Spirituality & Faith in times of COVID-19
by Venerable Kwang Sheng

The COVID-19 pandemic continues relentlessly even today, causing great disruptions to our daily life, society and economy. In particular, it is causing immeasurable psychological distress to people, who are experiencing anxiety, worries and fears. As Buddhists, how should we strengthen our faith and adapt ourselves to overcome this current calamity?

Faith is the gateway to enter Buddhism and the basis for sustaining the Buddha Dharma. According to the Avata_saka Sutra: Faith is the foundation to cultivate the Way, and the mother of merit and virtue, because it is capable of nourishing wholesome roots. The Buddha Dharma is like a vast sea; only by faith can it be entered. Therefore, the single word “faith” is the key to escape from birth and death and is the wonderful means for returning to the source.

It is also said in the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra that “the Buddha Dharma is like a vast sea; only by faith can it be entered.” In the immense oceans of Buddhist wisdom, the prerequisite to obtain tangible benefits from the Buddha Dharma is to possess the Right Faith. The Right Faith is the abode for our mind and the basis for the three Dharmic, karmic and wisdom bodies. Only with Right Faith in Buddhism will we derive the impetus and motivation to study the scriptures in depth, and sever the roots of our doubts and ignorance, thereby putting the teachings into practice, and thus experiencing first-hand the joy and bliss that comes from having our mind purified with the radiant light and cool cleansing water of the Buddha teachings.

In Buddhism, “faith” refers to the unity of body and mind, an alignment between our inner and outer activities to pay homage and apply the Buddha’s teachings so as to attain liberation. By imbuing and manifesting these teachings personally, we purify our minds, enact good moral values, improve the quality of our daily living, and discern the truth of our existence.

Buddhism objects to blind or unquestioned faith but promotes Right Faith based on wisdom and understanding. The Buddha cautioned in the Nirvana Sutra that “Faith without understanding fosters ignorance; whereas understanding without faith breeds the wrong views.” In other words, having faith without the correct understanding gives rise to ignorance and worries. Moreover, the activities of such a person may not be in accordance with the Buddhist teachings. On the other hand, having understanding without faith generates false or mistaken views. Therefore, the basis of faith in Buddhism is wisdom. Buddhists should strengthen their faith through wise discernment and cultivate their religious piety through wise practice, which would result in their faith deepening with growing wisdom. That is why the Buddha emphasised the paramount role of wisdom in the Avata_saka Sutra: “Of all the teachings, wisdom is foremost.”

The Buddha taught four ways to keep Right Faith steadfastly.

➊ Seek and keep spiritual guidance. We should surround ourselves with a spiritual community. We do this by getting acquainted with learned practitioners with the right views and understanding, namely the Buddhist Sangha. As noted in the Avata_saka Sutra:“All Buddhist teachings achieve fruition through the efforts of conscientious practitioners, who are the pillars.” Moreover, “One who seeks the Bodhisattva path, who wishes to attain the Perfect Wisdom, should diligently seek out good company. Seek them out without fatigue; and when one encounters them, do not grow weary or complacent; comply instantly with their teachings without defiance.” Thus, it can be seen that seeking and keeping good spiritual guidance is the first step in practising Buddhism.

➋ Listen to the true Dharma. This means that we should listen frequently to the teachings of the Sangha. As stated in the Verses about Hearing (Srutivarga):

Through much hearing, one understands the Dharma. Through much hearing, one distances oneself from wrongdoing. Through much hearing, one discards what is meaningless. Through much hearing, one attains Nirvana.

Only by listening extensively to the right teachings can we gain insight into the true empty nature of phenomena and discern the ultimate reality of our existence.

➌ Ponder wisely: After listening to the teachings, we must continually reflect on them based on the correct understanding of Buddha Dharma, to deepen our understanding and truly grasp the spirit and meaning of the teachings. This is in sharp contrast to thoughtlessly or superstitiously following what is said.

➍ Apply the Dharma in our daily life. This means that we apply to real life what we have learned or understood about the Buddha Dharma, achieving unison of thought and action. All four methods are interconnected. Starting with seeking out spiritual guides, we get to hear the true Dharma as a result, thereby leading to us acquiring right views and understanding, which we then put into everyday practice.

The current pandemic is a common crisis confronting humanity. In this scenario, Buddhists should strive even harder to enact the Buddhist values of compassion, gratitude, wisdom and rationality. We should steady ourselves, reframe our mindset, strengthen our faith and deploy the right understanding to overcome this challenge together. During this pandemic, the medical front-liners have stepped up selflessly to answer the call of duty, the cleaning staff have worked tirelessly without complaints, volunteers have served willingly, and the law enforcement officers have discharged their responsibility admirably. They are demonstrating the goodness inherent in human nature and spreading warmth to all others around them. Due to their staunch commitment to forge ahead, we can have some respite and sense of security. Therefore, we should be grateful and show our appreciation.

Only people who are grateful can face the daily grind with optimism and positivity, accepting life’s challenges. As the pandemic rages on, all Buddhists should start with themselves by maintaining Right Faith and views, unite and collaborate cohesively, comply proactively with safety measures, so that we can surmount this challenge together.

Self-discipline will lead us to freedom, and having a common goal will allow us to march forward in tandem. I sincerely pray for strength and protection for all beings to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and that the pandemic will end soon so life may return to normalcy. May everyone stay healthy, happy, safe and blessed.

Ven Kwang Sheng 16.

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It is important for us to reflect on how we got to where we are today and how we can change in the future. Let me illustrate how our thoughts and feelings can change the quality and direction of our life. Unfortunately, if I use a negative story, it might be easier for us to get the point, as we are all personally well versed in such things.

So, say that we have an unpleasant exchange with a co-worker one day. It isn’t significant, but we keep thinking about it and feeling dislike for that person. Soon, whatever this person says or does, whether it actually touches us or not, annoys us. Every exchange, whether smiling or frowning, triggers harsh feelings in us toward them. After some time, even seeing this person’s e-mail in our inbox can make our heart skip a beat. Then, merely thinking about this person makes us feel frustrated and miserable. It doesn’t matter if they are miles away. It consumes us. We constantly bring their annoying demeanour vividly to mind and keep hearing their irritating voice loudly — as if they were right in our face.

Obviously, real harmful actions and harsh words will fly back and forth when you actually meet. We may force ourselves to smile, but whatever we say or do relating to this person will become harmful. Our forced nice gestures won’t charm anyone, as they came from an agitated state of mind. This illustration is probably familiar to many of us.

But it is ourselves that we harm most. We accumulate poisonous emotions that hurt the elements and energy systems of our body and can lead to sickness and disease.

— Tulku Thondup Rinpoche

Tulku Thondup Rinpoche 42.

The more we attune to peace, the more radiant our lives become.

— Zen Proverb

Lotus 291.

We Are The Earth
by Thich Nhat Hanh

At this very moment, the Earth is above you, below you, all around you, and even inside you. The Earth is everywhere. You may be used to thinking of the Earth as only the ground beneath your feet. But the water, the sea, the sky, and everything around us comes from the Earth. Everything outside us and everything inside us comes from the Earth. We often forget that the planet we are living on has given us all the elements that make up our bodies. The water in our flesh, our bones, and all the microscopic cells inside our bodies all come from the Earth and are part of the Earth. The Earth is not just the environment we live in. We are the Earth and we are always carrying her within us.

Realising this, we can see that the Earth is truly alive. We are a living, breathing manifestation of this beautiful and generous planet. Knowing this, we can begin to transform our relationship to the Earth. We can begin to walk differently and to care for her differently. We will fall completely in love with the Earth. When we are in love with someone or something, there is no separation between ourselves and the person or thing we love. We do whatever we can for them and this brings us great joy and nourishment. That is the relationship each of us can have with the Earth. That is the relationship each of us must have with the Earth if the Earth is to survive, and if we are to survive as well.

THE EARTH CONTAINS THE WHOLE COSMOS

If we think about the Earth as just the environment around us, we experience ourselves and the Earth as separate entities. We may see the planet only in terms of what it can do for us. We need to recognise that the planet and the people on it are ultimately one and the same. When we look deeply at the Earth, we see that she is a formation made up of non-Earth elements: the sun, the stars, and the whole universe. Certain elements, such as carbon, silicon, and iron, formed long ago in the heart of far-off supernovas. Distant stars contributed their light.

When we look into a flower, we can see that it’s made of many different elements, so we also call it a formation. A flower is made of many non-flower elements. The entire universe can be seen in a flower. If we look deeply into the flower, we can see the sun, the soil, the rain, and the gardener. Similarly, when we look deeply into the Earth, we can see the presence of the whole cosmos.

A lot of our fear, hatred, anger, and feelings of separation and alienation come from the idea that we are separate from the planet. We see ourselves as the centre of the universe and are concerned primarily with our own personal survival. If we care about the health and well-being of the planet, we do so for our own sake. We want the air to be clean enough for us to breathe. We want the water to be clear enough so that we have something to drink. But we need to do more than use recycled products or donate money to environmental groups. We have to change our whole relationship with the Earth.

We tend to think of the Earth as inanimate matter because we’ve become alienated from it. We are even alienated from our own bodies. We spend many hours every day forgetting that we even have a body. We get so caught up in our work and our problems that we forget that we are more than just our minds. Many of us are sick because we forget to pay attention to our bodies. We’ve also forgotten the Earth — that she is part of us and that we are part of her. Because we’re not taking care of the Earth, we have both become sick. When we look deeply at a blade of grass or at a tree, we can see that it’s not mere matter. It has its own kind of intelligence. For example, a seed knows how to grow into a plant with roots, leaves, flowers, and fruit. A pine tree is not just matter; it possesses a sense of knowing. A dust particle is not just matter; each of its atoms has intelligence and is a living reality.

This understanding of the deeper non-dualistic nature of things is called advaya jñana in Sanskrit. This means the wisdom of nondiscrimination. This is a way of seeing that goes beyond concepts. Classical science is based on the belief that there is an objective reality that exists even if the mind does not. But in the Buddhist tradition, we say there is mind and there are objects of mind, and that they manifest at the same time. We can’t separate them. Objects of mind are created by the mind itself. The way we perceive the world around us depends entirely on our way of looking at it.

If we understand the Earth as a living, breathing organism, we can heal ourselves and heal the Earth as well. When our physical body is sick, we need to stop, rest, and pay attention to it. We have to stop our thinking, return to our in-breath and out-breath, and come home to our body. If we can see our body as a wonder, we also have the opportunity to see the Earth as a wonder, and healing can begin for the body of the Earth. When we go home and take care of ourselves, we heal not only our own bodies and minds, but we help the Earth as well.

The Earth is a beautiful planet; it has a multitude of life forms, vegetation, sounds, and colours. In the sky, we can see the light of Venus and faraway stars. Looking at ourselves we see that we, too, are beautiful. Our mind is the consciousness of the cosmos. The cosmos has given rise to the beautiful human species. With powerful telescopes, people have been able to observe the cosmos in all its splendour. We have had glimpses of faraway galaxies. We have seen stars whose images take hundreds of millions of years to reach the Earth. The radiant and elegant cosmos that we can observe is in fact our own consciousness itself and not something outside of it.

THE EARTH IS A WONDER

When you contemplate the planet Earth, you see that she has many virtues. The first virtue is stability. She is steadfast when faced with challenges and continues to offer perseverance, equanimity, and forbearance in the face of many human-created calamities.

The second virtue is that of creativity. The Earth is an inexhaustible source of creativity. She has given birth to so many beautiful species, including humans. Although there are many talented musicians and composers among us, the most wonderful music of all is composed by the Earth herself. There are those of us who are excellent artists and painters. But the Earth has created the most beautiful landscapes. If we look deeply, we can discover a multitude of the infinite wonders that appear on the Earth. Even the best scientist can’t match the beautiful petal of a cherry blossom or the delicateness of an orchid.

The third virtue is nondiscrimination. Nondiscrimination means that the Earth does not judge. We, humans, have done many careless things that have harmed the Earth and yet she does not punish us. She brings us to life and she welcomes us back to her when we die.

If you look deeply and feel this connection to the Earth, you will also begin to feel admiration, love, and respect. When you realise the Earth is so much more than simply the environment, you will be moved to protect her as you would yourself. There is no difference between you and her. In that kind of communion, you no longer feel alienated.

OUR LIVING, BREATHING MOTHER

In his book, The Lives of a Cell, biologist Thomas Lewis describes our planet as a living organism. After some reflection, he arrives at the insight that the whole planet is like a giant living cell whose parts are all linked in symbiosis. He describes the miraculous achievement of the atmosphere as the world’s biggest membrane. Lewis finds it so astonishing that the Earth is alive. He is struck by the amazing beauty and exuberance of the Earth in contrast to the barren, cratered moon and other planets. He likens the Earth to an organised, self-contained being, a “live creature, full of information and marvellously skilled in handling the sun.”

We too can see that the Earth is a living being and not an inanimate object. She is not inert matter. We often call our planet Mother Earth. Seeing the Earth as our mother helps us to realise her true nature. The Earth is not a person, yet she is indeed a mother who has given birth to millions of different species, including the human species.

Our Mother Earth has brought us to life and provided all the conditions for our survival. Over the aeons, she has developed an environment from which humans can manifest and thrive. She created a protective atmosphere, with air we can breathe, abundant food for us to eat, and clear water for us to drink. She is constantly nourishing and protecting us. We can see that she is our mother and the mother of all beings.

We are a child of the Earth and our planet is a very generous mother who embraces us and provides us with everything we need. And when one day we cease to exist in this form, we will go back to the Earth, our mother, only to be transformed so that we may manifest again in a different form in the future.

But don’t think that Mother Earth is outside of you. Looking deeply you can find Mother Earth within you, just as your biological mother who gave birth to you is also within you. She is in each of your cells.

THE SUN

If the Earth is our true mother, then the sun is also our true parent. Together they make life on Earth possible. The sun’s energy enables life forms to exist on our planet. The sun offers light and warmth for plants to grow. Without the sun, there would be no life at all.

Countless civilisations have paid homage to the sun. In the Buddhist tradition, there are many who praise Amitabha, the Buddha of Limitless Light, and they believe his Pure Land lies to the west. We can call this Buddha Mahavairocana Tathagatha, the Buddha of Infinite Light and Life. We can say that the sun is a true Buddha, because he shines his light upon the Earth, providing warmth, light, energy, and life every minute of the day to all species on the planet. The sun is not only to be found in the sky; the sun is on Earth and in each one of us. Each of us has the sunshine within us. Without the sun, life on Earth wouldn’t be possible; living beings couldn’t exist. We can think of the sun and the Earth as our true parents, and as the true parents of our biological father and mother, and of all our ancestors. The Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus Christ, and all our wonderful teachers are children of this planet. We are all children of the Earth and the sun. Just as we carry the DNA of our biological mother and father within us, we carry the sun and the Earth in each of our cells.

THE HIGHEST FORM OF PRAYER

We can feel a tremendous sense of awe and wonder at the immense energy of the universe, and we may be tempted to believe it was created by a humanlike God. Impressed by the powerful forces of nature, we often imagine there is a god behind the raging storms, a god of thunder, a god of rain, or a god controlling the rise and fall of the tides. It’s easy to think that this highly creative force could have a human form.

However, I don’t think God is an old man with a white beard sitting in the sky. God is not outside of creation. I think God is on Earth, inside every living being. What we call “the divine,” is none other than the energy of awakening, of peace, of understanding, and of love, which is to be found not only in every human being but in every species on Earth. In Buddhism, we say every sentient being has the ability to be awakened and to understand deeply. We call this Buddha-nature. The deer, the dog, the cat, the squirrel, and the bird all have Buddha-nature. But what about inanimate species: the pine tree in our front yard, the grass, or the flowers? As part of our living Mother Earth, these species also have Buddha-nature. This is a very powerful awareness which can bring us so much joy. Every blade of grass, every tree, every plant, every creature large or small are children of the planet Earth and have Buddha-nature. The Earth herself has Buddha nature, therefore all her children must have Buddha nature, too. As we are all endowed with Buddha-nature, everyone has the capacity to live happily and with a sense of responsibility toward our mother, the Earth.

In the Bible, Jesus said, “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me” (John 14:11). The Buddha also taught that we are all part of each other. We aren’t separate entities. The father and son aren’t entirely the same but they aren’t completely different either. One is in the other. When we look into our own bodily formation, we see Mother Earth inside us, and so the whole universe is inside us, too. Once we have this insight of interbeing, we can have real communication with the Earth. This is the highest possible form of prayer.

