Shurangama Sutra
Da Fo Ding Shou Leng Yan Jing
(Taisho Tripitaka, No. 945)
Draft translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society for the Second Edition.
Copyright by the Buddhist Text Translation Society, 1998.
This translation may not be quoted or reproduced in any medium
without the written permission of the Buddhist Text Translation Society.

Shurangama Sutra, Volume 8, Part Four,  Sutra text:

J4 Exhortation to compassionately rescue them to repay kindness.

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

I4 Concludes by revealing the harm and giving a charge to protect.
J1 He points out that it is the interaction of the mind with the thinking skandha.

Ananda, all ten of these states may occur in Dhyana as one's mental effort interacts with the thinking skandha.

J2 Harm is done to those who are confused.

Dull and confused living beings do not evaluate themselves. Encountering such situations, in their confusion they fail to recognize them and say that they have become Sages, thereby uttering a great lie. They will fall into the Relentless Hells.

J3 He charges them to offer their protection.

In the Dharma-ending Age, after my Nirvana, all of you should pass on the Tathagata's teachings, so that all living beings can awaken to their meaning. Do not let the demons of the heavens have their way. Offer protection so that all can realize the unsurpassed Way.

H4 The characteristics of the demons of the formations skandha.
I1 Overview of the beginning and end.
J1 In the beginning, one cultivates but has not yet broken through this region.
K1 Review of the ending of the previous thinking skandha.

Ananda, when the good person who is cultivating samadhi has put an end to the thinking skandha, he is ordinarily free of dreaming and idle thinking, so he stays the same whether in wakefulness or in sleep. His mind is aware, clear, empty and still, like a cloudless sky, devoid of any coarse sense-impressions. He contemplates everything in the world--all the mountains, the rivers, and the vast land--as reflections in a bright mirror, appearing without attachment and vanishing without any trace; they are simply received and reflected. He does away with all his old habits, and only the essential truth remains.

K2 Introduction to the region of the formations skandha.

From this point on, as the origin of production and destruction is exposed, he will completely see all the twelve categories of living beings in the ten directions. Although he has not fathomed the source of their individual lives, he will see that they share a common basis of life, which appears as a mirage--shimmering and fluctuating--and is the ultimate, pivotal point of the illusory sense faculties and sense objects. This is the region of the formations skandha.

J2 Ultimately it breaks up and reveals its false source.

Once the basic nature of this shimmering fluctuation returns to its original clarity, his habits will cease, like waves subsiding to become clear, calm water. This is the end of the formations skandha. This person will then be able to transcend the turbidity of living beings. Contemplating the cause of the formations skandha, one sees that subtle and hidden false thoughts are its source.

I2 The ten speculations therein.
J1 Two theories on the absence of cause.
K1 Describes the source and shows the error.

(31) Ananda, you should know that when such a good person has obtained proper knowledge in his practice of Shamatha, his mind is unmoving, clear, and proper, and it cannot be disturbed by the ten kinds of demons from the heavens. He is now able to intently and thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings. As the origin of each category becomes apparent, he can contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and pervasive fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on that pervasive source, he could fall into error with two theories postulating the absence of cause.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.
L1 He sees no cause for the origin of life.
M1 He describes the measure of his vision.

First, perhaps this person sees no cause for the origin of life. Why? Since he has completely destroyed the mechanism of production, he can, by means of the eight hundred merits of the eye organ, see all living beings in the swirling flow of karma during eighty thousand eons, dying in one place and being reborn in another as they undergo transmigration. But he cannot see beyond eighty thousand eons.

M2 He comes up with a wrong speculation.

Therefore, he concludes that for the last eighty thousand eons living beings in the ten directions of this and other worlds have come into being without any cause.

M3 He mistakes the principle and falls for an externalist teaching.

Because of this speculation, he will lose proper and pervasive knowledge, fall into externalism, and become confused about the Bodhi nature.

L2 He sees no cause for the end of life.
M1 He describes the measure of his vision.

Second, perhaps this person sees no cause for the end of life. And why? Since he perceives the origin of life, he believes that people are always born as people and birds are always born as birds; that crows have always been black and swans have always been white; that humans and gods have always stood upright and animals have always walked on four legs; that whiteness does not come from being washed and blackness does not come from being dyed; and that there have never been nor will there be any changes for eighty thousand eons.

M2 He comes up with a wrong speculation.

He says: "As I now examine to the end of this life, I find the same holds true. In fact, I have never seen Bodhi, so how can there be such a thing as the attainment of Bodhi? You should now realize that there is no cause for the existence of any phenomena."

M3 He mistakes the principle and falls for an externalist teaching.

Because of this speculation, he will lose proper and pervasive knowledge, fall into externalism, and become confused about the Bodhi nature.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.

This is the first externalist teaching, in which one postulates the absence of cause.

J2 Four theories regarding pervasive permanence.
K1 Describes their source and shows the error.

(32) Ananda, in his practice of samadhi, such a good person's mind is unmoving, clear, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on its pervasive constancy, he could fall into error with four theories of pervasive permanence.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.
L1 He speculates that the mind and states are permanent.

First, as this person thoroughly investigates the mind and its states, he may conclude that both are causeless. Through his cultivation, he knows that in twenty thousand eons, as living beings in the ten directions undergo endless rounds of production and destruction, they are never annihilated. Therefore, he speculates that the mind and its states are permanent.

L2 He speculates that the four elements are permanent.

Second, as this person thoroughly investigates the source of the four elements, he may conclude that they are permanent in nature. Through his cultivation, he knows that in forty thousand eons, as living beings in the ten directions undergo production and destruction, their substances exist permanently and are never annihilated. Therefore, he speculates that this situation is permanent.

L3 He speculates that the eight consciousnesses are permanent.

Third, as this person thoroughly investigates the sixth sense faculty, the manas, and the consciousness that grasps and receives, he concludes that the origin of mind, intellect, and consciousness is permanent. Through his cultivation, he knows that in eighty thousand eons, as all living beings in the ten directions revolve in transmigration, this origin is never destroyed and exists permanently. Investigating this undestroyed origin, he speculates that it is permanent.

J4 He speculates that the cessation of thoughts is permanent.

Fourth, since this person has ended the source of thoughts, there is no more reason for them to arise. In the state of flowing, halting, and turning, the thinking mind--which was the cause of production and destruction--has now ceased forever, and so he naturally thinks that this is a state of non-production and non-destruction. As a result of such reasoning, he speculates that this state is permanent.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.

Because of these speculations of permanence, he will lose proper and pervasive knowledge, fall into externalism, and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the second externalist teaching, in which one postulates the pervasiveness of permanence.

J3 Four upside-down theories.
K1 Describes the source and shows the error.

(33) Further, in his practice of samadhi, such a good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate about self and others, he could fall into error with theories of partial impermanence and partial permanence based on four distorted views.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.
L1 Speculation regarding self and others.

First, as this person contemplates the wonderfully bright mind pervading the ten directions, he concludes that this state of profound stillness is the ultimate spiritual self. Then he speculates, "My spiritual self, which is settled, bright, and unmoving, pervades the ten directions. All living beings are within my mind, and there they are born and die by themselves. Therefore, my mind is permanent, while those who undergo birth and death  there are truly impermanent."

L2 Speculation regarding worlds.

Second, instead of contemplating his own mind, this person contemplates in the ten directions worlds as many as the Ganges' sands. He regards as ultimately impermanent those worlds that are in eons of decay, and as ultimately permanent those that are not in eons of decay.

L3 Speculation regarding his body and mind.

Third, this person closely examines his own mind and finds it to be subtle and mysterious, like fine motes of dust swirling in the ten directions, unchanging in nature. And yet it can cause his body to be produced and then to be destroyed. He regards that indestructible nature as his permanent intrinsic nature, and that which undergoes birth and death and flows forth from him as impermanent.

L4 Speculation regarding neither self nor others.

Fourth, knowing that the skandha of thinking has ended and seeing the flowing of the skandha of formations, this person speculates that the continuous flow of the skandha of formations is permanent, and that the skandhas of form, feeling, and thinking which have already ended are impermanent.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.

Because of these speculations of impermanence and permanence, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the third externalist teaching, in which one postulates partial permanence.

J4 Four theories regarding finiteness.
K1 Describes the source and shows the error.

(34) Further, in his practice of samadhi, such a good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate about the making of certain distinctions, he could fall into error with four theories of finiteness.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.
L1 Speculation regarding the three periods of time.

First, this person speculates that the origin of life flows and functions ceaselessly. He judges that the past and the future are finite and that the continuity of the mind is infinite.

L2 Speculation regarding what he hears and sees.

Second, as this person contemplates an interval of eighty thousand eons, he can see living beings; but earlier than eighty thousand eons is a time of stillness in which he cannot hear or see anything. He regards as infinite that time in which nothing is heard or seen, and as finite that interval in which living beings are seen to exist.

L3 Speculation regarding self and others.

Third, this person speculates that his own pervasive knowledge is infinite and that all other people appear within his awareness. And yet, since he himself has never perceived the nature of their awareness, he says they have not obtained an infinite mind, but have only a finite one.

L4 Speculation regarding production and destruction.

Fourth, this person thoroughly investigates the formations skandha to the point that it becomes empty. Based on what he sees, in his mind he speculates that each and every living being, in its given body, is half living and half dead. From this he concludes that everything in the world is half finite and half infinite.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.
 

Because of these speculations about the finite and the infinite, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the fourth externalist teaching, in which one postulates finiteness.

J5 Four kinds of sophistry.
K1 Describes the source and shows the error.
 

(35) Further, in his practice of samadhi, such a good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on what he knows and sees, he could fall into error with four distorted, false theories, which are total speculation based on the sophistry of immortality.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.
L1 Eight sophistries.
 

First, this person contemplates the source of transformations. Seeing the movement and flow, he says there is change. Seeing the continuity, he says there is constancy. Where he can perceive something, he says there is production. Where he cannot perceive anything, he says there is destruction. He says that the unbroken continuity of causes is increasing and that the pauses within the continuity are decreasing. He says that the arising of all things is existence and that the perishing of all things is non-existence. The light of reason shows that his application of mind has led to inconsistent views. If someone comes to seek the Dharma, asking about its meaning, he replies, "I am both alive and dead, both existent and non-existent, both increasing and decreasing." He always speaks in a confusing way, causing that person to forget what he was going to say.

L2 The sophistry of only "no."

Second, this person attentively contemplates his mind and finds that everything is non-existent. He has a realization based on non-existence. When anyone comes to ask him questions, he replies with only one word. He only says "no." Aside from saying "no," he does not speak.

L3 The sophistry of only "yes."

Third, this person attentively contemplates his mind and finds that everything is existent. He has a realization based on existence. When anyone comes to ask him questions, he replies with only one word. He only says "yes." Aside from saying "yes," he does not speak.

L4 The sophistry of existence and non-existence.
 

Fourth, this person perceives both existence and non-existence. Experiencing this branching, his mind becomes confused. When anyone comes to ask questions, he tells them, "Existence is also non-existence. But within non-existence there is no existence." It is all sophistry and does not stand up under scrutiny.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.
 

Because of these speculations, which are empty sophistries, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the fifth externalist teaching, in which one postulates four distorted, false theories that are total speculation based on the sophistry of immortality.

J6 The sixteen ways in which form can exist after death.
K1 Describes the source and shows the error.
 

(36) Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on the endless flow, he could fall into error with the confused idea that forms exist after death.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.

He may strongly identify with his body and say that form is himself; or he may see himself as perfectly encompassing all worlds and say that he contains form; or he may perceive all external conditions as contingent upon himself and say that form belongs to him; or he may decide that he relies on the continuity of the formations skandha and say that he is within form.

In all of these speculations, he says that form exists after death. Considering back and forth in this way, he comes up with sixteen cases of the existence of forms.

Then he may speculate that afflictions are always afflictions, and Bodhi is always Bodhi, and the two exist side by side without contradicting each other.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.
 

Because of these speculations about what exists after death, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the sixth externalist teaching, which postulates confused theories of the existence of forms after death in the realm of the five skandhas.

J7 Eight ideas about the non-existence of form.
K1 Describes the source and shows the error.
 

(37) Further, in his practice of samadhi, such a good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper, and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on the skandhas of form, feeling, and thinking, which have already ended, he could fall into error with the confused idea that form do not exist after death.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.
 

Seeing that his form is gone, his physical shape seems to lack a cause. As he contemplates the absence of thought, there is nothing to which his mind can become attached. Knowing that his feelings are gone, he has no further involvements. Those skandhas have vanished. Although there is still some coming into being, there is no feeling or thought, and he concludes that he is like grass or wood.

Since those qualities do not exist at present, how can there be any existence of forms after death? Because of his examinations and comparisons, he decides that after death there is no existence. Expanding the idea, he comes up with eight cases of the non-existence of forms.

From that, he may speculate that Nirvana and cause and effect are all empty, that they are mere names which ultimately do not exist.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.
 

Because of those speculations that forms does not exist after death, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the seventh externalist teaching, which postulates confused theories of the nonexistence of forms after death in the realm of the five skandhas.

J8 Eight kinds of negation.
K1 Describes the source and shows the error.
 

(38) Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. In this state where the skandha of formations remains, but the skandhas of feeling and thinking are gone, if he begins to speculate that there is both existence and non-existence, thus contradicting himself, he could fall into error with confused theories that deny both existence and non-existence after death.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.
 

Regarding form, feeling, and thinking, he sees that existence is not really existence. Within the flow of the formations skandha, he sees that non-existence is not really non-existence.

Considering back and forth in this way, he thoroughly investigates the realms of these skandhas and derives an eightfold negation of form. No matter which skandha is mentioned, he says that after death, it neither exists nor does not exist.

Further, because he speculates that all formations are changing in nature, an "insight" flashes through his mind, leading him to derive a negation of both existence and non-existence. He cannot determine what is unreal and what is real.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.
 

Because of these speculations that deny both existence and non-existence after death, the future is murky to him and he cannot say anything about it. Therefore, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the eighth externalist teaching, which postulates confused theories that deny both existence and non-existence after death in the realm of the five skandhas.

J9 Seven theories on the cessation of existence.
K1 Describes the source and shows the error.
 

(39) Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate that there is no existence after death, he could fall into error with seven theories of the cessation of existence.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.
 

He may speculate that the body will cease to exist; or that when desire has ended, there is cessation of existence; or that after suffering has ended, there is cessation of existence; or that when bliss reaches an ultimate point, there is cessation of existence; or that when renunciation reaches an ultimate point, there is cessation of existence.

Considering back and forth in this way, he exhaustively investigates the limits of the seven places and sees that they have already ceased to be and will not exist again.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.

Because of these speculations that existence ceases after death, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the ninth externalist teaching, which postulates confused theories of the cessation of existence after death in the realm of the five skandhas.

J10 Five kinds of immediate Nirvana.
K1 Describes the source and shows the error.
 

(40) Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on existence after death, he could fall into error with five theories of Nirvana.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.
 

He may consider the heavens of the Desire Realm a true refuge, because he contemplates their extensive brightness and longs for it; or he may take refuge in the First Dhyana, because there his nature is free from worry; or he may take refuge in the Second Dhyana, because there his mind is free from suffering; or he may take refuge in the Third Dhyana, because he delights in its extreme joy; or he may take refuge in the Fourth Dhyana, reasoning that suffering and bliss are both ended there and that he will no longer undergo transmigration.

These heavens are subject to outflows, but in his confusion he thinks that they are unconditioned; and he takes these five states of tranquility to be refuges of supreme purity. Considering back and forth in this way, he decides that these five states are ultimate.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.
 

Because of these speculations about five kinds of immediate Nirvana, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the tenth externalist teaching, which postulates confused theories of five kinds of immediate Nirvana in the realm of the five skandhas.

I3 Conclusion on the harm, and command to offer protection.
J1 Showing how this happens due to interaction.
 

Ananda, all ten of these crazy explanations may occur in Dhyana as one's mental effort interacts with the formations skandha. That is why these "insights" appear.

J2 Confusion will bring harm.

Dull and confused living beings do not evaluate themselves. Encountering such situations, they mistake their confusion for understanding and say that they have become Sages, thereby uttering a great lie. They will fall into the Relentless Hells.

J3 Command to offer protection.
 

After my Nirvana, all of you should pass on the Tathagata's teachings, transmitting and revealing them to those in the Dharma-ending Age, so that living beings everywhere can awaken to these truths. Do not let demons arise in their minds and cause them to commit grave offenses. Offer protection so that deviant views will be eradicated.

Teach them to awaken to true principles in body and mind, so that they do not stray off the Unsurpassed Path. Do not let them aspire to and be content with small attainments. You should become kings of great enlightenment and serve as guides of purity.

-------------------------------End of the Formations Skandha----------------------------



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