The Warning to Practitioner's Chapter of the Surangama Sutra taught by Shakyamuni Buddha to Ananda - Translated by Doug Wile

Shakyamuni Buddha Speaks on The Fifty Mara-States of the Five Skandhas Affecting Practitioners During Meditation and How to Meditate Correctly

Just as the Buddha was about to quit his dharma-platform, he grasped the inlaid teapoy beside his lion throne and turned his precious body. Then once again leaning back in his seat, he declared to the great assembly and to his most learned disciple Ananda: "You sravakas and pratyeka-buddhas must turn your minds to the achievement of the supreme bodhi. I have already instructed you in the correct methods of practice, but you are not yet aware of the subtle deceptions of the evil maras when you practice samatha-vipasyana meditation. When the mara-realms appear before you, if you are not able to distinguish them, and your minds are not pure and balanced, you will fall into erroneous views. These may take the form of your own skandha-maras, Deva Mara, ghosts and spirits, or evil demons. If your mind is not clear, you may mistake thieves as your own sons, or take small progress as complete achievement, like the ignorant monk who after reaching the fourth and final dhyana announced that he had attained sainthood. No sooner had he earned his heavenly reward than signs of his fall appeared. For vilifying the arhats, he reaped the fruits of his own karma and fell into the eternal hells. You must listen carefully as I explain this to you in detail."

Ananda rose to his feet, and together with all the assembled neophyte saiksa students, they gratefully prostrated themselves at the Buddha's feet and awaited his compassionate instruction.

The Buddha said: "You must all understand that there is no difference between the universal mind of the twelve types of beings birthed in the worlds of suffering and illusion and that of the Buddhas of the ten directions. However, because of distorted thinking, people become ignorant and greedy, and ignorance and greed become universal. Therefore, the original, absolute void is ceaselessly transformed into illusion, and thus the world is created. In reality, this very earth came into being from the stubborn and erroneous thinking of the unenlightened. You must know that voidness is created in your own mind like a wisp of cloud against a clear sky; how much more so the worlds within this void. If just one among you realizes your true nature and reverts to the original source, then the whole void is obliterated. Would not all the nations of this void be shaken and shattered?

"When you practice dhyana and samadhi, all the bodhisattvas and great arhats, whose mind-essences are in perfect accord, remain unmoved, but the king of the demons, together with the ghosts, spirits, and lesser heavens witness the spontaneous collapse of their palaces, and the whole earth is shattered. All the creatures of land, sea, and air are startled. The worldly man labors in darkness and feels no change, whereas the hosts of demons, who have acquired the five supernatural powers but have not yet extinguished their passions, are still attached to the troubles of this world. How can they allow you to destroy their dwellings? This is why when you enter the state of samadhi, the ghosts and spirits, Deva Mara, and monsters and demons swarm about to harass you.

"However, do not be concerned about the maras' rage, for they are afflicted with the passions of the world, while you enjoy wonderful bliss. They can no more touch you than wind can blow out light or a knife can cut water; you are like boiling water and they are like solid ice. As the warm air draws near, the ice is soon melted. Though they rely on their supernatural powers, these are merely external and can only succeed in destroying you through your own internal five skandhas--form, sensation, conception, volition, and consciousness. If you are deluded, they will take advantage of you. When you are established in dhyana, enlightened and free of delusion, what harm can the maras do to you? When your skandhas are wiped out, and you enter a state of perfect clarity, then all evils are but dark vapors. As light overcomes darkness, they will perish as soon as they approach you. How could they dare to disturb your samadhi?

"However, if you fail to awaken and are deluded by the five skandhas, then you, Ananda, will become the offspring of Mara and aid him in his work. This is like the despicable Matangi, who used spells to try to cause you to violate one of the eighty thousand rules of the order. At that time, however, your mind was pure and you did not succumb. This was a potential threat to your precious bodhi-wisdom and to your very being, and you might have ended up like a minister of state who finds himself suddenly dispossessed, destitute, and hopeless.



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