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 Five,  Sutra text:

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

Ananda, when that good person, in cultivating samadhi, has put an end to the formations skandha, the subtle, fleeting fluctuations--the deep, imperceptible, pivotal source and the common foundation from which all life in the world springs--are suddenly obliterated. In the submerged network of retributive karma of the Pudgala, the karmic resonances are interrupted.

K2 Introduction to the region of the consciousness skandha.
 

There is about to be a great illumination in the sky of Nirvana. It is like gazing east at the cock's last crow to see the bright glow of dawn already appearing. The six sense faculties are empty and still; there is no further racing about. Inside and outside there is a profound brightness. He enters without entering. Fathoming the original life-source of the twelve categories of beings throughout the ten directions, he can contemplate that source without being drawn into any of the categories. He has already become identical with the realms of the ten directions. The bright glow does not fade, and what was obscure and hidden is revealed. This is the region of the consciousness skandha.

J2 Ultimately it breaks up and reveals its false source.
 

If he has already become identical with the beckoning masses, he may obliterate the individuality of the six gates and succeed in uniting and opening them. Seeing and hearing become linked so that they function interchangeably and purely. The worlds of the ten directions and his own body and mind are as bright and transparent as vaidurya. This is the end of the consciousness skandha. This person can then transcend the turbidity of life spans. Contemplating the cause of the consciousness skandha, one sees that the negation of existence and the negation of non-existence are both unreal, and that upside-down false thoughts are its source.

I2 Ten attachments within this.
J1 Attachment to causes and that which is caused.
K1 When formations are gone, consciousness appears.
 

(41) Ananda, you should know that the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty, and he must return consciousness to the source. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

K2 A wrong understanding leads to a mistake.
 

He can cause the individual sense faculties of his body to unite and open. He also has a pervasive awareness of all the categories of beings in the ten directions. Since his awareness is pervasive, he can enter the perfect source. But if he regards what he is returning to as the cause of true permanence and interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of holding to that cause. Kapila the Sankhyan, with his theory of returning to the Truth of the Unmanifest, will become his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

K3 Giving the name and instructions to awaken.
 

This is the first state, in which he creates a place to which to return, based on the idea that there is something to attain. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of externalism.

J2 Attachment to an ability that is not actually an ability.
K1 When formations are gone, consciousness appears.
 

(42) Further, Ananda, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

K2 A wrong understanding leads to a mistake.
 

He may regard that to which he is returning as his own body and see all living beings in the twelve categories throughout space as flowing forth from his body. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of maintaining that he has an ability which he does not really have. Maheshvara, who manifests his boundless body, will become his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

K3 Giving its name and instructions to awaken.
 

This is the second state, in which he creates a specific ability based on the idea that he has such an ability. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for being born in the Heaven of Great Pride where the self is considered all-pervading and perfect.

J3 Attachment to a wrong idea of permanence.
K1 When formations are gone, consciousness appears.
 

(3) Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

K2 A wrong understanding leads to a mistake.

If he regards what he is returning to as a refuge, he will suspect that his body and mind come forth from there, and that all things in the ten directions of space arise from there as well. He will explain that that place from which all things issue forth is the truly permanent body, which is not subject to production and destruction. While still within production and destruction, he prematurely reckons that he abides in permanence. Since he is deluded about non-production, he is also confused about production and destruction. He is sunk in confusion. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of taking what is not permanent to be permanent. He will speculate that the God of Sovereignty (Ishvaradeva) is his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

K3 He gives it a name and warns us to be aware of it.
 

This is the third state, in which he makes a false speculation based on the idea that there is a refuge. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of an distorted view of perfection.

J4 Attachment to an awareness that is not actually awareness.
K1 When formations are gone, consciousness appears.
 

(44) Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

K2 A wrong understanding leads to a mistake.
 

Based on his idea that there is universal awareness, he formulates a theory that all the plants and trees in the ten directions are sentient, not different from human beings. He claims that plants and trees can become people, and that when people die they again become plants and trees in the ten directions. If he considers this idea of unrestricted, universal awareness to be supreme, he will fall into the error of maintaining that what is not aware has awareness. Vasishtha and Sainika, who maintained the idea of comprehensive awareness, will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

K3 He gives it a name and warns us to be aware of it.
 

