Creating the Cause for Our Liberation
by Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche

Each person who participates in this retreat will have the benefit of having recited 100 million mani mantras. This means each participant achieves the merit and benefit of having recited the mantra for 100 million times. Therefore, everyone should try to attend all sessions, and not miss any of them. If you miss a session, you won’t have the benefit and accomplish the merit of having accumulated the mantra for 100 million times. It is a great opportunity to accumulate such extensive merits because individually, it is almost impossible to recite the mantra 100 million times. We should understand this and try to have the courage and the perseverance to attend the sessions regularly.

Attending the sessions to do the recitation is beneficial to us not just in this lifetime but in all lifetimes to come. Reciting the mantra is beneficial for the liberation of all mother sentient beings from the lower realms of existences – animals, hungry ghosts, hells. Through such recitation, it is possible for us to attain liberation from samsara. It is said in the text, whether one is liberated or not is completely dependent on oneself. It means if we want to attain liberation, we have to create the cause which brings about liberation, and the cause is, as just explained, reciting the mantra out of great intention, loving- kindness and compassion. If we truly re

alise the nature of our mind, then in itself, we see the Buddha. If we recite the mantra and free that Buddha-nature from the defilements, then that is called attaining Enlightenment.

The three ‘kayas’ are spontaneously accomplished when the defilements are removed from the mind because the three ‘kayas’ have primordially been the nature of our minds. During the recitation, we should try to keep our mind free from afflictive emotions like attachment, anger, ignorance, pride and jealousy, and the three poisonous thoughts of attachment, anger and ignorance. When we free our mind from these poisonous thoughts, our mind becomes absolutely pure. With that pure mind, we will also have pure speech and pure body, for we would abstain from the non-virtuous deeds from our speech and body. If we recite the mantra with such discipline, the power of the recitation will be tremendous, and our precious human life becomes absolutely meaningful.

On the other hand, if the recitation is not done properly, it won’t bring much benefit. During the recitation, all words of the mantra should be clearly enunciated. From time to time during the recitation, always make supplications silently, that all the negative karma, non-virtuous deeds and defilements we have committed so far are totally dispelled and purified. It is very important to know that our Buddha-nature is temporarily obscured by discursive thoughts and defilements. Hence, during the recitation, we should pray that these obscurations be removed from the mind. In brief, we have to continually make supplications during our recitation, so that all the obscurations we have accumulated since beginningless lives be purified.

During the recitation, we should regard all sentient beings as our own mother and recite the mantra out of the wish for their defilements to be purified and eradicated from the root. We should, thus, dedicate the merits of our recitation in this way. Through the power of our dedication, those defilements can be purified and eliminated from the root. When the minds of sentient beings are free from defilements, they manifest as enlightened beings. Hence, if you have pure motivation and dedicate your practice for the benefit of all mother sentient beings, then that is a very extraordinary and perfect kind of practice.

The six-syllable mantra is the core essence of an entire range of Buddhadharma, and it’s a practice very suitable for samsaric beings like ourselves. This practice can purify all karma and we can achieve the results at the moment of our death. If practised well, one can see the benefits even before death. However, to achieve that, one has to always recite the mantra with a very pure heart and dedicated mind – one that is always mindful and free from non-virtuous discursive thoughts.

DEDICATION CRUCIAL FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL BEINGS

When you recite the six-syllable mantra, it is very important to have a very pure state of mind. During the recitation, your mind should not be disturbed by discursive thoughts. If you do your recitation when your mind is occupied by different kinds of thoughts, your recitation is not very meaningful. Therefore, you should always be mindful of your body, speech and mind when you do your recitation. You should keep it absolutely pure by getting rid of non-virtuous deeds.

When you do the recitation, you should repeatedly make supplications so that the obscurations, defilements, non-virtuous deeds and downfalls of yourself and others can be purified through the recitation.

Now, to have achieved such a precious human life gives us a rare opportunity to practise the Dharma. And this may be the only opportunity in which we can make the attempt to meet the Buddha within ourselves face-to-face.

The six-syllable mantra should be viewed as the Buddha Himself in the form of mantra. Getting the opportunity to recite this mantra is extremely fortunate. If you do the recitation with pure motivation, great supplication and all-embracing love and affection for all sentient beings, then your effort can truly benefit the flourishing of the Buddha’s teachings, all mother sentient beings, and yourself in this life and all the lives to come. The six-syllable mantra is the essence of the entire teachings of the Buddha and its recitation is an extremely powerful antidote that can help us remove all the defilements in our mind.

