Avalokiteśvara: one who listens

Buddhaghosa, in the Visuddhimagga, discusses the Divine Ear Element. In the Śūraṅgama Sūtra we see Avalokiteśvara describe the practice of perfect listening. We also see Manjusri Bodhisattva praise and recommend Avalokiteśvara’s practice of perfect listening. Reading this morning, I noticed how these two connect and I want to share it with all of you.

I recommend printing these out and looking more closely.

Audio

Listen to the following text. I read it for you:

Visuddhimagga

CHAPTER XIII OTHER DIRECT-KNOWLEDGES (Abhiññá-niddesa)

THE DIVINE EAR ELEMENT

It is now the turn for the description of the divine ear element. Herein, and also in the case of the remaining three kinds of direct-knowledge, the meaning of the passage beginning, “When his concentrated mind …” (D I 79) should be understood in the way already stated (XII.13f.); and in each case we shall only comment on what is different. [The text is as follows: “He directs, he inclines, his mind to the divine ear element. With the divine ear element, which is purified and surpasses the human, he hears both kinds of sounds, the divine and the human, those that are far as well as near”(D I 79).

Herein, with the divine ear element: it is divine here because of its similarity to the divine; for deities have as the divine ear element the sensitivity that is produced by kamma consisting in good conduct and is unimpeded by bile, phlegm, blood, etc., and capable of receiving an object even though far off because it is liberated from imperfections. And this ear element consisting in knowledge, which is produced by the power of this bhikkhu’s energy in development, is similar to that, so it is “divine” because it is similar to the divine. Furthermore, it is “divine” because it is obtained by means of divine abiding and because it has divine abiding as its support. And it is an “ear element” (sota-dhátu) in the sense of hearing (savana) and in the sense of being a soulless [element]. Also it is an “ear element” because it is like the ear element in its performance of an ear element’s function. With that divine ear element … he hears … Which is purified: which is quite pure through having no imperfection. And surpasses the human: which in the hearing of sounds surpasses, stands beyond, the human ear element by surpassing the human environment.

He hears both kinds of sounds: he hears the two kinds of sounds. What two? The divine and the human: the sounds of deities and of human beings, is what is meant. This should be understood as partially inclusive. Those that are far as well as near: what is meant is that he hears sounds that are far off, even in another world-sphere, and those that are near, even the sounds of the creatures living in his own body. This should be understood as completely inclusive.

But how is this [divine ear element] aroused? The bhikkhu should attain jhána as basis for direct-knowledge and emerge. Then, with the consciousness belonging to the preliminary-work concentration, he should advert first to the gross sounds in the distance normally within range of hearing: the sound in the forest of lions, etc., or in the monastery the sound of a gong, the sound of a drum, the sound of a conch, the sound of recitation by novices and young bhikkhus reciting with full vigour, the sound of their ordinary talk such as “What, venerable sir?”, “What, friend?”, etc., the sound of birds, the sound of wind, the sound of footsteps, the fizzing sound of boiling water, the sound of palm leaves drying in the sun, the sound of ants, and so on. Beginning in this way with quite gross sounds, he should successively advert to more and more subtle sounds. He should give attention to the sound sign of the sounds in the eastern direction, in the western direction, in the northern direction, in the southern direction, in the upper direction, in the lower direction, in the eastern intermediate direction, in the western intermediate direction, in the northern intermediate direction, and in the southern intermediate direction. He should give attention to the sound sign of gross and of subtle sounds.

These sounds are evident even to his normal consciousness; but they are especially evident to his preliminary-work-concentration consciousness. As he gives his attention to the sound sign in this way, [thinking] “Now the divine ear element will arise,” mind-door adverting arises making one of these sounds its object. When that has ceased, then either four or five impulsions impel, the first three, or four, of which are of the sense sphere and are called preliminary work, access, conformity, and change-of-lineage, while the fourth, or the fifth, is fine-material-sphere absorption consciousness belonging to the fourth jhána.

Herein, it is knowledge arisen together with the absorption consciousness that is called the divine ear element. After that [absorption has been reached, the divine ear element] becomes merged in that ear [of knowledge]. When consolidating it, he should extend it by delimiting a single finger-breadth thus, “I will hear sounds within this area,” then two finger-breadths, four fingerbreadths, eight finger-breadths, a span, a ratana (= 24 finger-breadths), the interior of the room, the veranda, the building, the surrounding walk, the park belonging to the community, the alms-resort village, the district, and so on up to the [limit of the] world-sphere, or even more. This is how he should extend it by delimited stages.