To worship the Earth is not to deify her or believe she is any more sacred than ourselves. To worship the Earth is to love her, to take care of her, and to take refuge in her. When we suffer, the Earth embraces us, accepts us, and restores our energy, making us strong and stable again. The relief that we seek is right under our feet and all around us. Much of our suffering can be healed if we realise this. If we understand our deep connection and relationship with the Earth, we will have enough love, strength, and awakening so that we both can thrive.

When we suffer we need love and understanding. We ourselves don’t have enough of these qualities, so when we suffer we try to find them outside ourselves. This is very natural. We hope someone else or something else can give us the love and understanding we need. Someone with love and understanding embodies goodness, truth, and beauty. We know that we possess some goodness, truth, and beauty, but maybe not enough to bring us happiness. We don’t know how to help these virtues grow in order to gain true insight and wisdom.

The Earth has all the virtues we seek, including strength, stability, patience, and compassion. She embraces everyone. We don’t need blind faith to see this. We don’t need to address our prayers or express our gratitude to a remote or abstract deity with whom it may be difficult or impossible to be in touch. We can address our prayers and express our gratitude directly to the Earth. The Earth is right here. She supports us in very concrete and tangible ways. No one can deny that the water that sustains us, the air that we breathe, and the food that nourishes us are gifts of the Earth.

Thich Nhat Hanh 174.

Seeing through wisdom that all defects of defiling emotions arise from the view of substantiality, and knowing the ‘ I’ to be its object, the yogis negate the ‘I’ .

— Chandrakirti

Chandrakīrti (月称菩萨) 11.

The Spirit of All Traditions
by Kalu Rinpoche

Westerners have achieved an astonishingly high level of technological sophistication. Mass-produced machines allow us to travel through the air at great speed, explore the depths of the ocean, and witness instantly whatever is happening in any corner of the world and even beyond our own planet. Yet our own mind, which is so close to us, remains impenetrable: we do not understand what our own mind really is. This is a paradox because, even though we have extremely refined telescopes to see light-years away and microscopes powerful enough to distinguish the atomic details of matter, the mind, which is the most basic and intimate aspect of our being, remains the most unrecognised, mysterious, and unknown.

Scientific developments and control over our material conditions have brought us a relatively high level of comfort and physical well-being. This is certainly wonderful, but even so, progress in science and technology does not prevent the mind from remaining in ignorance about itself and therefore conditioned and afflicted by suffering, frustration, and anguish. To alleviate these problems, it is crucial to discover and understand the actual nature of our own minds.

UNDERSTANDING OUR ACTUAL NATURE

The main point here is to understand our real nature, or what we actually are. Many of you know many things; you are educated. Try to use your capacities to study the mind.

You mustn’t think this kind of investigation applies only to a small elite. Each of us has a mind whose nature is the same as everyone else’s. We are all alike; we all have the feeling of existing with an ego which is subjected to all kinds of hardships and suffering, anxieties and fears. All of this results from ignorance about our basic nature. If we can reach the understanding of what we actually are, there is no better remedy for eliminating all suffering. This is the heart of all spiritual practices.

All spiritual traditions, whether Christian, Hindu, Judaic, Islamic, or Buddhist, teach that the understanding of what we are at the deepest level is the main point. This understanding of the nature of mind sheds light from within and illuminates the teachings of all traditions. In every tradition, whoever gains first hand, experiential understanding of mind and retains that kind of awareness is led to a worldview that would not have been possible prior to this direct experience. Knowledge of the nature of mind is the key that yields an understanding of all teachings; it sheds light on what we are, the nature of all our experiences, and reveals the deepest form of love and compassion. The actual realisation of the nature of mind opens onto a complete understanding of Dharma and all the traditions. To have a good theoretical knowledge of Dharma or any other spiritual tradition and to effectively realise the ultimate nature of mind, however, are profoundly different. Even a realised being who is not involved in a particular spiritual tradition would have while living in the ordinary world, an extremely beneficial influence.

I would like to emphasise that this is true regardless of the spiritual tradition Every tradition is illuminated by this awareness. But it is especially the case in the Buddha’s teachings, in which this knowledge constitutes the heart and goal of all his instruction.

Kalu Rinpoche 31.

The ego prevents us from helping ourselves by presenting a false notion of what it really means to help ourselves.

— Gelek Rimpoche

Gelek Rinpoche 7.

学佛先学做人
昌臻法师

今天讲的题目是《学佛先学做人》,分两部分来谈:

第一部分 学习佛法 认识宇宙人生的真相

佛法就是认识宇宙人生真相的法则。人生就是我们自己一生的问题。宇宙就是我们所生活的的环境。我们有幸生而为人,怎么能对自己和所处的环境一无所知?我们要想认识自己,认识环境就不能不学习佛法。也只有认识了自己,认识了环境之后,我们才不会为自己、为环境所困惑,所烦恼,才能够由迷到觉,才能够离苦得乐,使我们真正获得解脱、自在。其实,所谓佛法本来就是宇宙自然法则,是客观存在的,决不是佛陀制造出来的。所以,佛陀常常教导我们:“法尔如是。意思是他所说的“法”,在客观世界中本来就是这样。是佛陀发现了宇宙人生的真相、奥秘,因而他就得到了解脱,成为彻底觉悟的人。同时他又发大愿心,把这些真相向一切众生开示,使一切众生悟入佛的知见。这个就是佛陀对人类,其实不只人类,包括九法界众生最大的贡献。

佛陀揭示了人生的真相和奥秘。这里包括了两个问题:

一.人生有什么价值?有什么意义?二.生命从哪里来?死了到哪里去?

先说第一个问题:人生的价值和意义。这是人类有史以来都在探索的问题,存在着许多错误的看法。有人认为,人生就这么一世,死了,死了,死了一切都完了,躯壳烧成骨灰了,灵魂随风飘荡了,善人死了是一堆白骨,坏人死了也是一堆白骨。好像人生没有什么价值,没什么意义可言,这叫“断灭见“。还有一些人认为,人死了还是变人。有些犯罪分子已被绑赴刑场,他却还说:“二十年后我又是一个小伙子。”这叫做“常见”。这两种见解都不能说明人生的真相。佛教认为:生命贯通三世:过去、现在、未来。人的躯体都会无一例外的要经历生、老、病、死,躯壳消亡,而神识却会永远存在。人生的意义应该就是利人,利人的范围越大,时间越长,那么你这个人生价值就越大。什么是菩萨?能够自觉觉人、自利利人的人就是菩萨。这里的自利,是断烦恼,证菩提,不求名闻利养。所谓菩萨精神,就是不为自己求安乐,但愿众生得离苦。佛陀提出来的四宏誓愿,第一句是目标:众生无边誓愿度。为了要度众生,必须先断除烦恼。修学法门,圆成佛道,都是为了实现这个目标而提出的。

第二个问题,生命从哪里来?死了往哪里去?

对于这个问题,佛教的根本观点就是“诸法因缘生,诸法因缘灭。”一切万事万物都是各种因缘合和而生,因缘分散而灭。生命也不例外,我们的生命是由因缘而来。因又叫业因,业是梵文译音,它的含义是活动、造作。比如一粒种子,它是生命的根源。而缘,则是生命生存、延续的外在条件。如果一粒种子没有阳光、水、土壤等外在条件的结合,无论再优良的种子会发芽、生长吗?由此可见,我们这个生命也不是突然出现的,也不是单独存在的,而是由许多条件相互依存而产生的。从时间上说,因果网络是互相依存的,没有一个绝对的中心,也没有一个绝对的边缘,所以世间一切万事万物都是相互依靠而生存,没有单纯存在的东西,人也是一样。人,是精神和物质的结合体。物质体就是我们的身体这个躯壳,是由地、水、火、风这四种元素合成的。地,是指筋骨肌肉这类的固体;水是指血液、水分这样的液体;火就是指体内的暖气,也就是热力;风是指人的呼吸,也就是气体。从现代科学来看,这个固体、液体、气体、热力,都是属于能量范围的东西,这是无形无相,看不见摸不着的东西。地、水、火、风,实际上是一种“能”的体现,这个能就近于“空”。

