Tag Archives: Surangama Sutra



Master Hsu Yun

Master Hsu Yun

There are many kinds of method but I will deal briefly with them.


(1) Firm belief in the (law of) causality

Whoever One may be, especially if striving to perform one’s religious duty, one should believe firmly in the law of causality. If one lacks this belief and does whatever one likes, not only will one fail in the performance of religious duty, but also there will be no escape from this law (of causality) even in the three unhappy ways.[1] An ancient master said: ‘If one wishes to know the causes formed in a previous life, one can find them in how one fares in the present life; if one wishes to know the effects in the next life, one can find them in one’s deeds in the present life.’ He also said: ‘The karma of our deeds will never be wiped out even after hundreds and thousands of aeons (but) as soon as conditions become ripe, we will have to bear the effects ourselves.’ The Surangama Sutra says: ‘If the causal ground is not a true one, the ripening (fruit) will be distorted’ Therefore, when one sows a good cause, one will reap a good fruit (and) when one sows an evil cause, one will reap an evil fruit; when one sows melon (seeds) one will gather melons (and) when one sows beans, one will gather beans. This is the plain truth. As I am talking about the law of causality, I will tell you two stories to illustrate it.

The first story is about the massacre of the Sakya clansmen by the Crystal King (Virudhaka).[2] Before the advent of Sakyamuni Buddha, there was near Kapila town a village inhabited by fishermen, and in it was a big pond. It happened that because of a great drought, the pond ran dry and all the fish were caught and eaten by the villagers. The last fish taken was a big one and before it was killed, a boy who never ate fish, played with it and thrice knocked its head. Later, after Sakyamuni Buddha’s appearance in this world, King Prasenajit[3] who believed in the Buddha-dharma, married a Sakya girl who then gave birth to a prince called Crsytal. When he was young, Crystal had his schooling in Kapila which was then inhabited by the Sakya clansmen. One day while playing, the boy ascended to the Buddha’s seat and was reprimanded by others who dragged him down. The boy cherished a grudge against the men and when he became king, he led his soldiers to attack Kapila, killing all its inhabitants. At the same time, the Buddha suffered from a headache which lasted three days. When His disciples asked Him to rescue the poor inhabitants, the Buddha replied that a fixed Karma could not be changed. By means of his miraculous powers, Maudgalyayana[4] rescued five hundred Sakya clansmen and thought he could give them refuge in his own bowl which was raised up in the air. When the bowl was brought down, all the men had been turned into blood. When asked by His chief disciples, the Buddha related the story (kung an) of the villagers who in days gone by had killed all the fish (in their pond); King Crystal had been the big fish and his soldiers the other fish in the pond; the inhabitants of Kapila who were now killed had been those who ate the fish; and the Buddha Himself had been the boy who thrice knocked the head of the big fish. (Karma was) now causing Him to suffer from a headache for three days in retribution for his previous act. Since there colud be no escape from the effects of a fixed Karma, the five hundred Sakya clansmen, although rescued by Maudgalyayana, shared the same fate. Later, King Crystal was reborn in a hell. (As cause produces effect which in turn becomes a new cause) the retribution (theory) is inexhaustible. The law of causality is really very dreadful.

The second story is that of (Ch’an master) Pai Chang who liberated a wild fox.[5] One day, after a Ch’an meeting, although all his disciples had retired, the old master Pai Chang noticed an elderly man who remained behind. Pai Chang asked the man what he was doing and he replied: ‘I am not a human being but the spirit of a wild fox. In my previous life, I was the head-monk of this place. One day, a monk asked me, “Does a man practicing self-cultivation, still become involved in the (theory of) retribution?” I replied, “No, he is free from the (theory of) retribution.” For this (reply) alone, I got involved in retribution and have now been the spirit of a wild fox for five hundred years, and am still unable to get away from it. Will the master be compassionate enough to enlighten me on all this?’ Pai Chang said to the old man: ‘Ask me the same question (and I will explain it to you).’ The man then said to the master: ‘I wish to ask the master this: Does one who practices self cultivation still get involved in the (theory of) retribution?’ Pai Chang replied: ‘He is not blind to cause and effect.’ Thereupon, the old man was greatly awakened; he prostrated himself before the master to thank him and said: ‘I am indebted to you for your (appropriate) reply to the question and am now liberated from the fox’s body.[6] I live in a (small) grotto on the mountain behind and hope you will grant me the usual rites for a dead monk.’ The following day, Pai Chang went to a mountain behind (his monastery), where in a (small) grotto he probed the ground with his staff and discovered a dead fox for whom the usual funeral rites for a dead monk were held.

(Dear) friends, after listening to these two stories, you will realize that the law of causality is indeed a dreadful (thing). Even after His attainment of Buddhahood, the Buddha still suffered a headache in retribution (for His former act). Retribution is infallible and fixed karma is inescapable. So we should always be heedful of all this and should be very careful about creating (new) causes.

(2) Strict observance if the rules of discipline (commandment)

In striving to perform one’s religious duty, the first thing is to observe the rules of discipline. For discipline is the fundamental of the Supreme Bodhi; discipline begets immutability and immutability begets wisdom. There is no such thing as self-cultivation without observance of the rules of discipline. The Surangama Sutra which lists four kinds of purity, clearly teaches us that cultivation of Samadhi (-mind) without observance of the rules of discipline, will not wipe out the dust (impurities). Even if there be manifestation of much knowledge with dhyana, this also will cause a fall into (the realm of) maras (evil demons) and heretics. Therefore, we know that observance of the rules of discipline is very important. A man observing them is supported and protected by dragon-kings and devas, and respected and feared by maras and heretics. A man breaking the rules of discipline is called a big robber by the ghosts who make a clean sweep of even his footprints. Formerly, in Kubhana state (Kashmir), there was nearby a monastery a poisonous dragon which frequently played havoc in the region. (In the monastery) five hundred arhats gathered together but failed to drive away the dragon with their collective power of Dhyana-samadhi. Later, a monk came (to the monastery) where he did not enter into Dhyana-samadhi; he merely said to the poisonous dragon: ‘Will the wise and virtuous one leave this place and go to some distant one.’ Thereupon, the poisonous dragon fled to a distant place. When asked by the arhats what miraculous power he had used to drive away the dragon, the monk replied: ‘I did not use the power of Dhyana-samadhi; I am only very careful about keeping the rules of discipline and I observe a minor one with the same care as a major one.’ So, we can see that the collective power of five hundred arhats’ Dhyana–samadhi cannot compare with a monk’s strict observance of the rules of discipline.
If you (retort and) ask me (why) the Sixth Patriarch said:

‘Why should discipline be observed if the mind is (already) impartial?
Why should straightforward men practice Ch’an ?’[7]

I will ask you back this question: ‘Is your mind already impartial and straightforward; if the (lady) Ch’ang O came down from the moon[8] with her naked body and embraced you in her arms, would your heart remain undisturbed; and if someone without any reason insults and beats you, will you not give rise to feelings of anger and resentment? Can you refrain from differentiating between enmity and affection, between hate and love, between self and other, and between right and wrong? If you can do all this, then you can open your mouth widely to talk, otherwise it is useless to tell a deliberate lie.’

(3) A firm faith

A firm believing mind is the fundamental of one’s training for performing one’s religious duty, because faith is the mother (or begetter) of the beginning (or source) of right doctrine, and because without faith, no good will derive therefrom. If we want to be liberated from (the round of) births and deaths, we must first have a firm believing mind. The Buddha said that all living beings on earth had (inherent in them) the meritorious Tathagata wisdom which they could not realize solely because of their false thinking and grasping. He also expounded all kinds of Dharma doors (to enlightenment) to cure (all kinds of) ailments from which living beings suffered. We should, therefore, believe that his words are not false and that all living beings can attain Buddhahood. But why have we failed to attain Buddhahood? It is because we have not gone into training according to the (correct) method. For example, we believe and know that bean curd can be made with soybean but if we do not start making it, soybean cannot turn into bean curd (for us). Now assuming that soybean is used for making bean curd, we shall still fail to make it if we do not know how to mix it with gypsum. If we know the method, we will grind the soybean (put the powder in water), boil it, take out the bean grounds and add a suitable quantity of gypsum powder; thus we will certainly get bean curd. Likewise, in the performance of our religious duty, Buddhahood will be unattainable not only because of lack of training, but also because of training not in conformity with the (correct) method. If our self-cultivation is practiced according to the (correct) method, without either backsliding or regret, we are bound to attain Buddhahood.

Therefore, we should firmly believe that fundamentally we are Buddhas, we should also firmly believe that self-cultivation performed according to the (correct) method is bound to result in the attainment of Buddha-hood. Master Yung Chia said (in his Song of Enlightenment):

‘When the real is attained, neither ego nor dharma exist,
And in a moment the avici karma[9] is eradicated.
If knowingly I lie to deceive living beings, my tongue
Will be pulled out for aeons uncountable as dust and sand.’[10]

The old master was very compassionate and took this boundless vow to urge those coming after him to develop a firm believing mind.

(4) Adoption of the method of training

After one has developed a firm faith, one should choose a Dharma door (to enlightenment) for one’s training. One should never change it, and when one’s choice has been made, either for repetition of the Buddha’s name, or for holding a mantra, or for Ch’an training, one should stick to it for ever without backsliding and regret. If today the method does not prove successful, tomorrow it shall be continued; if this year it does not prove successful, next year it shall be continued; and if in the present lifetime it does not prove successful, it shall be continued in the next life. The old master Kuei Shan said: ‘If one practices it in each succeeding reincarnation, the Buddha-stage can be expected.’ There are some people who are irresolute in their decisions; today after hearing a learned man praise the repetition of Buddha’s name, they decide to repeat it for a couple of days and tomorrow, after hearing another learned man praise Ch’an training, they will try it for another two days. If they like to play in this manner, they will go on doing so until their death without succeeding in getting any result. Is it not a pity?


Athough there are many Dharma doors (to enlightenment), the Buddha, Patriarchs and Ancestors[11] were agreed that the Ch’an training was the unsurpassed wonderful door. In the Surangama assembly, the Buddha ordered Manjusri to choose between the (various modes of) complete enlightenment, and (he chose) Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva’s (method) of using the faculty of hearing, as the best. When we turn back the hearing to hear our self-nature, this is (one of the methods of) Ch’an training. This place is a Ch’an hall in which we should discuss this Ch’an training.


Our daily activities are performed within the truth itself. Is there a place that is not a Bodhimandala?[12] Fundamentally a Ch’an hall is out of place; moreover Ch’an does not mean sitting (in meditation). The so-called Ch’an hall and the so-called Ch’an sitting are only provided for people (who encounter) insurmountable obstructions (of their own) and who are of shallow wisdom in this period of decadence (of the Dharma).

When one sits in this training, one’s body and mind should be well controlled. If they are not well controlled a small harm will be illness and a great harm will be entanglement with the demon, which is most regrettable. In the Ch’an hall, when incense sticks are burned for your walking or sitting, the aim is to ensure the control of body and mind. Besides this, there are many ways to control body and mind, but I will deal briefly with the essential ones.

When sitting in Ch’an meditation, the correct position is the natural one. The waist should not be pushed forward, for to do so is to pull upward the inner heat with the result that after the sitting, there will be tears, bad breath, uneasy respiration, loss of appetite and even vomiting of blood. Neither should the waist be drawn backward with dropped head, for this can easily cause dullness. As soon as dullness is felt, the meditator should open his eyes wide, pull up his waist and gently shake his buttocks, and dullness will disappear automatically.

If the training is undergone in hot haste, one will feel a certain annoying dryness in the chest. In this case, it will be advisable to stop the training for the time a half-inch of the incense stick takes to burn, and resume when one feels at ease again. If one does not proceed in this manner, one will, as time goes on, develop a hot and excitable character, and in the worst case, one may thereby become insane or get entangled with demons.

When the Ch’an sitting (in meditation) becomes effective, there will be (mental) states which are too many to enumerate, but if you do not cling to them, they will not hinder you. This is just what the proverb says: ‘Don’t wonder at the wonderful and the wonderful will be in full retreat.’ Even if you see evil spirits of all kinds coming to disturb you, you should take no notice of them and you should not be afraid of them. Even if Sakyamuni Buddha comes to lay His hand on your head[13] and prophesies (your future Buddhahood) you should not take any notice of all this and should not be delighted by it. The Surangama Sutra says: ‘A perfect state is that in which the mind is undisturbed by the saintly; an interpretation of the saintly is entanglement with all demons.’

The Ch’an Training
From the Hsu Yun Ho Shang Fa Hui
Tr. Lu K’uan Yu (Charles Luk)

[1]By going to (a) the hell of fire, (b) the hell of blood, where the inhabitants devour each other like animals and (c) the Asipattra hell of swords, where the leaves and grass are sharp-edged swords.

[2]This story was related by the Buddha himself.

[3]King of Sravasti and a contemporary of the Buddha. He was killed by his son, Virudhaka, known as the Crystal King and the Evil Born King, who supplanted him.

[4] Maha-Maudgalyayana, or Maudgalaputra, was one of the ten chief disciples of the Buddha, and was specially noted for his miraculous power; formerly an ascetic, he agreed with Sariputra that whichever first found the truth would reveal it to the other. Sariputra found the Buddha and brought Maudgalyayana to Him; the former is placed on His right, the latter on His left.

