由無常義釋非四作的緣起甚深
文|無得

一、前言

佛法的主要方法,在觀察現象而探求他的原因。現象為什麼會如此,必有所以如此的因與緣。

依經說,釋尊是現觀緣起而成佛的,釋尊依緣起說法,弟子們也就依緣起(和四諦)而得解脫。

緣起甚深,卻是佛弟子見道、修道和證得無上菩提的樞紐,不可不知。《瑜伽師地論‧卷十》說:依無常義、苦義、空義、無我義的十種相,可以了知緣起甚深。

本文擬就前四相──(1)諸法從自種子生亦待他緣;(2)從他緣生亦待自種子;(3)又從自種子及他緣生,而種及緣於此生事,無作無用亦無運轉;(4)又復此二因性功能非不是有;從無常義略釋此非四作的緣生法,希望藉此一窺緣起的甚深義。

二、正文

(一)非自作

緣起甚深的第一相是:「依無常義者:謂從自種子生,亦待他緣。」

一切有為法都有生、住、滅三相,由無而有,由有而無叫無常。《顯揚聖教論》說:無常有六種:一、無性無常;二、失壞無常;三、轉異無常;四、別離無常;五、得無常;六、當有無常。無性無常的意思是性常無,是遍計相攝;其餘的無常都是依他起相攝;圓成實相中無無常義。

一切有為法都是無常的,這些無常法唯有無常法能為其因。作為無常法的因必須具備七種相:

1. 「雖無常法為無常法因,然與他性為因,亦與後自性為因」。

2. 「非即此剎那」。

種子生現行叫作與他性為因,果望於因並非單一可成,所以說「他」;種望於種,因性是一,所以叫作「自」,種子有恆隨轉的特性。種子生現行是同時的,若與自性為因,就不是同一剎那,而是前後相續,故說後自性為因。

3. 「又雖與他性為因及與後自性為因,然已生未滅方能為因,非未生已滅」。過去和未來的種子不能為所生法的因,必須是現在的種子才能為因。

4. 「又雖已生未滅,然得餘緣方能為因,非不得餘緣」。種子不能單獨生現行,還要其他助緣才行。

這四相可以解釋緣起非自作──從自種子生,亦待他緣;及非他作──從他緣生,亦待自種子。

十二緣起是怎麼而有的呢?就是「從自種子生」,由於無明,你創造了福業、罪業或不動業的種子,所以十二緣起就開始了。「亦待他緣」,但是自種子的力量不夠,還要借重其他的增上緣、所緣緣、等無間緣,十二因緣才能開始。有了種子和其他助緣和合運轉,十二緣起就由無而有,所以這是無常的相貌。

(二)非他作

緣起甚深的第二相是:「從他緣生,又待自種子。」

緣起法需要其他重要力量的幫助才能現起,但是如果沒有自種子還是不行。你自己若沒有熏習的種子,也是不能生起。心法的生起要具足四緣──因緣、增上緣、等無間緣、所緣緣,色法只要因緣和增上緣具足即可生起。

單獨是因不可以生,單獨是緣也不可以。

(三)非俱作

緣起甚深的第三相是:「從自種子及他緣生,而種及緣於此生事,無作、無用,亦無運轉。」

這一句話可以由無常法因必須具備的第五種相──「又唯得餘緣,然成『變異』方能為因,非未成變異」來解釋。

因和緣本身都是無常的,無常就是無實,就是無我,而所生法也並沒有如常人所遍計的有實在的法在主宰、運作和動轉,也沒有常恆住、具有實體性的法被生出來。 由此可以了知:無常的依他起法,其「性」無常──遍計性無,由依他起上遍計性相永無有性,就是圓成實相,這真是甚深、甚深、極甚深!所以《瑜伽師地論》卷九十三,彌勒菩薩讚歎佛善建立諸緣生法無作用說:「佛於其緣生法皆非自作、非他作、非自他作、非無因生,如是施設名善建立諸緣生法無作用故。……所以者何?無常諸行,前際無故,後際無故,中際雖有,唯剎那故,作用、動轉約『第一義』都無所有,但依世俗暫假施設。」

《雜阿含經》上佛說:「比丘!譬如兩手和合相對作聲,如是緣眼、色,生眼識,三事和合觸,觸俱生受、想、思。此等諸法非我、非常,是無常之我,非恆、非安隱,變易之法。所以者何?比丘,謂:生、老、死、沒,受生之法。

「比丘,諸行如幻、如炎,剎那時頃盡朽,不實來實去。是故,比丘,於空諸行,當知、當喜、當念:空諸行;常恆住不變易法空──無我、我所。」

果生時,無不變之因來到果中;果滅時,無不變之果復歸因。因果依緣變化無常,依緣相屬;因果之間不實來實去。

(四)非無因作

緣起甚深的第四相是:「又復此二因性,功能非不是有。」

因和緣對所生法雖然是無作、無用、無運轉,但是對於所生法還不能說沒有「功能」,因與緣和合,還是能生所生法。

依無常法因的第六相和第七相,可以解釋這一段文。無常法因的第六個相貌是:「又雖成變異,必與功能相應,方能為因,非失功能」;第七個相貌是:「又雖與功能相應,然必相稱相順,方能為因。」當種子和助緣有生此所生法的功能,而又沒有障礙時,所生法就生出來了。

所以,一切法的生起,並不是無因而生,還是由因緣和合而生。

三、結論

這樣看來,因緣和合不生──由依他起的無常性通達遍計性無,悟入第一義的圓成實相;因緣和合又生了──因緣具足時,如幻如化的法還是生了。所以說:

諸法不自生,亦不從他生,不共不無因,是故知無生。

Lotus 98.

The great perfection is the experience of the nature of emptiness, its radiant clarity, and its unobstructed compassion. When you sit in meditation, in the equipoise of the nature of the mind, that inexpressible, utterly open essence is emptiness. The measure of its radiant, natural clarity is the quality, and the nature of that quality is unobstructed compassion.

These three – emptiness, natural clarity, and unobstructed compassion – are the nature of the mind.

