Excerpts from The Surangama Sutra III


“The second principle is that, if you are resolved to become fully awakened, you must courageously dedicate yourself to practice in accord with the Bodhisattva Vehicle. You must decisively let go of everything that has conditioned attributes. Carefully examine the source of your afflictions, which since time without beginning have created your karma and nurtured its growth. Who is it that creates this karma and undergoes retribution? If, during your quest for full awakening, Ananda, you do not examine and contemplate the sources of affliction, you will not be able to understand the illusory and distorted nature of the perceiving faculties and their objects. At what point did you become so disoriented? If you do not know that, how can you expect to subdue your afflictions and aspire to becoming a Buddha?

“Ananda, consider some worldly person who wishes to untie a knot. If he cannot see the knot, how will he know how to untie it? You have never heard of space being broken into parts. Why? Space has no shape or form. Therefore, it can neither be divided nor put together again.



Untying the knot refers to the instruction that you must know the source of delusion if you are to get rid of it… The fact that there are no knots in space represents the nature of the Matrix of the Thus-Come One, which is inherent in you and is free of delusion. (IV, 161)



“But now your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind are like conspirators who have introduced thieves into your house to plunder your valuables. In this way, since time without beginning, beings and the world of time and space have been tied to each other because of illusion, and that is why beings cannot transcend this world.



People think that the six faculties are helpful, but actually it is just these six destructive things that steal the Dharma-jewels of our true nature. People consider their eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind to be their best friends. But these so-called friends are the ones who invite thieves into your house to plunder your valuables. It is said,


What the eyes don’t see

The mouth won’t crave.

What the ears don’t hear

Won’t lead the mind to error.


You see someone eating something, and it’s as if a hand reaches out of your throat to grab it. The mouth is gluttonous because the eyes have seen something good to eat. Or you see something or someone beautiful and you want that person or thing, but once you get your wish, it becomes a source of affliction. And if you don’t get your wish, you’re also afflicted… The six consciousnesses that are produced by the interaction of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind with their objects are what is meant by “outflows.” But the thieves will not be able to rob you if you can reach the level at which —


The eyes see visible forms,

But inside there is nothing;

The ears hear sounds,

But the mind is unaware.


If you don’t have the skill — if you lack samādhi — and if you run out through your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind instead of turning your light around to illumine within, then you have outflows, and you are being robbed of your inherent wealth, . . . which is nothing less than your everlasting true mind within the Matrix of the Thus-Come One. (IV, 162–5)



The Surangama Sutra

The Surangama Sutra with Commentary