Zen20200315-0322

前言 Preface

Last weeks we read Dharma Talks by the Grand Master, “CONTEMPLATE IMPERMANENCE TO REALIZE THE TRUE MIND.” What is the relationship between impermanence and suffering? Does impermanence necessarily cause suffering? Recognizing suffering is the first step to end suffering and bring true happiness.  

上週我們讀了老和尚的開示《諦觀無常契真心》。想想看,無常和苦之間有關連嗎?苦都是因為無常嗎?所謂「知苦了苦」,看清楚苦的本質,是離苦得樂的第一步。

從苦中解脫 - 1

Freedom from Suffering - PART 1 of 2

惟覺安公老和尚開示
Translated from a Dharma lecture by Grand Master Wei Chueh

禪修的目的,就是幫助我們了生死、從苦中解脫。要得到真正的解脫,首先要檢討反省,看看自己有什麼事情看不破﹖放不下﹖如果心中有執著,就必須學習看破、放下。因為只要有一點牽絆,就是煩惱、生死的因。

The purpose of Zen practice is to help us transcend life and death and attain liberation from suffering.  In order to obtain true liberation, we must first reflect on, examine, and realize what we cannot see through and let go.  If there are attachments in our mind, we must learn to see through them, to let go.  As long as we are the least bit entangled, that is the cause of vexation , the cause of life and death.

人命無常,非常的脆弱。

Human life is impermanent and very fragile.

如《八大人覺經》提到:「世間無常,國土危脆,四大苦空,五陰無我,生滅變異,虛偽無主,心是惡源,形為罪藪,如是觀察,漸離生死。」

As The Sutra of the Eight Realizations states,

“All the world is impermanent.

The earth is fragile and perilous.

The four great elements inhere in suffering and emptiness.

In the five skandhas there is no self.

All that arise, change, and perish,

Are illusive, unreal, and without a master.

Mind is the root of evil;

Body a reservoir of sin.

Thus observing and contemplating,

One gradually breaks free from birth and death.”

時時依經文這樣思惟,把生死大事放在心上,如救頭燃這樣迫切,才能轉化煩惱、得到自在解脫。

If we constantly reflect upon the words of this sutra and keep in our minds the importance of life and death, like quenching a raging fire, we can transcend our vexations and become at ease and liberated.

了生死,要從現在開始做起;從我們當下這念心去了。想要了生死,首先必須知道什麼是生死?生死是一種果報,這種果報是過去的因所造成。過去種的因,現在感果;現在種的因,未來感果。有因才有果,沒有因,就沒有果;要了生死必須在因中努力。

To break free from life and death, we must begin right now, using this very mind, this present mind. In order to transcend life and death, we must first understand what is life and death.  Life and death is retribution; it is the result of past causes. Causes that we have sown in the past result in consequences of the present. Causes that are sown now result in future consequences. When there is a cause there is an effect. Without a cause, there is no effect. To transcend life and death, we must work diligently on the cause.

修行學佛,首先要了解人生是苦。對苦的道理不了解,是造成生死的因;不知道什麼是「苦」,就沒有辦法成就道業。佛法講「苦」,要知苦才能了苦,如果對於苦沒有深切地認識、體悟,功夫是用不上的。中國的佛法雖然提倡大乘,但是大乘是以小乘為根本;八正道、三十七助道品、四諦法門都是小乘的法門。所以,如果對四諦的道理不了解,就沒有辦法契悟大乘的道理。

When we cultivate the Way and study Buddhism, we must first realize that life is suffering. Not understanding the truth of suffering is the cause of life and death. If we do not know what suffering is, we can never attain Buddhahood.  Buddhism speaks of ‘suffering.’ We need to understand suffering in order to transcend suffering. We need to understand suffering in order to end suffering. If we do not have a thorough understanding or realization of suffering, our practice is futile.  In China, Buddhism promotes the Greater Vehicle (Mahayana). Yet the foundation of Mahayana Buddhism is Theravada Buddhism. The Noble Eightfold Path, the thirty seven factors of enlightenment, and the Four Noble Truths, these are Theravada teachings. Therefore, if we do not understand the doctrine of the Four Noble Truths, we cannot understand the Mayahana doctrine.

佛法提到四聖諦「苦、集、滅、道」,修行要把四諦的觀念堅定地落實,知苦、斷集、慕滅、修道。知道什麼是苦,斷離造成苦的因;欣慕涅槃的常樂我淨,透過修道,斷除煩惱以趣向涅槃。為什麼要修行﹖就是要脫離生、老、病、死苦,而修行首先要知苦,假使不知道苦,修道就不容易成功。

Buddhism speaks of the Four Noble Truths: “suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the Path.” To cultivate the Way, we must clearly and firmly understand the Four Noble Truths: understand suffering, exterminate the cause of suffering, yearn for the cessation of suffering, and practice the Way.  We must know what is suffering, eradicate the cause of suffering, long for the unending bliss and self-purification of nirvana, and practice the Way. We must eradicate our vexations and work toward nirvana.

有些人雖然知道人生是苦,但是並不深切。其實,人生的苦是很實在的。

Although some people know that life is suffering, they do not understand it thoroughly.  Actually, suffering in life is very real.

生苦 Birth

以生苦為例,每個人都要從母親肚子裡生出來,小孩子一出生就哇哇大哭,這是因為他到了一個新的世界,感覺不適應,覺得這個世界很苦。小孩在母親肚子裡是一個世界,出生後又是另一個世界。母親肚子裡的空氣和外界的空氣不一樣,嬰兒出生到這個世界,就好比一個熱帶的人忽然間到了寒帶,氣候強烈的差異就是一種苦。

For example, birth is suffering. Everyone is born of the mother’s womb. The newborn child cries lustily; this is because he has arrived into a new world and feels uncomfortable in it; he feels that life in this world is suffering.  The child in the mother’s womb is in one world; after birth he is in another world. The air in the womb is different from that in the outside world. When a child is born into this world, it is as if a person from a tropical climate suddenly went to a chilly climate. The great difference in climate is a kind of suffering.

如果這小孩前世造了惡業,今世遇到不好的父母,家庭也不好,事事都不如意,這就是一個壞的環境,如果這位母親脾氣不好,對人生的道理也不了解,住到這種母親肚子裡,胎兒就非常辛苦。或者母親喜歡吃冰,孩子在腹中就如同在冰天雪地裡,十分痛苦;如果喜歡吃燙的,胎兒就好像在湯鍋裡面被燙一般,胎兒在母親腹中就好像坐牢一樣,這些就稱為胎獄之苦。

If a child has sustained bad karma in a previous life, and now has bad parents and is in a bad family with unpleasant surroundings, if his mother has a bad temper, does not understand the meaning of life, the child will suffer in the womb of such a mother. If the mother likes to eat icy foods, the fetus feels as if it were in a chilly climate and suffers intensely. If the mother likes to eat food that is burning hot, the fetus will feel as if it were in a hot burning pan. To the fetus, the mother’s womb is like a prison.  This is called the suffering of fetal-hell.

如果夫妻之間缺乏常識,懷孕之後還有性的生活,一旦嬰兒的父親有傳染病,很有可能就傳染給嬰兒。有些小孩一生下來就是畸形、六根不全,或有先天性的疾病,有些是前世的因,有些是現在的因所造成,以上這些都是生苦。胎兒在母親肚子裡面無法掌握自己的生命,完全受父母親所影響,這就是苦。

If husband and wife are ignorant, and maintain conjugal relations during pregnancy, and if the father has an infectious disease, it can be transmitted to the fetus. Some children are born with deformities or other transmissible diseases; some of these are due to past karma, some to present karma. These are all the sufferings of birth. The fetus in the mother’s womb is unable to control its own life. It is totally dependent on the influence of its parents. This is suffering.

孩子在母親肚子裡是苦,生出來也是苦,十月期滿就要到外面受苦。胎兒經母親產道出生時,如山夾體,痛苦難忍;如果遇到母親難產,必須剖腹生產,這時對母親及肚子裡的小孩都非常危險。另外,嬰兒的肌膚非常細嫩,離開母體之後,因為空氣中有壓力,皮膚受空氣摩擦的感覺,如同刀割,嬰兒因為覺得苦而放聲嚎哭,這些都是生苦。

The fetus suffers in the mother’s womb; it also suffers after birth. After the fetus is ten months old, it has to suffer outside the womb. When it passes through the birth canal, it is like being squeezed by mountains and the pain is very difficult to endure. If it happens that the mother has a difficult birth and a surgical delivery (Caesarian section) must be made, this is very dangerous for both mother and child. Furthermore, the baby’s skin is extremely sensitive. After he leaves the mother’s womb, anything that touches his skin causes excruciating pain. That is why the infant feels pain and cries. These are all sufferings of birth.

為人母者,生第一胎時就覺得痛苦,這時會想以後再也不生小孩了,可是往往不久之後又懷孕;這就是一種迷惑,就像我們生病一樣,病中忍受種種的病苦,病好了之後,很快就把之前的痛苦遺忘,這是一樣的道理。任何人都逃不了生苦,上至權貴豪富,下至販夫走卒,都要從母親的肚子裡生出來,每個人都會經過這一關,這就是生苦。

For the mother, birth of the first child causes suffering. At that time she no longer wants to have any more children. But often she becomes pregnant again very soon. This is ignorance. Just like when we are sick, we endure all kinds of suffering, but after our illness is healed, we soon forget all the suffering of illness. This is the same principle. No one can escape the suffering of birth, whether they are noble and rich, or lowly and poor. Everyone is born from the mother’s womb. Everyone must endure this. This is the suffering of birth.

病苦 Illness

人一出生之後就逐漸老化,沒老之前,每個人都會生病,沒有那一個不生病的。古德云:「英雄只怕病來纏」,三國時代蜀國大將張飛,驍勇善戰,孔明 提醒他說:張將軍啊!我看你什麼都不怕,不過有一件事你一定會怕的,於是寫了一個「病」字在他手掌上,張飛一看,馬上就流淚了。現在雖然身強力壯,但是抵 不過人生無常,說不定過幾天病就來了,到那時病苦纏身,任何英雄偉業也無法成就;對修行人而言,念佛也不能念、打坐也不能打,想要用功都很難。

As soon as we are born we gradually start to age. Before we are old, we are all subject to illness. No one is free from illness. The ancients say, “The hero only fears the clutches of disease.” In Chinese history, during the period of the Three Kingdoms, the great general Chang Fei of the Shou empire,was courageous in battle. However, Kung Ming reminded him by saying, “General Chang! I see that you are not afraid of anything, but there is one thing that you must surely fear.” So he wrote the word “illness” on the general’s hand. When Chang Fei saw this, he immediately broke into tears. Now, even though we are strong and healthy, we cannot escape from the impermanence of life. We may become sick in the near future; then when the suffering of illness besieges us, we will be unable to be heroic or perform great deeds. At that time,  a cultivator of the way cannot even invoke the Buddha’s name, nor can he sit in meditation; he will find it difficult to cultivate.

所以在身體健康時,就要警惕生病時的苦痛,趕快用功。這個世界上,有錢人會生病,沒錢的人也一樣,病是非常公平的,無論你貧窮或富貴,只要生了病都一 樣要受苦,所以病是一件痛苦的事情。現在有很多病不是藥物可以治療的,並非有錢就可以醫治好,像愛滋病、癌症、糖尿病……等,這些疾病很多都是不容易治療 的。現在科學這麼發達,為什麼治不好﹖就是由於眾生的業。

Therefore, when we are in good health, we should be wary of the suffering of illness and be more diligent in our cultivation. In this world, both the rich and the poor are subject to illness. Illness is a great equalizer. No matter whether rich or poor, when sick, all have to suffer. Therefore illness is suffering.  Now there are many incurable diseases such as AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and so forth ; even money cannot help to heal them. With all the advances in medicine, why are these diseases incurable? This is due to the karma of sentient beings.

現在科學很發達,但是再發達也沒有辦法發明一種藥,能夠把現在的病都治好。有很多病,歷經長時間的研究終於製造出解藥,不久之後卻又出現了一種新的疾 病,這種病又要經過長時間的研究,一年、二年甚至十年、二十年,都找不出解藥;以佛法的角度來看,就是因為眾生的「業障」。這世界上有癱瘓的植物人、愛滋 病、癌症、糖尿病,這些病都沒有藥物可根治,因為這是一種業果,業果現前時是很不容易轉的,除非有大願力、福德力,才能重報輕受。唯有透過修行,除去心中的貪瞋癡,才能做到心不為病所苦。

No matter how far medical research has advanced, so far it has not been able to find a medicine to cure many present diseases.  After long periods of research to find an effective drug, new diseases still arise.  These take another long period of research to find a cure.  Even after one year, two years, ten years, or twenty years, no cure is found.  According to Buddhism, this is because of the karmic obstacles of sentient beings.  There are people in this world who are paralyzed and lead a vegetative existence. There are also people who have AIDS, cancer, and diabetes. There are no cures for these diseases. It is because these are karmic retributions. It is difficult to eradicate karmic retributions. One needs great vow and great merits to alleviate these.  We can only overcome them and be relieved of the suffering caused by these diseases by diligent cultivation, by eradicating the greed, anger, and ignorance of our mind.

老苦 Old Age

 

人的年紀漸長之後,就要經歷老苦。年紀大的人,腰駝了、視力不佳,行動、吃東西都不方便,老態龍鍾,甚至被年青人討厭,看起來很可憐。人從出生以後,就一天天地老化,沒有那一個人不會變老,老是一種苦。

As we grow older, we will all experience the suffering of old age.  When people grow old, their backs begins to bend, the eyes lose their acuity, walking and eating all become a burden. The elderly seem very pitiful and the young tend to demean them.   As soon as we are born, we begin to age. No one can evade old age.  Growing old is suffering.

有的人會想,等我老時再來修行、用功,其實一步入老年,要用功,就很困難。想聽佛法,一聽就打瞌睡,耳朵也聽不清楚;想打坐,全身酸痛,也坐不久;想 拜佛,拜下去不容易爬起來;到了這個時候,才會知道老的痛苦。而且人命無常,所以不要等到老時才想用功修行,應該積極從現在開始努力。

Some people think: I will start cultivating when I am old.  But, when we are old, cultivation is more difficult.  We want to listen to the Buddha Dharma, but we tend to fall asleep during the lecture. Our hearing deteriorates. When we sit in meditation, our whole body aches and we cannot sit for any length of time. We wish to make prostrations to the Buddha, but after we bow down we find it hard to get up.  At this time, we will truly realize that old age is suffering.  Life is impermanent, therefore we must not wait until we are old to start cultivating the Way. We must start working diligently at this very moment.

