Mindset Determines How We Age
by Thrangu Rinpoche

Keep a cheerful, calm state of mind. Try not to overthink
when we are unhappy. This is beneficial to both our body and mind,
and helps to slow down the ageing process.

Elderly Tibetans often circle stupas and make prostrations. This is a kind of dharma practice, and also a type of physical exercise. Due to cultural differences, elderly populations elsewhere have different habits and customs. However, I think the main difference lies in whether or not they have encountered the dharma.

WAVE GOODBYE TO NEGATIVE THINKING

Generally, in their spare time, Buddhists listen to the teachings or stay at home to practice or recite prayers, so they don’t easily become upset. Elderly non-Buddhists mostly reside in places without the dharma or do not have the chance to learn about the dharma. Even though they might lead comfortable lives, they tend to have more negative thinking. Once they retire and have nothing to do, they tend to feel more bored and lonely.

The most important thing for older people is to not be pessimistic. We should not constantly think, “Oh, I am too old. I am really struggling a lot” and focus solely on negative things.

We should often be cautious not to give rise to thoughts of jealousy, pride, and anger. When they do arise, we have to realise that these negative thoughts are of no use to us.

Older people in different situations experience distinct afflictions and suffering. For example, some have more anger and are short-tempered, others suffer more from physical pain. Fortunately, there are ways to face all these afflictions and suffering.

AFFLICTIONS ALSO DEPEND ON CONDITIONS

According to the Treasury of Abhidharma, there are three causes for the afflictions to arise: not abandoning the kernels of the afflictions, the object being present, and inappropriate attention. An older person with more anger in them, for example, has not abandoned the kernel of anger. When they see an object that angers them, they develop inappropriate attention. This means that they persistently think about the person who angered them and the terrible things that person has done. They feel this way even if the person never directly harmed them, due to the influence of inappropriate attention.

Afflictions arise when the causes and conditions, namely the kernels, object, and inappropriate attention are present. We can handle the situation by thinking logically, and approaching it from an objective and positive perspective. The person who angered us might have had no alternative, which is something with which we can empathise. We ourselves probably also behaved wrongly at that time. Using a logical approach, based on reasoning, helps to diminish our anger, and makes it easier for us to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion. This practice is suitable for older people with more anger in them.

CULTIVATE DEVOTION TOWARDS THE DHARMA

Some of us experience mental suffering, but constantly feeling sorry for ourselves is not constructive. We should consider the fact that there are many people in this world suffering just like we are. We are not the only ones experiencing pain.

We should try to think about what we can do to alleviate the pain of others. We can recite prayers and make dedications for them.

Thinking and practising like this also reduces our own worries and suffering.

In general, we should try to cultivate devotion towards the dhar­ma. We can do things like reciting prayers, circling stupas, and meditating to help us develop devotion.

In a way, we can say that people living in Asia are very fortunate. Although it is rare to find stupas in most places, they can visit monasteries, meditate there, and make offerings and aspirations, which are all excellent practices.

In addition, some older people may suffer from serious illnesses and experience various physical discomforts. They should make use of the opportunity to pray to the Medicine Buddha, practice his sadhana, and recite his mantra.

FEELING JOY TOWARDS AGEING

As an older person, I make a habit of reminding myself that being able to age like this is such a wonderful and fortunate thing. It is proof of my longevity. We should make use of our precious time to practice the dharma.

We need to be optimistic and joyful and remind ourselves that not everyone is able to live as long as we have. This is not easy to achieve, so we must treasure our ageing process and give rise to inner joy.

Keep a cheerful, calm state of mind. Try not to overthink when we are unhappy. This is beneficial to both our body and mind and helps to slow down the ageing process. A body and mind that is calm and cheerful is extremely beneficial to us.

The more you are preoccupied with your own physical ageing, the more anxious you will become. Do not worry so much about your physical appearance. Concentrate, rather, on not wasting your life. Practise the Dharma. The more you engage in it, the more your satisfaction will grow.

— Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

涅槃是什么?
斌宗法师

前言

修学佛法最后的归趣在求证涅槃,那么学佛修行的人,当要彻底明白它,不可轻易忽略它。然而它到底是个什么东西?让我来略说一下:


一、涅槃的意义

涅槃是梵语,正音为波利匿缚男,旧云涅槃,今顺古亦云涅槃。又名泥洹,或云涅槃那,皆音之讹略,或楚夏不同。旧译为灭度,或云寂灭、无为、解脱、安乐、不生不灭等,名虽异其义则同。今单举灭度和寂灭二义释之:灭度,即‘灭’除烦恼,‘度’脱生死的意思。寂灭,寂谓理性‘寂’静,灭谓烦恼‘灭’除。亦可说,证得‘寂’静之体性,自然烦恼‘灭’除;烦恼灭除,自然证得寂静体性。“智论”云:涅名为出,槃名为趣,谓永出诸趣生死,则亦可译为出趣也。

若据新译——玄奘法师则译为‘圆寂’,此义比较来得完善,因为寂灭、灭度、解脱等译,不过仅约断德方面,言断灭生死烦恼。圆寂则统明智断二德。今略释之:

具足一切福德智慧叫做‘圆’;永离一切烦恼生死叫做‘寂’。简单的说:即德无不‘圆’,患无不‘寂’。详细的说:即福慧二严做到圆满无缺(圆),三惑烦恼彻底清除,二种生死完全度脱(寂),永远不再被烦恼生死所困扰,回复‘圆’明‘寂’照的本有心体,而获到一种纯善纯美的庄严解脱。这就是涅槃的境界——圆寂。圆约进善方面言(成就一切福德);寂约灭恶方面言(断惑灭苦)。据此研究起来,圆寂似乎大乘无为的涅槃,寂静、灭度等为小乘涅槃。

要之,圆寂也就是指得‘圆明寂照之真心’。因为它——真心——本具一切功德(圆),永离一切烦恼(寂)故。成佛即证此真心,故涅槃并非诸佛的专有品,不过凡夫一向为梦想所蒙昧,因此不能证得。所谓迷则颠倒梦想,悟则究竟涅槃。

当知梦想,根本是由本觉真心而起的,我人如能灭一分梦想,即证一分真觉(如镜子去一分尘埃,即现一分光明),乃至全灭全证。至此则一切功德无不复归‘圆’满,一切烦恼生死无不毕竟空‘寂’,是证到大乘究竟涅槃的境界。

二、涅槃的种类

现在再来把它的种类介绍一下:涅槃有二种,一、有余,二、无余,要详细明白它当分三段来讲:

