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 20180110《靜思妙蓮華》花開蓮現 顯實不虛 (第1259集) (法華經•見寶塔品第十一)

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發表主題: 20180110《靜思妙蓮華》花開蓮現 顯實不虛 (第1259集) (法華經•見寶塔品第十一)   周二 1月 09, 2018 11:56 pm

20180110《靜思妙蓮華》花開蓮現 顯實不虛 (第1259集) (法華經•見寶塔品第十一)

⊙「靈山會開權顯一實不虛,大慧即本覺道場淨真如,大慈平等法無高下差別,人性本同具諦理濟含識。」
⊙昔權蘊實如華含蓮,開權顯實,如華開蓮現。離此華已無更別蓮。開權顯實,於一切法中,即見中道。
⊙「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》
⊙「三十三天雨天曼陀羅華供養寶塔;餘諸天、龍、夜叉、乾闥婆、阿修羅、迦樓羅、緊那羅、摩睺羅伽、人非人等千萬億眾。」《法華經見寶塔品第十一》
⊙三十三天:須彌四方各有八天。帝釋居中,成三十三。 若表法者,即喻菩薩五十二位。
⊙忉利天:譯作三十三天,為欲界之第二天在須彌山頂上。中央為帝釋天,四方各有八天。故合成三十三天。
⊙雨天曼陀羅華供養寶塔:諸天雨華,供養寶塔。表心善行,莊嚴法身。
⊙在事相邊,即是八部。若表法者,不離一心。
⊙天龍二部,即是善心。餘夜叉等,總是惡心。善根勝故,攝諸惡念,無數億萬,化而為善。

【證嚴上人開示】
「靈山會開權顯一實不虛,大慧即本覺道場淨真如,大慈平等法無高下差別,人性本同具諦理濟含識。」

靈山會開權
顯一實不虛
大慧即本覺
道場淨真如
大慈平等法
無高下差別
人性本同具
諦理濟含識

用心哦!法就是要我們用心體會,能夠將法中落實在生活中,這才是真實法。「靈山會開權,顯一實不虛」,那就是說,佛覺悟之後,開始想,要如何能讓人人體會、覺悟本具真如本性,這是佛的本懷。但是,談何容易啊?佛陀決定隨眾生機循循善誘。他鹿野苑開始,從鹿野苑開始施教,描述了人間苦難偏多,而且人人平等,生、老、病、死,在富貴人家,貴為國王,也無法預測自己生命長短,無法去預測。所以佛陀將這人間,生、老、病、死分析,人人體會生死平等,又再分析了,貧、富、貴、賤的差別,貧富貴賤中,貧困的人為什麼會貧,貧中帶疾病,疾病中帶殘疾,一生下來,四肢不俱全等等。與生俱來的疾苦,這種疾病之苦,貧困苦難的苦,加上了生老病死的苦,又再分析,分析了天地之間天災之苦,從很多的業力累積來,這就是佛陀分析的苦相。

又再分析人心不調和,人生造作心靈的煩惱,造作了人禍,小者從家庭,中則是社會混亂,大的影響整個國家的戰亂,這都是從一心,一念心的起點,所以,一念心造作天下一切苦難。佛陀一層一層,耐心,讓大家知苦、修福。福,造福,同樣是生老病死中,把握時間、因緣,了解道理,趕緊修慧、造福,甚至教導如何了脫生死,如何能不用來人間輪迴,從淺入深,從粗入微,一層一層地解釋。甚至人是怎麼來,「十二因緣」。一念無明,隨著業力牽引,緣在哪一個家庭、哪一對父母,那就是投緣而去了。不論在什麼樣的環境,生下來就是四肢不具,注定了殘缺,殘障、缺陷,一輩子,不論是在貧窮,富有的家庭,很複雜,福中帶疾病等等,因緣果報。在富貴中造福人間,福中再增福,這都在因緣中展示出來,無不都是法。

佛陀他從鹿野苑開始,向大家說這條,修行的道路,大家要相信,要了解,要身體力行,讓大家深淺去接受。有的人能夠很深地感受,人間疾苦,源頭來自無明,無明是在人間,人與人之間互動、互受,互相造作業力。「我怕啊,我還是避免人群,我專心去修行,熄滅了與人群互動,這樣專心修行,不要再增加業,了脫生死。」以為這樣就了脫生死了,其實,過去的緣未了,不過佛陀沒有將這些話說出來。好啊,大家來修行,大家先將心靜下來,將法透徹了解。這就是佛陀在「阿含」時,四十二年間,他用了十二年的時間,就是講「阿含」,這都一直向大家重複說,擔心大家疏忽,忘記了。

這十二年的時間,佛陀從這樣來引導大家,如何去除煩惱,不要再造作惡業,要「眾善奉行,諸惡莫作」,結好因緣。「阿含」時代這樣過來,接下來,大家已經了解了,「四諦」、「十二因緣」法,種種法門清楚了,自我警惕,懂得隔離這種因緣,惡緣不造,這樣懂得隔離,對人生的煩惱無明懂得預防。佛陀了解了,開始進入「方等」。八年的時間,佛陀講「方等」,就是慢慢引導人人:「你除了自己獨善其身,保持自己的自覺清淨,但是還有未了的緣,過去生,很多所結來的緣,還是要關懷,關懷天下人的事情,要去了解。」但是大家對因緣雜揉,已經很怕,所以對「方等」有一點掛礙,但是佛陀智慧誘引,讓大家接受方等法,那就是方便中再進一步,去關懷人群,這個觀念開始啟開,這種因緣,造福因,結福緣,這開始了。但是大家了解,沒有排斥,不排斥,了解了自己的因緣,了解了人與人的,這個因與緣、果與報,了解。但是佛陀還是再進一步,二十二年間談「般若」。這些過去「有」,有苦、有緣,一切都是苦諦,苦的道理,因緣交會的道理,大家已經清楚,接下來就是用「般若」。

