I. Gautama Buddha
In response to this appeal, the Blessed One addressed the assembly: –
Ananda has just requested me to teach how to arrange a True Altar of Enlightenment to which sentient beings of this last kalpa may come for deliverance and protection. Listen carefully as I explain it to you.
Ananda and all in this assembly! In explaining to you the rules of the Vinaya, I have frequently emphasised three good lessons, namely,
the only way to keep the precepts is first to be able to concentrate the mind;
by keeping the precepts you will be able to attain Samadhi;
by means of Samadhi one develops intelligence and wisdom.
Having learned these three good lessons, one has gained freedom from the intoxicants and hindrances.
Ananda, why is concentration of mind necessary before one can keep the precepts? And why is it necessary to keep the precepts before one can rightly practise Dhyan and attain Samadhi? And why is the attainment of Samadhi necessary before one may attain True Intelligence and Wisdom? Let me explain this to you.
All sentient beings in all the six realms of existence are susceptible to temptations and allurements. As they yield to these temptations and allurements, they fall into and become fast bound to the recurring cycles of deaths and rebirths. Being prone to yield to these temptations and allurements, one must, in order to free himself from their bondage and their intoxication, concentrate his whole mind in a resolution to resist them to the uttermost. The most important of these allurements are the temptations to yield to sexual thoughts, desires and indulgence, with all their following waste and bondage and suffering. Unless one can free himself from this bondage and these contaminations and exterminate these sexual lusts, there will be no escape from the following suffering, nor hope of advancement to enlightenment and peacefulness. No matter how keen you may be mentally, no matter how much you may be able to practise Dhyan, no matter to how high a degree of apparent Samadhi you may attain, unless you have wholly annihilated all sexual lusts, you will ultimately fall into the lower realms of existence. In these lower Mara realms of existence there are three ranks of evil ones: the Mara king, evil demons, and female fiends, and all of them have each his and her own double who disguise themselves as ‘angels of light’ who have attained supreme Enlightenment.
After my Parinirvana, in the last Kalpa of this world, there will be plenty of all these kinds of evil spirits everywhere. Some of them will beset you openly with avarice and concupiscence and others of them will pose as holy and learned masters. No one will escape their machinations to lure them into the swamps of defilement and thus to lose the Path to Enlightenment. Therefore, Ananda, and all of you, should persistently teach the people of this world to attain perfect concentration of mind, so that they may be able to practise Dhyan successfully and attain Samadhi. This is the clear teaching of all the Blessed Buddhas of the past, and it is my instruction at the present, and it will be the instruction of all Tathagatas of the future.
Therefore, Ananda, a man who tries to practise Dhyan without first attaining control of his mind is like a man trying to bake bread out of a dough made of sand; bake it as long as he will, it will only be sand made a little hot. It is the same with sentient beings, Ananda. They can not hope to attain Buddhahood by means of an indecent body. How can they hope to attain the wonderful experience of Samadhi out of bawdiness? If the source is indecent, the outcome will be indecent; there will ever be a return to the never-ending recurrence of deaths and rebirths. Sexual lust leads to multiplicity; control of mind and Samadhi leads to enlightenment and the unitive life of Buddhahood. Multiplicity leads to strife and suffering; control of mind and dhyana leads to the blissful peace of Samadhi and Buddhahood.
Inhibition of sexual thoughts and annihilation of sexual lusts is the path to Samadhi, and even the conception of inhibiting and annihilating must be discarded and forgotten. When the mind is under perfect control and all indecent thoughts excluded, then there may be a reasonable expectation for the Enlightenment of the Buddhas. Any other teaching than this is but the teaching of the evil Maras. This is my first admonition as to keeping the Precepts.
Source: ‘The Surangama Sutra,’ A Buddhist Bible, (edited by Dwight Goddard), Thetford, Vt.: 1938, pp. 262–264.