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The Shurangama Mantra
VOLUME 6, Chapter 3
P3 Answers all kinds of wishes.
Moreover, Ananda, if women who do not have children and want to conceive can sincerely memorize and recite this mantra or carry the mantra, Syi Dan Dwo Bwo Da La, on their bodies, they can give birth to sons or daughters endowed with blessings, virtue, and wisdom.
"Moreover, Ananda," the Buddha continues, "if women who do not have children and want to conceive", suppose there are women who would like to be mothers. They would like to get pregnant. If they can sincerely memorize and recite this mantra or carry the mantra, Syi Dan Dwo Bwo Da La, on their bodies, they can give birth to sons or daughters endowed with blessings, virtue, and wisdom.
"Sincerely" means singlemindedly; it means to reach the ultimate point of sincere regard. Perhaps they can remember it or use the book to recite the Shurangama Mantra. Or perhaps they request a high master endowed with virtue in the Way to copy out for them the heart of the mantra, Syi Dan Dwo Bwo Da La, and they carry that on their bodies.
This phrase of the mantra means a great white canopy, whether you wear the syllables on your person or are mindful of them in your mind, a great, white canopy spreads out in the air above you and protects you. It can fulfill all your wishes. If these women do these things, their wishes can be fulfilled, and quite soon in response to their sincerity they will have children with blessings, virtue, and wisdom. If they want sons, they will get sons; if they want daughters, they will get daughters.
Those who seek long life will obtain long life. Those who seek to quickly perfect their reward will quickly gain perfection. The same is true for those who seek something regarding their bodies, their lives, their appearance, or their strength.
Those who recite the Shurangama Mantra and seek long life will obtain long life. They will get that reward. Those who seek to quickly perfect their reward, whatever good reward it might be they want, will quickly gain perfection. For instance, if a woman hopes to have a good husband in the future, that's a kind of good reward. And she can attain it. The same applies to men. The meaning is that whatever you seek you can have. It's said,
Those who seek wealth and honor, get wealth and honor.
Those who seek long life, obtain long life.
Those who seek sons, get sons;
Those who seek daughters, get daughters.
No matter what it is, you can have your wishes fulfilled and have everything be as you would like it. The same is true for those who seek something regarding their bodies, their lives, their appearances, or their strength. Whatever they seek on behalf of these things, they will obtain it, in the same way one seeks and obtains long life, and the like.
At the end of their lives, they will gain the rebirth they hope for in whichever of the countries of the ten directions they wish. They certainly will not be born in poorly endowed places, or as inferior people; even less will they be reborn in some odd form.
At the end of their lives, they will gain the rebirth they hope for in whichever of the countries of the ten directions they wish. If you want to be reborn in the East, and come before Akshobhya Buddha, or in the West and meet Amitabha Buddha, or in the North, or in the South, it's up to you, you can be reborn in the country of whichever Buddha you would like to draw near to.
They certainly will not be born in poorly endowed places, or as inferior people. "Poorly endowed" refers to places where the land is not rich and the people are not educated. If one can recite the Shurangama Mantra, one will not be born in such places; even less will they be reborn in some odd form. As a person, you will not have an inferior rebirth; even less will you be reborn as an animal.
O2 Apparent universal benefit to the land.
P1 All difficulties disappear.
Ananda, if there is famine or plague in a country, province, or village, or if perhaps there are armed troops, brigands, invasions, war, or any other kind of local threat or danger, one can write out this spiritual mantra and place it on the four city gates, or on a chaitya or on a dhvaja, and instruct all the people of the country to gaze upon the mantra, to make obeisance to it, to revere it, and to single-mindedly make offerings to it; one can instruct all the citizens to wear it on their bodies or to place it in their homes; and then all such disasters and calamities will completely disappear.
Ananda, if there is famine or plague in a country, province, or village, this means any country at all, whether as large as an entire continent, or as small as a local area or village. In time of famine, there may have been drought, so that nothing will grow, or at the other extreme there may have been a torrential rain which drowns the crops. When a plague strikes, a violent contagious disease spreads among the population and is fatal if contracted.
Or if perhaps there are armed troops, brigands, invasions, war, or any other kind of local threat or danger, in any of these places where there are such difficulties, one can write out this spiritual mantra and place it on the four city gates, or on a chaitya. They can place it on the archway above the gates. "Chaitya" is a Sanskrit word for pagoda, a place which houses the relics of a Buddha or Sage. Or, they can place it on a dhvaja. "Dhvaja" is a Sanskrit word for "banner." Perhaps the mantra is written on a flag and flown high above the city from a watchtower or flagpole.
