逆境也能种福田,看你怎么善用其心
大安法师

我们只要能够善用其心,都是我们修福德的机会。第一个是遇到顺境的时候,正好修福报。每个人一生,都有顺境,有逆境。顺境就是你这段时间,干什么事情都很顺利,人际关系很和睦,好像“好运来了,门板都挡不住”。遇到这样的顺境的时候,你自己要思惟,你自己不要得意忘形。要自己思惟,我的家庭现在很多钱,很富足,这一定是从往世布施里面得来的。

所以财富多少,不是说你有多少能力得财富,有能力的人多了,那谁都能得财富啊?这就有命的,你命中有,很轻巧的都能得到;命中没有,你一天算计到晚,你也得不到的。所以要思惟:最近这段时间赚了很多钱,家庭很“富足”,这一定是从“布施”里面得来的;为了使自己富足的这个命能够长期的延续,我应当更要帮助人,去布施。那在顺境的时候,身体很健康,没有疾病,这一定是从慈悲里边来的。

所以我赶快还要去戒杀,去放生,去吃素。这就好像燃灯,这个“灯焰”正在明亮的时候,你那个时候就要开始往灯里面添油了;不要等到这个灯油都烧干了,你再添油,那就晚了。所以在顺境的时候,你要提醒自己注意修福。

你既然家里富足,你更有条件去修福:那些贫穷的人,那些三宝。供养自己的父母,去放生,去印经书,去造佛像,去盖念佛堂,去盖安养院……这些都是你修福很好的项目,包括修桥补路。处在逆境的时候也能够种植福田。这怎么种植呢?那我们生命当中,也会碰到一些逆境。作什么事情都作不成;碰到什么人,好像都跟自己作对。这个人倒霉,叫盐罐子里面都生蛆,喝开水都塞牙。在这情况下,你不要怨天尤人。

你就要思惟:“我现在的这种逆境、困难,都是我宿世的恶业所感招,一定要逆来顺受。”逆来顺受就是还债,作还债想。“修身以俟命”,赶紧要进德修业,修行道德,来等待这个命运的转变。这才是一个君子的行为。不仅这样思惟,而且进一步要作到:如果自己贫穷的时候,你要祈愿天下所有的人不要像我这样“贫穷”,要有得到“富饶”的命运。这就转念头。

如果自己现在“多病”——疾病缠身,要常愿天下之人都健康;如果自己遇到官司、斗争这个情形,要常愿天下都“和睦”;如果自己什么事情都没有智慧——昏庸,要常愿天下所有人“有智慧”;如果正好自己是一个残疾之人——“六根不具”,要常愿天下所有的人都六根完具,相好庄严。要这样发心。可不要说:“哎呀,我是一个残疾人,我希望所有人跟我一样残疾;我很贫穷,你为什么那么富贵?你们要跟我一样贫穷。”那你麻烦了,这个命就雪上加霜了。正好你要以这样的一个逆境,来发一个善愿。

所以每遇到一种困难、患难的时候,你就要发愿:“我要好好修行,我要在未来的时代救度这种患难之人。”你这样一转念头,就即烦恼为菩提,毒药就变成了甘露!你这个善心、善愿一出来,你的命运就能改变,你就修到了福德。如果没有智慧的人,正好相反,那就是每况愈下。“我现在没有知识技能,恨不得所有人都跟我一样愚蠢;我现在打官司,也希望所有人都跟我一样打官司”,那你就麻烦了。所以遇到逆境也能够种植福田,看你怎么善用其心。

还有一个:他人作善,我能受福。这就是谈随喜功德的问题了。这里就是修行的方法。其他的人,如果他行善,他去布施,还没有付诸行动的时候,我就从旁边劝勉他。告诉他布施的功德很大,修庙的功德大,造像的功德大。劝勉,就由于你的劝勉、引导,修到了福。如果他人的善已经作了,你为他感到欢喜、快乐:“哎呀,你真了不起,你真有功德,你真有善根,你帮助了……”他也高兴,你也高兴。

这就是随喜他的善行,而修到了福。进一步的修,你向他人宣扬这个善人作的善事,称扬他的美德,令其他的人都来效法这个善人的善事。这就是你以赞叹修到了福德。所以“劝导生福”,“随喜生福”,“赞叹生福”。把这个再推而广之,天上人间所有的善行、善事,古往今来所有的贤人、哲士他们作的一切善行,你都可以去随喜,去赞叹:都是我们修福德的机会。

所以普贤十大愿王里面,第五愿就是“随喜功德”。这个“随喜功德”的随喜的对境非常大。比如随喜释迦牟尼佛这一世八相成道的功德,乃至他无量劫以来在菩萨因地修行的功德;还有菩萨,还有罗汉,还有大修行人多生多劫所修行的这些苦行,这些慈悲、善良的行为——这个福德、智慧,都随喜。不仅随喜这些圣人,就是六道凡夫他都有善行,都要随喜。

这六道众生,哪怕一毫之善,你都去赞叹,去随喜。那人道里面的善行、善事很多,权且不说;就是动物界里面都有很多善行,你都要随喜。比如这个大雁,它有忠贞爱情的、不乱来的德行;这个羊有孝道的德行;这个老虎都有节义的善行——老虎吃饱了,你给它再多东西,它都不会去贪婪,不会去储存的;狗有忠的德行。这些动物的一毫之善,你都去赞叹,都去随喜。

