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Surangama Sutra

By: Charles Luk - translator
Narrated by: Ratnadhya
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Publisher's Summary

The Surangama Sutra, one of the most important works of Mahayana Buddhism, dates from some time before the 8th Century when the first Chinese translation was written, probably from an Indian original. It has long been a seminal work for Buddhist practitioners in East and South-East Asia, especially China and Korea. Indeed this “Sutra of the Indestructible”, as it is often translated, is regarded as a staple manual of practice for newly-ordained monks of the Ch'an and Zen schools, giving instruction, through the words of the Buddha himself, in the correct understanding of the Buddha-nature or ‘Tathagata-garbha', that seed of enlightenment that lies dormant within all of us.

Taking the form of a dialogue between the Buddha and his cousin Ananda, it is based on the premise that even committed disciples can fall back into the world of sensual desire (and consequently of suffering) if their understanding and practice of the Dharma is incomplete. Rescued from the enticements of a prostitute by the Buddha, Ananda is then taught about the distinctions between the one True Mind, corresponding to absolute reality and the illusory mind or everyday reality, as manifested through our senses, reinforcing as they do our underlying attachment to the idea of a fixed self or ‘ego'.

In the Sutra, the Buddha and his followers teach Ananda the great ‘Surangama Samadhi', a meditation practice that allows us to see through the falseness of deceptive, or ‘discriminative' senses by returning each of them to their source in the ‘alaya' or ‘store consciousness' of our minds.

The Sutra is also concerned with the vital importance of living a truly ethical life, without which any amount of meditation will not lead to true enlightenment, as well as the dangers of spiritual complacency; the idea that we should settle on anything less than complete liberation.

This translation, by Charles Luk, an Upasaka in the Ch'an school of Buddhism, includes a number of footnotes and comments, which help to explain some of the terminology used in the text.

©1966 Charles Luk (P)2023 W. F. Howes Ltd

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