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 20180103《靜思妙蓮華》 見寶塔品 古佛示現 (第1254集) (法華經•見寶塔品第十一)

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發表主題: 20180103《靜思妙蓮華》 見寶塔品 古佛示現 (第1254集) (法華經•見寶塔品第十一)   周二 1月 02, 2018 11:37 pm

20180103《靜思妙蓮華》 見寶塔品 古佛示現 (第1254集) (法華經•見寶塔品第十一)

⊙「釋迦如來與十方分身佛聚集,及三變淨土等事。不僅見寶塔,獨以是為品題,以眾見寶塔,生希有心,遂為開塔。」
⊙釋迦佛靈山說法華經,即以多寶之現身為證。多寶如來為過去古佛,久入涅槃。
⊙此經見寶塔品,釋迦如來之十方分身佛,各將一菩薩,為供養多寶塔,來靈鷲山時。釋迦如來以神力,三變穢土而為淨土。
⊙初變娑婆一世界,次變二百萬億那由他之國,後再變二百萬億那由他之國為淨土。依此謂之三變淨土。
⊙法師一品,既顯若法若人皆可尊重,此見寶塔品即敘述,但說是經之處,多寶如來必來聽經示現。
⊙若親近法師,速得菩薩道,隨順是師學,得見恆沙佛。《法華經法師品第十》

【證嚴上人開示】
「釋迦如來與十方分身佛聚集,及三變淨土等事。不僅見寶塔,獨以是為品題,以眾見寶塔,生希有心,遂為開塔。」

釋迦如來
與十方分身佛聚集
及三變淨土等事
不僅見寶塔
獨以是為品題
以眾見寶塔
生希有心
遂為開塔

前面我們是在〈法師品〉,現在已經開始第十一品了,前面的〈法師品〉,佛陀重視這部經,這部經典就是佛陀他的本懷,來人間的目標,就是為了開示眾生佛的知見,這在《法華經》中完全包含。幾天前,一直一直向大家強調,持《法華經》,哪怕是一句一偈,我們心生歡喜,虔誠接受,就能得到釋迦牟尼佛以衣覆之,大家那個內容應該還記得。而且有這部經在的地方,就是佛的全身在,這就是法身,法身就是道理,道理永恆,無處不在,只要有道理的地方,就有佛的法身在。法身,無形、無體相,卻是人人本身,就具備有佛的法身,因為人人這些道理都是懂,只是無明一層一層,不斷遮蓋過去,讓我們無法將這個道理,很明顯這樣展現出來,這只是無明遮蓋,所以成為凡夫,造就了種種心的煩惱。煩惱與煩惱相對,那就是產生了情、仇、恨、愛,複雜的情就是這樣展現出來,所以人生的苦難偏多。

《法華經》從開始的〈序品〉,我們就已經接受到,《無量義經》,佛陀說《無量義經》,然後靜默,坐下來,不動法座,人人當然都沒有離開。在那當中已經就知道,前面的《無量義經》,是甚深甚深,真實甚深,大家都已經聽進去了,但是甚深甚深的法,那個微妙是在哪裡啊?佛陀講完,他就是默然坐著,就是表示後面,甚深甚深的微妙法就是在後面,佛陀還沒說出來,既不離座,大家還是在那個地方坐著。不過,佛陀就是現光、現瑞,讓大家的心,有的人看到佛,那個異常的光及瑞相,心生歡喜,知道佛應該就是要敘述出,他內心含藏著的,那個甚深微妙的法,毫光是遍照東方。東方在哪裡啊?佛陀他故鄉在古時代的印度,印度的東方去,那就是大陸,中國。中國後來有多少人去西方取經,可見佛眉間的毫光,是照於東方萬八千土。這在開頭這部經,經典中,佛陀靜坐的〈序品〉,就已經法就是要這樣傳,從印度傳到中國來,中國將佛法弘揚光大起來。

經過了鳩摩羅什法師,還有玄奘法師,中國很多人往西方去,西方的(迦葉)摩騰及竺法籣,從印度傳法來中國,加上了鳩摩羅什法師。現在我們所在講的這部經,是鳩摩羅什法師,所帶來、所翻譯,親自翻譯的大乘經典,所以《法華經》就是佛陀的本懷,從他成佛的第一念:「奇哉!奇哉!大地眾生皆有如來智性。」這是佛陀覺悟的第一念,所發現到的,天地萬物,眾生無不都是具備了道理──人人本具真如本性、佛性。佛性是遍虛空法界,合為一體,眾生,他了解眾生人人就是這樣,與佛同等,佛與虛空法界合為一體,眾生同樣,與佛同等,這全都具備有的條件,就是與虛空法界會合,就是與道理會合,人人本具。只是眾生就是這樣的無明,隔礙著,佛陀決定要來為眾生,啟開這道門,眾生無明的門,要將它打開,將它打開,裡面真如本性才能展現出來。

不過,要打開這道門,無明門要打開,談何容易啊!佛陀要思考,不斷地思考,要用眾生體會得到的這人間境界,他體會得到的環境來入門,所以決定了,決定從小教開始,所以第一批所度的眾生,那就是跟隨他出家,皇宮裡面,說起來也是他的長輩,是舅輩、叔輩,有的是叔叔的輩分,有的是舅舅的輩分,是父親這邊的親(族),也有母親這邊的親(族)。當初太子離開王宮,國王擔心,派遣出來的都是國的親,所以至親的人出來找,希望這親戚的情,能喚回太子回皇宮去。不只無法說服太子,他一念心,為天下眾生找出了真理。天下眾生苦難偏多,自己雖然生在皇宮,很快樂在過日子,榮華富貴,多少人在侍候他,這樣的生活,但是他所看到的是苦難人,奴隸、賤民,他們的生活是這麼的辛苦。又再想到人間有重重的矛盾,生、老、病、死,大自然的法則,生生滅滅。