那你看,尽虚空界所有众生的福德,你都去随喜,去赞叹,他们所有的功德都会变成你的福德。你能这样随喜、赞叹,你就是在行普贤大愿;你随喜、赞叹到究竟圆满的程度,你自己也就是普贤菩萨。你看,这都要善用其心来修行:其他人作善,我们能修到福。那有一种情况,其他人作恶,我们也能修到福。那这个怎么修呢?这里就存什么心了。其他的人,他要造恶,他的恶事还没有造的时候,你努力的去“劝止”他,叫他不要去作。

那么你有这个劝止的行为,你修到了福。那万一那个人劝不住,他的恶事造出来了,别人造了恶,你不要去欢喜,你要忧愁,不快乐,为他造的恶你很难过。你这一念心,就修到了福。那个人造了恶事,你就隐恶扬善。隐恶,不要去宣传,尽量把它隐蔽下来,不去说,你也修到了福。

万一这个恶事被所有人知道了,那你盖不住,你就以它作为一个负面教材,自己和他人不要像他一样去作。你这样的一种行为,你也修到了福。如果他人的恶是造在自己身上,你能够忍受,不去回报,你修到了福。如果他人的恶是造在了另外一个人身上,你劝另外一个人忍受,不要去回报,你也修到了福。你看,你只要有智慧的话,别人造恶的过程,你都能修福。可见这个修福报、修福德,一切时、一切处——任何环境,都能修。看看,我们要善用其心。

Ven Da An (大安法师) 27.

The suffering of sentient beings does not truly exist. The Buddha himself taught that Buddhas and sentient beings are of the nature of equality, that they are no different. It was not students who said that we are the same as the Buddha in order to bring the Buddha down. The Buddha himself said that.

— Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche

Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso Rinpoche 44.

The Positive Impact of Mindfulness
by Anam Thubten Rinpoche

Within the last few decades, mindfulness has become a trend that is sweeping the world. Today, people from different walks of life and various institutions are embracing the practise — mainly due to the fact that its undeniable benefits have been proven by modern science. Those who practice mindfulness have found that it can help them to achieve mental well being, which includes reducing stress and finding inner peace. You would think that everyone would praise its popularity, but this is not the case. There are those who criticise the global popularity of mindfulness for various reasons: it is not the true Dharma that has the potential to bring about things like satori (awakening), or it’s a watered-down version of the Dharma that is lacking in ethical principles. At the same time, there are also respected Buddhist teachers who feel that even some popularised versions of mindfulness have the power to bring us to a higher state of consciousness. Believe it or not, some might criticise it because they themselves don’t know so much about meditation.

These critics might not be aware of the main factors behind the ever-increasing popularity of mindfulness. For one, it gives immediate benefits to people in the modern world where many appreciate what is practical and empirical. And second, developed countries are rapidly becoming secular, and in Western Europe, the Asia Pacific, and North America this trend is expected to continue. Yet people in those countries also long for inner peace and will adopt practical means that can help their minds as long as there are no heavy religious/doctrinal strings attached. We need to make sure that there are spiritual and contemplative practices that secular people can adopt and feel comfortable doing. Increasingly, secular people are realising that they cannot find true happiness by relying on external comforts and material luxuries, and are finding that something is missing in their lives. They feel comfortable engaging in a contemplative practice as long as they don’t have to buy into a rigid doctrine.

Personally, I feel that the popularity of mindfulness has had a positive impact on society, inspiring people to engage in a form of meditation practice — one that everyone can do regardless of who they are. People are realising that they can change their lives by working on their minds. Our mind has its own tendencies that can cause us to be unhappy. The good news is that our mind is not unchangeable. We can teach our brain to shed its unhealthy tendencies and embrace positive ones. We can train our mind to be less angry and more loving, less fearful and more compassionate. We can even find long-lasting happiness by training our mind. For example, we can practice gratitude in everyday life to see increasing joy and positive experiences with our own eyes.

Scientists are also telling us that our brain is malleable and that we can change it by engaging in brain-training exercises, coining the term ”neuroplasticity,” since the brain has a certain level of flexibility (plasticity) to change according to our experiences. Mindfulness in particular has a transforming impact on the brain, which has been proven again and again in scientific trials. This is one of the main factors that has made mindfulness popular among people from different walks of life. You don’t need to be a Buddhist or hippie to get into a meditation practice. A friend of mine, a meditation teacher living in the US, told me that not long ago, he was hesitant to explain that he was a meditation teacher when people asked him what he did for a living, out of fear of being perceived as weird or alternative. Today, he can tell what he does and people think it is cool.

People have been practising meditation throughout history, especially in the East, where meditation has been deeply ingrained in the (religious) traditions. Mindfulness was taught by the Buddha himself and became one of the main practices in Buddhism. Yet even in Buddhist cultures, meditation was practised mainly by monks, nuns, and yogis. Lay communities engaged in spiritual practice by praying, making offerings to temples, going on pilgrimages, and receiving blessings from the clergy. So the massive numbers of people practising meditation today is truly unprecedented and something that should be welcomed rather than badmouthed. If we aspire to true change in our own lives or in the world at large, it should be coming from within us. We can generate this change by looking into our mind and letting go of old, bad habits, and developing loving-kindness. People need some kind of method to do that because it is not so natural for many of us. Mindfulness is the method that can galvanise the masses to do that which this world needs for peace and sanity.

