Beyond “Us” and “Them”
by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

My brothers and sisters — and when I say “brothers and sisters,” I really mean it! Especially at this moment in our history, we are in real need of such a warm-hearted spirit. Our usual concept of “us” and “them” is outdated. In its place, we need an attitude that sees all human beings as our brothers and sisters, that considers others to be part of “us.”

Most of the problems that we confront day to day are essentially man-made. They are unnecessary. The natural problems of life are quite enough, so what point is there in creating additional problems for ourselves? Is this wise? Certainly not. All these man-made problems ultimately derive from dividing the world in this way: “us” versus “them.” We think to ourselves, “We matter; they don’t.” As a result, we disregard the welfare of others, at times even exploiting and cheating them.

That is why I always emphasise the need for a sense of global responsibility. It is foolish to think that the interests of six billion human beings are less important than one’s own. Every one of us yearns for a happy life. No one deliberately works to create problems or suffering; each of us acts with the intention to bring about happier days. But because we focus on ourselves alone, caring little about others — because we operate out of an egoistic motivation — our actions become unrealistic. We act improperly, and as a result, all kinds of unwanted problems arise, created by ourselves alone. We therefore need a healthy and proper mental attitude. I think this is very important.

By now humanity has paid adequate attention to material development. Compare our preoccupation with our material well-being with the attention we pay to our minds. Our concern with inner development and inner values pales by comparison, doesn’t it? Science and technology brought us a multitude of material advances in the twentieth century; these advances have sometimes also brought us greater fear and anxiety.

Today, at the outset of the twenty-first century, we must ask ourselves: Why have these material advances, which are meant to improve the lives of human beings, failed to bring us greater contentment? Happiness and joy are mental states, feelings. The same is true of sadness and pain. These are all states of mind. And yet, we neglect the mind. Because pain and pleasure are mental states, if we do not pay attention to our minds, then no matter how intent we may be to obtain pleasure and reduce pain, we will not succeed.

I have noticed over the years that some of my wealthier friends are among the most unhappy people I know. It is true that the rich often have more friends — although whether these friends are friends of the wealthy or of their wealth is a different question! In any case, I have seen that even with their many friends, a wealthy person may be profoundly unhappy. The search for comfort in money and power is wrong headed and simply does not work. The more effective way of dealing with our unhappiness is to pay attention to inner values, to the inner sciences of the mind. What do you think?

We are attached to all needs, we never experience real happiness. Real happiness comes from detachment from all needs. In Zen, the main aim is to liberate ourselves from such attachment. Give it our full attention and keep looking for improvements and then, let go and move on to the next phase.

— Bodhidharma

感官 | 只是错觉
慈诚罗珠堪布

如果因果它两个是同时的话,这有很严重的问题,因为果它不存在的时候,因也是不存在。因为他们两个是同时,也是不存在的,没有先后的。然后因存在的时候,然后果也已经成立了,因成立的时候,果已经成立,那么既然已经成立的话,果它自己已经形成了,你没有必要再去创造它。因创造什么呢?它已经有了。比如说佛像,已经做好了,那么我们现在还去做什么呢?不需要做了这已经做好了。做好了就没有必要再去做,也没办法再去做。这个理论成不成立,有没有什么其他的答案,有没有什么其他的选择,这个大家通过自己的独立的思考去寻找答案。佛教它一定要这样去思考,这就是一个模式化的东西,不允许有别的思维的方式,它永远都不会这样告诉我们,如果你能够找到更好的答案,那就更好了。

这个就是我们刚才讲,在一个宏观世界里面,大家都比较容易了解父子关系,如果父子同时存在的话,那么意思就是说父亲诞生的时候,那一分那一秒,他诞生的时候,他儿子也诞生了,已经诞生了。已经诞生的话,为什么是它的儿子呢?如果不是他的儿子那他为什么叫父亲呢?这些关系全部都不能成立的。所以同时存在的话是不对的,今天我们看到的一个家庭,父母儿女都在一起,那么我们看到的是他们的连续性。当时发挥这些作用的这些人,早就已经不在了,我们今天看到的就是他的一个连续而已,这个人已经很早以前就过去了。它的连续性,同时存在,就不对。

然后我们说先有因然后有果,这个是我们的常理,我们的常识,先有因最后就有果,这样讲那我们觉得是可以的。但是这样讲也有很大的问题,有个非常严重的问题是什么呢?有先后顺序的话,那因成立的时候,它已经存在的时候,果还不存在,它还没有产生。那么什么叫做没有产生呢?没有产生的意思是它根本就不存在,它在这个世界上任何一个角落里它都不存在,它等于就是没有的东西,那么当它是一个没有的东西的时候?因它给谁发挥作用呢?它把它力量传递给谁呢?怎么起作用呢?怎么对一个没有的东西起作用呢?对没有的东西怎么样起作用呢?没有办法的,没有的东西就是根本不存在的,不存在的东西,我们任何一个能量没有办法传递给它,因为它不存在啊,它不存在怎么样给它。比如说,也许不是一个很恰当的比喻,比如说一个人是活着的,另外一个人死了,那么活着的人怎么样给这个死的人讲话,怎么样给他起作用呢?当然这个是很简单的例子,不是很恰当。因为这个果根本就不存在,大家好好想想,我到现在都是没有找到其他的答案,我觉得确实是没办法回答了。不存在的东西,因为它不存在,所以任何一个万事万物都不能给他传递什么东西,因为它不存在。如果它存在,那么有可能某一些东西可以起到作用,把它变化,让它从大变小,从小变大,都有可能。但它这个时候如果他是一个不存在的东西的话,那么万事万物任何一个东西,任何一个物质都没有给它传递任何的力量。如果没有传递任何力量,等于是没有给它起到任何的作用了,那么没有起到任何作用那它自己诞生了,没有谁让他诞生的,因为它这个时候是不存在的。所以这样子的时候,我们就不知道因果关系建立在什么上面了,他是没有基础的。

因果关系不观察的时候就很简单了,我们刚才讲过了,很容易了,这就是我们现实生活当中的一些常理常识,很简单,大家都能接受。但是这样观察的话,也就是我们不知道因果关系,建立在什么上面。这个不能建立,不是某一个教条性的东西让我们去这么想,不是,如果你有其他的思维,如果你有其他的答案,当然是可以的,当然更好。但是有没有其他的答案?自己去思考,这些都找不到一个答案,但是种子播下去了以后,幼芽诞生了,这是现实,这是我们感官看到的,但是它的背后有没有一个理论支持它呢?这个理论我们现在找不到,所有的理论是反对他的,所有的理论是不支持它的,但是,再多的理论不支持它,驳斥,我感官看到的就是这样子。所以这个时候非常尖锐的这个理论,跟我们感官看到的,就是有矛盾。这个时候就说明,我们的感官是不符合理论的。不符合理论的东西是什么呢?不符合理论的东西就是错觉。它是一种错觉,这就是我们最后得到的结论,所以深入地去了解的时候呢,然后就会有问题。实际上这个不叫问题,这个就是我们的境界提高了,每当我们的境界提高的时候,在没有提高时候我们的常识一定会被否定的,会推翻的。如果这个不推翻,我们的境界是没有办法提高的,还是在原地这样的话怎么提高呢?没有任何变化提高什么呢,实际上这个不是问题,实际上就是我们提高了自己的认识。我们更进一步地去了解大自然,了解这个世界。然后这个时候我们发现,过去我对这个大自然,对这个宇宙世界的认识,是一个很表面的东西,这两个大家一定要静下心来思考一下。

Precious Kadampa Masters used to say:

Keep happiness under control;
Put an end to suffering.
With happiness under control
And suffering brought to an end:
When you are all alone,
This training will be your true friend;
When you are sick,
It will be your nurse.

Who Was the Buddha?
by Barbara O’Brien

WHO WAS THE BUDDHA?

Buddha is not a name, but a title. It is a Sanskrit word that means “a person who is awake.” What a buddha is awake to is the true nature of reality.

Simply put, Buddhism teaches that we all live in a fog of illusions created by mistaken perceptions and “impurities” — hate, greed, ignorance. A buddha is one who is freed from the fog. It is said that when a buddha dies he or she is not reborn but passes into the peace of Nirvana, which is not a “heaven” but a transformed state of existence.

Most of the time, when someone says the Buddha, it’s in reference to the historical person who founded Buddhism. This was a man originally named Siddhartha Gautama who lived in what is now northern India and Nepal about twenty-five centuries ago.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE HISTORICAL BUDDHA?

The traditional story begins with Siddhartha Gautama’s birth in Lumbini, Nepal, in about 567 BCE. He was the son of a king, raised in sheltered opulence. He married and had a son.

Prince Siddhartha was twenty-nine years old when his life changed. In carriage rides outside his palaces he first saw a sick person, then an old man, then a corpse. This shook him to the core of his being; he realised that his privileged status would not protect him from sickness, old age, and death. When he saw a spiritual seeker — a mendicant “holy man” ― the urge to seek peace of mind arose in him.

The prince renounced his worldly life and began a spiritual quest. He sought teachers and punished his body with ascetic practices such as extreme, prolonged fasts. It was believed that punishing the body was the way to elevate the mind and that the door to wisdom was found at the edge of death. However, after six years of this, the prince felt only frustration.

Eventually, he realised that the path to peace was through mental discipline. At Bodh Gaya, in the modern Indian state of Bihar, he sat in meditation beneath a ficus tree, “the Bodhi tree,” until he awakened, or realised enlightenment. From that time on, he would be known as the Buddha.

He spent the rest of his life teaching people how to realise enlightenment for themselves. He gave his first sermon in modern-day Sarnath, near Benares, and then walked from village to village, attracting disciples along the way. He founded the original order of Buddhist nuns and monks, many of whom became great teachers also. He died in Kushinagar, located in what is now the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India, about 483 BCE.

The traditional story of the Buddha’s life may not be factually accurate; we have no way to know for certain. Historians today generally agree there was a historical Buddha, and that he lived sometime in the 4th through 6th centuries BCE, give or take. It’s believed that at least some of the sermons and monastic rules recorded in the oldest scriptures are his words, or something close to his words. But that’s as far as most historical scholars will go.

HAVE THERE BEEN OTHER BUDDHAS?

In Theravada Buddhism ― the dominant school of southeast Asia ― it is thought there is only one buddha per age of humankind; each age is an unimaginably long time. The buddha of the current age is our historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. Another person who realises enlightenment within this age is not called buddha. Instead, he or she is an arhat (Sanskrit) or arahant (Pali) — “worthy one” or “perfected one.” The principal difference between an arhat and a buddha is that only a buddha is a world teacher, the one who opens the door for all others.

Early scriptures name other buddhas who lived in the unimaginably long-ago earlier ages. There is also Maitreya, the future Buddha who will appear when all memory of our Buddha’s teachings has been lost.

There are other major traditions of Buddhism, called Mahayana and Vajrayana, and these traditions put no limits on the number of buddhas there can be. However, for practitioners of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism the ideal is to be a bodhisattva, one who vows to remain in the world until all beings are enlightened.

WHAT ABOUT BUDDHAS IN BUDDHIST ART?

There are multitudes of buddhas, especially in Mahayana and Vajrayana scriptures and art. They represent aspects of enlightenment, and they also represent our own deepest natures. Some of the better known iconic or transcendent buddhas include Amitabha, the Buddha of Boundless Light; Bhaiṣajyaguru, the Medicine Buddha who represents the power of healing; and Vairocana, the universal or primordial Buddha who represents absolute reality. The way the buddhas are posed also convey particular meanings.

The bald, chubby, laughing fellow many Westerners think of as Buddha is a character from tenth-century Chinese folklore. His name is Budai in China, or Hotei in Japan. He represents happiness and abundance, and he is a protector of children and the sick and weak. In some stories he is explained as an emanation of Maitreya, the future Buddha.

DO BUDDHISTS WORSHIP BUDDHA?

The Buddha was not a god, and the many iconic figures of Buddhist art are not meant to represent godlike beings who will do you favours if you worship them.

The Buddha was said to be critical of worship, in fact. In one scripture (Sigalovada Sutta, Digha Nikaya 31) he encountered a young man engaged in a Vedic worship practice. The Buddha told him it’s more important to live in a responsible, ethical way than to worship anything.

You might think of worship if you see Buddhists bowing to Buddha statues, but there’s something else going on. In some schools of Buddhism, bowing and making offerings are physical expressions of the dropping away of a selfish, ego-centred life and a commitment to practice the Buddha’s teachings.

WHAT DID THE BUDDHA TEACH?

When the Buddha achieved enlightenment, he also realised something else: that what he’d perceived was so far outside ordinary experience that it couldn’t entirely be explained. So, instead of teaching people what to believe, he taught them to realise enlightenment for themselves.

The foundational teaching of Buddhism is the Four Noble Truths. Very briefly, the First Truth tells us that life is dukkha, a word that doesn’t translate neatly into English. It is often translated as “suffering,” but it also means “stressful” and “unable to satisfy.”

The Second Truth tells us dukkha has a cause. The immediate cause is craving, and the craving comes from not understanding reality and not knowing ourselves. Because we misunderstand ourselves we are riddled with anxiety and frustration. We experience life in a narrow, self-centred way, going through life craving things we think will make us happy. But we find satisfaction only briefly, and then the anxiety and craving start again.

The Third Truth tells us we can know the cause of dukkha and be liberated from the hamster wheel of stress and craving. Merely adopting Buddhist beliefs will not accomplish this, however. Liberation depends on one’s own insight into the source of dukkha. Craving will not cease until you realise for yourself what’s causing it.

The Fourth Truth tells us that insight comes through practice of the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Eightfold Path might be explained as an outline of eight areas of practice ― including meditation, mindfulness, and living an ethical life that benefits others ― that will help us live happier lives and find the wisdom of enlightenment.

WHAT IS ENLIGHTENMENT?

People imagine that to be enlightened is to be blissed out all the time, but that’s not the case. And achieving enlightenment doesn’t necessarily happen all at once. Very simply, enlightenment is defined as thoroughly perceiving the true nature of reality, and of ourselves.

Enlightenment is also described as perceiving buddhanature, which in Vajrayana and Mahayana Buddhism is the fundamental nature of all beings. One way to understand this is to say that the enlightenment of the Buddha is always present, whether we are aware of it or not.

Enlightenment, then, is not a quality that some people have and others don’t. To realise enlightenment is to realise what already is. It’s just that most of us are lost in a fog and can’t see it.

IS THERE A BUDDHIST BIBLE?

Not exactly. For one thing, the several schools and denominations of Buddhism do not all use the same canon of scriptures. A text esteemed by one school may be unknown in another.

Further, Buddhist scriptures are not considered to be the revealed words of a god that must be accepted without question. The Buddha taught us to accept no teaching on authority alone, but to investigate it for ourselves. The many sutras and other texts are there to guide us, not to indoctrinate us.

The important point is that Buddhism is not something you believe, but something you do. It’s a path of both personal discipline and personal discovery. People have walked this path for 25 centuries, and by now there are plenty of directions, signposts and markers. And there are mentors and teachers for guidance, as well as many beautiful scriptures.

When starting out on the inner path you need a great amount of courage to go in a different direction from this modern world’s materialistic culture, particularly if all your family and friends are immersed in it. But ask yourself what is more important: The duration of this one short life, or the infinite continuum of mind?

— Chamtrul Rinpoche

淺談初發心菩薩的心理建設
文|觀明

大乘佛法的菩薩行以利他為首要,較之聲聞的重於自利,自是殊勝而廣大的。但佛滅度兩千五百年後的今天,大乘佛法無疑地是衰微了。諸法因緣生,大乘佛法的衰微也是其來有自:許多人都明白行菩薩道的菩薩須要發大菩提心,但對什麼是菩薩,什麼又是大菩提心卻不甚明瞭;如是盲目行之,能不乖違正道?

菩薩即覺有情,此有二義:一者,指已證得無生法忍,成就了無漏智慧的有情;此義包含了聲聞、緣覺及大乘菩薩。第二義,菩薩是「菩提薩埵摩訶薩埵」的簡稱, 中文為「大覺有情」,大為大乘義;覺是無上菩提,是菩薩希求成就的;有情是有情識的眾生,是菩薩所要度化的;合而言之,就是上求菩提下化眾生的人。此涵蓋了凡位及聖位的大乘菩薩。

大菩提心是上求佛道下化眾生之心願。它的體是「一切智智相應作意」,即內心恆與佛智相契合;換言之,念念不忘以悲智圓成的佛之無上覺為趣求的目標。菩提心的用有二,一者「大悲為上首」:菩薩行的方便是以大悲為動機的。大悲是菩薩觀一切有情之苦迫,為了救度一切有情離苦得樂而生起的增上情感。二者「無所得為方便」:這是菩薩從一切緣起有中了悟得來的空慧。由於體悟無所得,才能解脫自在,才能無所為而為,成為自利利他的大方便。

我們都明白要成就一件事情是必須有它一定的次第的。比方上完了小學,上中學;中學畢業了,再上大學。修習菩薩行也是如此:首先要發大悲心,然真正的大悲心又是建立在出離心上的。如果自身不見三界如火宅,生死輪迴是苦,無欣求出離之意樂,那麼對眾生生起的悲心將是愛見大悲,所修的善法不是人天善法,便是魔業。為了救拔眾生了脫生死成就聖道,應憶念一切男子是我父,一切女子是我母,一切眾生是我成就菩提道之恩人;繼而思惟一切眾生皆具佛性,其一念迷,生死浩然;一念悟,輪迴頓息,己與眾生無二無別,乃能生起「無緣大慈,同體大悲」之心。由於己不欲苦,故亦不忍眾生苦,遂發起大菩提心,祈願一方面廣行六度萬行,成就自利之功德;另一方面為成熟覺悟眾生,修習四攝以利益攝取眾生,俾眾生亦能依法信受修行求證佛果。

發大菩提心固然可貴,但單有發心不足以成事,必須付之於實踐,力行菩提道,始克漸次圓滿,臻於佛地。在一切凡聖界中,佛是自覺覺他覺行圓滿者;除了佛以外,即或是八地以上的大菩薩,亦有少分無明不圓滿之處,何況我們這些初發心的凡夫菩薩呢?為圓成菩薩之戒波羅蜜,佛於是制定了菩薩戒。原本能發大菩提心、 修大乘行者係性屬利根的菩薩種姓,然有不少初機行者對於大乘教義及修學的次第還未能潛心學習,卻為嚮往菩薩道之景行,即懵懂受戒,以致受戒之後,於菩薩戒之開遮持犯或為曲解,或於行菩薩道中,屢屢受挫,而退失大菩提心,令人惋惜。

菩薩戒甚深甚微細,實非我這個初學者所能分辨明了。現唯就學習玄奘大師所譯〈瑜伽菩薩戒〉,對一個初發心的凡夫菩薩行菩薩道所應有的認識,略述心得於下:

自佛滅度後,大小乘的對立即已形成。做為一個弘揚大乘佛法的佛弟子,對於小乘戒法應持何態度才正確呢?由於受菩薩戒者,必是已受七眾別解脫戒者;菩薩三聚淨戒中之攝律儀戒,即是別解脫律儀。菩薩戒約心而論持犯,若以為聲聞戒多屬遮戒,其制森嚴,受菩薩戒後,即一切可開緣,此為錯誤的認識。〈菩薩戒〉中「與聲聞共學戒」指出:「如薄伽梵於別解脫毘奈耶中,將護他故建立遮罪……於中菩薩與諸聲聞應平等修學,無有差別。」可知佛為聲聞建立的七眾別解脫戒,菩薩自應隨順無違。因聲聞戒不但能使持戒者滅諸惡行,隨順解脫之果;所制之遮罪更為防世譏嫌,令末信者信,已信者令倍增長,正法得以久住世間。那麼以利他為要務的菩薩又怎可棄捨聲聞戒法而不學呢?

聲聞戒中菩薩不與聲聞共學的例外有二:

一、佛為應聲聞人之根機而制定令聲聞「少事少業少希望住」的遮罪,菩薩不應等學。然此實是別解脫戒中的極少分。以比丘戒而言,是二百五十條戒中的九條而已,且開緣之先決條件必須是「菩薩為利他故」。倘若菩薩為了自利而多求衣、缽、坐臥具、金銀等,則不適用「與聲聞不共學戒」,且將因貪欲,犯聲聞戒,亦犯菩薩戒之「貪求名利戒」。

二、菩薩為利他故,可少分現行殺生等性罪。對此,雖蕅益大師主張就性罪之開緣是不簡擇凡聖,只要是出於慈悲心、願代他苦之心,且於己之所為深生慚愧,不以如是作是有功德,則不違犯戒體。然多數論者以為,此必登地以上的菩薩所能為,且必須悲心充沛,時機因緣現前,熟思除此一途別無其它方便,並審知此舉益多過少,方可偶一為之。初發心菩薩若在自己的智慧與慈悲尚未堅固以前,即行殺生等性罪,無異是冒菩薩之名而行煩惱之實,徒然招感無邊生死而已。

菩薩戒中「不學小法戒」有明文:菩薩應於聲聞乘相應教法聽聞受持精勤修學,否則是染違犯;於「背大向小戒」,菩薩若未毀謗菩薩法,但「於菩薩藏末精研究,於菩薩藏一切棄捨,於聲聞藏一向修學」是非染違犯,可以看出小乘佛法在大乘行中所扮演的角色及大乘菩薩修學之次第。小乘佛法雖不究竟圓徹,然為大乘佛法之根本。若毀謗不習學小乘,等於是毀滅了佛法,不但大乘佛法缺乏基礎,菩薩亦將因此失去化導聲聞之方便,故若生起「菩薩不應習小」之邪見,是染違犯。又大乘菩薩本應以趨向大乘為目的,以修學菩薩藏為本分,今對小乘聲聞藏深生愛著而棄捨了菩薩藏,自是修學失儀,然因小乘法是大乘法之根本,故先專修小乘,不大小同修,僅屬非染違犯。

於「倒說菩薩法戒」更明白指出:菩薩應欣樂涅槃、不應厭背涅槃,應怖畏而求斷滅諸煩惱及隨煩惱;且菩薩對於大涅槃之欣樂親近,與對諸煩惱及隨煩惱之深心厭離,其程度實百千億倍於聲聞人;蓋聲聞人僅是為了自己證得義利而勤修正行,菩薩卻是為了一切有情之證得義利而勤修正行。又菩薩為了普利一切有情,「當勤修集無雜染心,於有漏事隨順而行,成就勝出諸阿羅漢無雜染法」,標顯出菩薩行利他事業之分際:在末證得第一義諦之前,菩薩應樂聞正法,聞思精進,起正知見, 勵力於伏斷自己的煩惱,對於有漏之利他善法亦應隨緣、隨分、隨能、隨力而擔當力行之,以長養一己之慈悲喜捨心,積集福慧資糧。待證得聖道後,由於大悲心之起用,乃能不捨眾生,不速趣無餘涅槃,縱經無數劫生死流轉,亦皆能以無染心廣行無漏善法;由是方便,得證大菩提果。凡夫菩薩若不欣樂涅槃,不厭背煩惱,則縱為利他事業,亦因所為善法皆出自雜染有所得之心,即與外道無何差別;且該菩薩終將因煩惱末斷除,數數串習生死雜染業,而迷失其菩提大道。此所以攝善法戒及攝眾生戒中多處有明文:若菩薩於彼時正於禪定或聞思修慧等善法勤修加行,不欲暫廢,皆屬無違犯。

於「捨內學外戒」,雖說菩薩應於五明處求,但學習五明,亦應以內明──佛法──為本。待正知見建立了,於佛法生起勝解,不再為邪說異論所動搖,再去學習外論典籍,以之作為折伏外道、度化眾生之善巧方便,俾成就菩薩之道種智,才是正理。若菩薩於佛法未精研究,反精勤修學其它世間學問,豈非本末倒置?

大乘佛法法義精深博大,諸法實相非諸佛菩薩之無分別智不能了達。凡夫菩薩倘因自己盲無慧目,於大乘法義之甚深難解處及佛菩薩不可思議之神通道力,不能生起信解,反憎惡背棄毀謗三寶,那是犯了「聞深毀謗戒」。若菩薩於大乘法教因不善通達,內懷邪見,說相似正法,謗菩薩藏,更是犯了菩薩戒四他勝處法(四重戒)之一的「謗亂正法戒」。其犯心猛利者,將因此退失菩薩戒體,自棄於佛法大海之外。

學佛首重正知見的建立。行菩薩道之菩薩為利有情,更應依戒定慧之修學次第,先成熟自己。若己「於是法末善通利」,則不應不知言知,自惑惑人,貽害眾生令無正見。初發心的凡夫菩薩尤應量力而為,與其勉效大菩薩而招過失,倒不如自處無知處,於所聞大乘經論專諦思惟、精勤修學,較為妥當。

Genuine, complete awakening that transcends cyclic existence is the ultimate refuge place of those who want to be free.

— Machig Labdrön

The Six Paramitas
by Gelek Rimpoche

Just taking refuge alone is not enough. It is like saying, ‘Ha, I want to be good, good, good’ and you don’t do anything, and then when you do something bad, you feel bad. It’s not like that. So what do you do? You do something good. Generosity is one of them; morality is another one; patience is another one; enthusiasm is another one; meditation is another one and the last one is wisdom. These are called the six paramitas or the six perfections. Sometimes, you find there are ten perfections; which means these six and four more on top. Basically, these perfections are meant to change the individual, to change the individual habitual way of functioning. If we look into our characteristics, our usual thinking, we have a problem of sharing things with people, because we want everything to be mine. We talked last night about ‘me’ and ‘my,’ our superiority and all these type of things that give problems. In order to overcome that you practice generosity.

Generosity itself also has generosity of generosity, morality of generosity, generosity of patience, generosity of enthusiasm, generosity of meditation and generosity of wisdom. All six paramitas work that way. Sharing itself is generosity of generosity. It doesn’t have to be money or wealth only; giving dharma or giving guidance is generosity, giving protection is generosity, protecting an animal, protecting the environment, protecting sick people, all these are generosity of generosity.

Doing it constantly without getting corrupted is the morality of generosity. The moment it gets corrupted, you lose the morality of generosity. That gives you an idea what we talk about when we talk about morality. We may not be talking here about morality the way it has been emphasised in the Judeo-Christian tradition; when we talk about morality here it means honesty, straightforwardness, keeping your own commitments honouring your vows. I am talking now about morality on the basis of generosity.

When you are giving protection constantly and you constantly try to help, you will be having patience. Taking care of someone very patiently, is patience of generosity. We do have difficulties with that, everybody does. When people who have been generous on something, and have to go on constantly doing that, they get fed up. And people who are working for the benefit of others, like in organisations like this, get tired and lose their patience. Whatever the reason might be; it is lack of patience of generosity.

Enthusiasm of generosity. Losing enthusiasm is almost the same as losing patience. Losing enthusiasm is, ‘Well, I got to do it, but I may not do it, maybe I let it go, maybe I’ll do it tomorrow,’ and that tomorrow never comes. The laziness that takes over is weakening the generosity of whatever you do, whether sharing time, or giving guidance, or working for. That is lack of enthusiasm of generosity.

Meditation of generosity is thinking about it, planning, working, making sure it will benefit best, thinking what you can do best. It is concentration.

And the wisdom of generosity, one part on the basis of self, and the other part on the basis of others. On the self part of it, you analyse: what is the reality of generosity? What are the aspects of generosity? What is the result of generosity? How will it benefit others, and how will it benefit me? This is the wisdom of generosity, or the generosity of wisdom of looking into yourself. And the wisdom of generosity of looking towards others is: is this particular generosity going to be suitable for this particular person, or not? For example, what is the generosity of a chocolate to a diabetic? Or, whiskey to an alcoholic. You see, even though you committed yourself to be very generous and sharing, you have to say, ‘no,’ in certain areas. That is how the wisdom of generosity works.

Basically, these six perfections make every single damned thing you do, perfect. If you do those sort of things, what happens? Our habitual way of working will change. Our basic habitual way is negative, actually. We do it because we are so used to it; it is like an addiction. An addicted drug-user has to have his drugs, he can’t live without. An addicted alcoholic has to have alcohol, otherwise he’ll shake; addicted coffee-drinkers have to have coffee, otherwise they can’t wake up, get a headache. We do have these negative patterns; it’s nothing bad, it is the way it is. When you put in a little discipline, and you work with these six different frameworks, it will make a change to every functioning in your daily life.

You need to know one thing: you can not leave the six perfections over-there somewhere and say, ‘Oh yes, this is generosity, that’s morality, that’s patience, that’s enthusiasm, that’s meditation, that’s wisdom.’ If that is there, and I am here, there is a big gap. It is a problem, it doesn’t affect me, it is almost like visiting a museum. If you take these perfections, don’t leave them in the museum, put them into your own life. How does it affect me? Then, it becomes a living tradition, it will work and make a difference to you.

The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.

— Thich Nhat Hanh