And one instructs all the people of the country to gaze upon the mantra, to make obeisance to it, to revere it, and to single-mindedly make offerings to it. One can instruct all the citizens of the country to wear it on their bodies or to place it in their homes. People can carry the mantra on their person or put a copy of it in the places where they live, and then all such disasters and calamities will completely disappear. All these misfortunes and evil events will be done away with. The merit and virtue of the Shurangama Mantra is inconceivable. You can't imagine it or think about it; that's where the wonder of it lies.
Some people think that cultivation can consist of nothing but meditation, and so they don't study the sutras. But that is a mistake. Others may think merely reciting mantras and studying the sutras will work and that they don't need to meditate. That's also not the right way. Some may hear how efficacious and powerful mantras are, so they merely recite mantras and do not cultivate in other ways. This is also behavior that is too extreme. In cultivation, no matter what dharma you cultivate, you must find the Middle Way. Don't get carried away. On the other hand, don't fail to go far enough. Too much is the same as not enough. True enough, mantras are efficacious, but you must also develop your samadhi power.
This sutra stresses that the mantra is efficacious, but the most essential point as far as cultivation is concerned is its teaching of the dharma door of turning the hearing back to hear the self-nature, the dharma door of the perfect penetration of the organ of the ear. So even when you recite mantras, you should be turning the hearing back to hear the self nature. You should return the light and illumine within.
When you recite the mantra, the mantra is one's mind and one's mind is the mantra. The two cannot be separated. The mind and the mantra are two and yet not two. Although they are two, they become one. If you can become like that, then whatever you want will be as you wish. You will certainly be able to accomplish what you set out to do. If the mantra and your mind unite as one, then you will obtain the samadhi of Chan. This is something that everyone should be aware of.
P2 The people experience plenty and happiness.
Ananda, in each and every country where the people accord with this mantra, the heavenly dragons are delighted, the winds and rains are seasonal, the crops are abundant, and the people are peaceful and happy.
Ananda, in each and every country where the people accord with this mantra, the heavenly dragons are delighted. No matter what country it may be, if the Shurangama Mantra is there, the heavenly dragons are pleased, and the winds and rains are seasonal. There are no hurricanes or floods which bring harm and destruction. The crops are abundant. There are plentiful harvests of the five grains. The people are peaceful and happy.
P3 Evil omens do not manifest.
It can also suppress all evil stars which may appear in any of the directions and transform themselves in uncanny ways. Calamities and obstructions will not arise. People will not die accidentally or unexpectedly, nor will they be bound by fetters, cangues, or locks. Day and night they will be at peace, and no evil dreams will disturb their sleep.
This passage tells how they will not have the difficulty of evil dreams, either. It also can suppress all evil stars. The mantra can control the influence of ill-omened stars. This is just like a person of genuine wisdom ruling a country in such a way that there are no rebels; all the bad people reform, and all matters are conducted with ease. When one person endowed with virtue in the Way is the leader, an entire country of people of lesser endowment will willingly follow. They will heed his wisdom.
Here, the mantra is analogous to the virtuous leader. It can control all inauspicious events. The "evil stars" represent unlucky affairs. These bad stars may appear in any of the directions and transform themselves in uncanny ways. They can bring about terrible, cruel disasters. But calamities and obstructions will not arise. People will not die accidentally or unexpectedly. "Accidental" deaths are untimely, unlucky deaths such as fatal auto accidents, or airplane crashes, or drowning at sea, or deaths by burning.
The passage refers to anything that causes people to die when they don't want to, when they aren't prepared. "Unexpected deaths" refers to the death of children. Any death before one is thirty years old is considered unexpected, because one has not lived out one's proper lifespan. Nor will they be bound by fetters, cangues, or locks. Day and night they will be at peace, and no evil dreams will disturb their sleep. No ghosts will come to bully you.
Ananda, this Saha world has eighty-four thousand changeable and disastrous evil stars. Twenty-eight great evil stars are the leaders, and of these, eight great evil stars are the rulers. They take various shapes, and when they appear in the world they bring disaster and weird happenings upon living beings.
Ananda, this Saha world has eighty-four thousand changeable and disastrous evil stars. There are uncountably many evil stars connected with this world we live in. Twenty-eight great evil stars are the leaders. Although these twenty-eight are evil, they can also be good.
