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 20170327《靜思妙蓮華》遵受佛命領悟大乘 (第1052集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)

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發表主題: 20170327《靜思妙蓮華》遵受佛命領悟大乘 (第1052集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)   周日 3月 26, 2017 10:18 pm

20170327《靜思妙蓮華》遵受佛命領悟大乘 (第1052集)
(法華經•
化城喻品

 
諸子遵受佛命,隨同小果修持;領悟大乘教理,一切法門隨機;隨順轉教菩薩,談一乘實相理。
我等聞已,皆共修學。世尊!我等志願如來知見,深心所念,佛自證知。爾時,轉輪聖王所將眾中八萬億人,見十六王子出家,亦求出家,王即聽許。《法華經化城喻品第七
爾時,彼佛受沙彌請,過二萬劫已,乃於四眾之中說是大乘經,名妙法蓮華,教菩薩法,佛所護念。《法華經化城喻品第七
⊙過二萬劫已:二萬劫者,上既為二乘說諦緣等法,後受諸子請,說大乘法,故知中間不容默然,必說方等、般若。
⊙明待說法之機成熟,且明佛壽甚長。其所遲延之二萬劫,在彼佛臘中並不見為過久。必說方等、般若,六度萬行,多明即菩薩不思議事。
⊙乃於四眾之中說是大乘經:佛處眾中師子之座。言大乘者,簡別異於小教。
⊙大乘經:即大乘法。即聞是經,皆當成佛,為佛之不共法,故名大乘,教菩薩法。
⊙名妙法蓮華,教菩薩法,佛所護念:是經全說實法,盡稱佛之本懷而說,故為佛所護念。
 
【證嚴上人開示】

「諸子遵受佛命,隨同小果修持;領悟大乘教理,一切法門隨機;隨順轉教菩薩,談一乘實相理。」
 
諸子遵受佛命
隨同小果修持
領悟大乘教理
一切法門隨機
隨順轉教菩薩
談一乘實相理
 
我們應該連貫,從上面的(經)文,應該記憶猶深。前面就是說十六王子,用很懇切的心情,大家共同一心,就是懇切祈求佛轉法輪,說大乘法,十六王子出家,童真出家,這念心很清淨無染,單純,一心求法。既然在道場的因緣成熟了,梵天王到齊了、道場的人眾到齊了,就是轉輪聖王,所隨從的八萬億眾,也都在場了。
 
王子的出家是一個因緣,大因緣,而且已經這麼的童真,純真無染的心,求法之懇切,就知道這個道場的莊嚴,法,求法的氣氛,道氣是很盛。這個境界應該是很美的境界,天、地、人,真善美的心境,這實在,什麼時候才有辦法,我們的心境,能與這樣的道場會合呢?
 
諸子遵受佛命。從出家開始,一直虔誠的心受教育,在人群中修行,就是與大眾一樣,所以這叫做遵循佛命,沒有特殊,沒有因為他們是王子,出家沙彌,生活特別,沒有;與大眾的修行都是一樣,共做、共生活,隨同大眾,小果這樣修行,生活一樣,修行,聽法,同樣平等,平等。所以在這當中,有領悟大乘教理,雖然是在人群中,卻是真正領悟到了,雖然還有很多人,法,還沒有很透徹了解,卻是沙彌已經體悟了,所以他領悟大乘的教理。
 
其實,佛說法,沒有分什麼大小乘,只是我們小根機的人,佛陀應根機而說法,同樣的教育,只是根機不同,大根機的人,他所領悟的法,自然就是大法。就像大樹,雨水落下來,大樹吸收的水分也就是大量,若是小草,水分吸收就很少,同樣是水分,卻是不同的接受。佛說法就如雲與水,我們在<藥草喻品>,不是譬喻很多嗎?雖然十六沙彌在人群中,佛為他們(編按:意指大眾)隨機說法,卻是沙彌的根機,同樣的法,他們所領悟的是大乘的教理。所以「一切法門隨機」,佛陀說法,所說的法就是應機逗教,同樣的法,依不同的根機來接受。
 
所以「隨順轉教菩薩」。看大家的根機,若是都整齊了,就可以這樣話機一轉,過去大家這樣的修行,雖然是很好,聲聞聽法,能了解人間苦難偏多,聲聞能了解苦難來自,種種的因緣匯集,所以成為苦,這些道理都知道了,開始下決心要滅除苦的源頭,也認真修行,修行就是只為了一項──要如何滅盡苦的源頭。
 
同樣的道理,大乘的人聽了,卻是人生眾生苦難偏多,苦難匯集,來自眾生心不調和,眾生彼此受苦難、眾生彼此受折磨,眾生彼此愛恨情仇,這樣牽絆、牽累著,生生世世苦不堪;應該我了解了,我應該也要將這個理,讓大家了解。同樣的四諦法,小根機為自己斷生死,大根機體會眾生苦難,所以利己,了解,趕緊要再利於他人。這就是同樣的法,卻是不同樣,隨順根機,小法,大根機接受到,同樣也是菩薩法。
 
所以,佛陀他會將過去所說的法,大家接受得好,聲聞、緣覺,讚歎緣覺一聞十悟,知道人間無常,來自一心,一念無明,緣了十二(因)緣法,這樣輪轉,人間就是這樣無常轉動,這個道理,他透徹了解了。不過,還是一樣,雖然法理解得更深,比聲聞更深,他從天氣與生態,他能體會,卻是無法發出「我苦,人人也苦;我需要斷苦,取得寂靜的境界,應該人人也要斷除這個苦,透徹道理。人人都能解脫,達到心境寂靜,不是我自己而已,應該要人人。」欠缺這念心,所以他叫做緣覺。道理,他懂,但是不願意(主動)去付出。
 
菩薩就不同了,同樣是這些法,菩薩認為更高一層樓,視界看得更清楚。人生無常,五蘊皆空,在這個「空」,「空」法中有「妙有」,甚深微妙。人人本具佛性,人人都可成佛,既然人人可成佛,我也能成佛。人人都能成佛,只是一念無明偏差,我要趕緊入人群,和大家同修,同度這些苦難人,這「同事」度。願意付出去布施、付出去愛語、去利行,願意在人群中與大家生活相同,卻能夠用種種方法來度化人間,這就是菩薩。
 
「隨順轉教菩薩』」,隨順這個道理,也願意入人群輾轉相教,也是同樣能「談一乘實相理」,體會這些道理之後,了解多少,我就趕緊和大家分享。聞法者、說法者、傳法者,人人都能做得到,所以要好好用心,身體力行去付出,利益眾生。時間是這樣在過,我只是利益自己,同樣的,時間也是這樣過;我兼利他人,同樣的,時間也不會比較短;自己修自己,時間也不會比較長。同樣的時間,我能自修,我能兼利他人。就如人間菩薩,我們常常都聽到、看到,他們大家的體會、付出,看他們的歡喜,我們也是能隨喜。我們應該要記得,這麼多的故事,也不是故事,是真實的事相在人間。
 
在二0一三年,八九月間,菲律賓一連串的大災難。九月是在三寶顏的人禍大動亂,這種人心不調,人禍一衝突,放火燒掉了整個鄉鎮,受難者有一二萬戶,這是很大,人禍災難。從小鎮一直到市中心,反抗軍與警察互相對立,每天每天都聽到炮彈聲,造成一二萬戶無家可歸,這樣持續一個多月的時間。
 
這波還未盡,同樣在菲律賓,保和島那個地方,一個地震,本來的建築就簡陋了,也有很多教堂有歷史,三四百年、百多年的教堂,應聲而倒。這是在十月間所發生,規模七點二的。接下來十一月間,發生了海燕颱風,將萊特省獨魯萬市、奧莫克,還有很多的鄉鎮,整個這樣完全,如猛獸撕破整張紙,或者是整個東西,都這樣整個撕破了,那是多麼悽慘啊!這是二0一三年,連續菲律賓的大災難。
 
這三個大災難,慈濟人都是這樣投入。在炮火中,三寶顏的楊居士(楊偉順)他們也是帶領著志工,要如何幫助那些房子被火燒掉、集中在收容所的地方,白天還是同樣槍彈炮火,他們要如何去供應給這些,在人禍中受災難的人。那段時間,店面都沒人敢開,也有的人賣吃的東西,就趕快供應給慈濟。慈濟人同樣也集中,一些志工來整理這些吃的東西,要打包的打包,要分類的分類,晚上就趕緊將這些東西趕快送,那是,外面是這樣炮火隆隆,要避開炮彈,能將這虑東西送到那些災民,沒得吃的,能得到生活上的,解開他們的困難。這是一個多月的時間,不斷這樣在付出;這是當地的志工,若不是菩薩,哪有可能這樣做呢?
 
同在這片土地上,這片土地上,人心不調,受這樣的災難,平安的人就要趕快走入,已經受災難人的人群中去付出,這是三寶顏。
 
保和島呢?那個地方沒有慈濟人,要怎麼辦?那就是從馬尼拉,他們很快,就趕快,等路通了,等飛機飛了,飛機飛了,路通了,他們就趕快到那裡勘災。
 
舉目都是瓦礫,完全倒塌的房屋是很多,剛才說的教堂,那個島,很多的教堂,也是這樣倒得很嚴重。了解他們的災難之後,他們有回來臺灣,將那裡消息,將那裡的相片、錄影帶等等,拿回來看,真的苦啊!「該怎麼辦呢?」「我們若可以,也能幫忙他們,有時間,路安全了,我們可以去了解他們的生活,要如何發放,隨人口如何發放,然後再看需要。家庭困難的人,我們要如何幫助他復建,我們要如何安住他們的身,要如何安住他們的生活。你們就要等到有很平安的路,撥時間去看看。」「好,回去趕緊去看。」
 
了解了,他們就用訊息回歸回來了,就覺得如果這樣,應該準備發放。就是這樣去發放之後,知道多少人,需要幫助他們蓋房子。但是,過了之後,隔月的十一月就是海燕颱風了,所以大家就將力量,完全投入在獨魯萬與奧莫克。
 
保和島呢?它的災難也是需要趕快,孩子要讀書,學校都倒了。我們就這樣想,當初三寶顏燒掉了那麼多房子,我們也是想,學校要趕快完成起來。所以,我們在臺灣,趕緊從八月間開始做簡易教室,但是那裡炮火的隆隆,儘管這個教室,材料都搭起來,準備好了,但是還沒辦法,將東西運到三寶顏。就這樣靈機一動,既然保和島需要學校,你們就負責去保和島帶動。
 
所以就是趕緊再去和他們溝通,「學校,能先建簡易教室給你們用嗎?」當地人很歡喜。他們做事很認真,土地要趕快撥出來。這東西要過來之前,要先做好地磚,師父跟他們說:「用泰國的經驗,竹子和水泥做竹磚,這種磚不會破,將來簡易教室搬走了,自然這些磚能夠再回收。」以工代賑,那裡的人,地震過後,在獨魯萬,我們也已經以工代賑啟動。在保和島也是一樣,「你們也以工代賑,這些簡易教室,要再船運等等,要運,你們就趕緊讓那些人動起來,也是以工代賑,你們趕快讓他們去剖竹片,趕快讓他們去做地磚,地磚做好,東西運到了,你們就可以蓋了。」
 
很用心,仔細地教育他們,說慈濟的精神,整個保和島那些居民、家長,他們(志工) 一直說慈濟精神,帶著錄影帶等等,晚上就去為他們像在上課,去和他們分享,白天帶動他們如何做,大家的心,做到說:「我們不必以工代賑,你們這麼多東西給我們,我們的孩子能讀書,我們盡量,生活如果可以,刻苦一點,我們不必以工代賑,我們就是做就對了。」保和島都沒機會與大家分享,雖然它的範圍比較小,但是也是整座島。
 
所以,在那裡,常常就如在培訓他們一樣,這保和島很自然的,就像慈濟人的志工。現在他們的教室蓋得很有次序,甚至土地一點都沒有浪費,教他們種菜、教他們謀生等等,這都是,過程是非常感人。慈濟人入人群中,真正將法,在他們受災難中,將法這樣傳過去,安住他們的心,幫助他們的生活起居,教他們如何種菜,教他們如何蓋房子等等。這就是在平常的生活中,我們能聽,投入去做,那分付出的愛心,接受到大家從內心的感恩,那種愛與感恩的互動,那種度人的方式,真的是很溫馨。
 
因為菲律賓在二0一三年,連續九月、十月、十一月,這種驚世的大災難,慈濟人一直付出、付出,二0一四年,菲律賓的總統召見。雖然付出的人沒有去見總統,但是代表的人,進到總統府才只能是代表人,不過沒有投入,不過他們接受總統的召見。是總統要求你們派人來,所以就有人去接受。這些在做的人,很辛苦付出、付出的人,他們也很歡喜,「我們也很值得了!我們讓這裡的人民都很聽話,我們很值得了!」
 
他們很歡喜,沒有想,絕對不會想:「我們做成這樣,總統召見的,怎麼不是派我們去?沒有,他們沒有這樣的計較,他們已經與那裡的群眾,打成一片了,只要他們踏上那座島,沒有人不認識他們,沒有人不尊重、感恩他們。這就是付出,結眾生緣,人群中去造福,那種感覺與去跟總統見面,接受一個獎狀,這兩種感覺,你們覺得什麼感覺最好呢?這種長期繼續下去,人群中的感受,我認為這是最歡喜。
 
想到他們這樣做,我光是感受就很歡喜了。總而言之,這就是一乘實法,這就是菩薩道,菩薩就是在大乘的教理中,接受到了;雖然在人群小果中來受持,不過我的心,已經接受到佛陀所教育,,佛心直接入我的心,我願意直接投入人群中去。這就是法不分大小乘,但是人的根機有差別,所以我們要很用心來體會。佛法就是這樣,我們要用心。
 
前面的(經)文,「我等聞已,皆共修學。世尊!我等志願如來知見,深心所念,佛自證知。爾時,轉輪聖王所將眾中八萬億人,見十六王子出家,亦求出家,王即聽許。」
 
我等聞已
皆共修學
世尊
我等志願如來知見
深心所念
佛自證知
爾時
轉輪聖王所將眾中
八萬億人
見十六王子出家
亦求出家
王即聽許
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
這段(經)文是前面說過的。因為前面描述起十六沙彌,他們在佛已經接受了,要轉大乘法輪,他們要來表白:大家的心志是這麼堅定,求法的殷勤。我們體會到,十六沙彌那分心的堅定。在那當中,跟著轉輪聖王來,八萬億眾,也是見賢思齊,看到小小年紀就曉得要出家,不貪戀在纏的家,願意投入法的家,小孩就有辦法,大人呢?
 
所以,了解了人間苦難偏多,生死輪迴無常苦,由不得自己,這些人也是體會到了,所以隨順,也是求出家。要出家就要先向轉輪聖王,他們是轉輪聖王的隨從,這是按照道理,轉輪聖王,他本來就在傳法,孫子十六位都出家了,何況這些隨眾,願意出家,當然他也隨喜。那個境界,法的昌盛。
 
接下來這段(經)文,「爾時,彼佛受沙彌請,過二萬劫已,乃於四眾之中說是大乘經,名妙法蓮華,教菩薩法,佛所護念。」
 
爾時
彼佛受沙彌請
過二萬劫已
乃於四眾之中
說是大乘經
名妙法蓮華
教菩薩法
佛所護念
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
我們應該要了解,現在所請佛說法,這是已經從大通智勝佛,成佛以來,轉法輪,開始說法,一直一直時間很長久,到現在,開始是時候了,所以大家要追求大乘法。
 
所以「爾時,彼佛受沙彌請」。這個時間是,佛,大通智勝佛已經說法過了,但是現在所請法、所追求的,就是大乘法,所以這是大家現在,再次要請佛說大乘。所以「彼佛」就是大通智勝佛,已經願意接受,十六沙彌所請求,就是大乘法。
 
「過二萬劫已」。
 
過二萬劫已:
二萬劫者
上既為二乘
說諦緣等法
後受諸子請
說大乘法
故知中間不容默然
必說方等、般若
 
時間很長,這二萬劫以前,已經「為二乘說諦緣等法」。前面就用這麼長的時間,為聲聞、緣覺說「四諦」、「十二因緣」法。就如釋迦牟尼佛,八十歲的壽命,修行成佛,卻是用了四十二年間,來為二乘的人說法,同樣的道理,用很長的時間,所說的,很多的法,都是二乘人所能接受的,那個根機是二乘人都能接受的。雖然「四諦」、「十二(因)緣」,雖然是這樣簡單說,其實這其中,二萬劫中,就開始要講大法當中,這麼長(時間)當中,就是不能默默不說話。哪有默默地,都是默然許之呢?就是應該在這當中,大法還未說之前,就有說「四諦」、「十二(因)緣」,同時就是「阿含」,「四諦、十二(因)緣法」,就是「阿含時」,接下來就是「方等」、「般若」,這都是在二萬劫中,這樣說過來的。
 
我們過去不是一直說「五時」,當佛成佛那個剎那間,是入華嚴的境界,佛的境界,心與虛空法界合而為一,這是佛的境界。覺悟之後,很想要趕緊向大家分享,考慮一般的眾生,無法接受,所以再思考,開始才去鹿野苑,三轉四諦法,這個過程,大家應該很熟了,這叫做「阿含時」。
 
過了之後,十二年過後,就講「方等」,《方等經》。《方等經》就是,比阿含再超一層,那就是比較接受大乘。再接下去就是談「般若」,那是「空」法。但是,大家還無法啟動大機,因緣還沒成熟,一直到法華會,舍利弗還要三請。這個過程,大家應該都很熟了。
 
所以在大通智勝佛,二萬劫講「阿含」,同樣的,也講「方等」,也同樣講「般若」,順序都一樣是這樣過來。這表示,等待說大法的因緣、根機;用這麼長的時間,要真正講出成佛之道,這必定要用時間,說這麼多的法,就是要等待根機成熟之時。
 
明待說法之機成熟
且明佛壽甚長
其所遲延之二萬劫
在彼佛臘中
並不見為過久
必說方等、般若
六度萬行
多明即
菩薩不思議事
 
尤其是大通智勝佛,他的壽很長。轉輪聖王是出在人壽很長,八萬歲的時代,可見大通智勝佛,就是佛壽那麼長,所以,二萬劫不算什麼,是我們人間壽命苦短。
 
我們人間的壽命,就是這樣不滿百歲,人間一百年,是忉利天的一日。所以說來,用這樣來比例,在當初大通智勝佛的壽命,是那麼長,二萬劫,與我們現在的,釋迦牟尼佛的四十二年,應該也差不多吧。所以,在彼佛的佛臘,就是說成佛之後的時間,也同樣用這樣二萬劫來說,「阿含」、「方等」、「般若」,這樣的時間也合理,因為那時候人壽很長。
 
所以,從「阿含」之後,必定要說「方等」與說「般若」,如果沒有經過,「方等」、「般若」這個過程,人都會常常執著在,小乘「阿含」裡,所以為了要鋪未來大乘的道路,所以就要經過,「方等」、「般若」,接下來才是六度萬行,這就是「菩薩不思議事」。這種六度萬行,就能講盡菩薩來人間,來來回回,很多不可思議的事情,這在人間。
 
乃於四眾之中
說是大乘經:
佛處眾中師子之座
言大乘者
簡別異於小教
 
所以「乃於四眾之中,說(是)大乘經」。慢慢地等,等這樣的時間,經過「阿含」、「方等」、「般若」的過程,就是要等待眾生的根機成熟,能說大乘經時。所以「佛處眾中」,師子座上,他在師子座上說法,同樣就是在等待時機。
 
所以我們大乘者,那就是簡別不同於小乘。同樣佛是坐在師子座上說法,但是,根機不同,要等待時間,到了小乘法,小乘根機的人,他發大心了,才有辦法來接受大乘。所以,大乘與小乘不同,因為小乘根機就要施小教,讓他們聽得懂。
 
大乘經,就是大乘法,大乘的教法。
 
大乘經:即大乘法
即聞是經
皆當成佛
為佛之不共法
故名大乘
教菩薩法
 
聽大乘經大家才能知道:「原來是這樣啊!我現在已經,法都很了解了,煩惱不會染我的心了,我現在已經有這個力量,也有這樣的信心,我願意入人群去了,我不怕又有生死輪迴,這些道理我都清楚了,去來自在。」這就是聽大乘經之後,增加他的力量、發心,所以成佛之道,我能走。
 
所以「為佛之不共法」。這種就是我們要行菩薩道,與小乘是不同樣的路,這是大乘菩提直道,與小徑的道路是不同,所以,不共法。他能成佛的道路就是行菩薩道,這叫做大乘,不是小乘,是大乘。發大心的人能夠接受大乘法,就是要為他們教育菩薩的方法。
 
所以「名妙法蓮華經,教菩薩法,佛所護念」。
 
名妙法蓮華
教菩薩法
佛所護念:
是經全說實法
盡稱佛之本懷而說
故為佛所護念
 
這是佛佛道同,每一尊佛成佛之後,都是希望眾生人人也能成佛,就是要這樣的教育。所以「是經全說實法」,這本經完全說實法,完全稱為佛之本懷,該說的都說了,雖然過去說的,現在再拿來見證,過去所說的因緣果報,「四諦」、「十二(因)緣」等等,同樣再拿來這裡再譬喻言說,我們過去<譬喻品>也說過了,就是這樣(譬喻言辭),句句都是佛的本懷。
 
「故為佛所護念」。這個法是佛陀想要說的法,這是大乘經,大乘就是要成佛的一條道路,與一般不同。大學生就是在大學讀書,研究生就是在研究室裡研究,教室、教的方法不同。幼稚園就是幼稚園,就是在小小的,總而言之,法有這樣分大小法,其實法是不分,是大小根機,所以說,一雨所潤,隨根機而接受,只是這樣而已。
 
所以,道理是這麼簡單,不過,也是很深奧,用心去體會,自然就沒有困難。所以「遵受佛命」,我們佛心為己心,我們就能暢談一乘實相的道理,只要我們人人時時多用心!


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Accepting and Comprehending the Great Vehicle (遵受佛命領悟大乘)
Date: March.27. 2017

“The princes accepted and followed the Buddha’s instructions. They went along with the others who cultivate and uphold the Small [Vehicle] Fruit. They had comprehended the Great Vehicle teachings and principles. All the Dharma-doors accord with capabilities. In accord with capabilities, He turned the teachings to the Bodhisattva Way. He spoke of the principles of the ultimate really of the One Vehicle.”

We should be able to connect this to the previous sutra passage. It should still have a deep imprint in our memory. Previously we talked about how the 16 princes had feelings of utmost sincerity. Everyone came together and with one mind sincerity requested that the Buddha turn the Dharma-wheel and expound the Great Vehicle Dharma. The 16 princes became monastics with their childlike innocence. Their minds were very pure, undefiled and simple; they wholeheartedly sought the Dharma. Now the causes and conditions had matured at this assembly. The Brahma kings had all arrived, and everyone else was present. The wheel-turning sage kind and his eight trillion followers were also present at the assembly. The princes renouncing the lay life was one cause, a great cause, and in particular, they were already so innocent, with pure and undefiled minds. From their sincerity in seeking the Dharma, we can tell that this assembly must have been very dignified. With that atmosphere of seeking the Dharma, there was a strong spiritual feeling there.

This state must have been very beautiful, with the heavens, the earth and people in a mental state of truth, goodness and beauty. Truly, when will we be able to have a state of mind that can be with this kind of Dharma-assembly? The princes accepted and followed the Buddha’s instructions. Ever since renouncing the lay life, they had reverently accepted the teachings. They engaged in spiritual practice among people and lived like the rest of the monastics. So, this is called “accepting and following the Buddha’s instructions.” They received no special [treatment]. Even though they were princes, when they became novices, they did not have a special way of life. They engaged in spiritual practice in the same way as everyone else. They worked and lived together and followed the assembly of seekers of the Small Fruits and practiced that way. Their lifestyle was the same; the way they practiced and listened to the Dharma was also the same, was equal to everyone else. As they did this, they awakened to the Great Vehicle teachings and principles. Though they were among [the other practitioners], they had truly awakened to this. Though there were still many people who had not thoroughly understood the Dharma, these novices had already realized them. So, they had awakened to the Great Vehicle teachings and principles.

In fact, when the Buddha taught the Dharma, he made no distinctions between the Great and Small Vehicles. But because we have limited capabilities, the Buddha taught according to our capabilities. The teachings are all the same, but our capabilities are different. For those with great capabilities, the Dharma that they awaken to will naturally be the Great Dharma. This is like a large tree; when rain falls, the large tree will absorb large amounts of water while small plants only absorb small of water. The water is the same, but the amount they absorb is different.

The Buddha said that the Dharma is like clouds and water. In the Chapter on Medicinal Plants, weren’t many of these analogies given? Though the 16 novices were among people, the Buddha taught according to their capabilities. With the capabilities of the novices, the same Dharma was taught, thought what they awakened to were the teachings and principles of the Great Vehicle. So, “All the Dharma-doors accord with capabilities”. When the Buddha teaches the Dharma, He teaches according to our capabilities. The teachings are the same, but people have different capabilities to accept them. So, “In accord with capabilities, He turned the teachings to the Bodhisattva Way”. He observed everyone’s capabilities; if they had all reached the same level, then He could change how He taught to capabilities. In the past, everyone practiced in that way. This was very good; when Hearers listened to the Dharma, they understood the world is full of suffering. Hearers could understand that suffering comes from the accumulation of all kinds of causes and conditions; this creates suffering. Once they understood the principles, they became determined to eliminate the origin of suffering and earnestly engage in spiritual practice. They engage in practice for only one thing, to find ways to eliminate the origin of suffering.

According to the same principle, when those with Great Vehicle [capabilities] hear, they know sentient beings face much suffering and that suffering is accumulated from the imbalance in sentient beings’ minds. Sentient beings face suffering from each other, suffer torment from each other, feel love, hate, passion and animosity for each other and in this way, they become entangled. Lifetime after lifetime, they experience unbearable suffering. “Once I understand this, I should also help others to understand this principle.” With the same teachings of the Four Noble Truths, those with limited capabilities only seek to end cyclic existence for themselves, while those with great capabilities comprehend the suffering of sentient beings. So, they benefit themselves and understand, then quickly work to benefit others. It is the same Dharma, but what [they realized] was different, in accord with their capabilities. When those with great capabilities accept limited teachings, they are also taken as Bodhisattva teachings. So, the teachings taught by the Buddha in the past were well-accepted by everyone, by the Hearers and Solitary Realizers. [The Buddha] praised the Solitary Realizers for hearing one thing and realizing ten. They understood the impermanence of the world. From one thought of ignorance in the mind we give rise to the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence and thus remain in cyclic existence. Life in the world is like this, constantly changing and impermanent. They thoroughly understood these principles, but it was still the same. Though they had a deeper understanding of the Dharma and principles compared to the Hearers, and though from the weather and natural world they could realize the [principles], they were unable to give rise [to the thought], “I am suffering, and so is everyone else. I need to eliminate suffering and attain a state of stillness and tranquility, so everyone also needs to eliminate suffering and thoroughly understand the principles. Everyone is able to liberate themselves and reach a tranquil and still state of mind. This is not only for ourselves. Everyone should be able to achieve this state.” They lacked this kind of aspiration, so they were called Solitary Realizers. They were able to understand the principles, but they were unwilling to give of themselves. Bodhisattvas are different. With the same teachings, the Bodhisattvas believed that they must advance to a higher level and gain a clearer view. Life is impermanent, and the Five Aggregates are empty. Within the teachings of “emptiness,” there is “wondrous existence”; this is extremely profound, wondrous and subtle. Everyone intrinsically has Buddha-nature, and everyone can attain Buddhahood. “Since everyone can attain Buddhahood, I can also attain Buddhahood. Everyone can attain Buddhahood, yet one thought of ignorance leads us astray. We must quickly go among people and practice together with everyone else, transforming suffering beings together.” This is to transform others through collaborative work. We willingly serve with charitable giving, with loving speech and beneficial conduct. We are willing to go among the people and live in the same way as everyone else while being able to use all kinds of methods to transform people in the world. This is [the work of] the Bodhisattvas. So, “In accord with capabilities, He turned the teachings to the Bodhisattva Way.” In accord with these principles, [Bodhisattvas] were willing to go among people and pass on the teachings.

They could likewise “speak of the principles of the ultimate reality of the One Vehicle.” After we realize these principles, we must take whatever we understand and quickly share it with others. To be one who listens to the Dharma, teaches the Dharma and transmits the Dharma is something that everyone can do. So, we must put effort into being mindful and put the teachings into practice to service others. When we benefit sentient beings, time constantly passes like this. If we only benefit ourselves, time still passes in the same way. If we benefit both ourselves and others, we will not have any less time. If we only focus on cultivating ourselves, we will not have any more time. In the same amount of time, we can benefit ourselves as well as others.

This is just like Living Bodhisattvas. We often see and hear about their experiences and the way they serve others. We see how they are joyful, and we can also rejoice with them. We should all remember these many stories. Actually, these are not stories; theses are true matters and appearances of the world. Between August and September of 2013, a series of disasters struck the Philippines. In September, there was a manmade calamity and great turmoil in Zamboanga. Because of the imbalance in people’s minds, a conflict erupted and a fire was set, burning down an entire village. Around 10,000 t0 20,000 households were affected. This was a very large manmade calamity, spreading from the village to the downtown of the city. The rebel fighters and police opposed each other. Every day, the noise of guns and bombs could be heard. This calamity caused 10,000 to 20,000 families to lose their homes and lasted for more than a month. Before this calamity had ended, also in the Philippines, an earthquake struck the island of Bohol. The buildings there were originally very simple. There were also many historic churches that were built more than 300 to 400 years ago. [When the quake struck], they all collapsed. This happened in October.

Then in November, Typhoon Haiyan struck. In the province of Leyte, in Tacloban, Ormoc and many other villages, this [strong typhoon hit them] like a monster ripping up a piece of paper, as if completely destroying something. How tragic it was! This was the series of great disaster s that hit the Philippines in 2013. With all three calamities that had occurred, Tzu Chi volunteers got involved to help. During the fighting, Mr. Yang from Zamboanga led the local volunteers to help the people whose homes were destroyed by the fire and who were staying at the shelter. During the day, the fighting continued. How could they provide for these people who were suffering during this manmade calamity? During that time, no one dared open their shops. Some of the people who sold food provided food for Tzu Chi [to distribute]. Tzu Chi volunteers also gathered together to organize the food. They packed and categorized the food, then quickly distributed it at night. Outside, the fighting was still going on. They had to avoid the shelling to bring food to the disaster survivors who had no food to eat. This way, the people were be able to get what they needed to resolve their difficulties.

For over a month, the volunteers constantly helped them. These were local volunteers; if they were not Bodhisattvas, how would they be able to do this? They lived in the same place as everyone else. In that place, people’s minds were out of balance and thus they faced such disasters. So, those who were safe had to quickly go among the disaster survivors to help them. This was in Zamboanga.

What about on the island of Bohol? There were no Tzu Chi volunteers there. What could be done? The volunteers from Manila moved as fast as they could, waiting for roads to clear and flights to resume. Once the roads were clear and flights resumed, they quickly went there to assess the disaster. There was rubble everywhere they looked, and many of the houses had completely collapsed. I’m mentioned earlier about the churches. There were many churches on that island, but many of them had completely collapsed. Once the volunteers understood the conditions, they came back to Taiwan with information, pictures, videos and so on. Seeing what they brought back, it was truly suffering! What could be done? “If we can, we are able to help them, there is time and the roads are safe. We can now go and understand their situation and determine how to do the distributions based on the population. Then, based on their needs, for households facing difficulties, we can find ways to help them rebuild and find ways to ensure they are safe and find ways to stabilize their lives. You should wait until the road is safe, then spend some time to observe the situation. Yes, we will go back and quickly check on them. Once they understood [the conditions], they communicated their report back here. They felt that under those conditions, we should prepare for distributions. After the distributions, we would know how many people needed assistance in rebuilding their houses. But after a short while, the next month, November, Typhoon Haiyan hit. So, most of our efforts were dedicated to helping Tacloban and Ormoc. What about the island of Bohol? Its disaster also required swift assistance. The children needed to go to school, but the schools had collapsed. These were our thoughts. In Zamboanga, so many buildings had burned. We also thought that we must quickly rebuild the schools. So in Taiwan, from mid-August, we began to manufacture prefabricated classrooms. But the fighting was still going on. Even though the prefabricated classrooms and the materials were all ready, we were still unable to ship these materials to Zamboanga. Because of this, the thoughts occurred that since Bohol needed schools right then, we should bring them to Bohol first. So, we quickly got in touch with them again. “For the schools, is it alright to first use prefabricated classrooms?” The local people were very happy. They were very earnest in how they did things. A piece of land needed to be quickly cleared, and before [the classrooms] arrived, they had to first lay the tile flooring. I told them that, “From our experience in Thailand, tiles made from bamboo and cement will not break easily. In the future, when we move the classrooms, these tiles can be recycled.” We administered a “cash for work” program for the people there after the earthquake. In Tacloban, we had also already held a “cash for work” program. Then, we did the same on the island of Bohol. “You should also use a cash for work program. For these prefabricated classrooms, we need to transport them by boat and so on. You should quickly mobilize the people through a ‘cash for work’ program. They should start to cut bamboo into slices and make floor tiles from that. Once the tiles are made, when the [classrooms] arrive, you will be able to start the process.”

They were very mindful and thorough in teaching. They explained the spirit of Tzu Chi to the residents and families of Bohol; [the volunteers] repeatedly talked about the spirit of Tzu Chi. They brought along movies so they could hold class at night and share with them. During the day, they taught them how to [make the tiles]. Everyone participated to the point that they felt, “We do not need the ‘cash for work’ program. You gave us so many things already. Our children will be able to study [in school]. We will do our best. As long as it is possible for us to get by, we do not need the ‘cash for work’ program. We will just do it.” I have not shared with all of you about Bohol. Although its area is very small, it covers the entire island. So, in that place, we [taught] them as if giving volunteer training.

Naturally the residents on the island of Bodhi became just like our Tzu Chi volunteers. Now, the classrooms have been set up very neatly. Moreover, none of the land there was wasted. We taught them how to grow vegetables and how to make a living. This process was truly very touching. Tzu Chi volunteers went among the people to truly bring the Dharma [to them] when they were suffering from this disaster. We spread the Dharma there to help put their minds at ease, help them in their daily living, teach them how to grow vegetables and build houses etc. This is all in their daily living. We were able to listen, then get involved and help. We gave to others with love. Those who received it felt gratitude from the bottom of their hearts. This interaction filled with love and gratitude, this method of transforming others is truly very heartwarming.

In 2013, in the Philippines, consecutively through September, October and November, there were these earth-shattering disasters. Tzu Chi volunteers were constantly giving to help. In 2014, the president Philippines summoned us. Although those who were serving were not the ones who went to see the president, we had to send representatives to be the ones who went in to see the president. However they had not been involved [in the work]. Still, they accepted the president’s summons. The president asked that we send representatives, so our volunteers went to accept [the award]. Those who were doing the very laborious relief work to benefit others were also very happy. They thought, “This was very worthwhile for us. We helped the people here work together well. It was definitely worth it.” They were filled with joy. They did not think, “We have done so much, why weren’t we the ones sent to answer the president’s summons?” They were not petty at all in this way. They had already fully integrated with the locals there. As soon as they stepped on the island, everyone there recognized them, respected them and was grateful for them. This comes from giving of oneself and creating good connections with sentient beings. They went among the people to benefit them. Comparing this feeling with visiting the president to receive an award, which do you think is better? This feeing of working among people continuously for a long time, I believe, is the most joyful feeling. When I think of the work that they did, just this feeling alone makes ne happy.

In summary, this is the Dharma of the One Vehicle. This is the Bodhisattva-path. Bodhisattvas accept [the Dharma] though the Great Vehicle teachings and principles. Though they accept and uphold the teachings among those who seek the Small [Vehicle] Fruit, in their minds, they have already accepted all the Buddha taught, “I take the Buddha’s mind directly into mine; I am willing to directly get involved and go among the people. In this way, the Dharma had no distinctions of the Small or great Vehicle; it is just people’s capabilities that differ. So, we must mindfully seek to experience this. This is how the Buddha-Dharma is, so we must be mindful.

The previous sutra passage states, “Once we have heard it, we will practice and learn it together. World-Honored One, we aspire toward the Tathagata’s understanding and views. As for the thoughts in the depths of our hearts, the Buddha already confirms and knows them. At that time, the assembly led by the wheel-turning sage king of eight trillion people, upon seeing the 16 princes became minastics, also requested become minastics. The king heard this and gave his consent.”

We talked about this passage before. Before this, it was describing the 16 novices. They accepted teachings from the Buddha and wanted Him to turn the Great Vehicle Dharma-wheel. They wanted to express that everyone’s resolve was firm and all were diligent in seeking the Dharma. We can comprehend the 16 firm resolve of the 16 princes. Suring that time, the eight trillion followers of the wheel-turning sage king also saw their virtues and hoped to emulate them. They saw that the princes had renounced the lay life at such a young age. They did not cling to the family that binds them and were willing to dedicate themselves to the family of the Dharma. If young children can do this, what about adults? So they understood life is full of suffering, the suffering of impermanence and transmigrating in cyclic existence, which are beyond their control. They had realized this, so according they requested to become monastics. To become monastics, they had to first request permission from the wheel-turning sage king because they were his followers. This was in line with basic principles. The wheel-turning sage king was already engaged in spreading the Dharma, so he let his 16 grandchildren become monastics. Now these followers were willing to renounce the lay life, so of course he rejoiced for them. Under such conditions, the Dharma flourished.

The next sutra passage states, “At that time, that Buddha accepted the novices’ request 20,000 kalpas having already passed, He then, before the fourfold assemble, taught the Great Vehicle sutra called the Wondrous Dharma Lotus Sutra, which teaches the Bodhisattva Way and is in the thoughts and under the protection of the Buddha. We should understand their request for the Buddha to expound the Dharma now. From the time Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha attained Buddhahood and began to turn to turn the Dharma-wheel and expound the Dharma, it had already been a long time, now at this point, it was finally the right time. So, what everyone was seeking was the Great Vehicle Dharma. Thus, “At that time, that Buddha accepted the novices’ request.” This time was after Great Unhindered Wsdom Superior Buddha had already expounded the Dharma. But now, the Dharma that they requested and sought was the Great Vehicle Dharma. Thus, now everyone was once again requesting the Buddha to expound the Great Vehicle Dharma. So, “that Buddha” refers to Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha, He was willing to accept the request from the 16 novices for the Great Vehicle Dharma, “20,000 kalpas having already passed.”

In these 20,000 kalpas, He first taught the Two Vehicle practitioners the Dharma of the Four Noble Truths, the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence and so on. Later He accepted the princes’ request to teach the Great Vehicle Dharma. Thus, we know that in the meantime, He could not have been silent, but must have taught the Vaipulya and Prajna.

This was a very long period of time. In these preceding 20,000 kalpas, ”He first taught the Two Vehicle practitioners.” He had already spent such a long time teaching Hearers and Solitary Realizers the Four Noble Truths and the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence. This was just like Sakyamuni Buddha. In His lifespan of 80 years, He engaged in spiritual practice and attained Buddhahood, but it took Him 42 years to expound the Dharma for Two Vehicle practitioners. The principle is the same; it took a very long period of time. All of the many teachings that He gave were ones that Two Vehicle practitioners could accept; they were suitable for Two Vehicle practitioners’ capacities. So, from the Four Noble Truths and the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence, though we say this very simply, in fact it took 20,000 kalpas before He was about to expound the Great Dharma. During this long period of time, He could not have been silent. How could He have been silent, just silently consenting the whole time? It must have been that during that time, before He expounded the Great Dharma, He taught the Four Noble Truths, Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence and at the same time the Agama teachings. The Four Noble Truths, Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence were in Agama period.

Next, He taught the Vaipulya and Prajna. These were all taught during the20,000 kalpas. In the past, we talked about the Five Periods. At the moment the Buddha attained Buddhahood, He entered the Avatamsaka state, the state of Buddhahood. His mind and the entire universe became one. This is the state of Buddhahood. After He attained enlightenment, He wanted to quickly share this with everyone. However, He considered that most sentient beings would not be able to accept [these teachings]. So, He thought further. He then went to Deer Park and gave the Three Turnings of the Four Noble Truths. Everyone should be familiar with this process. This was the Agama Period.

12 years later, He began to expound theVaipulya, the Vaipulya sutras. TheVaipulya sutras were a level above the Agama, when people were more willing to accept the Great Vehicle. After that came the Prajna, which is the Dharma of “emptiness”. However, everyone was still unable to awaken their great capabilities. The causes and conditions had not yet matured. This continued until the Lotus Dharma-assembly, when Sariputra requested the Dharma three times. Everyone should be familiar with his process. So, Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha taught the Agama during those 20,000 kalpas, then the Vaipulya and Prajna, also in that period. The order is always like this. This shows that waiting for the causes and conditions and capabilities to teach the Great Dharma took a very long time. To truly explain the path to Buddhahood takes a long time. He gave so many teachings as He waited for people’s capabilities to mature.

