净宗修行路上的八种歧途(1)
达照法师

佛法是让我们在修行道路上解除烦恼、痛苦,了脱生死轮回,最终往生极乐世界,圆成佛道。但是我们也看到身边很多念佛修行人,并没有如期达到自己想要的修行目的。原因在哪里呢?那是因为对修行的这条道路认识不够清楚。反过来说,我们大家都说:我要信佛、我要发愿、我要修行、我要用功、要打坐。但实际上呢?在修行的过程中还会出现很多错误,这些错误如果不能及时认清,你带着错误去修行,效果就会很差。所以,我今天想特别提出来,净宗修证路上的八种歧途。

在大乘佛法中,净土宗被称为最方便、最圆满、最彻底、最究竟、最简易的法门。只要大家能够相信有极乐世界、念阿弥陀佛,就能往生、就能了生死、就能直接成佛。所以我们总觉得净土宗太简单了,很容易修。这样对净土宗的教理就不太去问去闻。所以很多人学习了净土宗以后,只知道我有一卷 《阿弥陀经》,念一句阿弥陀佛就够了。但实际上呢,净土三资粮中,很详细地告诉我们,要想得到往生极乐世界,你必须要具足三资粮。

我们以什么样的心态去念读《无量寿经》,念阿弥陀佛?这个很关键。如果你发心不对,在修行路上有很多错误的观念,那么,你修净土宗就不会有太大的受用。也就是说:你很可能要等到临终的时候,靠道友来助念才有可能往生。

这样往生的希望就不太大了,为什么不太大?因为你不知道哪天死,也不知道死在哪里?现在交通工具很方便,出车祸的人也很多。还有很多天灾人祸,这是不可预料的。所以说人生一定会有死,死亡绝对没有定期。我们的生命几十年,就象银行的活期存折一样,随时可以把它拿出来支付掉。我们生命不是定期的,你不可能说你一定要活八十岁、六十岁、或者一百岁,不可能。年轻人也有可能明天就死掉,所以说死亡是没有定期的。

在死亡没有定期的情况下,大家要很现实的来体会生命:如果我现在就死亡,我能不能坚强的面对?有没有这种智慧,很洒脱地去面对死亡?甚至在死亡以后,我有没有把握我的来生?这个是我们学佛人的一个大问题。所以,在心态上,如果没有足够的、正确的力度,我们修行起来就很麻烦。在修行过程中,总是会进进退退。

净宗修行路上的八种歧途之一

这八种歧途,第一种是什么?第一种是信不至诚,多求人天福报。

一个修净土宗想此生得到受用的人,特别重要是这一点。整个学佛过程中,在皈依以后,你能不能更上一个台阶,就看你对世俗的五欲六尘、世间生死、烦恼痛苦有没有看透的智慧力。如果你把这个世界的轮回痛苦看透了、看清楚了,在修行路上就不会只求人天福报。

我发现很多居士在信佛、念佛的过程中,出现一些麻烦、小烦恼,心里就开始失望。然后就东求西求,甚至还要去求神问卦。佛法本来生命中至高无上的三宝,这种对阿弥陀佛至诚恳切的信愿,在你遇到一些小麻烦的时候就变得一文不值,有没有?

所谓至诚是什么?就是无论是遇到什么样的境界,不管是顺境还是逆境,你的心知道: 我此生只求阿弥陀佛加持,观世音菩萨、 西方三圣加持,加持我顺利过去。绝对不去求这些外道、求神问卦,也不只求生活过得好一点。

有些人信佛就是为了改善生活,这个没错,但你没有至诚恳切地皈信阿弥陀佛,而是只信现实的生活,信禅定的快乐,信人天的福报,这样就与净土就不太相应,对于净土宗真正深刻的道理,你会得不到很好的受用。

用一个简单的例子,佛经里讲:过去皇帝举行无遮大会,把整个国库里所有的财物都拿出来,让国内百姓都可以自由地去拿一件。就像开布施大会,这叫无遮大会。那小孩子呢?看到了苹果、糖果、玩具,这些好吃的、好玩的,拿来就跑掉了。其中有个摩尼宝珠,只要拿到就什么都会有,很多人不知道拿这个。因为它放在那里不起眼。所有有智慧的、有眼光的人才会拿起这个摩尼宝珠。