When you do the recitation, you should dedicate the practice for the benefit of all mother sentient beings in the six realms. In other words, dedicate to all sentient beings in the infinity of space who have been our parents in our former lives. I always pray to the three ‘kayas’ and all the former great victorious masters for your purification, that your practice of the mantra recitation can truly remove the obscurations from your mind. If my prayer is supported by your effort, your great motivation and mindfulness, then truly this mantra recitation retreat will become very, very meaningful.

There are two kinds of happiness. There is that of an uncommitted life of sensual pleasures, and there is that of a committed life, one of going forth to a new consciousness. Of these, the happiness of going forth is greater.

— The Buddha

学佛的三个阶段
惟贤法师

简单来说,佛法分为人天乘、解脱乘、菩萨乘。人天乘就是走人天的道路;解脱乘呢,解脱身心烦恼,走那个出离世间的道路;菩萨乘呢,就要有大悲心、大愿心哪!要有出世而入世的精神,救苦救难。就这么三个阶段。

一、人天乘是基础

学佛第一步走什么?人天乘的道路,这是基础。其中又有以下内容:

1、皈依三宝

走人天乘的道路,首先就要皈依三宝,皈依佛宝、皈依法宝、皈依僧宝。皈依佛宝、法宝、僧宝的目的是什么呢?皈依佛宝就是使你走向觉悟的道路,由迷转觉。你原来在迷中嘛,使你能够醒过来,由迷转觉。“佛者觉也”,佛就是觉悟了真理的圣人嘛!

皈依法宝呢?就是要你有智慧,由邪转正,走正道。人要走正道啊,不走正道不行的呀!不能走邪道,不能走恶道。因此就要学习法宝,法宝就是有充分的理由、丰富的理论来指导你走这条路,我们要学习理论,学习修行方法。

僧宝就是说,僧能代佛宣化,佛不在世,就是由僧宝来继承,宣扬佛法。僧宝,他是以德为主,他要奉行戒律。皈依僧宝的意义是什么呢?就是使我们由恶转善,由染转净。不走恶路,要走善路;内心不要污染,要清净,由染转净。这样一来就有很高的道德,提高了理性。

皈依三宝就是这个目的,并不是一般人说的给菩萨磕个头,求个什么。不是那个意思。

2、明因识果

皈依以后,就要懂得道理,懂因果的道理。就是前面说的因、缘、果。明因果,就可指导自己的行为,诸恶莫作,众善奉行。

3、奉行五戒十善

实际行动上就要修五戒十善。不杀生、不偷盗、不邪淫、不妄语、不饮酒,这是基本准则。

不杀生,指养成慈悲心,不要杀生命。按佛法因果来讲,你杀他,他将来要杀你呀!而且,这个世界上争斗太多,杀伐多,影响大家的安定,破坏安宁,危害生命,最不好。所以要戒杀生。对于你们在家人,这是首先要求做到的。不能吃素,也可以学着吃花斋;花斋都不能吃,那么你就吃三净肉。什么叫三净肉呢?就是不见杀、不闻杀、不疑杀,眼睛没有看到,耳朵没有听到,不是专门为我而杀。你实在要吃荤,你买现成的还可以,但是不要去杀,不但自己不要杀,也不要叫他人去杀,不要看到杀很欢喜。

在我们中国历史上,中国的文人学士中,有些宰官都是吃素。唐代的白居易、柳宗元、王维都是吃素的。民国以来,丰子恺、夏丏尊等很多文人都是吃素的。丰子恺有漫画集《护生画集》,提倡戒杀放生,这是好事情哪!大家如果不能吃素,最起码要做到戒杀。

不偷盗,别人的东西一分一厘钱都不要拿,包括不要贪污、不要偷盗、不要欺诈等等。

不邪淫,在家居士来讲呢,保持一夫一妻制,不要乱搞男女关系,不要破坏别人的婚姻和家庭。

不妄语,包括四种。第一,不说谎话,对人要真实;第二,不说挑拨离间话引起矛盾;第三,不说粗恶语刺伤别人;第四,不说绮语,就是下流话,下流庸俗。佛教提倡的语言是什么呢?是真实话、正直话、和合话、安慰话。

