👈 || UNSAYING | CONTEMPLATION | TRADITION | MEDITATION | DISCUSSION | BACK MATTER || 👉

The prophecy which was compiled by Jamyang Khyentse Chokyï Lödro from teachings of the Buddha tells of a specific technique available to each of us to use to help us find hope for the future in our own life, as we face the repercussions of a toxic collusion of systems — economic, political, behavioral, and normative — that, looking back, could only end in the destruction of our world. Hopefully, it’s not too late to start using the tool that the Buddha suggests will help us. Clearly, he didn’t see “sit back and wait for someone to save you” as a viable option. Help is not coming. It’s up to each of us now — you and I together.

The fact that this book has been about the exact same technique that the Buddha points to, doesn’t mean that this book was prophesized by the Buddha. It is a remarkable fact that synchronicities abound in the best of times, and the worst. This is once again evidence that our way of understanding our life, ourselves, and our world has strayed away from the truth. Rather than being a remarkable occurrence that I have been working to present this technique to the world at just the time foretold by the Buddha it is needed, it is just further evidence that reality is responsive to the context we now find ourselves in, and this responsiveness shows concern for what we desire to happen — all of us, and not just humans, but all beings that are to be impacted. I am sure that there are others as well as myself— many others — just as hard at work expending their days at labor to bring forth this lost knowledge that is so needed today. I am not unique.

But the insight that comes with this sure knowledge is that our intention, desire, and focus, drive how reality responds. Not even a loving responsive reality can save us from ourselves. We need to take responsibility for our life and the choices we find presented to us, for this is how Responsive Naturing works. Focusing on making ‘tough’ choices, rather than creating possibilities, leaves us tightly in the grip of fate. If we merely react to what is happening and choose the lesser of evils presented to us, then we are doomed, because that doom, and slight variants of it, are all that there will be possible. This is why it is so important that we understand the way of responsive naturing, so that when we declare “Ema•Hō!” — this is the way — we will already be on our way to a better future, rather than following those that, like lemmings, are hurrying along to collective doom.

There is hope for the future so long as we are willing to work for it. I am, and have been, my entire life. My single accomplishment with this book, Tranquillity’s Secret, has been to make the connection between the foretold need for the practice of Avalokitasvara and it’s explanation in the Surangama Sutra text, and further, the familial constellation of all such practices as those I present in this text within every spiritual tradition. I saw the clear need for this unnamed practice, that I have used my whole life, because it is like a key that will unlock our future — and like all locks that require a unique key, this one is the only key that will work. The fact that the name that I gave to this practice — because it had no name — is exactly the name the Buddha used for it in the prophecy, just reinforces this point: because of the unique and pressing circumstances we find ourselves in today, there is only one technique that will help us, because of its unique effect that matches the exigencies of our time.

So, it is difficult to find that those most capable of helping bring this sure knowledge to the world are uninterested or actively blocking its diffusion because they lack any knowledge of this technique, and thus the possibility the Buddha spoke of. They denigrate the prophecy as being vague and confusing, and try to block the knowledge of this practice from getting out. They aren’t doing this to harm others. They aren’t bad people. They are, instead, sure that there is no hope for the future, and they question the logic of scaring people by confusing them with a different possible end to this story than the one they see clearly — in their understanding — coming.

Most of these people, and their boredom with the problem that they see has only one inevitable end, is that they try to silence others, whose ‘commotion’ disturbs their somnolent state. There is no need to waste any time on them. But there is one group that can block this knowledge by using their ignorance of it as evidence that it is not important — even though the Buddha and Chokyï Lödro made the effort to bring it to our attention.

Someone who sees their ignorance as proof that what they don’t know, and aren’t the least bit interested in discovering, is not worth knowing, are idiots — learned idiots perhaps, but certainly not, or no longer, open to new things. They are individuals who are crippled by their hubris, or their fatigue.

Unfortunately, the damage they do is real — and there is no time to waste coaxing them to comport themselves differently. It is for this reason, and no other, that I have little patience for their obstinacy. I am personally at a loss to understand the thought process that went through their heads when they first, having noticed that the practice that is the subject of the prophecy involves “great responsiveness,” made the decision to change it to “compassion,” whittling this important teaching down to a cheap and impotent advertisement for a simple visualization process.

But, you see, they don’t know about the Surangama Sutra. They heard that it was a fake, not a true teaching of the Buddha. Some translator hundreds of years ago thought the prose was too poetic, and thus couldn’t possibly have been a teaching of the Buddha. Really. But there is a germ of truth in this slander — if you are willing to accept that it applies to all translated texts.

When scholars translate spiritual texts, there is often a gap between the translated meaning and the original meaning. The difficulty is not simply a linguistic breakdown, it is a much more difficult to overcome gap between the direct meditative insights of the original author, and the knowledge gained through studying texts of the translators. Insights are viscerally felt experiences and the understanding which arises from them, within the context of a contemplative life. Scholarly study of such insights cannot recreate that context, nor the direct experiences, so the understanding that is developed is simply a conceptual one.

Then (the Blessed One) said: Ananda! Though you have an excellent memory, it seems to serve only to increase your knowledge. You are still a long way from the mysterious insight and reflection that accompany the attainment of Samapatti.¹
The Buddha said to Ānanda, “You and others like you still listen to the Dharma with conditioned minds, and therefore you fail to understand its real nature.²

This gap in understanding leaves the translator with an often brittle understanding that must adhere tightly to an established concordance of vocabulary, rather than arising naturally from direct experiences which may be interpreted in different ways for different audiences. Such a fixed vocabulary is developed by agreement and is never sure. When that vocabulary is translated from one language to another, and from one culture to another, even from one period to another, the gap widens. This is why honest scholars say that translation is treason. And why translators should gain insights first before learning or developing vocabulary. As Wallace Stevens, an American poet, put it:

The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, “You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.”

The man replied, “Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.”

And they said then, “But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are.”⁠³

But that is not what is done. Seeing the insurmountable necessity to directly experience what one teaches, translators can only be trained in an agreed upon concordance of vocabulary and the interpreted experiences of enlightened masters, and they do not stray from that concordance when they translate a new work by a different author, or even the same author written at different times along their path.

These concordances are worked out painstakingly by scholars who work in different languages and attempt to find a new term in the target language that can convey the meaning of the original language. They rely upon the understanding of an expert, who themselves, may or may not understand the nuances of the meditative insights. These do not lend themselves easily to conceptual description, even by those who have accomplished some advanced meditative state. And in most cases, that expert is not bilingual.

Profound meditative insights, packaged up as conceptualized words, are translated almost by pantomime. Is it not a wonder that any of the original profound meaning makes its way through such a fragile process?

I say this, not to put down others, nor to diminish their laudable sacrifice and efforts; but merely to acknowledge that translations are a frail and fragile thing — in any field, but especially with spiritual matters.

And sometimes, things go awry.

Such is the case with the prophetic teaching that was compiled by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö sometime before his death in 1959,

As a prophecy, it is normal to focus on events that are prophesized when reading the text of the prophecy. But in the case of the prophecy entitled, “The Light That Makes Things Clear,” one of the most important events foretold, which until now has not taken place, but is now occurring, is instead taken as evidence that the prophecy is faulty and needs ‘correction’.

I speak here of the very first pronouncement by the Buddha in the prophecy text compiled by Chökyi Lodrö:

I have this to say about it. While I was residing in the great expanse of space, I was thinking of and gazing on the beings of the world. So, listen! There is a teaching useful during the time when the dark age arises. If one writes of it, propagates it, and practices the “Great Responsiveness Meditation” and recitation, impurities and obscurations will be quickly purified. If one sincerely makes offerings to this spiritual text with flowers and incense, all sentient beings will benefit. By propagating this text and writing about it, one will obtain a good existence throughout all of one’s lives.

As I mentioned after the prophecy in the previous article, the practice named “Great Responsiveness Meditation” was not known before this book was written. I say this with assurance because the translator of a different translation of the prophecy, which is hosted on the Dalai Lama’s Lotsawa House translations web repository, and whose work was underwritten by the “generous support of the Khyentse Foundation and Terton Sogyal Trust, and with the gracious assistance of Alak Zenkar Rinpoche” does not use the “Great Responsiveness Meditation” name, but rather something else. Given the standing of the named entities involved in that translation, the fact that the phrase “Great Responsiveness Meditation” was translated into “the visualization and recitation of the Great Compassionate One,”⁠ assures me that the practice name used in this book is not known to them.

Now you may think this is unimportant. Certainly, they do. But what is being overlooked is that “Great Responsiveness” is not compassion. It is something else entirely, as the readers of this book well know. It is specifically the difference between Great Responsiveness and compassion that supports the assertion by the Buddha that “impurities and obscurations will be quickly purified.” The visualization practice of the Great Compassionate One leads to the development of compassion, and is a gradual path. Great Responsiveness, on the other hand, is not developed. It is the fundamental activity of reality. And by practicing the Great Responsiveness Meditation this truth is uncovered — quickly.

Unfortunately, this point appears to have been overlooked, or was intentionally changed, because every reference to Avalokitasvara as “the Greatly Responsive One” in the prophecy has been changed to “the Greatly Compassionate One.” The term “Great Compassion” is often used when referring to Great Responsiveness, because most people have only heard of compassion. And this is the point that the Buddha made that is quoted above: “There is a teaching useful during the time when the dark age arises.” The visualization practice, while a good and useful practice, is not going to lead to a direct realization of the truth, as the Great Responsiveness Meditation will, because the visualization is directed towards generating compassion, if not bodhichitta (a mind intention to reach enlightenment). Great Responsiveness Meditation results in an ‘alchemical’ change to the practitioner which enables a new way of being in the world, like that of its namesake, the Greatly Responsive One, Avalokitasvara. And if we are to survive the challenges that face us today, which have also been prophesized, we need to act quickly, now, and that requires a complete change to how we see reality, and how we act in our lives.

I should add, also, that the practice that is referred to as Great Responsiveness Meditation is well documented in the Surangama Sutra, where it is presented by Avalokitasvara himself. And it is here that there is another important point to be made about this slander and ignorance about the Surangama Sutra.
Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua was a major modern proponent of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, which he commented and used in his instructions on protecting and supporting the Proper Dharma. In his “Exhortation to Protect and Propagate” the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, he said:

Within Buddhism, there are very many important sutras. However, the most important Sutra is the Surangama Sutra. If there are places which have the Surangama Sutra, then the Proper Dharma dwells in the world. If there is no Surangama Sutra, then the Dharma Ending Age appears. Therefore, we Buddhist disciples, each and every one, must bring our strength, must bring our blood, and must bring our sweat to protect the Surangama Sutra. In the Sutra of the Ultimate Extinction of the Dharma, it says very, very clearly that in the Dharma Ending Age, the Surangama Sutra is the first to disappear, and the rest of the sutras disappear after it. If the Surangama Sutra does not disappear, then the Proper Dharma Age is present. Because of that, we Buddhist disciples must use our lives to protect the Surangama Sutra, must use vows and resolution to protect the Surangama Sutra, and cause the Surangama Sutra to be known far and wide, reaching every nook and cranny, reaching into each and every dust-mote, reaching out to the exhaustion of empty space and of the Dharma Realm. If we can do that, then there will be a time of Proper Dharma radiating great light.
Why would the Surangama Sutra be destroyed? It is because it is too true. The Surangama Sutra is the Buddha’s true body. The Surangama Sutra is the Buddha’s sharira (relics). The Surangama Sutra is the Buddha’s true and actual stupa and shrine. Therefore, because the Surangama Sutra is so true, all the demon kings use all kinds of methods to destroy the Surangama Sutra. They begin by starting rumors, saying that the Surangama Sutra is phony.
Why do they say the Surangama Sutra is phony? It is because the Surangama Sutra speaks too truly, especially in the sections on The Four Decisive Deeds, the Twenty-five Sages Describing Perfect Penetration, and the States of the Fifty Skandha Demons. Those of off-center persuasions and externally-oriented ways, weird demons and strange freaks, are unable to stand it. Consequently there are a good many senseless people who claim that the Surangama Sutra is a forgery.⁴

So this is not a matter of a personal insult that this work is being ignored, because I am just writing about the practice that is documented in that sutra, which I was introduced to in my youth and used for sixty-plus years.

Rather, it is that translators of, and experts on, Tibetan texts who are unfamiliar with the Surangama Sutra are unwittingly — which means unmindfully — undermining the words of the Buddha and the efforts of the compiler of this prophecy. To translate unmindfully shows a lack of faith in the very entities that such translators have dedicated their lives to serving.

It is that sutra which is the “teaching” the Buddha is referring to in the prophecy, not this book. The subject of this book and the teaching in the prophecy are one and the same. Unfortunately, as I explained at length in the article that follows the Surangama Sutra contained in this book, that sutra has been libeled and slandered by translators for hundreds of years, so that it is little known in Tibetan Buddhism, while it is one of the most important sutras in Ch’an Buddhism. Is it any wonder that such illustrious Tibetan lamas and organizations are at a loss to make the connection between the prophecy and the teaching? It is my hope that this explanation may help change that, and definitively remove the hesitancy of modern Tibetan translators about the prophecy’s value to us all — today.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།
👈 || UNSAYING | CONTEMPLATION | TRADITION | MEDITATION | DISCUSSION | BACK MATTER || 👉

Footnotes:

¹ The Surangama Sutra, translated from Chinese by Bhikshu Wai-tao and edited by Dwight Goddard, “A Buddhist Bible,” Dwight Goddard, 1938, pgs 150–151

² Śūraṅgama Sūtra, with commentary by Venerable Hsuan Hua, Buddhist Text Translation Society, 2009, pg 54

³ Stevens, Wallace, The Collected Poems, Vintage Books, 1990, “The Man With the Blue Guitar”, Stanza 1, pg 165

⁴ The Shurangama Sutra — Volume One, Published and translated by: Buddhist Text Translation Society, 2002, pg 9

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