This is the fourth state, in which he creates an erroneous interpretation based on the idea that there is a universal awareness. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of a distorted view of awareness.

J5 Attachment to birth that is not actually birth.
K1 When formations are gone, consciousness appears.
 

(45) Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

K2 A wrong understanding leads to a mistake.

If he has attained versatility in the perfect fusion and interchangeable functioning of the sense faculties, he may speculate that all things arise from these perfect transformations. He then seeks the light of fire, delights in the purity of water, loves the wind's circuitous flow, and contemplates the accomplishments of the earth. He reveres and serves them all. He takes these mundane elements to be a fundamental cause and considers them to be everlasting. He will then fall into the error of taking what is not production to be production. Kashyapa and the Brahmans who seek to transcend birth and death by diligently serving fire and worshipping water will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.
 
K3 He gives it a name and warns us to be aware of it.
 

This is the fifth state, in which he confusedly pursues the elements, creating a false cause that leads to false aspirations based on speculations about his attachment to worship. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of a distorted view of transformation.

J6 Attachment to a refuge that is not actually a refuge.
 

(46) Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

K2 A wrong understanding leads to a mistake.
 

He may speculate that there is an emptiness within the perfect brightness, and based on that he denies the myriad transformations, taking their eternal cessation as his refuge. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of taking what is not a refuge to be a refuge. Those abiding in Shunyata in the Heaven of [Neither Thought nor] Non-Thought will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

K3 Giving its name and instructions to awaken.
 

This is the sixth state, in which he realizes a state of voidness based on the idea of emptiness within the perfect brightness. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of annihilationism.

J7 Attachment to an unattainable craving.
K1 After formations are ended, consciousness manifests.
 

(47) Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

K2 A wrong understanding leads to a mistake.
 

In the state of perfect permanence, he may bolster his body, hoping to live for a long time in that subtle and perfect condition without dying. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of being greedy for something unattainable. Asita and those who seek long life will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.
 
K3 Giving its name and instructions to awaken.
 

This is the seventh state, in which he creates the false cause of bolstering and aspires to permanent worldly existence, based on his attachment to the life-source. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for false thoughts of lengthening life.

J8 Attachment to truth that is not actually truth.
K1 After formations are ended, consciousness manifests.
 

(48) Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

K2 A wrong understanding leads to a mistake..
 

As he contemplates the interconnection of all lives, he wants to hang on to worldly enjoyments and is afraid they will come to an end. Caught up in this thought, he will, by the power of transformation, seat himself in a lotus flower palace, conjure up an abundance of the seven precious things, increase his retinue of beautiful women, and indulge his mind. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of taking what is not the truth to be the truth. Vignakara will become his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

K3 Giving its name and instructions to awaken.
 

This is the eighth state, in which he sets up the result of indulging in worldly enjoyments, based on the cause of his deviant thinking. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for becoming a demon of the heavens.

J9 Fixed-nature Hearers.
K1 After formations are ended, consciousness manifests.
 

(49) Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

K2 A wrong understanding leads to a mistake.
 

In his understanding of life, he distinguishes the subtle and the coarse and determines the true and the false. But he only seeks a response in the mutual repayment of cause and effect, and he turns his back on the Way of Purity. In the practice of seeing suffering, eliminating accumulation, realizing cessation, and cultivating the Way, he dwells in cessation and stops there, making no further progress. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall and become a fixed-nature Hearer. Unlearned Sanghans and those of overweening pride will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

K3 Giving its name and instructions to awaken.

This is the ninth state, in which he aspires toward the fruition of cessation, based on perfecting the mind that seeks responses. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for becoming enmeshed in emptiness.

J10 Fixed-nature Pratyekas.
K1 After formations are ended, consciousness manifests.
 

(50) Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has already ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

K2 A wrong understanding leads to a mistake.
 

In that perfectly fused, pure, bright enlightenment, as he investigates the profound wonder, he may take it to be Nirvana and fail to make further progress. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall and become a fixed-nature Pratyeka. Those Enlightened by Conditions and Solitarily Enlightened Ones who do not turn their minds to the Great Vehicle will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

K3 Giving its name and instructions to awaken.
 

