(Continued from issue #260)
Within the light appeared a thousand-petaled jeweled lotus, which represents the Thousand Suchnesses. A Buddha's transformation-body: Within these hundred rays of jeweled light, a thousand-petaled jeweled lotus appeared. Atop the thousand-petaled jeweled lotus sat a transformation body of Shakyamuni Buddha. Sitting on full lotus: Sitting in a full lotus position means one sits with both legs crossed up. The merit and virtue of sitting in full lotus is immense. Proclaiming a spiritual mantra: The Buddha's transformation body proclaimed a secret spiritual mantra which is the Shurangama Mantra.
We have to pay attention to this point: Shurangama Spiritual Mantra was proclaimed by Shakyamuni Buddha's transformation body; and, not by the Buddha's flesh body (reward body). Shurangama Mantra is the only mantra proclaimed by the Buddha's transformation body. Therefore, this mantra is the wondrous mantra among all mantras, the efficacious mantra among all mantras. It is not like any ordinary mantras, which were proclaimed through the reward body of the Buddha or one of the Bodhisattvas. As such, this mantra represents the secret cause within the secret cause, the king of kings of mantras. That is why Shurangama Mantra is especially important! Why did the Buddha's transformation body speak this mantra? It was used to destroy the former Brahman Heaven's yellow-haired heretic's mantra. The yellow-haired heretic was a kind of voodoo heretic. They had a deviant artifice to seize the soul of a person and cause that person to follow him and obey his every command. Because of this, the Buddha spoke the Shurangama Spiritual Mantra.
From this, we should know the importance of the Shurangama Spiritual Mantra. This spiritual mantra can break through demonic nets and destroy all demonic artifices. If you can recite it with a sincere mind, you will obtain inconceivable responses. I have met a person who would recite the Shurangama Mantra seven times a day no matter how busy he was. Throughout his life, he often obtained countless special great responses.
Each one of us who study the Buddhadharma should wholeheartedly uphold the Shurangama Mantra. The Shurangama Sutra was spoken for the sake of the Shurangama Mantra. If there is no Shurangama Mantra, then the Shurangama Sutra would not exist. This is why the heavenly demons, heretics, and people with deviant knowledge and deviant views all slander Shurangama Sutra and deem it phony. Why would they say so? If they didn't, they would not be able to stand their ground and they would fall. They uttered false claims to stir up people's doubts and disbelief in the Shurangama Mantra so they can do whatever they want. If no one believes in Shurangama Mantra and Shurangama Sutra, then no one will be able to control them and they can do as they please. That is their rationale!
Hence, scholars, left-home people and lay people with deviant knowledge and deviant views all fabricate rumors and wrote books to say that Shurangama Sutra was not included in the Buddhist Cannons. Their intention was to destroy the Shurangama Sutra, or more concisely, to do away with the Shurangama Mantra. If people believe in their false claims and do not believe in Shurangama Sutra and Shurangama Mantra, Buddhadharma will not exist, which then leads to the Dharma Ending Age!
If you who study the Buddhadharma you will learn that the Shurangama Mantra in this life, you will not have lived as a human in vain. If you do not learn the Shurangama Mantra, it will be like entering a mountain of Seven Jewels (gold, silver, crystal, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, red pearl, carnelian) and coming out empty-handed. Having accessed the jeweled mountain, you ruminate on getting some gold, perhaps some pearls, or yet, some silver. In the end, you cannot decide what is the best choice and so you leave without any at all.
So I hope that everyone will at the very least learn the Shurangama Mantra and be able to recite it from memory. If so, then you have not come all the way from Seattle in vain. Not to speak of putting in several weeks' effort, even putting in several years' effort is extremely worthwhile. The opportunity you have now is extremely rare and very hard to come by. It is "the unsurpassed, profound, subtle, wonderful Dharma." There is nothing that can surpass its dimensions, both height and depth. This is the most subtly wonderful dharma íV the Shurangama Mantra!