这个摩尼宝珠就是我们要求往生西方极乐世界的至诚恳切的心啊!我们常常把至诚恳切的心抛到一边,然后开始相信钞票、相信人情,相信世间这一切的轮回福报。就象那个小孩子,虽然拿到苹果也能吃,但是他所得到的实在太少了。如果我们以至诚恳切的心相信阿弥陀佛呢,生活的一切自然就会在阿弥陀佛的加持下得到顺利解决。
所以净土修行首先需要确立的一个信。 弥陀要解里面提到有六信:信自,信他,信因,信果,信事,信理。第一个是信自: 就是相信自己,相信今生能听到阿弥陀佛净土法门,完全是由于阿弥陀佛的愿力加持所致,并不是我自己偶然碰到。因为阿弥陀佛有这个大愿,他的光明要普照十方一切众生。众生机缘成熟,就要让他听闻到净土法门。因为阿弥陀佛有这个愿,我们今生才有机会听到阿弥陀佛、可以念佛往生,可以了脱生死。也就是说,我们听到净土法门,就已经进入了弥陀愿海,能感受到吗?这个愿海就是极乐世界的无量光明啊!所以当我们的身心融入了弥陀愿海,就已经得救了。

大家已经是得救的人,可好像感觉还没有得救,因为业障习气还很严重。所以在“信自”上面,生起至诚恳切的心,确信已经得救了。然后以得救的心态继续用功。这是信的第一个要点。在六信当中的第一个信中,如果我们能非常真诚、推心置腹地把整个生命,一切的价值筹码全部放在这个上面,生起至诚恳切的信,我们就不会被世俗的人天福报所掩盖,就不会得少为足。

佛法的加持可能会令家庭很顺利、这生过得很舒服。但是不能保证你来生的幸福,会不会再来信佛,因为你是在轮回当中。轮回有个很重要的特点,就是不确定。我们的心情是轮回的,你看凡夫的心态是不是确定的,你说我现在心态很好,但是让你念一个小时的佛号,你就会发现自己妄想很多。你今天看这个人很讨厌,但是明天你升起慈悲心的时候,就觉得这个人还满不错。为什么 呢?不是这个世界不确定,是我们自己不确定。你也不确定,他也不确定,所以呢?这个世界大家都不确定,所以形成了这个世界的混乱、动荡不安,这是佛教讲的轮回。轮回就是这样子。

所以第一,你不能生起至诚恳切,你出轮回就没有机会了,这是修净土修行路上的第一个歧途。

净宗修行路上的八种歧途之二

第二个呢?信不真切,嘴里说:“唯心净土、自性弥陀,所以无所求”。

这部分人是在学习佛法的道理上稍微有一点进步,学习了一些禅宗、华严宗、其他宗派的道理,知道佛经里面经常提到的唯心净土、自性弥陀,阿弥陀佛就是我们自性的光明,西方极乐世界就是我们真心的体现。 所以你想往生西方极乐世界,就是在我们的真心里面往生。这个道理是很深的,有些人,他还是业障深重的凡夫,在现实中有很多习气毛病、还没有解脱的人,他对种种妄想颠倒还没有足够的认识,(阿弥陀佛的愿力就是要接引这些凡夫众生带业往生,这是跟其他的所有的佛都不一样的特点)。他一听到一切法都是唯心所造、要讲究明心见性、讲究无相无功用性、洒脱自在,这样一他反而不求往生西方极乐世界,这个叫信不真切。

甚至有些人说:西方极乐世界是阿弥陀佛的方便教化,是方便之说、权巧之说。言下之意呢,就好像没有极乐世界,是阿弥陀佛和释迦牟尼佛拿西方极乐世界这样一个说法让大家先念念佛,让心静下来。这个观念是极端错误的!我们要知道啊,西方极乐世界是完全如实显现的一个世界,就象现在大家坐在这里,彼此感受到你我他的感觉一样。

只是说去极乐世界去有一定的标准,就像我们入个佛学院或者学习班,要经过考试,及格了才能进来,要往生极乐世界也要及格才能去。这个需要信愿行,你要过关, 这么一个诸上善人聚会一处的地方,这么一个清净的国土,我们是可以往生去的,是很真实的、看得见摸得着的。极乐世界就是从是西方过十万亿国土,有世界名曰极乐,这样的一个很真切的世界。

