English ilse v06-10 - Lecture Notes on the Essence of the Infinite Life Sutra

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無量壽經菁華講記 Lecture Notes on the Essence of the Infinite Life Sutra 淨空法師講述 by Venerable Master Chin Kung

無量壽經菁華講記
Lecture Notes on the Essence of the Infinite Life Sutra

淨空法師講述 
by Venerable Master Chin Kung

六、為諸庶類。作不請之友。

6. To all living beings they were friends, [who would help] without being asked.

這是菩薩教化眾生的悲願,主動作一切眾生的善友。我們學習時要懂得觀機,應機說法。機緣成熟了,我們要是不幫助眾生,就對不起他;緣沒有成熟,你幫助他是自討無趣。眾生根性、機緣不同,喜歡學禪的,就讓他老實參禪;喜歡念咒的,就讓他恭恭敬敬念咒。法門平等,無有高下。佛說那麼多法門是應種種不同根性的人而說的,如果學一個法門能度一切眾生,釋迦牟尼佛何必說那麼多法門?因此,我們修淨土,不能強迫每一個人都修淨土。遇到緣成熟的,我們就主動去幫助,把佛法介紹、推薦給他。佛法確實有許多層次,層次慢慢提升了,他自然會找到捷徑,會找到這個殊勝的淨土法門。所以,要有耐性,以善巧方便協助眾生。

When teaching all beings, the bodhisattvas have this vow of compassion: on their own accord, they become good friends to all beings. When we emulate the bodhisattvas, we should learn to perceive the suitable way and the right time to teach a being. If we do not help this being when the condition is mature, then we would be failing the being. By helping the being when the condition has not matured, we are courting a rebuff.

Every being is different in capacity; additionally, the condition for learning Buddhism is not the same for every being. If a being likes Zen meditation, let the being sincerely cultivate Zen meditation. If a being likes to recite mantras, let the being do so respectfully. All methods are equal, and no one method is superior or inferior to another. To accommodate people with different capacities, the Buddha taught many methods. If a method could help every being, then there would be no need for Sakyamuni Buddha to teach all these methods.

We Pure Land practitioners cannot make people practice the Pure Land method. When someone’s condition has matured, we should voluntarily introduce Buddhism to help the person. There are many stages in learning Buddhism. As the person gradually advances in practice, he or she will naturally find the most direct route—the wondrous Pure Land method. Therefore, to help all beings skillfully and expediently, we should be patient.

七、興大悲。愍有情。演慈辯。授法眼。杜惡趣。開善門。於諸眾生。視若自己。拯濟負荷。皆度彼岸。

7. Great compassion arose f-rom these bodhisattvas. They empathized with all sentient beings. With a heart of compassion, they lectured on the teachings, taught by example, and also imparted the Dharma Eyes. They blocked all evil paths and opened the door of virtuousness. They regarded all beings as themselves. They rescued and helped living beings and shouldered the burden of helping them all cross over to the other shore.

「興」是發起。「演」是表演,「辯」是言教,就是講經說法;不但有言教,而且要有身教。「授法眼」,授是傳授,法是方法,眼是比喻,使他明白了一切法的真相,懂得道理。「杜惡趣」,杜是防止、防範,惡趣是惡道。「善門」,淺而言之,就是人天善法。

“Arose” means came forth. The words “taught by example” means to demonstrate through behavior. “Lectured on” means to speak the Dharma. Not only did the bodhisattvas teach with words, but they also taught by example. In “imparted the Dharma Eyes,” “imparted” means to pass on, “Dharma” means method of practice, and “Eyes” is a metaphor. This metaphor refers to helping others understand the truth of all phenomena and principles.

In “blocked all evil paths,” “blocked” means to prevent and be on guard and “evil paths” means the Bad Realms. “The door of virtuousness” means, simply put, the virtuous teachings that enable one to be reborn in the human or heavenly path.

一切眾生迷惑顛倒,還沉淪在五欲六塵之中,我們要發大慈悲心,愍念有情眾生,把淨土法門介紹給他。慈悲憐憫必須要有具體的表現,這個表現是真正熱心去推動,盡心盡力把它當作這一生中最重要的大事來做。

Sentient beings are deluded. They indulge in the Five Desires8 and the Six Dusts9 —in worldly pleasures. We should generate a mind of great compassion, empathize with sentient beings, and introduce the Pure Land method to them. Compassion and empathy must be put into action. This is enthusiastically propagating the Pure Land method. With all our hearts we must do our best—we must treat this task as the most important thing in this lifetime.

「演慈辯,授法眼,杜惡趣,開善門」,這是教學的方式。講經說法不一定是在講台上,而是隨時隨地遇到人,就當以最適當的方法將佛法介紹給他。他完全不能接受時,你就念一句「南無阿彌陀佛」,他慢慢知道了,以後他見你也會念一句「南無阿彌陀佛」,我們的目的就達到了,所以方法很多。

“With a heart of compassion, they lectured on the teachings, taught by example, and also imparted the Dharma Eyes. They blocked all evil paths and opened the door of virtuousness.” These sentences describe the method of teaching. We do not need to be onstage to expound on Buddhism, but we should do so whenever and whe-rever we encounter someone. We introduce Buddhism to that person in a way that is most suitable for that person. If he or she cannot accept Buddhism at all, simply say “Namo Amituofo.” As time goes by and the person gradually understands, that person will also say “Namo Amituofo” the next time we meet. In this way, we will have accomplished our goal. This is just one of many ways.

譬如,學佛的人心情愉快、身體健康,這是一般大眾非常羨慕的。你要是真正健康快樂,他一定會向你請教:「你為什麼生活得這麼愉快?」你就告訴他:「念佛。」念佛就能達到真正健康快樂,你能說出一番道理,他聽了歡喜,這是機會教育。所以,「演」是指我們日常生活幸福、美滿、快樂,這是佛教育的一塊好招牌。人家一看就歡喜,就會嚮往、羨慕,想來學習。

For example, a practitioner is always happy and healthy, something everyone very much envies. If we are truly healthy and happy, others will surely ask us, “Why are you always happy?” We tell them, “Because I mindfully chant the Buddha-name.” Practicing Buddha-name chanting will lead to true happiness and good health. If they feel happy in listening to our explanation, then we are making good use of the opportunity to teach them. “Taught by example” refers to us living a happy, satisfied, and joyful life. This is a good signboard for the Buddha’s teaching. When people see this, they will like it and will want this happiness for themselves. Hence, they will want to learn Buddhism.