This is the tenth state, in which he realizes the fruition of profound brightness based on fusing the mind with perfect enlightenment. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for being unable to surpass his attachment to the brightness of perfect enlightenment.

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

Ananda, these ten states of Dhyana are due to crazy explanations along the way. Relying on them, the cultivator becomes confused and claims to have attained complete realization before actually having done so. All these states are the result of interactions between the consciousness skandha and his mental efforts.

J2 Confusion will bring harm.
 

Dull and confused living beings do not evaluate themselves. Encountering such situations, their minds are confused by their individual likings and past habits, so they stop to rest in what they take to be the ultimate refuge. They claim to have fully realized unsurpassed Bodhi, thus uttering a great lie. After their karmic retribution as externalists and deviant demons comes to an end, they will fall into the Relentless Hells. The Hearers and Those Enlightened by Conditions cannot make further progress.

J3 Command to offer protection.
 

All of you should cherish the resolve to sustain the Way of the Tathagata. After my Nirvana, transmit this Dharma-door to those in the Dharma-ending Age, universally causing living beings to awaken to its meaning. Do not let the demons of views cause them to create their own grave offenses and fall. Protect, comfort, and compassionately rescue them and dispel evil conditions. Enable them to enter the Buddhas' knowledge and understanding with body and mind so that from the beginning to the final accomplishment they never go astray.

G3 Concluding instructions.
H1 First instructs to transcend and certify.
I1 All Buddhas' former certification.
 

It is by relying on this Dharma-door that the Tathagatas of the past, as many as fine motes of dust in eons as many as the Ganges' sands, have enlightened their minds and attained the Unsurpassed Way.

I2 The end of consciousness is transcendence.
 

When the consciousness skandha ends, your present sense faculties will function interchangeably. Within that interchangeable functioning, you will be able to enter the Bodhisattvas' Vajra Dry Wisdom. In your perfect, bright, pure mind, there will be a transformation.

It will be like pure vaidurya that contains a precious moon, and in that way you will transcend the Ten Faiths, the Ten Dwellings the Ten Practices, the Ten Transferences, the Four Additional Practices, the Vajra-like Ten Grounds of a Bodhisattva’s practice, and the perfect brightness of Equal Enlightenment.

I3 Perfect Realization of the Ultimate Fruition.
 

You will enter the Tathagata's sea of wondrous adornments, perfect the cultivation of Bodhi, and return to the state of non-attainment.

H2 He then instructs us to protect and uphold it.
I1 He first explains how it accords with the Honored Ones of the past.
 

These are subtle demonic states that all Buddhas, World Honored Ones, of the past, discerned with their enlightened clarity while in the state of Shamatha-Vipashyana.

I2 Orders him to recognize the demonic states, and to protect and uphold the samadhi.
 

If you can recognize a demonic state when it appears and wash away the filth in your mind, you will not fall into error with deviant views.

The demons of the skandhas will melt away, and the demons of the heavens will be obliterated. The mighty ghosts and spirits will lose their wits and flee. And the li, mei, and wang liang will not dare to show themselves again.

You will directly arrive at Bodhi without the slightest weariness, progressing from lower positions to Great Nirvana without becoming confused or discouraged.

If there are living beings in the Dharma-ending Age who delight in cultivating samadhi, but who are stupid and dull, who fail to recognize the importance of Dhyana, or who have not heard the Dharma spoken, you should be concerned lest they get caught up in deviant ways. You should single-mindedly exhort them to uphold the Dharani Mantra of the Buddha's Summit. If they cannot recite it from memory, they should have it written out and placed it in the Dhyana Meditation Hall or wear on their person. Then none of the demons will be able to disturb them.

I3 Advises him to revere this teaching as an example from the past.
 

You should revere this final paradigm of the ultimate cultivation and progress by the Tathagatas of the ten directions.

E2 Request for further explanation of the arising and cessation of the five skandhas.
F1 Ananda repeats the former teaching and makes a request.
 

Ananda then arose from his seat. Having heard the Buddha's instruction, he bowed and respectfully upheld it, remembering every word and forgetting none. Then once more in the great assembly he spoke to the Buddha, "The Buddha has told us that in the manifestation of the five skandhas, there are five kinds of falseness that come from our own thinking minds. We have never before been blessed with such subtle and wonderful instructions as the Tathagata has now given."

"Further, are these five skandhas obliterated all at the same time, or are they extinguished in sequence? What are the boundaries of these five layers?"

"We only hope the Tathagata, out of great compassion, will explain this in order to purify the eyes and illuminate the minds of those in the great assembly, and in order to serve as eyes for living beings of the future."

F2 The Buddha answers three questions.
G1 He first answers that they arise from falseness.
H1 He shows the reasons for false thinking.
I1 Pursuing the source and finding it empty.
 

The Buddha told Ananda, "The essential, true, wonderful brightness and perfect purity of basic enlightenment does not admit birth and death, nor any mundane defilements, nor even empty space itself. All these are brought forth because of false thinking.

The source of basic enlightenment, which is wonderfully bright, true, and pure, falsely gives rise to the material world, just as Yajnadatta became confused about his head when he saw his own reflection.

I2 Judges the upside-down speculations to be wrong.
 

The falseness basically has no cause, but in your false thinking, you set up causes and conditions. But those who are confused about the principle of causes and conditions call it spontaneity. Even empty space is an illusory creation. How much the more so are causes and conditions and spontaneity, which are mere speculations made by the false minds of living beings.

Ananda, if you perceive the arising of falseness, you can speak of the causes and conditions of that falseness. But if the falseness has no source, you will have to say that the causes and conditions of that falseness basically have no source. How much the more is this the case for those who fail to understand this and advocate spontaneity.

Therefore, the Tathagata has explained to you that the fundamental cause of all five skandhas is false thinking.

H2 Detailed examination of the fivefold false thinking.
I1 The false thinking of the form skandha.
J1 Explains that one's body is because of thinking.
 

Your body's initial cause was a thought on the part of your parents. But if you had not entertained any thought in your own mind, you would not have been born. It is by means of thought that life is perpetuated.

J2 Provides an analogy to explain in detail.
 

As I have said before, when you call to mind the taste of vinegar, your mouth waters. When you think of walking along a precipice, the soles of your feet tingle. Since the precipice doesn't exist and there isn’t any vinegar, how could your mouth be watering at the mere mention of vinegar, if it were not the case that your body came from falseness?

J3 Concludes by naming it false thinking.
 

Therefore, you should know that your present physical body is brought about by the first kind of false thinking, which is characterized by solidity.

J1 Thinking results in feeling.
 

As described earlier, merely thinking about a high place can actually cause your body to tingle and ache.

J2 Concludes by naming it false thinking.
 

Due to that cause, feelings arise and affect your physical body, so that at present you pursue favorable feelings and are repelled by adverse feelings. These two kinds of feelings that compel you are brought about by the second kind of false thinking, which is characterized by illusory clarity.

I3 The false thinking of the thinking skandha.
J1 Body and mind in mutual response.
 

Once your thoughts arise, they can control your body. Since your body is not the same as your thoughts, and yet, why is it that your body follows your thoughts and engage in every sort of grasping at objects? A thought arises and the body grasps in response to the thought.

J3 Concludes by naming it false thinking.

When you are awake, your mind thinks. When you are asleep, you dream. Thus your thinking is stirred to perceive false situations. This is the third kind of false thinking, which is characterized by interconnectedness.

I4 The false thinking of the formations skandha.
J1 Lack of awareness of bodily changes.
 

The metabolic processes never stop; they progress through subtle changes: your nails become long, your hair grows, your energy wanes, and your skin becomes wrinkled. By day and by night the processes continue, and yet you never wake up to them.
 

If these things aren't part of you, Ananda, then why does your body keep changing? And if they are really part of you, then why aren't you aware of them?

J2 Discusses its extent and concludes with the name.
 

Your formations skandha continues in thought after thought without cease. It is the fourth kind of false thinking, which is characterized as subtle and hidden.

I5 The false thinking of the consciousness skandha.
J1 Directly destroying the duality of true and false.
 

Finally, if your pure, bright, clear, and unmoving state is permanent, then there should be no seeing, hearing, awareness or knowing in your body. If it is genuinely pure and true, it should not contain habits and falseness.