太子他的思想、看法,生來就與平常的孩子不同,成長的過程,思想也不同,我們凡夫六識、七識、八識,無不都是在業識中,看外在五根,就是眼、耳、鼻、舌、身,緣外面的五塵,五根、五識緣五塵,外面的境界是什麼,起心動念,貪、瞋、癡、慢、疑,都是在這五根與五塵會合,內在的心起意,所以有意識。五根這樣在緣這些境界,意識去接納,六識看到,很美,我要,所思考的,名利、地位,我貪、我要,去思考造作,然後六根去外面造業。

這就是在五、六、七識,所造作的這個業力,歸納,終歸在八識裡,由這八識,就這樣帶來帶去,「萬般帶不去,唯有業隨身」,帶來了這一生,這一生同樣,五識、五根塵去感觸,六識同樣去貪愛,起心動念,七識去思考、造作,回歸再到八識,再增加煩惱無明罪業,重重疊疊就是由不得自己,一直就是(隨著)這個業識。所以,我們生生世世在人間,隨著境界而轉,承著境界而做,隨著境界而思想、行為,這就是凡夫。但是悉達多太子呢?不是,他是與生俱來,他的思想所看,他的思想,外面所緣的境界,收納在他的內心裡,就是不忍心,不忍世間眾生苦,就是一項,如何去付出。從小一直到大,一直到愈了解的,愈知道人間苦難偏多,矛盾重重,解不開的奧祕,在人間裡要如何能解開了,這個大自然的法則,那個奧祕,要如何才能讓人性平等,四姓階級,分得富貴永遠富貴,貧窮苦難賤民,生生世世還是代代都是賤民。這不平等的人生階級,當國王,繼王位,是不是有辦法改除呢?不可能。

佛陀在世,印度,古印度,就有很多很多的小國,以城立國,所以很多的小國,迦毗羅衛國只不過是一個,古印度其中一個小小的國家,很小的國家,他到底能影響多少人,到底能如何改除了四姓階級?這種人間世事很難改變,唯有道理,自然的法則,道理要讓大家通徹了解,從最根本的平等方法,才有辦法能改變,人心改變了,思想改變,這四姓階級自然就改變了。這是佛陀在太子的時代所想的,所以他不希望安逸,就是安住在這樣,這麼豐富的物資,受這麼多人侍候,所以他願意出去外面,去體會大自然的法則,要去了解這麼多的宗教,九十六種的宗教,到底他們在說的教法是什麼。所以他這樣離開了, 離開皇宮去找,也找出了道理,自己的身體,去體驗出大自然生存的道理,他這樣去找。

這麼多年的時間,也訪問了很多婆羅門,各說各人的話,這種九十六種,各人有不同的道理,所修的行,不近人性很多,所以他再另外去找出一條,真的是大自然、合人性、會道理,一條的道路。所以他決定靜下來,好好來思考,修苦行,這樣的過程。雖然他的舅輩、叔輩的,王親國戚的長輩,來勸他回去皇宮,他堅定的心就是往他想,自己要找的路,向前走。現在成佛了,成佛,他了解,應該要度的是什麼人,這五位就是他要度的,第一梯次的弟子。當然,覺悟之後的佛陀,宿命通,了解過去的因緣,該度的人就是這五個人,就是第一梯次。我們曾經說過,佛的《本生經》發願:你們若在我的身上,呼籲很多人,能在我身上取我的肉,維持他們的生命。這是一位國王發大願,不忍心他的國民受飢旱,飢餓、旱災、飢饉,不忍心,所以他化為魚,大魚。這五個人就是這樣,在那個地方首先發現,這條魚好像冥冥中向他們說話:「我要修行,你們若能去通告村裡的人,來取我的肉,維持他們的命,完成我修行的願,若這樣,我將來成佛,你們五個人,就是我第一批要度的人。」

這個故事,過去都說過了,這就是在佛陀的《本生經》。佛成佛了,那個宿命通也已經浮現,「這五個人就是我第一梯次度。」所以才從「苦集滅道」,雖然說這是小教,要入佛門的小教,但是面對著王親國戚,王親就是父親這邊的親,國戚是母親這邊的親,這都是貴族,平時都是在享受的人,要告訴他們「苦」,他們不曾受過苦,只是這段時間跟著太子修行,這段時間這樣經歷的苦,但是不了解人群中的疾苦,他們並沒有去體會。所以要說「苦」,他們所體會的不會很深,所以,光說一個苦,就要三轉法輪,三轉十二行法輪,四諦要三轉,他們才有辦法去體會到,苦、集、滅、道的道理。所以,我們要說法,富貴人家要接受法就困難,比較困難,他們不知道,無法體會受苦難的人,那種的感受,所以要他們修行,要他們來了解佛法,真的困難啊!有經歷過的,那就是很容易了解。

就如昨天(二0一六年八月),我到臺東走一趟,去法親關懷,去聽,聽他們一個多月的時間,臺東的慈濟人,到現在還沒有結束。這勘災(尼伯特風災) ,緊急的已經告一段落了,現在這中(期)與長(期)的,要如何幫助他們,有的人,颱風過後,屋頂還無法蓋起來的還很多,我們過去,重點在太麻里,太麻里是很集中的災難,太麻里這個地方,尤其是西部與東部的樞紐,從西部要來東部,一定要經過的地方是太麻里,集中的災難,所以,大家的注目都在那裡。我們慈濟人,從北部、中部、南部,也大家動員起來,輪流好幾天,就來臺東,陪伴臺東的慈濟人勘災。臺東的慈濟人,有的自己也是受災難,也是屋頂,多多少少都有損失,但是自己的先放著,還是先趕緊災民所要幫助的,所以他們大家,就是先人後己,投入。我們因為這樣,我們看到受災的人,我們大家趕緊在規畫,救急的人在前面一直救急,我們在後面在規畫。這個急難過後,救災過後,他們居住的地方要怎麼辦呢?在這個地方,近海邊,每次颱風,就是在「風頭」(迎風處),雖然不曾有過這麼大的災難,卻是有這次的大災,未來呢?不知道是什麼樣子。所以要趕緊鞏固他們的建設,要讓他們未來若有災難也能平安度過。

