The Good Fortune Of Ageing
by Thrangu Rinpoche

If we consider it carefully, being able to live into old age
is actually a remarkably fortunate thing. If we had died while we
were young, we wouldn’t have had the chance to grow old.

Presently, in the 21st century, many countries have ageing societies and an increase in older members in the population. Although it is true that older people’s thinking differs from the rest of the population, it would be quite pointless to believe that we are no longer useful and just feel sorry for ourselves. Why is this so? If we consider it carefully, being able to live into old age is actually a remarkably fortunate thing. If we had died while we were young, we wouldn’t have had the chance to grow old.

NOW IS THE BEST TIME TO PRACTICE

We might not have had too much time to encounter the dharma and practice when we were younger. Perhaps we had to work hard to make a living and feed our families. Nevertheless, this period of toil has passed. Now that we are older and have retired, we have more opportunities to connect with and practice the dharma. We have more time to learn the dharma that benefits both current and future lifetimes. Thus, we need to really seize this opportunity and work hard at it. We can recite more prayers and do more good deeds, and especially practice the dharma diligently!

We should think about ageing in this positive way. If we examine our lives properly, we are not the only ones getting old; every single person in this world ages. It is an undeniable fact of life that we cannot change. Therefore, we need to make full use of this opportunity to practice the dharma. Doing so will definitely bring about results.

EXPERIENCE IS THE MOST PRECIOUS ASSET

If you are older now, you have probably experienced many ups and downs and have some life experiences to share with younger people. You can tell them about your successes and failures and what attitudes they should take towards achievements and challenges. Remind them not to give in to jealousy and pride when they enjoy moments of success, and not to become devastated and succumb to life’s failures.

Encourage youth to really think for themselves. As an older person, it is your responsibility to share your precious experience. No matter if they take it to heart or not, based on a virtuous motivation, you have to share your experience with your children or other young people. View it as your responsibility to provide advice.

EVERYONE AGES

Now that our worldly concerns in this life are coming to an end, we should be grateful for this invaluable chance to grow old. We should regard this as a wonderful thing and be joyful and happy. We are all similar in the fact that everyone in the world ages, so we should be grateful for being able to live to a ripe old age! Thinking like this is not only beneficial for our bodies, but it also allows us to feel more relaxed mentally. It has great benefits for both mind and body.

We should do prostrations or circumambulate stupas whenever we can. This is both a form of dharma practice and a type of physical exercise. If feelings of jealousy, pride, anger, or sadness arise, we must carefully examine them and realise their faults. We need to frequently remind ourselves how fortunate we are to have obtained a precious human body and to have engaged in the study of the dharma!

Thrangu Rinpoche 19.

Knowing that the nature of anger and happiness is empty, just do not attach to them, and your karma will fall away.

— Bodhidharma

Bodhidharma 106.

为什么现在年轻人有心理疾病的特别多?
妙祥法师

(为僧众讲述《佛说四十二章》的“财色招苦”篇)这人贪财,现在就没法说,因为现在世界上已经是崇拜金钱主义,人活着都没有缝(出路)。昨天还跟几个人谈到这个问题,有个居士就说:“现在这人哪,精神都不正常,很多年轻的都要‘出马’看病,精神恍惚。

过去都是岁数大的才去当巫医神汉的,怎么现在连年轻的精神也是这样。”我说:“你不能怪他,怪谁呢?怪现在没有这种德的教育。”(编者注:出马,指某些人利用迷信欺骗人,进行所谓的“鬼神附体”,为人看病,即民间所说的巫医神汉这一类的。)

现在的这种教育就是个财,有钱的就有了一切,没钱的什么都没有了。谁在讲理呢?就是财在讲理,有钱就有理,没钱就没有理。而且人堕落到这个苦里了,很多的人,特别是性格软弱、心地善良的人,他又不能与别人去争夺钱财,而且能力也有限度,所以他在这里就苦恼,他现在还不明白“财色招苦”的问题。

你看看现在的人,有时候父子的关系、母女的关系都得拿钱财来衡量,人和人的关系是看在钱财上,什么朋友、道友……都不存在,只看钱财。社会上也是,你有钱你就生存,没钱你就没法生存。

一切都是财,离开了财,夫妻俩第二天就要分手,那个跟那个走,这个跟这个走,儿女就扔下了。父和子的关系也是财,有钱呢,就跟你叫父亲;没钱呢,跟有钱的叫父亲。他把钱叫父亲,你没钱,你就不是父亲。

曾经有一个大学生上美国留学,然后定居。他母亲和父亲听说他结婚了,去看他,可能带了好几万去美国。住了七八天,他就问他母亲:“你什么时候回去?”他母亲当时就急眼了,她说:“我养你这么大,好不容易上这来了,才呆了七八天,你就开始撵我回去了。”不管你怎么说,他也不理她。就是吃饭在一起吃,吃完连话也不跟你说,扭头就走了。把她气得这个伤心,没办法。

后来她母亲说:“你还我钱,我把你从小养到这么大,你把钱都给我找回来,又上大学,又上美国……”从小养到大,你说得花多少钱?气了一大顿,好不容易把他说了。说了也不行,最后俩人生气,全回来了。就是说,现在的社会就是认钱、认色,娶了妻子有了色,父母那个钱财不能满足他的需要的时候,他对父母就产生了这种厌离心。

所以说,生活在这个世界上的人为钱色所困,没有道德,不知道钱是害人的,而且认为钱就是唯一的生存方式。他就把钱看成生命一样,没有钱就等于没有生命,所以这样的人就苦恼,在没有前途、没有道德的情况下,他的精神肯定要错乱的。

人活着就像在一个没有缝的铁锅里,处在黑暗里,钻不出去,多少人被这所困。你若说做坏事,他心地善良,不能去做,他也不能抢银行啊,是不是?银行不能抢,若被关起来,就死了。

又不能去骗人,去骗人吧,一个是没有那本领,另外,自己心里也不愿去做。再说,只要是你想骗别人,别人早就想骗你呢,是不是?他也不存在骗人的本钱。女人除非给人做“小姐”或做一些不应该的事情,痛苦万分,她又不甘心。

从小就已经看到自己没有什么前途了,关键是他这种追求金钱的思想一旦起来的时候,人就没有缝,你说得怎么天花乱坠,对他来讲都是在热锅上煎熬,最后人就变成精神不正常,没有解脱之力。所以说,现在年轻人精神分裂的特别多。主要是心里没有道德,没有解脱之路。

我说,他们如果能到咱这寺院来,心里就能开一点缝。咱这个僧团为什么没有进入深山去修行?为什么在这?就想给世间留一点缝出来,没有别的意思,让大家从痛苦中能喘口气,从那能出来,别死在那里。咱们不要钱、不摸钱,一切都不要,都舍去,就是给世间留这么一点缝隙。所以佛教能拯救这个,这是我们的责任。

Ven Miao Xiang (妙祥法师) 2.

Nurture your mind to loosen its grip on worries or fear, pressures to succeed, resentments or regrets, and instead look with love and generosity, embracing the potential in uncertainty, letting others be themselves, finding your inspiration.

— His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, Jigme Pema Wangchen

Gyalwang Drukpa 16.

Participation in the World
by Venerable Sheng Yen

Compassion is undoubtedly the foundation of Buddhist teachings, and it is compassion that resides in the hearts of all Buddhas and bodhisattvas. In order to foster compassion, the initial motivating force of an aspiring bodhisattva practitioner must be strong and secure. He or she must be equipped with correct views and effective methods. More importantly, the foundations for growth-a wholesome personality, compassionate sensibilities, and stability of mind-must be firm. To this end, bodhisattva practitioners should not only meditate regularly but also make use of every opportunity to interact with the world in order to hone their ability to help themselves and others.

A wholesome personality comes from the cultivation of the bodhi-mind, which can be described as the desire to help others overcome pain and suffering, along with the inclination to put the welfare of others before one’s own. To eliminate self-obsession and self-clinging, practitioners of the Dharma, and of Chan in particular, should develop the inner strength needed to let go of self-centredness and work to reduce their inclination toward craving, aversion, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. The less dominated we are by these afflictive emotions, the stronger our bodhi-mind, and the greater our opportunity for gaining entry into the Dharma.

The aforementioned inner strength comes from the recognition of the interdependent relationships between ourselves and others. This recognition moves us and draws from us the capacity to reach out toward a deeper and wider circle of sentient beings. Living with this kind of mindset naturally reduces our feelings of separateness, alienation, and self-centredness. This inner strength can help us participate fully in the world, allowing us to give ourselves to others and to receive others into our lives. In this way, we can gradually be freed from suffering and eventually reach the safe shore of enlightenment-Buddhahood. Such an attitude is precisely the “right view” we often speak of in Buddhist discourse.

This right view can be manifested in many ways. Acting from the mind of compassion and understanding, one can naturally incorporate the ten good deeds, the five precepts, the four great vows, and the three sets of pure precepts into one’s life. Should you feel intimidated by the scope of these precepts, or that you will probably not be able to observe some of the five precepts and ten good deeds with comfort and integrity, you can elect to postpone taking on those particular precepts and provisionally accept only those you feel able to keep, along with the three sets of pure precepts and the four great vows. The point of taking the bodhisattva precepts is not to make practitioners feel guilty or anxious, but rather to plant the seed of compassion and wisdom in their minds. A practitioner who takes and agrees to keep the bodhisattva precepts with some exceptions will still be considered a bodhisattva. By taking the bodhisattva precepts, you enter into the great assembly and become another son or daughter in the family of Buddhas.

