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 20180109《靜思妙蓮華》七寶幡蓋 高至天宮 (第1258集) (法華經•見寶塔品第十一)

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發表主題: 20180109《靜思妙蓮華》七寶幡蓋 高至天宮 (第1258集) (法華經•見寶塔品第十一)   周一 1月 08, 2018 8:25 pm

20180109《靜思妙蓮華》七寶幡蓋 高至天宮 (第1258集) (法華經•見寶塔品第十一)

⊙「欄楯周圍繞,喻法護總持;龕室立無量,喻慈悲之室;垂寶披瓔珞,表上嚴法身。」
⊙總持:持善不失,持惡不起之義。意念與定慧為體,菩薩所修之念定慧具此功德。
⊙總持者:謂持善不失,持惡不生,無所漏忘,謂之持。菩薩總持之德無量。
⊙「寶鈴萬億而懸其上,四面皆出多摩羅跋栴檀之香充遍世界。」《法華經見寶塔品第十一》
⊙「其諸幡蓋,以金、銀、琉璃、硨磲、瑪瑙、真珠、玫瑰、七寶合成,高至四天王宮。」《法華經見寶塔品第十一》
⊙其諸幡蓋:其諸寶旛,及以寶蓋,頂上莊嚴,表佛功德。旛蓋:表惠物之德,無物不覆。
⊙以金、銀、琉璃、硨磲、瑪瑙、真珠、玫瑰、七寶合成:若表法者,以金性堅毅意力,表堅固智。銀性潔白,表清淨行。琉璃映徹,表明了智。硨磲圓轉,表委曲心。瑪瑙雜色,表應變萬行心。真珠圓明,表巧慧心。玫瑰即玉,表溫潤心。眾德莊嚴,是故名曰七寶合成。
⊙旛蓋七寶合成:喻具七聖財。七聖財即七法財:七種已見道聖人所得到的功德法財。
七聖財:1.信:信受正法,2.戒:持法律儀,3.聞:能聞正教,4.慚:自分有慚,5.愧:於人有愧,6.捨:捨離一切而無染著,7.慧:智慧照事理。
⊙如是等德法:是謂七聖財。彼諸眾生不護此故,名極貧窮。
⊙高至四天王宮:表眾德尊勝,四天門王,居須彌腹。寶塔高故,齊於天宮,四念護心如天。
⊙高至四天王宮:喻高出四生之上。四生:胎生:含藏而出。卵生:依殼而延。濕生:假潤而生。化生:無而化有。

【證嚴上人開示】
「欄楯周圍繞,喻法護總持;龕室立無量,喻慈悲之室;垂寶披瓔珞,表上嚴法身。」

欄楯周圍繞
喻法護總持
龕室立無量
喻慈悲之室
垂寶披瓔珞
表上嚴法身

用心哦!寶塔現前,完全就是以相表法,法,我們要用心體會。塔的形態,高五百由旬,寬二百五十由旬;可見,一由旬四十里,就知道高有二萬里,很高。高,就是表示突破了五道。希望大家能了解,還要記得,記憶,要記住。五道就是五趣雜居。在這個世間,善惡的人都有,為善得善報,如處報在天堂,享受富貴,這是天道、人道。人道中也有貧窮困難、病苦殘廢,還有貧病殘交加,這種的人生如處地獄,何況還有地獄道,地獄道是苦無間歇,這是非常非常的苦。還有餓鬼道,目犍連救母,或者是光目女救母等等,孝子、孝女,母親在人間造業,到地獄或餓鬼道,去救母的那個景象,我們也說過了,地獄之苦,餓鬼道之苦。若是說地獄、餓鬼道,我們看不到,在人間也很多,飢餓、貧困,肚子很大,缺營養,脖子很小,四肢很瘦,乾癟得沒有肉,只剩下皮與骨,只是肚子很大,這餓鬼道的景象,苦,苦不堪。

畜生道,我們也看到了,比比皆是,所有的動物全都列入畜生道。看看人間地獄道,多少在糞坑地獄,周圍都是垃圾髒污。平時的人,無人敢靠近,他就是整天都在垃圾之中,或者是靠垃圾生活,在垃圾堆撿來吃。這我們常常看到,國際間,或者是在我們臺灣裡,慈濟人常常投入,為他們清理打掃,這像在糞坑地獄一樣,又貧又病又殘,又是在這樣的環境中生活,那個心就像在地獄、餓鬼的境界裡。畜生道,比比皆是,什麼樣的動物都有,由不得自己。這就是五道。我們修行,就是要去了解,這些都是生命;有生命,佛陀就這麼說,很肯定這麼說,眾生皆有如來智性、覺性,人人本具。只是我們凡夫糊里糊塗,任何事都想不開,心中打結了,到底為什麼?這就是轉不過來,所以才會苦難這麼多。

塔,五百由旬,一由旬四十里,五百由旬就是二萬里,表示是福與慧萬行。我們在六度,福萬行、慧萬行,豈只是萬行而已,千千萬萬行,福慧在人群中造。所以這個塔是顯德的意思,顯出了這個人格德行,這就是我們要去做。六度:布施、持戒、忍辱、精進、禪定、智慧,這六種能度我們從此岸到彼岸去,叫做度彼岸。要度彼岸,這六種方法,在人群中,千千萬萬,我們要去造福,我們要去從眾生無明中,淬鍊出智慧來,這叫做福慧。福慧,隨著六度,這樣不斷不斷進步,這叫做萬行。

寶塔,所以,縱,縱就是直,高,五百由旬。地基的廣,那就是二百五十由旬,那就是萬,萬里,表示我們凡夫,凡夫在開始就是這樣,很多很多煩惱無明,這樣,所以,諸佛菩薩來人間,就是為了要度化眾生,才需要開法門,開示眾生種種的法。從眾生的「二十五有」的無明,一直擴展,擴展到為我們分析到,煩惱的名相,百零八,那個名相累積有這麼的大,這麼的寬,這麼廣,佛陀就要隨著眾生,廣大無邊,去開啟他的法門,隨機應度,讓我們來修。修行就像在爬上塔一樣,一層一層、一階一階,愈高愈需要欄楯,周圍要遮攔好,要不然是容易跌倒,容易危險,所以安全,所以塔的周圍就有欄楯,這樣將它圍繞起來。這就是「喻法護總持」,用種種的法來譬喻,來教育,來護我們的戒體,保護我們的戒體不可以出軌,既修行,我們的戒體要保護好。

