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Blog » Sweet Dews Of Dharma Talks » 2014 »



 Spoken by Dharma Master Heng Yi
    English Translation by Lotus Lee

Yesterday, we established that the Shurangama Mandala is an expedient and an aid for attaining samadhi. A practitioner who cultivates within the Shurangama Mandala will attain the Great Shurangama Samadhi very quickly. I would like to share with you four sentences of a verse that I am sure you know quite well. This verse is called Ananda’s verse, because he recited it when he was making vows:

“O deep and wondrous dharani unmoving honored one
Supreme Shurangama appears most rarely in the world
Extinguishing deluded thoughts from countless ages past
I needn’t pass through aeons till the Dharma Body’s gained.”

The first sentence praises the three bodies of the Buddha: the Dharma body, the transformation body, and the reward body. “O deep and wondrous dharani unmoving honored one”: “Deep and wondrous” refers to the Buddha’s reward body. Perfect and unobstructed manifestation of the Buddha’s pure wisdom is called “deep and wondrous.” The second part is “dharani,” which refers to the Buddha’s transformation body, the Buddha’s ability to transform his body at will. and travel the worlds in the ten directions to teach and transform sentient beings in accord to their causes and conditions. The third part is “unmoving,” which refers to the Buddha’s Dharma body. The substance of the Buddha’s Dharma body is inherently and constantly tranquil, so “unmoving” is referring to the Buddha’s Dharma body. “Honored” refers to the Buddha himself. He is called “honored” because he is the most honored within the nine worldly realms.

The second sentence says: “Supreme Shurangama appears most rarely in the world.” What is most rare in the world? The word “Shurangama” means “making everything ultimately firm and resilient.” The foremost Shurangama King refers to the Great Shurangama Samadhi. Why is it called the king? There are countless different kinds of samadhis, but the Great Shurangama Samadhi gathers in and rules over all of them. It is the king of all samadhis, and is most rare in the world.

The third sentence is “Extinguishing deluded thoughts from countless ages past.” This encompasses not only one or two kalpas, but ineffably many great kalpas. Therefore, if we recite the Shurangama Mantra, it will eradicate inverted cognition from billions kalpas past. This is a really great bargain, so to speak. What is inverted cognition? Examples are ignorance and confusion, which are the root cause of sentient beings cycling around in transmigration. Now that we are reciting the Shurangama Mantra, it can eradicate confusion and afflictions from beginningless time past. Another name for confusion is afflictions, of which there are three kinds: confusion of views and thoughts, confusion as fine as sand and fine particles, and confusion of ignorance. There are limitless kinds of confusion, and because of the actions we create due to afflictions and confusion, we are constantly stuck in samsara and cannot escape. Reciting mantras will help us eradicate confusion and afflictions, and attain liberation from samsara.

The last sentence is “I needn’t pass through aeons till the Dharma Body’s gained.” Yesterday, we also mentioned that cultivating the Shurangama Dharma Door will help us attain Buddhahood in the present life. Therefore, once we have reached a certain level in mantra recitation, we can transcend the three great asamkhyeya kalpas, and quickly attain the Buddha’s Dharma Body.

If we have yet to understand the importance of the Shurangama Mantra in Buddhism, here are two examples. The first example also appears in the Shurangama Sutra. If you throw a handful of dirt into a cup of clear water and mix it up, the water will become muddy. If you leave the cup of muddy water alone and stop mixing it, after a few hours, you will see that the clear water is on the top and the dirt has all sunk to the bottom. The clear water is like our inherently pure Buddha nature, which is originally clean. Like the handful of dirt that is thrown into the cup and makes the water muddy, afflictions of ignorance and confusion of the false mind do the same to the Buddha nature. As soon as the dirt is thrown in, the false consciousness muddies the water every time it moves. Since the false consciousness is constantly moving, just like the particles of dirt that are constantly moving around in the water, the whole thing becomes a muddy mixture. Our lives are very much the same.

But if we start to cultivate, sit in meditation, recite the Buddha’s name, and recite mantras, it is like the dirt slowly starting settle at the bottom of the cup, and the water left at the top is the results of our cultivation. But is this cultivation ultimate and exhaustive? Although you can see the clear water, you can still see the impurities as well, which can be likened to finer and subtler confusion that has yet to be removed. In order for the water to be truly pure again, the dirt must be removed from the cup altogether. The Shurangama Mantra is capable of thoroughly removing the impurity that has accumulated at the bottom of the cup.

The second example is the story of Ananda and the woman Matanga. One day, Ananda went on alms round alone, and when he met a woman named Matanga, they fell in love immediately. Why would this happen to Ananda, whose cultivation was on the level of a sage, and who was said to be a Buddha of antiquity? The Venerable Master provided one explanation: Ananda and Matanga had been married to each other for five hundred lives past, so they had the conditioned habit of emotional love to each other. As soon as they met, they were no longer able to control themselves. How did Shakyamuni Buddha save them? He manifested a transformation body from the crown of his head, which proclaimed the Shurangama Mantra, and asked Manjushri Bodhisattva of great wisdom to use the mantra to bring both of them back.

When they returned, as soon as they saw the Buddha, they seemed to wake up from a dream and began to sob in front of the Buddha. The source of their problem was the habit of emotional love, which counts as a kind of confusion. When confusion arises, the only way to regain control of oneself is by reciting the Shurangama Mantra. When Shakyamuni Buddha recited the Shurangama Mantra to Matanga, she was liberated from emotional love right away, let go of the confusion that had accumulated throughout the past five hundred lifetimes, and attained the third fruition of an Arhat. Yesterday we mentioned that the reason we recite the Shurangama Mantra during the repentance is because it can eradicate fine and subtle confusion that has been accumulated throughout limitless kalpas past. This is one way the Shurangama Mantra serves as a great aid to cultivation. I hope that all of you will be vigorous and recite the Shurangama Mantra often.