The Shurangama Mantra
- original Verses
& commentary by
- translated by the
Buddhist Text Translation Society:
Commentary: Bhikshu Heng Kuan,
Bhikshuni Heng Yin, Bhikshuni Heng Ch'ih, Bhikshuni Heng Hsien, Bhikshu Heng Tso, Bhikshuni Heng Tao, Upasaka
Kuo Jung Epstein, Upasika Kuo Ts'an
King among Samadhis,
Opening verse of the Commentary of the Shurangama Mantra. The Chinese characters which stand for Shurangama are leng yen; leng means "edge"; yen means "adorned." But, basically, the two characters, leng yen, are transliterations of the Sanskrit, Shurangama.1 Shurangama means "ultimately firm and solid in all respects." The Ultimately Durable King among Samadhis/ This eight line verse will explain the meaning of the commentary on the Shurangama Mantra.
With a straight mind, practice and study it/One should cultivate and study with a straight-forward mind to arrive at one's aim--to reach the Way place. A straight-forward mind is the field of the Way. If you are devious and use a crooked mind in cultivating the Buddhadharma, you won't be able to obtain any benefit from this mantra. Purify the karmas of body, mouth, and mind/ When you cultivate this Dharma, you can't speak falsely. You can't always be saying things that aren't true. You must avoid the body karma of breaking the precepts of killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct. With your mouth, you shouldn't speak irresponsibly, lie, gossip, or use harmful speech. Your thoughts should be devoid of greed, anger, and stupidity. So, "Purify the karmas of body, mouth, and mind." With the three kinds of karma purified, one unites and upholds. That is Dharani.2 Sweep clean the thoughts of greed, hatred and stupidity/ You must totally clean up thoughts of greed, thoughts of anger, and thoughts of stupidity. When the mind is totally clean, these are all gone. From sincerity comes a response; clear certification is obtained/ If you have sincerity, then you will get a great response. You can immediately certify to the power of this mantra. It's inconceivable. From concentration, one accomplishes spiritual powers which are great/ If you are totally concentrated in your mind, and your thoughts don't wander--if you don't have any extraneous thoughts--then you will be able to realize great spiritual power.
In the Shurangama Mantra there are five major sections, and in these sections there are more than thirty different sub-sections of Dharmas. The five major Dharmas are: 1) the Dharma of Subduing; 2) the Dharma of Hooking; 3) the Dharma of Eradicating Disasters; 4) the Dharma of Increasing Benefit; and 5) the Dharma of Accomplishment and Auspiciousness. There are a lot of different kinds of Dharmas in this mantra.
Endowed with virtue, you have encountered its magical, wonderful phrases/ To study this kind of Dharma you must have virtuous conduct. If your conduct were not virtuous, you basically wouldn't even meet up with it. And, even if you were to meet up with it, you wouldn't understand it. This is an efficacious language; these are subtle, wonderful, profound phrases. At all times, never forget to glorify its magnificence/ You should never forget to cultivate this Dharma. Be sincere and concentrate and never forget to glorify the Buddhadharma, bringing it to great prosperity, so that the Buddhadharma will constantly remain in the world and be ever protected.
This is my very simple explanation of the general meaning of the Shurangama Mantra. Were I to speak about it in detail, I'd never finish.
This is a Dharma that is hard to encounter in hundreds of thousands of kalpas, so don't miss the opportunity! My explanations will be a very simple commentary on the Shurangama Mantra. If you want to understand it, you'll have to study it in detail yourself.
THE EXPEDIENTS OF HOLDING THE MANTRA
THE PURPOSE OF SETTING UP THE CEREMONIAL RITES OF A PLATFORM IS FOR THE SAKE OF THOSE WHO SEEK FOR MANIFESTATION AND CERTIFICATION. IF THERE ARE LEFT-HOME AND LAY people who hold THE MANTRA AT RANDOM (without a Way place or a platform), THEN IT IS MOST IMPORTANT FOR THEM TO BE SINCERE AND REVERENT.
THE SHURANGAMA SUTRA SAYS, "IF THERE ARE LIVING BEINGS WHO HAVE SCATTERED MINDS, WHO DO NOT POSSESS SAMADHI, BUT WHO RECOLLECT THE MANTRA WITH THEIR MINDS AND HOLD IT WITH THEIR MOUTHS, THEN THE VAJRA KINGS WILL CONSTANTLY ATTEND UPON THESE GOOD PEOPLE. HOW MUCH MORE WILL THIS BE SO FOR THOSE WHO ARE FIRMLY RESOLVED ON BODHI."
MOREOVER, THE SUTRA SAYS, "EVEN IF SUCH PEOPLE DID NOT ESTABLISH A WAY PLACE OR PRACTICE THE WAY, BUT ONLY RECITED AND HELD THE MANTRA, THEIR MERIT AND VIRTUE WOULD BE NO DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF ENTERING THE PLATFORM AND PRACTICING THE WAY. SO IT IS THAT READING, RECITING, COPING, OR WRITING OUT THIS MANTRA, OR HOLDING IT ON THEIR BODIES, OR PLACING IT IN THEIR HOMES, VILLAGES, FARMHOUSES, GARDENS, OR LODGES WILL BE EFFECTIVE IN DISBURSING ALL THEIR ACCUMULATED KARMA JUST LIKE SNOW MELTED BY HOT WATER. IN THE NEAR FUTURE, THEY WILL ENLIGHTEN TO THE PATIENCE OF NON-PRODUCTION."
