People can spend their entire life searching for enlightenment outside, travelling the whole world from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the mountains – they can search as much as they like, but it won’t be found anywhere other than inside that which is doing the searching.

— Chamtrul Rinpoche

Chamtrul Rinpoche 9..jpg

七法生天
圣开法师

佛陀在迦兰陀竹园,曾对弟子们说:「世间的人们,若能受持七项修福之法,以此因缘,即可得生帝释的三十三天。

因为三十三天的帝释,在地球世间为人之时,便都能够做到供养父母及家中的一切尊长;平素又能和颜悦色,温言软语,不恶口,不两舌,常真实语。虽然身处这个悭吝的世间,在俗居家,然而一点也不悭惜,行解脱施,勤施常乐,举行舍施大会,供养佛法僧三宝。所以他于世间人寿尽灭之后,即以此善因,而生天为帝。」

为使大众更为明白佛陀所说的七法之意,兹分条释义于后:

一、供养父母尊长:父母有生我、育我、养我、教我之恩;家中一切尊长,亦有协助父母从旁抚养教育之德,故为人子女,宜供养父母尊长。此乃种福之因。

二、待人和颜悦色:人生在世,不能离群独居。所以不论是处居家,或学校生活,乃至社会交往,对于父母师长,兄弟姊妹,夫妻妯娌,邻居同住,亲戚朋友,同学同事,主东佣仆,长官部属,及与一切的人们相处,都应和颜悦色。此乃种福之因。

三、说话温言软语:人与人之间相处,唯以语言,才能使感情交流。若言语粗俗不雅,易伤感情,故宜常以安慰语、赞叹语、鼓励语等和雅的音声待人。因此温言软语,乃为种福之因。

四、不恶口不两舌:恶口两舌是地狱之因。为人不咒人、不骂人,不粗言俚语,不挑拨离间,不搬是弄非,破坏他人的感情。此乃种福之因。

五、时常守信真实:人在社会生存、生活,必须经常守持信用,说真实之语,作真实的事,不欺骗背信,不花言巧语。此乃种福之因。

六、除悭贪行惠施:世人所以会贫穷潦困,多因过去悭贪不舍,乃至妒难招灾,争夺战乱,无有安宁之日。若能广行惠施济众,当获福无量。故除悭贪多行布施,乃是种福之因。

七、供养佛法僧宝:佛、法、僧三宝,乃世间的灯塔,是人天的福田。所以世人如能经常供养三宝之所需,而使世间正法久住,世人便能离苦得乐,超凡入圣,建设人间净土,创造人类幸福。故供养三宝,乃为种福之因。

佛教是讲因果业报的,如果人们都能种如上的善因,必得生天,获享福快乐的善报。佛之所言,皆真实语,希望世人,如法修行,当获生天的乐报也。

Those who wish to guard their practice should very attentively guard their minds, for those who do not guard their minds will be unable to guard their practice.

— Shantideva

To Control One’s Mind
by Ayya Khema

Our old friend, dukkha, arises in the mind as dissatisfaction caused by all sorts of triggers. It can be triggered by bodily discomfort, but more often it is caused by the mind’s own aberrations and convolutions. The mind creates dukkha, and that’s why we must really watch and guard our minds.

Our own mind can make us happy, our own mind can make us unhappy. There is no person or thing in the whole world that will do this for us. All happenings act as triggers for us, which constantly catch us unawares. Therefore we need to develop strong awareness of our own mind-moments.

We have a good chance to do that in meditation. There are two directions in meditation, calm (samatha) and insight (vipassana).If we can achieve some calm, that indicates that concentration is improving. But unless that valuable skill is used for insight, it’s a waste of time. If the mind becomes calm, joy often arises, but we must observe how fleeting and impermanent that joy is, and how even bliss is essentially still only a condition which can be easily lost. Only insight is irreversible. The stronger the calm is established, the better it will withstand disturbances. In the beginning any noise, discomfort or thought will break it up, especially if the mind has not been calm during the day.

