The Surangama Sutra: Chapter Two – Section 4

All Phenomena Returnable to Causes Are Unreal

Ananda then arose from his seat, put his palms together, knelt on both knees, and said to the Buddha, “Your Holiness, if seeing and hearing are indeed neither produced nor extinguished, then why did the Buddha say we are people who have lost our true nature and who go about things in an upside-down manner?”

The Buddha let his golden arm fall so that his wheeled fingers pointed downward, and asked Ananda, “You see my mudra-hand: is it right-side up or upside down?”

Ananda said, “I know living beings in the world take it to be upside down. But I do not know what is right-side up and what is upside down.”

The Buddha said, “If people of the world take this as upside down, what do they take to be right-side up?”

Ananda said, “They call it right-side up when the Buddha raises his hand with his fingers pointing upward in the air.”


The Buddha then held up his hand and said: “Worldly people are doubly deluded when they discriminate between an upright hand and an inverted hand. In exactly the same way they make distinctions between your body and the Buddha’s pure Dharma body, saying that the Buddha’s body is correct universal view, while yours is inverted view. Now examine your body closely and answer this: what exactly does the term ‘upside down’ refer to?”


Ananda and the entire great assembly were dazed, and they stared unblinking at the Buddha. They did not know in what way their bodies and minds were upside down.

Seeing it, the Buddha’s compassion arose, and he spoke to the great assembly in a voice that swept over them like the ocean-tide: “All of you good people, I have often said that form and mind and all conditions, as well as dharmas pertaining to the mind – all the conditioned dharmas – are merely manifestations of the mind. Your bodies and your minds all appear within the wonder of the bright, essential, true mind.

“Why do I say that you have lost track of what is fundamentally wonderful in you, the perfect, enlightened, true nature, and that you have mistaken the false for the real because of ignorance and delusion?” The Buddha went on:

“Because mental dimness and confusion turn into dull emptiness. The emptiness then unites with the confusion to become form. Stimulated by false thinking, the form takes the shape of a body. As causal conditions come together there are perpetual internal disturbances which tend to appear as outward manifestations. Such inner disturbances are often mistaken for the nature of mind.”

The primary misconception about the mind and body is the false view that the mind dwells in the physical body.” The Buddha concluded and then elaborated:

You do not know that the physical body, as well as the mountains and rivers, the empty space and the great earth are all within the wonderful, bright, true mind.

It is like ignoring hundreds of thousands of clear pure seas and taking notice of only a single bubble, seeing it as the entire ocean, as the whole expanse of great and small seas.

“You people are doubly deluded among the deluded. Such delusion does not differ from the inversion of my lowered hand. You truly are the most pitiable.”