(一)就小乘方面:证得阿罗汉果,对于招感生死业因的见思惑,虽已断尽而更不生起,但尚有前业所招的生死果报身未灭(生命体犹存),叫做有余涅槃(尚有余此有漏依身的生死苦果可灭故)。若连以前烦恼业所受之身亦灭,更不随业受生死,叫做无余涅槃(无余外生死苦果可灭故)。换言之:不但招感生死之本的心理上之烦恼业惑已经解脱,即众苦所聚的生理上之现实生命体亦同称解脱,此为无余涅槃。以上为小乘的有余、无余涅槃(此有余、无余同为一体,因同断见思,同证真理。其不同处,唯在有漏依身上灭,未灭上分)。

(二)就大乘方面:若变易生死因尽为有余涅槃,变易的果尽为无余涅槃。此为大乘的有余、无余涅槃。

(三)就大小相对言;小乘所证涅槃为‘有余’,因为它仅断见思烦恼,灭分段生死而已,尚‘有’其‘余’的尘沙、无明烦恼未断,变易生死未了,故曰有余。至于大乘所证的涅槃,则为‘无余’,因为它是三惑全断,二种生死永灭,再‘无’其‘余’的烦恼可断,生死可了,故曰无余。此为大小相对的有余、无余涅槃。

又近代的学者说:果报身未灭为有余(虽惑断而身尚在)待果报身灭时,始称为无余的涅槃。

更对于小乘和大乘涅槃的分解,详细可再分为三点说明:

1、小乘灭生死而涅槃,大乘达生死即涅槃,这叫做本性寂灭非寂灭异,此其一也。

2、小乘唯断界内见思,大乘并断界外(三界外)尘沙、无明,这叫做界内界外断惑异,此其二也。

3、小乘无身无智,未彻证法身般若之德;大乘则身知具足,众德圆备,这叫做众德具不具异,此其三也。我来引一段经文补释这众德具不具的道理,使读者易懂。

“法华玄赞”二云:‘一、真如之体灵明妙觉,名为般若’;彼为觉性故也。小乘之涅槃体非觉性,故不名般若。二、真如之体出所知障,名为‘法身’;彼为一切功德法所依故。小乘之涅槃非为功德法所依,故不名法身。三、真如之体众苦都尽,名为‘解脱’;彼离分段变易故。小乘之涅槃唯离分段,未脱变易,故非圆满解脱。

据上所说,小乘涅槃所断的是见思烦恼,所灭的是分段生死,所证的是偏空真理,所以它的生死因便是见思烦恼,它的生死果即指有漏依身(为有漏烦恼感受生死所依之身)。大乘涅槃,所断的是尘沙、无明烦恼,所灭的是变易生死,所证的是中道实相理。此则以尘沙、无明为变易生死因,空及二边之法相为变易生死果。

二乘人灭分段生死,不受后有而入涅槃。大乘菩萨及佛虽变易生死,息妄归真,而证无余涅槃。或云:‘佛息应身之化,归于真身之本’谓之无余涅槃。

总之,二乘所证涅槃,它的本体是见思烦恼永寂,偏空真谛理显现。菩萨所证涅槃,它的本体是尘沙烦恼永寂,但中俗谛理显现。佛所证的涅槃,它的本体是无明烦恼永寂,实相中谛理显现。

小乘虽然不算圆满解脱,可是它已能了脱分段生死,因此,亦得称为涅槃——小涅槃;三德中仅具解脱一分。至于大乘所证的涅槃,可就不同了,它是圆断烦恼、圆满解脱、圆证三身、圆获三智;那法身、般若、解脱三德具备,常乐我净的四德不缺。

此外还有性净涅槃、无住涅槃,合前有余、无余为四种涅槃。有余、无余是三乘共证,凡夫无分;性净涅槃是凡圣同具;无住涅槃是佛果独证。今略说明之:‘性净涅槃’谓诸法自体,性本空寂,不假他修,法法平等,圣凡不二的理性。‘无住涅槃’是说不住生死,不住涅槃,因为它是福慧圆满,更无所求。体虽如如而能不变随缘;用虽生灭而能随缘不变。又以大悲故不住涅槃(不忍坐视沉溺生死的众生而不救);以大智故不住生死(不被无明所迷,业力所转),故云无住。

结语

如上所明,涅槃是学佛修行最后的归趣,不消说它当然是个无法估价的圣果。嗟嗟!世有一班不懂教义的人,竟以涅槃认为是死的别名,这是根本错误的!要知道,它——涅槃,乃诸佛圣者所同证的圣果,是由历劫辛苦,积行一切功德所换来的代价。就以小乘涅槃来说:并不是个个死了就能即证涅槃。请大家认识清楚为幸!

Even if you can recite the whole Tripitaka by heart, even if you know the entire Dharma, if you don’t have the guru’s advice, there will be a gap between you and the Dharma when you practice.

— Atiśha

Three in One: A Buddhist Trinity
by Reginald A. Ray

It is said that the Buddha is defined by three bodies of enlightenment, the so-called trikaya of classical Mahayana theory. These include the dharmakaya, the body of ultimate reality; the sambhogakaya, the body of joy; and the nirmanakaya, the Buddha’s conditioned, human body of flesh and blood. The trikaya theory often seems rather abstract and remote, far removed from our ordinary lives and daily meditation practice. In this column, I want to suggest, however, that the trikaya actually forms part of our most intimate experience and is the very basis of our present human existence.

According to the Abhidharma, there are three major kinds of ground that all humans experience in the course of their lives. The first, the ground of “existence,” is the experience of ourselves as having a relatively solid and continuous identity, grounded in the practical, conventional world. This ground is affirmed through all the activities of the body, speech and mind by which we seek to define, maintain and enhance our familiar sense of “self.” This ground corresponds to the conventional idea of human life and is what most people view as the essence of their identity.

The second kind of ground is “death/birth.” There are times when we find ourselves unable to maintain the identity we have thought of as “me.” We feel weak and shaky, our very bodies and mind seem to be dissolving, and we feel like we are falling apart. In the midst of this fear, we may feel as if we are dying. We can call this ground “death/birth,” because whatever dissolution and death we may experience — whether psychological, social or even physical — is at the very same time a birth into another identity or mode of being.

The third kind of ground is emptiness or the “groundless ground.” Here, sometimes abruptly, we come face to face with our own nonexistence. We look to the solid and desirable ground of our familiar “existence,” and even to the typically undesirable ground of “death/birth,” and can find neither. We are able to discover nothing but space that is open, clear and empty. People report discovering this third kind of ground in the midst of a serious automobile accident, or when they have suddenly been humiliated, or while making love. It can also occur when we are stunned by traumatic news, overwhelmed by sadness or surprised by something extraordinarily beautiful.

