Inner Spontaneous Sound Is The Sole Meditation Support That Can Take One Directly To A State Of Enlightenment Without Tradition Or Teacher

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

I have said that these practices using inner spontaneous sound are not dependent on any doctrinal system in order to be understood, but its efficacy goes beyond that: inner spontaneous sound is the sole meditation support that can take one fully and completely, in the most expeditious way possible, to advanced meditational insights leading to a state of enlightenment. And it specifically does not require any doctrinal system of teachings to bring one to that state — and that is the unique characteristic that is lacking in all other meditation supports.

For example, in the Sri Vijnana Bhairava Tantra of Kashmir Shaivism, in which are detailed 112 different dharanas, or concentration practices, only two result in accomplishing the supreme state of Brahma, which is the “manifest force of life and creation:” that of using either the light or sound that arises within the mind, uncaused.⁠¹

One who is adept in listening to the unstruck sound in anahata, (which is) uninterrupted like a rushing river, attains the supreme state of Brahma by mastery of shabdabrahman, the form of Brahman as sound.

In the Buddhist Śūraṅgama Sūtra, the Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī, who is associated with transcendent wisdom in the Buddhist pantheon, explains that this support is continuous — in the sense that it does not arise and pass away as the breath does, and as normal sounds do — since it is neither a contingent, nor a compounded phenomenon, as all other supports are. It is therefore always present when we turn inward towards it with a tranquil mind.

All other supports, such as the breath, are discontinuous, and thus one reaches a point where, in order to proceed further and accomplish greater concentration leading to enlightenment, one needs the presence of instructional teachings and/or an enlightened teacher to overcome the discontinuous nature of these other supports. This is why, according to the Surangama Sutra, all the Buddhas necessarily reached — and future Buddhas will reach — enlightenment through the use of this one support alone.

Here is Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī’s recommendation from the Śūraṅgama Sūtra. In it he refers to the “One Who Hears the Cries of the World,” which is a literal translation of the name Avalokitasvara, which I dialoged about earlier in this text. It is Avalokitasvara’s practice using inner spontaneous sound that is being discussed in the quote below:

No practice is entirely continuous,
So even mindfulness perforce arises and must halt.
An intermittent practice’s results are intermittent.
How could awareness guide all beings to enlightenment?

I now respectfully say this to the World-Honored One — 
The One who came to be a Buddha in this Sahā world
In order to transmit to us the true, essential teaching
Meant for this place — I say that purity is found through hearing.
All those who wish to gain samādhi’s mastery
Will surely find that hearing is the way to enter.

I now can recommend respectfully the practice
Taught by the One Who Hears the Cries of the World.
A being whose mind is tranquil hears the sound
Of drumbeats coming from all ten directions,
And yet he’ll hear each of the drums distinctly.
And so our hearing faculty must be the perfect one,
The one that’s genuine and true.

We’re capable of hearing sounds and silence both;
They may be present to the ear or not.
Though people say that when no sound is present,
Our hearing must be absent too, in fact
Our hearing does not lapse. It does not cease
With silence; neither is it born of sound.
Our hearing, then, is genuine and true.
It is the everlasting one.

Confused about the nature of our hearing,
Beings, by permitting their attention
To go out pursuing sounds, have bound themselves
To birth and death’s unending cycle.

Ānanda, listen closely! Aided by the awe-inspiring
Power of the Buddha, I have now explained to you
This regal, genuine, and marvelous samādhi.
Indestructible, beyond the reach of mundane thought,
It is the mother of all Buddhas.”

People say that hearing comes about because of sounds,
Not on its own. If that’s what you call ‘hearing,’ though,
Then when you turn your hearing round and set it free from sounds,
What name are you to give to that which is set free?”

