the fragrant liquid from the turushka incense and use it to cleanse the coals. Light them so that blaze bursts forth, and toss the clarified butter and honey into the flaming censer. Let it burn until the smoke disappears, and present it to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.”

“Drape flags and flower garlands on the four outer walls, and within the room where the platform is located, arrange images of the Tathagatas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions on the four walls.”

“In the most prominent place, display images of Vairocana Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, Maitreya Bodhisattva, Akshobhya Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, and all the magnificent transformations of Avalokitesvara(Contemplator of the World’s Sounds) Bodhisattva. To the left and right, place the Vajra-Treasury Bodhisattvas. Beside them display the Lords Shakra and Brahma, Ucchushma, and the Blue Dirgha, as well as Kundalin and Bhrukuti and all four Heavenly Kings, with Vinayaka to the left and right of the door.”

“Then suspend eight mirrors in the space around the platform so that they are exactly opposite the mirrors on the platform. This will allow the reflections in them to interpenetrate infinitely.”

“During the first seven days, bow sincerely to the names of the Tathagatas of the ten directions, the great Bodhisattvas, and the names of the Arhats. Throughout the six periods of the day and night, continually recite the mantra while circumambulating the platform. Practice the Way with a sincere mind, reciting the mantra one hundred and eight times in each session.”

“During the second week, make the vows of a Bodhisattva with unwavering ceaseless intent. In my Vinaya, I have already taught about vows.”

“During the third week, hold the Buddha’s Patra mantra for twelve hours at a time with a single intent; and on the seventh day, the Tathagatas of the ten directions will appear simultaneously. Their light will inter-reflect in the mirrors, illumining the entire area; and they will rub the crowns of the practitioners’ heads.”

“Cultivating Samadhi like this in a Way-place, even in the Dharma-ending age one can study and practice until one’s body and mind are as pure and clear as Vaidurya. Ananda, if any one of the Bhikshu’s precept-transmitting masters or any one of ten Bhikshus in the same assembly is not pure, the Way-place as described will not be successful.”

“After three weeks, sit upright and still for a hundred days. Those with sharp roots will not arise from their seats and will become Shrotaapannas. Although their bodies and minds have not yet attained the ultimate fruition of sagehood, they know for certain, beyond question, that they will eventually realize Buddhahood. You have asked how the Way-place is established. That is the way it is done.”

Ananda bowed at the Buddha’s feet and said, “After I left the home life, I relied on the Buddha’s affectionate regard. Because I sought erudition, I still have not been certified to the unconditioned. When I encountered that Brahma Heaven Mantra, I was captured by the deviant spell; though my mind was aware, I had no strength to free myself. I had to rely on Manjushri Bodhisattva to liberate me. Although I was blessed by the Tathagata’s holy mantra of the Buddha’s crown and imperceptibly received its strength, I still have not heard it myself. I only hope that the Greatly Compassionate One will proclaim it again to kindly rescue all the cultivators in this assembly and those of the future in the paths of rebirth, so that they may become liberated in body and mind by relying on the Buddha’s secret sounds.”

(Shurangama Mantra)

At that moment, everyone in the congregation bowed as one and stood waiting to hear the Tathagata’s secret phrases. At that time, hundreds of sacrosanct light welled forth from the flesh-mound(usnisa) at the crown of the Bhagavan’s head. A thousand-petaled precious lotus then welled forth from amidst those rays. Upon the precious flowers sat a nirmana(miraculously created) Tathagata. From the crown of his head ten beams of light radiated forth, each ray is composed of hundreds of treasure-rays. In each of those glowing rays, there were 10 ganges-river-sands Vajra-Secret-Trace-deities each holding aloft a mountain and wielding a pestle, occuping the whole universe.

(* ganges-river-sands: a measure of quantity, means “as many as sands in ganges-river”)

The great assembly, gazing upward, felt fearful admiration and sought the Buddha’s kind protection. Single-mindedly they listened to the holy Mantra that proclaimed by the Tathagata in the gloriously radiant light of the None-Can-See-The-Top Hallmark of the Buddha:

(* None-Can-See-The-Top Hallmark — “usnisa-siraskata” in Sanskrit, the crown of Buddha. because it’s too high and sacrosanct, no one can see its top.)

(Part I)

namo satata sugataya arhate samyak-sambuddhasya (1)
satata buddha koti usnisam (2)
namo sarva buddha bodhisattve-bhyah (3)
namo saptanam samyak-sambuddha koti-nam (4)
sa sravaka samgha-nam (5)
namo loke arhata-nam (6)
namo srota-apanna-nam (7)
namo sakrdagami-nam (8)
namo loke samyak-gata-nam (9)
samyak-prati-panna-nam (10)
namo deva-rsi-nam (11)
namo siddhya-vidya-dhara-rsi-nam (12)
sapa-anu graha-saha-samartha-nam (13)
namo brahma-ne (14)
namo indra-ya (15)
namo Bhagavate rudra-ya uma-pati saheyaya (16)
namo Bhagavate narayana-ya panca maha-mudra (17)
namas-krtaya (18)
namo Bhagavate maha-kala-ya (19)
tripura-nagara (20)
vidra-pana-karaya (21)
adhi-mukti (22)
smasana-nivasini (23)
matr-gana (24)
namas-krtaya (25)
namo Bhagavate tathagata kulaya (26)
namo padma kulaya (27)
namo vajra kulaya (28)
namo mani kulaya (29)
namo gaja kulaya (30)
namo Bhagavate drdha-sura-sena pra-harana-rajaya (31)
tathagata-ya (32)
namo Bhagavate amitabha-ya (33)
tathagata-ya arhate samyak-sambuddha-ya (34)
namo Bhagavate aksobhya-ya (35)
tathagata-ya arhate samyak-sambuddha-ya (36)
namo Bhagavate bhaisajya-guru vaidurya prabha raja-ya (37)
tathagata-ya arhate samyak-sambuddha-ya (38)
namo Bhagavate sam-puspita salendra raja-ya (39)
tathagata-ya arhate samyak-sambuddha-ya (40)
namo Bhagavate sakyamuni-ye (41)
tathagata-ya arhate samyak-sambuddha-ya (42)
namo Bhagavate ratna ketu raja-ya (43)
tathagata-ya arhate samyak-sambuddha-ya (44)
tebhyo namas-krtva idam Bhagavanas tathagata usnisam (45)
sitata-patram (46)
namo apa-rajitam prati-yangiram (47)
sarva bhuta graha nigrahaka kara-hani (48)
para vidya chedanim (49)
akala mri-tyu pari traya-na kari (50)
sarva bandhana moksani (51)
sarva dusza duh-svapna nivarani (52)
catura-sitinam graha saha-sranam vidhvam-sana kari (53)
asza vimsatinam naksa-tranam pra-sadana kari (54)
aszanam maha-graha-nam vi-dhvam-sana kari (55)
sarva satru nivaranam (56)
ghoram duh-sva-pnam ca nasani (57)
visa, sastra, agni, udaka, ranam (58)
apara-jita ghora maha-bala canda, maha-dipta maha-teja (59)
maha-sveta-jvala maha-bala pandara-vasini arya-tara (60)
bhri-kuzi ce va vijaya vajra-maletih (61)
vi-sruta padmakah vajra-jihvah ca mala ce va aparajita vajra-dandah (62)
visala ca santa, sveteva pujita sauma-rupah, maha-sveta arya-tara (63)
maha-bala apara vajra-samkala ce va vajra-kaumari kulam-dhari (64)
vajra-hasta ca vidya (65)
kan-cana mallikah kusum-bhaka ratna (66)
vairocana kuliya-ya artha usnisa (67)
vi-jrmbha mani ca vajra-kanaka prabha-locana (68)
vajra-tundi ca sveta ca kamala-ksah siasi-prabha (69)
ity-iti mudra ganah sarve raksam kurvantu iman mama asya (70)

(Part II)

Om rsi-gana pra-sastas tathagata usnisa (71)
hum trum jambhana (72)
hum trum stambhana (73)
hum trum para-vidya sam-bhaksana kara (74)
hum trum sarva dusza-nam stambhana kara (75)
hum trum sarva yaksa raksasa grahanam vi-dhvam-sana kara (76)
hum trum catura-siti-nam graha saha-sra-nam vi-dhvam-sana kara (77)
hum trum asza-vimsati-nam naksatra-nam pra-sadana kara (78)
hum trum asza-nam maha-graha-nam vi-dhvam-sana kara (79)
hum trum raksa raksa mam (80)
bhagavans tathagata usnisa (81)
praty-angire maha-sahasra bhuje sahasra-sirse koti-siata sahasra netre (82)
abhede jvalita-zazaka maha-vajrodara tri-bhuvana mandala (83)
Om svastir bhavatu mama iman mama-sya (84)

