AVALOKITESVARA’S MEDITATION ON HEARING FROM SURANGAMA SUTRA
The Gathas by Bodhisattva Manjusri
Reverently I declare to the Tathagatha what Avalokitesvara said:
“When one dwells in silence, Rolls of drums in ten directions,
All can be simultaneously heard. Thus is hearing complete.
Seeing cannot penetrate a screen, Neither can taste nor smell;
Feeling comes only in contact, And thought in focus lack.
But sound whether near or far, At all times can be heard;
The other senses are imperfect, Only hearing is truly pervasive.
The presence and absence of sound, Perceived by the ear as existent or not;
Absence of sound means nothing heard, Not hearing devoid of its nature.
Absence of sound is not the end of hearing, And presence of sound is not its beginning.
The faculty of hearing is unborn, Undying and one with the Truth.
Even when thoughts stop, Hearing does not end.
For hearing is beyond all thought, Beyond both mind and body.
In this Saha world, One teaches by voice.
Sentient beings who know not true hearing, Follow false sounds to be reborn.
Though Ananda memorizes all he has heard, He is not freed from inverted thought.
By clinging to sound one falls into Samsara, By non-clinging one attains Nirvana.
Listen, Ananda, listen closely.
In Buddha’s name do I declare, By the indestructible king of enlightenment;
The inconceivable wisdom of reality- The Samadhi of all Buddhas.
You may hear of esoteric teachings, from Buddhas as countless as dust;
But if you overcome not craving, Hearing only causes more errors.
To hear your true self, you must invert, What you use to hear the Buddha’s words.
Hearing has no nature; It owes its name to sound.
Freed from sound by inverting hearing, What to you call this thing?
When one sense return to its source, All other senses will be liberated.
Seeing and hearing are both illusions, Like falling flowers in the sky.
Hearing without sound, The illusionary sense vanishes.
When object is no more, the subject is no more.
And pure is the Bodhi attained. Its pure, bright light pervades all.
Its shining stillness filling the void.
All worldly things when examined, Are like illusions seen in dreams,
So was the foolish maiden Matangi – How could she keep your body?
Like a clever artist, Presenting a puppet play,
The movements may be many, But only one controller exists.
When that control stops, The puppets become lifeless.
Likewise are the senses, Derived from one Alaya (store consciousness).
If one return to the source, So will the other senses follow.
With all illusions ended, Bodhi is thereby attained.
Defilement represents sentient beings, Enlightenment represents the Tathagata.
Ananda and those listening, Invert your false hearing.
When one hears truly, That is true Bodhi.
Buddhas of all worlds, Many as Ganges sands,
Thus entered this Nirvana.
All the past Tathagatas, Have this method perfected.
All the present Bodhisattvas, Have this teaching mastered.
All you future sentient beings, Should learn this dharma well.”
“Avalokitesvara did not practice alone; For I Manjusri was with him.
The Enlightened and World-honoured One, Asked me for the best expedient,
For those in the Dharma ending era, Who wish to escape from this Samsara;
In their search for Nirvana, It’s best to contemplate sound.
Other methods are only expedients, Used just for special cases,
To keep disciples from occasional difficulty.
They’re not for indiscriminate practice, By beings of varying minds.
I salute the Tathagatha’s treasure, Beyond all the worldly streams.
Blessed be future generations, If they can have faith,
In this excellent expedient.
It’s good for teaching Ananda, And those of future age,
Who should rely on hearing, Surpassing all the other senses –
For it is one with profound Reality.”
– END –
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