To meet this interest, many people should be trained as meditation instructors, to take this method into every level and institution of society, including schools, corporations, and governments. To some degree, this is already happening, but there is still so much work to be done to bring this aspiration to fruition. There are some great mindfulness teacher-training programs offered in the US under the guidance of excellent meditation teachers. Participants come from many different countries, from almost every continent. This is very exciting. Next, we want to see powerful politicians begin to meditate so that they can make decisions with clarity and heart. Their decisions have a huge impact on the lives of so many and ripple out to the whole world.

The world is becoming smaller and smaller. Travel, communications, and the exchange of information are becoming easier every year. It’s so much easier to spread a movement now than in the past. Let’s take this opportunity to introduce meditation to more people so there can be a collective awakening, increasing sanity in the world. Some call this the “MacMindfulness” movement, which sounds like a pejorative, but I don’t care what name we give it based on our own prejudices and opinions. One thing I am certain about is that we need this MacMindfulness more than ever and that it will help lessen the suffering of many and help them find inner peace. And then people might want to explore the depth of Buddhism once they have gotten a taste of mindfulness.

Anam Thubten 7.

Since mind has no origin, it has never come into existence in the first place. Now it is not located anywhere, inside or outside the body. Finally, the mind is not some object that goes somewhere or ceases to exist. By examining and investigating the mind, you should come to a precise and certain understanding of the nature of awareness, which has no origin, location, or cessation.

— Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye

Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye (羅卓泰耶) 1.

现在是末法时代吗?
嘎玛仁波切

【问题】现在社会人心浮躁,虽然科技越来越发达,但是对环境造成的影响却越来越坏。这是不是末法时代的表现?末法时代主要有哪些特征?如果我们在末法时代不能成佛,今后我们将存在于哪个空间?

【嘎玛仁波切答】我一再提醒你们,现在离末法时代还很早!

佛诞生的时间是公元前543年,佛涅槃到现在,只过了两千五百五十四年。佛告诉我们:他的佛法会在这个世界停留五千年。五千年以后佛法自然会消失。消失的原因是什么?没有人会修了,文字也会自动消失。佛陀在世的时候,认为女性的定力不够,女性出家以后是非比较多,所以不让女性出家。这不是歧视,女众的心本来就不定,是非非常多。记得有一位伟大的法王曾经同我讲:养一百个女众的出家人比养三千个喇嘛还辛苦。为什么这么说呢?他的佛学院一边是三千个喇嘛,另一边是一百个出家的女众,结果那一百个女众里,天天有人到他那里去告状。

但是,佛陀不让女性出家的规定最后被佛陀的姨妈打破了。佛陀的姨妈请求出家,因为是姨妈将他从小养大,所以佛陀没有办法,只有答应了姨妈出家的 请求。从那以后,就有了佛教里的女众僧团。因为佛陀的慈悲,佛教的出家女众会越来越多,但是女众定力不够,解决的能力又不够,很容易生气,所以佛法会少五百年。也就是说,佛法会在这个世界停留四千五百年;真正的所谓“末法时代”,是这四千五百年的最后五百年,到那时候,只有象征性的佛法存在。

所以,我们现在正处于佛法的中间时期,如果以人寿来算,就是40岁,是精力最旺盛、最强壮的时候。

但是,现在是一个混浊的时代,也就是莲花生大师讲的“浊世”。浊世是什么意思呢?就像人的道德观,像波浪一样升到一个高度,道德观念圆满以后,它又会往下降,降到底,又会起来。福报越来越多,道德观也越来越强;福报越来越少,道德观也越来越弱。

我们现在处于一个怎样的时代呢?是一个有些混乱的时代。就像水脏了,虽然可以过滤,但是它已经浑浊了。我们从小就背莲师关于“浊世”到来的预 言,莲花生大师预言:什么叫“混浊时代”?父亲所言儿子当游戏的时代——以前爸爸讲句话一言九鼎,哪个儿子敢回敬一句,现在我们这个时代是爸爸讲什么,儿 子当耳边风,根本不屑一顾。恶毒的食物犹如粪便似的多而杂的时代——我以前还不理解,杂似粪便是什么?现在发现地沟油啊,潲水油啊全出来了,也才觉得时候 真的到了。天上形成灰尘的乌云的时代——也许就是指现在的沙尘暴、一直散不去的灰霾吧。病魔肆虐的时代——按理说医疗水平比以前有了很大的提高,但是现在 出了好多说不清也治不好的病,也不知道病痛从哪儿来,众生共愤。还有就是:服装以薄、露、短为美的时代。这是莲花生大师讲的啊!不是我随口说说。亲人之间、邻里之间不信任而产生纷争的时代。这些都是浊世到来的象征。

莲师所讲的“浊世”,指四个方的“浊”面:时间浊、见解浊、烦恼浊、生命浊。

时间浊:以前一年四季分明,春、夏、秋、冬很有规律,该热的时候热,该冷的时候冷,现在没有规律了。以前菜在什么时候长,水果什么时候长,都是有规律的,现在没了,全部都打破了,这叫时间浊。

