教與觀之間
文|四擇

一、前言

佛法不是世間哲學,以邏輯推演及理論組織為足;佛法不同於外道隱者,視學問為大患、以棄智絕聖為標竿。在佛法中,「教」以祛暗開智、啟蒙導行,「行」以填願圓志、斷惑證真。以涅槃菩提為上首,理論與實際,知行不能分離;只要是佛法,不應違背如是原則。但在近日佛教界中有一種思想,認為中國佛教各宗派多是「談玄說妙」的;言下之意,認為這樣「玄而又妙」的教義,一來不容易令人明白,二來不切合實際的修行。

不可否認的是,在各宗派長期的發展下,教義的闡揚敷演漸漸廣深,而理論組織亦趨向精微嚴密;縱使是標榜不立文字的禪宗,其禪師語錄卷帙之龐大,亦足以自成一藏經。然其禪觀修行的內容及方法,似乎與教義研究沒有直接正比的關係;到最後,各派的修行總是另闢一途,不是禪宗的話頭禪,則多以念佛法門為主。

導至這樣結果的產生,其因素牽涉多端,不是筆者在此所能定論的。但應該先釐清的是,到底這真是法的弊病,或是其它的問題,不能情緒化的一概抹煞一切。若就事論事,從教史或僧傳上的記載得知,中國佛教各宗派的興起多是從禪出教;而早期的祖師,則往往是「晝講義理,夜則坐禪」之類等教禪並重的大德。若就法論法,則各派教義或許各有偏重,但既不忽視實際禪觀的重要,也不缺乏修行方法的指導。號稱教觀雙美的天台,正是一個有力的證明。

本文基於這樣的立場,欲對天台整體的教觀結構作一個概要流覽,澄清上述的看法,確有重新加以思考的必要。另外,也希望藉著這樣的學習,使我們能從智者大師的大智慧中,對於「教」與「觀」得到多方位的認識。

二、天台中教與觀的定義

「教」者,聖人被下之言,即詮顯離言絕思的真理之語言文字。《法華經》云:「言辭相寂滅,不可以言宣。」《維摩經》中淨名居士「杜口默然」示真入不二法門。真理是第一義諦的境界,諸法實相的勝義本不可說亦無可說、唯證方知。但如來若默然無說,則眾生盲目沈淪,無由得出;大聖為使眾生皆得轉迷為悟,故於不思議之自證境界中,以大慈悲心作種種說。教為能詮,理為所詮;因理設教,藉教顯理。

「觀」者,梵語毗婆舍那,是思惟、抉擇、觀察的意思。智者大師在《摩訶止觀》(以下簡稱《止觀》)中云,「觀」相待於「止」的「止息」、「停止」,及「不止止」三義來說,有「貫穿」、「觀達」、及「不觀觀」等三義。佛法特別重視不共世間之般若觀慧,但毗婆舍那慧必有奢摩他止的攝持,方有斷惑證真的堪能。所以止觀不能相離,定慧必須均等。

綜上所述,「教」是語言文字的佛法,著重法義名相之理解思辨,屬聞思二慧;而「觀」則是實際的禪修,除了毗婆舍那之外,也包括奢摩他,屬於思修二慧。

三、教與觀相資互起的關係

(一)縱的關係──教觀互起

1、依教起觀

智者大師在《四念處》中論及教與觀之間的關係時,說到教、觀是互為生起的;依教而能起觀,依觀而能明教。思想領導行為,理論帶動實踐;止也好、觀也好,其修行方法的說明即是教。行者或仰賴善知識之指導,或自行披尋經典的說明,發起奢摩他和毗婆舍那的履踐,即名為「依教起觀」。不同的理論,引導不同的修行方式;而修行方式的差異,必與其思想上之歧別有關。《止觀》卷一說三種止觀(漸次止觀、不定止觀、圓頓止觀),各有三種不同的說明──即《次第禪門》、《六妙法門》,及《摩訶止觀》。但雖有三種文字之別,卻不能「執文而自疣害」。

有人云,解脫的境界只能實際的修證體得,不須假語言文字而說。但是智者大師認為,這樣的說法有偏執之失。《止觀》云:「離說無理,離理無說、即說無說,無說即說。無二無別,即事而真。……今人意鈍,玄覽則難,眼依色入,假文則易,若封文為害。」教是標月之指、得魚之筌,得月則忘指、得魚則忘筌;非由佛菩薩法語的開示引導,我們無法直接契入離言的法性。不依聖言而盲修瞎煉,若非落於邪知邪見,便為增上慢等闇證禪師之流。

2、依觀明教

反之,「教」亦不離心可得。清淨法界等流之教理的聞熏思惟,終必導入實際的止觀實踐,深入真如方有力能堪斷藏識中雜染種子、轉識成智。否則「說食數寶」或許多少栽培了善根,但對於真正斷除煩惱、解脫生死不起真實作用。若能依教而修會體證,則法法不相礙、一解一切解,一切經教深意皆約觀慧而通達,故經中有「破一念微塵出大千經卷」之義。

依智者大師的意思,教與觀是一種相對的分別,縱有階段偏重之不同,畢竟相依互生,缺一不可。若能掌握及此,則若教若觀無非是門,皆能通達於實相。反之,若執教一向是教、觀一向是觀者,則無論教觀皆成縛著,無由得出生死大海也。故云:「若見若不見般若,皆縛皆脫」。

(二)橫的關係──教觀相資

從橫的關係來看,教觀兩者等齊並重、缺一不可。《法華玄義》(以下簡稱《玄義》)卷一引《大智度論》云:「為文字人約事解釋,為坐禪人作觀心解。有慧無多聞,是不知實相;多聞無智慧,亦不知實相,譬如大明中,有燈而無照。多聞利智慧,是所說應受;無聞無智慧,是名人身牛。今使聞慧兼修,義觀雙舉。《百論》有盲跛之譬;《牟子》有說行之義。《華嚴》云:譬如貧窮人,日夜數他寶,自無半分錢,偏聞之失也。……未得謂得,未證謂證,偏觀之失也。……修心內觀,則有法財;正信外聞,無復上慢。眼慧明聞,具足利益。」

這段文字之說明,清楚地表達了智者大師「聞慧兼修,義觀雙舉」的立場,也為其教觀體系下了一個有力的註腳。有教有觀乃為因應所謂文字人(信行人)及坐禪人(法行人)兩種不同根性之眾生。從證悟上的必要性而言,正確的學習思惟(知)與實際的止觀禪修(行),猶如眼足,缺一則不能到達目的地。這是聞思修的必然歷程;若偏執一邊,非陷入說食數寶的窘境,就是成為未證謂證、未得謂得的增上慢人。而智者大師指摘當時的「文字之師」和「闇證禪師」之偏失,事實上就是各執一邊之結果。

依智者大師之意,教與觀之間,不應落入孰先孰後的戲論,而是因緣如何的問題;眾生的根性既有不同,依悉檀而起的教觀,也隨之而異。這番說明蘊含了大師極思調合當時南北禪講對立的一番苦心。而相對於其他宗派中,或偏重義理之闡揚開展、或著眼履行之切要,有意無意忽視另一邊者,智者大師之教觀思想,則從其體系的完整建構與理論的面面俱到,顯出其殊勝的特色;此正為「教觀雙美」之稱譽所由致者。

四、教觀之功能

(一)總為入實相之門

《法華經》說,世尊以一大事因緣出現於世,所謂令一切眾生「開、示、悟、入佛之知見(諸法實相)也。」然而,實相的道理甚深微妙,非凡夫的思量分別所能解,若不開方便門,則眾生無由而得入。「如登絕壑,必假飛梯。欲契真源,要因教行(觀),故以教行(觀)為門。」門是能通的意思;真如法性雖然幽奧難見, 但藉著聞教或修觀,則有契理證會之可能。由此可知,教觀之功能在於斷惑證真,入實相門。

分別而言,教、觀二門尚有能入、所入之異;智者大師依四教四門——即藏通別圓四教,各又分有、空、亦有亦空、非有非空等四門,來統攝一切能入教、觀之門。 另外在一一觀門中,又各有十種方法之不同──此即《止觀》中的識所觀境、真正發心、遵修定慧、能破法遍、善知通塞、善用道品、善用對治、善知位次、善能安忍、法愛不生等十乘觀法。

教觀能入之門合論共有三十二門,而十六觀門又各有十觀。但論其所入之真理,則唯有偏圓兩種差別。當然,這裡的偏真二圓,乃是依對待而假安立的。若就絕待的真如法性而言,則「鳥語溪聲廣長舌,翠竹黃花般若身」,一色一香無非中道,八萬四千無量佛法,無不為契入第一義諦之門也。

(二)別為兩種根性作門

──信行、法行

教觀既總為入一實之門,然所以開為二者,乃為了「信行人」及「法行人」兩種不同根性故。相較一般對於「信行」、「法行」的說明,智者大師在此有更深刻的分析。

《玄義》云:「稟教修觀,因思得入,即以行為門;藉教發真,即以教為門。若初聞教,如快馬見鞭影,即入正路者,不須修觀;若初修觀如夜見電光,即得見道者,不更須教,並是往昔善根習熟。今於教門得通,名為信行;於觀門得通,名法行。若聞不即悟,應須修觀,於觀得悟者,轉成法行;若修觀不悟,更須聽法,聽法得悟,轉名信行。教即為觀門,觀即為教門。聞教而觀,觀教而聞,教觀相資,則通入成門。」此依證入方式之不同,來分別信、法兩行──以於教門得通者為「信行」,以於觀門得通者為「法行」。這是從結果上來看,屬於宿世善根成熟之情形。

若進一步追溯其由,則如《止觀》所云:「久劫聽學,久劫坐禪,得為信、法種子;世世熏習,則成根性,各於聞、思開悟耳。」信行或法行之分別,乃由於眾生久劫以來或重於聞法,或偏於坐禪之故,世世熏習而成不同之根性,所以在開悟之因緣上亦有差異。

須注意的是,信、法並不牽涉孰利孰鈍之問題,只是觀察角度的不同而已。如《止觀》云:「若論根利鈍者:法行利,內自觀故;信行鈍,藉他聞故。又信行利,一聞即悟故;法行鈍,歷法觀察故。或俱利俱鈍;信行人聞慧利,修慧鈍;法行人修慧利,聞慧鈍。」不僅信、法兩者對比來看可以作這樣的考察;即便是在信行或法行本身,其利鈍之程度也是有差別的。

從而,除了少數善根成熟、慧根銳利,今生一聞教或一修觀,便能證入的特殊情況外(如舍利弗尊者),依《玄義釋籤》及《止觀輔行》所云,多數是屬於不定根性或轉根根性者。如此,信行、法行則有三種差異:

1、一向根性──初聞教如快馬見鞭影,即入正路者。

→→信行

初修觀如夜見電光,即見道者。

→→法行

2、迴轉根性──聞不即悟,轉而修觀,於觀得悟者。

信行→法行

修觀不悟,更須聽法,聽法得悟者。

法行→信行

3、相資根性──聞教而觀,觀教而聞;教觀相資,通入成門。

信行∞法行

五、智者大師述作中之教觀結構

在智者大師的思想體系中,教與觀是處於相依互資之關係,不能予以截然二分;這不僅於義理上明白舖陳,由其撰述的內容結構亦得到證明。智者大師所有的著述, 約可權宜劃分成「教相」及「觀行」二部分。歸類於「教相門」的,《法華文句》(以下簡稱《文句》)、《玄義》,乃至諸經論之注疏及微義之闡揚者屬之。而「觀行門」者,除了《摩訶止觀》、《釋禪波羅密》、《小止觀》、《六妙門》以外,其他一切禪觀及懺儀方面之撰述皆屬之。全面來說,智者大師在談教時,最後必導入觀心;而在明觀時,亦必引經據論為證。

其中,天台三大部為智者大師圓熟思想之代表性著作,欲了解大師的思想,不能不有所掌握。因此,這裡主要從三大部之內容結構,來探討天台教與觀之關係。

(一)教相門

在三大部中,《文句》乃《法華經》之隨文解釋;而《玄義》則詮解經題,於整部《法華經》之精神,及其中所蘊涵之微義奧旨,作精闢入微的剖析。從其內部的結構來看,其中《文句》主要以「四釋銷文」來注解經文。所謂四釋者,即:1 因緣釋、2 約教釋、3 本跡釋、4 觀心釋,前三屬於教相門,第四則屬觀行門。而《玄義》分別以通、別兩種來詮釋「妙法蓮華經」五字。通釋即所謂「七番共解」,其中 1 標章、2 引證、3 生起、4 開合、5 料簡、7 會異,皆為教相門所攝;而 6 觀心則為觀行門所攝。別釋則為「五重玄義」,1 釋名章裡,在約「法」明「妙」時,於本、跡二門各有十種妙境;而一一境中,最後必歸結至「約觀心明」。其餘的 2 顯體、3 明宗、4 明用、5 教相等,莫不皆於義理分析之後並明觀心。

(二)觀行門

屬於觀行門之《止觀》,乃以「五略十廣」為其大綱。「五略」(1 發大心、2 行大行、3 感大果、4 裂大網、5 歸大處)是對《止觀》一部作提綱挈領的說明;而十卷整體之內容,則是依著「十廣」( 1 大意、2 釋名、 3 體相、4 攝法、5 偏圓、6 方便、7 正觀、8 果報、9 起教、10 旨歸)的架構而分成十個章節。

第一之「大意」至第五之「偏圓」,偏重於圓教教理之演述分別。從第六章之「前方便」起,屬於禪修之說明;這部分談到正修止觀之前,所應具備的二十五個基礎(道前資糧)。而第七章起,正式進入「正觀」部分。《止觀》云:「前六重依修多羅以開妙解,今依妙解以立正行。膏明相賴,目足更資。」可見,在進入真正的修行或實踐之前,正確知見之建立是不可或缺的;而正確知見之建立,必以修多羅聖言量為依據。 發起上求下化的大願,不違如來之教示,如此教觀具足、眼目並用地去修行,終必能有所獲而感得殊勝的果報(果報)。而於自行之觀行成就之後,悲淨相應、演教化他(起教),令自他俱得利益安樂,同歸於無上菩提之常寂(旨歸)。智者大師這十個章節的安排,具體而微地該括了一個菩薩行者的修行始終。

六、結語

教理的說明是配合著禪修的須要而來的;不僅在思想上作為止觀的前行指導,也正是毗婆舍那中觀察思惟之內容。正如智者大師在《止觀》中所云:「一目之羅,不能得鳥;得鳥者,羅之一目耳。眾生心行各各不同,或多人同一心行,或一人多種心行。如為一人,眾多亦然;如為多人,一人亦然。須廣施法網之目,捕心行之鳥耳!」站在應病與藥、取與適時的自行化他之立場來看,天台教觀博大精深的建構,除了個人修行上「聞慧具足」的必要性外,也普遍因應了差別根性的眾生,各個階段不同的須求。

《維摩詰經》云:「但除其病而不除法﹗」佛法的修學本非一蹴可及之事,古文理解上的隔閡及部帙卷數的龐大,多少也助成了現代人對於中國傳統佛教的陌生與誤解。但身為漢傳佛教一分子的我們,若於護持正法有一份熱誠與使命感,應該對現前中國佛教的問題,懇切地作一番深刻的反省。筆者識淺學薄,本文所嘗試達至的目的未必成功,祈具拋磚引玉之用,願識者不吝指正﹗。

He who can curb his wrath as soon as it arises, as a timely antidote will check snake’s venom that so quickly spreads — such a monk gives up the here and the beyond, just as a serpent sheds its worn-out skin.

— The Buddha

The Importance of Retreat
by Chiwang Tulku Rinpoche

Q: Rinpoche, could you kindly tell us what is meant by retreat?

A: Retreat is a means to attain enlightenment. It provides skillful means to obtain ultimate liberation, however its results mostly depend on how much we exert ourselves in its practice. Basically a Vajrayana retreat entails a development stage, during which we visualise ourselves as the deity and, once we have mastered this, a completion stage follows, through which the visualisation dissolves into emptiness. Through the practice of these two stages, we gradually eliminate all our obscurations and move closer to enlightenment.

There are different kinds of retreat, and these fall into two main categories: recitation practice, or open retreat, and session-wise meditation practice, or closed retreat. In an open retreat, we can leave our meditation cell between sessions and engage in other activities, whilst in a closed retreat, we cannot leave our room, see anyone or be distracted by any other matter.

Ideally, it is preferable to do a closed retreat, but if for one reason or another this proves impossible, then we can do an open retreat and take advantage of every available moment to do our recitations. Some people actually manage to do their recitation practice while they’re at work or while performing their normal activities.

Q: Rinpoche, what kind of obstacles do we meet while we practise retreat?

A: Meditators meet with many kinds of obstacles during retreat. The main ones are drowsiness and agitation. Here drowsiness represents being beset by a foggy mind and continually falling asleep, while agitation means being beleaguered by distracting thoughts. Drowsiness is the worst obstacle for older people like me. If we tend to fall asleep while meditating, there are methods to counter this. We should, for example, reduce our daily intake of meals, wear light clothes, straighten our back, and keep our eyes open while gazing a little bit upwards.

On the other hand, some meditators become so besieged by distractions that they are unable to keep their mind focused during their practice. Even if they try really hard, some practitioners find this very difficult. There is the example of one practitioner whom I know who had so much trouble concentrating that he would punch himself in the head every time he became drowsy, which only served to leave him with a bad headache and several bruises. Thankfully, there are more skillful methods that we can develop to help us steady our mind.

There is a Vajrayogini text called dpa’ bo khrag ‘thung. It is said in the text that obstacles creep into our practice without our knowledge, and that we need to keep a close watch on them so that they don’t take root. A long time ago there was a rich family that lived in Kham. Sadly, the entire family was killed by a group of brigands, with the exception of a young child. The brigands brought the child to the central Tibet with them and abandoned him in Dingri. Because of his good karma, he met with the Dharma and practised meditation. He acquired such powerful meditative skills that he could literally fly from the top of one mountain to another. One day, however, while engaging in meditation on the top of a mountain, he saw a flock of birds swooping down the mountain valley just in front of him. At that moment he thought, “Ah, if these birds were armed, I could finish off all my previous enemies.” This thought got stuck in his mind and gradually gave way to pride and anger. So much so that he returned to Kham and took to robbing and killing.

For seasoned practitioners there are two main methods that help to control the discursive mind during the practice of the development and completion stages. These are known as rnam rtog thog rtzis and snagba gdon ‘ded.

Even while we are keeping the pride of the deity, all kinds of thoughts will keep coming into our mind. Nevertheless, if we can manage to steadily maintain the pride of the deity, all these thoughts will eventually disappear. This is called snangba gdon ‘ded. Here snangba refers to thoughts that are relatively shortlived and not too intense. However when these shortlived thoughts linger and gain intensity in spite of the practitioner’s efforts, this is known as rnam rtog. The way to deal with this is known as rnam rtog thog rtzis, which involves meditating on emptiness. This method helps to keep at bay powerful negative thoughts and, if the practitioner perseveres with it, it will eventually eradicate them altogether.

It is crucial to do away with discursive thoughts right from the beginning. Milarepa said that there are three kinds of ‘phat’ that we can shout. The first ‘phat’ should be shouted when the mind is totally plagued by untamed thoughts and is unable to concentrate. The second ‘phat’ should be used when the mind collapses into drowsiness and sleep. The third ‘phat’ that Milarepa refers to is used to dissolve our mind into emptiness. Since Milarepa is the master of meditation, we can trust that this third ‘phat’ must be very powerful. I don’t have personal experience of this, but I am told that it is very effective. These are the methods to get rid of the main obstacles.

There is a further obstacle that affects modern day practitioners who enter retreat. Many meditators expect to experience meaningful signs as soon as they begin their retreat. It is very unlikely that such signs will appear within a short period of time, and it is unhealthy to entertain hopes and expectations for them to do so. Rather than achieving merits, these expectations can create serious obstacles to our practice.

Likewise, when and if signs do appear, we must be very careful how we handle them. The great Sakyapa Master Sachen Kunga Nyingpo said that if we tell other people of our signs, these will disappear. Also, we shouldn’t over-analyse our experiences or our dreams, as this will only create obstacles. As Mahasiddha Virupa said, we should treat all experiences with impartiality. Whatever experiences arise, we shouldn’t dwell on them for too long.

Nowadays, it’s very easy for retreatants to become distracted with technical gadgets like laptops and phones. Never touch these things while in retreat! During our break, rather than chatting to our friends, we should strive to keep the pride of the deity, do prostrations, offer mandalas and recite the Hundred Syllable mantra. It’s very important to remember this.

I’ve heard that there is a notice displayed at the Phodrang retreat house that discourages practitioners from engaging in mundane conversations involving politics, sectarianism and other such topics. This is very true. Such distractions should be avoided, as they too create obstacles.

Another serious obstacle is one that appears when we have finished a session or a retreat. However much effort we may have invested in our meditation, there is the temptation when it ends to act like an unleashed dog. We must be very careful to take post-meditation practice very seriously. Whenever we hear a voice, we should think of it as the voice of the deity. For a Vajrayogini practitioner, all voices should be heard as the Vajrayogini mantra and all objects perceived by the eyes should be seen as the deity herself. All hopes and doubts experienced by the practitioner should be understood as those of the deity. One should at all moments keep the pride of the deity. If one remembers to do this during critical moments, this will be hugely helpful when we face the frightening experiences that we meet during the intermediate stage after death.

Q: Could you offer advice to those who wish to enter retreat?

A: Firstly, if we wish to practise Tantric meditation, we should first receive an initiation and instructions from a qualified master. To enter retreat without doing so could cause us great harm. As is mentioned in the Dum Sum Rab dhye,

“Like squeezing sand won’t produce butter,
There will be no accomplishment without initiation”.

Then, we should consult the appropriate texts. There are, for example, manuals called Snyen-thabs that are guides to the recitation practice for specific deities such as Hevajra, Vajrayogini, Sarvavid and so on. If we find this beneficial, we should refer directly to the text relating to the deity that we wish to practise.

But whether we refer to texts or not, the lamas always advise us that the most important thing to bear in mind when we undertake a retreat is to have the correct motivation. Shaping our motivation from the very beginning is fundamental, whether we are receiving initiations and teachings, or whether we are embarking on a retreat. It would be very wrong to go into retreat with the intention of gaining wealth, long life, luck or health. And so our motivation when we enter retreat should be to bring all sentient beings to Buddhahood. This is extremely important.

Equally important is remembering the four mindchangers, or the four ways of turning our mind away from Samsara. Bearing these in mind helps us to revitalise our meditation and our entire practice of the Dharma. The four mind-changers are: 1) the difficulties of attaining a human life endowed with all the favourable conditions to practise the Dharma; 2) impermanence and the unpredictability of death; 3) the law of causality and 4) the defects of Samsara. Remaining aware of these four mind-changers is of huge benefit, as it automatically makes us more eager to practise the Dharma, more devoted to our teachers, and more passionate about engaging in virtuous deeds.

Regarding the difficulties of obtaining a human life endowed with all the favourable conditions to practise the Dharma, one would think that this is an easy thing to achieve. There are so many human beings in this world, and if we look at the population of a major Indian city, we can think that their numbers are boundless. But if we compare these to the population of insects and animals that occupy the same space, then their numbers become minimal. In relation to animals and insects, human beings are actually quite rare. For instance, this house where I’m living at the moment has three people in it at the moment. But it has countless insects. And so, human life is relatively rare, and a human life endowed with all eighteen favourable conditions to practise the Dharma is extremely difficult to achieve, and therefore very, very precious.

What is more, not only is human life rare and difficult to obtain, it is also very fragile and can be lost in a single instant. The causes of death are numerous and our defenses against it are few. Death is unpredictable and no one knows when it will strike. It can even happen before we are born. And so, knowing that death can happen at any moment, we should strive with all our might to practise the Dharma while we are alive.

Then there is the law of causality. This simply means that virtuous actions bring happiness and unwholesome actions bring suffering. The law of causality is never wrong, never misleading. As His Holiness the Sakya Trizin so vividly explains, if the mere description of the suffering of the hell realms is so frightening, we can well imagine what its actual experience feels like for those who are caught in those realms.

I have never had such experiences, but older lamas used to tell me how they would wake up in a startle in the middle of the night after having deeply pondered on the unpredictability of death and the difficulty of achieving a precious human life. Some described how they would wake up in sorrow, with their pillows soaked in tears.

Of all the factors that help to bring us to enlightenment, the most important one is unconditional devotion to our teacher. As the teacher is the source of all blessings and accomplishment, having utmost faith and respect toward him or her is indispensable. Quoting from the scriptures,

If the sun of devotion does not arise,
There will be no source of blessing that flows
From the snow mountains of the teachers
Who embody the four bodies of Buddha.
Therefore be relentless in your devotion.

We can’t receive any blessings unless we have unshakable faith in our teachers. Many disciples claim to possess such a strong faith that they actually see the teachers as the real Buddha. But it is quite difficult to gain such strong faith. Deshung Rinpoche says in his commentary on Lama Nyachopa or ‘Gurupanchashika’ that at times, our own demerits and obscurations are so deeply entrenched that we see our own teachers as ordinary persons equal to ourselves. We see that the teachers need to eat and live normal lives; they even get sick just like other human beings; and so we find it difficult to have faith in them. But, when our own demerits and obscurations diminish, we are able to perceive our teachers as more than just human being and we begin to perceive them as Bodhisattvas, or even Buddhas. Actually, it is very difficult to have strong enough faith to see our teacher as a true Buddha. But the more we decrease our demerits and obscurations, the more our faith grows.

Gaining true faith is indeed very difficult. When Dakpo Rinpoche, one of Milarepa’s disciples, first heard his teacher’s name, he was struck with such overpowering faith that he wanted nothing more in this life than to follow him. He received numerous teachings and pith instructions from Milarepa and practiced these during long periods of retreat. One day, Dakpo Rinpoche asked Milarepa, “When may I gather disciples?” Milarepa replied; “There will come a time when you will reach a level of realisation that is far superior to your present one. At that time you will truly perceive me, this old man, as a real Buddha.” Then you will be ready to teach others.

A follower once asked Atisha for a blessing, to which Atisha replied; “Certainly, but you must first become devoted to me.” This reminds us that there can be no blessing without devotion.

And finally, it is very important to dedicate our merits. After each session of meditation, we should recite the Boddhisattva Samantabhadra’s prayer in order to dedicate all the merit accumulated during our meditation session for the purpose of helping every sentient to attain Buddhahood. As mentioned in the prayer thus;

Just as the warrior Mañjuśrī attained omniscience,
And Samantabhadra too,
All these merits I now dedicate
To train and follow in their footsteps.
As all the victorious Buddhas of past, present and future
Praise dedication as supreme,
So now I dedicate all these roots of virtue
For all beings to perfect Good Actions.

If we cannot recite this prayer after each session, then we should at least recite it after our evening session. Dedication forms an integral part of a retreat, and we should always remember to do it.

This is what little advice I have to give to anyone who wishes to practise meditation. It comes not from my own experience, but from what I have heard and read from great teachers. I hope that it may be of some help.

The path of dharma, its fruit, and everything included within great gnosis, too, are nothing more than the realisation of the significance of the nonduality of phenomena. At this point, there is attainment of the signs of cultivating bodhicitta. When realised in this manner, there is no need for training on a multitude of paths. Therefore, the unmistaken path is simply the realisation of the nature of one’s own mind just as it is.

— Rongzom Chökyi Zangpo

三寶作證現非常
仁俊長老

佛法中說的「寶」,其意義略說有四:最圓淨的光、最真切的力、最究竟的德、最豐富的能。

一、遊化人間等親切,二數自稱同一般,倡導緣依融尊慢,淨樸無比極平實。

釋迦佛圓滿覺悟後,不斷遊化人間,所表現的形象和待人接物的態度,都非常親切真誠,為病比丘浣洗,為盲比丘穿針,尤其了不得的是對舍利弗說:假使我有任何錯處,請盡量舉發。佛在一切三業中,都是坦蕩地擺在面前,沒有一點隱瞞,所以表現得十分親切誠摯。現代一般學習大乘佛法的人,理想過高,而疏忽了實行。我們學佛,應從佛陀最平淡、最平正、最平衡處著手,才能把握佛法的本質。

佛陀說:「我亦是人數」,也說:「我亦是僧數」。世尊處於一切人中,或在僧眾中,將自己看得極其平常,是最純粹、最徹底的民主之父。

佛法不論世間或出世間法,皆倡導因緣,人與人都是因緣的相依相成,才能生存。因緣即眼前種種的關係網絡,從無始以來一切人對自己眾多的恩德照料,所以我們所受的恩是太多了,而所償報的是太少了,少得幾乎尚末開始。釋迦佛認為現生成佛種種的成就,都是由於眾生種種的幫助,所以融化了自我的尊榮感與傲慢感。 釋迦佛的三業清淨,起居樸素。晚年才有侍者,一直都是親自托缽,不需人照應,不求體面威風,極為平實,自古以來,除佛與佛,無一人可與之相比。

佛法內涵太多,修學的人要注意平衡發展,身、口、意三業修習完整,不偏頗。在一切情況下,正正大大,體持佛法,作得平淡、行得平常。不隨意說鬼說神,求龍天加護,顯神通講感應,混淆了佛法的本質。

二、空應三法莫能破,照達一切作鏡銓,契會三門絕情見,明觸三惟堪超入。

佛法的根本是三法印,無論大小乘,離了三法印就不成為佛法。三法印是依據空的緣起的原則來發展的。

有主張在三法印之外,還有一實相印的。從佛法一貫的宗旨來說,「諸行無常,諸法無我」,純正的佛法離此就變了質。依世間說,無常的都是波動的,波動的即時時變換不停,從生理上、心理上、物理上都沒有最後的實質單元。依「涅槃寂靜」法印來說,鈍根眾生悟入佛法,悟入的是偏真的寂滅,利根人同樣可以證入寂滅, 但多生多世以來,不但智慧熏發得堅固,為苦難眾生的大悲心也一樣深厚,所以「寂滅者不證」,而於生死中發揮菩薩精神。三法印中的「涅槃寂靜」,因根性不同而有異,並非有不同的一實相印。三法印是無人能否定,無有人能破除的。

三法印將世出世間一切法,都洞照得徹底通達,有如明鏡高懸,徹見清楚,沒有一點模糊。

修學佛法的人,主要是將心念與生活,漸漸與三解脫門──空、無相、無願相應,走得進去,也透得出來。

空在佛法上,並非什麼都沒有,而是與緣起相應,沒有真實體性。例如芭蕉樹,層層剝除,到最後沒有一個中心。世出世間一切的因果、現象、因緣,透視清楚,也是沒有一點實體,是為空。無相是沒有定相,男人、女人、出家、在家,都是相,但人生老病死,須臾變化,沒有一個定相可得。

再來解釋無作或無願,凡夫所作,都是從自我本位出發,一切與私我相應,臨了還是被私我困住了;有如蜘蛛結網補蟲,飽啖一頓後,被人連網搗毀。有些學佛的人不太明瞭佛法,盡量積聚財富,金錢一多,苦惱也大,所謂「窮來窮去窮無窮;富積富享富毀富」。菩薩不是不作,聲聞聖者也還是有作,但菩薩不為自己,一切都是為法而作、為眾生而作。深修三解脫門,種種情執邪見,都可消除絕盡。

一般人生活在無明當中,到那裡都遇到愚癡,學習佛法之後,要是肯用心,漸漸地處處都與智慧之明相接觸、相交融。經上說:「唯名、唯表、唯假」,世人多執著我是實在的,但依佛法說,並沒有一能作主、不會病、不會死的我。世間的名,並非有真實體相,相對地說雖是有的,究竟地說則實在是沒有的,所以說「唯名」。 有些人表面上看來也知道無常,卻對內執著有一神我,對外執著有一大我。佛法說「唯表」,意為表面上有種種因緣聚合,而有種種現象產生,並無實體。「唯假」不是指虛偽,或假幌子,假是假名。世間的種種法相,出世間的一味法性,都因條件綜合而成,有為與無為是一體兩面,有為的如幻如化,即是無為的寂靜。由於假名才能建立世出世間的因果,否則一切是實在的,就是機械的,它永遠都不會變化,也就談不上生死凡聖了。瞭解三唯的道理,活在世間的相對中,才不為境風所轉,誹謗也罷,稱讚也罷,超出了就灑脫自在。超出後再深入人際,一方面向眾生學,一方面將從諸佛學來的教導眾生,所以說「能超能入」。

三、隨佛出家同求覺,速脫普濟根器殊,淨幢相共法界樹,內充敬和外化溥。

出家的宗旨是求覺悟,徹底的解脫,但因根性不同,而有速脫與普濟兩類。厭世心切的,認為世間是苦,對世間了無貪著,所表現的風度是高尚、清淨、平實、莊嚴,我們應該尊敬這類聖者。或有菩薩根性的,念今日自己的成就都是眾生所施與,故發廣大心,盡力而為,給予眾生利益,縱使遭受大苦大難,卻更激發勇猛的真誠心,去對待一切眾生。

大小乘聖者的共同風格,是三業上徹底的清淨與整個的正常。「界」是普遍的意思,「法界」是清涼之法。我們一般說出家人要有道場才能弘化,是對的,但從出家修行的實質上,與對別人的影響上,身心是道場。所做的,不論品格上、心理上、人事上都能與佛法少分、多分,或分分相應,這個人走到那裡都是道場。

有些出家人,起了大廟,信眾成千上萬,果真存心行菩薩道,這是必要的,因為這樣才能攝受廣大群眾。但是若只為自己造聲勢,裝體面,身分一高,架子一大,也許慢慢就與佛法遠離了。真正的小乘聖者、大乘菩薩,走到那裡都是「清淨幢相」,也就是處處都是道場。

出家人內心恭敬和樂,對外才能弘化。僧團中儘管資格有深淺,年齡有大小,但彼此相處,應重和合。僧團中以眾制眾,長老上座即使犯錯,年少比丘都可以持溫和與道德的態度來規勸,僧團中沒有一個決定的權威領袖。恭敬則無鬥爭,和樂則身心安穩,共同為法學習,進而推展廣大教化。要能所做如法,要將佛法的智慧明瞭深刻,並將妙法融化在身心上。

在佛法中學定,要存清淨心,對身心所起輕安了無一念貪著,才是淨定。六祖慧能大師即是完全在動中表現他所悟入的佛法。靜坐在修學佛法中,也是必然,但不能過分的老是靜坐。

修學佛法的人,悲心一定要能充分。一般人見人受苦,也有救濟的心,但常常感情用得不當,彼此都墮落。真正的慈悲,是與智慧相應,才能勝過種種的情感與情緒,面對種種根性的眾生,才能一一靈活攝受。智深、意淨、悲充分,須建立在兩個條件上:一是信心清淨;一是行堅固。信戒具足,才能進一步與悲智相應。

四、無上妙寶光淨徹,世出世間力德本,事行作證三當前,證大忍荷現非常。

三寶是無上妙寶,最光明、最清淨,超過有價數目。世上之寶,價值都有限量,佛法的妙寶,太微妙、太充實。學習佛法的人,身口意都與三寶相應,則一切都清淨、都徹底了。

世間功德固然需三寶的指導,出世間的種種殊勝功德,也要三寶做為前導,才能將世出世間的力德基礎建立得深厚廣大。

中國佛教界注重證,原則上一點不錯,證入了就獲得解脫,修學佛法就是學解脫。但如果智慧、定力、悲心、信戒都不具足,光是一味從靜坐中有點領會,好像開了悟,這是違反佛法的。在未能徹底證悟之前,我們所有的行為是以什麼來證明呢?「三當前」,不管群居獨處,要時刻謹記三寶,做任何事都以三寶來作證,就如三寶就在面前一樣,時時警惕自己。能如此常在三寶中作證,活得才真正有意義,做得才真正有力量,證與不證就無所謂了。因為所做所行都是佛法,都由三寶作證, 個人的證與不證就不重要了。現在修學佛法的人,尤其年輕的,這一個基本觀念把握不住,老實說,要想真正發揮佛法是不可能的,這一點非常重要,請牢記。

學佛的人,對自己所作謹嚴不苟,精進不怠,直至臨命終最後一口氣,都不鬆懈,謂之「行」;將自己的煩惱,尤其是嚴重的煩惱深深降伏住,不造出、闖出大亂子,謂之「證」。對眾生要有深切悲憫心,自己不先求解脫,但願眾生能離苦,這才是佛法中真正的生活氣勢,也是生死中強大的意志。教化眾生,眾生根性複雜, 要有大的忍耐力和大的荷擔心,才能步步向道上體會。忍是大智慧的消融,能忍能化能歡喜。一般的忍是忍氣吞聲,現在鬥不過,就先讓,這種忍是自己害自己。

一方面有大的忍力來證明自己所做;一方面救度眾生的心願是盡未來際和遍法界。有了這樣的忍力和心願,非常時才能真正有所顯現。社會中一般人當機緣好,名利財富四面八方湧來時,就把持不住,世間上許多英雄豪傑就是這樣掉下去的,這是耐不住非常。真正學佛的人,以大忍大慧的精神在三寶當中證明自己,苦難時,內心愈發沉著平靜,外在愈能振作頓提,頂得住、守得下。

這次承院長法師慈悲,要我與諸位結緣,佛法中長老上座,應該是要恭敬,但大乘佛法要有許多年輕出家人,一個個發菩提心,佛法才能弘揚出去,各位要好好領會。末了我要向諸位同學說一句:「沉得住,才發得開」,佛法不是短期能學得好的,要從內心上,真正的奮進中,久久磨鍊。不然聽聞了少許佛法,加油添醬隨時出去賣,這樣不會有好結果。沉得住,不是沉在定中,而是沉在智慧、慈悲裡。定是一種方便,不是究竟。沉得住的,才發得開;沉不住的,從來就發不開。

From the Buddha stems the Dharma, from the Dharma, the Assembly of Noble Ones, from the Assembly, the attainment of Buddha Nature, the element of primordial wisdom. This wisdom finally attained is supreme enlightenment, possessing all the properties that fulfill the benefit of sentient beings.

— Maitreya

The Buddha’s Bravery
by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

At the heart of the Buddhist path is the understanding of samsara. This is the endless cycle of suffering to which all beings are subject as long as they believe they possess a self that is real.

What can we do about this? To begin with, we can commit ourselves to the path of waking up from our view that the self is real and in need of constant protection. Making this commitment begins with hearing the teachings of the Buddha and the instructions for meditation. Having found the teachings and the practice to be valuable, we feel confidence in the path we’ve discovered and in our own ability to follow it.

Buddhists have a ceremony for officially entering the path of meditation. It’s called “taking refuge,” and it involves embracing the Buddha as an example, the Buddha’s teachings as a guide, and the community of other Buddhists as helpful, supporting companions on the path. And what are we taking refuge from in such a ceremony? From this endless cycle of frustration — of seeking pleasure and trying to avoid pain. We recognise that this approach, ironically, only brings more pain.

What does it mean to take a vow of this kind? It means we acknowledge and renounce with conviction the cycle of suffering. It means that we’re giving our allegiance to something worthwhile, something that we’ve found to be true and wholesome and good. We have decided to take this path because we recognise that it leads to a place where we can flourish. Making this declaration enables us to begin to break our negative patterns and to develop the helpful qualities that we all possess inherently.

This intention is called ngejung in Tibetan, which translates as “definitely arising,” or “definitely emerging.” We are definitely emerging from samsara. This is a brave act. Taking this step is often referred to as entering the path of the warrior. We don’t mean warrior in the fighting sense, but in the sense that the warrior is heroic and courageous. The warrior-meditator’s job involves clarifying and subduing one’s own misunderstandings. It means overcoming fear.

We generally think of a warrior in battle as needing to overcome the fear of death. Comparing the warrior in battle to the warrior-meditator is not that far off. After all, whether we go to battle or not, we are all going to die. A warrior who succumbs to fear of death is unable to move forward into the next moment. The warrior gets stuck. We get stuck in samsara because of our fear of death. To have the definite intention to emerge from samsara is an act of warriorship, a way of dealing with our fear of death.

The Buddha, our first object of refuge, was an example for this kind of warriorship. He travelled on the path of awakening and overcame all sorts of difficulties. He demonstrated that fixation on the self can be overcome. He was brave enough to take a stance against materialism and his own attachment to pleasure. If we emulate him, we are emulating a being whose mind and actions were in accord with reality, who was not simply following the endless cycle of samsara.

We call the Buddha’s voice the dharma, our second object of refuge. He expressed his mind to others by showing them a practical way to achieve selflessness and to understand emptiness. He gave us instructions for realising the profound meaning of every possible situation.

The community of people who study and practice the Buddha’s teachings, the sangha, is our third object of refuge. As a group, the sangha keeps alive the instructions from the Buddha. Fortunately, because of the sangha, we don’t have to be alone on our spiritual journey. None of us is perfect, but because we agree on the truth of the Buddha’s teachings, we share a view of one another — and of all beings — as having basic goodness. In fact, we can see all beings as buddhas.

It’s helpful to contemplate the meaning of these objects of refuge. We can’t fully understand them from reading books. We need to try out the instructions for ourselves and work with our own mind to understand their deeper meaning. In this way, we take a simple, intelligent approach to the path. We think it over again and again. If it consistently makes sense (or makes progressively more sense, as is the case for a lot of us), we build up our conviction and our personal discipline by holding to principles we know are sound. And if we lose our conviction or forget why we have taken refuge, there are reminders such as impermanence, aging, sickness and death all around us.

Taking refuge ultimately asks us to overcome fear — including our fear of death — by closely examining it. Dying is terrifying because the consciousness loses the support of the body. There’s an unparallelled sense of loss and disorientation. But if we examine further, we must ask, Who is it that experiences this disorientation? Which part is “me”? Who dies? The mind consciousness is said to consist of thoughts, memories and dreams. Does that collection make up “me”? And if we cannot find a “me,” what is there to protect or be fearful for?