如何不墮惡道?不造惡業自然就不墮惡道。惡趣最重要是惡念,惡念是因,惡行是業不善,後面一定會有惡報,因緣果報,絲毫不爽。我們不想受一切惡報,只要不起一個惡念,我們的念清淨、純正,絕對不會有惡的果報。

How does one avoid falling into the evil paths? If one does not cre-ate evil karmas, naturally one will not fall into the evil paths. Evil paths are due mainly to evil thoughts—evil thought is the cause. Evil conduct is unvirtuous karma and bad retributions will surely follow. The law of cause and effect never fails.

If we do not want to have any bad retributions, we should not have any bad thoughts. With pure and proper thoughts, we will definitely not have any bad retributions.

「開善門」是勸人斷惡修善,斷惡修善的好處是他得,與我們不相干,誰修誰得。不是你修,我得好處,決定是自己得,自修自得。我們自己修,自己得到好的果報,這也是給別人做證明,好果報是從斷惡修善來的。

The words “opened the door of virtuousness” mean urging people to end wrongdoings and to practice virtuous conduct. When people end wrongdoings and practice virtuous conduct, the benefit will go to them; the benefit does not involve us. Those who do this will receive the benefit. It is not that others practice and we benefit. Definitely, when we practice we benefit. When this happens, we are proving to others that good rewards come f-rom ending wrongdoings and practicing virtuous conduct.

如果你跟某些人講出三界、成佛作祖,他聽了害怕;但是你講來生再做人,做一個大富大貴的人,他聽了很高興,遇到這樣的人,你就教給他人天善門。如果是志向廣大的人,知三界苦,知天上福報雖大,壽命雖長,但總有一天會死,所以希望超越三界,你就教他超越三界的方法,這是大善門。

There are people who become scared when we tell them about transcending the Three Realms10 and attaining Buddhahood. But they get happy when we talk about them becoming immensely rich and important in their next lifetime. When we encounter such people, we should teach them the methods of being born as a human or a heavenly being.

There are also people who have great aspirations. They know that the Three Realms are filled with sufferings, and that even in the heavenly path—whe-re good fortune is great and the life span is long—the heavenly beings will still die one day. For these people with great aspirations, their wish is to transcend the Three Realms. We should teach them the methods of transcending the Three Realms. This is a door of great virtuousness.

實在講,任何一個法門,要想在一生當中成就,唯有念佛法門,這是我學佛四十多年的體驗。所以,念佛法門確實殊勝,能把這個法門介紹給大家,這是至善之門,沒有比這個更善的了。

Frankly, the only method of practice that allows one to succeed in one lifetime is the Buddha-name chanting method. In all my forty-plus years of learning Buddhism, this is what I have realized. The Buddha-name chanting method is truly wondrous. If we introduce it to others, we are opening the door of utmost virtuousness. Nothing is more virtuous than this.

「於諸眾生,視若自己,拯濟負荷,皆度彼岸」,對眾生與對自己沒有兩樣,這實實在在就是大乘佛法講的「無緣大慈,同體大悲」。對於一切眾生一視同仁,只要他肯接受,我們總要全心全力幫助他。佛弟子應當發願負荷續佛慧命、廣度眾生、住持正法的使命。

“They regarded all beings as themselves. They rescued and helped living beings and shouldered the burden of helping them all cross over to the other shore.” When we treat others like we would treat ourselves, that is, with no difference whatsoever, it is “unconditional compassion for all others as we are all one entity” as taught in Mahayana Buddhism. We should treat all impartially. As long as a person accepts our help, we should wholeheartedly help this person.

Buddhist practitioners should have this vow: help all beings far and wide, uphold the proper teachings, and pass on the Buddha’s wisdom to future generations.

八、如來以無盡大悲。矜哀三界。所以出興於世。光闡道教。欲拯群萌。惠以真實之利。

8. The Thus Come One commiserates with the beings in the Three Realms with infinite great compassion. This is why he appears in the world: to expound Buddhist teachings and spread them everywhe-re, like light; to help all beings; and to bring true benefit to them.

「光」是光大,「闡」是闡揚,「道」是出離生死、圓滿成佛之道。「拯」,拯救、拯濟。「群萌」,指一切眾生。「真實之利」,滿足眾生的願望就是真實。

“Light” has the meaning of reaching places far and wide. “Expound” means to teach and to propagate. “Buddhist teachings” refers to the way to transcend life and death and to perfectly attain Buddhahood. “Help” means to save and to rescue. “True benefit” refers to fulfilling the wishes of all beings.

這是說明佛到世間來的原因,佛為什麼出現在印度而不在中國?中國文化雖然久,中國人最高的意念只有一個,就是生天,沒有出三界的念頭。如果講來生作人,或者生天,中國儒家、道家的學問方法足夠了,佛不需要來。

This excerpt explains the reason why the Buddha came to this world. Why did he appear in India and not in China? Although Chinese culture had already existed for a long time, the highest aspiration of the Chinese was to be reborn in the heavens. They did not have the thought of transcending the Three Realms. For rebirth in the human or heavenly paths, Confucian teachings and Taoist teachings were sufficient. Therefore, the Buddha did not need to go there.

