THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 6

J2 He speaks of the benefits of the mantra.
K1 The important tool of all Buddhas.
L1 He explains the entire name.


Sutra:

Ananda, this cluster of light atop the crown of the Buddha's head, the secret gatha, Syi Dan Dwo Bwo Da La, with its subtle, wonderful divisions and phrases, gives birth to all the Buddhas of the ten directions. Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions use this mantra-heart, they realize unsurpassed, proper, and all-pervading knowledge and enlightenment.

Commentary:


Ananda, this cluster of light atop the crown of the Buddha's head, the secret gatha, Syi Dan Dwo Bwo Da La, is again, the great white canopy, which can cover over the entire system of three thousand great thousand worlds to protect all the living beings in it. "Gatha" is a Sanskrit term which means "repetitive verses." The mantra is secret, and since some of its lines are repeated, it is referred to as the "secret gatha." These "divisions and phrases" which comprise the mantra are extremely rare and miraculous. This mantra, with its subtle, wonderful divisions and phrases, gives birth to all the Buddhas of the ten directions. Therefore, the Shurangama Mantra can be called the "Mother of Buddhas."

Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions use this mantra-heart, they realize unsurpassed proper and allpervading knowledge and enlightenment. It is by means of the Shurangama Mantra that the Buddhas realize proper and allpervading awareness. "Proper knowledge" means they know that the mind gives rise to the myriad dharmas; "all-pervading knowledge" means that they know that the myriad dharmas come only from the mind.

L2 He states its functions.

Sutra:

Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions take up this mantra-heart, they subdue all demons and control all adherents of outside ways.

Commentary:

The "mantra-heart", the Shurangama Mantra, was spoken by a transformation body Buddha seated upon a jeweled lotus amidst a thousand rays of light at the crown of the Buddha Shakyamuni's head. Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions take up this mantra-heart, they subdue all demons and control all adherents of outside ways. It is the heart of mantras, and it is a mantra-heart of the Buddhas. Therefore, what the heavenly demons and adherents of outside ways fear most is the Shurangama Mantra.

Sutra:

Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions avail themselves of this mantra-heart, they sit upon jeweled lotus flowers and respond throughout countries as numerous as motes of dust.

Commentary:


Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions avail themselves of this mantra-heart. They borrow the mantra; as it were, they ascend the mantra-heart, and they sit upon jeweled lotus-flowers; huge blossoms, and respond throughout countries as numerous as motes of dust. Their response-bodies are able to go throughout lands as numerous as fine motes of dust, due to the power of the Shurangama Mantra-heart.

Sutra:

Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions embody this mantra-heart, they turn the great dharma wheel in lands as numerous as fine motes of dust.

Commentary:


When the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions turn the great dharma wheel in lands as numerous as fine motes of dust, they also base themselves on this mantra. They embody this mantra-heart.

Sutra:

Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions hold this mantra-heart, they are able to go throughout the ten directions to rub beings on the crowns of their heads and bestow predictions upon them. Also, anyone in the ten directions who has not yet realized the fruition, can receive a Buddha's prediction.

Commentary:


Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions hold this mantra-heart, they receive and uphold this mantra-heart, and so they are able to go throughout the ten directions to rub beings on the crowns of their heads and bestow predictions upon them. They bestow predictions of Buddhahood on other living beings. Also, anyone in the ten directions who has not yet realized the fruition, can receive a Buddha's prediction. If you have not realized the fruition, the Buddhas may still rub the crown of your head and bestow a prediction on you.

Sutra:

Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions are based in this mantra-heart, they can go throughout the ten directions to rescue beings from such sufferings as being in the hells, being hungry ghosts, being animals, or being blind, deaf, or mute, as well as from the suffering of being together with those one hates, from the suffering of being apart from those one loves, from the suffering of not obtaining what one seeks, and from the raging blaze of the five skandhas. They liberate beings from both large and small accidents. In response to their recitation, difficulty with thieves, difficulty with armies, difficulty with the law, difficulty with imprisonment, difficulty with wind, fire, and water, and difficulty with hunger, thirst, and impoverishment are all eradicated.

Commentary:


Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions are based in this mantra-heart, they can go throughout the ten directions to rescue beings from such sufferings as the eight sufferings:

1. birth,
2. old age,
3. sickness,
4. death,
5. being apart from those one loves,
6. being together with those one hates,
7. being unable to obtain what one seeks,
8. the raging blaze of the five skandhas.

There are also eight difficulties:

1. the difficulty of the hells,
2. the difficulty of hungry ghosts,
3. the difficulty of animals,
4. the difficulty of being blind, deaf, or mute,
5. the difficulty of being in Uttarakuru,
6. the difficulty of being born at a time when there is no Buddha in the world,
7. the difficulty of having worldly intelligence and powers in debate,
8. the difficulty of being reborn in the long-life heavens.

The beings in the northern continent, Uttarakuru, have a very long lifespan. They live an average of a thousand years. Life on that continent is extremely blissful; the difficulty is that the beings there have no opportunity to see the Buddha, hear the Dharma, or meet the Sangha. Therefore, living there is included among the eight difficulties. The same is true for beings in the heavens; although the lifespan is long, they have no chance to encounter the Triple Jewel. So that, too, is a difficulty.

"Having worldly intelligence and powers in debate" refers to different branches of mundane knowledge, such as the fields of science. They try to express principles where there are no principles and to give reasons when there aren't any.

Being in the hells, being hungry ghosts, being animals, or being blind, deaf, or mute, are among the eight difficulties. Then there is the suffering of being together with those one hates. This is when you move to get away from someone you can't stand, only to find that when you get to the new place, there's a person just like him there! There is also the suffering of being apart from those one loves. You love someone especially, but circumstances force you to be apart. Again, there is the suffering of not obtaining what one seeks. When you don't have something that you want, you seek for it. But if you encounter this suffering, you fail to get what you seek. The raging blaze of the five skandhas, form, feeling, thought, activity, and consciousness, the five skandhas, burn like fire.

They liberate beings from both large and small accidents. This can refer to untimely deaths, such as being killed in an automobile accident, being crushed by a falling building, or any other fatal accident. They can also liberate beings from difficulty with thieves, difficulty with armies, difficulty with the law, difficulty with imprisonment, difficulty with wind, fire, and water, and difficulty with hunger, thirst, and impoverishment. In response to their recitation, all these difficulties are eradicated.

Sutra:

Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions are in accord with this mantra-heart, they can serve good and wise advisors throughout the ten directions. In the four aspects of awesome deportment, they make wish-fulfilling offerings. In the assemblies of as many Thus Come Ones as there are sands in the Ganges, they are considered to be great Dharma princes.

Commentary:

Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions are in accord with this mantra-heart, they can serve good and wise advisors throughout the ten directions. They respectfully offer up their services to good and wise advisors. In the four aspects of awesome deportment, they make wish-fulfilling offerings. In the ceremony of offering to the Triple Jewel, their conduct is perfectly appropriate. In the assemblies of as many Thus Come Ones as there are sands in the Ganges, they are considered to be great Dharma princes. They are the foremost disciples of the Buddha.

Sutra:

Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions practice this mantra-heart, they can gather in and teach their relatives in the ten directions. Causing those of the small vehicle not to be frightened when they hear the secret treasury.

Commentary:


Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions practice this mantra-heart, they can gather in and teach their relatives in the ten directions. Buddhas have the six kinds of close relatives, too, and they first gather in and teach those of their relatives who draw near to them. Why was it that when Shakyamuni Buddha became a Buddha he went first to the Deer Wilds Park to take across the five bhikshus? It is because those five bhikshus were his relatives in that present life and had been his relatives in lives past. They can teach them, causing those of the small vehicle, that is, their relatives who have fallen into studying the small vehicle dharmas, not to be frightened when they hear the Secret Treasury. When they hear the treasury of secrets told by the Buddha, the great vehicle dharma they are not afraid.

Sutra:

Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions recite this mantra-heart, they realize unsurpassed enlightenment while sitting beneath the Bodhi tree, and they enter parinirvana.

Commentary:


Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions recite this mantra-heart. How do the Thus Come Ones in the ten directions become Buddhas? It is also because they recite this mantra-heart. "Recite" means to repeat from memory without looking at the book. They realize unsurpassed enlightenment while sitting beneath the Bodhi tree, and become Buddhas because they recite this mantra. And they enter parinirvana.

