For over a thousand years, the Śūraṅgama Sūtra — the “Sūtra of the Indestructible”— has been held in great esteem in the Mahāyāna Buddhist countries of East and Southeast Asia. In China the Sūtra has generally been considered as important, and has been as popular as the Lotus Sūtra, the Avataṁsaka Sūtra, the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, the Heart Sūtra, and the Diamond Sūtra. The appeal of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra lies in the broad scope of its teachings and in the depth and clarity of its prescriptions for contemplative practice. Its wealth of theoretical and practical instruction in the spiritual life often made it the first major text to be studied by newly ordained monks, particularly in the Chan School. Many enlightened masters and illustrious monastic scholars have written exegetical commentaries on it. To this day, for both clergy and laity in the Chinese Buddhist tradition, the Śūraṅgama Sūtra continues to be the object of devout study, recitation, and memorization.
More specifically, the Śūraṅgama Sūtra has traditionally been regarded as a complete and practical manual for spiritual practice that will eventually lead to enlightenment. It gives instruction in the correct understanding of the Buddha-nature, which is the potential within all beings for becoming a Buddha. The Sūtra explains how and why this true nature is hidden within our ordinary experience of ourselves and of the world, and it shows how we can uncover this nature and recognize that it is our own true mind.
A new translation into English with footnote excerpts from the exegetical (critical explaination) commentary by the Venerable Master Hsüan Hua. Translated from Chinese. Includes full introduction, bibliographical references, and index.
Table of Contents Foreword x Introduction xiii Prologue 3 I: The Nature and Location of the Mind 1. The Request for Dharma 13 2. The Location of the Mind 16 A. Ananda Proposes That the Mind Is in the Body 16 B. Ananda Proposes That the Mind Is Outside the Body 17 C. Ananda Proposes That the Mind Is in the Eye-Faculty 19 D. Ananda Reconsiders Seeing Inside and Seeing Outside 20 E. Ananda Proposes That the Mind Comes into Being in Response to Conditions 22 F. Ananda Proposes That the Mind Is in the Middle 25 G. Ananda Proposes That the Mind Has No Specific Location 27 3. The Conditioned Mind and the True Mind 29 II: The Nature of Visual Awareness 1. It Is the Mind That Sees 41 2. Visual Awareness Does Not Move 43 3. Visual Awareness Does Not Perish 48 4. The True Nature of Visual Awareness Is Not Lost 51 5. Visual Awareness Is Not Dependent upon Conditions 54 6. Visual Awareness Is Not a Perceived Object 59 7. Visual Awareness Has Neither Shape nor Extension 64 8. Visual Awareness Is Both Separate and Not Separate from Objects 66 9. Visual Awareness Arises Neither on Its Own nor from Causes 72 10. True Visual Awareness 75 11. Distortions in Visual Awareness Based on Karma 78 12. Visual Awareness Exists Neither Through Inhering nor in Conjoining 84 III: The Matrix of the Thus-Come One 1. The Five Aggregates Are the Matrix of the Thus-Come One 89 A. The Aggregate of Form 90 B. The Aggregate of Sense-Perception 91 C. The Aggregate of Cognition 92 D. The Aggregate of Mental Formations 93 E. The Aggregate of Consciousness 94 2. The Six Faculties Are the Matrix of the Thus-Come One 95 A. The Eye-Faculty 95 B. The Ear-Faculty 96 C. The Nose-Faculty 97 D. The Tongue-Faculty 98 E. The Body-Faculty 100 F. The Cognitive Faculty 101 3. The Twelve Sites Are the Matrix of the Thus-Come One 103 A. The Eye-Faculty and Visible Objects 103 B. The Ear-Faculty and Sounds 104 C. The Nose-Faculty and Odors 105 D. The Tongue-Faculty and Flavors 105 E. The Body-Faculty and Objects of Touch 106 F. The Cognitive Faculty and Objects of Cognition 107 4. The Eighteen Constituents Are the Matrix of the Thus-Come One 109 A. The Coming into Being of the Eye-Consciousness 109 B. The Coming into Being of the Ear-Consciousness 110 C. The Coming into Being of the Nose-Consciousness 111 D. The Coming into Being of the Tongue-Consciousness 113 E. The Coming into Being of the Body-Consciousness 115 F. The Coming into Being of the Mind-Consciousness 117 5. The Seven Primary Elements Are the Matrix of the Thus-Come One 119 A. The Primary Element Earth 121 B. The Primary Element Fire 123 C. The Primary Element Water 124 D. The Primary Element Wind 126 E. The Primary Element Space 127 F. The Primary Element Awareness 129 G. The Primary Element Consciousness 132 6. Ananda’s Vow 135 IV: The Coming into Being of the World of Illusion 1. Adding Understanding to Understanding 141 2. The Buddhas’ Enlightenment Is Irreversible 151 3. The Interfusing of the Primary Elements 153 4. Delusion Has No Basis: The Parable of Yajñadatta 159 V: Instructions for Practice 1. Five Layers of Turbidity 169 2. Choosing One Faculty in Order to Liberate All Six 175 3. The Example of the Bell’s Sound 185 4. The Analogy of the Six Knots 196 VI: Twenty-Five Sages 1. Twenty-Five Sages Speak of Enlightenment 205 2. The Bodhisattva Who Hears the Cries of the World 234 3. The Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī’s Recommendation 248 VII: Four Clear and Definitive Instructions on Purity 1. On Sexual Desire 263 2. On Killing 267 3. On Stealing 270 4. On Making False Claims 274 VIII: The Śūraṅgama Mantra 1. Establishing a Place for Awakening 279 2. The Śūraṅgama Mantra 288 3. The Powers of the Mantra 299 4. Vows of Protection 308 IX: Levels of Being