(Part III)

raja-bhayah cora-bhayah agni-bhayah udaka-bhayah visa-bhayah siastra-bhayah (85)
para-cakra-bhayah dur-bhiksa-bhayah asiani-bhayah akala-mrityu-bhayah (86)
dharani bhumi kampaka pata-bhayah ulaka-pata-bhayah raja-danda-bhayah (87)
naga-bhayah vidyud-bhayah suparna-bhayah (88)
yaksa-grahah raksasi-grahah preta-grahah pisaca-grahah bhuta-grahah (89)
kumbhanda-grahah putana-grahah kaza-putana-grahah (90)
skanda-grahah apa-smara-grahah unmada-grahah chaya-grahah revati-grahah (91)
jata-a-harinam garbha-a-harinam rudhira-a-harinam mamsa-a-harinam (92)
medha-a-harinam majja-a-harinam jata-a-harinim jivita-a-harinam pita-a-harinam (93)
vanta-a-harinam asucya-a-harinim citta-a-harinim (94)
te-sam sarve-sam sarva-graha-nam vidyam chedayami kilayami (95)
pari-vrajaka kritam vidyam chedayami kilayami (96)
dakini-kritam vidyam chedayami kilayami (97)
maha-pasupati rudra-kritam vidyam chedayami kilayami (98)
narayana-kritam vidyam chedayami kilayami (99)
tattva-garuda kritam vidyam chedayami kilayami (100)
maha-kala-matri gana-kritam vidyam chedayami kilayami (101)
kapalika kritam vidyam chedayami kilayami (102)
jaya-kara madhu-kara sarva artha sadhaka kritam vidyam chedayami kilayami (103)
catur-bhagini kritam vidyam chedayami kilayami (104)
bhri-ngi-rizi nandike-svara gana-pati sahaya kritam vidyam chedayami kilayami (105)
nagna-sramana kritam vidyam chedayami kilayami (106)
arhanta kritam vidyam chedayami kilayami (107)
vita-raga kritam vidyam chedayami kilayami (108)
vajra-pani guhya guhya-kadhi-pati kritam vidyam chedayami kilayami (109)
raksa mam Bhagavan iman mama-sya (110)

(Part IV)

Bhagavans tathagata usnisa sitata-patra namo-stute (111)
asita na-la-rka prabha sphuza vi-kas sitata-patre (112)
jvala jvala, dara dara, bhidara bhidara, chida chida (113)
hum hum phat phat phat phat phat svaha hehe phat (114)
amogha-ya phat apratihata phat (115)
vara-prada phat ssura-vidrapaka phat (116)
sarva deve-bhyah phat, sarva nage-bhyah phat (117)
sarva yakse-bhyah phat, sarva gandharve-bhyah phat (118)
sarva asure-bhyah phat, sarva garude-bhyah phat (119)
sarva kimnare-bhyah phat, sarva mahorage-bhyah phat (120)
sarva raksase-bhyah phat, sarva bhute-bhyah phat (121)
sarva pisace-bhyah phat, sarva kumbhande-bhyah phat (122)
sarva manusye-bhyah phat, sarva amanusye-bhyah phat (123)
sarva putane-bhyah phat, sarva kaza-putane-bhyah phat (124)
sarva dur-langhite-bhyah phat, sarva dus-preksite-bhyah phat (125)
sarva jvare-bhyah phat, sarva apasmare-bhyah phat (126)
sarva sramane-bhyah phat, sarva tiri-thike-bhyah phat (127)
sarva utmadake-bhyah phat, sarva vidya raja-carye-bhyah phat (128)
jaya kara madhu kara sarva artha sadhake-bhyah phat (129)
vidya acarye-bhyah phat, catur-bhagini-bhyah phat (130)
vajra kaumari kulam dhari vidya raje-bhyah phat, maha praty-angire-bhyah phat (131)
vajra samkara-ya praty-angira rajaya phat (132)
maha-kala-ya maha-matri-gana namas-kritaya phat (133)
visnavi-ye phat, brahmani-ye phat (134)
agni-ye phat, maha-kali-ye phat (135)
kala-dandi-ye phat, indra-ye phat, matre-ye phat (136)
raudri-ye phat, camundi-ye phat (137)
kala-ratri-ye phat, kapali-ye phat (138)
adhi-muktaka smasana vasiniye phat (139)
ye-ke-citta, sattva-asya mama iman mama-asya (140)