死苦 Death

人到面臨死亡的時候就更痛苦了。我們的身體是由地、水、火、風四大所組成,人到了臨終的時候,四大分散;如果是地大先分散,還沒有往生,身上就一個洞一個洞地開始腐爛,神識彷彿作夢一般,眼前所見都是山崩地裂的景象。如果是水大先分散,就會出現排泄失禁的徵兆,晚上作夢,看到遍地都是洪水,驚慌恐怖,無處可逃。如果火大先分散,身體沒有熱氣了,就譬如有很多病人,身體是冷冰冰的,臨終時會看到遍地都是猛火在燒。如果是風大先分散了,就會看到遍地都是狂風大作的景象;假使這一生造了很多惡業,臨終前就會看到地獄、畜生、餓鬼種種恐怖的境界。這些境界,必須靠平日用功,心安住在善法、善念上積極努力去做, 才能從這種死亡的痛苦中解脫。

At the moment of death our suffering is even more intense.   Our body is made up of the four great elements: earth, water, fire, and air.  At the time of death, the four great elements are the first to break up.  If it is the earth  element that breaks up first, the body will become riddled with holes and begin to decay, our perception will be in a dreamlike state, all it sees are visions of  mountains falling and the earth caving in.  If the water element is the first to break up, there will be involuntary bodily discharge, and when dreaming at night,  one will see floods everywhere and feel fright and terror, with no place to hide.  If the fire element is the first to break up, the body will lose its warmth, like sick people whose bodies are cold and clammy. And at the time of death, there will be visions of fire burning everywhere. If the wind element is the first to break up, one will see fierce winds everywhere. If we have created a lot of bad karma in this life, at the time of death we will have frightful visions of hells, beasts, and hungry ghosts. To be freed from the sufferings of death, we must be diligent, perform good deeds, and work hard in  giving rise to good thoughts.

假使我們修禪定修到一心清淨的境界,乃至這念心達到金剛不動,證到寂滅涅槃、證到空性,菩提心現前時,此心契入金剛定,沒有生滅的念頭,我們身體四大自然也會轉化成清淨四大,圓寂之後,肉身不壞,如此就成就全身舍利的功德。

If we practice samadhi until we achieve purity and tranquility of mind, until this mind attains vajra stillness, attains nirvana, and realizes emptiness, when the Bodhi mind manifests, when this mind achieves vajra samadhi, with no thought of life and death, then the four elements of our body will naturally become purified and perfected. Then our physical body will not decay, and we will achieve perfect merits.

如果平時不用功,臨終時不僅受病苦折磨,而且,身體的四大正在分散,那種痛苦難以言喻。所以古德說:凡夫不修行,臨終時就好像生龜脫殼一般,實在是非常痛苦。

If we are not diligent in our daily practice, at the time of death we will not only be plagued by the suffering of illness, but when the four elements of the body break up, the suffering will be intense and difficult to bear.  Therefore the ancients say, “If the ordinary person does not cultivate the Way, at the time of death it will be like peeling the shell off a live turtle.” That is intense suffering.

修習禪定的人,這念心時時作主,經常保持覺性不迷失,六根清淨,眼、耳、鼻、舌、身、意看到外面的境界不起貪著,不起染污,心時時保持在定慧當中,白天是如此,晚上也是如此;順境、逆境也如此;一年如此,三年五載也是如此。甚至十年、二十年都能維持這樣的心境,這一生就能了生死。

Those who practice samadhi are constantly master of themselves, always maintaining an awareness that is not deluded. Their six senses are pure. Eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind do not seek things from outside, and do not give rise to defilements. The mind constantly maintains stillness and wisdom. It is this way in the daytime as well as at night, in good times and bad times; it remains this way for one year, three years, or five generations. It can maintain this state even for ten years and twenty years. Thus one can transcend life and death even in this lifetime.

了生死要從這念心去了,現在就要練習讓這念心能作主,否則等到臨終時就來不及了。有很多人不了解,不知平時要努力,只是在等待中虛度光陰。例如有些人沒有研究過佛法,聽到十念能夠往生阿彌陀佛極樂淨土,就認為不用努力了,只要等到臨終十念就好了。這種僥倖的想法,實在是非常危險。

To transcend life and death we must begin with the mind.  We should now practice letting our mind be the master of itself.  If we wait until the time of death, that will be too late.  Many people do not realize that they must constantly be diligent, that they must not waste time.  For example, some people did not study Buddhism, when they hear that the “ten invocations” can help them attain the Pure Land of Amitabha, they do not wish to study any more. They feel that all they have to do at the time of death is make the ten invocations.  This kind of thought is very dangerous.

所謂「十念往生」,十念就是正念,平時心經常保持正念、正定,臨終時才能提得起念佛的念頭。平時沒有修行,人到臨終的時候,神識、意識昏迷,而且身體有病、四大分散,痛苦萬分,平時沒有念佛的習慣,這時候要提起念佛的正念便很困難。

The meaning of the “ten invocations (recitations) before death” is that we should always maintain right mindfulness and right samadhi, then at the time of death we will remember to invoke the Buddha’s name.  If we did not constantly practice the Way, at the time of death when our perception and spirit are confused, our body is beset by illness, the four elements are breaking up, and we are suffering intensely, it will be difficult for us to have the right mindfulness to recite the Buddha’s name.