It explains that He waited for the opportunity to be ripe to teach the Dharma. It also indicates that the Buddha’s lifespan was very long. So, the 20,000 kalpas He delayed, in terms of that Buddha’s years, did not appear to be a very long time. He must have taught the Vaipulya and Prajna and how to actualize the Six Paramitas in all actions. These mostly explain the inconceivable matters of Bodhisattvas.

In particular, Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha’s lifespan was very long. Wheel-turning sage kings only appear when the human lifespan is very long, when it is 80,000 years. Clearly, Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha had such a long lifespan. So, 20,000 kalpas was not a very long time for Him. It is our lifespan in the world that is very short. In the world, our lifespan is less than 100 years. 100 years in the world is just one day in Trayastrimsa Heaven. So, using this as a comparison, the lifespan of Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha was very long. 20,000 kalpas should be similar to Sakyamuni Buddha’s 42 years. In terms of that Buddha’s Buddha-age, which means the time after He attained Buddhahood, He likewise used the 20,000 kalpas to teach the Agama, Vaipulya and Prajna. The timing for this is reasonable because lifespans then were very long. So, after the Agama, He had to teach the Vaipulya and Prajna. Without going through the process of the Vaipulya and Prajna, people would always be attached to the Small Vehicle Agama teachings. To pave a path for the future Great Vehicle, He had to go through the Vaipulya and Prajna. Only after these could He teach the Six Paramitas in all actions. These are the “inconceivable matters of Bodhisattvas.” With actualizing the Six Paramitas in all actions, He could fully explain the Bodhisattvas’ coming and going in the world, all these inconceivable matters in this world.

“He then, before the fourfold assembly,” “taught the Great Vehicle sutra.” He patiently waited for the right time. He went through the process of the Agama, Vaipulya and Prajna, because He had to wait for the time when sentient beings’ capabilities were mature and He could expound the Great Vehicle sutra. So, “The Buddha sat among the assembly” upon the lion throne. He taught the Dharma sitting on the lion throne. He was also waiting for the right time. So, we speak of the Great Vehicle to distinguish it from the Small Vehicle. He likewise sat upon the lion throne to expound the Dharma, but people’s capabilities were different. So, He had to wait for the right time, for those in the Small Vehicle, those with Small Vehicle capabilities, to form great aspirations. Only then could they accept the Great Vehicle. So, the Great and Small Vehicles are different because He had to give limited teachings to Small Vehicle [practitioners] so that they could understand.

“The Great Vehicle sutra” refers to the Great Vehicle Dharma, the Great Vehicle teachings.

The Great Vehicle sutra: The Great vehicle Dharma. It means that those who have heard this sutra will all attain Buddhahood. This is the Buddha’s distinctive Dharma. Thus, it is called the Great Vehicle, that teaches the Bodhisattva Way.

By listening to the Great Vehicle sutra, everyone would be able to understand that, “It turns out it is like this! Now I have thoroughly understood the Dharma, and afflictions will not defile my mind. I now have this strength and this faith, so I am willing to go among people. I am not afraid of cycle existence. I am clear about all these principles and am able to come and go freely.” After listening to the Great Vehicle sutra, their strength increased; they formed aspirations. So, they knew they could walk on the path to attaining Buddhahood. Thus, ”This is the Buddha’s distinctive Dharma.” This is telling us that we must walk on the Bodhisattva-path, which is different from the path of the Small Vehicle. This is the Great Vehicle, the direct Bodhi-path. It is different from the path of the Small Vehicle. So, this is the distinctive Dharma. The path to attaining Buddhahood is called the Bodhisattva-path, which is the Great Vehicle. It is not the Small Vehicle, but the Great Vehicle. Those who form great aspirations are able to accept the Great Vehicle Dharma. This teaches them the Bodhisattve Way. “[It is ] called the Wondrous Dharma Lotus Sutra, which teaches the Bodhisattva Way and is in the thoughts and under the protection of the Buddha.”

[It is ] called the Wondrous Dharma Lotus Sutra, which teaches the Bodhisattva Way and is in the thoughts and under the protection of the Buddha: This sutra entirely teaches the True Dharma and states entirely the Buddha’s original intent. Thus, it is in the thoughts and under the protection of the Buddha.

In this way, all Buddhas share the same path. When any Buddha attains Buddhahood, they hope that all sentient beings can also attain Buddhahood. Thus, the Buddha must teach them in this way. So, “This sutra entirely teaches the True Dharma.” This sutra teaches the True Dharma and states entirely the Buddha’s original intent. He said everything that He needed to say. Though expounded in the past, He would verify this now. Previously, He taught the law of karma, the Four Noble Truths and the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence. Now He would likewise bring these in here and use analogies and verbal teachings. In the past, we explained the Chapter on Parables. This is how [He taught]. Every sentence entirely expresses the Buddha’s original intent. “Thus, it is in the thoughts and under the protection of the Buddha.” This Dharma is what the Buddha wanted to teach. This is the Great Vehicle Dharma. The great Vehicle is a path to Buddhahood. This is not the same as most paths.

Undergraduate students study in universities, while graduate students study in research labs. The classrooms and the teaching methods are different. Kindergartners are in kindergartens. They are for young children to learn. In summary, there is the Small and Great Vehicle Dharma. In fact, the Dharma is the same, but the difference lies in our capabilities. So, we say the rain nourishes all things, but we take it in based on our capacities. This is the only [difference]. So, the principles are very simple, but they can also be very profound. If we mindfully seek to comprehend the teachings, naturally there is no difficulty. So, we must “follow the Buddha ‘s instructions” and take the Buddha’s mind as our own. This way, we can freely discuss the principles of the ultimate reality of the One Vehicle. We can do this as long as we can always be mindful.

(Source: Da Ai TV – Wisdom at Dawn program – Explanation by Master Chen-Yen)
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