修行起来为何很困难不容易成就
梦参老和尚

要如何修行?有几个重要的观点是我们应当要先认识的。一般来说,我们所谓的修行都是礼忏、念经、念佛,或者上早、晚课。其实这样的修行是不够的,我们往往忽略了现前的境界,在佛堂拜佛的时候,忽略了禅室外头的事情。在我们拜忏或打木鱼、敲引磬的时候,会影响到别人;而你并没考虑到别人,就只看到自己在修行。这样的修行会有障碍,对你的利益不大,也不会对他人生起什么好的影响。

在修行的时候,所有外边的、现前的一切现象,跟我们修的法应该是很有关系的,如果不把修法和日常生活充份结合起来,那么我们修法的成就也不会太大,对我们的帮助也很小。

这个涵义就是说,不论你拜忏也好,念佛也好,修禅定也好,一定要跟你现前的现实生活,以及工作结合在一起,这样来修法,成就也容易大一点。也就是把我们的心念跟所修的法结合在一起,如果我们的修行跟日常的生活、工作成了两条并行线,分别的进行,互不相干,这两者你都会做不好。修行和生活不是两条线,应该是一条线,要使你的心跟现实生活,结合成一体,这样的修行,对你的帮助是很大的。

在现实生活当中,我们一天到晚起心动念,如果你不能够把佛法跟你现在所做的工作、所面对的生活结合在一起,用教义上所说的话,就是你的心不能转变客观和现实的环境,不能把佛法运用到现实环境当中,所以修行所起的作用不太大。

我们经常说信心、信佛,你有没有信心?你有没有信佛?这两个涵义是一体的。信佛即是信心,信心就是信佛,但是我们常把心跟佛分开了,分开了理解力就不强。我们经常说心即是佛、佛即是心,要相信自己的心,你们有没有信心?我们一般说:你有没有信心?好像是指信佛,并不是如此,而是说信你自己的心。

我们讲述《华严经》的时候,就跟大家说:“你要相信自己就是毘卢遮那佛,要这样你学《华严经》,才能学得进去。”意思就是说你念阿弥陀佛的时候,要相信自己就是阿弥陀佛,“心佛与众生,是三无差别。”这不是一句话,而是你在做的时候能够跟心结合在一起,这叫有信心;如果你没有这个信心,成不了佛,也不是真实的信佛,信佛就是指信你自己的心。

佛的涵义,学佛的人都知道。佛的印度原话是“佛陀耶”,“佛陀耶”中译为直觉的觉,明白的明,我们的觉心是明白的,是觉悟的,但因为受多生累劫的薰习,薰习妄缘迷惑了我们本有的佛性、本有的佛心,好像朦胧阴影,受了垢缘;一旦这些迷惑消失了,恢复你原来的清净心,也就是在《楞严经》上所说的“妙明真心”,那就对了。

因此你在修行的时候,一定要相信自己,相信自己的心。这个心在每一天的生活当中,不论是在你工作当中所面对的事物,都不要离开现前的一念心。学佛法就要用佛法来指导我们的生活,让佛法跟生活成为一条线,而不是成为两条并行线,如果成为两条并行线的话,修行起来就很困难,也不容易成就。

当大家念经或者拜忏的时候,心总不能够跟法、佛融合在一起。我跟很多道友谈过,当你念阿弥陀佛的时候,你是不是观想自己就是阿弥陀佛,当你念地藏菩萨的时候,你就成为地藏菩萨的化身,你有没有做这样的观想?你念观世音菩萨的时候,你就是观世音菩萨的化身,我不是随随便便说说,《地藏经》第一品当中那些来聚会的大众,都是受了地藏菩藏教化,从六道出来,乃至于成佛、成菩萨,都是地藏菩萨的化身。因为你的心跟佛的心已经结合在一起了,当你念地藏菩萨的时候,你就是地藏菩萨的化身,念阿弥陀佛,你就是阿弥陀佛的化身。

这个问题在你修行当中是最主要的问题,可不是小问题。你要是以这个心来拟定你一天所做的事,以佛心来指导你的一切,那么你所做的都是佛事,也就是你的心、跟佛的心、跟佛的事业是分不开的,当这样做的时候,你并没有求利益的心,也没有求福报的心,也没有求加持的心,为什么?因为这一切都是自心所具有的,以自心来加持自心,这是从心上来说。

Ven Meng Can (梦参老和尚) 9.

Be soft in your practice. Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go on its own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you.

— Venerable Sheng Yen

Ven Sheng Yen 41.

Be Grateful
by His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, Jigme Pema Wangchen

While we are busy complaining and looking for reasons to dislike or be angry with our circumstances and the people around us, we still expect ourselves to be happy. But if our minds are only looking for problems, how can we be? If gratitude and appreciation are lacking in our lives, we will miss the path to happiness.

What is going well in your life?

Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand. ALDOUS HUXLEY, BRAVE NEW WORLD

People often tend to focus on what is going wrong in their lives, rather than giving themselves a chance to dwell on what’s going well. It is true that we can learn very helpful lessons from things that happen which we would describe as mistakes. And learning such lessons allows us to develop our skills, our compassion and the ability to see things from alternative points of view. However, sometimes I think we forget there are great lessons to be had from the parts of life that fill us with joy. Simply the act of shining a light on those good feelings encourages them to grow and infuse the rest of our life, or at least the rest of our day.

Why not celebrate and develop the things we do well? We can’t all be good at everything, and while it’s no bad idea to challenge ourselves and look for new areas in which we can learn, we can also hone the skills we have been blessed with. After all, they then become gifts with which we can improve other people’s lives in some way. When we feel like we are a very good fit with what we are doing – whether that is in our job, our relationship or any other aspect of life – we don’t need to spend so much time looking around the next corner for happiness because we feel it in our contentment and our relaxed confidence. When we get back to the simplicity of doing something well, we are lucky enough to remind ourselves of the essence of life.

We seem to find it much easier to believe in the negative side of things (this is where our belief is at its strongest) and we have no confidence in the good things. But to change life in the positive sense, let’s start with believing that happiness, joy, peace – all the great things – can happen with us first. We can be fearless if we want to. So we might wake up in the morning and think for a few moments about the loving people in our lives, that we have a roof over our heads, a cup of tea first thing and the ingredients in our cupboards for a good breakfast. We then think about the things we are grateful for that we don’t have today: illness, for example, if we are in good health, blindness, if we can see, homelessness, if we have a home. This kind of thinking not only helps to bring our happiness to the surface, but also to tune in our awareness. As we train our minds to consider the things in our lives that make us want to say ‘thank you’, we begin to notice more of them and take fewer things for granted. The other benefit is that by practising this kind of thinking we also help to develop our compassion for others; we are able to acknowledge suffering and have the strength to look directly at it, so that we may also have the motivation to help those in need.

Gyalwang Drukpa 46.

Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.

— The Buddha

Buddha 265

人身難得,佛法難聞
净空法师

世尊常說,「人身難得,佛法難聞」,這是說我們有幸得人身,而且有機會聽到佛的正法,應當要珍惜此殊勝之因緣。這些年,我們認真學習佛的教誨,在現實生活上得到了證明。最淺的常識,佛講的「因緣果報」,我們很冷靜、細心去觀察,確實財布施得財富的果報,法布施得聰明智慧的果報,無畏布施得健康長壽的果報。能明白此理,了解事實真相,生活在世間,心情自然就穩定,所謂「心安理得」;道理明瞭之後,心就安了。

在《了凡四訓》中,了凡先生與雲谷禪師在禪堂裡,坐了三天三夜,沒有起一個妄念,這是一般人做不到的。一般人妄念紛飛,分別執著太多,這就是經上講的「凡夫」、「可憐憫者」。禪師說:「你的功夫不錯!」他說:「我沒有功夫,我的命被孔先生算定了,一生的休咎、吉凶、禍福,都是命裡安排好的,打妄念也沒用處,所以就不打了。」了凡先生雖然明白事實真相,但沒有透徹明瞭,也就是知其當然,不知其所以然。所以,禪師為他開示,將所以然之理告訴他。他依照禪師的教導,認真努力去做,真的改變了命運。所以,明瞭道理與事實真相,才能改變命運,創造命運。

菩薩有五十一個階級,每個階級所了解的道理與事實真相都不同。最低的是圓教初信位菩薩,所明瞭的比了凡先生高出太多了,但在佛法裡是屬於階層最低的菩薩,到如來果地才是究竟圓滿透徹的明瞭。所以,佛家的教學,無非是教導我們了解宇宙人生的真相而已。真正明瞭真相,就是法身大士,是圓教初住菩薩的果位。初住以下,雖明瞭而沒有透徹,只是解悟,沒有達到證悟。譬如,佛說一切眾生就是自己的法身,我們深信不疑,這是解悟,但沒有證實,還不能將一切眾生真的看作自己,眾生與自己之間仍有差別。若是對待一切眾生,真的與對待自己一樣,就是證悟,這是法身大士。

