做义工是否也在修行
文 |宝莲

有些人厌离世俗的生活,到寺院中挂单做义工,希望能够发心和修行两不误。他们被分配到各个岗位,有的人很发心,有的人却觉得大部分时间都在做事情,影响了修行,开始生起烦恼。那么做义工是否影响修行呢?

增福消业,转烦恼为菩提

每当我们听到各种称扬赞叹,意识到原来我们还可以帮助这么多人,从未有过的喜悦会油然而生,感恩心也在不断布施的过程中生起,因为做好一件事情不是那么容易。比如过斋,如果不是亲自给别人行堂,哪里知道,就那么一个打饭的动作都很难做好,饭会粘在勺子上不下来,要在供养偈唱完之前行完一遍,操作必须准确高效。当我们思惟,在每一个堂口,都有义工们在无怨无悔、默默地付出时,我们的惭愧心、感恩心会渐渐生起,发心一定要在自己的岗位上做好。这是一份不拿工资而心甘情愿义务奉献的工作,在不断付出、行持的过程中,使我们心量打开。这确实利于我们的修行。

做义工会使我们福报增长。一位师父曾讲过一个故事,她们的寺院中来了一位居士,这个人在世间无论做什么事情都挣不到钱,明明别人挣钱的生意,他来做,不仅挣不到钱,甚至可能赔本。他苦恼至极,总得要养家糊口啊。被逼无奈,他来寺院请师父开示,师父说你还是安心来先做一年义工,给自己培培福报吧。一年后他返回世间,做起废品收购的生意,这次他经营得比较顺利。他又把赚来的钱一部分用于寺院的供养。原来,在寺院扫扫地、洗洗碗都为我们积累了很大的福报啊。我们修行也是要有福报的,而做义工,就是在不断积累我们的福报。做义工会让我们业障消除。有的义工或患身体疾病,或有心理障碍,或神志有问题,他们做义工之余精进念佛,在佛力加持下,六字洪名的功德力发生作用,身心竟慢慢有所改变和康复,不知不觉中消除了很多业障。

做义工会使我们智慧增长。当我们依教奉行、放下我执我慢我见、全身心地去做事情时,突然发现自己原来不会做的事情、不能做的事情、没想到的事情,渐渐都可以应对处理,也学会了善巧方便。头脑变得更清晰,记忆力也比以前好许多,人变得更有智慧了,诵经、念佛、听法等等也都更愿意去做了,越来越有法喜了。这都源于有佛力的加持,佛光的注照,使我们身心调柔,智慧显发,有一个修行人的样子了。做义工能使自己有所体悟。比如洗一块抹布,看似简单,但洗着洗着,却洗明白一个道理:抹布很脏,要用热水,要用碱、洗洁精,还要泡段时间后再反复清洗,有些污渍依然很难清除。这种对境,让人突然意识到无始劫来我们这颗心啊,沾染了太多太多的“污渍”恶习,这些习气的去掉,需要痛下狠心,不断地打磨刷洗。而修行就是要修正我们不正确的心,要把那些习气毛病除
掉。

当我们在做义工的过程中不断地放下我执我见,智慧自然现前。在做事情及处理人际关系时,要时刻观照自己,就会慢慢变得谦卑、调柔、恭敬。那么我们再用这样的态度处事、听经、闻法,所得到的效果和我们每天什么事情都不做、只是在那执著修行求自了的效果是绝对不一样的。这样的修行才更有含金量。佛法修行在于生活当中的落实,而智慧的火花也是在劳动中迸发的。

“我”字当先当与道不相应

很多人只关心自己的修行,做事敷衍了事,时刻考虑我要诵经、念佛,这看上去很精进,很有修行,可这种发心与大乘佛法的修行是不相应的。佛菩萨在因地修行时,哪一件事是为了自己呢?一切都是为了众生,拔众生苦,予众生乐。而只“我”字当先的,依然是自私自利,与道不相应,何谈慈悲。恰恰应在不断做义工当中锤炼自己,在逢缘对境中时刻警醒,不要皈投自己那厚重的烦恼习气,要在劳动实践中降伏自己的烦恼习气,为修行路上,培上厚厚的福报之土。福能载道,没有福报,修行路上困难重重。改变自己,放下自己,灵动的智慧怎么能不现前呢?做义工就是在修行,当我们非常用心做好自己的本职工作后,会觉得身心安泰,欢喜无比。

做义工不影响修行。无论哪个岗位,都会有属于自己的时间,只要我们善加利用。比如我们每天边做事情就可以边默念佛号、听经。不断在动中锻炼自己的念佛功夫,时刻观照自己提起佛号,徜徉在弥陀的愿海之中,心就在道上。

一些义工在做事情时,特别是两个或者两个以上的人在一起时,就总爱闲言杂话,谈与修行不相关的事情,如果我们把这些时间都用来听经念佛,怎么会没有时间修行呢?我们要改正一个错误认识,即只认可形式上的修行。所谓形式上的修行,就是说只把诵经、经行、法会等当作是在修行,而发心做事都不是修行。要知道,禅堂里面的功夫在禅堂外面,没有禅堂外做事培福、积资净障,怎么有禅堂里的端坐如仪、即寂即照呢?

做义工不但不影响修行,还会让我们对时间抓得更紧,是一种促进。因为忙于义工工作,难免时间很紧迫,就越想到一切事情都不能拖,早起晚睡,把所有的功课抢时间完成,这样每天都很充实,哪里还有个人利益得失的计较,哪里有时间想东想西啊。那些选择岗位要能见到法师的,听法必须抢坐最佳位置的,吃饭想多要点营养高、口感好的……种种知见、烦恼自己觉察不到,为一点小得失算计半天的,都是在浪费时间。真正修行的义工会善用其心,抓紧时间精进修行,做事也认真仔细,互相促进,相辅相成。

观察身边来来去去的义工,让我更坚信做义工不影响修行。有一位二十六岁的男孩,在这里挂单有四五个月,整个人的身心改变太大太大,用脱胎换骨一词也不夸张。他刚来时是不念佛、不听法、不诵经的,整个人困在一种焦虑当中,唯独可贵的是他愿意做事情。无论何时,无论做什么,不管会不会,他就是去做,只要师父吩咐,他就做。当他做到一个多月的时候,偶尔会看到他也听听经,接着就开始拜八十八佛。四五个月后,他精进到同寮的人不知他何时睡觉、何时起床的程度,做事情更加积极主动。在这期间,他开始向别人忏悔自己不应该怨恨父母,不该对父母有不好的念头。看见他有这么明显的改变,真是让人赞叹,佛法不可思议啊。