所以,修行要在平時,有很多人不了解,平時不修行,只想臨終時等待阿彌陀佛來接。其實十念是要靠我們平時保持正念,臨終即使四大分散時,這念心始終在禪定當中,所以念佛就是修定,念佛功夫成就了,達到一心不亂,這念心恆在定慧,才能脫離生、老、病、死苦。

Therefore, we should practice the Way at all times. Many people do not understand this and do not practice now, yet they hope that Amitabha will welcome them at the time of death. Actually, the ‘ten invocations’ depend on constant right mindfulness. At the time of death when the four great elements break up, this mind should always maintain right samadhi. Therefore reciting the Buddha’s name is to practice samadhi. When we perfect our practice, arrive at tranquility of mind, then this mind abides in samadhi and wisdom, then we can be liberated from the suffering of life, aging, sickness, and death.

助念安心 ASSISTED RECITATION BRINGS PEACE OF MIND

很多人不了解什麼叫做「助念」,認為人死後,去幫亡者念佛就是助念;其實這稱為助念並不恰當。真正「助念」必須在人將臨命終時,至神識脫離軀體的這段時間,幫助亡者提起正念。若是人已死亡一段時日後,再為亡者誦經、念佛、植福,這是藉由修習善法的方式,將功德迴向給亡者,資增其福德,令其將來投 生到較好的地方。

Many people do not understand what “assisted invocation (recitation, chanting)” is.  They think that it something we do for someone after they die. That is not correct. “True “assisted invocation”  should be done before death, while the consciousness is just leaving the body; this helps give rise to the dying person’s right mindfulness. If we recite the sutras, chant the Buddha’s name, ask for blessings after the person has died, this will transfer these merits to the deceased so that their blessings and merits will increase and they will be reborn to a better state.

要想往生極樂世界,必須要有正念才可以。助念就是人到臨終時,尚有氣息存在,然而他的心意識已在昏沉中,糊里糊塗,這時他的親戚朋友、同參道友,發了善心、慈悲心,在旁邊稱念阿彌陀佛聖號。臨終的人心意識在迷迷糊糊中,聽到旁邊有人在念佛的聲音,就能提醒自己趕快念佛、趕快提起正念。無論是藉由誦經、念佛,讓往生的最後一念仍能保持正念,就能超生善道、超生淨土。

If we wish to be reborn in the Pure Land, we need to maintain right mindfulness.  “Assisted invocation” is done when a person is near death, when he is still breathing, even though his mind may be in a state of confusion and delusion. At this time, relatives, friends and Dharma brothers, out of their compassion, recite “Amitofo” at his side.  When the mind is in the state of confusion before death, when we hears the sound of people nearby reciting the Buddha’s name, this will awaken right mindfulness, so that we will quickly begin to recite the Buddha’s name.  Whether one recites the sutras or the Buddha’s name, this will help the dying maintain right mindfulness and help him transcend life and death and arrive at the Pure Land.

助念的意義在於藉由誦經、念佛,幫助臨終的人提起正念,只要臨終者的最後一念仍能保持正念,就能超生。然而超生到那裡?端看往生者的福德,有福德者,就可以超生到人道,保得不失人身,所以仔細想想,只想靠別人在臨終時助念,的確是很危險的一件事。

“Assisted invocation” is to help assist the dying give rise to right mindfulness by reciting the sutras and chanting the Buddha’s name. If one can maintain this mindfulness till the end, then one can transcend life and death. It also depends on the blessings and merits of the deceased. Those who have blessings and merits can be reborn as humans. Therefore think about it carefully, it is dangerous if we only depend on others to perform assisted invocation.

《觀無量壽經》、《無量壽經》中提到「十念往生」,臨命終時正心稱念佛名最後也能往生淨土,不過淨土有四種:凡聖同居土、方便有餘土、實報莊嚴土、常寂光淨土。

The Amitayus sutras mention the “ten invocations at death.” At the time of death, if we sincerely recite the Buddha’s name, we will eventually be reborn in the Pure Land. But there are four kinds of Pure Land. 1) the land where the ordinary person and saint dwell together, 2) the Pure Land with remainder.  3) The true retribution majestic Pure Land, 4) the eternally peaceful and bright Pure Land.

凡聖同居土就是我們現在所居住的世界,能夠往生到凡聖同居土,保得人身已經是很好的果報。如果平時沒有念過佛,甚至對佛法心存反感的人,臨終時 聽到念佛的聲音,可能反而會產生害怕或排斥,助念就很難發揮作用。這時,只能作功德迴向給他;功德,對亡者而言,就如同世間人需要錢財一樣,陽上人經由誦經、念佛,修善積福,仗三寶慈光加被,回向功德給亡者,使其能得到福德、利益。

Our present world is where the ordinary person and the saint dwell together.  If we can be reborn in this world, it means that we are assured of good retribution. If a person has not studied Buddhism or  has antagonistic thoughts about Buddhism, then at the time of death, if he hears the recitation of the Buddha’s name, he will be filled with fear and will discriminate against it.  Then ‘assisted invocation’ will hardly be beneficial. At this time, we can only transfer our merits to him. To the dying, it is like  people in this world who need money. We can obtain benefits for the dying by reciting the sutras,  invoking the Buddha’s name, practicing good deeds and accumulating merits. Through the compassion of the Three Jewels, we can then dedicate our merits to the dying so that they can obtain blessings and benefits.

念佛往生的法門是佛陀大慈大悲,不但要救活的人,即使是臨命終的人也要救。所謂「人之將死,其言也善」,人到臨終時,往往能心生悔改,所說的話也是良善的。

The method of ‘invocation of the Buddha’s name’ at the time of death is the result of the Buddha’s great mercy and compassion.  He not only wishes to save the living but also to save those who are dying. “When a person is dying, his speech is virtuous.” At the time of death, a person will often feel compunction and remorse for his misdeeds, therefore he will only speak kind words.

例如,有些罪人快到槍斃的時候,往往會發自內心地懺悔,只是已經判死刑了,此時悔改也於事無補。但是,佛法慈悲、平等,佛菩薩心量廣大,真正 是「無緣大慈,同體大悲」,什麼人都願意度化。為了使每個人都有悔改的機會,重新開始的希望,即使是臨命終的人,只要能夠心存懺悔,佛菩薩還是可以救度往生。

For example, at the time of their execution, some criminals will feel remorseful, but they have already been sentenced to death, so remorse really cannot help them. But Buddhism is compassionate and impartial. The Bodhisattva’s mind is all embracing and limitless in compassion. It is truly “Mercy and compassion to all.” It wishes to liberate all beings. In order to insure that everyone will have a chance to repent, to have new hope, as long as the dying is truly repentant, the Bodhisattva will liberate him.

但是,如果心存僥倖,只想等到死期現前了,再來悔改,這不是很愚癡嗎?生死要在平時了,平時就要用功,時時保持正念,轉化自己的煩惱。如果平時不努力,只想臨終時找人來助念,等到此時才要努力念佛,希望藉此往生淨土,其實是非常靠不住的。

But if a person thinks he can depend on his luck and only begin to repent when he is dying, then this is foolish. We must transcend life and death at all times. We must always work diligently, maintain right mindfulness, and tranform our vexations. If we do not work hard at all times, and only hope that we will find someone to help us invoke the Buddha at the time of death, wait until the last minute before we start working hard and start invoking the Buddha, thus hoping to enter the Pure Land, that is totally unreliable.

有些人認為,平時我們幫助別人助念,等到往生時也會有善緣來幫自己助念,這種本著慈悲心幫別人助念的想法,當然可以。但是,不要存有等別人來助 念的依賴。自己的生死要自己了,中國有一句俗話說:「個人吃飯個人飽,個人生死個人了。」平時要發這種了生死的心,提醒自己世間無常,要精進用功。

Some people think that since they have helped others to recite the Buddha’s name , then at the time of their own death someone will surely be there to help them make invocations to the Buddha.  This seems reasonable from the viewpoint of compassionate assistance. But we should not rely on others. We must be master of our own life and death. There is an old Chinese saying, “Eating satisfies our own hunger; facing life and death is our own business.” We must harbor this concept of life and death at all times, remind ourselves that the world is impermanent, that we must constantly practice diligently.

「十念往生」是佛陀慈悲,為五逆十惡的人所施設的法門,然而我們現在不是五逆十惡,怎麼還能甘於墮落!明白這些道理,不要等到臨終,現在就要努力。

The ‘ten invocations at the time of death’ is an expedient means that the compassionate Buddha has established to save people from the five deadly sins and ten evils. Yet we have not committed the five deadly sins and ten evils now, so how could we be content just to sink into the evil realms. When we understand this principle, we must not wait until the time of death, we must practice diligently now.

如果平時不用功,只想等到臨終十念,就好比學生參加考試,平時不讀書,等到考試時,希望靠別人幫忙作暗號讓自己過關,這是非常危險的。如果自己平時用 功,考試時就不需要別人幫忙,而且時時都能將佛法運用出來,這樣參加考試就沒有問題了。生死,就像是人生最重要的大考,真正要想了生死,就要靠平時的用功努力,幫助自己通過考試。

生死是人生最重要的一關,死苦是任何人都逃不了的,如果平時不用功,只想依靠臨終十念,其實相當危險。就如同乾旱結束,豐年到來,放著白米、蔬菜等好的食物不吃;卻要吃草、吃樹皮這些在乾旱時吃的東西,豈不是愚癡顛倒!學佛要有智慧,沒有智慧,修行很難成就;平時不燒香,臨時抱佛腳並不可靠。所以,要時時把生死放在心上,精進用功如救頭燃一般迫切。

(Life and death is a great turning point in human life.) No one can escape the suffering of death. If we do not practice diligently at all times and only hope to depend on the ‘ten invocations at death’, it would be very dangerous. 

It is like being at the end of a drought when crops are bountiful, and instead of eating white rice and fresh vegetables, we eat dry grass and tree bark. That would be really foolish.

We need wisdom to practice and study Buddhism. Without wisdom it is difficult for our practice to be successful. If one does not usually light incense, but pleads with the Buddha at the last moment, that would be unwise. Therefore, we must constantly be mindful of birth and death, practice diligently as if a raging fire were about to burn us. 

生死是什麼?就是 自己的執著和煩惱,有執著煩惱所以有生死之苦;眾生總是在大苦之中以小苦為樂,在短暫的欲樂追逐中起煩惱、生無明,受生死之苦。所以,要常思惟人生的苦, 明瞭苦的根源,才會積極轉化煩惱,從苦中解脫。明白了這些道理,不要有臨終時再來努力的依賴與等待。修行,要從現在開始。

What is life and death? It is our own attachments and vexations. Because of our attachments and vexations, there is the suffering of birth and death. Sentient beings always find joy in small sufferings amid great sufferings. In seeking short-lived joys, we are beset by vexations, ignorance, and face the sufferings of life and death. Therefore we must constantly reflect on the sufferings of life and realize the source of our suffering. Then we can transform vexations and be liberated from suffering. When we understand these principles, we will not wait until the time of death or depend on others to help us at that time. Cultivation should begin at this very moment.

下週待續  To be continued next week.

Reflections

Does Buddhism have a pessimistic outlook on life? Why does it teach us to look at suffering? How does the First Noble truth help us in life? If Suffering is inevitable, how can we avoid them? Think about what cause these suffering.

省思

「千人千般苦,人人不相同。」有些人覺得佛法很悲觀。您覺得呢?為何佛要告訴我們苦諦的道理?了解苦諦,對我們的生活,有什麼幫助?假使苦是不可避免的,那麼,如何能離苦得樂?思惟苦的原因,也許可以幫助您找到答案。

佛典故事:善順善成就

Buddhist Story: Act with Right Mindfulness

典故摘自《雜阿含經》 Translated from Samyuktagama Sutra

有一次,佛陀住在迦毘羅衛城的尼拘律園中。當時,佛陀的叔父斛飯王之長子摩訶男來到尼拘律園拜見世尊。抵達後,摩訶男向世尊頂禮問訊,於一旁坐下。

Once the Buddha resided in Niguyu garden located in Kapilavadhu City, Mahanama who was one of the Buddha’s cousins, came to visit the Buddha. He paid homage to the Buddha and sit down.

摩訶男請示佛陀:「世尊,迦毘羅衛城繁榮富庶,有眾多的人民。街道雜目,人群擁擠,每當我出入街道時,除了有眾多護衛、侍從人員環繞在我身旁,還有狂象、狂人和各種交通工具,在我的周遭不斷地流動著。在這種混亂吵雜的情境中,我會生起極度的恐慌,擔心自己忘失了念佛、念法、念僧。我會想到:『自己若忘失念佛、念佛、念僧,那麼命終之時,當生何處呢?』」

He raised a question to the Buddha, “The World Honored One, the City of Kapilavadhu is prosperous. There are many people living here. The streets are always crowded. Though I was protected by many guards and attendants from the unbridled animals, unruly people and all different kinds of vehicles, I am still frightened by this chaos. I fear that I will lose my focus on being mindful of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.  A question occurs to me; Where will I be reborn when I die if I lose my focus on being mindful of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha?”

佛陀告訴摩訶男:「不用害怕,你命終之時必定不會投生惡道,而且無有罪惡。譬如一棵大樹,如果截斷樹根,這棵樹會往哪一邊倒呢?」

The Buddha told Mahanama, “Don’t be afraid. You won’t be reborn in the lower realms after you die.  For example, when a big tree falls, what direction will it lean toward?”

摩訶男回答:「這棵大樹會倒向枝幹茂盛的一邊。」

Mahanama answered, “This big tree will lean to the side where many branches grow.”

佛陀為摩訶男開示:「你也如是,命終之時不會墮到惡道,亦無有罪惡。因為你長夜修習念佛、念法、念僧,念念皆能堅住在佛法僧三寶上,命終時,即使色身被火所燒,被丟棄到墳墓堆中,風吹日曬,最後成為灰塵,隨風飄逝,但你的心意識因日日夜夜以信心為前導,身又能持清淨戒、修習布施,同時還會前往塔寺聽受正法,並且受持、實踐,漸能觀察諸法深義,具足薰習一切信、戒、施、聞、慧。如是善念、善法具足,往生時神識必往安樂之處,上升至天界。」

The Buddha said, “So do you. After you die you won’t plunge to wretched realms if you have no sins because you abide in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. You are mindful of the Three Jewels day and night. Even when your physical body dies, it’s cremated into ash, or thrown into a graveyard and beaten by the weather; finally it turns to dust and is blown away by the wind.  Never the less, your mind dwells in the right faith constantly and consistently. When you are still alive, you uphold the pure precepts, practice giving, listen to the Dharma at the monastery, and carry out appropriate practices in your daily life. Gradually you meditate and contemplate the profound meanings of the Dharma. You obtain the virtues of faith, precepts, giving, listening and wisdom.  With these virtues and your good deeds, when you body is passing away, your consciousness will head for the realm of peace and joy, and be reborn in the heavens.”