昨天我去看,我們營建處的同仁,也來報告,已經屋頂,有的為他修好了,有的是已經那個鋼構,已經架上屋頂了,現在,就是這兩天,屋頂幫他們蓋一蓋就完成了。這就是我們在太麻里要做的。

又有很多學校,除了我們援建的學校,「減災希望工程」,本來我們就在幫他們蓋的學校,又有受這次颱風,所吹了之後損壞的,也是我們趕快,公家要能申請通過、撥款下來,很困難,不如我們趕緊為他修,也能趕上這次,孩子暑假過後能讀書,聽了安心啊!不過,再聽的就是卑南鄉,沿海地區,也是零零落落的,我們的照顧戶,也有很多違章建築。過去是這樣在住,現在損壞了,無法修理,也沒有經濟可以修復,這些要怎麼辦呢?問題還很多,還要再繼續,要再去評估,還有幾百戶,還要再繼續,我們慈濟人還在繼續關懷。也聽到了,有的老人獨居,現在的災難,女兒回來看她,女兒(溫女士)看到慈濟人,在關懷她的母親(蔣阿嬤),在膚慰,女兒很感動。

她說,「九二一」(強震)的時候,她也是在那個地區受災難的人,「八八水災」在高雄,那時候,他們也受了災難,現在呢?現在,在「七八」,就是七月分這個尼伯特颱風,她也是又受災難。她說:「每次的災難,是誰能來幫助我們呢?看到的就是慈濟人。」她說,常常放在心裡,這次,媽媽獨居,媽媽的房子是這樣,還是慈濟人,所以她很感動。這是有這樣的一個,真的讓我們也覺得,人生怎麼會這樣,這麼大的災難遭遇,都是這樣過來,都有遇上,這實在是業力不可轉。

也有村長,太麻里香蘭村的村長,自己也受災,但是他為了那些災民,與我們不斷密切地(聯繫),陪伴我們,也趕快去訪問,提供真實的災民的環境等等,他說:「我雖然自己房子,也是很嚴重,不過,我沒關係,我還是我這些鄉民比較重要。」所以也讓我們很感動。

也有曾經是顛倒的人生,慈濟人將他翻轉過來,現在在戒酒,戒過去不好的習氣,這次的災難,慈濟人趕緊將他拉著,「來,你的家裡雖然有災難,但是,我們大家一起,為村民來付出,需要你的力量,你會開車,拜託你將你的車提供出來,人也提供出來。來,我們到處去訪視,我們去送物資。」他說:「好啊!」父母就說:「你儘管去,房子我們會慢慢地整理。」這個這麼嚴重,光是你和我也沒辦法,所以應該大家的力量結合起來,大家一起做。

所以這個人,中年人,他也是一樣,他說:「要不然,光是我的父母和我,我哪有辦法整理我們家?我不如真的是與慈濟人合起來,整理大家的地方,這樣我家,也已經得到大家結合起來,幫忙我們整理,幫助別人原來也是幫助自己。」還有,他就說:「很感恩,我是很苦的,看到這樣,我的經濟,我的一切都泡湯了,我要重新再來。就是慈濟人這樣鼓勵我,這樣幫助我,每天師姊叫我就要再站起來,就要做,就給我『靜思語』,說『心開運轉福就來』,我若是做得很累,很懊惱,想到這句話,我就再做。」甚至他又說:「師姊是每天都給我一句,我每天都讓我看到這句話,就能,就放下,我就再認真做。」類似這樣,真的是令人很感動,苦難的難關,就這樣漸漸一直度過。

還有,我們的慈濟人,大家分組分工,聽到他們這樣在付出,實在很不捨。總而言之,這樣走一趟,看到菩薩,他們感恩西部的慈濟人,師兄師姊來陪伴他們,他們也互相感恩。這一次的颱風,讓他們真的是,啟開了他們,了解人就要去付出,這就是菩薩堅定道心。

釋迦佛來人間就是這樣,來到人間,「十方分身佛聚集」,回頭來看這一段。

釋迦如來
與十方分身佛聚集
及三變淨土等事
不僅見寶塔
獨以是為品題
以眾見寶塔
生希有心
遂為開塔

前面〈法師品〉,已經告一段落了,無非,佛陀就是要我們,這個法延續到後世,鼓勵人人發菩薩心,入人群,合大家的力量來幫助苦難人。這是最近常常說的事情,這是在〈法師品〉,佛陀對這部經延續後世,是這麼的重視,有經的地方,就有佛的全身在。接下來,那就是要入〈見寶塔品〉,所以,開頭釋迦牟尼佛,「與十方分身佛聚集,及三變淨土等事」。不只是見塔,我們現在接下去,就是能見到寶塔。「獨以(是)為品題」,將「見寶塔」為品題,可見佛與寶塔,裡面又有多寶佛,裡面又有很深的意義,所以「獨以(是)為品題」,因為裡面,未來很多的,釋迦牟尼佛與十方分身佛,都會聚集過來,這意義很深。不只是見到寶塔這麼簡單,你看到寶塔,裡面就有很深的意義,這是後面的(經)文要解釋。所以「以眾見寶塔,生希有心」。讓大家看到寶塔,覺得很稀奇,這個寶塔怎會忽然間從地湧出?大家會很稀奇,就(會)有追求要知道。所以要有稀有心,從大家的稀有的心,追求其中的道理,這要先啟發出來,然後才去開寶塔,這就是未來〈見寶塔品〉,很豐富的內容。