[5]This story is recorded in ‘The Transmission of the Lamp’ (Ching Te Ch’uan Teng Lu) and other Ch’an collections.

[6]In his previous life. the old monk had already succeeded in disentangling his mind (from its attachment to the phenomenal. However, he could not get away from Samsara because of the karma of misguiding his former disciple about retribution. In his present transmigration, he had realized a singleness of mind about leaving the world of animals and had thereby acquired the occult power of transforming his fox’s body into that of an old man. However, he still clung to the dual view of the existence of ego (subject) and fox (object) and could not free himself from this last bondage. Pai Chang’s words had a tremendous effect on the old man, releasing his mind from his doubt about his self-nature which fundamentally was pure and contained neither cause nor effect. Being free from this last bond, his self-nature now returned to normal and could function without further handicap; it could hear the master’s voice by means of its function. When function operated normally, its essence manifested itself; hence enlightenment.

[7]See ‘The Altar Sutra of the Six Patriarch,’ Chapter 3.

[8]The name of a very beautiflil lady who, according to a popular tale, stole the elixir of life and fled with it to the moon where she was changed into a frog.

[9]Avici is the last and deepest of the eight hells, where the culprits suffer, die, and are instantly reborn to suffering without interruption.

[10]As punishment for verbal sins.

[11]The Patriarchs are the six Patriarchs of China. The Ancestors are the great Ch’an Masters who came after the Patriarchs. Hsu Yun is now called an Ancestor.

[12]Bodhimandala: truth-plot, holy site, place of enlightenment.

[13]A custom of Buddha in teaching His disciples, from which the burning of spots on the head of a monk is said to have originated. The eventual vision of the Buddha is merely an impure creation of the deluded mind and does not really represent Him in His Dharmakaya which is inconceivable. Many meditators mistake such visions for the real and become involved with demons. (See Surangama Sutra.)


Avalokiteshvara’s Methods and Vows//from Surangama Sutra // PART 1 of 2

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
.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
.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
.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
.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
.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
.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
.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
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
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
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
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
.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.

See also

Surangama Sutra 


Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s answer to a question from the Buddha


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 –

See also :
Surangama Sutra 

PART 1 of 2  Meditation on the organ of hearing// Avalokiteshvara’s Methods and Vows//from Surangama Sutra

Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s answer to a question from the Buddha

Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s answer to a question from the Buddha

Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s answer to a question from the Buddha .

Excerpt from The Surangama Sutra 

chapter: IV Self Enlightenment

section: Meditation on the six consciousnesses

Commentary ( abridged) by Ch’an Master Han Shan (1546-1623) Translated by Upasaka Lu K’uan Yu   

The Buddhas question to Bodhisattvas and  chief  Arhants in the assembly :

” When you developed your minds to awaken to the eighteen fields of sense , which one did you regard as the best means of perfection and by what methods did you enter the state of Samadhi? “

Following is  Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s answer which also contains his vows/deeds.

Samantabhadra Bodhisattva then rose from his seat, prostrated himself with his head at the feet of the Buddha and declared :

“I was already a son of the Dharma king when formerly I was with the Tathagatas who were countless as the sands in the Ganges. All Buddhas in ten directions who teach their diciples to plant Bodhisattva roots, urge them to practise Samantabhadra deeds which are called after my name.World Honoured One , I always use my  mind to listen in order to distinguish the variety of views held by living beings. If in a place, seperated frm here by a number of worlds as countless as the sands in the Ganges, a living beings practises Samantbhadra deeds, I mount at once on a six-tusked elephant and reproduce myself in a hundred and a thousand apparitions to come to his aid. Even if he is unable to see me because of his great karmic obstruction, I secretly lay my hand on his head to protect and comfort him so that he can succeed. As a Buddha now asks about the best means of perfection, according to my personal experience, the best consists in hearing with the mind, which leads to non-discriminative discernment”

Click to read Entire Sutra 

Ten Great Vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva / Pu Xain Pusa 

To worship and respect all Buddhas.

Samantabhadra Bodhisattva / Pu Xian Pusa

To make praises to the Thus Come Ones.
To practice profoundly the giving of offerings.
To repent and reform all karmic hindrance.
To rejoice and follow in merit and virtue.
To request that the Dharma wheel be turned.
To request that the Buddhas remain in the world.
To always follow the Buddha’s teaching.
To constantly accord with all living beings.
To transfer all merit and virtue universally.