Every mother-being wants to be happy, just as a thirst-tormented person wants water. Most beings, however, have no idea how to secure happiness. Confused, they grasp at anything that they think will be rewarding. But they go about it in the wrong way — through grasping, attachment, obsession, or aggression. At best, they are chasing rainbows. At worst, they end up hurting themselves, like someone who tries to lick honey off the sharp edge of a knife.

— Tulku Thondup Rinpoche

學佛重在聞思修,不僅是燒香拜佛
慈誠羅珠堪布

  我們現在從佛教的內部來講的話,有一個佛教的悲哀是什麼呢?因為我們之前信的人不是很多,但是這兩年相信的人就越來越多了,我們推廣的不是很好。實際上就是因為我們剛才講的,他自己就像超市一樣,你願意來就來,我可以給你,你不願意來,我不會想辦法推廣,所以從全球來講信的人也不是很多。另外還有一個悲哀是什麼呢?就是我們人本來就是少,這個當中呢,大部分的人現在處於什麼樣的狀態?就是燒香拜佛,臨時抱佛腳,就停留在這種階段了,這個我覺得是我們佛教的悲哀。

  所有的這些,無論藏傳佛教也好,漢傳佛教也好,還是南傳佛教也好,三大語系的佛教,實際上應該不要停留在燒香拜佛的層次,要去聞、去思、去修,這個很重要。在這個過程當中,只要你願意聞思修行的話,他要找到他的老師我覺得不是很難。從我們顯宗的角度來講,比如說大乘佛教,它對老師的標准,對老師的要求,講得非常的清楚了,什麼樣的人可以作為你的老師,什麼樣的人有資格作為你的老師,講得很清楚。然後南傳佛教講的也是一樣的,根據它自己的教義,它對自己老師的標准也講得很清楚。然後密法裡面,尤其是對上師、對老師的要求,是非常非常嚴格的,所以它的標准也講得很清楚。所以我們根本就不需要擔憂什麼叫做老師,什麼樣的人是老師,這個不需要擔憂。因為我們沒有去學,我們不知道什麼是老師,只要我們一去學,馬上就知道什麼樣的人是老師。然後這個標准知道了以後,你回頭再去尋找一個什麼樣的人,你認為誰符合這個條件,什麼樣的上師具備你所看到的條件,你認為這個人具備了這些條件,那麼你就可以跟隨他。所以這個我覺得不是很難,是可以解決的。這是一個。

學佛重在聞思修

  第二個,學什麼樣的法門。其實這個很簡單,因為我們每一個人他最後的法門是不一樣的,但是一開始的時候呢,我們所有的學佛的人就可以分成兩種。一個是什麼呢?就是想解脫,從生老病死當中、從煩惱當中,徹底地擺脫,這樣的群體。另外一個呢,他對這個世界、對生命的認知還沒有達到這種層次,他認為我自己就是在這個世界當中這樣活下去我還是很幸福的,我不需要解脫,我也不需要成佛,但是我相信佛、相信有來世、相信有因果,有這樣的群體,給他們的是什麼呢?很簡單,他們的法門是什麼?給他們的觀點:第一個,你相信輪回、相信因果就可以了,什麼其它的空性啊都跟你沒有關系了,不在你的范圍當中。然後你的修行是什麼呢?修行就是在生活當中、工作當中,不要去殺盜淫妄,不去做這個,盡量地去做一個好人,心存好心。這就是我們太虛大師提倡的人間佛教的一部分,大部分是這樣子,你就做這個就可以了,這個法門是對你很適合的。這是一個。

  另外一個,剛才這個群體,就是對想解脫的這一部分的人來說,最後我們可以選擇淨土,也可以選擇禅宗,也可以選擇密宗,都可以的。但是開始的時候這個門,只有一個門,所有人都是從這個門進去,然後裡面呢,也有淨土、也有禅宗、也有密宗,都有。但是門、入門的時候都是一樣的。入門是什麼呢?就要修出離心、要修菩提心,出離心跟菩提心具體的修法,尤其是藏傳佛教裡面,它講得非常地清楚,而且它的字體、方法以及它背後的理論講得非常清楚。

  所以很多人不知道自己的上師或者老師是什麼樣,或者不知道什麼樣的法門自己適合,這個是什麼原因呢?就是因為缺少了聞思,缺少了學習。稍稍學習一下,完全自己會知道什麼樣的人是可以作為我的老師、什麼樣的法門就是比較適合我,這個都沒問題的。

  我覺得這兩個是很好解決的,這個不能說非常好解決,但是有一個問題、悲哀,是什麼呢?雖然我們說信佛,雖然說我是佛教徒,但是不去聞思修行,我們整天燒香拜佛、臨時抱佛腳,這個是我們的悲哀。

The three poisons continually arise in connection with three objects. Compulsive attachment arises for objects that are pleasant or useful; aversion arises for objects that are unpleasant or harmful; and indifference for other objects. Recognise these poisons as soon as they arise. Then, for example, when attachment arises, think: “May every bit of every sentient beings’ attachment be contained in this attachment of mine. May all sentient beings have the seed of virtue of being free of attachment. May this attachment of mine contain all their disturbing emotions and, until they attain Buddhahood, may they be free of such disturbing emotions.” Aversion and other emotions are used in practise by working with them the same way. Thus, the three poisons become three limitless seeds of virtue.

— Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye

What Makes You a Buddhist?

by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

Once, I was seated on a plane in the middle seat of the middle row on a trans-Atlantic flight, and the sympathetic man sitting next to me made an attempt to be friendly. Seeing my shaved head and maroon skirt, he gathered that I was a Buddhist. When the meal was served, the man considerately offered to order a vegetarian meal for me. Having correctly assumed that I was a Buddhist, he also assumed that I don’t eat meat. That was the beginning of our chat. The flight was long, so to kill our boredom, we discussed Buddhism.

Over time I have come to realise that people often associate Buddhism and Buddhists with peace, meditation, and nonviolence. In fact many seem to think that saffron or maroon robes and a peaceful smile are all it takes to be a Buddhist. As a fanatical Buddhist myself, I must take pride in this reputation, particularly the nonviolent aspect of it, which is so rare in this age of war and violence, and especially religious violence. Throughout the history of humankind, religion seems to beget brutality. Even today religious-extremist violence dominates the news. Yet I think I can say with confidence that so far we Buddhists have not disgraced ourselves. Violence has never played a part in propagating Buddhism.

However, as a trained Buddhist, I also feel a little discontented when Buddhism is associated with nothing beyond vegetarianism, nonviolence, peace, and meditation. Prince Siddhartha, who sacrificed all the comforts and luxuries of palace life, must have been searching for more than passivity and shrubbery when he set out to discover enlightenment.

When a conversation arises like the one with my seatmate on the plane, a non-Buddhist may casually ask, “What makes someone a Buddhist?” That is the hardest question to answer. If the person has a genuine interest, the complete answer does not make for light dinner conversation, and generalisations can lead to misunderstanding. Suppose that you give them the true answer, the answer that points to the very foundation of this 2,500-year-old tradition.

One is a Buddhist if he or she accepts the following four truths:

  • All compounded things are impermanent.
  • All emotions are pain.
  • All things have no inherent existence.
  • Nirvana is beyond concepts.

These four statements, spoken by the Buddha himself, are known as “the four seals.” Traditionally, seal means something like a hallmark that confirms authenticity. For the sake of simplicity and flow we will refer to these statements as both seals and “truths,” not to be confused with Buddhism’s four noble truths, which pertain solely to aspects of suffering. Even though the four seals are believed to encompass all of Buddhism, people don’t seem to want to hear about them. Without further explanation they serve only to dampen spirits and fail to inspire further interest in many cases. The topic of conversation changes and that’s the end of it.

The message of the four seals is meant to be understood literally, not metaphorically or mystically — and meant to be taken seriously. But the seals are not edicts or commandments. With a little contemplation one sees that there is nothing moralistic or ritualistic about them. There is no mention of good or bad behavior. They are secular truths based on wisdom, and wisdom is the primary concern of a Buddhist. Morals and ethics are secondary. A few puffs of a cigarette and a little fooling around don’t prevent someone from becoming a Buddhist. That is not to say that we have license to be wicked or immoral.

Broadly speaking, wisdom comes from a mind that has what the Buddhists call “right view.” But one doesn’t even have to consider oneself a Buddhist to have right view. Ultimately it is this view that determines our motivation and action. It is the view that guides us on the path of Buddhism. If we can adopt wholesome behaviours in addition to the four seals, it makes us even better Buddhists. But what makes you not a Buddhist?

If you cannot accept that all compounded or fabricated things are impermanent, if you believe that there is some essential substance or concept that is permanent, then you are not a Buddhist.

If you cannot accept that all emotions are pain, if you believe that actually some emotions are purely pleasurable, then you are not a Buddhist.

If you cannot accept that all phenomena are illusory and empty, if you believe that certain things do exist inherently, then you are not a Buddhist.

And if you think that enlightenment exists within the spheres of time, space, and power, then you are not a Buddhist.

So, what makes you a Buddhist? You may not have been born in a Buddhist country or to a Buddhist family, you may not wear robes or shave your head, you may eat meat and idolise Eminem and Paris Hilton. That doesn’t mean you cannot be a Buddhist. In order to be a Buddhist, you must accept that all compounded phenomena are impermanent, all emotions are pain, all things have no inherent existence, and enlightenment is beyond concepts.

It’s not necessary to be constantly and endlessly mindful of these four truths. But they must reside in your mind. You don’t walk around persistently remembering your own name, but when someone asks your name, you remember it instantly. There is no doubt. Anyone who accepts these four seals, even independently of Buddha’s teachings, even never having heard the name Shakyamuni Buddha, can be considered to be on the same path as he.

The Beautiful Logic of the Four Seals

Consider the example of generosity. When we begin to realise the first seal — impermanence — we see everything as transitory and without value, as if it belonged in a Salvation Army donation bag. We don’t necessarily have to give it all away, but we have no clinging to it. When we see that our possessions are all impermanent compounded phenomena, that we cannot cling to them forever, generosity is already practically accomplished.

Understanding the second seal, that all emotions are pain, we see that the miser, the self, is the main culprit, providing nothing but a feeling of poverty. Therefore, by not clinging to the self, we find no reason to cling to our possessions, and there is no more pain of miserliness. Generosity becomes an act of joy.

Realising the third seal, that all things have no inherent existence, we see the futility of clinging, because whatever we are clinging to has no truly existing nature. It’s like dreaming that you are distributing a billion dollars to strangers on the street. You can give generously because it’s dream money, and yet you are able to reap all the fun of the experience. Generosity based on these three views inevitably makes us realise that there is no goal. It is not a sacrifice endured in order to get recognition or to ensure a better rebirth.

Generosity without a price tag, expectations, or strings provides a glimpse into the fourth view, the truth that liberation, enlightenment, is beyond conception.

If we measure the perfection of a virtuous action, such as generosity, by material standards — how much poverty is eliminated — we can never reach perfection. Destitution and the desires of the destitute are endless. Even the desires of the wealthy are endless; in fact the desires of humans can never be fully satisfied. But according to Siddhartha, generosity should be measured by the level of attachment one has to what is being given and to the self that is giving it. Once you have realised that the self and all its possessions are impermanent and have no truly existing nature, you have nonattachment, and that is perfect generosity. For this reason the first action encouraged in the Buddhist sutras is the practice of generosity.

A Deeper Understanding of Karma, Purity and Nonviolence

The concept of karma, the undeniable trademark of Buddhism, also falls within these four truths. When causes and conditions come together and there are no obstacles, consequences arise. Consequence is karma. This karma is gathered by consciousness — the mind, or the self. If this self acts out of greed or aggression, negative karma is generated. If a thought or action is motivated by love, tolerance, and a wish for others to be happy, positive karma is generated.

Yet motivation, action, and the resulting karma are inherently like a dream, an illusion. Transcending karma, both good and bad, is nirvana. Any so-called good action that is not based on these four views is merely righteousness; it is not ultimately Siddhartha’s path. Even if you were to feed all the hungry beings in the world, if you acted in complete absence of these four views, then it would be merely a good deed, not the path to enlightenment. In fact it might be a righteous act designed to feed and support the ego.

It is because of these four truths that Buddhists can practice purification. If one thinks that one is stained by negative karma or is weak or “sinful,” and is frustrated, thinking that these obstacles are always getting in the way of realisation, then one can take comfort in knowing that they are compounded and therefore impermanent and thus purifiable. On the other hand, if one feels lacking in ability or merit, one can take comfort knowing that merit can be accumulated through performing good deeds, because the lack of merit is impermanent and therefore changeable.

The Buddhist practice of nonviolence is not merely submissiveness with a smile or meek thoughtfulness. The fundamental cause of violence is when one is fixated on an extreme idea, such as justice or morality. This fixation usually stems from a habit of buying into dualistic views, such as bad and good, ugly and beautiful, moral and immoral. One’s inflexible self-righteousness takes up all the space that would allow empathy for others. Sanity is lost. Understanding that all these views or values are compounded and impermanent, as is the person who holds them, violence is averted. When you have no ego, no clinging to the self, there is never a reason to be violent. When one understands that one’s enemies are held under a powerful influence of their own ignorance and aggression, that they are trapped by their habits, it is easier to forgive them for their irritating behaviour and actions. Similarly, if someone from the insane asylum insults you, there is no point in getting angry. When we transcend believing in the extremes of dualistic phenomena, we have transcended the causes of violence.

The Four Seals: A Package Deal

In Buddhism, any action that establishes or enhances the four views is a rightful path. Even seemingly ritualistic practices, such as lighting incense or practicing esoteric meditations and mantras, are designed to help focus our attention on one or all of the truths.

Anything that contradicts the four views, including some action that may seem loving and compassionate, is not part of the path. Even emptiness meditation becomes pure negation, nothing but a nihilistic path, if it is not in compliance with the four truths.

For the sake of communication we can say that these four views are the spine of Buddhism. We call them “truths” because they are simply facts. They are not manufactured; they are not a mystical revelation of the Buddha. They did not become valid only after the Buddha began to teach. Living by these principles is not a ritual or a technique. They don’t qualify as morals or ethics, and they can’t be trademarked or owned. There is no such thing as an “infidel” or a “blasphemer” in Buddhism because there is no one to be faithful to, to insult, or to doubt. However, those who are not aware of or do not believe in these four facts are considered by Buddhists to be ignorant. Such ignorance is not cause for moral judgment. If someone doesn’t believe that humans have landed on the moon, or thinks that the world is flat, a scientist wouldn’t call him a blasphemer, just ignorant. Likewise, if he doesn’t believe in these four seals, he is not an infidel. In fact, if someone were to produce proof that the logic of the four seals is faulty, that clinging to the self is actually not pain, or that some element defies impermanence, then Buddhists should willingly follow that path instead. Because what we seek is enlightenment, and enlightenment means realisation of the truth. So far, though, in all these centuries no proof has arisen to invalidate the four seals.

If you ignore the four seals but insist on considering yourself a Buddhist merely out of a love affair with the traditions, then that is superficial devotion. The Buddhist masters believe that however you choose to label yourself, unless you have faith in these truths, you will continue to live in an illusory world, believing it to be solid and real. Although such belief temporarily provides the bliss of ignorance, ultimately it always leads to some form of anxiety. You then spend all your time solving problems and trying to get rid of the anxiety. Your constant need to solve problems becomes like an addiction. How many problems have you solved only to watch others arise? If you are happy with this cycle, then you have no reason to complain. But when you see that you will never come to the end of problem solving, that is the beginning of the search for inner truth. While Buddhism is not the answer to all the world’s temporal problems and social injustices, if you happen to be searching and if you happen to have chemistry with Siddhartha, then you may find these truths agreeable. If that is the case, you should consider following him seriously.

Richness Within Renunciation

As a follower of Siddhartha, you don’t necessarily have to emulate his every action — you don’t have to sneak out while your wife is sleeping. Many people think that Buddhism is synonymous with renunciation, leaving home, family, and job behind, and following the path of an ascetic. This image of austerity is partly due to the fact that a great number of Buddhists revere the mendicants in the Buddhist texts and teachings, just as the Christians admire Saint Francis of Assisi. We can’t help being struck by the image of the Buddha walking barefoot in Magadha with his begging bowl, or Milarepa in his cave subsisting on nettle soup. The serenity of a simple Burmese monk accepting alms captivates our imagination.

But there is also an entirely different variety of follower of the Buddha: King Ashoka, for example, who dismounted from his royal chariot, adorned with pearls and gold, and proclaimed his wish to spread the buddhadharma throughout the world. He knelt down, seized a fistful of sand, and proclaimed that he would build as many stupas as there were grains of sand in his hand. And in fact he kept his promise. So one can be a king, a merchant, a prostitute, a junkie, or a chief executive officer and still accept the four seals. Fundamentally it is not the act of leaving behind the material world that Buddhists cherish but the ability to see the habitual clinging to this world and ourselves and to renounce the clinging.

As we begin to understand the four views, we don’t necessarily discard things; we begin instead to change our attitude toward them, thereby changing their value. Just because you have less than someone else doesn’t mean that you are more morally pure or virtuous. In fact, humility itself can be a form of hypocrisy. When we understand the essencelessness and impermanence of the material world, renunciation is no longer a form of self-flagellation. It doesn’t mean that we’re hard on ourselves. The word sacrifice takes on a different meaning. Equipped with this understanding, everything becomes about as significant as the saliva we spit on the ground. We don’t feel sentimental about saliva. Losing such sentimentality is a path of bliss, sugata. When renunciation is understood as bliss, the stories of many other Indian princesses, princes, and warlords who once upon a time renounced their palace life become less outlandish.

This love of truth and veneration for the seekers of truth is an ancient tradition in countries like India. Even today, instead of looking down on renunciants, Indian society venerates them just as respectfully as we venerate professors at Harvard and Yale. Although the tradition is fading in this age when corporate culture reigns, you can still find naked, ash-clad sadhus who have given up successful law practices to become wandering mendicants. It gives me goose bumps to see how Indian society respects these people instead of shooing them away as disgraceful beggars or pests. I can’t help but imagine them at the Marriott Hotel in Hong Kong. How would the nouveau-riche Chinese, desperately trying to copy Western ways, feel about these ash-clad sadhus? Would the doorman open the door for them? For that matter, how would the concierge at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles react? Instead of worshipping the truth and venerating sadhus, this is an age that worships billboards and venerates liposuction.

Adopting Wisdom, Dropping Distorted Mortalities

As you read this, you may be thinking, I’m generous and I don’t have that much attachment to my things. It may be true that you aren’t tightfisted, but in the midst of your generous activities, if someone walks off with your favorite pencil, you may get so angry that you want to bite his ear off. Or you may become completely disheartened if someone says, “Is that all you can give?” When we give, we are caught up in the notion of “generosity.” We cling to the result — if not a good rebirth, at least recognition in this life, or maybe just a plaque on the wall. I have also met many people who think they are generous simply because they have given money to a certain museum, or even to their own children, from whom they expect a lifetime of allegiance.

If it is not accompanied by the four views, morality can be similarly distorted. Morality feeds the ego, leading us to become puritanical and to judge others whose morality is different from ours. Fixated on our version of morality, we look down on other people and try to impose our ethics on them, even if it means taking away their freedom. The great Indian scholar and saint Shantideva, himself a prince who renounced his kingdom, taught that it is impossible for us to avoid encountering anything and everything unwholesome, but if we can apply just one of these four views, we are protected from all nonvirtue. If you think the entire West is somehow satanic or immoral, it will be impossible to conquer and rehabilitate it, but if you have tolerance within yourself, this is equal to conquering. You can’t smooth out the entire earth to make it easier to walk on with your bare feet, but by wearing shoes you protect yourself from rough, unpleasant surfaces.

If we can understand the four views not only intellectually but also experientially, we begin to free ourselves from fixating on things that are illusory. This freedom is what we call wisdom. Buddhists venerate wisdom above all else. Wisdom surpasses morality, love, common sense, tolerance, and vegetarianism. Wisdom is not a divine spirit that we seek from somewhere outside of ourselves. We invoke it by first hearing the teachings on the four seals — not accepting them at face value, but rather analysing and contemplating them. If you are convinced that this path will clear some of your confusion and bring some relief, then you can actually put wisdom into practice.

In one of the oldest Buddhist teaching methods, the master gives his disciples a bone and instructs them to contemplate its origin. Through this contemplation, the disciples eventually see the bone as the end result of birth, birth as the end result of karmic formation, karmic formation as the end result of craving, and so on. Thoroughly convinced by the logic of cause, condition, and effect, they begin to apply awareness to every situation and every moment. This is what we call meditation. People who can bring us this kind of information and understanding are venerated as masters because, even though they have profound realisation and could happily live in the forest, they are willing to stick around to explain the view to those who are still in the dark. Because this information liberates us from all kinds of unnecessary hiccups, we have an automatic appreciation for the explainer. So we Buddhists pay homage to the teacher.

Once you have intellectually accepted the view, you can apply any method that deepens your understanding and realisation. In other words, you can use whatever techniques or practices help you to transform your habit of thinking that things are solid into the habit of seeing them as compounded, interdependent, and impermanent. This is true Buddhist meditation and practice, not just sitting still as if you were a paperweight.

Even though we know intellectually that we are going to die, this knowledge can be eclipsed by something as small as a casual compliment. Someone comments on how graceful our knuckles look, and the next thing we know we are trying to find ways to preserve these knuckles. Suddenly we feel that we have something to lose. These days we are constantly bombarded by so many new things to lose and so many things to gain. More than ever we need methods that remind us and help us get accustomed to the view, maybe even hanging a human bone from the rearview mirror, if not shaving your head and retreating to a cave. Combined with these methods, ethics and morality become useful. Ethics and morality may be secondary in Buddhism, but they are important when they bring us closer to the truth. But even if some action appears wholesome and positive, if it takes us away from the four truths, Siddhartha himself cautioned us to leave it be.

The Tea and the Teacup: Wisdom Within Culture

The four seals are like tea, while all other means to actualise these truths — practices, rituals, traditions, and cultural trappings — are like a cup. The skills and methods are observable and tangible, but the truth is not. The challenge is not to get carried away by the cup. People are more inclined to sit straight in a quiet place on a meditation cushion than to contemplate which will come first, tomorrow or the next life. Outward practices are perceivable, so the mind is quick to label them as “Buddhism,” whereas the concept “all compounded things are impermanent” is not tangible and is difficult to label. It is ironic that evidence of impermanence is all around us, yet is not obvious to us.

The essence of Buddhism is beyond culture, but it is practiced by many different cultures, which use their traditions as the cup that holds the teachings. If the elements of these cultural trappings help other beings without causing harm, and if they don’t contradict the four truths, then Siddhartha would encourage such practices.

Throughout the centuries so many brands and styles of cups have been produced, but however good the intention behind them, and however well they may work, they become a hindrance if we forget the tea inside. Even though their purpose is to hold the truth, we tend to focus on the means rather than the outcome. So people walk around with empty cups, or they forget to drink their tea. We human beings can become enchanted, or at least distracted, by the ceremony and colour of Buddhist cultural practices. Incense and candles are exotic and attractive; impermanence and selflessness are not. Siddhartha himself said that the best way to worship is by simply remembering the principle of impermanence, the suffering of emotions, that phenomena have no inherent existence, and that nirvana is beyond concepts.

Now that Buddhism is flourishing in the West, I have heard of people altering Buddhist teachings to fit the modern way of thinking. If there is anything to be adapted, it would be the rituals and symbols, not the truth itself. Buddha himself said that his discipline and methods should be adapted appropriately to time and place. But the four truths don’t need to be updated or modified; and it’s impossible to do so anyway. You can change the cup, but the tea remains pure. After surviving 2,500 years and traveling 40,781,035 feet from the Bodhi tree in central India to Times Square in New York City, the concept “all compounded things are impermanent” still applies. Impermanence is still impermanence in Times Square. You cannot bend these four rules; there are no social or cultural exceptions.

Practicing Harmony

Profound truths aside, these days even the most practical and obvious truths are ignored. We are like monkeys who dwell in the forest and shit on the very branches from which we hang. Every day we hear people talking about the state of the economy, not recognising the connection between recession and greed. Because of greed, jealousy, and pride, the economy will never become strong enough to ensure that every person has access to the basic necessities of life. Our dwelling place, the Earth, becomes more and more polluted. I have met people who condemn ancient rulers and emperors and ancient religions as the source of all conflict. But the secular and modern world has not done any better; if anything, it has done worse. What is it that the modern world has made better? One of the main effects of science and technology has been to destroy the world more quickly. Many scientists believe that all living systems and all life-support systems on Earth are in decline.

It’s time for modern people like ourselves to give some thought to spiritual matters, even if we have no time to sit on a cushion, even if we are put off by those who wear rosaries around their necks, and even if we are embarrassed to exhibit our religious leanings to our secular friends. Contemplating the impermanent nature of everything that we experience and the painful effect of clinging to the self brings peace and harmony — if not to the entire world, at least within our own sphere.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche 16.

一个时时观察他人过失的人,容易动怒。 非但不能消除他人的污秽,反而会增添自己的污秽。

— 佛陀

随信行和随法行
惟贤法师

什么叫随信行、随法行呢?信就是信仰;法就是教法。我们既要建立信仰,也要了解教法,结合行持,这样子才有正信,才有正见,才有正行。这样子行呢,就不是普通人,也不是外道。这种信、见、行与世俗是有区别的。

一、随信行

随信行,什么叫信?第一个要信仰三宝,信仰佛、法、僧三宝;第二个信仰因果,学佛的人要相信因果,要懂因果缘起的道理;第三个信,信仰自己能够修学,修积福德智慧,有这个因,有这个行,必然能够开花结果,修行一分就证得一分,有因,必然有果。这是真实不虚的。

佛教讲的信呢,是一种正确的信仰、智慧的信仰、合乎理性的信仰,不是盲从的迷信。世间上那些观花、看水碗、跳神、扶乩、预言天书呀就是盲从迷信。

另外一种就是外道的邪信。就是修“神我”,信“神我”(而不是自己)能够主宰一切。现在很多外道包括“*轮功”都是这样子的。

我们这个信既非世俗的迷信,也非外道的邪信。我们要建立在正见上,就要破除几种邪见。哪几种?

第一种,不能以神我为主。认为有个神能主宰一切,“神我”是万能的,于是产生我见。佛法讲无我,一切唯心造,一切都有因果。决定不是这个“神我”知见。

第二种,不能是常见。认为事物永远都不变动的,世间上没有这样子的事情。人有生、老、病、死;宇宙有成、住、坏、空;事物有兴、衰、成、败;没有常恒不变的。所以佛法讲一切皆无常。

第三,不是断见。什么叫断见?就是认为人死了生命就没有了,人死如灯灭。由于这个断见就贪恋眼前的一切,追求一切享受,不信后世,不信因果。我们佛家认为,这个生命是永远相续不断的,那么现在生命有,将来生命有,所以我们要好好修行。要修来世,或者死后生极乐国。生命是相续的,我们要净化生命。

第四种,不要有邪见。什么叫邪见?认为一切是偶然,一切是自然的,没有因,没有果。毁谤因果,鄙视因果,于是自己就可以随意造恶、造孽,可以损人利己、违背因果。当然,他也不信三宝,也不讲道德、仁义。这就是邪见。

以上这种种见都叫做恶见:神我知见,常恒知见,断灭知见,目无因果的邪见。我们学佛就不应该有这些恶见,我们应该相信因果缘起。因果缘起通于过去、现在、未来。因果缘起与周围一切事物、宇宙空间都有密切的关系,空间宽、时间长。我们相信因果缘起,在行为上就可以约束自己,止恶行善,不作一切恶,奉行一切善;就不会损害他人,不会为非作歹,不会犯法、破坏社会秩序。

我们还应该相信“性空无我”知见。什么叫“性空无我”知见?认识到一切法为梦幻泡影,都是变化的。这中间我们不要有执着,不要贪恋“我”,不要贪恋所有的一切,要破除我执。破除我执的目的是什么呢?消灭烦恼、消灭物欲、消灭私心杂念,达到真真实实,能够看淡一切、看破一切,能够放下这些执著。消除我见之后,自己没有私见了就有大智慧,这种大智慧就是对众生平等对待。尊重众生,不残杀众生,不危害众生;要与众生和谐相处,要爱护他们。那么就没有争斗,没有战争,没有种种危害,乃至灾祸都可以消灭。

所以“因果缘起”和“性空无我”是佛法的两种正见,绝对不是恶见。由因果缘起达到止恶行善,不作一切恶,奉行一切善;能够做到性空无我就可以与众生平等对待,尊重别人、爱护别人、广行方便、大慈大悲、救苦救难。而恶见是什么呢?执着“我”永远都在;执着一切是常有;执着一切是断灭的;执着一切没有因果、没有后世。佛法就要驳斥这些,否定这些恶见。

因此,有了正见才能建立正确的信仰,才能信仰三宝的功德、信仰因果的道理、信仰积福积慧必然开花结果的道理。由此正见具足正信,那么这个正信就绝对不是封建迷信,观花、看水碗、跳神、扶乩那一套;也不是外道的邪信,信“神我”主宰一切。譬如*轮功,很多事危害到人民利益。这个叫随信行,以此建立正行。

二、随法行

什么叫法呢?佛法的教法,就是佛教的经典,大乘经、小乘经。大部头的有《华严经》、《法华经》、《般若经》、《涅槃经》等;小部头的有《金刚经》、《阿弥陀经》、《观世音菩萨普门品》等,这些经典都叫做教法。我们学佛不单是要建立正信,而且要依教法来行持,叫随法行。

这个教法有什么内容呢?分为教、理、行、果这四个字。

教,是什么教?止恶行善之教、转染成净之教、解脱之教。佛法教育众生的内容都是属于这个教。教人止恶行善,教人转染成净,把内心污染去掉,让内心清净;教人要解脱,不要贪恋世间,要多念佛求生西方净土。自己能够这样修行就能出离生死、证得涅槃。同时,这个教又是救世济人之教、度众之教,是大乘菩萨之教。教就包括这些内容。

理是什么呢?因果缘起之理、性空无我之理。一个讲因果缘起,一个讲性空无我,这两项理在佛教大乘八宗、小乘两宗,讲得很多。我们学佛就要懂这个道理才有正见,有正见才有正行。

行是什么呢?戒、定、慧之行。在行上要修戒、修定、修慧。你们居士来说,要严守三皈五戒,进一步受八关斋戒,再进一步受居士菩萨戒。戒是约束自己身心,使我们守护六根,不乱想、不乱动、不乱为。出家人的戒更多,比丘二百五十戒,比丘尼三百四十八戒,菩萨有十重四十八轻戒。能够守戒就能够止恶行善、转染成净。第二就是修定。定就是定下来,熄灭妄想。从熄灭妄想之中消除烦恼、对治烦恼。世俗人烦恼特别多,每个人都有一本“家庭经”念不完,一辈子酸、甜、苦、辣、咸尝不完,因此想得多、烦恼多,这都是一种障碍。佛教称为三障:烦恼障、业障、果报障。我们都在这个障碍中时时刻刻充满了烦恼,时时刻刻为这个假身忙碌而不自在,油、盐、柴、米、酱、醋、茶,没完没了的贪嗔痴。第三就是修慧。要修“闻、思、修”三慧,诵持经典、亲近善知识,如理思维、修行,就可开启智慧。

果是什么呢?由行而证果,有修就有证,有行不会落虚空,这是必然的。

从释迦佛诞生之后到现在,佛法遍布五洲,包括东南亚、日本、澳洲、欧美各国。现在有四、五亿信众,中国一亿多,各界人士都有,包括高级知识分子、科学家、政府官员、士民百姓等等。佛法传至今日时间有二千五百多年,尽管历史上在印度、中国都曾经发生了教难,但是真理是不会被湮没的。能够延续到现在,因为它是真理。佛法能解人痛苦,消灭人的无明烦恼;佛法是良医妙药,能够治疗烦恼病、无明病、业障病。你害了病,佛法来医治,不仅治你的身病,还能治心病。佛陀是大医王啊!能治身心诸病。

White clouds that drift through blue sky, changing shape constantly, have no root, no foundation, no dwelling; nor do changing patterns of thought that float through the sky of mind. When the formless expanse of awareness comes clearly into view, obsession with thought forms ceases easily and naturally.

— Tilopa

How can we love others without being attached to them?
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Q: How can we reconcile the Buddha’s teachings on non-attachment with those on love? How can we love others, like our friends, without being attached to them? – C.G

A: Non-attachment is a balanced state of mind in which we cease overestimating others’ qualities. By having a more accurate view of others, our unrealistic expectations fall away, as does our clinging. This leaves us open to loving others for who they are instead of what they do for us. Our hearts can open to care for everyone impartially, wishing everyone to be happy simply because he or she is a living being. The feeling of warmth that was previously reserved for a select few, now can be expanded to a great number of people.

With some people we share many common interests. It’s easy to talk to them; we understand each other well and help each other grow. We may spend more time with these people than with others. They can be our friends without our clinging to them with attachment. The focus of such a friendship is mutual growth, not fulfilment of our selfish desires.

Since it is difficult to free ourselves from attachment, initially our friendships will be a combination of attachment and genuine love. But, being aware of the disadvantages of attachment, we’ll try to eliminate it so it doesn’t cause problems in our relationships. Slowly, the quality of our friendships will improve.

Instead of a “take take” mentality where we view everything and everyone in terms of what we can get from them, we develop a “give give” mentality, thinking of what we can do for others. When we have this attitude, we’re happy whomever we’re with. Others are happy, they like us, and inside our hearts, we’re satisfied, for we know that our lives are meaningful.

When, with the creative energy of pure presence, which is an energetic response to what is present, one concretises these hues, one goes astray because one does not understand them as both a lucid presence and as nothing. By appropriating the presence of these five hues into one’s existence as a thing, one goes astray into a conceptualised essence. By appropriating the presence of these five spontaneous hues, the five external phases arise, as in the view of the heretics in which they are taken as eternal.

— Padmasambhava, Guru Rinpoche

魔法是什麼呢,就是散亂,這是修行的大障
索達吉堪布

現在有些人說大話特別厲害,口口聲聲是“看破、放下、自在”,可對大多數人而言,這句話只是口頭禅,真正能像古大德那樣做到的,可以說寥寥無幾。但即便做不到上等修行人,我們也應該做個中等,為聽法至少付出一些時間和精力,而不要天天追求世間享樂。

  智悲光尊者曾說:“修行人若豐衣足食、住處舒適、施主賢善等樣樣具足,那正法還沒有成就之前,魔法已經成就了。”尊者說得非常非常好!一個修行人,適度擁有一些資具是可以的,但太過了就會變成障礙。有些人不光要求吃穿圓滿,住處也想要舒適,一間房子不夠要兩間,兩間不夠還要三間、四間、五間……今天建、明天裝修,找不到工人就自己來,整天叮叮當當的,這樣就太沒有必要了。

  還有些修行人,施主經常給他寄錢。現在不像以前了,以前山上的修行人要到山下去拿,或山下的施主要到山上來送。可如今不用這麼麻煩,山上的修行人只要打個電話,山下的施主馬上往卡上劃款,款一到,修行人就可以享用了。對好的修行人而言,電子化和信息化是一種方便,不用像以前一樣,為了一袋糧食要花好多天,現在有了這些順緣,便可以一心修行。但修行不好的人,好住處、好施主都成了散亂之因,依靠這些修不成佛法,反而先成就了魔法。

  魔法是什麼呢?就是散亂,這是修行的大障。《大莊嚴論經》亦雲:“愚者貪利養,不見其過惡,利養遠聖道,善行滅不生。”愚癡的人因為貪著利養,就見不到它的過患,最終,利養、名聲、財富等,讓他逐漸遠離聖道,乃至滅盡一切善行。

  修行人貪著利養,也算是末法時代的象征了。常有人問我:“某某修行人有別墅、有轎車,他是否是真正的上師?”這個不能一概而論。我不敢說全都不是,因為有些確實是大成就者,雖然具足財產,但毫無耽執;不過也有相當一部分是很耽執的,不知道因果利害,只是拼命地貪執這些,最終令自他全都墮落了。最可憐的還是那些供養者,因為福報不足,遇不到殊勝的功德田,他所遇到的“功德田”自己都不求解脫,怎麼會令他解脫呢?所以,經論中一再教誡:尋找善知識時,務必先觀察他是否具足法相。

  當然,如果我們不是上師,只是一個修行人,也應該知道知足少欲,對修證而言,這是個很大的方便。否則,條件太好了,無論身處何地,對修行肯定不利,這也是不爭的事實。

  不過,有時候不要墮入另一個極端。有些人剛學佛時,熱情高漲:“我一定要當個上等修行人,夜不倒單!”然後非要苦行,把衣服、用具全扔出去,刻意吃些差的飲食。如果你能永遠這樣倒可以,但這很可能只是一時的行為,正所謂“學佛一年,佛在心間;學佛兩年,佛在大殿;學佛三年,佛在天邊”,隨著信心的退失,苦行慢慢也消失了。

  對我而言,特別佩服有長久道心的人,十年、二十年乃至有生之年,對佛法的信心不斷增上,對財產、名聲從不貪著,只是一味地護持佛法和利益眾生,這種精神非常可嘉。作為真正的佛教徒,希望每個人也能對照自身,好好斟酌一下這些道理。

  其實,任何耽執,不論對財產還是對身體,對自己都是一種束縛。只有放下了,才會成就。《阿育王經》裡就有一則公案:有個修行人,雖然經歷了長久修行,但對飲食起居特別講究,故一直未能成就。為了調伏他對身體的愛執,優婆鞠多尊者將他帶進山裡,以神通化現一棵很高大的樹,以及一個深廣無比的大坑。

  尊者說:“你若能一切都聽我的,我就為你說法。”他說:“好。”於是尊者讓他爬到樹上,先把兩只腳放下來,他依教奉行。又讓他放開一只手,他也照做,整個身體就靠一只手懸著。尊者要他把最後一只手也放開,他抗議道:“再放開的話,我就會墮坑而死了。”尊者說:“說好一切都聽我的,不照做就不為你傳法。”

  他想到此行目的,隨即把眼一閉,不顧一切把手放開,准備墮下去。正當他這貪愛之念去除的一剎那,樹與坑都不見了。從此,他不再執著色身,能夠放下一切。上師這才為他傳法,他精進地加倍用功,很快地就證得阿羅漢果。

  所以,只有放下對身體的執著,精彩的世界才會展現在自己眼前。昨天在研討會上,有些老師就情感問題,也給年輕人做了些教誡,這些教言非常不錯。的確,欲界眾生本來情欲就重,再加上太執著,越執著就越痛苦,最後很可能選擇自殺。其實自殺是因為放不下,如果你了解一些無常的道理,比如,一切都在變,世間的欲妙不可能永遠不變,懂了也就放下了。否則,當變化出現時,因為放不下,就面對不了,面對不了就容易出問題。

  同樣,修行人也要懂得放下。誠如夏日瓦格西所說:“如果從內心深處想修法,必須自心依於貧窮,貧窮一直到死亡。假設能生起這樣的意念,那麼,天、人、鬼三者必定不會使其為難。”若有了捨棄一切的心態,即使我們修行中出現違緣,也定會逢凶化吉。歷史可以證明,真正的修行人,沒有一個人餓死,也沒有一個人凍死。試想,倘若是個世間人,放棄工作很可能會餓死,但修行人依靠上師三寶的加持、依靠護法神的護佑,就像米拉日巴尊者一樣,只要堅定地修行,衣食不但不成問題,最後還會獲得無上成就。

  米拉日巴尊者如何修出世間法

  米拉日巴尊者在山洞裡唱過一首道歌:

  “我病無人問,若死無人哭,能死此山中,瑜伽心意足。”

  意思是,我在這裡修行,生病時無人探問,死亡時無人哭泣,能死在這個山洞裡,瑜伽士我真是心滿意足。

  可現在人的想法完全相反,病時若無人問津,就特別難過;死時不能得到妥善處理,也會死不瞑目。尤其是孩子已出家的父母,因為不信佛法,更是特別傷心。傷心什麼呢?“孩子出家了,我以後生病怎麼辦?死的時候怎麼辦?”其實生死有命,該活就活,該死就死,而且死了神識就走了,屍體處不處理都可以,這樣一想,心也就豁達了。不過,世間人很難真正想得開,尤其像尊者這樣的境界,並不是人人都能理解的。

  “門外無人跡,室內無血跡,能死此山中,瑜伽心意足。”

  意思是,我的門外沒有往來客人的足跡,洞內沒有積累財產的“血跡”,能死在這個山裡,瑜伽士我心滿意足。

  但現在的世間人,分別念多,家裡來來往往的人多,亂七八糟的東西多,老鼠也多。不像米拉日巴尊者,一心只是修行,洞內洞外干干淨淨。有一天,半夜三更來了個小偷,進他的洞裡摸索,這時尊者放聲大笑。小偷問:“你笑什麼?”他說:“我白天都找不到任何東西,你黑乎乎的怎麼找得到呢?”

  傳記中還記載,對於尊者的苦行,他妹妹見了忍不住大哭,結果尊者在歡笑,兩種聲音在山洞裡交織,形成了強烈的對比。所以,真有如是境界的人,不論遇到什麼,即使是死在山裡,也依然是快樂的。

  “何去無人問,此去無定處,能死此山中,瑜伽心意足。”

  意思是,我住在這個山洞裡,想去哪裡無人過問,去處也不必固定,能死在山裡,瑜伽士我心意已足。

  誰都喜歡不受約束的生活,想走就走,沒有領導,也不用說妄語請假。但對我們聞思修行的人來說,在尚未達到一定境界之前,最好不要脫離群體。

  我們有些發心人員,也想像尊者那樣,過自由自在的生活,聽說其他上師好,就自行離開,去追求向往的修行之路。但離開以後,好多事情也未必如你所願,到頭來只好到處漂泊,想進其他寺院,進不去;回家,家人不理,居無定所。這樣過了幾年以後,只有眼淚灑向大地了……

  “腐屍為蟲食,血脈為蚊吸,能死此山中,瑜伽心意足。”

  意思是,當我死了以後,腐爛的屍體為蛆蟲所食,血脈為蚊蟲所吸,能死在山裡,瑜伽士我心滿意足。

  尊者的確是上等修行人,他的境界無人能及。我們盡管現在達不到,但也不必灰心,應該隨分隨力地修行。像在這次研討會上,從很多佛教徒的發言來看,大家都有利他心,有向往修行的心,這是難能可貴的。所以,只要在有生之年努力聞思,或者每天修一個小時的法,或者盡己之力去緩解一個眾生的痛苦,這些都值得我們努力,這也是佛教的精神。

  雖然嚴格來講,必須放下對現世的貪著,不畏一切艱難地修行正法,但我們也要分析自己的具體情況。若是力所能及的,就應該努力行持;至於眼前做不到的,也可以發願並祈禱在將來實現。