釋迦佛
靈山說法華經
即以多寶之
現身為證
多寶如來
為過去古佛
久入涅槃

釋迦佛是在靈鷲山,講《法華經》,就是以多寶如來,多寶佛現身為證。寶塔若打開,就是裡面就有多寶佛在裡面,佛陀就入塔中與多寶佛同座,這是未來要說的法。所以多寶佛就來見證,因為釋迦佛在人間,在靈鷲山,在講《法華經》,所以多寶佛他就來見證。多寶如來是過去的古佛,已經很久很久以前,就已經入滅了,但是佛陀現在在靈鷲山講經,他就來見證。

此經見寶塔品
釋迦如來之
十方分身佛
各將一菩薩
為供養多寶塔
來靈鷲山時
釋迦如來以神力
三變穢土而為淨土

所以,這部經,〈見寶塔品〉,是釋迦如來與十方分身,所有跟隨十方的釋迦佛分身,來的菩薩。每一尊佛,化身來的佛都有一位菩薩會跟著他來。為了要來供養寶塔,十方分身佛與菩薩來供養寶塔,也就是來到靈鷲山。看到這樣,一直十方諸分身,佛菩薩在來,釋迦如來就以神通,神通力,三變穢土而為淨土。三變,我們這個娑婆世界是穢土,將它變成了淨土。

初變娑婆一世界
次變二百萬億
那由他之國
後再變二百萬億
那由他之國為淨土
依此謂之三變淨土

初變,第一次的變,就是「初變娑婆一世界」,次,再次再變,「次變二百萬億那由他之國」,再來,後再變,「再變二百萬億那由他之國為淨土」。因為這樣,這叫做「三變淨土」,這就是要顯示〈見寶塔品〉,那個豐富的內容,為何釋迦牟尼佛,在〈法師品〉中,講出了只要有這部經,持經的人,(有)這部經的地方,那個地方就已經有佛的全身。前面在〈法師品〉中,我們也已經說過了。

法師一品
既顯若法若人
皆可尊重
此見寶塔品即敘述
但說是經之處
多寶如來
必來聽經示現

所以〈法師品〉,「既顯若法若人皆可尊重」,我們對這個法要尊重,這是在〈法師品〉,我們要尊重圓教。一乘大法,我們要尊重;持經的人,我們也要尊重。這是在〈法師品〉。「此見寶塔品即敘述,但說是經處」,〈見寶塔品〉就是這樣,只要你講經這個地方,看,「多寶如來必來聽經示現」,絕對,多寶佛,他已經發願過了,只要是人間講《法華經》,多寶佛都會來聽經,這就是佛佛各有願力。

所以,我們現在再接下去的,那就是〈見寶塔品〉,我們前面一直說過,〈法師品〉最後就說「若親近法師,速得菩薩道。隨順是師學,得見恆沙佛」。

若親近法師
速得菩薩道
隨順是師學
得見恆沙佛
《法華經法師品第十》

那就是要好好親近法。能講法的人,前面我們也說了,講法的不一定是出家人,四眾弟子都能講法。持《法華經》,四眾弟子都有責任,為未來而傳法,講法為師。我們若能聽到很正確的法,圓教,一乘大法,這《法華經》,我們若能好好用心聽,「速得菩薩道」,很快就發心行菩薩道。

看看,我們現在人間很多菩薩,哪一個地方有災難,各方的菩薩都會合在一起。這次的臺東不就是嗎?東部有這樣的災情,西部、中部、南部的慈濟人,人間菩薩,也是湧現在這個地方去幫助,要如何為那些,受災苦難人去付出。你們想,這不就是學大乘法,總是能「得見恆沙佛」。人人都有佛心,以佛心為己心,人人本具真如本性,只要無明打開,無明門打開,真如性就現前,在人群中去付出。所以我們修行,真的要很用心,用心體會佛的真理,到底是在向我們說什麼法。我們用心體會,法無不都是在我們的生活中,只要時時多用心。


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發表主題: 回復: 20180103《靜思妙蓮華》 見寶塔品 古佛示現 (第1254集) (法華經•見寶塔品第十一)   周一 五月 14, 2018 3:44 pm

Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: The Chapter on Seeing the Stupa of Treasures (見寶塔品 古佛示現)
Date: Junary.03.2018

“Sakyamuni Tathagata gathered His manifestations from the ten directions, thrice transformed [defiled] lands into pure lands and so on. It is not only about seeing the stupa of treasures, but this alone is taken as this chapter’s title. Upon seeing the stupa of treasures, the assembly gave rise to rare and precious aspirations; only then could [the Buddha] open the stupa.”

Previously we discussed the Chapter on Dharma Teachers. Now we are already at the eleventh chapter. In the previous Chapter on Dharma Teachers, the Buddha emphasized how important this sutra is. This sutra is the Buddha’s original intent. His goal in coming to this world was to open and reveal to sentient beings His understanding and views.

This is all encompassed within the Lotus Sutra. A few days ago I kept emphasizing to everyone that we must uphold the Lotus Sutra. Even if it is just one line or one verse of it, if we delight in it and sincerely accept it, we will be covered by the robe of Sakyamuni Buddha. Everyone should still remember this. Furthermore, wherever this sutra abides, the Buddha’s entire body is there. This is His Dharmakaya. The Dharmakaya is the principles. The principles are everlasting, and they exist everywhere. Wherever the principles abide, the Buddha’s Dharmakaya is present.

The Dharmakaya is without form or substance. Yet everyone intrinsically carries the Buddha’s Dharmakaya with them. We can all understand these principles; it is just that layers upon layers of ignorance keep covering us, leaving us with no way to clearly demonstrate these principles. Solely due to the ignorance that covers us, we have become unenlightened beings who create all kinds of afflictions of the mind. When our afflictions clash with those of others, we give rise to passion, enmity, hate and love.

In this way, these complicated emotions emerge. With this, our lives become full of suffering. At the beginning of the Introductory Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, we already received the Sutra of Infinite Meanings. The Buddha taught the Sutra of Infinite Meanings and then He fell silent. He sat motionless on the Dharma-seat. Of course, no one left for at that time they already recognized that the Sutra of Infinite Meanings He had just taught was “very profound, very profound, truly very profound.”

Everyone had already taken this in, but where is this extremely profound, wondrous Dharma found? After the Buddha finished teaching, He remained seated in silence to signify that following this, there was extremely profound and wondrous Dharma that the Buddha had not yet taught. Thus, He did not leave His seat. Everyone remained sitting in that place. Then the Buddha radiated light and manifested auspicious appearances. This made everyone who looked at the Buddha and saw this extraordinary light and these auspicious appearances give rise to joy in their hearts. They knew that the Buddha was about to expound the profound, wondrous Dharma stored in His heart. The light from His tuft [of white hair] illuminated everything in the east.

What lay to the east? The Buddha’s homeland was ancient India, and to the east of India is China. Many people from China later journeyed westward to obtain the sutras. The light from the tuft of hair between the Buddha’s eyebrows illuminated 18,000 lands to the east. In the beginning of this sutra, when the Buddha is sitting in Samadhi in the Introductory Chapter, it already [indicated] that this Dharma was to be spread in this way, from India to China.

In China, the Buddha-Dharma was spread very widely. This happened through the efforts of Dharma Master Kumarajiva and Dharma Master Xuan Zang. Many people from China traveled to the west, and from the west, Kasyapa Matanga and Dharmaratna came to spread the Dharma from India to China; later, there was Dharma Master Kumarajiva. This sutra that we are discussing now was brought [to China] and translated by Dharma Master Kumarajiva, a Great Vehicle sutra he translated himself.

The Lotus Sutra is the Buddha’s original intent. It came from His first thought upon attaining Buddhahood, “Amazing! Amazing! All beings possess the Buddha’s nature of wisdom.” This was the Buddha’s first thought after attaining enlightenment. He realized that all sentient beings in the world are replete with true principles. Everyone innately possesses the nature of True Suchness, the Buddha-nature. This Buddha-nature encompasses the entire universe; it is one with everything. He understood that this is the same for all sentient beings; we are all equal to the Buddha. The Buddha became one with the universe, and we sentient beings are equal to the Buddha. We all possess the necessary conditions for becoming one with the universe and converging with the principles. They are inherent to us all. It is just that we sentient beings are obstructed by ignorance. So the Buddha decided to come and open this door for sentient beings. He wanted to open the door of our ignorance so that the nature of True Suchness inside us can come forth.

However, opening this door, the door of ignorance, is easier said than done! So the Buddha had to continuously contemplate the conditions that sentient beings experience in the world and the environment they experience to help them enter the door. Thus, He decided to begin with limited teachings. So, the first group of people He transformed, who followed Him to become monastic practitioners, had all been His elders in the palace. They were His maternal and paternal uncles. Some were His paternal uncles and some were His maternal uncles; they were His relatives from both his mother’s and father’s side. When the prince first left the palace, the king was worried, so he sent royal relatives, his closest relatives, to go out and find him. He hoped that through their feelings of kinship they could summon the prince back to the palace. Still they were not able to persuade the prince. He was single-mindedly focused on discovering the true principles for the sake of all sentient beings in the world. The world’s sentient beings suffer so much. He was born in the palace into a happy life of luxury and riches with many people to serve Him. He led this kind of life, but all He saw was people in suffering. The slaves and the untouchables lived lives full of hardships.

Moreover, He thought about the many contradictions of human life, birth, aging, illness and death, the laws of nature by which [all things] arise and cease. The prince’s thinking and perspectives had differed from ordinary children ever since birth. As he grew up, His way of thinking was also different. In ordinary beings, our sixth, seventh and eighth consciousnesses all become part of our karmic consciousness. In perceiving the external world, the Five Roots, the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body, connect with the external Five Dusts, [the Five Sense Objects]. When the Five Roots and Five Consciousnesses connect with the Five Dusts, no matter what the external strata is like, we give rise to discursive thoughts. Greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance and doubt all form when the Five Roots meet the Five Dusts. Our minds give rise to thoughts; this is the mind-consciousness. When the Five Roots connect with our environment, our mind-consciousness takes it in. When our sixth consciousness perceives it, we think “Oh. So beautiful! I want that!” When we contemplate fame and status, we crave them and want them. We contemplate this and take action; our Six Roots [lead us] to create karma in the external world. Thus, the karmic forces that we create through our Five Consciousnesses and the sixth and the seventh consciousness eventually end up in the eighth consciousness. In our eighth consciousness, these karmic forces are carried [from lifetime to lifetime]. “We cannot take anything with us after death; only our karma follows us to our next life.” We carry it into this life. In this life, in the same way, the Five Consciousnesses and the Five Roots connect with the Five Dusts and pour sixth consciousness forms cravings and gives rise to discursive thoughts. We start to scheme and create karma which then returns to our eighth consciousness. This increases our afflictions, ignorance and negative karma, adding layer after layer; without any control, we are continually dragged along by our karmic consciousness. As a result, we spend lifetime after lifetime in this world. Our mind follows our environment; we act according to our environment and think and behave in response to our environment.

This is the case for unenlightened beings. But what about Prince Siddhartha? He was different; form birth, in his thinking, he took the things he perceived as he connected with the external world into his heart [and contemplated them]. He could not bear for the world’s sentient beings to suffer. Because of this, he thought about how he could help others. From youth to adulthood, the more he understood, the more he recognized the suffering in the world and its contradictions and unsolvable mysteries.

