THE SHURANGAMA SUTRA
Ánanda 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 World Honored One. 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 Thus Come One 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 Thus Come Ones respond to the world.’ Although I am not yet saved, I vow to save all beings of the Dharma-ending Age.
“World Honored One, 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 samádhi. 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 World Honored One praised Ánanda 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.”
Ánanda and the great assembly agreed to uphold the teaching.
The Buddha told Ánanda, “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 samádhi; and out of samádhi arises wisdom. These are called the Three Non-Outflow Studies.
“Ánanda, why do I call collecting one’s thoughts the precepts? If beings in the six paths of any mundane world had no thought of lust, they would not have to undergo a continual succession of births and deaths.
“Your basic purpose in cultivating samádhi is to transcend the wearisome defilements. But if you do not renounce lustful thoughts, you will not be able to get out of the dust.
“Even though people may have some wisdom and the manifestation of chan samádhi, if they do not cut off lust, 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 tranquility, 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 samádhi, they must first of all sever the mind of lust. This is the first clear and decisive instruction on purity given by the Thus Come Ones, the Buddhas of the past, World Honored Ones.
“Therefore, Ánanda, if cultivators of chan samádhi do not cut off lust, 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 and still have physical lust, then even if you attain a wonderful awakening, it will be based on lust. With lust 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 Thus Come One’s Nirvana?
“You must cut off the lust which is intrinsic to both body and mind. Then get rid of even the aspect of cutting it off. 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.
“Further, Ánanda, 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 samádhi 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 chan samádhi, 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 tranquility, 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.
“Ánanda, 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 these people who eat meat may gain some awareness and may seem to be in samádhi, but they are all great rakshasas. 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 samádhi, they must also cut off killing. This is the second clear and decisive instruction on purity given by the Thus Come Ones, the Buddhas of the Past, World Honored Ones.
“Therefore, Ánanda, if cultivators of chan samádhi do not cut off 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 conditions 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.
“Further, Ánanda, 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 samádhi 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 chan samádhi, they are certain to enter a deviant path if they do not cease stealing. At best, they will become clever apparitions; on the average, they will become vampire ghosts; at the lowest level, they will become deviant people who are possessed by river sprites.
“These deviant hordes all have their followers. Each claims that he has accomplished the Unsurpassed Way.
“After my tranquility, in the Dharma-ending Age, these vampires 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 them 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 Thus Come One, 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 the Small Vehicle. In this way, they confuse limitless beings, causing them to go astray, until they fall into the Un-intermittent Hell.
“After my tranquility, I affirm that Bhikshus who have a decisive resolve to cultivate samádhi, and who before the images of Thus Come Ones 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 beginning-less 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 samádhi, they must also cease stealing. This is the third clear and decisive instruction on purity given by the Thus Come Ones, the Buddhas of the past, World Honored Ones.
“Therefore, Ánanda, if cultivators of chan samádhi 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 fine motes of dust, 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 Thus Come One as though they were their own explanations, misleading those who have just begun to study; then the Buddha gives them his seal as having attained true samádhi.
“What I have said here is the Buddhas’ teaching. Any explanation counter to it is the teaching of Papiyan.
“Ánanda, 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 samádhi they attain will not be pure. They will become demons of love and views and will lose the seed of the Thus Come One.
“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 Srota-apanna, of a Sakrdagamin, of an Anagamin, of Arhat-ship, of the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle, or the various levels of Bodhisattva hood up to and including the Ten Grounds, 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 sever their good roots forever and lose their knowledge and vision. Immersed in the sea of the Three Sufferings, they cannot attain samádhi.
“I command that after my tranquility, 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, doing the same things as these kinds of people while they praise the Buddha Vehicle and cause them to enter samádhi 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 samádhi, they must also cease all lying. This is the fourth clear and decisive instruction on purity given by the Thus Come Ones and the Buddhas of the past, World Honored Ones.
“Therefore, Ánanda, 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 Awesome 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 bowstrings, and they are true and real in everything they do, then they can enter samádhi and never be involved in the deeds of demons. I certify that such people will accomplish the Bodhisattvas’ Unsurpassed Knowledge and Enlightenment.