These three grounds are nothing other than the three bodies of enlightenment manifesting in our experience. The apparent solidity and continuity of “existence” is the practical, helpful nirmanakaya; the perpetual change and transformation of “death/birth” is the unceasing sambhogakaya, and the unbounded openness of “emptiness” is nothing other than the immutable dharmakaya.

But, we may ask, how can these three bodies possibly manifest in the experience of confused, unenlightened people such as ourselves? Buddhism teaches that within each of us is buddhanature — the immaculate, peerless state of enlightenment embodied in a perfected way by the Buddha. What is this buddhanature? It is nothing other than the three bodies of a fully awakened one. Buddhism affirms, in other words, that the three kayas, in their integral, pure and mature form, are within us at this very moment.

Yet obviously we do not experience the three kayas in their full and perfected form. Rather, when they arise as the background of every moment of our lives, we instantly overlay and obscure them with the habitual, distorting tendencies of our ego.

Each of us, based on our particular karmic proclivities, tends to focus on one or another of the three kayas. We try to create from it a solid, secure ground for our samsaric “self.” For most of us, the nirmanakaya, in its solidified form as “existence,” is the ground we most prefer, with “death/birth” and “emptiness” being undesirable or even deeply feared grounds. Others, however, seek their primary security in the constant turmoil of “death/birth,” and find the continuity and stability of “existence” or the ground of emptiness extremely threatening. Such individuals feel compelled to create constant chaos in their own lives and in the lives of others. For still other people — and these are usually spiritual practitioners — the desired ground of ego is emptiness: they find themselves most comfortable with empty space and quite reluctant to credit either “existence” or “death/birth” as legitimate modes of being.

We can see from our own experience that the attempt to create an ego identity out of any of the three grounds is fraught with difficulties and contradictions. The fallacy of the conventional attempt to build an identity out of the nirmanakaya is perhaps the easiest to understand. By seeking permanence and security in “existence,” one is refusing to acknowledge the impermanence that marks all phenomena and the emptiness that underlies it all. In so doing, the conventionally grounded person is locking him- or herself into an identity that — while perhaps fresh and creative in its formation — quickly becomes outworn, restrictive and even deadly when the causes and conditions that produced that identity have changed, making it no longer applicable. From this arises the demonic quality of the conventional, modern world, where impermanence, change and death are marginalised and denied.

The attempt to make the continuing impermanence of “death/birth” a reference point is equally problematic. In this case, fearing the suffocating potential of “existence” we become perpetual rebels, deeply mistrustful of any appearance of continuity, stability or peace. The irony and self-contradiction here are that, in our perpetual opposition to any fixed identity, we have created the most fixed identity of all, one of invariable opposition to anything that has been built and created, by ourselves or anyone else.

The attempt to use the “groundless ground” of emptiness as our primary identity is also flawed. When we try to dwell in emptiness and refuse to give the more conditioned aspects of our lives their proper due, we avoid taking seriously the legitimate requirements of our own karmic situation. Yet just because we are trying to avoid the relative world, it does not go away. Instead, our avoidance of karma that is calling to be dealt with creates its own difficulties in negative circumstances that will eventually surface and disrupt our lives and our spiritual paths.

We are unable to succeed in making the three kayas into secure, solid ego grounds because of their very nature — which is our very nature. The dharmakaya is the space of awareness, limitless and all-pervading, in which there is never any place for a concept of ego identity to take root — even an identity conceived as “emptiness.” The sambhogakaya manifests in the unceasing display of ever-moving and changing energy, and this continually dissolves any sense of “I,” even one that seeks identity in the process of change itself. And the practicality of the nirmanakaya is defined by the needs of others. Since these are always new and unanticipated — external to our agenda, and beyond our control — there is no ground for ego here either.

Even more, the three kayas are said to be ultimately indivisible. When we rest in our own inherent nature, in its purity (our buddhanature), we discover that our experience embodies the emptiness of the dharmakaya, the impermanence of the sambhogakaya and the practicality of the nirmanakaya, all at once. This indivisibility goes to the very heart of why we can never succeed in making an ego out of the three kayas. The dharmakaya — the “formless kaya” — is said to be “for oneself,” because it is the very essence of our own liberation. By contrast, the two other kayas — the “form kayas” — are said to be “for others,” because they embody compassion and practical assistance to others. Different as they may seem at first, each kaya implies and is inseparable from the others. The dharmakaya contains the seeds of the other two and, when it meets with the suffering of beings, naturally gives birth to them. For example, when we rest our mind fully in the emptiness of the dharmakaya, and encounter others in pain, we find that the inspiration to help others (the sambhogakaya) and the practical applications of this compassion (the nirmanakaya) arise in a natural and compelling way. In a sense, the more we rest in the dharmakaya, the more we are called to compassionate engagement with those in distress.

By the same token, the two form kayas imply the dharmakaya, and, in fact, can only function properly when they are transparent to its emptiness. This is so because only when the energy of the sambhogakaya and the practicality of the nirmanakaya are seen as without essence is their helpfulness to others able to be open, flexible and completely appropriate to what sentient beings need.

The classical iconographic representation of the Buddha’s realisation shows him touching the earth with his right hand, and calling the earth to witness his attainment. And what is this attainment? It is realising that our ultimate nature is nothing other than the three kayas of the Buddha. This is a realisation in which we see that there is not, nor ever was, any ground for ego at all.

Whether friend or enemy, there should be no attachment or aversion.

— Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche

修學聖道的次第
玅境老和尚

一、引經立題

《楞伽阿跋多羅寶經》卷三:

採集業為識不採集名智
觀察一切法通達無所有
逮得自在力是則名為慧

此頌共六句;第一句「採集業為識」說凡夫流轉生死的緣起。第二句「不採集名智」以後五句,明佛教徒修學聖道的次第。今天我要講的題目,在此已經表示出來──修學聖道的次第。

二、道前基礎

(一)、願力為先趣聖道

不修學聖道的人,在世間上做種種事業,心裡也是有願。什麼願呢?希望得到榮華富貴。先有此願,再做此事,後來可能成功、可能不成功,也可能成功與失敗兼而有之。這便是「願、行、果」,由願導行,由行而得果。社會上的人與事均不出此範疇。

我們漢文佛教中流行最廣的淨土法門,也是以「信、願、行」的願為前導。不只是淨土,佛教徒相信了佛法之後,無論學習何種法門,皆是以願、行、果為軌律。無論在家居士或出家法師,若無虔誠有力之願為先導,可能不學習佛法,即使學習佛法也可能不修行,因為無聖道願何須修行?何能策勵修行?