有些人学习一些教理,知道一切缘起的法,一切有相皆是虚妄;一切相是缘起,缘起本身是空无所有。因此真正证得空性的人是无所求的,往生到极乐世界也是无所求的。然后在还没有了生死的时候就认为:极乐世界是唯心所造,所以我不求往生。这样的人我遇到过两个,是在我刚出家不久,有一个出家人,他学了一些禅宗的道理,好像很洒脱,说话做事情都很放得开,他就说, 禅宗的祖师大德有这么一句话:“在禅堂里面念一句阿弥陀佛,要挑水洗三天,把这个地方刷掉”。其实这是大德祖师接引学人特别的教导。他又说:“佛之一字吾不喜闻” 。这也是祖师大德开导人不要执着。然后我遇到那个师父也这样说:“佛之一字吾不喜闻”。好了,他到临死的时候非常痛苦,生病几个月,躺在那里哭爹喊娘。问他:“佛之一字你不喜闻,你现在还喜不喜欢闻”? 他还执着我不闻我不求,到最后死得很惨。 这是一个很好的警告:我们大家不要夸海口,功夫不到的时候,还是要老老实实。你明白了这个理,就认为在修净土的路上无所求了,那你就出问题了。这是第二个容易出问题的。

在信上,至诚恳切包括两方面:一方面是在理上要通过去;另一方面在事相上要按照以信愿行三资粮的标准规范地去修行,这样才能得到足够的利益。

净宗修行路上的八种歧途之三

第三个呢?愿不深广,徒言惭愧自卑。

这样的人也非常多,问他:你相信不相信有极乐世界?有没有阿弥陀佛?说:相信。那你有没有发愿去成佛啊?他说:“不敢不敢,很惭愧,阿弥陀佛!我只求往生好了”。有没有见到这样的人啊?这是个错误的信号。如果一个净土行人,你没有发起菩提心,(所谓菩提心--就是深广的大愿, 深就是我要成佛,我往生西方极乐世界,目的就是要成佛,不为别的。要有承担的心,这叫深度。广呢?就是要度一切众生,我一定要普度九法界众生都成佛,这叫广。)他的愿不深也不广的时候,障碍就来了,这是很多人的问题,你没有承担的精神啊!

在三皈依时,要发四宏誓愿:众生无边誓愿度,烦恼无尽誓愿断。师父告诉你,你现在心里要想:你要度一切众生。我们大家就想:哎呀,我哪有这个能力啊!错掉了,他是让你发愿,愿是一种希望,并不是说你现在有这个能力啊!你现在没有能力,你总可以这样去想吧。这个愿让我们在心里生起一种非常稀有的愿望,这种愿望可以成为我们修行很好的保护动力。因为你有了这个崇高的志愿,在很多境界现前时,就知道我的目的在哪里。

如果你的愿不深也不广,修行起来心量就很弱,很弱是什么?你看这几个字:给自己暗示--惭愧。常常觉得自己做得很不好,更要命是自卑,觉得我不可能成佛度众生。你就局限了自己的心态。佛法告诉我们:每个人的真心就是佛啊!你的心,我的心,他的心跟佛心是无二无别,只要你当了能够完全承担下来,一切无明妄想就可以当下了断。就像天上乌云密布,但乌云拨开了,马上就能见到太阳。乌云有时候是半天或者一天,有时候绵绵细雨要几十天才能看到太阳。原因在哪里啊?力度不够!

所以我们千万不要给自己的心封闭,封闭了也就是暗示自己:我可以做得简单一点。特别是提到净土宗的方便这一点啊,因为可以带业往生,你平时没有修行不要紧, 你平时没有功德不要紧,你平时做的坏事太多不要紧,只要你当下能转过来信阿弥陀佛,一心念佛就能往生。所以我们就想: 哦,好了,那我们就做个坏人,到时候能带业往生,下品下生,也比娑婆世界要好多了,这种心态是要不得的。

要知道,如果以这种心态去念佛,恐怕你临终连带业往生的机会都没有。古人说:取法其上,得其中也;取法其中, 得其下也。希望那么高,其实得到的很低啊。如果你希望往生极乐世界要成佛,那你有可能是中品、上品往生;如果只是希望到极乐世界下品往生,你就不可能往生。明白这个道理吗?