“Ánanda, you asked about collecting one’s thoughts; I have now begun to explain the wonderful method of cultivation for entrance into samádhi in order to seek the Bodhisattva Way. First one must be as pure as glistening frost in keeping these four rules of deportment. One must refrain from all superfluous behavior and then the three evils of the mind and the four of the mouth will have no cause to come forth.
“Ánanda, if one does not neglect these four matters, and, further, does not pursue forms, fragrances, tastes, objects of touch, and the like, then how can any demonic deeds arise?
“If people cannot put an end to their habits from the past, you should teach them to single-mindedly recite my Light Atop the Buddha’s Crown Unsurpassed Spiritual Mantra Mwo He Sa Dan Dwo Bwo Da La.
“It is the invisible appearance atop the crown of the Thus Come Ones’ heads. It is the mantra-heart proclaimed by the Buddhas of the Unconditioned Mind who come forth from the crowns in a blaze of light and sit upon jeweled lotus flowers.
“What is more, your past lives with Matangi’s daughter have created accumulated eons of causes and conditions. Your habits of fondness and emotional love go back not just one life, nor even just one eon. Yet, as soon as I proclaimed it, she was freed forever from the love in her heart and accomplished Arhat-ship.
“Even that prostitute, who had no intention of cultivating, was imperceptibly aided by that spiritual power and was swiftly certified to the position beyond study; then what about you Hearers in the assembly, who seek the most supreme Vehicle and are resolved to realize Buddhahood? For you it should be as easy as tossing dust into a favorable wind. What, then, is the problem?
“Those in the final age who wish to sit in a Way-place must first hold the pure precepts of a Bhikshu. To do so, they must find as their teacher a foremost Shramana who is pure in the precepts. If they do not encounter a member of the Sangha who is truly pure, then it is absolutely certain that their deportment in precepts and rules cannot be accomplished.
“Having kept the precepts well, they should put on fresh, clean clothes, light incense in a place where they are alone, and recite the spiritual mantra spoken by the Buddhas of the Mind one hundred and eight times. After that, they should secure the boundaries and establish the Way-place.
“Then they should beseech the unsurpassed Thus Come Ones abiding in their lands throughout the ten directions to emit a light of great compassion that anoints the crowns of the cultivators’ heads.
“Ánanda, when any such pure Bhikshus, Bhiksunis, or white-robed donors in the Dharma-ending Age who can get rid of greed and lust even at the mental level, hold the Buddhas’ pure precepts, and in a Way-place make the vows of a Bodhisattva and can bathe upon entering and exiting each time, continuing that practice of the Way day and night for three weeks without sleep, I will appear before these people in a physical form and rub the crowns of their heads to comfort them and enable them to become enlightened.”
Ánanda said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, enveloped in the Thus Come One’s unsurpassed, compassionate instruction, my mind has already gained an awakening, and I know how to cultivate and be certified to the Way beyond study. But how do those who cultivate in the final age and want to establish a Way-place, secure the boundaries in accord with the rules of purity of the Buddhas, World Honored Ones?”
The Buddha said to Ánanda, “If there are people in the Dharma-ending age who wish to establish a Way-place, they should first find a powerful white cow in the snowy mountains, one which eats the lush and fertile sweet-smelling grasses of the mountains. Since such a cow also drinks only the pure water of the snowy mountains, its dung will be very fine. They can take that cow dung, mix it with chandana, and plaster the ground with it.
“If not from the snowy mountains, the cow dung will smell bad and cannot be used to smear on the ground. In that case, select a level place, dig down five feet or so, and use that yellow earth.
“Mix it with chandana incense, ‘sinking-in-water’ incense, jasmine incense, continuously permeating incense, tulip incense, white paste incense, green wood incense, fragrant mound incense, sweet pine incense, and ‘chicken-tongue’ incense. Grind these ten ingredients to a fine powder, make a paste, and smear it on the ground of the platform.
The area should be sixteen feet wide and octagonal in shape.
“In the center of the platform, place a lotus flower made of gold, silver, copper, or wood. In the middle of the flower set a bowl filled with dew collected in the eighth lunar month. Float an abundance of flower petals on the water. Arrange eight circular mirrors at measured intervals around the flower and the bowl. Outside the mirrors place sixteen lotus flowers and sixteen censers, so that the incense-burners are adorned and arranged between the flowers. Burn only sinking-in-water incense, lighting it with an ember, not an open flame.
“Place the milk of a white cow in sixteen vessels, along with cakes made with the same kind of milk, granulated sugar, oil cakes, milk porridge, turushka, honeyed ginger, clarified butter, and filtered honey. These sixteen are set around the outside of the sixteen flowers as an offering to the Buddhas and great Bodhisattvas.
“At every mealtime and at midnight, prepare a half-pint of honey and three tenths of a pint of clarified butter. Set up a small incense burner in front of the platform. Decoct the fragrant liquid from the turushka incense and use it to cleanse the coals. Light them so that blaze bursts forth, and toss the clarified butter and honey into the flaming censer. Let it burn until the smoke disappears, and present it to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
“Drape flags and flower garlands on the four outer walls, and within the room where the platform is located, arrange images of the Thus Come Ones and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions on the four walls.
“In the most prominent place, display images of Vairocana Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, Maitreya Bodhisattva, Akshobhya Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, and all the magnificent transformations of Guanyin (Contemplator of the World’s Sounds) Bodhisattva. To the left and right, place the Vajra-Treasury Bodhisattvas. Beside them display the Lords Shakra and Brahma, Ucchushma, and the Blue Dirgha, as well as Kundalin and Bhrukuti and all four Heavenly Kings, with Vinayaka to the left and right of the door.
“Then suspend eight mirrors in the space around the platform so that they are exactly opposite the mirrors on the platform. This will allow the reflections in them to interpenetrate infinitely.
“During the first seven days, bow sincerely to the names of the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions, the great Bodhisattvas, and the names of the Arhats. Throughout the six periods of the day and night, continually recite the mantra while circumambulating the platform. Practice the Way with a sincere mind, reciting the mantra one hundred and eight times in each session.
“During the second week, make the vows of a Bodhisattva with unwavering ceaseless intent. In my Vinaya, I have already taught about vows.
“During the third week, hold the Buddha’s mantra, Bwo Da La, for twelve hours at a time with a single intent; and on the seventh day, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions will appear simultaneously. Their light will inter-reflect in the mirrors, illumining the entire area; and they will rub the crowns of the practitioners’ heads.
“Cultivating samádhi like this in a Way-place, even in the Dharma-ending age one can study and practice until one’s body and mind are as pure and clear as Vaidurya.
“Ánanda, if any one of the Bhikshus precept-transmitting masters or any one of ten Bhikshus in the same assembly is not pure, the Way-place as described will not be successful.
“After three weeks, sit upright and still for a hundred days. Those with sharp roots will not arise from their seats and will become Srota-apannas. Although their bodies and minds have not yet attained the ultimate fruition of sage hood, they know for certain, beyond question, that they will eventually realize Buddhahood.
“You have asked how the Way-place is established. That is the way it is done.”
Ánanda bowed at the Buddha’s feet and said, “After I left the home life, I relied on the Buddha’s affectionate regard. Because I sought erudition, I still have not been certified to the unconditioned.
“When I encountered that Brahma Heaven Mantra, I was captured by the deviant spell; though my mind was aware, I had no strength to free myself. I had to rely on Manjushri Bodhisattva to liberate me. Although I was blessed by the Thus Come One’s spiritual mantra of the Buddha’s crown and imperceptibly received its strength, I still have not heard it myself.
“I only hope that the Greatly Compassionate One will proclaim it again to kindly rescue all the cultivators in this assembly and those of the future in the paths of rebirth, so that they may become liberated in body and mind by relying on the Buddha’s secret sounds.”
At that moment, everyone in the great assembly bowed as one and stood waiting to hear the Thus Come One’s secret compilation of phrases.
At that time, hundreds of brilliant rays of light welled forth from the flesh mound at the crown of the World Honored One’s head. A thousand-pedaled precious lotus then welled forth from amidst those rays. Upon the precious flowers sat a transformation Thus Come One.
From the crown of his head ten beams of light radiated forth, each composed of hundreds of rays of subtle light. Every one of those glowing rays shone on lands as many as the sand grains of Ten Ganges Rivers, while throughout empty space Vajra Secret-Trace Spirits appeared each holding aloft a mountain and wielding a pestle.
The great assembly, gazing upward, felt fearful admiration and sought the Buddha’s kind protection. Single-mindedly they listened as the Thus Come One in the light at the Hallmark of the Invisible Crown proclaimed this spiritual mantra:
“Ánanda, it is from this cluster of light atop the crown of the Buddha’s head, the secret chant, Syi Dan Dwo Bwo Da La, with its subtle, wonderful compilation of phrases, that all the Buddhas of the ten directions come forth. Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions use this mantra-heart, they realize Unsurpassed, Proper, and All-pervading Knowledge and Enlightenment
“Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions take up this mantra-heart, they subdue all demons and control all adherents of externalist ways.
“Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions avail themselves of this mantra-heart, they sit upon jeweled lotus-flowers and respond throughout countries as numerous as motes of dust.
“Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions embody this mantra-heart, they turn the great Dharma wheel in lands as numerous as fine motes of dust.
“Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions hold this mantra-heart, they are able to go throughout the ten directions to rub the crowns of beings’ heads and bestow predictions upon them. Anyone in the ten directions, who has not yet realized the levels of sagely fruition, can receive predictions from these Buddhas.
“Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions are based in this mantra-heart, they can go throughout the ten directions to rescue beings from sufferings experienced in the hells, as hungry ghosts, as animals, or by being blind, deaf, or mute, as well as from the suffering of being together with those one hates, the suffering of being apart from those one loves, the suffering of not obtaining what one seeks, and the suffering of the raging blaze of the five skandhas. They can simultaneously liberate beings from both major and minor accidents. In response to their recitation, dangers involving bandits, armies, the law, or imprisonment; dangers involving wind, fire, and water; and dangers of starvation, thirst, or impoverishment are all eradicated.
“Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions are in accord with this mantra-heart, they can serve good and wise advisors throughout the ten directions. Abiding in the four aspects of awesome deportment, they make absolutely appropriate offerings. In the assemblies of as many Thus Come Ones as there are sand grains in the Ganges, they are considered to be great Dharma Princes.
“Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions practice this mantra-heart, they can gather in and teach their relatives in the ten directions and keep those of the Small Vehicle from being frightened when they hear this secret treasury.
“Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions recite this mantra-heart, they realize Unsurpassed Enlightenment while sitting beneath the Bodhi trees, and enter Parinirvana.
“Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions transmit this mantra-heart, after their Nirvana, those to whom they have bequeathed the Buddha dharma can dwell in and support it to an ultimate degree. Being strict and pure in the precepts and rules, they can attain total purity.
“If I were to explain this cluster of light atop the crown of the Buddha’s head Bwo Da La Mantra from morning till night unceasingly, without ever repeating any syllable or phrase, I could go on for as many eons as there are sand grains in the Ganges and still never finish.
“I also will tell you that this mantra is called The Crown of the Thus Come One.
“Unless you hold this mantra, all of you with something left to study who have not yet put an end to the cycle of rebirth and yet have brought forth sincere resolve to become Arhats, will find it impossible to sit in a Way-place and be far removed in body and mind from all demonic deeds.
“Ánanda, let any being of any country in any world copy out this mantra in writing on materials native to his region, such as birch bark, pattra, plain paper, or white cotton cloth, and store it in a pouch containing incense. If that person wears the pouch on his body, or if he keeps a copy of the mantra in his home, then you should know that even if he understands so little that he cannot recite the mantra from memory, he will not be harmed by any poison during his entire life.
“Ánanda, I will now tell you more about how this mantra can rescue and protect the world, help people obtain great fearlessness, and bring to accomplishment living beings’ transcendental wisdom.
“You should know that, after my extinction, if there are beings in the Dharma-ending Age who can recite the mantra themselves or teach others to recite it, such people who recite and uphold it will not be burned by fire, will not be drowned by water, and will not be harmed by mild or potent poisons.
“Other such things will not happen to them either, including not being possessed by any dragon, gods, ghost, spirits, weird entities, demonic ghosts, or evil mantras. These people’s minds will attain proper reception, so that any spell; any paralyzing sorcery; any poison made of herbs, gold, silver; any plant, tree, insect, or snake; and any of the myriad kinds of poisonous vapors will turn into sweet dew when encountered or ingested.
“No evil stars, nor any ghost or spirit that harbors malice in its heart and poisons others can work its evil on these people. Vinayaka as well as all the evil ghost kings and their retinues will be led by deep kindness to always guard and protect them.
“Ánanda, you should know that eighty-four thousand nayutas of Ganges’ sands of kotis of Vajra-Treasury King Bodhisattvas and their descendants, each with Vajra multitudes in their retinues, are ever in attendance, day and night, upon this mantra.
“If beings whose minds are scattered and who have no samádhi remember and recite the mantra, the Vajra Kings will always surround such good people. That is even more true for those who are decisively resolved upon Bodhi. All the Vajra Treasury-King Bodhisattvas will regard them attentively and secretly hasten the opening of their spiritual awareness.
“When that response occurs, those people will be able to remember the events of as many eons as there are sand grains in eighty-four thousand Ganges Rivers, knowing them all beyond any doubt or delusion.
“From that eon onward, through every life until the time they take last body, they will not be born where there are yakshas, rakshasas, putanas, kataputanas, kumbhandas, pishachas and so forth; where there is any kinds of hungry ghost, or any being possessing or lacking form, possessing or lacking thought, or in any other such evil place.
“If these good men read, recite, copy, or write out the mantra, if they carry it or treasure it, or if they make offerings to it, then through eon after eon they will not be poor or lowly, nor will they be born in unpleasant places.
“If these beings have never done any deeds that generate blessings, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions will bestow their own merit and virtue upon these people.
“Because of that, throughout Asamkhyeyas of ineffable, unspeakable numbers of eons, as many as sand grains in the Ganges, they will always be born in places where there are Buddhas. Their limitless merit and virtue will be three-fold, like the amala fruit-cluster, for they stay in the same place, become permeated with cultivation, and never part from the Buddhas.
“Therefore, The mantra can enable those who have broken the precepts to regain the purity of the precept source. It can enable those who have not received the precepts to receive them. It can cause those who are not vigorous to become vigorous. This mantra can enable those who lack wisdom to gain wisdom. It can cause those who are not pure to quickly become pure. It can cause those who are not vegetarians to become vegetarians naturally.
“Ánanda, if good men who uphold this mantra violate the pure precepts before having received them, their multitude of offenses incurred by such violations, whether major or minor, can simultaneously be eradicated after they uphold the mantra.
“Even if they drank intoxicants or ate the five kinds of pungent plants and various other impure things in the past, the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Vajra spirits, gods, immortals, ghosts, and spirits will not hold it against them.
“If they are unclean and wear tattered, old clothes to carry out the practice alone in a place by themselves, they can be equally pure. Even if they do not set up a platform, do not enter a Way-place, and do not practice the Way, but recite and uphold this mantra, their merit and virtue can still be identical with that derived from entering the platform and practicing the Way.
“If they have committed the five rebellious acts, grave offenses warranting un-intermittent retribution, or if they are Bhikshus or Bhiksunis who have violated the four parajikas or the eight parajikas, after they recite this mantra, even such heavy karma can dispense after they recite this mantra, like a sand dune that is scattered in a gale, so that not a particle of it remains.
“Ánanda, if beings who have never repented and reformed any of the obstructive offenses, either heavy or light, that they have committed throughout infinite countless eons past, up to and including those of this very life, can nevertheless read, recite, copy, or write out this mantra or wear it on their bodies or place it in their homes or in their garden houses, then all that accumulated karma will melt away like snow in hot water. Before long they will obtain awakening to Patience with the Non-existence of Both Beings and Dharmas.
“Moreover, Ánanda, if women who do not have children and want to conceive can sincerely memorize and recite this mantra or carry the mantra Syi Dan Dwo Bwo Da La on their bodies, they can give birth to sons or daughters endowed with blessings, virtue, and wisdom.
“Those who seek long life will obtain long life. Those who seek to quickly perfect their reward will quickly be able to do so. The same is true for those who seek something regarding their bodies, lives, appearance, or strength.
“At the end of their lives, they will gain the rebirth they hope for in whichever of the lands of the ten directions they wish. They certainly will not be born in poorly endowed places, or as inferior people; even less will they be reborn in some odd form.
6″Ánanda, if there is famine of plague in a country, province, or village, or if perhaps there are armies, brigands, invasions, war, or any other kind of local threat of danger, then by writing out this spiritual mantra and placing it on the four city gates, or on a chaitya or on a dhvaja, by instructing all the people of the country to venerate the mantra, make obeisance to it, revere it, and single-mindedly make offerings to it; by instructing all the citizens to wear it on their bodies or to place it in their homes, and then all such disasters and calamities will completely disappear.
“Ánanda, in each and every country where the people accord with this mantra, the heavenly dragons are delighted, the winds and rains are seasonal, the five kinds of crops are abundant, and the people are peaceful and happy.
“It can also suppress all evil stars which may appear in any of the directions and transform themselves in uncanny ways. Calamities and obstructions will not arise. People will not die accidentally or unexpectedly, nor will they be bound by fetters, cangues, or locks. Day and night they will be at peace, and no evil dreams will disturb their sleep.
“Ánanda, this Saha world has eighty-four thousand changeable and potentially devastating evil stars. Twenty-eight great evil stars are the leader, and another eight great evil stars are the rulers. They take various shape, and when they appear in the world they bring disaster and unexpected calamities down upon beings.
“But wherever this the mantra is kept they will all be eradicated. A boundary will be secured for twelve yojanas around, and not evil calamity or misfortune will ever encroach upon it.
“Therefore, the Thus Come One proclaims this mantra to be one which will protect all cultivators of the future who have just begun to study, so that they can enter samádhi, be peaceful in body and mind, and attain great tranquility.
“Even less will any demon, ghost, or spirit, or any enemy, calamity, or misfortune due from former lives that reach back to beginning-less time, or any old karma or past debts come to vex and harm them.
“As to you and everyone in the assembly who is still studying, and as to cultivators of the future who rely on my platform and hold the precepts in accord with the Dharma; who received the precepts from pure members of the Sangha; and who hold this mantra-heart without giving rise to doubts: should such good men as these not comprehend their minds in that very body, then the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions have lied!”
When he finished this explanation, measureless hundreds of thousands of Vajra Power-Knights in the assembly came before the Buddha, placed their palms together, bowed, and said to the Buddha, “With sincere minds we will protect those who cultivate Bodhi in this way, according to what the Buddha has said.”
Then the Brahma King, the God Shakra, and the four great heavenly kings all came before the Buddha, made obeisance together, and said to the Buddha, “If indeed there are good men who cultivate and study in this way, we will do all we can to earnestly protect them and cause everything to be as they would wish throughout their entire lives.”
Moreover measureless great yaksha generals, rakshasa kings, putana kings, kumbhanda kings, pishacha kings, Vinayaka, the great ghost kings, and all the ghost commanders came before the Buddha, put their palms together, and made obeisance. “We also have vowed to protect these people and cause their resolve for Bodhi to be quickly perfected.”
Further, measureless numbers of gods of the sun and moon, lords of the rain, lords of the clouds, lords of the thunder, lords of lightning who patrol throughout the year, and all the retinues of stars which were also in the assembly bowed at the Buddha’s feet and said to the Buddha, “We also protect all cultivators, so that their Way-places are peaceful and they can attain fearlessness.”
Moreover, measureless numbers of mountain spirits, sea spirits, and all those of the earth—the myriad creatures and entities of water, land, and the air—as well as the king of wind-spirits and the gods of the Formless Heavens, came before the Thus Come One, bowed their heads, and said to the Buddha, “We also will protect these cultivators until they attain Bodhi and will never let any demons have their way with them.”
Then Vajra Treasury King Bodhisattvas in the great assembly, numbering as many as eighty-four thousand nayutas of kotis’ worth of sand grains in the Ganges, arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, the nature of our deeds in cultivation is such that, although we have long since accomplished Bodhi, we do not grasp at nirvana, but always accompany those who hold this mantra, rescuing and protecting those in the final age who cultivate samádhi properly.
“World Honored One, such people as this, who cultivate their minds and seek proper concentration, whether in the Way-place or walking about, and even such people who with scattered minds roam and amuse themselves in the villages, will be accomplished and protected by us and our retinue of followers.
“Although the demon kings and the gods of great comfort will seek to get at them, they will never be able to do so. The smaller ghosts will have to stay ten yojanas’ distance from these good people, except for those beings who have decided they want to cultivate Dhyana.”
“World Honored One, if such evil demons or their retinues want to harm or disturb these good people, we will smash their heads to smithereens with our Vajra-pestles. We will always help these people to accomplish what they want.”
Then Ánanda arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “Now that we who are dull and slow, who are fond of erudition but have not sought to stop the outflows of our minds, have received the Buddha’s compassionate instructions and have attained the proper means to become infused with cultivation, we experience joy in body and mind and obtain tremendous benefit.
“World Honored One, for one who cultivates in this way and is certified as having attained the Buddha’s samádhi, but who has not yet reached nirvana, what is meant by the Level of Dry Wisdom? What are the Forty-four Minds? What is the sequence in which one cultivates to reach one’s goal? What place must one reach to be said to have entered the grounds? And what is meant by a Bodhisattva of Equal Enlightenment?”
Having said this, he made a full prostration, and then the great assembly single-mindedly awaited the sound of the Buddha’s compassionate voice as they gazed up unblinkingly with respectful admiration.
At that time the World Honored One praised Ánanda, saying, “Good indeed, good indeed, that for the sake of the entire great assembly and those beings in the final age who cultivate samádhi and seek the Great Vehicle, you ask to have the unsurpassed proper path of cultivation that takes one from the level of an ordinary person to final parinirvana explained and revealed. Listen attentively, and I will speak about it for you.” Ánanda and everyone in the assembly placed their palms together, cleansed their minds, and silently waited to receive the teaching.
The Buddha said, “Ánanda, you should know that the wonderful nature is perfect and bright, apart from all names and attributes. Basically there is no world, nor are there any beings.
“Because of falseness, phenomena come into being. Because phenomena come into being, they also cease to be. Even the terms ‘coming into being’ and ‘ceasing to be’ are false.
“When the false ceases to be, that is known as truth. This is called the Thus Come One’s Unsurpassed Bodhi and Great Nirvana: These names refer to two kinds of turning around.
“Ánanda, you now wish to cultivate true samádhi and arrive directly at the Thus Come One’s Parinirvana. First, you should recognize the two upside-down causes of living beings and the world. The non-arising of upside-down ness is the Thus Come One’s true samádhi.
“Ánanda, what is meant by the upside-down ness of beings? Ánanda, our nature endows the mind with understanding because the nature itself is the perfection of understanding. By adding understanding, another nature comes into being, and from that false nature, views arise. From absolute nothingness comes ultimate existence.
“All that exists comes about in that way. The cause is not an actual cause. Subjective reliance on objective appearances is basically groundless. Thus, the very basis for the existence of the world and beings is fundamentally unreliable
“Confusion about one’s basic, perfect understanding results in the arising of falseness. Falseness itself is devoid of substance; it is not something which can be relied upon.
“One may wish to return to the truth, but that wish for the truth is already a falseness. The real nature of True Suchness is not a truth that one can seek to return to. By doing so one misses the mark.
“What basically does not arise, what basically does not dwell, what basically is not the mind, and what basically are not dharmas come into being in turn. As they arise more and more strongly, they form the propensity to create karma. Similar karma sets up a mutual stimulus. Because of the karma thus generated, there is mutual production and mutual extinction. That is the reason for the upside-down ness of beings.