但此願不是輕易能建立的!當然,你也可能一時聽某位善知識的一段法語,心中歡喜就有了願。但是一時高興而發的願不堅固;應該作深入細微的抉擇觀察,經過內心長時的醞釀,最後決定:「我想成為聖人!」這樣的願才有前進之力量,不容易退轉!

(二)、恆學佛法無厭足

學習佛法的目的乃為掌握聖道次第,然後用功修行,而修行的同時還要不斷的學習。譬如《金剛般若波羅蜜經》,前面說無我觀,最後也是說無我觀;前有「云何降伏其心?」中間也有「云何降伏其心?」二文似無差別。但是若讀無著菩薩、天親菩薩的《金剛般若經論》,即知文雖相似,其義不同。經過長時期的學習貫通,才能知道如何依之修習止觀;修行之中亦有可能產生疑惑,時時研讀經論,則能從佛菩薩的法語中得到印證而釋疑。

從《阿含經》中看出,佛在世時,即使是大阿羅漢也還常在佛邊聽法心無厭足。大阿羅漢已是所作已辦的無學位,何以仍須聽佛說法?因為仍有所不知、所不能故。 在大乘佛法如《大智度論》中,龍樹菩薩提及彌勒菩薩到了等覺菩薩之高位,也還要聽佛說法;因為等覺菩薩距佛尚遠,仍有諸多不足之處,所以須繼續向佛學習。 何況吾輩凡夫更應恆學佛法、無有厭足。

(三)、聖道依法不依人

有一件事我們應該知道!佛在世時,佛教徒善根深厚,具足福智聖道資糧,思想統一,大家都信佛所說而無疑問,依佛所示的法門用功修行而得聖道。現時代唯有佛法留存於世,佛教徒雖信仰三寶而多諸苦惱。有何苦惱?今日佛法思想混亂!你說一套、我說一套,誰說得對呢?末法時代的佛教徒肉眼如盲,學習佛法真是難!

初學的佛教徒沒有擇法眼,如何能知所學習的法門是聖道,可以解脫生死呢?如果你的師父是阿羅漢或得無生法忍的菩薩,你不需要多學。因為他是過來人,用三十分鐘、最多一個鐘頭,告訴你一個修學聖道的法門,你依之修行,有問題隨時可以請問他,他也可以隨時教導你。但是現在你知道誰是聖人﹖非得自己深入學習佛法不可!

《瑜伽師地論》上說:「依法不依人!」不依就是不相信。譬如某個人有大威德境界,很多人都恭敬尊重他,讚歎他是大善知識,但他說的一定是正法嗎?不一定!有些人是存心欺詐,有些不是,但是說的法門不正確,他自己也不知道,就這樣為人講說。即使有神通,也是靠不住!

從經論上看,凡夫也可以有神通!印度外道中一位大老師有神通,在禪定中見牛雞狗死後升天,故勸徒弟跟牛學、跟雞學、跟狗學,徒弟因為師父有禪定神通,他說的話決定是對,可以相信,所以依教奉行。由此可知,不學習佛法只是有神通,因果道理還未能懂,真是所謂「一盲引眾盲」了。我們漢文佛教裡也有同樣的情形, 以為這個人有威德、有神通,他說的就可信。其實不然!佛法是「依法不依人」,這也包括真實有神通的人在內。所以我們想要修學聖道,一定要注意這件事!《瑜伽師地論》說補特伽羅有欺詐性,故不可信;唯有法是可信的。

(四)、抉擇所修是聖道

如何抉擇所修的法門是聖道?辨別方法有二:第一、此法門是佛說的,那就是聖道。現實上有一種情形,有人自己公開寫了一部經:「如是我聞,一時佛在……。」這和佛經相同也是「如是我聞」,那是佛說的嗎?他說他就是佛,你怎麼辨別真偽?就我們漢文佛教來說,印度翻譯過來的佛法經論,古德編有眾經目錄,說明這部經是什麼時代、是誰翻譯的,我們由此能有一個判斷準則。譬如說:《華嚴經》、《法華經》、《維摩詰所說經》、《金剛經》不是偽造的,沒有人懷疑。但有些經在佛教史上存有種種疑點,這就是有問題。若這些經在佛教史上沒有人說閒話,也就可信。

第二、要知道染污的生死流轉,和涅槃寂靜的清淨緣起是相反的。其中般若的智慧非常重要!它能背離生死、除斷煩惱,向於涅槃。如果修行的法門不能與生死緣起相反,不能隨順趣向涅槃,則這個法門是有問題的。所以,我們學習佛法想要修行,對於為何有生死要注意,而修道如何能斷生死也要明白。所學的法門究竟是不是聖道,要確認無疑才能不徒勞,不然的話你可能白辛苦了。

三、正行次第

(一)、正見生死緣起

【頌】:採集業為識

1、約人說

(1)、生死流轉的動力因──採集業

所引《楞伽經》六句偈,第一是「採集業為識」:「採」就是拿過來;不是動手,而是用心。「集」是聚集;不只是一次,而是多次的、不斷的這樣做,叫做「集」。「業」,微細的說,心一動就是「業」;而發動語言、付諸行動,由內心的思惟而來,故皆為「業」。

我們從無始劫來直到現在,無論遇見何事,起心動念就是「採集」,「採集」的同時還有執著。執著是通於一切惑業苦的;作善也執著、作惡也執著。就算是佛教徒,得無生法忍之前,拜佛也執著,讀經也執著。但是拜佛、讀經的執著中,有清淨而微弱的反動力,能違反生死趨向涅槃!雖然有此「逆流」之力,仍有執著。 「採集業」者,採集即是業,或者業由採集而有,專指世間流轉生死的動力而言。

(2)、流轉三界的果報主──識

「採集業」者為誰﹖即是「識」;或者業為因,識是果報主。欲界人、天的分別心叫識,色無色界天人內心的分別也叫做識。這些識沒有智慧,都是普遍執著的,一切眾生皆同;以上約人說。

2、約法說

(1)、無明相應觸處著

現在約法說,「採集業為識」亦即是執著,實在就是心與無明相應之義。有無明而無智慧,這個識處處執著,表現出來的行動就有力量令於生死中流轉、難以解脫。 在《攝大乘論》中曾提及一事:譬如江河泉流,人見是水,餓鬼見是猛火,故恆受饑虛之苦。為何人見是水,而餓鬼見是猛火?此中有二義。一、行緣識:此人前世有良心廣作利益安樂眾生之善事,今世業熟得果,故隨福業識見是清水。而彼餓鬼前世造作眾多罪業,故隨罪業識見水非水而是猛火。二、無明緣識:人見的水、鬼見的火,皆非真實,如夢中境。然因無明之故,執為真實是水、真實是火,受其苦樂之報。若能學習佛法成就真慧則能無著於水火,衝破無明的蒙蔽與業果的束縛, 見第一義得大解脫。

(2)、隨惑造業感苦果

眾生為業所繫,不能解脫,應明解其義為是。茲略言之:業是自心所造,業報現前還自受之,即是心受。福業得樂果,罪業受苦果。其身口意造業之時,應是隨心所欲而為之。至得果時,則非全是心之所欲。惡業感苦果,非是心之所欲,然不能拒而不受。眾生多不信解此義,哀哉!苦果亦是無常,經過若干時節,苦果即滅。隨其餘業,還流轉於六道之中,無有已時。要而言之,心作心受,不作不受;無有我作他受,他作我受。若能遇見三寶,栽培善根,庶幾乎有光明之日也。

我們現在修學聖道,假設得了色界四禪並修得神通,就可以發動神通到欲界天和帝釋天王見面、到色界天與大梵天王見面,亦可至兜率內院拜見彌勒菩薩。雖有禪定神通,短期內可以到他方世界一行,但不能久住;因為我們的身體卑劣,受不了那樣的大福德境界。卑劣的果報繫縛你,你不可以轉變!

除非修學聖道到了菩薩第八地,棄捨肉身得法性身,能遍入一切世界無有障礙,於一切境界中自在無礙,成就如是大自在力才叫解脫。凡夫就不行﹗不要說其他的果報世界我們不相應,即使在人的世界裡,若到別的國家,他給你三個月的簽證,到期你就得離開。這個身體實在有諸多問題,應生厭離心;對佛菩薩的大自在境界, 應生希求心、勤修聖道。

(二)、正修聖道觀行

【頌】:不採集名智,觀察一切法, 通達無所有,

1、法執未除不究竟

上面已說「採集業為識」的生死流轉,今說「不採集名智」的聖道緣起。如何才能不採集呢?一定要「觀察一切法,通達無所有」。

《維摩詰所說經‧觀眾生品》中,文殊師利菩薩和維摩詰居士說法時,天女心生歡喜散花供養。法會大眾有大菩薩,也有阿羅漢。花落至大菩薩身上,就慢慢落到地面;至阿羅漢,則著其身而不落。受八關齋戒的在家居士都是不著香花鬘的,何況阿羅漢是大比丘﹖現在花著身是不如法的,所以急於將之撥除,但用盡神通力亦不能去!天女即問:「何以去花?」舍利弗尊者答:「此花不如法,是以去之。」天女又說:「是花無所分別,仁者自生分別想耳。」這是天女呵斥舍利弗尊者也有分別心。

我們沒有學習般若法門、未證聖道的人,其心常是虛妄分別、處處執著。但是愛見煩惱已斷的大阿羅漢還有分別心嗎?唯識的經論說小乘佛教學者只能斷人我執,不能斷法我執;如果進一步學習《般若經》、《解深密經》等大乘經典,通達諸法實相,才能悟入「一切法本性無分別」的勝義。由於舍利弗尊者是學習《阿含經》而得聖道,未能了知一切法畢竟空之深義,所以天花落至其身,他就有點相似的厭惡心,認為花之著身不合戒法,故欲去之。此時其心有法和非法、持戒和破戒的對立分別;內心如是思惟分別時就感覺不如法,所以要去掉它。

「花著身」,在大乘佛法來說,心於天花有所著,花即著身而不落。如果像大菩薩那樣心無所著,花就從身掉落於地了。「去花」,不是去掉眼見的花,而是要去掉內心的執著。但是這些阿羅漢只欲以神通去花,未能反省因為內心分別故,花才著身而不落;若能除掉內心的分別,花自然就掉落了。所以天女說:「是花無所分別,仁者自生分別想耳!」此正是聲聞學者的法執。

2、因緣生法本性空

如何才能真正通達一切法無所有呢?《攝大乘論本‧增上慧學》偈云:

應知一切法本性無分別
所分別無故無分別智無

「應知一切法,本性無分別」可以作二義解釋。

第一義:「一切法」即因緣生法。因緣和合,此法現前,即是現在;因緣未和合、未現前,名為「本」。「應知一切法」是現在的因緣生法;而「本性無分別」即指諸法未生之時,是無分別的。舉例言之,因緣所生法發生以後,或是一朵花,或是一棵樹,我們可以分別是蓮花、是菊花,是松樹、是柏樹,是青黃赤白種種顏色, 是大小枯榮各種形貌;若是一個人,則此人是男、是女,是胖、是瘦,是讀書人、不是讀書人,作各式各樣的分別。而這些分別在本性的時候是無所有的,故云「無分別」。如此言之,因緣生法本性無分別,則現前之時應有分別?若能尋思因緣生法現前雖有,而屬諸因緣,自性是空,則現在有分別時,即無分別。若復觀察因緣生法終歸無常敗壞之時,既不可得,還有所分別乎?

禪宗有慧可禪師斷臂供養達摩禪師的公案;可禪師斷臂之後其心不安,請問達摩祖師安心之道。師曰:「將心來與汝安。」可曰:「覓心了不可得!」師曰:「我與汝安心竟!」《景德傳燈錄》先於禪宗之記錄,見之於唐道宣律師的《續高僧傳》:「遭賊斫臂,以法御心,不覺痛苦。」讀此傳文,斫臂之事發生於「達摩滅化洛濱」以後,不與達摩同時。又「以法御心,不覺痛苦」,應知可禪師定慧境界甚高,應無請問安心之道之事。何謂「以法御心」?可禪師是學習《楞伽經》(四卷)的,此經云:「前聖所知,轉相傳授,妄想無性。」(T39,384c)應是此法也。於所緣境取相分別,名為妄想;妄想所緣,自相空寂;所緣空寂,能緣亦無。觀達所取、能取自性寂滅,心無所住,故云:「妄想無性。」「獨一靜處,自覺觀察,不由於他,離見妄想,上上升進。」是名以法御心;此與「覓心了不可得」義亦無異。由此可見漢傳禪法中,古代是如是如是的學習的,與後代的看話頭有差別乎?