釋迦牟尼佛出現在印度的那個時代,宗教最發達,經上講有六師外道。婆羅門教、瑜伽、數論確實有很深的禪定功夫,能達到四空天,這是中國人做不到的。說老實話,中國人生天也只是在欲界天,色界天都無法到達。印度人到色界天、無色界天就無法超越了,而把四禪天、四空天當作涅槃境界,這是很大的誤會。因此,當時,全世界確實只有印度的眾生根性、機緣成熟了,而佛「矜哀三界」,出現在那個地方,幫助他們超越六道,得真正的菩提涅槃。

At the time in India when Sakyamuni Buddha appeared, many religions were flourishing. The sutras mentioned six major non-Buddhist masters. The practitioners of Brahmanism, the Yoga system, and Samkhya were able to attain very high levels of meditative concentration: they were able to be reborn in the Fourth Formless Heaven, a feat that the Chinese had not been able to accomplish. Frankly, when the Chinese were reborn in the heavens, they could only get to the heavens in the Desire Realm. They could not get to the heavens in the Form Realm.

Indians could be reborn in the heavens in the Form Realm and even in the Formless Realm, but they could not transcend them. They thought that the Fourth Meditation Heaven or the Fourth Formless Heaven was the state of nirvana. It was a great misconception.

Therefore, at that time, only the people in India, out of all the people in the world, had the right capacities and mature conditions. The Buddha “commiserated with the beings in the Three Realms” and appeared there to help them transcend the Six Paths and attain the true Bodhi and nirvana.

佛並沒有偏心,那個地方眾生機緣成熟,用什麼方法來教化,佛就用什麼方法教化。如《普門品》所說:「應以佛身而得度者,即現佛身而為說法。」印度是要以佛身說法,中國是要以菩薩身說法,這是示現不同,其目的是相同的。目的是「欲拯群萌,惠以真實之利」。有人想生天,佛就教他生天的方法,他真的生天了,這就是惠以他真實的利益。

The Buddha was impartial. When the condition of the beings in a place was mature, he would use the most appropriate method to teach them. As stated in “Universal Door Chapter”:11 “For those who will only be liberated upon the manifestation of a Buddha, then the manifestation in the form of a Buddha will appear to present the teachings.” In India, they needed a Buddha to teach them and in China, they needed a bodhisattva. The manifestations were different but the objective was the same. The objective was “to help all beings; and to bring true benefit to them.”

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If a person wants to be reborn in the heavens, the Buddha will teach the method to that person, and he or she will be truly reborn there. This is bringing true benefit to that person.

而絕對究竟圓滿的真實之利是成佛,等覺菩薩還不是究竟圓滿。《無量壽經》把信願、持名、求生淨土的方法教給大家,這才是究竟圓滿的真實之利。淨土三經所說的極樂世界,四土九品,依正莊嚴,一生圓滿成就,不要等到第二生,釋迦佛在這一會跟我們講的是絕對的真實。佛在本經講過三次真實,而在一部經上講三次真實是很少見的!

The absolutely perfect, true benefit is attaining Buddhahood. Becoming a Bodhisattva of Equal Enlightenment is not yet ultimate and perfect. The Infinite Life Sutra teaches us the method of seeking rebirth in the Western Pure Land through belief, vow, and mindful Buddha-name chanting. It is the ultimate and perfect true benefit.

As mentioned in the three Pure Land sutras, we can perfectly accomplish the goal of rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss in one lifetime—without waiting until the next lifetime. There, in the four lands, each with nine grades, the environment as well as all the beings are wondrously magnificent.

The teaching of Sakyamuni Buddha at this Dharma assembly is absolutely true. The Buddha mentioned “true” three times in this sutra. It is very rare for the word “true” to be mentioned three times in a sutra.

九、願我得佛清淨聲。法音普及無邊界。宣揚戒定精進門。通達甚深微妙法。智慧廣大深如海。內心清淨絕塵勞。超過無邊惡趣門。速到菩提究竟岸。無明貪瞋皆永無。惑盡過亡三昧力。

9. May I attain the pure sound of a Buddha and may my Dharma voice spread everywhe-re limitlessly, propagating the teachings of precept observation, meditative concentration, and diligence. May I thoroughly understand the profound, wonderful Dharma. May my wisdom be as vast and as deep as the sea. May my mind be pure, void of dust and toil. May I transcend boundless doors of the evil paths and quickly reach the shore of ultimate enlightenment. May I be forever free of greed, anger, and ignorance, and with the power of samadhi end all delusions and faults.

「願我得佛清淨聲,法音普及無邊界」,這是阿彌陀佛的大願,成佛就是要講經說法,普度一切眾生。這比六祖大師在《壇經》講得還清楚,連成佛的目的都說出來了,這也是我們學佛應當要嚮往的。名聞利養是「生不帶來,死不帶去」,若天天打妄想想得到,實在太愚痴了。《金剛經》云:「凡所有相,皆是虛妄」、「一切有為法,如夢幻泡影」。因此,我們常常想著盡虛空遍法界弘法利生,不知不覺就與一切諸佛同心、同願、同行,哪有不成佛的道理!

“May I attain the pure sound of a Buddha and may my Dharma voice spread everywhe-re limitlessly.” This is a magnificent vow of Amitabha Buddha. The purpose of being a Buddha is to universally help all beings. This is done by lecturing on the Dharma. This verse is even clearer than what Master Huineng said in the Platform Sutra, as it reveals the purpose of becoming a Buddha. We Buddhist practitioners should aspire to this.

We bring nothing with us at birth and we take nothing with us at death. Not fame, nor prestige, nor wealth, nor gain. If every day we wish for them, it would be very foolish of us. As the Diamond Sutra says: “All phenomena are illusory.” It also says: “All conditioned existences are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, or a shadow.”

Therefore, we should constantly think about spreading the Dharma and benefiting all beings throughout all the Dharma Realms. This way, we will be of the same mind, the same vow, and the same practice as all Buddhas without realizing it. We will definitely attain Buddhahood!

「宣揚戒定精進門」,這一句就是菩薩所修的六波羅蜜,即布施、持戒、忍辱、精進、禪定、般若。但是此地只說了戒、定、精進,這就是講「六度」,這是大乘菩薩法。若只說戒、定、慧,則屬於「三學」。

The words “propagating the teachings of precept observation, meditative concentration, and diligence” refer to the Six Paramitas that bodhisattvas cultivate, which are giving, precept observation, patience, diligence, meditative concentration, and prajna wisdom.

But only precept observation, meditative concentration, and diligence are listed here. They refer to the Six Paramitas, which are the practice of Mahayana bodhisattvas. If precept observation, meditative concentration, and wisdom were listed here, then they refer to the Three Learnings.

「通達甚深微妙法」,就是大乘講的明心見性,若不能通達甚深微妙法,就不能廣度一切眾生。在此地意思更究竟圓滿,以本經的理論、方法、境界而言,甚深微妙法是淨宗講的「是心是佛,是心作佛,明心達本,念佛往生不退成佛」的妙法。這是其他大乘經所沒有的,這一句確實是指這個意思。四十八願為我們開出無上的法門,完全是如來果地上的境界,教導我們持名念佛往生,這是以果為因。蕅益大師說,這是九界有情(九界是菩薩、聲聞、緣覺、六道眾生)靠自己的力量所無法理解的,這才是甚深微妙法。

The words “thoroughly understand the profound, wonderful Dharma” mean “enlightening the mind and seeing the true nature,” as taught in Mahayana Buddhism. If one cannot thoroughly understand the profound, wonderful Dharma, one will not be able to help all beings extensively.

In this sutra, the sense of these words is more thorough, more complete. Based on the principles, method, and level of practice taught in this sutra, we can see that the profound, wonderful Dharma refers to this wondrous teaching of the Pure Land school: “This mind is Buddha, and this mind becomes Buddha. Enlighten the mind and reach the original nature. Mindfully chant the Buddha-name, attain rebirth in the Western Pure Land, and, without retrogression, attain Buddhahood.” This teaching is not found in any other Mahayana sutra. The words “the profound, wonderful Dharma” convey this meaning specifically.

The forty-eight vows open up the supreme Dharma door for us—this is completely the state of Tathagata at the attainment stage. This Dharma door teaches us to mindfully chant the Buddha-name and attain rebirth in the Western Pure Land. This is taking [Amitabha Buddha’s] rewards and making them our causes. Great Master Ouyi said that the sentient beings in the Nine Dharma Realms (bodhisattvas, sound-hearers, pratyekabuddhas, and the beings in the Six Paths) who rely on themselves alone cannot understand this. That is why this is “the profound, wonderful Dharma.”

《華嚴經》《法華經》是微妙法,《華嚴經》《法華經》《無量壽經》一比,《無量壽經》是第一,所以《無量壽經》就是「甚深微妙法」。相信《華嚴經》《法華經》不難,相信《無量壽經》難,這是最難信之法。所以,我們向人家介紹《無量壽經》,人家不相信是正常的。一介紹,他就相信,那不是普通人。《無量壽經》講,這決定是再來人,不是凡人。

The Avatamsaka Sutra and the Lotus Sutra are both wonderful Dharma. But when they are compared with the Infinite Life Sutra, the latter is number one. Therefore, the Infinite Life Sutra is “the profound, wonderful Dharma.” It is not hard to believe the teaching in the Avatamsaka Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, but it is hard to believe the teaching in the Infinite Life Sutra, which is the most hard-to-believe method. Therefore, if we introduce the Infinite Life Sutra to others, it is quite normal that they will not believe it. If a person believes it when we introduce it to them, this person is not an ordinary person. As stated in the Infinite Life Sutra, this is a bodhisattva who has manifested as a human being; he or she is not an ordinary person.

「智慧廣大深如海」,要想廣度眾生,一定要先度自己;要成就別人,先要成就自己圓滿的智慧,才有能力幫助眾生。所以,法藏比丘說完了自己度眾生的大願之後,就再敘說自己現在要求甚深廣大的智慧。此甚深廣大的智慧是自性本來具足,非從外求。如何求得甚深智慧?下一句就是方法。

“May my wisdom be as vast and as deep as the sea.” To widely help all beings, one must first help oneself. To help others achieve in their practice, one must first achieve perfect wisdom. In this way, one will have the ability to help others. After stating the great vow of helping others, Dharmakara Bhiksu said that he then sought deep, vast wisdom. This deep, vast wisdom is innate in the true nature, not attained f-rom the outside. How does one attain profound wisdom? The next sentence tells us the method.

「內心清淨絕塵勞」,「塵」是染污,比喻染著灰塵就骯髒了。「勞」是煩惱,我們必須要遠離一切污染,斷盡煩惱,才能恢復清淨心。

“May my mind be pure, void of dust and toil.” “Dust” refers to pollutants: when something is tainted with dust, it gets dirty. “Toil” refers to afflictions. In order to restore a pure mind, we must stay far away f-rom all pollutants and eradicate afflictions.

「智慧廣大深如海,內心清淨絕塵勞。」這兩句是相輔相成的。正因為相輔相成,才產生無量的法喜,你有一分功夫,就多一分智慧;多一分智慧,信心更深,多增長一分功夫;增長一分功夫,又增長一分智慧。這是定慧相輔相成,永無止盡!應用在事相上,它就超過了一切惡趣門。

“May my wisdom be as vast and as deep as the sea. May my mind be pure, void of dust and toil.” The two sentences complement each other. Because they complement each other, boundless Dharma bliss will arise. The more one achieves in practice, the more wisdom one will have. The more wisdom one has, the deeper is one’s belief and thus the more one will achieve in practice. As one achieves more in practice, one will have even more wisdom. This is how meditative concentration and wisdom complement each other perpetually. When one practices this way, one will transcend all evil paths.

「超過無邊惡趣門」,修清淨心是因,心只要一清淨,一切罪障都消除了,所有一切惡趣就遠離了。人沒有瞋恚心,就超越地獄門;不愚痴,就超越畜生門;沒有慳貪,就超越餓鬼門,所以斷貪瞋痴就超越三惡道。如果對人天福德無一絲毫貪求,就能超越六道。這一句是從比較中而說的,餓鬼道與地獄道相比,餓鬼道是善,地獄道是惡;畜生道與餓鬼道相比,畜生道是善,餓鬼道是惡。小乘的阿羅漢、辟支佛與大菩薩相比,阿羅漢、辟支佛是惡,大菩薩是善。菩薩與佛相比,佛是善,菩薩是惡。所以,「無邊惡趣門」包括了聲聞、緣覺、菩薩,一直到你圓滿成佛就超越了。

“May I transcend boundless doors of the evil paths.” The cause to achieve this is cultivation of a pure mind. Once the mind is pure, all obstacles that prevent us f-rom obtaining good fruits f-rom our cultivation will be eliminated, and one will stay away f-rom the evil paths. When one is free of anger, one will transcend the door of hells. When one is free of ignorance, one will transcend the door of animals. When one is free of greed and miserliness, one will transcend the door of hungry ghosts. Therefore, when one eradicates greed, anger, and ignorance, one will transcend the Three Evil Paths. And if one does not have the slightest yearning for the good fortune in the human and heavenly paths, one will transcend the Six Paths.

The sentence in the excerpt is also a statement of comparisons. When the path of hungry ghosts is compared with the path of hells, the path of hungry ghosts is good and the path of hells is bad. When the path of animals is compared with the path of hungry ghosts, the path of animals is good and the path of hungry ghosts is bad. When the realm of arhats and pratyekabuddhas of the Theravada tradition is compared with that of Mahasattvas, the realm of arhats and pratyekabuddhas is bad and the realm of Mahasattvas is good. When the realm of bodhisattvas is compared with that of Buddhas, the realm of bodhisattvas is bad and the realm of Buddhas is good. Therefore, “boundless doors of the evil paths” also encompasses the realms of sound-hearers, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas. Only when one perfectly attains Buddhahood will one transcend the evil paths.

「速到菩提究竟岸」,菩提究竟岸是圓滿的佛果。換言之,「無邊惡趣門」,是指權教菩薩以下,統統是惡趣;不但是六道,聲聞、緣覺、權教菩薩都是惡趣。

In “quickly reach the shore of ultimate enlightenment,” the words “shore of ultimate enlightenment” refer to perfect and complete Buddhahood. In other words, “boundless doors of the evil paths” means that the path of the bodhisattvas of the Provisional Teaching and all the paths below are bad paths. Therefore, the bad paths include not only the Six Paths but also the realms of sound-hearers, pratyekabuddhas, and the bodhisattvas of the Provisional Teaching.

「無明貪瞋皆永無」,這是講三種煩惱,見思煩惱、塵沙煩惱、無明煩惱統統斷盡了,這是如來果地上的境界。

“Forever free of greed, anger, and ignorance” is saying that the three kinds of affliction—Affliction of Views and Thoughts, Affliction of Dust and Sand, and Affliction of Ignorance12 —are completely eradicated. This is the state of Tathagata at the attainment stage.

「惑盡過亡三昧力」。「惑」是迷惑。於世出世間所有一切法中,他不迷惑了。過是過失,無論是自己修行,或是教化眾生,對人對事對物,絕對不犯過失。這些要靠什麼?三昧力。「三昧」,當然是指念佛三昧。

The words “with the power of samadhi end all delusions and faults” are saying that one is no longer deluded about anything in this world and beyond. Whether cultivating, teaching, interacting with people, or engaging in tasks, one will definitely not commit wrongdoings. How does one achieve this? With the power of samadhi. “Samadhi” used here refers to the Buddha-name Chanting Samadhi.

以上六句是阿彌陀佛在因地求學時的修學綱領,我們今天所修的,與阿彌陀佛當年修行做個比較,我們是不是把智慧擺在第一目標,其他的什麼都不求?

The last few sentences [starting f-rom “May my wisdom be as vast and as deep as the sea”] were Amitabha Buddha’s guidelines for learning and practice when he was at the causal stage. Compare our practice to that of Amitabha Buddha at the causal stage. Do we also seek wisdom as our ultimate goal and seek nothing else?

要求智慧,一定要得清淨心,清淨心的作用就是智慧。清淨心像一面鏡子,起用是照見,這是有智慧。要想心地清淨,心就不能有一絲毫的染著,世間法五欲六塵,出世間法大小權實統統不染,這個要緊。務要心地純淨,言行純善。

If one seeks wisdom, one must achieve a pure mind. When one has a pure mind, wisdom manifests. A pure mind is like a mirror. Its function is to see everything clearly in its reflection. This [seeing everything clearly] is having wisdom. If one wants to have a pure mind, one’s mind must not be contaminated even in the slightest way—by mundane teachings (the Five Desires and the Six Dusts) or by supramundane teachings (that is, Mahayana, Theravada, True Teachings, or Provisional Teachings). This is very important. One must try to have a mind of the utmost purity, and speech and behavior of the utmost virtuousness.

學佛有兩種方式,一種從行門真正用功夫,從修清淨心下手;另一種,從解門研究理論下手。這兩條路,哪一條佔便宜?行門佔便宜。從行門下手,只要心清淨,不懂佛法沒有關係,只要能斷煩惱,心淨則佛土淨,決定能往生。從解門下手,一切理論、方法、境界都清楚了,然後還是要從頭修起,因為有解無行是不能成就的。從行門下手,是以心行為主,以解為輔助,不必刻意求解,自然就通達了,這個方法非常正確。走這個門,無論是讀經、聽講,懂一句就得一句受用,懂兩句就得兩句受用;不懂的不要緊,下一次再聽就懂了,多聽幾遍自然就明瞭,不必在這一段、這一句裡鑽牛角尖,反而把心搞得不清淨。

There are two approaches in learning Buddhism. The first is practice—here one starts with cultivating a pure mind. The other is understanding—here one studies the teachings. Which approach is more advantageous? Practice. As long as one has a pure mind, it does not matter that one has no knowledge of Buddhism. If one eradicates affliction, then the mind is pure and the Buddha Land will also be pure. One will be able to attain rebirth in the Western Pure Land.

If one uses the approach of understanding, after one is clear about all the principles, methods, and states, one still needs to practice, starting f-rom the basics. One cannot achieve in one’s cultivation with only knowledge and no practice. When one uses the approach of practice, one mainly cultivates mindfulness; understanding of the teachings is supplementary. One need not make painstaking effort to seek understanding—it will come naturally. Practice is the correct approach. If one uses this approach, whether one reads the sutras or listens to lectures, one will benefit f-rom each particular sentence that one understands. If one does not understand a sentence, it does not matter, as one will understand it when one listens to the lectures again. One will naturally understand after listening to lectures a few times. One need not get stuck on a sentence or a paragraph; otherwise, one’s mind will become disturbed.

本經經題中有「清淨平等覺」,這三個是一而三、三而一,一個得到了,三個統統得到。而這三個當中,還是清淨心容易修。修清淨心的方法是執持名號,不念佛的時候聽佛號,佛號最好聽自己念的。把自己平常念佛的聲音錄下來,不念佛的時候,放錄音帶聽,非常有受用,這是修清淨心。

In the title of this sutra are the words “purity, impartiality, and enlightenment.” These three are one in three and three in one. When we attain one, we attain all three. Of the three, cultivating a pure mind is the easiest. The way to cultivate a pure mind is to mindfully chant the Buddha-name. When we are not chanting the Buddha-name, we should listen to the chanting of the Buddha-name. It is best if we can listen to our own chanting. So, we could record our chanting, and when we are not chanting, listen to this recording. This is very effective. This is cultivating a pure mind.

所以,法藏比丘以智慧為首,以定慧等持,以惑盡過亡三昧力作總結,這個用意很深很深,確實提供我們非常寶貴的修學參考。

[In the part of the excerpt that talks about Dharmakara Bhiksu’s practice for his own enlightenment,] Dharmakara Bhiksu put wisdom as his first priority and the result of his practice is this: with the power of samadhi he ended all delusions and faults. [This samadhi places] equal emphasis on both meditative concentration and wisdom. The purpose [of Dharmakara practicing this way] is tremendously profound. It truly provides a very valuable reference for our learning practice.

十、常行布施及戒忍。精進定慧六波羅。未度有情令得度。已度之者使成佛。假令供養恆沙聖。不如堅勇求正覺。

10. I will constantly practice the Six Paramitas of giving, precept observation, patience, diligence, meditative concentration, and wisdom. For those sentient beings who are not yet awakened, I will help them attain awakening. For those who are awakened, I will help them attain Buddhahood. Rather than make offerings to sages as countless as the Ganges sands, I would perseveringly and courageously seek proper enlightenment.

「常行布施及戒忍,精進定慧六波羅」,這兩句是菩薩住世的行持,也就是菩薩心行的標準,是我們應當要學習的。

The statement “I will constantly practice the Six Paramitas of giving, precept observation, patience, diligence, meditative concentration, and wisdom” describes the conduct of bodhisattvas in this world. In other words, it is the standard for their mindset and practice. We should learn this.

「常」,永遠。「布施」,捨、放下,身心世界一切放下。所有一切苦惱,乃至於疾病、生死、輪迴的來源,都是因妄想、執著不肯放下,真的是自作自受。所以,我們要捨心中的牽掛、憂慮、煩惱、妄想、分別、執著,布施的用意在此地。

“Giving” is letting go—letting go of everything in this world. All the afflictions, even illnesses, birth and death, and the root cause of transmigration come about because one is unwilling to let go of wandering thoughts and attachments. One truly reaps the fruit of one’s actions. The purpose of giving is to help one let go of one’s concerns, worries, afflictions, wandering thoughts, discriminations, and attachments.

世間人自以為行菩薩道,到處布施、供養,目的在「捨一得萬報」,捨財將來得財富,捨法得聰明智慧。若如是行布施,並非菩薩,完全是凡夫貪瞋痴慢的妄想在作祟。菩薩布施的目的是要捨心中的妄念,妄念捨盡了,自性本有的無量智慧、德能、財富自然現前,哪裡要求!哪裡要修!不需要。像六祖大師開悟時所說:「何期自性本來具足,何期自性能生萬法」,一切受用隨心所欲,隨念所生。佛教我們布施是教我們捨妄念,恢復性德,這才是真實的利益。

Many people think that they are walking the bodhisattva path, practicing giving and making offerings everywhe-re. But their intent is to gain a lot through giving a little. They give some money because they want to have wealth and give teachings because they want to have intelligence and wisdom.

If one practices giving with such thinking, one is not a bodhisattva. Such thinking comes f-rom an ordinary being’s wandering thoughts of greed, anger, ignorance, and arrogance.

The purpose of bodhisattvas practicing giving is to let go of their wandering thoughts. When they let go of all the wandering thoughts, boundless wisdom, capabilities, and wealth innate in the true nature will naturally manifest. [Once we let go,] there is no more a need to seek or to cultivate.

When Master Huineng attained enlightenment, he said, “Who would have expected that inherent nature is originally complete in itself? . . . Who would have expected that inherent nature can produce myriad things?”13 All enjoyment is as one wishes and manifests f-rom one’s thoughts.

When the Buddha taught giving, he was teaching us to let go of wandering thoughts and to uncover innate virtues. This is a true benefit.

凡夫的大病就是放不下,這才勞累佛菩薩,委曲婉轉以種種方便幫助我們漸漸放下。菩薩做榜樣、做示範,教導我們布施,捨名聞利養、五欲六塵,捨煩惱、憂慮、生死,一切放下了,就得大自在。《金剛經》云:「法尚應捨,何況非法」。法是佛法,佛法也不能執著,執著就錯了。佛法像一艘船,是我們過河的工具,達到目的地了,工具也要捨。所以,佛法是幫助我們度過難關的,既然度過了,佛法也不能執著,也要放下。

A big problem with ordinary beings is that we cannot let go. Therefore, we trouble the Buddhas and bodhisattvas to use various expedient means to indirectly and tactfully help us gradually let go. Bodhisattvas set examples with their behavior to teach us to practice giving and to let go of fame, prestige, gain, wealth, the Five Desires, the Six Dusts, affliction, worry, and birth and death. When we let go of everything, we will attain great freedom.

The Diamond Sutra says: “Even the Dharma has to be laid aside, let alone worldly teachings.” “Dharma” refers to the Buddha-dharma. One should not be attached to the Buddha-dharma either. Any attachment is a mistake. The Buddha-dharma is like a boat, something we use for crossing a river. Upon reaching our destination, we should let go of the tool that got us there. The Buddha-dharma is to help us overcome difficulties. When we have done so, we should not be attached to the Buddha-dharma and should let go of it too.

「戒」是持戒,就是守法,人奉公守法,自然心安,遠離一切恐怖。儒家講禮節,佛法講戒律,這是我們生活行為的規範。佛制定的根本大戒只有四條,「殺、盜、淫、妄」,這四條是性罪,不管你受不受戒,犯了就有罪業。「不飲酒」,這一條是遮戒,它是預防的性質。我們仔細觀察一些犯重罪的人,都與酒有關係,所謂「酒後亂性」,所以世尊也將這一條列入重戒。此外,國家的法律、風俗人情,我們也要遵守,才能與人和睦相處,這是持戒真正的意義。

“Precept observation” means abiding by laws. When one abides by laws, one will naturally have peace of mind and be free of all fears. Etiquette taught in Confucianism and the precepts taught in Buddhism are the norms for our daily behavior. The most important fundamental precepts set by the Buddha are these four: no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, and no lying. These four offenses are intrinsically wrong. Regardless of whether we have received the precepts, we commit an offense when we do any of these four acts.

The precept of not taking intoxicants is a preventive measure. When we carefully look at people who committed grave offenses, we will see that a lot of them were alcohol related—one loses reason when drunk. This was why the Buddha included not taking intoxicants as a major precept.

In addition, we should also abide by the country’s laws and customs. This way, we will get along harmoniously with others. This is the true meaning of precept observation.

「忍」是忍辱,《般若經》云:「一切法得成於忍。」所以,忍要有堅強的耐心,世法要成就都要相當的耐心,何況學佛?一定要能忍耐,能忍就能心平氣和,功夫才能往前進。如果不能忍,修得再好,功夫不能進步,所以忍是真正的功夫,忍是禪定的前方便。

“Patience” is forbearance. The Prajna Sutra says: “All accomplishments are attributed to patience.” Therefore, patience requires resolute endurance. Considerable patience is needed for any accomplishment in worldly undertakings, let alone in learning Buddhism. One must be able to exercise patience. When one is patient, one will be able to maintain a tranquil mind and advance in one’s cultivation. If one is not patient, one will not have any progress in one’s cultivation no matter how diligently one cultivates. Patience requires true effort. It is a prerequisite for meditative concentration.

「精進」,進就是不退,精是純而不雜。我們見到很多同修發憤努力,但他不是精進,他學很多、很雜,這是雜進、亂進,所以功夫不能成就。一門精進,成就非常快速。譬如一個人只學一部經,學一年很有成就;另一個人,同時學十部經,他一年的成就決定比不上學一門的。

The Chinese term for “diligence” is jingjinJing means “unadulterated” and jin means “making progress.” Many practitioners resolve to exert themselves but their efforts are unfocused. They learn many things, but they get all mixed up. This is adulterated progress, so they cannot achieve in their practice.

When one concentrates on one Dharma door, one’s progress will be rapid. For example, if a person learns only one sutra, after one year this person will achieve in his or her learning. On the other hand, if another person simultaneously learns ten sutras, his or her achievement in learning cannot compare with that of the person who concentrates on one sutra.

你專學一部經,譬如學《阿彌陀經》,一部經研究十年,十年之後,你走到世界任何一個國家角落,人家看到你都說:「阿彌陀佛來了」、「你是阿彌陀佛的化身」。你十年學一部《地藏經》,你成了地藏菩薩;你十年學一部《普門品》,你就變成觀音菩薩。問題在你肯不肯專精?現在人喜歡博多,這是一個錯誤的觀念,是一個失敗的思想,這決不能成功!

After one learns a sutra, for example the Amitabha Sutra, and studies it for ten years, whe-rever one goes in the world, people will say “Amitabha Buddha is here” or “You are Amitabha Buddha manifested.” If one learns theKsitigarbha Sutra for ten years, one will become Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. If one learns the “Universal Door Chapter” for ten years, one will become Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. The question is whether one is able to focus on one sutra.

People today like to learn extensively; that is, to learn many things. This concept is wrong, and such thinking will lead to failure—definitely not success.

我還沾了一點師承的邊緣,我聽老師的話,但還不是完全聽,要是完全聽,我今天不是這個樣子了,所以現在後悔。我在李老師會下十年學五部經,李老師規定一部經沒有學好,決定不可以學第二部。要學到什麼程度?老師認為可以了,如果老師認為不可以,就要在這一部上繼續努力學習。俗話說:「不聽老人言,吃虧在眼前。」年輕人無知,意氣用事,不相信老人的經驗,就吃虧了。

I had a little exposure to my teacher’s lineage. I followed the teaching of my teacher Mr. Li Bingnan but not completely. Had I completely followed his teaching, I would have achieved more than I have today. I am regretful now.

In ten years I learnt five sutras under Mr. Li’s guidance. He set a rule that a student had to learn one sutra well, before starting the second sutra. What was the criterion for “learning well”? Mr. Li’s acknowledgement. If he did not think that the student had learned it well, the student had to continue learning it. As a Chinese saying goes, “If one does not listen to the advice of an elder person, one will soon suffer disadvantages.” Young people have little experience and act rashly. They do not believe the experience of older people and thus suffer disadvantages.

「定」是自己要有主宰,不為外境所動。以念佛法門而言,就是一心不亂,就是清淨心。「慧」是智慧、理智,不是世間的聰明智慧。有了智慧,處事待人接物就不會做錯事,不會犯過失。

“Meditative concentration” means being in control and not being disturbed by the environment. In the Buddha-name chanting method, it is One Mind Undisturbed, which is a pure mind. “Wisdom” is rational and not the same as mundane intelligence. When one has wisdom, one will not make any mistake when interacting with people and engaging in tasks.

