Shurangama Sutra – Chapter 6 (english)

(Avalokitesvara’s Dharma-Gate — Enlightened through the gateway of ear)

Then Avalokitesvara(Contemplator of the World’s Sounds) Bodhisattva arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha:

“Bhagavan, I remember when, as many eons ago as there are sand grains in the Ganges, there was a Buddha in the world named Contemplator of the World’s Sounds. I aroused the Bodhi-Heart while with that Buddha, who taught me to enter Samadhi through a process of hearing and reflecting.”

“Initially, I entered into the flow of hearing and forgot the place of entry. Since both that place and the entry were quiet, the two attributes of motion and stillness cancelled each other out and did not arise. After that, gradually advancing, the hearing and what was heard both disappeared. Once the hearing was ended, there was nothing to rely on, and both awareness and its objects became empty. When the emptiness of awareness was ultimately perfected, emptiness and what was being emptied then also ceased to be. With arising and ceasing gone, tranquility was revealed.”

“Suddenly I transcended the worldly and transcendental, and a perfect brightness prevailed throughout the ten directions. I obtained two supreme states. First, I united above with the fundamental wonderfully enlightened mind of all the Buddhas of the ten directions, and gained a strength of compassion equal to that of all Buddhas, Tathagatas. Second, I united below with all beings in the six paths, and gained a kind regard for all living beings.”

“Bhagavan, because I served and made offerings to the Tathagata Contemplator of Sounds, I received from that Tathagata a transmission of the Vajra Samadhi of All Being like an Illusion as One becomes Permeated with Hearing and Cultivates Hearing. Because I gained a strength of compassion equal to that of all Buddhas, the Tathagatas, I attained thirty-two response-bodies and entered all lands.”

“Bhagavan, if Bodhisattvas enter Samadhi and progress in their cultivation until they end outflows and display the perfection of superior understanding, I will appear in the body of a Buddha and speak Dharma for them, causing them to attain liberation.”

“If those who are studying are tranquil and have wonderful clarity and display the perfection of superior magnificence, I will appear before them in the body of a Solitarily Enlightened One and speak Dharma for them, causing them to attain liberation.”

“If those who are studying have severed the twelve causal conditions, and, having severed those conditions, reveal a supreme nature, and display the perfection of magnificence, I will appear before them in the body of One Enlightened to Conditions and speak Dharma for them, causing them to attain liberation.”

“If those who are studying have attained the emptiness of the Four Truths, and, through cultivation of the Way, can enter tranquility and display the perfection of the magnificent nature, I will appear before them in the body of a Hearer and speak Dharma for them, causing them to attain liberation.”

“If beings wish to have clear and awakened minds and so do not indulge mundane desires, wishing to purify their bodies, I will appear before them in the body of a Brahma King and speak Dharma for them, causing them to attain liberation.”

“If beings wish to be the heavenly rulers and lead heavenly beings, I will appear before them in the body of Shakra and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If beings wish to attain physical self mastery and to roam throughout the ten directions, I will appear before them in the body of a god from the Heaven of Self-mastery and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If beings wish to attain physical self-mastery and fly through space, I will appear before them in the body of a god from the Heaven of Great Self-mastery and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If beings are fond of ruling over ghosts and spirits in order to rescue and protect their nations, I will appear before them in the body of a great heavenly general and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If beings like to govern the world in order to protect beings, I will appear before them in the body of one of the Four Heavenly Kings and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If beings enjoy being born in the heavenly palaces and commanding ghosts and spirits, I will appear before them in the body of a prince from the kingdoms of the Four Heavenly Kings and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If beings would like to be kings of people, I will appear before them in the body of a human king and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If beings enjoy being heads of clans whom those of the world respect and yield to, I will appear before them in the body of an elder and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If beings delight in discussing the classics and keeping themselves lofty and pure, I will appear before them in the body of an upasaka and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If beings enjoy governing the country and handling matters of state, I will appear before them in the body of an official and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If beings like divination and incantations and wish to guard and protect themselves, I will appear before them in the body of a Brahman and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If men who are fond of study and want to leave the home life and uphold the precepts and rules, I will appear before them in the body of a Bhikshu and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If women who are fond of study and would like to leave the home life and hold the pure precepts, I will appear before them in the body of a Bhikshuni and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If men delight in upholding the five precepts, I will appear before them in the body of an upasaka and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. If women wish to hold the five precepts, I will appear before them in the body of an upasika and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If women want to govern internal affairs of household or country, I will appear before them in the body of a queen, noblewoman, or a tutor of court ladies and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If young men wish to remain pure, I will appear before them in the body of a virgin youth and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If maidens want to remain virgins and do not wish to marry, I will appear before them in the body of a virgin maiden and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If heavenly beings wish to escape their heavenly destiny, I will appear before them in the body of a god and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If dragons want to quit their lot of being dragons, I will appear before them in the body of a dragon and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If yakshas want to get out of their present fate, I will appear before them in the body of a yaksha and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If gandharvas wish to be freed from their destiny, I will appear before them in the body of a gandharva and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If asuras wish to be liberated from their destiny, I will appear before them in the body of an asura and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If kinnaras wish to transcend their fate, I will appear before them in the body of a kinnara and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If mahoragas wish to be freed from their destiny, I will appear before them in the body of a mahoraga and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If human beings like being people and cultivating, I will appear before them in a human body and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“If non-humans, whether with form or without form, whether with thought or without thought, long to be freed from their destiny, I will appear before them in the body like theirs and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.”

“These are called the wonderfully pure thirty-two response-bodies that enter into all lands. They come into being through the effortless wonderful strength and self-mastery of the Samadhi of Becoming Permeated with Hearing and Cultivating Hearing.”

“Bhagavan, also due to the effortless wonderful strength of this Vajra Samadhi of Becoming Permeated with Hearing and Cultivating Hearing, I have a kind empathy for all beings in the six paths throughout the ten directions and the three periods of time. Based on my physical and mental accomplishments, I can cause beings who encounter bodies of mine to receive the meritorious virtues of fourteen kinds of fearlessness.”

First: because I do not contemplate sounds themselves, but rather the contemplator, I can enable beings throughout the ten directions who are suffering and in distress to attain liberation by ccontemplating their sounds ofreciting my name.

“Second: since I am able to turn my knowledge and views inward, I can keep beings who are caught in a raging fire from being burned.”

“Third: since I am able to turn my contemplation and listening inward, I can keep beings who are floundering in deep water from being drowned.”

“Fourth, since my false thinking is cut off and my mind is without thoughts of killing or harming, I can keep beings who enter the territory of ghosts from being harmed.”

“Fifth: since I am permeated with hearing and have realized what hearing is, so that the six sense-organs have dissolved and returned to become identical with hearing, I can keep beings from being wounded, by causing the knives to break into pieces. I can cause swords to have no more effect than if they were to slice into water, or if one were to blow upon light.”

“Sixth: since my hearing has become permeating and my essential energy bright, light pervades the Dharma Realm so that absolutely no darkness remains. Then I can keep beings safe from yakshas, rakshasas, kumbhandas, pishachas, and putanas by causing the ghosts to be unable to see them even if they come close to them.”

“Seventh: since the nature of sound has completely melted away and through contemplation my hearing has returned to itself, leaving involvement with false and defiling sense-objects, I can free beings from the locks of cangues and fetters.”

“Eighth: when sound is gone and the hearing is perfected, an all-pervasive power of compassion arises, and I keep beings who are travelling a dangerous road from being robbed by robbers.”

“Ninth: when hearing permeates, a separation from defiling objects occurs so that forms no longer act as thieves. Then I can enable with lust to leave greed and desire far behind.”

“Tenth: when sound is so pure that there is no defiling object, the sense-organ and the external state are perfectly fused, and nothing is matched to anything else. Then I can enable beings who are full of rage and hate to stop being hateful.”

“Eleventh: when the defiling objects have gone, a light spirals, and the Dharma Realm and the body and mind are like crystal, transparent and unobstructed. Then I can enableall dark and dull-witted beings whose natures are obstructed–all atyantikas–to forever be free from stupidity and darkness.”

“Twelfth: when form dissipates and returns to the hearing, then unmoving within the unmoving Bodhimanda I can travel among beings without disturbing anything in their worlds. I can go through the ten directions making offerings to as many Buddhas, Tathagatas, as there are atoms of universe. Beside each Buddha I become a Dharma Prince, and I can enable childless beings throughout the Dharma Realm who wish to have sons to be blessed with meritorious, virtuous, and wise sons.”

“Thirteenth: with perfect penetration of the six sense-organs, the light and what is illumined are not two. Encompassing the ten directions, a great perfect mirror stands in the Empty Treasury of the Tathagata. I inherit the secret Dharma-doors of as many Tathagatas as there are atoms of universe throughout the ten directions, receiving them without loss. I can enable childless beings throughout the Dharma Realm who seek daughters to be blessed with lovely daughters who are upright, virtuous, and compliant and whom everyone cherishes and respects.”