One who has reached direct-knowledge in this way hears also by means of direct-knowledge without re-entering the basic jhána any sound that has come within the space touched by the basic jhána’s object. And in hearing in this way, even if there is an uproar with sounds of conches, drums, cymbals, etc., right up to the Brahmá-world [409] he can, if he wants to, still define each one thus, “This is the sound of conches, this is the sound of drums.”

The explanation of the divine ear element is ended.

Shurangama

Avalokiteshvara explains.

Then Guan Shi Yin (Avalokiteshvara) Bodhisattva arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet and said to the Buddha: 5:129

”World Honored One, I remember when, as many kalpas ago as there are sands in the Ganges, there was a Buddha in the world named Contemplating the World’s Sounds. It was under that Buddha that I brought forth the Bodhi-resolve. That Buddha taught me to enter samadhi through a process of hearing and reflecting. 5:134

”Initially, I entered the flow through hearing and forgot objective states. Since the sense-objects and sense-organs were quiet, the two characteristics of movement and stillness crystallized and did not arise. After that, gradually advancing, the hearing and what was heard both disappeared. Once the hearing was ended, there was nothing to rely on, and awareness and the objects of awareness became empty. When the emptiness of awareness reached an ultimate perfection, emptiness and what was being emptied then also ceased to be. Since production and extinction were gone, still extinction was revealed. 5:134

”Suddenly I transcended the mundane and transcendental worlds, and throughout the ten directions a perfect brightness prevailed. I obtained two supreme states. 5:137

”First, I was united above with the fundamental, wonderfully enlightened mind of all the Buddhas of the ten directions, and I gained a strength of compassion equal to that of all the Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones. 5:137

”Second, I was united below with all living beings in the six paths, and I gained a kind regard for all living beings equally. 5:137

”World Honored One, because I served and made offerings to the Thus Come One, Guan Yin, I received from that Thus Come One a transmission of the Vajra Samadhi of all being like an illusion, as one becomes permeated with hearing and cultivates hearing. Because I gained a power of compassion identical with that of all Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones, I became accomplished in thirty-two response-bodies and entered all lands. 5:138

”World Honored One, if there are Bodhisattvas who enter samadhi and vigorously cultivate the extinction of outflows, who have superior understanding and manifest perfected penetration, I will appear in the body of a Buddha and speak dharma for them, causing them to attain liberation. 5:139

”If there are those who are studying, who are tranquil and have wonderful clarity, who are superior and miraculous and manifest perfection, I will appear before them in the body of a Solitarily Enlightened One and speak Dharma for them, causing them to attain liberation. 5:140

”If there are those who are studying, who have severed the twelve links of conditioned causation, and, having severed the conditions, reveal a supreme nature, and who are superior and wonderful and manifest perfection, I will appear before them in the body of one enlightened to conditions and speak dharma for them, causing them to attain liberation. 5:141

”If there are those who are studying, who have attained the emptiness of the Four Truths, and cultivating the Way, have entered extinction, and have a superior nature and manifest perfection, I will appear before them in the body of a Sound-Hearer and speak Dharma for them, causing them to attain liberation. 5:143

”If there are living beings who wish to have their minds be clear and awakened, who do not engage in mundane desires and wish to purify their bodies, I will appear before them in the body of a Brahma King and speak Dharma for them, causing them to attain liberation. 5:144

”If there are living beings who wish to be the Heavenly Lord, leader of heavenly beings, I will appear before them in the body of Shakra and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:144

”If living beings wish to attain physical self-mastery and to roam throughout the ten directions, I will appear before them in the body of a god from the heaven of self-mastery and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:145

”If there are living beings who wish to attain physical self-mastery and fly through space, I will appear before them in the body of a god from the heaven of great self-mastery and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:146

”If there are living beings who are fond of ruling over ghosts and spirits in order to rescue and protect their country, I will appear before them in the body of a great heavenly general and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:146

”If there are living beings who like to govern the world in order to protect living beings, I will appear before them in the body of one of the Four Heavenly Kings and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:147

”If there are living beings who enjoy being born in the heavenly palaces and to command ghosts and spirits, I will appear before them in the body of a prince from the kingdoms of the Four Heavenly Kings and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:147

”If there are living beings who would like to be kings of people, I will appear before them in the body of a human king and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:148

”If there are living beings who enjoy being heads of households, whom those of the world venerate and yield to, I will appear before them in the body of an elder and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:148

”If there are living beings who delight in discussing the classics and who keep themselves lofty and pure, I will appear before them in the body of an upasaka and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:149

”If there are living beings who enjoy governing the country and who can handle matters of state decisively, I will appear before them in the body of an official and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:150

”If there are living beings who like reckoning and incantation and who wish to guard and protect themselves, I will appear before them in the body of a Brahman and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:150

”If there are men who want to leave the home-life and uphold the precepts and rules, I will appear before them in the body of a Bhikshu and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:151

”If there are women who would like to leave the home-life and hold the pure precepts, I will appear before them in the body of a Bhikshuni and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:153

”If there are men who want to uphold the five precepts, I will appear before them in the body of an upasaka and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. If there are women who wish to base themselves in the five precepts, I will appear before them in the body of an upasika and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:154

”If there are women who govern internal affairs of household or country, I will appear before them in the body of a queen, first lady, or noblewoman and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:154

”If there are virgin lads I will appear before them in the body of a pure youth and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:155

”If there are maidens who want to remain virgins and do not wish to marry, I will appear before them in the body of a gracious lady and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:155

”If there are heavenly beings who wish to escape their heavenly destiny, I will appear in the body of a god and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:156

”If there are dragons who want to quit their lot of being dragons, I will appear before them in the body of a dragon and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:156

”If there are yakshas who want to get out of their present fate, I will appear before them in the body of a yaksha and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:157

”If there are gandharvas who wish to be freed from their destiny, I will appear before them in the body of a gandharva and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:158

”If there are asuras who wish to be liberated from their destiny, I will appear before them in the body of an asura and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:158

”If there are kinnaras who wish to transcend their fate, I will appear before them in the body of a kinnara and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:160

”If there are mahoragas who wish to be freed from their destiny, I will appear before them in the body of a mahoraga and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:160

”If there are living beings who like being people and want to continue to be people, I will appear in the body of a person and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:160

”If there are non-humans, whether with form or without form, whether with thought or without thought, who long to be freed from their destiny, I will appear before them in a body like theirs and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. 5:161

”This is called the wonderful purity of the thirty-two response-bodies, by which one enters into all lands and accomplishes self-mastery by means of the Samadhi of Becoming Permeated with Hearing and Cultivating Hearing and by means of the miraculous strength of effortlessness. 5:162

”Also, World Honored One, using this Vajra Samadhi of Becoming Permeated with Hearing and Cultivating Hearing, and using the miraculous strength of effortlessness, because I have a kind regard equally for all living beings in the six paths, I go throughout the ten directions and the three periods of time and cause all living beings who encounter bodies of mine to receive the meritorious virtue of fourteen kinds of fearlessness. 5:162

”First: because I do not contemplate sounds for my own sake, but rather listen to the sounds of those whom I contemplate, I can enable living beings throughout the ten directions who are suffering and in distress to attain liberation by contemplating their sounds. 5:163

”Second: since my knowledge and views have turned around and come back, I can make it so that if living beings are caught in a raging fire, the fire will not burn them. 5:164

”Third: since contemplation and listening have turned around and come back, I can make it so that if living beings are floundering in deep water, the water cannot drown them. 5:164

”Fourth: since false thinking is cut off, and my mind is without thoughts of killing or harming, I can make it so that if living beings enter the territory of ghosts, the ghosts cannot harm them. 5:165

”Fifth: since I am permeated with hearing and have brought hearing to accomplishment, so that the six sense-organs have dissolved and returned to become identical with hearing, I can make it so that if living beings are about to be wounded, the knives will break into pieces. I can cause swords of war to have no more effect than if they were to slice into water, or if one were to blow upon light. 5:165

”Sixth: when the hearing permeates and the essence is bright, light pervades the Dharma-realm, so that absolutely no darkness remains. I am then able to make it so that, though yakshas, rakshasas, kumbhandas, pishachas, and putanas may draw near to living beings, the ghosts will not be able to see them. 5:166

”Seventh: when the nature of sound completely melts away and contemplation and hearing return and enter, so that I am separate from false and defiling sense-objects, I am able to make it so that if living beings are confined by cangues and fetters, the locks will not hold them. 5:167

”Eighth: when sound is gone and the hearing is perfected, an all-pervasive power of compassion arises, and I can make it so that if living beings are travelling a dangerous road, thieves will not rob them. 5:168

”Ninth: when one is permeated with hearing, one separates from worldly objects, and forms cannot rob one. Then I can make it so that living beings with a great deal of desire can leave greed and desire far behind. 5:168

”Tenth: when sound is so pure that there is no defiling object, the sense-organ and the external state are perfectly fused, without any complement and without anything complemented. Then I can make it so that living beings who are full of rage and hate will leave all hatred. 5:171

”Eleventh: when the dust has gone and has turned to light, the Dharma realm and the body and mind are like crystal, transparent and unobstructed. Then I can make it so that all dark and dullwitted beings whose natures are obstructed – all atyantikas – are forever free from stupidity and darkness. 5:172

”Twelfth: when matter dissipates and returns to the hearing, then unmoving in the Bodhimanda I can travel through worlds without destroying the appearance of those worlds. I can make offerings to as many Buddhas, Thus Come Ones, as there are fine motes of dust throughout the ten directions. At the side of each Buddha I become a Dharma Prince, and I can make it so that childless living beings throughout the Dharma Realm who wish to have sons, are blessed with meritorious, virtuous, and wise sons. 5:175

”Thirteenth: with perfect penetration of the six sense-organs, the light and what is illumined are not two. Encompassing the ten directions, a great perfect mirror stands in the Empty Treasury of the Thus Come One. I inherit the secret dharma-doors of as many Thus Come Ones as there are fine motes of dust throughout the ten directions. Receiving them without loss, I am able to make it so that childless living beings throughout the Dharma Realm who seek daughters are blessed with lovely daughters who are upright, virtuous, and compliant and whom everyone cherishes and respects. 5:176

”Fourteenth: in this three-thousand-great-thousand world system with its billions of suns and moons, as many Dharma Princes as there are grains of sand in sixty-two Ganges Rivers appear in the world and cultivate the dharma. They act as models in order to teach and transform living beings. They comply with living beings by means of expedients and wisdom, in different ways for each. 5:177

”However, because I have obtained the perfect penetration of the sense-organ and have discovered the wonder of the ear-entrance, after which my body and mind subtly and miraculously included all of the Dharma Realm, I am able to make it so that living beings who uphold my name obtain as much merit and virtue as would be obtained by a person who upheld the names of all those Dharma Princes who are as many as the grains of sand in sixty-two Ganges Rivers. 5:177

”World Honored One, there is no difference between the merit of my one name and the merit of those many other names, because from my cultivation I obtained true and perfect penetration. 5:178

”These are called the fourteen powers of bestowing fearlessness; with them I bless living beings. 5:178

”Moreover, World Honored One, because I obtained perfect penetration and cultivated to certification of the unsurpassed path, I also became endowed with four inconceivable and effortless wonderful virtues. 5:179

”First: as soon as I obtained the miraculous wonder of hearing the mind, the mind became essential and the hearing was forgotten, therefore, there was no distinction between seeing, hearing, sensation, and knowing. I achieved a single, perfect fusion – pure and precious enlightenment. For this reason, I am able to manifest many wonderful appearances and can proclaim boundless secret spiritual mantras. 5:179

”For example, I may make appear one head, three heads, five heads, seven heads, nine heads, eleven heads, and so forth, until there may be a hundred and eight heads, a thousand heads, ten thousand heads, or eighty-four thousand vajra heads; 5:180

”Two arms, four arms, six arms, eight arms, ten arms, twelve arms, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen arms, or twenty arms, twenty-four arms, and so forth until there may be a hundred and eight arms, a thousand arms, ten thousand arms, or eighty-four thousand mudra arms; 5:180

”Two eyes, three eyes, four eyes, nine eyes, and so forth until there may be a hundred and eight eyes, a thousand eyes, ten thousand eyes, or eighty-four thousand pure and precious eyes, sometimes compassionate, sometimes awesome, sometimes in samadhi, sometimes displaying wisdom to rescue and protect living beings so that they may attain great self-mastery. 5:181

”Second: because of hearing and consideration, I escaped the six defiling objects, just as a sound leaps over a wall without hindrance. And so I have the wonderful ability to manifest shape after shape and to recite mantra upon mantra. These shapes and these mantras dispel the fears of living beings. Therefore, throughout the ten directions, in as many lands as there are fine motes of dust, I am known as one who bestows fearlessness. 5:181

”Third: because I cultivated fundamental, wonderful, perfect penetration and purified the sense-organ, everywhere I go in any world I can make it so that living beings renounce their physical and material valuables to seek my sympathy. 5:182

”Fourth: I obtained the Buddhas’ mind and was certified as having attained the ultimate end, and so I can make offerings of rare treasures to the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions and to living beings in the six paths throughout the Dharma Realm. 5:183

”If they seek a spouse, they obtain a spouse. If they seek children, they can have children. Seeking samadhi, they obtain samadhi; seeking long life, they obtain long life, and so forth to the extent that if they seek the great Nirvana, they obtain great Nirvana. 5:183

”The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. From the gateway of the ear, I obtained a perfect and illumining samadhi. The conditioned mind was at ease, and therefore I entered the appearance of the flow, and obtaining samadhi, I accomplished Bodhi. This is the foremost method. 5:184

”World Honored One, that Buddha, the Thus Come One, praised me as having obtained well the dharma-door of perfect penetration. In the great assembly he bestowed a prediction upon me and the name, Guan Shi Yin. 5:184

”Because my contemplation and listening is perfectly clear throughout the ten directions, the name Guan Shi Yin pervades all the realms of the ten directions.” 5:185

Manjusri recommends Avalokiteshvara’s practice

Then the Thus Come One said to Dharma-Prince Manjushri, “You should now contemplate these twenty-five great Bodhisattvas and Arhats who are beyond learning. 5:189 .

”Each has explained the initial expedient in his accomplishment of the Way. All say they have cultivated to true and actual perfect penetration. Their cultivation is equal without distinctions of superior and inferior or earlier and later. 5:189

”I now wish to cause Ananda to become enlightened, and so I ask which of these twenty-five practices is appropriate to his faculties, and which will be, after my extinction, the easiest expedient door for living beings of this realm to enter in order to accomplish the Bodhisattva vehicle and seek the unsurpassed Way.” 5:190

Dharma Prince, Manjushri, receiving the Buddha’s compassionate instruction, arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and, basing himself on the Buddha’s awesome spirit, spoke verses to the Buddha. 5:191

“The sea of enlightenment in nature is perfect and clear.
Complete, distinct Bodhi is a miraculous source.
But when basic brightness shone so that objects appeared,
With objects’ existence, the nature’s brilliance ceased. 5:192

”Confusion and falseness bring about emptiness.
Relying on emptiness, time and space take form.
Thoughts settle, making countries and lands.
What knows and feels becomes living beings. 5:192

”The emptiness created within Great Enlightenment,
Is like a single bubble in all the sea.
Lands like fine dust motes, subject to outflows,
All come forth out of empty space.
Just as the bubble bursts, space is no longer there.
How much the less the three states of being! 5:193

“Returning to the source, the nature is not two.
Many are the entrances through expedients;
None of them does the sagely nature fail to go through.
Compliant or adverse, all is expedient.
First resolve and entering samadhi,
Come slow or fast as there are different norms. 5:194

”Form and thought combined become the ‘dust.’
Their essence is not discernible.
How can one use what lacks clarity,
And expect to gain perfect penetration? 5:196

”In sounds, language is intermingled.
But the meaning in a word, a name, a phrase,
Is such that no single one can include them all.
How can this bring perfect penetration? 5:196

”Awareness of smells comes through contact with them.
Apart from them, one does not know that they exist.
Since sensation of them is not constant,
How can one reach perfect penetration? 5:197

”Flavors are not to us fundamental.
They only exist when there is something to taste.
Since this sensation is not perpetual,
How can one derive perfect penetration? 5:197

”Touch becomes clear only when something is touched.
Without an object there can be no contact.
With fluctuation between contact and separation,
How can one gain perfect penetration? 5:198

”Dharmas are known as ‘internal dust.’
Reckoned as ‘dust,’ they are certainly sense objects.
Involvement of subject and object cannot be pervasive;
How then can they lead to perfect penetration? 5:198

“Although seeing itself is clear and penetrating,
Making bright what is before one, it cannot shine behind.
Ever reaching only half the four directions,
How can it manifest perfect penetration? 5:199

“The nose’s breath penetrates in and out.
But in the rests between there is no air.
These interruptions render it inconsistent.
How can one use it for perfect penetration? 5:199

”The tongue is not an organ apart from cause;
Flavors form the source of its sensation.
When flavors cease, it knows nothing at all.
How can it attain perfect penetration? 5:200

”It is the same for the body as for objects of touch.
Neither can be regarded as a perfect awareness.
With defined and limited invisible divisions,
How can it be used for perfect penetration? 5:200

”The mind’s knowledge is a mass of deliberations.
What it perceives is never profound insight.
Unable to get beyond reflection and thought,
How can it reveal perfect penetration? 5:200

”The seeing-consciousness combines three aspects.
Probe its origin: it has no appearance.
Since its very substance is variable,
How can it bring perfect penetration? 5:201

”The heart of hearing penetrates the ten directions.
When borne on the strength of great causes,
Those of initial resolve cannot enter this way.
How can one expect to gain perfect penetration? 5:201

”Reflecting on the nose is a provisional method.
It only serves to gather in and settle the mind.
Once settled, the mind is simply still.
How can that be perfect penetration? 5:202

”Speaking Dharma through the medium of language,
Is enlightened to by those of former accomplishment.
But words and phrases are not free of outflows.
How can this make perfect penetration? 5:202

”Refraining from transgressions only controls the body.
Lacking a body, there is nothing to restrain.
Since its source is not all-pervasive,
How can it bring perfect penetration? 5:203

”Spiritual penetrations are based on past causes.
What connection have they with distinguishing dharmas?
Conditioned thought is not apart from things.
How can one attain perfect penetration? 5:203

”One may contemplate the nature of earth,
But it is firm and solid, not penetrable.
What is conditioned is not the sagely nature.
How can one use it for perfect penetration? 5:204

”One may contemplate the nature of water,
But such mental reflection is not the true and real.
This state of suchness is not an enlightened view.
How can it give perfect penetration? 5:204

”One may contemplate the nature of fire,
But admitting dislike is not true renunciation.
This expedient cannot be one for beginners.
How can one use it for perfect penetration? 5:205

”One may contemplate the nature of wind,
But movement and stillness are not non-dual.
Duality cannot bring highest enlightenment.
How can one expect perfect penetration? 5:205

”One may contemplate the nature of emptiness.
But, its aspect is murky and dull; it lacks awareness.
What is unaware is different from Bodhi.
How can it bring perfect penetration? 5:206

”One may contemplate the nature of consciousness;
But one is regarding a consciousness that is not eternal.
Even the thought of it is empty and false.
How can one get perfect penetration? 5:206

”All activities are impermanent.
So, too, mindfulness has its origin in rising and ceasing.
Since cause and effect go beyond cause and effect,
How can we use it for perfect penetration? 5:207

“I now say this, World Honored One,
Buddha, who has revealed the Saha world:
In this land the true substance of teaching
Resides in hearing the sounds purely.
If one wants to attain samadhi,
hearing is the best way to enter. 5:207

”Apart from suffering, liberation is found.
How excellent is he who contemplates
the world’s sounds! 5:208

”Throughout kalpas as numerous as Ganges’ sands,
He enters Buddhalands as many as fine dust motes.
Obtaining great power of self-mastery,
He bestows fearlessness on living beings. 5:209

”Wonderful is the sound of Guan Shi Yin,
A pure sound, like the ocean’s roar.
He saves the world and brings peace to all within it.
He has transcended the world,
and his attainment is eternal. 5:209

”I now make this report, 0 Thus Come One,
Regarding what Guan Yin has just explained:
It is like someone in a quiet place
When drums are rolled throughout the ten directions,
Hearing at once the sounds from all ten places.
This, then, is the actual true perfection. 5:210

”The eyes cannot see through solid forms.
Mouth and nose are much the same.
The body registers awareness only through contact.
Tangled in thoughts, the mind lacks clear connections. 5:210

”Sounds can be heard even through solid walls.
One can listen to things both near and far.
None of the other five organs can match this.
It, then, is penetration true and real. 5:211

”The nature of sounds is based in movement and stillness.
One hears according to whether there is sound.
With no sound, there is said to be no hearing.
But this does not mean that the hearing has no nature. 5:212

”In the absence of sound, the nature is not gone.
Nor does it arise in the presence of sound.
Entirely beyond production and extinction.
It is, then, truly everlasting. 5:212

”Ever-present, even in dream-thinking,
It does not disappear when conditions and thought are gone.
Enlightened, this contemplation transcends cognition,
Reaching beyond both the body and the mind. 5:213

”Now, in the Saha world, the theory of sounds
Has been proclaimed and understood. 5:213

”Living beings are confused about the source of hearing.
They follow sounds and so they turn and flow.
Ananda’s power to remember was exceptional;
Nonetheless, he fell prey to a deviant plot.
Was it not from heeding sounds that he was nearly lost?
By turning back the flow, one will make no such mistake. 5:213

”Ananda, you should listen attentively:
I rely upon the Buddha’s awesome power,
In describing to you the Vajra King,
A samadhi inconceivable of likeness to illusions.
It is the true mother of all Buddhas. 5:215

”You may hear the secret Dharma-doors
Of Buddhas as numerous as motes of dust,
But without first renouncing desire and outflows,
You may amass learning, but you will still make mistakes. 5:216

”You concentrate on learning to uphold the Buddha’s Dharma.
Why don’t you listen to your own hearing? 5:218

“Hearing does not spontaneously arise;
Because of sound it gets its name.
But when hearing returns and is free of sound,
What does one call that which is set free? 5:218

”As soon as one sense-organ returns to the source,
The entire six are liberated. 5:220

”Sight and hearing are like an illusory covering.
The Triple Realm, a vision of flowers in space.
When hearing reverts, the cataract is gone.
The ‘dust’ gives way to pure and perfect insight. 5:220

”When purity is ultimate, the light is penetrating.
A stillness shines and includes within it all of emptiness.
Looking at the world from this point of view,
Everything that happens is just like a dream.
Matangi’s daughter, too, is part of the dream.
Who was able, then, to physically detain you? 5:221

”It is like a puppeteer who plays with shadows
And works the dolls to seem as real as people.
Although one sees them move about freely,
They are really governed by a set of strings.
Cease operating the controls and they return to stillness.
The entire illusion is without a nature. 5:222

”The six sense-organs are also thus.
At first there was one essential brightness.
Which split into a six-fold combination.
If but one part ceases and returns,
All six functions will stop as well.
In response to a thought, defiling objects vanish,
Becoming pure and wonderful perfect brightness. 5:223

”If there is residual defilement, one must still study.
When the brightness is ultimate, that is the Tathagata. 5:224

”Ananda, and everyone in the great assembly,
Turn yourselves around and revert the hearing.
Return the hearing and listen to the self nature
Till the nature reaches the supreme way.
That is what perfect penetration really means. 5:224

”It is the gateway entered by Buddhas as many as dust motes.
It is the one path to Nirvana.
Thus Come Ones of the past perfected this method.
Bodhisattvas now merge with this total brightness.
People of the future who study and practice
Will also rely on this Dharma.
Through this method I, too, have been certified.
Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva was not alone in using it. 5:225

”As the Buddha, the World Honored One, requested,
I choose sincerely a skill-in-means,
One to save those in the final aeon
Who seek to escape the mundane world,
And perfect the heart of Nirvana:
The best way is to contemplate the sounds of the world. 5:226

”All the other kinds of expedients
Require the awesome spirit of the Buddha.
In some cases they bring immediate transcendence,
But they are not the customary means of practice,
Spoken for those of shallow and deep roots alike. 5:227

”I bow to the Ones Come Thus and the Tripitaka,
And to those inconceivable ones with no outflows,
Trusting they will aid those in the future,
So that no one will doubt this dharma-door.
It is an expedient easy to master;
An appropriate teaching for Ananda
And for those immersed in the final age.
They should cultivate this organ of hearing,
A perfect penetration that surpasses all others.
It is the way to the true mind.” 5:228

Thereupon, Ananda and all in the great assembly experienced a clarity of body and mind. Having attained such profound instruction, they contemplated the Buddha’s Bodhi and Parinirvana like someone who, having traveled far on business, knows that he is on the road home, though he has not returned completely. 5:229

Throughout the entire assembly, the gods, dragons, and all the eightfold division, those of the two vehicles who were not yet beyond learning, as well as all the Bodhisattvas of initial resolve, as numerous as the sands in ten Ganges Rivers, found their fundamental mind and, far removed from dust and defilement, attained the purity of the Dharma Eye. 5:230

The Bhikshuni named “Nature” attained Arhatship after hearing this verse. 5:230

And limitless beings brought forth a matchless, unequalled resolve for Annuttarasamyaksambodhi. 5:231

End

I’d love to hear about your understanding of these beautiful teachings. If you would like to share, please comment below.

Or, go to the GnoTruth facebook page.

Bye bye.

Advertisements