我們凡夫的習慣,總是在虛妄的形象上執著分別,不能觀察一切法的本性空寂。若是我們能通達「本性無分別」,修習止觀破除執著,就沒有分別了。《金剛經》說:「一切賢聖,皆以無為法而有差別。」則是要吾人學習無為法,才能破除內心的分別。若不學習無為法,老是在世俗諦上執著分別──這是好的、這是壞的,這是可愛的、這是可憎的……,作各式各樣的分別,則遠離無為法不得解脫。

「不採集名智」:《金剛經》特別注重智慧:「是故須菩提!諸菩薩摩訶薩應如是生清淨心。不應住色生心,不應住聲、香、味、觸、法生心,應無所住而生其心。」這正是現證無為的真智,無所住、無所著,現證解脫。禪定中的「般若」,是通達無為法的勝慧,有勝堪能斷除一切煩惱,既破我執,亦破法執,超越二乘,故名「金剛般若」。

3、假名無實無分別

(1)、言說安立唯識現

現在說第二義。《解深密經》說一切法可分二類:一是「自相安立」,一是「言說安立」。「自相安立」者,此事本身有體性,是自相有。「言說安立」者,此事自相空,唯假名言詮示才能顯現。

「言說」,即是我們的說話,是以一切文字、名句組成的;所以善於說話的人是讀書人。譬如小孩子初開始牙牙學語,母親告訴他「1、2、3、4、 5……」「媽媽、爸爸……」各式各樣的名句,他學多了,連接起來就會說話。所以名句和言說有緊密關係,沒有名句就不會說話;內心的思惟分別也要有名句為緣才能現起。

《瑜伽師地論》云:「名為先故想,想為先故說。」要先有各式各樣的名句,內心才能思想;要先有內心的思想,我們才能說話。可知「名、想、說」互相有連帶關係;離開了思想不會說話,而沒有名句內心也不能思想。故「言說安立」即是「名句安立」;「名句安立」也就是內心的「思想安立」。唯識的經論說「一切法唯心所現」,也就是「一切法名言安立」,兩者意義相同。

「名言安立」和「自相安立」有關係,但不是同一回事。「自相安立一切法」即因緣生法,它是離言的;不須名言顯示,彼彼事自相有,此自相有絕諸思議對待。譬如說:我現在想念我的母親,母親影像隨即顯現,心不想時影像則無,可見所想的影像是無自性的,由心分別而有,此即「名言安立」。但是母親本身的體相,是他自己的業力所成,對名言安立而言,即名「自相安立」。《解深密經》說:「我說識所緣唯識所現!」彼彼體相因思惟而顯現,不能離於思惟而獨立,故名自性空或自相空;但有虛妄分別,無所分別的義(事),所謂「唯識無義」。

「名言安立的一切法」本身既無體性,何故感覺為有?因為如是如是想,如是如是現故!此是思想的特異功能。譬如有人來對你說:「某某人說你的壞話,造了很多的謠言破壞你的名譽!」你聽了以後勃然大怒。此恚怒由何處來?由第三者免費宣傳的那幾句話而來!沒聽到那些話之前,心裡會有這些感覺嗎?

《顯揚聖教論‧成空品》云:「由唯依名起義執故!」(T31,557c)名是能詮,義是所詮,名能詮義。吾人聞名之時,因名思義,於義執為實有,因之而有虛妄分別,愛憎繁興、多諸苦惱。不知觀察所詮之義,因名而有,無自體性。若名所詮之義有自體性,非依名而有,則未聞名時亦應覺知才對。云何無名之時未能覺悟耶?故《顯揚聖教論‧成空品》又云:「若義自體如名有者,未得名前,此覺於義應先已有。」(T31,557c)故知名所詮義,要依名言,義覺方轉,其義自性空寂;名言雖有,義實是無!無義故,名言亦不能自存;無名言故,心無分別。若能通達名義本空,無分別智現前,豈非聖人乎?於此可以作一結論:名言安立的一切法是自性空的,然有作用,令你心動。

佛陀為我們開示了種種法門經典──《華嚴經》、《法華經》、《般若經》,四念處、四正勤、五根、五力、七菩提分、八聖道支、六波羅蜜、十二因緣、苦集滅道,這是真如、這是涅槃……,如是皆為名言安立。何故安立自性空寂的名言,有何益乎?若不安立如是名言,眾生修學聖道何由發起?何由得解如是勝義?

《金剛經》云:「須菩提,汝勿謂如來作是念,我當有所說法,莫作是念。何以故﹖若人言,如來有所說法,即為謗佛,不能解我所說故。須菩提!說法者無法可說,是名說法。」如來證悟諸法實相,觀達諸法假名安立,畢竟空寂。吾人若認為如來真實有所說法,有名有義,則是謗佛同於凡夫有執著了。故《維摩詰所說經‧弟子品》云:「其說法者無說無示,其聽法者無聞無得。」

如此,「應知一切法,本性無分別」者,即是「名言安立的一切法」自性空寂,無有如名言所分別義;換言之,其心微動則有相現,豈知其相空無所有、無自體性?如能恆時如是觀察思惟,於一切法唯有識性,將能獲得決定勝解。

(2)、捨妄契真入三性

再引用《攝大乘論》二頌以釋此義:

名事互為客其性應尋思
於二亦當推唯量及唯假
實智觀無義唯有分別三
彼無故此無是即入三性

「名」是能詮顯的;「事」,也就是義,是名所詮顯的。「客」表示它不是真實的,來了還會走,也就是空的意思。「名事互為客」:因為有種種事才安立種種名, 名依事有,名則是自性空,非自性有;因為有名,才顯示有這件事,事依名顯,事亦是自性空。無名之時,名所示事不能自立,故云:「非離彼能詮,智於所詮轉。」名與事乃相依相待而有的。譬如說:某地發生一事,記者發表了一篇報導,名依事有;其它地區的人閱讀之後,才知某地發生什麼事,事依名有。記者若不寫這篇報導,其它地區的人則不知有此事,無名則無事;反之,若沒有那件事,也就沒有這篇報導了,無事則無名。又如說火、說飯,這只是火、飯的假名,並非口內真實有火、有飯。即所詮義,是自性空的;名亦是自性空的。

「其性應尋思」:名與事的體性,要在禪定中思惟推求,故云「尋思」。禪定中的思惟,有力量能令智慧深入觀察;散亂心的思惟,如風中之燭無照明之力。若有禪定而不思惟,難解其義;就算得到色界四禪或無色界四空定,缺少般若波羅蜜的智慧,依舊是個生死凡夫。吾人要尊重佛陀的智慧,依據佛陀的法語去思惟觀察,定中作觀才有力量見第一義諦。若是不依聖言量,自己坐在那裡冥想,是不行的!

