The Surangama Mantra



“Ananda bowed at the Buddha’s feet and said, “After I left the home-life, I relied on the Buddha’s affectionate regard. Because I sought erudition, I still have not been certified to the unconditioned.

“When I encountered that Brahma Heaven Mantra, I was captured by the deviant spell; though my mind was aware, I had no power to free myself. I had to rely on Manjushri Bodhisattva to liberate me. Although I was blessed by the Thus Come One’s spiritual mantra of the Buddha’s summit and imperceptibly received its strength, I still have not heard it myself.

“I only hope that the greatly compassionate one will proclaim it again to kindly rescue all the cultivators in this assembly and those of the future who undergo the turning wheel, so that they may become liberated in body and mind by relying on the Buddha’s secret sounds.”

Our Surangama Sutra series has now come full circle. At the beginning we found Ananda in grave danger of violating his sacred Dharma vows, and how the Tathagata intervened by sending Manjushri Bodhisattva with the Surangama-Mantra to save him. At this junction, Ananda implores the Blessed One to proclaim it once again for the sake of the gathered assembly. What follows next is a long sequence as “the mantra is given in transliterated syllables, which convey approximate equivalents to the sound of the original syllables of the Sanskrit-related language that was used in India for the recitation of the Buddhist mantras.” (The Surangama Mantra, 2009 edition, pg 290) At the end of this present blog one will have the opportunity to listen to the extended chant of this holy mantra; for our purposes now we shall list the “spiritual benefits” of the mantra:

“Through reciting this mantra of the mind, the Tathagatas of the ten-directions realize supreme enlightenment and enter the perfect nirvana as they sit beneath the bodhi tree.”

“Because the Tathagatas of the ten directions are based in this mantra-heart, they can go throughout the ten directions to rescue beings from such sufferings as being in the hells, being hungry ghosts, being animals, or being blind, deaf, or mute, as well as from the suffering of being together with those one hates, from the suffering of being apart from those one loves, from the suffering of not obtaining what one seeks, and from the raging blaze of the five skandhas. They liberate beings from both large and small accidents. In response to their recitation, difficulty with thieves, difficulty with armies, difficulty with the law, difficulty with imprisonment, difficulty with wind, fire, and water, and difficulty with hunger, thirst, and impoverishment are all eradicated.”

“You should know that, after my pari-nirvana, if there are beings in the Dharma-ending Age who can recite the mantra themselves or teach others to recite it, such people who recite and uphold it cannot be burned by fire, cannot be drowned by water, and cannot be harmed by mild or potent poisons.”

“And so it is in every other case, such that they cannot be possessed by any evil mantra or any heavenly dragon, ghost, or spirit, or by any essence, weird creature, or demonic ghost. These people’s minds will attain proper reception, so that any spell, any paralyzing sorcery, any poison or poisoning gold, any poisoning silver, any plant, tree, insect, or snake, and any of myriad kinds of poisonous vapors will turn into sweet dew when it enters their mouths.”*

*There is a footnote that reads in reference to this: “There is a lot of sorcery in southern China, and also in Southeast Asia, based on mantras and spells. If you eat something poisoned by the sorcerers, you will forever be under their control and will have to do as they command. If you don’t, you will die.” The sacred Mantra will subdue the strength of these kinds of spells. It should also be noted that here in the West, too, we have our own assorted Sorcerers and Satanists who likewise can inflict insurmountable harm unless their effects are rendered harmless through various exorcisms; this particular mantra also has the power to subdue such evil forces.

“If these good people read, recite, copy, or write out the mantra, if they carry it or treasure it, if they make offerings to it, then through kalpa after kalpa they will not be poor or lowly, nor will they be born in unpleasant places.”

“If these living beings have never accumulated any blessings, the Tathagatas of the ten directions will bestow their own merit and virtue upon these people.”

“Ananda, if living beings who have never repented and reformed any of the obstructive offenses, either heavy or light, that they have committed throughout countless kalpas past, up to and including those of this very life, can nevertheless read, recite, copy, or write out this mantra or wear it on their bodies or place it in their homes or in their garden houses, then all that accumulated karma will melt away like snow in hot water. Before long they will obtain awakening to patience with the non-production of dharmas.”

“Therefore, the Tathagata proclaims this mantra as one which will protect those of the future who have just begun to study, as well as all cultivators, so that they can enter samadhi, be peaceful in body and mind, and attain great tranquility.

“Even less will any demon, ghost, or spirit, or any enemy, calamity, or misfortune due from former lives that reach back to beginningless time, or any old karma or past debts come to vex and harm them.”

As we can discern, the mighty effects of this Sacred Mantra are most profound. It is only fitting, now, that we conclude this series on the Surangama Sutra with a marvelous rendition of the mantras sacred chant—it is beautifully moving, and if properly procured in samadhis, will empower you to, in the words of the psalmist, “You shall not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day.” It’s advisable to listen to all 6 sections in order to receive its greatest benefit:

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