不饮酒,为什么呢?因为酒是乱性的。它是一种遮罪,什么是遮罪?杀、盗、淫、妄本身是罪,是性罪。酒本身并不是罪,看你用到哪些方面。比如做药酒,可以调和气血,祛风湿。所以叫遮戒,遮止你,一是叫你不饮;另外你即使要喝呢,就喝药酒,或者适当喝一点调和气血可以,这叫做遮戒。所以这个戒有开遮,最好就是不饮。这个饮酒戒里面还包括含麻醉性的东西,如鸦片烟、白粉哪等等,都不能吃,要禁止。

以上就是这个五戒的内容。你们大家想一想这个多好哇,做个人必须要这样子,这是基本道德。假如做到这点,我们的家庭就和谐,社会就有秩序,国家就稳定,那是肯定了的嘛!为什么说我们国家的建设老是搞不好呀?为什么企业倒闭很多呀?为什么一些团体不能维持啊?那就是个别人贪污、盗窃,为了自己的私利不择手段,给社会造成很多混乱。假使大家都知道这个五戒的道理并奉行,那该多好哇!那么,家庭也和谐、团体也巩固、社会也稳定,这多好哇!这就是佛教提倡的基本道德。

综上所述的三个内容:皈依三宝、明因识果、奉行五戒“,就是人天乘的基础。就是说你做个人就要完成人格。因为你这样做,就保持了人格。就像修高楼大厦,要有巩固的地基,有地基才可以修高楼大厦,这一层是很重要的。你人都做不好,你怎样学佛呀?你怎样成佛呀?这是第一步。

二、修解脱乘以净化身心

接下来,就要净化身心,求身心解脱。在佛法来讲,就需要修戒、修定、修慧。以戒、定、慧三学提高自己的修养,消除身心不干净,使身心得到清净,这是解脱道。在佛法来讲,修解脱道最高的果位是阿罗汉。

三、修菩萨乘以救苦救难

菩萨就是大乘精神、大士道,那就是出世而入世,以出世精神做世间事情。那么这中间要发什么心呢?就要有大智慧,以无我的大智慧发起菩提心,发起救苦救难的大悲心、大悲愿。佛教中的观音、普贤、文殊、地藏四大菩萨,都是修菩萨行的代表。观音菩萨是大慈悲,文殊菩萨是大智慧,地藏菩萨是大愿力,普贤菩萨是大愿大行。悲、智、行、愿就代表菩萨乘。凡是菩萨,受菩萨戒、修菩萨行,离不开这四个字。要有悲心;要有智慧,最高的智慧;要有愿力;要有行动,叫悲、智、愿、行。四者要结合,才能成一个菩萨,才能以出世而入世的精神救苦救难,广度众生,有益于众生,实行大乘菩萨道。能够种这个因,就是成佛的因,结果可以成佛,所以成佛从成就众生中来。

成佛要解决群众的问题,要解决群众的苦难。要有这么个大心,要有这么个大精神,你才能完成佛道。这样,心胸广大、目标远大、目的高尚。以整个世界、整个众生为前提,这些都在自己心中,自己与这些完全相连,打成一片。众生的痛苦就是我的痛苦,众生的快乐就是我的快乐,在佛教里面讲叫无缘慈,同体悲。无缘慈就是说我们救苦救难不要分对象,不计较对象叫无缘慈。同体悲是什么呢!众生的痛苦就是我的痛苦,众生的快乐就是我的快乐,我与众生是一个体,不能分开,叫同体悲。这就是菩萨精神、菩萨的行、菩萨的智慧,所以学佛就是希望人人都学菩萨。

我到韩国、东南亚去,韩国有的广播电台、电视台就是佛教徒办的。它的标语是什么呢?“愿人人都成菩萨,愿人人都学菩萨”。你们大家想一想,你们人人都学菩萨的话,可以说,人人都有理性、都有悲心,那么世界上战争不会起来,可以维持永远的和平,那就是人间净土。所以佛教这个学菩萨的目的,就叫庄严国土,利乐有情,这是大目的。庄严国土,利乐有情;净化心灵,也要净化世界,这是学菩萨的最高目的,也是学佛的目的。

Whether the flames of anger have been extinguished, is clear whenever we’re struck by words of abuse. Whether the mountain of arrogance has been levelled, is clear whenever we’re honoured by those of lesser learning.