般若談「空」,談空,一切的「有」匯集,到頭來,還是一切空。「般若」,大家聽了之後清楚,確實,人生到頭來一切皆空,生老病死,今生此世就是這樣在過,到頭來,還不都是這樣完全都沒了嗎?來生來世,到底什麼事情會再發生,未來世,這個因緣果報更可怕,還是明明知道這種因緣果報,但是還是將它當成是空,不要再和大家,和這個人間再攀緣,就這樣停止在「空」,而畏「有」;畏就是怕。所以,在這當中,佛陀認為時間到了,所以既然知道,「有」是造作業力的源頭,既然知道「空」,就是不要再執著,空、有二法,大家都清楚。因為這樣,佛陀在靈山會上,開始開權顯一實法。過去都沒有向大家說:「這是因為你們的根機,我方便接引。」過去沒有這樣說,大家都認為:我這樣修行,我就是將來了脫生死。所以那時候講方便法,不論是談空說有,門是關著,大家認為就是這樣,佛這樣說,我們這樣修。現在將這個「權」,就是方便,門打開了,讓你們看到實相,裡面的真實法。

就像將你帶入寶藏倉庫,那個藏寶的倉庫裡,讓你看到這件寶、這件寶,很多的寶物,你都看到了。其實這個寶庫裡還有一個藏寶箱在,這個最精要的寶箱還沒打開,所以大家只看到的,是這個寶箱外面的景象。這時候已經將藏寶箱那個門,真實打開了,前面的方便權教,已經再一層門打開,這叫做「開權」,在這權中,又有一個真實法,所以這個「權」,方便教法,佛陀已經將門打開了,「你看,裡面這個就是真實法,一乘實法,這就是人人的寶藏。前面讓你們知道五根、五塵,告訴你們,眼,眼根所接觸到的是色相,耳根所接觸到的是聲塵。」這樣一一向我們解釋,然後解釋這些收納,根塵會合,用道理來向我們解釋,這根塵會合,是由於我們的意識去接觸的,在心裡,這心的意識,接觸到外面的境界,這樣一層一層讓我們知道。

這個心,凡夫心,接觸到的境界,是第六識去思考好壞事,第六識等於是,塵、惑。外面收納進來的境界,很多很多,那就是在第六識,第七識前面的第六識,去接受到五根、五塵,那些東西收納來給第六識,這個訊號去分別之後,「這件東西我很愛,要怎麼能得到這個東西?」這個訊息,這個消息,就在第六識去思考、思惟,這叫做煩惱識,是塵沙惑,煩惱在這當中去造作造作,利根聰明就是在這個地方造作,然後身體去造作,去造很多的業,業成了,再回歸第六識。一時歡喜。七識就覺得:我已經擁有了,擁有這些得到的東西,就納入八識來。這就是佛陀這樣一層一層一層,這樣讓我們去體會、了解,這第八識,就是全都藏在第八識。業,你所有的煩惱,無明業識,造作之後,回過頭來在這第八識,就是藏藏著所造作的業到第八識。

所以,凡夫到此為止,所以,我們就是帶著八識,由不得自己,任何一個地方,造福就福業牽引到理想的家庭,理想的國家,理想的環境,讓我們的正報、依報,所依止的地方,在那個地方漸漸成長,過著如意快樂的人生,這就是這樣一生終老,這就是,凡夫就是這樣循環。或者是業中帶著無明,那就是在富有的生活中,又再帶著貪、瞋、癡、慢、疑,在這個境界再造作無明,再結惡緣,這叫做「富中之貧」。在富有的人間,不懂得惜福,還不斷地貪念;不懂得造善,又是不擇手段去造作,貪,來造業。這名稱是富有,還是在造業中,這就是又囤積,回歸回來業識之中。

也有「貧中之富」,他雖然過去生沒有造福,不過有善緣,隨業帶來,生在貧窮苦難中,在這貧窮苦難,受盡了人生的苦磨,不過,那個善念,有這個善緣,他自然善緣牽引,在貧中造福業。

就像在非洲,依報、正報都很苦,卻是很多人都在受苦、受難,有一群苦難中的種子,有善,他們「貧中之富」,心靈的財富。他們能夠很快樂,每天快樂,每天在走菩薩道,走得很歡喜,不論是爬山,不論是走多遠的路,過溪、泥濘的道路,他們雖然自己很辛苦,他們也要送資糧,到比他們更辛苦的人的家庭去,這就是貧中之富。雖然他們的人生依報、正報,都是在這麼貧困的地方,卻是他們有這個善因緣,自然心就開闊起來,自然借力使力,能這樣借著這個因緣去幫助人,做得很歡喜。這就是各人所造作的不同,我們要相信。這就是佛陀,其實在權教之中,就向我們說真實法,因為我們還有一道門,這個真實法是在第九識的裡面,我們凡夫只用到第八識,我們造作善惡業,藏到第八識。