所以是總持,總一切善不失,持一切惡不生,這叫做「總持」。也就是顧好我們的意念,一定要「定慧為體」。

總持:
持善不失
持惡不起之義
意念與定慧為體
菩薩所修之念定慧
具此功德

修行,我們心要專,要堅定,發一念心,我們要心心念念就是要在法,法,六度萬行,要適應眾生。時代的變化,人心的不穩定,我們在這種多變化、不穩定,修行者才得要堅定信心,所以我們要「意念、定慧為體」。修行,這就是我們的體,身體力行,我們的志氣、念力,我們一定要很用心堅持。我們必定要經過菩薩道,所以「菩薩所修之念定慧,具此功德」。這個定與慧,我們要用功,用功才有辦法顯德,你若沒有用功,怎麼看得出來呢?修行者,要有修行者的心志,心志就是要身體力行,表達出你的堅定,表達出你的慧力,要有堅定的心,不受外面境界將我們誘惑去。所以這個法譬喻護總持。我們護,護我們的善念,總一切善,所有的善都要包括,我們要好好學,我們要很謹慎,要持一切惡不生,總一切善不失,我們一切善不失,一切惡不生。

善法,我們開始起心、發心,我們絕對不能失掉,但是學佛之後,了解、清楚明白,所以我們,惡的事,不可產生出來,所以我們要有定力,要有慧力,才有辦法顯出這個德,就像塔一樣,這樣縱二萬里那麼高,五百由旬。裡面龕室,「龕室立無量,喻慈悲之室」。一個塔那麼大,裡面就有一個龕,一個龕,若有人曾進到塔裡面,就看到裡面就是一個一個龕。這表達,譬喻慈悲的室。大慈悲為室,我們要行菩薩道,修菩薩行,我們要首先建立慈悲。「無量」。世間,要拯救眾生,要有無量數的人,就要有具足大慈悲心,才有辦法入如來室,所以這個塔裡面就已經,我們前面說的,「大慈悲為室,柔和忍辱衣」,就已經含蓋在這塔內了。

「垂寶披瓔珞」,就這樣一直來接近,因為裡面有很多瓔珞、幢旛,周圍很高,就是這樣從上往下垂。就像諸佛菩薩在度眾生,品格很高,但是他放下身段,這樣來關懷眾生,循循善誘,就像寶,很多的寶物。披瓔珞,就像用衣,瓔珞寶衣這樣覆蓋,同樣的道理。這是表示向上莊嚴的法身,法身莊嚴,這就是我們要去體會了解。所以我們必須要總持,總一切善令生,總一切惡不起,這就是我們要好好用心。

總持者
謂持善不失
持惡不生
無所漏忘
謂之持
菩薩總持之德無量

所以,菩薩對這些德行,一定要總持,德無量,自然這個德就無量。

來看,看前面的文:「寶鈴萬億而懸其上,四面皆出多摩羅跋栴檀之香充遍世界。」

寶鈴萬億而懸其上
四面皆出
多摩羅跋栴檀之香
充遍世界
《法華經見寶塔品第十一》

「寶鈴萬億」,這塔的周圍很多鈴,掛滿了很多鈴。鈴,風吹就出聲了,這就是表示法要傳,就是在警誡,警惕眾生,「諸惡莫作,眾善奉行」,佛法道理高、縱,就是很高。諸佛菩薩顯德在人間教化,就像寶鈴懸掛,高高在上,風一吹,鈴聲響,讓大家注意這個德行之高,教化眾生,庇蔭眾生,讓我們能了解。「四面皆出,多摩羅跋旃檀之香」。四面,周圍都是香的氣,因為法,若體會到法味,法味之香,從內心歡喜,風吹香木,那香的花、香的木,風一吹,香的氣隨著風吹四散,所以四面就這樣很香。這是前面,這個現相,我們法,來譬喻法。

所以下面接下來,這段文再說:「其諸幡蓋,以金、銀、琉璃、硨磲、瑪瑙、真珠、玫瑰、七寶合成,高至四天王宮。」

其諸幡蓋
以金 銀 琉璃
硨磲 瑪瑙
真珠 玫瑰
七寶合成
高至四天王宮
《法華經見寶塔品第十一》


「其諸旛蓋」,那就是很多很多的寶旛,很多,旛蓋,大家都清楚了,樹立起很多的寶,用寶來莊飾這個旛。「及以寶蓋」,旛蓋,那就是寶蓋,全都是寶來莊飾它,這能遮在上面。看看日本,若有什麼樣大的法會,或者是大的禮場,有天皇要出來,或者是高僧要來維持這個法會,他們都會舉一個旛蓋,高高在上。也能遮日、遮風,也表示這是一個崇高,很莊嚴。所以說「頂上莊嚴」,是表示佛的功德。表示至高無上的意思。佛德就是至高無上的德,這個德,就是遍虛空法界。所以,旛蓋的表示,就是「惠物之德,無物不覆」。

其諸幡蓋:
其諸寶旛
及以寶蓋
頂上莊嚴
表佛功德
旛蓋:
表惠物之德
無物不覆

佛陀出現人間,來惠施眾生,開示眾生,眾生人人啟發愛心,愛心普及到苦難眾生的地方去。這是法,善法普及人間,人間的愛能夠普及到最苦難處,這就是「惠物之德」。

我們的人間菩薩,不就是這樣嗎?那是承佛陀所教育,將這分法,大愛,這樣被施,施惠給眾生。所以這個字,「物」,就是所有眾生都能受到庇蔭,這德「無物不覆」,沒有物不覆蓋在天地之間。天蓋之下,佛的德是與天為一體,「心包太虛,量周沙界」,佛德覺悟之後,就是與宇宙天空合為一體,所以因為這樣「無物不覆」,這種的道理,全都可以施惠給眾生。

所以「以金、銀、琉璃、硨磲、瑪瑙、真珠、玫瑰,七寶合成」,這是至高無上的珍貴。

以金、銀、琉璃、
硨磲、瑪瑙、
真珠、玫瑰、
七寶合成:
若表法者
以金性堅毅意力
表堅固智
銀性潔白表清淨行
琉璃映徹表明了智
硨磲圓轉表委曲心
瑪瑙雜色
表應變萬行心
真珠圓明表巧慧心
玫瑰即玉表溫潤心
眾德莊嚴
是故名曰七寶合成

所以「若表法者」,那就是金的性是「堅毅意力」,那就是金的性是「堅毅意力」。我們要修行,缺少不了要有堅毅,堅定毅力,這個意志,我們修行者必定要具足。所以古人說:「出家乃是大丈夫事,將相難為。」敢入戰場,但是他不敢去修行;能夠統理國家的國政,但是他不敢出家。這就是要知道,要出家修行,必定要有這樣的堅毅意力。所以表堅固的智慧,這就是要很有智慧,才有辦法選擇出家這條路,修行這條路,這就是要很有堅毅意力的人。

金,銀,「銀」銀的性是潔白。銀就是很白,金是黃金,銀是白銀,它的性就是這樣很潔白,又能分出毒,是純或者是毒,銀有辦法。古人,皇帝,較珍貴的人,他們吃飯都用銀筷,因為銀會去探測這個食物有毒或沒有毒,這是古人有這樣,有錢人,很多人也是用銀筷。所以,銀它的性潔白,也能去探測是不是有毒,這是銀的功用。表示清淨,它潔白清淨,這是銀的性。琉璃呢,「琉璃映徹」,它很透徹,淨如琉璃,清淨,無瑕穢,很透澈,如玻璃一樣。所以「表明了智」,明瞭的智,所看的事物非常明朗,明明瞭瞭,一點都不糊塗,這就是琉璃的性。硨磲,那就是圓轉,牠能圓的圓得這樣很婉轉,它自己會生珠之時,也表示了委曲,能這樣高的地方,牠就能這樣彎下來,隨這個境界這樣去彎,這是硨磲,在海中就是這樣,不論遇到什麼,它就隨境彎曲,那就是婉轉。

「瑪瑙雜色」,種種的顏色都有。這些都是寶物,世間很值錢,很珍貴的東西,這些東西它各有它的性,都是很珍貴。表示「應變萬行心」,就是這些東西,在這大自然的境界,隨著這大自然的境界,來完成這些寶物。「真珠圓明」,珠就是圓明,「表巧慧心」。珠在蛤蜊(珍珠貝類)中,它生成必須很長久的時間,才能結成珠,天生自然,它就是這樣圓的,光滑明朗。珠,表示我們巧慧的心,我們懂得權巧應萬物,權巧的智慧。「玫瑰」就是石類,那就是玉,玉也很值錢,玫瑰石是表示溫潤的心。所以「眾德莊嚴,是故名曰七寶合成」。很多的德都完成,叫做七寶。

尤其是「旛蓋七寶合成」,幢旛等等,是七寶所合成起來。

旛蓋七寶合成:
喻具七聖財
七聖財即七法財:
七種已見道聖人
所得到的功德法財

七寶,前面說的,金、銀、琉璃、硨磲、瑪瑙等等,這七寶將它合成,這又是再譬喻,譬喻七聖財,「七聖財」就是七法財,七種法,這七種就是,「見道聖人,所得到的功德法財」。

七聖財:
信財:信受正法
戒財:持法律儀
聞財:能聞正教
慚財:自分有慚
愧財:於人有愧
捨財:捨離一切而無染著
慧財:智慧照事理

什麼叫做七聖財呢?第一是信財,「信為道源功德母,養一切諸善根」,所以我們要信佛,信法,我們必定要首先建立信心。我們有正確的信心,信心深,才能受正法。要不然,信有很多種信,迷信、邪信等等,但是我們在說的信,就是正信,信能成為道源功德母,一切的道行,就是要從這個「信」字開始。

又「戒財」,就是「持法律儀」。我們了解了,我們要守持戒法,防非止惡,維持在我們的內心裡,外面的境界,五根緣外面的境界,我們自己的心要如欄杆一樣,要維護我們,界線要維護住,那就是持法律儀。修行要有修行的形態,要有我們的戒律,有我們的威儀。聞財呢?那就是「能聞正教」。不是正確的,不要聽,非理就不要聽,所以我們要聽正教法。

「慚財」、「愧財」,我們的心要時時有慚、有愧,慚愧二字,慚與愧。就是「慚是對自己德學淺陋,要常懷自慚念而生善」;我們自己知道,我們就是德學還很淺薄,所以我們就要常常提醒自己,警惕自己,我們要好好常懷自慚的念頭,我們才能隨人家的善,去身體力行,跟隨人做,不要貢高驕傲,以為我們已經了解很多了。你了解,是聰明,但是慧的德,你根本都沒有修到,所以我們應該要對的事情,要跟隨人做,不要自驕傲,這就是慚,我們要常常有慚。常常聽人說「慚愧、慚愧」,但是,慚愧,不知道裡面「慚」字的內容,是慚我們自己的德行淺陋,我們沒有修行,所以我們要自己自覺。我們要隨喜,別人在做的事情,我們去隨喜,我們要發心,這是慚。

愧呢?愧就是「怕自己作惡,受人譏評」,我們自己過去有做惡的事情,難免過去的錯誤,人家會在後面批評我們。所以,我們不要做,我們要常常生愧心而止惡。我們過去有做了,人家會批評我們;我們現在知道了,絕對不要再做,所以就是叫做愧。我們若有愧心,自然我們就會止惡。過去有不好的習氣,太驕傲了,或者是太我慢了,或者是癡,愚癡、瞋恚、貪念的心,有犯了偏差錯誤,是過去了,但是現在我們若有生愧的心,自然就止惡。所以說「慚財」,是「自分有慚」,自己知道自己,分明自己,到底我們做多少,我們沒有做多少?所以我們不要驕慢。「愧財」,我們曾做過錯,「我不要再犯」,止惡,這叫做愧。所以我們要很用心,因為慚愧二字,我們都會常常說到,所以我們應該要去多了解,我們自己要有分寸,我們自己要自我警惕,這叫做慚愧。

「捨財」,那就是捨離一切,而不受污染。過去不好的習氣,我們完全捨離,過去無明惑念,我們完全將它斷除。入人群,心無染著,這叫做捨。不必與人多計較,不要計較,捨。「慧財」,就是「智慧照事理」。我們充分的智慧,事與理,我們歷歷分明,這就是叫做信財、戒財、聞財、慚財、愧財、捨財、慧財,這叫做「七聖財」,這就是我們修行過程,必須要有的,這七種,就是我們見道聖人,所得到的功德法財。好好用心來體會,這就是德與法,稱為「七聖財」。

如是等德法:
是謂七聖財
彼諸眾生不護此故
名極貧窮

所以「彼諸眾生不護此故,名極貧窮」。我們前面〈信解品〉,貧窮子,就是表示這些法,都沒有用在心裡,就是欠缺這些法財,所以他們貧困。世間人是不是很多人都缺乏呢?如果是缺,就是貧困,我們要好好用心。

高至四天王宮:
表眾德尊勝
四天門王
居須彌腹
寶塔高故
齊於天宮
四念護心如天

高,這個塔,七寶合成的塔,是「高至四天王宮」。因為很高,到四天王宮,那就是表示「眾德尊勝」,所有德尊勝,「四天王,居須彌山腹,寶塔高故,(齊)於天宮」,就是「四念護心如天」。這是表示四天王,四天門王,那就是守護在須彌山的四周圍,古代的經典都是這樣說,這是表示法的四念來護心,「高至四天王宮」。譬喻「高出四生之上。」

高至四天王宮:
喻高出四生之上
四生:
胎生:含藏而出
卵生:依殼而延
濕生:假潤而生
化生:無而化有

四生,那就是,「胎生:含藏而出」,胎生就是,含在母親的子宮懷胞中,這叫做「胎生」。「卵生,依殼而延」,殼,如雞、鳥等等,牠們都叫做「卵生」,牠有一層殼包住牠,生下來,就要經過孵育,這樣才能脫殼而出,這就是「卵生」。還有「濕生」,就是生在那種潮濕的水中,這種的東西,潮濕或者是水中,這都涵蓋是「濕生」,潮濕有水的地方,這叫做「濕生」。蚊蟲等等,都是這樣,在濕生中產生出來。「化生:無而化有」,稱為「化生」。「化生」,就如捨此投彼,天,就是天人,捨此投彼。你有天福,捨了人間,在人間所造作很具足的福,所以他會承著福報,捨人間就化生天上,化生,較高層的天,就是化生。

我們眾生,都不離開這四生的形態,眾生的苦難,都是隨業,由不得自己。若是惡業的眾生,來生人間,那個苦,再造業、再受報,極苦也是化生地獄,捨此投彼,到地獄去,一下子就墮入地獄,這也是「化生」。但是,在人間的地獄,也看到人間菩薩,在人間地獄在救人。看到辛巴威一位九十六歲老人(奧斯汀),他一個人,這位老人過去也是造業,他的過去就是這樣,也有妻兒,拋妻棄子他這樣出來,又去養人家的妻兒,去賺錢,一輩子這樣做工賺錢,生活也是很辛苦。但是辛巴威的社會是母系的系統,等到他老來時,有病,平時他也是除了做工賺錢以外,自己的行為也是不檢點。

所以他讓後面人家的妻兒,就是單親的媽媽帶著的孩子,被他養大了,他自己本身老了,這位媽媽就一直對他的孩子說這個人的壞話,所以連這些被他養大的孩子也排斥他,就將他趕出去。

單獨一個人住,很可憐,又病又老,九十六歲了,慈濟人看了,不捨,常常去照顧他,常常送東西給他。有一天,草屋經不起小小的一陣風,就吹走了他的屋頂,幾天內受日曬、雨淋、風吹,窩在破草屋的牆角,慈濟人看到,這群黑珍珠(辛巴威本土志工)不捨,馬上趕緊去採購鋅板,趕緊將草屋周圍圍起來,鋅板蓋上,送福慧床去,送物資去,全都幫他整理好、清掃好。

一群人將他帶出來外面,圍繞著,一直祝福他,他就哭了,他說:「我沒有孩子,沒有親人。」同樣這些年輕的黑珍珠菩薩,就一直告訴他:「我也是您的兒子,我也是您的女兒。」與我們台灣慈濟人一模一樣,就一直膚慰他。這位老人,感動得趴下,流著眼淚,抬起頭,他就說:「感恩啊,希望師父能永遠帶著像這樣的人,來照顧像我們這麼苦的人。」看到這樣的人間,菩薩就是承七聖財這樣在做事。入人群,若沒有信心,沒有聽法,哪有辦法這樣維持這種的善法,走在這條路一直走下去呢?人間苦難,由不得自己的生活,是要墮落地獄,或是來人間再受苦難,或者是造就很多福,而化生天堂?在這「四生」中,到底還都是由不得我們自己。

所以佛陀來教育我們,讓我們選擇,讓我們了解,讓我們能了解來去自如的聖法,所以我們要時時多用心!


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發表主題: 回復: 20180109《靜思妙蓮華》七寶幡蓋 高至天宮 (第1258集) (法華經•見寶塔品第十一)   周二 五月 29, 2018 2:40 pm

Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Banners and Canopies of Seven Treasures (七寶幡蓋 高至天宮)
Date: January .09.2018

“The surrounding railings are a metaphor for the Dharma’s protecting of retaining and upholding. The countless chambers are a metaphor for the room of compassion. The draped strings of jewels represent the supreme, magnificent Dharmakaya.”

We must be mindful! The stupa of treasures appeared solely to express the Dharma through appearances. We must mindfully seek to comprehend this Dharma. The stupa’s dimensions were 500 yojanas high and 250 yojanas wide. A yojana is 40 li, so we know it was 20,000 li high; this is very high. Its height represents breaking through the Five Realms. I hope everyone will be able to understand and remember this. This is something we must commit to memory. The Five Realms is the place where the beings of the Five Destinies coexist. In this world, there are people with both good and evil. If we do good, we will have blessed retributions, such as the reward of being born in heaven, enjoying wealth and nobility. [This happens] in both the heaven realm and the human realm.

In the human realm, there is also poverty and hardship. [People suffer from] illness and disability, and some suffer from poverty as well as disease and disabilities. This kind of life is like living in hell.

