Solitary Retreat in Benxi Thatching
Caption of the Documentary about Solitary Retreat in
Deep in the mountains in
Solitary Retreat in
A documentary of the tenth anniversary after the accomplishment of the Solitary Retreat by the Venerable Master MiaoXiang
To Invite the Master
In 1995, the Venerable Master MiaoXiang led Bhikkhu XingKong wandered around from Odaesan back to
Then in the Thaching in
The criteria of selecting site is that, it should be soil without sands where plants can hardly grow up. Excavate a hole, put into it some water and wait for several days. If the water doesn't seep away from the hole, that means there is no outleakage, it would be called the
Deep in the mountains area in
(Talking about the Solitary Retreat with the Master of Jingjue Monastery,
Otherwise, how to select the site is pretty important. For building the hut of retreat, its foundation must be very firm.
Dig with a shovel, dig a hole, and put into it a little basin of water, then leave away. Come back to see whether the water is still there after three or two days. If the water is still in there, then the place has no seepage. No seepage, then it is adequate to cultivate in there.
If after the water was poured, nothing remained, then there is aleak. A place with a leak means that there's no leakage on the ground but in the mind. Because the mind does not correspond to the place, there is outleakage in the mind, it's not solid enough, the determination to cultivate is not firm, so if you want to have a retreat in there for a long period, it's daring to say without any difficulty.
This method is worth to be considered when you decide to have a retreat or not, and where to have. It's somewhat interesting.
That place is quite rare and magnificent. That place, only that place is empty, all around there are forests, there are trees around but just that place is empty. Trees have been planted there but can't grow up, they all died, so that site is idle, vacant. It's vacant there. When we went to select the place, after the soil in surface was put away, there was no way to break up the strong ground even with a pick, also there were no stones at all. It's particularly rocklike, the yellow land, yellow sands, rocklike.
To Build the Thatching
In the spring of 1996, before the snow thawed entirely, the Master led Bhikkhu Xingkong came into the mountains. Then a crude hut was bolstered for dwelling purpose. After sometime, using soil, stones and asbestine-tiles the lay people of
The Master BenYing of Jingjue Monastery,
(The Venerable Master MiaoXiang:)The focus on that house is that it must be built according with the principles established by the Buddha, such as the scale. Buddhism principles refer to that if there is a site for you(a bhikkhu) to make some building, you should build it "According to the Proper Scale", avoiding too big a size. It's necessary to be advised by other senior bhikkhu, he should be permitted to come to have a look, shouldn't he?
If the scale is mentioned in the principles, a ruler should be used to measure carefully during the construction, avoiding too big, a handful of superabundant mud should be pull down, never dare to keep overmuch, just as much as measured. All right, that's satisfying.
(According to the principles of bhikkhu and the rules of Shurangama Platform,)it's necessary to spread ten kinds of spicery around the ground, or it will not become the Pure Site. Sweep away the original soil in surface, then besprinkle the ground with clean soil, that's all. It will be filled with atmosphere of righteousness.
About lunar calendar August in 1996, the Master had stopped to talk. One day he went to the villages down of the mountains to practise a Dhutangha Observance(including alms-round).
Deep in the area there are mountains out of mountains. The thatching is about five kilometers away from the village, it needs about one hour to go by walking. The footpath to the thatching being incapable for an auto to pass. Food and timber were offered periodically by the lay people of
The Shurangama 'Qi'(seven-days-meditation)
From lunar calendar 29th August in 1996 to 29th August in 1999, the Venerable Master MiaoXiang practised the Solitary Retreat in the thatching, three years time.
In the period of retreat he practised mainly in The Shurangama 'Qi'(seven-days-meditation); one meal before noon; sitting in meditation without laying down; stopped talking. About The Shurangama 'Qi'(seven-days-meditation), more details are mentioned in Charpter 7 of The Shurangama Sutra.
(Preaching to the nuns of Baolin Monastery):I had a retreat in
After the boundaries have been secured, recite one segment of the Shurangama Mantra in the first seven days. It can be the posterior segment or the anterior one. Pick one segment that is easy to be recited, especially to recite one segment uninterruptedly during days and nights. Sitting is not allowed but standing, standing for seven days and seven nights.
In the second seven days, according to the methods as to how to produce the Shurangama Platform and how to cultivate on it which is mentioned in the Shurangama Sutra, in this second seven-days-meditation the practitioner should wholly recite Ten Great Vows of The Bodhisattva Precepts, a reciting to last for senven days and seven nights.
In the first seven days, when I was standing, sometimes the body ran backwardly, jumped backwardly. When I walked forward for a while, suddenly it skipped up and jumped backward, sometimes with an impulse it rushed to the 'kang'(a kind of hearth in north
Reciting the Ten Great Vows is very good. Vowing and reciting continuously for seven days and nights just at one go(/at a stretch).
（The lay people were saluting by prostration.）
After that, it is the third seven days. Then recite the Shurangama Mantra completly for seven days and nights（only by sitting）. When (in the first seven-days-meditation) with standing posture, it's not allowed to sit down except for meal, sitting is never permitted in other time. When in the third seven-days-meditation, with the sitting posture, standing is not allowed except for going to wash hands, standing is not permitted for other reasons, just keep on sitting.
While reciting uninterruptedly, sometime I had stomatitis. There was no medicine but some toothpaste could be applied. What was the brand of that toothpaste? Kangchiling, made in
To what extent did the Shurangama Mantra to be recited? The toothpaste had to be applied once after each sentence had been recited. For the ulcers in mouth were too much, although it eased for a bit after a sentence has been recited but pained soon, that's so.
The medicines for stomatitis ...there were several oral-tablets. Sometimes after the oral-tablet had stayed in the mouth just for a moment it should be given out, put it down immediately then keep on recite. After the reciting (of a sentence) then put it in the mouth again, keep it in the mouth then give it out once again. Sometimes half of a tablet should be remained to the next seven-days-meditation, for the absence of medicines.
After finishing a serial of seven-days-meditation, when I looked at the lapel of robes, there were bestrewn marks of toothpaste's suds. The slobber was exuding continually. Despite its driveling, my part, I was reciting myself, we were mutual indifferent. You were pained as you want, I was reciting as I like, the pain had nothing to do with me. My mindfulness must focus on the Shurangama Mantra.
Sometimes in course of reciting, the feeling of sleepingness came forth and then I flaked out, it was completely unaware. At that time there was no electric light, all reserved for illumination were candles, but it was not abundant in candle. Sometimes when it was burning, the head lolled to cause the hair burned, even the hat had been burned. Sometimes the eyebrow was burned too, until it felt pain that you knew the head had drooped touching the candle. It was some interesting at that time.
After the twenty two days long exertion, the next is a sitting meditation for one hundred days long. To sit in days and nights without lying down for one hundred days' time.
When (the practitioner in retreat) was sitting, it was not allowed to stand up or go for a walk. Sometimes people want to go outside to have a look, but that's not allowed at all.
At that time, the tiny hutch was in a prescribed scale, quiet narrow, and the windows were covered by gray bags, only a one-hand-long gap remained for light source, all parts had been covered to avoid seeing the scenery outside. Those who accompanied me were only the mice.
After one hundred and twenty two days in this way, that's so called an accomplishment of a serial of seven-days-meditations. It's mentioned in the Shurangama Sutra that, after a serial of seven-days-meditations, if the precept-master from whom a monk received precepts is pure, and all of the monks in his group are pure, (and if their roots in the Dharma are deep and strong, they will not rise from their seats during that time, )(see Reference I), they will become Arhats at the first stage. That's so rare and magnificent.
During the three years, the total eight Shurangama 'Qi' (seven-days-meditation) had been accomplished. Theoretically speaking, it's enough time to practise nine ones but actually not. Because of a period of 'Qi' needs four months, and after one 'Qi' the practitioner needs to bathe，shave the head and sew. For each time after one 'Qi', the robes were broken to pieces. So it's necessary to deal with such affairs in this ten-days-long interval. The practitioner should also cultivate with sitting meditation in the ten days, lying down is not allowed but only bathing, shaving the head or sewing and so on. In everyday self-control(or/contemplation) is indispensable, the practitioner should not spend too much of his mind to deal with the affairs above, for in the retreat he should continuously and wholly keep contemplation on mindfulness but nothing else.
So the Shurangama Mantra is very rare and magnificent. The Dharma can rapidly awaken us and the Shurangama Mantra is the special representative of Dharma. Now we are in the proper condition so we should realize that. In the future if there is a chance we'll build the Shurangama Platform to practise the Dharma of Shurangama and the Shurangama 'Qi'. Not only bhikkhus but also bhikshunis and lay people can take part in that. It's invaluable treasure in the time of Dharma's ending.