见解浊:以前长幼有序,师徒当然更不用说,一切都有秩序,有个道德观念在那儿。现在,最丑陋的也是最炫耀的,脾气古怪、行为古怪、不合群被视做 个性。以前被人瞧不起的、认为是道德败坏的象征,现在却是被人拿来炫耀的象征。这就是见解浊。商人要去教书,教书的人要去经商;医生本来治病的,他还要去参与商业,每个人都不好好经营自己本来、本分的事。医生没有医德、老师也没有师德,社会其他行业就更不用说啦,还有的宗教人士也腐败了,这就是见解浊的表 现。以前什么事该说、什么事不该说,什么是对的、什么是错的,有个道德分界线。现在只要我们自己喜欢,没什么不可以做,所谓的一点道德是法律在那里强迫约 束的。自觉遵循的道德准绳已经所剩无几,甚至是荡然无存,只要愿意,又不犯法,哪天把自己的父母亲打一顿都没有问题。以前谁会干这种事?以前以孝顺、能够 赡养父母为荣,现在是把父母身上的财富能掏多少尽量掏多少,能啃多久啃多久,最好连棺材本儿都拿来,用完了算!剩下一个小骨灰盒给父母就不错了。这就是见解浊。对错是非没有人分,有些人有道德观念,有点思想,反而被人觉得古板而瞧不起,被人说成思想还没有进化、大脑还没有开化。这就是见解浊。

现代人的烦恼,更浊。你拥有了能够解决你苦难的钱财、房子,财富、亲情友情什么都不缺,应该变得快乐才对啊。但是拥有的越多,你的烦恼也越多,并没有因为这些物质增多了,烦恼变少了。

如今,人的生命就更浊了。现在所谓的一些学者还炫耀说:现在人生活好了,寿命比以前增长了好多岁。当然增长了,但是很多人来不及出生就把他拿掉了,所以真的延长了吗?实际上,灵魂本身并没有增长。所有的这些就叫“浊”。

现在的人之所以没有道德是非观念就是因为混浊了,扰乱了,其中最乱的就是见解浊,对错是非已经没有正统的概念。在现代这样的时代,人需要多学佛,心变得越来越清净,就不浊了、干净了。我们一个人清净了,两个人清净了,三个人清净了……自然而然整个社会又被净化了。比如现在大家都没有道德观念,没有是非观念,到某个时候每个人都累了,都开始反省检讨人该怎么活着,“道德的浪花”又开始升起,道德标准又开始加深,如同海浪一般,起起落落,起起落落。所以只能说现在是浊世,千万不能说是末法时代。

Karma Rinpoche (嘎玛仁波切) 16..jpg

“Not knowing” can be an open, inquisitive, and humble state of mind, full of possibilities — there’s a lot to explore. With inquisitiveness, we engage our intelligence, educate ourselves, and move forward in our lives in a way that satisfies our deeper needs. This is the knowledge that comes through hearing the truth. To do this, we first have to feel the pain of our situation — the antidote is right there, just beneath the surface.

— Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche 51..jpg

Be Grateful
by His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, Jigme Pema Wangchen

While we are busy complaining and looking for reasons to dislike or be angry with our circumstances and the people around us, we still expect ourselves to be happy. But if our minds are only looking for problems, how can we be? If gratitude and appreciation are lacking in our lives, we will miss the path to happiness.

WHAT IS GOING WELL IN YOUR LIFE?

People often tend to focus on what is going wrong in their lives, rather than giving themselves a chance to dwell on what’s going well. It is true that we can learn very helpful lessons from things that happen which we would describe as mistakes. And learning such lessons allows us to develop our skills, our compassion and the ability to see things from alternative points of view. However, sometimes I think we forget there are great lessons to be had from the parts of life that fill us with joy. Simply the act of shining a light on those good feelings encourages them to grow and infuse the rest of our life, or at least the rest of our day.

Why not celebrate and develop the things we do well? We can’t all be good at everything, and while it’s no bad idea to challenge ourselves and look for new areas in which we can learn, we can also hone the skills we have been blessed with. After all, they then become gifts with which we can improve other people’s lives in some way. When we feel like we are a very good fit with what we are doing — whether that is in our job, our relationship or any other aspect of life — we don’t need to spend so much time looking around the next corner for happiness because we feel it in our contentment and our relaxed confidence. When we get back to the simplicity of doing something well, we are lucky enough to remind ourselves of the essence of life.

We seem to find it much easier to believe in the negative side of things (this is where our belief is at its strongest) and we have no confidence in the good things. But to change life in the positive sense, let’s start with believing that happiness, joy, peace — all the great things — can happen with us first. We can be fearless if we want to.

So we might wake up in the morning and think for a few moments about the loving people in our lives, that we have a roof over our heads, a cup of tea first thing and the ingredients in our cupboards for a good breakfast. We then think about the things we are grateful for that we don’t have today: illness, for example, if we are in good health, blindness, if we can see, homelessness, if we have a home. This kind of thinking not only helps to bring our happiness to the surface, but also to tune in our awareness. As we train our minds to consider the things in our lives that make us want to say ‘thank you’, we begin to notice more of them and take fewer things for granted. The other benefit is that by practising this kind of thinking we also help to develop our compassion for others; we are able to acknowledge suffering and have the strength to look directly at it, so that we may also have the motivation to help those in need.

WORK ON YOUR STRENGTHS

Don’t be afraid that appreciation for what is present in your life right now will somehow stop you from striving or being ambitious. To be content and appreciative is not to be confused with being complacent. If you can hold gratitude in your heart and mind, you can begin to live in the present, rather than wishing for the good old days of the past or putting off happiness as something you will only allow yourself as a reward for some outstanding goal or desire. You continue to create goals and to strive, but you also allow yourself to recognise the positive things in your life right now, today. The more you work on your strengths, the bigger the contribution that you will make to the world and to all the people around you. By turning your mind around in this way, you give nourishment to those good things — your loving relationships, for example — and they begin to bloom in even more beautiful ways.