— Nyala Pema Dündul

Skillful Means
by Ayya Khema

The two aspects of our being are mind and body. We have to pay attention to both of them, even though meditation is a mind exercise, not a body exercise.

Some of the most common questions are: “How am I going to learn to sit?” “How am I not going to have any pain?” That is only possible through continued application, doing it again and again. In the beginning, the body just doesn’t like sitting cross-legged on the floor.

We can use this situation as skillful means. When discomfort arises in the body, we learn to pay attention to the mind’s reaction, and do not move automatically. Everybody in the world is trying to get out of any kind of discomfort with an instinctive, immediate reaction. It’s not that we’re not going to get out of discomfort, but in order to make meditation pay off, we have to learn to get out of instinctive, immediate reactions. It’s those that land us in dukkha over and over again.

When there is an uncomfortable feeling, it is essential to realise what is happening within. We notice that there is a sense contact, in this case “touch!” The body is making contact; the knees with the pillow, the legs with each other, several contacts are happening. From all sense contacts, feelings arise. There is no way out of that, this is how human beings are made. The Buddha taught cause and effect, that dependent upon any sense contact, feeling results. There are three kinds of feelings, pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. We can forget about the neutral ones, because we are hardly ever aware of them. Neutral is actually considered pleasant, because at least it doesn’t hurt. From this particular touch contact that is being made through the sitting posture, there arises, after a while, an unpleasant feeling. The immediate reaction is to move. Don’t! Investigate! By getting to know our own mind, we get to know the world and the universe. All minds contain the seed of enlightenment. Unless we know our own mind, we cannot develop and cultivate that seed. here the mind has been contacted with an unpleasant feeling, our perception says: “this is painful.” Our next step are the mental formations, which are also kamma formations, because we make kamma through our thought processes.

First came the sense contact, secondly feeling arose. Then perception, naming it, followed by dislike. At the moment of dislike, there is the running away through changing our position. That is the kamma making aspect. This is minor negative kamma, yet it’s negative, because the mind is in a state of ill-will by saying “I don’t like it.”

The mind may start all kinds of rationalisations: “I wish I’d brought my own little chair”; “I can’t sit”; “At my age I shouldn’t do things like this”; “Meditation is too difficult.” None of these explanations have any intrinsic validity, they are only a mind reacting to an unpleasant feeling. Unless we become acquainted with our mind’s reactions, we’re not using meditation in the most beneficial manner.

Knowing the unpleasant feeling, we can now try to acquaint ourselves with its true nature. Our whole life is lived according to our feelings. Unless we become aware of our reactions to feelings, we remain half asleep. There is a beautiful little book called The Miracle of Being Awake. This miracle is nothing but mindfulness, knowing what’s going on within. When we have realised we want to get rid of the unpleasant feeling, then we can try to disown it for a moment. Only the Arahant is fully capable of complete detachment, but we can do so for a short time. The unpleasant feeling has arisen without our asking for it and we don’t have to believe it to be ours. We can let it be just a feeling.

If we do that for a moment, we can get back to the meditation subject, and have won a victory over our own negative reactions. Otherwise we are letting our unpleasant feelings rule us in whatever way they want. The whole of humanity runs after pleasant feelings, and away from unpleasant ones. Unless we at least know that, we have no reference point for inner change. It may not be possible to reverse that reaction yet, but at least we know it is happening.

After we have become aware of our mind’s intention, we’re free to move and change our sitting position. There is nothing wrong with changing one’s posture but there’s something wrong with instinctive, impetuous habits. Meditation means total awareness. Being awake is not the opposite of being asleep; it is the opposite of being dull and foggy. Such mind states are mostly due to an unwillingness to look at our own dukkha. We’d rather hide in a fog. In meditation that won’t do. The Buddha said that this body is a cancer; the body as a whole is a disease, and we can experience that when just sitting still, it becomes uncomfortable.

Meditation means samatha and vipassana, calm and insight. Unless we know the limitations of each and also their possibilities, we won’t be able to make good use of the practice. We are generally applying both of them in every session, but we must be able to distinguish between them. If there is no understanding of what’s happening in the mind, the fog settles down in it.

Everybody would like bliss, peace and happiness. That is a natural wish. They are available in meditation, with a lot of practice, and some good kamma. However they are not the goal of meditation. The goal of meditation is insight. Yet skillful means for gaining insight are needed and are found in tranquillity meditation.

Making use of a meditation subject, the mind, after some training, will be able to stay on it for a while. Presuming that the mind is able to focus on the breath for even a short time, we realize afterwards that some peace arose, because the mind was not thinking. The thinking process in everybody’s mind is hardly ever profound. It’s just thinking. Just as the body breathes, so the mind keeps churning. And it keeps churning out mostly irrelevant, unsubstantial and unimportant details, without which we would be much happier.

The mind in its original form is pure. It’s clear and lucid, luminous, pliable and expandable. Our thinking is the impurity and the blockage. There’s hardly a person who doesn’t think all day long, probably without even being aware of it. But when we start meditating, we do become aware of our inner restlessness. We realise we can’t keep the mind on the meditation subject, because we are thinking instead of meditating. The moment we experience our thinking habit (even that takes time to realise) we accomplish two things. We become aware of our mind’s activity and also the content of our thoughts. We will realise immediately that our thinking is irrelevant and makes little or no sense. Because of that, we can let go of it fairly easily and return to the meditation subject. We have to be able to stand back and watch the thinking process and not get involved in it. Otherwise we’ll just keep on thinking instead of meditating.

The mind is the greatest and most delicate tool existing in the universe. All of us have it, but few look after it properly. Practically everybody is interested in looking after their bodies. Eating, sleeping, washing, exercising, seeing the doctor when the body is sick, cutting hair, nails, filling teeth, doing everything that’s necessary to keep the body functioning well. In reality, the body is the servant and the mind is the master. So we are looking after the servant and forgetting the master. If we do that in our homes, we create chaos. That’s one of the reasons why the world looks as chaotic as it does. People kill each other, steal from each other, are unfaithful, lie, gossip and slander. Most have absolutely no ideas that the mind is our most precious asset. It gives us wealth beyond compare and yet we don’t know how to look after it.

We have to do exactly the same thing for the mind as we do for the body. We need to give it a rest. Imagine if we didn’t go to sleep for three or four days, how would we feel? Without energy, without strength, pretty terrible. The body needs a rest, but the mind does too. During the day it thinks, at night it dreams. It’s always busy. The only real rest it can ever get, which energises and gives the needed boost to become clear and lucid, is to stay on the meditation subject.

The mind needs a clean-up, which means purification. This happens when all thinking is stopped for a while, because of one-pointed concentration. One moment of concentration is one moment of purification. At that time the mind cannot contain ill-will or sensual desire, or any other negativity. When the concentration ceases, the mind reverts to its usual behaviour again. In meditation we can experience that a purified mind gives us happiness, and quite naturally we will try to keep that purification process going also in daily living.

The mind needs the kind of exercise that is not geared towards winning or achieving anything, but just to obey. When we ask the mind to stay on the meditation subject, yet it runs away from it, we know immediately that we are not the master of our mind, but that the mind does what it pleases. When we have realised that, we will be less likely to believe our own views and opinions, particularly when they are unwholesome, because we understand that the mind is simply thinking habitually. Only through the meditation process can we become aware of that.

The mind also requires the right kind of food. Because in meditation we can reach states of higher consciousness, we are thereby able to nourish the mind in a way which cannot happen in the ordinary thinking process. Tranquillity meditation leads the mind into realms which are totally unavailable to us otherwise. Happiness and peacefulness arise without dependence on outer conditions, which give us a new freedom.

The mind of every human being contains the seed of Nibbana. We need training in order to realise what is obscuring our vision. Then the seed can be cultivated and nurtured to full growth. Because our minds contain such a potential, they also contain the peace and happiness which everybody wants. Most people try to find fulfilment through acquiring material objects, seeing or touching, eating or knowing them. Particularly having more and keeping it all safe.

This dependency is a guarantee for dukkha. As long as we depend on outer conditions, whether people, experiences, countries, religions, wealth or fame, we are in constant fear of losing our footing, because everything changes and vanishes. The only way we can have real peace and happiness, is by being independent of all around us. That means gaining access to the purity of our mind without thinking, which involves staying on our meditation subject long enough for our consciousness to change. The thinking consciousness is the consciousness we all know. It contains constant ups and downs, either liking or disliking, wanting something in the future or regretting something about the past, hoping for better days or remembering worse ones. It is always anxious and cannot be expected to be totally peaceful.

We are familiar with a different consciousness also, for instance when we love someone very much. That emotion changes our consciousness to where we are only giving from the heart. We know a different consciousness when we are involved with religious activities, with faith and confidence aroused. We are giving ourselves to an ideal. None of that lasts through, and all depends upon outer conditions.

Through meditation we can change our consciousness to an awareness of purity within, which all of us have, only obscured through thinking. At that time we realise that such an independent peace and happiness are only possible when the “me” and “mine” are forgotten for a moment, when “I want to be happy” is eliminated. It is impossible to have peace when thinking about “self.” This will be our first inkling of what the Buddha meant, when he said non-self (anatta) is the way out of dukkha.

Because it is difficult for the mind to stay on the meditation subject, we have to use everything that arises for insight. Eventually the mind becomes clear and sharp and is no longer bothered by the outer manifestations that touch upon it, such as sound and thought, which are the most common ones. Finally a depth of concentration is reached.

When unpleasant feelings arise let us use them for insight. We didn’t ask for the feelings, why are they ours? They are certainly changeable, they get worse or better, they move their position, and they give us a very good indication that the body is dukkha.

The body isn’t doing anything except sitting, and yet we have dukkha, for the simple reason of not liking the feeling as it is. When we use the unpleasant feeling to actually realise the first and second noble truths, we’ve come nearer to the Dhamma in our hearts. The first noble truth being the noble truth of dukkha, the second being the reason for dukkha, namely craving. In this case, we’re craving to get rid of the unpleasant feelings. If we were totally accepting of the feeling, not making any value judgements, there would be no dukkha.

We can try letting go of this craving for a moment; anyone with some strength of mind can do that. Just accepting the feeling as it is, not disliking it. Then there’s no dukkha, for just that moment. That will be a profound insight experience, because it will show without the shadow of a doubt, that if we drop our desires, dukkha disappears. Naturally when the body feels uncomfortable, it’s difficult to drop the craving to get rid of that discomfort. But anybody can do it for just one moment, and it’s an essential and in-depth experience of the Dhamma.

When we are able to step back to observe our thought processes we realise that the mind is continually thinking. It may take from 5-10 minutes to become aware of that, for someone who hasn’t practised meditation previously. For an experienced meditator it may only take a second or two. Next we can see what kind of thinking we are indulging in and the more often we see it, the less enraptured we’ll be with it. We become aware of the fact that this is the way the human mind acts, not just ours, but everybody’s and we’ll know the truth about the mind. There is nothing else to be seen except that. When we observe that the thinking goes on and that it is insignificant, it will be so much easier to let go. We also see how very fleeting thoughts are, how they come and go all the time. We’ll know from experience then, that no real happiness is to be found in something so short-lived, yet the whole world is trying to achieve happiness that way. We can’t even remember what we thought a moment ago, how can that bring happiness? Such insights make it possible to drop the distractions and get back to the meditation subject.

We are using the two approaches of calm and insight in conjunction with each other. When calm is firmly established, insight arises spontaneously. It’s important to realise that calm meditation is essential. If isn’t as if some people like it and others don’t.

If the ocean has high waves and we want to look beneath the surface to see what can be found there, we can’t recognise anything at all while the waves are rising. There is too much movement, all is stirred up and nothing is to be seen. When the waves subside and the ocean surface becomes calm and transparent, then we can look underneath the surface of the water and see sand, coral and multi-coloured fish. It’s the same in the mind. When the mind has all the waves and motions of thinking, that churning in the mind makes it impossible to see absolute reality. On the contrary, the mind refuses to look beyond ordinary knowing. But when the mind becomes totally calm, then there is no value judgement, and we can see easily what lies underneath the surface.

In order to understand the Buddha’s teaching, we have to get below the surface, otherwise our insights will be superficial. The calm mind is the means for delving below relative reality. While we are trying to become calm, at the same time we’re objectively examining all that arises, so that there is more and more support for letting go of the thinking. The less we believe in our thoughts, the less we expect of them and the happier we will be to let them go. Then we get an inkling of what inner peace and happiness mean.

These inner feelings are most pronounced in meditation, but can be carried into daily living in a milder form, primarily because the mind knows it can always return to peace and happiness in meditation, without having to depend on any situation or any person. Worldly affairs no longer have the former sting in them; they are just happening, that’s all, the same as thinking and feeling are arising and ceasing, without an owner or a maker.

Ayya Khema 22.