「於二亦當推」:「二」,是一切法的自性和差別。如說「色」法,乃以變礙為性;心法的「識」,則以了別為性,是名「自性」,與《中論》的「自性」含義不同。而一法有一法的作用,與他法不同,即是「差別」。譬如同樣是房子,這個房子是這樣,那個房子又是另一個樣子。又雖然通名為人,但是人與人不一樣,有各式各樣的差別。不光是尋思名、義,「於」諸法自性與差別等「二」,「亦當」如上所述道理「推」求觀察。

「唯量及唯假」:「量」是分別;「假」是不真實。當知彼自性、差別二事都是自心的分別,沒有真實體性。譬如做夢時,或者有人請吃飯、或者被狗咬,夢裡一切都像真的,醒了以後才知道無如許事。我們現在也都在無明大夢裡,執著真實有種種境界;但是為什麼你做這個夢,而我卻做那個夢?因為夢是行緣識──也就是業力所成就的,故人人不同。有人跑到天上做夢, 有人在人間做夢,有的則墮入三惡道做夢。若能覺悟,則夢與醒都是虛妄的、畢竟空寂的,即不執為實有。

「實智觀無義」:通達「名言安立的一切法畢竟空寂」的智慧名「實智」;用如是慧「觀」察一切名所詮顯的「義」,皆是空「無」所有的。前文的「尋思」是推求義,這裡的「實智」是決定無疑之義。

「唯有分別三」:名言所詮顯的義無所有,「唯有三」種虛妄「分別」──名分別、自性分別、差別分別。

「彼無故此無」:彼所詮顯的義既無,此能詮顯之三種分別亦無。何以故?若有所分別義,則可有能緣分別,由「彼」義「無」所有故,當知「此」名、自性、差別的分別亦「無」從生起。

「是即入三性」:觀見名事互為客故,相依相待而有,無獨立的自體,即是悟入遍計所執性;觀見義無所有,唯有名、自性、差別之虛妄分別,即是悟入依他起性;由義無故,亦不觀見此分別,泯絕能取所取的戲論,即是悟入圓成實性;如是名為悟「入三性」。

四、解脫境界

【頌】:逮得自在力,是則名為慧。

(一)、證無分別智解脫

綜前所述,「應知一切法,本性無分別」以二義釋之:一、「緣起的一切法」本性空無分別。二、「言說安立的一切法」本性空無分別。本性為什麼無分別?「所分別無故!」我們所分別的境界,如是顯現、不如是有,皆是自性空的;本性空即是自性空。「所分別無故」:此事無論修學聖道與否,從本以來都是無自性的。不修行,所分別是無;修行,所分別也是無。這有一個問題:既然不修行所分別也是無,為什麼我不能得解脫呢?譬如說:我們感覺痛苦,痛苦是所分別;「所分別無故」,痛苦即無痛苦,我們應從痛苦中解脫出來,為什麼我們未能解脫呢?「無分別智無」:因為沒有無分別智,老是分別執著有,所以不能解脫。若於諸法無分別理,智證現前,現見諸法無分別性,即得解脫。

有一回我從美國到香港,在住處的後山上看見一個人,在那裡好像和人打架一樣,又叫又罵、拳打腳踢。明明只有自己一個人,他卻認為面前有人和他對打對罵。那不是神經病嗎?其實,正常人也是這麼回事!所有境界全是自己虛妄分別而已,我們卻執著真實有這些所分別的事。但這個道理一定要閱讀經論多聞熏習才能明白;再經過修習止觀,於禪定中專精思惟,而後方能大夢初醒。一旦醒來,再也不會執妄為真了。

然而還有一個問題,就是業力尚未結束,境界還是會現前。得阿羅漢者,身體一樣有老病死;但是這樣的人心裡有聖道,不為彼世俗諦的因緣生法所繫縛,而能入於第一義諦中。他能不為假名所惑,所以世俗諦的苦惱境界不能苦惱之。由上可知,得聖道的解脫其實不難﹗因為只要得到智慧,通達煩惱縛著、令我們苦惱之事,實在是自性空無所有的,一切的問題就解決了。

(二)、逮得自在名為慧

前云「採集業為識,不採集名智。」如何能不採集呢?「觀察一切法,通達無所有。」我們因為執著有,而生出種種煩惱;若能觀察無所有,成就無所得的智慧,一切動亂的境界只是分別、只是名言而已,都不是真實的。因此,一切的愛見煩惱皆滅,是名「不採集」。初開始沒有得定,亦應作如是觀、如是思惟;同時也要修奢摩他的止。只要前生有栽培,今生又肯努力,放下塵勞之事認真坐禪,逐漸能從欲界定進步到未到地定,乃至得色界初禪、二禪、三禪、四禪!觀諸法空之智慧有了禪定之攝持,力量強大,就真能「通達無所有」,也就是明了一切法「本性無分別」。

「逮得自在力」:若時時如是修習止觀,逐漸地止有進步、觀也有進步。如何知道自己進步了呢?「得自在力!」聞讚不以為喜、聞謗不以為憂;毀譽不動、得失無心,而生悲愍。這就表示止觀有力量,即名「逮得自在力」。

「是則名為慧」:自在力有兩種。第一種是接近聖道,還不是聖人;此時能夠調伏煩惱,也有自在力。另一種是證無生法忍後,得真實的自在力;此時不叫「智」,而名之為「慧」。心與無相般若相應,見道之時異於加行位也。

「採集」和「不採集」是相反的!「採集業為識」是凡夫流轉生死的相貌;「不採集為智」是賢聖境界。至於成就無分別智後,才能真正不取著、不採集,得解脫大自在的境界。

五、結勸勵行

上來所說大乘觀行,一定要深入學習佛法才能修。我們漢文佛教中,淨土法門普遍流傳,很多的大德都歡喜弘揚。當然,念阿彌陀佛是穩當的,能往生到阿彌陀佛國非常好﹗但若不學習經論,對於佛法認識不足,對世間法的認識也不夠,信心能堅固嗎?遇見異因緣能不退轉嗎?所以我們要學習佛法,掌握聖道次第!此即《摩訶般若波羅蜜經》所云:「新學菩薩摩訶薩,次第行、次第學、次第道!」

但是佛法亦非易學!前述「名事互為客,其性應尋思,於二亦當推,唯量及唯假。實智觀無義,唯有分別三,彼無故此無,是即入三性。」這樣的教義不學習能懂嗎?一定要學習若干時節以後才能通達。現在雖然不懂,仍須繼續學習,同時也修止觀幫助理解。理解力逐漸增長,終究有一天能夠明白。若初開始聽不懂就放棄了,那就永遠也不能懂了。聞思修三慧不具足,學佛也只是句空話而已。

以上只是引用《楞伽經》的六句頌略加解釋修學次第。如果你願意修學聖道,這六句頌是不夠的;還要廣讀經論,並努力修學止觀,才有希望成就聖道。如果不願意學習經論,只有念阿彌陀佛、求生淨土了,那也是殊勝法門!幸有此殊勝法門!

The essence of the Buddha’s teachings is that while formal practice can help us to develop direct experiences of emptiness, wisdom, and compassion, such experiences are meaningless unless we can bring them to bear on every aspect of our daily lives. It’s in facing the challenges of daily life that we can really measure our development of calmness, insight, and compassion.

— Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

Conventional Body View
by Prof. David Dale Holmes

People believe that everything they see and conceive of, including their so-called bodily selves, is fixed and permanently there to be used for fulfilment and enjoyment, yet this is not true and is based on delusional wrong view.

Identifying body awareness and arising consciousness with any sense of a permanent self is actually based on ignorance (Pali: avijja) — delusion about the self in the world and the way things really are, or ignorance of non-self.

Such wrong view is dependent on a delusive compulsion to nourish an egocentric need for a substantial sense of self-assurance; for an undeniable and absolute guarantee that we will always be able to nourish and feed our personal desires for continuing self-satisfaction and existence, which we wish to imagine can never be taken away.

This wrong view arises out of the dangerous and harmful part of the mind that greedily reaches after the things that it hopes and thinks will guarantee its lasting happiness, but which, in the long run, because of the impermanent nature of all things (Pali: anicca), in fact, leads to a continuing and disturbing sense of uncertainty; to insecurity and instability; to unhappiness and unsatisfactoriness, because things do not inevitably turn out to be the way we want them to be.

So how are we to understand the body?

The accomplished teacher Luang Phor Viriyang has said: “The first medium is the body. It refers to our physical body, which is capable of obtaining all of the feelings and emotions and communicating through its five senses. The body can co-function with the mind and it is also under its control.” (Viriyang 1)

And further: “One usually thinks of the body as his whole self.”

“Since the lifespan of our body is 50–100 years, human beings usually compete with their lifespan and try their best to use their bodies to the fullest potential.” (Viriyang 22)

In other words, for good or for worse, in the conventional sense, we try to get the most out of our lives and our bodies for as long as we can, for as long as they last, especially in terms of physical pleasure, because in our heads we mistakenly consider the body to be a source of satisfying sense experience, as being pleasurable and satisfying, despite the obvious fact that we eventually grow older and become weaker — inherently knowing we are slowly dying.

The so-called beauty of the body is a deeply embedded socio-cultural myth that the mind does not want to let go of. We must, however, learn to accept that the body (our own or another’s) is not a beautiful object in the way we would desire it to be. The body is not there in the world for the purpose of bringing us the fulfilment of our dreams.

Despite the truth that the body is not, in reality, at all what we imagine it to be within the distortions of our own mind’s eye, we foolishly continue believing in the reverse of the truth — ironically, often ignoring the undeniable physical indications of decay, deterioration, and dissolution, maintaining an attitude contrary to obvious visual and physical discrepancies that anyone else can see. Once we’ve understood this, then we must examine the nature of the body to see it not for what we might like it to be, but for what it actually is — which the Buddha describes in a well-known discourse as follows:

“In this body, there are head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura membranes, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, gorge, faeces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine, and so on.” (Nyanatiloka 119)

In the same dialogue, the Buddha uses an analogy to compare the body to a “fathom-length sack,” the kind that normally contains grain, open at two ends. But instead of containing grain, imagine it is stuffed full of the above-mentioned body parts and ask ourselves how we would feel if our own body sack were being shaken, so that we might see each body part as it was slowly slipping and sliding, slithering and falling, and that we could observe these individual body parts as they were slowly running down into a heap, piling up upon the ground. We would have ample time to examine and contemplate each of these body parts individually — accumulating there in a heap. (See Nyanatiloka 58–63)

Would we be enamoured with the physical body if we examined it in this way — as just an aggregate of components — being aware of its nature made up of compounded individual parts?

One who meditates on the body contemplates himself as just such a body, as just made up of individual parts. And that’s a good place to begin to see the body as it really is, and not as one might want it to be — as an independent entity, or as if one were somehow intellectually separated from the physical “bag of bones” itself.

No matter how well the body parts may function together to sustain life and even to provide momentary pleasures, they are still just body parts that have, through a natural process, merely come together to continue sustaining life.

Using a simile again, the Buddha goes on to say that it is as if “a skilled butcher or his apprentice, having killed a cow, would sit at a crossroad cutting it up into pieces . . .”

Elsewhere, the Buddha observes that even the king’s chariot is not a unity but merely made up of its individual parts. And thus the monk or mediator learns to contemplate the body as though it were just made up of component parts.

The Buddha states that this body is composed not only of component parts, but that the parts are made up of combinations of “matter, liquid, heat, and gas,” and this being so, we should know that this sack full of elements, in accordance with biochemical laws, contains an ever-changing process of arising and ceasing solidity, liquidity, burning energy, and gaseous aridity, which certainly has no fixed, permanent reality.

Imagine solidity turning, through heat, into liquidity, and burning as energy, then turning into invisible gaseous-aridity within your body. Imagine your body continually consuming itself. Can you imagine that?

The body is just a sack or sheath full of elements that are ever-changing, ever being burned up internally as sources of nourishment, and ever being replenished by new sources of energy.

So, what do you think? Do you assume that you are a fixed unity to be nourished? A so-called “self” to be satisfied, rather than a simple aggregation of component parts, made up of elements that in turn nourish the body parts with requisite energy in order to keep them moving and functioning?

How do you see your own body?

If you have not thought this process through before, perhaps it is time to start.

To know the four foundations intellectually is not enough. We have to contemplate and meditate on them until we personally experience them from the depth of our hearts the preciousness of this human life; and that our life’s end can come at any time. This is how you practise the four foundations. Although we have this precious human body with its 18 qualities, if we do not develop bodhicitta, love and compassion in our hearts, this human life is of no use. There are many material things in this world but none of them can accompany us at the moment of death. The only thing we can take with us from life to life until enlightenment is our development of love, compassion and bodhicitta.

— Garchen Rinpoche