(Part V)

dusza-citta, papa-citta, raudra-citta, vi-dvesa-citta, amitri-citta (141)
ut-pada-yanti kila-yanti mantra-yanti japanti juhanti (142)
oja-aharah garbha-aharah rudhira-aharah vasa-aharah (143)
majja-aharah jata-aharah jivita-aharah balya-aharah (144)
malya-aharah gandha-aharah puspa-aharah phala-aharah sasya-aharah (145)
papa-citta, dusza-citta, raudra-citta (146)
yaksa-grahah, raksasa-grahah, preta-grahah, pisaca-grahah (147)
bhuta-grahah, Kumbhanda-grahah, skanda-grahah, unmada-grahah (148)
chaya-grahah, apa-smara-grahah, daka-dakini-grahah, revati-grahah (149)
jamika-grahah, sakuni-grahah, raudra-matri-nandika-grahah, alamba-grahah (150)
hanu kantha-pani-grahah (151)
jvarah eka-hikah dvaiti-yakah traiti-yakah catur-thakah (152)
nitya-jvarah visama-jvarah vati-kah paitti-kah slai-smi-kah (153)
sam-nipati-kah sarva-jvarah siro-hrathi (154)
ardha-ava-badha-kah badha-aroca-kah (155)
aksi-rogam mukha-rogam hrid-rogam gala-graham karna-sulam danta-sulam (156)
hridaya-sulam marman-sulam parsva-sulam priszha-sulam udara-sulam kazi-sulam (157)
vasti-sulam uru-sulam nakha-sulam hasta-sulam (158)
pada-sulam sarva-anga-pratyanga-sulam (159)
bhuta vetada dakini jvarah dadrukah kanduh kizi bhah-lutah vaisarpah-loha lingah (160)
siastra-sana-gara visa-yoga agne udaka mara vaira kantara akala-mrityo (161)
tri-yambuka trai-laza vriscika sarpa nakula simha vyaghra riksa taraksa mara (162)
jivis te-sam sarve-sam (163)
sitata-patra maha vajro-snisam, maha-praty-angiram (164)
yavad-dva-dasa yojana abhy-anta-rena sima bandham karomi (165)
vidya-bandham karomi, tejo-bandham karomi para-vidya-bandham karomi (166)
tadyatha ( 167, Following is the Mantra-Heart: )
Om anale visade vira vajra-dhare bandha bandhani vajra-pani phat hum trum phat Svaha (168)

“Ananda, it is from this cluster of light atop the crown of the Buddha’s head, the secret chant, Sitata-Patra, with its exquisite, wonderful compilation of phrases, that all the Buddhasof the ten directions come forth. Because the Tathagatas of the ten directions use this mantra-heart, they realize Unsurpassed, Proper, and All-pervading Knowledge and Enlightenment “Because the Tathagatas of the ten directions take up this mantra-heart, they subdue all demons and control all adherents of externalist ways.”

“Because the Tathagatas of the ten directions avail themselves of this mantra-heart, they sit upon jeweled lotus-flowers and respond throughout countries as numerous as atoms of universe.”

“Because the Tathagatas of the ten directions embody this mantra-heart, they turn the great Dharma wheel in worlds as numerous as atoms of universe.”

“Because the Tathagatas of the ten directions hold this mantra-heart, they are able to go throughout the ten directions to rub the crowns of beings’ heads and bestow predictions upon them. Anyone in the ten directions who has not yet realized the levels of sagely fruition, can receive predictions from these Buddhas.”

“Because the Tathagatas of the ten directions are based in this mantra-heart, they can go throughout the ten directions to rescue beings from sufferings experienced in the hells, as hungry ghosts, as animals, or by being blind, deaf, or mute, as well as from the suffering of being together with those one hates, the suffering of being apart from those one loves, the suffering of not obtaining what one seeks, and the suffering of the raging blaze of the five skandhas. They can simultaneously liberate beings from both major and minor accidents. In response to their recitation, dangers involving bandits, armies, the law, or imprisonment; dangers involving wind, fire, and water; and dangers of starvation, thirst, or impoverishment are all eradicated.”

“Because the Tathagatas of the ten directions are in accord with this mantra-heart, they can serve good and wise advisors throughout the ten directions. Abiding in the four aspects of majestic deportment , they make absolutely appropriate offerings. In the assemblies of as many Tathagatas as there are sand grains in the Ganges, they are considered to be great Dharma Princes.”

“Because the Tathagatas of the ten directions practice this mantra-heart, they can gather in and teach their relatives in the ten directions and keep those of the Small Vehicle from being frightened when they hear this secret treasury.”

“Because the Tathagatas of the ten directions recite this mantra-heart, they realize Unsurpassed Enlightenment while sitting beneath the Bodhi trees, and enter Parinirvana.”

“Because the Tathagatas of the ten directions transmit this mantra-heart, after their Nirvana, those to whom they have bequeathed the Buddhadharma can dwell in and support it to an ultimate degree. Being strict and pure in the precepts and rules, they can attain total purity.”

“If I were to explain this cluster of light atop the crown of the Buddha’s head Patra Mantra from morning till night unceasingly, without ever repeating any syllable or phrase, I could go on for as many eons as there are sand grains in the Ganges and still never finish. I also will tell you that this mantra is called The Crown of the Tathagata. Unless you hold this mantra, all of you with something left to study who have not yet put an end to the cycle of rebirth and yet have brought forth sincere resolve to become Arhats, will find it impossible to sit in a Way-place and be far removed in body and mind from all demonic deeds.”

“Ananda, let any being of any country in any world copy out this mantra in writing on materials native to his region, such as birch bark, pattra, plain paper, or white cotton cloth, and store it in a pouch containing incense. If that person wears the pouch on his body, or if he keeps a copy of the mantra in his home, then you should know that even if he understands so little that he cannot recite the mantra from memory, he will not be harmed by any poison during his entire life.”

“Ananda, I will now tell you more about how this mantra can rescue and protect the world, help people obtain great fearlessness, and bring to accomplishment living beings’ transcendental wisdom. You should know that, after my extinction, if there are beings in the Dharma-ending Age who can recite the mantra themselves or teach others to recite it, such people who recite and uphold it will not be burned by fire, will not be drowned by water, and will not be harmed by mild or potent poisons.”

“Other such things will not happen to them either, including not being possessed by any dragon, gods, ghost, spirits, weird entities, demonic ghosts, or evil mantras. These people’s minds will attain proper reception, so that any spell; any paralyzing sorcery; any poison made of herbs, gold, silver; any plant, tree, insect, or snake; and any of the myriad kinds of poisonous vapors will turn into sweet dew when encountered or ingested. No evil stars, nor any ghost or spirit that harbors malice in its heart and poisons others can work its evil on these people. Vinayaka as well as all the evil ghost kings and their retinues will be led by deep kindness to always guard and protect them.”

“Ananda, you should know that eighty-four thousand nayutas of Ganges’ sands of kotis of Vajra-Treasury King Bodhisattvas and their descendants, each with Vajra multitudes in their retinues, are ever in attendance, day and night, upon this mantra.”

“If beings whose minds are scattered and who have no Samadhi remember and recite the mantra, the Vajra Kings will always surround such good people. That is even more true for those who are decisively resolved upon Bodhi. All the Vajra Treasury-King Bodhisattvas will regard them attentively and secretly hasten the opening of their spiritual awareness. When that response occurs, those people will be able to remember the events of as many eons as there are sand grains in eighty-four thousand Ganges Rivers, knowing them all beyond any doubt or delusion. From that eon onward, through every life until the time they take last body, they will not be born where there are yakshas, rakshasas, putanas, kataputanas, kumbhandas, pishachas and so forth; where there is any kinds of hungry ghost, or any being possessing or lacking form, possessing or lacking thought, or in any other such evil place.”

“If these good men read, recite, copy, or write out the mantra, if they carry it or treasure it, or if they make offerings to it, then through eon after eon they will not be poor or lowly, nor will they be born in unpleasant places. If these beings have never done any deeds that generate blessings, the Tathagatas of the ten directions will bestow their own merit and virtue upon these people. Because of that, throughout asamkhyeyas of ineffable, unspeakable numbers of eons, as many as sand grains in the Ganges, they will always be born in places where there are Buddhas. Their limitless merit and virtue will be three-fold, like the amala fruit-cluster, for they stay in the same place, become permeated with cultivation, and never part from the Buddhas.”

“Therefore, The mantra can enable those who have broken the precepts to regain the purity of the precept source. It can enable those who have not received the precepts to receive them. It can cause those who are not vigorous to become vigorous. This mantra can enable those who lack wisdom to gain wisdom. It can cause those who are not pure to quickly become pure. It can cause those who are not vegetarians to become vegetarians naturally.”

“Ananda, if good men who uphold this mantra violate the pure precepts before having received them, their multitude of offenses incurred by such violations, whether major or minor, can simultaneously be eradicated after they uphold the mantra. Even if they drank intoxicants or ate the five kinds of pungent plants and various other impure things in the past, the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Vajra deities, gods, immortals, ghosts, and spirits will not hold it against them. If they are unclean and wear tattered, old clothes to carry out the practice alone in a place by themselves, they can be equally pure. Even if they do not set up a platform, do not enter a Way-place, and do not practice the Way, but recite and uphold this mantra, their merit and virtue can still be identical with that derived from entering the platform and practicing the Way. If they have committed the five rebellious acts, grave offenses warranting unintermittent retribution, or if they are Bhikshus or Bhikshunis who have violated the four parajikas or the eight parajikas, after they recite this mantra, even such heavy karma can dispense after they recite this mantra, like a sand dune that is scattered in a gale, so that not a particle of it remains.”

“Ananda, if beings who have never repented and reformed any of the obstructive offenses, either heavy or light, that they have committed throughout infinite countless eons past, up to and including those of this very life, can nevertheless read, recite, copy, or write out this mantra or wear it on their bodies or place it in their homes or in their garden houses, then all that accumulated karma will melt away like snow in hot water. Before long they will obtain awakening to Patience with the Non-existence of Both Beings and Dharmas.”

“Moreover, Ananda, if women who do not have children and want to conceive can sincerely memorize and recite this mantra, or carry this Sitata-Patra mantra on their bodies, they can give birth to sons or daughters endowed with blessings, virtue, and wisdom.”

“Those who seek long life will obtain long life. Those who seek to quickly perfect their reward will quickly be able to do so. The same is true for those who seek something regarding their bodies, lives, appearance, or strength. At the end of their lives, they will gain the rebirth they hope for in whichever of the lands of the ten directions they wish. They certainly will not be born in poorly endowed places, or as inferior people; even less will they be reborn in some odd form.”

“Ananda, if there is famine of plague in a country, province, or village, or if perhaps there are armies, brigands, invasions, war, or any other kind of local threat of danger, then by writing out this holy mantra and placing it on the four city gates, or on a chaitya or on a dhvaja, by instructing all the people of the country to venerate the mantra, make obeisance to it, revere it, and singlemindedly make offerings to it; by instructing all the citizens to wear it on their bodies or to place it in their homes, and then all such disasters and calamities will completely disappear.”

“Ananda, in each and every country where the people accord with this mantra, the heavenly dragons are delighted, the winds and rains are seasonal, the five kinds of crops are abundant, and the people are peaceful and happy. It can also suppress all evil stars which may appear in any of the directions and transform themselves in uncanny ways. Calamities and obstructions will not arise. People will not die accidentally or unexpectedly, nor will they be bound by fetters, cangues, or locks. Day and night they will be at peace, and no evil dreams will disturb their sleep.”

“Ananda, this Saha world has eighty-four thousand changeable and potentially devastating evil stars. Twenty-eight great evil stars are the leader, and another eight great evil stars are the rulers. They take various shape, and when they appear in the world they bring disaster and unexpected calamities down upon beings. But wherever this the mantra is kept they will all be eradicated. A boundary will be secured for twelve yojanas around, and not evil calamity or misfortune will ever encroach upon it.”

“Therefore, the Tathagata proclaims this mantra to be one which will protect all cultivators of the future who have just begun to study, so that they can enter Samadhi, be peaceful in body and mind, and attain great tranquility. Even less will any demon, ghost, or spirit, or any enemy, calamity, or misfortune due from former lives that reach back to beginningless time, or any old karma or past debts come to vex and harm them.”

“As to you and everyone in the assembly who is still studying, and as to cultivators of the future who rely on my platform and hold the precepts in accord with the Dharma; who received the precepts from pure members of the Sangha; and who hold this mantra-heart without giving rise to doubts: should such good men as these not comprehend their minds in that very body, then the Tathagatas of the ten directions have lied!”

When he finished this explanation, measureless hundreds of thousands of Vajra Power-Knights in the assembly came before the Buddha, placed their palms together, bowed, and said to the Buddha, “With sincere minds we will protect those who cultivate Bodhi in this way, according to what the Buddha has said.”

Then the Brahma King, the God Shakra, and the four great heavenly kings all came before the Buddha, made obeisance together, and said to the Buddha, “If indeed there are good men who cultivate and study in this way, we will do all we can to earnestly protect them and cause everything to be as they would wish throughout their entire lives.”

Moreover measureless great yaksha generals, rakshasa kings, putana kings, kumbhanda kings, pishacha kings, Vinayaka, the great ghost kings, and all the ghost commanders came before the Buddha, put their palms together, and made obeisance. “We also have vowed to protect these people and cause their resolve for Bodhi to be quickly perfected.”

Further, measureless numbers of gods of the sun and moon, lords of the rain, lords of the clouds, lords of the thunder, lords of lightning who patrol throughout the year, and all the retinues of stars which were also in the assembly bowed at the Buddha’s feet and said to the Buddha, “We also protect all cultivators, so that their Way-places are peaceful and they can attain fearlessness.”

Moreover, measureless numbers of mountain spirits, sea spirits, and all those of the earth-the myriad creatures and entities of water, land, and the air-as well as the king of wind-spirits and the gods of the Formless Heavens, came before the Tathagata, bowed their heads, and said to the Buddha, ” We also will protect these cultivators until they attain Bodhi and will never let any demons have their way with them.”

Then Vajra Treasury King Bodhisattvas in the great assembly, numbering as many as eighty-four thousand nayutas of kotis’ worth of sand grains in the Ganges, arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, the nature of our deeds in cultivation is such that, although we have long since accomplished Bodhi, we do not grasp at nirvana, but always accompany those who hold this mantra, rescuing and protecting those in the final age who cultivate Samadhi properly. Bhagavan, such people as this, who cultivate their minds and seek proper concentration, whether in the Way-place or walking about, and even such people who with scattered minds roam and amuse themselves in the villages, will be accomplished and protected by us and our retinue of followers. Although the demon kings and the gods of great comfort will seek to get at them, they will never be able to do so. The smaller ghosts will have to stay ten yojanas’ distance from these good people, except for those beings who have decided they want to cultivate dhyana.

“Bhagavan, if such evil demons or their retinues want to harm or disturb these good people, we will smash their heads to smithereens with our Vajra-pestles. We will always help these people to accomplish that.

Then Ananda arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “Now that we who are dull and slow, who are fond of erudition but have not sought to stop the outflows of our minds, have received the Buddha’s compassionate instructions and have attained the proper means to become infused with cultivation, we experience joy in body and mind and obtain tremendous benefit. Bhagavan, for one who cultivates in this way and is certified as having attained the Buddha’s Samadhi, but who has not yet reached nirvana, what is meant by the Level of Dry Wisdom? What are the Forty-four Minds? What is the sequence in which one cultivates to reach one’s goal? What place must one reach to be said to have entered the grounds? And what is meant by a Bodhisattva of Equal Enlightenment?”

Having said this, he made a full prostration, and then the great assembly singlemindedly awaited the sound of the Buddha’s compassionate voice as they gazed up unblinkingly with respectful admiration.

At that time the Bhagavan praised Ananda, saying, “Good indeed, good indeed, that for the sake of the entire great assembly and those beings in the final age who cultivate Samadhi and seek the Mahayana, you ask to have the unsurpassed proper path of cultivation that takes one from the level of an ordinary person to final parinirvana explained and revealed. Listen attentively, and I will speak about it for you.”

Ananda and everyone in the assembly placed their palms together, cleansed their minds, and silently waited to receive the teaching.

The Buddha said, “Ananda, you should know that the wonderful nature is perfect and bright, apart from all names and attributes. Basically there is no world, nor are there any beings. Because of falseness, phenomena come into being. Because phenomena come into being, they also cease to be. Even the terms ‘coming into being’ and ‘ceasing to be’ are false. When the false ceases to be, that is known as truth. This is called the Tathagata’s Unsurpassed Bodhi and Great Nirvana: These names refer to two kinds of turning around. Ananda, you now wish to cultivate true Samadhi and arrive directly at the Tathagata’s Parinirvana. First, you should recognize the two upside-down causes of living beings and the world. The non-arising of upside-downness is the Tathagata’s true Samadhi.

“Ananda, what is meant by the upside-downness of beings? Ananda, our nature endows the mind with understanding because the nature itself is the perfection of understanding. By adding understanding, another nature comes into being, and from that false nature, views arise. From absolute nothingness comes ultimate existence. All that exists comes about in that way.

The cause is not an actual cause. Subjective reliance on objective appearances is basically groundless. Thus, the very

basis for the existence of the world and beings is fundamentally unreliable

“Confusion about one’s basic, perfect understanding results in the arising of falseness. Falseness itself is devoid of substance; it is not something which can be relied upon. One may wish to return to the truth, but that wish for the truth is already a falseness. The real nature of True Suchness is not a truth that one can seek to return to. By doing so one misses the mark. What basically does not arise, what basically does not dwell, what basically is not the mind, and what basically are not dharmas come into being in turn. As they arise more and more strongly, they form the propensity to create karma. Similar karma sets up a mutual stimulus. Because of the karma thus generated, there is mutual production and mutual extinction. That is the reason for the upside-downness of beings.

“Ananda, what is the upside-downness of the world? All that exists and pertains to existence falsely arises in sections and shares. The world is based on that, but this cause is not an actual cause. Everything that is dependent has nothing on which it is dependent, and so it shifts and slides ceaselessly. Because of this, the world of the three periods of time and four directions come into being. Their union and interaction bring about changes which result in the twelve categories of beings.

“That is why, in this world, movement brings about sounds, sounds bring about forms, forms bring about smells, smells bring about contact, contact brings about tastes, and tastes brings about awareness of dharmas. The random false thinking resulting from those six creates karma, and this continuous revolving becomes the cause of twelve different categeories. And so, in the world, sounds, smells, tastes, contact, and the like, are each transformed throughout the twelve categories to make one complete cycle.

“Based on that continuously revolving process involving upside-down phenomena, those born from eggs, those born from wombs, those born from moisture, and those born by transformation; beings with form, those without form, those with thought, and those without thoughtt; beings not totally endowedwith form, those not totally lacking form, those not totally endowed with thought, and those not totally lacking thought come into being in this world.

“Ananda, through a continuous process of falseness, the upside-down state of movement occurs in this world. It unites with energy to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that either fly up or dive down. From that eggs come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as fish, birds, amphibians, and reptiles, so that their kinds abound.

“Through a continuous process of defilement, the upside-down state of desire occurs in this world. It unites with stimulation to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are either erect or horizontal. From that embroyos in wombs come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as human beings, animals, dragons, and immortals until their kinds abound.

“Through a continuous process of attachment, the upside-down state of inclination occurs in this world. It unites with warmth to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are vacillating and inverted. From that organisms in moisture come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as insects and crawling invertebrates, until their kinds abound.

“Through a continuous process of change, the upside-down state of borrowing occurs in this world. Based on upside-downness, it unites with contact to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of new and old. From that, organisms that undergo transformations come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as forms of metamorphic flying and crawling creatures, until their kinds abound.

“Through a continuous process of restraint, the upside-down state of obstruction occurs in this world. It unites with attachment to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of refinement and brilliance. From that animate entities that possess form come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as auspicious and inauspicious creatures, until their kinds abound.

“Through a continuous process of annihilation and dispersion, the upside-down state of delusion occurs in this world. It unites with darkness to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of obscurity and hiding. From that, animate entities that are formless come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as empty, dispersed, annihilated, and submerged beings until their kinds abound.

“Through a continuous process of illusory imaginings, the upside-down state of shadows occurs in this world. It unites with memory to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are hidden and bound up. From that, animate entities endowed with thought, come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as spirits, ghosts, and devious beings, until their kinds abound.

“Through a continuous process of dullness and slowness, the upside-down state of stupidity occurs in this world. It unites with obstinacy to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are dry and attenuated. From that, animate entities lacking thought, come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as their vitality and spirit change into earth, wood, metal, or stone, until their kinds abound.

“Through a continuous process of parasitic interaction, the upside-down state of simulation occurs in this world. It unites with defilement to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of according and relying. From that, animate entities not actually endowed with form, take on embryonic forms and transmigrate throughout the lands until their kinds abound, as jellyfish that use shrimp for eyes and the like.

“Through a continuous process of mutual enticement, an upside-down state of the nature occurs in this world. It unites with mantras to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of reckoning and summoning. From that animate entities not actually lacking form become formless beings and transmigrate throughout the lands as the hidden beings of mantras and incantations, until their kinds abound.

“Through a continuous process of false unity, the upside-down state of transgression occurs in this world. It unites with unlike formations to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of reciprocal interchange. From that animate entities not actually endowed with thought, become beings endowed with thought and transmigrate throughout the lands in such forms as a wasp that turns a different creature into its own species and the like, until their kinds abound.

“Through a continuous process of enmity and harm the upside-down state of killing occurs in this world. It unites with monstrosities to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of devouring one’s father and mother. From that, animate entities not actually lacking thought become beings that lack thought and transmigrate throughout the lands, until their kinds abound in such forms as the owl which hatches its young from clods of dirt, and the broken-mirror bird, which incubates a poisonous fruit to create its young whereupon the young of each eat the parents and the like, until their kinds abound. These are the twelve categories of beings.”