The power of acceptance
by Gary Hayden
Straits Times 30th May 2017

We can learn from monks to remain calm, untroubled and focused, whether things go well or badly

Sometimes, when the pressures of work pile up, I think about monks.

In his book, Buddha: A Very Short Introduction, anthropology professor Michael Carrithers from the University of Durham in England recounts his experiences of doing fieldwork with forest monks in Sri Lanka.

He recalls that some of the monks poured enormous amounts of time and energy into long-term projects, such as founding forest hermitages, and were very successful in these endeavours.

Yet they remained relaxed about their work and even “relatively indifferent to the results of their efforts”.

I often think about those monks. Their attitude is one to which I aspire.

They were committed to their work. Wholeheartedly so. But they understood that even their best efforts may not guarantee success. And so, whether things went well or badly, they remained calm and untroubled.

They understood the power of acceptance.

Acceptance, in the Buddhist sense of the word, is not passivity. It is not accepting what happens without an active response, merely shrugging one’s shoulders and declining to engage.

Rather, it is looking clearly and calmly at a situation, seeing it for what it is and working with it as it is.

The Buddhist writer and teacher Jack Kornfield, in Bringing Home The Dharma, Awakening Right Where You Are, puts it nicely.

He says: “Acceptance allows us to relax and open up to the facts before us. It does not mean that we cannot work to improve things. But just now, this is what is so.”

This non-passive acceptance of tough circumstances is not an easy trait to acquire.

It is far easier, when things go wrong, to allow oneself to become frustrated and discouraged than it is to remain focused and engaged.

I know this from experience.

Like many people, I take my work seriously. Whatever I do, whether it is teaching English, working on a new book or writing this column, I try to do it well.

But, of course, I do not always succeed as well as I would wish. And so I live with a nagging sense of anxiety; a mild but constant fear of failure.

I used to think that these negative emotions were necessary, that I needed them in order to stay motivated.

But I no longer think that way.

Now, when I look inside myself, I see that if the anxiety were to disappear, the motivation would remain. I would still regard my work as worthwhile and would still try to do it well.

In fact, I now view those negative emotions as counterproductive. Because, at the very times when I most need focus, energy and enthusiasm – for example, when a lesson is not going well or a piece of writing refuses to come together – they distract, de-energise and deflate me.

There is more power in focused acceptance than there is in panic.

One of my favourite ancient philosophers, Epictetus, preached the virtues of acceptance.

He says: “Some things are in our control and others not.”

The trick to life, he says, is to focus our energies on the things we can control and accept patiently the things we cannot.

Despite our best efforts, things can and sometimes will go wrong. We need to accept that, and press on calmly and cheerfully anyway.

Once you find happiness within, you find happiness everywhere.

— Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche

心現三寶振三不
仁俊長老

智願勤提繫念明

佛法──尤其大乘佛法是以智慧、慈悲為重心;首先,「智」是知道自己的心非心──心不具真實性。那麼,怎樣才能真正認識我們的心?《阿含經》說「識如幻」,我們五蘊中的心識是如幻如化的。《般若經》說:「是心非心,心本淨故」,心本淨就是心本空。因此,我們的心不是真常的心。為什麼呢?因為心性的本身就是空寂的。根本佛法和初期的《般若經》都認為心不是真常性的,與後期佛法講的真心、常心大體上是不同的。

相對於物而有心,因此,了解心一定也能了解物。就一般的分析來看,一個東西、或者任何東西都是許多東西總和而成的。比如說,這個道場有屋頂、有牆、有種種,他不是一物所構成,而是許多東西總合起來的;簡單的說,這是一複合體。我們的身體、生命當下也都不是真實的實體,而是眾多條件的總合。佛法的智慧是要讓我們了解心和物的實質意義。

第二是「願」。簡單的說,願就是真正了解佛法的智慧,把生命內在的氣質徹底改變過來,於是表現在外的氣勢及生命力就顯得非常旺盛充足。因此,發菩提心行菩薩道是一個長期或無盡期的過程,沒有到此為止的時候。

能把智慧、悲願這二種觀念和行為配合起來,「勤」懇的、牢牢的「提繫」在「念」頭上,才能分分「明」明地知道我應該做的是什麼。

鎮沉志堅二體解

在智慧和悲願的考驗過程中,無論是精神上的,或者是表現方面的,都非常「鎮」定,同時又非常深「沉」。沉,是能沉在佛法當中,不是飄飄浮浮的。譬如,一般的魚大多在淺海活動,沒有不被釣、不被撈起來的。而大龍、大魚潛藏於深海中,任何人都網不到、撈不起。

「志堅二體解」:修學不離開二種──智慧與悲願,這樣的志願才堅強。

「語默憶持念不昧」(編按:此為「鎮沉志堅二體解」之註解。以下每句偈皆各附一註。):學佛法最主要的,就是要能改變內在的觀念、一切的思惟,乃至換新外表的語言、一切的動作。總之,若語、若默,所憶想的、所作持的,都不離開佛法,或者是不離開智慧與悲願;這樣,心意才不會昏昧。

出家盡棄世著求

經上說:「知家非家,自行捨家」。知道世間的家庭不是一個真實可靠的地方,因此發至誠的信心來出家。

「發露廣大坐清涼」:佛在世時,若人出家,則聽佛說法;佛滅度後,隨善知識聞法。然後才能真正知道,佛法把世出世間的現象和真理闡發得非常廣大,讓我們大開眼界。

《法華經》上說,一個大長者的許多兒子貪求世間五欲之樂,不知道這個大家庭是一個煩惱的火窟,不久他們就要被煩惱火所毀滅。而大長者有大智慧,預先告訴兒子們說:「你們不要貪著這個火宅,要趕快逃出去。」兒子們聽了長者的話,因此而走出火宅,住在露天的、明月照亮的地方,內心非常舒暢、清涼。

現在說「出家」了,要「盡棄」捨「世」間種種貪「著」、追「求」,甚至財富、經濟及愛情都徹底的放下、割斷,沒有一點染著。

身心徹轉載道器

世間、「身心」是種種煩惱雜染所招感的。現在出了家,聽聞了佛法,知道身心流轉雜染的苦惱,要從佛法中「徹」底「轉」變過來;也就是說,要從黑暗轉向光明清淨的境界。

「厭治情器滌腐毒」:我們凡夫的身心是情器,那裡面貯藏的都是世間的情境。世間的情用得好,大家暫時活得還好;用得不好,就會因情愛而引起種種瞋恨,形成種種極端的傷害。因此,現在修學佛法要好好的用智慧去觀照整個身心。這個「厭」,不是世間的厭,而是從真智慧的觀照中,了知身心是情器,沒有絲毫值得貪著的地方。這樣去對治種種染汙的情、錯誤的見,如果對治得適當,才能滌除我們內在的種種腐化與毒素,而成為「載道器」。

道能遍透心目懸

道,就是八正「道」。不論是聲聞法、或是菩薩法,八正道是一貫的。修學佛法就是要「能」夠普「遍」的「透」入八正道。

「知透伏著邁無遮」:我們要想透出生死,甚至要真正進入菩提大道,須要降伏種種的染汙貪著。因為有了染著,眼睛對當前的境界是看不清楚的;用腳跑路,一個不注意就被左右前後種種的境界絆住了,甚至絆倒了。現在,真正能了解八正道,有了道才能對治染著、降伏染著。這樣子,眼睛看清楚了,腿子也走得輕鬆、暢快,沒有遮阻。

八正道,以正見為導首,正見是最純正的智慧。在八正道中,智慧是貫徹始終的(精進也是貫徹始終);在大乘佛法的六波羅蜜中,最後也是以般若為主。所以大乘經中說,如果只有前五度,那是共世間的;一定要有出世的般若來領導前五度,把六度聯結起來,才真正能行大乘道。因此,在如修如學當中,要把八正道和六波羅蜜「懸」照在我們的「心目」之間。

聞佛囑呼天職奮

我們果真認定了自己是學佛的,就要知道佛陀在因地和果地,都是以菩提願為中心和主力。現在我們發了菩提心,就等於和佛生活在一起,就等於時常聽到釋迦佛說法。釋迦佛說法的中心是什麼呢?一、要觀察眾生的苦,二、要解除眾生的苦;主要是以菩提願作為推動的力量。這樣就等於時常聽「聞佛」在大聲疾呼,囑累我們要發菩提心,要救度眾生。

「血沸驚躍三有海」:如果真正能觀想時常聽到佛的「囑」累與疾「呼」,我們為佛法、為眾生的熱血因而沸騰,從而於三有海中大驚而騰躍起來。

不論是欲界、色界、無色界,都是有。經中說,眾生睡臥於三有之床,就等於是一個病漢,身心不得自在。儘管表面看起來你現在好像很健康,沒有生病,其實渾身、渾心完全是病。等到種種煩惱病、或者是業障發作起來,那就完全癱下來了。

三界是生死之床,讓眾生不能自在。我們聽聞了佛的咐囑,真是熱血沸騰,馬上的驚躍而起,為救眾生而提倡佛法,這是真正發了菩提願的人的「天職」──本來就應該擔負的責任。這必須時時警覺,才能夠真正的「奮」發。

思法光照事理通

真正想要鍛鍊自己,就要好好的運用我們的「思」──這是與慧心所相應的思;也就是時時的在內心思惟正「法」。

正法,就複雜的方面說,實在是太多太多了。就簡約的方面說,八正道是正法,十二因緣是正法。簡言之,緣起就是正法。佛法不共一切的就是緣起。一定要了達緣起,把握了緣起的中心,才能面對世間法,把許多世間錯誤的見解與思想徹底扭轉過來。

「生死了決振利猛」(不鈍不屈):「光照」,就是用智慧了知什麼是生死,從生死當中發起要解脫及為眾生作濟渡的決定心,有了這樣的決定,精神才能振作,因此而能讓自己的根性漸漸的明利,能讓自己的一切行動勇猛。

我們修學佛法要先肯定自己是鈍根,有許多的執著、看不開。現在知道這些都是障礙自己深入佛法的魔源,就要依佛的開示,儘量讓自己的內心明明了了、不昏昧。 就好像一把鈍刀,切什麼都切不開;如果你把銹磨久了、磨掉了,於是刀鋒銳利,切什麼都切得二邊分明,這就是「利」(不鈍)。

「猛」(不屈),是意志決定了,要把自己整個身心都許諾給三寶;換句話說,身心不再屬於自己,而是屬於三寶的。因此整個身語意都與三寶打成一片,融成一片;遇到了大的苦難或挫折,甚至生命受到威脅、傷害,在生死關頭都能不退屈。因為自己在佛法中得到了新的力量,新的光明,知道為了佛法捨去一個舊的、不理想的生命,當下得到的是更理想的生命,又有什麼可怕的呢?於是就不再退怯、畏懼!

「事理通」:明白了八正道的真理,當面對一切事相的時候,都是憑正道去處理,因此就能與三寶相通,能與眾生普遍的往來。一般人──不論僧俗,都是由點點滴滴的染汙而形成煩惱的大海,並在煩惱大海中頭出頭沒。現在學習佛法,發了菩提心,在在處處要智悲相應以形成智悲的大海,能在智悲的法海中游泳,或出入自在,這才是我們真正行為的考驗。

修僧品絕言行淳

「修」學佛法,除了佛與法是我們的榜樣之外,還要以過去及現在的賢聖「僧」作為我們的領導者,他們是久已斷除煩惱的阿羅漢。向賢聖僧學習,我們內在的氣質或外在的「品」格,就可以「絕」──「世路截斷法路暢」。

「世路」是眾生來來往往行於世間的煩惱之路。所謂世路崎嶇,高高低低,危險得很!現在出家了,要把世間生死煩惱的路徑都截斷了,而使「法路暢」──改變舊有的路徑,走上清淨光明的正法之路,身心非常舒暢!

「言行淳」:行,包括身行、語行、意行。我們要學習賢聖僧的行,他們內在的心行都與無我的智慧相應。從無我的智慧中流露出來的語言與思想,都與真理相應,並且言行一致。

不論古今,佛法在某個地區或國家、世界流行久了,若要考驗佛法給予人類的利益,究竟是正面的、或是虛偽的,完全要靠言行。假使內在的思想淨化得沒有一念私圖,那麼外在的表現就沒有種種貪著,所說出來的語言處處能代表真理。人類怎樣去了解佛法呢?佛在世時,佛說法;佛滅度至今,佛法仍能繼續存在、興盛,主要靠的就是語言。語言真正的價值是靠著我們內在清淨的智慧活動和思惟,從這樣的思惟活動所說出的語言,句句都是說明佛法的真理。這樣的道場、或者是這樣的出家人,走到任何地方,處處表現的都是佛法。

談到道場,有有形的道場,有無形的道場。我們要弘揚佛法一定要有有形的道場,而有形道場的淨化,完全要靠無形道場的觀念──能夠思惟道、依止於道。以無形的道場為根底,有形的道場才能堅固與清淨;因此語言很重要。佛陀的三大業用,主要是靠口說法,所說的法能真正代表真理的精神。

修學佛法的出家人,應如言如行,清淨淳厚,到任何地方都要引起一種真正的作用,就是你走了之後,作用仍然存在。孔子云:「說之不文,行之不遠」。我們的語言假使不能配合高度的文化與文明,儘管講說卻不能流傳久遠。因此,從法義上看,《法華經》翻譯得那樣生動,文理豐富,如果真能悟入,固然受用不盡,即使打開經文看看,也會被優美的文字所吸引。出了家當然不用表現文學,但是也要好好注意自己的修辭。如果將佛法的文明涵養得很深,當在某種場合中講演,或者與高級知識份子談話,就不會有很多廢言。如果平常講話隨隨便便,而聽講的人有高度文化,他就能知道這個出家人的根性在那裡。如果說得好,他從此就會重視佛法;如果說得輕輕飄飄的,對方一方面會輕視這個出家人,同時也就忽視了佛法。因此,我們一定要肯定佛法是一種高級文化,也是一種道德的文明。

奮通淳貫二相振

學佛而想要真正通達佛法,深入優游於佛法大海中,我們一定要好好的發「奮」,才能漸漸「通」達。

無論存心、或表現在外的活動,都要是非常「淳」厚的行為,也就是事事為人、為道場著想,不為自己留退路。在淳中「貫」注自己的一切,這「二」者都要互「相」的「振」作。

「勢化成誓興沛昂」:大乘經論裡面有兩個名字,一、氣勢;二、氣味。學了大乘佛法,他的氣勢鼎盛、強烈;同時也得到了佛法的氣味,就是對佛法的義理有一番領會,相應了。具有這種氣勢與氣味,就能真正為佛法、為眾生而發宏大的誓願;有了宏大的誓願來激勵自己,學習佛法的興趣就能充沛昂然。

學習佛法而能真正得到佛法的氣味,興趣就能高漲。興趣是什麼?就是領會了佛法的義理,在義理的啟導、培養中,興味愈來愈濃厚,愈來愈強烈。這比任何山珍海味更有味,比任何稀世珍寶更值得珍貴。有了這樣的興趣,世間上的一切(一般世間的貪著)都不看在自己的眼界中。假使沒有這樣的興趣,老師講、我也聽,或許能記得一點點,但是真正的精神與興趣是發不起來的。

不肯讓佛愧瞻效

就因地而言,佛在久遠以前也是個普通凡夫。既然佛能從凡夫發心而修行成佛,同樣的,我們凡夫只要真發心修行也可以成佛;因此而「不肯讓佛」陀。但是我們現在知道自己是鈍根人,要好好發大慚愧心,第一是不肯讓佛。

第二,是真正發慚愧心。不要以為我學了佛法,就馬上、趕快要成佛,這是絕大的妄想。要有大慚「愧」心才能真正向上「瞻」仰佛陀,「效」學佛陀。

「大愧集德涵謙下」:在大慚愧心中了解自己缺乏的實在太多,所表現出來的態度是:對任何人都會謙恭,願意向人學習。有了這樣的涵養,第一能有良好的性格;第二,是具有大涵量,因此能鞭策自己攝取種種功德。

不肯污法忍察鑑

修學佛法,所學的是什麼呢?經律論都包括在法裡面。若把範圍縮小,就是我們應持的根本戒,或是次一等的重戒等等;以及要知道應學的、應說的正法是什麼,而按照法的本身去了解、去說明。

假使暗地中行為偏差了,就污了戒法;若在語言上表達得不夠,甚至顛倒說法,這也是污法。所以要「不肯污」戒律、不肯污正「法」。

要真正不污法,就要對正法發起深「忍」,能明「察鑑」識正法,產生不動搖的信解。

「深忍默印安住穩」:就修證來說,佛法中的忍,是指阿羅漢、或是八地菩薩證得的無生法忍;至於到了佛地,就是無上寂滅忍。「深忍」對我們來說,實在是太深奧了!

這裡需要說明的是,阿羅漢證入無生法忍,菩薩到了八地也同樣證入無生法忍,二者的態度與觀念是不同的。古德說,阿羅漢證入無生法忍的時候,好像印度的四條大河,四河的水匯合起來,浩浩蕩蕩瀉入大海,甚至連大龍王也止不住。這是說明阿羅漢證入無生法忍的覺性。八地菩薩也達到了這樣的境地,如果取證契入,就和阿羅漢一樣,再不能發起大行。所以雖然達到這樣的境界,所見的與阿羅漢一樣,但能忍而不證,從此以後只做兩件事,一是淨佛國土,二是成熟眾生。

「深忍」是什麼?就是不動心了。心動就要變,不動心就不變了。菩薩不會急於證入無生法忍(即了脫生死)。

「默印」,是與寂滅相應。雖然與寂滅相應而沒有消極的觀念,才能面對、鑑定當下的種種因緣──染汙的因緣、清淨的因緣,而用清淨的因緣來指導染汙的眾生趣向清淨。

不肯濫僧肅卓勵

既然出了家,決「不肯」甘心做一個混「濫」的出家「僧」人。

「精嚴淡泊呵欲求」:在行為上說,自己的三業要非常精嚴;而對自己在佛法上的研究及追求要更加精嚴。

在生活上則對自己很淡泊,儘量呵斥自己的欲求心。世間最淡泊的人是佛陀。現在的物質生活很豐富;在佛陀的時代,偶爾到王宮去應供,那是最好的供養了。普通時候出來化食,所得的飲食極簡單,而佛陀仍是歡歡喜喜,這就是淡泊。

三不之不賅而盡

前面說了「三」種「不」。這三不「之不」的意義可了不起!

「勝解不字堪覺度」:「不」,是不著一切,不遺一切。如果著了一切,就被一切所困。如對於應該得度的眾生,不以精誠的態度去關注他,就等於是遺棄了眾生;或者應該儘量攝取必須修學的正法、及出世大空知見,如果攝取得不完整,就有遺。如果真正了解「不」字, 不著、不遺──「賅而盡」,有這樣的精神,才能漸漸的從覺悟當中去廣度眾生。

味其義妙振極振

玩味、或是真正深入、透底的了解佛法叫做「味」。真正玩味「其義」理,佛法的義理真是微「妙」!此中「最勝妙義莫過空」。

在《阿含經》中有《小空經》、《大空經》;到了大乘,說自性空、畢竟空。畢竟空是空中之王,這是讚歎、形容空義是佛法的最極根本,是真正的微妙「振極振」;因為空不容易學,沒有真正大振作的精神是學不上來的,所以「振」要永遠的振。

從前歐陽竟無老居士說過一句話:「說空或易,講有甚難。」講空理也許容易,空就是空;講有非常難。世出世間的一切都是有,如果要了解種種眾生差別之有,是不容易的。從空有相對來說,學習空就概括了一切,而且還要好好的了解經論中的「有」說的是什麼。

就空說空,在大乘論中說:「信戒無基,憶想取空,是為邪空」。我們學空,必須要把握兩個前提:一、清淨的信心;二、精嚴的戒律,以此作為根基。如果對於佛法的信心及戒律沒有根基,光是在觀念上念空,這樣的人將會不明因果而墮入邪空。雖然空是佛法之最勝究竟,如果沒有信戒作基礎,是大危險!

振得脫落荷得起

要把許多不與佛法、或是不與世間正法相應的,一下子在「振」作中「脫落」得清淨,不再加在身上,就決定能「荷」擔「得起」真正的佛法!

這裡要說明一件事:佛法傳到中國來,一般的舊觀念中常說「龍天護法」,許多人仍在求龍天護法。從佛陀的本意來說,佛法不是咐囑龍天;表面上佛法是咐囑於國王大臣,實際上佛法是咐囑在出家人身上。我們現在遇到苦難,還是求龍求天去解決,其實這根本上就不懂佛法。真正學佛法,到了必要的時候,是以自己的生命來承擔,平常要鼓勵一般出家人挺起身來承擔苦難,這才是有出息的出家人!

中國有個修學佛法的居士,叫做闞澤,是三國時代吳國孫權手下的一個大臣,等於現在的行政院院長。這個人可了不得!他能夠把握佛法的核心。他說:「孔老之教,法天而行,不敢違天;釋迦制教,諸天奉行」。簡單的說,就是:孔子、老子四十年的教化,是依照天作為法制,不敢違背天意;而釋迦佛制教是諸天奉行,一切天龍都要依照這樣的法奉行。如果我們懂得這樣的意義,就不必求龍天護法。

也許有人會罵我:「你這把年紀,還說這樣的話!」我聽了頭痛、心悶;我只是以佛法說佛法。從印度佛教史來看,印度的佛教到了快滅亡的時候,那些密宗的金剛上師不斷的搖鈴打鼓,求龍天加護,等到蒙古人、回教徒打進來了,一個個金剛上師都不知逃到什麼地方去了!這是歷史上的證明,不是我杜撰的。

敬祝振振作龍象

我這次到貴院來結緣,有個基本的觀念,就是「敬祝」諸位「振」作又「振」作,不要再靠龍天護法,而是自己要「作龍象」。《智度論》說:水中的動物,龍力最大;陸上的動物,象力最大。因此這裡的龍象是讚歎真正有為的出家人,有大精神,有荷重致遠的毅力──大家都要作這樣的龍象!

「潮掀智海汰欲浪,願運苦眾到樂土」:在意念中、在精神上,佛法就像海潮一樣。在智慧之海中掀動海潮,把自己的種種貪欲、人類的一切欲浪淘汰掉,而轉變成智海。

真龍象要發願運載眾生到樂土,如西方極樂世界、東方藥師淨土都是樂土。但是就當前的積極性說,僧團本身就是一個和樂、和敬的團體,象徵現在的樂土和未來推廣普遍的樂土!

Suppose we were to take as our foundation the self-deception of having only a partial and intellectual understanding of the stages of the path and then heard, thought and meditated on this basis. . . . Despite our noble claims, I think the way our mind will probably have been working will have been nothing other than aiming for benefits in this life, or for certain pleasurable results of cyclic existence to which we have given the name ‘Emancipation’, or for some partial end for ourselves which is not Enlightenment at all.

— Lama Tsongkhapa

In Search of the Self
by Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey

We all suffer; many sentient beings experience almost constant misery. However, at present we have the time, space and ability to think about how to get rid of all suffering — not get over just one problem or become a little more peaceful, but completely finish with suffering altogether.

We humans have many methods of finding happiness at our disposal but even though we live in beautiful houses crammed full of all kinds of stuff we are still not satisfied. That’s because there is only one thing that can really eradicate dissatisfaction and bring true happiness: the practice of Dharma.

If we check within ourselves we will discover that all our misery comes from either attachment or hatred. These, in turn, come from an incorrect view of the self. Even at this moment we hold the “I” to be true. In the Madhyamakavatara, Chandrakirti stated that all emotional afflictions arise from ignorance — misapprehension of the nature of the self. This is the root. In order to get rid of all the branches of suffering and prevent them from ever arising again, we need to sever this root. In that way we can put an end to all misery, even birth, sickness, aging and death.

The Buddha’s main teachings on eradicating ignorance by understanding and realising the wisdom of non-self-existence are found in his Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamita) Sutras, and these texts are the main scriptural source for the great sage Nagarjuna’s Six-fold Canon of Reasoning, especially his Root Verses on Wisdom (Mulamadhyamakakarika). Other teachings on the wisdom realising emptiness may be found in Aryadeva’s Four Hundred Verses; Buddhapalita’s famous Commentary on [Nagarjuna’s] Treatise on the Middle Way (Buddhapalita-Mulamamadhyamakavrtti); Chandrakirti’s Clear Phrases (Prasannapada); and the ninth chapter of Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.

The essence of all the techniques found in these and other scriptures for developing an understanding of the emptiness of self-existence is the method called the “Four Essential Points,” or the “Four Keys.” These provide a very effective approach to emptiness. We begin by applying these four methods of analysis to gain an understanding of the selflessness of persons and then use them to gain an understanding of the selflessness of phenomena.

THE FIRST ESSENTIAL POINT

The first of the four keys is called “the essential point of ascertaining the object to be eliminated.” We cannot realise emptiness without first knowing what it is that things are empty of; emptiness is not just a vague nothingness. This first point helps us understand how the false self — the object to be refuted and eliminated — exists. We need to recognise how we view the “I” as inherently existent, as if it were independent of the aggregates of body and mind. The “I” appears to be substantially established, existent in its own right, and this mode of existence does not appear to be imposed by our own mental projection.

The way we hold and believe the “I” to exist becomes particularly clear when we’re angry or afraid. At such times we should analyse how the self appears to our mind; how our mind apprehends it. We can provoke these emotions in meditation and, while maintaining them, use a subtle part of our consciousness to recognise how we conceive our “I.”

In order to catch a thief we have to know who the person is and what he or she looks like. The greatest thief of all is our mistaken sense of self — the conception that not only ourselves but all other phenomena as well are truly existent. We believe that things really exist the way they appear to our senses, as objectively established, as existing from their own side. This, then, is what we have to know in order to catch this great thief, who steals all our happiness and peace of mind.

If we do not recognise this wrong conception and simply walk around saying, “Emptiness! Emptiness!” we are likely to fall into one of the two extremes of eternalism or nihilism — believing either that things are inherently existent or that nothing exists at all, thus exaggerating or denying conventional reality.

Therefore, we must recognise the false self, the object of refutation, before we can start actually refuting, or eliminating, it. This is the initial step in developing an understanding of emptiness and the foundation of realising it. First we must look for the false self, not selflessness. This requires a great deal of meditation.

For our meditation on emptiness to be effective, we need to prepare our mind by purifying negativities and accumulating merit. The essence of purification and creation of merit is the practice of the seven limbs of prostration, offering, confessing, rejoicing, beseeching, requesting and dedicating. We can also engage in preliminaries such as making 100,000 mandala offerings, Vajrasattva mantra recitations and so forth.

When we start observing how the false self — the self we have habitually assumed to exist in persons and objects — manifests, we soon discover that it does not exist at all. Before we begin cultivating this awareness, our “I” seems to really be there, very solidly, but as soon as we start checking, we cannot find it. It disappears. If the “I” truly did exist, the more we searched for it the more concrete it should become… we should at least be able to find it. If it can’t be found, how can it exist?

THE SECOND ESSENTIAL POINT

The inherently existent “I” must exist as either one with the body and mind — that is, identical with them — or separate from them. There is no third way in which it can exist. This is the second of the four keys, ascertaining the logical pervasion of the two possibilities of sameness or difference.

We have to watch for the self-existent “I,” which appears to be established independently, as if it were not created by the mind. If the self does not exist as it appears, we should not believe in it. Perhaps we think it’s someplace else — that it will show up when we meet our guru or that it’s floating around outside the window somewhere. But we need to understand that there’s no third alternative. Therefore, we have to meditate on the second key with awareness that if this apparent “I” is neither identical with nor separate from the five aggregates of body and mind, there’s no way it can exist. At this point it becomes easy for us to understand the general character of emptiness.

THE THIRD ESSENTIAL POINT

The third key is ascertaining the absence of true sameness of the “I” and the five aggregates. Once we have ascertained the object of refutation by meditating on emptiness and seen how it cannot exist in a way other than as one with the five aggregates or separate from them, we concentrate on whether or not the self-existent “I” can exist as one with the five aggregates.

If the “I” is the same as the aggregates, then because there are five aggregates, there must be five continuums of the “I” or, because the “I” is one, the five aggregates must be an indivisible whole. We therefore examine each aggregate to see if it is the same as the self. We ask, “Are my self and my body the same?” “Are my self and my feelings the same?” “Are my self and my discriminating awareness the same?” And so forth.

There are many different analytical procedures to show that the concept of the self as one with the psychophysical aggregates is wrong. I can deal with them only briefly here. For example, if the self were a permanent entity, as self-existence implies, destroying it would be impossible. Then, if the “I” were the same as the body, the body could never die and the corpse could never be burned, because this would destroy the self. This is obviously nonsensical.

Also, the mind and body would be unchanging, because that is the nature of a substantial self. Furthermore, if there were a self-existent “I” identical with the body and the mind, it would be one indistinguishable entity and the individual designations of “my body” and “my mind” would be incorrect.

Thus, there are many different ways we can reason and meditate upon to arrive at the conclusion that reality and our habitual way of perceiving things are completely different. We are not fixed, permanent entities.

THE FOURTH ESSENTIAL POINT

Having ascertained, as above, that the self and the aggregates are not a true unity, we then consider whether or not our self-existent “I” is different from and unrelated to the aggregates. This is the fourth key, ascertaining the absence of any true difference between the self and the aggregates.

For example, if you have a sheep, a goat and an ox, you can find the ox by taking away the sheep and the goat. Similarly, if the “I” existed separately from the body and the mind, when we eliminated the body and the mind we would be left with a third entity to represent the “I.” But when we search outside of our body, feelings, consciousness etc., we come up with nothing. Generations of yogis have found that there is nothing to be found beyond the aggregates.

Once more, there are many different ways to reason when contemplating the possibility that the self is separate from the aggregates. If they were truly different, there would be no connection between them. When we said, for example, “My head aches,” the “my” would refer to something other than the “head” (the form aggregate) and “ache” (the feeling aggregate); it would be something that existed somewhere else. The aggregate would hurt, not me. If the self were truly a different thing, a true polarity apart from the aggregates, it would be absurd to say, “My head hurts,” “My hand hurts,” etc., as though the pain somehow affected the self.

By performing different kinds of analysis we cultivate the certainty that the self and the aggregates are not truly different.

MEDITATION ON EMPTINESS

Since these four keys contain the essential points of Nagarjuna’s main treatises on the Middle Way, they make it easy to meditate on emptiness.

If we meditate with the four keys to search for the self in our body, from the top of our head to the tips of our toes, and our aggregates of mind as well, we won’t find anything. Thus, we will come to the realisation that a fixed, unchanging self does not exist. It’s like looking for a cow in a certain field. We walk all around: up the hills, down the valleys, through the trees, everywhere. Having searched the entire area and found nothing, we arrive at the certainty that the cow simply isn’t there. Similarly, when we investigate the aggregates of body and mind and find nothing, we arrive at the certainty that the self-existent “I” simply isn’t there either. This is the understanding of emptiness.

We then concentrate single-pointedly on the experience of the absence of the self that we had always presumed to exist. Whenever this certainty begins to weaken or lose clarity, we return to our analytical meditation and again check through the four keys. Once more a sharpness of certainty arises and we return to concentrating on it single-pointedly. In this way we cultivate two things: the certainty of finding nothing there and the subjective experience of how this appears. By keeping these two together and not allowing our mind to wander we reach what is called the single-pointed concentration of balanced space-like absorption, wherein everything appears non-dual. Subject and object merge like water poured into water.

We also have to learn what to do when we arise from meditation — in the post-meditation period we have to view everything that appears as illusory. Even though things appear to be self-existent, they are simply the sport of emptiness, like a magician’s creations. This state is called the samadhi of illusory manifestations.

Our practice should alternate in this way between the samadhi of space-like absorption and that of illusory manifestation, thus avoiding the extremes of absolutism and nihilism. This activates the mental factor called ecstasy and we experience intense physical and mental ease. Our meditation just seems to take off on its own without requiring any effort. Once this ecstasy is activated, the power of our meditation increases one hundred times and we achieve penetrative insight into emptiness.

We should spend a great deal of time meditating on the four keys. It may be difficult but it is the most powerful and beneficial form of meditation for counteracting delusions. As Aryadeva said, “Even doubting the validity of emptiness rips samsara to shreds.”

Meditation on emptiness is the most powerful way to purify negative karma. During Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s time there was a king who had killed his own father. He was terrified that this evil act would cause him to be reborn in hell and asked the Buddha for advice. The Buddha instructed him to meditate on emptiness. The king devoted himself to this practice and was able to purify that negative karma from his mindstream.

After Lama Tsongkhapa attained enlightenment he wrote the poem In Praise of the Buddha’s Teaching on Dependent Arising, in which he stated that although all of the Buddha’s teachings are beneficial and undeceiving, the most beneficial and undeceiving, the most miraculously wonderful, is his teaching on emptiness, because by meditating on it sentient beings can cut the root of samsara and attain liberation from all suffering. In awe and amazement, Lama Tsongkhapa thus praised the Buddha’s uncanny perceptiveness and reliability of knowledge as both a scientist and philosopher.

When we understand that the Buddha really did know and describe the true nature of reality by means of his teachings on emptiness, firm faith arises within us. This faith is not based upon stories or fantasy but upon the experience that arises by practicing and realising the situation for ourselves. We find that reality exists exactly the way the Buddha described it. Furthermore, he discovered this reality a long, long time ago, without the need of so-called scientific instruments.

Train yourself in the deeds of bodhisattvas, and do this on a grand scale! Shoulder the responsibility of freeing all beings from samsara. Of all the 84,000 sections of the Buddha’s teachings, there is nothing more profound than bodhichitta. Therefore make every effort on the path, uniting absolute and relative bodhichitta, which distills the essence of all the sutras and the tantras. The subduing of one’s own mind is the root of Dharma. When the mind is controlled, defilements naturally subside.

— His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche

十二緣起
拉则祖古仁波切

疏鈔演義云:緣覺攝者。緣覺觀十二因緣而得開悟。雖十二支。而束之不出四諦。雖有利生之心。而亦未廣。故攝聲聞中也。

緣覺觀十二因緣者。一無明。謂煩惱障煩惱道。二行。業障業道。此二支屬過去。三識。託胎一分氣息。四名色。名是心。色是質。五六入。六根成。此胎中。六觸。此出胎。七受。領納前境好惡等事。從識至受。名現在五果。八愛。愛男女金銀等事。九取。是見一切境界生取著心。此二未來因。皆屬煩惱。如過去無明。十有。業已成就。是未來因屬業道。如過去行。十一生。未來受生事。十二老死。此即是四諦。所以重開者。以緣覺之人。先觀集諦。所謂無明緣行。行緣識。乃至生緣老死。此則生起。若滅觀者。無明滅。則行滅。乃至生滅。則老死滅。因觀十二因緣。覺真諦理。故言緣覺。此人斷三界見思。與聲聞同。更侵習氣。故居聲聞上。

束之不出四諦者。若流轉門。無明愛取三支是煩惱道。行有二支是業道。此五支為集諦。識名色等七支為苦諦。若還滅門。滅前十二因緣之智為道諦。證寂滅理為滅諦。

『緣覺攝者』。本經沒說緣覺,緣覺就包括在聲聞裡面。『緣覺觀十二因緣而得開悟。雖十二支』,這十二支,就是十二個科目。『而束之不出四諦』,「束」就是「歸納」,歸納起來也離不開四諦。所以四諦在小乘法裡是根本法輪,十二因緣不過是把四諦展開來,詳細說明而已。『雖有利生之心,而亦未廣,故攝聲聞中』。梵語辟支佛,「辟支」翻做「緣」,「佛」翻做「覺」。所以緣覺就是辟支佛。他是從十二因緣而開悟的。這一類人雖然也度眾生,但是不主動,跟阿羅漢一樣,你去找他,他看你過去生中跟他很有緣份,就度你。你去找他,他會入定觀察,如果過去生中跟他沒有緣,就不度你。為甚麼?因為講了你不相信,也不願意聽,所以他省得說話,你也省得煩惱。菩薩慈悲心重,主動教化眾生。阿羅漢跟辟支佛不主動教人,所以屬於小乘。

『緣覺觀十二因緣者。一無明。謂煩惱障煩惱道』。從這一段開始,將給我們簡單說明,甚麼叫十二因緣。第一是「無明」,此地是講「枝末無明」,不是「根本無明」。根本無明,破一品,成為圓教初住菩薩,法身大士。阿羅漢跟辟支佛也破了無明,但不是根本無明,而是破「枝末無明」。「枝末無明」就是「見思煩惱」。四諦裡面叫見思煩惱,十二因緣裡面叫無明。無明就是見思煩惱,就是迷惑!這是煩惱障,煩惱道。「煩惱障」是「見惑」,「煩惱道」是「思惑」。見煩惱、思煩惱,就是無明。『二行。業障業道。』。第二是「行」,你有煩惱障,有煩惱道,就是你有見思無明,你一定會妄動,「行」就是造業。業障業道,它造作,以「無明」是緣,「行」是因,「無明」比較遠一點,「行業」較近。如果拿祖孫三代來說,「無明」是祖父,「行業」是父親,生下來的兒子就是底下的「識」。「識」是「果報」。下面五條都是識,都是果報。所以與這個果遠一點的叫「緣」,密切的叫「因」。所以「無明」是「緣」,「行」是「因」,有因有緣,後面就結果,這就是業障業道,我們今天通通在造作。『此二支屬過去』,這二條是講過去的。因為你過去世迷惑、顛倒、造業,你這一生就受報,這是果報,這受報怎麼報法?先來投胎。我們在六道裡以人道做例子說明,其餘五道都沒有例外,都是一樣。

『三識』:人道裡面,先「識」,「識」就是「神識」,我們俗話講「靈魂」,靈魂來投胎。『託胎一分氣息』,神識速度非常之大,可以說超越時間、空間,神識超越時間、空間,孔老夫子雖然沒有明說,但是從他的文章裡面,也透了一點消息。他在「易經繫辭傳」裡面,講「游魂為變」,「神識」孔老夫子稱它做「游魂」。說游魂絕對正確,為甚麼?它動的速度太快了。他這兩句話「游魂為變,精氣為物」。跟佛法講的宇宙人生觀完全相同。「物」就是「物質」,物質從那裡來?「精氣」為「物」。可見得孔老夫子並不承認真正有物質存在,物質是甚麼?精氣而已。現在科學家不承認有物質,物質是甚麼?是振動。振動、光動,是一個幻象,不是真正有物質。所以用孔老夫子在兩千五百年前的「易經」中說的,跟現代科學能相應。佛法說得更詳細。孔老夫子講的「精氣」,在唯識裡面是「見分」,「物」是「相分」。見相同源,見相不二,這是佛法裡面所說的,所以說神識來投胎。

說老實話,夫妻一定會生兒女嗎?不見得!有很多人結婚一輩子,不生兒女。為甚麼不生?沒有緣。兒女要跟你有緣,他才會到你家裡來投胎。他跟你沒有緣,不會到你家投胎。換句話說他去投胎是要找對象的,你求他,他未必理你。他去找對象,找甚麼對象?過去生中存在的關係。

佛在經上給我們講四種因緣:第一種是報恩的。過去生中你們彼此互相有恩惠,他這一次又看到你了,到你家來投胎。這個就是我們中國人講的孝子賢孫,他是來報恩的,怎麼都學不壞,所謂的好兒女、孝順兒女,這是過去修的善因。

第二種是報怨的。過去世你跟他有仇恨,這一世遇到,來做你兒女,將來長大了,做敗家子,攪得你家破人亡,他是來報復的。所以與人不能結冤仇,外面的冤仇可以預防,他投胎投到你家裡怎麼辦?你怎麼防法?你把那個人害死了,好了,他的神識到你家來做你的子孫,做你一家人時,你怎麼辦?所以決定不能存害人之心!這就是所謂忤逆的兒孫,攪得家破人亡。

第三類是討債的,討債鬼。是父母過去欠他的,他來討債。如果欠得少,養個兩、三年他死了,你為他花了不少錢,還清了,他也走了。如果欠得多,大概供到大學畢業,快要可以做事情,他走了,這就是討債鬼,債務討清,沒事了,就走了。

第四種是還債的。是他欠父母,他這一生遇到了要還債,他要努力工作供養父母。那也要看你們之間債務欠的多少?如果他欠父母很多,他對父母物質供養很厚,如果欠的債務很少,他對父母的生活供給很刻薄,反正讓你餓不死就好了。為甚麼?還債的!這一類人對於父母雖然能供養,沒有恭敬心,沒有孝順心。報恩的有孝順心,還債的沒有孝順心,甚至於眼裡還嫌棄父母,討厭父母,但是他生活費用會給你,至於多少?那要看他從前欠你多少。佛告訴我們事實真相,一家人就是這個關係集合。

家庭如此,一族人也是如此,凡是你所認識的親戚朋友都是如此,只是恩怨債務更少一點。恩怨債務多的時候,就變成一家父子兄弟,遠一點就成為親戚朋友。所以人與人之間都有緣份。你走到馬路上,一個陌生的人對你點頭笑一笑,也是從前的緣份。看到陌生人素不相識,一看到就不順眼,也是過去的緣份。所以把這個事實真相搞清楚,我們真是起心動念不能不謹慎,千萬不要跟一切眾生結冤仇,不要跟一切眾生有債務的關係。欠債的要還得清清楚楚,免得來生再還,這事情很麻煩,所以儒、佛的聖賢教訓,都是勸我們把這些恩怨化解,這是最善、最圓滿的方法。這就說明投胎不是隨便偶然的,它與過去生中有密切的關係。剛投胎來的時候,就叫「識」,不能叫它是「名」,所以母親懷孕,是神識來投胎。

『四名色,名是心,色是質。』「名色」,是指胎兒還沒有長成形狀,大概在一、二星期,十四天的樣子。沒有長出形狀,甚麼也分不出來,只是一塊肉團。但是肉裏頭有神識,所以叫它做「名色」。「名」就是「心」,它是活的,它不是死的。「色」是「物質」,所以叫「名色」。

『五六入,六根成此胎中。』胎胞長大了,就叫「六入」。「六入」就是「胎兒」成形了,是一個人的樣子,六根長出來,這個時候叫「六入」。六根不俱的時候叫做「名色」。「識」、「名色」、「六入」這三支都是在胎中。

『六觸。此出胎』。第六是「觸」,「觸」就是出胎了,與外面境界接觸,也就是出生了。從出生一直到老死,都與外面境界接觸,所以離開母體以後都叫做「觸」,觸的時間非常長。

『七受。領納前境好惡等事。從識至受。名現在五果。』「受」,是『領納前境好惡等事』。觸是沒有好惡、沒有喜歡、沒有討厭、也沒有害怕;像嬰兒,自己拉的大便也吃。這是因為他有「觸」,但是沒有「受」,這時候他甚麼也不懂。等到逐漸長大,他就有好惡之感受。在沒有「受」之前,我們中國人常講「天真」,他心裡面清淨,快樂,沒有憂慮、沒有好惡。從前人天真的時間長,一般要到十歲以後。在從前,像我這個年齡,大概在十歲以後才知道有好惡,十歲以前不知道,這是童年的幸福!現在的小孩可憐,為甚麼?我看他一兩歲就有好惡的感受了。換句話說,他的童年時間縮短,受苦受樂的時間提早。怎麼會提早呢?天天看電視,電視天天教他,所以兩三歲的小孩,就會察言觀色,就曉得大人的好惡。他們的心裡就計較,就要用心機了。從前那種農村社會,童年天真時間反而長,現在縮短了。

所以現在的人不能做,來生投胎做人,太苦了,雖然說現在科技發達,但是現代人生活像機器,人的味道沒有了,換句話說,人生的意義、價值喪失掉,這是我們要覺悟。所以這個「受」,是領納好惡的境界。這五種是果報,就是這一生的果報。前世「無明」、「行」,是緣,是因。有這個因緣,才有我們這一世的果報。諸位要是真正明白佛法的道理,就是認識了宇宙人生的真相。

我們這一生當中,受苦受樂,不必怨天尤人,為甚麼?皆是自作自受!苦難不是別人給我們的,是自己造作的,怎能怪人!怎能怪老天爺不公平!起這個念頭,更是造罪,罪造得更大。發財中獎都是命,沒有這個命,把菩薩鬼神的像毀了,造罪就更大。我聽說有玩六合彩的拜佛菩薩,保佑他要中彩,不中彩,第二天就把佛菩薩拿去砍頭,拿去燒掉,這造業!怨天尤人,造的罪業就更重了,所以這個「受」,是有因果的。

『八愛。愛男女金銀等事』。八愛、九取、十有這三條,就是現在這一生的造作,第一個是「愛」,愛甚麼?貪愛,『愛男女金銀等事』。愛的範圍太廣了。「愛」就是「無明」,就是「迷惑」。愛了之後就有行為,就有造作。造作底下就是「取」,愛之後就「取」,『是見一切境界生取著心』。自己喜歡的,要把它佔有,這是「取」。不喜歡的,要叫它離開,也是「取」,都是取著。這叫造業,造作。起心動念造作都是屬於這個字。所以「愛」跟「取」,『此二未來因,皆屬煩惱,如過去無明』。這就有了業習種子,造業後面就有「有」。「有」甚麼?阿賴耶識裡面善、惡種子種下去了。有了種子,來生就要受報。所以我們今生的造作「愛、取、有」,一一成就是作未來因緣,屬業道,如過去無明、行。

『十一。未來受生事』。第十一「生」。生是「未來受生」。來生還要輪迴,還要去投胎。『十二老死』。投胎之後,永遠輪轉,這叫輪迴。你要曉得為甚麼有輪迴?輪迴的道理是甚麼?十二因緣就是給你解答這問題。為甚麼有輪迴?輪迴是自己造的,輪迴的現象就是這樣可怕,這是我們要覺悟。覺悟之後要如何離開輪迴?實在講,離開輪迴,果上是離不開的,有人生活很痛苦,覺得人生沒有意義,去自殺。自殺能解決問題嗎?不能!果報上不能解決問題。解決問題要從「因」跟「緣」上解決,把「因」跟「緣」斷掉。我們曉得「愛」是緣,你能夠一切不愛了,你生死輪迴就斷掉,也脫離輪迴。大概權教以下,權教菩薩,緣覺聲聞,都從這兩個地方下手斷掉的。利根的菩薩,大乘菩薩、實教菩薩,從「有」下手,那就是真功夫。「愛取不斷,但心裡頭不落印像」,這最高明。跟諸位說:「密宗就是從這裡斷。」我們想想,有沒有這個本事?「愛取不斷,心地清淨,不落印象」,這不是一般人做得到的,一般人,斷愛、斷取,已不容易;斷「有」是非常不容易。那是大乘菩薩才做得到,叫做遊戲人間,那才真正得大自在。有「愛」、有「取」,沒有「有」,他不會墮落輪迴。我們今天做不到,只有念「阿彌陀佛」。念阿彌陀佛,我們也「有」,我們「愛」「取」「有」都有,我們愛阿彌陀佛,取阿彌陀佛,心裡有阿彌陀佛。這樣就帶業往生了。

因為這「阿彌陀佛」,六道輪迴裡找不到 — 三惡道裡頭沒有,阿修羅、人道、天道裏也都沒有阿彌陀佛。所以你在阿彌陀佛上搞「愛」「取」「有」,六道裡頭都沒有辦法受報,只好到西方極樂世界受報去。這個妙啊!所有一切八萬四千法門,沒有這一個法門妙。我們今天「愛」「取」「有」三條都斷不掉,換一個念頭,換成「阿彌陀佛」。所以我勸同學們,天天看阿彌陀佛的像,天天念阿彌陀佛,天天念無量壽經,念阿彌陀經,不可以一天中斷,真正要做到發菩提心,一向專念,這樣就好。

『此即是四諦,所以重開者』。這是把四諦展開,成為十二因緣,『以緣覺之人,先觀集諦。所謂無明緣行』,這跟「聲聞」不一樣,「聲聞」是從「苦諦」悟入。「緣覺」是從「集諦」斷惑。

『所謂無明緣行,行緣識,乃至生緣老死。此則生起。』。這裏我們講流轉,隨順十二因緣流轉,就是生死輪迴。如果要超越六道輪迴,你把十二因緣反過來看就明白了,這叫還滅門。『若滅觀者,無明滅,則行滅。』,那「行」就滅了。『乃至生滅,則老死滅』。所以你反過來看的時候,就是智慧。就把這個宇宙人生看破。所以『因觀十二因緣,覺真諦理,故言緣覺。此人斷三界見思,與聲聞同』。他的斷證跟聲聞是一樣的。他比聲聞聰明,所以『更侵習氣,故居聲聞上』。聲聞見思煩惱斷了,習氣沒斷。緣覺習氣都斷了。所以比阿羅漢的功夫要高。

習氣是甚麼呢?佛經裡有一個比喻,譬如酒瓶,酒瓶是盛酒的,現在你把酒瓶中的酒倒得乾乾淨淨,裡面確確實實沒有酒了,你再用乾布把它擦乾淨,可是聞聞還有酒味,用酒味比做習氣。所以佛弟子當中,有很多是富貴子弟,跟佛出家,富貴人都有傲慢的習氣,他證了阿羅漢果,傲慢確實斷掉,真沒有了,但是有的時候那個驕慢的態度還在,這就叫習氣。是不是真有?真的沒有,他對人真的是恭敬,可是他習氣還在。所以說煩惱容易斷,習氣難斷。但是習氣往往會引起別人誤會,因此要學謙虛、恭敬、禮讓,學這些來斷習氣。

『束之不出四諦者。若流轉門。無明愛取三支是煩惱道。行有二支是業道。此五支為集諦。識名色等七支為苦諦』。雖然十二因緣,講得比較詳細,歸納起來不外四諦。四諦是講「苦、集、滅、道」。「集諦」就是起惑造業,「無明」是過去的煩惱,「愛」、「取」是現在的煩惱,所以這三支都是屬於煩惱,就是惑業苦中的迷惑。這個地方我們特別要記住,無明是過去世的事情,是無可奈何。現在對於一切法要是生了「貪愛」,要是想「執取」,「執取」就是佔有,這都是迷惑顛倒,這些是煩惱道。「行」是屬於過去世造的業。「有」是現在的,是這一生當中造的業。既然有業,當然就有果報。所以「行」與「有」,這兩支就是造業,是屬業道。由此可知,我們這個「佔有慾」,(現在心理學上講「佔有慾」),就是佛門講的「造業」,善業自有善果,惡業定有惡報,惡報是在三惡道,善果是在三善道。總而言之都脫離不了六道輪迴,所以業實在不能造。

不造業,這一句話說起來容易,做起來很難。為甚麼?起心動念都在造業,這怎麼得了!所以一切法門,都是在幫助我們斷惑、消業、出離六道輪迴。在一切法門當中,最簡單、最容易、最快速、最穩當,無過於「念佛法門」。我們二六時中,就是一天到晚,心裡面想佛、念佛,一切時、一切處,都不要把這一句佛號忘掉,這也是在造業,這造甚麼業?造淨業,就是造念阿彌陀佛的業。這個業還算不錯,為甚麼?三界六道裡頭沒有這個果報,三善道裡面沒有阿彌陀佛,三惡道裡也沒有阿彌陀佛。所以叫做淨業。造淨業,將來的果報是往生西方極樂世界。我們除這一條路之外,實在找不到第二條路好走了。善惡業都不能造,不但惡業不造,善業也不為,專念彌陀,求生淨土,這樣才能夠出離六道輪迴。

所以「無明」、「愛」、「取」、「行」、「有」,就是四諦裡頭的「集諦」。除這五支之外,其餘的七支皆是「苦諦」。從「識」到「受」是這一生的果報。過去世造的因,現在得受報;「愛」、「取」、「有」,是現在造的因;「生」、「老死」是來生受的果。所以你要問六道輪迴是怎麼來的?十二因緣給你講得清清楚楚,明明白白,這叫「流轉門」。「流」甚麼?按著這十二因緣順序來走,按順序走,這就是製造六道輪迴。如果反過來呢?就叫「還滅門」。

『滅前十二因緣之智為道諦』。人為甚麼有老死?因為有生!沒有生就沒有老死。生有甚麼好處?生的後果就是老死。那為甚麼有生?因為有「取」,為甚麼有取呢?因為有「愛」。這樣翻過來往上去找它的原因,這是智慧。十二因緣中,只要你能斷一條,六道輪迴就沒有了。從那裡斷?要從「因」、「緣」上斷;「果」上是斷不了的。

有些愚痴的人,覺得活得很痛苦,誤以為自殺就可以了斷,自殺是從果上斷,是斷不了的。因為自殺之後,沒幾天又投胎來了,活得更苦,還幹六道輪迴。所以自殺是沒完沒了,不能解決問題,不但不能解決問題,只有把問題愈搞愈糟,來生比這一生不曉得要苦多少倍。這是做不得的。必須要在「因、緣」上斷,就是「集諦」上斷,「苦諦」上沒有辦法斷的,苦是果。

我們曉得「無明」、「行」,是過去生中的因緣,過去世的怎麼能斷呢。只有從現在生中去斷,現在生中,查查十二因緣,只有「愛」、「取」、「有」這三支,就這三支中如果能夠斷一支 ─ 或者你把「愛」斷掉、或「取」斷掉、或「有」斷掉。這三支斷一支,就行了,就可以出離六道輪迴,這叫「還滅門」。你有這個智慧,知道事實真相,曉得從那裡下手,這就是「道諦」。「道」是修行的方法門道,你找到了。依此修行超越輪迴生死,就是「滅諦」。證「寂滅理」為「滅諦」。這是說明十二因緣,不出四諦。

「緣覺」雖然度眾生,實在跟阿羅漢差不多,他不是主動的去度化眾生,而是眾生去求他,他才肯教。眾生不去求他,他不會去找人的。不像菩薩,做一切眾生不請之友。所以他度的眾生不多也不廣,因此把緣覺合在聲聞一起,我們稱它做小乘。如果講三乘呢,那麼聲聞是小乘,緣覺是中乘,菩薩是大乘。