In the practice of dzogchen one must remain, naturally relaxed, in the uncontrived awareness. Simply remain in the equipoise of the nature of emptiness free from elaborations, limitations, or the conceptualising intellect.

One simply remains totally relaxed, expecting nothing in that state.

At the precise moment that concepts dissipate, rigpa, pure awareness, is there, and that is it. There is no experience of rigpa other than that. When the mind has dissolved, and the experience of the primordial wisdom dharmakaya arises, this is rigpa.

— Yangthang Rinpoche

Yangthang Rinpoche 5.

The Body in Buddhism
by Anam Thubten Rinpoche

Our relationship with our body, in general, is unhealthy since our view toward it tends to be not only flawed but even negative in a way that can be harsh and unkind. Many organised religions have a reputation for being “anti-body.” In his book Walking Words, the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano (1940–2015) understood this problem clearly and summarised it in a poem that pointed out these unnatural and unhealthy attitudes toward the body that are prevalent in both religious and secular society:

The church says: the body is sin.
Science says: the body is a machine.
Advertising says: the body is business.
The body says: I am a fiesta.

There is a deep-seated misunderstanding that our body is mundane and impure, while our soul is pure and the essence of who we are, trapped in a prison of flesh and bone. Many spiritual traditions have introduced ascetic practices that appear to abuse the body. Even today, there are ascetics in India who engage in observances that neglect the body as meaningless, transitory, or unimportant.

In a sense, it is quite understandable why people have developed such negative views. The human body can seem like cumbersome baggage that suffers from numerous problems and ailments: pain, ageing, disease, and other unpleasant stuff that affect it every day. We can imagine that there would be no more complications from carnal lust or primeval urges if we simply existed as some kind of pure soul.

The Buddha himself tried extreme asceticism at the beginning of his search for the truth of existence. Later, he concluded that such practices are ultimately futile, and instead taught the Middle Way — a lifestyle free from the excesses of both sensual indulgence and asceticism. This is the path that monks and nuns are supposed to follow.

Nowadays, at least, it feels like we don’t have to worry about going around teaching Buddhists not to practice asceticism — that doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore! On the other hand, there are still religious practices that involve beating one’s body, extreme fasting, and all kinds of unhealthy forms of abstinence that are a means of self-inflicted denial or punishment.

The modern secular world is no more enlightened when it comes to the body, which it treats as an object that can be used for fulfilling all manner of desires. We study the body as some kind of mechanical object, the way an engineer studies a machine. When our car breaks down, we take it to a mechanic’s shop, where he or she will study it, component by component, to try to find what went wrong.

If the mechanic is very good at understanding the whole system that makes up an automobile, they will know how it’s supposed to run and what can go wrong. They might have a huge vocabulary describing the systems and parts of a car. Many of us, even after driving for decades, might know the names of few, if any, of the components that comprise our vehicle. Once the hood is open, there’s a lot going on that is hidden from our view or understanding.

In a similar way, when we get sick we will often visit a doctor, many of whom tend to treat the body as a soulless machine that can simply be observed in parts to determine what went wrong, and then attempt to fix the problem. As a result, people find hospitals to be some of the most sterile and colourless of environments, a reflection of our soulless attitude toward the body as a machine. Instead, hospitals should be uplifting and welcoming, to give patients a feeling of comfort and safety. Pleasant feelings of solace and enchantment can enhance and expedite the healing process.

Why don’t governments, individuals, or hospitals themselves provide the means to bring aesthetic beauty to our modern hospitals? As medical science progresses, we’re increasingly able to replace many non-functioning parts of the body with artificial substitutes. Such practices can even encourage the notion that the body is nothing more than a machine whose real purpose is to continue functioning ceaselessly.

Many wise people from the past understood this misconception and came up with more enlightened and informed outlooks toward the human body. Tantric Buddhists observe samaya — commitments or vows that include not abusing one’s own body, which is considered one of the 14 root downfalls. They also hold the attitude of understanding that the body is a mandala, a holy temple, and naturally sacred. When they eat, they often consecrate the food as a ganachakra or sacred feast. Eating itself becomes a ceremony of offering the feast to one’s body as the divine abode. This practice is described in a verse from one of Patrul Rinpoche’s (1808–1887) dohas:

When the great meditators consume,
Bless the food and drinks as a ganachakra,
One’s body is an assembly of peaceful and wrathful deities.
Consume while not being distracted away from the nature of mind.

People also often use the body as a pleasure centre. Not only do we enjoy the myriad pleasant sensations that arise in the body through our brain and nervous system, but we often use these sensual experiences as distractions to numb our own psychological pain, ranging from loneliness to anxiety. Likewise, food is increasingly used in the manner of an opioid rather than a sacred feast that sustains the body with an offering of pleasure and nourishment. This habit is driving many people toward food addiction, which in turn can cause enormous problems including obesity and other physical and mental health issues. Science has yet to fully address the psychological and physiological factors behind such problems, beyond identifying bare facts such as the leptin and sugar connection.

It’s time for us to bring the tantric view to the fore and to develop a sacred attitude toward the human body. This will help us overcome any unnecessary guilt and shame we may feel toward our bodies, regardless of how much they may be judged by society. One challenge we’re facing is how to introduce this concept in a world where the very concept of sacred is either rejected or has become twisted and distorted. If we don’t start with an understanding of the sacredness of the body, then embracing the world or anything sacred won’t come easily.

Anam Thubten 16.

Imperturbable when you remain in this state, you have no more need for meditation built to your bodies and your speech. Be on either or not in what we call true integration, you will have no need for forced meditation including antidotes. Without trying to accomplish whatever it is, you will find that everything that can arise is devoid of inherent nature. All appearances are spontaneously released in this open dimension and all thoughts are released spontaneously and while the great primordial cognition, it is the non-dual and perfect equality of the natural way. Like the current of a great river, the real meaning will be with you where you abide. It is the state of Buddhahood in motion, the great joy of being free from all samsaric objects.

— Maitripa

Maitripa 4.