In this world, how could he possibly unlock the great principles of nature, its great mysteries? How could he help humanity [realize] that all people are equal in nature? The separation of the four castes was such that the rich stayed rich while the untouchables suffered in poverty. For generation after generation, they remained untouchables. When it came to this unequal caste structure, if he became king and succeeded to the throne, would there be any way to change it? It would be impossible. In the Buddha’s era, ancient India had many small kingdoms. Each city was its own kingdom, so there were a great number of small kingdoms. Kapilavastu was just one very small kingdom [among many] in ancient India. So how many people would he be able to influence? How could he possibly eliminate the caste system? These kinds of worldly matters are hard to change.

They only way is by using the principles, by [understanding] the law of nature. Only by guiding everyone to thoroughly understand these principles, starting from the most fundamental methods of equality, would he be able to accomplish change. By changing people’s minds and their way of thinking, the caste structure would naturally change too. This was the Buddha’s thinking as a prince.

Thus, he did not wish for comfort or ease, did not wish to live peacefully among such lavish luxuries and with many people serving him. Instead, he wanted to go into the outside world and experience the laws of nature. He wanted to understand the many religions, all the 96 varieties of religions, to know what they were actually teaching. So, he left the palace to seek the principles. He went out to experience the principles of nature and life. Thus, he began his search.

For so many years, he visited a great number of Brahmins who each expounded his own teachings. These 96 kinds [of teachings] each had their own unique principles, but much of what they practiced was not close to human nature. So, he sought another path, a path that connected [the laws of] nature with human nature and the principles. Therefore, he decided to quiet his mind in earnest contemplation and engage in ascetic practice. This was the process [He followed].

Although his maternal and paternal uncles, his elders in the royal family, came to persuade him to return to the palace, his mind was made up to keep advancing along the path he wished to seek for himself. Having attained Buddhahood, He could now understand which people He needed to transform. These five individuals were to be transformed as His first group of disciples.

Of course, after attaining enlightenment, the Buddha had the power of knowing past lives. He understood past karmic conditions. He needed to transform these five people who were to became His first group of disciples.

We have discussed before how in the Jataka Sutra, the Buddha formed this vow. “If you are by my side, call upon everyone to take of the meat from my body to sustain their lives”. This was [when He was] a king who made a great vow. He could not bear for his people to suffer from hunger. There was a famine due to drought which lead to crop failure. He could not bear it, so he transformed into a big fish. These five people were the first discover this fish, who seemed to be talking to them. “I wish to engage in spiritual practice. Please go tell the villagers to come and take of my meat to sustain their lives. This will fulfill my spiritual aspiration. If you do so, when I finally attain Buddhahood you five will be the first people I transform.” We have told this story in the past. It was in the Buddha’s Jataka Sutra. Once He attained Buddhahood, His power of knowing past lives also emerged. “These five people are the first group of disciples that I must transform.” That is why He began with “suffering, causation, cessation and the Path.” Though we say these are limited teachings for entering the Buddha’s door, [this was what was necessary to teach].

His royal relatives. These royal relatives where all the kin of his father and mother. They all belonged to the nobility, and they were used to comfort and luxury. So, He had to tell them about “suffering”. They had never experienced suffering before. It was only during this time, while following the prince in spiritual practice, that they experienced suffering. However, they did not understand the hardships and suffering of others since they had never gone out to experience it. Thus, He needed to tell them about “suffering”. Their understanding was quite shallow, so just to tell them about suffering, He had [repeat this teaching] three times. This was the Three Turnings and Twelve Applications of the Dharma-wheel. To teach the Four Noble Truths, He had to turn the Dharma-wheel three time. Only then were they able to comprehend the principles of suffering, causation, cessation and the Path. So, when we are teaching the Dharma, for the wealthy and noble to accept it is relatively difficult. They have not [experienced suffering] and are thus unable to comprehend the suffering of others [or know what suffering] feels like. So, for them to engage in spiritual practice and understand the Buddha-Dharma is truly difficult! Those who have such experiences will quite easily understand.

For instance, yesterday (August 21, 2016), I went to visit Taitung, to care for and listen to our Dharma-family there. Although it has been over a month, the Tzu Chi volunteers in Taitung still have yet to finish surveying the disaster [after Typhoon Nepartak]. The state of emergency has already passed, and they are now [planning for] how to help the survivors in the mid-and long-term. Now that the typhoon has passed, there are still many roofs that [have not been repaired]. In the past, our focus was on Taimali because the destruction was most concentrated there. Taimali is a hub between west and east [Taiwan]. To go from west to east, you must pass through Taimali, where the disaster [hit the hardest]. So, everyone focused their energy there. Our Tzu Chi volunteers from northern, central and southern Taiwan also mobilized. They took shifts over many days to come to Taitung and work with Taitung’s Tzu Chi volunteers in surveying the disaster. Some of Taitung’s Tzu Chi volunteers were themselves affected by the disaster. Their roofs were all damaged to some extent. Yet they still put their own needs aside and first hurried to help the disaster survivors in any way they could.

So, they all put others before themselves and joined in [the relief efforts]. In this way, when we see people suffering from a calamity, we all hurry to plan ways to help. While rescuers provide relief on the frontlines we are in the back, making plans. Once the emergency phase of the disaster is over, how can we help with their housing situation? In that place, they are close to the ocean, so every time there is a typhoon, they bear the brunt of the winds. They had not experienced such a big disaster before, but after this major catastrophe, what about the future? We do not know what it will bring. So, we must quickly help fortify their buildings so that they have disaster in the future, they will make it through safely.

Yesterday when I paid a visit there, our staff from the constructions office reported to me that some of the roofs had already been fixed and others had already been fortified with steel. Now, in [the next] two days, once we finish the roofs, it will be complete. This is what we must do in Taimali. There were also many schools [that were damaged]. One was a school we helped to build for the Project Hope for Disaster Risk Reduction. Besides this school we helped build, many others were also damaged by this typhoon. We must give priority to this. If they apply through the government, they will have to wait for approval and allocation of funds. This is a complicated [process]. It is better that we quickly help them repair. In this way it will be finished in time for the children to go back to school after this summer break. When everyone heard this, they were so relieved!

However, I heard that Beinan township in the coastal areas was also heavily impacted. Many of our care recipients there lived in unregulated buildings. In the past, they lived like this, but now [their homes] have been damaged beyond repair. They do not have the finances to repair them. What can these people do? There are still many unanswered questions. So, we must continue on with our assessment. There are still several hundred households that need [our help], so our Tzu Chi volunteers are continuing their efforts to care for them. We heard about one elderly person who lived alone. After the disaster, her daughter came back to see her. The daughter saw how Tzu Chi’s volunteers were caring for and comforting her mother, and she was very touched. She said that during the 9/21 earthquake (1999), she was affected by the disaster in that area. During the 8/8 flood in Kaohsiung (2009), they were also affected by that disaster. And now? Now, in the “7/8 disaster” the date Typhoon Nepartak struck in July, she was again affected by disaster. She said, “Every time there is a disaster, who is it that comes to help me? It is always Tzu Chi volunteers I see.” She said that she always takes comfort in this. This time, with her mother living alone and her house having been [destroyed], Tzu Chi volunteers came yet again [to help]. She was very moved. [Encountering] someone like this we truly wonder, why is her life like that? She lived through each major disaster only to encounter yet another. This truly [shows] karmic forces cannot be changed.

There was also the village chief of Xiangian Village in Taimali. He was affected by the disaster too, but for the sake of the disaster survivors, he constantly kept in close contact with us. He accompanied us to quickly go visit [survivors] and provide information about the circumstances of the disaster survivors and so on. He said, “Although my home is also severely damaged, it does not matter to me. These villagers of mine are more important.” So, we were also very moved by him. There is also a man who used to live in delusion until Tzu Chi volunteers turned him around. Now, he has given up drinking and put an end to his former bad habits. Following this disaster, Tzu Chi volunteers quickly brought him along, “Come! Although your home was affected, we should all go to help the villagers together. We need your strength. Since you can drive, can you please bring your car? We need your help too! Come, we are going to survey [the damage] and deliver supplies.” He said, “Okay!” His parents also said, “Go ahead and go. We will gradually take care of things here. The situation is so severe that we anyway cannot fix everything on our own. Everyone should combine their strength and work together.” So, this middle-aged person also [joined in the relief work]. He said, “As it is, with only my parents and myself, how would we be able to fix our house? It is better if I join the Tzu Chi volunteers and clean up everyone’s homes. This way, others will come together to help my family too, to help us clean up. By helping others we actually help ourselves.” He then said, “I am so grateful! I was really suffering. Looking at how my finances and everything I own are ruined and how I have to start all over again, it was the Tzu Chi volunteers who encouraged me and helped me. Every day the Tzu Chi sisters told me that I must stand up again and get to work. They gave me a Jing Si Aphorism, ’When you open your heart, your luck changes and blessings will come.’ Whenever I am tired or worried, I think of this phrase, and I get to work.” He even said, “Each day, the sisters give me an aphorism, so that I will have one to read every day. That helps me let go [of my worries] and continue to work hard.”

A [mindset] like this is truly moving. He is able to be gradually evercome his time of hardship. Moreover, our Tzu Chi volunteers are separated into teams to work. When I hear how they serve others, I truly feel for them. In short, during this visit, I saw these Bodhisattvas and how grateful they were to our Tzu Chi volunteers from western Taiwan, the Tzu Chi brothers and sisters who came to accompany them. They were all grateful to each other. The typhoon this time truly helped them understand that people need to go out to serve others. This is the firm spiritual aspiration of Bodhisattvas.

This was how Sakyamuni Buddha came to the world. He came to this world and “gathered His manifestations from the ten directions.” Let us go back to the verse.

Sakyamuni Tathagata gathered His manifestations from the ten directions, thrice transformed [defiled] lands into pure lands and so on. It is not only about seeing the stupa of treasures, but this alone is taken as this chapter’s title. Upon seeing the stupa of treasures, the assembly gave rise to rare and precious aspirations; only then could [the Buddha] open the stupa.

The previous Chapter on Dharma Teachers has already come to an end. It is all about how the Buddha wanted us to sustain this Dharma for future generations. He encouraged us all to form Bodhisattva-aspirations to go among people and join everyone’s strength together to help those in suffering. We have often been talking about this lately. This was in the Chapter on Dharma Teachers. The Buddha placed such great importance on passing this sutra on to future generations. Wherever this sutra is, the Buddha’s entire body abides there.

Next, we will begin the Chapter on Seeing the Stupa of Treasures. So, at the beginning, Sakyamuni Buddha “gathered His manifestations from the ten directions, thrice transformed [defiled] lands into pure lands and so on.” It is not just about seeing the stupa. In the following, we will be able to see the stupa of treasures. “But this alone is taken as this chapter’s title. Seeing the Stupa of Treasures” is taken as this chapter’s title. Clearly, the Buddha and the stupa [have deeper meanings]. Inside is also Many Treasures Buddha. The meanings contained in this are very profound. So, “This alone is taken as this chapter’s title.” In [this chapter], later on, Sakyamuni Buddha and His manifestations from the ten directions will all gather. The meaning of this is very profound. It is not only about seeing a stupa of treasures and nothing else; seeing this stupa contains very profound meanings. This will be explained in the following sutra passages.

