Our perception of space alters the space. It is consciousness that finds meanings in all spaces.

— Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche

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纯真念佛人
文|慕莲

在繁华的都市一隅,靠近西园寺的一幢普通居民楼里,住着一位念佛老太太。因为腿脚不好,不能下楼,几年来,除了偶尔到医院看病,平时就一天到晚呆在家里,静静地念佛, 吃饭,睡觉,难得有人去看她。我和她女儿以前是同事,在她还没出国前一起念过佛。她出国后,老人要寄钱去寺院办佛事,就找我帮忙,因此一年总要去她家几次,对她的情况很熟悉。

老人快八十岁了,善良的脸,善良的心, 看过她的莲友都说:“这种学佛人,在周遭很难找到第二个。和她比,我们啥也不是。”

她不太会讲客套话,只是用满脸的欢喜来迎接你。如果提前知道你要去,总要让老头买好水果、零食,摆满一桌。然后聊天期间一刻不停地让你吃这吃那,吃不完还要让你兜着走。几次下来我乖了,去时不提前告诉她,跨进门后,望着她在惊喜中团团转地找东西给你吃,觉得她可爱极了。记得有一次实在找不到吃的,就拉着我非要让我洗个热水澡,我好说歹说才免了这款待遇。去她家还不能撞上吃饭时间,否则不管你吃了没有,饭菜一大碗端到你面前,不吃也得吃,直撑得你肚子滚圆,临走时又是翻箱倒柜地找东西给你。我年纪比她轻许多,身体也不差,可在推让的过程中,总是败下阵来。因为她的两只手像两把铁钳,我根本无反抗能力,这让我很纳闷。

要说她的处境,并不美妙。儿子两年前往生西方,女儿远嫁海外。老头子身体也不好,耳朵聋得一点也听不见,性格孤僻,不会照顾人。她自己五年前患骨癌,医生判她活不长,手术也不给她做,只劝她想吃啥买啥,开点无关痛痒的药让她回家保守治疗。这样的生活环境换了别人,不天天以泪洗面才怪呢!

可老居士呢,“弥陀一露脸,万事都解决”,一切都忍受了,不觉得那么痛苦了。和她接触的过程中,我相信了许多事情:

说念佛能止痛,我信。

大概还是在三年前吧,她女儿那时还在国内,我去报恩寺参加念佛共修法会时,遇到了她娘俩。女儿很担忧地对我讲了她妈妈的情况,并拉开妈妈胸前的衣服让我看那病变的骨头:大的像小子弹头,小的像花生、黄豆,尖尖的,红红的,突出在本该平坦的地方,好像把皮都要顶破了,真的很怕人。我问老人家:“疼吗?”她回答:“在家里不念佛很疼,念了就不疼。今天带了止痛药来,可一天佛念下来没感觉痛,一片都没吃。”

说念佛能治绝症,我信。

去年夏天时,她在家摔了一跤,扭伤了腰,在床上躺了几天不能动。可奇迹就发生在那一天,一跤把胸口的病变骨头全摔没了。几天后我去看她时,拉开她上衣,平平的,疙疙瘩瘩的东西真的没有了。当时我都呆掉了。一直到现在,病变再也没有出现过,那一跤让她重报轻受了。

说念佛开智慧,我信。

老人家不大识字,从不看书,对净土教理就停留在念佛能生西的层次。可她知道啥是虚幻,啥是真实。他儿子去世时,我去她家慰问,她根本不提儿子的事。倒是我忍不住提起来,可她淡淡一笑,说:“儿子临终也念佛了,还劝我念呢!”

前几天去看她时,我问她:“你想去西方吗?”

“阿弥陀佛今天接我今天走,明天接我明天走。极乐世界多好啊!”

“你不挂念家里人吗?”

“我一个也不想。没意思的。”

“你去了极乐世界要去找你儿子吗?”

“到了极乐世界无所谓了。”

这句话回答得多好啊!