Sutra:

Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions transmit this mantra-heart, those to whom they have bequeathed the Buddhadharma can, after their nirvana, dwell in it completely and uphold it. Being strict and pure about the precepts and rules, they can all obtain purity.

Commentary:


Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions, transmit this mantra-heart, those to whom they have bequeathed the Buddhadharma can, after their nirvana, dwell in it completely and uphold it. After the Buddhas go to nirvana, people who inherit the dharma from them know how to cultivate and to receive and uphold the Buddhadharma. Being strict and pure about the precepts and rules, they can all obtain purity. It is because of the power of the mantra that they obtain purity and perfection.

L3 Further explanations are endless.

Sutra:

If I were to explain this mantra, Bwo Da La, of the cluster of light atop the crown of the Buddha's head from morning till night in an unceasing sound, without ever repeating any syllable or phrase, I could go on for as many kalpas as there are sands in the Ganges and still never finish.

Commentary:


If I were to explain this mantra, Bwo Da La, of the cluster of light atop the crown of the Buddha's head from morning till night in an unceasing sound, without ever repeating any syllable or phrase. The "mantra Bwo Da La" refers to the Shurangama Mantra, the "durable mantra," the mantra of the great white canopy. I could go on for as many kalpas as there are sands in the Ganges and still never finish. I would never come to the end of my explanation of the Shurangama Mantra-heart's merits and virtues and wonderful functions.

K2 A beneficial reliance for living beings.
L1 Specific explanation of the supreme name.

Sutra:

I also will tell you that this mantra is called "The Crown of the Thus Come One."

Commentary:


I also will tell you that this mantra is called "The Crown of the Thus Come One." That's another name for it.

L2 A thorough discussion of its awesome power.
M1 He first explains that by diligently holding it, cultivators can rely on it.
N1 He explains that recitation of it will keep demons away.

Sutra:

All of you with something left to study who have not yet put an end to the cycle of rebirth and yet have brought forth sincere resolve to become arhats, will find it impossible to sit in a Bodhimanda and be far removed in body and mind from all demonic deeds if you do not hold this mantra.

Commentary:


All of you with something left to study who have not yet put an end to the cycle of rebirth are still caught in the turning wheel of the six paths. And yet you have brought forth sincere resolve to become arhats. You would like to attain the fruition of arhatship. But you will find it impossible to sit in a Bodhimanda and be far removed in body and mind from all demonic deeds if you do not hold this mantra. If you want to become an arhat and yet do not hold this mantra, or if you want to sit in a Bodhimanda and become a Buddha, and yet have part in demonic activities, either physically or mentally, you are attempting the impossible. In other words, you must recite this mantra to be free of demonic doings. If you don't hold this mantra, you cannot sit in the Bodhimanda, nor can you stay away from the deeds of demons.

N2 Writing it out and carrying it is of benefit.

Sutra:

Ananda, let any living being of any country in any world copy out this mantra in writing on materials native to his region, such as birch bark, pattra, plain paper, or white cotton cloth, and store it in a pouch containing incense. If that person wears the pouch on his body, or if he keeps a copy in his home, then you should know that even if he understands so little that he cannot recite it from memory, he will not be harmed by any poison during his entire life.

Commentary:

The functions of the mantra are discussed here. Ananda, let any living being of any country in any world, this means that in this world or another world or in any one of limitless worlds, a person may copy out this mantra in writing on materials native to his region. The person could be American, English, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Burmese, Ceylonese, or a citizen of any other country at all. Perhaps he writes on birch bark or on pattra, which are palm leaves, on plain paper, or white cotton cloth. Whether he writes it out on paper or cloth or some other material that can be written on does'nt matter. And he can copy it carefully and respectfully, or write it out casually in longhand. Let him store it in a pouch containing incense. If that person wears the pouch on his body, or if he keeps a copy in his home, then you should know that even if he understands so little that he cannot recite it from memory, he will not be harmed by any poison during his entire life. If the person doesn't have a good memory or if he is muddle-headed and can't recite the mantra well, he can write the mantra out and wear it in a little bag, or he can write it out and hang it on the wall of his house. If someone does that, he will go through his entire life without being poisoned. There are strong and weak poisons, but no matter what kind it is, it cannot harm him.

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