“Fourteenth: In this three-thousand-great-thousand world system with its billions of suns and moons, as many Dharma princes as there are grains of sands in sixty-two Ganges Rivers appear in the world, cultivate the Dharma, and act as models in order to teach and transform beings. They comply with beings by means of expedients and wisdom, in different ways for each.”

“However, because I have obtained the perfect penetration of the sense-organ and have discovered the wonder of the ear-entrance, after which my body and mind subtly and miraculously included all of the Dharma Realm, I can enable beings who uphold my name to obtain as much merit and virtue as would be obtained by a person who upheld the names of all those Dharma princes as many as the grains of sand in sixty-two Ganges Rivers. Bhagavan, the merit of my one name is the same as those many other names, because from my cultivation I have obtained true and perfect penetration. These are called the fourteen powers of bestowing fearlessness; with them I bless living beings.”

“Moreover, Bhagavan, because I obtained perfect penetration and cultivated the unsurpassed path to certification, I also became endowed with four inconceivable and effortless wonderful virtues.”

“First: due to my attaining the miraculous wonder of hearing the mind, the essence of mind was liberated from the organ and states of hearing. Therefore, there was no distinction among seeing, hearing, sensation, knowing, and so forth. The enlightenment became a single, perfect fusion, pure and precious enlightenment. For that reason, I am able to manifest many wonderful appearances and can proclaim boundless secret holy mantras. Among those, I may appear with one head, three heads, five heads, seven heads, nine heads, eleven heads, and so forth, including a hundred and eight heads, a thousand heads, ten thousand heads, or eighty-four thousand vajra heads; two arms, four arms, six arms, eight arms, ten arms, twelve arms, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen arms, or twenty arms, twenty-four arms, and so forth until there may be a hundred and eight arms, a thousand arms, ten thousand arms, or eighty-four thousand mudra arms; two eyes, three eyes, four eyes, nine eyes, and so forth including a hundred and eight eyes, a thousand eyes, ten thousand eyes, or eighty-four thousand pure and precious eyes, sometimes compassionate, sometimes awesome, sometimes in Samadhi, sometimes displaying wisdom to rescue and protect living beings so that they may attain great self-mastery.”

“Second: Due to my hearing and consideration having escaped the six defiling objects, just as a sound passes over a wall, they could no longer be hindered. For that reason I have the wonderful ability to manifest shape after shape and to recite mantra upon mantra. These shapes and these mantras dispel the fears of living beings. Therefore, throughout the ten directions, in lands as many as atoms of universe, I am known as one who bestows fearlessly.”

“Third: due to my cultivation of fundamental, wonderful, perfect penetration and purification of the sense-organ, anywhere I go in any world I can inspire beings to offer up their lives and valuables to seek my sympathy.”

“Fourth: Due to my obtaining the Buddhas’ mind and being certified as having attained the ultimate end, I can make offerings of rare treasures to the Tathagatas of the ten directions and to beings in the six paths throughout the Dharma Realm. If beings seek a spouse, they can obtain a spouse. If they seek children, they can have children. Seeking Samadhi, they obtain Samadhi; seeking long life, they obtain long life, and so forth to the extent that if they seek the great Nirvana, they obtain great Nirvana.”

“The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. From the gateway of the ear, I obtained a perfect and illumining Samadhi that allowed me to respond at ease to beings’ minds. By entering the flow back to the nature and obtaining Samadhi, I accomplished Bodhi. That is the foremost means.”

“Bhagavan, that Buddha, the Tathagata, praised me as having obtained well the Dharma-door of perfect penetration. In the great assembly he bestowed a prediction upon me and the name Contemplator of the World’s Sounds. Due to my contemplation and listening being perfectly clear throughout the ten directions, the name Contemplator of the World’s Sounds pervades all the realms of the ten directions.”

Then the Bhagavan upon his Lion’s Throne emitted simultaneously from his five extremities a radiant light which shone far throughout the ten directions to anoint the crowns of as many Tathagatas and Dharma Prince Bodhisattvas as there are motes of dust. All those Tathagatas also emitted from their five extremities radiant lights which were as numerous as atoms of universe and which came from the various directions to anoint the crown of the Buddha as well as the crowns of all the great Bodhisattvas and Arhats in the assembly. Groves, trees, pools, and ponds all proclaimed the sound of Dharma. The lights blended and criss-crossed like a jeweled silken net. Everyone in the great assembly experienced this unprecedented event and attained the Vajra Samadhi. Then the heavens rained down hundreds of precious lotus flowers of variegated combinations of blue, yellow, red, and white. All the space in the ten directions turned the colors of the seven gems. This Saha world, the great earth itself along with the mountains and rivers disappeared totally, and all that could be seen were lands as numerous as atoms of universe coming together as one realm. Pure praises in song and chant were spontaneously heard everywhere in celebration.

Then the Tathagata said to Dharma Prince Manjushri, “You should now contemplate these twenty-five great Bodhisattvvas and Arhats who are beyond study. Each has explained the initial expedient in his accomplishment of the Way. All say they have cultivated to true and actual perfect penetration. Their cultivation is equal without distinctions of superior and inferior or earlier and later. I now wish to cause Ananda to become enlightened, and so I ask which of these twenty-five practices is appropriate to his faculties, and which will be, after my extinction, the easiest expedient door for beings of this realm to enter in order to accomplish the Bodhisattva vehicle and seek the unsurpassed Way.”

Dharma Prince, Manjushri, receiving the Buddha’s compassionate instruction, arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and, basing himself on the Buddha’s stateliness and sacrosanctity, spoke verses to the Buddha:

“The sea of enlightenment in its nature is perfect and clear.

Complete, distinct Bodhi is its miraculous source.

But when basic brightness shone so that objects appeared,

With objects’ existence, the nature’s brilliance faded.

Confusion about falseness brings about emptiness.

Relying on emptiness, worlds coming into being.

Thoughts settle, forming countries.

Consciousness becomes beings.

The emptiness created within great enlightenment,

Is like a single bubble in all the sea.

Beings subject to outflows and lands like fine dust motes,

All emerge out of empty space.

Just as the bubble bursts, so too, space never existed.

How much the less the three states of being!

Returning to the source, the nature is not two.

Many are the entrances through expedients;

The sagely nature permeates them all.

Whether compliant or adverse, all situations are expedient.

Those who initially resolve to enter Samadhi,

Progress slow or fast according to the method selected.

Forms are defiled objects created from thought.

They cannot be discerned by the essence of mind.

How can something not clearly discernible

Be used to gain perfect penetration?

In sounds, language is intermingled.

But the meaning in a word, a name, a phrase,

In such that no single one can included them all.

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

Awareness of smells comes through contact with them.

Apart from them, one does not know that they exist.

Since sensation of them is not constant,

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

Flavors are not to us fundamental by nature.

They only exist when there is something to taste.

Since this sensation is not perpetual,

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

Touch becomes clear only when something is touched.

Without an object there can be no contact.

Since contact and separation fluctuate,

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

Dharmas are know as internal defiling dust.

Reckoned as defiling dust, they are certainly sense objects.

Involvement of subject and object cannot be pervasive;

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

Although seeing itself is lucid and penetrating,

Clearly discerning in front, it cannot discern behind.

Ever reaching only half the four directions,

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

The nose’s breath penetrates in and out.

But in the rests between there is no air.

These interruptions render it inconsistent.

How can that be used perfect penetration?

The tongue is not an organ without a function;

Flavors form the source of its sensation.

When flavors cease, it knows nothing at all.

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

It is the same for the body as for objects of touch.

Neither can be regarded as a perfect awareness.

With defined and limited invisible divisions,

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

Mental knowledge is a mass of deliberating.

What it perceives is never profound insight.

Unable to get beyond reflection and thought,

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

The seeing-consciousness combines three aspects.

Probe its origin: it has no appearance.

Since its very substance is variable,

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

The essence of hearing penetrates the ten directions,

For those who have already developed great causes,

Those of initial resolve cannot enter this way.

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

Reflecting on the nose is a provisional method.

It only serves to gather in and settle the mind.

Once settled, the mind is simply still.

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

Those of former accomplishment enlightened by

Speaking Dharma through the medium of language,

But since words and phrases are not free of outflows,

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

Refraining from transgressions only controls the body.

For one lacking a body, there is nothing to restrain.

Since its source is not all-pervasive,

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

Spiritual penetrations are based on past causes.

What connection have they with distinguishing dharmas?

Conditioned thought is not apart from things.

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

One may contemplate the nature of earth,

But it is firm and solid, not penetrable.

Whatever is conditioned is not the sagely nature.

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

One may contemplate the nature of water,

But such mental reflection is not the true and real.

This state of suchness is not an enlightened view.