HOWEVER, TO DISCUSS THIS FURTHER, THERE MUST BE INTERACTIONS OF THE THREE SECRET PRACTICES. THAT IS: 1) WITH THE MOUTH HOLDING THE SPIRITUAL MANTRA: 2) WITH THE MIND CONTEMPLATING THE SANSKRIT LETTERS: 3) WITH THE HAND MAKING THE MUDRAS. THIS IS CALLED THE THREE PLATFORMS.
I) THE PLATFORM OF WORDS OF THE MANTRA: EACH TIME, ONE SHOULD HOLD THE ENTIRE MANTRA ONCE, AND THEN HOLD THE HEART OF THE MANTRA ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT TIMES; OR ONE CAN HOLD THE ENTIRE MANTRA ONCE IN THE MORNING OR SIMPLY HOLD THE MANTRA HEART ONE HUNDRED EIGHT TIMES. IN THIS WAY ONE CAN STILL OBTAIN IMMEASURABLE BLESSINGS.
II) THE PLATFORM OF MENTAL CONSIDERATION: THE BUDDHA SAID THAT THIS MANTRA WAS CALLED, "MWO HE SA DAN TWO BWO DAN LA TWO LI NI MANTRA: DWO JR TWO NAN E NA LI PI SHE TI PI LA BA SHE LA TWO LI PAN TWO PAN TWO NI BA SHE LA BANG NI PAN HU SYIN DU LU YUNG PAN SWO PE HE.
HERE ONE SHOULD CONTEMPLATE THE SANSKRIT LETTERS OF THE HEART OF THE MANTRA. ONE SHOULD IMPRINT EVERY SYLLABLE ON ONE'S MIND, SO THAT WHETHER ONE'S EYES ARE OPENED OR CLOSED, EACH OF THESE CHARACTERS APPEARS VERY CLEARLY IN ONE'S VISION. ONLY THEN CAN ONE ACCOMPLISH SAMADHI.
THE EXPEDIENTS OF HOLDING THE MANTRA. "Holding" means that your mind receives the mantra and your body upholds it. It also refers holding it with your mind, just like holding something in your hand. When you hold the mantra, you recite it in your mind, and you shouldn't lose it or forget it. At all times you have your mind on what you're doing as you recite and hold the mantra. When you recite the mantra, you should set up a platform just like there is a precept platform when precepts are transmitted. In reciting the mantra, you have the mantra platform. When you're reciting your mantra, the platform should be pure. You should not let just anybody come onto the platform. It should only be the person who holds the mantra, who cultivates the Dharma at that place. THE PURPOSE OF SETTING UP THE CEREMONIAL RITES OF A PLATFORM IS FOR THE SAKE OF THOSE WHO SEEK FOR MANIFESTATION AND CERTIFICATION. There are rules for setting up the platform. The Shurangama Sutra explains the method for erecting this platform. For those who seek certification, benefits can be obtained by using the platform. That is, one is able to certify to the benefits of the mantra. IF THERE ARE LEFT-HOME AND LAY PEOPLE WHO HOLD THE MANTRA AT RANDOM--without a Way place or platform, but just recite it--THEN IT IS MOST IMPORTANT FOR THEM TO BE SINCERE AND REVERENT.
THE SHURANGAMA SUTRA SAYS, "IF THERE ARE LIVING BEINGS WHO HAVE SCATTERED MINDS WHO DO NOT POSSESS SAMADHI, BUT WHO RECOLLECT THE MANTRA WITH THEIR MINDS AND HOLD IT WITH THEIR MOUTHS, THEN THE VAJRA KINGS WILL CONSTANTLY ATTEND UPON THESE GOOD PEOPLE." The Vajra Kings will constantly be with you. This means there will be the eighty-four thousand Dharma protectors, Vajra Kings, who will constantly accompany you and all such good people. The Vajra Kings will constantly protect all such good people. "HOW MUCH THE MORE WILL THIS BE SO FOR THOSE WHO ARE FIRMLY RESOLVED ON BODHI."
MOREOVER, THE SUTRA SAYS, "EVEN IF SUCH PEOPLE DID NOT ESTABLISH A WAY PLACE, NOR DID THEY PRACTICE THE WAY, BUT WERE TO RECITE AND HOLD THIS MANTRA, THEIR MERIT AND VIRTUE WOULD BE NO DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF THOSE ENTERING THE PLATFORM AND PRACTICING THE WAY. Your merit and virtue would be the same as the person who entered the platform to cultivate the Dharma. SO IT IS THAT READING, RECITING, COPYING, OR WRITING OUT THIS MANTRA: OR HOLDING IT ON THEIR BODIES: OR PLACING IT IN THEIR HOMES, VILLAGES, FARMHOUSES, GARDENS, OR LODGES WILL BE EFFECTIVE IN DISBURSING ALL THEIR ACCUMULATED KARMA JUST LIKE SNOW MELTED BY HOT WATER. IN THE NEAR FUTURE, THEY WILL ENLIGHTEN TO THE PATIENCE OF NON-PRODUCTION."
HOWEVER, TO DISCUSS THIS FURTHER, THERE NEED BE THE INTERACTION OF THE THREE SECRET PRACTICES. When these three secrets are in accord, then you will have a response.
WITH THE MOUTH HOLDING THE SPIRITUAL MANTRA.
2) WITH THE MIND CONTEMPLATING THE SANSKRIT LETTERS:
3) WITH THE HAND MAKING THE MUDRAS.
Your hands make gestures, "seal gestures," or mudras.3 This is known as the interaction of the Three Secret Practices. THIS IS CALLED THE THREE PLATFORMS. This is the initial expedient of holding the mantra.
-to be continued