Even those who are a little more on the pessimistic than optimistic side of the scales can begin to see what’s right in front of them with appreciation, rather than spending so many of their thoughts on worrying about things in the future. Likewise, if you are someone who is very optimistic, but always running towards the next project, or if you can’t wait for the next turning along your path, you can use this sense of appreciating your life right now to bring you back into the present moment, so you can enjoy today as much as the thought of tomorrow.

PUT ASIDE YOUR COMPLAINTS

When we develop our appreciation of every day we begin to be able to let go of our ideas of perfection — the ‘if onlys’: this present my husband gave me for our anniversary is lovely, but if only he’d thought to take me out for dinner; this job is challenging and exciting — if only my boss weren’t so moody, I could really enjoy it …

Sometimes I think we make life very complicated for ourselves. We go the long way round in our search of happiness or inspiration when it’s right there, with us all the time. I can see why this happens though. Just turn on the news and you’ll think nothing ever good happens in the world — all you see and hear is bad news, sad news and violent news. Then you start to believe that the only way to get a bit of attention yourself is to act like a drama king or queen; you may find yourself saying things like, ‘You think your day was bad, listen to mine’. Think how much more happiness you could have if you banished all the complaints in your thoughts, at least for a few minutes of the day!

I have met many people on my travels who have taught me some incredible lessons about appreciating every day. People who have been initially devastated by the diagnosis of a serious condition will often let go of all the small complaints they’d normally find themselves making and see the gift of life with a new sense of clarity. It might sound morbid, but when we truly accept the certainty of death we truly appreciate life. This is why Buddhist teachings encourage people to reflect on death, rather than hide it away in the corners of their minds. If we don’t accept today that we might die, at any moment, then how will we really live? And instead of fearing death, we can use this one certainty in our lives to inspire us to release all the conditions we place on happiness. There is no need to put off happiness; you can allow it into your mind and your heart today.

Below is an excerpt from my own diary, from the Eco Pad Yatra to Sri Lanka, a country torn apart by war but where we found joy and appreciation every step of the way. The Eco Pad Yatras are ‘walking pilgrimages’ that we organise each year with hundreds of nuns, monks and volunteers so that we can visit remote villages while picking up all the plastic waste we find along the way.

Besides the warm hospitality that we received throughout our one-month walk from the south to the north of Sri Lanka, we were moved to witness the possible harmony among different religions and races. Whenever we passed through pockets of Muslim and Hindu areas, we were offered shelters, food, drinks and prayers. No one came with an angry face whenever hundreds of us walked through their towns, villages and holy places. For a country that had gone through three decades of violent war, it was very difficult for me to believe that the people could continue their life with smiles and forgiveness. We walked from south to north and it wouldn’t be easy for the government or the people to hide any negative happening from us. We were free to interact with anyone. I asked many people why were they able to keep themselves free of pain after what they had gone through. Most of them gave credit to the Buddhist monks who gave teaching on karma, appreciation, tolerance and forgiveness. I know that many of my friends and students have doubts in the teachings, and especially in karma, but we all could see in Sri Lanka how important Dharma was for the people who were going through thirty years of war. Parents had to tell their children every morning before going to work that they might not return — they could be killed in terrorist attacks. They told their children that they had to follow the teachings of the Buddha and continue living with love, patience and understanding because it would come a time when the negative karma is exhausted, peace would prevail again. This is the effect of putting Dharma into practice.

In America, the Thanksgiving holiday is as significant as Christmas Day, if not more so, perhaps, as it is celebrated by many faiths and communities. Being thankful is really the best tool we have for bringing happiness to the surface of our minds. So don’t wait to be thankful for one day in the year — give yourself a few minutes every day to remind yourself of the things in your life for which you can say thank you.

Each morning when you wake up, spend a few moments thinking about everything you have to feel good about in your life:

Think of the people closest to you.
Think of your body and be thankful for your senses and the health you have.
Think of the things that you are happy not to have in your life, such as illness or homelessness.
Think of what has inspired you recently.
Think about the good parts of your work.

This exercise encourages you to look both inwards and outwards. It is a simple but powerful reminder of the riches you have in your life already. You might be thankful for your health, the roof over your head, the fact that today might be an interesting or fun day. And as you mentally say thank you to your loved ones, you may find that you tend to focus more on their good points and that this, in turn, will encourage you to show your happiness towards them through being thoughtful and caring and asking what they need as a way of saying thanks for being in your life.

It is easy to get caught up with analysing what we need to fix or change in our lives; to turn such questions over and over in our minds. We worry a great deal about the things that might go wrong while forgetting to nurture and enjoy all the things that are already going right. And if we can practise saying thanks every day when we are generally feeling ok, it will stand us in good stead when we are faced with more difficult times. The habits of happiness that we will develop will give us an underlying strength and resilience.

When you practise this very short meditation daily your whole outlook on life begins to be easier, happier. It is the best way to get out of bed on the right side.

CHALLENGES ARE GIFTS TOO

We also need to appreciate any difficulties we are going through — because without difficulties, we will not learn. When people are unkind to us, talking nonsense about us and forming unfair judgments, we can either make ourselves depressed and dislike them or we can take it as an opportunity to reflect on what we may have done wrong and how we can improve ourselves. It’s often the people who create tremendous difficulties for us who help us to progress on the path by making our journey much more interesting. So rather than being conquered by our own emotions of hatred and unhappiness today, we should take the opportunity to greet those people — to wish them a happy day.

Often, we will join others in complaining about a particular person or group of people because our egos have taken control, allowing our emotions to take over. This is when we need to withdraw from the vicious circle of gossip. If you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to keep your cool and take a step back It’s their business, not yours. By practising meditation you will gradually find it increasingly possible to take that step back, to appreciate the good and also the difficult things in life. It’s the best tool for taking care of your mind, your happiness.

BE INSPIRED

It is easy for life to become a pattern or a series of daily habits and to-do lists. The days whizz by, but somehow we feel that we are not quite making the most of them. We know life is precious, but we have many responsibilities; how can we just drop everything to find our inspiration?

And then, suddenly, we get lost — or rather found — in the moment: we read a line of beautiful poetry, we see an old couple holding hands, we cook the most delicious meal or have a breakthrough in our work. We are inspired. These moments are gifts that open us up to happiness.

Our mental and emotional habits keep us chained, and then we experience moments which reveal to us the true spaciousness in our minds and the universe around us. Those moments that, for example, nature offers to us every day through the sunrise and the sunset. A woman I met told me that she’d gone to look at the sunset on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, but she wasn’t sure if she would be able to see anything because it was a very cloudy day. As she was standing, looking out over a valley in the English countryside, about to turn back for home, the smallest crack appeared in the clouds and the sun rays streamed through. She hadn’t expected anything but walked home with a feeling of potential — such a generous gift from the sun.

When we feel inspired we look beyond and also into the mundane and notice what is really important in life, we understand the meaning of life, every day. When inspired we find it so much easier to concentrate, to be in the flow and get things done — we walk with a lightness in our step, we notice the detail, we are happy and that makes others feel happiness too. We feel lucky. Inspiration feeds our inner wisdom and even feeds our body; we are inspired by the food we savour, by human touch, words, even by a walk in nature.

INSPIRATION LEADS TO ACTION

Somehow, inspiration helps us know what we want to do; and then it’s up to us to set our minds to go ahead and do it.

Many people think we Buddhists are only about thinking and never doing, but really it’s more that we need to think so that we are then able to do. In other words, if we lack intention, motivation or determination, then we will soon struggle with the ‘doing’ part of the equation. It’s like waking up one morning and immediately trying to go on a diet — you might be surprised or disappointed in yourself when you give up within days or even hours. But if you expected your body to make an instant change without working on your mind first, you were more than likely going to be in for a disappointment.

Appreciation helps you to notice what inspires you and it encourages you to grab that inspiration and turn it into action. So you are no longer following your dreams, always one step behind; instead, you are being them, from moment to moment, day to day. You get back to the heart of yourself and what you do.

When you give yourself the space in which to be inspired, you will likely want to share your inspiration, your joy, with others. The happier you feel, the more generous you become. You become a better listener, you reach past your fears of what may or may not happen in your life and open yourself up to the possibilities.

FIND YOUR INSPIRATION

Rather than wait for inspiration to find you, why not look for it in your life, in the everyday. I know you’ll find it. Be lovable, be kind … start there and you’ll soon see what inspires you. Appreciation and inspiration are close allies. Just spending a few moments each day reminding yourself of the good in your life gives you a peaceful but powerful energy.

I feel inspired by nature, people, all beings, every day. From the smallest ant to the highest mountain there is always a reason to say ‘Wow’. And my job in life is simply to remind people of the good in their hearts and their capacity for love and compassion towards others — to be inspired by this life, so that we may share with others in whatever way we can.

Put simply: inspiration deserves our attention because life deserves our attention. Just as my mother tends her garden, for example, we can all cultivate what inspires us. If we nourish our own talents, then we have so much more to give; then there can be great joy in both our work and play, and we can become more relaxed about ourselves and about others. We can let go of the nonsense that so often rules our day and focus on what really matters. We can let go of the need for praise or blame and even be inspired by our mistakes — as there so often lie the best lessons. We can even be inspired by our fears because breaking through them is often the biggest catalyst for transformation. We can live life daringly.

Gyalwang Drukpa 41.

The Dharmakaya, like the sky, is Buddha, the great Vajradhara. The thick rain clouds of wisdom are the two Bodhisattvas…. Self-luminous unchanging insight is characterised as unborn Dharmakaya. Unceasing self-born wisdom is described as the manifold of Nirmanakaya. These two fused in co-emergence are described as Sambhogakaya. And these three, free from origination, are called the Svabhavikakaya. All these, transcending conditions, are the Mahasukhakaya. These are the five ultimate kayas. O friends of the heart! Are your minds gladdened?

— Marpa

Marpa 8.

念经念佛后,就不会遇到灾祸了吗?
梦参老和尚

每个人都有六亲眷属, 你周围的人要是不信佛的,你怎么劝,他也不信,信了之后遇见挫折也会退心的。今天有人问我这么一件事,有位吴姓弟子,昨天晚上八点多钟,在八十八街出了车祸当场死亡,他皈依我还不到三个月,却遇到车祸死亡了。   

他夫人的内心就有点怀疑,她感觉到自从他信了佛之后,烟也戒了,表现特别的好,为什么这个时候忽然之间会撞死?我们往往一遇到挫折的事情,信心就打了退堂鼓,好像没有得到加持似的。我说:“因为他信佛的时间很短,种子才刚刚种下,还没有转动,业果已经成熟了。”大家都看到过出车祸的,错一分钟、晚一分钟或者速度快一点、慢一点都可以过得去,遇到车祸的,有的不严重,有的很严重,有的从来没出过车祸,一出车祸就死亡,这是各有因缘,不是一定的。  

所以说发了心不是没有变化的,如果你发了心,环境突然变化,家宅平安,事事如意,你的信心逐渐增长,那是你的福德,你积累的福德能够有这种善因。有些不是这样,刚信佛,挫折事就来了,很多的逆境全来了,什么原因呢?我们中国有句老话叫“鬼怕恶人”,杀牛、杀羊或者杀猪的屠户,他拿着那把屠刀,什么也遇不见,他也不信邪,你说他那个报好像也没有报到身上,从来也没有找他,好像没有因果,恶人反而得到善报。   

有句话说:“放下屠刀,立地成佛”,大家感觉到放下屠刀就可以成佛了。“好!我从来没有拿过屠刀,我当了这么多年和尚都还没有成佛,他一放下屠刀就成佛了,哪有这种道理?”这是说他放下屠刀从此向善,他将来一定能够成佛。但是放下屠刀后,可不像他拿着屠刀时,鬼也不找他,他的事业也很顺利,要是放下了屠刀,他的事业就不顺了。以前他是恶人,人家不理他,那个业报还没有成熟,现在是善人了,该还债了,还债的时候就不舒服了,又退回恶人去了,下地狱的都是这等人。   

比如说,我们以前最初心里头信佛信得很恳切,到晚年不信了,不但不信了,吃了一辈子素,要死的时候吃荤、妄语、两舌、恶口,什么都犯了,什么原因呢?这个因果错综复杂,就是他最初发心的时候就不是真心,投机取巧。所以说在佛门投机取巧很危险,因此到了晚年涵养不够,没有那个德,业报就全来了。所以我们说一发心就成佛,这个发心很不容易,发心得真发心,发什么心呢?利益众生。   

有没有感应呢?我想感应是不少的。就拿吴居士的例子来说,自从他发生车祸开始,很多道友给他念经,也给他回向,现在有明显的效果。据我所知,我在纽约来来去去的两年多,他往生了之后,各个寺庙都给他念经,这种情况是很少的。就拿慈云寺、东初禅寺,还有我们这些道友,有的在庙里念,有的在他的家里念,一直都没有中断。如果他不是念《地藏经》,不是皈依了,跟这些道友结了缘,大家会给他念经吗?而且念到很晚,那天念到十点半钟,难道这不是感应吗?要说把这个业转动,不受这个果,他的力量不行,他那种作法也不行。   

大家都知道目犍连尊者神通第一,为什么会被外道打死呢?迦留陀夷尊者为什么会被打死,把他埋到粪堆里去呢?他的弟子后来在粪堆里把他找出来。他们都有神通的,可以不受这个报的。安世高尊者为什么到中国来,还要到河南跟山东的地方还报?这种例子很多,这是业果不失。佛所说法,一切法、一切事物,都在转变当中,这当中有不变的,现在我们得不到,那就是体不变,在用上、相上都在转变。变的程度的大小,时间的快慢,或者长久,或者短暂,这要看力量,看你猛利不猛利,千万不要堕邪知邪见,因为外头的境界相会影响我们内心的观念。   

听人家一说:“是啊!他信了佛、受了皈依了,还给汽车撞死,没有信佛还不会有事。”我说,他不信佛,还是照样会出事,只是少了大家给他做佛事的殊胜境界。信了佛就可以让这一切事故都不会发生?能做得到吗?因为发生事故了,都推说信佛没有效果,这是不大合理的,就常情来说也不合理。就你自己的信仰力,你信的程度,外人不知道,你自己内心很清楚,或者这些道友跟你家庭眷属也很清楚。你说得很好,可是你做不到,之后又想得到经上所说的做到了才能有的境况,那是不行的!   

比如你行医,如果认为医生一治就好,是不可能的,哪一个医生都不能保证。我说这段话的意思,可能有些信力没有扎根、没有具足的时候,一个境界现前了,具体的事实在眼前,信力就不坚定了,“我在这儿受罪,肉也没有吃到,福也没有享到,东方该享受的没有享受到,西方的佛也没有成就,两头都耽误了!”不是这么一回事!这种想法、这种思想的逻辑是不合理的。我这一段的叙说,就想解决这么样一个疑问。   

我为什么要住三十三年监狱?“你要是有德行就应该转变业报,为什么要去坐?为什么要受报?没有转变,表示你没有得道!”这要承认没有得道,没有那种转变的力量。但是有时候自己一比较,连圣人尚且不免,何况我呢?所以我自己心安理得。我虽然是坐了监,但是我现在在说话毕竟有变化,我认为佛菩萨的加持相当大的,不然是不可能的,住三十三年的时间太久了。   

每一个问题都可以用两面来想。今天下午一位不信佛法的医生,在纽约法拉盛区很有名,要见我,跟我谈。他谈的许多话,我们就知道他不太懂因果的观念。他说:“我们医生给人治病是好心好意给人治病,有人问我说:‘你是讲医德还是讲医钱?’”他答复不出来,问我:“法师,这怎么回复他?”我说:“很简单啊!我要医德,也要医钱。”他说:“这样说对吗?”我说:“怎么不对,当一位医生当然要注重医德,你说不要钱?我要吃饭,我有妻子父母,得对他们负责任,所以我两个都要,不过我不收昧心的钱。”   

类似这种问题,我们在生活当中发生太多了,如果你只要按经文来解释,解释不通的,也许会退失你的信仰力、道心。“是啊!你看他信了佛之后还撞死,不信佛还好一点,要是不信佛也许不会撞到呢!”每一年车祸那么多,我们登记究竟有多少个信佛的人,汽车并不会专门往信佛的身上撞,我想不会这样子吧!这是因为他不信,他要找些理由,使信的人也不信。   

深奥的理论要能够观空、观假,观一切诸法无常、苦、空、无我,真能有这样的证得,像我刚才说的这么多问题一个也不会存在,可以坚定的信仰。我这样说,是因为他不信,他找出不信的理由,但是我们佛教徒 就说出很多信的理由。信跟不信,有感应没有感应,跟你做的功夫分别很大。有些人心里动摇,也在那儿漂浮,但是他过去宿世善根相当深厚,再怎么动摇也不会不信的,就用不着我们担心,但是他如果宿世的根性不厚,再遇到外境就会完全垮了。   

这好像不是经文的内容,但也是经里所要求的,地藏王菩萨教你修持的方法,你一定要照这个方法去修持。要是照这个方法修持,让地藏王菩萨加持你,你想求得就得到。菩萨是平等的,他的心没有污染,是清净的,这种求是你的心,感应是你自己的感应,跟菩萨相应了,你自己就得到感应。我们这个心跟一切社会上的事物,都是在不断地运转、不断地变化,就看你怎么转、怎么变。

临终时身不由己,鬼神引你入恶道  

《地藏菩萨本愿经》有一段是说鬼神能使你堕恶道,因为在你做不了主的时候,鬼神使你变恶,不必等到死后。我们现在看到太多了,在生前鬼神就使你变恶,你心有所动,鬼神就乘虚而入,即使你信佛了,但是你信得不坚定,那个恶鬼神可以扭转让你不信佛,乃至于使你谤佛。平常我们还能做得主,到临命终时那得要大力量,你平常没有修行,没有力量,到那个时候你怎能有那个力量呢?就是做善事的人,根本没有做什么恶,到临命终时,这善可不是大善,如果他戒定慧修到有成果的时候,鬼神当然扭转不了的。虽然做善事,而只是一般泛泛的善事,这是容易被牵动的。真正有了力量的时候,就不会被牵动,到他临命终的时候,那些鬼神变化做他的父母,或者他的眷属把他引上恶道。   

现在的人要想知道这个知道那个,就求鬼神,鬼神正好就乘虚而入了,他正想找你,你去找他他更高兴。很多人不信佛菩萨,好的鬼神,是给三宝弟子做护法的,恶的鬼神跟佛法是对立的。魔王怕他的子孙少了,都去信佛了,做善的,恶鬼神不就没有了?所以他使用种种的方法危害扰乱你,让你信佛不成。   

特别在末法时代,恶鬼神相当的多。即使行善的人,到临终时候,百千鬼神都来扰乱你,化做你的亲人,引你堕落,何况作恶的人。我们到临命终时,神识昏昧,你平常的贪爱心在这个时候就显现了,你贪什么,就随着你的贪心而现什么境界。如果你随着境界一转你就堕落了。并不是你看见要变猫变狗,那你会抗拒的;但到你迷迷糊糊的时候,鬼神化现出你平常爱玩的地方,你一进去了,结果你就入到畜生的肚子了,生下来就是动物。

民国初年,黑龙江省的乡下,有一位十二三岁的小姑娘,她大概是严重的感冒,发了高烧。农村缺医少药,她母亲就给她喝点姜汤、红糖水,拿被子盖起来,让她发汗,结果断了气了。   

她昏迷当中,就看到有一辆大车,几匹马、几匹骡子拉的那种大板车。她看了车上 坐了四五个人,有小男孩也有小女孩,那些人就要她上去玩。她也糊里糊涂的,忘了她是害病,在神识昏迷的时候,就这样跳上车一块去玩。   

这辆车就进了村,到西头一个院子里,她突然间这么一惊醒,就听人家喊:“小狗下了五六个!”她一听自己变狗了,很害怕!别的小狗都抢奶嘴去吃奶,她不吃,她憋气,这一憋气她又死了。   

在她死的时候又听到这家小孩子喊:“ 这只小狗死了!”她这边死了,她妈妈看看她发汗没有,被头一揭开,她又活了。 

她跟她妈妈说:“我刚才变成小狗了!”

她妈妈说:“你烧得糊涂了,怎么变了狗了?”  

她说:“您到村西头的谁家看看,他家的狗下了五六个小狗仔,其中有一只狗的皮跟我穿的这件衣服一样,黑底白花的就是我,您去看看!”她妈妈就去看了,果真如此!   

人生就是这样子,到临终时那些鬼神变成你的六亲眷属,变成你的父母来接引,你就随着他堕落恶道。唯一的解救办法,就是念佛求生净土!

Since lack of control of body and mind prevents one from taking anything seriously, it is in opposition to the way to inner peace; since places where many people gather cause distraction, one fails in what one has to do; since taking pleasure in drowsiness, sluggishness, and idleness prevents one from completing any work, it is a false friend; since exultation and self-reproach disturb the mind, they hinder a wider perspective; since many people and acquaintances are an occasion for much involvement, attachment, and aversion, they counteract concentration; since talkativeness diminishes any feeling of wholesomeness, hinders its arising, it is a source for dissatisfaction and strife. It is by giving up all these hindrances that meditative experiences will naturally grow, and that one perseveres in the teachings of the Victorious One.

— Longchenpa