How does it happen, then, that having seen some unusual thing in the past, you eventually forget it over time, until neither memory nor forgetfulness of it remain; but then later, upon suddenly seeing that unusual thing again, you remember it clearly from before without one detail omitted? How can you reckon the permeation which goes on in thought after thought in this pure, clear, and unmoving consciousness?

J2 Uses an analogy to explain.
 

Ananda, you should know that this state of clarity is not real. It is like rapidly flowing water that appears to be still on the surface. Because of its rapid speed, you cannot perceive the flow, but that does not mean it is not flowing. If this were not the source of thinking, then how could one be subject to false habits?

J3 Indicates accurately its time of cessation.
 

If you do not open and unite your six sense faculties so that they function interchangeably, this false thinking will never cease.

That's why your seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing are presently strung together by subtle habits, such that within the profound clarity, existence and non-existence are both illusory. This is the fifth kind of upside-down, minutely subtle thinking.

H3 General conclusion of what false thinking brings into being.
 

Ananda, these five skandhas of reception develop with five kinds of false thinking.

G2 Answers about the depth of the realms of the skandhas.
 

You also wanted to know the depth and scope of each realm. Form and emptiness are the boundaries of form. Contact and separation are the boundaries of feeling. Remembering and forgetting are the boundaries of thinking. Destruction and production are the boundaries of formations. Deep purity entering to unite with deep purity belongs to the boundaries of consciousness.

G3 Answers about the suddenness or gradualness of cessation.
 

At their source, these five skandhas arise in layers. Their arising is due to consciousness. Their cessation begins with the elimination of form.

You may have a sudden awakening to the principle, at which point they all simultaneously vanish. But in terms of the specifics, they are eliminated not all at once, but in sequence.

I have already shown you the knots tied in the Karpasa cloth. What is it that you do not understand, that causes you to ask about it again?

F3 Concluding exhortation to transmit this teaching.
 

You should gain a thorough understanding of the origin of this false thinking and then transmit your understanding to cultivators in the future Dharma-ending Age. Let them recognize this falseness and naturally give rise to deep disdain for it. Let them know of Nirvana so that they will not linger in the Triple Realm.

B3 Propagation section.
C1 Compares to blessings of offering to Buddhas.
 

Ananda, suppose someone were to present a quantity of the seven precious things that filled the space in the ten directions to as many Buddhas as there are motes of dust, attentively serving and making offerings to them without letting a moment go by in vain. Do you think this person would reap many blessings from making such an offering to the Buddhas?

Ananda answered, "Since space is limitless, the precious things would be boundless. In the past, someone gave the Buddha seven coins and consequently was reborn as a Wheel-turning King in his next life. As to this person who now fills up all of space and all the Buddhalands with an offering of precious things that could not be reckoned through endless eons, how could there be a limit to his blessings?"

The Buddha told Ananda, "All Buddhas, Tathagatas, speak words which are not false. There might be another person who had personally committed the Four Major Offenses and the Ten Parajikas so that, in an instant, he would have to pass through the Avichi Hells in this world and other worlds, until he had passed through all the Relentless Hells in the ten directions without exception."

And yet, if he could explain this Dharma-door for even just the space of a thought to those in the Dharma-ending Age who have not yet studied it, his obstacles from offenses would be eradicated in response to that thought, and all the hells where he was to undergo suffering would become lands of peace and bliss.

The blessings he would obtain would surpass those of the person previously mentioned by hundreds of thousands of millions of billions of times, indeed by so many times that no calculations or analogies could express it.

C2 Brings up the supremacy of two benefits.
 

Ananda, if living beings are able to recite this Sutra and uphold this mantra, I could not describe in endless kalpas how great the advantages will be. Rely on the teaching I have spoken. Cultivate in accord with it, and you will directly realize Bodhi without encountering demonic karma.

C3 Concludes with the Dharma bliss experienced by the great assembly.
 

When the Buddha finished speaking this Sutra, the Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, and all the gods, humans, and asuras in this world, as well as all the Bodhisattvas, those of the Two Vehicles, Sages, immortals, and pure youths in other directions, and the mighty ghosts and spirits of initial resolve all felt elated, made obeisance, and withdrew.



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