说善良的人容易信佛,我信。

她女儿说,妈妈一辈子都为别人着想。去世的儿子是亲生的,女儿是妹妹家抱来的,可她对女儿的关爱胜过对自己的儿子。年轻时家里穷,饭是限量的,她常常把自己那一份偷偷倒进乞丐碗里。最近知道女儿家里要增加一位新成员(即丈夫与前妻领养的儿子),女儿担心怕处理不好关系,老人家在电话里再三关照,一定要对他好。“对自己孩子差一点没关系,可对他一定要好,要把他看成亲生的。”

说阿弥陀佛名号是活的,我信。

何止名号是活的,在老菩萨家里,念佛机也是活的。只有一种佛号的念佛机,却能念出不一样的内容。晚上八点后,老人家要念一会观音圣号,念佛机到时就成了念菩萨机。有次我去她家,得知那念佛机是日夜不断开着,从来不关的。“里面念佛的人三班倒。”老菩萨这句话几乎把我击倒,忙问是怎么回事。她说他们是换班念的,有时一个,有时两个,有时几个,你念一会,我念一会,“他们这样不吃力。”也许感觉到了自己的幽默吧,老人讲这句话时,乐得直笑。“他们有时敲磬,有时敲木鱼,有时啥也不敲,但都是男声。”我听后哑口无言,想会不会是她耳朵有问题吧?可上星期我接到老菩萨打来的电话后,让我彻底信服了。那是大约下午五点左右, 我接到了她的电话。拿起来,就听到了她很响亮地对我讲:“你听我的念佛机哦,那人念得响得很,听得见吗?”我内心一怔,仔细听着。真的,本来单唱思乡调的念佛机里,却夹杂着一位男众的清念声,是四字佛号,“阿弥陀佛,阿弥陀佛”,念得很响,很清楚。我说我听到了。她说:“这声音念得好听,我跟着在一起念了好一会了。”我挂了电话,心里很激动,把此事告诉了几位师兄,大家都觉得不可思议。陈师兄深有感触地说:“老人家家里已成了个道场。”

是啊!她家里,窗上显出过护法神红红的圆脸盘。从去年秋天起,每每念佛时,佛像就放光。佛菩萨像在她家都是活的,送子观音两边会显现千手的奇观,供桌上会显出红牡丹花来供佛。有天我们去她家时,还和她一起念了一会儿佛,她说佛像又放光了,我们看不见,业障重啊!老人对这些并不稀罕,她觉得这些都很平常的,她的单纯是学也学不来的一种天性。

说观音菩萨保佑念他名号的人,我信。

十来年前一个冬天,当时她还没念佛,只是烧烧香,念念观音圣号。有一天去彩香河里洗衣服,因为结着冰,一不小心滑进了很深的河底,直达河床。“当时我想自己要死了,就学死人的样子,把腿伸伸直,手也伸伸直。可就是奇怪,怎么水里呼吸一点也不困难,甚至比岸上还舒服。”大约半小时后,才被人发现救了上来。“因为陷到了河泥中,全身淤泥,上岸后老头子用软水管朝着我全身冲,老半天才干净。”我每次带新的人去看她,总要让她讲这桩活生生的观音菩萨救苦救难之事。也就是这桩不可思议的事,使她女儿信了佛。

这位老人家的智慧没有表现在夸夸其谈上,而是显现在她的单纯上,显现在她的笑容里,显现在她待人处世中,显现在她对独生儿子离去的淡然中,更显现在她坚定不移的信佛念佛中。她没有读经、听经,她没有师父,没有同修,可她有阿弥陀佛放光摄受,有诸上善人每天陪着她,有护法神呵护着她,她是直接面对着佛的世界啊!

在她身上,我看到佛是活的,名号是活的,佛法是活的,佛菩萨的救度是真实的。她的事情会让很多学佛人反思:佛法的真实利益,为什么你我得不到?

真感恩佛菩萨,让我在学佛路上遇到了这么一位老人家。

这朵大白莲华,静悄悄地开放在繁华都市的一隅。开开窗,让芬芳飘点出来吧!愿闻者都能信佛念佛,往生极乐!

We Buddhists believe in birth following after birth. Some people have a hard time accepting this. However, just because we cannot see something, does not mean that it is not there. Just because we have not found something does not prove its nonexistence. And if reincarnation is true and we do not prepare ourselves, we could be taking a big risk. If we spend all our strength on this life only, and suddenly the scientists find out that indeed there is a next life, it might be too late for us. So we have to think carefully.

–17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

The Heart of the Universe: Exploring the Heart Sutra
by Mu Soeng

A great many misunderstandings have taken place in interpreting the Buddha’s teaching of anatta or non-self, but it is important to keep in mind that while the Buddha pointed to a lack of an abiding core, he did not deny an existential personality. In other words, things exist but they are not real. For the Buddha, the individual or the personality was a conglomerate of five aggregates or heaps, or skandhas. In and of themselves, these aggregates are a biological or phenomenological system, and out of their interplay a sense of self is born. The following chart may help in giving visual expression to what is meant here:

The challenge of Buddhist thought and practice is to recognise and separate the sense of self from all assumptions and notions about a permanent, autonomous self. A sense of self is vastly different from a belief in a solid, unchanging self. A sense of self is quite acceptable as a routine existential process embedded in brain structures and linguistic usage. It is not a theological issue. Any discussion of “the self,” on the other hand, becomes a theological discussion sooner rather than later.

As mentioned earlier, these five aggregates are “aggregates of clinging” in that the reified self claims ownership of these aggregates individually and collectively. In both modalities craving or desire attaches itself to these five aggregates and turns them into objects of attachment, thus creating suffering. When examined closely, the workings of the five skandhas constitute a feedback loop that gets more and more elaborate in its self-referentiality.

When the self is seen in this way — as a sense of self, a momentary process rather than an entity — it follows that the “self” of each and every phenomenon in the universe is also likewise constructed. All phenomena are dependently arisen; they too follow the trajectory of generation, stabilisation, decay, and dissolution, with no abiding core or substance. It is only when we have an illusion of “the self” as a separate entity that we create “the other.” Both “self” and “other” are acts of imagination — a distorted image, for sure, and one that has disturbing consequences.

To put it another way, dualistic thinking creates competing paradigms: good creates evil and vice versa; “the I” creates “the you” and vice versa; being creates non-being and vice versa.

This problem of self and other is summed up quite elegantly in perhaps the best-known phrase from the medieval Japanese Zen master Dogen in his Shobogenzo: “To study the Buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualised by myriad things.”

This is a holistic paradigm: when the self is not creating the self, it is also not creating the myriad things of the universe apart from the self. Only in that transparency of nothing-being-created is it possible for the self to be awakened by the ten thousand things of the world, because only then does it see its own face in each of those myriad things. That transparency would be impossible if the self were to create itself and the other as two separate entities. Just as the self sees itself as a transitory phenomenon, so does it see each of the ten thousand things of the world; there is no separation in its perception-cognition, and hence there is an awakening to the non separation of self and the other.

On close examination we find each of the aggregates to be a construction put into place by a nexus of causes and conditions. A construct, by definition, is not real in itself because it exists as an effect of causes and conditions. That it can also operate as a causal factor for other effects does not endow it with an own-being or self-nature (svabhava) or an inalienable core. The construct has a certain shape, like a swelling or a bubble, while it exists as an effect, but this shape is only momentary and will change when the underlying causes and conditions change.

The aggregates are to be understood in terms of their relational structures; their existence depends on causes and conditions. In isolation, none of them achieves any degree of self-sufficiency. As a matrix, they all together attain a momentary validity but not substantiality. The matrix may extend beyond the local — temporally and spatially — but does not suggest the stability of the local.

On our television screens these days we see satellite pictures of hurricanes as they march across oceans and continents. We put a name on the hurricane and describe its strength and speed, and it’s easy enough to imagine that this hurricane is a solid entity. But it’s clear from the satellite pictures that the hurricane is constantly changing and shifting; its course is unpredictable and the time of its ripping through an area uncertain. Numerous causes and conditions affect the hurricane’s path and manifestation. Its reality is that of a process undergoing continual change with no abiding core.

Each of the five aggregates is like this; all phenomena in the universe undergo this process. Thus the world of samsara is a shadow play of appearance and change, generation and conversion, nothing solid, nothing abiding. And yet like the hurricane it has tremendous power to do damage.

When you dream of an elephant, does an elephant appear to your mind? Indeed it appears very clearly. Is there an elephant there? No. This appearance of an elephant in your dream is a union of appearance and emptiness. It appears, yet it does not exist – yet it appears. It is the same with all external phenomena. If we understand the example of the appearance of something in a dream, it is easier to understand how the mind appears yet does not exist, and does not exist yet appears.

— Thrangu Rinpoche

在家众之学佛方法
太虚大师

     佛法之要素是般若智慧,而此智慧,在禅定中心方能现起。今诸君应各静心默念摩诃般若波罗密多,佛法乃可听受。

    学佛之人,在佛教中向有在家出家二众。其未出家曾经受过三皈五戒之优婆塞、优婆夷为在家众,而沙弥、比丘等为出家众。然出家众乃将世间俗务完全辟开,以专修佛法及办理佛教事业者,故其人祇有少数而难普及;于是欲将佛法普及于世界,在家众亦有其责任,故为诸君一讲在家众之学佛方法。中国之佛教,向来未普及于社会,故唯以僧尼为佛教之代表,而不知在家众兼负有大半之责任。至近来则已有少数之在家众,能实负其责任,设立林会社团等,故佛教已渐能流行到社会中去,不可谓非佛教前途之一大转机。此因一般智识人士相次引入于佛法中作深切之研究,故佛法得日见其发达矣。学佛者首须了知如何是佛,如何是佛教之大概,心中方能生起皈依信崇之正信。故其第一步,须对佛与佛教有种认识。在中国旧俗将敬神与信佛混一为谈,其实佛与神迥不相同!在寻常所敬之神鬼或祖先,若天地山川渎岳草木等神,其崇奉之者皆中国向来之习惯,或对于历史上有功德之人而为之纪念者;或谓神有操纵祸福之神权,敬之则可趋吉避凶,否则不利,故不得不敬者。在此种通俗之敬神信佛观念上,有以神为佛者,有以佛为神者,故信佛之人往往不知何者是佛。所以在家众之学佛,须先将何者是佛认识清楚,而去除其媚神佞神之迷信。

一 佛

 佛之意义,在各经论中有极详尽之说明 。 今再为略明:佛是梵音,佛陀之略,在中国为觉者之意。觉谓觉悟,反显平常之人虽有点知识,而大部分不知不觉,如处黑暗。如我虽处身世界,而世界之事不知甚多,乃至本身之事亦多不知。比如本身生从何来,死从何去,即号称有智慧之人亦不明了。故大致皆可说为不觉者。因不觉悟故如盲子,便生出许多错误的行动及苦的结果。于是种种颠倒烦恼遂相因不绝。然不觉者非永不能觉,而且已有能觉之者之佛。所谓佛者在人中曾经有过,即二千余年已前之印度的释迦牟尼佛。是佛有完全普遍而彻底的大觉悟,近自一身远至万物之真相无不觉悟了知,是为宇宙人生究竟完全之觉悟者。然并非是造出万物掌管世界之神,而祇是得到宇宙万有之究竟觉悟者。佛当时所现的是人身,得到大觉悟后亦与人无异,由此可证明人人皆有得到觉悟之可能。我们各人现虽暂时不觉,然非究竟不能觉。故佛证明一切人及众生皆有成佛之可能性,应去求觉悟而打破种种之疑惑颠倒以至于达到究竟之觉悟。现在各人既皆认识自己有成佛的可能性,然假使无已成佛者为其模范师导,恺切告示,则其可能性不易发挥而仍没在不觉之中。今欲从不觉中依觉悟之可能性以转变成觉悟,则当以佛为我之模范标准。从如此求觉悟上发心信佛,乃非感情上之迷信而是觉悟上之正信。故一切佛法都要以摩诃般若为母。般若之意义即大智慧,依大慧得到大觉,将无始无明完全除去乃能实现究竟安乐。因烦恼痛苦之源即无明,若欲解脱须从根源上将不觉破除,成立正觉!正觉确立即佛。应如此认识佛而信佛。

 二 佛之教法

 信佛不能依佛之教法去行,则仍不能将佛性发挥出来。佛之教法约有二:

 甲、即为一切众生说明宇宙人生之真理者。此之真理,本为如来大觉悟中之所证明,其未觉悟人当然不能证明,故须用名字言说讲明出来。此讲明其理之言教等,即为佛教。如明各个人之生从何来,死从何去等,有十二因缘之理。明世界众生大概,都不免于苦,而其苦由贪等烦恼、杀等恶业所集成,非天与神所造;若欲解脱,须修对治烦恼之道等四谛之理。由人以至于万物皆是因缘所生,各各无自体性,故究其体性完全是空。然亦不无由因缘和合而有之幻有。遂显非空非有、即空即有、空有不二之中道实相,是为诸法实相之理。此等真理,世人于事实上犹不能证明,须依教义以成为理解,常去观想修习,乃能改变旧心理为新心理。

 乙、即为一切众生开示实践修证上之方法者。此云法,即四谛中之道谛。约之、就是六种过度之方法。此方法是得到如来觉悟之最扼要之方法。

 第一种、谓各人各抱为我之见而生贪吝心,遂以自私自利为中心向各方面去贪求不舍,致成损害他人以至互相残杀之种种恶行。故佛以布施之法度除其贪欲悭吝。若能将自己之身命财力完全牺牲出来利济群众,是为由不觉心而转成觉悟之第一步。得到此种觉悟后,则坦坦荡荡,心无愧怍,得大安乐矣。此为布施度悭贪之方法。

第二、谓佛常为众人所说之好事恶事,有或应去作、或不应去作之分别。应去作者当积极作去,不应作者止息不作,如此名持戒律。谓将身心行动,合于轨范,合于理法。如于视听言动之时,戒其非礼等。此为持戒度犯律之方法。

第三、谓寻常之人虽具慈心,若遇猛利非理之事加于身,则原来之慈悲心即不能安住;遂起瞋恚乃至发生损害,故须有忍辱心以保持慈悲心。此为忍辱度瞋恚之方法。

 第四、精进者,谓有进无退之意,凡一举一动,皆以世界众生之利益为前提。其上三度之行,在世人往往“靡不有初,鲜克有终”!故有懈怠放逸,不能继续,致失圆满。故应将前之三度推之进步,在止恶行善之时使身不惰,百折不回,悍劳忍苦,精勤去作。将很深很深之不觉心,根本翻起,以成究竟之觉悟。是为精进度懈怠之方法。

 第五、有情之心,皆为六尘所纷散混乱,故清晰明彻之智慧不得现前。如何方能使心有自主之力,不被境夺,则须修禅定。禅定者即修静坐,然又不同他教之静坐。佛法之静坐是将心力集中,而使处于和平统一之地位。在初练习时,专心一境,如将心寄托于气息上,气息出入而心亦随之出入,是为入手方便之一种。余如中国人皆知道念阿弥陀佛,将心力集中于一句阿弥陀佛上亦能得定。总之、修禅定者,是将散乱心收缩凝结起来。是为禅定度散乱之方法。

 第六、是般若度愚痴。愚痴者,即不觉之谓。而人及众生充满了愚痴,虽有小小知识亦在大黑暗之包围中。人事上须明了之处亦多不明了,遑论万有全景。若欲达到全景明了须修佛智慧,欲修佛智慧须以前之五度为基础。至散动心已变成静定之心,心之精神力也就宏大,即能根据佛说之万有真理去作实际考察,如从十二缘起之理去观察人生之根源等。久之久之,观察之能力增加,不必依佛说之理而自能了知。再进一步,亲证宇宙人生之真相就是得真觉悟,即能离去无明黑暗。如是展转增上,到于究竟就是成佛。

 三 学之次第

 前来说信佛须先认清佛与佛教,而佛教包括佛证的真理与实行的方法。认识佛教到极处,不但可学佛,而且信得自己就是佛。将此真真的信心表现出来,即为皈依传授佛法之僧而从修学,以决定为真正信佛之弟子,是谓第一步“起正信”。既由大体之认识而起正信,须更进求深切之了解,依教理去研究,到圆满明彻是为第二步“开圆解”。盖欲修证佛之觉悟,须以理解为先导为进取修行之方策;更须求善知识之证明指导,方免乖谬。由圆解以修妙行,则信解皆清净,而结果亦必清净也。第三步“依圆解以修六度妙行”。在家众可随各人地位职业等之不同,各适其宜以行。如其力量仅及一家,则为全家公益而无自私之心,亦即为布施行;若能推之亲戚邻里乡党,以至一县一省一国及全世界,亦复如是。此种修行,且不须离开人世,即在人世中就各人方便上去修行。布施如此,持戒亦然。

 如在家有男女夫妇之关系,故有配合之正理,若违正理之邪行,在所应止。至持不杀不盗等戒,盖为人生道德之原则,能行多少即修功多少。在家戒中,持一戒二戒均可。然其标准,有不同处,如负有社会国家之责任者,须以维持社会国家为标准,任劳任怨,以谋国家社会之全体利益。否则即为犯戒。以须随各人之职业地位而行,故今特讲在家众之学佛方法。

 然就今中国一般国民所最需要者而讲,即为公民道德。是要各人皆自知为国民之一份子,时时要顾及全国人民之利益安乐。如养成如此之国民道德,果能学习佛教之菩萨修行,则不难成就。菩萨为法界众生之利益而行。我们若观一举一动皆与全国人民之休戚相关,事事皆求与全国人民有益,则自然而然便成就国民之公民道德。此尤为今日一般在家众学佛之要义。

Whereas relative phenomena do not at all exist within the abiding reality, the extreme of existence is the super imposition that they do. Whereas the irreducible, omnipresent wisdom of the expanse of phenomena always abides pervading everywhere, the extreme of non-existence is the denigration that it does not exist, is not established, and is empty of its own essence. That which is the middle free from those extremes is the ground free from all extremes such as existence and non-existence, super imposition and denigration, permanence and annihilation, and so forth, due to which it is the consummate Great Middle Way.

— Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen