Avalokiteshvara’s Methods and Vows//from Surangama Sutra // Meditation on the organ of hearing// Avalokiteshvara’s Methods


“As the Buddha now asks about the best means of perfection,
my method which consists in regulating the organ of
hearing so as to quiet the mind for its entry into the stream of
meditation leading to the state of Samàdhi and attainment of
Enlightenment is the best.
.World Honoured One, that Buddha praised my excellent
method of perfection and gave me, in the presence of
the assembly, the-name of Avalokiteshvara. Because of my
all-embracing (absolute function of) hearing, my name is
known everywhere…..”

Avalokiteshvara’s Methods and Vows//from Surangama Sutra // 
Meditation on the organ of hearing// Avalokiteshvara’s Methods

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva
and Vows//from Surangama Sutra
Thereupon Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva rose from his seat,
prostrated himself with his head at the feet of the Buddha
and declared: .I still remember that long before numbers of
aeons countless as the sand grains in the Ganges, a Buddha
called Avalokiteshvara appeared in the world. When I was
with Him, I developed the Bodhi Mind and, for my entry into
Samàdhi, I was instructed by Him to practise meditation by
means of the organ of hearing.
.At first by directing the organ of hearing into the
stream of meditation, this organ was detached from its object,
and by wiping out (the concept of) both sound and
stream-entry, both disturbance and stillness became clearly
non-existent. Thus advancing step by step both hearing and
its object ceased completely, but I did not stop where they
ended. When the awareness of this state and this state itself
were realized as non-existent, both subject and object
merged into the void, the awareness of which became all embracing.
With further elimination of the void and its object
both creation and annihilation vanished giving way to the
state of Nirvàna which then manifested.
.Suddenly I leaped over both the mundane and
supramundane, thereby realizing an all-embracing brightness
pervading the ten directions, and acquired two unsurpassed
(merits). The first was in accord with the fundamental
Profound Enlightened Mind of all the Buddhas high up
in the ten directions and possessed the same merciful
power as the Tathàgata. The second was in sympathy with
all living beings in the six realms of existence here below in
the ten directions and shared with them the same plea for
compassion.
.World Honoured One, as I (followed and) made offerings
to the Tathàgata Avalokiteshvara, He taught me to use
my illusory hearing and sublimate it to realize the Diamond
(Vajra) Samàdhi which gave me the same power of mercy of
all Buddhas and enabled me to transform myself into thirtytwo
bodily forms for the. purpose of visiting all countries in
saüsàra (to convert and liberate living beings).
.World Honoured One, if there are Bodhisattvas who
practise Samàdhi to attain the transcendental (Mean), when
there is a chance for them to realize absolute Wisdom, I will
appear as a Buddha to teach them the Dharma to liberate
them.
.If there are solitary students seeking (only) self enlightenment,
who practise the stillness of Nirvana, when
there is a chance for them to realize it, I will appear as a
teacher of self-enlightenment to teach them the Dharma to
liberate them.
.If there are students of the Four Noble Truths who,
after realizing the unreality of suffering and its accumulation,
tread the Path leading to the extinction of passions, when
there is a chance for them to achieve this, I will appear as a
hearer (sràvaka) to teach them the Dharma to liberate them.
.If there are living beings who realize (the harmfulness
of) desire in the mind and abstain from all worldly cravings to
achieve purity of body, I will appear as Brahmà to teach
them the Dharma to liberate them.
.If there are living beings who desire to be lords of
devas to rule over the realms of the gods, I will appear as
Sakra to teach them the Dharma so that they reach their
goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to roam freely in the
ten directions, I will appear as Isvaradeva to teach them the
Dharma to that they reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to fly freely in empty
space, I will appear as Mahesvara to teach them the Dharma
so that they reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to be lords of ghosts
and spirits to protect their countries, I will appear as a great
warrior to teach them the Dharma so that they reach their
goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to rule over the
world to protect all its inhabitants, I will appear as a deva king
of the four quarters to teach them the Dharma so that they
reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to be reborn in the
palace of devas to command ghosts and spirits, I will appear
as a son of the deva king of the four quarters to teach them
the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to be kings of
human beings, I will appear as a king to teach them the
Dharma so that they reach their goals..
.If there are living beings who wish to be heads of clans
to enjoy the respects of their clansmen, I will appear as a respectable
elder (gçhapati) to teach them the Dharma so that
they reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who enjoy discussing wellknown
sayings and practise pure living, I will appear as a respectable
scholar to teach them the Dharma so that they
reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to govern cities and
towns, I will appear as a magistrate to teach them the
Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who delight in practising mysticism
for self-welfare, I will appear as a Brahmin to teach
them the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are men who are keen on study and learning
and leave home to practise the rules of morality and discipline,
I will appear as a bhikùu to teach them the Dharma so
that they reach their goals.
.If there are women who are eager to study and learn
and leave home to observe the precepts, I will appear as a
bhikùuõã to teach them the Dharma so that they reach their
goals.
.If there are men who observe the five precepts, I will
appear as a upàsaka to teach them the Dharma so that they
reach their goals.
.If there are women who observe the five precepts, I
will appear as a upàsikà to teach them the Dharma so that
they reach their goals.
.If there are women who are keen to fulfil their home
duties thereby setting a good example to other families and
the whole country, I will appear as a queen, a princess or a
noble lady to teach them the Dharma so that they reach their
goals.
.If there are young men who are chaste, I will appear as
a celibate youth to teach them the Dharma so that they reach
their goals.
.If there are young women who are keen to avoid carnality
in order to preserve their virginity, I will appear as a
maiden to teach them the Dharma so that they reach their
goals.
.If there are gods who wish to be freed from bondage
in their realms, I will appear as a deva to teach them the
Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are dragons (nàgas) who wish to be freed from
bondage in their realms, I will appear, as a nàga to teach
them the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are yakùas who wish to be freed from bondage
in their realms, I will appear as a yakùa to teach them the
Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are gandharvas who wish to be freed from
bondage in their realms, I will appear as a gandharva to teach
them the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are asuras who wish to be freed from bondage
in their realms, I will appear as an asura to teach them the
Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are garuóas who wish to be freed from bondage
in their realms, I will appear as a garuóa to teach them
the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are kinnaras who wish to be freed from bondage
in their realms, I will appear as a kinnara to teach them
the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are mahoragas who wish to be freed from
bondage in their realms, I will appear as a mahoraga to teach
them the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to be reborn as
human beings, I will appear in human form to teach them the
Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are non-human beings with or without forms
and either thoughtful or thoughtless, who wish to be freed
from bondage in their realms, I will appear as one of them to
teach them the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.These are my thirty-two transformation-bodies in
response to (the needs of) all countries in saüsàra,
achieved by means of the uncreated sovereign power of
Samàdhi realized in my practice of sublimating the faculty
of hearing.
.World Honoured One, I also use this uncreated sovereign
power of Diamond Samàdhi, derived from sublimating
hearing, to share with all living beings in the six realms in the
ten directions the same plea for compassion, and to bestow
upon them fourteen kinds of fearlessness which emanate
from my body and mind.
1. .Since I myself do not meditate on sound but on the
meditator, I cause all suffering beings to look into the sound
of their voices in order to obtain liberation.155
2. .By returning (discriminative) intellect to its (absolute)
source, I cause them to avoid being burned when they
find themselves in a great fire.
3. .By returning hearing to its source, I cause them to
avoid drowning when they are adrift on the sea.
4. .By stopping wrong thinking and thereby cleansing
their minds of harmfulness, I lead them to safety when they
wander in the realm of evil ghosts.
5. .By sublimating their (wrong) hearing to restore its
155. This is a very profound meditation which readers should not let pass without careful study if they
wish to know why Avalokite÷vara is so popular in Far Eastern countries where he is the merciful
patron saint. By discarding the sound to look into the meditator himself, that is into the nature of
hearing, he disengages himself from both organs and sense data and thereby realizes his allembracing
Buddha nature which contains all living beings. By developing their pure faith in him
and by calling his name, or concentrating on him, they achieve singleness of mind that mingles with
his Bodhi substance and become one with him; hence their liberation from sufferings which do not
exist in the absolute state.