Now when the bardo of this life is dawning upon me, I will abandon laziness for which life has no time. Enter, undistracted, the path of listening and hearing, reflection and contemplation, and meditation, making perceptions and mind the path, and realise the “three kayas”: the enlightened mind; now that l have once attained a human body, there is no time on the path for the mind to wander.

— Padmasambhava, Guru Rinpoche

我们一生能留下什么?
文|菩提法真

学校更新电脑,放假前就通知老师们把自己的文件整理好,存在移动硬盘中,以便开学后一接到通知就能立刻更换。新电脑从外观上看精致美观多了,但和旧电脑相比,它的内存空间被区隔得从两部分(C盘和D盘)变成了三部分(C、D和E),而且每部分都预存了一些不可移动的系统软件,因此每部分剩下的空间都不足以完整地存放我自己的资料,除非我把资料拆散,一部分放在D盘,另一部分放在E盘。

也许,二十多年的教书生涯积累了太多的东西吧,我应该趁这个机缘好好整理一下,把该丢的丢掉。

最先丢的是一些不再需要保留的教学的视频,它们占用的空间较大,当年课本里有《林黛玉进贾府》、《鲁提辖拳打镇关西》、《明湖居听书》这类课文,于是找来电视剧的片段存在电脑里,必要时给学生看,现在这些课文早就删除了,孩子们中学四年读高级华文,根本不必接触四大名著、唐诗宋词,没听说过三国水浒红楼,只要认得几百个汉字、能用几十条成语,高级华文会考照样能拿A。

其次丢的是大量的活动资料和教学文档。从游学浸濡到校内的各种文化活动,计划书、行程表、照片集、总结报告,应有尽有,其实当年每一个计划,每一个细小的环节都是经过悉心推敲才选定下来,而今也早已无存档价值了。至于教学文档更是如此,无论是试卷中所选的文章,还是课堂投影的PPT制作,从内容到模板都是自己精心设计的,而今时过境迁,学生不同了,程度不同了,教育教学的侧重点也不一样了,留着这些除了占用空间,也用处不大了。

最令人感慨的是整理照片。当年带学生四处游学浸濡拍的,每年教师节和毕业典礼的拍的,和学生一起参加各类活动,像越野赛、运动会、义卖会、参访老人院、海边捡垃圾,以及野外露营、行走新加坡等等拍的……电脑存档的照片不会变黄,孩子们的笑脸也总是青春洋溢,但照片上的自己却已然从一头青丝到鬓发斑白,再回首,身边学生的名字竟然早已记不得了。

电脑文件一键删除很简单,删除的不仅是当年教学的精心设计,更是一年年的心血和美好时光。这样一次的文档整理带给我的触动很大,我想,我们的人生也是迟早要这样删除,甚至清零的吧?

我们购置的房子、车子,我们精心挑选的家俱乃至一橱橱精美的图书画册,甚至我们的朋友和亲人,我们朝夕与共也不过就是几十年,我们和亲友彼此相伴、一路相随,不知会在怎样的一个节点,先后转身离开,空留下一段记忆,然后,即使记忆也从铭心到淡忘。

佛教的深刻在于它告诉我们人生的真相。这个真相就是你所经历的一切都是你自己经营的结果,所谓种瓜得瓜、种豆得豆;它也告诉我,这一辈子所经营的一切身外之物都是留不住的,无论是家财万贯还是学富五车,甚至是一份血脉亲情,最后都得一一删除、直至清零。所以对一切不必执着,要学会放下。

尽管我们的一生什么都留不住,但我依然会告诉我的学生,去好好学习、努力创造,就像我们今天享有先人创造的物质文明和精神文明一样,让自己的生命为人类的文化长河增添涓滴甘露,以滋后人。

We completely deny the existence of a self-existent I, or a permanent, independent soul. Every aspect of your body and mind is impermanent: changing, changing, changing…

— Lama Thubten Yeshe

A Happier Family Life through the Dharma
by Dr Ang Beng Choo

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOME AND HOUSE

A park warden was going to close the gate of a park. He saw an old man sitting on a bench in the park. He came over and gently asked him, “Please go home. I am closing the gate now. ”

“I have no home,” the old man replied.

The warden recognised the old man as one of the richest men in the town and owned a big house opposite the park. He was rather surprised and asked, “Sir, your home is over there. Why do you say you had no home?” The old man answered sadly, “That is my house, not my home. I am alone and do not have a family there.”