「常行布施及戒忍,精進定慧六波羅」,這兩句就是講六度,前五種是事修,依照這個方法事理修學,智慧是自然開發的。智慧現前,表現在哪裡?在日常生活當中。這六條就是菩薩日常生活行持的準則。表現在布施,雖修布施,而不著布施相,「三輪體空」,這就是智慧。持戒不著相,自然就符合戒法的標準。智慧表現在行事之中,忍辱、精進、禪定統統如是,這樣才真正離苦得樂。

The statement “I will constantly practice the Six Paramitas of giving, precept observation, patience, diligence, meditative concentration, and wisdom” talks about the Six Perfections. The first five are about cultivation. When one cultivates according to the methods and principles, wisdom will naturally be uncovered. How does one know when one’s wisdom is uncovered? It can be seen in one’s daily life. These six are the norms for the daily behavior of a bodhisattva. When wisdom is present in giving, one will practice giving without being attached to the act of giving—“the three wheels14 are essentially empty.” This is wisdom. In observing the precepts without attachment to form, one naturally conforms to the standards of the precepts. When wisdom is present in one’s activities—in patience, in diligence, and in meditative concentration—the same applies. This way, one will truly be able to leave suffering behind and attain happiness.

「未度有情令得度」,沒有接觸佛法的、不懂佛法的人,我們要想方法找機會讓他接觸,讓他認識佛法。

“For those sentient beings who are not yet awakened, I will help them attain awakening.” For those who have not been in contact with Buddhism, we should find ways and opportunities to introduce Buddhism to them; for those who do not understand Buddhism, we should find ways and opportunities to help them understand Buddhism.

「已度之者使成佛」,已經學佛的人,而且發大心想快速成就,就用念佛法門幫助他一生成就。

“For those who are awakened, I will help them attain Buddhahood.” For those who have learned Buddhism and aspire to quickly achieve in their practice, we should teach them the Buddha-name chanting method to help them achieve in one lifetime.

「假令供養恆沙聖,不如堅勇求正覺」,這兩句話非常重要。世間人求福的人多,天天修供養、求福、求長壽、求發財,佛說不如以堅定的志願、信心,勇猛精進求生淨土,生到淨土就一生成佛了。

“Rather than making offerings to sages as countless as the Ganges sands, I would perseveringly and courageously seek proper enlightenment.” This sentence is very important. Many people in this world seek good fortune. They make offerings every day in order to get good fortune, longevity, and wealth. The Buddha said that it is better to have firm aspiration and confidence, and courageously and diligently seek rebirth in the Western Pure Land. When one is reborn in the Western Pure Land, one will attain Buddhahood in one lifetime.

供養佛菩薩的福報很大,但今天我們不但供養不到佛菩薩,連阿羅漢、須陀洹也見不到。我們今天能供養的是佛菩薩的形像,供養佛菩薩的形像有沒有福報?要看你怎麼供養。供養是表法,佛前供花,花代表因,植物先開花後結果,供果是代表果報。供花是提醒我們信願持名,這是修因;將來往生西方極樂世界,親近阿彌陀佛,這是果。這樣供養就有福了。

The good fortune f-rom making offerings to Buddhas and bodhisattvas is tremendous. But not only can we not make offerings to a Buddha or a bodhisattva today, we cannot even meet an arhat or a stream-enterer. The offerings we can make are only to the images of Buddhas or bodhisattvas. Is it possible to accrue any good fortune by making offerings to these images? It depends on how we go about making offerings.

The offerings are symbolic. The flowers offered to a Buddha image symbolize cause. Just as a plant blooms first and then bears fruit, fruit symbolizes effect. The flowers offered serve to remind us to have belief, vow, and mindfully chant the Buddha-name. This is cultivating the cause. Attaining rebirth in the Western Pure Land in the future and being close to Amitabha Buddha is the effect. Making offerings in this way will bring good fortune.

最簡單的供養是一杯水,供水是提醒自己,心要像水一樣清淨、平等,沒有一點灰塵、污染;安靜沒有絲毫波動。

The simplest offering is a glass of water. Water serves to remind us to maintain a mind as pure, as impartial, and as tranquil as water—without the slightest dust, pollution, or ripple.

供養燈,燈表光明,我們心地要正大光明,要能犧牲自己,幫助別人。所以,應當採用油燈,油燒乾了,表燃燒自己,照耀別人,這是大慈悲。現在用電燈,不太容易見到這個表法現象。

Lamps offered symbolize light. Our minds should be as just and as honorable. We should help others, even at our expense. The lamps offered should be oil lamps. The burning of oil represents sacrificing oneself to illuminate others. This is great compassion. Today, light bulbs are used and this symbolic representation [of the oil lamps] is hardly seen.

所以,佛門的種種陳設,都是非常好的教育,時時刻刻提醒自己。但大家把這個真正的意義忘記了,變成諂媚、巴結佛菩薩!世間正人君子都不受你巴結,何況佛菩薩!因此,供養真正的意義,一定要明瞭。

Therefore, these things seen in a Buddhist cultivation center are educational in nature and serve to remind the practitioners [of the Buddha’s teachings] at all times. But today many people forget the true meaning of the offerings. They use the offerings as a way to fawn on or to ingratiate themselves with Buddhas and bodhisattvas. A true gentleman in this mundane world would not submit himself to any ingratiating act, let alone Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Hence, we must understand the true meaning of making offerings.

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  1. The Five Desires are wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep.—Trans.
  2. The Six Dusts are pollutants of the Six Senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and thought.—Trans.
  3. Three Realms: Desire, Form, and Formless realms. The Desire realm consists of the paths of hells, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, asuras, and desire heavens.—Trans.
  4. This chapter is f-rom the Lotus Sutra.—Trans.
  5. The three kinds of afflictions refer to attachments, discriminations, and wandering thoughts respectively.—Trans.
  6. The Sutra of Hui-neng, trans. Thomas Cleary (Shambhala, Boston and London, 1998), 11.
  7. The three wheels refers to the person who gives, the person who receives the giving, and that which is given.—Trans.

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