我們現在雖然懂得這些道理,但還做不到,這就是解悟,不是證悟。李老師常說,解悟不管用,該怎麼生死,還是怎麼生死,無法脫離輪迴,證悟才能脫離輪迴;不但脫離輪迴,而且脫離十法界,證得一真法界。一真法界才真正得大自在,得幸福美滿。十法界裡的美滿、幸福不是真的,「真善美慧」是有名無實;一真法界才是真實的,「真善美慧」都是事實。佛陀對我們的期望及勉勵,是希望我們在一生當中證得。佛所說的是我們一定能做到的,問題是「你肯不肯做」。佛教我們將心量拓開,愛一切眾生像愛自己一樣,這就是行,解行要相應才能證得。

世間有些野心家,想做世界的主宰,能否做到?能。佛在經上講,此世間最大的國王是金輪王,統治一四天下,就是統治太陽系。為何稱為輪王?他以輪寶作為交通工具及武器。這使我們聯想到,近幾十年來,世界各地傳聞的飛碟,大概就是輪王的輪寶。可能是輪王派遣部屬,到此地來巡視。他們乘著輪寶,一天一夜可以走遍一四天下,也就是一個太陽系,這是一般的講法。

若照黃念祖老居士的講法,一個單位世界是一個銀河系;換句話說,金輪王統治的範圍是一個銀河系。他的輪寶在二十四小時內,能周遍遊歷整個銀河系。輪王何以能統治如此大的國家?經上說,他以「十善業道」和「四無量心」,得此大福報。摩醯首羅天王是天王福報最大的,金輪聖王是人間福報最大的,都是修積功德而成就的,決不是以武力、霸道成就的。

在中國,秦始皇用霸道,三十幾年就亡國;在近代,希特勒用霸道,亦復如是;日本人用霸道對中國發動戰爭,八年就幾乎滅亡,最後無條件投降;這是在史實上證實霸道不能成就。在中國歷史上,建立王朝時間最久的是周朝,享國八百年,就是實行仁政,以「五倫」、「八德」來治理天下。而周朝末代的子孫,不遵守祖宗的教誨,不仁不義,最後招致亡國。倘若他們仍遵循祖宗的成規,周朝就不會亡國。

所以,仁慈、真誠、愛人,無條件的幫助別人、成就別人,這是世出世間真實的福報。真正的福報不是自己享受,是一切眾生享受,因為一切眾生就是自己。如同一位真正愛護子孫的老人,自己辛勤的耕耘、工作,就是希望兒孫過得幸福、美滿。他將兒孫看作自己,兒孫享受就是自己享受,這是世間人。諸佛菩薩是將一切眾生看作自己,實際上一切眾生真正是自己。這是說明生命是一個整體,盡虛空、遍法界是自己生命的共同體,亦即是一體。

若將虛空法界比作是一個人身,一切眾生就是身體的每個細胞。每個細胞都是自己,每個細胞都是平等的。雖然各個功能不相等,眼能見,耳能聽,但無論是眼、耳、鼻,或是內臟、四肢、皮膚、指甲,分析後皆變成分子、原子、電子,所有的組織完全是相等的,這是平等。所以,盡虛空、遍法界是一個自己,這是佛知佛見。

華嚴宗常講「作法界觀」。過去有些老法師,如隆泉法師、智光法師和南亭法師都是學《華嚴》的,他們在《華嚴經》上,看到祖師大德講的「作華嚴觀」。何謂「華嚴觀」?在日常生活當中,認真去做,認真去學,盡虛空、遍法界是一個自己,這就是華嚴觀。所有一切眾生,就像身體每個部位的細胞;不同族群就像不同的器官,少一個族群,人就會生病。所以才曉得,各種不同的族群,組織起來是一個圓滿、美好、完整的生命共同體,這樣你就會愛一切不同族群的眾生。所以,我們對於各種不同的文化、族群、宗教,以真誠心去愛護,全心全力去幫助,這就是《華嚴經》的落實。所謂落實,就是《華嚴經》的證果。「信、解、行、證」,證就是落實,完全落實在現實生活中,現實的生活就是「佛華嚴」,我們才得真正的受用。

釋迦牟尼佛當年在世示現的榜樣,我們要細心體會,認真學習,在一生中,就能過佛菩薩的生活。這樣,你就成佛、成菩薩,前途無限光明。這是諸佛如來對我們的期望,在這一生中決定可以證得,只要真正依教奉行。佛教我們做的,認真去做;佛教我們不許做的,決定不做,就能證實經上所講的事實真相,就能得到佛法的真實受用。

Ven Jin Kong 66.

Life doesn’t stay in place, even for just a moment.

— Gampopa

Gampopa 11

The Special Attitude of Bodhicitta
by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

By having the realisation of renunciation of our own samsara, when we look at others we see all their sufferings very clearly and we feel it is unbearable. That is how compassion is generated for others. That is how we achieve the realisation of compassion for other sentient beings. And, because of this unbearable feeling of compassion for the suffering sentient beings, we can attain bodhicitta. Understanding how we must experience our own samsara due to our mind being obscured, we see how it is exactly the same with them — their obscured minds are under the control of karma and delusions, making them experience the sufferings of samsara.

From that arises the special attitude, the determination, “I myself will free them from all the sufferings and cause them to have happiness. Those who do not have temporary happiness, I will cause them to have temporary happiness. Those who do not have ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara, I will cause them to have ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara. And those who do not have the peerless happiness of full enlightenment, I will cause them to have the peerless happiness of full enlightenment. I am going to do this work by myself alone.” In that way, we take the responsibility completely on ourselves.

This is the special attitude, the attitude that is vital if we are to attain bodhicitta and then enlightenment. Without it, without achieving the state of omniscient mind ourselves, we cannot do perfect work for other sentient beings. At the moment, we cannot perfectly guide even one sentient being. Even the arhats, who are completely liberated from all suffering and have ceased all karma and delusions, including the seeds of the delusions, even though they have skies of incredible qualities, such as psychic powers and clairvoyance, they still cannot do perfect work for other sentient beings because they still have subtle obscurations, the subtle negative imprints left on the mental continuum by past delusions, such as the wrong concept of inherent existence. There is still a subtle defilement that hinders their mind, causing them to make mistakes when they are guiding sentient beings.

For example, even the very high arhats cannot see the subtle karma of sentient beings because they have not abandoned the four unknowing minds. They cannot yet see the inconceivable secret actions of the buddhas. These actions are called secret because only buddhas themselves with their omniscient minds can see them. No matter how many realisations they have, no sentient being can see these secret actions because they still don’t have omniscience. And they cannot see the subtle karma of sentient beings. I think the other two unknowing minds should be checked, but my guess is that one is the inability to see things that happened an unbelievably long time ago, and the other is the inability to see things that are incredibly far away. These last two should be checked. [Rinpoche was correct] Therefore, even though those arhats have skies of unbelievable qualities, so many realisations, they still have not abandoned the four unknowing minds. Because of that, there is the possibility of making mistakes when trying to do perfect work for sentient beings.

This is true not only for arhats but even for bodhisattvas on the tenth bhumi, those who are close to achieving enlightenment. There is no question an arya bodhisattva on the tenth bhumi has unbelievable qualities, so much more than an arhat. But even the tenth bhumi bodhisattvas who are close to achieving enlightenment still have subtle defilements, the negative imprints that project the hallucinated appearance of inherent existence. That is the imprint and part of that hallucinated appearance, the obscuration to the omniscient mind, the obscuration to a fully knowing mind, called “obscuration to knowledge,” in Tibetan she drib.

Because there is still the possibility of a tenth bhumi bodhisattva making mistakes when trying to do perfect work for other sentient beings, the only way we can do this perfect work is by achieving omniscience. Therefore we must achieve omniscience.

It’s only when we meditate that we feel this. When we don’t meditate, it doesn’t happen. So, we must first meditate on the renunciation of our own samsaric suffering. And then, on the basis of that, we use whichever technique we want to train our mind in bodhicitta, either the seven techniques of the Mahayana cause and effect or equalising and exchanging the self with others.

The seven-point technique starts with equanimity, realising how all sentient beings are equal, and then recognising how all sentient beings have been our mother, remembering their kindness, generating the thought of repaying their kindness and then generating loving-kindness, which can be translated as the loving-kindness of seeing sentient beings in beauty.

This beauty has nothing to do with the body, with the beauty of the shape of the body. This beauty is seeing how that person is so precious, how they have been so kind to us, and because of that, we see their beauty. With that perception, we feel loving-kindness. Then there is compassion and then the special attitude, where we take complete responsibility upon ourselves for other sentient beings. After that, there is bodhicitta.

The feeling of bodhicitta will only come when we do these techniques of the seven-point Mahayana cause and effect or the other technique, equalising and exchanging self for others. Whichever technique we use, the feeling will come, otherwise, the feeling will not arise.

That is what is called “skin bodhicitta.” You know when you buy candies, there is the candy, the actual confectionery, and then there is the wrapping. If you lick the wrapping, there’s some sweetness on that, isn’t there? Maybe not on all of them! The analogy we normally use is the skin of a sugar cane. We only feel the thought to achieve enlightenment for others when we meditate, but after we stop meditating, after the session, we don’t feel it. That’s called “bodhicitta like the skin of the sugar cane.” It’s not the actual realisation of bodhicitta; it is what is called the effortful experience of bodhicitta, feeling bodhicitta when we are meditating on it but not when we are not. Of course, it has to happen like that at first.

Then, by continuously training the mind in bodhicitta, we start to feel it all the time, continuously, day and night. Not only during meditation, but even when we are not meditating, our mind remains in that attitude. We naturally feel that. Our mind naturally, spontaneously arises in that attitude all the time, while we are eating, working, talking — all the time, day and night, spontaneously, the thought arises to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. Whenever we see any living being — human being, insect, animal — we spontaneously have this thought to achieve enlightenment for them. That is the realisation of bodhicitta. That is like the actual sweet, not the skin of the sugar cane, but the inside sugarcane itself, the actual sweet.

Bodhisattvas who have the actual realisation of bodhicitta feel this so strongly; they cherish others like we cherish ourselves. Every other single sentient being is so precious; everyone is the most important one in the bodhisattva’s life. That is how a bodhisattva feels. Therefore, whatever they do they only do with this attitude, nothing else. There is no thought at all of working for the self, no thought of seeking happiness for themselves. The only thought is seeking happiness for others.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche 60.

If you’ve ever watched a dog or a cat chasing its own tail, you’ve seen the essence of samsara.

— Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

Mingyur Rinpoche 46.

修行人降除心魔的四种方法
印光大师

道高一尺,魔高一丈,是一定的。修行到功夫深了,难免没有魔来。魔有内魔,有外魔;外魔易退,内魔难降。如不能降,必要着魔;不但修功走失,亦且危险甚虞。若论降魔,约有四种方法。

一、要识魔相

凡着魔的人,大都遇着魔来的时候,不知道他是魔,以致着魔。倘能识得魔相,即不着魔而魔自退。怎样是魔相?大凡可爱、可贪、可畏、可憎的人物或境界当前,无不是魔。至五阴内魔,尤为厉害。《楞严经》说五十种阴魔,至为详尽,亟须仔细参穷,免得临时上当。

二、舍身无畏

人必先有舍却身命之心,然后可以学佛;人必先有看破生死之勇,然后可以降魔。魔化夜叉、罗刹来搏噬我,魔化猛虎、毒蛇来啖食我,都是幻想,何惧之有?即使真被吞食,亦是夙业所招,况脱去皮囊、往生极乐,正当感谢于他,为我早日解脱。所以修行之人,雷霆起于侧而不惊,泰山崩于前而不动,魔力虽大,其奈我何?否则贪生畏死,恐怖怆惶,不待魔来,方寸已乱,欲不着魔,其可得乎?

三、不取不舍

魔之为物,取固不可,舍亦非宜。遇着魔来时候,必须镇定我心,既不可贪恋他,又不可厌恶他。要作几种思想:一想魔即是佛,佛即是魔;觉即成佛,迷即是魔。魔如佛如,并无二理。又想眷属即魔,魔即眷属。眷属同居,人之常情。魔在我旁,于我何害?又想魔亦是众生之一,一切众生我都要劝他发心念佛,魔既亦是众生,我也要劝他发心念佛,伴我修行,转成法侣。总之,魔来不拒,魔去不留,如此则魔术俱穷,无论外魔内魔,一齐退去。

四、持咒却魔

初修行时,小小魔关,容易打破;等到道力渐深,藏在八识里面的多生根本习气被功夫逼迫出来,或欲念横飞,或妄心乱起,力量甚大,非比寻常,修行人惟此末后一关最难逃过,全仗自力诚恐把握不住,必须仗着佛力帮忙,惟有摄住心神,持诵神咒。咒为佛之金刚心印,无论何种恶魔,遇着即摧成粉碎。诸咒降魔之力,以《楞严》为最胜;当日阿难证须陀洹初果地位,尚且仗此脱离淫席。次则《大悲心咒》,为观世音菩萨所说;观世音具十四种无畏功德,故降魔之力亦宏。但持咒功夫必须平日持得烂熟,否则魔到临头,恐字句都记忆不起,何能通利?何能相应?所以平日功课中,《楞严》《大悲》两咒是每日必须要念、不可间断的。又一心念佛,即无魔事;纵有魔来,倘能不惊不怖,至诚念佛,决定立刻消灭。何以故?以正念昭彰,魔无容身之处故。是以念佛之人不需另找降魔之法,而魔事自无由而起矣。

Ven Ying Kwang (印光大師) 13.

If worldly activities are done right, the celestial realms are not far off. If the worldly and spiritual stairway is climbed, then even liberation is at hand.

— Nāgārjuna

Nagarjuna (龙树菩萨) 68.