我們若是善業,又是清淨業,現在佛陀在教我們的,就是教我們清淨,教我們造善,要清淨,清淨的善業,那就是能歸納第九識,就是我們的真如本性。所以這就是一實法,在這寶藏中最後的一道門,這道門啟開了,所以「開權」。前面那些都是過程的法,後面這道門是真實法,這完全是清淨的善種子,這就是一實不虛之法,就是人人本具真如本性,與佛同等,只要我們若是將所有的,煩惱無明全都撥開,這樣這個清淨善法,真如本性就現前了,就一真實法。佛陀現在這個圓融的教法,靈山所開示《法華經》,就是要向我們顯出了,這個真實法,所以啟開。「大慧即本覺,道場淨真如」。應該這樣就能了解,人人有與佛同等的智慧,人人本具真如本性。與佛同等的智慧,那就是我們的本覺,本覺的道場在哪裡呢?在真如;真如本性在哪裡呢?在靈山會,靈山會,佛陀為我們開啟這真如本覺,就是大智慧,這是我們的道場。

佛陀雖然離我們二千多年了,但是我們應該已經知道,靈山會這個道場永遠沒有消失,在我們的內心,這是永恆的。這個道場我們要繼續,這條路要走才有辦法到達。明知人人本具真如本性,但是我們煩惱就是還在,所以我們要修,借力使力,借人群的煩惱、苦難,我們入他們的人群去。所以我們「大慈平等法」。以大慈悲心入人群中,眾生人人都是我們的親人,同樣,所以眾生平等。常常看到菩薩,人間菩薩,入人群去,都與我們沒有關係的人,他受苦難,我們好不容易,撥開了很多的困難,來到受災、受苦的人的面前,就像見到親人受苦難一樣,擁抱著,愛他,同情,同體大悲,這不就是大慈悲平等法嗎?「大慈悲為室,柔和忍辱衣」,那種像慈母在疼孩子,這麼的柔和。看到孩子受委曲、受苦難,還是這樣膚慰他,這種「大慈平等法」。

「無高下差別」,沒有高低的差別。人間災難偏多,義大利這麼大的災難,(二0一六年)地震,那個強震(規模)才是六點二而已,因為它淺層,所以千年的古建築物毀於一旦,是世界很多人去觀光的地方。看看,很多的名勝古蹟,建築物,在那個地方這樣毀於平地,都破壞掉了。越過了三個山頭,三個山嶺,很多的古建築物,那是列入世界珍貴的寶蹟,毀於一旦。想想看,人間無常,在那附近的人,很多豪宅也是同樣毀於一旦。在歐洲國家,不論是德國、法國、英國等等,這些國家的慈濟人,開始已經在策畫,要如何互動起來。因為他們每一個國家,慈濟人不是很多,義大利才只有三位受證的委員,還有四五位現在培訓中,這是在義大利的慈濟人,所以人手不夠,就要跨越其他的國家,慈濟人來會合,這就是世間的無常。

不論它環境多好,建築物有多麼的堅固,千多年、幾百年,鞏固的建築物,也是經不起這樣一陣的地震,六點二的地震,就這樣應聲毀滅掉。人生無常,環境再怎麼好,再怎麼高貴,列入國際、國家級的珍貴建物,也是一樣,高下無差別,沒有。

所以,「人性本同具,諦理濟含識」。人性,我們人性無始以來都一樣,佛陀就這麼告訴我們,與佛同等,「心、佛、眾生,三無差別」,與佛同等,人人本具,所有的生命都與佛同樣,有如來本性在,所以「性本同具,諦理濟含識」。所有一切眾生,那個真如本性,「諦理」,就是真理、道理,道理都完全一樣,就是含藏在這個識。凡夫的識,不論是六識、七識、八識,都含藏著這真理。真理,最乾淨的,那就是真如,第九識,菴摩羅識,這就是我們最究竟,就是開悟之後的佛識,佛識清淨無染,與天地宇宙合為一體,這就是真理,人人本具。

所以過去,「昔權蘊實」。

昔權蘊實如華含蓮
開權顯實
如華開蓮現
離此華已無更別蓮
開權顯實
於一切法中
即見中道

佛陀講權,雖然說過去是方便法,其實方便法中就已經隱藏著實,但是這個實法,就像蓮花含苞,裡面就已經,那個蓮子就已經在裡面,花一展開,我們就是看到它的果實。那個蓮,蓮子,含藏在花苞中,花開果現。所以,開權顯實就如蓮花開,我們就看到它的蓮蓬,就看到這蓮蓬,蓮子就在那個地方。所以「如華開蓮現」,同樣的道理。佛陀過去所說的,都沒有浪費時間,裡面都是含藏著真實法,只是沒有透明讓大家知道,真正的實法,你要撥開你的無明,走入人群中去,借力使力磨練你。無明撥開,顯出真實法,這就是福慧具修,這就是到圓教,「法華」這個時間來。
所以,「離此華已,無更別蓮」。離開了這個花,就沒有其他的蓮蓬了,蓮花與蓮蓬是同在一起,所以說,在講權教,其實含藏是實法,所以花開見果,所以稱為「妙法蓮華」,那就是它果與花是平行。所以「開權顯實,於一切法中,即見中道」。一切法,我們收納在中道。談空說有,談空是說「般若」,說有是在「阿含」的時代,所以說有談空。現在的《法華經》是將這二項收納過來,就是中道,就像花開了,那蓮蓬在中間,這道理就是在這裡。我們真的要用心,《法華經》就是空、有,二法中的中道,真實法。

前面的文說:「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》

「三十三天雨天曼陀羅華供養寶塔;餘諸天、龍、夜叉、乾闥婆、阿修羅、迦樓羅、緊那羅、摩睺羅伽、人非人等千萬億眾」

三十三天
雨天曼陀羅華
供養寶塔
餘諸天 龍 夜叉
乾闥婆 阿修羅
迦樓羅 緊那羅
摩睺羅伽 人非人等千萬億眾
《法華經見寶塔品第十一》

三十三天在哪裡啊?在須彌山頂的頂峰,須彌山的頂峰就是最高處,就是「四方各有八天」。東西南北,每一個方向總共有八個天,八個天宮,四乘八得三十二,但是中央又有一個釋提桓因所住的地方,叫做善見城,居在中間,所以合起來叫做三十三天。若,用法來表示,就是譬喻菩薩有五十二位。這以後再分析。

三十三天:
須彌四方各有八天
帝釋居中
成三十三
若表法者
即喻菩薩五十二位

忉利天,譯作三十三天,就是欲界之第二天。在我們欲界,這還在欲界中,因為忉利天同樣有眷屬,以及(第一重天)四天王天,這是在欲界的第二天,在須彌山頂上。大家都知道,四天王天,它的一天是人間五十年;忉利天,它的一天是人間一百年。表示它離我們的太陽系很遠。中間有帝釋天,在「四方各有八天」,所以合起來,就是成為三十三天。

忉利天:
譯作三十三天
為欲界之第二天
在須彌山頂上
中央為帝釋天
四方各有八天
故合成三十三天

這就是我們要先了解它的環境,與我們人間的距離,忉利天,他們的一天,就是我們的一百年,距離這麼長。從那麼高的天上,雨曼陀羅華來供養寶塔。因為寶塔,前面說過了,因為釋迦佛講《法華經》,所以寶塔從地湧出。因為寶塔出現了,所以天上雨曼陀羅華,在忉利天以及四天王天,都來供養,沿路雨花,來助顯這個道場的莊嚴,所以「諸天雨華,供養寶塔,表心善行」。表示我們心的善行,善是至高無上,這也是一種的譬喻。人人表現這個善心,是至高無上,來「莊嚴法身」。用至高無上的心境,來莊嚴這個真理。我們人人對真理要尊重修,我們無間修、無餘修、長時修,還要尊重修,我們要在真理上,要不斷地尊重,那是至高無上的善行。

雨天曼陀羅華
供養寶塔:
諸天雨華
供養寶塔
表心善行
莊嚴法身

所以,「餘諸天、龍、夜叉、乾闥婆、阿修羅、迦樓羅、緊那羅、摩睺羅伽、人非人等,千萬億眾」。還有很多,這就是天龍八部,天與龍神等八部,這些全都得佛受化,一起來護道場,這在事相來說,「即是八部」,就是天與八部的龍神等,全都合會來。

在事相邊
即是八部
若表法者
不離一心

若是表示法,就是「不離一心」。雖然說是四天王天、忉利天,是天人,或者是龍天八部,其實從法來分析,它是不離開我們一心。我們人人的一心,不論你是四天王天、忉利天,不離我們的心,這都是善法,包含了龍天護法。

天龍二部
即是善心
餘夜叉等
總是惡心
善根勝故
攝諸惡念
無數億萬
化而為善

天龍二眾就是善心,天人、龍神等,這都有修福的,這就是善。這二部,天與龍這二部,就是表示善,他本來就是善。「餘夜叉等」,夜叉、乾闥婆等等,這就是惡,平時就是惡,就像阿修羅等,這些,就像動物類一樣,現那個形,那就是屬於惡。但是,受佛感化,還是同樣有善根,他們還是有善根,就是已經受化為善,成為護法,所以「攝諸惡念,無數億萬,化而為善」。這就是佛法能夠治世良方,人人的心就如天龍八部一樣,不論是須彌山,或者是忉利天,天人表示高,在這麼高,法就是那麼高,所以善心也就那麼高,一切人的無明,同樣法也會降伏我們成為善念,這就是法,我們若用法來解釋。所以,《法華經》是這麼的圓融,從那個相來顯理,只要我們用心體會,時時在我們的生活中,無不都是與法接觸,只要我們心中有法,時時多用心。


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Revealing What Is True and Not False (花開蓮現 顯實不虛)
Date: January.10.2018

“At the Vulture Peak Assembly, [the Buddha] opened the provisional to reveal the True [Dharma], which is not false. Great wisdom is innate enlightenment. The spiritual training ground is pure True Suchness. The impartial Dharma of great loving-kindness does not discriminate between high and low. Humans intrinsically possess the same nature. The true principles are contained within all consciousnesses.”

We must be mindful! The Dharma requires us to mindfully experience it. Only when we are able to actualize the Dharma in our daily living will this be the True Dharma. “At the Vulture Peak Assembly, [the Buddha] opened the provisional to reveal the True [Dharma], which is not false.” This means that after the Buddha attained enlightenment, He began to think about how to help people experience and awaken to their nature of True Suchness. This is the Buddha’s original intent. However, this is easier said than done. The Buddha resolved to patiently guide sentient beings according to their capabilities.

Beginning at Deer Park, He started to give teachings, explaining that the world is full of suffering, that everyone is equally [subject to] birth, aging, illness and death. Even people of wealthy families or kings are unable to predict how long they will live; they cannot make such predictions. So, the Buddha analyzed the cycle of birth, aging, illness and death in the world so that everyone could comprehend that the cycle of birth and death is impartial. He then analyzed the disparities between the poor and the rich, those of high status and low. With different social classes, why are some people born into poverty? On top of poverty they experience illness, on top of illness, disability. Some are born with missing limbs or are born suffering from illnesses. There is suffering from illnesses, suffering from hardships and poverty and suffering from birth, aging, illness and death.