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

One may contemplate the nature of fire,

But admitting dislike is not true renunciation.

This expedient cannot be one for beginners.

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

One may contemplate the nature of wind,

But movement and stillness are not non-dual.

Duality cannot bring highest enlightenment.

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

One may contemplate the nature of emptiness .

But its aspect is murky and dull, lacking awareness.

Whatever is unaware is different from Bodhi.

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

One may contemplate the nature of consciousness;

Yet one is regarding a consciousness that is not eternal.

Even the thought of it is empty and false.

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

All activities are impermanent;

So, too, mindfulness has its origin in arising and ceasing.

Since at any given time the factors propelling cause and effect differ,

How can that be used to reach perfect penetration?

I now inform the Bhagavan,

The Buddha appearing in the Saha world:

In this land the true substance of teaching

Resides in hearing the sounds purely.

If one wants to attain Samadhi,

Hearing is the best way to enter.

Apart from suffering, liberation is found.

How excellent is he who contemplates the world’s sounds!

Throughout eons as numerous as Ganges’ sands.

He enters Buddhalands as many as fine dust motes.

Obtaining great power of self-mastery,

He bestows fearlessness on living beings.

Wonderful is the sound of Contemplator of the World’s Sounds,

A pure sound, like the ocean’s roar.

He saves the world and brings peace to all within it.

He has transcended the world, and his attainment is eternal.

I now evaluate, Tathagata,

What the Contemplator of Sounds has just explained:

Consider someone in a quiet place, who,

When drums are rolled throughout the ten directions,

Can hear at once the sounds from all ten locations.

That is actual true perfection.

The eyes cannot see through solid forms.

The mouth and the nose are much the same.

The body registers awareness only through contact.

The mind, tangled in thoughts, lacks clear connections.

Sounds can be heard even through solid walls.

The ears can listen to things both near and far.

None of the other five organs can match this.

It, then, is penetrating true and real.

The nature of sounds is based in motion and stillness.

One hears according to whether there is sound.

With no sound, there is said to be no hearing.

But this does not mean that the hearing-nature is gone.

In the absence of sound, the nature is not ended;

Nor does it arise in the presence of sound.

Entirely beyond arising and ceasing.

It is, then, truly eternal.

Ever-present, even in dream-thinking,

It does not disappear when conditions and thought are gone.

Enlightened, this contemplation transcends cognition,

Reaching beyond both the body and the mind.

Now, in the Saha world, the theory of sounds

Has been proclaimed and understood.

Yet beings are confused about the source of hearing.

They follow sounds and so turn and flow.

Ananda’s power to remember was exceptional;

Yet he fell prey to a deviant plot.

Was it not from heeding sounds that he was nearly lost?

By turning back the flow, one will be above falseness.

Ananda, listen attentively:

I rely upon the Buddha’s mighty power,

In describing to you the Vajra King,

A Samadhi inconceivable that is like an illusion.

It is the true mother of all Buddhas.

You may hear the secret Dharma-doors

Of Buddhas as numerous as atoms of universe,

But without first renouncing desire and outflows,

You may amass learning, and still make mistakes.

You exploit learning to uphold the Buddhahood of the Buddhas.

Why don’t you try to hear your own hearing?

Hearing does not arise spontaneously;

It gets its name due to sounds.

But when hearing returns and is free of sound,

What does one call that which is set free?

As soon as one sense-organ returns to the source,

All the six are liberated.

Sight and hearing are like an illusory covering.

The triple realm, a vision of flowers in space.

When hearing reverts, the covering of the sense-organs is gone.

The defiling dust gives way to pure and perfect insight.

With ultimate purity, the light is penetrating.

A stillness shines and includes within it all of emptiness .

Looking at the world from this point of view,

Everything that happens is just like a dream.

Matangi’s daughter, too, is part of the dream.

Who was able, then, to physically detain you?

Consider a shadow puppeteer at work,

Making the dolls seem as real as people.

Although one sees them move about freely,

They are really governed by a set of strings.

Cease operating the controls and they become still.

The entire illusion was never really there.

The six sense-organs are also thus.

At first there was one essential brightness.

Which split into a six-fold combination.

If but one part ceases and returns,

All six functions will stop as well.

Responding to a thought, defiling objects vanish,

Becoming pure and wonderful perfect brightness .

If there is residual defilement, one must still study.

When the brightness is ultimate, one becomes a Tathagata.

Ananda, and everyone in the great assembly,

Turn around your mechanism for hearing.

Return the hearing to hear your own nature

The nature will become the supreme Way.

That is what perfect penetration really means.

That is the gateway entered by Buddhas as many as dust motes.

That is the one path leading to Nirvana.

Tathagatas of the past perfected this method.

Bodhisattvas now merge with this total brightness.

People of the future who study and practice

Will also rely on this Dharma.

Through this method I, too, have been certified.

Contemplator of the World’s Sounds Bodhisattva was not the only one.

The Buddha, the Bhagavan,

Inquired of me which expedient,

Would save those in the final eon

Who seek to escape the mundane world,

And perfect the mind of Nirvana:

The best way is to contemplate the sounds of the world.

All the other kinds of expedients

Require the stateliness and sacrosanctity of the Buddha.

In some cases they bring immediate transcendence,

But they are not the customary means of practice,

Spoken for those of shallow and deep roots alike.

I bow to the Tathagatas and the Tripitaka

And to those inconceivable Ones with no outflows,

Trusting they will aid those in the future,

So that no one will doubt this method.

It is an expedient easy to master; an appropriate teaching for Ananda

And for those floundering in the final age.

They should use the ear organ to cultivate

A perfect penetration surpassing all others

That is the way to the true mind.”

Thereupon, Ananda and all in the great assembly experienced a clarity of body and mind upon receiving such profound instruction. They contemplated the Buddha’s Bodhi and Parinirvana like someone who, having travelled far on business, knows that he is on the road home, although he has not yet returned completely. Throughout the entire assembly, the gods, dragons, and all the eightfold division, those of the two vehicles who were not yet beyond study, as well as all the Bodhisattvas of initial resolve, as numerous as the sands in ten Ganges Rivers, found their fundamental mind and, far removed from dust and defilement, attained the purity of the Dharma eye. The Bhikshuni Nature attained Arhatship after hearing this verse, and limitless beings aroused the matchless, unequaled heart of Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi.

(The four clear and decisive instructions on purity)

Ananda straightened his robes and then, in the midst of the assembly, placed his palms together and bowed. His mind was perfectly clear, and he felt a mixture of joy and sorrow. His intent was to benefit beings of the future as he made obeisance and said to the Buddha, “Greatly Compassionate Bhagavan. I have already awakened and attained this Dharma-door for becoming a Buddha, and I can cultivate it without the slightest doubt. I have often heard the Tathagata say, ‘Save others first; then save yourself. That is the aspiration of a Bodhisattva. Once your own enlightenment is perfected, then you can enlighten others. That is the way the Tathagatas respond to the world.’ Although I am not yet saved, I vow to save all beings of the Dharma-ending Age.

“Bhagavan, those beings are from the Buddha’s time, and there will be as many deviant teachers propounding their teachings as there are sand grains in the Ganges. I want to enable those beings to collect their thoughts and enter Samadhi. How can I cause them to reside peacefully in a Way-place, far away from exploits of demons, and be irreversible in their resolve for Bodhi?”

At that time, the Bhagavan praised Ananda in front of the whole assembly, saying, “Good indeed! How good it is that you have asked how to establish a Way-place and to rescue and protect beings who are sunk in the morass of the final age. Listen well, now, and I will tell you.”

Ananda and the great assembly agreed to uphold the teaching.

The Buddha told Ananda, “You constantly hear me explain in the Vinaya that there are three decisive aspects to cultivation. That is, collecting one’s thoughts constitutes the precepts; from the precepts comes Samadhi; and from Samadhi arises wisdom. These are called the Three Non-Outflow Studies. ”

“Ananda, why do I call collecting one’s thoughts the precepts? If beings in the six paths of any mundane world had no sexual desire, they would not have to undergo a continual succession of births and deaths. Your basic purpose in cultivating Samadhi is to transcend the wearisome defilements. But if you do not renounce sexual desire, you will not be able to get out of the dust. Even though people may have some wisdom and the manifestation of Dhyana Samadhi, if they do not exterminate sexual desire, they are certain to enter demonic paths. At best, they will become demon kings; on the average, they will become members of the retinue of demons; at the lowest level, they will become female demons. These demons all have their groups of disciples. Each claims that he has accomplished the Unsurpassed Way. After my Nirvana, in the Dharma-ending Age, these hordes of demons will abound, spreading like wildfire as they openly practice greed and lust, while claiming to be Good Knowing Advisors. They will cause beings to fall into the pit of love and views and lose the way to Bodhi.”

