Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Surangama Sutra translator notes

The Surangama Sutra is from the esoteric section of the Taisho Edition of the Mahayana Tripitaka.  Esoteric teachings are often misinterpreted as the secret teachings.  It is not secret; it is deep teaching that requires much commitment to study.  I do not believe in secrets or promoting them in Buddhism.   I strive for clear teachings and translations.  In the Tantra vehicle there are teachings for practitioners and clear instructions to keep their practice private in order to focus on the practice and to avoid fame.  Buddha dharma should be open, clear and available to anyone who cares to read it, all of it.  All collections of Buddha’s teachings, including commentaries are not private and should be open to all. 

In my opinion and as well as others, sometimes labels of ‘secret’ are offered to cover up the fact of lost scholarship,  centuries of protecting selfishly inherited teachings to remain in power, poor study, a serious lack of access to moral, sane, even of qualified teachers there gets to be a label of ‘secret’ to help the teacher save face while they are trying to avoid the dreaded “I don’t know”.  Then with time this mistakenly is taken for precedent and the tradition with a perfectly prefab type answer becomes the only rote response instead of encouraging investigation and growth in the practitioner.   There are teachings that are publicly offered and practices carried on that have produced many positive effects.  They are known far and wide as beneficial and talked about openly, this Surangama Mantra is such a teaching in any language it is written in and folks it’s been written in many languages just not in English until now.  This work has been a part of Mahayana practices in China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan and recited in native languages for centuries and it’s about time in our short 160 years history in the USA that we have standard Mahayana daily recitation texts in English.  

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