佛教讲的“四大皆空”,空并不是没有,它是“有而非真”。佛教认为“四大”不协调就会生病,四大一分散就意味着死亡的到来。除物质外,精神体更重要。精神体是生命的根源,佛法叫做阿赖耶识。阿赖耶识的含义是含藏识,是储存信息的,一般的人把它叫做“灵魂”。它是真心、妄心的合和体,是种子,也是业力、善恶种子的储存所,也可以叫做“种子库”,也是接受善恶业报的主体。《八识规矩颂》对阿赖耶识的特性和作用,用了两句话概括,第一句话叫做“受熏、持种、根身器。”受熏,就是第八识接受前六识把外界的影像摄入内心,而熏染到第八识,就熏成种子。持种,这个种子储存到第八识里,到了一定的时候条件成熟了,种子起现行,就可以变现为现实的一些活动。根身器,根身就是指有情世间,实际是指一个人的正报。我们的相貌、寿命、命运种种信息都属于根身。器世间是指我们的依报,也是我们所生活的环境。为什么我们每个人的相貌会不同?环境会不同?遭遇会不同?这就是因为种子不相同,种子就储存在阿赖耶识里面,而种子则起着决定性的作用。现在西方国家把阿赖耶识翻译成“仓库意识”,好象是一个仓库一样。

第二句话是“去后来先作主公”。是指阿赖耶识最后离开。人断气以后,临床诊断为死亡,但是,第八识不一定马上就离开。所以佛教主张在人死后八小时至十六小时之内不要搬动他,不要哭,而最要紧的是要给他念佛,就是根据这个来的。因为阿赖耶识去得后,“来得先”,初来投生,就是这个“中阴身”。躯壳死了,断气以后,还没有投生以前叫做中阴身。中阴身投胎时间有长有短,一般来说,长的可以到四十九天或更长时间才去投生。中阴身投生,就是受一念淫欲心的驱使。十二因缘中“无明缘行”,无明就是淫欲心。缘行,就是以淫欲心为条件,而产生男女的性行为。中阴身就是因为这一念淫欲心而去投胎的。所以《楞严经》上说:“淫心不除,尘不可出”。淫欲心不断除干净,想要出离生死轮回是不可能的。我们投生就是我们的中阴身与父母的精血相结合而形成胚胎,所以说它来得最先。“作主公”,大脑皮质和神经系统都属于物质体,都是受第八识的指挥。从哪里证明?当第八识一旦离开人体以后,大脑皮质、神经系统虽然没有被破坏,但是它不起作用了。语言、感觉这些功能都消失了。阿赖耶识是受业力的支配, 是接受善恶业报的主体。这个业力很大,业力贯通三世,我们生从哪里来,死了往哪里去都是受业力支配。业就是因,实际上就是因果规律在支配。佛经有一首偈颂就把这个道理说得很清楚:“欲知前世因,今生受者是(果);欲知来世果,今生作者是(因)”。

我们要想知道前世种的什么业因,开悟的人都知道,而我们凡夫却不知道,但是你也可以知道。从哪里知道?今生受者是,今生所受的就是前世所种因的果报。你从果可以推及因。比如疾病缠身,必定是过去生中的杀业很重。我们现在时时刻刻都在受果报,但是,时时刻刻又在种业因。我们的身、口、意时时刻刻不断在活动,就是在种业因。现在种的业因,又决定着未来的果报。所以说困果规律不同于算命看相说的:“铁板数”,它是可以转变的。我们下一世受什么样的果报?今生作者是。我们现在时时刻刻又在造业因,因缘变了,果也必定要变。我们这个身体是由业报所生的,也是来受善恶业报的,所以叫做“报身”,也叫“业报身”、“果报身”。一个人相貌好丑不同,寿命长短不同,富贵贫贱不同,这就是正报不同。也就是各有各的因不同。一个人所处的社会、家庭、环境、亲属子女的关系,以及他一生的生活享受等等,都是属于依报。所以单单从遗传学来讲是解释不清楚的。为什么同一父母所生的弟兄姐妹甚至于双胞胎,而他们的命运,生活遭遇相差很大,这怎么解释呢?只有佛法的三世因果才能解释得清楚。这就是虽然他们的“缘”相同,但过去所种的“因”有所不同;而“因”是各人自己种下了的,并且是起主要作用的;缘是次要的,是从父母那里得来的。依报和正报之间的关系,以正报为主。依报随着正报转,正报有福分,依报必然丰富圆满;正报没有福分,依报必定贫穷困苦。 我们今生所受用的正报和依报,都来源于过去种的善恶业因。从佛教的观点看,一个人的命运就是善恶业报的体现,佛教不讲“命运”,而强调因果。这些东西并不是有一位什么神在掌握着,也不是别人能够操纵,而是可以完全由自己掌握,那就是“自种因,自受果”。

佛法从根本上揭示了算命、看相的由来和原理。但是,佛教却不主张看相算命,因为这是舍本逐末,徒劳无益的。命和相,算是这样,不算也是这样。佛法决不同于宿命论,它认为命运是可以转变的,不是什么命中注定的“铁板数“。而转变的关键,就在于一个人自己的心地。因为“心能转业,心能造业”,“相随心转、命由心造”,就是这个道理。目前社会上有许多人,片面认为只要到寺庙里去烧烧香、拜拜佛,就可以保险,可以消灾免难了。而自己并不懂得应该依照佛陀的教导来做人做事,止恶行善。比如说,有的年轻人在家不孝顺父母,但他却到寺庙里祈求菩萨保佑自己的儿女顺利成长。这是不符合因果规律的,是不可能如愿以偿的。有一副观世音菩萨像前的对联说得就非常明白,上联是:“居心作恶,谁替你救苦救难?” 常言说得好:百善孝为先。你连自己的父母都不孝敬,不孝父母就是罪恶,就种下了恶因,也直接给儿女做了坏榜样,在你的这种“熏陶”下,你的儿女能成才吗?即便“成才”,将来能成为孝顺你的好儿女吗?能成为社会的栋梁之材吗?这就是上行下效的道理!谁替你救苦救难?你种了恶因,如果观音菩萨接受你的供养,那就是受贿,就是包庇恶人了。下联是:“回头向善,何须我大慈大悲?”只要你能回头,转恶为善,也就能转祸为福。善业恶业,唯心所造;福报祸报,惟人自招。要改变命运,并不是依靠别人,也不是求菩萨,而是依靠自己。佛菩萨教导我们应该怎样做,我们就按照佛菩萨的教导去做,按照佛菩萨的教导去待人接物;不按照佛菩萨的教导去做,而只是求佛菩萨保佑,那是不可能实现的事情。

第二部分学佛从做人下手

为什么学佛要先从做人下手?太虚大师说,学佛先学做人,把人做好了,才能成佛。佛陀,梵文音译,意译是“觉悟的人”,并不是神,也不是天生的。我们大家是“没有觉悟的佛“,我们虽然是迷着的,但我们的本性没有迷。佛揭示了这个奥秘:众生都有佛性,都能成佛,这就是真理。凡夫与佛在本性上没有区别,迷就是凡夫,觉就是佛。所以我们学佛的过程,就是一个由迷到觉的过程。学佛就是向佛学习,学习佛陀的思想、言论、行动,以佛陀为师,向佛陀看齐。学佛的最终目的就是要成佛,这一点是佛教与其它宗教不同的地方。佛教希望众生都成佛,“是心是佛”,就看自己能不能认识到这点,敢不敢承当。阿弥陀佛的四十八愿,愿愿都要度一切众生往生净土,希望一切众生都成佛。往生的目的是度众生,成佛的目的也是度众生。

那么,怎样才能把人做好呢?那就是必须遵循做人的准则,佛教提出两条,叫“诸恶莫作,众善奉行“,这是《七佛通戒偈》提出来的。过去一切佛教化众生就是遵循这两条,这就是我们做人的基本准则,修行的纲领,成佛的基础。唐代诗人白居易,对佛学很有研究。他在杭州做太守时,去拜访鸟巢禅师,他请教鸟巢禅师:佛法的精要是什么?禅师告诉他:“诸恶莫作,众善奉行“。他一听却说:“你这个太简单了,三岁儿童都懂得”。禅师说:“八十老翁行不得”。这两句话看起来也非常简单,但要落实在行动上却是一辈子也不一定做得好的,要想将它做圆满,那就更难了。佛教对善恶的标准要求很高。利人才是善,利已就是恶,损人利已更是大恶。一般人常说,自私自利,损人利已。而从因果上来看,损人决定不会利已,而只会得到恶报;自私决定不会自利。自私,是从小我出发,加强了我执,出不了六道轮回;自私是贪、嗔、痴的根源,会使人堕入三恶道。所以,自私和利已都是恶,利人才是善,这也符合因果规律。自、他是一不是二,利人,是种善因,自然会得善果。如果是从利已出发而去利人的,这不是种善因。是善是恶,关键就在于你如何发心。

《易经》讲:“积善之家,必有庆余”。这就是贯通三世的因果规律所决定的。中国历史上著名的文学家、政治家范仲淹,是一个虔诚的佛教居士。在他当宰相时,虽身居高位,但家里的开支却非常节俭。他有三个儿子,却只备有一件礼服,因此三个儿子不能同时出外。他将他的工资收入,除了留很少部分作为生活费用外,其余都全部用来救济贫困。他还在苏州办了一个“范氏义庄”养活了三百家人,这个不简单,三百家人啊!他去世后,却连安埋费都没有着落;但他得到很大的善报是在他的后人身上。他的儿子范纯仁官至宰相,子孙后代,代代出人才,一直繁衍发达到现在。《人民日报》海外版曾经刊登过一则消息:“来自世界各地的范氏家族在台北市举行了一个隆重的集会,与会者将近两百人,纪念范文正公的一千年诞辰。” 范文正公种下善因,自然就会得到善报。如果一个人能够损已利人,这就更加了不得。损已,从现在来看仿佛是“吃亏了”,但从长远来看,你的行为受到了别人的尊敬,并且你这种行为会感化别人,你自己虽然并不求福报,但却自然会得到更大的福报。清代末年的林则徐,也是一个非常虔诚的佛教徒。他做钦差大臣每次出巡时,虽日理万机,却必然把《阿弥陀经》等课诵写成的小册子随身携带,每日必定抽出时间来完成他自己的早晚课。至今还留有林则徐亲写的《行舆日课》。他撰联:“苟利国家生死已;岂因祸福趋避之。”“海纳百川,有容乃大;壁立千仞,无欲则刚”。在禁烟中焚毁鸦片的时候,他很清楚,明白做了这件事立刻会丢官,甚至会被杀头。他有充分的思想准备,完全没有考虑个人得失,考虑的仅仅只是国家民族的利益,为了利益国家民族,不惜这样做。这就是损己利人,就是修菩萨行。

果然,当他焚烧鸦片结束后,就被免去了两广总督职位,还被充军到边远的新疆。由于他完全没有把个人的荣辱得失放在心上,到达新疆后,又亲自规划新疆的水利工程,修建了造福于新疆人民的“坎儿井”。这样做当时看起来是了亏,但却受到了大家的尊崇。他是真正具有毫不利已,专门利人的菩萨精神。现在,英国伦敦的蜡像馆里,陈列着世界各国的著名历史人物,有关我国清代历史人物,就专门选塑了林则徐的像为代表。不言而喻,历史自有公论。林则徐的子孙后代也非常发达兴盛。根据上海《新民晚报》和《四川政协报》提供的材料,现在世界各地居住的林则徐的后代,有联系的竟达三百多家人。上述两个例子说明了一个道理,行善就是利人。利人实际上就是利已。佛教的观点是自他不二,但是有些同修以为,我要关着门作功课、念佛,其它的事情少管,先把自己度了再度人。这个说法是不正确的。印光大师说:“自未得度、先度人者,菩萨发心。是则唯欲利人者,正完成其自利;而唯欲自利者,乃适所以自害也。“(印光法师:《药师如来本愿经重刻跋》)这段开示说得很明白,你只想到利已,实际上利不了自己,反而会害自己,因为你把自己和别人对立起来看,归根到底还是自私自利。对待这个问题,我们应该遵循祖师的教导,端正自己的看法。有些人虽然在学佛,却做些损人的事情。

比如:不能宽容待人,并随意诽谤别人。让别人受冤枉,你自己绝对得不到任何好处,因为害人终究是害自己。事情肯定终究会被揭穿,别人不相信你那一所说的了,你也失去了大家对你的信任。你不仅现在犯了诽谤罪,而且,自己将来肯定要受到口业的恶报。因为你是出于嫉妒心、报复心、嗔恨心,这是种的堕恶道的因!这些人应该悬崖勒马,忏悔罪业,老实做人。还有一种是损人来利已,比如把别人财产侵占了,别人受了损失,自己目前似乎是得到了利益,但你的恶名却流传出去了,一定会受到舆论的谴责和法律的制裁,未来还肯定会受贫穷困苦的恶报。纵然你今生逃脱了法律的制裁,但绝对逃脱不了因果。佛教关于善恶果报的道理,就是指导我们怎样做人,怎样待人接物,是很有受用的。我们学佛必须按照这个原则来做人、来待人接物。在个基础上修行才会相应。如果天天在念佛,却没有按佛的教导去做人,这是绝对错误的。我们首先就一定要做到“诸恶莫作”,严守五戒是起码应该做到的。把五戒守好,“众善奉行”就不难了。五戒,实际上就是五大布施。我们能够认真持戒,就是对众生布施了无畏。比如我们持不杀戒,那么不仅是人,就是一切畜牲都知道我们不会伤害它的生命。我们认真持不盗窃戒,别人就不会担心我们会侵犯他的财产,这就是对众生的布施,对自己也就是种大福田。社会上犯罪的人造罪恶,搞得社会不安宁,他们都是犯了五戒。那些斗殴、杀人的是犯了杀戒;抢劫、贪污、假公济私等,那是犯了盗戒;强奸、卖淫、嫖娼、重婚、乱搞男女关系等,是犯了邪淫戒;诽谤、诈骗、商品的假冒伪劣等,是犯了妄语戒;酒后肇事、吸毒、贩毒等,是犯了饮酒戒。所以如果人人都能受持五戒,必然是家庭和谐,社会安宁。只要我们能认真把这五戒守好,有很大的好处,最起码的是我们能保住人身。不好好守住五戒,下一世的人身都是保不住的。在我们只要守好一条戒,就有五位护戒善神暗中保护你,五戒都守好了,就有二十五位善神保护你。还有什么灾难,什么危险不能消除呢?

在五戒里面,有四条是根本戒。现在,再进一步谈谈五戒的重要意义,以及在现实生活中应注意的问题。

第一条,不杀生。

不杀生的主要目的是培养我们的悲心,这个问题的关键是应该从小孩培养起。大家都有小孩,作为父母家长,应在孩子很小的时候就有意识地给他们灌输护生、爱护小动物的思想。但是很多家庭都忽视了这种初期教育。前两年,有一位居士带着她读初中的儿子到寺里来。她告诉我,她儿子有一天放学回家,不解地给她讲了一件事。老师在班上评比作文。有个女同学的作文题目是《妈妈教我杀鸡》,内容讲述了她妈妈如何教她杀鸡。文中详细描述了她的一系列心理活动:从她起初战战兢兢地把鸡杀得半死,渴望不死的鸡如何挣脱人的手,带着满身的鲜血,在地上试图逃命地狂跑,一边流血,一边不停地惨叫时的害怕和胆怯到后来在妈妈的指导下,逐步学会能一刀将鸡杀死的“本领”,以至于她如何练得杀鸡的胆子愈来愈大的。在此基础上,逐步锻炼得不仅敢杀鸡,连黄鳝也敢剐了,并还得到许多人的赞扬,都纷纷请她代为杀鸡......这位居士的儿子很不能理解为何同学的妈妈,会去教自己女儿干这种残忍可怕的血淋淋的事呢?这不难看出小孩子的纯洁和可爱,他们是一张白纸,有非常大的可塑性。关键在于做父母的如何做孩子榜样,如何去引导和教育你的孩子。你为什么不培养她的爱心和同情心而去培养孩子的残忍心?从小就学杀鸡、杀鸭、剐黄鳝,孩子幼小的心灵,那种初始的可贵的慈悲心在家长的引导下一点一点地泯灭了,惻隐之心逐渐消失了,取而代之的是残暴和好斗。这是多么可悲的事情!随着年龄的长大,当个人利益和他人利益、社会利益发生冲突时,为了个人利益杀起人来,会跟杀鸡杀鸭一样轻而易举的,甚至可以把父母也当成鸡鸭杀了。这个可不是说笑话,前两年报上曾刊登过一则消息:南京某大学有两夫妇都是教授,却被他们溺爱的亲生儿子给杀死了。他们自己培养了一个将自己送进坟墓的刽子手!还有一位记者在一篇文章里谈到,现在有一种新型的儿童玩具,电纽一按便会展现出各种各样现代化的武器来打击敌人。当记者看见一个小孩正在玩那种玩具,便上前问到:“这些武器中,你喜欢哪一种?”小孩答到:“我喜欢刀。“记者又问:“为什么呢?刀可是最原始的武器啊?”这个小孩竟然回答:“我喜欢刀,把脑袋砍了看着它冒血,这个才过瘾!”多可怕的想法,我们做父母的值得深思,我们培养的是什么人?这是在培养希特勒,培养刽子手啊!这样的小孩,难道我们做父母的没有责任吗?!杀生的恶报是最重的,受花报,(只是开花,这没结果)是疾病缠身和短命;受果报,是死后到地狱道去偿还。

第二,不偷盗。

这条戒本来叫做“不与取“,就是别人没有给你,不管你用什么手段,把它弄到手里,都叫偷盗,这是佛教对待财富的根本观点。种偷盗的因,必定得贫穷的果报;种布施的因,必定得财富的果报。曾国藩的外孙聂云台,学贯中西,解放前曾任上海商会会长,他著有一本叫《保富法》的书。中年以后信佛,他用佛学的观点列举了大量的事例来说明怎样才能够发财,又怎样才能保得住财富。现在社会上大家都想发财,却不懂得如何发财的道理和发财的方法,你应该如何如理如法去谋求财富。我们并不是讲不能发财,而关键在于你发了财后该怎么使用你的财富?如果你发了财仅仅只是为了个人享用,去花天酒地挥霍浪费,而不懂得回报社会,不为社会做一点点好事,那是在造罪恶。你将财富用一部分来为社会做一些有益于社会的好事,那是在培福报。所以,有无财富,那是福报;会不会用财富,那是智慧。

第三,不邪淫。

对于当前社会风气来说,这条戒律相当值得重视。作为佛教徒,我们必须明白淫欲是生死的根本。我们要想出轮回,关键的问题就是关闭生死的门户,对于我们今后了生死、出轮回、生净土,这是一条重要保证。

第四,不妄语。

妄语戒里特别强调的是大妄语。现在有很多人不信因果,任凭自己瞎吹,说自己开悟了,晓得过去未来等,这是在种地狱因!我们千万要注意,以免上当受骗。我们如何识别真妄的标准,美国万佛城宣化上人曾经这样讲过:无论一个人说得好热闹,我们只要看他在财色面前是什么态度,就不难看出他说他开悟是真的还是假的了。

第五,不饮酒。

不饮酒这个戒不属于根本戒,但还是应该很重视,这样对我们身心清净有极大好处。我们能够遵守五条戒律,就可以做到防非止恶,在这个基础上再奉行十善就不困难了。戒是制止我们作的,作了就犯戒。十善是要求我们做的,不作那是绝对错误的,这是很积极的。只要我们能够认真地守好五戒,积极地奉行十善,这就是人天乘修行的纲领,给我们打好了做人的基础,也只有在这个基础上,才谈得上了生死,出轮回。所以不要认为守五戒简单了,这是修出世法的起点,修菩萨行的基础。

下面介绍一下十善的内容,着重谈一谈与当前我们修行的有关问题。 

第一、不杀生而放生、护生:

从放生护生推而广之,应多多地去为社会做救死扶伤、敬老爱幼、济贫助残、救人急难、调解纠纷以及其它的社会公益事业和维护和平的事业。作为佛教徒我们都应当勇于承担这类有益于社会的事。这就是在修菩萨行。举个例:1998年夏天,成都市府南河发生了三个青年舍身救人的事迹,但引起了种种的议论。有很多人赞扬他们这种见义勇为的行为是很值得提倡的;也有人惋惜:那么年轻就牺牲了,太不划算!还有一些人竟认为这种见义勇为的事情搞不得!从佛教的观点来看,能够舍已救人,就是修菩萨行。过去诸佛在修菩萨行时,舍头目脑髓救众生的事例是不胜枚举的。我们凡夫能够发这个愿,当然可以消除自己多生的罪障,增长福德智慧,提高自己的境界。佛经上有一个记载:一个妇女抱着她的小孩过河,一不小心,失手将小孩子掉进了河水里,这个妇女当时非常悲痛,奋不顾身地跳入水中救她的孩子,她这一念头是为了救小孩,小孩也是众生之一,所以她死后,生到天道。我们从这一事例来推断,那三个青年虽然死了,但他们下一世必然往生善道。从因可以推果,这不会错。

第二、不偷盗而行布施:

偷盗的目的是希望得到财富,但是偷盗者不知道种下这个恶因,得的果报是贫穷困苦。反过来说,种布施的善因,才能够得到富裕的福报。从因果规律来分析,我们用财富来布施,得到利益的是布施的人,而不是接受布施的人。这跟社会上的一般的看法恰恰相反。因为布施的人一生享用的福报绝不会因为他的布施而减少。比如,一个应该是百万富翁的人,他布施出去了五十万,他最终的财富是不会减少的。就好像一口井,把井水抽完,但过了几天,井水又会重新还原到原来的水位上。也就是说一个人的福报应该有多少,就会有多少。而布施出去的这一部分财富,相当于存放在“布施银行”里,“布施银行”是最保险得利息最高的“银行”。《地藏经》讲,这叫“舍一得万报”,也就是民间常讲的“一本万利”。而接受布施的人,也是过去生中种下的善因,才会得到的善报。但是,你得到布施后,福报就勾销了。从这个角度来看,接受布施并不一定是好事。《台州佛教》曾刊载一个消息:“一九九0年,福建莆田广化寺举行大规模建设,有一些印尼华人商人,到庙里来敬香,并大量布施钱财。回印尼后他们的生意都很顺利,这件事传开后,布施的人越来越多,最后算了一笔总账,这批印尼华人布施给广化寺重建工程的总额高达一千多万元。他们由此得出一个结论:越布施越富裕,越布施越发财了。第二个例子是:一九九一年浙江新昌大佛重建时,有一个叫黄尊祥的香港商人,他在梦中梦见了大佛,于是他到这个庙里来拜佛,并捐款一万元。返回香港后,他经营的生意异常顺利,他信心大增。后来又多次专门到庙里来捐款,感到每一此捐款后自己公司所得利润一次比一次更大,于是信心倍增,个人捐款总额竟高达一百多万元。后来他成为香港三家公司的总经理。这些事例可以说明,布施的人才是受益的人,布施决不会蚀本。

第三条,不邪淫,而修梵行:

梵行就是清净的生活。在家居士除了夫妻关系外,绝不能乱搞男女关系。这是不道德的行为,也是破坏别人家庭关系的罪恶行为,必然会受到应受的恶报。我们学佛人首先应该清心寡欲,应该认真持戒修行,做到用佛法来指导生活,把家庭变成清净道场,把亲属看成法眷,现在大家同念弥陀,将来大家同生净土,这样,这种家庭才是真正幸福圆满的家庭。

第四条,不妄语而说诚实话:

社会上有一些人说假活成了风气,据说是怕说真话会吃亏。其实说假话的人,别人最多受你一时的骗,不可能长期骗下去,一旦假话被败露,这个人的声誉信义都完全没有了。学佛千万不能这样做,做人,不论你是做什么行业的,都应该本着一个诚实的态度来工作和生活,用诚实的态度来待人接物,这就是在种善因。北京同仁堂是一个以诚信而发达起来的很好的例子。他的老板姓乐,从清代开始做药的生意。他始终不渝地认为:生意一定要以诚信为本,尤其是做药生意这类行业,就更是直接地为病家救死扶伤,是在做善事。所以同仁堂的药保证质量第一,绝不掺一点假,药的疗效可以达到药到病除,深为人们所信赖。比如说,有些中成药里要用黄金制作,他就一定会认真地把黄金的用量用够,决不打丝毫折扣。甚至有时急需用时,还将家人的黄金首饰拿出来用。他的很多亲戚朋友对此很不理解,都说做生意怎么能这样做呢?你就打个广告说药里有黄金就行了,买主又不在场,你这么认真,要亏本的呀!但是同仁堂的祖先的看法就迥然不同,他认为所做的一切事情都是实实在在地在种因,种的善因,怎么会亏本?怎么会得恶报?果然,他这个做法完全正确。虽然他的药成本高,价格比别家的贵一些,但货真价实,疗效显著,深获用户信任,没有任何一家药房能与他竟争得过的。现在北京同仁堂已经有二百多年的历史并至今享有盛名。显而易见,说诚实语,不妄语,是不会受恶报的。

第五条,不恶口而说柔和语:

我们学佛的人,应该是以慈悲为怀。菩萨行里的四摄,有一条叫爱语摄,爱语就是说话和颜悦色,使用让人乐意接受的语言,这样能广结善缘,也才会受到别人的尊重。

第六条,不两舌而说调解语:

在人际关系当中,当遇到别人之间有矛盾时,决不能在双方之间制造纠纷,反而使矛盾激化。而我们只能用善言去调解、去帮助别人排忧解难,这才是很好的结善缘。多结善缘是于人于己都非常有好处,尤其是受过菩萨戒的居士更需要特别注意,勿说四众过失,因为《优婆塞戒经》的戒条里把说四众过失列为了重戒。我们常常在不经意地闲谈之中就犯了这条戒,这样做对自己的修行十分不利。

第七条,不绮语,而说朴实正直语言:

绮语,就是花言巧语,不正经的语言。学佛的人要懂得:直心是道场。我们应当存直心,说直话,这才是佛教徒的本色。如果用花言巧语欺骗别人,或者说黄色下流的语言来污染别人的心灵,这个很不应该。而且种这种恶因,必然要受到相应的恶报。

第八条,不贪而修不净观:

从这一条到第十条是对治贪、嗔、痴三毒的。贪欲主要是指的对财、色、名、食、睡,这是每一个人在学佛道路上的大障碍,这个问题不解决,学佛要想成就很难。

第一是贪财。一般人对于财富的追求和欲望都是无止境的,永远不会有满足的那一天,贪得无厌是最为贴切的形容。因此往往可以不择任何手段地尽量去谋求财富,待到财富到手后,又大肆挥霍,尽情享受。又不非但如此,还不肯将财富回报社会,更不愿为社会做一些有益的善事。这样一来,既种下恶因,必定会受恶报。“贪夫殉财”,事实如此。

第二是贪色。这是我们能不能了生死的一个问题。种了恶因,必然得恶报。你种了破坏了别人家庭、败坏社会风气的恶因,你和你的亲属也必然要受到恶报,也必然会破坏自己的家庭,这是很现实的恶报。这种坏影响会让子孙后代都受到极坏的伤害,招致恶报,是非常可怕的。作为佛教徒,更应在提高道德品质和净化社会风气方面做出榜样。

第三是贪名。名,本来是一个抽象的概念,虽然没有实质,但总会让人很不容易放下。其实,贪名的根子就在于“我执”。一个人说:“我学佛做到了‘无我’,我捐功德到庙里从来不写我的名字,而只写一个‘无名氏’”。一天,他来到寺庙,仔细看着功德碑上“无名氏”捐的钱最多,心里很满意,惟恐无人知道,于是他就去问别人:“你知道这个‘无名氏’是谁吗?”因为不少人都知道他的代名就是“无名氏”,却故意揄揶地推说不知道。他迫不及待地说:“那就是我呀!”大家于是乎大加赞扬一番,他飘飘然起来,心理也得到了充分的满足,如此而已。由此可以看出,“名”这个东西虽然是虚假的,但确实害人不浅,它让人产生妄想、分别、执著是一件轻而易举的事情。如果我们不把“名”搞清楚,不破掉我们的“我执”,那么这种妄想、分别、执著会时时刻刻扰乱我们想修行的心。尽管我们虽然种了一些善因,而让“我执”更加重了,这样出不了六道轮回。

第四是贪食。关于饮食,学佛人应该如何看待?饮食是用来解除饥饿,维持生命的,无需有更高的要求。但是现在许多人在饮食上也贪得无厌,深入研究食物的色、香、味。甚至将山珍海味吃厌了,还将蚂蚁、蜗牛等列为上品佳肴。不惜杀害大量生命,花费无数的钱财,浪费宝贵的光阴来享用所谓的“美食”,而造成的是种种罪恶,给自己制造种种疾病。医药杂志上曾报道,近二十多年来我国死亡率最高的三种疾病为:心血管病、脑血管病、癌症。这三种正是西方国家死亡率最高的疾病,而在短短的二十多年里,我们也迎头赶上了。现在一些西方国家的医学科学界发现这类疾病的根源是在于摄入了过多的高脂肪高蛋白质所致。近年来研究并提倡“素食主义”,就是为了防止疾病,解决哪些食物会致人于死命这个问题。他们通过科学的化学分析化验,发现素食中所含营养成分和营养价值与肉食品没有高下,只是强调素食一定要加上花生、核桃等硬壳果,以及新鲜水果和蔬菜。从佛教的观点来看,如果你能素食、戒杀、放生,种的这种因,就会得到健康长寿的果报。当然,我们学佛人并不是追求健康长寿,因为这不是学佛的目的,而健康长寿则只是学佛的副产品,只要我们认真学佛,身心清净,必然能得到健康长寿。

第五是贪睡。对这个问题学佛的人与社会上的看法也不同。学佛人当然需要睡眠,睡眠可以调节身体疲乏,使身体得到休息,让体力得到恢复,精力充沛。但是,睡眠过多,贪睡却反而使人头昏脑胀,精神疲乏。如果一旦养成贪睡这个习惯,好像永远没有睡够似的,精神萎靡,懈怠懒散。真正的修行人都是节制睡眠,用功办道。节制睡眠对身体绝对没有害处。美国万佛城的出家人都是实行的日中一食,夜不倒单。实际上,只要我们内心清净,哪怕睡眠时间不多,但睡眠的质量提高,同样可32.
0以恢复疲劳,恢复精力。成都昭觉寺方丈清定上师,长时期以来都是每天晚上只睡眠两小时,但九十几岁高龄的人却面色红润,神采焕发,精力充沛!仅从健康状况来看,那些每天吃生猛海鲜、鸡鸭鱼肉的人能跟他相比吗?所以睡眠少,饮食清淡决不会影响健康。

上面几种贪欲都是为了满足身体这个躯壳。应该懂得我们这个躯壳就是造罪恶的聚集点。佛经说:“形为罪薮”薮就是聚集点,通俗一点就是垃圾桶,一个随时造罪恶的垃圾桶。为了爱护这个躯壳,造下了种种罪恶。现在,我们有幸闻到佛法,也懂得了得人身的不容易,那么就应该利用它去修福慧,去做利人的事,决不能为它去制造罪恶。明白了这个道理,我们就要随时随地对治种种贪欲,才会减少在这方面再造下罪恶。以上都是的是讲如何对治贪心,下面一条是如何对治嗔心。

第九条,不嗔而修慈悲观:

嗔心也是最难对治的。嗔恨心、嫉妒心的危害非常大!在一切人际关系里面,有嗔恨嫉妒之心,小可以使家庭不和,社会上、周围环境里人与人产生摩擦以及发生冲突;大则可以导致国与国之间的战争、人类的互相屠杀等,归根到底都是与嗔心有关。佛教导我们要修忍辱波罗密,这是一个重要的法门,是专门用来对治嗔心的。佛教提倡的忍辱与社会上说的忍辱是完全不同的。佛教讲的忍辱是建立在因果观、慈悲观这个基本观点上的,是从三世因果上来看待这个问题的。所以,我们对待别人无缘无故的侮辱我们、加害我们,当以偿报和悲心看待,做我们应该受想,甚至愿意牺牲自己。佛教有一个最好的典型,那就是当歌利王砍了佛的膀子时,佛的第一个念头是:如果我成佛,我首先度你。何等的气量!所以我们学佛的人,当然应当以佛陀为榜样。当我们遇到别人给我们难堪、过不去的时候,应该想一想,他还没有砍我的膀子嘛,佛被砍了膀子,都要先度砍膀子的人,我们仅仅被给了点难堪又算得了什么?你这样一想,你的心量一下就扩大了,什么事就都能包容下去了。社会上讲的“君子报仇十年不晚”,那不是扩大胸量,而是把嗔恨心深深地埋藏在内心,等待机会到来时再伺机报仇。历史上认为著名的越王勾践是很能忍辱的,其实从佛教的观点来看这种忍辱是一种冤冤相报,无法了结的,和佛法的忍辱完全是相反的两回事。

第十条,不痴而修因缘观:

这个愚痴,不是指没有文化知识,而是指不相信宇宙人生的真理,不相信客观存在的贯通三世的因果规律。不懂得这些,没有正知正见,就分不出是非、善恶、邪正,干出愚痴的事情。参考消息上曾登载:一个叫汤姆逊的美国人,个人资产高达两亿美金。但生性吝啬,生前一毛不拔。当他身患不治之症时,立下遗嘱,并请律师给他做了公证:将二亿美金的资产从银行取出现金放进棺材里,再将坟墓用钢筋水泥做好,请两个保安守墓。天下居然有如此愚痴之人!他就是不懂得三世因果的典型。从因果上来讲,他种下悭吝这个因,即使下一世为人,绝对要受贫穷困苦报。他投生以后会知道自己前生的坟墓在哪里吗?这是不可能的事。坟墓里面装有巨额美金,要想保得住,也是不可能的。中国的皇帝就是最会打主意的,常常把一座山都用来做坟墓,但是到现在还有几座皇帝的墓被保留下来的?

上面讲的是十善的一些基本内容,都与大家日常工作和生活有着密切的关系,是佛陀要求我们做人应该遵守的准则。我们既然学佛,就是要用佛法来指导人生,指导生活,就是要遵循佛的教导,走佛指引的利益众生,利益社会,修福修慧,幸福圆满的人生道路。因此,我们必须做一个深信因果,遵守戒律,诸恶莫作,众善奉行的人,进而念佛求生净土,成佛度生。

最后,再强调一点,要把人做好,必须正确认识和对待逆境和顺境,才能克服人生道路上的重重障碍。印光大师在给卫锦州居士的信中,列举大量的事例,说明“大圣大贤也不能使其只有顺境,没有横逆”,开示了“因果报应贯通三世;转变完全由心”的高深妙理,要我们做到“上不埋怨天,下不责怪人,随遇而安,一心念佛,往生西方”。我们必须奉行印祖的开示,在受人轻贱时,或者受了冤枉,遭到打击时,决不能存怨恨心、报复心,要心甘情愿去受果报,作还债想,还要感谢人家替自己消了业障,成全自己一生成就;并且,回过头来,严格地、深刻地反省自己,真诚忏悔,化解冤仇,知过改过,努力行善。你能这样做,善业逐渐增长,恶业逐渐消除,自然可以转祸为福,改变自己的命运,在历史上和现实生活中这种例子不少呀!

如果我们处顺境,也不能生贪著心,因而留恋娑婆;或者,你发了财,就应该广行布施,多种善因,同时还要勤俭过日子,爱惜自己的福报。弘一大师是一个富贵人家庭出身的,他常说:“惜食惜衣,非为惜财原惜福”。非常值得我们学习。香港田氏化工集团的负责人田家炳,前几年为四川师范大学捐款八百万元,修建了一座教学行政大楼。而他自己一家生活却非常节俭,从不铺张浪费,教育儿女从小孩子起,连吃很廉价的烤红苕都不准吐皮皮,红苕皮并不值钱,但都不让孩子们有一丁点浪费,他这不是惜财是惜福呀!在他的教育下,他的五个儿女都很有成就,都相继成为他事业的得力助手。《四川日报》对这件事专门写了一篇文章高度赞扬他,从吃红苕不吐皮皮,到一捐款就是八百万!如此大的舍心,的确值得赞叹!从佛法的观点来看,拥有财富,是你的福报;如何运用财富,则是你的智慧。这位企业家,既有福报,又有智慧,难舍能舍,值得称赞。我们学佛人还应该明白,富贵荣华容易令人迷恋,障碍修行。所以“富贵学道难”。我们对此应有清醒的认识,就不会被好环境所转移。

我们真要想这一生了生死,生净土,成佛道,就必须从做人下手。我今天特别提出这个问题,与同修们共同勉励。

Ven Chang Zhen (昌臻法师) 4.

If a person serves sentient beings with the mind of no-self and the mind of equality, his blessed virtues are immeasurable.

— Venerable Hui Jing

Ven Hui Jing (慧净法师) 11.

Healing the Body and Mind
by Tulku Thondup Rinpoche

To find true well-being, the best place to look is close to home. We could travel around the globe a hundred times, turning over every stone on earth in the quest for happiness. Yet this would not necessarily give us what we seek. Money does not necessarily grant well-being either, nor does a youthful or healthy body. Health and money can help us, of course. But the real source of peace and joy is our minds.

The mind wants to be peaceful; this is really its natural state. But there are so many distractions and cravings that can obscure our peaceful nature. A characteristic of our time is the speed of our daily lives, especially in the West. Everything is a rush. Meditation can slow us down so that we touch our true nature. Any meditation can help us. The object of our contemplation could be a flower, a religious image, or a positive feeling. Or it could be our own bodies.

One especially rich way to develop a peaceful mind is to meditate upon the body. By doing this, we promote the welfare of our whole being.

Through meditation, we can learn how to encourage our minds to create a feeling of peace in the body. This can be as simple as relaxing and saying to ourselves, “Let my body be calm and peaceful now,” and really feeling that this is happening. It is the beginning of meditation — and of wisdom, too.

This approach is a kind of homecoming. We are reintroducing ourselves to our bodies and establishing a positive connection between mind and body. Quite often, we have a rather strained and distant relationship to our own bodies. We think of the body as unattractive or ugly, or maybe our health is poor. Or else we like the body, cherish it, and foster cravings around it. But even if we cherish the body, we worry that it could be better than it is or that it will get sick or grow old. So we are conflicted and ambivalent. The body is an object of anxiety.

The meditations in this book will help us approach the body with a realistic attitude, accepting it as it is. Then we will practice how to see the body as very peaceful, a body filled with light and warmth. So many mental and physical afflictions are associated with the body, and meditation can help to heal them.

Mind and body are intimately connected, and die relationship of mind to body in meditation is very interesting. When we see the body as peaceful and beautiful, who or what is creating these feelings? The mind is. By creating peaceful feelings in the body, the mind is absorbed in those feelings. So although the body is the object to be healed, it also becomes the means of healing the mind — which is the ultimate goal of meditation.

When our minds are peaceful in meditation, there is no other mind. Even if the peaceful feeling goes away, we are developing the habit of a peaceful mind. Our minds are becoming accustomed to their true nature. Really, it all comes back to the mind. This is where our true happiness is. The Buddha said:

Mind is the main factor and forerunner of all actions.
Whoever acts or speaks
With a pure thought
Will enjoy happiness as the result.

Like a physician treating a patient, Buddhism deals with mental, emotional, and physical afflictions by diagnosing the cause and treating it.

In this world of ceaseless change, the mind tends to develop a grasping quality and gets attached to all kinds of illusory wants and desires. This is at the root of our suffering. We heal ourselves to the extent that we can release that grasping.

As it was first practised in the ninth century, Tibetan medicine viewed the body as composed of four elements — namely, earth, water, fire, and air — and as having hot and cold temperatures. Western medicine has given us a wonderfully detailed and up-to-date knowledge of the body and how it works, and we can take advantage of this. Yet even today, the ancient Tibetan picture of the body is very useful, both as an aid to meditation and as a way to understand the various qualities of the mind.

According to this view, when the four elements are in balance, we are in our natural healthy state, but when there is disharmony, emotional or physical disease can take root and flourish. The third Dodrupchen writes:

The ancient masters said that if you do not foster dislike and unhappy thoughts, your mind will not be in turmoil. If your mind is not in turmoil, the air [or energy of your body] will not be disturbed. If the air is not disturbed, other physical elements of your body will not experience disharmony. Harmonious elements [in turn] will help the mind stay free from turmoil. Then the wheel of joy will keep revolving.

The mind is the source of true well-being. So before we get to the guided meditations upon the body later on, we would do well to consider the qualities of the mind and how we can improve our lives.

Tulku Thondup Rinpoche 16.