As stated before, the goal of attaining complete enlightenment for all sentient beings is intimidatingly lofty. Its realisation is subtle and profound, and the path leading to it is long and arduous. The conditions for achieving Buddhahood are rarer and more precious than the finest of this world’s jewels. Yet while Buddhahood is extremely difficult to attain, it is not impossible. We can attain it by mustering all our determination and putting forth all our effort. In other words, the “price” of Buddhahood is to give whatever it takes, to implement the Dharma with wholehearted, unreserved devotion. That means striving to achieve supreme wisdom on the one hand, while dedicating ourselves to the lasting, genuine happiness and eventual deliverance of all sentient beings on the other.

By purifying and washing away afflictive emotions and fundamental ignorance, we will increase our insight into the true nature of reality or wisdom. We can use this wisdom as a mirror with which to not only see ourselves but to let others see themselves to help them wash away afflictive emotions and ignorance too. To this end, we should work tirelessly to improve ourselves and practice good deeds to benefit ourselves and others. This is precisely the task of a bodhisattva as set forth in all systems of bodhisattva precepts: to keep all pure precepts, to practice all good deeds, and to deliver all sentient beings. Once again, I encourage all practitioners, whatever your abilities or dispositions, to take the bodhisattva precepts, so as to decisively establish yourselves on the path of liberation.

Ven Sheng Yen 94.

When asked about the importance of receiving teachings on dedication, Gape Lama answered, “Whatever Dharma practise we engage in, large or small, we must dedicate the merit. If we fail to dedicate, then whatever merit we have accumulated can be lost very easily in a moment of anger, or in giving rise to any afflictive emotion or action.

— Padmasambhava, Guru Rinpoche

Guru_rinpoche

做最真实的自己
文|东子

我们生活在一个忙碌的信息化时代, 每天过着日复一日的单调生活,戴着连自己都看不清的面具与人相处。可此时的我们是否认真思考过,自己喜不喜欢这样的生活?

的确,对于现代人来说,穿梭在各种复杂的关系中,面对来自不同地域的人,生活不再那么惬意,人与人之间的交往也不再那么单纯,面具于是成了人们沟通的桥梁。或许我们自己都不知道自己到底戴过多少张面具,其中哪一张才是真正的自己。不同的场合需要展现不同的姿态,只有戴上了面具才能在这个社会里生存,即使它会成为一种可怕的习惯。无论我们愿不愿意,面具都已经融入了我们的生活,是人之常情,是合乎其理的。

然而,失去自我的生活是苦不堪言 的,一个人每天都要扮演着不同的角色,应付着性格各异的人,既不想事事顺从别人的心意,又不能义正词严地表达自己的不满,因此内心世界的空洞便越来越大。终有那么一天,我们会在喧嚣闹市、灯红酒绿中迷惘、惆怅、寂寞、空虚,成为一个失去灵魂的人,这样的人生意义何在?

人活着首先应该充实自己,而不是一味迎合他人。别人不了解我,我不着急,着急的是自己不了解自己。有时候做人就该秉承“走自己的路,让别人说去吧”的原则,如果过于在意别人的看法,那就是在为别人而活,只会让自己活得更累。我们无法改变别人的看法,但我们可以弥补自己的不足,可以完善自己,只有愚蠢的人才会想着放下自己的身架去讨好别人,去奉承别人。

我们是做一个自己,还是演一个自己?曾经看过—本书,书里面概括的两个标准我都很赞同:一是不要活在别人的剧本里,二是不要让别人的标准扰乱了自己的生活。

假如一生都活在别人为你设计好了的场景里,不能不说是一件很悲哀的事情。不管那个设计师是父母还是朋友,也不管他们的出发点如何,如果那不是自己所想要的生活,就应该果断地拒绝,就不要轻易去接受,人生最重要的就是要能够主宰自己的人生,规划自己的生活。

人活于世,我们都是赤裸裸地来,又赤裸裸地离开,既然明白逝后将是万事空,就应该看淡眼前的一切身外之物。为了让生活更加美好,我们都曾不懈地追求过某些事物,都曾给自已找过一个外在的人生目标,可在追寻的过程中,我们却常常迷失了自我,陷入了物质欲望的漩涡。一个让别人的标准凌驾于自己生活之上的人,很难快乐地生活。

人生苦短,或许我们总是为了生活而违背自己的心,或许我们在戴着不同的面具上蹿下跳,但我们必须坚守自己最真实的个性,有句话说得好:你的生命就像你的家,如果因为你的不坚持,会让别人进来帮你布置,但不要忘了,在里面住一辈子的人是你自己。

Lotus 118.

When you refrain from anger, you are protecting others not just from your anger but also from getting caught up in their own.

— 7th Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Ponlop Rinpoche 21.

Pilgrimage
by Anam Thubten Rinpoche

Many modern people who practice spirituality in a nontraditional or more secular fashion might not think about visiting a shrine or holy site, although they may go away from their homes to spend time in nature or participate in meditation retreats for a period of time. Going to see some famous historic religious sites as a tourist might not count as a pilgrimage, however.

Notre Dame of Paris, the Potala Palace, the Ajanta Caves, and the Borobudur attract many people who are purely interested in the historical significance or outstanding architecture; their only “prayers” might be to take some photos. The same people who visit Notre Dame will also go to the Louvre Museum and see the Mona Lisa for the same purpose of cultural exploration; they may also stay in luxurious hotels and try expensive French wine and cheese. Flocks of tourists paying visits to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood to behold the footprints of movie stars and starlets, or going to the headquarters of world-renowned corporations such as Google to get a selfie next to the logo, don’t have anything in their mind that has to do with sacred.

The idea of pilgrimage is becoming increasingly antiquated and irrelevant to the younger generation in some parts of the world. Yet there are also many cultures today where pilgrimage is as alive as it always has been. It is an important observance for many Buddhists across diverse traditions. Millions of Buddhists aspire to see Bodh Gaya, where Shakyamuni Buddha became awakened under a tree. Once they get there, they don’t just spend time taking pictures, nor do they wine and dine; if they do, it is just a supplemental activity. Their main objective is to pray and meditate; to experience karmic purification and gain wisdom and insight into the nature of reality.

Because of modern conveniences, the quality of pilgrimage is becoming watered down. Taking a flight or a train, with constant access to food and restaurants, and having a hotel with countless amenities, is how many travel to see these ancient sites. It can be too comfortable and mechanical in comparison to the way people did it in the old days.

Before the modern era, people in Tibet would walk for days with only simple comforts to reach a holy site. They would usually carry staples themselves, or bring an animal to carry their basic necessities. For them, the starting point of their journey was as important as arriving at the destination. The whole journey was dedicated as a spiritual practice, with a daily focus on prayer and meditation. These pilgrims often went through an authentic conversion on such a journey, which was the initial intention that inspired them in the first place. Nowadays, fewer and fewer have the willingness to follow in the footsteps of those pilgrims of the past; today everything is expected to happen quickly and comfortably — including enlightenment.

A favourite memory that still revisits me after many years is walking in the snowy Himalayas on a pilgrimage as a young boy, making tea in the open air by boiling water from fresh rivers flowing down from the high mountains; eating tsampa while laughing with friends; reciting mantras that invoked connection with the sacred and love; and the ecstasy of seeing the holy mountains and images, washing the heart of all its pains. These are priceless moments that cannot be recreated easily at personal will, due to the impact of the time we are living in today, an era of comfort and technology.

Now and then, a deep grief arises in me over the loss of these old traditions. Some of the people who walked with me are gone from this world. Yet I wish their beautiful memory of such a journey is still travelling somewhere in the universe, even though their physical forms are already dissolved. Many memorable moments can never be fully captured or described in any way unless one has been in that specific time and place.

It might have to do with being brought up in a Buddhist culture that many of us feel the sense of the sacred upon visiting holy sites in the East. Unlike other parts of the world, Asia is full of Buddhist holy sites associated with buddhas and bodhisattvas. They are everywhere in China, India, Japan, and Korea. In the last few years, my friends have taken me to some sites in Asia that are historical as well as blessed by great masters of the past. A feeling of pure joy arises in me each time I visit them; I feel I’m embraced by something utterly wholesome. Sometimes I wish that there were Buddhist holy sites in the West where we could go on a pilgrimage and feel the same kind of blessing. Some might say that if our mind is open enough, anywhere can be a holy site.

I have had the good fortune to travel to the heart of Canyon De Chelly in the US a few times to do Chod retreats with some wonderful friends. The inside of the canyon is quite rugged and devoid of any touch of modernity. We hiked a few hours both ways, going in and coming out. Each of us brought our camping tents and gear, along with simple food. I ate lots of ramen noodles for their convenience, which is not part of my usual daily diet. Almost every day, we took long walks and then sat and performed rituals. To me, it was such a powerful pilgrimage that words cannot describe its full impact, which is still continuing in me. There are a few memories that I would like to cherish for the rest of my life. This is one of them.

In the end, pilgrimage is not so much about feeling holy or encountering divine visions along the way, but it is an invitation to each of us to look into all our attachments and let go of them. Can we experience a profound sense of letting go of all the comforts that are part of a modern pilgrimage? We might like to try to keep the tradition of ancient pilgrims that can help us go through life-changing experiences by dropping our inner bondage.

Anam Thubten 17.

Of all the worldly passions, lust is the most intense. All other worldly passions seem to follow in its train.

— The Buddha

Bronze Buddha