“When you teach people of the world to cultivate Samadhi, they must first of all cut off the mind of sexual desire. This is the first clear and decisive instruction on purity given by the Tathagatas, the Buddhas of the past, the Bhagavans. Therefore, Ananda, if cultivators of Dhyana Samadhi do not exterminate sexual desire, they are like someone who cooks sand hoping to get rice. After hundreds of thousands of eons, it will still just be hot sand. Why? It wasn’t rice to begin with; it was only sand. If you seek the Buddha’s wonderful fruition with a body of sexual desire, then even if you attain a wonderful awakening, it is still based on sexual desire. With sexual desire at the source, you will revolve in the three paths and not be able to get out. Which road will you take to cultivate and be certified to the Tathagata’s Nirvana? You must exterminate the sexual desire which is intrinsic to both body and mind, then get rid of even the aspect of extermination. At that point you have some hope of attaining the Buddha’s Bodhi. What I have said here is the Buddhas’ teaching. Any explanation counter to it is the teaching of Papiyan(demon king).”

“Further, Ananda, if beings in the six paths of any mundane world had no thoughts of killing, they would not have to a undergo a continual succession of births and deaths. Your basic purpose in cultivating Samadhi is to transcend the wearisome defilements. But if you do not renounce your thoughts of killing, you will not be able to get out of the dust. Even though people may have some wisdom and the manifestation of Dhyana Samadhi, they are certain to enter the path of spirits if they do not cease killing. At best, they will become ghosts of great strength; on the average, they will become flying yakshas, ghost leaders, or the like; at the lowest level, they will become earth-bound rakshasas. These ghosts and spirits all have their followers. Each claims that he has accomplished the Unsurpassed Way. After my Nirvana, in the Dharma-ending Age, these hordes of ghosts and spirits will abound, spreading like wildfire as they argue that eating meat will bring one to the Bodhi Way. Ananda, I permit the Bhikshus to eat five kinds of pure meat. This meat is actually a transformation brought into being by my spiritual powers. It basically has no life-force. You Brahmans live in a climate so hot and humid, and on such sandy and rocky land, that vegetables will not grow; therefore, I have had to assist you with spiritual powers and compassion. Because of this magnanimous kindness and compassion, this so-called meat suits your taste. After my extinction, how can those who eat the flesh of beings be called the disciples of Shakya? You should know that, even if these meat-eaters may enter the heart-open state similar to Samadhi, they are all great Rakshas. When their retribution ends, they are bound to sink into the bitter sea of birth and death. They are not disciples of the Buddha. Such people as these kill and eat one another in a never-ending cycle. How can such people transcend the Triple Realm? ”

“When you teach people of the world to cultivate Samadhi, they must also cease killing. This is the second clear and decisive instruction on purity given by the Tathagatas, the Buddhas of the Past, the Bhagavans. Therefore, Ananda, if cultivators of Dhyana Samadhi do not stop killing, they are like one who stops up his ears and calls out in a loud voice, thinking that no one hears him.. He tries to cover up the sound, but only makes it greater. Pure Bhikshus and Bodhisattvas who practice purity will not even step on grass in the pathway; even less would they pull it up with their hands. How could anyone with great compassion consume the flesh and blood of beings? Bhikshus who do not wear silk, leather boots, furs, or down, whether imported or found locally, and who do not consume milk, cream, or butter, can truly transcend this world. When they have paid back their past debts, they will not have to re-enter the Triple Realm. Why not? When someone wears anything taken from a living creature, he creates relationships with the creature, just as when people ate the hundred grains, their feet could not leave the earth. Both physically and mentally one must avoid the bodies and the by-products of beings, by neither wearing them nor eating them. I say that such people have true liberation. What I have said here is the Buddhas’ teaching. Any explanation counter to it is the teaching of Papiyan(demon king).”

“Further, Ananda, if beings in the six paths of any mundane world had no thoughts of stealing, they would not have to undergo a continuous succession of births and deaths. Your basic purpose in cultivating Samadhi is to transcend the wearisome defilements. But if you do not renounce your thoughts of stealing, you will not be able to get out of the dust. Even though people may have some wisdom and the manifestation of Dhyana Samadhi, they are certain to enter a deviant path if they do not cease stealing. At best, they will become spirits; on the average, they will become evil ghosts; at the lowest level, they will become deviant people who are possessed by various sprites. These deviant hordes all have their followers. Each claims that he has accomplished the Unsurpassed Way. After my Nirvana, in the Dharma-ending Age, these evil and deviant entities will abound, spreading like wildfire as they surreptitiously cheat others. Calling themselves good knowing advisors, they will each claim that they have attained the Unsurpassed Dharma. Enticing and deceiving the ignorant, or frightening people out of their wits, they disrupt and lay waste to households wherever they go.”

“I teach the Bhikshus to beg for their food according to where they are, in order to help them renounce greed and accomplish the Bodhi Way. The Bhikshus do not prepare their own food, so that, at the end of this life of transitory existence in the Triple Realm, they can show themselves to be Once-returners who go and do not return. How could thieves put on my robes and sell the Tathagata, saying that all manner of karma one creates is just the Buddha-Dharma? They slander Bhikshus who have left the home life and taken the complete precepts, saying that they belong to the path of Hinayana(Small Vehicle). In this way, they confuse innumerous beings, causing them to go astray, until they fall into the Unintermittent Hell.”

“After my Nirvana, I affirm that Bhikshus who have a decisive resolve to cultivate Samadhi, and who before the images of Tathagatas can light an oil lamp in their bodies or burn off a finger, or burn even one incense stick on their bodies, will, in that moment repay their debts from beginningless time past. They can depart from the world and be forever free of outflows. Though they may not have instantly understood the Unsurpassed Enlightenment, they will already have firmly set their minds on the Dharma. If one does not practice any of these token renunciations of the body on the causal level, then even if one realizes the unconditioned, one will still have to come back as a person to repay one’s past debts, exactly as I had to undergo the retribution of having to eat the grain meant for horses.”

“When you teach people of the world to cultivate Samadhi, they must also cease stealing. This is the third clear and decisive instruction on purity given by the Tathagatas, the Buddhas of the past, the Bhagavans. Therefore, Ananda, if cultivators of Dhyana Samadhi do not cease stealing, they are like someone who pours water into a leaking cup hoping to fill it. He may continue for as many eons as there are atoms of universe, but, in the end, the cup still will not be full. If Bhikshus do not store away anything else than their robes and bowls; if they give what is left over from their food-offerings to hungry beings; if they put their palms together and make obeisance to the entire great assembly; if when people scold them they can treat it as praise; if they can sacrifice their very bodies and minds, giving their flesh, bones, and blood to living creatures; and if they do not repeat the non-ultimate teachings of the Tathagata as though they were their own explanations, misleading those who have just begun to study; then Buddhas certify that they will attain true Samadhi. What I have said here is the Buddhas’ teaching. Any explanation counter to it is the teaching of Papiyan(demon king).”

“Ananda, although beings in the six paths of any mundane world may not kill, steal, or lust either physically or mentally, these three aspects of their conduct thus being perfect, if they tell various major lies, then the Samadhi they attain will not be pure. They will become demons of love and views and will lose the seed of the Tathagata. They claim that they have attained what they have not attained, and that they have been certified when they have not been certified. Perhaps they seek to be foremost in the world, most venerated and superior people. They announce to their audiences that they have attained the fruition of a Shrotaapanna, of a Sakridagamin, of an Anagamin, of Arhatship, of the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle, or the various levels of Bodhisattvahood up to and including the Ten Bhumi(stage)s, in order to cause others to revere and repent in front of them and because they are greedy for offerings. These icchantikas destroy the seeds of Buddhahood just as surely as a tala-tree is destroyed if it is chopped down. The Buddha predicts that such people cut off their good roots forever and lose their knowledge and vision. Immersed in the sea of the Three Sufferings, they cannot attain Samadhi.”

“I command that after my Nirvana, Bodhisattvas and Arhats appear in response-bodies in the Dharma-ending Age, and take various forms in order to rescue those in the cycle of rebirth. They should either become Shramanas, white-robed laypeople, kings, ministers or officials, virgin youths or maidens, and so forth, even prostitutes, widows, profligates, thieves, butchers, or dealers in contraband, be confreres of these kinds of people, praise the Buddha Vehicle and cause them to enter Samadhi in body and mind. But they should never say of themselves, ‘I am truly a Bodhisattva’; or ‘I am truly an Arhat,’ or let the Buddhas’ secret cause leak out by speaking casually to those who have not yet studied, other than at the end of their lives and then only to those who inherit the teaching. Otherwise, aren’t such people deluding and confusing beings and indulging in gross false claims?”

“When you teach people in the world to cultivate Samadhi, they must also cease all lying. This is the fourth clear and decisive instruction on purity given by the Tathagatas and the Buddhas of the past, the Bhagavans. Therefore, Ananda, one who does not cut off lying is like a person who carves a piece of human excrement to look like chandana, hoping to make it fragrant. He is attempting the impossible. I teach the Bhikshus that the straight mind is the Way-place and that in all aspects of their practice of the Four Majestic Deportments they should avoid falseness. How could they claim to have themselves attained the Dharmas of a superior person? That would be like a poor person falsely calling himself an emperor and thereby bringing about his own execution. Much less should one attempt to usurp the title of the Dharma King. When the cause-ground is not true, the effects will be distorted. One who seeks the Buddha’s Bodhi in that way is like a person who tries to bite his own navel. Who could possibly succeed in that?”

“If the Bhikshus’ minds are as straight as bow-strings, and they are true and real in everything they do, then they can enter Samadhi and never be involved in the deeds of demons. I certify that such people will accomplish the Bodhisattvas’ Unsurpassed Knowledge and Enlightenment. What I have said here is the Buddhas’ teaching. Any explanation counter to it is the teaching of Papiyan(demon king).”

Shurangama Sutra – Chapter 5 (english)

Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, although Tathagata has explained this second absolute, as I now regard someone who wants to untie a knot, if he cannot find its center, he will never get the knot undone. Bhagavan, I and all other Hearers in the great assembly who are not beyond study are the same way. From time without beginning we have been accompanied in birth and death by ignorance. We have obtained these good roots of erudition and are said to have left the home life, yet in fact we act like someone with recurrent malaria. I only hope, Greatly Compassionate One, that you will take pity on us who are sinking and drowning. What are the knots in our body and mind and how do we untie them? Your explanation will also enable future beings who are in suffering and difficulty to avoid the cycle of rebirth and keep them from falling into the three realms of existence.”

After saying that, he and everyone in the entire great assembly made full prostrations. He wept profusely, and with sincere anticipation awaited the unsurpassed instruction of the Buddha, the Tathagata.

Then the Bhagavan took pity on Ananda and those in the assembly with something left to study, as well as on beings of the future who have the potential to transcend the world and to develop insight. He rubbed the crown of Ananda’s head with his hand that shone with Jambunada purple-golden light.

Instantaneously all the Buddhalands of the ten directions quaked in six ways. Tathagatas as numerous as atoms of universe, each dwelling in his respective world, emitted a precious light from the crowns of his head. At one and the same time their light went from their own countries to the Jeta Grove and anointed the crown of the Tathagata’s head. All in the assembly received unprecedented benefits. Then Ananda and everyone in the great assembly heard the Tathagatas as numerous as atoms of universe throughout the ten directions speak to Ananda with different mouths but with a single voice:

“Good indeed, Ananda! You wish to recognize your innate ignorance that causes you to turn on the wheel. The origin of the knot of birth and death is simply your six sense-organs and nothing else. You also want to understand unsurpassed Bodhi, so that you can quickly realize bliss, liberation, tranquility, and wonderful permanence. It, too, is your six sense-organs and nothing else.”

Although Ananda heard those sounds of Dharma, he did not yet understand them. Bowing his head, he said to the Buddha, “How can what causes me to revolve in the cycle of birth and death and what enables me to gain bliss and wonderful eternity be the six sense-organs in both cases and nothing else?’

The Buddha said to Ananda, “The sense-organs and the objects are the same source. The bonds and their release are not different things. The nature of the consciousness is empty and false, like flowers in space. Ananda, awareness arises because of defiling objects. Phenomena exist because of the sense organs. The phenomena and the perception are both devoid of their own natures. They support each other like intertwining reeds. Therefore, creating knowledge within enlightened perception is fundamental ignorance. To be devoid of perception within enlightened perception is the non-outflow true purity of Nirvana. Why try to put something else in these?”

Then the Bhagavan, wishing to restate that meaning, spoke verses, saying:

“In the true nature, conditioned things are empty.

Conditions that arise are like illusions.

Things unconditioned neither arise nor cease.

Unreal they are, like flowers in space.

To speak of the false is to reveal the true.

But both the false and the true are false themselves.

Since there is neither truth nor untruth,

How could there be perceiver and perceived?

Between the two no real nature exists;

Thus they are likened to entwining reeds.

The knots and their release have a common cause.

The sages and ordinary people’s path are not two.

Regard the nature of the intertwined:

They are neither empty nor existent.

Dark confusion is simply ignorance;

Bringing it to light is liberation.

The knots must be untied successively,

When the six are released,

Even the one ceases to be.

Select an organ preferred for perfect penetration;

Enter the flow and realize proper enlightenment.

Extremely subtle, the Adana consciousness,

Makes patterns of habit that flow on in torrents.

Fearing you will confuse the truth with what is not,

I rarely tell you of all this.

With your own mind, you grasp at your own mind;

What is not illusory turns into illusion.

Do not grasp and nothing will not be illusion.

Since even non-illusion does not arise,

How can illusory dharmas be established?

This is called the Wonderful Lotus Flower,

The Regal Vajra Gem of Enlightenment.

In this Samapatti that is likened to illusion,

Transcend to the level beyond learning.

This Abhidharma, incomparable,

Is the single pathway through Nirvana’s gate,

Taken by Bhagavans in all the ten directions.”

When Ananda and the great assembly heard the unsurpassed, compassionate instruction of the Buddha, the Tathagata, this harmonious and brilliant Geya verse with its clear and penetrating wonderful principles, their hearts and eyes were opened, and they exclaimed that this Dharma was unprecedented.

Ananda put his palms together, bowed, and said to the Buddha, “Having heard the Buddha’s unrestrained, greatly kind, true and actual expression of Dharma that is pure in nature and wonderfully eternal, I still have not understood the sequence for releasing the knots so that when the six are untied, the one is gone also. I only hope you will be compassionate, and once again empathize with this assembly and those of the future, by offering us explanation of the Dharma to wash and rinse away our deep-rooted defilements.

Then, upon the lion’s throne, the Tathagata straightened his Nirvana robes, arranged his samghati sash, took hold of the table inlaid with the seven gems, reached out onto the table and picked up an exquisitely beautiful cloth given him by a god from the Suyama Heaven. Then, as the assembly watched, he tied it into a knot and showed it to Ananda, asking, “What is this called?” Ananda and the great assembly answered together, “It is called a knot.” Then the Tathagata tied another knot in the beautiful cloth and asked Ananda again, “What is this called?” Ananda and the great assembly once again answered together, “It, too, is called a knot.” He continued in this pattern until he had tied six knots in the beautiful cloth. As he made each knot, he held it up to Ananda and asked, “What is this called?” And each time Ananda and the great assembly answered the Buddha in the same way: “It is called a knot.”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “When I first tied the cloth, you called it a knot. Since the beautiful cloth is basically a single strip how could you give the same answer for the second and third time?” Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, this beautiful cloth is just one piece, but the way I understand it, when the Tathagata makes one tie, it is called a knot. If he were to make a hundred ties, they would be called a hundred knots. And so now that exactly six knots-not five or seven-have been tied in the cloth, why does the Tathagata only allow me to speak of one knot and not of two or three?”

The Buddha told Ananda, “You know that this precious cloth is basically one strip, but when I made six ties in it, you said it had six knots. Carefully consider the substance of the cloth: it remains unchanged except for the knots in it. “What do you think? You identified the first knot I tied as number one. Now I am ready to tie the sixth knot. Will you also call it number one?” “No, Bhagavan. If there are six knots, the sixth knot can never be called the first one. Even if I exhausted all my intelligence and eloquence in life after life, I could reverse the sequence of these six knots.

The Buddha said, “So it is. The six knots are not identical. Consider their origin: they are created from the one cloth and were tied in a certain order. It would be impossible to scramble that sequence. Your six sense organs are also like that. From what was identical, decisive differences arise.” The Buddha said to Ananda, “Assuming you did not want these six knots and would like there to be just one cloth, how could you achieve that end?”

Ananda said, “As long as these knots remain, dispute about what they are and what they are not will arise. Their very existence will lead to such distinctions as this knot not being that knot and that knot not being this one. But if the Tathagata were to untie them all right now, so that none remained, then there would be no ‘this’ or ‘that.’ There would not even be anything called ‘one,’ how much the less ‘six.'”

The Buddha said, “That is also what happens when the six sense organs are freed: even the one is gone. Because from beginningless time your mind and nature have been insane and disturbed, you have created false knowledge and views. As that falseness continues to arise without respite, perception becomes weary and defilements arise. Just like the whirling flowers that appeared when the eyes grew tired of staring, these too are disturbances that arise without a cause within the tranquil, essential brightness. Everything in the world-the mountains, the rivers, the earth itself, as well as birth, death, and Nirvana-is these flowers that appear because of our being turned upside-down by insanity and weariness.”

Ananda said, “This weariness is the same as these knots.

How do we untie them?”

The Tathagata took hold of the knotted cloth, pulled on its left end, and asked Ananda, “Is this the way to untie them?” “No, Bhagavan.” Then the Buddha pulled on the right end and again asked Ananda, “Is this the way to untie them?” “No, Bhagavan.” The Buddha said to Ananda, “Now I have pulled the cloth left and right and still have not been able to undo the knots. What method do you propose for untying them?” Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, you must untie the knots from their center. Then they will come undone.” The Buddha said to Ananda, “So it is, so it is. If you want to undo them, you have to untie them from the center. Ananda, the Buddha Dharma I explain arises from causes and conditions. But that does not imply grasping at the mixing and uniting of coarse, worldly appearances. The Tathagata understands all worldly and world-transcending dharmas and knows their fundamental causes and what conditions bring them into being. This is so to the extent that I know how many drops of rain fall in as many worlds away from here as there are dust motes in the Ganges. The same is true of all the things you can see: Why the pine is straight, why the brambles are twisted, why the goose is white, why the crow is black–I understand all these reasons. Therefore, Ananda, you can select whichever one of the six sense-organs you wish. If the knots of the sense-organs are removed, then the defiling phenomena disappear of themselves and all falseness ceases to be. If what remains is not the truth, then where do you expect to find the truth? Ananda, I now ask you, can the six knots beautiful cloth be untied simultaneously and released all at once?”

“No, Bhagavan. As the knots were originally made in sequence, now they must be untied in sequence. The substance of the six knots is the same, but they were not made simultaneously, and so now when they are undone, how could they be untied simultaneously?”

The Buddha said, “Releasing the six sense-organs is the same way. When the sense-organ begins to be released, one realize the emptiness of people first. When the nature of that emptiness is fully understood, then one is released from dharmas. Once one is freed from dharmas, neither kind of emptiness will arise. That is called the Patience with Non-Production that Bodhisattvas attain by means of Samadhi.”

Upon receiving the Buddha’s instruction, Ananda and the great assembly gained wisdom and awareness that was perfectly penetrating and free of doubt and delusion. All at the same time, they placed their palms together, and bowed at the Buddha’s feet. Ananda then said to the Buddha, “Today our bodies and minds are illumined, and we are happily free from obstruction. We have understood the meaning of the ending of the six and the one. Still, we have not yet progressed to fundamental, perfect penetration. Bhagavan, we who have drifted and floundered our way through eon after eon, homeless and alone, had no idea, we never imagined that we could meet the Buddha in such a close relationship. We are like lost infants who have suddenly found their compassionate mother. If because of this encounter we realize the Way, [it will not have been in vain]. If we treat these secret instructions with our former mode of understanding, it will be the same as if we hadn’t even heard them. We only wish the Greatly Compassionate One will bestow upon us the profound secret as the Tathagata’s final instruction.” After saying this Ananda prostrated himself, withdrew, and silently anticipated the Buddha’s hidden transmission.

(The expedients to Samadhi)

Then the Bhagavan told all those in the assembly who were great Bodhisattvas and great Arhats with their outflows extinguished, “All of you Bodhisattvas and Arhats who are born from within my Dharma and have attained the stage beyond study, I now ask you: When you first brought forth your resolve and became enlightened to the eighteen realms, which one of these brought perfect penetration? Through which expedient did you enter Samadhi?

Kaundinya, with the others of the first five Bhikshus, arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “When I was in the Deer Park and the Pheasant Garden, I observed the Tathagata immediately after his accomplishment of the Way. Upon hearing the Buddha’s voice, I understood the Four Truths. The Buddha is questioning us Bhikshus. As I was the first to understand, the Tathagata certified me and named me Ajnata. His wonderful sound was both secret and all-pervasive. It was through sound that I became an Arhat. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, sound is the foremost means.”

Upanishad arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I also saw the Buddha when he first accomplished the Way. I learned to contemplate the attributes of impurity until I grew to loathe it and came to understand that the nature of all forms is unclean. Bare bones and fine dust all return to emptiness, and so both emptiness and forms are done away with. With this realization, I accomplished the path beyond study. The Tathagata certified me and named me Upanishad. Objects of form came to an end, and wonderful form was both secret and all-pervasive. Thus, it was through the attributes of forms that I became an Arhat. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, forms are the foremost means.”

The pure youth, Exalted by Fragrance, arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I heard the Tathagata teach me to contemplate attentively all conditioned phenomena. I then left the Buddha and dwelt quietly in a pure abode. I observed that when the Bhikshus lit ‘sinking’ incense, its fragrant scent quietly entered my nostrils. I contemplated this fragrance: it did not come from the wood; it did not come from emptiness; it did not come from the smoke, and it did not come from the fire. There was no place it came from and no place it went to. Because of that, my discriminating mind was dispelled, and I attained the absence of outflows. The Tathagata certified me and called me Exalted by Fragrance. Defiling scents suddenly vanished, and the wonderful fragrance was both secret and all-pervasive. It was through the adornment of fragrance that I became an Arhat. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, being exalted by fragrances are the foremost means.”

The two Dharma-Princes, Bhaisajya-Raja(Medicine King) and Bhaisajya-Samudgata
(Superior Medicine), and five hundred Brahma gods in the assembly arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, From beginningless eons until now, we have been good doctors for the world. Our mouths have tasted many herbs, wood, metals, and stones of the Saha world, a hundred and eight thousand flavors. We know in detail the bitter, sour, salty, bland, sweet, and pungent flavors, and the like, in all their combinations and inherent changes. We have a thorough knowledge of whether they are cooling or warming, poisonous or non-poisonous. While serving the Tathagata we came to know that the nature of flavors is neither empty nor existent, nor of the body or of the mind, nor apart from body or the mind. We became enlightened by discriminating among flavors. The Tathagata sealed and certified us brothers and named us Bodhisattvas Medicine King and Superior Medicine. Now in the assembly we are Dharma Princes who have ascended to the Bodhisattva level due to having become enlightened by means of flavors. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As we have been certified to it, the cause of flavors is the foremost means.”

Bhadrapala and sixteen awakened lords who were his companions, arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha: “We first heard the Dharma and left the home life under Majestic-Sound-King Buddha. Once, when it was time for the Sangha to bathe, I followed the custom and entered the bathhouse. Suddenly I awakened to the fact that water does not wash away the dust, nor does it cleanse the body. And in that moment I became peaceful and attained the state of there being nothing at all. To this day, I have never forgotten that experience. Having left home with the Buddha, I have advanced beyond study. The Buddha named me Bhadrapala. Wonderful touch was revealed, and I reached the level of being a disciple of the Buddha. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, touch is the foremost means.”

Mahakashyapa, Bhikshuni Purple-golden Light and others arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha: “In a past eon in this region, I drew near to the Buddha named Sun, Moon, and Lamp, who was then in the world. I heard the Dharma from him and cultivated and studied with him. After that Buddha entered tranquility, I made offerings to his sharira and lit lamps to continue his light. Bhikshuni Purple-Golden-Light gilded the Buddha’s image. From that time on, in life after life, my body has always been perfect and has shone with a purple-golden light. The Bhikshuni Purple-Golden Light, and others make up my retinue, and we all brought forth the resolve for Bodhi at the same time. I contemplated that the world’s six sense-objects change and decay; they are but empty stillness. Based on this, I cultivated tranquility. Now my body and mind can pass through hundreds of thousands of eons as though they were a finger-snap. Based on the emptiness of dharmas, I accomplished Arhatship. Bhagavan says that I am foremost in dhuta ascetic practices. Wonderful Dharma brought me awakening and understanding, and I put an end to all outflows. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, dharmas are the foremost means.”

Aniruddha arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “When I first left home, I was fond of sleeping all the time. The Tathagata scolded me and said I was no better than an animal. When I heard the Buddha’s scolding, I wept and upbraided myself. For seven days I did not sleep, and I lost the sight in both my eyes. Bhagavan taught me the Vajra Samadhi of the Delightful Seeing, which Illumines and is Bright. Without using my eyes, I could contemplate the ten directions with true and penetrating clarity, just as if I were looking at a piece of fruit in the palm of my hand. The Tathagata certified me as having attained Arhatship. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, returning the seeing back to its source is the foremost means.”

Kshudrapanthaka arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha: “I am deficient in the ability to memorize and do not have much innate intelligence. When I first met the Buddha, I heard the Dharma and left the home life. But, when I tried to remember one line of a verse by the Tathagata, I spent a hundred days remembering the first part and forgetting the last, or remembering the last and forgetting the first. The Buddha pitied my dullness and taught me to relax and to regulate my breath. I contemplated my breath thoroughly to the subtle point in which arising, dwelling, decay, and ceasing happen in every moment. My mind suddenly attained vast non-obstruction, until my outflows were ended and I accomplished Arhatship. Beneath the Buddha’s seat I was sealed and certified as being beyond study. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, turning the breath back to emptiness is the foremost means.”

Gavampati arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I created an offense that resulted in mouth karma in a past eon. I slighted a Shramana, and in life after life I’ve had this cow-cud sickness. The Tathagata taught me the mind-ground Dharma-door of the purity of a single flavor. My thoughts ended, I entered Samadhi, and learned by contemplating flavors-how they have no substance and are not things. As a result my mind transcended all worldly outflows. Internally my body and mind were liberated and externally I abandoned the world. I left the three realms of existence far behind, just like a bird released from its cage. I separated from filth and wiped out defilements, and so my Dharma eye became pure, and I accomplished Arhatship. The Tathagata personally certified me as having ascended to the stage beyond study. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, returning flavor and turning awareness around is the foremost means.”

Pilindavatsa arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha: “When I first resolved to follow the Buddha and enter the Way, I often heard the Tathagata explain how there is nothing in this world that brings happiness. Once, when I was on alms rounds in the city, I was reflecting on this Dharma-door and did not notice a poisonous thorn on the road until it had pricked my foot. My mind was aware of the strong physical pain, but although my awareness experienced the pain, I was also aware that in my pure heart there was neither pain nor awareness of it. I also thought, ‘Is it possible for one body to have two awarenesses?’ Having reflected on this for a short while, my body and mind became suddenly empty. After twenty-one days, my outflows disappeared and I accomplished Arhatship. The Buddha personally certified me and confirmed that I had realized the level beyond study. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, purifying the awareness and forgetting the body is the foremost means.”

Subhuti arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “From distant eons until now, my mind has been unobstructed. I remember as many of my past lives as there are sand grains in the Ganges. From the beginning, in my mother’s womb, I knew emptiness and tranquility, to the extent that the ten directions became empty and I caused beings to be certified to the nature of emptiness. Having received the Tathagata’s revelation that the enlightened nature is true emptiness and that the nature of emptiness is perfect and bright, I attained Arhatship. I suddenly entered into the Tathagata’s sea of magnificent, bright emptiness. My knowledge and views became identical with the Buddhas. I was certified as being beyond study. In the liberation of the nature of emptiness, I am unsurpassed. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, all phenomena enter into nothingness until nothingness and what becomes nothingness both disappear. Turning dharmas back to the void is the foremost means.”

Shariputra arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “From distant eons until the present, my mind and views have been pure. In this way I have undergone as many births as there are sand grains in the Ganges. At one glance I am able to understand all the various transformations and changes of both what is worldly and what is world-transcending without any obstruction. Once I met the Kashyapa brothers on the road, and walked along with them. They spoke about causes and conditions, and I awakened to the boundlessness of my mind. I followed the Buddha and left the home life. My seeing-awareness became bright and perfect, I obtained great fearlessness and became an Arhat. As one of the Buddha’s elder disciples, I am born from the Buddha’s mouth, transformationally born from the Dharma. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, for the mind and the seeing to emit light and for the light to radiate throughout both knowing and seeing is the foremost means.”

Samantabhadra(Universal Worthy) Bodhisattva arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I have been a Dharma Prince with as many Tathagatas as there are sand grains in the Ganges. The Tathagatas of the ten directions tell their disciples who have the roots of a Bodhisattva to cultivate the Universal Worthy conduct, which is named after me. Bhagavan, I use my mind to listen and distinguish the knowledge and views of beings. In other regions as many realms away as there are sand grains in the Ganges, for each being who resolves to practice the conduct of Universal Worthy, I immediately mount my six-tusked elephant and create hundreds of thousands of reduplicated bodies which go to those places. Although their obstacles may be so heavy that they cannot see me, I secretly rub their crowns, protect and comfort them, and help them succeed. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. The basic cause I speak of is listening with the mind, distinguishing at ease, and emitting light. This is the foremost means.”

Sundarananda arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “When I first left home and followed the Buddha to enter the Way, I received the complete precepts, but my mind was always too scattered for Samadhi, and I could not attain the state of having no outflows. Bhagavan taught Kaushthila and me to contemplate the white spot at the tip of our noses. From the first, I contemplated intently. After three weeks, I saw that when I inhaled and exhaled, the breath in my nostrils looked like smoke. Internally my body and mind became bright, and externally I perfectly understood that the world was like crystal, empty and pure. The smoky appearance gradually disappeared, and the breath in my nostrils became white. My mind opened and my outflows were ended. Every inhalation and exhalation of breath was transformed into light which illumined the ten directions, and I attained Arhatship. Bhagavan predicted that in the future I would obtain Bodhi. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I did it by means of the disappearance of the breath, until eventually the breath emitted light and the light completely extinguished my outflows. That is the foremost means.”

Purnamaitreyaniputra arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “For vast eons I have possessed unobstructed eloquence. When I discuss suffering and emptiness I penetrate deeply into ultimate reality. In the same way, I feel no fear as I give subtle, wonderful instruction to the assembly concerning the secret Dharma doors of as many Tathagatas as there are sand grains in the Ganges. Bhagavan knew that I had great eloquence, and, using his sound to turn the Dharma wheel, taught me to propagate the Dharma. I joined the Buddha to help him turn the Dharma wheel. I accomplished Arhatship due to his lion’s roar. The World Honored One certified me as being foremost in speaking Dharma. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I used the sounds of Dharma to subdue demons and adversaries and to melt away my outflows. That is the foremost means.”

Upali arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I followed the Buddha in person when he fled the city and left the home life. I observed the Tathagata endure six years of diligent asceticism. I watched the Tathagata subdue all the demons, and adherents of external paths and become liberated from all outflows based on worldly desire and greed. I based myself on the Buddha’s teaching of precepts, encompassing the three thousand majestic deportments and the eighty thousand subtle aspects until both my karma of the nature and karma of restraint became pure. My body and mind became tranquil, and I accomplished Arhatship. In the Tathagata’s assembly, I record the rules governing discipline. The Buddha himself certified my mind’s upholding of the precepts and my genuine cultivation of them. I am considered a leader of the assembly. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I disciplined the body until it attained ease and comfort. Then I disciplined the mind until it attained penetrating clarity. After that, both body and mind experienced keen and thorough absorption. That is the foremost means.”

Mahamaudgalyayana arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “Once when I was out on the road doing alms rounds, I met the three Kashyapa brothers-Uruvilva, Gaya, and Nadi-who proclaimed for me the Tathagata’s profound principle of causes and conditions. I immediately brought forth the resolve and obtained a great understanding. The Tathagata accepted me, I was spontaneously clad in the kashaya and my hair and beard fell out by themselves. I roamed the ten directions, having no impeding obstructions. My spiritual penetrations, which are esteemed as unsurpassed, and I accomplished Arhatship. Not only the Bhagavan, but the Tathagatas of the ten directions praise my spiritual powers as being perfectly clear and pure, masterful, and fearless. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. By means of unrelenting attention to the profound, the light of my mind was revealed, just as water becomes clear when the mud settles. Eventually my mind became pure and lustrous. That is the foremost means.”

Ucchushma came before the Buddha, put his palms together, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to him, “I can still remember how many eons ago I was filled with excessive greed and desire. The Buddha named King of Emptiness was in the world, and he said that people with too much lustful desire turn into a raging mass of fire. He taught me to contemplate the coolness and warmth found throughout my entire body, then the spiritual light coalesced inside me and transformed my thoughts of excessive lust into the fire of wisdom. After that, all the Buddhas referred to me by the name Fire-Head. Due to the strength of this Fire-light Samadhi, I accomplished Arhatship. I made a great vow that when any Buddha accomplishes the Way, I will be a powerful knight and personally subdue the demons’ enmity. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I used attentive contemplation of the effects of heat in my body and mind until it became unobstructed and penetrating and all my outflows were consumed. I produced a blazing brilliance and ascended to enlightenment. That is the foremost means.”

The Bodhisattva Maintaining the Earth arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I remember when Universal Light Tathagata appeared in the world in the past. I was a Bhikshu who continually worked on making level the major roads, ferry-landings, and the dangerous spots in the ground, where the disrepair might hinder or harm horse carriages. I did everything from buildding bridges to hauling sand. Throughout the appearance of limitless Buddhas in the world I was diligent in this hard labor. If there were people waiting by the walls and gates of the cities who needed someone to carry their goods, I would carry them all the way to their destination, set the things down, and leave without taking any recompense. When the Buddha Vipashyin appeared in the world, there was widespread famine. I would carry people on my back, and no matter how far the distance, I would accept only one small coin. If there was an ox-cart stuck in the mud, I would use my spiritual strength to push the wheels out and resolve the hardship. Once a king asked the Buddha to attend a vegetarian feast. At that time, I served the Buddha by leveling the road for him as he went. Vipashyin Tathagata rubbed my crown and said, ‘You should level your mind-ground, then everything else in the world would be level.’ Immediately my mind opened up and I saw how the particles of earth composing my own body were no different from all the particles of earth that made up the world. These particles of dust do not conflict with our nature, to the point that not even the blade of a sword could harm it. Within the Dharma-nature I awakened to the patience with the non-production of dharmas and accomplished Arhatship. My mind has returned and I have now entered the ranks of the Bodhisattvas. Hearing that Tathagata proclaim the Wonderful Lotus Flower, the level of the Buddha’s knowledge and vision, I have already been certified as having understood and am a leader in the assembly. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. Upon attentive contemplation of the body and the environment, I saw that these two defiling dusts are exactly the same. Fundamentally everything is the Treasury of the Tathagata, but then falseness arises and creates the defiling dust. When the defiling dust is eliminated, wisdom is perfected, and one accomplishes the unsurpassed Way. That is the foremost means.”

The Pure Youth Moonlight arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I remember that long ago, beyond eons as many as there are sand grains in the Ganges, there was a Buddha in the world named Water-God, who taught all the Bodhisattvas to cultivate the contemplation of water and enter Samadhi. I reflected upon how throughout the body the essence of water is not in discord. I started with mucus, phlegm, saliva, marrow, and blood, and went through to urine and excrement. As it circulated through my body, the nature of water remained the same. I saw that the water in my body was not at all different from that in the world outside, even that in royal lands of floating banners with all their seas of fragrant waters.”

“At that time, when I first succeeded in the contemplation of water, I could see only water. I still had not gotten beyond my physical body.”

“I was a Bhikshu then, and once when I was in dhyana repose in my room, a disciple of mine peeked in the window and saw only clear water filling the entire room. He saw nothing else. The lad was young, and not knowing any better, he picked up a tile and tossed it into the water. It hit the water with a ‘plunk.’ He gazed around and then left. When I came out of concentration, I was suddenly aware of a pain in my heart, and I felt like Shariputra must have felt when he met that cruel ghost. I thought, ‘I am already an Arhat and have long since abandoned conditions that bring on illness. Why do I suddenly have this pain in my heart? Am I about to lose the position of non-retreat?’ Just then, the young lad came promptly to me and related what had happened. I quickly said to him, ‘When you see the water again, open the door, wade into the water, and remove the tile.’ The boy was obedient, so when I re-entered Samadhi, he again saw the water and the tile as well, opened the door, and took it out. When I came out of concentration, my body was as it had been before. I encountered limitless Buddhas and cultivated in that way until the coming of the Tathagata, King of Masterful Penetrations of Mountains and Seas. Then I finally had no body. My nature and the seas of fragrant waters throughout the ten directions were identical with True Emptiness, without any duality or difference. Now I am with the Tathagata and am known as a Pure Youth, and I have joined the assembly of Bodhisattvas.”

“The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. By means of the nature of water, I penetrated through to the flow of a single flavor, obtained patience with the non-production of dharmas, and reached the perfection of Bodhi. That is the foremost means.”

The Dharma Prince Vaidurya Light arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I can still remember back through eons as many as sand grains in the Ganges to the time of a Buddha named Limitless Sound, who instructed the Bodhisattvas that fundamental enlightenment is wonderful and bright. He taught them to contemplate this world and all the beings’ physical bodies as being false conditions propelled by the power of wind. At that time, I contemplated the position of the world, and I regarded the passage of time in the world. I reflected on the motion and stillness of my body. I considered the arising of thoughts in my mind. There was no difference among all these kinds of motion; they were all the same. I then understood that the nature of movement does not come from anywhere, nor does it go anywhere. Every single material particle throughout the ten directions and every deluded being is of the same empty falseness. Eventually the beings in each of the worlds of the three-thousand-great-thousand world system were like so many mosquitoes confined in a vessel, droning monotonously. Caught in those few square inches, their hum built to a maddening crescendo. Not long after I encountered the Buddha, I attained patience with non-existence of beings and dharmas. My mind then opened, and I could see the country of the Buddha Unmoving in the east. I became a Dharma Prince and served the Buddhas of the ten directions. My body and mind emit a light that makes them completely clear and translucent.”

‘The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I contemplated the power of wind as lacking anything to rely on, awakened to the Bodhi-Heart and entered Samadhi, meshing with the single, wonderful heart transmitted by all the Buddhas of the ten directions. That is the foremost means.”

Akasagarbha(Treasury of Emptiness) Bodhisattva arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “The Tathagata and I attained boundless bodies when with the Buddha Samadhi-Light. At that time I held in my hands four huge precious pearls, which shone on Buddhalands as many as atoms of universe in the ten directions, transforming them into emptiness. In my mind there appeared a great, perfect mirror and from it issued forth ten kinds of subtle, wonderful precious light that poured out into the ten directions to the farthest bounds of emptiness. All the royal lands adorned with banners were reflected in this mirror and passed through my body. This interaction was totally unhindered, because my body was like emptiness. Because my mind had become completely compliant, I could enter with ease as many countries as there are atoms of universe and could do the Buddha’s work on a wide scale. I achieved this great spiritual power from contemplating in detail how the four elements lack any reliance; how the arising and ceasing of false thoughts is no different from emptiness; how all the Buddhalands are basically the same. Once I realized this identity, I obtained patience with the non-existence of beings and dharmas. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I used the contemplation of the boundlessness of emptiness to enter Samadhi and attain wonderful power and perfect clarity. That is the foremost means.”

Maitreya Bodhisattva arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I remember when, as many eons ago as there are atoms of universe, a Buddha named Light of Sun, Moon and Lamp appeared in the world. Under that Buddha I left the home life; yet I was deeply committed to worldly fame and liked to associate with people of good families. Then the Bhagavan taught me to cultivate Consciousness-only Concentration, and I entered that Samadhi. For many eons I have made use of that Samadhi as I served as many Buddhas as there are sand grains in the Ganges. My seeking for worldly name and fame ceased completely and never recurred. When Burning Lamp Buddha appeared in the world, I finally accomplished the unsurpassed, wonderfully perfect Samadhi of Consciousness. I went on until, to the ends of empty space, all the lands of the Tathagata, whether pure or defiled, existent or non-existent, were transformations appearing from my own mind. Bhagavan, because I understand Consciousness Only, limitless Tathagatas flow forth from this nature of consciousness. Now I have received the prediction that I will be the next to take the Buddha’s place. ”

“The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I intensely contemplated the ten directions as originating only from consciousness. When the consciousness is perfect and bright, one perfects wisdom that perceives ultimate reality. One leaves behind reliance on others and attachment to incessant calculating and attains the patience with the non-existence of beings and dharmas. That is the foremost means.”

(Maha-stamaprapta Bodhisattva’s preachment on being mindful of the Buddha)

The Dharma Prince Maha-stamaprapta(Great Strength), together with fifty-two fellow Bodhisattvas, arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha:

“I remember when, as many eons ago as there are sand grains in the Ganges River, a Buddha called Limitless Light appeared in the world. During that same eon, there were twelve successive Tathagatas, the last of whom was called Light Surpassing the Sun and the Moon Buddha. Those Buddhas taught me the Buddha-Mindfulness Samadhi: Suppose there are two people, one of whom always remembers the other, while the other has entirely forgotten about the first one. Even if these two people were to meet or see each other, it would be the same as not meeting or seeing each other. On the other hand, if two people develop intense memories for one another, then in life after life, they will be together like an object and its shadow, and they will never be separated. The Tathagatas of the ten directions are tenderly mindful of living beings just like a mother remembering her son. But if the son runs away, of what use is the mother’s concern? However, if the son remembers his mother in the same way that the mother remembers her son, then in life after life mother and son will never be far apart. If living beings remember the Buddha and are mindful of the Buddha, they will certainly see the Buddha now and in the future. Being close to the Buddha, even without the aid of expedients, their hearts will open of themselves. That is like a person who, once perfumed by incense, carries the fragrance on his body. That is called the adornment of fragrance and light. On the causal ground, I used mindfulness of the Buddha to be patient with the non-arising of both beings and dharmas. Now in this world I gather in all those who are mindful of the Buddha, and I bring them back to the Pure Land. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I would select none other than gathering in the six sense faculties through continuous pure mindfulness of the Buddha to obtain Samadhi. That is the foremost means.”

“If living beings remember the Buddha and are mindful of the Buddha, they will certainly see the Buddha now and in the future. Being close to the Buddha, even without the aid of expedients, they will awaken by themselves. That is like a person who, once perfumed by incense, carries the fragrance on his body. That is called the adornment of fragrance and light. On the causal ground, by virtue of the mindfulness of the Buddha, I had achieved the Uncreated-Forbearance. Now in this world I gather in all those who are mindful of the Buddha, and I bring them back to the Pure Land. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I would select none other than gathering in the six sense faculties through continuous pure mindfulness of the Buddha to obtain Samadhi. That is the foremost means.”