供养凡夫僧
文|智海

经常会遇到一些在家人,没事的时候喜欢评论出家人的是非对错,用佛教戒律来衡量出家僧人,看到个别僧人的不良行为,就把所有的僧人否定了,就失去供养、恭敬和赞叹僧人的信心,更可笑的是竟然有信徒说:“我们不要皈依佛、法、僧三宝了,我们只皈依佛、法二宝。”要知道佛、法、僧三宝,犹如鼎之三足,缺一不可,佛陀为何成立僧团,目的就是为了正法久住。众生觉悟当成佛,正法弘扬本在僧,僧人是佛法的弘扬者、传播者,没有僧宝佛法就无法延续下去。是故僧团是佛陀慧命所寄,出家人的责任重大,他的使命非常神圣。例如教育信众,护持道场。因此供养出家修行人,其所得的功德,当然是极其殊胜!

凡夫僧是三宝之一,既然是宝,那就不同于木石瓦砾,有别于愚夫愚妇。一个再不好的僧人,一个破戒的比丘,他依然还是一块宝。比如一块金银首饰或珠宝玉器,既使它坏了,但是它依然是宝。譬如一块砖头或瓦砾,即使它完整无缺、毫发无损,那它也只能是一块砖头瓦砾,绝对不是黄金珠宝,这个道理很简单,我相信人人都能明白。

中国近代高僧印顺导师曾开示过一首法偈:“敬僧莫呵僧,亦莫衡量僧,随佛修行者,住持正法城。”意思是说我们信佛的居士,要依教奉行,依法修行,赞叹和恭敬僧人,不能讥嫌、嘲笑和轻慢僧人,也不要用镜子或戒尺来衡量僧人的好坏对错,凡是跟随佛陀出家的人,就是正法久住的使者,我们应当恭敬至诚、供养礼拜!

印顺导师还非常感慨地说:“近代中国,信佛敬法的还有,而信敬僧伽的实在太少。或是但敬归依师,或是敬一二人,三宝的归敬不具足,难怪佛法的希有功德,不易生起来。” 供养戒行庄严、德才兼备的比丘僧,或老实念佛修行的出家人,当然功德无量;假使供养不学无术,恶行比丘,岂非罪过无边?

不然,依地藏十轮经说:“出家者虽破戒行,而诸有情睹其形相应生十种殊胜思惟,当获无量功德宝聚:念佛、念法、念僧、念戒、念施、念忍、念出家、念远离、念智慧、念宿植出离善根。”如今科技发达、经济腾飞、物欲昌盛,人人沉迷于声色之乐,能够发心出家者实在难得。如来慧命寄托出家僧人身上,住持三宝中的僧宝,其地位和责任也就显得更加重要了。

昔日唐太宗问玄奘大师说:“我本欲供僧,但听说许多僧人无有修行,应当如何?”又问:“供养凡僧也能求福吗?” 玄奘大师说:“能啊!’接着玄奘大师又开示说:“昆山有玉,但是混杂泥沙;丽水产金,岂能没有瓦砾?土木雕成的罗汉,敬奉就能培福;铜铁铸成的佛像,毁坏则会造罪;泥龙虽不能降雨,但祈雨必须祈祷泥龙;凡僧虽不能降福,但修福必须恭敬凡僧。”

意思是说你不要以为出家人也是个凡夫,和俗人没有什么两样,供养凡夫僧就没有功德,其实凡僧虽不是罗汉,也不是菩萨,但他现的是僧相,他有三衣(福田衣)披搭在身,既然是僧相那就是三宝相,既然福田衣在身,那他就可以为众生种福田, 这就值得人天供养、求大福报。

唐太宗听后恍然大悟说:“我从今以后即使见到小沙弥,也应如同见佛一般。”

凡夫僧虽然没有证罗汉果,仍有贪嗔痴三毒,可是他已经脱离了红尘,远离了人我是非、六亲眷属,每天都在吃斋念佛、用功办道。许多凡夫僧肩负着重任,为社会和谐、世界和平、寺院建设、弘扬佛法等默默无闻地奉献着自己,为佛教事业的健康发展作出贡献!

即使是菩萨再来、活佛转世,也是现的凡夫相,如果我们轻慢了就有很大罪过。又凡夫僧因有念佛、修持、利人的功德,所以能堪受人天供养,令供养者得福,恭敬者受益,由此因缘,使人由声闻乘到菩萨乘,从菩萨道入解脱道,得阿耨多罗三藐三菩提,证得无上正等正觉。

从此可以看出,供养凡夫僧,一样功德大!经常看别人的错误,挑僧人的毛病,那是因为我们修行不够,一个真正的大修行人,念佛修持的时间都不够,哪里还有时间去对僧人评头论足呢?学佛要明白广修供养的道理,不能有分别心,每一个凡夫僧都是我们求福田、行供养的对象,其功德与供养十方三世一切分的功德一样大,人生难得,佛法难闻,切莫错过良好时机!

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The foundation of devotion is confidence in your essence. If you don’t have confidence in your essence, you cannot have true devotion; it becomes more like fear than devotion.

— 12th Tai Situ Rinpoche

Emptiness and Existence
by Venerable Sheng Yen

How we perceive “existence” and “emptiness” can reveal how shallow or deep our practice is. We need to understand this to avoid getting stuck, and to be able to make progress. Before we have gained some real benefit from practice, we perceive phenomena as real and existent. In this ordinary state of mind, the “self” is still deeply embedded in things: “my” body, “my” house, “my” friends, and so on. After practicing well, we may reach a state of concentration where there are only a few thoughts in our mind. At this time, the sense of self is lessened, and we may feel that we have finally cast away the world and everything in it. “I have thrown off all thinking.” “I am enjoying the bliss of liberation.” “I feel so carefree and light.” Dwelling on feelings of liberation and happiness like this only means that one’s perception of “emptiness” is false and one still sees phenomena as existent.

When one reaches the state of only one thought, or one-mind, one may feel unified with the universe and that one’s powers are unlimited. One also feels great sympathy and compassion for all sentient beings. At this point one is at the stage of “double affirmation,” or a deeper level of existence. Although there is an expanded sense of self, this sense is not “selfish” but rather, one feels a sense of energy and responsibility. The degree of mental power depends on the strength of one’s previous practice. One who is not backed up by a strong practice can still reach one-mind but will not have as great a sense of energy and responsibility — will not likely give rise to the feeling of being a saviour. Therefore great religious leaders are a rare occurrence in human history.

At the next stage of no-thought, or no-mind, one is said to be in the state of “double negation” in that one takes emptiness itself as empty. If a person is attached to emptiness (as in stage two), it is called “stubborn emptiness” or “illusory emptiness.” But at the stage of no-mind one actually recognises that even this emptiness is empty. Since one has emptied out emptiness, then existence is re-asserted, but it is an existence of non-attachment. One will definitely not feel that his world is meaningless, nor, if asked “How is your practice doing?” will one give a reply like “Oh, It doesn’t really matter if I practice or not.”

We usually feel something “exists” when we have strong feelings about it. If emptiness is also based on feelings and emotions, then it is not true emptiness. It is only when, not bound by feelings and emotional attachments, one genuinely experiences things as existing just as they are, that is, at the same time genuinely existent and also genuinely empty. For practitioners, only this can be considered the first level of entering the door of Chan.

Question: Can progress in practice be described as a series of negating one’s previous stage of attainment and affirming something new?

Venerable Sheng Yen: In actual fact the previous stage and what you are affirming now are not two different things. We say that vexations are just bodhi — that is, they are not two separate things. So “negation” is not saying that you have to detest or get rid of vexations before you give rise to wisdom. Nor can you achieve nirvana by negating samsara — they are one thing. It is only that in the process of the practice one’s perception of it varies [according to one’s experience].

When we create the space for happiness in our minds and our lives, we are able to see situations from all the different angles, rather than clinging to one rigid view of how the world or our lives should be.

— His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, Jigme Pema Wangchen

世间人讲公平,事实上并不究竟圆满
惠空法师

中国传统思想讲到,做人处事要“谦让”。“谦”,就是把自己的姿态放低;“让”,就是不往前去争取。当然佛法的思想比这个更深刻,但这里我们先从传统的说法谈起。我常常提醒同学,与人相处,不要去争,但如果退一步求事情公平可不可以呢?当然什么事情一定有道理可说,有公平可期,但是真实中,事情不是你这样做,它就一定会呈现这样的结果,它还牵涉到佛法理论中因果业报的问题。虽然现在做的是公平的事,也许所得到的却会是一个不公平的待遇,当我们在诉诸公平的时候,因为彼此的处理角度有很大差别,这时因果业报问题就出现了。

这种问题相当复杂,何况有的时候,公平很难有一个很明确的标准。例如老人年金,如果每个老人都发给三仟块,很公平吗?表面上是公平,实际上不公平,因为有的老人他有钱,一天就要花几仟块,甚至一、两万块,你还要发给他?有的老人三仟块真的是他一个月的生活费,没有这些钱他的日子无法过下去,这样是否公平呢?所以,很多事情是牵涉到众生业报的复杂问题,但也不是要我们以后不要去论究有无公平。最主要是要大家开展眼界,对于问题的看法要更深入、透彻,使我们在思考问题时不会狭隘,因为佛法是最讲公平的。佛法所说的公平就是平等心,平等心是彻底的公平。佛法没有我、人、众生、寿者相,没有能布施的人、所布施的对象与布施的事情,没有公平不公平的问题,佛法的思想就是这个层次!

从不同的角度来谈,平等就是世俗所说的公平、公正。佛法讲平等,但并不否定世俗的公平性。论公平,自在人心,但若就事情而言、就每个人所遭受的结果而言,并不尽然会公平。譬如,家中有五、六个兄弟姐妹,要爸爸妈妈让每个小孩都读到大学、硕士,公平不公平?实在难以求数量化之公平!因为有的孩子读到国中、高中阶段,他就不读了,难道孩子可以要求爸爸妈妈把没有念的教育费折算给他?可以这样算吗?给了就公平吗?大家都读亦有家庭经济状况先后差别。所以,我们在思考问题的时候,要学习从更超远的立场、更全面的角度来思考。

再者,当我们在内心里建立起这样的知见以后,碰到问题时内心就会不争,就不会从别人的行为上来思考事情,而会从自己的因果业报上来思考。因为如果老是从别人的举动或做事来看问题,那就会去评断“这个人做得对、那个人做得不对;这个人对我好、那个人对我不好!”。如此一来,你就会因为人家对你的好坏而起心动念,一天到晚烦不胜烦,你的烦恼永远无法止息。如果我们从业报上来看,则内心时时都会觉得宁静,对于人家所加诸于自己身上的好坏不会去在意它,也绝对不会去问别人到底做得对不对,而是问自己:“我有没有这个福报呢?”如此思考就会变得单纯:就是因为没有福报,所以人家才会欺负我;就是因为没有福报,本来要给我的东西,结果阴错阳差别人给拿去了,所以才会吃不到、拿不到!这样就不会怪分配的人没有注意,或故意跟你作对了。

就像我们吃饭的时候,我一再提醒大家,先把盘子里分给你的剩菜吃掉,再去夹别的菜,先把桌上分给你的水果吃完,再去拿供众的水果。不要自己桌上还有水果,就把大众的水果拿一堆放在自己面前,怕等一下去拿就没有了。事实上,如果没有了,那就是自己的福报不够。我们从这样的小事情中,慢慢养成良好 “不争”的习惯。如果大家都想要赶快把好吃的先拿到自己的面前,自然就有一种争的心态。假如大家持有一种“有就吃,没有就算了”的心情,那么在其他事情上就会有一种不争、随缘的心情。又比如,有的人胃不好,很多东西不能吃,想多吃一点,就是吃不下,想要比别人多吃一碗饭都争不过,这就是福报不够、条件不够。这时候,我们就要想:“我就是没有福报,所以要赶快好好修福报。”如此,内心就不会起很多烦恼,并且会更积极促进人与人之间和谐的相处。这就是佛法的一种思惟。

另外有一个思惟的方法,拿最明显的金钱来说,世界首富比尔盖兹有几百亿美金,一天利息就有好几百万美金,你要如何去和人家争财富、争名位呢?再想到:我们生生世世都曾经当过国王、升到天上去,也下过地狱、在饿鬼道待过,如此反覆思惟就会把争名争利的心给化解掉。对于名利的追求,每个凡夫都会有,包括我自己在内,那么我如何去面对它呢?我就是常常去思惟,争取这些一点点小小的东西太不值得了,因为世间的福报、可追求的东西虽然多,却多不过永恒无穷无尽的福德智慧!我们如果老是看着那一丁点,目光可说比豆子还小。我们能够时常仔细体会反省这其中的道理,必然就会把与同侪间的计较心放舍掉。如果老是把心思放在与同侪之间的计较,那实在是一件很愚蠢的事情。

我也和大家一样,有过和师兄弟、同事、同学计较的心,因为大家都是凡夫。所以提出这个问题主要是希望藉由这种思惟方法,来导正我们的知见,慢慢化解内心里那一份烦恼的贪欲、嗔恨、愚痴,这些都是心中的毒啊!透过正确的思惟方式,即使这些毒素会再凝聚再凝聚,可是我们马上可以再化解,反覆的从凝聚中去化解……,慢慢心情自然就会打开。有时候和同学们讲话,同学会内心情绪丢给我,就好像洒了我一身毒水;每天如果一个人丢一点毒水,我就淹死了。所以,希望大家要常常用正思惟来洗涤自己的心情,随着洗涤力道一点一点地加强,自己的心就会逐渐净化,内心的毒气自然就会淡化,不要一出口都是用毒气把人给喷死了。

佛法的可贵就在于它把世间最究竟彻底的道理告诉我们,当我们按照这个道理思惟、行为时,自然可以省掉很多烦恼。因此,世间人讲公平,事实上并不究竟、圆满,而佛法讲平等、因果业报,这才是究竟、圆满的。希望各位要一再以佛法去思惟,不要以为我这是老生常谈啊!如果你一直用自己的烦恼在思考,那么你将永远会是一个小孩子、一个小人,一天到晚苦苦恼恼的。你如果接受并真正能在内心里体会这个道理,将会生生世世受用,省掉很多烦恼,可以使你脱胎换骨成为一个真正有着超越思想的人,会使你变成一个非常清净、庄严,行为举止、动作思惟非常中肯的大丈夫,因为在你的心性里面已经成为道德、思惟模式清净的道人了。

If we do not like to experience any pain or suffering of any kind, how can we expect any other creature, whether they are big or small, to feel differently?

— His Holiness Chatral Rinpoche

Yes, Buddhism is a Religion
by Scott Mitchell

In the American imagination, Buddhism has long been associated with counterculture drop-outs — Beat generation iconoclasts, Age of Aquarius hippies, woo-woo New Agers. This unfortunate stereotype identifies Western Buddhism with the 1960s-era and later converts who popularised it, and ignores the actual people who brought Buddhism to the West — Asian immigrants. It reinforces the idea that Buddhism is not to be taken seriously. At best, Buddhism is seen as something esoteric and disconnected from the world, and at worst, as something flighty and faddish.

On the other side of the coin, proponents of mindfulness meditation and other Buddhist-inspired practices have positioned themselves as level-headed advocates of practices whose benefits, they claim, are proven by science. It’s not hard to imagine that this secular–scientific turn is in part an attempt not to be tarred by the popular stereotype of Buddhism as cultish and downright weird.

Both perspectives are incomplete. In reality, Buddhism is a religion, complete with all the aspects and depth that implies and the respect a great world religion deserves.

Depending on how you slice it, Buddhists account for up to ten percent of the world’s population (and at least one percent of North Americans). People were practicing Buddhism nearly five hundred years before the birth of Jesus. Before the modern period, Buddhism spread across virtually the entirety of Asia, and in the modern period you can find Buddhism on every continent.

Across all this space and time, Buddhists developed a wealth of approaches, practices, art, and literature in service to the religion’s central claim — that there is suffering and a path toward the alleviation of suffering in nirvana. To reduce all of this history, all of these cultures, all of these perspectives, to a hippy caricature or a single secular-scientific technique is to overlook the fullness of one of humanity’s great religions. To acknowledge Buddhism as a religion is to appreciate its long history and endless cultural manifestations (including our own).

“But isn’t Buddhism really a way of life? A philosophy?” some ask. Yes, of course. Like all religions, it has a philosophy. Like all religions, it becomes a way of life when it is practiced. As scholars such as Jay Garfield and Dennis Hirota have long argued, Buddhist philosophers from Nagarjuna to Dignaga, Zhiyi to Fazang, Dogen to Shinran, have been wrestling with philosophical concepts for centuries, long before the likes of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, or Derrida befuddled American liberal arts majors.

To say that Buddhism is a religion is to take seriously not only its philosophy and its practices (its “way of life”-ness, if you will) but also its art, its literature and mythology, and its rituals.

Ritual is not a bad thing. To paraphrase the late anthropologist Roy Rappaport, ritual (and religion) make humanity possible. The ritual marking of transitional life events is as old as homo sapiens itself, so let’s not discount the various ways that Buddhists, both at home and abroad, have responded to this deep need for ritual with their own ceremonies for marking births, marriages, and deaths. (If you doubt the importance of ritual, ask yourself why you keep celebrating birthdays. Or, better yet, stop celebrating birthdays and watch what happens.)

A purely New Age perspective of Buddhism might take all the mythic aspects of the religion a little too seriously; it might assume that devotional rituals refer to some literal truth or some “unseen” cosmic reality (no doubt related to the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, thus losing half the audience in the room).

Perhaps this association motivates some to make the secular turn: to treat Buddhist practices as just that — practices — in service to non-religious ends, such as stress reduction, anxiety reduction, increased focus at work or home, weight loss, and so on. All of this might be of value, but a purely secular–scientific perspective rejects Buddhist literature and mythology as pure fiction, on the assumption that none of it can be “proven” — that none of it can be literally true and therefore should not be believed.

This perspective, that religious myths must either be believed literally or rejected, overlooks the function of myths — not as a literal telling of events but as narratives, morality plays, and inspirational stories meant to convey not actual facts but how to live.

One doesn’t need to believe in some literal sense that the Buddha taught the dharma to the demon Alavaka in the Alavaka Sutta to be a Buddhist or benefit from the dharma. One doesn’t need to debate the veracity of this story or, like a good academic or philologist, debate its authorship or why it was included in the Pali canon. If you leave all of that aside, you can read the Alavaka Sutta as a story about how to live, how to respond to difficulty, and how to be virtuous, truthful, and giving — whether the story is “true” or not.

The ability of a not-true story to be inspirational should not be controversial. I’m quite certain you (or someone you know) has taken inspiration from the phrase “Do or not, there is no try,” despite the fact that no one in their right mind believes that Dagobah is a real planet in a galaxy far, far away. That is how narratives and myths function. Don’t get hung up on belief.

When we reduce the totality of Buddhism down to one thing — whether New Age stereotype or cure-all for the modern world’s ills — we engage in the practice of reductionism. Reductionism flattens difference and complexity. Reductionism always forces us to focus on one thing while overlooking others.

The world today is complicated, and simplistic solutions will not cure its complexities. There is no magic pill that will erase suffering for all persons in all places. This is why Buddhists talk about boundless dharma doors and the eighty-four thousand paths to awakening. For Buddhism to be a vigorous voice for positive change in our world, it will need to engage the world from multiple places — from philosophy to politics to art to myth to ritual and, yes, from the Age of Aquarius to secular science. Fortunately, Buddhism as religion is already well equipped for the job.

It’s been doing it for over two thousand years, after all.