The Buddha used the Shurangama Mantra to save Ananda, who had already attained the first fruition of Arhatship. Now, if you ordinary people do not rely on the Shurangama Mantra, how can you end birth and death? Therefore, each of you should listen to my advice and put forth an effort and try to learn the Shurangama Mantra until you can recite it from memory. This would be the best. This is my biggest hope.
I will tell you a story that illustrates the merit of sitting in full lotus-posture. In the past, a monk focused on reciting sutras and repentances for the deceased in return for monetary payment. Whenever someone died, he would accept requests to take the deceased across the sea of suffering by reciting sutras and performing repentances. In monastic term, it is called "Dong Dong Pi" in Chinese. This service is for the deceased. There is monetary payment for the sutra recitation and repentance ceremony. In present-day Hong Kong, if you want to invite a monk to recite a sutra for one day, it will cost you a hundred dollars. Even at the rate of a-hundred-dollars-a-day, you may not find an available monk! Because many people pass away, so many family members wanted to invite monks over to recite sutras. Hence, the monks in Hong Kong who render this service are super-fast in doing their recitation. It is not like here in America, where one priest would be invited to do a mass and concludes the service for the day. In Hong Kong, depending on each household's financial status, some would invite four, five, seven, ten, forty or fifty monks over to their house to recite the sutras to cross-over the souls of the deceased.
The aforementioned monk who peddles sutras and repentances did just that. One day he was returning to the monastery after having spent the day reciting sutras for the deceased. He passed by a house, and the dog in the yard began to bark at him. The couple inside the house heard the barking so the wife asked her husband to check it out. The husband looked out the window and said, "Oh, it's that sutra-peddling ghost!" The monk heard this exchange and thought, "Why did he called me a sutra-peddling ghost? Why not a sutra-peddling Buddha or a sutra-peddling Immortal?" As he continued on his way to the monastery, it started to rain and he took shelter under a bridge. "I guess I'll sit in meditation," he thought, and pulled up his legs in full lotus-posture.
After the monk had sat for a while, two ghosts came by. When they got near him, they suddenly stopped. One ghost said to the other, "There's a golden pagoda! The sharira (relics) of the Buddha are kept in golden pagodas! Hurry up! Let us start bowing. If we bow to the Buddha's relics our offenses will soon disappear." With that, the two began to bow. After a while, the monk's legs started to ache. To lessen his pain, the monk changed from a full lotus-posture into a half-lotus, that is, with the left leg above and the right leg beneath, and the left foot resting on the right thigh. When the ghosts saw him, one exclaimed, "How come? The golden pagoda turned into a silver pagoda!" "So what?" said the other. "Whether it changed or not, let's just keep bowing to the silver pagoda and not lose focus." So the two kept on bowing. After half an hour or an hour, or maybe twenty minutes; there was no clock to reckon, so there is no way to know. Soon enough the monk's legs started to ache again. He unfolded both legs and lazily stretched them out, just as some people do when they are tired of sitting in meditation. When the two bowing ghosts saw him this time, they were startled, "The pagoda has turned into a mud pile! Quick! Let's clobber it."
Realizing he was about to be beaten up, the monk got scared and quickly repositioned himself into a full lotus posture. "Oh!" the two ghosts cried in unison. "It does have the Buddha's relics in it! It is going through all kinds of weird changes. One minute it is a golden pagoda, the next a silver pagoda, and then a mud pile. We'd better just keep bowing no matter what happens next," and they continued non-stop until dawn.
This occurrence had the sutra-peddling ghost reflecting, "If I sit in full lotus I am a golden pagoda, if I sit in half lotus I am a silver pagoda, and if I release my legs from either lotus positions I am nothing but a pile of mud. I better start cultivating the Way!" From then on, he stopped peddling sutras and repentances. Instead, he buried himself in the task at hand and worked diligently at his cultivation. With his vigorous cultivation, he succeeded and became enlightened. People gave him the nickname Dhyana Master "Gui Bi"(Pressured by Ghosts), because if it hadn't been for the two ghosts who were about to beat him up, he might have continued to procrastinate and would never have gotten around to cultivating the Way. Since the ghosts had helped him attain enlightenment, he is called Dhyana Master Gui Bi.
(To be continued ..)