absolute condition, thereby purifying all six organs and perfecting
their functions, I cause them, when in danger, to be
immune from sharp weapons which become blunt and useless
like water that cannot be cut and daylight that cannot be
blown away, because their (underlying) nature does not
change.
6. .By perfecting the sublimation of their hearing, its
bright light pervades the whole Dharma realm to destroy the
darkness (of ignorance) thereby dazzling evil beings such as
yakùa, rakùa, kuübhàõóa, pisàcã, påtana, etc., who cannot
see them when meeting them.
7. .When hearing is reversed so that sound vanishes
completely, all illusory objects of sense disappear so that
(practisers) are freed from fetters which can no longer restrain
them.
8: .The elimination of sound to perfect hearing results
in universal compassion so that they can pass through
regions infested with robbers and bandits who cannot plunder
them.
9. .The sublimation of hearing disengages them from
the objects of sense and makes them immune from (attractive)
forms, thereby enabling lustful beings to get rid of desires
and cravings.
10. .The sublimation of sound eliminates all sense
data and results in the perfect mingling of each organ with
its objects and the total eradication of subject and object,
thereby enabling all vindictive beings to bury anger and
hate.
11. .After the elimination of sense data and the return to
the bright (Reality), both inner body and mind and outer phenomena
become crystal dear and free from all hindrances, so
that dull and ignorant unbelievers (icchantika) can get rid of
the darkness of ignorance.
12. .When their bodies are in harmony with the nature
of hearing, they can, from their immutable state of enlightenment
(bodhimaõóala), re-enter the world (to liberate others)
without harming the worldly, and can go anywhere to make
offerings to Buddhas countless as dust, serving every Tathà-
gata in the capacity of a son of the King of the Law and
having the power to give male heirs with blessed virtues and
wisdom to childless people who want boys.
13. .The perfecting of the six organs unifies their divided
functions so that they become all-embracing, thus revealing
the Great Mirror (Wisdom) and immaterial Tathàgata
womb compatible with all Dharma doors taught by Buddhas
as uncountable as dust. They can bestow upright, blessed,
gracious, and respect-inspiring girls on childless parents who
want daughters.
14. .In this great chiliocosm which contains a hundred
lacs of suns and moons, there are now Bodhisattvas countless
as sand grains in sixty-two156 Ganges rivers. They practise
the Dharma to set a good example to all living beings by
befriending, teaching and converting them; in their wisdom
their expedient methods differ. Because I used one penetrat-
156. The digit 6 stands for the sixth consciousness, or mad mind, which creates the duality of ego and
dharma, symbolized by the digit 2. The duty of every Bodhisattva is to liberate living beings
deceived by the illusions thus created.
ing organ which led to my realization through the faculty of
hearing, my body and mind embrace the whole Dharmarealm
in which I teach all living beings to concentrate their
minds on calling my name. The merits that follow are the
same as those derived from calling on the names of all these
Bodhisattvas. World Honoured One, my single name does
not differ from those uncountable ones, because of my practice
and training which led to my true enlightenment. These
are the fourteen fearless (powers) which I bestow upon living
beings.
.World Honoured One, because of my Perfect Understanding
which led to my attainment of the Supreme Path, I
acquired four inconceivable absolute virtues.
1. .When I first realized the hearing mind which was
most profound, the Essence of Mind (i.e. the Tathàgata store)
disengaged itself from hearing and could no longer be divided
by seeing, hearing, feeling and knowing, and so became
one pure and clean all-pervading precious Bodhi. This is why
I can take on different wonderful forms and master a countless
number of esoteric mantras. I can appear with one,
three, five, seven, nine, eleven and up to 108, 1,000, 10,000
and 84,000 sovereign (cakra) faces; with two, four, six, eight,
ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty, twenty-four
and up to 108, 1,000, 10,000 and 84,000 arms making various
gestures (mudràs); and with two, three, four, nine up to
108, 1,000, 10,000 and 84,000 clean and pure precious
eyes, either merciful or wrathful, and in a state either of still
imperturbability (dhyàna-samàdhi) or of absolute wisdom
(praj¤à) to save and protect living beings so that they can
enjoy great freedom.
2. .Because of my meditation by means of the (organ
of) hearing, which resulted in my disengagement from the six
sense data, like a sound going through a wall without hindrance,
I can, with each appearance and with the aid of each
mantra, bestow fearlessness upon (suffering) beings in countries
as countless as dust in the ten directions in which I am
regarded as the Giver of Dauntlessness.
3. .Because of the perfection which I won by sublimating
the appropriate organ, living beings in countries which I
visit (lay down their desires and attachments and) offer their
bodies and treasures to implore my compassion.
4. .As 1 have realized the Buddha mind and attained
Ultimate (Reality) I can make offerings to the Tathàgatas in
ten directions and satisfy living beings in the six worlds who
seek (virtuous) wives, (good) sons, samàdhi, long life and
even parinirvàõa.
.As the Buddha now asks about the best means of perfection,
my method which consists in regulating the organ of
hearing so as to quiet the mind for its entry into the stream of
meditation leading to the state of Samàdhi and attainment of
Enlightenment is the best.
.World Honoured One, that Buddha praised my excellent
method of perfection and gave me, in the presence of
the assembly, the-name of Avalokiteshvara. Because of my
all-embracing (absolute function of) hearing, my name is
known everywhere..
Thereupon, the Buddha, from His lion-seat, sent out
from the five members of His body, rays of light which reached
and shone on the heads of the Tathàgatas and Bodhisattvas
countless as dust in the ten directions. In return countless
Tathàgatas sent back rays of light which shone on the heads of
the Buddha, great Bodhisattvas and Arhats in the assembly,
causing the groves and streams to intone the Dharma and uncountable
rays of light to interlace in precious nets, a spectacle
never seen before. As, a result, all (the Bodhisattvas and
Arhats in the assembly) realized the Diamond Samàdhi. At the
same time showers of green, yellow, red and white lotus blossoms
turned the whole of space into a seven coloured expanse
and caused mountains, rivers and the great earth to disappear
and all the countless other realms to merge into one universe
filled with songs and recitations.157
Thereupon, the Tathàgata said to Ma¤jusrã: .Son of the
Dharma king, these twenty-five Bodhisattvas and Arhats
who no longer need to study and learn, have related the expedient
methods used by them at the start of their practice
for their realization of Bodhi. In reality each of these methods
does not differ from, and is neither superior nor inferior to the
others. Tell me which one of them is suitable to ânanda so
that he can awaken to it and which one is easy of achievement,
for the benefit of living beings who, after my nirvàõa,
wish to practise with the Bodhisattva vehicle in their search
for Supreme Bodhi..
157. This reveals the blissful realm of Avalokiteshvara.s reward-body (sambhogakàya) wherein all
dualities and contraries are replaced by a uniform state of Sublime Majesty.

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