The Śūraṅgama Sutra
The Buddhist Text Translation Society is pleased to announce that The Surangama Sutra: A New Translation ebook will be made available for free to download from July 15, 2014. Since it was published in 2009, thousands of copies have been sold around the world, and it has become our most popular English title.
Ebook Price: FREE
(previous price $9.95)
Print Price: $30.00
For over a thousand years, the Śūraṅgama Sūtra — the “Sūtra of the Indestructible”— has been held in great esteem in the Mahāyāna Buddhist countries of East and Southeast Asia. In China the Sūtra has generally been considered as important, and has been as popular as the Lotus Sūtra, the Avataṁsaka Sūtra, the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, the Heart Sūtra, and the Diamond Sūtra.
The appeal of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra lies in the broad scope of its teachings and in the depth and clarity of its prescriptions for contemplative practice. Its wealth of theoretical and practical instruction in the spiritual life often made it the first major text to be studied by newly ordained monks, particularly in the Chan School. Many enlightened masters and illustrious monastic scholars have written exegetical commentaries on it. To this day, for both clergy and laity in the Chinese Buddhist tradition, the Śūraṅgama Sūtra continues to be the object of devout study, recitation, and memorization.
Much of the Sūtra unfolds in the form of a dialogue between Buddha Śākyamuni and his cousin Ānanda, whose personal story provides a narrative frame for the discourse. The Buddha shows Ānanda how to turn the attention of his sense faculties inward in order to achieve a deeply focused state of meditation known as samadhi. The Buddha gives instruction in moral purity, in correct understanding of the mind, in avoidance of dangers that may be encountered when absorbed in meditation, and in the practice of the Śūraṅgama mantra, which lies at the heart of the Sūtra.
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Editorial Reviews :
“With this new translation of the Surangama Sutra, the complete text of this major Mahayana Buddhist scripture is made available in English in a single volume for the first time. In the text are found the Buddha's detailed instruction in the practice of that deep mental absorption known as samadhi, as well as instruction in moral purity, the practice of mantra-recitation, and the avoidance of negative mental states. The dense Chinese version is rendered into clear English, and the reader's understanding is guided by an extensive introduction, explanatory footnotes, and excerpts from the exegetical commentary of the Ven. Master Hsuan Hua. A must for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the Buddhist teaching.”
— Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions and Why Religion Matters
“... the Buddhist Text Translation Society has given us a greatly improved rendering of one of the most important and profound Mahayana texts in the entire Buddhist Canon. During the past thousand years, the Surangama Sutra has been used perhaps more than any other single text in the transmission of the Dharma by Chinese and other East Asian masters. This eminently readable and clearly annotated English translation constitutes a significant contribution not only to the study but also to the practice of Buddhism in the West.”
— Bill Porter (“Red Pine”), translator of the works of Chinese poets and Buddhist masters, including The Collected Poems of Cold Mountain and The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma.
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“The Surangama Sutra is one of the seminal scriptures of Chinese Buddhism, particularly influential among followers of the Chan (Zen) school. This new translation by long-term Buddhist practitioners combines scholarly rigor with the flavor of personal commitment. The translation is further enhanced by inclusion of the lucid commentary on the sutra by the Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua, one of the pioneers in bringing Chinese Buddhism to the West.”
— Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, translator of the Middle Length Discourses (Majjhima Nikaya) and the Connected Discourses (Samyutta Nikaya) of the Buddha
“When people ask about the Buddha's teachings on meditation, in addition to the core texts on the subject in the Pali Canon (the scriptures of the Southern School), I frequently cite the Surangama Sutra as being of inestimable value.
It spells out certain aspects of the meditative process in uniquely clear and helpful ways. Among these aspects are, notably: the impossibility of locating the mind in space and time; the vast variety of meditation methods available for us to use; and, lastly, the manyfold dangers and distortions of view that can arise in the pursuit of spiritual excellence.
In particular I have employed the Sutra’s teachings concerning the meditation on hearing as a central element of my spiritual training for more than twenty-five years. This and the many other practices and guidelines embodied in the Sutra have proved to be great worth to myself, as well as to many others whom I have taught over the years.
This lucid, accessible and reliable translation of the Surangama Sutra, with its commentarial notes by the highly esteemed Master Hsüan Hua, will be a distinctive and precious addition to the bookshelves of not only those interested in Buddhist philosophy as an academic discipline but, more importantly, to those who wish to liberate their own hearts and minds for the benefit of themselves and all other living beings.”
— Ajahn Amaro Bhikkhu, co-abbot of Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery
Over the years, when I have needed advice in cultivation, I have referred to the Śūraṅgama Sutra for authoritative information. I go to the “Fifty Demonic States of Mind” (part 10) to check on strange states in meditation. I go to the “Twenty-Five Sages” (part 6) for encouragement on the path from the voices of Bodhisattvas. I go to the “Four Clear and Definitive Instructions on Purity” (part 7) for clarity on interaction with the world; for example, there I find the Buddha’s reasons for advocating a harmless, plant-based diet.
— Reverend Heng Sure, President of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association and Director of Berkeley Buddhist Monastery