The Shurangama Sutra

(Continued from issue #259)

Ananda was extremely handsome. His features were almost as perfect as the thirty-two fine marks of the Buddha. In China, there were two handsome men called Soong Yu, and Pan An. Ananda was probably likened to those two men. His skin was snowy white, glistened like silver, and sparkled like frost. Most Indians had dark complexions but Ananda's skin was extremely soft, supple, smooth, and especially fair. That is why Matangi's daughter was infatuated with Ananda the moment she laid eyes on him. She went running to tell her mother that she wanted Ananda. "He's a disciple of the Buddha," her mother said. "How can you want him? He's a Bhikshu and cannot marry. You can't have him." "That doesn't make any difference to me," replied her daughter."Mother, you're going to have to think of a way to trap Ananda for me. If I can't marry Ananda I won't go on living," she said obstinately. Her desire to have him was so overpowering that it became a life and death situation.

"Ah," thought Matangi, "She loves him so much. I'll have to think of a way to do what cannot be done." So she used the mantra, a deviant dharma from the Kapila religion, and recited until Ananda became hypnotized. He was in a daze like a drunken beggar and followed her. In such a stupor he couldn't decipher east from west, or north from south. He went right into the house and followed Matangi's daughter into her room and onto the bed. He became confused because he had concentrated on studying the sutras and had not been attentive to developing samadhi-power; and so although he had attained the first fruition; his samadhi-power was still insufficient. As a result, he fell into the deviant spell of the former Brahma Heavens' mantra and got drawn onto an impure mat.

With her licentious body she stroked and rubbed him until he was on the verge of destroying the precept-substance: This was a dangerous place for him to be in! Mantangi's daughter was beside Venerable Ananda. She undressed him and began to fondle and touch his body with her hands. With her licentious body she caressed him until he was on the verge of ruining the precept-substance. He still hadn't ruined his precept-substance yet. This is an important point. When one receives the precepts one becomes endowed with a certain substance, which, if ruined, is as serious as if your very life has been cut off. It is extremely important for people who have left the home-life not to break precepts. If precepts are broken, you just might as well die.

Venerable Ananada had such a perfect countenance that the moment Mantangi's daughter saw him, she immediately fell in love with him to the point that she was willing to risk her life for him. Would you say that this type of love is intense? It's like how people nowadays will commit suicide for love. Probably it was the remnants that came from Mantangi's daughter. Why did Matangi's daughter have such a compelling attraction towards Ananda? It stemmed from the fact that Ananda and Matangi's daughter had been a married couple for five hundred lives in the past. Because of that, as soon as she saw Ananda this time around, her old habits took over, and she fell madly in love with him. Ananda had been her husband before and she was determined to have him as a husband once again. The seeds passed down life after life, caused her to willingly sacrifice everything íV even her very life íV for the sake of her love for Ananda.

Brought about by their tainted causal condition from past lives, Ananda and Matangi's daughter once again run into this situation. This illustrates 'planting the cause and reaping the effect'. The cause that had been planted in the past wants to sprout and grow. Hence, you can say all circumstances we encounter in this world are results of past causes and present effects. It's not off by a least bit. However, people who do not understand this would blame heaven and others because they feel they can't handle all the various circumstances and become dissatisfied with reality. In fact, these are just causal cycles. The dharma is as such, there's nothing strange about it. If we can understand this, there would be nothing strange and all problems could be handled with stride and without compromise. If one does not have any emotional attachments, any problem can be resolved!

The Tathagata, knowing Ananda was being taken advantage of by the indecent artifice, finished the meal and immediately began his return journey. The king, great officials, elders, and laypeople followed along after the Buddha, desiring to hear the essentials of Dharma.

Whenever the Buddha accepted an offering he always spoke the Dharma after each meal for the sake of the vegetarian host. Only after speaking the Dharma would he return to the sublime abode of the Jeta Grove. But this time there was special circumstances. The Tathagata, knowing Ananda was being taken advantage of by the indecent artifice: What did the Buddha know? He knew that Ananda was being tied up by the indecent artifice that came from the former Brahman Heaven. It was like being fastened by a rope. The deviant artifice had tied up Ananada. Finished the meal and immediately began his journey back: Knowing that Ananda had met with difficulty and was on the verge of ruining the Precept-substance, the Buddha ate quickly, and as soon as he finished he immediately returned to the sublime abode of the Jeta Grove.

The king, great officials, elders, and laypeople followed along after the Buddha, desiring to hear the essentials of the Dharma. Everyone knew that there must have been some important reason as to why the Buddha had not spoken Dharma for the vegetarian host after the meal. They thought that the reason for the hasty retreat would certainly be announced, so everyone such as íV the king, the officials, the elders, and the laypeople íV followed the Buddha back to the sublime abode of the Jeta Grove. Why? Everyone had forgotten everything else but had a single-minded desire to understand the importance of the principle of Dharma that was about to be spoken. They didn't know what had arise that was so unusual. Everyone was anxious to hear what the Buddha had to say.

Then the World Honored One emitted a hundred rays of jeweled and fearless light from his crown. Within the light appeared a thousand-petaled precious lotus, upon which was seated a transformation-body Buddha in full-lotus posture, proclaiming a spiritual mantra

Editor's Note:The following brief explanation of the sutra text is from the lecture "The Driving Force of Subjective Wisdom" on 11/16/1987.

Shakyamuni Buddha, the World Honored One, emitted a hundred rays of jeweled and fearless light from his crown.The crown on his head, emitted a hundred rays of jeweled light of fearlessness. The hundreds of rays can represent the hundred realms. The rays of "lights of fearlessness" showed possession of a great awesome virtue. Fearing nothing, they were able to subdue all heavenly demons and externalists. No mantra whatsoever could withstand them. Not even one "purported to have come from the Brahma Heaven."

(To be continued ..)