It's quite interesting. When I was going to have the Solitary Retreat and select the place, how long the retreat would last was not ascertained then, neither any preparation. At that time there was the lay woman Su and other lay people of
Before the retreat, the lay woman Su said:'Master, you should stop talking, to keep on talking is too tiring.' For she found the fact that many lay people came up the mountain and the master had to always keep on preaching tired to talk, so you should stop to talk. I said:'Ok, then I stopped talking.' To stop talking for three years was also told by her.
At first, there was no plan to keep on sitting(without lying down). Some lay people came up the mountains and said outside:'The master is in a retreat, Ah! He is the master of strict morality, keeping on sitting all the time!' When I heard that these words have already been spoken aloud, then I must copy that, or it will offend 'to refrain from telling lies' of the five commandments if my action falls short of these words. So to sit without lying down, sitting for three years.
It's quite interesting how to cultivate. As long as you exert yourself in the cultivation, all of the living beings and Bodhisattvas will protect and support you. They will think an idea for you, and tell you how to do, we don't to worry about it, we can be very relaxed.
When in the Solitary Retreat never was there any shortage of foods. Moreover many delicious foods we have never seen before were offered, all were fine. So the Shurangama Sutra is invaluable treasure, the dragons and celestial beings all protect and support it, all of the human beings protect it too. Today we can learn the Shurangama Sutra and recite the Shurangama Mantra, it's too fortunate to us. Everyone should do the best.
During the period of 'Qi'(seven-days-meditation), it's not allowed to bathe, wash the feet, wash the face and sew, all the daily affairs should be ceased to contemplate on the mindfulness, except for brushing after meal at every noon to keep on the purity of purification.
(Talking about the Solitary Retreat with the Master of Jingjue Monastery,
Ordinarily(when in the 'Qi') it's not allowed to sew, shave the head, the face or mustache. All are unallowed for it's a kind of loose-mind. If there're still some remains of loose and lazy mood in the heart, that is unallowed.
Doing in this way, it needs ten days for a period to resume. After the clothes have been washed it's time to prepare the next 'Qi'. Doing some exercise, keeping on being pleasurable and sewing clothes were all preparation for the next 'Qi'. So the 'Qi' was practised continuously for eight times totally. As the result of an aforehand calculation, the time was not enough to the ninth 'Qi', until the day the retreat was accomplished there are right eight 'Qi' have been practised.
For the purpose to control(or/strain) the eye-faculty, one should not look outward, so the window was covered by paper.
No talking during the period of the Solitary Retreat.
(The Venerable Master MiaoXiang:) The windows shloud be sticked by paper, to cover it. Although there're mountains around, it's not allowed to look at them. To have a look is not allowable, why do you try to look? The ancient Masters didn't look around loosely. Now so big a place has been provided and the small hut is big enough in its scale, why do you look the mountains and trees outside, isn't it?
The meal was offered(by the disciple).
Never go outside except washing hands. Even though going outside, I didn't dare to look at the flying airplane in the sky and the stars and the moon. Even knowing the planes were flying in the sky I didn't dare to look how big they were, I must restrain myself.
The territory for daily action had boundaries, the furthest was to the streamside, never over the stream. When it was needed to go to the washroom, stepping down from the platform was not allowed. That's entirely self-control. If you don't restrain but fool yourself, how can you exert yourself in cultivation? Furthermore, the lay people donated offerings so reverently, with the burden of offerings on their back, they climbed such high mountains. There were so many people sent the food to you, delicious food, if you don't cultivate the best, to whom can you let them down? They also protect you in retreat, are you devoid of anything？So it was nothing lacked, everything was fine.
The Eight Cohousing Rules of Thatching
At that time the Master QinZang was a novice monk.
At that time the rules of thatching were as follows:
The Eight Rules to Coexist in This Thatching
1. In this thatching one must obey the Vinaya rules that 'Abstaining from Money', which forbid the monks to touch money or keep or acquire or hoard money, or with any quibble to obey the so called restricted or temporary 'Abstaining from Money'.
2. In this thatching, eat one meal per day, that means only one meal before noon. It's never allowed a change by any pretext or expediency, except for those who are in sickness that a breakfast as medicine is needed, or to the aged people, babies(, little and teen-age children).
