Approaching Vajrayana – Part Two: Ground Tantra and Blessing
By Jakob Leschly

In the first instalment* of this four-part series, we looked at how we can gradually eliminate the causes of suffering and confusion through the Sutra path of rational knowledge of cause and effect. Yet, the very premise for working with these conditions is the underlying purity of Buddha nature beyond the narrow grasp of conceptuality, which is the foundation of the Mantra Vajrayana path. Here we will look at how this is approached in theory and practice.

GROUND TANTRA

Recognition of Buddha nature is the foundation of Vajrayana. Here, the result of the path is not merely a potential but acknowledged as actual reality, already perfect, just as a statue is perfect although hidden in its mold. In the Vajrayana we are empowered to reclaim our Buddha nature, also referred to as our heritage or lineage. We often find in scriptures the expression, “Listen, son or daughter of noble family . . .” This noble family is our innate enlightened heritage. All Buddhas and all beings belong to this family; we can say it is the unifying DNA of all life.

In Vajrayana, recognition of this heritage is called ground tantra . While tantra refers to the unchanging continuum that runs through both confusion and awakening, one speaks of three moments: namely, when it is dormant, when it is being unveiled, and when it is fully manifest. These three stages are called ground tantra, path tantra, and fruition tantra. Yet through all these moments, the nature does not change — ground and fruition merely differ in whether it is unveiled or not. While the gradual Sutra approach is understood as transforming a sentient being into a Buddha, the approach of Mantra is based on the recognition of the unchanging abiding reality that is ever present and real, regardless of whether it is manifest or not. Taking this innate reality of Buddha nature as the path is referred to as “the path of the result,” or the resultant vehicle of Vajrayana.

THE PRACTICAL FOUNDATION

It is said that Vajrayana is the path of all the Buddhas. Any practitioner who eliminates obscurations and unveils the qualities of enlightenment gradually gains a clear recognition of Buddha nature and takes this indestructible or vajra nature as the path. While Vajrayana is the scope of practitioners such as great bodhisattvas, it is also taught to ordinary individuals, and offers methods by which even they can recognise the innate wisdom of their Buddha nature lineage. However, it is repeatedly stressed that to engage in the resultant Vajrayana path requires a solid foundation. As it says in the tantric scriptures:

“Innate absolute wisdom can only come
As the mark of having accumulated merit and purified confusion
And through the blessing of a realised teacher .
Know that to rely on any other means is foolish” (Patrul Rinpoche 1998, 310)

Common to all gradual paths is purifying confusion and creating the necessary conditions for unveiling wisdom. In addition to that, the uncommon method of blessings is the entrance into Vajrayana. The path of blessings is based on devotion, which is the deep respect for and recognition of enlightenment as embodied in the teacher. The student’s sensitivity to and awareness of the teacher’s qualities open up the possibility of the teacher communicating directly to the student that which is beyond language and conceptual thinking. We can say that the fusing of the student’s devotion with the teacher’s compassion results in the blessing that opens the student’s own wisdom. These auspicious conditions are at the very heart of Vajrayana practice.

THE AUTHENTIC TEACHER

Only sublime persons with genuine wisdom and compassion qualify as authentic teachers who transmit enlightenment. The student needs to be uncompromising in assessing who is an authentic teacher and who is not, which is not easy for an ordinary person. Particularly in our mechanistic world, something as non-linear as wisdom finds many of us ill-prepared, lacking the intuitive edge and knowledge that are essential in assessing the values of a genuine guru. We have plenty of discouraging stories of people engaging with inauthentic gurus and teachers. In the traditional homes of Buddhism such as Tibet, there is a very pragmatic culture of discerning authentic teachers. Yet even if we don’t have that living tradition in our modern culture, there is extensive guidance on it in the Buddhist teachings.

The guru also needs to be discerning in accepting a student. A student may have little interest in attaining perfect enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings, and may approach the Vajrayana teacher only in terms of their own habitual agenda. As for the nature of involvement in the teacher-student relationship, the great master Padmasambhava said:

“Not to examine the teacher
Is like drinking poison;
Not to examine the disciple
Is like leaping from a precipice” (Patrul Rinpoche 1998, 141)

While Buddhist students in general see the qualities of their teacher and follow in their footsteps, the Vajrayana student in particular sees enlightenment as fully present in the teacher. Having established the authenticity of the teacher, the student trains in developing a penetrating insight that sees beyond his or her own projections and appreciates the innate, pure qualities of the teacher. The student recognises that ultimately the teacher is not external and is the very embodiment of his or her own Buddha nature. Hence the student trains in seeing the guru as a perfect Buddha, such as the Buddha Vajradhara or Padmasambhava. The guru is seen as embodying any Buddha, bodhisattva, or sacred principle of enlightenment.

The path of devotion is a very real process of apprenticeship, where the student discovers the teacher’s wisdom and experience. The student becomes acquainted with the teacher’s outlook and skillfulness, and in this way begins to intuit the teacher’s qualities, which eventually results in a transmission of wisdom. While the teacher is seen to embody the wisdom of all the Buddhas and hence as equal to all Buddhas, the teacher’s kindness is recognised as far superior because of being present in a tangible form, giving instruction and guidance.

BLESSING AND EMPOWERMENT

Openness and devotion enable the student to intuit the nature of the teacher’s greatness and qualities, such as wisdom and compassion. While a rational intellect and the logic of the vipashyana path are an indispensable foundation, as the 8th century Indian master Shantideva says in The Way of the Bodhisattva, “The ultimate is not within the reach of the intellect” (Shantideva 2006, 137). The deep respect and devotion the student has for his or her teacher enable the perception and experience of a dimension of being that is not the domain of conceptual constructs.

When the student is touched and awed beyond words by the qualities of the teacher, this creates a space of softness and appreciation that penetrates the thickness of the rational intellect. This is where the teacher’s wisdom may be seen to resonate with what is within. Blessing enables the experience of an abiding common ground with the teacher and the teacher’s lineage. This is the experience of ground tantra and is the entrance to path tantra. It is at this point that the teacher can mature the student through empowerment and guide the student to achieve liberation.

LINEAGE AND GURU YOGA

The devotion to the teacher also extends to the rest of the lineage, all the way to the primordial principle of enlightenment. Invoking the lineage, the student connects with his or her actual heritage as an enlightened person; he or she shares the ground and path of the great beings and sages of their lineage. Whether these awake persons of the lineage, such as Padmasambhava, Naropa, or Yeshe Tsogyal, lived in a different time and within a different cultural discourse is irrelevant; what matters is that they faced their confusion and uncovered enlightenment within. We are doing the same. We are heirs to their know-how and guidance, and we possess their genes. The lineage masters are present beyond time and space. In practicing the path, we invoke these masters along with our guru as our confidants and sources of Refuge, blessing, empowerment, and accomplishment.

In addition to apprenticing with the teacher, serving him or her and following their specific instructions, the single most important Vajrayana meditation is the practice of guru yoga. Generally practiced in a formal setting, the student invokes the teacher’s presence through visualisation of the teacher surrounded by the lineage, as the embodiment of the wisdom of all Buddhas. Supplicating the teacher with heartfelt, yearning devotion, the student experiences the teacher’s blessing, receives empowerment, and settles inseparably within the teacher’s wisdom, just like water being poured into water.

As the student matures, he or she purifies the remaining confusion and unveils innate perfection, in the same way as gradually removing the mold that conceals a perfect statue. The guru empowers and introduces the student’s nature and the world as the fresh and vivid display of wisdom’s purity through the practices of path tantra.

Since all virtuous thoughts and actions motivated by clinging to a concrete reality or to a self-cherishing attitude are like poisonous food, give them up. Learn not to cling, but to know the phantomlike nature of experience.

— Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye

强烈的正念
慧律法师

为什么说极乐世界在一念正念现前,即刻往生?因为极乐世界不是物质的世间。你要先弄清楚,物质的世间,科学再怎么发达统统是生灭的。美国现在计划十年要登陆火星,这对人类来讲是巨大的意义。但就佛法来说,这还是妄想,世尊讲这个还是妄想。首先你有一个我相,虚妄的显现一个我相,虚妄的显现有山河大地,包括他方世界,都是虚妄的。因为一切都是生生灭灭,无常变化的,根本就没有一个我,虚妄的显现一个我相,然后分别外在的一个现象,产生妄执,不晓得外在的世界是唯心所造。科学对人类有没有帮忙?有,有正面的帮忙,帮助我们了解宇宙的真理——科学愈发达愈证明世尊的伟大,科学绝对不妨碍佛法,佛法绝对不会去碍到科学,科学家愈强,就愈能证明世尊伟大。跑到火星,世尊说还是妄想,火星是什么?还是缘起法。

为什么说极乐世界不是物质的世间呢?物质的世间是生灭法的世间,就是生老病死的痛苦,桑田变沧海,就是这样子。物质世间,它是三度空间。我们用一个开玩笑的角度来说,如果西方极乐世界是物质的世间,文殊讲堂哪一个信徒要往生,阿弥陀佛要开一艘太空船来载我们,火箭就停在我们旁边这个公园,你用这个色身,要到极乐世界去,阿弥陀佛就请你上火箭,阿弥陀佛驾驶,开那个火箭。诸位老兄,十万亿三千大千世界,我的天啊!现在最快的火箭,开到月球要开七天,到火星要几周,地球到月球再到火星,才第几个星球而已。太阳系有九大行星,还有的人讲十一大行星,但都没有脱离太阳系,一个银河里面有十万个太阳系,阿弥陀佛来开这个太空船,飞、飞……飞到极乐世界去,你想想看怎么可能,你怎么可能在一刹那之间往生极乐世界。由此可以证明极乐世界它不是物质的世间,它没有三度空间的,因为往生他就是在一念之间,所以你根本就不用怕死,死的时候换金光明身,换极乐世界清净的身,我们这个色身,臭死了,感冒流鼻涕,肠胃不好腹泻,耳屎、鼻屎,嘴巴统统是细菌……

这个世间就是物质的世间。极乐世界因为不是物质的世界,所以它没有三度空间,没有长、没有宽、没有高,它是阿弥陀佛的愿力影现出来的,所以我们在临命终,我们无比的正念扣住阿弥陀佛的愿力,一下子拉就过去了,刹那之间莲花马上化生,一点痛苦都没有,修净土的人可真是福报大。

世尊七十二岁才讲《弥陀经》,七十二岁,也就是入涅槃以前八年,世尊才讲净土法门,诸位,这个有很大的意义。三藏十二部经典统统要叫你了生死,世尊四十九年讲经弘法无非就是要叫你了生死。在入涅槃以前他讲一个了生死最快的方法,就是念南无阿弥陀佛,发愿、深信切愿往生极乐世界,简单讲整个三藏十二部经典,就是一句南无阿弥陀佛,会吗?这是世尊出世的本怀,世尊出世降生人间最重大的意义,就是要我们了生脱死,而了生脱死最直截了当的就是念南无阿弥陀佛,但是要记住要用智慧心去念。

好了,首先极乐世界绝对不是物质的世间,如果极乐世界是物质的世间,就有种种的灾难。我们现在战争,伊拉克战争,世尊说:用什么理由发动战争统统叫做罪恶,战争就是要杀人,美国总统布什因为没有听过慧律法师的开示,要不然他不敢发动战争,对不对?台湾话说美国总统布什(谐音),我说不是布什(谐音)是惨死,布什就是赚死了的意思。没有,因此极乐世界没有战争,极乐世界没有地震,你看我们那个九二一大地震,埔里,一摇,死两千多人,还好那一天讲堂刚好安乐妙宝灌顶。安乐妙宝灌顶非常不可思议,有个信徒来灌顶,她在这边灌顶,她在台中的妈妈并没有信佛,但却听到有人念,「嗡嘛呢叭咪吽, 嗡嘛呢叭咪吽」。地震一晃,旁边统统倒,死光光,她妈妈安然无事。她女儿来这里灌顶,连她妈妈都受益,你看,只要你诚恳的念。

极乐世界是没有地震的,也没有火灾,在极乐世界你绝对不会半夜听到消防车的声音的。极乐世界也不会生病,那里没有医院,没有西药房,没有中药房,没有健保、劳保、公保,统统没有,因为他不需要吃药不会生病,也不会死也不会老。为什么?我们反观现在,看生灭法的世间,像我打坐的时候观想想当初我念小学,老师每每教我们唱两只老虎,两只老虎,跑的快,跑的快,一只没有尾巴,一只没有头脑……。转眼间,已经五十二了,很恐怖的,一刹那之间五十二了,很快,这个生老病死紧紧地盯着我们。诸位,修行不能等的只要是物质的世间,就会有种种的灾难。

再来,我们娑婆世间,叫做苦不堪言。你看,梅艳芳有几亿的财产,结果还是走了;港、中、台三地知名人士、艺人,张国荣,也是留下几亿;柯受良,柯受良跟我一样同年龄的,飞车,走了;邓丽君也一样。你看,刹那之间就回去了,我们的无常火已经烧到屁股了,大家多么的幸运能够听到正法,还在犹豫不决是很悲哀的人。我为什么喜欢看新闻报导,就是因为能间接看到世间发生种种希奇古怪的事情。世间人,除非像那个神经肿瘤的非洲阿福,大家的长相都是可以的。有些人化妆起来,穿个短裙,还有一点像辣妈,因为老了,从背后看是辣妹,一转过来辣妈。所以,众生他只会重视这个色身、相貌而已。

我现在举一个例子,你要好好观照:当你拔一根头发放在你的手中,你观照这一根头发漂不漂亮?没有漂不漂亮这一说,因为就只一根头发。众多的头发集合起来,这就不得了了,有人做爆炸头,有人做米粉头,有人做菜头、冬粉头,还有一种庞克族的,两边统统剃掉,只留中间,像公鸡一样……,变来变去,每天为了这个头发,忙死忙活的。其实,这些都是一根头发的集合,观照起来,根本没有所谓好与坏,美与丑。

好了,我们再来观照这个色身。这个色身,你把它抠一抠,拿一块你的皮肤屑,放在手掌中好好的观照,这个是细胞,皮屑的细胞,我们全身的肉就是细胞所构成的,没有所谓好跟坏。全身不是细胞所构成的,请举手,当然是,为什么要叫你这样观照?就是告诉诸位:没有我相、人相、众生相、寿者相,凡所有相都是虚妄。我们就是这样迷迷糊糊的,斤斤计较的,在过日子,痛苦不堪。

要讲到极乐世界,这个色泽可就多了,世间的衣服无论怎样的变化,都比不上极乐世界的。有一个信徒,他看了经典不解其意,来问我:“师父,师父,极乐世界莲花青色青光,黄色黄光,赤色赤光,白色白光,就这只四种色。”我说:“信徒,你这样讲有罪,误解经典。”“师父,我讲话是有根据的,我诵《弥陀经》就是这四种颜色。”我说:“你错了,这四种颜色是颜色的基本法,基本的颜色,学过美术的人都知道。青、黄、赤、白,这四种颜色是基本的调色,如果你百分之九十九白色加上 1% 的黄色,色又不一样,你百分之五十白色加上百分之五十的青色,又不一样的颜色,如果你把比率拉高,千分之九百九十九的赤色加上千分之一的黄色,莲花颜色又不一样。我说你看经典不解其意,不了解世尊的用心良苦,四种莲花的色就代表无量无边。”因此我们在娑婆世界的众生,无论如何,你一定要求生极乐世界,发坚定的心,没有一个不往生。

在这个娑婆世界,修行太难了。举个例子吧,我刚刚学佛的时候,在逢甲大学听到开示,我就知道佛法是真的很好,我宿世可能有一点善根,就跟大学的同学到忏公那边,人家骑摩托车载我从台中到忏公那边。忏公看到我给他顶礼,就跟旁边的那个人讲,“这个人不是普通人,这个有来历的。”这是忏公讲的,不是我讲的,我不能赞叹我自己。那时,我才大一。刚刚信佛就去见忏公,忏公就是对我们很好,可是忏公有一点,也很执著,每次我碰到他,忏公就问:“你吃素了没有?”我说:“对不起师父,没有。”不可能,因为刚刚学佛。第二次去忏公又问:“你吃素了没有?”忏公其他人都不问,只是问我,每次都问。第四次去,忏公又问:“你吃素了没有?”我愣了几分钟后就跟他讲:“报告师父,我现在吃肉边菜。”忏公就回答:“肉边菜吃久了,就会吃菜边的肉。”

师父说的也是,在这个娑婆世界,修行还真是困难,单单这个饮食就很难改。那时逢甲大学没有素食团,外面也没有卖素食。三十年前佛法不兴盛,素食馆又少。没有办法我们就吃那个杂菜,什么叫杂菜呢?就是蔬菜炒肉丝。我跟同学去,我们尽量挟那个菜,可是菜还是有掺肉丝,我们都很正人君子,挟起来都会晃两下,让这个肉掉下去。那同学晃两下,肉掉下去了,我晃两下没掉下去。他就问我说:“我晃两下掉下去了,你怎么没有?”我说:“傻瓜,我挟得很紧怎么会掉下去呢?我就很怕它掉下去。”不好意思,不好意思,娑婆世界真不好修行,我挟得很紧它怎么会掉下去,这个吃素,也不简单。

在这个娑婆世界修行,的确有一点困难。如果没有善知识开导,哇!那更惨,每天早课起来,南无 喝罗怛那哆罗夜耶, 南无阿唎耶, 婆卢羯帝烁钵罗耶 ……晚课诵《地藏经》、《弥陀经》,念经好不好?很好,可是每天都一样,没有智慧,就像小孩子一样不懂得调整。有个小孩子,每天看他爸爸吃安眠药,小孩子的观念这个时间就是爸爸吃安眠药的时间。有一天,他爸爸很累,睡着了,他爸爸平常十点就吃安眠药,结果到十点他爸爸睡着了。小孩子一看十点了,就在旁边一直摇,“爸爸,爸爸,起来吃安眠药,你还没有吃安眠药。”爸爸起来了:“干什么?”“爸爸,你还没有吃安眠药。”“傻孩子,我睡着就不用吃了。”

一切众生就是这样子,每天站在佛前,诵经、念佛、拜佛,他认为这叫做修行,不晓得要用智慧来调整,就像这个小孩子一样。这个娑婆世界是没有什么正念的,他们所有的坚持不但没有正念,反而都是错误的,也很可怕。欺诳众生也不脸红,他一直觉得没有什么,因为都是在坚持错误。

有一个女孩,她的爸爸欠人家好多钱,人家来向他讨债要钱。第一次来,她爸爸就回答说:“我现在没钱,过几天,如果有钱,我一定还你。”女孩听着,心里不舒服。第二次人家又来,她爸爸就说:“我现在没有钱,将来有钱,我一定还你,再宽限几天。”这个女孩就说:“爸爸,你明明有钱,为什么不还呢?”她爸爸很生气,不理她。第三次人家又来要钱,她爸爸还是说:“我现在没钱,将来我有钱我一定还你。”这个女孩,听不下去了,说:“爸爸你三次回答的为什么统统一样?”她爸爸就回答了:“爸爸讲话要守信用!”就是说谎要说到底,第一次骗人,第二次骗人,第三次也是骗人,就是要坚持,一切众生都是这样,坚持自己的错误。

众生没有智慧,就跟愚痴没什么两样。盲人阿罗汉,眼睛虽然瞎了心里不瞎。一切众生,没有智慧比瞎了眼睛更可怕,心里无明比瞎了眼睛更可怕。人生没有目标没有方向,也不知道从哪里下手,也不知道修行的好处,统统不知道,茫茫然,对人生宇宙茫茫然。所以,心灵没有智慧比瞎了眼睛更可怕,没有法身慧命。

有一群智障的人,每天老师都要在固定的时间,教他们固定的动作,就是到花园拿着水管浇花。每天老师说浇花的时间到了,这些智障人就像小孩一样出来拿水管浇花,因为低能没有办法。有一天,下大雨,老师想,今天下大雨,就不必去教他们浇花了,想休息一下。后来想一想:这些人有一点智障,还是看一下比较好。结果一看,那些人统统穿着雨衣在浇花。你不要笑,你也是穿着雨衣在浇花,智障的人不会调整自己,他不知道下雨就是水分,你不需要穿着雨衣浇花,他完全体会不出来,老师叫他每天浇花,他就是认为对的。老师说:“今天不用浇了。”“老师,你不是每天叫我们这样浇花吗?”老师只是忘记跟他交代下雨不用浇花而已。

一切众生也是这样,智慧不开。他认为,早课起来用功,晚课起来用功,没有用智慧调整自己的情绪。烦恼起来压下去,硬拗下去,不听经不闻法不看 VCD ,不听善知识开示,认为每天诵经就叫做修行,每天念阿弥陀佛就统统叫做修行。错了,非常严重的错误。注意! 重复训练正念,这才是了生死的第一正法。 再讲一遍,重复训练正念,一次又一次的提起正念,训练,这才能了生死。不是,我今天时间到就去诵个《无量寿经》,再来接着《地藏经》、《弥陀经》,什么都不管了,也不管别人的感受,不是这样的。

有一个妇人,她在公司行号上班,她一下班马上拿了一本《地藏经》到佛前诵经,诵完了《地藏经》接着就诵《金刚经》,要不然就诵《弥陀经》。她的内心就想:我要了生死,我要了生死。她不听经也不闻法,烦恼一直在。她认为跪在佛前诵经,就叫做修行,她不知道观无常叫做修行,观空叫做修行,观苦叫做修行,提起正念,强烈的正念叫做修行。她不知道,她用了一棵没有智慧的心硬拗,压下去,念佛,南无阿弥陀佛……《金刚经》念的很熟,可是不了解里面的意思是什么。这个上班的妇人,她把十几岁的孩子丢着不管,回来的时候诵经诵到十一、二点。她的先生生气,非常的不满,可是她不管,照样诵她的经,搞得一个家庭鸡犬不宁。

学佛有这样学的吗?破坏家庭,这个叫做正法吗?护法居士完全误解世尊的善意,你是一个家庭主妇,要安住自己岗位做一个好太太,要好好的煮饭炒菜,好好的养育孩子。孩子要休息了要陪他谈话,说说故事,而不是一味的不管丈夫的感受,一味的不管儿女的感受。婚姻也闹得非常严重,非常严重还没关系,她吃素,同时硬规定她的先生一定要吃素。她先生如果不吃素,她就不理他。他是商人,跑美国,跑加拿大,跑英国,在外面,她一点办法都没有。可回来,她也不煮荤的给她先生吃,她先生非常强烈的不满。后来这个妇人又要求两个儿子不吃素不行。她儿子去麦当劳买个鸡腿吃,回来就骂:“你这个造业你是怎么样·······”骂得儿子哭,她先生强烈的不满,后来这个家庭破裂准备闹离婚,现在还在进行当中。

修行有这样修的吗?固执己见,完全不去 顾虑到 先生的感受,也完全不顾虑到儿女的成长,世尊有这样教吗?她没有强烈的正念,而有强烈的执著。世间人有世间人的悲哀,修行人有修行人的悲哀,因为没有碰到善知识。我不是说诵经不好,我也不是说念阿弥陀佛不好,我已经表达的很清楚,要用智慧调整。

大寮有一个信徒,我在建文殊讲堂的时候她来,我们这里有煮素食,我就跟她讲说:“菩萨,留下在这里吃饭吧。”她说:“不行,不行,不行,我要赶快回去煮饭,给我先生、儿子吃,然后我要诵《无量寿经》,我《无量寿经》要诵三千部。”人家要诵经,我们当然要赞叹。回去后,她不听经不闻法,偶尔会护持讲堂,可是她就是认为诵经叫做修行,回去要赶三千部,拼命的诵。三年,五年,她来的时候,每次要请她多待一会儿。“不,不,我要回去诵《无量寿经》。”她一直诵经,可执著还在,烦恼还在。有一天,我就跟她讲:“你已经诵了不要说三千部,你已经诵了三万部有了。”她那个《无量寿经》是从早上一直念念到晚上的,中间停起来煮饭给她先生吃,再来就是去佛堂拼,很精进,很精进,可是她就有一个习惯,就是不听经。就这样过了三年、五年、十年,已经相当长的时间了,《无量寿经》差不多念三万部了。有一次碰到的时候,她很颓废,没什么精神。

我说:“今天干嘛心情这么不好?” “师父,我听人家讲诵《无量寿经》三千部,就会有消息,为什么我一点消息都没有?” 我说:“有啊,你有消息,你有烦恼的消息,无明的消息,十几年前我劝你要听经闻法,你说你要诵《无量寿经》。我要你留下来吃个饭,再给你说法,说几句调整你的观念,你硬是不接受我的观念,用你的方式在修行,现在修得苦恼,烦恼,现在压不下来了。” “师父,我快要发疯了。”

第一个营养不良,因为长年累月吃素,吃素以后因为赶着要诵《无量寿经》,没什么煮的,每天都吃萝卜干,弄个稀饭随便吃一吃,吃了十几年,脸有菜色,虚弱不堪,拜佛下去起来昏天暗地。儿女没有照顾,先生不满,来到我这儿。我说:“你今天就留下来吃个饭,师父跟你讲几句话。”她说:“好。”这次留下来了。

我就告诉她,修正错误的观念叫做修行。“师父,原来是这样子,我怎么不知道。”我说:“十几年前我讲你就听不进去,我怎么讲,怎么劝,你怎么不听,你修行统统按照你自己的意思,不听善知识的指导。”十几年了,人家两天证阿罗汉果,那个老比丘尼两个礼拜证阿罗汉果,你诵《无量寿经》诵了十几年,到今天都没有解脱,Why ?很简单,方法不对。我不是说诵《无量寿经》不好,我不是说念阿弥陀佛不好,你要有正确的观念,正确的般若智慧,要听经闻法。

后来她就听师父的话,每天看录影带,听录音带,以前还没有VCD 。回去看,看了以后,恍然大悟,原来佛法正念就在一念之间。所以,我们由大寮的这个信徒这个例子来看,我不是说诵经不好,也不是说拜佛、念佛不好,但是你要有般若的正念,每天要听听录音带,看看 VCD ,一天一天道业一直增长。

再来,强烈的正念不是只有净土宗讲的、《阿含经》讲的,不是,包括禅宗都是告诉你要有强烈的正念。黄檗断际禅师《传心法要》里面讲得很清楚,修禅的人要具足三个条件才能住在祖师的隔壁,才能够跟祖师大德相应,哪三个强烈的正念?

第一,决定无所求。这一句话就贯通三藏十二部。于一切相,于一切法,决定无所求,对世间种种的境界无所求,因为求还是生灭,得到的还是会消失,该你的就是你的,不应该你的求来的是一种灾难。

第二,决定无所著。简单讲对一切境界不住于一切相,要下决定心不住著一切相,凡所有相皆是虚妄,若见诸相非相,即见如来,不能动一个念头住著一切的相。你一样的处理你世间的事情,但是要用智慧,要用慈悲心、平等心,千万不能动一个念头,伤害任何一个众生。

第三,决定无所惧。没有任何的惧怕,到了这个地步我们就了解来修净土法门统统在一念之间。世尊,阿弥陀佛就是做到慈悲、平等、无相,所以他来接引众生,叫做同体大悲,阿弥陀佛接引我们是理所当然的,因为他就是佛,他不会计较我们过去的种种过失,我们不能太自卑。

诸位,看你们这一张「佛子行」,作者是净土宗的法照大师。「彼佛因中立弘誓」,彼佛就是阿弥陀佛,阿弥陀佛在因地当中立了弘大的誓愿,乃至十念,若不生者不取正觉。「持名念佛总来引」,你只要持阿弥陀佛的名号,好好的念佛,阿弥陀佛,总就是一定会来接引你的。「不简贫穷和富贵」,阿弥陀佛世尊绝对不会分贫穷和富贵。「不简下智与高才」,就算你是下智之人,或者是高等智慧的高才之人,他一样平等心来接引。「不简多闻持净戒」,阿弥陀佛也不会说你多闻了正法,持净戒才来接引的,不会的。「不简破戒罪根深」,也不会分别你破了戒,罪很深,阿弥陀佛还是会来接引你的。「但使回心多念佛」,只要你回心多念佛。「能令瓦砾变成金」,你一定要回光返照,好好的坚持念佛,能令不值一文的瓦砾——我们现在娑婆世界的众生就是瓦砾,变成金就是指极乐世界就是金。

所以说只要我们有正念,透视这个世间,我们就不会执著。所以修行人应该了解我们这个色身。什么是人?人的定义是什么?泰国的高僧说:「人是一块会腐烂的肉。」你看这个定义,定义得实在是单刀直入,又让你能够觉悟。什么是人?人是一块会腐烂的肉。我们这一块肉会不会腐烂?会,迟早会烂掉的。你看祖师大德,高僧大德一句话就可以点醒你,点醒我们大家提起正念。既然我们是一块会腐烂的肉,你拼死命的这样一直执著,有什么意思呢?

所以,放下是修行人一生一世的功课。放下就是歇,歇即是菩提,放下就是菩提。六祖那一句话就是大彻大悟的人讲的话,本来无一物,何处惹尘埃,四大本空,五阴无我,放下什么呢?寻寻觅觅,找不到一个可以放下的东西。所以祖师大德,开悟的大德,他说用一个字就可以让你开悟,这个字你一定要写得很大,挂在你的脑子里面,用一个字参到底,用哪一个字呢?用「无」。

你注意听,你今天很生气,想想看,没有一个我,能生气的我,用这个「无」要下功夫,要下死功夫,「无」也没有可以嗔恨的对象,他也是四大本空,他也是五阴无我,空不会恨这个空,无相也不会嗔恨无相,无相也不会嫉妒无相,本来就没有这种东西。参,无来无去,无生无灭,无增无减,这个「无」字是指心的体性,不是指相,就是这一颗不生不灭的心,不来不去的心。

再耽搁诸位几分钟我们就下课,有的人已经坐不住了,奇怪,师父怎么不上厕所呢?你不晓得我静养了两年,现在是你要上厕所,不是我,怕了吧,怕就好。

好了,要用这个「无」来下手,随时提起正念。譬如说,「无」可以让我们心态归回原态,就是我们的佛性。我们因为后天的培养更加的执著、分别。举个例子,你拿一千块给抱在怀中刚出生的宝宝,说:宝宝这一千块给你。宝宝拿来就会放到嘴巴里面咬,他不知道这是一千块。是后来长大,你一直教他,那个叫做一千块,那个可以买很多菜,可以买很多鱼,可以买很多食物,他开始强化了观念,开始对钱强烈的执著。

我们不能够恢复心的原态,正因为我们没有在这个「无」字下手。这个「无」字下手就不得了了,无相,无来无去,无增无减,智慧就会无量无边无尽,无尽藏,无所求,无所得,无所惧,无所住著。要参禅用功,要在一个「无」字下手,我就是在这个「无」字下手。有人来告诉我:师父,我们店面有两个人吵得很厉害。我说:没关系,没有一个可吵的人,也没有一个可吵的对象,在我的心中,声音也是幻化,也无所谓吵跟不吵,吵久了他就会死翘翘,他还是会死,对不对?到我这里就吵不起来了,无可吵的众生,无可吵的对象,也没有所谓声音的真实相,声音本身就是幻化的。这个「无」字要下功夫,既然「无」要下功夫,就是要放下,歇即是菩提。

底下讲一个很重要的观念。当我们开始学佛的时候,拼命的诵经,念佛,以为要修出一个什么东西出来,这个就是错误。无常的世间,无我的世间,你修不出任何东西的。

那个大寮的信徒来到我这儿,那一天,我留下她吃饭,我说:“你诵《无量寿经》诵多久了?” “师父,诵十几年了。” 我说:“你诵一万部了吗?” “超过。” 我说:“你有诵过《金刚经》吗?” 她说:“有。”

“我现在问你一个问题,《金刚经》里面讲,【若以色见我,以音声求我,是人行邪道,不能见如来。】《无量寿经》说:【乃至十念,若不生者不取正觉。】说说看,两本经典都是世尊所讲的。你现在每天诵《无量寿经》是什么?以音声求我。诵《无量寿经》要不要产生音声,要。想要用这个色相,有形相的见到如来,不可能,是人行邪道,不能见如来。你每天都念《无量寿经》,念阿弥陀佛,说说看。”一下子傻眼,回答不出来。她两个眼睛瞪得很大,弄了十五年,世尊在世的时候,早证阿罗汉果了,还留到今天。她说:“弟子愚痴,请师父开示。”

两本经都是佛说的,就是体会不出来,不晓得用什么,这个说音声是生灭的,见不到如来。另一个经典说是往生阿弥陀佛极乐世界。我说:要弄清楚,《金刚般若波罗蜜经》这个经题是什么意?金刚般若智慧到彼岸。世尊之所以讲若以色见我,以音声求我,是人行邪道,不能见如来,如来就是本性,注意!著相就不能见本性,这句话是这个意思。生灭,外相,有形相的东西,以音声求我,也是相,音声是无形相的相,是人行邪道,不能见如来。这句话不是说不能看到释迦牟尼佛,是说永远没有办法见到本性。禅宗讲的,著相之人累劫不得见性。《金刚经》是叫你见本性的,所以从六祖以后,就传《金刚经》,不传《楞伽经》。《无量寿经》告诉你,乃至十念,若不生者不取正觉,这是让你先转世。有没有断惑,有没有修行,有没有见到清净的本性,不管,先转世。叫你临终十念,乃至十念,若不生者不取正觉,是阿弥陀佛的慈悲愿力,先叫你转世到极乐世界去。因为到极乐世界去不必断惑,到那边没有生老病死苦,寿命永恒。诸佛大菩萨,阿弥陀佛大菩萨一直在讲经说法。

我常常举一个例子,要到其他他方世界,就像要考进高分的大学,像美国的哈佛,台大,要很高的学分。要到极乐世界你只要报名,你只要报名就进去,为什么只要报名就进去呢?只要你深信切愿就是散乱心照样往生净土,但必须有深信切愿这个先决条件。

慢慢你就会发现,原来佛法是这么的伟大,听经闻法是这么的重要,所以我们要推广正法,推广正法才能让佛教大兴盛, 一个道场没有正法,就像一个人没有灵魂一样的。 大家要把听经闻法的心得,传播出去。有因缘就要度众生,有因缘就要劝大家来学佛。

佛法太多了,讲也讲不完,今天我们就讲到这个地方,已经十点四十五分了,讲了两个钟头再加十五分钟。感谢诸位义工来聚餐,诸位求法心切,听了以后信心大增,净土有份,所以不能说只有用诵经方式,而不懂得回光返照,不懂得佛的用意,因为你看经典,又不懂得里面的义理,诸佛菩萨讲法是表法的,你也不知道,所以一直在引用错误,所以还是要听经闻法,听善知识开示。

Rushing headlong, missing what is essential, bringing on one new bond after another, like insects falling into the flame, some are intent only on what is seen and heard.

— The Buddha

Approaching Vajrayana – Part One
By Jakob Leschly

The path of liberation can be seen in terms of two approaches: the gradual path of the Sutra teachings and the resultant path of the Mantra Vajrayana teachings. In the Sutra approach, we purify confusion and gradually uncover wisdom; in the Vajrayana, the practitioner takes that innate wisdom as the path. This first of four bi-monthly articles discusses the foundation of Buddhism, and how the view and practice of the Sutra teachings naturally serve as the foundation of the Vajrayana. Neither an academic analysis nor an actual Vajrayana teaching, this series aspires to clarify the Mantra teaching as we encounter it as laypersons in a modern context.

THE FOUNDATION OF BUDDHISM

The premise for Buddhism is the potential all life has for awakening, and the empirical fact that we can experience more or less confusion, more or less happiness. We observe how our positive and negative states of mind don’t just happen randomly, but happen due to causes and conditions. With less confusion we feel more at home in our reality, more awake, more at ease with our world.

The Buddha taught that we are in a position to do something about these causes and conditions, yet, the premise is the abiding unchanging reality of enlightenment, our true abiding nature, referred to as Buddha nature. The Sutra path approaches the path through working with the immediate reality of our ordinary confused mind; the Mantra path approaches it with the recognition of the innate abiding reality of the timeless wisdom of Buddha nature.

Although the Buddhist understanding of consciousness extends beyond the scope of contemporary psychology or neuroscience, it still operates within familiar parameters of human experience. The discussion of the practice of the path also does not extend beyond a rational and recognisable dimension of human potential.

The Buddha’s first teaching, on the Four Noble Truths, recognises the observable fact that while every one of our actions is based on a desire for happiness and pleasure, the truth is that we fail in our objective; the first Noble Truth is that we suffer.

The second Noble Truth is to identify the cause of suffering. According to the Buddha’s teaching, suffering is not inflicted upon us by some higher power, nor is it inevitable in a meaningless universe of random chaos. The second Noble Truth is that our suffering is caused; our suffering is due to a confused consciousness that mistakenly conceives of a self that, when investigated, doesn’t actually exist.

The Buddha discovered that confusion and suffering are not basic to us. We are not trapped in our delusion. The Buddha discovered the cessation of suffering, which is the third Noble Truth. He discovered freedom from the conceptual constructs that rule our consciousness.

The fourth Noble Truth is the Buddha’s prescription for how to practically address this condition of confusion. Nobody can save us, but we can apply practical measures to address the cause of suffering. The Buddha taught a remedial path of ethical action, of training the mind through meditation, through which wisdom emerges. Hence the Buddha empowered the individual, and taught how any person can attain the same freedom and awakening.

These Four Noble Truths are basic to all Buddhist teachings and paths. In these four truths, we can see that the Buddha did not introduce any mystical or metaphysical assumptions. His teaching never extended beyond the familiar pragmatism of remedying a problem.

It is not just contemporary people who appreciate such pragmatism. Assaji, one of the Buddha’s disciples, defined the Buddha’s teaching as follows:

All phenomena originate from causes; these causes were explained by the Tathagata [the Buddha]. The cessation of these causes was also explained by the Great Renunciant.*

NO-SELF AND BODHICITTA

The delusion of self is never an essential reality: self is a non-essential construct that arises from ignorance, on the basis of non-essential causes. This condition, known as samsara, is extensively described in the teachings on the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising (Pratityasamutpada). As long as we suffer from this delusion, we continue to wander in the cycle of rebirths.

The Buddha taught that if we investigate, we will find no absolute self, neither in the subjective aggregations that we refer to as our “self,” nor in the objective aggregations of outer phenomena that we refer to as “other.” This does not mean there is no functioning person or phenomena, but it means that if we investigate, we will not find any absolute essence. The Buddha encouraged us to look, because it is this blind assumption that is our downfall.

Through mindfulness, or shamatha, meditation, the practitioner discovers the wider perspective of selflessness — vipashyana — and continues to gradually enhance this experience in ordinary life. Selflessness, or emptiness, is not an otherworldly experience, but a very real sense of presence, of relinquishing fixation on mental content, and providing wider perspective. With such vipashyana, the practitioner ceases to define his or her outlook in terms of self. This ultimately leads to freedom from the conceptual constructions of the ordinary mind (nishprapanca) and the realisation of complete awakening.

The sage’s vision of selflessness leads to renunciation of a private nirvana, and a corresponding vow to assist all sentient beings and liberate them from suffering, which is known as the bodhisattva vow. Such a vow ensures that wisdom doesn’t fall into self-absorption, and also ensures that compassion doesn’t become a personal project. A sage possessing wisdom devoid of warmth would be pitiful, as would a sage possessing love and compassion, yet with the dualistic strings of expectation.

This vision of awakening is called “bodhichitta” — a mind or heart of awakening — and is the core of the bodhisattva’s spirituality; it informs a greater vipashyana, and a greater courage and commitment to the world. Bodhichitta is the heart of the Mahayana path.

We might not be sages ourselves, yet we can appreciate the magnanimous qualities of the bodhisattva. This appreciation reflects a corresponding nature within ourselves — that we have the pure DNA that resonates with wisdom and compassion. This purity is innate to all life as the abiding ground of reality, and to realise this purity is the difference between ordinary sentient beings and a Buddha. All life has basic purity, while Buddhas have the additional purity of awakening.

SUTRA AND MANTRA PERSPECTIVES

In the Sutra path, this two-fold purity is realised gradually. Delusion is eliminated gradually through the practice of the path, in which realisation of wisdom and compassion dawns gradually. The Mantra view sees the same reality from a “glass-full” perspective: as much as we might be neurotic and suffering beings, innately we are Buddhas. Otherwise why practice the path? Unless the condition is curable, why treat it? The good news the Buddha had for us is that our delusional condition is very curable indeed.

While both the paths of the Sutra and Mantra are based on our humble recognition that we are indeed confused and suffering individuals, the Mantra Vajrayana approach banks on the undeniable fact that, being curable patients, we are in reality in possession of the same healthy disposition as the physician, the Buddha. So while this physician prescribes a gradual treatment, the implication is that he or she is empowering our innate untarnished potential to be just as it is.

As the practitioner travels the Mantra path, confusion is purified, giving way to the vipashyana that sees the abiding innate ground of wisdom. Here mind is no longer seen as entirely a confused subjectivity, but rather is seen as a deity, with the world around seen as a pure realm. This is the dawning of sacred reality, also called pure perception, which is the scope of the Vajrayana yogi.

We may temporarily perceive and construct ourselves and others in terms of our delusion and our confused projections, yet the truth is that these constructions are merely temporary fleeting conditions. As it says in the Hevajra Tantra:

Sentient beings are Buddhas;
Temporarily obscured as they might be by fleeting stains,
When these stains are eliminated, they are actual Buddhas.

We are not dreaming up some new reality. We are embracing reality as it is, and this is why even in our obscured state we are presently able to recognise and value wisdom and compassion. While both the gradual and resultant vehicles consist of gradually eliminating obscurations and their causes, and gradually realising our potential, the resultant Vajrayana path acknowledges our true nature as the ground of our journey. We might perceive ourselves as ordinary beings, but we travel the path with an empowered perspective of our true worth.

*Ye dharma hetuprabhava hetum tesham tathagato hyavadat tesham ca yo nirodha evamvadi mahashramanah. The value of this statement is reflected by the fact that in Buddhist ceremonies, this is chanted as an auspicious invocation of the power of truth.

The wisdom is necessary and indispensable as faith alone cannot make you see reality. Therefore, we depend on wisdom, and in this logic wisdom is chief. But this wisdom will not be achieved if you are not motivated by faith, and therefore the faith is a prerequisite of wisdom.

— 5th Samdhong Rinpoche, Lobsang Tenzin

慈悲的密意
如孝法师

人类对生命的感受,因人而异,就整个人类来讲,无论各种思想,各种宗教,各种阶级,各种意识形态的各种群体,都不能拒绝大悲而流露出的真诚与关爱 。如果我们仔细去观察,就会发现: 狗、猫、羊等众生,也都能够感受到我们的爱意,这提示了一个朴素的真理,无论任何形式的生命,生命的本质即是大慈悲。如此看来,这就是如来智慧德相常不离众生心头而显现,众生若不护持大悲心,即会失去感受生命,享受生命的能力,那么他的生命和生活必然是虚假、黑暗、痛苦的,这即是无尽的轮回! 虽然了解佛教的人不多,但时时刻刻所有的人都在与佛陀的法身(自已的心)对席而谈。然而这只是理论层面的一种粗浅的认知,想回归庄严的生命故乡——佛陀的世界,大悲即是唯一的船票 。

大悲是一种力量,能出生一切良知、万善、觉性、福报、事业、国土、转化烦恼、忘记执着、觉醒人、我、众生、寿者之虚妄,因此大悲是体会生命真相的利器,是人类进步与文明的源头;诸佛圆满大悲所流露出来的誓愿身准提菩萨——即是一切有情自心圣洁与福报的显现。心的本体自性即是清净,清净与大悲无二,这就是准提法门能带给我们的加持与悉地。所以准提咒印之道即是修习自性清净的唯一法门,而一切本尊别法都需在清净的自性反射下才能影现,准提是一切密法之根,显密圆门,佛法本怀;具足方便,圆满大悲,显现菩提。

准提菩萨与汉地众生的因缘不可思议,深广无尽。

为何汉地众生与准提菩萨缘深不可测呢? 因为汉地以儒为标的文化,传承五千年相续不断,而儒的中心即是三纲五常的人本位理想与实践,既不同于印度的以无量天神的理想为国家理想的王国,亦不同于欧美的以上帝造人的上帝思想为本位,或者非洲边地恶业有情聚集之地,而只有请观音中其它五道去度化他们,而准提菩萨就安住在我们汉地,在中国历史上,各个阶层上都有许多修持准提法门而获得成就,因此我们汉地是准提菩萨誓愿所教化的国度。

因此,想要感受真实生命的存在,在大的层面即是良知,在具体的方面(学佛人的层面)是缘一切有情的大悲,是自利、利他的根本,在已悟处的道人层面是回小向大,纠偏向圆的下手处,因此准提法门之境界无有止境一即一切,一切即一,因为自性境界无有止境,一即一切,一切即准提大悲。

即此显中有密,密中有显,显是密之显,密是显之密,有则双存,无则并遣,佛法以一心统万殊,众生万心体即清净准提一心,若以清净心,至诚而发菩提心,即禅、律、净、密一切行门圆融互涉,现证菩提有余,若以了义不了义而于佛法中见门户竟立,师承高下,人我是非,倒不如去追求“挂印辞去一身累,采菊东篱见南山”的一人无佛天下了。