Return just one of the perceiving faculties
Back to its source, and all six faculties will then be free.
For what we hear is mere illusion, like the objects of our vision — 
Like what is seen by one whose eyes are covered by a film.
The Threefold Realm is like those flowers in an empty sky,
But turn the hearing inward, and the faculties are cured.
Their objects vanish, and awareness is completely pure.

Great Assembly! Ānanda! Halt the puppet show
Of your distorted hearing! Merely turn your hearing round
To listen to your genuine true nature,
Which is the destination of the Path that is supreme.
This is the genuine way to break through to enlightenment.

It is the way that the innumerable Buddhas followed
Straight to nirvana’s gate. All Thus-Come Ones of eons past
Succeeded by this method. Through this method, Bodhisattvas,
Too, right now are gaining perfect understanding.

Among the people of the future, those who undertake
A spiritual practice should rely upon this teaching.
I myself became enlightened by this very method.
He Who Hears the Cries of the World is not the only one.

The Buddha, the World-Honored One, made a request
That I consider methods that will rescue beings
Who in the Dharma’s ending-time resolve their minds
Upon attainment of transcendence and nirvana.
The best of all the methods is the practice
Taught by the One Who Hears the Cries of the World.

The sages who attained enlightenment by other means
Were aided by the Buddha’s awe-inspiring spiritual power,
And each was specially taught how to abandon all affliction.
Some of these paths are shallow, some go deep; these teachings vary.

I bow now in respect to all the Buddhas, and I bow
To all their Dharma-treasuries and to the marvelous ones
Who’ve put an end to outflows. And may beings of the future
Be empowered so that they will have no doubts
That this one method is the most accessible.

It is the easiest way to reach enlightenment.
It is the teaching most appropriate
For Ānanda and for the beings drowning
In the Dharma’s ending-time. They only need
This practice of the faculty of hearing
For them to break through to enlightenment,
For it surpasses all the other methods.
It is the genuine path to the true mind.⁠²

There is much to contemplate in this excerpt and I highly recommend to you that you study the entire sutra at your leisure. However, the most salient point that I want to bring to your attention is Mañjuśrī’s assertion:

The sages who attained enlightenment by other means
Were aided by the Buddha’s awe-inspiring spiritual power,
And each was specially taught how to abandon all affliction.
Some of these paths are shallow, some go deep; these teachings vary.

As can be seen, the practice used by Avalokitasvara using inner spontaneous sounds for its support, enabled him, contrary to all the other enlightened sages, to reach full enlightenment without the need for anything else but the practice using inner spontaneous sounds, while all other means of reaching enlightenment require aid from teachers and teachings because these other supports are insufficient to reach the end of the path, or as Mañjuśrī pointed out, they needed “the Buddha’s awe-inspiring spiritual power.”

No practice is entirely continuous,
So even mindfulness perforce arises and must halt.
An intermittent practice’s results are intermittent.
How could awareness guide all beings to enlightenment?

Together these two points add up to the following: using inner spontaneous sound as a support for meditation frees you from any need to be associated with any tradition, any lineage, any religion, any teacher at all, which is an amazingly frank statement to make. And it is specifically for this reason that this practice is the best suited to today’s reality of jet-setting teachers who are focused upon numbers of students exposed to their “teachings,” rather than accompanying a small number of students along their path to their final accomplishment. Our time is short today, so spreading knowledge as widely as possible is deemed to be the correct path forward. But…

These modern “teachings,” especially as given to “Western” students, shouldn’t even be called that, as the format used by most modern spiritual teachers is the lecture format in front of large groups of people, who may or may not have any background either in the doctrines being discussed, or have any experience with prolonged meditation, and little chance to ask questions. But we are so used today to being entertained, here in the “West.” Has meditation and receiving “teachings” become just another form of that?

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

Footnotes:

¹ “Sri Vijnana Bhairava Tantra,” Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati, Yoga Publications Trust, 2003, pgs 184–189 & 477

² “The Śūraṅgama Sūtra,” Buddhist Text Translation Society, 2009, pgs 253–257

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