A home is a place where the family is.

WHAT IS A FAMILY?

What is a family? The word “family”, can be an acronym for “Father and Mother, I Love You.”

The Buddha said, “This is an impermanent world.” Everyone faces adversities sometimes. With love, care, support and help among family members, one can overcome these difficulties much easier than alone.

However, as with any groups, there will be differences of opinion among family members and occasionally conflicts may arise. A family is like the body of a bird with several heads. If the heads cannot get along and start harming each other, the body, together with the heads will suffer.

HOW CAN WE MAINTAIN A HARMONIOUS AND HAPPY FAMILY?

Relationship is a two-way traffic. Maintaining good relationships among family members is a concerted effort among all concerned. It requires mutual understanding, concern and love, and unfaltering commitment. The Buddha said, “This is an imperfect world.”

Even though nobody is perfect, everyone needs encouragement and affirmation. However, one usually sees his or her own virtues and others’ faults. When there is a problem, one often believes that the fault lies in others. This is the source of conflicts, disputes and problems for family relationships.

The Buddha also said, “Thoughts are forerunners of speech and action.”

POSITIVE THOUGHTS OF GRATITUDE

Positive thoughts will produce positive speech and action. How can we make our thoughts positive? I believe that the key to this is to always have a heart filled with gratitude.

After the Buddha attained enlightenment, he stood in front of the Bodhi tree gazing at it for seven days in meditation to show his gratitude to the tree for having sheltered him during his struggle for enlightenment. The Mangala Sutta enumerates gratitude as one of the highest blessings. It is not just the greatest virtue, but the mother of all virtues. To me, gratitude is the first lesson the Buddha taught through his own action.

The Buddha also taught us to be grateful to the four groups of people: parents, teachers, nation and all sentient beings. All have contributed to our wellbeing. If we practise gratitude, our conceit, greed, hatred, jealousy, and distrust will reduce gradually. We will then be able to maintain good relationships and rectify bad ones with our family members.

THE IMPORTANCE OF GENTLE SPEECH

However just having grateful thoughts are not enough. We should manifest it in our speech and action.

Speech is an effective tool for communication and can make or break a relationship. Therefore, Right Speech is an important Buddhist teaching. It is addressed both in the Five Precepts and the Noble Eightfold Path. In the ten roots of skilful actions, four deal with speech.

In the Dhammapada, the Buddha advised his disciples, “only speak when you need to discuss meaningful things that will benefit your own practice and others. If not, please maintain noble silence.” In other sutras, the Buddha also advised us to “respect the content of each sentence said”, “control our tongue well to avoid condemning others and creating bad karma” and “use gentle words instead of harsh words”. Let us practise the Buddha’s teachings by using right speech and gentle words to avoid arguments, quarrels and fights among family members.

If there is a conflict between us and our family members, we should always try to reflect on ourselves to make sure that the problems do not lie with us.

There were two dogs walking into a room at separate times. A happy dog came out wagging its tail. An angry dog left the room growling. Out of curiosity, a person entered the room to find out what could possibly make one dog so happy and the other so grouchy. He discovered that it was just an empty room filled with mirrors. When the happy dog entered, it saw a thousand happy dogs wagging tails at it, making it even happier. On the contrary, the grouchy dog saw a thousand dogs growling at it, infuriating it further. Remember that our family members may be the mirrors reflecting us.

We have two ears and one mouth. We should use our ears more to listen to our family members’ difficulties. When a comment or suggestion is needed, be positive and gentle so as not to worsen the situation. If we are not sure of what to say, maintain noble silence. Furthermore, use these three magical words: “sorry”, “please” and “thank you” generously.

CONCLUSION

A friend blamed himself for not taking care of his organs after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Our organs have been working hard for us and contributing a lot to our well-being since birth. However, we may have taken them for granted and never appreciated or cared for them until they malfunction. Our family members are like our organs. Do we also take them for granted until they are sick? Let us have a caring and happy family while everyone is still healthy.

If we always have positive thoughts, show our appreciation, as well as extend a helping hand to our family members when required, we will be able to maintain harmonious relationships under one roof.

Once a strong and harmonious family is developed through our daily practice of the Dharma, others will naturally be convinced of the worthiness of practising the Dharma. This will eventually strengthen the faith of the family in the Triple Gem.

Motivation is the single most important factor in determining whether your experience is conditioned by suffering or by peace.

— Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche