The Surangama Sutra: Chapter Four – Section 2

The Buddha’s Enlightenment Is Uncreated and Never-ending

Purna asked, “If our inherent Bodhi is fundamentally as wondrous as the mind of the Buddha, neither greater nor any less than the Buddha’s enlightenment, then how is it that all conditioned phenomena – the mountains, the rivers, and everything else – suddenly arise for no reason? Also, now the Buddha has realized emptiness and enlightenment, will the mountains, the rivers, as well as the worldly habits and outflows of ordinary beings ever arise again?

The Buddha said to Purna, “If a man loses his way in a village and mistakes south for north, does his error come from delusion or enlightenment?”

Purna replied, “From neither. Because delusion has no basis in reality, so how can it be a cause? And since enlightenment does not beget confusion, it can’t be the cause either.”

The Buddha then asked again, “If this man meets someone who shows him the right way, then do you suppose he will lose his way again?”

“He will not, World-Honored One.”

“Then it is the same with all Buddhas in the ten directions, Purna. Delusion has no root in reality, for in its very nature it is empty. There has never been anything real about the delusion since beginningless time. It only appears as if there’s so-called confusion and enlightenment. Once one has awakened, the confusion vanishes, and from enlightenment no confusion can arise.

“It is like someone with cataracts may see flowers in the air, but once the disease is cured, the flowers he saw in the air will disappear. If he keeps waiting at the old spot for the flowers to appear again, do you suppose he is stupid or intelligent?”

Purna replied, “There were never any flowers up there in the first place. Its appearance and disappearance are due to distorted views. To expect them to reappear again would be even more deluded than to see them disappear. What’s the point of defining such crazy person as stupid or wise?”

The Buddha said, “Since you put it that way, why did you even have to ask if the mountains, the rivers, and the great lands would come about again from the clear emptiness and luminous awakening of all Buddhas?

“Also take the example of a gold mine, where the ore contains pure gold as well as other impurities. Once the pure gold is extracted, it cannot be mixed with the ore again. Likewise, the ashes of burnt wood cannot become wood again. It is the same case with all Buddhas having realized Bodhi and entered Nirvana.”