The Marrow of Buddhism:
The Shurangama Sutra
The Shurangama Mantra is a spiritual mantra that destroys wrong and reveals the right. If it disappears, the Buddhadharma will also disappear. The Shurangama Sutra is the very marrow of Buddhism. Without it, the True Dharma will perish.
We live in the Dharma ending Age, which is distant from the Buddha’s time. Yet we still have a chance to become enlightened and realize Buddhahood, because the Buddha’s teachings have not disappeared yet. As left-home people, we must adhere firmly to our principles no matter how tough it is. Nothing should deter us, and no one should be able to make us renounce our principles. Once we recognize the bright and true path, we should go forward with vigor!
In the Dharma-ending Age, the heavenly demons, unbelievers, ghosts, spirits, and goblins fear nothing more than the Shurangama Mantra. This spiritual mantra destroys wrong and reveals the right. The Shurangama Sutra, which was spoken for the sake of this Mantra, is the very marrow of the Buddhadharma. A person without marrow would surely dies; without the Shurangama Sutra, the Buddhadharma could not exist. Therefore, now in the Dharma-ending Age, the best way to protect and uphold the True Dharma is to memorize the Shurangama Sutra. It’s even more important to commit the Shurangama Mantra to memory. We should be able to recite the Mantra by heart so that it just rolls off our tongue with perfect ease. We should also do our very best to apply the wonderful principles in the Shurangama Sutra and expound them for other people.
If the Shurangama Mantra did not exist, the demons, externalists, ghosts, and goblins would wreak havoc in the world. Since it still exists, these beings dare not show themselves in the world. Without the Shurangama Mantra, the world would be filled with demons, ghosts, and goblins. Since these beings are already starting to run rampant and delude people, people think and act strangely and do not even measure up to animals sometimes. Having lost their inherent wisdom, they act worse than cows and horses. As the number of people who can recite the Shurangama Sutra and the Shurangama Mantra dwindles, the heavenly demons and unbelievers become wild and reckless.
However, the Buddha’s teachings are disseminated into the world from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and the most outstanding cultivators in the world are found here. And so demons, ghosts, and goblins cannot dwell here; this is not their territory. People who lack virtue and right views cannot stay long at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. When their true character and their wrong views are exposed, they can only leave the City.
From now on, the members of the fourfold assembly of left-home and lay people at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas are required to study the Shurangama Sutra until they know it by heart. Ten they will be of great help to Buddhism. Some well-known professors, scholars, and even left-home people blatantly claim that the Shurangama Sutra is false. Why are they so deluded? Because they can’t stand to see themselves reflected in the "demon-spotting mirrors" of the Four Clear Instructions on Purity and the Fifty Skandha-demon States discussed in that Sutra. The Fifty Skandha-demon States exposes their demonic state. And they cannot abide by the rules specified in the Four Clear Instructions on Purity. For these reasons, they go against their conscience and utter this great lie, saying that the Sutra is false.
We should clearly understand the Shurangama Sutra and the Shurangama Mantra. No mantra is more efficacious than the Shurangama Mantra, and no Sutra is more true than the Shurangama Sutra. No other Sutra pinpoints and describes the problems of the celestial demons, externalists, and living beings in such precise detail.
If the Shurangama Mantra disappeared, the Buddhadharma would also disappear; if the Shurangama Sutra vanished, the True Dharma would perish as well. In order to protect and uphold the Buddhadharma, all of you must study the Shurangama Sutra until you can recite it by heart and lecture on it at any time or place. Then you will be true disciples of the Buddha, and you will not have left home in vain.
Beware of those famous scholars, renowned professors, and great Dharma Masters who are blind men leading the blind when they tell others that they Shurangama Sutra is false. On what evidence do they base their claim? They are shameless liars, arrogant and disrespectful, confused by wrong views. In the future, their retribution will be terrible beyond scope.
I have one more thing to tell everyone. I don’t know the policy in other monasteries, but the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas accepts only college graduates for admission into the Sangha. If you have a college degree, you must further undergo three years of rigorous training in the Sangha and Laity Training Programs, and you must show excellent character and scholarship, before you can qualify for ordination as a Bhikshu or Bhikshuni.
In the present age, Sangha members should be especially well educated so that they can transmit the Dharma. There are illiterate and opportunistic monks and nuns who get their meals from Buddhism, but then disgrace the Sangha by breaking the precepts; how can they bring glory to Buddhism and inspire people to have faith in the Triple Jewel? Therefore, in order to improve the qualifications of the Sangha, from this day forward, those who wish to leave the home-life at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, whether they are male or female, young or old, must first earn a college degree and be able to recite the Shurangama Sutra and the Shurangama Mantra by heart; before they will be accepted. In addition, left-home people are expected to seriously study and commit to memory: the Shramanera (novice) precepts, the Fifty-three Small Mantras, the Brahma Net Sutra Bodhisattva Precepts, and the Four-Division Vinaya (the Bhikshu and Bhikshuni precepts).
In the past, although the requirements for leaving the home-life at this Way-place were not quite as strict, I have never accepted disciples casually. I am always very cautious, and only after long-term observation of the disciples’ thinking, speech, and conduct do I permit them to shave their heads. But now, when the Dharma-ending Age prevails in the world and revolution to raise the ethical and educational standards of the Sangha. Every left-home disciple of mine must be an indomitable hero skilled in both martial and literary arts, a great general of the Dharma. His talents should be superlative, even from a worldly perspective. My left-home disciples should also memorize the Shurangama Sutra and be able to lecture on it whenever the occasion calls for it. If you can do that, you are genuinely propagating the True Dharma and care extending the lifespan of Buddhism, and you have not left the home-life in vain.
A talk given by the Venerable Master Hua on the evening of April 14, 1983
At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas