Seeking the “I”
by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

All the problems we encounter in samsara: the cycle of repeated death and rebirth, have their source in the ignorance that grasps at things as though they were self-existent. Our situation in this cycle is similar to being trapped in a large building with many rooms and doors, but with only one door leading out. We wander hopelessly from one part of the building to another, looking for the right door. The door that leads us out of samsara is the wisdom that realises the emptiness of self-existence. This wisdom is the direct remedy for the ignorance which is both cause and effect of clinging to self, and which believes the self or “I” to be inherently and independently existent. In other words, the I appears to be something it is not: a concrete, unchanging entity, existing in its own right, and our ignorant mind clings to this mistaken view. We then become addicted to this phantom I and treasure it as if it were a most precious possession. Wisdom recognises that such an autonomously existing I is totally non-existent and thus, by wisdom, ignorance is destroyed. It is said in the Buddhist scriptures that to realise the correct view of emptiness, even for a moment, shakes the foundations of samsara, just as an earthquake shakes the foundations of a building.

Each of us has this instinctive conviction of a concrete, independently existing I. When we wake up in the morning we think, “I have to make breakfast,” or “I have to go to work.” Thence arises the powerful intuition of an I which exists in its own right, and we cling to this mistaken belief. If someone says, “You’re stupid,” or “You’re intelligent,” this I leaps forth from the depths of our mind, burning with anger or swollen with pride. This strong sense of self has been with us from birth — we did not learn it from our parents or teachers. It appears most vividly in times of strong emotion: when we are mistreated, abused or under the influence of attachment or pride. If we experience an earthquake or if our car or ‘plane nearly crashes, a terrified I invades us, making us oblivious to everything else. A strong sense of I also arises whenever our name is called. But this apparently solid, autonomous I is not authentic. It does not exist at all.

This does not mean that we do not exist, for there is a valid, conventionally existent I. This is the self that experiences happiness and suffering, that works, studies, eats, sleeps, meditates and becomes enlightened. This I does exist, but the other I is a mere hallucination. In our ignorance, however, we confuse the false I with the conventional I and are unable to tell them apart.

This brings us to a problem that often arises in meditation on emptiness. Some meditators think, “My body is not the I, my mind is not the I, therefore I don’t exist,” or “Since I cannot find my I, I must be getting close to the realisation of emptiness.” Meditation which leads to such conclusions is incorrect, because it disregards the conventional self. The meditator fails to recognise and properly identify the false I that is to be repudiated and instead repudiates the conventional or relative I that does exist. If this error is not corrected it could develop into the nihilistic view that nothing exists at all, and could lead to further confusion and suffering rather than to liberation.

What is the difference, then, between the false I and the conventional I? The false I is merely a mistaken idea we have about the self: namely, that it is something concrete, independent and existing in its own right. The I which does exist is dependent: it arises in dependence on body and mind, the components of our being. This body-mind combination is the basis to which conceptual thinking ascribes a name. In the case of a candle, the wax and wick are the basis to which the name “candle” is ascribed. Thus a candle is dependent upon its components and its name. There is no candle apart from these. In the same way, there is no I independent of body, mind and name.

Whenever the sense of I arises, as in “I am hungry,” self-grasping ignorance believes this I to be concrete and inherently existent. But if we analyse this I, we shall find that it is made up of the body — specifically our empty stomach — and the mind that identifies itself with the sensation of emptiness. There is no inherently existing hungry I apart from these interdependent elements.

If the I were independent, then it would be able to function autonomously. For example, my I could remain seated here reading while my body goes into town. My I could be happy while my mind is depressed. But this is impossible; therefore the I cannot be independent. When my body is sitting, my I is sitting. When my body goes into town, my I goes into town. When my mind is depressed, my I is depressed. According to our physical activity or our state of mind, we say, “I am working,” “I am eating,” “I am thinking,” “I am happy,” and so on. The I depends on what the body and mind do; it is postulated on that basis alone. There is nothing else. There are no other grounds for such a postulation.

The dependence of the I should be clear from these simple examples. Understanding dependence is the principal means of realising emptiness, or the non-independent existence of the I. All things are dependent. For example, the term “body” is applied to the body’s components: skin, blood, bones, organs and so on. These parts are dependent on yet smaller parts: cells, atoms and sub-atomic particles.

The mind is also dependent. We imagine it to be something real and self-existent, and react strongly if we hear, “You have a good mind,” or “You’re terribly confused.” Mind is a formless phenomenon that perceives objects, and is clear in nature. On the basis of that function we impute the label “mind.” There is no functioning mind apart from these factors. Mind depends upon its components: momentary thoughts, perceptions and feelings. Just as the I, the body, and the mind depend upon their components and labels, so do all phenomena arise dependently.

These points can best be understood by means of a simple meditation designed to reveal how the I comes into apparent existence. Begin with a breathing meditation to relax and calm the mind. Then, with the alertness of a spy, slowly and carefully become aware of the I. Who or what is thinking, feeling, and meditating? How does it seem to come into existence? How does it appear to you? Is your I a creation of your mind, or is it something existing concretely and independently, in its own right?

Once you have identified the I, try to locate it. Where is it? Is it in your head…in your eyes…in your heart…in your hands…in your stomach…in your feet? Carefully consider each part of your body, including the organs, blood vessels and nerves. Can you find the I? If not, it may be very small and subtle, so consider the cells, the atoms and the parts of the atoms.

After considering the entire body, again ask yourself how your I manifests its apparent existence. Does it still appear to be vivid and concrete? Is your body the I or not?

Perhaps you think that your mind is the I. The mind consists of thoughts which constantly change, in rapid alternation. Which thought is the I? Is it a loving thought…an angry thought…a serious thought…a silly thought? Can you find the I in your mind?

If your I cannot be found in the body or the mind, is there any other place to look for it? Could the I exist somewhere else or in some other manner? Examine every possibility.

Once again examine the way in which the I appears to you. Has there been any change? Do you still believe it to be real and existing in its own right? If such a self-existent I still appears, think, “This is the false I which does not exist. There is no I independent of body and mind.”

Then mentally disintegrate your body. Imagine all the atoms of your body separating and floating apart. Billions and billions of minute particles scatter through space. Imagine that you can actually see this. Disintegrate your mind as well, and let every thought float away.
Now, where are you? Is the self-existent I still there, or can you understand how the I is dependent, merely attributed to the body and the mind?

Sometimes a meditator will have the experience of losing the I altogether. He cannot find the self and feels as if his body has vanished. There is nothing to hold on to. For intelligent beings this experience is one of great joy, like finding a marvelous treasure. Those with little understanding, however, are terrified, or feel that a treasure has just been lost. If this happens, there is no need to fear that the conventional I has disappeared — it is merely a sensation arising from a glimpse of the false I’s unreality.

With practice, this meditation will bring about a gradual dissolution of our rigid concept of the I and of all phenomena. We shall no longer be so heavily influenced by ignorance. Our very perceptions will change and everything will appear in a new and fresh light.

Closely examine the objects, such as forms, that appear to your six consciousnesses, analyzing the way in which they appear to you. Thus the bare mode of the existence of things will arise brilliantly before you.

These lines from The Great Seal of Voidness, a text on mahamudra by the first Panchen Lama, contain the key to all meditation on emptiness. The most important factor in realising emptiness is correct recognition of what is to be discarded. In the objects appearing to our six consciousnesses there is an existent factor and a non-existent factor. This false, non-existent factor is to be discarded. The realisation of emptiness is difficult as long as we do not realise what the objects of the senses lack, ie, what they are empty of. This is the key that unlocks the vast treasure house of emptiness.

But this recognition is difficult to achieve and requires a foundation of skillful practice. According to Lama Tsongkhapa, there are three things to concentrate on in order to prepare our minds for the realisation of emptiness: first, dissolution of obstacles and accumulation of merit; second, devotion to the spiritual teacher; and third, study of subjects such as the graduated path to enlightenment and mahamudra. Understanding will come quickly if we follow this advice. Our receptivity to realisations depends primarily on faith in the teacher. Without this, we may try to meditate but find we are unable to concentrate, or we may hear explanations of the Dharma but find that the words have little effect.

This explanation accords with the experience of realised beings. I myself have no experience of meditation. I constantly forget emptiness, but I try to practice a little Dharma sometimes. If you also practice, you can discover for yourselves the validity of this teaching.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche 50..jpg

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The Haunted Dominion of Mind
by Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

In old Tibet, practitioners went to charnel grounds, springs, haunted houses, haunted trees, and so on, in order to reveal how deeply their practice had cut to the core of their fears and attachments. The practice of cutting through our deepest attachments and fears to their core is called nyensa chödpa. Nyensa chödpa means “cutting through the haunted dominion of mind.” It is not that I am encouraging you to go to these haunted places to test yourself, but it’s important for all practitioners to understand the view behind nyensa chödpa, because until we are challenged we don’t know how deep our practice can go.

We may be established practitioners; we may be comfortable with our practice and working with our minds; everything could be going smoothly. As my teacher Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche used to say, “Practice is easy when the sun is on your back and your belly is full.” But when difficult circumstances arise and we are completely shaken from within, when we hit rock bottom, or when something is haunting us and we feel completely vulnerable and exposed to all our neurosis, then it’s a different story.

Challenging circumstances expose to us how much we have learned from the buddhadharma, how much we have learned from the tantra, and how much we have learned from our meditation practice and the experience of our mind. But we don’t need to wait for challenging circumstances to uncover our hidden fears and attachments. We don’t need to wait for our bliss bubble to pop, for a dear one to die, or to find out we have a fatal disease. There is plenty of opportunity to practice nyensa chödpa right here in our own minds. There is plenty of opportunity because there is plenty of self-clinging.

The haunted dominion of mind is the dominion of self-clinging. It is the world of self and all the hopes and fears that come with trying to secure it. Our efforts to secure the self give rise to all the negative emotions. If we were not so concerned with cherishing and providing for the self, there would be no reason for attachment. Aggression, too, would have no reason to arise if there were no self to protect. And jealousy, which shows up whenever we think the self is lacking something, would have no impetus to eat away at our inner peace because we would be content with the natural richness and confidence of our own mind. If we had no need to shield all of the embarrassing things about the self that make us so insecure, we would have no cause for arrogance. Finally, if we were not so fixated on the self, we could rely on our innate intelligence rather than let our stupidity escort us through the activities that bring us so much pain time and time again.

So emotions themselves are not the cause of the problem. Yet until we reach down to the very root of our negative emotions, they will be there, standing in line waiting to “save” us from our fundamental insecurities. Unless we let go of grasping to the self with all its egotistical scheming to save itself in the usual manner, we will only continue to enforce a stronger and stronger belief in the solidity of the self. If the aim of practice is to free ourselves from our endless insecurities, then we must cut through self-clinging. Until we do, self-clinging will define our relationship with the world, whether it be the inner world of our own mind or the world outside of us.

From the perspective of the self, the world is either for us or against us. If it is for us, its purpose is to feed our infinite attachments. If it is against us, it is to be rejected and adds to our infinite paranoia. It is either our friend or our enemy, something to lure or reject. The stronger we cling to a self, the stronger grows our belief in a solid, objective world that exists separate from us. The more we see it as solid and separate, the more the world haunts us: we are haunted by what we want from the world and we are haunted by our struggle to protect ourselves from it.

The many problems we see in the world today, and also encounter in our own personal lives, spring from the belief that the enemy or threat is “outside” of us. This split occurs when we forget how deeply connected we are to others and the world around us. This is not to say that mind and the phenomenal world are one and that everything we experience is a mere figment of our imagination. It simply means that what we believe to be a self, and what we believe to be other than self, are inextricably linked, and that, in truth, the self can only exist in relation to other. Seeing them as separate is really the most primitive way of viewing and engaging our lives.

To see the connectedness or interdependence of all things is to see in a big way. It reduces the artificial separation we create between the self and everything else. For instance, when we hold tightly to a self, the natural law of impermanence looms as a threat to our existence. But when we accept that we are part of this natural flow, we begin to see that the entity we cling to as a static, immutable, and independent self is just a continuous stream of experience composed of thoughts, feelings, forms, and perceptions that change from moment to moment. When we accept this, we become part of something much greater — the movement of the entire universe.

What we experience as “our life” results from the interdependent relationship between the “outer” world — the world of color, shape, sound, smell, taste, and touch — and our awareness. We cannot separate awareness — the knower — from that which is known. Is it possible, for instance, to see without a visual object or to hear without a sound? And how can we isolate the content of our thoughts from the information we receive from our environment, our relationships, and the imprints of our sense perceptions? How can we separate our bodies from the elements that it is composed of, or the food we eat to keep us alive, or the causes and conditions that brought our bodies into existence?

In fact there is little consistency in what we consider to be self and what we consider to be other. Sometimes we include our emotions as part of the self. Other times our anger or depression seem to haunt or even threaten us. Our thoughts also seem to define who we are as individuals, but so often they agitate or excite us as if they existed as other. Generally we identify the body with the self, yet when we fall ill we often find ourselves saying, “My stomach is bothering me,” or “My liver is giving me trouble.” If we investigate carefully, we will inevitably conclude that to pinpoint where the self leaves off and the world begins is not really possible. The one thing we can observe is that everything that arises, both what we consider to be the self and what we consider to be other than self, does so through a relationship of interdependence.

All phenomena depend upon other in order to arise, express themselves, and fall away. There is nothing that can be found to exist on its own, independent and separate from everything else. That self and other lack clearly defined boundaries does not then mean that we are thrown into a vague state of not knowing who we are and how to relate to the world, or that we lose our discerning intelligence. It simply means that through loosening the clinging we have to our small, constricted notion of self, we begin to relax into the true nature of all phenomena: the nondual state of emptiness, which transcends both self and other.

Having gone beyond dualistic mind, we can enjoy the “single unit” of our own profound dharmakaya nature. The “singularness” of emptiness is not single as opposed to many. It is a state beyond one or two, subject and object, and the self and the world outside; it is the singular nature of all things. Upon recognising the nature of emptiness, our own delusion — the false duality of subject and object — cracks apart and dissolves. This relieves us of the heaviness produced by the subtle underlying belief that things have a separate or solid nature. At the same time we apprehend the interconnectedness of everything and this brings a greater vision to our lives.

Cultivating a deep conviction in the view of emptiness is what the practice of nyensa chödpais all about. Nyensa refers to that which haunts us: clinging to the self and all the fears and delusion this produces. Chödpa means “to cut through.” What is it that cuts through our clinging, fears, and delusion? It is the realisation of emptiness, the realisation of the truth. When the view of emptiness dawns in our experience, if even only for a moment, self-grasping naturally dissolves. This is when we begin to develop confidence in what is truly possible.

Impressed by the yogi Milarepa’s unwavering confidence in the view of emptiness, the Ogress of the Rock, while attempting to haunt and frighten him, made this famous statement, which illustrates the view of nyensa chödpa very well. She said,

This demon of your own tendencies arises from your mind, if you don’t recognise the [empty] nature of your mind. I’m not going to leave just because you tell me to go. If you don’t realise that your mind is empty there are many more demons besides myself. But if you recognise the [empty] nature of your own mind, adverse circumstances will serve only to sustain you, and even I, Ogress of the Rock, will be at your bidding.

To understand emptiness conceptually is not enough. We need to understand it through direct experience so that when we are shaken from the depth of our being, when the whole mechanism of self-clinging is challenged, we can rest in this view with confidence. When challenging circumstances arise, we cannot just conceptually patch things up with the ideas we have about emptiness. Merely thinking, “Everything is empty,” does little service at such times. It is like walking into a dimly lit room, seeing a rope on the ground, and mistaking it for a snake. We can tell ourselves, “It’s a rope, it’s a rope, it’s a rope,” all we want, but unless we turn on the light and see for ourselves, we will never be convinced it is not a snake, and our fear will remain. When we turn on the light, we can see through direct experience that what we mistook for a snake was actually a rope, and our fear lifts. In the same way, when we realise the empty nature of the self and the world around us, we free ourselves from the clinging and fear that comes with it. It is essential that we have conviction based upon experience — no matter how great or small that experience is.

Without this conviction we may run up against a lot of doubts about our meditation practice when difficult circumstances surface. We may wonder why our meditation isn’t working. If meditation does not serve us in difficult times, what else can we do to rescue ourselves from the horror and fear we have inside? What about all the years of practice we have done? Were we just fooling ourselves? Was our practice ever genuine at all?

In times like these we need not get discouraged about our ability to practice. Coupled with open-minded questioning, challenging circumstances can help deepen and clarify the purpose of our path because they expose how far our practice has penetrated to the core of self-clinging. Although these experiences often shock or disturb us, they bring our attention to the immediate experience of clinging and the pain it generates, and we begin to think about letting go.

We may have had the experience of letting go of our clinging and resting in the nature of emptiness many times in the past, but have not yet developed trust or conviction in that experience. We may feel certain in the moment of seeing our ordinary confused perceptions collapse, but unless we trust that experience, it will not affect the momentum of our ordinary confused habits. Quickly we will return to believing in our experience as solid and real. However, if we are able to trust the direct experience of emptiness, we can, through hindsight, bridge that understanding with our present experience. We rely on the recollection of our direct encounter with the view to change the way we ordinarily respond to difficult situations.

On the other hand, even if we do have some conviction, it is not as if because we have let go once — “That’s it!” — we’ve let go completely and we will never cling again. Habitual mind is like a scroll of paper: when you first unroll it, immediately it curls back up. You need to continually flatten it out, and eventually it will stay. Our constant challenge as practitioners, the true focus of our practice, is reducing the attachment we have in the core of our mind.

As we approach the haunted dominion with less fear, we may actually find some intelligence in the experience of being haunted: although we continuously try to secure the self, instinctually we know that we cannot. This instinctual knowledge comes from an innate intelligence that sees the dynamic, ungraspable nature of all things. It observes things arise and fall away, both happiness and suffering and the changes of birth, old age, sickness, and death. When we cling to self and other, our mind feels deeply conflicted and fearful because clinging is at odds with our inner intelligence. Of course, we are not clinging because we want to suffer; we are clinging because we want to avoid suffering. But clinging by its nature causes pain. When we let go of grasping and turn toward our innate intelligence, we begin to experience a sense of ease in our minds and we begin to develop a new relationship with that which ordinarily haunts us.

As practitioners interested in going beyond delusion, we may find ourselves intrigued by the haunted dominion of mind. We may find that, rather than trying to avoid pain, we want to move closer to that which haunts us. Emboldened by the experience of emptiness, we can question the solidity or truth of our fears — maybe things don’t exist as they appear. In fact, each time we see through the haunted dominion of mind — when we see its illusory or empty nature — we experience the taste of true liberation. This is why the great yogis of the past practiced in haunted places such as charnel grounds. Places that provoke the hidden aspects of mind are full of possibilities for liberation. In this way, the haunted dominion — whether it is a charnel ground or the dominion of fear that results from our own self-clinging — serves as the very ground of our realisation.

We don’t need to cling to the self to enjoy life. Life is naturally rich and abundant. There is nothing more liberating and enjoyable than experiencing the world around us without grasping. We do not deprive ourselves of experience if we forsake our attachments. Clinging actually inhibits us from enjoying life to its fullest. We consume ourselves trying to arrange the world according to our preferences rather than delighting in the way our experience naturally unfolds.

We can find so much appreciation of life when we are free of the hopes and fears related to self-clinging — even of all the problems we generally try to avoid and dread, such as old age, sickness, and death. The ability to appreciate all aspects of our mind really says something about mind’s magnificent potential. It shows us that the mind is so much greater than the confusions, fears, and unrest that so often haunt us. It show us that our personal suffering and the world of suffering “outside” of us are nothing more than the inner and outer world of our own delusion — samsara.

Nyensa chödpa is cutting through the mind of samsara. What could be much more haunted and fearful than samsara? What could be a greater benefit than getting beyond samsara and our own self-grasping? What could be more meaningful than recognising that samsara — that which has made us so fearful and shaken — is by nature the nondual nature of emptiness itself? If we do the practice of nyensa chödpa in our everyday life, it is a wonderful way to live this life, and the work we do will measure up in the end.

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche 35.

运用思想发挥智慧
白云老禅师

非常难得,能有机会跟大家聊一聊,结个法缘;今天的题目--「运用思想,发挥智慧」。

一般人,把思想作成定点式的说法,像思想有偏左、偏右或民主思想……,不能以这种方式去看。

首先,必须要知道,思想是每个人自己的思想,不是以别人的思想去看自己的思想,或者是用自己的思想去计较、执着他人的思想。那么思想究竟是什么?一般所说的「起心动念」,它是一种思想的表现,起什么心?动什么念?我们先要了解,心跟念相互之间的关系。

心是每个自我内在的表现,内在称之为心;念是相应于外面我们所看到、听到人与事的种种问题,而产生的一个作用,这种作用叫做念。念的本身能分别,会计较、执着,但是不能主宰,真正主宰的是「心」。

学佛的人要修心养性,修什么心?修自我的心。学佛的人常讲到修行,一般把修行当成诵一部经,或礼忏、念佛、持咒,修一个法门或参禅打坐,认为就是修行,这是不正确的,因为自己还不能够作主,才需要依赖这些,使自己不会胡思乱想,产生妄想杂念。

真正谈修行,一定要把握修什么行?经典上讲身、口、意,就是身体的行为、言语的行为、意念的行为,身跟口是外在的,人人都能感受到的,而意念的行为是内在的;因此,修行必须内外兼修,这是讲身口意的思想行为。行为往往凭自我意识,或凭无始以来业的力量而发动的,因此,会有偏差、错误而造成伤害。

谈修行,是要修正身口意的行为,不要有所偏差而造成错误,也不要造成伤害,佛法最终目的是要达到圆满。佛教特别强调圆满,是什么样的圆?是一个整体的圆,而不是平面的圆,它像一个球,从任何方向看都是圆的,没有缺点。我们之所以要修行,是因为行为会有缺失,慢慢把那些缺失变得愈来愈少,最后完成像球状一样圆满的圆,才是我们的目的。

千万不要认为修行是念经、诵经、拜忏、作法会,或念佛、持咒、打坐,这只是暂时的依赖,不能拿这些当成修行,因为自己身口意的行为还不能作主,还会有偏差、错误,因此暂时依赖这些,它们只是一种依赖的方法。刚开始,学佛的人都会依赖,可是不能够永远都依赖它,在依赖的同时,也要修正我们的行为。什么叫修行?修正身口意的行为,这是个重点。很多人介绍佛法,不用这种方式,都说是要研究一部经,或修个法门,其实那不叫修行,只是暂时的依赖。

行为的问题,因为有行为,才会产生问题;人,如果没有行为,那是不可能,只要是人都会有行为。为什么?身体会有动作,嘴会讲话,脑袋瓜会想,只要是人都不能避免,唯一不同的地方,学佛的人会学习释迦牟尼佛的道理方法或智慧,帮助我们如何面对世间的现实。

世间的现实是什么?世间现实的一切称为世间法,事实上,应该叫做相对的法,怎么说?它有对、错,有好、坏,有善、恶,因此,世间的一切都是相对的。学佛是要面对相对,慢慢去认识、了解,从中得到觉悟,时间久了,就可以做到突破相对,显现出绝对。相对,不管是正面、负面都有缺点,唯有绝对,是零缺点,没有缺失。

学佛是使我们的缺点愈来愈少,最后没有缺点了,你就是佛,就是菩萨。大家听了,可能会认为,这不就是做人嘛!这也叫学佛吗?大家要知道,佛是很完美的,没有缺失的人,所证得的结果就是佛、菩萨。所以,不要以为人的问题,我们都了解,其实人的问题看起来好像都了解了,事实上一点也不了解,为什么?如果真正会了,就不会有烦恼、伤心、难过,也不会得意忘形,总是在好坏之中取舍,而起分别。

譬如佛教徒常讲「诸恶莫作,众善奉行」,有没有想过?恶的是业,善的也是业,它们都是业,只是说恶的,会造成伤害;善的,使人得到利益,唯一不同的地方在这里。因此恶的,要去掉;善的,是不是要保留?当然刚开始学佛,恶的,要一天天愈来愈少;善的,要一天天愈来愈好,这才是学佛的过程。

如此到达了某种程度的修养,连善也是多余的,如果还拥有善,以善作为修心养性,或修行办道的中心点,你还只是在做人,没有机会成为佛、成菩萨。因为到达佛、菩萨的境界,连善也是多余的,没有用了,所以说到最后,连善也要舍弃。

刚开始学佛不能这么做,还是要去恶;恶的不要,还要多做善的,但是不是永久的,这只是一个过程,最终连善也要舍弃。以佛教的言语来说,好的,都要回向;不好的,要改变,才是学佛者的正确观念。

谈这些问题,是说一个人的思想变化,以及产生的作用,但是「运用思想」,一不小心就会变成投机取巧,为能得到更多的利益,而不在乎别人,也是运用思想。譬如打麻将,不运用思想可以打麻将吗?不行的。哪怕吃饭、穿衣、行、住、坐、卧……,都要运用思想。学佛的人运用思想,与一般人不同的地方,在思想中间先作修养、调理,把好的拿来运用,不好的慢慢清净,方向不能搞错。

就像谈六波罗蜜里面的精进波罗蜜,我们说精进,不错!学佛的人都要精进,可是有很多人,当一股道的热忱来时,可以不吃不喝、不眠不休,认为这就是精进,一旦色身受不了,躺下来了,原有的精进也都消失掉了。所以,在学佛的过程中,对道的热忱,千万不要像山洪暴发、狂风暴雨,因为,它们就像从山上下来的洪水,来得急、去得快。

真正修行办道,应该像细水长流,也就是在稳当的情况下去做,色身才不会受到损害。像苦行、日中一食、夜不倒单,一天吃一顿,晚上不睡床铺,这不一定叫精进。为什么?这么做,身体能维持多久?如果维持不了很久,最后病倒了,根本没有机会修行办道,即使有,又要浪费了多少时间。

运用思想,并不是在佛法里面找些东西来运用,譬如烦恼、菩提,学佛的人讨厌烦恼,喜欢菩提;在座的各位,有没有想过?烦恼,我们都很熟悉,你见过菩提没有?菩提是什么?见过菩提树、菩提籽,有没有见过菩提?可能有,可是没有办法把握,因为烦恼是一种现象,菩提还是一种现象。

以烦恼与菩提来说,讨厌烦恼,把烦恼当敌人,喜欢菩提,拿菩提当武器,去消灭烦恼,可能吗?菩提很难把握,它是什么样的东西。如果换一个话题,假使菩提是佛法,烦恼是世间法,拿佛法对付世间法,用这种方式运用思想、学佛,告诉各位,你会没饭吃、没衣服穿、没房子住,为什么?一天忙到晚,最后还不知道在做什么,因为,佛法、菩提不是武器,世间法、烦恼也不是敌人。

为什么要谈「运用思想发挥智慧」?像经典上的话,「烦恼即菩提」,菩提在烦恼之中,也就是说菩提在烦恼里面,如果想从烦恼中间找到菩提,怎么找?经典上有这么的例子,烦恼是包在明珠外面的污垢、骯脏的东西,如果想见到明珠的光芒,最好的办法,就是把明珠外表的那些污垢、脏东西,弄得干干净净,明珠才会显现。可以这么说,菩提就是明珠的光芒,烦恼就是掩盖明珠光芒的脏东西;如果这么去看菩提跟烦恼,你就会知道,为什么说菩提在烦恼里面。

要怎么样把烦恼弄干净,才能够显现出菩提?究竟要用什么方式去看?就等于是业与道,业就像明珠外面的骯脏、污垢,道就是明珠里面本有的光芒。在这里要提醒各位,可以肯定,烦恼是污垢,但菩提绝不是那颗明珠,而是明珠的光芒!因为明珠的本身,还是一个物质体,法不是告诉你,执着那颗明珠。就像众生皆有佛性,为什么佛性显现不出来,像晚课课诵里「无始所作诸恶业,皆由无始贪瞋痴」的文句,在座的都会背,佛性就是明珠里面的光芒。

如果说烦恼与菩提的关系,去掉一些烦恼,就会显现一些光芒,显现的那些光芒,我们称之为菩提,它不是究竟的,因为,还有很多的烦恼,很多的骯脏,没有弄干净,也就是明珠整个的光芒,没有完全显现出来;等到光芒完全显现,佛性就显现出来,也就是说你证道了,证什么道?佛或者菩萨。千万不要把这个佛,当成另外的东西,经典上说佛是人成就的,并不是看不见、摸不着的;他还是人修养而成的。

谈修行,还要注意两句话,造作的行为会成为业,可是修养的行为可以转变为道。这话怎么讲?如果以业的善、恶、无记来分,做善事是一种行为,做坏事还是一种行为,那修行成道呢?也是一种行为,不同的地方在哪里?造作成业是照自己的自我意识去做,譬如我喜欢、我讨厌,用自己的意识去分别,而造作的最后结果,都是业。修行可以成道,为什么?修行要有道理、方法,它不是凭你的自我意识就可以做得到的,道理方法从哪里来?就是佛陀--释迦牟尼佛跟我们说的道理方法。

如果是运用思想,运用什么思想?平常在学习的过程中,不管是看经典、研究经典,或从道理上面表现的方法也好,有了这些过程,才能谈得上运用思想,否则的话,所运用的思想是自我意识,难免有缺点;如果依于佛陀所说的道理方法去做,可以使你的缺点愈来愈少。因此,为什么要学佛?学佛,至少造业的机会愈来愈少;相反的,修行办道的机会愈来愈多。在这种情况之下,久而久之,业慢慢清净了,道就会圆满。

讲到这里,提出另外一个问题,业怎么清净?是不是礼佛、拜忏就可以消业?或布施、供养可以消业?甚至于有的法师告诉一些学佛的人,跪在他前面,打香板也可以消业,这些能消业吗?

还有一句话,这不是经典里面讲的,而是人说的,「一句弥陀,罪灭河沙」,念一句阿弥陀佛,像河里面的沙,那么多的业都可以消失掉;假使一天念上十万遍,那你就是佛了吗?什么业都没有了吗?

学佛要能把握方向,是什么方向呢?学佛不是学人。说得稍许夸张一点,近六百年来,百分之九十的佛教徒几乎都在学人,而不是学佛,因为,动不动就是祖师、某某大师、长老说,好像佛都没有说。想想看,你学人,像学祖师、大师、长老……,最多你像他,不可能像佛、菩萨;所以,一定要学佛,不要学人。

所谓祖师、大师、长老,是去亲近他所学的菁华,缩短学习的时间,得到利益才是目的,而不是去学那个人,要晓得祖师、大师、长老都是人。像我常讲,我是一个土和尚,土里土气的和尚,意思是什么?你不要学我,你学我,会变得土里土气的。

从哪里学佛?如果时间、空间够,可以从经典上发现;如果时间、空间不够,可以亲近善知识,尤其是出家人,因为他们是佛法的专业从业人员。譬如我花了八十几年的时间,说是打混好了,也学了不少;可是,你们只要花短短的时间,把我经过八十几年时间所学的,从中撷取就可以得到很多利益,这才是亲近善知识的目的,千万不要学人,这是我们要把握的方向。

我看太多了,近六百年来,几乎都是以人为标准,不是以佛为标准;譬如学佛的佛弟子见面,聊聊天,然后看看手是不是跟佛陀一样?长相是不是跟佛陀一样?有没有见过释迦牟尼佛?究竟是什么样子?经典上有三十二相、八十随好,看我具备了多少?就算具备了三十二相、八十种好,你也不是释迦牟尼佛,为什么?没有释迦牟尼佛的智慧;要想跟像佛一样,一定要具备像佛一样的智慧,没有那种智慧,有那些相也没有用的。

常有这种现象,这个人长得很庄严,那个人看起来像达摩祖师……,都只是在相上打转。并不是说学佛的人或对、或错,而是近六百年来,中国只有佛教,没有佛法,因为他们只谈一些佛教的仪式,不谈佛陀的道理。像在槟城谈到色尘、法尘、色法、心法、五蕴、六根,谈这些基本的名相、名词,大家都知道;可是,把它们放在一起,当成道理方法,就陌生了,为什么?因为没有从里面见到法,只看到文字、名相,能够进入到法相,就很不错了。

学佛,要学佛陀的道理、方法,学了之后,在现实生活中慢慢去体会、试验,久而久之,智慧就会愈来愈高。人生活在现实生活中,面对人、事,常有很多的不称心、不如意,有句话「人生不如意,十之八九」,为什么?智慧不够,有的明明你知道,居然做不到,那是什么现象?无可奈何,这都是智慧不够。

所以,学佛是学佛陀的智慧,佛陀的智慧究竟是什么?佛陀的智慧,以人的生死问题来说,于业,有很多道理方法告诉你,怎么去清净;于道,也有很多道理方法告诉你,怎样从业里面见道,或从烦恼中间显现菩提,这都是培养智慧,而不是拿一个武器去对付一个敌人。

佛弟子常把佛法当成宗教信仰,也没有错,以佛教而言,有它的宗教形态,跟其他宗教最大的不同点,在于它里面有道理、方法、智慧,这些我们就叫佛法。谈运用思想,如果不能把握这些,很可能都是自我意识,不一定是智慧。

怎么样才知道不是自我意识?怎么样才知道是合乎佛法?学佛要把握一个大前提「不伤害别人,自己也不要受到伤害」。前面一句话不伤害别人,比较容易做到,同时自己也不要受到伤害,就不太容易了,为什么呢?做一个佛教徒,甚至于信佛很久的人,往往不伤害别人,最后自己却受到伤害。

我知道很多人学了一、二十年,最后不信佛教了,改信基督教,或信别的宗教……,为什么?因为,他从来没有学过佛法,只做个佛教徒,即使在学,也都是学人,这才是根本问题所在。

因此运用思想,不是说自己想一想,该怎么办,就怎么办,那是自我意识;自我意识是依于自己的知识经验完成的力量,如果依于佛陀的道理方法,面对问题、化解问题,就不会造成任何伤害,肯定可以得到利益。这就是为什么要学佛,为什么谈运用思想,那么的重要。

我平常演讲,不太使用很多佛教名词、佛教名相,例如你们思考究竟什么是佛?大家一定看到我后面就是佛,对不对?再问大家一个问题,我们说皈依佛、法、僧,我后面是佛法吗?是大藏经,这样对吗?

佛是圆满觉悟的意思,能达到圆满觉悟,你就是佛,已经圆满成就了,当然,不只是释迦牟尼佛,从有佛出世开始起,已经很难计算了。绝不是泥塑、木雕的偶像,这只是精神寄托的偶像,如果只做个佛教徒,每天面对所谓的金身拜拜的话,得不到智慧,最多只能少造些业,如此而已。真正要有智慧,须要多听些佛陀的道理、方法,什么方法?我经常说的三多政策,多看、多听、多问。

多看,假使看一部经,经典的原文有太多的名词,不容易理解,有些名词,除了中文,还有梵文,甚至巴利文,梵文跟中文混在一起,你从字面上看不出来它的道理,怎么办?去看注解,同样一部经,有很多不同高僧大德作的注解,所有不同的注解都去看,这是看的方式。

看了还不够,因为看,难免还有自我意识,怎么办呢?要多听,听人家讲,譬如研究一部经典,有很多地方不太了解,怎么办?所以,要多听别人讲,听一个人讲还不够,要多听一些人讲同样的这部经典。

多看了,也多听了,还不行;你自己看,与听别人讲,还是有些分别、有些差异。在座的可能都有这种经验,奇怪,为什么相同的问题,问不同的法师,所讲的都不一样?究竟听谁的?都会有这种经验,为什么?我刚说过,如果法师没有真正深入经藏,把佛陀的道理、方法、智慧表现出来,还是人自己说的,所以同样的问题,不妨多问些人,不管出家、在家的,只要是善知识都可以问。

那么多看、多听、多问,搜集了很多的资料,就可以拿来做比较,再去选择;但是只有一次的比较、选择,还是不够,还要把不同的选择,再做比较,再选择,比较、选择……到最后,差不多就是你所需要的。

千万不要法师、大师说了就算,那只能拿来参考,不能百分百照他讲的去做,如果百分百照他讲的去做,最后你是学人,不是学佛。所以看经典要花很多时间,的确需要时间、环境的许可;我们看很多寺院,把一部大藏经摆在大殿的柜子里面,还锁起来,做什么?不是给人看,而是供人去拜,但是经典是拿来看的。

讲到看的问题,跟大家提些意见,拜经不如看经,因为拜经的重点是摆在拜,对文字的意义,可能没有机会了解,所以不如去看,看的时候会引发你一些想法。但是看经又不如想经,想什么?不是去思想、怀念经典,而是去想经典里面的意义,究竟说些什么。

所以刚开始拜经,也没有错,只是不要老是拜,拜了之后,还要看,看了以后,还要去想,这样才有帮助。不过我在这里,教各位一个较笨的办法,什么办法呢?拜经可以做,看经也可以做,想经也可以做,可是究竟我想的对不对?没有关系,不是想一遍就算了,只要有空就看一看、想一想,再看一看、想一想,加上前面讲的多看、多听,还要多问,最后就能得到你所需要的。

这是知道一些道理、方法的要领,也就是在运用思想,才不会运用错误,而思想也不会是自我意识了,这就是依教如法,依什么教?如什么法?依佛陀所教的道理、方法。唯有运用佛陀所教的道理、方法,才能发挥智慧;否则的话,发挥的是自我意识,不是伤害别人,可能伤害自己。唯有释迦牟尼佛的智慧,才不会有伤害,这是在思想上首先要把握的。

学佛如前面所讲,不能像山洪暴发,要像细水般长流,重点在哪里?山洪暴发,都是泥浆水,看不清楚;而浅水、细水,清澈得很。这说明什么?道的热忱发起来,难免有些盲目,唯有心平气和的时候,才会表现出道来。

因此,常鼓励在家学佛者,烦恼的时候,千万不要去礼佛、看经、打坐……,要在心平气和的时候,做这些才有效。为什么?烦躁的时候,或心情、情绪不好时,拿着一本经书,却看不下去,因为,脑袋瓜都是烦恼。那烦躁、不安定的时候,该怎么办呢?今天在佛堂提到,当妄想杂念、乱七八糟的思想起来的时候,是因为想得太多了,所以应该抓住一个,抓住了,就死盯着它,搞清楚。

如果当烦恼、情绪不好、坐立不安的时候,甚至于想发脾气,还想揍人,这时,不管你想的是什么,随便抓一个,就盯着它,面对它搞个清楚。这方法看起来很简单,告诉各位,很难,难在哪里?因为脑袋瓜里的妄想杂念一大堆,该抓哪一个?平常要止于一念,对不对?什么叫止于一念?就是在很混乱里面抓住一个,就是叫止于一念。抓住了那一个,面对它,搞清楚;因为自己生起的烦恼,应该自己最清楚。

可是,到达某种修行的过程中,当你抓住了那一个,这中间会有些什么现象呢?有的时间很短,有的时间很长;如果修养够,一剎那之间就能抓住,如果时间愈长,表示对佛陀的道理方法,还不太熟悉。所以妄想杂念是没有办法避免的事,也不要害怕面对;而佛陀所讲的道理、方法,告诉我们如何抓住它、化解它,这种现象叫解脱。

很多人把解脱当成人死了、解脱了,并非如此;学佛当中,大大小小的解脱没有办法计算,为什么?因为大大小小的问题太多,一个问题化解掉,就是一个解脱。如果说得更远一点,佛法中有个「劫」的名词,另外还要加进去个字叫劫波。

譬如劫数难逃的劫,最简单的认识,等于说一个问题的发生,它关系到过去的因,现在的果;问题的发生是因,显现出来的就是果,当这个因果完成了,就是经历了一劫,或说经过了一个解脱。

我们常看经典上,动不动就讲无量无边,为什么讲那么大的数目字?因为人的业因、业果实在太多了,没有办法计算。在经典上也看得到,想成佛、成菩萨,要经历三大阿僧祇劫,历经三大阿僧祇劫,可以得到什么?阿耨多罗三藐三菩提。那一大阿僧祇劫是多少?阿僧祇是无量的意思,也就是没有办法计算,为什么没有办法计算?这就是刚刚讲的因与果、解脱、或劫的问题。

所以没有学佛或学佛的人,如果他们不是很有修养,往往好的因来了,显现乐的果,很容易接受,假使恶的因来了,要受苦的果,就受不了了。这两者,善称为正面的,恶称为负面的,其实正面、负面,只是得到乐、苦的一个结果,在佛法中都是要受报的。

可是往往你在受报的时候,又会产生随业而再造业,这话怎么说?譬如善的因,显现乐的果,有时候得意忘形而再造业;当是恶的因,要受苦的果,可能就不能接受了,在不能接受的中间,又会再造业,旧业未了,又造成新业,这都是很危险的事。

因此当业报显现时,要欢欢喜喜地承受,尤其是苦的果,更要欢欢喜喜地去承受,而乐的果呢?千万不要得意忘形;学佛的人,千万不要认为乐是我的福报,好像无始以来做了很多好事,却忘了得意忘形也会造业。如果苦报来了,就怨天尤人,抱怨我这一生又没有做坏事,为什么过得比别人不好?甚至于还会以很多坏人过得比好人更好,用这种方式看问题,这都不是佛教徒的正常看法。

不管是善恶、苦乐,都是一种业报,一旦降临到我们身上,显现的时候,如果能欢欢喜喜承受,因果就完成,劫就消失了,真正得到一个解脱;而无始以来所有的业都能消失,当然就只有道,最后连道也不需要了。

金刚经有句「如筏喻者」,是什么意思?佛陀所讲的道理方法,就像你要渡河,从这边到河的那一边,我们不是讲到彼岸吗?但是,渡河一定要有方法,佛陀所讲的道理方法,并不是一个固定的方法,须看时间、空间、环境,所以他说这个法像竹筏子、小船,要过河时才利用它,从此岸可以到达彼岸,这样就可以离苦得乐,意思就是如此。

佛法无定法,它没有一定的方法,又说应病给药,什么样的病,吃什么样的药。可是话又说回来,也不一定是这样,譬如流行感冒,不管是A型的……,医生绝不会只开一种药给大家,并不是所有的人吃这种药,就可以把感冒治好;因为每个人的体质、生活习惯、运动方式……,很多都不相同,虽然都是感冒,吃同样的药,不一定有效。所以我们常说都是感冒,怎么你吃有效,我吃就没有效?或者是我吃有效,你怎么吃都没有效,同样的病,不一定相同的药都可以治的。

众生的因因果果都是病,就要用不同的法,释迦牟尼佛讲了八万四千法门,其实不止,它只是个形容词,是不是每样都要学?那倒不需要。刚刚说要先从身口意行为上面着手,多看、多听、多问,在这三多的前提之下,可以搜集很多资料,就有比较、选择的机会。

学佛,有时候很难把握,甚至还会想到,没学佛之前,过得很自在,一学佛,反而觉得不自在,问题还更多了,甚至于还没学佛之前,想什么几乎都有,学佛后什么都没有,其实那是自己的看法,用佛法的方式看,就不一样了。

然而要用什么方式去看?我刚说过,业报显现的时候,要欢欢喜喜去承受;人活在世间,有好有坏,苦与乐同时都会有;下三道畜生、鬼、地狱众生,他们只有苦,没有乐;天道众生,只有乐、没有苦,他们都没有修行的机会,佛法告诉我们,真正修行办道,只有人才有机会。因为天道的众生只有享受,并不知道苦是什么,可是一旦福报受完,还有那么多苦的业报存在,还是会堕落,并不表示天道众生就不会堕到别的地方。所以真正修行办道,最好的环境是人道,「人身难得,佛法难闻」,因此拥有了人身,才有机会听到佛法,不好好把握的话,就会浪费生命。

只不过讲到这里,我要提醒各位,在家学佛不要跟出家人一样,因为,出家人是专业的从业人员,而在家能解决自己的问题就可以了。在家学佛是解决自己的问题,而出家人除了解决自己的问题,还受供养,又欠了一些,因此,还要还债,度更多的人,所以,必须是专业者。

在家学佛,不要跟出家人一样,那太辛苦了,要不是从小出家,我愿意在家学佛,不愿意做出家人,因为真正做个出家人,要放弃很多,那不叫牺牲,叫放弃。头一个,不能有自我,因为有自我,就会有分别心、计较、执着,只有完全放弃自我,才不会起分别、计较、执着。

譬如说出家人,怎么搞的,出家也这样,不能用这种方式去想,首先要看他出家多久,假使刚出家不久,你也要求他,像我出家八十几年的人一样,未免太苛刻了,因为他刚在学,只是转换不同的环境。

所以为什么过去在中国大陆,我们那时代的出家人,如果本身没有几把刷子,不准下山,也就是说没有一点本钱,就不准下山。因为要跟在家居士打交道,如果在家居士往地上一跪,请法师开示,你要有东西开示才行。现在出家方便多了,要求也不像过去,因此有时候在家居士看出家人,所见的也不一定是他真实的一面,并不因为我是出家人才这么讲。

例如济公和尚,他最明显的是什么?吃狗肉、喝老酒;我讲个故事,你们就不认为他是喝老酒、吃狗肉。道济禅师,也就是济公;有一处道观的三清道士和他很好,他常常到道观。

有天道士故意和他开玩笑:你喝酒、又吃狗肉,我今天杀一只鸽子,给你吃好不好。

济公说:好啊!

于是道士抓了一只鸽子,把它弄死、拔毛、切了、炒了,放到桌上。

济公说:我吃可以,但是只我一个人吃,你一点点也不能碰。

最后,济公把这盘鸽子吃了。

道士哈哈大笑说:你看!你是出家人,还叫我杀生。

我们晓得「杀生」,自己杀不可以,叫别人杀也不可以,你还叫我杀生、叫我弄给你吃,你当什么出家人?

济公说:我没有叫你杀,我也没有吃啊!

道士说:事实明明摆在眼前,你怎么否认?

济公说:你看!

于是他张开嘴,一只活生生的鸽子,从他嘴里飞出去,道士只好甘拜下风。我不是说和尚、道士工夫的好坏,而是说看他的表面,可能你所做的事实,好像是如此,可是真正有道高僧,不一定是你想象的那样;所以有时候在家居士看出家人,不要只看表相。

很简单,出家人有没有修行办道,或有没有持戒……?可以去体会、感受,像讲出话来,是否对你有利益?遇到问题,是否会分析给你听?如何化解?因此对出家人不要要求太高,以佛教的戒律来讲,在家居士不可以要求出家人,可是我可以,因为我是老资格。

面谈那么多的根本是如何形成的?眼、耳、鼻、舌、身、意,接触的是色、声、香、味、触、法,里面是什么?眼睛看到、耳朵听到,舌头尝到、鼻子闻到;文字上面讲鼻子闻到都是香的,好像没有闻到臭的;所谓色、声、香,没有臭,不是这么解释,香是一种气味,臭还是一种气味,这些都是不同的气味,只是以香来说而已。

人有五个根本,面对外面五种不同的东西,它是一对一的,眼睛只能看到,耳朵只能听见,舌头只能辨味,鼻子只能闻到,分辨气味,身体接触到硬的、软的、暖的、冰的…种种能感触到的。

五根对外面的五个尘,是一对一的,它不会交叉,这里面会发现一个问题,什么问题呢?譬如吃饭,这五个东西可以同时动作,手拿筷子、拿碗,眼睛看盘子里有什么菜,夹了往嘴里面放,是咸的、甜的、酸的、苦的、辣的,很清楚,如何显现出来?不要忘了还有第六个「意」,为什么?

