Sutra Collection (S)
14:18 h Buddhist
Sutra (Sanskrit: सूत्र, romanized: sūtra, lit. 'string, thread') in Indian literary traditions refers to an aphorism or a collection of aphorisms in the form of a manual or, more broadly, a condensed manual or text.
Sutra Collection

Shurangama Sutra
Volume 1

Thus I have heard:

At one time the Buddha dwelt at the City of Shravasti in the sublime abode of the Jeta Grove with a gathering of great Bhikshus, twelve hundred fifty in all.

All were great Arhats without outflows, disciples of the Buddha who dwelt in and maintained the Dharma. They had fully transcended all existence, and were able to perfect the awesome deportment wherever they went.

They followed the Buddha in turning the wheel and were wonderfully worthy of the bequest. Stern and pure in the Vinaya, they were great exemplars in the three realms. Their numberless response-bodies took beings across and liberated them, extricating and rescuing those of the future so they could transcend the bonds of all mundane defilements.

The names of the leaders were: the Greatly Wise Shariputra, Maha Maudgalyayana, Mahakaushtila, Purnamaitreyaniputra, Subhuti, Upanishad, and others.

Moreover, numberless Pratyekabuddhas who were beyond learning and those of initial resolve came to where the Buddha was. All the Bhikshus were there as well, having the Pravarana at the close of the summer retreat.

And there were also Bodhisattvas from the ten directions, who desired counsel in order to resolve their doubts. All were respectful and obedient to the Awesome But Compassionate One as they prepared to seek the Secret Meaning.

Then the Tathágata arranged his seat, sat quietly and peacefully, and for the sake of everyone in the assembly, proclaimed the profound and mysterious. At the banquet of Dharma, what the members of the pure assembly obtained was unprecedented.

The Immortal’s kalavinka-sound pervaded the worlds of the ten directions and Bodhisattvas as many as the Gange’s sands gathered at the Way-place with Manjushri as their leader.

On the day of mourning, King Prasenajit, for the sake of his father, the former king, arranged a vegetarian feast and invited the Buddha to the side rooms of the palace. He welcomed the Tathágata with a vast array of superb delicacies of unsurpassed, wonderful flavors and himself invited the Great Bodhisattvas, as well.

Elders and laypeople of the city were also prepared to provide meals for the Sangha at the same time, and they stood waiting for the Buddha to come and receive offerings.

The Buddha commanded Manjushri to assign the Bodhisattvas and Arhats to receive offerings from the various vegetarian hosts.

Only Ánanda, who had traveled far to accept a special invitation earlier, and had not yet returned, was late for the apportioning of the Sangha. No senior Bhikshu or Acharya was with him, and so he was returning alone on the road.

On that day Ánanda had received no offerings, and so at the appropriate time he took up his alms bowl and, as he traveled through the city, received alms in sequential order.

As he set out to receive alms from the first to the last donors, his vegetarian hosts, he thought not to question whether they were pure or impure; whether they were kshatriyas of honorable name or chandalas. While practicing equality and compassion he would not select merely the lowly but was determined to perfect all beings’ limitless merit and virtue.

Ánanda was aware that the Tathágata, the World Honored One, had admonished Subhuti and Mahakashyapa for being Arhats whose minds were not fair and equal. He revered the Tathágata’s instructions on impartiality for saving everyone from doubt and slander.

Having crossed the city moat; he walked slowly through the outer gates, his manner stern and proper as he strictly respected the rules for obtaining vegetarian food.

At that time, because Ánanda was receiving alms in sequential order, he passed by a house of prostitution and was waylaid by a powerful artifice. On the strength of Kapila’s mantra, which came from the Brahma Heaven, the daughter of Matangi drew him onto an impure mat.

With her licentious body she caressed him until he was on the verge of destroying the precept-substance.

The Tathágata, knowing Ánanda was being taken advantage of by an impure artifice, finished the meal and immediately returned to the Sublime Abode. The king, great officials, elders, and laypeople followed along after the Buddha desiring to hear the essentials of the Dharma.

Then the World Honored One from his crown emitted hundreds of rays of jeweled light, which dispelled all fear. Within the light appeared a thousand-petal jeweled lotus, upon which was seated a transformation-body Buddha in full-lotus posture, proclaiming a spiritual mantra.

Shakyamuni Buddha commanded Manjushri to take the mantra and go provide protection, and, when the evil mantra was dispelled, to support Ánanda and Matangi’s daughter and encourage them to return to where the Buddha was.

Part Two

Ánanda saw the Buddha, bowed, and wept sorrowfully, regretting that from time without beginning he had been preoccupied with erudition and had not yet perfected his strength in the Way. He respectfully and repeatedly requested an explanation of the initial expedients of the wonderful shamatha, Samapatti, and Dhyana, by means of which the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions had realized Bodhi.

At that time Bodhisattvas as numerous as Ganges’ sands, great Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas, and others from the ten directions, were also present. Pleased at the opportunity to listen, they withdrew quietly to their seats to receive the sagely instruction. Then, in the midst of the great assembly, the World Honored One extended his golden arm, rubbed Ánanda’s crown, and said to Ánanda and the great assembly, “There is a samádhi called the King of the Foremost Shurangama at the Great Buddha’s Crown Replete with the Myriad Practices; it is a path wonderfully adorned and the single door through which the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions gained transcendence. You should now listen attentively.” Ánanda bowed down to receive the compassionate instruction humbly.

The Buddha said to Ánanda, “You and I are of the same family and share the affection of this natural relationship. At the time of your initial resolve, what were the outstanding characteristics which you saw in my Dharma that caused you to suddenly cast aside the deep kindness and love found in the world?” Ánanda said to the Buddha, “I saw the Thus Come One’s thirty-two hallmarks, which were so supremely wonderful and incomparable that his entire body had a shimmering translucence just like that of crystal.”

“I often thought that those hallmarks could not have been born of desire and love. Why? The vapors of desire are course and murky. From foul and putrid intercourse comes a turbid mixture of pus and blood, which cannot give off such a magnificent, pure, and brilliant concentration of purple-golden light. And so I eagerly gazed upward, followed the Buddha, and let the hair fall from my head.”

The Buddha said, “Very good, Ánanda. You should know that from beginning less time all beings are continually born and continually die, simply because they do not know the everlasting true mind with its pure nature and bright substance. Instead they engage in false thinking. These thoughts are not true, and so they lead to further transmigration.

“Now you wish to investigate the unsurpassed Bodhi and actually discover your nature. You should answer my questions with a straightforward mind. The Thus Come Ones of the ten directions escaped birth and death because their minds were straightforward. Since their minds and words were consistently that way, from the beginning, through the intermediate stages to the end, they were never in the least evasive.”

“Ánanda, I now ask you: at the time of your initial resolve, which arose in response to Thus Come One’s thirty-two hallmarks, what was it that saw those characteristics and who delighted in them?”

Ánanda said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, this is the way I experienced the delight: I used my mind and eyes. Because my eyes saw the Thus Come One’s outstanding hallmarks, my mind gave rise to delight. That is why I became resolved and wished to extricate myself from birth and death.”

The Buddha said to Ánanda, “It is as you say, that experience of delight actually occurs because of your mind and eyes. If you do not know where your mind and eyes are, you will not be able to conquer the wearisome mundane defilements.”

“For example, when a country is invaded by thieves and the king sends out his troops to suppress and banish them, the troops must know where the thieves are.”

“It is the fault of your mind and eyes that you undergo transmigration. I now ask you specifically about your mind and eyes: where are they now?”

Ánanda answered the Buddha, “World Honored One, All the ten kinds of beings in the world alike maintain that the mind-consciousness dwells within the body; and as I regard the Thus Come One’s eyes that resemble blue lotuses, they are on the Buddha’s face.”

“I now observe that these prominent organs, four kinds of defiling objects, are on my face, and my mind-consciousness actually is within my body.”

The Buddha said to Ánanda, “You are now sitting in the Thus Come One’s lecture hall. Where is the Jeta Grove that you are gazing at?”

“World Honored One, this great many-storied pure lecture hall is in the Garden of the Benefactor of the Solitary. At present the Jeta Grove is, in fact, outside the hall.”

“Ánanda, as you are now in the hall, what do you see first?”

“World Honored One, here in the hall I first see the Thus Come One, next I see the great assembly, and from there, as I gaze outward, I see the grove and the garden.”

“Ánanda, how are you able to see the grove and the garden.”

“World Honored One, since the doors and windows of this great lecture hall have been thrown open wide, I can be in the hall and see into the distance.”

The Buddha said to Ánanda, “It is as you say. When one is in the lecture hall and the doors and windows are open wide, one can see far into the garden and the grove. Could someone in the hall not see the Thus Come One and yet see outside the hall?” Ánanda answered: “World Honored One, to be in the hall and not see the Thus Come One, and yet see the grove and fountains is impossible.”

“Ánanda, you are like that too.”

“Your mind is capable of understanding everything thoroughly. Now if your present mind, which thoroughly understands everything, were in your body, then you should first be aware of what is inside your body. Could there be beings that first see the inside of their bodies before observing external phenomena?”

“Even if you cannot see your heart, liver, spleen, and stomach, still, you should be able to clearly perceive the growing of your nails and hair, the twist of your sinews, and the throb of your pulse. Why don’t you perceive these things?”

If you cannot perceive your internal organs, how could you perceive what is external to you?

“Therefore you should know that declaring that the aware and knowing mind is inside the body is an impossible statement.”

Ánanda bowed his head and said to the Buddha, “Upon hearing the Thus Come One proclaim this explanation of Dharma, such a Dharma-sound as the Thus Come One has proclaimed, I realize that my mind is actually outside my body.”

“How is that possible? For example, a lamp lit in a room will certainly illumine the inside of the room first, and only then will its light stream through the doorway to reach the recesses of the hall. Beings’ not being able to see within their bodies but only see outside them is analogous to having a lighted lamp placed outside the room, so that it cannot illumine the room.”

“This principle is clear and beyond all doubt. It is identical with the Buddha’s complete meaning, isn’t it?”

The Buddha said to Ánanda, “All these Bhikshus, who just followed me to the city of Shravasti to go on sequential alms rounds to obtain balls of food, have returned to the Jeta Grove. I have already finished eating. Observing the Bhikshus, do you think that by one person eating everyone gets full?” Ánanda answered, “No, World Honored One. Why? Although these Bhikshus are Arhats, their physical bodies and lives differ. How could one person’s eating enable everyone to be full?”

The Buddha told Ánanda, “If your mind which is aware, knows, and sees were actually outside your body, your body and mind would be mutually exclusive and would have no relationship to one another. The body would be unaware of what the mind perceives, and the mind would not perceive the awareness within the body.”

“Now as I show you my hand which is soft like tula-cotton, does your mind distinguish it when your eyes see it?”

Ánanda answered, “Yes, World Honored One.”

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