“Ánanda, what is the upside-down ness of the world? All that exists and pertains to existence falsely arises in sections and shares. The world is based on that, but this cause is not an actual cause. Everything that is dependent has nothing on which it is dependent, and so it shifts and slides ceaselessly. Because of this, the world of the three periods of time and four directions come into being. Their union and interaction bring about changes which result in the twelve categories of beings.
“That is why, in this world, movement brings about sounds, sounds bring about forms, forms bring about smells, smells bring about contact, contact brings about tastes, and tastes brings about awareness of dharmas.
The random false thinking resulting from those six creates karma, and this continuous revolving becomes the cause of twelve different categories.
“And so, in the world, sounds, smells, tastes, contact, and the like, are each transformed throughout the twelve categories to make one complete cycle.
“Based on that continuously revolving process involving upside-down phenomena, those born from eggs, those born from wombs, those born from moisture, and those born by transformation; beings with form, those without form, those with thought, and those without thought; beings not totally endowed with form, those not totally lacking form, those not totally endowed with thought, and those not totally lacking thought come into being in this world.
“Ánanda, through a continuous process of falseness, the upside-down state of movement occurs in this world. It unites with energy to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that either fly up or dive down. From that eggs come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as fish, birds, amphibians, and reptiles, so that their kinds abound.
“Through a continuous process of defilement, the upside-down state of desire occurs in this world. It unites with stimulation to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are either erect or horizontal. From that embryos in wombs come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as human beings, animals, dragons, and immortals until their kinds abound.
“Through a continuous process of attachment, the upside-down state of inclination occurs in this world. It unites with warmth to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are vacillating and inverted. From that organisms in moisture come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as insects and crawling invertebrates, until their kinds abound.
“Through a continuous process of change, the upside-down state of borrowing occurs in this world. Based on upside-down ness, it unites with contact to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of new and old. From that, organisms that undergo transformations come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as forms of metamorphic flying and crawling creatures, until their kinds abound.
“Through a continuous process of restraint, the upside-down state of obstruction occurs in this world. It unites with attachment to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of refinement and brilliance. From that animate entities that possess form come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as auspicious and inauspicious creatures, until their kinds abound.
“Through a continuous process of annihilation and dispersion, the upside-down state of delusion occurs in this world. It unites with darkness to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of obscurity and hiding. From that, animate entities that are formless come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as empty, dispersed, annihilated, and submerged beings until their kinds abound.
“Through a continuous process of illusory imaginings, the upside-down state of shadows occurs in this world. It unites with memory to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are hidden and bound up. From that, animate entities endowed with thought, come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as spirits, ghosts, and devious beings, until their kinds abound.
“Through a continuous process of dullness and slowness, the upside-down state of stupidity occurs in this world. It unites with obstinacy to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are dry and attenuated. From that, animate entities lacking thought, come into being and transmigrate throughout the lands as their vitality and spirit change into earth, wood, metal, or stone, until their kinds abound.
“Through a continuous process of parasitic interaction, the upside-down state of simulation occurs in this world. It unites with defilement to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of according and relying. From that, animate entities not actually endowed with form, take on embryonic forms and transmigrate throughout the lands until their kinds abound, as jellyfish that use shrimp for eyes and the like.
“Through a continuous process of mutual enticement, an upside-down state of the nature occurs in this world. It unites with mantras to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of reckoning and summoning. From that animate entities not actually lacking form become formless beings and transmigrate throughout the lands as the hidden beings of mantras and incantations, until their kinds abound.
“Through a continuous process of false unity, the upside-down state of transgression occurs in this world. It unites with unlike formations to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of reciprocal interchange. From that animate entities not actually endowed with thought, become beings endowed with thought and transmigrate throughout the lands in such forms as a wasp that turns a different creature into its own species and the like, until their kinds abound.
“Through a continuous process of enmity and harm the upside-down state of killing occurs in this world. It unites with monstrosities to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of devouring one’s father and mother. From that, animate entities not actually lacking thought become beings that lack thought and transmigrate throughout the lands, until their kinds abound in such forms as the owl which hatches its young from clods of dirt, and the pou jing bird, which incubates a poisonous fruit to create its young whereupon the young of each eat the parents and the like, until their kinds abound.
“These are the twelve categories of beings.”