In China, twenty-eight constellations which rule the four directions are spoken of, with seven constellations in each direction. In Chinese astrology, these constellations rule all divisions of time, even down to the days and hours. One cycle takes twenty-eight days, the typical lunar month.
If a person is good, then the-evil stars change to good ones. If the people of a certain place are evil, however, then even the good stars can change to evil ones. So it's not that the stars are inherently evil or good; it's that they respond to the influence of karmic retribution and manifest in good or evil ways.
Here they are referred to as evil to show that the Shurangama Mantra can dissolve all calamities and difficulties. Thus, the sutra takes the position at this point that all the stars are evil, that all are inauspicious. If the stars are inauspicious and you as a person don't have any great good roots or any virtuous conduct to your benefit, then of course the whole situation becomes even more inauspicious. But if you can recite the Shurangama Mantra, then even inauspicious events can change to auspicious ones.
The twenty-eight are:
And of these, eight great evil stars are the rulers:
l. "Wood Star," Jupiter
2. "Fire Star," Mars
3. "Earth Star," Saturn
4. "Metal Star," Venus
5. "Water Star," Mercury
6. Rahu (North Node)
7. Ketu (South Node)
Some celestial bodies are terrible and ugly; some are elegant and beautiful to behold. During the change of dynasties in China, a comet appeared in the world. Actually, what was the comet? It was a child wearing a red nightshirt. It went about teaching children to sing. When all the children started singing, the country would come to an end. So it was that whenever the government was about to change hands and a new emperor was about to appear, this evil star would appear in the world. "Weird happenings" refers to things not ordinarily seen. Suddenly some special circumstance arises that is totally out of the ordinary, and always inauspicious. "Happenings" means that things would change and be out of balance and not proper.
But they will all be eradicated wherever there is the mantra. The boundaries will be secured for twelve yojanas around, and no evil calamity or misfortune will ever enter in.
But they will all be eradicated, all inauspicious events, calamities, and disasters, wherever there is the mantra, in every country where the Shurangama Mantra is known. The boundaries will be secured for twelve yojanas around. One secures the boundaries by reciting the mantra in a certain place.
For instance, one recites the Shurangama Mantra while facing north, then east, then south, then west. In every direction that one faces while reciting, the boundaries are secured for a distance of twelve yojanas. A small yojana is forty Chinese miles (about thirteen English miles). "Twelve yojanas" here refers to great yojanas, or a total of ninety-six Chinese miles (thirty-two English miles). For that distance all around, the boundaries are secured.
Within that range, the demons and weird creatures and ghosts are not permitted to cause accidents or catastrophes. They are not permitted to act up and make trouble. Beyond the thirty-six miles it is a different matter, but within them, no evil calamity or misfortune will ever enter in. Thus, wherever the Shurangama Mantra is found, everyone in the area benefits. In the area where the boundaries are secured, no catastrophe, calamity, accident, or misfortune will be found.
M3 He makes clear with a general exhortation that cultivators will certainly certify.
N1 They will be protected and peaceful.
Therefore, the Thus Come One proclaims this mantra as one which will protect those of the future who have just begun to study, as well as all cultivators, so that they can enter samadhi, be peaceful in body and mind, and attain great tranquility.
Therefore, the Thus Come One, Shakyamuni Buddha, proclaims the Shurangama Mantra as the mantra which will protect those of the future. That refers to us in the present. He says that this mantra will protect those in the future who have just begun to study, as well as all cultivators so that they can enter samadhi. They will obtain samadhi-power, be peaceful in body and mind, and attain great tranquillity. They will be calm and free from troubles.
N2 They will be far apart from demons and enemies.
Even less will any demon, ghost, or spirit, or any enemy, calamity, or misfortune due from former lives that reach back to beginningless time, or any old karma or past debts come to vex and harm them.
Even less will any demon, ghost, or spirit, or any enemy, calamity, or misfortune due from former lives that reach back to beginningless time come to bother one who holds this mantra. Misfortunes due from a former life refer to offenses one created for which one should undergo a retribution. This also is true for any old karma, that is, for deeds done in former lives, karmic obstacles one has created or past debts one owes.
For instance, if one has killed a person, one should have to pay back with one's own life. If one eats another's flesh, one has to pay back with one's own flesh. All these debts have to be paid off. But if one can recite and uphold the Shurangama Mantra, these misfortunes due from old karma and past unpaid debts will not come to vex and harm one. Nothing can get at you.