Upholding the Shurangama Sutra
The Master repeated his instructions about protecting and supporting the Proper Dharma many times:
- In Buddhism all the sutras are very important, but the Shurangama Sutra is even more important. Wherever the Shurangama Sutra is, the Proper Dharma abides in the world. When the Shurangama Sutra is gone, that is a sign of the Dharma Ending Age. In the Extinction of the Dharma Sutra it says that in the Dharma Ending Age, the Shurangama Sutra will become extinct first. Then gradually the other Sutras will also become extinct. The Shurangama Sutra is the true body of the Buddha; the sharira of the Buddha; the stupa of the Buddha. If the Shurangama Sutra is false, then I am willing to fall into the unintermittent hell, stay there forever, and never come back to the world to see all of you.
- Whoever can memorize the Shurangama Sutra, whoever can memorize the Shurangama Mantra, is a true disciple of the Buddha.
When Dharma Master Haideng, an expert in "One Finger Skill" came to pay respects to Master Hua in December 1985, Master Hua also arranged for Dharma Master Haideng to lecture on the "Four Unalterable Aspects of Purity" from the Shurangama Sutra. He praised Dharma Master Haideng's lectures, saying that only those who are pure and proper dare to explain that portion of the Sutra. In order to show due respect to Dharma Master Haideng, the Master himself knelt to listen to the lectures.
There's no such thing as Proper, Image or Ending Dharma ages; it's the minds of beings that have the concept of Proper, Image, and Ending. The Master considers that any time people work hard at cultivation is a time when the Proper Dharma abides. If no one cultivates, if no one reads, recites, and memorizes the Shurangama Sutra, then that's the Dharma Ending Age. That's because the Shurangama Sutra's "Four Clear Instructions on Purity" that discuss killing, stealing, lust, and lying and its "Fifty Skanda Demon-States" that expose the very bones of all the heavenly demons and externalists, both say flat out that when people don't hold the precepts, then that's the Dharma Ending Age; whenever there are precepts, there is Buddhadharma.
Excerpt from Upasaka Youbing Chen's thesis,
A Discussion of Venerable Master Hsuan Hua's Contibutions to Buddhism,
p. 432 - 433, "In Memory of the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, Vol. III"