前面谈运用思想,思想是以念来讲,我们讲心念,以念来说有两个根本,一是意念,是我们讲六个根本的第六个;还有一个根本叫想念,是我们讲「五蕴」,色受想行识的「想」。所以念有两个,一个是前面所讲的,是从表面产生的一个变化作用,而后面的想念,是经过变化作用,最后再发起的一种现象所完成的力量,什么力量?好的、坏的、对的、错的这些东西。而想念,是人的我,以心来讲的,前面的意,是专门对付外面的,由于有外面的根本接触才会产生变化。

譬如看一盆花,眼睛看到的是什么?不同的颜色、不同的形状,可是,是什么花?意是第六个根本参与,譬如说菊花……,意念会产生作用,它只是一种变化作用,真正决定欢喜不欢喜是想念,也就是自我的心。我们常说,这个我喜欢,那个我讨厌,如果只在喜欢、讨厌上面打转,你就忘了我喜欢、讨厌的这个、那个,等于你根本没有看到、没有听到;一定接触到外面的东西,才会产生意念、想念,如果要讲得更深一点,就会有色尘、法尘、色法。

色尘:是眼睛、耳朵、鼻子……,五个根本所接触到的物质体,称为色尘。尘是什么?像灰尘的尘,就是我们说的一种物质体,凡是所有的物质体,都可以叫色尘。

法尘:经过「意」,也就是第六个根本接触到了。譬如这是一盆花,大家知道这是盆花,一定有很多不同的花,还要有花盆,这些不同的花、草、花盆都是色尘,把它们放在一起,凭什么?要有意念参与才可以,如果没有意念,会不会完成一盆花?不会的。

因为色尘的组成而完成一盆花,一盆花中所有花的组成叫法尘,这盆花,不是某一朵或某一根,而是不同的花盆、不同的花、不同的草都叫色尘;完成了一盆花,是经过第六个根本产生变化,像配颜色、高矮、形状,如何组成,这叫法尘。

色法:是人的我,就是「心」参与了,参与什么?譬如花有不同的流派,像西洋的、东洋的、中国的……,各种不同的流派,并不是第六个意念可以产生的,而是「想念」所产生的,想念就是我们所讲的心,换言之,用什么流派的插花方式叫色法。

心法:心法的心,是五蕴中间「我」的问题,要完成这盆花,也要我去完成,用什么样的方式表现,或不同流派的表现,也是「我」,必须要有知识、经验、道理、方法、理论……,才能做得到,讲这些就可以发现,运用思想没有那么简单。

从物质到组合完成之后,表现的是精神、现象,这时候叫心法,那跟烦恼、菩提有什么关系?譬如我不晓得马来西亚有没有卖彩券?有卖彩券。它是一张纸等于是色尘,可是纸里面印了很多文字,那是法尘。什么时候才称为色法?要开奖,开出号码来,对你的号码,是不是跟它一样?这时才有了色法。什么时候是心法?有没有中奖都是心法,因为中奖了就欢喜、就高兴;没中呢?

什么叫烦恼?菩提在哪里?烦恼很容易知道,可是菩提在哪里?是不是中了奖就是菩提?不是的。马来西亚现在一张彩券是多少钱?我搞不清楚,反正是举例,假使一张彩券一个号码,无伤大雅,如果说我有钱,多买两张也无所谓,那并不是问题;如果造成了问题,就是烦恼。买彩券,对你无伤大雅的话,也不是菩提,因为你没有生烦恼,就不会有菩提。

当你花了很多钱,超过了你的预算买彩券,如果中了奖,什么问题都可以解决,这都是烦恼。但是,在这个烦恼中间,冷静的想一想,真的能够中到第一特奖吗?有时候很奇怪,能够中二个字就不错,总比不中好,那也不是菩提。真正的菩提在哪里?是你烦恼起来了,譬如说我第一次买一张不中,我下次买五张,再下次买五十张,甚至于买一百张、二百张,那叫自寻烦恼,永远没有见菩提的机会,到最后可能要到银行贷款,还要向别人标会、借钱来买,因为他永远只有烦恼,不会有菩提。

什么时候有菩提?第一个买的时候不太在意,这只不过是碰运气,千万不要动不动就碰碰运气,把它当成娱乐也无所谓,可是这都不可能见到菩提,而是说你迷惑于彩券,一定要中奖,就会造成烦恼。在这烦恼中间,还得看你烦恼什么?譬如薪水,本来可以维持一个月的生活,先去买奖券,中奖了,吃不完、花不完,烦恼也多了。在任何一个烦恼中,如果还能面对烦恼,怎么化解烦恼,才能显现菩提。原来迷惑于彩券是最笨的人,如果不被迷惑,只把它当成娱乐,中奖没有什么不好,没有中奖也没有什么好或不好,烦恼不是在好坏里面去找,菩提也不是在好坏里面去找,而是说烦恼生起时,要到里面去找。

运用思想,刚刚谈到善业显现时很快乐,恶业却觉得是受苦;快乐愿意接受,受苦时,不愿意接受,如果在受苦的时刻,还能欢喜承受,就有显现菩提的机会,所以说菩提在烦恼的里面。

菩提不是释迦牟尼佛给你的,而是烦恼生起时,从里面去发现,怎么发现?当然要有道理方法,也要靠平常的修养,平常修养怎么形成?是调整身口意的行为,使不好的转变为好,好的愈来愈好,就是叫做修行,久而久之,形成一种修养,这种修养就是智慧。

所以运用思想这名词,听起来很简单,往往不小心变就会成自我意识,甚至还会归咎于佛说的,其实是人说的。刚开始学佛会有所依赖,因为自己还不能作主,等到修行达到某种修养程度,也就是智慧愈来愈高,自己能作得了主,就有成佛、成菩萨的机会。自己作不了主,还是会要有所依赖,不是说依赖一定是错的,可是不能永远依赖,这里面都是教你怎么样运用思想,才能够发挥智慧,它的重点要这么去把握。

好了,今天耽误大家很多时间,在这个地方胡说八道,可是我不姓胡,而是姓释,最后谢谢各位!

Ven Bai Yun (白云老禅师) 9.

Within the sky-like empty mind, habitual tendencies and disturbing emotions are just like clouds and mist. When they appear, they appear within the expanse of empty mind. When they remain, they remain within the expanse of empty mind. And when they dissolve, they dissolve in that same expanse of empty mind.

— Padmasambhava, Guru Rinpoche

Guru Rinpoche 80

The Challenge of Other Religions
by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

For many religious people, accepting the legitimacy of other faith traditions poses a serious challenge. To accept that other religions are legitimate may seem to compromise the integrity of one’s own faith, since it entails the admission of different but efficacious spiritual paths. A devout Buddhist might feel that acceptance of other spiritual paths as valid suggests the existence of ways other than of the Buddha toward the attainment of enlightenment. A Muslim might feel that acceptance of other traditions as legitimate would require relinquishing the belief that God’s revelation to the Prophet, as recorded in the Qur’an, represents the final revelation of the highest truth. In the same vein, a Christian might feel that accepting the legitimacy of other religions would entail compromising the key belief that it is only through Jesus Christ that the way to God is found. So the encounter with an entirely different faith, which one can neither avoid nor explain away, poses a serious challenge to deep assumptions.

This raises these critical questions: Can a single-pointed commitment to one’s own faith coexist with acceptance of other religions as legitimate? Is religious pluralism impossible from the perspective of a devout person who is strongly and deeply committed to his or her own faith tradition?

Yet without the emergence of a genuine spirit of religious pluralism, there is no hope for the development of harmony based on true interreligious understanding.

Historically, religions have gone to great lengths, even waging wars, to impose their version of what they deem to be the one true way. Even within their own fold, religions have harshly penalised those heterodox or heretical voices that the tradition took as undermining the integrity of the inviolable truths that the specific faith represents. The entire ethos of missionary activity — that is, the focus on bringing about active conversion of people from other faiths or no faiths — is grounded in the ideal of bringing the “one true way” to those whose eyes remain unopened. In a sense, one might even say that there is an altruistic motive underlying this drive to convert others to one’s own faith.

Given this history and given the perception of conflict that many religious people feel between maintaining the integrity of their own faith and the acceptance of pluralism, is the emergence of genuine interreligious harmony based on mutual understanding possible at all? Scholars of religion speak of three different ways in which a follower of a particular faith tradition may relate to the existence of other faith traditions. One is a straightforward exclusivism, a position that one’s own religion is the only true religion and that rejects, as it were by default, the legitimacy of other faith traditions. This is the standpoint adopted most often by the adherents of the religious traditions. Another position is inclusivism, whereby one accords a kind of partial validity to other faith traditions but maintains that their teachings are somehow contained within one’s own faith tradition — a position historically characterised by some Christian responses to Judaism and Islam’s relation to both Judaism and Christianity. Though more tolerant than the first position, this second standpoint ultimately suggests the redundancy of other faith traditions. Finally, there is pluralism, which accords validity to all faith traditions.

So, with these considerations as background, how does a follower of a particular religious tradition deal with the question of the legitimacy of other religions? On the doctrinal level, this is a question of how to reconcile two seemingly conflicting perspectives that pertain to the world’s religious traditions. I often characterise these two perspectives as “one truth, one religion” versus “many truths, many religions.” How does a devout person reconcile the perspective of “one truth, one religion” that one’s own teachings appear to proclaim with the perspective of “many truths, many religions” that the reality of the human world undeniably demands?

As many religious believers feel, I would agree that some version of exclusivism — the principle of “one truth, one religion” — lies at the heart of most of the world’s great religions. Furthermore, a single-pointed commitment to one’s own faith tradition demands the recognition that one’s chosen faith represents the highest religious teaching. For example, for me Buddhism is the best, but this does not mean that Buddhism is the best for all. Certainly not. For millions of my fellow human beings, theistic forms of teaching represent the best path. Therefore, in the context of an individual religious practitioner, the concept of “one truth, one religion” remains most relevant. It is this that gives the power and single-pointed focus of one’s religious path. At the same time, it is critical that the religious practitioner harbours no egocentric attachment to his faith.

Dalai Lama 159.

As deluded beings with heavy karma, we can hardly understand the ultimate meaning of the teachings from the enlightened ones. Nevertheless, we can get closer to their wisdom through diligent learning.

— Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche

Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche (法王如意宝晋美彭措) 22.

The Sutra of Recollecting the Three Jewels (Part 1)
by Khenchen Appey Rinpoche

This is the teaching known as The Sutra Recollecting the Three Jewels. In this sutra, what does “jewel” mean? The Sanskrit word ratna has been translated into the Tibetan language as dkon.mchog. The Tibetan translation of the word ratna is not a literal translation. The translator at that time thought that if it were translated into Tibetan as “jewel,” there would be the possibility of it being understood as a gem, gold, silver, coral, and the like. So the translator decided to translate the term as dkon.mchog, which means “excellent rarity” or “rare excellence.” The translator himself revealed this. In the Uttara Tantra, when he was explaining the meaning of “rare excellence,” the Victorious Maitreya said, “Generally, there are six characteristics of something that is very precious: it is rare, stainless, powerful, attractive, superior to other things, and unchangeable.”

What does “recollecting” mean? Recollecting means keeping in mind whatever any person already knows to be the qualities of the Three Jewels. If someone were to ask, “What are the benefits of recollecting the qualities of the Three Jewels?,” it is said that one of the benefits to arise through recollecting the qualities of the Three Jewels is the production of faith. Examples of this faith in the Buddha are that producing faith in the Buddha who shows the path to temporary and ultimate bliss will lead you to taking refuge in the Buddha; it will lead you to producing the Enlightenment Thought for the sake of other sentient beings that is a cause for attaining the state of complete Buddhahood; and it will also motivate you to engage in virtuous actions, such as prostrations and making offerings to the Buddhas. Now, producing faith in the Dharma will inspire you to study the Dharma. After understanding what you have studied, you will then desire to put that into practice. Producing faith in the Sangha will cause you yourself to spontaneously aspire to gain the state of a Bodhisattva, and it will also create a desire within you to make offerings to other Bodhisattvas.

In brief, faith will create a desire within you to engage in virtuous actions. It will lead you to take refuge in the Three Jewels. It will also inspire you to perform such practices as the Seven-Limbed Practice, which is dedicated to the objects of refuge who are endowed with infinite qualities. If you do not have faith in the Three Jewels, no Dharma qualities will be able to arise within your mind. In a sutra it is said, “A flower will not arise from a burnt seed.”

There is enormous merit in remembering the qualities of the Three Jewels. Previously, when the Buddha Kashyapa was teaching, a girl walked by that area and heard the Buddha teaching. In her mind she thought that the Buddha Kashyapa had a very pleasing voice, and because of this she produced faith in the qualities of his voice. Due to the merit arising from this, in her next life she obtained rebirth in one of the heavens. So it was said by the Buddha. If you are able to gain such a result from just recollecting a single quality of a Buddha, then there is no question of the merit accrued by studying, contemplating, and meditating on the qualities found in the sutras and their commentaries.

The Sanskrit word sutra is translated in Tibetan as mdo. The sutras are to be understood as the collection of many different topics spoken by the Buddha. This particular sutra is known as The Sutra of Recollecting the Three Jewels. When the translator began translating this sutra from Sanskrit into Tibetan, he added the words “Prostrations to the Omniscient One.” This sutra is divided into three sections: recollecting the qualities of the Buddha, recollecting the qualities of the Dharma, and recollecting the qualities of the Sangha.

[FIRST, TO EXPLAIN THE RECOLLECTION OF THE BUDDHA:]

There are two sources that explain the first of these, recollecting the qualities of the Blessed Buddha. These are the sutras of the Hinayana school and the sutras of the Mahayana school. According to the first, the Hinayana sutras, his qualities are described in the following manner:

Thus the Blessed One is called the One Gone to Suchness, the Foe Destroyer, the Perfectly Accomplished Buddha, the One Who Possesses Knowledge and Its “Feet,” the One Who Has Gone to Bliss, Knower of the World, the Charioteer Who Tames Sentient Beings, and the Unsurpassable Teacher of Gods and Humans.

The part described here at the beginning of this sutra is the Hinayana version of The Sutra [of Recollecting the Three Jewels]. Up to this point, it seems that there are different translations of the qualities of the Buddha. If we explain this in accordance with the word order in the Hinayana sutra, there are some inconsistencies. Since the word “Buddha,” for example, is omitted [in the Hinayana sutra], a person trying to explain it as it is written would have a difficult time. For this reason, the words “Thus” and “the Blessed One” are placed side by side. Further, if someone were to continue explaining those words from the sutra, they would need to explain the nine qualities of the Buddha starting with “the Blessed One.” In any case, we see that the one who possesses those nine qualities is known as Buddha. This is the meaning of the sutra. Both Asanga and Vasubandhu similarly described it in their two commentaries on the sutra.

Among those nine qualities enumerated in the quote from the sutra, the first one is [that the Buddha is] “the Blessed One” (Tibetan bchom.lden.’das; Sanskrit bhagavan). The meaning of this first quality is that the Buddha is called “the Blessed One” because he has destroyed the enemy that obstructs the attainment of enlightenment. Someone might ask, “What obstacle did the Buddha have?” Just when the Buddha was about to attain enlightenment [under the Bodhi Tree], the Mara of the Son of the Gods created a lot of obstacles for him. Therefore, the Buddha’s main obstacle was the Mara of the Son of the Gods. So the Buddha is known as “the Blessed One” because he attained enlightenment after having defeated that demon. Furthermore, another meaning of “the Blessed One” is that the Buddha destroyed either the three afflicting emotions [i.e., desire, hatred, and ignorance], as understood from the twelve limbs of Interdependent Origination, or the two obscurations [of the afflicting emotions and knowable things]. Therefore, he is called “the Blessed One.”

Normally, in the Sanskrit language, this term, “the Blessed One,” is known as bhagavan. The first part of this word, bhaga, means “to destroy,” “fortunate,” or “excellence.” The second part of that word, van, means “to possess.” Therefore, it means “the one who possesses the quality of destroying,” or “the one who destroys the things that have to be destroyed.” The second part of the word means “the one who possesses those qualities that need to be possessed.” So a person like this is known as bhagavan or bchom. lden. He is also known as “the Blessed One” because he possesses all good qualities.

Now, the second part of the word [bchom. lden.’das, namely,] ’das, was added on by the Tibetan translator. The reason for this is that the word leg.lden. can be substituted for the word bchom.lden. The term leg.lden. refers to worldly gods. In order that the word leg.lden. not be understood to mean “worldly gods or higher beings,” the translator added the word ’das to differentiate it [i.e., bchom.lden.’das] from leg.lden or bchom.lden. The word bchom means “defeating the four Maras”: the Mara of the Afflicting Emotions, such as attachment and aversion; the Mara of the Aggregates, such as the impure aggregates arising from ignorance and the like; the Mara of Death, such as the one who dies by the power of his [or her] individual karma while not having any choice over the matter; and the Mara of the Son of the Gods, who is a god within the realm of desire and who creates obstacles to Dharma practitioners. So bchom.lden means that the Buddha has already overpowered all four of these Maras.

There is also another connotation of this, known as leg.pa.gdrup, which means six excellences or six virtues. What do the “six virtues” mean? First, it can mean six excellent qualities. The first of these six virtues is the excellent quality of power. Here, this denotes that no scholar is able to criticise the Buddha by saying such things as “the logic and reasoning you use in relation to the teaching of the Dharma is incorrect.” The second excellent virtue is the excellent quality of body. The Buddha’s body is very beautiful — even more beautiful than the body of the gods. The third excellent virtue is the excellent quality of glory. The reason for this is that the field of the Buddha’s activities is extraordinarily vast and the Buddha has an infinite number of perfectly trained disciples. The fourth excellent virtue is the excellent quality of fame. His fame has spread to wherever his disciples reside. The fifth excellent virtue is the excellent quality of transcendental wisdom. Through his wisdom, the Buddha has the realisation of knowing all knowable things within the relative and ultimate truths. He knows all things unerringly. The sixth excellent virtue is the excellent quality of diligence. The Buddha can effortlessly and untiringly perform different activities for millions of sentient beings in a single moment.

The second epithet [of the Buddha] is “the One Gone to Suchness” (Tibetan de.zhin.shek.pa; Sanskrit Tathagata). The meaning of this appellation is unmistakably knowing the nature of all things as they are. This quality emphasises that the Buddha is the perfect teacher. For this reason the Buddha has this title “the One Gone to Suchness.” The main reason for calling him “the One Gone to Suchness” is that no matter what teaching the Buddha might give, it always shows the true nature of all phenomena. It is not otherwise. The Buddha has never taught anything that is a perverted wrong view. For this reason, the Buddha is called “the One Gone to Suchness.”

The third epithet is “the Foe Destroyer” (Tibetan dgra.bchom.pa; Sanskrit arhat). The first syllable of this word in Tibetan, dgra, refers to delusional afflicting emotions, such as attachment, hatred, and the like, that arise within our minds. Those afflicting emotions are called “enemies” because they cause obstacles to the practice of virtues. Due to this they also throw us into suffering, and so they are called enemies. Since the Buddha has destroyed all the afflicting emotions, he is called “the Foe Destroyer.” And so it shows that the Buddha has gained the perfection of the abandonment of the afflicting emotions.

The fourth epithet is “the Perfectly Accomplished One” (Tibetan yang.dag.par.dzogs.pa’i.sangs. rgyas; Sanskrit samyaksambuddha). What does “the Perfectly Accomplished One” mean? The one who has accomplished all the qualities of enlightenment and who has accomplished all knowledge is called “the Perfectly Accomplished Buddha.” The Buddha is one who has realised the wisdom that knows all knowable things in a completely perfect way. This explanation shows that the Blessed Buddha is the one who possesses the perfection of realisation. For this reason, it shows that the completely and perfectly enlightened Buddha is the teacher who is superior to other teachers. For example, the Foe Destroyers of the Shravakas possess the quality of a Foe Destroyer because they have abandoned all the afflicting emotions that arise within their own minds. However, they do not have the ability to teach without making some mistakes and they do not know all phenomena as they truly are. Also, the teachers of the heretical schools, such as Hinduism, do not have all these qualities [such as abandonment of the afflicting emotions within their own minds, teaching without fault, and knowing phenomena as they truly are].

The fifth epithet is “the One Who Possesses Knowledge and Its Feet” (Tibetan rig.pa.dang.zhabs. su.ldan.pa). These two terms show the path to attain Buddhahood. If someone were to ask, “practice of what kind of path will help you attain Buddhahood?,” then this is explained in the following manner. First, to explain “knowledge” from the phrase “knowledge and its feet”: Suppose, for example, you need to walk to another country. To do this you need both eyes and feet. In this example, knowledge is analogous to eyes, and feet are analogous to the basis on which you stand and by which you move. So when you walk you look through your eyes and you move with your feet. Similarly, to attain the state of Buddhahood you need both knowledge and basic practice. From among the three higher trainings, knowledge refers to the training of wisdom. “Feet” refer to the other two higher trainings — the training of moral conduct and the training of meditation. These last two play the role of being the basis, or foundation, of wisdom. In brief, this shows that through practicing the three higher trainings the state of Buddhahood is attained.

With respect to wisdom, it is the mind that realises the true nature of phenomena. Moral conduct is to be understood as the mind that is committed to relinquishing non-virtuous actions. With respect to meditation, since at this point we don’t have freedom over our own mind, our mind is not able to rest in one place [i.e., it is distracted]. One-pointed concentration is needed to enable the mind to penetrate into the true nature of phenomena. However, during the recitation of sadhanas [Vajrayana Deity recitation practices] or the performance of rituals, there are chances for the mind to rest in one place or focus on some virtue. That very state of mind is called meditation.

Here is another way to explain this: “knowledge” is understood as the Right View from among the Noble Eightfold Path, while “feet” are understood as the seven remaining limbs of the Noble Eightfold Path. So all eight parts of the Noble Eightfold Path are needed to reach the City of Liberation. Yet again, another way to explain this is that “knowledge” refers to the three supernatural perfections of direct realisation, and “feet” refer to other perfections, such as the perfection of moral conduct.

The sixth epithet [for the Buddha, i.e., “the One Who Has Gone to Bliss,”] is known in Sanskrit as sugata (Tibetan bde.war. gsheks.pa). Su means “bliss” or “happiness.” Gata means “going.” Further, this is explained as: By relying on a pleasant path, you arrive at a pleasant destination. So, understand sugata to mean that you use a pleasing path to reach a happy destination. In some other traditions, the path is not pleasing or happy. For example, in the practice of Hinduism, some practitioners will immerse themselves for a long period of time in cold water during the winter, while others will sit or lie upon a bed of thorns. By these actions, they inflict much pain upon themselves. However, the followers of the Buddha do not practice Dharma in that manner. For them, through a pleasant path and through pleasant Dharma practices, they are able to attain Buddhahood. Thus, sugata means “going pleasantly.” Hindu practitioners claim that if you are too inclined toward the happiness of body and mind, then desire will arise. For that reason they believe that one should practice austere penances. However, these types of Hindu spiritual practices are regarded as faulty by Buddhists. Why do we say this? When you are too happy, you become desirous. Similarly, by inflicting pain upon your body and mind, torturing yourself, you will become depressed and that will lead to anger. Therefore, the performance of virtuous activities is the method that will free you from the entrapment of worldly existence. In other words, through these mind-pleasing methods you will attain liberation from the bonds of samsaric existence. Whatever practice you engage in, you should make sure that your action will lead you to the attainment of freedom from worldly existence. Otherwise, just engaging in an action of penance is meaningless and will never lead you to a higher result.

Further, if we look in detail about the meaning of the term sugata, then we see that su refers to “good,” “never falling back,” and “complete” or “without exception.” Gata is to be understood as the Buddha’s qualities of relinquishment and realisation. If you were to explain the word good simply in relation to both the Buddha’s quality of relinquishment and his quality of realisation, then the first syllable su should be understood as “not relapsing” with respect to the quality of relinquishment. Once the Buddha has relinquished the afflicting emotions, they will not return. So the Buddha’s quality of relinquishment is a complete abandonment. For example, once you are cured from the disease of smallpox, this disease will never return for the rest of your life. Similarly, once you relinquish the afflicting emotions, such as selfclinging, then no matter what external or internal conditions may appear, self-clinging will never arise within you again. For that reason the Buddha is called “Sugata.” This means that the Buddha has gained perfect and complete relinquishment.

Next, we will explain the term sugata in relation to the Buddha’s realisations. Since the Buddha perfectly realises all knowable things, we address him as “Sugata.” For example, it is similar to a vase full of water to which not even one more drop can be added. Other teachers who impart the Dharma, such as Arhats, Shravakas, and Pratyekabuddhas, have relinquished the afflicting emotions of obscurations so that these afflicting emotions will not return. However, they do not possess the quality of realising all knowable things. Therefore, teachers of other schools do not have the dual qualities that are suggested by the term sugata. The meaning of the qualities of the Buddha, or Sugata, is explained in great detail in Dharmakirti’s Pramanavartika as “good,” “not falling back,” and “without exception” in relation to the Buddha’s qualities of relinquishment and realisation. Also, in the words of the sutra, the Buddha’s names and the qualities of his enlightened activities, such as Knower of the World, Tamer of Sentient Beings, Unsurpassable One, Charioteer Who Tames Sentient Beings, etc., are all explained in great detail. However, here we are explaining them briefly.

The seventh epithet is understood as “Knower of the World” (Tibetan ’jig.rten.mkhyen.pa). Since Buddha knows the races and predispositions of all his disciples, he is addressed as “Knower of the World.” The Buddha knows which disciples have faults, which ones are progressing, which ones are about to go to lower births, and which ones have already arrived in the lower realms. The Buddha has the power to see all this. Further, he has the ability to see which ones need to be placed on the path to higher rebirth from the lower realms and which ones have already been placed on the path to liberation. So, Buddha is an omniscient one and is recognized as the “Knower of the World.”

The eighth epithet is known as “ the Unsurpassable Charioteer Who Tames Sentient Beings” (Tibetan skyes.bu.’dul.ba’i.kha.lo.sgyur. ba.bla.na.med.pa). Why is the Buddha known as “the Unsurpassable Charioteer Who Tames Sentient Beings”? Having seen the movements from birth to birth of sentient beings, the Buddha destroys the afflicting emotions of living beings who are fortunate enough to be able to attain the path leading to the City of liberation. For those beings, the Buddha will steer them along that path.

What does “charioteer” mean here? It is similar to one driving a horse cart or some other vehicle. In accordance with the predispositions and abilities of sentient beings, the Buddha leads them onto the path of liberation. For this reason, the Buddha is addressed as “Charioteer” and “Tamer of Beings.”

“Unsurpassable” should be understood to mean that there is no one superior to the Buddha who can lead sentient beings to the state of liberation. In the sutras there are several reasons cited as to why the Buddha is matchless. Sentient beings who are difficult to discipline can be tamed only by the Buddha. Even those whose mental continuum was filled with delusion were able to be tamed by the Buddha. For example, the Buddha’s younger brother, Nanda, had a difficult time being apart from his wife Pundarika due to his attachment to her. Through very skillful means, the Buddha convinced his brother to become a monk. He then led him in the practice of meditation, and finally Nanda attained the state of Arhatship. Another case involved Angulimala, a frightful and ferocious killer whose mind was filled with anger and hatred. Just hearing his name brought great terror to the hearts of people. Generally speaking, Angulimala was a very famous person due to his renown as a fearsome mass murderer. However, through the Buddha’s assistance, he became a monk and entered the path. Even then, he still frightened people. One time he was listening to the Buddha’s teaching along with an assembly of others that included King Prasanjit of Sarvasti. During the teaching Angulimala happened to cough, and even this caused the king to tremble. In yet another case, there is the story of a dimwitted Stavira monk. During his studies his teacher asked him to memorise the syllables om and bhu. When he tried to memorise the syllable om, he would forget the syllable bhu. When he memorised bhu, then he would forget om again. Even this person was also trained by the Buddha. In order to purify his obscurations, the Buddha first had him clean the shrine room of the monastery. Through this and other skillful means, the Buddha was able to cause him to purify his afflicting emotions and obscurations. Later, he became a learned monk. Not only that, but the Buddha placed him in meditation practice, and later he attained the state of Arhatship. In a similar way, there was another Stavira monk by the name of brtan.rgya.’od.srung who was a very proud and arrogant person. He possessed many qualities, such as clairvoyance and the ability to display miraculous feats. Due to this, he was very haughty and conceited. In order to discipline him, the Buddha himself displayed many miraculous acts. In his mind, though, even when the Buddha demonstrated so many miraculous feats, this monk continued to believe that he had more special qualities than the Buddha. In order to tame him, the Buddha continued to display even more miracles. Finally, this caused the monk to produce true faith in the Buddha. He then received teaching from the Buddha and eventually attained the state of Arhatship.

The ninth epithet is “the One Who is the Teacher of Gods and Humans” (Tibetan lha.dang.mi.rnam. kyi.ston.pa). Generally, the Buddha gives teachings to all sentient beings, without bias and regardless of their race. However, though the Buddha teaches all beings, gods and humans are the only two types of living beings who are capable of practicing the path of liberation. Foe Destroyers (Arhats) are of two kinds: god Foe Destroyers and human Foe Destroyers. There is no such category as animal Foe Destroyer. Therefore, the principal disciples of the Buddha are gods and humans. For this reason, the Buddha is addressed as “the Teacher of Gods and Humans.”

These nine phrases in the Hinayanists’ rendition of this sutra refer back to the Buddha being known as “the Blessed One.” Therefore, this last phrase, “the Teacher of Gods and Humans,” completes the enumeration of terms referring to the Buddha who has the nine qualities that have just been explained.

If someone were to ask, “Who is the Buddha?” we would have to say that that unique person who possesses these nine qualities is none other than the Blessed Buddha. The meaning of the Sanskrit term bhagavan [usually translated as “the Blessed One,” as explained above,] can sometimes also be interpreted as “known as.” Therefore, without using the term “Blessed One,” it is all right to translate the phrase as follows: the one who possesses the nine qualities is “known as the Buddha.”

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