That is to say nothing of the actual hell realm. The hell realm is one of uninterrupted suffering; it is truly extreme suffering. There is also the hungry ghost realm, where Maudgalyayana rescued his mother and where Bright-Eyed Girl rescued her mother and so on. These filial sons and daughters had mothers who created karma in the human realm. They went to hell or the hungry ghost realm to save their mothers. We have spoken about this before, about the suffering in the hell and hungry ghost realms. We cannot see the hell or hungry ghost realms, but in this world, there are so many [people who suffer from] starvation and poverty. Their bellies are very bloated due to a lack of nutrition. Their necks are tiny and their limbs are thin. They are all shriveled up; they are just skin and bones, with a great big belly. These are scenes straight out of the hungry ghost realm. This is suffering; it is unbearable suffering. We can also see the animal realm. It is all around us. All animals belong to the animal realm.

Look at hell on this earth. There are so many in the hell of cesspits. They are surrounded by garbage and filth. Most people would not get dare get close, but those people live among garbage day after day. Or they depend on garbage to stay alive, eating from garbage piles. This is something we often see. Whether around the world or here in Taiwan, Tzu Chi volunteers often go to clean up for them. They are living just like in the hell of cesspits. They are poor, ill and disabled, and moreover live in this kind of environment. Their minds are truly as if in hell or in the realm of hungry ghosts or the animal realm, which is everywhere around; there are all kinds of animals. This is beyond their control.

These are the Five Realms. Since we engage in spiritual practice, we must seek to understand this. These are all living beings. The Buddha taught and strongly affirmed that all living beings have the Tathagata’s nature of wisdom, His enlightened nature; we all intrinsically have this. It is just that we unenlightened beings are lost in confusion. We are unable to see things clearly, so they entangle our minds.

Why is that? We cannot turn [our thinking] around, so we experience so much suffering. The stupa was 500 yojanas [high]. A yojanas is 40 li. 500 yojanas is equal to 20,000 li. This represents actualizing blessings and wisdom in 10,000 actions. As we [practice] the Six Perfections, we actualize blessings and wisdom in 10,000 actions. Is it really only in 10,000 actions? It must be in every action. Blessings and wisdom are created among people. So, the purpose of the stupa was to exhibit these virtues, to exhibit these qualities and virtuous practices. This requires us to take action. The Six Perfections are giving, upholding the precepts, patience, diligence, Samadhi and wisdom. These six things can deliver us from this shore to the other shore. This is what it means to cross to the other shore. If we want to cross to the other shore, we must use these six methods. We must go among people and create countless blessings. Through the ignorance of sentient beings we temper our wisdom. This is the meaning of blessings and wisdom.

Blessings and wisdom follow [our practice of] the Six Perfections. In this way, we will constantly keep advancing. This is the meaning of “in all actions.”

[This is the purpose of] the stupa of treasures. So vertically, in terms of height, it was 500 yojanas high. In terms of width, its foundation was 250 yojanas wide. This is 10,000 li. This represents us unenlightened beings. Unenlightened beings start out with so many afflictions and ignorance so, all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas come to this world in order to transform sentient beings. This is why they need to open the Dharma-doors to teach sentient beings with all kinds of Dharma. They begin with the ignorance of sentient beings’ in the “25 forms of existence” and from there continue to analyze for us the names and appearances of the 108 afflictions. We have accumulated such an array of afflictions; it is so wide and vast. The Buddha had to [teach] in accord with sentient beings’ limitless [afflictions]. He thus opened His Dharma-doors to us. By teaching us according to our capabilities, He enables us to engage in spiritual practice. Engaging in spiritual practice is like climbing a stupa, level by level, step by step. The higher we get, the more we need railings. There need to be railings all around, or else it will be dangerous; we will easily fall. So, for safety, the stupa had railings all the way around it. They surrounded it. This is “a metaphor for the Dharma’s protecting of retaining and upholding.”

[The Buddha] used all kinds of Dharma as analogies to teach us and help us protect our body of precepts, so we will not go astray. As we engage in spiritual practice, we must take care to maintain or body of precepts. So, we must “retain and uphold,” retain all goodness so it is not lost and uphold not letting any evil arise. This is the meaning of “retaining and upholding.” We must also take care to guard our thoughts. We must take “Samadhi and wisdom as our body.”

Retaining and upholding: This means retaining goodness so it is not lost and upholding not letting any evil arise. We must take our thoughts, Samadhi and wisdom as our body. The thoughts, Samadhi and wisdom cultivated by Bodhisattvas are replete with these merits and virtues.

As we engage in spiritual practice, our minds must be focused and resolute. As we give rise to each thought, we want every thought to be on the Dharma. [With the] Dharma, we actualize the Six Paramitas in all actions and adapt to the capabilities of sentient beings. Times are changing. People’s minds are unstable. Living among these changes and this instability, spiritual practitioners must have firm faith.

Therefore, we must “take thoughts, Samadhi and wisdom as our body.” As we engage in spiritual practice, this must be our body; we must put [the teachings] into action. As for our aspirations and our power of thought, we must very mindfully preserve these. We have to travel along the Bodhisattva-path. So, “the thoughts, Samadhi and wisdom cultivated by Bodhisattvas are replete with these merits and virtues.” [To cultivate] Samadhi and wisdom, we must work hard. By working hard, we will be able to exhibit virtue. If we do not work hard, how will [our virtue] be visible? Spiritual practitioners must have the resolve of spiritual practitioners. This resolve must be put into action. We must express our perseverance and express our power of wisdom. Our minds must be firm, so that we will not be led astray by external conditions.

So, this Dharma is an analogy for the protection of retaining and upholding. We need to protect our good thoughts. We must retain all goodness; [our actions] must include all good deeds. We must work hard to learn this. We must also be very vigilant. We must uphold not allowing any evil arise and retain all goodness so it will not be lost. We must [retain] all goodness so it is not lost and must not allow evil to arise.

Once we give rise to the aspiration to do good, we absolutely must not let it become lost. After we learn the Buddha’s teachings, we will have a clear understanding. So, we know we can not give rise to evil. Therefore, we need the power of Samadhi and power of wisdom in order to be able to exhibit these virtues. This is just like this stupa. It was very high, 20,000 li, 500 yojanas. Inside the stupa, there were chambers. “The countless chambers are a metaphor for the abode of compassion.” Inside such a big stupa, there is chamber after chamber. If we were to enter such a stupa, we would see one chamber after another. This is a metaphor for the room of compassion. Great compassion is the room. If we want to walk the Bodhisattva-path and engage in the Bodhisattva-practice, first we must establish loving-kindness and compassion.

As for “countless,” in order to save all sentient beings in the world, we need countless people to be replete in great loving-kindness and compassion so they can enter the Tathagata’s room. Thus, when it comes to the contents of this stupa, as we have previously mentioned, “Great compassion is the room and gentleness and patience are the clothing.” These are already contained within this stupa.

[Next is] “draped strings of jewels.” In this way, we continue to draw closer. Inside, there were many strings of jewels, banners and streamers [hung] high all around the stupa. They were hanging down from above. This is just like all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas as they transform sentient beings; they have a very lofty and refined character, but they humble themselves to care for sentient beings and patiently guide them. It is as if they covered them in robes that were [adorned] with strings of countless jewels. The principle is the same. This represents the magnificence of the Dharmakaya. This magnificence of the Dharmakaya is something we must seek to experience and understand. So, we must “retain and uphold.”


We must retain all goodness as we give rise to it and [uphold] not letting any evil arise. This is what we must be very mindful of. So, when it comes to these virtuous practices, Bodhisattvas must retain and uphold them. They will then naturally have infinite virtues. Let us look at the previous sutra passage.

“Trillions of precious bells hung from it. From all four sides, it emitted the fragrance of tamalapatra and sandalwood which pervaded the world. [There were] “trillions of precious bells.”

This stupa had many bells hung all over it. When the wind blew, the bells would ring. This represents that the Dharma must be spread. It is an admonishment, warning sentient beings to “refrain from all evil and do all that is good.” The principles of the Buddha-Dharma are lofty and upright. They are very lofty. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas exhibit virtue as They teach and transform beings in this world.” This is just like bells hung very high. When the wind blows, the sound of the bells helps everyone pay attention to the loftiness of these virtuous practices. They teach, transform and protect sentient beings in order to help us understand. “From all four sides it emitted the fragrance of tamalapatra and sandalwood. This fragrance came from all four sides. This is because when we experience the Dharma, when we perceive the fragrance of the Dharma, we feel joy from within. When the wind blows over fragrant wood, whether fragrant flowers or wood, this fragrance immediately spreads throughout the four directions. So, in all four directions, it was very fragrant. This image from the previous [sutra passage] is a metaphor for the Dharma.

So, the next sutra passage continues, “All those banners and canopies were made from gold, silver, crystal, mother-of-pearl, chalcedony, pearl and rose stone, the Seven Treasures. The stupa was so tall that it reached the palaces of the Four Heavenly Kings.”

“All those banners and canopies” refers to the many banners and canopies made from treasures. We should all be clear on this Great numbers of treasures were used to adorn these banners. “[There were also] canopies of treasures.” There were banners and canopies of treasures, completely adorned in treasures. They could cover [the stupa] from above.

For example, in Japan, whenever there is a big Dharma-assembly, or when there is a large ritual where the emperor is present, or a Dharma-assembly held by eminent monastics, they will raise a canopy high above that can block the sun as well as the wind. It also represents great majesty; it is very dignified. So, “[They] were used to dignify the top [of the stupa].” This represents the Buddha’s merits and virtues, that they are supreme and unsurpassed. The Buddha’s virtues are supreme and unsurpassed virtues. These virtues pervade the universe. So, the banners and canopies represent “His virtue of benefiting all beings. There is nothing they do not cover.”

All those banners and canopies: and canopies of treasures were used to dignify the top [of the stupa]. They represent the Buddha’s merits and virtues. Banners and canopies: They represent His virtue of benefiting all beings. There is nothing they do not cover.

The Buddha appeared in this world to benefit sentient beings and teach sentient beings to give rise to love in their hearts and, with that love, go to [the aid of] suffering sentient beings everywhere. This is how the Dharma, the Dharma of goodness, can spread throughout the world. [In this way], love in this world can spread to the places of greatest suffering. This “represents His virtue of benefiting all beings.” Isn’t this what our Living Bodhisattvas do? They act according to the Buddha’s teachings and exercise this Dharma, this great love, to bring benefit to sentient beings.

So, this word, “beings” refers to how all sentient beings can receive protection. When it comes to His virtue, “There is nothing it does not cover.” There is nothing in the world it does not cover. Beneath the canopy of the sky, the Buddha’s virtues are one with the universe. “His heart encompasses the universe and the boundless worlds within it.” After the Buddha was enlightened, He became one with the universe. So, because of this, “There is nothing [His virtue] does no cover. [He teaches] these principles solely to benefit sentient beings. So, “[They] were made from gold, silver, crystal, mother-of-pearl, chalcedony, pearl and rose stone, the Seven Treasures. These are supreme, unsurpassed treasures.

[They] were made from gold, silver, crystal, mother-of-pearl, chalcedony, pearl and rose stone, the Seven Treasures: In terms of representations of the Dharma, since gold is firm and resilient by nature, it represents the wisdom of firmness. Silver is pure and white by nature, so it represents purifying practices. The translucence of crystal represents the wisdom of thorough understanding. The smooth curls of mother-of-pearl represents a mind that yields. The multicolored chalcedony represents a mind that takes all actions in response to change. Round and bright pearls represent a mind that is clever and wise. Rose stone is a kind of jade that represents a gentle mind. All these virtues serve to dignify, thus, it says “made from the Seven Treasures.”

So, “in terms of representations of the Dharma, gold is “firm and resilient” by nature. Since we want to engage in spiritual practice, we cannot be lacking in determination; we must be firm and resilient. This determination is something that we spiritual practitioners must be replete with. So, the ancients said, “Becoming a monastic is the work of a great person; even a great general would find it difficult.” A general may dare to enter the battlefield, but he dares not engage in spiritual practice. He may be able to unify a country’s rule, but he does not dare to become a monastic. This is because he knows that to become a monastic and engage in practice, he must have great firmness and resilience. He must demonstrate firm wisdom. It requires great wisdom before one will be able to choose the path of a monastic. To engage in spiritual practice on this path requires great firmness and power of wisdom.

[After gold comes silver]. Silver is pure and white by nature. Silver is very white. Gold is yellow silver is white. It is very pure and white by nature. Moreover, it is ablet o detect poisons. We can use silver [to detect] whether something is pure or poisonous. In the past, emperors and other nobility would use silver chopsticks when they ate. This is because silver can indicate whether food was poisoned or not. This is what the ancients did. Many rich people used silver chopsticks. So, silver is pure and white by nature, and it can show if something is poisonous. This is the function of silver. It represents purity, it is pure and clean. This is the nature of silver.

As for crystal, it is translucent; it is very clear. [When we say] “as pure as crystal, [we mean] pure, without blemishes and translucent.” This is just like crystal. Thus, it represents “the wisdom of thorough understanding.” With clear wisdom, everything we see is very clear. We can see everything very clearly; our vision is not in the least bit muddled. This is the nature of crystal. Mother-of-pearl has smooth curls. It is rounded with gentle curves and is capable of forming pearls. Also, it represents yielding. From a very high place, it can bend down, yielding according to its external conditions. When [giant clams] are in the ocean, no matter what they encounter, they can curve it according to the conditions. These are its smooth curls.

“Multicolored chalcedony” comes in all kinds of colors. These are all treasures, things that are very valuable in this world. Each of these things has its own characteristics, and they are all very valuable. [Chalcedony] represents “a mind that takes all actions in response to changes.” These things are all found in nature. They follow the conditions of nature to become such precious things. As for “found and bright pearls, pearls are round and bright.” They “represent a mind that is clever and wise.” Pearls come from oysters it takes a very long time for them to grow into pearls. They are round by nature and are smooth and bright. Pearls represent a mind that is clever and wise; with it we are able to respond to all things with clever wisdom.

“Rose stone” is a kind of stone. It is a kind of jade. Jade is also very valuable. Rose stone represents a gentle mind. So, “All these virtues serve to dignify, thus it says made from the Seven Treasures.” [The Buddha] has achieved so many virtues, so it speaks of the Seven Treasures. Specifically, “The banners and canopies were made from the Seven Treasures.” The streamers, banners and so on were all made from the Seven Treasures.

Those banners and canopies were made from the Seven Treasures: This is a metaphor for being replete with the Seven Noble Treasures. The Seven Noble Treasures are seven kinds of Dharma-wealth: The seven kinds of treasures are the Dharma-wealth of merit and virtue attained by noble beings who have awakened to the Path.

Previously, we spoke of the Seven Treasures, gold, sliver, crystal, mother-of-pearl, chalcedony etc. [These things] are made from the Seven Treasures. They are also a metaphor for the Seven Noble Treasures. “The Seven Noble Treasures are seven kinds of Dharma-wealth.” They are seven kinds of Dharma. These seven kinds are “the Dharma-wealth of merit and virtue attained by noble beings who have awakened to the Path.”

The Seven Noble Treasures: The treasure of faith: Faithfully accepting the Right Dharma. The treasure of the precepts: Upholding the laws of the Dharma. The treasure of listening: Being able to hear the correct teachings. The treasure of remorse: Feeling remorse for oneself. The treasure of contrition: Feeling contrite toward others. The treasure of renunciation: Renouncing all things and remaining undefiled. The treasure of wisdom: Illuminating matters and principles with wisdom.

What are the Seven Noble Treasures? The first is the treasure of faith. “Faith is the source of the Way, mother of merits. It nurtures all roots of goodness.” So, we must have faith in the Buddha and faith in the Dharma. We must first establish faith. We must have the right faith. Our faith must be deep in order for us to be able to embrace Right Dharma. Otherwise, we may have all kinds of beliefs, such as superstitious or deviant beliefs. But the faith we speak of is right faith. Faith can serve as the source of the Way and the mother of merits. All spiritual practice beings with faith.

There is also, “The treasure of the precepts,” which is “upholding the laws of the Dharma.” We understand this. We must uphold the precepts, guard against wrongs and stop evils; we must uphold this in our hearts. When our Five Roots connect with our external conditions, in our hearts, we need something like a railing that guards and protects us. When we have a boundary that rails us in, that is upholding the laws of the Dharma. In our spiritual practice, we must [uphold] the conduct of spiritual practitioners. We must follow our rules and etiquettes.

What about the “treasure of listening”? It is “being able to hear the correct teachings.” If it is incorrect, we must not listen to it. If it goes against the principles, do not listen. So, we must listen to the correct teachings.

Next are the treasures of remorse and of contrition. Our minds must constantly have a sense of remorse and contrition. These two words, remorse and contrition, mean “I feel remorse for my own poor virtues. We must always have thoughts of remorse in order to give rise to good deeds.” We ourselves know that we are still very poor in the study of virtue. So, we must constantly remind ourselves to be vigilant. We must always have thoughts of remorse. Only then will we be able to follow others in doing good deeds and putting the teachings into practice. As we follow others to do [good], we must not become haughty or proud, thinking that we already know so much. We understand, we are very smart, but the virtue of wisdom is something we have not cultivated at all. So, when others do what is right, we should do the same and keep ourselves from becoming arrogant. This is what it means to have remorse. We must always be remorseful. I often hear people say, “I feel remorseful.” But when it comes to “remorse,” they do not know the meaning of this word. It means to heave remorse for being so lacking in our virtue. Our spiritual cultivation is lacking, so we must awaken ourselves. We must rejoice in the good deeds others do. We must rejoice and give rise to aspirations. This is what it means to be remorseful.

What about contrition? Contrition is “being afraid of suffering other people’s criticism for the wrong things we did.” If in the past we did things that were wrong, it is difficult to avoid people criticizing us behind our backs for those mistakes. So, we must not do [such things]. We must constantly have a sense of contrition and prevent ourselves from committing wrongs. We did this thing in the past, and other people criticized us. Now that we understand, we absolutely must not do it again. This is called contrition. If we have a sense of contrition, we will naturally keep ourselves from doing wrong. In the past, we had bad habitual tendencies. We were too proud, too arrogant or too foolish, filled with thoughts of ignorance, anger and greed. We committed violations and made mistakes. This was all in the past. But now, if we give rise to a mind of contrition, we will naturally put an end to wrongdoings. So, this the “treasure of remorse” is “feeling remorse for oneself.” We clearly know ourselves; we know how much [good] we have actually done. We have not done much, so we must not feel overly proud of ourselves. “The treasure of contrition” means that we have made mistakes in the past, so we must not do wrong again. Putting a stop to evil is contrition. So, we must be very mindful. We often talk about these two words, so we should truly seek to understand them better. We must have a sense of what is right and remind ourselves to be vigilant. This is what it means to feel remorse and indebtedness.