So, “Upon seeing the stupa of treasures, the assembly gave rise to rare and precious aspirations.” When everyone got to see the stupa of treasures, they found it quite extraordinary. How could this stupa of treasures suddenly emerge from the ground? Everyone found it truly extraordinary, so they all sought to understand it. So, they had to form rare and precious aspirations. Due to everyone’s rare aspirations, they sought the principles contained within. They had to first become inspired; only then could [the Buddha] open the stupa of treasures. This is all in the upcoming Chapter on Seeing the Stupa of Treasures. Its contents are very abundant.

When Sakyamuni Buddha taught the Lotus Sutra on Vulture Peak, the appearance of Many Treasures served as a testimony. Many Treasures Tathagata was an ancient Buddha of the past who had entered Parinirvana long ago.

When Sakyamuni Buddha taught the Lotus Sutra on Vulture Peak, the appearance of Many Treasures Tathagata, Many Treasures Buddha, served as a testimony. When the stupa of treasures opened, Many Treasures Buddha was inside [Sakyamuni] Buddha thus entered the stupa and sat on the same seat as Many Treasures Buddha; this is the teaching we will be discussing. So, Many Treasures Buddha came to bear witness. Since Sakyamuni Buddha was in this world, teaching the Lotus Sutra on Vulture Peak, Many Treasures Buddha came to attest to it. Many Treasures Buddha was an ancient Buddha of the past. He entered Parinirvana a very long time ago. But now that the Buddha was teaching the sutra at Vulture Peak, He came to bear witness.

In this sutra’s Chapter on Seeing the Stupa of Treasures, Sakyamuni Tathagata’s manifestations from the ten directions each bring a Bodhisattva with Them to make offerings to the Stupa of Many Treasures. When They arrived at Vulture Peak, Sakyamuni Tathagata used His spiritual powers to thrice transform defiled lands into pure lands.

So, in this sutra, the Chapter on Seeing the Stupa of Treasures is about Sakyamuni Tathagata and His manifestations from the ten directions as well as the Bodhisattvas who followed His manifestations. Each Buddha, each transformation-body of the Buddha, had a Bodhisattva who came with Him in order to make offerings to the stupa of treasures. The Buddha’s manifestations of the ten directions and Their Bodhisattvas came to make offerings to the stupa of treasures. They all came to Vulture Peak. Once He saw that all His manifestations from the ten directions and their Bodhisattvas had come, Sakyamuni Tathagata used His spiritual powers to thrice transform defiled lands into pure lands. “Thrice transformed” refers to how He [first] turned our defiled Saha World into a pure land.

This was the initial transformation, when “He transformed the Saha World alone” Next, He transformed another “200 trillion nayutas of lands.” Then He did this yet one more time. “He further transformed another 200 trillion nayutas of lands into pure lands.”

Because of this it says He “thrice transformed [defiled] lands into pure lands.” This is to demonstrate the richness of content of the Chapter on Seeing the Stupa of Treasures. In the Chapter on Dharma Teachers, Sakyamuni Buddha said that as long as there are people who uphold this sutra, wherever the sutra is, the entire body of the Buddha will be there. In the previous Chapter on Dharma Teachers, we already discussed this.

The Chapter on Dharma Teachers reveals that the Dharma and its teachers are both worthy of respect. The Chapter on Seeing the Stupa of Treasures describes how, wherever this sutra is taught, Many Treasures Tathagata will manifest to listen to the sutra.

So, the Chapter on Dharma Teachers “reveals that the Dharma and its teachers are both worthy of respect.” We must have respect for this Dharma. In the Chapter on Dharma Teachers it says we must respect the perfect teachings, the Great Dharma of the One Vehicle, and we must also respect people who uphold this sutra. This is in the Chapter on Dharma Teachers. “The Chapter on Seeing the Stupa of Treasures describes how, wherever this sutra is taught….” The Chapter on Seeing the Stupa of Treasures [goes on to say] that wherever we teach this sutra, we will see “Many Treasures Tathagata manifest to listen to the sutra.” This is certain; Many Treasures Buddha made this vow. Whenever the Lotus Sutra is taught, He will always come listen to it. Every Buddha has their own vows.

So, in the following we come to the Chapter on Seeing the Stupa of Treasures. We talked about this before. The Chapter on Dharma Teachers ends with, “People who draw close to Dharma teachers will quickly attain the Bodhisattva-path. People who follow these teachers and learn will be able to see Buddhas as numerous as the Ganges’ sands.”

This means that we must earnestly draw close to the Dharma. To teach the Dharma, as we mentioned previously, we do not have to be monastics. The fourfold assembly can all teach the Dharma. Upholding the Lotus Sutra is the responsibility of the fourfold assembly, to spread the Dharma for future [generations] and teach the Dharma. If we can listen to these very proper teachings, the perfect teachings of the One Vehicle Dharma, [contained in] the Lotus Sutra, as long as we can earnestly listen to them, then “we will quickly attain the Bodhisattva-path.” We will quickly form aspirations to walk the Bodhisattva-path. See how we have so many Bodhisattvas in the world now. Wherever there is a disaster, Bodhisattvas from all directions come together. Isn’t this what happened in Taitung this time? When eastern Taiwan was [hit by a typhoon], Tzu Chi volunteers from western, central and southern Taiwan, these Living Bodhisattvas, all rushed to that place to help and [plan for] how to best serve the disaster survivors. Think about it, isn’t this a matter of practicing the Great Vehicle Dharma, of always being able to “see Buddhas as numerous as the Ganges’ sands”?

Everyone has the Buddha’s heart; they all take the Buddha’s heart as their own. We all innately have the nature of True Suchness. As long as we can open the door of ignorance, our natures of True Suchness will appear, as we go among people to give of ourselves. So, in our spiritual practice, we must truly be very mindful. We must seek to comprehend the Buddha’s true principles. Exactly what were the teachings He gave us? We must mindfully seek to comprehend this. All Dharma can be found in our daily living, 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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20180103《靜思妙蓮華》 見寶塔品 古佛示現 (第1254集) (法華經•見寶塔品第十一)
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