严重的是什么呢?我们很容易原谅自己:嗯,我是业障深重的凡夫,我就是这个德性,我几十年来改不过来,我不象你们善根深厚,我善根浅薄。这些都不是理由也不是借口。

不管你说你能不能听懂佛法,你只要能够生起来深广的大愿,你自然就知道自己的责任在哪里。你看历史上有很多象慧能大师,一字不识成为祖师的。净土宗也有很多大德坐脱立亡的,并没有多少知识学问啊!原因在哪里?他的信心至诚恳切、愿力深广。

惭愧是什么?就是自己平时做的不好, 感觉有点后悔,我不该,这叫惭愧。如果你这种自卑和惭愧影响到你了,就不可以了。 更严重是你把它挂在嘴里,暗示自己:我是一个不行的人,是没有能力的人,这样子你就永远进步不了。

在净土宗念佛也是这样,今天回去你就试试看,每天念佛一小时下来有没有受用?有没有身心轻安的感觉?有没有念佛妄想很少啊?甚至妄想来也不会影响你啊?假如你都没有的话,你要检讨自己了:是否是先把自己局限住了,有些人在用功过程中老是给自己暗示:我这个妄想很多,随便念吧,念几句算几句,那你这一座肯定坐得不好。

所以你要想念佛得受用,就一定要生起往生西方极乐世界、成佛度无边的众生的愿。整部《无量寿经》的核心就是八个字: 发菩提心,一向专念。发菩提心,上求佛道,下化众生。这就是真正的发菩提心。

愿不深广的人很容易使自己变得自卑。诸位在念这句阿弥陀佛的时候,一定要想到:这并不是一件没有文化的人、老太婆做的事情,而是你要成佛的资粮。你要懂得这个道理。

人家说:哎呀!念佛很容易哦,三岁小孩子也会念。好像很容易,实际上不容易, 这是第三个歧途。

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Dignity without wisdom can be easily corrupted by pride. Generosity without wisdom can be corrupted by self-flattery. Without wisdom, you cannot be a perfect person — meaning that you cannot be free from complicated mind. Without this freedom, your good qualities always risk being corrupted.

— Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche

Approaching Vajrayana – Part Four: A Tale of Two Sciences
By Jakob Leschly

This final instalment in our four-part series “Approaching Vajrayana”* addresses an issue common to all of Buddhism: how its science is perceived, and how it stands apart from our familiar modern science. This comment is not so much about which science is more valid, but more about appreciating their differences. Finally, a comment on the practical situation of studying and practicing Buddhism in modernity.

THE PREMISE OF THE BUDDHA’S TEACHINGS

Nowadays Buddhism is approached outside of its traditional cultures, and we might want to appreciate how the great science of enlightenment stands apart from the modern science most of us have grown up with. Very briefly, we can say that Buddhism and what we loosely call modern science share a common epistemic premise of empiricism. But in the case of Buddhism, this empiricism is based on the subjective rather than the objective dimension. As a result, these two sciences end up with very different ontological views. Suffice it to say that the objectivist thrust of modern science results in information and data, while the subjectivist thrust of Buddhist science, Dharma, results in wisdom. This is not really about better or worse, good or bad. The author of this article would rather fly in an airplane constructed by modern scientists and engineers than by Tibetan lamas and yogis, yet for the important issues of life, he chooses to consult the latter.

The Buddha’s objective was to remove suffering, and his teaching has continued to successfully serve as a remedy for the cause of suffering — confusion. In that the Buddha’s teaching addresses the nature of consciousness systematically, logically, and rationally, there is no reason why the modern, analytically trained person should not appreciate what the Buddha taught.

A TALE OF TWO SCIENCES

And yet . . . the domain of what the Buddha taught, the concept of enlightenment, the path, and the subjective experiences of eliminating confusion are entirely unknown to modern science, and as a result, to the average modern person. Modern science has no unanimous or unequivocal understanding or explanation of consciousness and the nature of subjectivity. It is what the Australian cognitive scientist David Chalmers has termed “the hard problem of consciousness” (Chalmers 1995). As such, there is little common basis for the modern scientist to understand the science of Buddhism, and as a result, the wider community of educated modern people, brought up exclusively with the ideas of modern science, have few qualifications for gaining a logical appreciation of Buddhist insight. Unfortunately, this also applies for a large number of the cultures where Buddhism once thrived as a science, but where it is now, due to the influence of modern physicalist science, classified as religion and perceived as based on blind faith.

Although the rationality of Buddhism is not unknown to the modern educated person, it is still assumed that Buddhism is essentially a religion, not a science. While religions traditionally represent values and compassionate action, and in principle are deserving of the highest regard, the problem with directly linking Buddhism with religions is that, as venerable and important as religions might be, they are also seen to operate with blind faith and superstitions. Most modern educated people have little time for religions, and see them as invalidated by science. A Harvard professor puts it quite bluntly: “The findings of science entail that the belief systems of all the world’s traditional religions and cultures — their theories of the origins of life, humans, and societies — are factually mistaken” and “. . . the worldview that guides the moral and spiritual values of an educated person today is the worldview given to us by science” (Pinker 2013).

One could wish that modern persons approaching the study and practice of Buddhism would appreciate not just the humanity and goodness of Buddhism, but also the epistemic validity of its science. While Buddhism operates with empiricism, the findings of direct perception, it does not merely operate with the third-person perspective of observing what is thought of as objective phenomena. Buddhist insight in particular is founded on introspection, engaging an awareness of what is experienced by the first-person subjectivity, effectively cultivating the conditions for a wiser and greater individual consciousness, with greater epistemic capacity. Modern science has a very different project, which is about data. While on one hand the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines wisdom as “accumulated philosophic or scientific learning,” wisdom on the other hand as “being wise” generally exists as a rather vague notion.** The Buddhist science of wisdom could well be a non-starter in modernity, but again, this is not entirely the case either.

THE MEETING OF ANCIENTS AND FREETHINKERS

Despite the increasingly dominating materialist views of modern science, there are groups and cultures that continue to value and pursue the theory and practice of Buddhism. These include on the one hand pockets of survivors of the ancient Buddhist civilisations who study, practice, and uphold genuine spiritual lineages, and on the other hand modern freethinkers who, despite their upbringing in modernity, have sufficient education and resources to think out of the box. The latter are not necessarily Buddhist, but are exploring the domain of subjectivity studies.

As for the first groups, these include sages from the old Buddhist countries, as well as monastics and laypeople, who train their minds on the path of enlightenment. These persons might not master the language and vocabulary of the modern analytical traditions, or be able to engage the modern worldview, but they embody a universal quality of insight and its accompanying manifestations of compassion, wisdom, and strength that are naturally attractive. They embody and exhibit the brilliance and warmth that celebrate the highest human potential. These persons inspire others with their qualities, and are often beacons that provide vision and guidance.

The educated freethinkers initially comprised individual seekers and philosophers in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, including the recent spiritual trend that was native to the various countercultures of the 1960s and ’70s. In the last decades, numerous modern academics and neuroscientists have engaged in dialogue about the nature of human consciousness with Buddhist scholars and practitioners, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. These dialogues have extended into provocative discussions between Tibetan and modern experts in fields such as quantum physics, green politics, human rights, ethics, philosophy, and so on, a direct outcome of which has been the Mind & Life Institute with its 30 years of annual symposia. Their mission statement includes “. . . fostering interdisciplinary dialogue between Western science, philosophy, humanities, and contemplative traditions, supporting the integration of first-person inquiry through meditation and other contemplative practices into traditional scientific methodology.” So, in a few such cases, the earlier perceptions of Buddhism as entirely faith-based are changing.

THE SKILFUL MEANS OF LANGUAGE

The actual transmission of the lineages of study and practice are still taking place in the traditional cultures of Buddhism. Also in Western countries, or countries subscribing to the discourse of modernity, there are well-organised centers which facilitate Buddhist study and practice. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, there are even non-Tibetan students who have mastered the considerable rigor of Tibetan academic training and achieved the Geshe degree, graduating from recognised institutions in India. Countless persons practice Buddhist meditation, with and without guidance from authentic lineage masters. Training in mindfulness and compassion is now mainstream, even though some of the popular modalities avoid mentioning the Buddhist origins. The religious stigma still hangs over Buddhism.

There are still many traditional teachers of Buddhism who dispense with engaging the culture and language of modernity and opt to just give essential instructions, almost as they would to traditional laypeople. Yet, there are masters like Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939–87), an accomplished teacher from the Tibetan tradition of Vajrayana, who embraced the modern world wholeheartedly. Possessing the skillful means of mastering both paradigms, he taught as an educated insider of modernity. And increasingly, Buddhist masters attempt to embrace the modern condition, with a growing knowledge of its language.

The essence of the Buddhist wisdom in the past spread throughout the societies of Asia. Although originally communicated to Indian students, the essence of Buddhism was gradually communicated within the native parameters of the cultures of Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Japan, and Tibet. Similarly, the essence of the Dharma is now being communicated in ways that will eventually enable practitioners of modernity to attain realisation and to manifest compassionate action. As much as modernity presently is new to the notion of a systematic, logical, and structured science of wisdom, there is dialogue. As long as intact lineages of transmission and realisation remain, this science of Dharma with its vast scope will still be with us, and available.

The root of all phenomena is your mind. If unexamined, it rushes after experiences, ingenious in the games of deception. If you look right into it, it is free of any ground or origin. In essence it is free of any coming, staying or going.

— Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro

如何把唯识学跟念佛法门结合
净界法师

我们怎么把唯识学跟念佛法门结合?

其实唯识学跟净土宗关系是很密切的。净土宗它强调好乐净土、皈依弥陀, 这两块也是思想,其实净土宗在所有宗派里面,它最有关系的就是唯识跟天台这两块,它也重视思想,何以见得?看蕅益大师的《弥陀要解》就知道,蕅益大师在前言,第一句话讲到,往生与否,在信愿之有无;品位高下,在持名之浅深。就是你今天会不会往生,完全是你的思想,你的心理素质,至于你往生以后,你的品位是上品、中品、下品,那就是你的业力了, 你修了多少福报?你的善业力有多少?

所以净土宗它是强调随念往生,它不是随业啊!所以也就是说你今生是不是往生,跟你对净土的好乐、对名号的皈依这种思想建立起来没有?

所以唯识学是重思想,重第六意识的思考,净土宗也重视思想,净土宗的修学重思想而轻业力,当然你不能造重大的业力,因为你造了重大的业力,临终你很难受的,你业障现前的时候,你很难保持正念。所以净土宗对待业力是誓断一切恶,但是对于修善度众生这一块,不是非常强调,随缘就可以了,但是对断恶它也是很强调的。所以我们如果学了唯识以后,你善用第六意识对净土宗是有很大帮助的。

那怎么样把唯识的这个第六意识的思考模式把它运用到净土宗呢?

就是我们今天谈的主题,第一个,我们可以归纳成一种信仰式的念佛。从唯识的角度,思想的改造,第一个就是改造你的信仰,你信仰不改变,你的思考模式是不会改变的。我们以前有一个很严重的错误的思想,就是贪念娑婆,不乐净土,这是一个错误的信仰。我们对于娑婆世界太过于贪恋,因为我们没有一个人看到娑婆世界的真相;不乐净土,虽然十方诸佛创造很多美好的世界等我们去,但是我们谁也不想去。所以这两种信仰你不改变,你净土法门就没办法走下去了。

所以唯识学它就是名言,你要建立一套新的名言分别。我们以前的思想,是活在自己的妄想,就是我们的心跟外境接触的时候,我们可能小时候,曾经有一些什么生活经验,有遇到某种人,碰到什么事情,那么我们的心取到一个影像, 这个影像可能给你极度的快乐,也可能给你极度的痛苦,总之给你一个终身难忘的感受,然后你这个影像,就把它牢牢的给catch,抓住不放,就是心有所住,那么这个影像就影响你的信仰。

所以我们一般人很少很平静的去看外在的世界,很少。也就是说你从小到大, 可能是你前生累积很多的影像,这个影像会给你一些概念的,所以我们就是心随妄转,我们宁可相信我们心中的影像,这种片段的不全面的影像,给我们很大的误导。

比方说娑婆世界,诸位认为娑婆世界是如此美好吗?当然它也有美好的一面, 但是总相来说,它痛苦多于快乐,这是事实!只是我们今天在付出痛苦的时候,我们心中总是存着,哦,这个痛苦可以给我们幸福的生活,所以我们痛苦,我们愿意去忍受。你从小读书,长大以后工作,其实我们付出很多身心的痛苦、辛劳,“诸欲求时苦”,追求的时候辛劳;“得时多怖畏”,得到的时候,你心中也是战战兢兢,你很怕失掉,如果真的失掉了,你就又“失时怀忧恼”,所以“一切无乐时”。

所以娑婆世界它所有的快乐,都来自于一种不安稳,娑婆世界没有一个人有安全感的,说实在的。因为你知道这个快乐是不坚固的,就算你今生不会失掉,你死亡到来的时候,你要全部的破坏。所以我们生生世世的轮回,我们今生在这里投胎,好不容易把环境适应了,结果死掉以后,业力把你飘到非洲去了,甚至于你造了罪业,业力把你带到蚂蚁的果报去了。

所以我们在娑婆世界的轮回,我们永远在适应环境。好不容易做一个蚂蚁我也习惯了,你死掉了,来生变成一只狗。就是说生死疲劳,你只要不离开轮回,你人生永远没有安全感。娑婆世界没有安全感这回事,因为它是一个无常动荡的环境, 因为你大环境是动荡的,你就不可能安静下来,这就是佛陀要我们离开轮回的原因,因为你太没有安全感了。

所以我们以前对娑婆世界的好乐是错误的理解,我们看到的娑婆世界的片段, 可能你看到的娑婆世界某一种美好的东西,所以你喜欢了娑婆世界,你愿意继续轮回。但是我必须提醒大家,你看到的美好的人事,只是一小片段而已,你没有看到娑婆世界的全貌,所以你做出了错误的选择。

佛陀出世以后,当然第一个讲到苦谛,它的第一个就是无常。娑婆世界对我们的伤害来自于佛陀说的欺诳性,它老是欺骗我们。你看魔术师,佛陀经常用如梦幻泡影,这魔术师一下子变成一个兔子, 兔子变久了也就习惯了,欸,这个兔子没了,现在变成一只猫……所以它就是一种变化的一种情况。所以我们第一个,改造我们的一种贪恋娑婆的信仰,你必须告诉你自己,娑婆世界不是一个很好的安住处,那么这是第一个厌离娑婆。

第二个欣求极乐,我们离开了娑婆世界,应该去哪里呢?所以我们就必须对净土有所了解。其实我们以前不好乐诸佛的净土,主要是因为我们不了解净土,因为我们谁也没有去过净土,所以你这个就必须要学习了。你必须从经典里面,透过佛陀的开导,从他所设立的这种文字相去学习。

It is very easy to criticise others for their shortcomings since we can clearly see where and how they are going wrong. However, it is a thousand times more difficult to see our own shortcomings. There could be many reasons why, but one obvious reason may be our refusal to acknowledge that we too are not perfect in many ways. Our own faults are always hard to see, and even when we do notice them, we may not be able to overcome them right away since, as they say, “old habits die hard.” The only way to overcome our faults so as not to keep making the same mistakes is to cultivate determination and make the right effort.

— Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche

Approaching Vajrayana – Part Three: Path Tantra
By Jakob Leschly

Having previously established the context of Vajrayana in relation to the general Buddhist teachings and Buddha nature as the premise of its path,* this third instalment in our four-part series looks further at the logic of Vajrayana view and practice.

EMPOWERMENT

With a foundation of renunciation, compassion, and devotion, the qualified Vajrayana student is given four empowerments to take possession of an innate heritage of abiding purity, and is thus anointed as heir to the kingdom of enlightenment. In ancient times, this involved the guru actually performing an elaborate enthronement ceremony for the student, but regardless whether they are given with such formality or not, receiving these four empowerments is a defining moment for the practitioner as it marks the entrance into Vajrayana. From then on, he or she commits to the samaya discipline of upholding and integrating this sacred vision through the practice of sadhana — the methods to accomplish the Vajrayana path.

PROXIMITY TO THE GOAL

It is essential to recognise that the objective of the Mantra Vajrayana path is consistent with the objective of the gradual Sutra path, namely the removal of obscurations and the realisation of wisdom. Yet, through the foundations of purification, accumulation, and mingling with the teacher’s wisdom, the Vajrayana yogi has a greater proximity to enlightenment in terms of confidence in their subjective experience. The great 19th century scholar Yönten Gyamtso writes:

“The object of valid cognition of the view in both Sutra and Mantra is established as freedom from conceptual constructions, and as such there is no difference. However, in regards to the manner of the subject that sees this, there is a difference: it is through the subject that the view necessarily is engaged, and hence such a difference is enormous.” (Yönten Gyamtso 1987, 78)

The Vajrayana student has been processed with the establishment of the foundational practices and has acquired insight into the view of the bodhisattvas, namely equanimity of meditation united with the post-meditation knowledge that sees relative appearances as inseparable from the space of reality. Transformation of the subject also provides a very different view on the two truths, known therefore as the superior two truths, which is basic to the Vajrayana practice of pure perception, or sacred outlook. This valid cognition of purity lies at the core of the practices of the four empowerments, and is particularly the focus of the first empowerment with its development stage practice of visualization, mantra recitation, and samadhi.

PURITY AND EQUANIMITY: THE SUPERIOR TWO TRUTHS

The superior two truths consist of understanding absolute truth as the equanimity of freedom from conceptual constructs and relative truth as the purity of perceptions — such that all apparent phenomena are seen in terms of wisdom, as a mandala of infinite purity.

This proposition is not unique to Vajrayana. In the Prajnaparamita sutras, we find in the Vimalakirti Nirdesha Sutra the Buddha teaching Shariputra about the innate purity of the world. While Shariputra sees the world as a place of suffering, the Buddha points out that this is his own perception:

“Sariputra, it is through the transgressions of sentient beings that they do not see the purity of the Tathagata’s (i. e., my) buddha land. This is not the Tathagata’s fault! Sariputra, this land of mine is pure, but you do not see it.” (McRae 2004, 78)

The Vajrayana view of pure perception is integrated in meditation through the development stage practice of visualising deity and mandala. As the late Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920–96) points out, and consistent with the above quotation, this is not imagination but assessing things as they are intrinsically:

“Development stage is not like imagining a piece of wood to be gold. No matter how long you imagine that wood is gold, it never truly becomes gold. Rather, it’s like regarding gold as gold: acknowledging or seeing things as they actually are.” (Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche 1999, 71)

In his Overview, Jamgön Mipam Rinpoche (1846–1912) writes on pure perception of appearances:

“. . . appearances are established in the mode of reality as the mandala of the exalted body and wisdom because the Sublime Ones free from distorting pollutants see [appearances] as pure; like someone with unimpaired vision seeing a conch as white.” (Duckworth 2008, 128)

The Vajrayana yogi might not be a realised or sublime person, yet having been processed through the foundation practices described earlier, he or she trains in recognising reality as it is, free from obscurations — just as someone who has jaundice recognises that despite their own impure perception of seeing a conch as yellow, it is, in fact, white. Realisation of this view is effectively accomplished through the practices of the four empowerments.

PURIFICATION, PERFECTION AND MATURATION

The methods of the four empowerments purify increasingly subtle habitual perceptions of samsara and unveil the spontaneously present perfection of nirvana, with each empowerment maturing the qualities prerequisite for the practices of the next empowerment. For example, the development stage meditation of the first empowerment of visualising the world as a mandala purifies impure projections, establishes the spontaneously perfect unity of appearance and emptiness, and matures the yogi for the second empowerment, the completion stage meditation that in turn purifies the physical body as a mandala. Explaining purification, perfection, and maturation as they pertain to the first empowerment, the great sage Dza Patrul Rinpoche (1808–87) writes:

“Since it parallels the features of samsara, existence is purified and refined away. Since it parallels the way nirvana is, the result is perfected in the ground. And finally, both of these mature one for the completion stage.” (Jigme Lingpa et al. 2008, 29)

The path of the four empowerments purifies the habitual patterns related to our ordinary perceptions, unveiling the innate purity of all phenomena as wisdom display. The pinnacle practices of the four empowerments are the practices known as Mahamudra and Mahasandhi, which take innate wisdom itself as the path.

SAMAYA

It is said that the life force of the Vajrayana empowerment is keeping the sacred discipline of samaya. As with any of the Buddhist vehicles, discipline is the lifestyle reflecting the view. Vajrayana samaya discipline reflects the Vajrayana view but is also founded on the pratimoksha vows of monastic discipline, as well as the bodhisattva discipline. The practice of uniting these three levels of vows is intrinsic to Tibetan Buddhism. Thus, you could be a monk, upholding the Vinaya, bodhisattva, and Vajrayana disciplines all united without conflict. Such a person would be known as a Three-fold Vajra Holder. One supreme example is the late Kyabje Trülshik Rinpoche (1923–2011), a teacher of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who in addition to being a great Vajrayana and Mahasandhi master was also a principal holder of the Vinaya lineage and regarded as a great bodhisattva.

While the Vajrayana discipline is not easily maintained, it can be repaired. The great Indian master Atisha Dīpamkara (980–1054) once commented that while his pratimoksha precepts were intact, his bodhisattva vows occasionally needed repairing. However, he claimed, his infringements of the Vajrayana samayas would fall like rain! Hence the practitioner of sadhana makes sure to continually purify and amend the samaya vows.

FRUITION

Through the Vajrayana path, the temporary delusion of samsara can be swiftly brought to an end, the qualities of enlightenment become fully manifest, and the spontaneous benefitting of others consequently bursts forth pervasively and constantly. Vajrayana is often referred to as the swift path to enlightenment, and the tantric scriptures speak of enlightenment within sixteen, seven, or three lifetimes, or even just one. This is due to the degree to which the practitioner has a clear experience of wisdom, as discussed above in terms of greater proximity, and also through skillfully integrating relative truth as inseparable from the wisdom of ultimate reality.

In the lineages of Indo-Tibetan Vajrayana there are countless persons who have displayed the attainment of enlightenment, benefitting others and their societies at large and providing guidance both in securing temporal happiness and on the path to complete liberation. These lineages reach us today, and the teachings on Vajrayana view and practice remain intact.