“The treasure of renunciation” refers to renouncing everything and not becoming defiled. We must completely renounce our past bad habitual tendencies. Our past ignorance and confusion must be completely eliminated. We must go among people without becoming defiled. This is called renunciation. There is no need to take issue with people. Do not take issue over things; just let them go.

The “treasure of wisdom” refers to illuminating matters and principles with wisdom.” When we are replete with wisdom, we can discern matters and principles very clearly.

These are the treasures of faith, precepts, listening, remorse, contrition, renunciation and wisdom. They are called the Seven Noble Treasures. These seven things are essential in the course of our spiritual cultivation. They are the Dharma-wealth of merit and virtue attained by noble beings who have awakened to the Path.

We must mindfully seek to comprehend them. These are virtues and Dharma. They are called the Seven Noble Treasures. So, “The sentient beings who do not retain these are said to be extremely impoverished.”

In the earlier Chapter on Faith and Understanding, the [parable] of the poor son showed how we have not applied the Dharma in our hearts. This means we lack these kinds of Dharma-wealth, so we are said to be impoverished. Isn’t the world full of people who lack [Dharma-wealth]? Being lacking is to be impoverished. We must put effort into being mindful of this. In terms of height, this stupa made from the Seven Treasures “was so tall that it reached the palaces of the Four Heavenly Kings.” It was so tall that it reached the palaces of the Four Heavenly Kings. This symbolizes that “All these virtues are exceptional and respected.” All of these virtues are exceptional and respected. “The Four Heavenly Kings dwell on the slopes of Mt. Sumeru. The stupa of treasures was so high that it stood equal to the heavenly palaces.” This means that “The Fourfold Mindfulness protects the mind like the heavenly kings.” This is like how the Four Heavenly Kings protect the four sides of Mt. Sumeru. This is described in the sutras. This is an analogy for how the Fourfold Mindfulness protects our mind. “The stupa so tall that it reached the palaces of the Four Heavenly Kings.” This is an analogy for “transcending the Four Forms of Birth.”

The stupa so tall that it reached the palaces of the Four Heavenly Kings: This is an analogy for transcending the Four Forms of Birth. The Four Forms of Birth: Womb-born: Contained before birth. Egg-born: Developed within a shell. Moisture-born: In need of moisture for birth. Transformation-born: Transforming into existence from nothing.

The Four Forms of Birth are [as follows] “Womb-born [beings are] contained before birth.” Womb-born beings are contained in their mother’s womb. This is what it means to be “womb-born.” “Egg-born [beings] developed within a shell.” Things [born from] shells, chicken, birds etc., are all called “egg-born.” They are covered by a shell. At birth, they must break through this shell, freeing themselves from the shell to be born. This is what it means to be “egg-born.” There is also “moisture-born.” They are born in a moist, aqueous environment. These things [live] in moist places or in water. They are all classified as “moisture-born.” [Being born] in a moist, wet environment are called “moisture-born.” Mosquitos and insects are all like this. They are moisture-born. “Transformation-born [beings] transform into existence from nothing.” This is called being transformation-born. To be “transformation-born” is to directly go from this life to the next. Heavenly beings go directly from this life to the next. If you have heavenly blessings, once you leave this world having created a great abundance of blessings in this world, you will journey on your blessed retributions and depart from the human world to be transformation-born into heaven. You will be transformation-born into a heaven above. This is what it means to be transformation-born. We sentient beings cannot escape the Four Forms of Birth.

Sentient beings experience suffering because they follow their karma without control. Sentient beings with negative karma are born into this world to suffer; they create more karma and suffer its retributions. The greatest suffering is to be transformation-born into hell, to go directly from this life to hell. In an instant, we fall into hell. This is also being ”transformation-born.”

But in the hells of this world, we can also see Living Bodhisattvas. They go to the hells of this world and save people. There is a 96-year-old man in Zimbabwe, who is all alone. This elderly man also created karma in his past. In the past, he had a wife and son, but he left home, abandoning his wife and son. He ended up raising another person’s family, working to earn money. All his life, he worked like this, living a very difficult life. Zimbabwe society is matrilineal. This man eventually became old and ill. He had spent most of his time working to earn money, but aside from that, his behavior was quite poor. His second family consisted of a single mother and her child, whom he helped to raise. However, when he became old, this mother told the child bad things about him. So, even this child who was raised by him came to reject him and drove him out of the house. He was living all alone. He was very miserable, ill and old. He was 96 years old.

Tzu Chi volunteers saw him and felt for him. They often cared for him and brought him things. One day, his grass hut could not withstand the wind, and his roof was blown away. For several days, he suffered the sun’s heat, rain and wind, curled up in a corner of the ruined grass hut. The Tzu Chi volunteers found him there and felt for him. They immediately went to buy zinc sheets and quickly covered the hut with them. They brought him a [Jing Si] folding bed and provided him with [necessities]. They helped him tidy up and cleaned everything. The group of volunteers then led him outside, surrounded him and kept wishing him well. He cried and said,” I have no son; I have no relatives.” The group of young African Bodhisattvas kept telling him, “I am your son. I am your daughter.” It was like what we do in Taiwan. They continued to comfort him. This elderly man was so moved that he knelt down. With tears streaming down, he looked up and said, “Thank you. I hope Master can always lead people like this to care for those who are suffering.” In this world, we see Bodhisattvas using the Seven Noble Treasures to do good deeds and go among people. If we do not have faith or listen to the Dharma, how will we be able to uphold these ways of goodness and continue walking in this path? Our suffering in this world is beyond our control. Will we fall into hell or come to this world again to suffer more hardship? Or will we create many blessings and be transformation-born into heaven? Among the Four of Birth, [where we end up] is beyond our control. So, the Buddha came to teach us. To enable us to choose, to help us understand the noble Dharma that enables us to come and go freely. Therefore, we must always be mindful.

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