by the Most Venerable Như Điển
Rebirth Views in the Śūraṅgama Sūtra
I have had the good fortune to read many books. These books play the role of my teachers. They are as close as my siblings, family, or friends. I can meet with the books any time and anywhere in the morning, afternoon, evening, or midnight. With the moonlight shining through the windows of the meditation room, the books are available in front of me and I can read delightedly. If there is a question, I just open the book; there is the right answer. The book plays the role of informing readers of right and wrong.
From reading scriptures and books, I became interested in translating and writing. Venerable Bhikkhunī
In 1984 and 1985 Venerablelearned this sutra from her master, the Late Most Venerable Bhikkhunī . After that, she studied four years in the bachelor’s program for Buddhist Studies at Institute. She then spent more than ten years obtaining a PhD in Buddhist Philosophy in India. She studied for another ten years at the University of California, Riverside in the United States. Today she is a lecturer at the Vietnamese Buddhist University, HCM City, Vietnam, and shares her knowledge and experiences over the past thirty years with her young monk and nun students. What miraculous merit! She also has begun writing and translating books in English to serve the needs of modern times. That is why the Śūraṅgama Sūtra is published in the English language now. This is one of the first achievements of the Vietnamese Buddhist nun Saṅgha, followed by the holy way of the Late Most Venerable Bhikkhunī . I am very happy to write this introduction.
To enter into the contents of fifteen chapters, we should first pay attention to the form. The bold text is the translated words from Chinese to Vietnamese of Dr. , Lê Đình Thám who took the original text from Sanskrit to Chinese of Prammiti Master ( ). Doctor interpreted it into two parts of ten volumes, but here Venerable only focuses on the parts of questions on the mind, the six sense organs, the six sense objects, and the six forms of consciousness, as well as precept-meditation-wisdom. Next, she talks about twelve species of beings from past, present, and future which is worthy of reading. Because she has learned Nikāya and Mahāyāna sūtras, her stories penetrate these philosophical and realistic meanings profoundly and include scientific and logical evidence. The equivalent Sanskrit and Pāli terminologies are put in parentheses. Italics are used to annotate for clarification. There are also footnotes for the references. This is the research methodology which scholars often use to teach or write academic books. In the preface, she expresses that her book mentions only a small part of the rebirth views from the Śūraṅgama Sūtra. Other perspectives on this scripture will be included in other future volumes to convey all deep thoughts in the Śūraṅgama Sūtra.
An autumn morning at Viên Đức Monastery, Ravensburg in southern Germany, October 14, 2017
This revised and enlarged edition of Rebirth Views in the Śūraṅgama Sūtra was first published ten years ago (2008). The second, third, and fourth editions were reprinted in 2012, 2014, and 2016 at Phương Đông Publishing. This current edition (2018) will be printed at Hồng Đức Publishing, HCM City,. In presenting this edition, I have maintained the contents written in the first edition, however, for the sake of greater clarity, a few changes have been made, errors have been corrected, the Pāli and Sanskrit terms are included, and a summary, as well as discussion questions, have been added at the end of each chapter.
I would like to gratefully acknowledge with special thanks Bhikkhunī, Bhikkhunī , Bhikkhunī , and Pamela C. Kirby (English editor) who worked as my assistants for English translating, proofreading, book design, and publication of this book.
University of California, Riverside, California
Spring, March 01, 2018
One night, the Buddha stood contemplating quietly at the bank of a glistening river. Venerable Śāriputra, who was behind, looked down the moonlight shimmering on the water and suddenly lamented, "Blessed One! It is pitiful! There are people who drowned by jumping into the deep water to look for the moon."
The Buddha replied, "Yes! It's pitiful! But even more pitiful, there are those who never believe there is a moon in the world."
Some people search for the moon at the water bottom. They who have seen the moonlight shimmering on the water’s surface dive into the water looking for the moon and risk drowning. They are not aware that it is very simple; all they have to do is raise their heads up, and the moon is always there in the sky. Then there are other people who believe that the world is without the moon although the full moon is radiating light covering the entire world. Śūraṅgama Sūtra called these miserable people human (manussa) beings who are trapped in the cycle of birth and death.
In the third paragraph of Chapter I, there is mention of the root of ignorance (avijjā) and enlightenment (Nibbāna, prajñā) as the Buddha told Venerable Ānanda, "Since beginningless time onward, all living beings have had many upside-down ways and have created karma seeds which are naturally grouped as the aksha cluster.
Those who cultivate cannot accomplish the unsurpassed bodhi, but instead reach the level of voice-hearer (śrāvakas), pratyeka Buddhas, heretics, heavenly beings (devas), demons (maras), or relatives of ghosts (pittivisaya), because they have not yet recognized the two fundamental roots. They have cultivated wrongly and confusedly, as if trying to cook sand in the hope of creating rice. They may pass through countless eons as molecules of dust, and they will obtain nothing of what they want.
What are two fundamental roots? “Ānanda, first of all, the root of beginningless birth and death is the illusory consciousness (samohaṃ) that you and all living beings now make use of and consider it as your self-nature.
“Secondly, the purified origin of beginningless bodhi Nirvana, the bright original reality of the seeing essence, can create all conditions and is disregarded. Living beings have ignored the original awakening; therefore, though they use it to the end of their days, they are still unaware of their enlightenment, and then they regrettably enter the six realms.” Rebirth Views in the Śūraṅgama Sūtra examines the profound philosophical ideology contained in the Śūraṅgama Sūtra. It points to the mind of illusion that leads to reincarnation and suffering and shows us how to escape.
Just as a gardener selects the most beautiful flowers that she knows will please the recipient, contents of this book mention only rebirth views in the Śūraṅgama Sūtra.
I would like to prostrate devotedly toward Đại Ninh province, Vietnam, to Most Venerable Masterwho wholeheartedly taught us the gardener's art from 1983, 1984, and 1985 and planted in us the good seeds of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness and the Śūraṅgama Sūtra. Today, these seeds are blooming. If we have gained any merit and virtue from this book, we respectfully offer it to our Master and all beings in the world.
With a full heart of dedication, but with the awakening and capacity weak, I hope that wise readers correct mistakes so that next editions of Rebirth Views in the Śūraṅgama Sūtra will be better.
With sincere gratitude,
August 30, 2008
 The twelve scriptural categories:
1. Expositions on themes of practice,
2. Melodic verses,
3. Revelatory accounts,
4. Metered verses,
5. Special verses,
6. Ethical narratives,
7. Illustrative accounts,
8. Ancient narratives,
9. Past-life accounts,
10. Epic presentations,
11. Fabulous accounts, and
12. Decisive explications.
1.Rebirth in Surangama - Gioi Huong
[Xem ấn bản tiếng Việt: Luân Hồi Trong Lăng Kính Lăng Nghiêm]
Bài đọc thêm:
Kinh Thủ Lăng Nghiêm (Thích Duy Lực)
Kinh Thủ Lăng Nghiêm ( Lê Đình Thám)
Kinh Thủ Lăng Nghiêm Trực Chỉ (Thích Phước Hảo)