摩訶男聽了佛陀的開示,對於未來捨生趣生,充滿了光明和希望,歡喜作禮而去。

After Mahanama listened to the Buddha’s Dharma talk, he was filled with brightness and hope for his future lifetimes. He paid homage to the Buddha with great joy and left.

省思 Reflections on the story

What are some ways you can grow "many branches" like Mahanama? How can your practice help to sustain focus and clarity during these difficult times? Are you the only one who benefits?
"Vexation is Bodhi" - Buddhism teaches us how to transform our thoughts by always being mindful of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Use good thoughts to overcome bad thoughts. Maintain our mind with compassion, equality, respect, and humility at all times. Continuously think about helping others, this mind then, is always the pure land of peace, liberty, and brightness.
如何讓善法的枝葉茂盛如摩訶男?如何在逆境中,仍保持專注與清淨的心?自己會是唯一的受益人嗎?
「煩惱即菩提」- 佛法告訴我們要學會轉念。時時刻刻念佛、念法、念僧,以善念對治惡念。隨時保持慈悲、平等、恭敬、謙卑的心,念念都是幫助別人的善念,這念心隨時就是安詳、自在、光明的淨土。
"Let our compassionate hearts bring forth healing, starting with our kind thoughts and tolerance. We can mindfully chant the sutras and meditate to pacify and purify our minds. Let's dedicate the merits of our practice, to the world peace and wish for everyone to be free from suffering."
以慈悲心療癒苦痛,常起善念,學習忍辱柔和。將每日誦經、持咒、禪修等清淨心功德,
回向一切有情,離苦得樂,遠離災疫,世界和平。
Shifus
of Buddha Jewel Monastery

Pledge to Dedicate Merits through Our practice

Abide in Right Mindfulness

Meditation

3879
Minutes

Targets: 1,080,000 mins

Heart Sutra

979
Times

Targets: 108,000 times

Diamond Sutra

422
Times

Targets: 10,800 times

Great Compassion Mantra

272
Times

Targets: 108,000 times

Mantra for Detoxification

0
Times

Targets: 1,080,000 times

Misfortune-Dispelling and Blessings Mantra

1664
Times

Targets: 108,000 times

Dedications since 3/1/20. Numbers are updated daily.
When The Mind Is Pure, The Land Is Pure.

During this difficult time, it is easy to feel restless and impatient.  We might consciously or unconsciously manifest feelings of suspicion and intolerance towards others. However, we can replace these negative emotions with tolerance and caring through understanding how difficult it is for those who are infected.

Let our compassionate hearts bring forth healing, starting with our kind thoughts and tolerance. We can mindfully chant the sutras and meditate to pacify and purify our minds. Let’s dedicate the merits of our cultivation to world peace and wish for everyone to be free from suffering.

The Heart of Perfect Wisdom

The Heart of Prajñā Pāramitā Sutra, better known simply as the Heart Sutra, is one of the most important scriptures in Buddhism. It is memorized and chanted by millions of Buddhists around the world everyday. The Heart Sutra is the distillation of prajñā pāramitā, the most sublime and profound wisdom that can bring one to ultimate enlightenment.

Misfortune-Dispelling and Blessings Mantra

《消災吉祥神咒》

《重訂二課合解》云:「災從心招,還從心消。夙業所感,諸苦集身,曰「災」。業障清淨,事慶於心,曰「吉祥」。持此咒者,當具三觀心,以空觀消災,假觀會吉祥事,空假俱是一念,災消吉至,同名法界,斯即中觀。迷則吉即災也。悟則災即吉也。亦可約四教六即,思之可得。」

Misfortune is derived from the mind and is extinguished by the mind.  All so called misfortunes are sufferings from retribution caused by past negative karmas. When karmic obstacles are cleared, the mind is relieved and realizes blessings.  

To uphold this mantra, one should abide by Three Contemplations in One Mind. Contemplate emptiness (the empty nature of everything in the world) to expel misfortune; contemplate provisional existence to realize blessings. The former two contemplations are from one thought: expel misfortune and blessings will be realized. They are provisionally existent in the Dharma realms. This is Middle Way contemplation.

When one is deluded, blessings may be perceived as misfortune.  When one is enlightened, misfortune may be perceived as blessings. The Tiantai Fourfold Teachings and Six Identities of the Buddha are applicable, and if you contemplate these teachings, you are on the way.


回向 Dedication of Merits

願消三障諸煩惱.願得智慧真明了.普願罪障悉消除.世世常行菩薩道

May I remove the Three Obstructions and all the afflictions.

May I have the wisdom to perceive the Truth.

May all beings be free of transgression and suffering.

I vow to practice the bodhisattva way, life after life.

願一切眾生遠離災疫.皆成佛道

May all sentient beings be free from diseases and calamities, and all attain buddhahood.

正念防疫.消災吉祥

Prevent diseases with right mindfulness Eliminate calamities and bring about auspiciousness

Dharma Giving

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