而有些义工,在寺院待上几年了,每天早晚课都做,甚至在别人做事情时,她也会自己单独去读经,看上去很精进、很修行,结果自己的烦恼习气依然炽盛。想想她总不改变自己,不仅自己烦恼,有时还让别人也烦恼,这样的修行是有问题的。我们要选择怎样的修行啊,看那溪水河流里的石头,无论大小,它都没有棱角,圆滑的。而在泥土里埋了上千年的石头棱角依故。这和我们的修行是一样的。如果我们不能在做事和与人相处中打磨掉自己的棱角,只是自己一个人随着我执我见在盲修瞎练,太可惜了。

做义工会使我们心性得到提升。到寺院做义工,听经闻法,蒙佛光摄受,能反省、意识到自己确确实实是一个罪恶生死凡夫,过去总以为自己挺不错,这是我们的愚痴啊!我们开始厌离娑婆、欣求极乐,信有西方极乐世界,信有阿弥陀佛慈父遥相期盼我们早日觉醒、早日回家,我们也愿意回到那无忧恼、诸上善人俱会之处。于是为报佛恩,发心做义工,护持道场,过着每日朝暮持佛名号、安心做事的生活。为感恩释迦牟尼佛向我们开示了宇宙人生的真相,使我们在迷茫的生死苦海中找到了方向,于是我们也发愿“众生无边誓愿度,烦恼无尽誓愿断,法门无量誓愿学,佛道无上誓愿成”,“愿生西方净土中,九品莲华为父母”。

我们对慈父阿弥陀佛充满了无限的感恩和敬仰,对极乐世界充满无限的向往和欲求,他日命终,佛及圣众前来接引,莲华中化生。我们就要成为极乐世界的人了,苦难的众生可以不苦了。

我们不再为虚假不实的事相迷惑。一切有为法,如梦幻泡影,如露亦如电,应作如是观。所以在做义工的工作当中,也是让我们不断看破、放下、广结善缘、慈爱有情,将来成佛后能有众生可度。那么我们不再为了鸡毛蒜皮的事情搞得不开心,反而欢欢喜喜地把每件事情都打理好,但又不着相,在心性上用功。做义工是多么好的修行机会啊。

曾看过一位法师开示的文章,其中一句的意思是,义工没有固定岗位,我们要重在“没有固定”这几个字,也就是说要随缘做事。有很多义工,总认为这件事不是我的事,那件事和我没关系。做义工和在世间工作是不一样的,在世间,岗位固定,责任明确,有考核,拿工资。工资的高低代表了岗位的重要性、辛苦程度、责任大小、能力高低。在其位谋其政、挣其钱,不是自己分内的事可以视而不见,因为这与我一毛钱关系也没有。我们在寺院里,就要重新改变一下自己的思想认识,寺院里的事不仅是常住的事,也是大家的事。只要发生在我的周围,我们就应该随缘随分地去做,世间还有众人拾柴火焰高的说法,何况我们修行人,所以我们见到路上的垃圾、被风吹跑的雨伞、被雨淋湿的衣服都应主动照顾一下。寺院中的一草一木尤不可伤,我们再增加一份呵护,不也在积累自己的福报功德吗?

但要知道,一切应如理如法,而不是随顺自己的习气。我们有些常住寺院的居士,由于在家里管事情管习惯了,到这里也想管东管西,不是这个不如法,就是那个不修行。搞得自己不开心,别人也烦恼。同时她还自以为是在护持道场,不让她管,她一百二十分的冤枉,说别人都不理解她的心。本来清净的寺院,为了让我们培福报、种福田,允许我们同住共修。我们却总把握不好,有时甚至产生我慢心,“我为寺院作了多大贡献,师父离不开我”。妙祥法师曾开示说:“出家人早把权、钱等五欲六尘看破放下,离家弃欲,行作沙门,难道还要居士护持?”所以我们要清楚,不是师父需要我们,不是寺院离不开我们,而是我们需要三宝种福田。所以一名合格的义工,一定是依教奉行,做事用心,发心修行。

做义工就是在落实菩萨行。菩萨修行从十信位、十住位乃至十地位都是在落实自利利他的行愿。众生是根,佛菩萨是花果。众生是成就佛菩萨的,离开众生是没有佛可成的。所以做义工一定要拓宽心量,一切男子是我父,一切女人是我母。我们要发大菩提心,利益一切众生,把自己的愿落实到行当中。礼敬诸佛、广修供养、忏悔业障、随喜功德、请佛住世、常随佛学。学佛就是在学佛菩萨的慈悲喜舍、利益众生的心,这样才能与道相应。

越发心做事的义工菩萨,也是越抓紧时间修行的,更是修行比较好的,她们在不断的解行并进中提升自己、锤炼自己。做义工就是在福慧双修,是不会影响修行的。

When [worldly persons] buy and sell common things like a horse or jewels, they question everyone and examine [the items] closely. We can observe these efforts being made in the petty affairs of this life. Yet, though the happiness of all our future lives depends on the Holy Dharma, [the foolish] act like dogs with food. Without examining its merits in any way, they revere whatever they happen to find.

— Sakya Pandita

What Turns the Wheel of Life
by Francesca Fremantle

The Buddha described all worldly phenomena as having three characteristics: impermanence, suffering and nonself. We suffer because we imagine what is not self to be self, what is impermanent to be permanent, and what, from an ultimate viewpoint, is pain to be pleasure. Existence with these three characteristics is called samsara, which means we are continually flowing, moving on, from one moment to the next moment, and from one life to the next life. Samsara is not the actual external world or life itself, but the way we interpret them.

Samsara is life as we live it under the influence of ignorance, the subjective world each of us creates for ourselves. This world contains good and evil, joy and pain, but they are relative, not absolute; they can be defined only in relationship to each other and are continually changing into their opposites. Although samsara seems to be all-powerful and all-pervading, it is created by our own state of mind, like the world of a dream, and it can be dissolved into nothingness just like awakening from a dream. When someone awakens to reality, even for a moment, the world does not disappear but is experienced in its true nature: pure, brilliant, sacred and indestructible.

The key to the Buddha’s realisation and teaching is the understanding of causality, because it is only when we know the cause of something that we can truly bring it to an end and prevent it from arising again. In his search for the origin of suffering, he found that he had to go right back to the very beginning, to the very first flicker of individual self-awareness. In his spiritual practice, too, he always went further and further, never satisfied with the states of knowledge, peace and bliss that he attained under the guidance of his teachers. He always wanted to know their cause and to see what lay beyond. In this way, he surpassed his teachers and eventually attained his great awakening.

The Buddha awoke to a state of perfect enlightenment, which he described as deathless, unborn and unchanging. If it were not for that, he said, there could be no escape from birth and death, impermanence and suffering. There is indeed a condition of ultimate peace, bliss, knowledge and freedom, but to reach it, we must first understand the cycle of conditioned existence in which we are imprisoned. Samsara is like a sickness; the Buddha, who was called the Great Physician, offers a cure; but the patient must recognise the illness, with its causes, its symptoms, and its effects, before the cure can begin.

The Buddha discovered the whole causal process of samsara, the complete cycle of the stages of cause and effect. According to tradition, he once described this process in a series of images, so that it could be sent in pictorial form to the king of a neighbouring country who had inquired about his teaching. An artist drew the images according to the Buddha’s instructions, illustrating the whole realm of samsaric existence from which we seek liberation. This picture is known as the wheel of life and is familiar throughout the Buddhist world. It springs from the same tradition of imagery that flowers so dramatically in vajrayana, but goes back to the beginnings of Buddhism.

The outer rim of the wheel of life is divided into twelve sections, each containing a small picture. These represent the twelve links in the chain of cause and effect, known as dependent arising or, as Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche put it, the samsaric chain reaction. The twelve links can be seen as stages in the evolution of the individual human being (or any other living being), but at the same time they can be applied to one’s states of mind, which are continuously arising, developing, and passing away.

We can trace back the causes of suffering to their root by means of the twelve links in this chain. They should all also be understood as taking place within us from moment to moment, so that as we go through this whole series of images, we are also observing the birth, life and death of mental states.

1. DECAY AND DEATH

The iconography may vary slightly in different paintings, but somewhere on the rim, generally at the top left, we find a picture of a corpse being carried to the cremation ground: this is called decay and death. It is often translated as old age and death, but since many people die young and do not reach old age, here “age” really refers to the whole process of aging and decay, which actually begins as soon as we are born. All pain, whether it is physical or mental, arises from some aspect of loss, destruction or decay, so this image represents all the sufferings of existence.

2. BIRTH

The real cause of decay and death is not our physical condition, not illness or accident, but life itself, the simple fact of having been born. Moving counterclockwise around the circle, we come to the second picture, a mother giving birth to a child. Although this link in the chain is known as birth, it does not mean just the event of being born, but the life that has come into being; it encompasses the whole lifetime of that particular embodiment. It can refer to the birth of a living being, or the physical appearance of something in the external world, or it may be interpreted as the arising of a thought or a mood in the mind.

3. EXISTENCE

The next picture, illustrating the cause leading to birth, is sometimes of a pregnant woman and sometimes of a man and woman in sexual union. Both these images suggest conception, the beginning of a new life. This link is called existence, life, or becoming — coming into existence. Existence means being in the state of samsara: outwardly subject to birth and death, inwardly under the influence of ignorance and confusion.

4. GRASPING

Why do states of mind arise? Why do we continuously create our version of the world from moment to moment? Why does a living being enter a womb to be born? When we search for the cause of becoming, we find it in grasping. The word for this link in the chain literally means appropriation or taking to oneself, and it is symbolised by a figure picking fruit from a tree. Grasping is the opposite of giving and letting go. We hold on tight to our opinions, our views of life, and our ideas about ourselves; again and again we grasp at the next thought, the next emotion, the next experience; at the moment of death, we grasp at the next life.

5. THIRST

Grasping is based, in turn, on the fundamental instinct of needing, wanting and longing called thirst. It is depicted by a person drinking or being offered a drink. That’s the thirst for existence that makes us cling to life at all costs, and it is also the basic drive to experience pleasure and to be free from pain. Thirst can never be satisfied; even if we drink as much as we can, it will return sooner or later. It is inherent in our sense of self. This thirst, also translated as desire or craving, is often said to be the cause of suffering. It’s not the ultimate cause, but it is the immediate and most obvious cause.

6. SENSATION

Thirst for experience depends upon the possibility of feeling or sensation, symbolised by a man pierced in the eye by an arrow. This brutal image reminds us sharply that the whole series is intended to express the inescapable suffering of samsara. It is interesting to note that the Sanskrit word for “feeling” can specifically mean pain, as well as sensation in general. This points to the truth that in samsara, from the absolute point of view, all feeling of any kind is essentially painful because it is related to our false idea of self. But in the awakened state, where there is no self-centered attachment or aversion, all feeling is experienced as “great bliss.” Great bliss is not just increased pleasure, but a transcendent experience of sensitivity that can be aroused by means of any sensation whatsoever, not only through pleasure, but also through what we ordinarily think of as pain.

7. CONTACT

Sensation arises from contact or touch, illustrated by a man and woman embracing. This represents the contact between the senses and their objects. In the tantras, this powerful imagery is transformed into a passionate embrace of love, a magical dance of the awakened mind with the world perceived in its true, sacred nature. But here, while we are still concerned with very basic principles, it simply illustrates what happens whenever there is the experience of duality and a relationship exists between subject and object.

8. SIX SENSES

The embrace can only take place because of the existence of the six senses, depicted by a house with six windows. In Indian Buddhist tradition, the mind is considered to be a sense organ that has as its objects all the perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and so on that arise within it. So in addition to the usual five senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, the mental function is counted as the sixth.

9. NAME AND FORM

If the six senses exist, there must be a particular living being to whom they belong. The next picture is of a boat filled with passengers, which is called name and form. Name and form together constitute the individual person. Form is the material aspect, the boat of the body, that carries us along the river of life, while name includes all the nonphysical aspects of our being (the passengers could be regarded as the different “personalities” within us). In many parts of the world, a person’s name is considered to have magical significance. When we are given a name, we receive an identity; our name defines who we are. If we think of someone’s name, we automatically remember his or her physical appearance and vice versa. Body cannot be separated from mind; the physical and nonphysical aspects of existence both arise from the same cause, and they reflect each other.

10. CONSCIOUSNESS

For a person to exist, individual consciousness is necessary. Consciousness functions through the six senses. It is what makes us aware of ourselves and divides the world into subject and object; it gives us the sense of being “I” as opposed to everything else that is not “I.” Consciousness is appropriately pictured as a restless, inquisitive monkey leaping from object to object, never staying still. Sometimes the monkey is shown picking fruit from a tree, and sometimes peering out through the windows of a house – the house of the six senses.

11. CONDITIONING

Consciousness is not pure, direct awareness, but is produced and conditioned by the way the mind functions, so the next link in the chain is called conditioning (or formations). It refers to certain characteristic mental forces or patterns that motivate our thoughts, words and deeds. It is here that the law of karma begins to operate. The word karma literally means “action,” but generally when we speak of the law of karma, it refers to both action and its result: the universal law of cause and effect on a personal level. Everything we think, speak and do has an inevitable consequence. The Buddha taught that karma really refers to intentions, not just to actions in the literal sense. Our lives are shaped by our innermost thoughts and deepest motivations, including those on the most subtle and hidden level, which can only be discovered by profound meditation techniques. This link in the chain is symbolised by a potter making pots. In theistic religions, the image of the potter is sometimes used for God the creator, while in Buddhism the force of karma is continually creating the world anew for each living being at every moment.

12. IGNORANCE

But why does conditioning arise in the first place? How did the whole process ever start? The Buddha traced the root cause back to ignorance, the mind’s ignorance of its own awakened nature — the final and original link in the chain. This is the farthest back we can go within the circle of samsara; this is where everything begins. Indeed, we can say that this whole cycle really has no beginning and no end, because our very notions of past, present and future are part of samsara. Ignorance is symbolised by an old blind woman, tottering about with the aid of a stick. Trungpa Rinpoche referred to her as a blind grandmother. She has given birth to generations of samsaric existence, endlessly proliferating and reproducing. Ignorance means ignoring the truth of reality, shutting one’s eyes to the awakened state. Although the light of reality is ever-present, ignorance chooses to remain blind. The nature of this blindness is to believe in the existence of a separate, independent self. Trungpa Rinpoche also used to say that ignorance is very intelligent. It is actually the intelligence of samsara, which is fighting a continual battle for survival and constantly looking for ways of keeping up its own illusion, its own self-deception.

Here we have traced each link in the chain backward to its cause, from the suffering of mortal life, culminating in death, all the way back to its ultimate origin, ignorance. The whole series of pictures can also be read in reverse order, from ignorance to death. If we do this, we can clearly see the inevitable development of the twelve stages: ignorance, conditioning, consciousness, name and form, the six senses, contact, sensation, thirst, grasping, existence, birth, and decay and death. The twelve links form an unending circle. At death we fall into a state of ignorance once more, and the cycle starts all over again. Samsara means going on and on, round and round, without beginning or end.

Now we turn to the rest of the wheel of life. Inside the outer rim, occupying the main part of the wheel, are illustrations of the six realms of existence in samsara: the worlds of the gods, jealous gods, human beings, animals, hungry ghosts, and hell-beings. Very often only five divisions are shown, because the gods and the jealous gods are basically the same and can be classified together.

In the outer sense, the realms depict all the possible varieties of sentient life classified into these five or six main groups. They are all conditions of life into which we could be reborn. Except for those of animals and humans, the other realms are invisible to us, but they all coexist with us in an inconceivably vast, multidimensional universe.

In the inner sense, all these realms are found within our own minds. Although we have the form and psychology of human beings, we are continually going through states of mind that correspond to the other realms. In exactly the same way, gods, jealous gods, animals, hungry ghosts and hell-beings all experience the states of mind of the other realms colored by their own dominant states. Also, within each of the six realms, every living being goes through the entire cycle of the twelve links of the samsaric chain reaction.

The human realm is the most balanced and least extreme of the six, so it is easier for us to encompass the full spectrum of conditions within our experience, from the hells to the heavens. Of course, the entire wheel of life is necessarily described from the human point of view; nevertheless all life fundamentally shares the same buddhanature and is conditioned by the same forces arising from ignorance.

In some depictions of the wheel of life, the figure of a Buddha is shown in each realm. In the human realm, this is the human Buddha Shakyamuni, in each of the other realms, he appears in the form of one of its inhabitants. This indicates that the compassion of the awakened nature extends infinitely without obstructions and can manifest in any form in order to communicate with all the different types of existence, even in the extreme suffering of hell.

Moving further in toward the centre of the wheel, the next section is divided into two parts: a light half in which human figures are climbing upward, and a dark half in which they are falling downward, This represents the last stage of the period between death and rebirth, during which the results of our previous actions draw us toward a higher or lower condition. The figures moving up, in the light semicircle, are on their way to taking rebirth as human beings, gods or jealous gods; those moving down, in the dark semicircle, will be reborn among animals or hungry ghosts or in one of the hells.

At the center of the wheel lie the three roots of suffering: passion, aggression and delusion, symbolised by a cock, a snake and a pig, respectively, The Buddha called them the three fires with which the whole of samsara is ablaze. Nirvana is the blowing out of their flames, a blissful state of coolness and peace after the suffering they cause (the translation of nirvana into Tibetan literally means “passed beyond suffering”).

They are also known as the three afflictions, defilements or poisons. They pervade and influence the mechanism of samsaric existence from beginning to end; they keep the whole process of dualistic experience going. They are the three basic reactions that the “I” can have when it perceives something outside itself as “other.” We can be attracted to that other, wishing to possess it, control it, or take it over and make it part of ourselves: this is passion. We can reject it, push it away, or try to destroy it: this is aggression. Or we can ignore it and pretend it does not exist: this is delusion. At heart, all three reactions are attempts to overcome duality by making “I” the only thing that exists in the world, but instead they actually reinforce and perpetuate the split between “I” and “other.”

The entire wheel is held in the clutches of a terrifying figure; this is Yama, the Lord of Death. His name literally means “restraint,” since he is the ultimate restraint on the freedom of all living beings. He does not simply represent death in the ordinary sense, the end of life, but the very principle of mortality, which includes within itself birth and death, rebirth and redeath. Immortality, the birthless and deathless state of nirvana, lies beyond this cycle of the wheel of life.

The seeds of existence (exist within) consciousness. Its objects are its utilised objects. When objects are seen to be selfless the seeds of existence cease.

— Aryadeva

叢林及禪法
一誠長老

一、叢林之興

印度的出家人是乞食為生,那裏化緣很辛苦,不住寺院,住在旁邊,老的就住在屋裏,年輕的化飯,回到寺裏大家分著吃。早晨、中午兩餐,過午不食。沒有帳子,什麽都沒有,就是一個坐的地方,也沒一點工具,很辛苦。曬得墨黑,大太陽曬也不打傘,什麽都沒有。

到中國來漸漸就改變了,道場最早我們是叫律寺,也是化緣吃飯。後來化不到飯,因為中國的民情風俗與印度不同,看不起乞食化緣的人。唐朝六祖以下出了個馬祖大師,六祖曾對懷讓禪師講:“汝足下出一馬駒,踏殺天下人。”所謂“馬駒”,就是指馬祖大師。馬祖是四川什邡人,後來出家修禪定,禪定功夫很好,在羅漢寺受戒,喜歡打坐。聽說南嶽山很好,且有高僧,故來南嶽衡山結一茅蓬打坐。有一天,懷讓禪師看到馬祖打坐,問他話不回答。懷讓禪師就拿塊磚頭在石頭上磨,發出“喀嚓、喀嚓”的聲音,時間久了,馬祖打閑岔,便問懷讓禪師:“你磨磚做什麽?”他說:“做鏡。”馬祖說:“磨磚豈能做鏡?”讓師曰:“打坐就能成佛嗎?”馬祖說:“那如何即是?”讓師曰:“牛拖車不動,是打牛,還是打車?”馬祖一聽就悟道了。

悟道後親近懷讓禪師十年,開始弘法。先到四川,許多人聽說馬祖回來了,都去迎接他,熟人看到了,說他是馬簸箕子,因為以前馬祖家裏很窮,父親是篾匠,做簸箕的。所以馬祖說:“為道莫還鄉,還鄉道不香。”後來,到江西建叢林,建了四十八座。為什麽要建叢林?因為他看到中國僧人化緣、不定居很辛苦,他就發心建叢林定居維生,僧人定居在寺院裏就不辛苦了。定居生活要吃飯、穿衣、織布、挖地、種植。後來他的徒弟百丈禪師精通律藏,根據律藏制立清規。在印度,掘地、拔生草、織布是犯戒的。過去出家人不能挖地,因為熱帶地方,蟲子很多。我曾經去過緬甸,正月間去,熱得不得了,腳步踏在地上,燙得不得了。可是到了中國,由於地理、氣候,風俗民情的不同,必須要有定居的地方,有了定居之處,就得自給自足。所以到百丈禪師時制了清規:“一日不作,一日不食”,一天不做事,就不吃飯,從那時候起,叢林有了制度。

百丈禪師有個公案:百丈禪師八十多歲了,還是很勤奮做事,大眾不忍心,就把他勞動的工具藏起來。於是百丈禪師三天沒過堂、沒吃飯,他說:“我一天不作,一日不食。”百丈禪師立清規分工合作,開始叫僧堂,不叫禪堂。僧人住一塊,住也在那裏,吃也在那裏,做事也在那裏。那時候分十寮,現在分八大職事。“當家”叫“監寺、都監、都寺”,管庫房,包括會計、出納。“僧值”、“知客”管鐘頭、鼓頭等行單職;來往的客人、僧眾掛單由知客管。僧值管殿堂威儀紀律等,禪堂有維那管規矩法則。“衣缽”管丈室銀錢及莊嚴法器。大寮裏管理飲食的叫“典座”、“寮元”管上客堂的客人。八大執事以後有“知屋”,他是管基建的;還有“知產”,是管生產的。分工很嚴密、很細致。住叢林要知道做什麽職;例如,禪堂維那師要知客師把進堂師送到禪堂,維那師才好接收、登記,一步步做好。長老是總管,教育也是由他管。還有四大班首,有首座、西堂、後堂、堂主,四大班首管教育的,講開示說法由他四個人。

過去叢林動輒一千多人。現在雖然沒有這麽多,但也有上百人,兩序職事、法事鐘板還是一樣嚴整的。現在的叢林每年上元節、中元節時大請職,要掛牌、送位。牌要掛三天,讓大家都知道。職事,可由書記代。書記,一千年不改,叢林叫千年書記;班首,一萬年不改,叢林叫萬年班首。書記有寮房,不當書記沒有寮房,住廣單。書記寮裏有桌子等生活用品一套。書記告假出去,回來還有寮房。班首回來了,吃三天客飯,仍然住班首寮。十五要請吃飯,班首職事,中午請吃飯,早上送位,僧值站侍者位。

叢林職事是榜樣。有三綱,班首,說法之綱;維那,規矩之綱;典座,飲食之綱,飯做不好找典座。過去請維那,維那管事,現在當家管事。當家管平常生活,生活要搞好。職事要開職事會。職事是寺院綱領,自己要把自己管好,自己不把自己管好,就不能管人。現在特別提倡以戒為師,要守戒律,把道風搞好。僧值、知客要講規矩,不懂的要學習。首先把自己管好,按照儀軌,職事職則上都有,要常開職事會。綱領職事還要團結,不能拆臺。叢林規矩,挑三離四,那是破和合僧。犯了規矩要記過,有功的要表揚,功過分明,可以相抵。嚴重的要遷單,遷單,是厲害的。過去遷單,班首職事都到場,從後門打出去。催單,是講話不聽的,催他走。

叢林要樸素,樸素就是道風,就有道德。道是道理,德是德行,也就是道德的意思。叢林要有制度,制度要搞好。不論是規矩也好,還是制度也好,一定要建全,有了健全的規矩合院大眾就能過的如如法法。

二、從吃茶去說起

古來,趙州老人道風高俊,學人都去參拜他。有天,來了兩個僧人,趙州老人問其中一個僧人:“上座你是否來過?”僧答:“不曾到。”趙州說:“吃茶去”。問另外一個僧人:“你曾來過否?”僧答:“來過。”趙州也說:“吃茶去。”

當家師聽了這話生疑,問趙州說:“您對未曾來過的說吃茶去,這倒合理,來過的怎麽也叫吃茶去呢?”趙州老人道:“當家師!”當家答應一聲,趙州說:“吃茶去!”這三個人因緣不同,各得了不同的利益。趙州這個吃茶去的公案,膾炙人口,所以古人傳到今天依然歷久彌新。再往後來,雲門祖師有吃餅的公案。學人參訪雲門祖師,問他的佛法。雲門祖師拿起一個餅,學人就領會了,如是,被稱為雲門餅。趙州茶,雲門餅,在禪宗公案裏很著名,搞透了就能開悟。現在我們也常常吃茶,也說吃茶去。會不會得這層意思呢?會得就好!會不得,就得參這吃餅的是誰?為什麽趙州禪師叫吃茶去?吃茶的是誰?就這樣參下去。

就如吃花生來說,如果你知道香味,那個是凡夫;如不知道,那個是木頭人、石頭人,要在知道不知道這兩個極端中心點來揣摩,來參究,一定要搞清楚,這是我們出家人的本份事!吃茶也是這個道理,為了了道。古時候人心地純厚,念念在道,句句無生,所以一點就破了。我們這一點怎麽點也不破,怎麽辦呢?就是抱定一個目標,不離開這個“參”。要參這個是誰?到底吃餅的是誰?吃茶的是誰?參這個話頭,不隨季節轉!

三、拈花之旨

禪宗一脈,源自昔日佛在靈山會上拈花示眾,迦葉尊者破顏微笑而來。其時佛說:“吾有正法眼藏,涅槃妙心,實相無相,付囑於汝”。傳的是什麽法?叫無相法,也就是正法眼藏。佛陀拈花,迦葉悟旨,只在一笑間,沒有講一句話,心心相印,超越一切語言文辭。經典有言,但有言說,都無實義。所以古來禪宗祖師大德接引學人時,常常是沒講什麽話,而只是豎拂動目,以心傳心,徒弟即受法。達摩祖師到中國來,他講一個“歇”字。所謂歇即菩提,妄想心一歇,就是菩提心,就是佛,就是祖師。接著又講,“外息諸緣,內心無喘。”什麽叫諸緣?就是六根對六塵生六識,妄作無邊之罪,就是造作是非。所以要離根塵識,萬緣放下,體究一念不生,前中後三際,念念無生。前念不生就是心,後念不滅就是佛。

臨濟宗的第一代祖師義玄禪師,在黃檗禪師座下種了許多年的菜。首座和尚是過來人,也就是有工夫,有見地,心很清凈的人,看他老實,問他:“怎麽不去和尚那裏請開示?”義玄禪師說:“怎麽樣請開示?”首座說:“你就問如何是佛法大意。”義玄禪師就去了,一走進丈室,就問:“請問和尚,如何是佛法大意?”才一開口,黃檗禪師就拿起禪棍連打了他三十棍。義玄疼得要死,又繼續跑回去種菜。首座和尚來問他:“和尚怎麽給你開示的?”他說:“唉呀,怎麽講,剛問了一個開頭就被打了三十棍。”首座說:“打三十棍也還是要去請和尚開示啊。”義玄禪師說:“怎麽問呢?”首座說:“還是問如何是佛法大意。”義玄就又去請開示,進丈室門剛一開口,就又被打了三十棍。回去後,首座和尚又問和尚有什麽開示。

義玄禪師說,什麽開示也沒有,又被打了三十棍。首座說:“和尚慈悲啊。但你不能算了,還是要去請開示。”義玄禪師在首座的摧迫之下,再次到黃檗禪師那裏問佛法大意,結果和前二次一樣,挨了三十棍。義玄對和尚有意見,想要走就跟首座辭行。首座說,你走可以,但要到和尚那裏告假,問和尚你應該去什麽地方。義玄就依教而行,和和尚告假時說:“請問和尚,我到哪裏去好?”黃檗禪師告訴他,要去就去大愚禪師那裏。義玄到了大愚禪師處,大愚禪師問:“你哪裏來?”義玄說:“黃檗會下。”大愚禪師問:“黃檗有什麽開示啊?”義玄說:“唉,不知有罪還是無罪,一連三次打了九十棍。”大愚說:“哎呀,黃檗老婆心切。”義玄聽了當下豁然開悟。大愚一見,立刻說:“你的師父是黃檗,不是我。”於是,義玄禪師又回到黃檗那裏。黃檗言:“你從哪裏來?”義玄說:“從大愚禪師那裏來。”黃檗說:“笨漢跑來跑去幹什麽?”義玄說:“原來黃檗佛法無多子。”黃檗說:“大愚饒舌。”臨濟義玄祖師是因為被打,而契悟到自己的本心本性。打的是什麽呢?分別、妄想、執著!若能不分別,不妄想,不執著,佛法就在這個地方,即心即佛。

四、照顧話頭

祖師禪到了宋朝以後,開始流行參話頭。那個時候話頭有很多,如:念佛是誰?什麽是你的本來面目?萬法歸一一歸何處?乃至於,念經的是誰?走路的是誰?吃飯的是誰?都可以。宋朝以後,念佛的人很多,都參“念佛是誰”的話頭,到現在還持續沿用。所謂照顧話頭,就是回光反照,看心裏頭有什麽妄想,不是去看別人鼻子長,眼睛大。話沒有講出來以前叫話頭,如果講出來以後就叫話尾。六祖講:“前念不生即心”,那就是話頭;“後念不滅即佛”,那就是話尾;不生不滅,那就是如來。看話頭要看好,要用大工夫。出了家以後的目的就是辦道,方法就是看話頭,得力了就可以了生死。看話頭最主要是在“誰”字上用功,也就是要起疑情。“誰”在念佛?是口在念嗎?那睡著了口還在,為什麽不念?想想口念不對。是心念?那又是哪一念心在念呢?一步一步地參究下去。

你不曉得話頭的來路,亂參一通,不但不能開悟,反而會生病。禪宗有禪宗的門路,念佛有念佛的門路。照顧話頭,看準了以後,立地成佛,頓超直入如來地,一念半句就了生死了,就這麽快。若知道自己還不行,那就要腳踏實地,將妄想心、煩惱心、貢高心、我慢心、一切妄想心掃除幹凈,而得到清凈心。清凈沒有妄想,就是三昧,就是一心不亂,就是定。如果在動中心亦能不亂,智慧就現前了。八萬四千法門要萬法歸一法,就是一個“誰”字,“誰”,就是一法。受戒的時候心裏老想著戒期早日圓滿,早點回去,這就妄想心;坐在那兒腿子痛,這就是妄想心;瞌睡也是妄想,不把這些凈除,也就沒有成佛的希望。所以,參禪一定要把握住自己的話頭,要發大願心,修持這個法門三生不退,如此成佛決定可期。今日參誰無力,明日再參;這個月無力,下個月再參;一年沒力,兩年再來,這就是一法。萬法歸一,三生不退必定成佛。

五、一念不生全體現,六根才動被雲遮

這是古人說的,在《祖庭事苑》有記載。

所謂一念不生全體現,指的是凡夫眾生被六塵所染汙,若是破了對色聲香味觸法六塵的執著,六根就能清凈。六根清凈了,就沒有妄想,就是常寂光凈土。這個土,不是山上的土,而是心地土。若是心地中到處都是垃圾,就是穢土,種種妄想就是垃圾。虛雲老和尚住終南山保任的時候,有一天煮毛芋頭,坐下來等它熟。一坐就是十八天,不吃飯,入定了,你看他的定力多深,若有雜念是無法入定的。現在的人,一天都坐不住,心不定,想東想西。要入定,非得要下工夫不可。要如貓捕鼠,妄想一來,話頭一提,就沒有妄想了,一心沒有二用,沒有雜念,有雜念就沒有話頭。所以講知幻即離,離幻即覺,覺己還要覺人,覺行圓滿,才算成功。只有你一個人成佛有什麽好處呢,還要把眾生都教化成佛,才算圓滿。像地藏王菩薩發願,地獄不空,誓不成佛。

菩薩發願,要發大願,才算成功。另外,參話頭最要緊的是認識賓主,也就是認識客人和主人,什麽是客人?什麽是主人?要像喬陳如尊者用功,他就是因客塵悟道的。不住是客意,住名主人;動是塵義,空名主人。虛空是不動不搖的,客塵皆是妄想。如果沒有了妄想,就是常住真心,就是主人,就是清凈法身,就是佛。所謂一念不生全體現,六根才動被雲遮。六根一動,就把真如妙心遮卻了。所以,學佛之後要懂得改造自己,把自己的煩惱心徹底改掉,萬緣放下。佛在世的時候,有位梵誌拿花供佛。佛要他放下,梵誌就把左手的花插在地上;佛又喊放下,他又把右手的花插在地上;佛再講放下,他說,世尊啊,左手的花我放下了,右手的花我也放下了,還要我放下個什麽呢?佛言,放下妄想心吧。大眾要發大誓願,把妄想心放下,狂心頓歇,歇即菩提。把妄想放下,才能證菩提,才能教化眾生,弘揚佛法,作大善知識。

退而言之,若是妄想不能除,人家說我好就高興;批評我一下,心裏就不好過;妄想紛飛,要趕快對治。所謂:“忍辱第一道,佛說無為最,出家惱他人,不名為沙門”,忍辱是最大的道行。譬如人家講你的壞話,要忍得住,不能和他吵,一吵就沒工夫了。現在人障重慧淺,修行不能象古人一樣,一點就透,那麽,就要這樣從“歇”字下手,從忍辱下手。不能說我就是這個樣子,不能改,這樣修行有什麽用?所謂修行,修就是改,行就是實行。譬如出家求戒,就是要以戒律來規範我們的身心,修改我們的心行。

現在的雲居山真如寺,依然保持著叢林家風,四十八單職事齊全。實踐著百丈禪師“一日不作,一日不食”的遺訓,在日食日耕中體現禪法。一方面,把寺院的開銷建立在自食其力的基礎上。通過僧人們自耕自作,自種自收維持日常生活,同時還常常把多余的糧、茶、菜送給附近山裏的貧困居民,直到現在每年仍有十余萬斤的糧食分給周圍的窮困群眾。另一方面每一個到雲居寺來學習佛法的人,都希望能夠潛心修法,全神貫註,需要回避一些外緣,我們這種農禪並重的家風恰恰給他們提供了合適的參學空間。提供一個相對安靜的修學環境,使之集中精力和時間,更能心無旁騖的研習佛法。

農禪並重的本質就是體現在實踐上。佛教界很早就提出了“人間佛教”的理念,指的就是怎樣把佛法的理念能夠很圓滿的落實到每個人的日常生活、行為習慣以及生活態度中,實際上釋迦牟尼佛本身所倡導的就是人間佛教的思想,因為佛陀本身就是在人間示現、在人間成道、在人間涅槃的,而佛陀的教法也是直指人心、作用於人心的。註重實踐本身就是佛教所倡導的。

Those who dwell in loving kindness, with confidence in the Dharma, will attain the peaceful state.

— The Buddha

Studying Mind from the Inside
by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

The joy of meeting someone you love, the sadness of losing a close friend, the richness of a vivid dream, the serenity of a walk through a garden on a spring day, the total absorption of a deep meditative state — these things and others like them constitute the reality of our experience of consciousness.

Regardless of the content of any one of these experiences, no one in his or her right mind would doubt their reality. Any experience of consciousness — from the most mundane to the most elevated — has a certain coherence and, at the same time, a high degree of privacy, which means that it always exists from a particular point of view. The experience of consciousness is entirely subjective. The paradox, however, is that despite the indubitable reality of our subjectivity and thousands of years of philosophical examination, there is little consensus on what consciousness is. Science, with its characteristic third-person method — the objective perspective from the outside — has made strikingly little headway in this understanding.

The question of consciousness has attracted a good deal of attention in the long history of Buddhist philosophical thinking. For Buddhism, given its primary interest in questions of ethics, spirituality, and overcoming suffering, understanding consciousness, which is thought to be a defining characteristic of sentience, is of great importance. According to the earliest scriptures, the Buddha saw consciousness as playing a key role in determining the course of human happiness and suffering. For example, the famous discourse of the Buddha known as the Dhammapada opens with the statement that mind is primary and pervades all things.

The problem of describing the subjective experiences of consciousness is complex indeed. For we risk objectivising what is essentially an internal set of experiences and excluding the necessary presence of the experiencer. We cannot remove ourselves from the equation. No scientific description of the neural mechanisms of colour discrimination can make one understand what it feels like to perceive, say, the colour red. We have a unique case of inquiry: the object of our study is mental, that which examines it is mental, and the very medium by which the study is undertaken is mental. The question is whether the problems posed by this situation for a scientific study of consciousness are insurmountable — are they so damaging as to throw serious doubt on the validity of the inquiry?

Although we tend to relate to the mental world as if it were homogenous — a somewhat monolithic entity called “the mind” — when we probe more deeply, we come to recognise that this approach is too simplistic. As we experience it, consciousness is made up of myriad highly varied and often intense mental states.

There are explicitly cognitive states, like belief, memory, recognition, and attention on the one hand, and explicitly affective states, like the emotions, on the other. In addition, there seems to be a category of mental states that function primarily as causal factors in that they motivate us into action. These include volition, will, desire, fear, and anger. Even within the cognitive states, we can draw distinctions between sensory perceptions, such as visual perception, which has a certain immediacy in relation to the objects being perceived, and conceptual thought processes, such as imagination or the subsequent recollection of a chosen object. These latter processes do not require the immediate presence of the perceived object, nor do they depend upon the active role of the senses.

The question is, what defines this diversity of phenomena as belonging to one family of experience, which we call “mental”? I remember most vividly my first lesson on epistemology as a child, when I had to memorise the dictum “The definition of the mental is that which is luminous and knowing.” It was years later that I realised just how complicated is the philosophical problem hidden behind this simple formulation. Today when I see nine-year-old monks confidently citing this definition of consciousness on the debating floor, which is such a central part of Tibetan monastic education, I smile.

These two features — luminosity, or clarity, and knowing, or cognisance — have come to characterise “the mental” in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist thought. Clarity here refers to the ability of mental states to reveal or reflect. Knowing, by contrast, refers to mental states’ faculty to perceive or apprehend what appears. All phenomena possessed of these qualities count as mental. These features are difficult to conceptualise, but then we are dealing with phenomena that are subjective and internal rather than material objects that may be measured in spatio temporal terms. Perhaps it is because of these difficulties — the limits of language in dealing with the subjective — that many of the early Buddhist texts explain the nature of consciousness in terms of metaphors such as light or a flowing river. As the primary feature of light is to illuminate, so consciousness is said to illuminate its objects. Just as in light there is no categorical distinction between the illumination and that which illuminates, so in consciousness there is no real difference between the process of knowing, or cognition, and that which knows or cognises. In consciousness, as in light, there is a quality of illumination.

Western philosophy and science have, on the whole, attempted to understand consciousness solely in terms of the functions of the brain. This approach effectively grounds the nature and existence of the mind in matter, in an ontologically reductionist manner. Some view the brain in terms of a computational model, comparing it to artificial intelligence; others attempt an evolutionary model for the emergence of the various aspects of consciousness. In modern neuroscience, there is a deep question about whether the mind and consciousness are any more than simply operations of the brain, whether sensations and emotions are more than chemical reactions. To what extent does the world of subjective experience depend on the hardware and working order of the brain? It must to some significant extent, but does it do so entirely? What are the necessary and sufficient causes for the emergence of subjective mental experiences?

Many scientists, especially those in the discipline of neurobiology, assume that consciousness is a special kind of physical process that arises through the structure and dynamics of the brain. I vividly remember a discussion I had with some eminent neuroscientists at an American medical school. After they kindly showed me the latest scientific instruments to probe ever deeper into the human brain, such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and EEG (electroencephelograph), and let me view a brain operation in progress (with the family’s permission), we sat down to have a conversation on the current scientific understanding of consciousness. I said to one of the scientists: “It seems very evident that due to changes in the chemical processes of the brain, many of our subjective experiences like perception and sensation occur. Can one envision the reversal of this causal process? Can one postulate that pure thought itself could affect a change in the chemical processes of the brain?” I was asking whether, conceptually at least, we could allow the possibility of both upward and downward causation.

The scientist’s response was quite surprising. He said that since all mental states arise from physical states, it is not possible for downward causation to occur. Although, out of politeness, I did not respond at the time, I thought then and still think that there is as yet no scientific basis for such a categorical claim. The view that all mental processes are necessarily physical processes is a metaphysical assumption, not a scientific fact. I feel that, in the spirit of scientific inquiry, it is critical that we allow the question to remain open, and not conflate our assumptions with empirical fact.

A crucial point about the study of consciousness, as opposed to the study of the physical world, relates to the personal perspective. In examining the physical world, leaving aside the problematic issue of quantum mechanics, we are dealing with phenomena that lend themselves well to the dominant scientific method of the objective, third-person method of inquiry. On the whole, we have a sense that a scientific explanation of the physical world does not exclude the key elements of the field being described. In the realm of subjective experiences, however, the story is completely different. When we listen to a purely third-person, “objective” account of mental states, whether it is a cognitive psychological theory, a neurobiological account, or an evolutionary theory, we feel that a crucial dimension of the subject has been left out. I am referring to the phenomenological aspect of mental phenomena, namely the subjective experience of the individual.

Even from this brief discussion, it is, I think, clear that the third-person method — which has served science so well in so many areas — is inadequate to the explanation of consciousness. What is required, if science is successfully to probe the nature of consciousness, is nothing short of a paradigm shift. That is, the third-person perspective, which can measure phenomena from the point of view of an independent observer, must be integrated with a first-person perspective, which will allow the incorporation of subjectivity and the qualities that characterise the experience of consciousness. I am suggesting the need for the method of our investigation to be appropriate to the object of inquiry. Given that one of the primary characteristics of consciousness is its subjective and experiential nature, any systematic study of it must adopt a method that will give access to the dimensions of subjectivity and experience.

A comprehensive scientific study of consciousness must therefore embrace both third-person and first-person methods: it cannot ignore the phenomenological reality of subjective experience but must observe all the rules of scientific rigour. So the critical question is this: Can we envision a scientific methodology for the study of consciousness whereby a robust first-person method, which does full justice to the phenomenology of experience, can be combined with the objectivist perspective of the study of the brain?

Here I feel a close collaboration between modern science and the contemplative traditions, such as Buddhism, could prove beneficial. Buddhism has a long history of investigation into the nature of mind and its various aspects — this is effectively what Buddhist meditation and its critical analysis constitute. Unlike that of modern science, Buddhism’s approach has been primarily from first-person experience. The contemplative method, as developed by Buddhism, is an empirical use of introspection, sustained by rigorous training in technique and robust testing of the reliability of experience. All meditatively valid subjective experiences must be verifiable both through repetition by the same practitioner and through other individuals being able to attain the same state by the same practice. If they are thus verified, such states may be taken to be universal, at any rate for human beings.

The Buddhist understanding of mind is primarily derived from empirical observations grounded in the phenomenology of experience, which includes the contemplative techniques of meditation. Working models of the mind and its various aspects and functions are generated on this basis; they are then subjected to sustained critical and philosophical analysis and empirical testing through both meditation and mindful observation. If we want to observe how our perceptions work, we may train our mind in attention and learn to observe the rising and falling of perceptual processes on a moment-by-moment basis. This is an empirical process that results in firsthand knowledge of a certain aspect of how the mind works. We may use that knowledge to reduce the effects of emotions such as anger or resentment (indeed, meditation practitioners in search of overcoming mental affliction would wish to do this), but my point here is that this process offers a first-person empirical method with relation to the mind.

What occurs during meditative contemplation in a tradition such as Buddhism and what occurs during introspection in the ordinary sense are two quite different things. In the context of Buddhism, introspection is employed with careful attention to the dangers of extreme subjectivism — such as fantasies and delusions — and with the cultivation of a disciplined state of mind. Refinement of attention, in terms of stability and vividness, is a crucial preparation for the utilisation of rigorous introspection, much as a telescope is crucial for the detailed examination of celestial phenomena. Just as in science, there is a series of protocols and procedures that contemplative introspection must employ. Upon entering a laboratory, someone untrained in science would not know what to look at and would have no capacity to recognise when something is found; in the same way, an untrained mind will have no ability to apply the introspective focus on a chosen object and will fail to recognise when processes of the mind show themselves. Just like a trained scientist, a disciplined mind will have the knowledge of what to look for and the ability to recognise when discoveries are made.

It may well be that the question of whether consciousness can ultimately be reduced to physical processes, or whether our subjective experiences are nonmaterial features of the world, will remain a matter of philosophical choice. The key issue here is to bracket out the metaphysical questions about mind and matter, and to explore together how to understand scientifically the various modalities of the mind. I believe that it is possible for Buddhism and modern science to engage in collaborative research in the understanding of consciousness while leaving aside the philosophical question of whether consciousness is ultimately physical. By bringing together these two modes of inquiry, both disciplines may be enriched. Such collaborative study will contribute not only greater human understanding of consciousness but a better understanding of the dynamics of the human mind and its relation to suffering. This is a precious gateway into the alleviation of suffering, which I believe to be our principal task on this earth.