Impermanence (anicca) needs to be seen quite clearly in everything that happens, whether it is in or out of meditation. The fact of constant change should and must be used for gaining insight into reality. Mindfulness is the heart of Buddhist meditation and insight is its goal. We’re spending our time in many different ways and some portion of it in meditation, but all our time can be used to gain some insight into our own mind. That’s where the whole world is happening for us. Nothing, except what we are thinking, exists for us.

The more we watch our mind and see what it does to us and for us, the more we will be inclined to take good care of it and treat it with respect. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is taking the mind for granted. The mind has the capacity to create good and also evil for us, and only when we are able to remain happy and even-minded no matter what conditions are arising, only then can we say that we have gained a little control. Until then we are out of control and our thoughts are our master.

“Whatever harm a foe may do to foe,
or hater unto one he hates,
the ill-directed mind indeed
can do one greater harm.
What neither mother, nor father too,
nor any other relative can do,
the well-directed mind indeed
can do one greater good.”

The above words of the Buddha show quite clearly that there is nothing more valuable than a controlled and skillfully directed mind. To tame one’s mind does not happen only in meditation, that is just one specific training. It can be likened to learning to play tennis. One works out with a trainer, again and again, until one has found one’s balance and aptitude, and can actually play in a tennis match. Our match for taming the mind happens in day-to-day living, in all situations we encounter.

The greatest support we can have is mindfulness, which means being totally present in each moment. If the mind remains centred then it can’t make up stories about the injustice of the world or one’s friends, or about one’s desires, or one’s lamentations. All these mind-made stories would fill many volumes, but we are mindful such verbalisations stop. “Mindful” is being fully absorbed in the moment, leaving no room for anything else. We are filled with the momentary happening, whether that may be standing or sitting or lying down, being comfortable or uncomfortable, feeling pleasant or unpleasant. Whichever it may be, it is a non-judgemental awareness, “knowing only,” without evaluation.

Clear comprehension brings evaluation. We comprehend the purpose of our thought, speech or action, whether we are using skillful means or not and whether we have actually achieved the required results. One needs some distance to oneself in order to be able to evaluate dispassionately. If one is right in the middle, it’s very difficult to get an objective view. Mindfulness coupled with clear comprehension provides one with the necessary distance, the objectivity, the dispassion.

Any dukkha that one has, small, medium or large, continuous or intermittent, is all created by one’s mind. We are the creators of all that happens to us, forming our own destiny, nobody else is involved. Everybody else is playing his own role, we just happen to be near some people and farther away at other times. But whatever we are doing, all is done to our own mind-moments.

The more we watch our thoughts in meditation, the more insight can arise, if there is an objective viewing of what is happening. When we watch mind-moments arising, staying and ceasing, detachment from our thinking process will result, which brings dispassion. Thoughts are coming and going all the time, just like the breath. If we hang on to them, try to keep them, that’s when all the trouble starts. We want to own them and really do something with them, especially of they are negative, which is bound to create dukkha.

The Buddha’s formula for the highest effort is worth remembering: “Not to let an unwholesome thought arise, which has not yet arisen. Not to sustain an unwholesome thought which has already arisen. To arouse a wholesome thought which has not yet arisen. To sustain a wholesome thought which has already arisen.”
The quicker we can become a master of this effort, the better. This is part of the training we undergo in meditation. When we have learned to quickly drop whatever is arising in meditation, then we can do the same with unwholesome thoughts in daily living. When we are alert to an unwholesome thought in meditation, we can use the same skill to protect our mind at all times. The more we learn to shut our mind-door to all negativities which disturb our inner peace, the easier our life becomes. Peace of mind is not indifference. A peaceful mind is a compassionate mind. Recognising and letting go is not suppression.

Dukkha is self-made and self-perpetuated. If we are sincere in wanting to get rid of it, we have to watch the mind carefully, to get an insight into what’s really happening within. What is triggering us? There are innumerable triggers, but there are only two reactions. One is equanimity and one is craving.

We can learn from everything. Today some anagarikas had to wait quite a long time in the bank, which was an exercise in patience. Whether the exercise was successful or not, doesn’t matter as much as that it was a learning experience. Everything we do is an exercise, this is our purpose as human beings. It’s the only reason for being here, namely to use the time on our little planet for learning and growing. It can be called an adult education class. Everything else we can think of as the purpose of life, is a mistaken view.

We’re guests here, giving a limited guest performance. If we use our time to gain insight into ourselves utilising our likes and dislikes, our resistances, our rejections, our worries, our fears, then we’re spending this lifetime to the best advantage. It’s a great skill to live in such a way. The Buddha called it “urgency’ (samvega), a sense of having to work on ourselves now and not leave it for some future unspecified date, when one may have more time. Everything can be a learning experience and the only time is now.

When we meet our old friend dukkha, we would ask: “Where did you come from?” When we get an answer, we should inquire again, getting deeper into the subject. There’s only one true answer, but we won’t get it immediately. We have to go through several answers until we get to the bottom line, which is “ego.” When we’ve come to that one, we know we have come to the end of the questioning and to the beginning of insight. We can then try to see how the ego has produced dukkha again. What did it do, how did it react? When we see the cause, it may be possible to let go of that particular wrong view. Having seen cause and effect by ourselves, we’ll never forget it again. Single drops fill a bucket, little by little we purify. Every moment is worthwhile.

The more we experience every moment as worthwhile, the more energy there is. There are no useless moments, every single one is important, if we use it skillfully. Enormous energy arises from that, because all of it adds up to a life which is lived in the best possible way.

Do not rely on an ordinary individual; rely on Dharma. Do not rely on the words; rely on their meaning. Do not rely on relative truth; rely on absolute truth. Do not rely on consciousness; rely on wisdom.

— The Buddha

心中有事世间小,心中无事一床宽
星云大师

人是很不明理的,常常为了一点芝麻小事,而背负了很长时间的误会。

有一位囚犯被关在牢里,埋怨房子小,有一天,有一只苍蝇飞进房里,他就去扑捕,飞东抓东,飞西捕西,还是没有抓到,方醒悟到原来他的房间竟然这么大,连一只苍蝇也抓不着。所以,他觉悟到:“心中有事世间小,心中无事一床宽。”

假若,有徒众毁坏常住物,如打破了茶杯或把房子烧了,我不会生气;但是,只要有徒众,用一句话来伤人、侵犯人,我就比较不能宽恕他。因为侵犯人,就如同给人一刀。所以,不可以用语言、气势侵犯人。

近来,经常开示信众,讲话不要做“乌鸦嘴”,要做“喜鹊报喜”;待人不要做“相打鸡”(台语:斗鸡),要做“凤凰来仪”;处世不要做“木头人”,要做“微笑弥勒”。

偶翻《庄子》,见有一则发人深省的故事,内容大意是说,有个有名的斗鸡师,名叫纪渻子,他训练的斗鸡,远近闻名。

有一天周宣王要他训练一只勇猛无比的斗鸡。纪渻子接受任务后,一过数十日,一直没有消息,宣王等得不耐烦,就催着纪渻子,纪回答道:“还不行,此鸡生性自狂自傲,只会虚张声势,其实遇到强者,不堪一击!”

宣王又等了多日,再催问如何?纪渻子回答道:“还是不行,因为此鸡沉着不够,它一听到其他鸡叫就会冲动,摆开架势,还不是大将之风。”

又过多日,宣王再催;纪渻子回答道:“大王,现在仍不行,因为此鸡一接近其他鸡,它就会气昂昂、雄赳赳,像如此不能沉着的匹夫之勇,还不是最好的斗鸡。”

最后,宣王失望,不再催问。

一日,纪渻子主动向周宣王报告:“大王,你要我训练斗鸡,现在任务已完成了。此鸡现在听到其他鸡啼叫,恍如不闻;见到其他鸡跳跃,恍如不见,简直就像只木头鸡。气定神闲,从容安详,已是全能全德。只要其他斗鸡一见到它,就会落荒而逃,不战而胜,这才算真正的斗鸡了。”

True devotion isn’t blind faith. Devotion comes through your own study and practice.

— Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche

Reciting the Mani Mantra to Realise the Three Kayas’ Nature
by Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche

The three ‘kayas’ are the various personifications of the Buddha. For instance, Amitabha Buddha is the Dharmakaya, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is the Sambhogakaya and Guru Padmasambhava is the Nirmanakaya. And these three ‘kayas’ are not foreign to ourselves. In fact, the true nature of our mind has these three ‘kayas’ within it. We are reciting the six-syllable mantra to get rid of all the temporary defilements, so that we can realise the three kayas’ nature of our mind. In order to do so, we need to keep our body, speech and mind absolutely pure by not performing non-virtuous deeds with our body, speech and mind. The mantra should also be recited clearly word for word, and you should make great aspirations when you do the recitation, so that you can purify your obscurations and defilements of yourself and other sentient beings and attain the state of three ‘kayas’.

If you recite in this manner, then your efforts can truly benefit the Buddhadharma and all sentient beings in achieving the true path in this life and in all lives to come, thereby attaining Enlightenment ultimately.

Non-virtuous deeds are meaningless and bring only suffering to one. Therefore, you should at all times avoid committing non-virtuous deeds. Try to make great aspirations during your recitation to purify your body, speech and mind.

WHAT MAKES ONE A BUDDHIST

We are all followers of the Buddhadharma. That’s why we are called Buddhists. What makes us Buddhist is our practice of taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. On top of that, we also generate the awakened mind of Bodhicitta*. When we take refuge in the Triple Gem and generate Bodhicitta, we are actually making a kind of resolution to get rid all non-virtuous deeds, and to pursue all virtuous ones. However, in order to do so, we need to first understand what are virtuous deeds and what are non-virtuous deeds. We need to eradicate all non-virtuous deeds as they are the causes of all suffering and we need to pursue virtuous deeds as they are the causes of happiness.

All sentient beings, including the tiniest insects, have been our parents. And as our parents, there is no distinction between all sentient beings and our present father and mother. One should not have any doubt about that.

When you do the recitation, you should try to have devotion and a good intention. If you recite with this kind of devotion and motivation, you can truly attain Enlightenment. What have kept you as sentient being, stopping you from attaining Enlightenment is your negative karma and afflictive emotions. Therefore, to gain Enlightenment, you have to rid yourself of your afflictive emotions which cause all non-virtuous deeds. To eliminate afflictive emotions and bad karma, we need to rely on the teachings of the Buddha. And the core essence of the entire teachings of the Buddha is the six-syllable mantra. As practitioners of this precious Dharma, we need to eradicate all non-virtuous deeds in general, particularly the consumption of meat, as it has the heaviest negative karma. This is because all the livings beings that we eat are actually our own parents who have been very kind to us in many lifetimes. Eating meat is a non-virtuous act with such heavy misgivings that the Buddha Himself also mentioned that consuming the meat of other sentient beings who have been our parents one lifetime or another is the gravest and most heinous deed to commit.

Over the past few years, we have had the great opportunity to recite the six-syllable mantra in a retreat. You should realise that this opportunity has come to you as a result of your good karma in the past. You should consider yourself very fortunate to have this opportunity. Not only during a retreat, but at all times, you should make the best efforts to accumulate virtuous deeds and refrain from committing non-virtuous ones. And if you can refrain from eating meat at all, that is the most perfect way of not committing non-virtuous deeds. Even if you are not able to give up meat permanently, try to avoid meat consumption during special days of the month, such as the full month days on the 8th and 10th etc, according to the Tibetan calendar.

The human life is extremely precious and is only achieved once in a long while. Thus, it is extremely important that you do not waste this precious human life. Make it as meaningful as possible by following the Dharma and by not committing non-virtuous deeds. Once again, I would like to beseech you to avoid eating meat, as there can be no negative karma heavier than that, for the meat we eat comes from our parents. This is what the Buddha taught and this is what you should remember at all times.

You should also dedicate the merits of your practice for the benefit of all mother sentient beings, even to the tiniest insects, so that they can be freed from the obscurations in their minds and attain complete Enlightenment.

* Bodhicitta : The aspiration to help all beings attain True Happiness by becoming
Buddhas, by being Bodhisattvas.

Actual phenomena – that is, the world and its inhabitants – are objects that we grasp at with our senses. These appearances are simply our mind’s manifestations of confusion. In the end, they are not actually existent in any way whatsoever, but are like the appearances in a dream. By thinking along these lines, train yourself to have some feeling for looking at the world this way.

— 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche

無所不在的緣
濟群法師

佛法認為世界的生成與毀滅都來自因緣的聚散,所謂“因緣成世界、因緣滅世界”。因此,佛教對世界形成的解釋,簡單說就是“因緣因果”。在佛教的經論中,關於因緣的解釋很多。在《阿含經》中有這樣的偈子:“諸法因緣生,諸法因緣滅,我佛大沙門,常作如是說。”這是佛經中比較著名的偈子,關於此偈,在佛陀時代還有這樣一個故事:

一天,佛弟子馬勝比丘在城中乞食,他行走時舉止安詳,威儀具足。捨利弗尊者當時還未出家,並且是個外道,但見到這位比丘的儀表後,立刻被他表現出的風度所吸引,生起恭敬之心:憑此人的氣質,一定不是等閒之輩。不由自主地上前打聽:“我見您氣質非凡,跟旁人完全不同,能告訴我您的師父是誰嗎?他一定是位解脫的聖者,他的主要思想是什麼?”馬勝比丘回答說:“我的師父佛陀是一位了不起的智者,如果您有不明白的問題可以去請教他,他一定能回答您的所有疑難,我出家時間還短,許多道理還不清楚,不過在我們的僧團中經常念誦這樣一個偈子:諸法因緣生,諸法因緣滅。”捨利弗聽後,覺得大有深意,於是皈依在佛陀座下,後成為佛陀十大弟子中的智慧第一尊者。

“諸法因緣生,諸法因緣滅”中的“諸”,是眾多及一切的意思;“法”是指宇宙間的一切現象。宇宙間的萬事萬物都可歸於法的范疇,這些法從哪裡來呢?從因緣中來。《雜阿含經》進一步解釋道:“有因有緣集世間,有因有緣世間集,有因有緣滅世間,有因有緣世間滅。”其中,“集”是生起、產生的意思;“因”是諸法生起的主要條件、殊勝條件、親近條件;“緣”是諸法生起的次要條件、一般條件、疏遠條件。佛法認為,宇宙人生的生成滅亡都由條件決定,條件聚合時法就開始生起,條件解體時法則開始敗壞,重又歸於虛無,一切諸法都無非如此。

比如從種子生長為大樹,這一成長過程需要什麼樣的條件呢?種子是其中最重要、最親近的條件,而生長所需的陽光、水土,則是次要的、較疏遠的條件,但無論這些條件是親是疏都缺一不可。如果我們認為種子就是一切,而忽略了陽光、土壤等外緣的幫助,縱使再好的種子也無法發芽,更不必說成長為一棵大樹;反過來,若有充足的陽光雨露而沒有種子,就更是無稽之談。因此,無論是親的條件或疏的條件都同樣重要,只有眾多因緣和合才能成就法的生起。再如我們的這次講座,也是因緣的和合體。有法師來講課,也有在坐的諸位聽眾,還有南普陀弘法部舉辦這次活動,以及講堂的存在,只有這眾多條件的共同參與才能成就這次講座。

關於緣起的定義,經典中如是說道:“此有故彼有,此生故彼生,此無故彼無,此滅故彼滅”。緣起就是“此故彼”的關系,“此有故彼有”,是說因為具足這些條件,然後才有某種現象的生起:一張桌子是因為有了木料、木工、鐵釘、油漆、工具等等條件才形成,因為此處有這些條件出現,所以彼處才有物質出現。“此無故彼無,此滅故彼滅”,是說一旦聚成桌子的條件敗壞了,桌子也就逐漸消失。不僅桌子如此,世間的萬事萬物都是由條件來決定它的生存和消亡。由此可見,每一種法的形成,也都離不開因緣的基本規律。