3. In this thatching, monastic disciples should always beg alms with the alms-bowl, it bears no runaround to obviate begging alms.
4. In this thatching, monastic disciples should always practise asceticism (wandering on foot) and Two-period Dhutanga(except for those who are in sickness).
5. In this thatching, keeping three robes and an almsbowl with him at all time along with the Eighteen Articles (the obligatory eighteen essentials when one practices asceticism )should be prepared all ready.(If there's no staff, a convenient shovel is proper.)
6. In this thatching, abstaining from accepting the salutation by prostration and any gifts offered by visiting monks. If the visiting monks salute by prostration, the host should salute back in time. If the samanera(novice monk) meets visiting bhikkhus or senior monks or Masters he should salute by prostration betimes.
7. In this thatching, all offerings belong to the Sangha, it's unallowable for any personal reserve, neither for superfluous storage of clothes nor acticles which should be inspected and clean up frequently.
8. In this thatching, abstaining from pleading for help. An aspirant should show much backbone that he would prefer to die instead of pleading for help and asking for money. Anyone who stays here is required to obey orders and work.
Attention Rules in the Thatching
1.Abstaining from reading newspaper, listening to the radio or recorder and watching TV(except for with permission).
2. Abstaining from talking about 'Faults of Four-fold Assembly(monks,nuns, lay men and women)', chatting or tittle-tattle.
3. Abstaining from going out of the territory casually, except with permission and being accompanied by more than one person.
4. Paying attention to protect the living creatures under feet while walking on the way, burying (by the samaneras) the dead bodies of living beings once seeing them, chanting charms at the same time for their spiritual deliverance.
5. There must be more than two people together when meeting lay women.
6. Lay women can't be quartered in this thatching except for with permission of Sangha.
(Postscript: The rules mentioned hereinbefore were written by disciples of the Master according to his will during the retreat in 1999. Despite of one or two disfluencies or errors, the synopsis can still be gotten easily. About the first rule in the above-mentioned rules, here to declare that there was no electricity, newspaper or magazine on the mountains at that time. )
Obligation of Keeping Purity in Obeying the Vinaya Rlues during the Solitary Retreat
(Talking about the Solitary Retreat with Master Ben Ying of Jingjue Monastery, Daqing)
Your mind will be taken upside down just without watchfulness in an instant, and once it is upside down, the sustained exertion will be retreated, which is turned and changed by circumstances.
Because you have cultivated to this extent, in the right instant you should realize it(the circumstance) and react such as 'what is it?' You ought to take the reins and never swallow the bait, then it'll disappear soon, or the whole situation will fall to change.
Why did many of the practitioners become mad? He was cultivating but turned into lunacy and being incapable of it. While previously he was pretty familiar in theories, it seems very well, what he said was very good, isn't it? But what he lacks is the actual capability, without this kind of ability.
The circumstances do not permit you to wait. It does not exist such as: 'please wait for me to think about what has happened', it doesn't permit you, you should handle it right in a blink. Because the transformation of substance will happen suddenly when you have practiced Dharma up to a certain level and your power of abstract meditation has been intensified to a degree, what will be transformed abruptly is also your mind.
This transformation must be well handled in a second. If you wait until you realize, this affair would have been seeded in your Storage Consciousness already. It is predeterminate whether you'll succeed or fail. Afterwards if you turn back to correct the effect it's too difficult.
Commonly, in this aspect what can you rely on? There're two proper methods. One is as said of The Chan School: Until one has achieved Po Can(be awake, in the Samadhi) he can't have a seclusion in the mountains. Because of the enlightenment you've attained you can live in secluded mountains. For there's nobody can instruct you but if you are awake you can worry along generally.
Another one is, you should be instructed by master. If it runs in this way, when an affair happens, the master who is aware of which step you have reached will tell you at once: 'you should pay attention in next time, when you encounter such condition you ought to do like this way...'
It should be directed and mentioned frequently. For the ray of lovingkindness and power from the master are as an additional umbrella, the mind is set at rest, he will feel secured, because the master is in the front, he will not be feeling scared. However the danger still exists.
The more important is the observance of precepts and discipline, or the demon will find you. Which kind of demon? It's the greed demon, greed ,anger and ignorance. If you don't pursue the precepts, you will not subjugate the greed demon, and it will have effect when it is time. When it works, you will lose control of it definitely.
Why? Because the indwelling greed locates in your mind. The demon is a transformation of yourself, you two are a combined unit. If you don't follow it, who will you follow? You do the same as how it does. If you are perfect in observance of discipline, because of the presence of your power of immovability, you'll never be cheated, and it will suspend its performance. If you observe the precepts then it will not destroy anymore, so in a minute you will be at ease. We should be perfect in observance of discipline.
Many of the practitioners have suffered losses right at this point. It was said that: 'I will cultivate easily.' As for a retreat and asceticism he can all practise but neglect the precepts only. The more he neglect the precepts the more he will be caught with chaff by the violation about discipline.
Sometimes people may say that the mind of Bodhi cannot be inspired. It's also because of the absence of the observance of the precepts. Or sometimes may say: I can't take solitary retreat for there is no proper chance for me to take. In fact it's for the sake of his lack of Karma(monastic assembly verdict about monastic affairs or inspecting the behave according to discipline.) He doesn't know the importance of precepts. If the mind is impure, everything would be impure; if the mind is pure all of the Buddhas would protect and bless you, help you to fulfill your wish.
He did ignore the observance of the precepts. It is not enough even to observe the precepts to an average degree, you have to observe the extreme precepts. Up to what degree? Till the embodiment of the commandments in your heart has worked. The various forms of commandments you received, not the forms of commandments, when you can feel in your heart that the embodiment of the commandments is working, without any concept of thought, then it is running in the right way of Dharma, and produces the real Warm-form(an achievement before the aiming at the intial fruit Shrotaapanna) （see Reference II）, up to now the cultivation starts to be a little effective. Just as it is said 'A Great Attachment'.
(翻译注10：戒体为 The embodiment of the commandments in the heart of the recipient. 戒相为 The commandments or rules in their various forms.
The discipline defined by the Buddha should be observed to such a degree, then it can be called a little achievement, otherwise it would be…..
The Ceremony of Solitary Retreat Consummation
In lunar calendar 29th August in 1999, the Solitary Retreat lasting for three years has been consummated. It accomplished at noon, the Four-Assembly about four hundred people attended the celebration. The Venerable Master made a preaching for the consummation.
(The Preaching for Retreat Consummation)
Take off the plate 'No Talking'.
(To have stopped talking for three years)It's not easy to open the mouth for having stopped talking for three years. At first I should narrate the retreat for you.
In the retreat I practised The Shurangama 'Qi'(seven-days-meditation). The Shurangama 'Qi' is without sleeping for twenty two days, chanting mantras, walking meditation, vowing and saluting by prostration to the Buddha.
In the first seven days to keep on standing meditation, standing for seven days and nights; in the middle seven days to vow specially; in the last seven days to chant mantras specially. In total, it's twenty two days without sleeping. Then to sitting meditation for one hundred days. That's called one 'Qi'.
In the three years I have practised eight 'Qi', All have been consummated.
This is an illumination that it's entirely possible by practicing The Shurangama 'Qi' and The Great Shurangama Samadhi, it is not something that cannot be achieved, Those who say it is impossible are the people who look down upon living beings.
The deepest experience can be summarized by one sentence, that is: every living being has The Nature of Buddhahood. The Nature of Buddhahood does not come into being from practice but it's inherent, and there is nothing that comes into being or ceases to be（see Reference III）, it always stays there. So if being lost, that is inveteracy. (It means )there are five aggregates (the aggregate of form, sense-perception, cognition, mental formations, consciousness) shaded The Nature of Buudhahood, it is the five aggregates. The five aggregates have shaded The Nature of Buddhahood, so we cann't see the Buddha, that's all.（see Reference IV）
The reason why we have been lost and suffering in the sea of birth and death is because that we are oblivious, so we live in delusions everyday. As long as 'no thought emerged in the mind(contemplate to complete purity,delusions have all been eradicated)', and if everybody devotes to cultivation, in despite of any schools of Buddhisim, they all have the same aim: to achieve 'no thought emerged in the mind', and then we can see the Buddha, we can achieve Buddhahood.
The Buddha would never lie!
(The assembly:) Amitabha!
So I wish everybody can achieve Buddhahood as soon as possible. I have a wish, that everybody can achieve Buddhahood! When you've done it and are reborn in the
For the time of Dharma's ending, what is the ending? It is the human being who doesn't want to cultivate, not the Dharma is ending. It is not because the foundation of human has been arid, but because there is no initiator. As long as there is one initiator, all of us will succeed. If not, I would fall into hell.
To cultivate in the time of Dharma's ending, there's something that should be noticed, which is - the observance of precepts and discipline. To observe the precepts as good as you can, that's an assurance. Without precepts it is the demon, with precepts it is a disciple of Buddha, a Boddhisattva, the Buddha. So what can we relay on for the cultivation in the time of Dharma's ending? It relays on precepts! If the precepts have been observed, the cultivation is directed by Mahayana Dharma, it will be definitely accomplished.
It wouldn't take too long time. Maybe someone can achieve the Real Nature in three days, seven days, one month, one year, two years, eight or ten years, they are all possible. Because everybody possesses the Buddhata(The Buddha-nature), it's right in front of you but you aren't aware of it. It is not oral existence but actual practice, you can only achieve it through 'no thought being emerged in the mind'.
(The Four-Assembly was reciting Verse for Transfering Merit.)
The merit from Solitary Retreat is the supreme conduct, and its boundless blessings are all transferred.
We universally wish that all drowning living beings will quickly go to the land of the Buddha of Infinite Light.
All Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time.All Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas.
Maha Prajna Paramita!
The merit is enormous today. What is the reason to have a Solitary Retreat? There was someone who has said that it's impossible, and someone was suspicious of it. These are all incorrect.
Today somebody asked me: during the three years in your retreat are there any Mara-deeds(evil affairs) happened? I can daringly tell you that after the eight 'Qi' having been practised, there have been no any Mara-deeds happened. This supposition is because of self-cowardice, in fact the Buddha has protected and supported it already.
It's very rare and magnificent that from the first day of the retreat it has never been in the absence of eatable and daily appliance in this meditating place, all are gratifying, all are perfect. So I hope all of you will take a retreat from now on. If anyone of you who has questions about the retreat, I would like to present unconditionally. That's all.
Actually, every one of you has taken part in the retreat already. You practised outside and I did inside, we're equal in fact. For the sake that all of the living beings are equal to me, we have no difference. We are all the Buddha in The Future.
To Remove the Great Boundaries
When the retreat was accomplished, a welcome ceremony was held in the front, and someone was disassembling the asbestos tile on the roof of the thatching from the back. This is called:
1. To secure the great boundaries when start the retreat, and to remove the great boundaries when accomplished it.
2. To abstain from the care of greed by the Master himself. To break off a bridge of gold.
3. To prevent from those who are breeding toads in elsewhere in the mountains to come here breeding toads, which will produce more karmas of killing.
4. To abstain from the greed of stealing of occupying the place, for the master promised to use the place only for three years, and now the three years period has been due, so it should be returned without breaking promise.
So now the location of the thatching has only been left with the klunky clay walls.
(The Master BenYing of Jingjue Monastery, Daqing): When the retreat has accomplished, is the hut still there?
(The Venerable Master MiaoXiang:) It has been disassembled later. Why to dismantle it? It's for the sake of removing the great boundaries. Originally when the house was built, the great boundaries have been created, once it was created, plus chanting the mantras, it was under protection by the guardians of the Buddha-truth from every aspect. On the other hand, the site has been a kind of Pure Site, if you leave but not remove the great boundaries and just only let it be, it is not in accordance with precepts, and meanwhile it provides causation for the others to commit sin.
The lay people were visiting the site.
Sometimes people use the remains to do something, or make something, that makes people to occupy monk's house, take monk's belongings, which are not proper. So to remove the great boundaries is a convenience for others and an uninstall of worry for yourself. People may come to say: he has gone but remained so big a forest and these things. Yes, They might deserve nothing.
In addition, In case that they would come here and breed animals for killing, that wouldn't be proper. Later, when it was just the right time, to dismantle the house, the house was dismantled symbolically, taking away the roof, pushing down part of the wall, well, now it is not suitable for living, but the place is still there, that place is still a nice place.
Whereafter the Venerable Master MiaoXiang leads his disciples to wander around and beg alms.
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A new translation of The Shurangama Sutra, Buddhist Text Translation Society：
Those who wish to establish a place for awakening in the time of the Dharma's ending should begin by undertaking to follow the monks' prohibitory precepts. They should seek a teacher, an elder monk who himself observers the precepts with purity. Further, they must receive precepts from a member of the Sangha who is truly pure; otherwise they will not succeed in following those precepts. After the practitioners have received precepts, they should put on new clothes or newly washed clothes, and then in a quiet place burn incense and recite one hundred and eight times the efficacious mantra spoken by the Buddha who is made to appear from the mind of the Thus-Come One. Then they may establish the place for awakening and safeguard its boundaries.
If people can practice samadhi in an excellent place for awakening like this in the age of the Dharma's ending, their bodies and minds will become as pure and bright as crystal. But, Ananda, if the precept-master from whom a monk received precepts was not pure, or if any of the other monks in his group is not pure, then the practice in the place of awakening is unlikely to be successful.
After the three weeks, the practitioners should remain sitting upright and peacefully for a hundred days. If their roots in the Dharma are deep and strong, they will not rise from their seats during that time, and they will become Arhats at the first stage. Even if they do not reach the level of a sage in body and mind, they will be certain that in the future they will become Buddhas.
Dharma of Heat
This refers to the first of the Four Positions of Aiding Practices that lead to the realization of the Way. These Four Positions are the Position of Heat, The Position of the Crown, the Position of Patience, and the Position of Being Foremost in the World. The first position refers to how, just prior to producing the non-outflow wisdom of the Way, we develop good roots of wisdom similar to that of non-outflow wisdom. It is analogous to how warmth first appears right before a fire is about to flare up.
A new translation of The Shurangama Sutra, Buddhist Text Translation Society：
He instructed Ananda and the others in the assembly as follows:"You have all made a firm resolve to become enlightened, and you have not wearied of your practice of the samadhi of the Buddhas, the Thus-Com Ones. Therefore, you should now understand two definitive principles concerning your resolve to become enlightened. What are these two definitive principles? The first of the two, Ananda, is that all of you who wish to renounce the Lesser Vehicle of the Hearers of the Teaching and to practice in accord with the Vehicle of the Bodhisattvas so that you can gain the wisdom and vision of the Buddhas, must examine the resolve that is the basis of your practice that leads to enlightenment. Is this resolve identical to the awakening that will be the result of your practice, or is it not?
"If the mind that comes into being and ceases is the basis of your practice, Ananda, then you will not be able to ride the Buddha's Vehicle to where there is nothing that comes into being or ceases to be. For this reason, you should shine the light of your understanding on the phenomena of the material world. Since all phenomena are subject to change and decay, how could any of them serve as a basis for the practice of Dharma?Contemplate the phenomena of the world, Ananda: which one of them does not decay? But you will never hear of space decaying. Why? Space is unconditioned, and so it has never been and can never be subject to dissolution."
A new translation of The Shurangama Sutra, Buddhist Text Translation Society：
"A. The Aggregate of Form
Ananda, how is it that the five aggregates are, fundamentally, the Matrix of the Thus-Come One, whose nature is the wondrous suchness of reality? Consider this example,Ananda:a clear-sighted person looksup at a clear sky, where nothing but empty space is to be seen.Suppose that, for no paticular reason, this person happens to stare, without moving his eyes, until they are stressed to the point that he sees in the empty air a disordered display of flowers, along with various other images that are disordered and chaotic and lack any real attributes. You should know that the aggregate of form can be described in similar terms.
"Now, this disordered display of flowers, Ananda, does not come into being from space, nor does it come into being from the person's eyes. Suppose, Ananda, that the display of flowers did come from space. But what has come into being from space would have to be subject to disappearing back into space; and space would not be empty if things came into being out of it and disappeared back into it. But if space were not empty, there would not be room in it for those displays of flowers to appear out of it or to disappear back into it, any more than there is room in your body, Ananda, for another Ananda.
"On the other hand, if this disordered display of flowers came from the person's eyes, the display of flowers could disappear back into his eyes.Now,we may suppose that, if this display of flowers has come from the eyes,it must share in the visual awareness of the eye-faculty. If it were visually aware,then having come out from the eyes into the air,it would be able to see the eyes from the air.But if it does not share in the awareness of the eue-faculty,then having obscured a portion of the otherwise empty air,it will also obscure the person's vision cannot have been obscured, since he is seeing the display of flowers. And did we notsay to begin with taht this person was clear-sighted as he looked up at the clear sky?
"Therefore you should know that the aggregate of forms is an illusion.It does not come into being from causes and conditions,nor does it come into being on its own.
B. The Aggregate of Sense-Perception
"Ananda, consider the example of someone whose hands and feet are at rest and whose entire body is at ease. At this moment, he has forgotten about his body, and he is feeling neither comfort nor discomfort. Then, for no particular reason, he rubs the palms of his hands together in the empty space in front of him, and he has the illusory experience of roughness or smoothness and of cold or heat. You should know that aggregate of sense-perception can be described in similar terms.
"Now, these illusory sense-perception, Ananda, do not emerge from space, nor do they emerge from the palms of the person's hands. That is to say, Ananda, if space could cause tactile perceptions in the palms of his hands, would it not equally be able to cause tactile perceptions elsewhere on the body? But it makes no sense to say that space can cause tactile perceptions in one pasrt of the body and not another.
"If the tactile perceptions had emerged from the palms of his hands, what need would there have been to rub the palms together in order to produce the perceptions? Further, if the tactile perceptions had emerged from the palms of his hands, then the person's palms would have been aware of the perceptions emerging. And when the person moved his hands apart, the perceptions would have to sink back back into his wrists and arms, into the bones and marrow, which would have to be aware of the path those perceptions took. In such a case, what the mind perceived as emerging and returning would have to be something that was capable of coming and going in the body. If there were such a thing, what need would there have been for the person to rub the palms of his hands together in order to experience these tactile perceptions?
"Therefore you should know that the aggregate of sense-perception is an illusion. It does not come into being from causes and conditions, nor does it come into being on its own.
C. The Aggregate of Cognition
"Ananda, consider the example of someone whose mouth waters as the mention of sour plums, or who feels a sudden ache in the sole of his foot as he thinks of walking along the edge of a precipice. You should know that the aggregate of cognition can be described in similar terms.
"Now, the circumstance of the mouth watering at the mention of the plums, Ananda, was not caused by the actual plums that were mentioned, nor was it caused by the person's mouth. Why? If the mouth watered because of the actual plums, Ananda, that would mean that the plums were responsible for mentioning themselves. What need would there be for some person to mention them? On the other hand, if the mouth were responsible for the watering, would that mean that the mouth heard the plums being mentioned? Were not ears needed for that? If the ears were the cause, then would that not mean that the ears could produce saliva?
"The same points about the watering of the mouth at the mention of sour plums can be equally applied to the ache that is felt in the sole of one's foot when one thinks of walking along the edge of a precipice.
"Therefore you should know that the aggregate of cognition is an illusion. It does not come into being from causes and conditions, nor does it come into being on its own.
D. The Aggregate of Mental Formations
"Ananda, consider the example of a stretch of rapids. The waves follow one upon another, and those that are behind never overtake those that are ahead. You should know that the aggregate of mental formations can be described in similar terms.
"Now, the rapids are not brought about by space, Ananda, nor are they brought about by the water itself. They are not identical to the water, but though they are not themselves the water, they are at the same time not separate from the water. Nor are they separate from space.
"Understand it this way, Ananda: if the rapids were brought about by space, then that would mean that space in its infinite reach throughout the ten directions would be ceaseless deluge, and the entire universe would inevitably drown. If the rapids were brought about by the water, then the nature of the rapids would not be the same as the nature of water. The rapids and the water would be separate and distinct; but clearly, they are not. On the other hand, if the rapids and the water were identical, then when the water became still, it would cease to be water. However,the rapids and the water cannot be separate either, since there can be no rapids without water. Nor can the rapids be separate from space, since outside of space nothing exists.
"In this way you should know that the aggregate of mental formations is an illusion. It does not come into being from causes and conditions, nor does it come into being on its own.
E. The Aggregate of Consciousness
"Ananda, consider the example of a person who takes up an empty pitcher and plugs up its two spouts so that it seems he has confined some space in the pitcher. Believing that he is carrying this pitcherful of space, he travels a thousand miles to another country with the intention of making a present of it. You should know that the aggregate of consciousness can be described in similar terms.
"The space that is in the pitcher, Ananda, does not in fact come from the place where the person began his journey, nor is it transported to the country he travels to. It is like this, Ananda: if the space had been transported from the first country by being confined in the pitcher, there must have been a loss of space at the place where the pitcher had come from. Moreover, if the space had been brought to the second country, then if the spouts were unplugged and the pitcher turned upside-down, the space within it would be seen to pour out.
"In this way you should know that the aggregate of consciousness is an illusion. It does not come into being from caused and conditions, nor does it come into being on its own."
'Pure Bodhi' Translation Team