出现恐惧的时候,千万要紧抓这句佛号
大安法师

我们闭关念佛,很多人就谈到,他一入关就觉得很害怕。害怕的方式有很多,比如他害怕黑暗。特别是些女居士害怕黑暗,就认为黑暗当中有东西,有人在恐怖她。所以她就越想越害怕,这个风吹门一下,她就:“谁哟?”她一害怕,就高声念佛,又想想念大悲咒,又什么……等下又觉得有人在她床旁边,甚至跟她躺在一起;最后她又换一个床,还是感觉躺在一起。所以她就不敢睡觉,一天到晚恐怖不已。

就有一天晚上——甚至到了十二点,都有一个监香师给我打电话,说有一个居士实在不得了了,她害怕至极,非要我去跟她讲一讲不可。搞得我也没有办法,就跟他到她寮房问:“你怎么回事?”她说她害怕,有人要害她,就在她床旁边。甚至看看门:“哎,可能就在门旁边。”

这些都是妄想出来的,所以我教她:“这些都是你的幻想,由你的心变现出来的。没有这个事,我们什么都没看到。风吹门是正常的,你不要风吹门,好像就有人来敲你的门或打你的门——都是你妄想出来的。”

还有的人实实在在感觉到太恐怖了,就是他能看到满房间都是蛇,在窗户上,在床上,在什么地方……让他走路都走不开。但是其他人看不到,他看得到。他一看到就觉得不能念下去,要出来了。那监香的就会鼓励他:“这是业障现前,你正是要念,一定要咬紧牙关念。”

真的那个居士听话了,就在满屋子都是“蛇”的情况下,他在“阿弥陀佛、阿弥陀佛”地念,念了两天,“蛇”没有了。那个“蛇”从哪儿来啊?也就是他妄想出来的,当然是他多生多劫的业力。那些蛇是带有瞋恨的毒气的,他把那些“蛇”——毒,给它逼出来了,而且通过念佛把它消失了。你看看,他不是得到大的好处吗?

所以这些境界现前你要观空,然后抓住这句名号。这是最好的方法。菩萨这个开示也是:你在这个时候精进、真诚、一心一意地诵持这个咒,这些恐怖的境界之相自然而然就会除灭。那恐怖之相现前和它的除灭,就是消业障的过程,所以内心就能得到一种轻安。业障撤除了,压力没有了,他心就舒展开了,他善的东西就起来了,就能够伏住烦恼。

进一步,你这个咒继续念下去,就能够契入到心性的微密之处,开发自性的宝藏。如果是以这个咒的一种强缘的力量把我们自心善的一面给它串习引领出来,那就是好的境界现前了,法喜充满了,恐怖境界就永远没有了。“何恐怖之有?”

所以大家念佛出现恐怖的时候,千万紧紧抓住这佛号,就像抓住一个救生圈不放。只要这句佛号抓得住,一切恐怖马上就会消失。这是阿弥陀佛因中发了大愿的。

法藏菩萨就是阿弥陀佛的前身,知道一切众生都有恐怖——由于他的业障重嘛。欠了很多债务——命债、钱债、情债,肯定就怕冤亲债主各方面来找他,他内心有恐怖的。一切众生都有恐怖。

所以法藏菩萨发愿:一切恐怖为做大安。“我要为一切恐怖的众生、畏惧的众生做大安心、大安乐、大安慰。”所以你只要念佛,一切恐惧的境界都不现前,都会消失。你可以试试,如果你做梦的时候,梦中有人追着你杀,或者老虎赶着你杀——那种非常恐怖的时候,你千万把这句佛号念出来,一念出来恐怖的境界马上消失——立竿见影。

在梦中是这样,那在现实的情况也是这样。现实恐怖的境界——车祸、空难、地震、火灾、水灾,这种恐怖境界现前时候,你还是念阿弥陀佛,它就会转换。因为现实也就在做梦。梦中的境界能转化,现实的境界也能转化:你只要精诚地去念这句佛号,就能除灭恐怖的境界。现实恐怖的境界是由于我们多生多劫无明、习气、妄想里面现出的境界,不是真实的,也是由我们的心显现出来的。大家了解这个事情的真相,就依教奉行。

Ven Da An (大安法师) 24.

Knowing that possessions are ephemeral and devoid of essence, practice generosity with respect towards monks, teachers, the destitute and relatives. For the next life, there is no better friend than what one has given.

— Nāgārjuna

Nagarjuna (龙树菩萨) 48.

In the Spirit of Chan
by Venerable Sheng Yen

Perhaps some of you have heard the sayings “Chan is not established on words and language” and “Chan is a transmission outside conventional teachings.” But if Chan does not rely on words, why would anyone want to read a Chan book? Isn’t that a contradiction? Although Chan is not established on words, it has, among the many sects of Buddhism in China, left behind the most writing. The primary goal of these writings, however, is to show you or teach you that “Chan is not established on words and language” and that “Chan is a transmission outside the conventional teachings.” So there is a reason for you to read such a book.

The word “Chan” can mean enlightenment, and enlightenment can be understood to mean realising “the first meaning,” or “the ultimate truth.” In Chan, there is also what is called “secondary meaning,” or “conventional truth.” Conventional truth can be expressed in words and concepts, but the primary or ultimate, truth of Chan cannot be expressed in words. In the Chan tradition, sometimes the ultimate truth is compared to the moon, and the conventional truth is compared to a finger pointing at the moon. No one would mistake the finger for the moon. Words, language, ideas, and concepts are like the finger and can express just the conventional truth. These words and concepts only point to the ultimate truth. The ultimate truth can be called mind, original nature, or Buddha-nature It is something everyone must experience for himself or herself. It can never be fully described.

What is the source of Chan? According to the Chan lore, the monk Bodhidharma brought Chan from India to China in about 500 C.E., more than a thousand years after Shakyamuni Buddha’s death. But Indian history contains few records of the interim period, so we know relatively little about the origins of Chan practice.

We do know stories and legends that describe the origins of Chan. Most famous is the account of the transmission of the Dharma to Mahakashyapa, one of the Buddha’s chief disciples, who became the First Patriarch in the Chan lineage. The story is this: one day during a sermon at Vulture Peak, Shakyamuni Buddha held a flower in his hand in front of the assembly and did not speak. No one seemed to know what this gesture meant, but Mahakashyapa smiled. The Buddha said, “The Treasure of the Eye of the True Dharma, the Wondrous Mind of Nirvana; only Mahakashyapa understands.” This event marks the beginning of the Chan lineage and the master-to–disciple transmission that continues to this day. This story was unknown to Buddhist history until the tenth-century Song dynasty. But the literal truth of the story is not as important as the message it contains about the nature of Chan.

Shakyamuni Buddha had two other disciples, one very bright and the other quite dull. The first disciple, Ananda, had a powerful mind and a fabulous memory. However, he never attained enlightenment during Shakyamuni’s lifetime. Ananda thought that Buddha would reward his intelligence with enlightenment. It never happened. After Buddha entered nirvana, Ananda hoped Mahakashyapa would help him.

After Buddha’s passing, Mahakashyapa tried to gather 500 enlightened disciples together in order to collect and record the Buddha’s teachings. He could find only 499. Some suggested that he invite Ananda, but Mahakashyapa said that Ananda was not enlightened and therefore was unqualified for the assembly. He said that he would rather not have the gathering at all than allow Ananda’s attendance.

But Ananda persisted. Three times he was turned away by Mahakashyapa. Ananda said, “Buddha has entered nirvana. Now only you can help me reach enlightenment!” Mahakashyapa said, “I’m very busy. I cannot be of help. Only you can help yourself.” At last, Ananda realised that he had to rely on his own efforts if he wished to attain enlightenment. He went off to a solitary and secluded place. As he was about to sit down, he attained enlightenment! Why? At that moment he relied on no one and dropped all of his attachments.

Another story describes the dim-witted disciple named Suddhipanthaka, or Small Path. All except Small Path could remember Buddha’s teachings. If he tried to remember the first word of a phrase, he forgot the second, and vice versa. Buddha gave him the job of sweeping the ground since he didn’t seem fit to do anything else.

After he had swept the ground for a very long time, Small Path asked, “The ground is clean, but is my mind-ground clean?” At that moment everything dropped from his mind. He went to see the Buddha, who was very pleased with his accomplishment and affirmed that Small Path had become enlightened.

These are recorded in the early texts as true stories, but their meaning goes beyond their original context. The first story illustrates that in practice, knowledge and intelligence do not necessarily guarantee enlightenment and the second story shows that even a slow person can attain enlightenment. Although Shakyamuni Buddha, Mahakashyapa, and Shariputra were people of great learning, Chan has less to do with great learning than with the problem of the mind that is filled with attachments. Enlightenment can be reached only when one’s mind is rid of attachments.

It is said that twenty-eight generations of transmissions occurred from the time of Mahakashyapa to the time of Bodhidharma, who is considered the First Patriarch of Chinese Chan. His teachings were transmitted through a single line for five generations until the time of the Sixth Patriarch, Huineng (638-713), whose many disciples established many branches, some of which still survive today. I am the 62nd lineage holder of Chan from Huineng and the 57th generation in the Linji (810-866) tradition. In the Caodong lineage, I am the 50th generation descendant of the co-founder, Master Dongshan (807-869).

Chan is not precisely the Buddhism brought by Bodhidharma from India, but Bodhidharma brought certain insights to China, and the Chan tradition is related to these. He taught that everything comes from the mind, that the nature of the mind is Buddha-nature, that Buddha-nature is inherent in every sentient being, and that the essential method for realizing this original nature is beholding the mind. These ideas were controversial when they were first presented in China because they seemed to contradict the more complicated philosophies and practices of other Buddhist schools, but they are really just basic Buddhism, stripped to its essence.

There is a famous story about the enlightenment of Bodhidharma’s disciple Huike that illustrates the bare-bones nature of Bodhidharma’s Chan. Huike went to Bodhidharma and said, “Master, could you calm my mind for me?” Bodhidharma said, “Hand over your mind and I will calm it for you!” Huike searched within and then told Bodhidharma that he could not find his mind. Bodhidharma then said, “There, I have already calmed your mind for you.” This is the account of Huike’s enlightenment. Those of you who have been on retreat and suffered a lot of pain in your legs from sitting meditation apparently need not have done so. Unfortunately, you did not meet Bodhidharma.

There is an important work attributed to Bodhidharma called The Two Entries and Four Practices, in which he details more explicitly what sentient beings must do to realise their true nature. The “two entries” are entry through principle and entry through practice. Entry through principle means directly seeing the first principle, or original nature, without relying on words, descriptions, concepts, experience, or any thinking process. Entry through practice refers to the gradual training of the mind.

Bodhidharma describes entry through principle as follows: “Leaving behind the false, return to the true; make no discriminations between self and others. In contemplation, one’s mind should be stable and unmoving, like a wall.” This may sound like the direct, easy path to enlightenment, but it is in fact the most difficult. If we think of Bodhidharma’s own enlightenment as an entry through principle, then we would have to say that it only came after a lifetime of practice, culminating in his nine years of meditation facing a wall in a cave on Mount Song. Actually, the method used to accomplish entry through principle is precisely this phrase, “One’s mind should be stable and unmoving, like a wall.” This does not mean that the mind is blank; on the contrary; it is alert and clear, illuminating everything with awareness and responding with compassion. This is ideal, and it is the state of mind referred to in entry through principle.

The second entry to attain realisation is through practice. Bodhidharma discusses four specific methods: accepting karmic retribution, adapting to conditions, no seeking, and union with the Dharma. Each practice is progressively more advanced, and therefore, they should be followed in order.

Accepting karmic retribution involves recognising the effects of karma and cause and consequence. Karma is a Sanskrit term that translates literally as “action.” When we carry out an action, a karmic force remains that leads to a consequence in the future, whether in the present existence or in a future one. The karmic effect of a particular action is not permanently fixed, because the continual performance of new actions modifies the karmic force accordingly, but in all cases, there is a cause-and-consequence relationship, and the consequence will be similar in nature to the cause. Therefore, when we face adversity, we should understand that we are receiving the karmic retribution from countless previous actions in countless previous lives. When we pay back some of our debt, we should feel happy that we have the capacity to do so. If we have this perspective, then when misfortunes arise, we will be tranquil and without resentment. We will not suffer from disturbing emotions or be discouraged or depressed. This is an important practice.

Karma, or cause and consequence, has to be understood and applied in conjunction with the Buddhist concept of causes and conditions. Causes and conditions describe the fact that things happen because of many conditions coming together. We cannot and should not run away from our responsibilities and the retribution caused by our karma. But we should try to improve our conditions and karma. If things can be improved, we must try to make them better. If they can’t be changed, then we should accept them with equanimity as karmic retribution.

It might be easy to confuse the principle of causes and conditions with that of cause and consequence. In fact, the two principles are intimately connected with each other, and it is difficult to talk about one without mentioning the other. From the standpoint of cause and consequence, we can say that the earlier event is the cause and the later event is the consequence. One event leads to the next. A cause, however, cannot lead to a consequence by itself. Something else must occur, must come together with the cause, to lead to a consequence. This coming together of events and factors is referred to as causes and conditions. A man and woman together do not automatically lead to children. Other factors must come together in order for the cause (parents) to lead to the consequence (children). Parents, children, and the other factors involved are all considered causes and conditions.

Furthermore, the condition (one dharma) that intersects with a cause (another dharma) must have itself been caused by something else, and so on and so on, infinitely in all directions throughout space and time. All phenomena arise because of causes and conditions. Any phenomenon that arises is itself a consequence of a previous cause and arose because of the coming together of causes and conditions. This leads to the concept of conditioned arising, also known as dependent origination, which means that all phenomena, or dharmas, no matter when or where they occur, are interconnected.

Since all dharmas are the consequences of causes and conditions, their arising is conditional. This includes not only arising and appearing but also perishing and disappearing. A person being born is a phenomenon and a person dying is a phenomenon; a bubble forming is a phenomenon, and a bubble bursting is a phenomenon; a thought appearing is a phenomenon, and a thought disappearing is a phenomenon. All dharmas arise and perish because of causes and conditions.

Let me make a distinction between dharma and Dharma. Dharma with a lowercase “d” refers to any phenomenon. Dharma with an uppercase “D” refers to Buddhadharma, or the teachings of the Buddha, the methods of practice and the principles and concepts that underlie the practice. But remember, even the teachings of the Buddha and the methods of practice are themselves phenomena or dharmas.

The second of the four practices recommended by Bodhidharma is “adapting to conditions.” It also requires an understanding of causes and conditions. Adapting to conditions means that we should do our best within the constraints of our environment. If our circumstances are fortunate for something good to happen to us, we should not get overly excited. Good fortune, like bad, is the result of karmic retribution. Why should we feel excited when we are only enjoying the fruits of our own labour? It is like withdrawing money from our own bank accounts. By the same token, we should not be overly proud, because good fortune, like bad, is the result of many causes and conditions coming together. How can we rake credit for our accomplishments, when they depend so much on the goodwill of others, on the sacrifices of our parents, on the circumstances of history? The practise of adapting to conditions means that you accept your karma, or cause and consequence, without being overly joyful or self-satisfied or disappointed.

Accepting karmic retribution and adapting to conditions are very helpful practices in daily life. They allow us to improve our conditions and karma and maintain a positive attitude toward life. They help us enjoy equanimity in the face of changing circumstances, improve our behaviour, and keep our relationships harmonious. These teachings of Bodhidharma are not hard to understand, and any ordinary person can make use of them. If we can apply them in daily circumstances, we will fulfil our responsibilities and we will make the best of our opportunities. In this way, life will be more meaningful.

The third of Bodhidharma’s four practices is the practice of “no seeking.” There is a Chinese saying that “people raise children to help them in old age, and people accumulate food in case of famine.” Today, people in the West may not raise children just to support them in old age, but people probably still accumulate food, or wealth, in case of hardship. This attitude is not the attitude of no seeking. In the practice of no seeking, we continually, diligently engage in useful activity, yet we have no thought that this activity is for our personal gain now or in the future. We do not look for personal benefits. This is not easy, and it is a higher level of practice than the second practice. In fact, in order to completely avoid self-centred activity, we must make the difficult step of realising that the self does not exist.

What we commonly think of as the self is an illusion. It is nothing in itself at all but a name we give to our continuous interaction with the environment. We constantly see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and think, and it is this cascade of sensations, perceptions, and judgments, thought afterthought, that we identify as the self.

To say that the self is an illusion, however, is not to say that the self is a hallucination. The self is not a mirage. We say that the self is illusory because it is not a stable entity but, rather, a series of events that are forever changing in response to a constantly changing environment. The self is not a thing that stays the same, and as such, we say that the self is an illusion. For the same reason, all phenomena are considered illusions; that is, all phenomena are selfless. All things change from moment to moment, evolving and transforming into something else. The self, therefore, is a false existence ceaselessly interacting with a false environment.

The practise of no seeking is an advanced practice because it is the practice of no-self. While it is normal for people to begin to learn and practice Buddhism for their own benefit, eventually, through practice, their self-centeredness falls away. They find themselves busy because others need their help, and they provide what is needed. Such a person no longer even thinks about attaining enlightenment.

When you have ceased to be concerned about your own attainment, then you are enlightened. Otherwise, there will always be subtle, wandering thoughts and attachments to the desire to do something for yourself. If you want to free yourself from all worldly vexations and suffering and if you desire liberation, you are still attached to yourself. It is only when you have no concern about your own enlightenment that you can truly be enlightened. The practise of no seeking is the practice of this enlightened state.

The fourth of Bodhidharma’s practices, “union with the Dharma,” is a basic tenet of Buddhism that all phenomena are impermanent and do not have an intrinsic self. In the practice of union with the Dharma, we try to personally experience this impermanence and selflessness through direct contemplation of emptiness. This is the highest practise of Chan, and it leads to the highest attainment. It is the practice that allows us to reach the point of “entry through principle” that we talked about earlier.

But where does a practitioner begin? Different Buddhist sects employ many methods of practice that can be used by beginners, such as reading the scriptures, making vows, doing prostrations, mindfulness of the Buddha, and counting the breath. These methods all help us to go from a scattered mind, which is confused, emotional, and unstable, to a mental state that is tranquil and in harmony with our environment. The very first thing we should do is relax the body and mind. If we can relax, we will be healthier and more stable and will relate to others more harmoniously.

There is a Buddhist householder who comes to the Chan Centre who is very nervous. His nervousness makes other people feel nervous. When he talks to you, his body is tense, as if he is about to attack you or defend himself. People react to this kind of behaviour; it disturbs them. When I told him to relax his body, he responded in a tense, forced voice, “I am already relaxed!” He is constantly fearful and insecure, and because of the problems these feelings cause, he came to the Chan Centre seeking help. He wanted to learn meditation, so I taught him to gradually relax his body and then his mind. If we cannot relax, there is no way we can meditate; and if we cannot meditate, the practise of no seeking is completely impossible. This man was impatient and thought that if he got enlightened all his problems would disappear. He said to me, “Master, I do not want anything; I just want the method to get enlightened quickly. Give me the method as soon as possible.” I answered, “Such a method has not been invented. If I could invent a guaranteed, speedy method of enlightenment, I could probably sell it for quite a lot of money.”

Now I have invented the following method, and I offer it free of charge to whoever wishes to learn. The method is to relax your body and mind. It is easy and simple. Do not ask whether it can lead you to enlightenment. First, you should be able to relax, and later we can talk about enlightenment. Close your eyes, lean back in your chair, and relax your muscles. Completely relax your eyes. It is very important that your eyelids be relaxed and do not move. There should not be any tension around your eyeballs. Do not apply any force or tension anywhere. Relax your facial muscles, shoulders, and arms. Relax your abdomen and put your hands in your lap. If you feel the weight of your body, it should be in your seat. Do not think of anything. If thoughts come, recognise them and pay attention to the inhaling and exhaling of your breath through your nostrils. Ignore what other people are doing. Concentrate on your practice, forget about your body, and relax. Do not entertain doubts about whether what you are doing is useful.

The principle of this method is to relax–to be natural and clear. Keep each session short, but practice frequently; each session should be no longer than three to ten minutes. If you do it longer, you will probably feel restless or fall asleep. You can use this method a few times a day; it will refresh your body and mind and eliminate some of the confusion in your daily life. Gradually you will gain the stability of body and mind that makes it possible to, eventually, enter the gate of Chan.

Chan is often referred to as the “gateless gate.” The “gate” is both a method of practice and a path to liberation; this gate is “gateless,” however, in that Chan does not rely on any specific method to help a practitioner achieve liberation. The methodless method is the highest method. So long as the practitioner can drop the self-centred mind, the gateway into Chan will open naturally.

The primary obstacle to attaining wisdom is attachment to the self. When you face people, things, and situations, the notion of “I” arises immediately within you. When you attach to this “I,” you categorise and judge everything else accordingly: “This is mine; that is not. This is good for me; that is not. I like this; I hate that.” Attachment to the idea of self makes true clarity impossible.

But how might we define non-attachment? According to Chan, non-attachment means that when you face circumstances and deal with other people, there is no “I” in relation to whatever may appear in front of you. Things are as they are, vivid and clear. You can respond appropriately and give whatever is needed. Clear awareness of things as they are, in this state of selflessness, is what Chan calls wisdom. Giving whatever others may need with no thought of the self is what Chan calls compassion. Wisdom and compassion describe the awareness and function of the enlightened mind. In Chan, these two cannot be separated, and both depend on putting down the attachment to self.

As the Chan school evolved, two forms of practice developed, which correspond roughly to Bodhidharma’s two entries, the one through principle and the other through practice. The method of silent illumination is the specialty of the Caodong tradition, while the Linji tradition advocates the method of gongan and huatou. Both approaches can lead to enlightenment, the realisation of no-self.

The term Silent Illumination, or Mozhao, is associated with the Song dynasty master Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157), although the practice itself can be traced back at least as far as Bodhidharma and his concept of entry through principle. Five generations later, the great master Yongjia (665-713) wrote about “clarity and quiescence” in his Song of Enlightenment. Quiescence refers to the practice of silencing the mind, and clarity refers to contemplation, illuminating the mind with the light of awareness.

Hongzhi himself described the “silent sitting” as thus: “your body sits silently; your mind is quiescent, unmoving. This is a genuine effort in practice. Body and mind are at complete rest. The mouth is so still that moss grows around it. Grass sprouts from the tongue. Do this without ceasing, cleansing the mind until it gains the clarity of an autumn pool, bright as the moon illuminating the evening sky.”

In another place, Hongzhi said, “In the silent sitting, whatever realm may appear, the mind is very clear to all the details, yet everything is where it originally is, in its own place. The mind stays on one thought for ten thousand years, yet does not dwell on any form, inside or outside.”

To understand Silent Illumination C’han, it is important to understand that while there are no thoughts, the mind is still very clear, very aware. Both the silence and the illumination must be there. According to Hongzhi, when there is nothing going on in one’s mind, one is aware that nothing is happening. If one is not aware, this is just Chan sickness, not the state of Chan. So in this state, the mind is transparent. In a sense, it is not completely accurate to say that there is nothing present, because the transparent mind is there. But it is accurate in the sense that nothing can become an attachment or obstruction. In this state, the mind is without form or feature. Power is present, but its function is to fill the mind with illumination, like the sun shining everywhere. Hence, silent illumination is the practice in which there is nothing moving, but the mind is bright and illuminating.

A gongan is a story of an incident between a master and one or more disciples that involves an understanding or experience of the enlightened mind. The incident usually, but not always, involves dialogue. When the incident is remembered and recorded, it becomes a “public case,” which is the literal meaning of the term. Often what makes the incident worth recording is that, as the result of the interchange, a disciple had an awakening, an experience of enlightenment.

Master Zhaozhou was asked by a monk, “Does a dog have Buddha-nature?” The master replied, “Wu,” meaning nothing. This is a basic gongan, possibly the most famous on record. Here is another gongan, also involving Zhaozhou. Zhaozhou had a disciple who met an old woman and asked her, “how do I get to Mt. Tai?” She said, “Just keep going!” As the monk started off, he heard the old woman remark, “He really went!” Afterwards, the disciple mentioned this to Zhaozhou, who said, “I think I will go over there and see for myself” When he met the old woman, Zhaozhou asked the same question and she gave the same response: “Just keep going!” As Zhaozhou started off he heard the old lady said as she had last time, “He really went!” When Zhaozhou returned, he said to the assembly, “I have seen through that old woman!” What did Zhaozhou find out about that old woman? What is the meaning of this lengthy and obscure gongan?

Around the time of the Song dynasty (960-1276), Chan Masters began using recorded gongans as a subject of meditation for their disciples. The practitioner was required to investigate the meaning of the historical gongan. To penetrate the meaning of the gongan, the student has to abandon knowledge, experience, and reasoning, since the answer is not accessible by these methods. The student must find the answer by can (pronounced:tsan) gongan, or “investigating the gongan.” This requires sweeping from consciousness everything but the gongan, eventually generating the “doubt sensation,” which is a strong sensation of wonder and an intense desire to know the meaning of the gongan.

Closely related, but not identical to, the gongan is the huatou. A huatou–literally, “head of a spoken word”–is a question that a practitioner asks himself or herself. “What is Wu?” and “Who am I?” are commonly used huatous. In the huatou practice, one devotes one full attention to repeating the question incessantly. The gong an and the huatou methods are similar in that the practitioner tries to arouse the great doubt sensation in order to eventually shatter it and awaken to enlightenment.

Chan Master Dahui Zonggao (1089-1163), one of the greatest advocates of huatou practice, maintained that sitting meditation is necessary to settle the wandering mind before a student can effectively use a gong an or huatou. A scattered mind lacks the focus or energy necessary to generate the great doubt, so in training my students, I first give them a method to unify the scattered mind. Once the student’s mind is stable and concentrated, the application of gongan or huatou may cause the great doubt to rise. This doubt is not the ordinary doubt of questioning the truth of an assertion. It is the fundamental uncertainty, the existential dilemma, that underlies all of our experiences–the question of who we are and the meaning of life and death. Because the question inherent in the gongan or huatou cannot be resolved by logic, the practitioner must continually return to the question, nurturing the “doubt mass” until it is like a “hot ball of iron stuck in his throat.” If the practitioner can persist and keep the energy from dissipating, the doubt mass will eventually disappear in an explosion that can wipe away all doubt from the mind, leaving nothing but the mind’s original nature, or enlightenment.

It is also possible, and perhaps more likely, that the explosion will lack sufficient energy to completely cleanse the mind of attachment. Even as great a master as Dahui did not penetrate sufficiently in his first explosive experience. His teacher Yuanwu (1063-1135) told him, “You have died, but you have come back to life.” His enlightenment was confirmed on his second experience.

Therefore, it is very important to have a reliable Shifu, or teacher, guiding one through all stages of practice. At the outset, attempting to generate the great doubt before the mind is sufficiently stable would, at best, be useless and, at worst, give rise to a lot of anxiety. And finally, any experience one has as a result of the practice must be confirmed by an adept master. Only a genuine master will know the difference between a true and a false enlightenment.

The practice of gongan and huatou is an aggressive, explosive approach toward enlightenment; the practice of silent illumination is a more peaceful way. Both, however, require the same foundation: a stable and unified mind. And both have the same purpose: the realisation of the nature of mind, which is the nature of emptiness, Buddha-nature, wisdom and enlightenment.

Ven Sheng Yen 104.

俗家人分別善人惡人而起憎愛,而出家人對善人是如此,對惡人也是如此,一律平等慈心,於好不起貪著心,於惡不起憎惡心。那些刺激我們的,才是我們真正的指導者,入寺沒刺激,便沒修沒行。不可起憎惡心,來分別那是惡人是壞人,是我們自己不夠那個道行來接納對方,不夠那個涵養來與人善處,錯是錯在自己的耳根眼根的分別業識,這便是我們與生俱來的習氣,我們就是被這些習氣障礙住。

— 廣欽老和尚

Ven Guang Qin (广钦老和尚) 6.

佛教介入公益活动的思想渊源
文|智华

佛教传入中国以后,不断介入各种公益活动,这与其受到传统儒家入世济世与道教劝善去恶等思想的冲击交融不无关系,但佛教教义本身的影响应该是十分重要的,尤其是佛教的福田观念、慈悲观念、因果业报说、报恩思想等对其从事公益事业均有较深切的影响。

一、佛教的福田观念

佛教介入公益活动,福田观念是重要的思想渊源。福田原指对佛行了布施,就以此布施功德,自己得利益成就。佛教以为,布施有如种子,田地比如佛陀,布施给佛陀,能产生幸福的田地,因此佛陀名之“福田”。“田”含有生长和收获的意思,“福田”即可生福德之田。凡敬待福田,即可收获功德、福报。

福田思想的重要经典依据是西晋沙门法立、法炬合译的《佛说诸德福田经》,经中说佛陀为天帝解说了“五净德福田”和“七法广施福田”。所谓“五净德福田”是指:一者发心离俗,怀佩道故;二者毁其形好,应法服故;三者永割亲爱,无适莫故;四者委弃驱命,尊众善故;五者志求大乘,欲度人故。此 五福田“供之得福,进可成佛”。所谓“七法广施 福田”则指:一者兴立佛图僧房堂阁;二者园果浴池树木清凉;三者常施医药疗救众病;四者作牢坚船,济渡人民;五者安设桥梁,过渡羸弱;六者近道作井,渴乏得饮;七者造做圊厕,施便利处。此七福田“行者得福,即生梵天”。两者都要求大众多多行善,以便得到福报。经文后面还举了不少例子,如波罗奈国的听聪,于大道旁作小精舍,“床卧浆粮,供给众僧。行路顿乏,亦得止息”;拘夷那竭国的波拘卢,奉药果给众僧;罗阅祗国的阿难,到寺院中造作新井,提供香油浴具,洗浴众僧;天帝前生以珠宝施舍僧人;佛陀亦自陈前生在大道旁建厕所的事件等。可见,福田思想的开展,不但对佛、法、僧三宝的布施称为福田,对贫苦、羸弱、过客等世俗众生的布施,亦有莫大的功德,最终都能获好的果报。

就福田而言,佛教关注功德善事的积极效果,如 《杂阿含经》卷36记载佛陀为天子说偈云:“种植园果故,林树荫清凉;桥船以济渡,造作福德舍; 穿井供渴乏,客舍给行旅;如此之功德,日夜常增长;如法戒具足,缘斯得生天。”但佛教排斥个人功利主义,那些为求福田才布施的行为,不能算是真正的福田。《优婆塞戒经》卷4中强调:“施时不求内外果报,不观福田及非福田,施一切财,心不吝惜,不择时节,是故名为施波罗密。”道宣律师在删定《四分律》时,曾专门就寺院和僧人对外施药施食等方面的行事做了规定:“若彼病者,慈心施舍,随病所宜。若非随病食施,得罪也。婴儿,狱囚,怀妊等,慈心施之,勿望后报。”可见,慈心随宜与不计回报的布施才是真正的布施,才是福田的本义。

二、佛教的慈悲观念

慈悲是佛教教义的又一重要思想。在梵文 中,“慈”有友爱之情,“悲”有哀怜同情之意。佛教教导世人,欲成佛道,必须胸怀慈悲,以慈爱之心给予人们幸福,以怜悯之心拔除人的痛苦。佛教的这种慈悲道德观对中国社会影响深远,民间长期尊奉的观世音信仰,即较好体现了大众对救苦救难、大慈大悲思想的认同。

《大智度论》卷26中说:“大慈与一切众生乐,大悲拔一切众生苦;大慈以喜乐因缘与众生,大悲以离苦因缘与众生。”简而言之,就是“慈能与乐,悲能拔苦”。《大般涅盘经》卷15中也说:“为诸众生除无利益是名大慈,欲与众生无量利乐是名大悲。”慈悲观念为佛教从事社会公益活动奠定了坚实的理论基础。

佛陀之道在于能行,慈悲践行很重要的一端即在布施。《大乘义章》卷14中说:“言布施者,以己财事分布于他,名之为布;辍己惠人,目之为施。” 布施又可分为财施,法施,无畏施。从财施来看,诸佛、菩萨的大慈大悲,在利他上没有什么不可以舍的,小如财物,大至捐身舍命,乃至舍身饲虎。从法施来看,诸佛,菩萨已证诸法实相,已得无上智慧,以方便救渡众生,使解脱众生成为可能。无畏施就是指救人急难,令众生消除害怕、恐惧。佛教世界中,诸佛、菩萨之所以能够普度众生,亦正源于慈悲心所产生的无边力量。

布施而外,佛教以为爱语和利行也是度众生的方式,也是慈悲行。爱语是以善言劝谕,并以平等心亲近众生,随机施教。利行则是笃行种种善行,利益众生。这种普及一切众生的慈悲观,后来进一步演变为不杀生、放生和素食的思想。隋唐时期,佛教寺院和僧人修置放生池,大力提倡护生放生。唐肃宗乾元二年曾经颁布圣旨,在全国的81处地方设立放生池,蓄养鱼虾之类,禁止人们捕捉,当时著名的书法家颜真卿还为此专门书写碑文。据宋代王谠《唐语林》卷4记载,唐宪宗时宰相元稹在江东,也曾经“修龟山寺鱼池,以为放生之所”。此外,结合《唐会要》等典章制度,我们还可以发现,隋唐以来凡遇三元节(正月十五上元节、七月十五中元节、十月十五下元节)、中和节(二月一日)等节日,朝廷都会颁布禁屠钓或断屠等约束。这种禁约,除受到道教信仰的影响外,显然也与佛教护生观念影响不无关系。

三、佛教因果业报说

因果业报说,又称为“因缘业报说”、“因果报应说”、“果报论”等,是佛教伦理的理论基础。因果业报的思想,源于印度婆罗门教,而后起的佛教沿袭其说,并将其融入整个佛教思想,随后传入中国。佛教认为,宇宙的万事万物都受因果法则支配,是由“业”即人们自身行为和支配行为的意志决定的。“善有善报,恶有恶报”的因果观深入民心,令人知所取舍,而消极地不作恶,积极地行善。

《善恶因果经》中说:“杀生之罪能令众生堕于地狱、畜生、饿鬼,若生人中得二种果报,一者短命,二者多病。”可见,“善自获福、恶自遭殃” 的道理要求人们从自身做起,并劝化一切众生,自利利他,共致福业。

善恶的行为生起一种业力,它将带来善恶、苦乐的因果报应,形成了善业善果、恶业恶果的业报转回。东晋名僧慧远在其《三报论》中进一步指 出:“业有三报:一日现报,二日生报,三日后报。现报者,善恶始于此身即此身受。生报者,来生便受。后报者,或经二生、三生、百生、千生,然后乃受。”慧远“三报”说把因果报应的时空及时作了扩延,传统“积善余庆、积恶余殃”的思想,纳入了“三世二重因果”的业报轮回流程。民间“善有善报,恶有恶报”的因果观不再困惑于现实中报应的迟钝或不仁(诸如“好人没好报”、“恶人没报应”等),而继续推演为“善有善报,恶有恶报。不是不报,时辰未到”的果报观——现世的处境总有其前世的“因”,而现世的业力又早已种下了来世的“果”。过去因与现在果构成第一重因果,现在因与未来果构成第二重因果。

Lotus 91.

Who will comprehend this earth (self), and this realm of Yama, and this world together with the devas? Who will investigate the well taught Path of Virtue, even as an expert (garland maker) will pick flowers?

— The Buddha

Buddha 843.