He also analyzed the suffering from the world’s natural disasters, caused by the accumulation of many karmic forces. These are the appearances of suffering that He analyzed. The Buddha then analyzed the imbalance within people’s minds. The way people live gives rise to afflictions and results in man-made disasters. Small disasters affect a family, medium disasters bring chaos to a society and large disasters drive a country into war. This arises from a single thought. So, a single thought creates all the suffering in the world. The Buddha patiently [analyzed] each layer to help everyone recognize suffering and cultivate blessings.

Cultivating blessings also happens during this cycle of birth, aging, illness and death. We must seize our time and our karmic conditions to understand the principles and quickly cultivate wisdom and create blessings. He even taught us how to transcend this cycle of birth and death and no longer return to cyclic existence in this world. From the simple to the profound, from the obvious to the subtle, He explained one layer after another, even how people come [to be born]. It is through the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence. Starting with a thought of ignorance, we are led by karmic forces to a certain household, a certain pair of parents. We follow our affinities there. No matter what kind of environment we end up in, we may be born without all of our limbs, certain to be physically impaired. In this life, regardless of whether we are born into a poor or wealthy family, our situation may be complicated; we may be rich but suffer illness and so on. This is the workings of karma. Born among the rich, we can benefit others and further add to our blessings. This is all demonstrated through [the workings of] karma.

All of this is the Dharma. The Buddha, starting at Deer Park, taught everyone this path of spiritual practice. Everyone needed to have faith in and understand it and put it into action. He helped all people accept it, whether deeply or more shallowly. Some people had a very deep feeling about how the suffering of the world originates in ignorance. Ignorance is found in the world, in the way people interact with one another, affecting one another and mutually creating karmic forces. “I’m afraid! I should just avoid people and focus on engaging in spiritual practice. By ending my interactions with people, I can focus on my practice. I do not want to add to my karma; I want to escape the cycle of birth and death.” They think that by doing this they can transcend samsara. Actually, they have not put an end to their past karmic conditions. However, the Buddha did not say this to them. “Good! Everyone has come to engage in practice. First we should all calm our minds and thoroughly understand the Dharma.” This was how the Buddha taught in the Agama period. In His 42 years [of teaching], He spent 12 years giving the Agama teachings. He repeatedly taught this to everyone because. He worried they would overlook it and forget. Throughout these 12 years, the Buddha guided everyone in this way to find ways to eliminate their afflictions and refrain from creating more negative karma. They must “practice all that is good and refrain from all that is evil” and form good affinities. Having gone through the Agama period in this way, everyone already understood. The teachings of the Four Noble Truths, the Twelve Links, of Cyclic Existence and many other Dharma-doors were clear to them. They were alert and knew to distant themselves from these causes and conditions. They refrained from creating negative affinities; they knew to distance themselves from that, to guard against life’s afflictions and ignorance. The Buddha was aware of this, so He entered the Vaipulya period. Over eight years, the Buddha taught the Vaipulya teachings. He gradually guided everyone. “Besides benefiting yourself and maintaining the purity of your self-awakening, you still have unresolved karmic affinities, karmic affinities you formed in past lives. You still need to care about the matters of the people of this world and try to understand them.”

But everyone feared being entangled in karma. So, they were a bit hesitant about the Vaipulya. However, the Buddha used wisdom to draw them in and guide them and help them accept the Vaipulya teachings, going one step further with these skillful means to go among people to care for them. Once the Buddha opened up this concept, [people began to] create blessed causes and conditions. Everyone understood and no longer rejected this. They understood their karmic causes and conditions and their causes, conditions, effects and retributions with other people. But the Buddha then went another step further. He spent 22 years discussing the Prajna teachings. The past teachings were about “existence,” the existence of suffering and conditions. They were all part of the truth of suffering, the principles behind suffering, and the principles behind the interaction of causes and conditions. Everyone understood this very clearly by now.

After that, He used the Prajna teachings. The Prajna teachings discussed “emptiness”. Everything that has “existence” has come together, but in the end, it is all ultimately empty. After hearing the Prajna teachings, everyone clearly understood that, indeed, everything in life is ultimately empty. Through birth, aging, illness and death, we pass through our life in this way. Won’t everything completely disappear in the end? Just what kinds of things will happen in future lifetimes? In future, lifetimes the karmic retributions will be even more frightening. They were clearly aware of the workings of karma, but they still treated them as empty. They did not want to contrive any more affinities. So, they stopped at [teachings of] “emptiness” and feared “existence”. They were afraid. So, in this process, the Buddha knew the time had come. Since they understood that “existence” is the source of karmic forces and since they knew about “emptiness,” they should no longer be attached to the two teachings of emptiness and existence. Everyone was clear.

Because of this at the Vulture Peak Assembly, the Buddha began to open up the provisional to reveal the True Dharma. In the past, He did not tell anyone, “It was because of your capabilities that I guided you with skillful means.” He did not say this in the past. Everyone thought, “If I practice this way, I will transcend the cycle of birth and death.” So, when the Buddha taught skillful means at that time, whether He was discussing emptiness or existence, he left that door closed. Everyone thought that was the way things were. “We will practice what the Buddha teaches.”

Now, He took the “provisional,” which is the skillful means, and opened that door so we could all see the ultimate truth the True Dharma inside. This is just like taking us into the storehouse of treasures. In that storehouse, we see this treasure and that treasure. There are many treasures, and we see them all. In fact, in this storehouse, there is still one more treasure chest. This most exquisite treasure chest has not yet to be opened. So, all that people could see was the exterior of the treasure chest. At this time, He truly opened the lid of the treasure chest. After the skillful, provisional teachings, He opened the next set of doors. This is “opening the provisional.” Within the provisional , there is the True Dharma. So, the “provisional,” the skillful teachings, these doors, had now been opened by the Buddha. “Look, inside here you can find the True Dharma, the True Dharma of the One Vehicle. This is everyone’s treasure. Earlier, I helped you understand the Five Roots and Five Dusts. I told you all that the eye-root connects with the form-object, and the ear-root connects with the sound-object. He explained them all to us one by one. Later He explained what we take in, the convergence of the Roots and Dusts. He used these principles to explain that when the Roots and Dusts converge, it is our consciousness that makes contact. Our mind, our consciousness, makes contact with external conditions. He helped us understand this, layer by layer. When ordinary beings’ minds make contact with external conditions, the [sixth] consciousness considers good and bad actions. The [sixth] consciousness is where we have dust-like delusions. We take in so many states from the outside world. This is the sixth consciousness, the sixth consciousness before the seventh. What we take in from the Five Roots and Five Dusts is given to the sixth consciousness. After we categorize this signal, [we think], “I really love this thing, how can I obtain it? This signal, this information, is then contemplated by the [sixth] consciousness. This results in the consciousness of afflictions, in dust-like delusions. In this process, afflictions lead us to create karma. This is also where those who are sharp and clever act from. Then, we take action with our bodies to create much karma. Once karma is created, [the process repeats]; the sixth consciousness feel that momentary happiness. Then the seventh consciousness thinks, “I now possess this!” Since we possess, have obtained it, it is then taken into the eighth consciousness. This is how the Buddha, layer by layer, helped us comprehend and understand. The eighth consciousness is where everything is stored, our karma, all our afflictions, all our ignorance and our karmic consciousness. After we take action, everything returns to the eighth consciousness; all the karma we create is stored in the eighth consciousness.

So, ordinary beings stop at this point. We bring our eighth consciousness with us, without any control. We may go anywhere; if we created blessings, our blessed karma may take us to an ideal family, an ideal country, an ideal environment. In the place our direct and circumstantial retributions take us, we will gradually grow up in that place and live an easy and happy life. We will spend our entire lives like this. This is how unenlightened beings transmigrate. If we bring ignorance along with karma, even if we are born into a life of wealth, we also bring with us greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance and doubt and continue to create ignorance in that place, continue to form negative affinities. This makes us “the poor among the rich.” In a world of riches, we do not know to cherish our blessings and still continue giving rise to thoughts of greed. We do not know to do good deeds and instead stop at no means [to get what we want]. Out of greed, we created karma. We may be considered rich but still continue to create karma. Thus, it continues accumulating, and returns to our karmic-consciousness. There are also “the rich among the poor.” Although they did not create blessings in their past lives, they have good affinities. They come here with their karma and are born into poverty and suffering. In this state of poverty and suffering, they experience all the sufferings of life.

However, because they had thoughts of goodness and good affinities, naturally those affinities will lead them to create blessed karma amidst their poverty. Take those in Africa, for example. Their circumstantial and direct retributions brought them much suffering. Many people experience suffering and hardship. But among those suffering are a group of seeds who have good thoughts; they are “the rich among the poor.” With that spiritual wealth, they can be very happy. They are happy every day. Every day they walk the Bodhisattva-path and walk it happily. Whether they are climbing over mountains, whether they are making long journeys over streams or muddy roads, even though it is hard on them, they still want to deliver provisions to families that are suffering more than they are. These are the rich among the poor. Even though their circumstantial and direct retributions in this life have brought them to this impoverished place, they have these good karmic conditions, so naturally they can open their hearts and make use of their collective strength. They can make use of these karmic conditions to help people and are very happy when doing so. This is the result of the different karma that each person creates.

We must believe this. This is how the Buddha, while giving provisional teachings, was actually teaching us the True Dharma. This is because we still have one door [to open]. The True Dharma is in the ninth consciousness. We ordinary beings are only using. The positive and negative karma we create are stored in the eighth consciousness. If we can create good karma, we should pure karma. Right now, what the Buddha is teachings us is to be pure, to do good and be pure. This pure good karma can enter the ninth consciousness, which is our intrinsic nature of True Suchness. This is the True Dharma. This is the last door in the storehouse. This door has opened. So, He “open the provisional.” The previous teachings were part of the process. The door at the end [leads to] the True Dharma. These are the pure seeds of goodness. This is the One Dharma, which is not false. Everyone intrinsically has the nature of True Suchness; we are all equal to the Buddha. If we just push aside all of our afflictions and ignorance, then this pure, wholesome Dharma, our nature of True Suchness, will manifest. This is the True Dharma of the One Vehicle.

The Buddha’s perfect and harmonious teachings, the Lotus Sutra that He taught on Vulture Peak, are for the purpose of revealing the True Dharma. So, He unlocked “great wisdom [which] is innate enlightenment. The spiritual training ground is pure True Suchness.” From this we should be able to understand that everyone has wisdom equal to the Buddha’s. Everyone intrinsically possesses the nature of True Suchness, wisdom which is equal to the Buddha’s. This is our innate enlightenment. Where is this spiritual training ground of innate enlightenment? It is our nature of True Suchness.

Where is our nature of True Suchness? It is at the Vulture Peak Assembly. At the Vulture Peak Assembly, the Buddha opened up our innate enlightenment of True Suchness, which is our great wisdom. This is our spiritual training ground. Though the Buddha is more than 2000 years removed from us, we should know by now that the spiritual training ground of the Vulture Peak Assembly has never disappeared. It is in our hearts; It is everlasting. This Dharma-assembly must continue; we have to walk this road in order to arrive. We clearly know that everyone intrinsically possesses the nature of True Suchness, but our afflictions still exist. So, we must engage in practice and make use of other people’s strength. We make use of people’s afflictions and suffering, by going among people [to help]. So, we [apply] “the impartial Dharma of great loving-kindness.” We go among people with great loving-kindness and compassion. All sentient beings are our family members. They are the same, so all sentient beings are equal. We often see Living Bodhisattvas going among people, people whom they do not have any prior relationship with. These people are suffering, but after much effort, we finally overcome many difficulties to reach these people affected by disasters and suffering. Just as if seeing loved ones who are suffering, we embrace them and give them love. We have sympathy and universal compassion isn’t this the impartial Dharma of great loving-kindness? “Great compassion is the abode, [and] gentleness and patience are the clothing.” This gentleness is like a loving mother caring for her child; when she sees the child wronged or suffering, she will always go to comfort the child. This is the “impartial Dharma of great loving-kindness, which does not discriminate between high and low.” There is no difference between high and low.

The world is filled with disasters. Italy suffered this major disaster, an earthquake [in 2016]. It was only magnitude 6.2 on the Richter scale, but because the epicenter was shallow, thousand-year-old structures were destroyed in an instant. Tourists all over the world visited these places. Look at these places of historical significance, these buildings. They were leveled, completely destroyed. It spanned three peaks, three mountain ridges, and numerous ancient buildings that were all listed as the world’s treasures were all destroyed in an instant. Think about it, this is life’s impermanence. The mansions nearby were likewise destroyed in an instant. Tzu Chi volunteers in countries throughout Europe whether from Germany, France, Great Britain and so on, had already begun to strategize how they were going to get together and take action. This is because in each of these countries, there are not that many Tzu Chi volunteers. Italy only has three certified commissioners and four to five who are still in training. These are the Tzu Chi volunteers of Italy. Because they do not have enough manpower, they must have Tzu Chi volunteers from other countries come and join them. This is the impermanence of the world. Regardless of how nice the conditions are, how stable the structures are, building that have stood strong for over hundreds or thousands of years still could to withstand this earthquake. A magnitude 6.2 earthquake decimated everything just like that. Life is impermanent. No matter how nice the conditions are, how precious [the buildings are] even if they are internationally-or nationally-treasured buildings, the same thing happened to them.

There is no difference between the high and low; none at all. So, “Humans intrinsically possess the same nature. The true principles are contained within all consciousnesses.” Human nature has been exactly the same since Beginningless Time. This is what the Buddha told us. We are equal to the Buddha “The mind, the Buddha and sentient beings are no different [in their nature].” We are equal to the Buddha. We all intrinsically have this. All living beings are like the Buddha; they possess the Tathagata-nature “Humans intrinsically possess the same nature. The true principles are contained within all consciousnesses.” All sentient beings’ nature of True Suchness, the “true principles,” these truths and principles, are all the same. They are all stored in this consciousness. The consciousnesses of ordinary beings, whether it be the sixth, seventh or eighth consciousness, all contain these true principles. The purest of true principles is our nature of True Suchness, the ninth consciousness, the amala consciousness. This is the ultimate state, the Buddha-consciousness we reach upon awakening. The Buddha-consciousness is pure and undefiled, and is one with the universe. This is the true principle that everyone intrinsically possesses. So, in the past, “The provisional teachings of the past contained the truth.”

The provisional teachings of the past contained the truth, just as a lotus flower contains the lotus pod. Opening the provisional to reveal the truth is like a lotus blooming to reveal the lotus pod. Outside of the lotus flower, there is no other lotus pod. With the provisional opened and the true revealed, we see the Middle Way in all Dharma.

The Buddha taught the provisional. Even though what He taught in the past were skillful means, the true was actually hidden in those skillful means. The True Dharma is like the bud of a lotus flower. The lotus seeds are already inside. Once the flower blooms, we will see this fruit. The lotus seed is concealed within the lotus bud. When the flower blossoms, the fruit will appear. So, opening the provisional to reveal the true is like the lotus flower blossoming. We will see the lotus pod. We will see the lotus pod, and the seeds are in there. So, “It is like a lotus blooming to reveal the lotus pod.” The principle is the same. The teachings the Buddha taught in the past were not a waste of time. They all contained the True Dharma; it is just that He did not make it transparent to everyone. [To reach] the True Dharma, we must brush aside our ignorance and go among people. We make use of others’ strength to refine ourselves. When we brush aside our ignorance, we will manifest the True Dharma within us. This is cultivating both blessings and wisdom. This is reaching the perfect teachings. This is the time when the Lotus teachings arrive. So, “Outside of the lotus flower, there is no other lotus pod.” Apart from this lotus flower, there are no other lotus pods. The lotus flower and lotus pod are joined together. So, when the provisional is taught, it actually contains the True Dharma. When the flower blossoms, we see the fruit. So, it is called the “Wondrous Dharma Lotus Flower” because it has the fruit and flower at the same time. “With the provisional opened and the true revealed, we see the Middle Way in all Dharma.” We bring all the Dharma back to the Middle Way. He discussed emptiness and existence. He discussed emptiness in the Prajna period and existence during the Agama period. So, He taught existence and emptiness. Now, the Lotus Sutra collects both these topics; it is the Middle Way. This is like when a lotus flower blossoms, the lotus pod is in the middle. The principle is right here. We must truly be mindful. The Lotus Sutra is the Middle Way between emptiness and existence, the True Dharma.

The previous passage says, “All those banners and canopies were made from the Seven Treasures, gold, silver, crystal, mother-of-pearl, chalcedony, pearl and rose stone. The stupa was so tall that it reached the palaces of the Four Heavenly Kings.” The next sutra passage says, “From the Heaven of the Thirty-three, there fell a rain of Mandarava flowers in offering to the stupa of treasures.All the various heavenly beings, nagas, yaksas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras, mahoragas, humans and non-humans, trillions in all….”

Where is the Heaven of the Thirty-three? It is on the summit of Mt. Sumeru. Mt. Sumeru’s summit is the highest place of all. “In each of the four directions, there are eight heavens.” In the east, west, south and north, in each of those directions there are eight heavens in all and eight heavenly palaces. Four times eight is thirty-two, but in the center, there is the place where Sakro-devanam Indra lives. It is called the City of Good Views, and it is in the center. All of these together make up the Heaven of the Thirty-three. If we express this in terms of the Dharma, it is an analogy for the 52 stages of Bodhisattvas. We will explain this later on.

The Heaven of the Thirty-three: On Sumeru, in each of the four directions, there are eight heavens, and Indra resides in the center, thus making Thirty-three heavens. In terms of the Dharma, these represent the 52 stages of Bodhisattvas.

The Heaven of the Thirty-three is also called Trayastrimsa Heaven. It is the second heaven of the desire realm. It is still in the desire realm, because those in the Trayastrimsa Heaven still have their family and retinue. [In the desire realm,] there is also the Heaven of the Four Heavenly Kings. [The Trayastrimsa Heaven] is the second heaven of the desire realm, and it is on the summit of Mt. Sumeru. Everyone should know that in the Heaven of the Four Heavenly Kings, one day there is equal to 50 years in this world. One day in Trayastrimsa Heaven is equal to 100 years in this world. This means that it is very far away from our solar system. Indra’s Heaven is in the center, and “in each of the four directions there are eight heavens.” So, combined together they comprise the Heaven of the Thirty-three.

Trayastrimsa Heaven: This is the Heaven of the Thirty-three. It is the second heaven of the desire realm, located on the summit of Mt. Sumeru. Sakra’s Heaven is at the center and in each of the four directions there are eight heavens, thus forming the Heaven of the Thirty-three.

First, we must understand its environment and its distance from our world. One day in Trayastrimsa Heaven is 100 years for us; this is such a great distance. From such a high place in the sky, there fell a rain of Mandarava flowers as an offering to the stupa of treasures. We discussed the stupa of treasures previously. Because Sakyamuni Buddha taught the Lotus Sutra, the stupa of treasures emerged from the ground. Because the stupa of treasures appeared, Mandarava flowers rained from the sky. Those in Trayastrimsa Heaven and the Heaved of the Four Heavenly Beings all came to make offerings. Along the way, flowers rained down to help highlight the magnificence of this spiritual training ground. So, “All heavens rained down flowers to make offerings to the stupa of treasures. This shows their hearts and wholesome actions.” This shows the wholesome practices from our hearts; this wholesomeness is supreme and unsurpassed. This is also a metaphor. Everyone expressed their wholesome intentions, which were supreme and unsurpassed. They came to “dignify the Dharmakaya.” They used this supreme and unsurpassed spiritual state to dignify these true principles. With the true principles, we all must engage in practice with reverence. We engage in uninterrupted practice, practice with nothing further, extended practice, and also practice with reverence. We must always have reverence toward the true principles. These are supreme and unsurpassed wholesome actions.

There fell a rain of Mandarava flowers as an offering to the stupa of treasures: All heavens rained down flowers to make offerings to the stupa of treasures. This shows their hearts’ wholesome practices which dignify the Dharmakaya.

So, “All the various heavenly beings, nagas, yaksas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras, mahoragas, humans and non-humans, trillions in all…." There were so many of them. These are the eight classes of Dharma-protectors, heavenly beings and nagas and so on. They all have been transformed by the Buddha and came together to protect this training ground. In terms of worldly appearances, “These are the eight classes of Dharma-protectors,” the heavenly beings and nagas of the eight classes and so on; they have all gathered together. In terms of the Dharma, this means it is “inseparable from one mind." Although we talk about the Heaven of the Four Heavenly Beings and Trayastrimsa Heaven, heavenly beings and the eight classes of Dharma-protectors, when we analyze this in terms of the Dharma, we find that it is inseparable from our one mind. When it comes to our one mind, whether we are from the Heaven of the Four Heavenly beings, or Trayastrimsa Heaven, everything is inseparable from our minds. This is all virtuous Dharma; it was the same for the Dharma-protectors like heavenly beings and nagas.

The two classes of heavenly beings and nagas have good hearts. The remaining classes of yaksas and others have always had evil hearts. Because of their superior roots of goodness, they controlled all their evil thoughts, countless trillions of them, and transformed them into goodness.

The two classes of heavenly beings and nagas have good hearts. They all have cultivated blessings. This is goodness. These two classes, heavenly beings and nagas, represent goodness. They are fundamentally good. “The remaining classes of yaksas and others….” Yaksas, gandharvas and so on are evil. They are normally evil, just like the asuras and so on, just like animals. The appearances they manifest are considered evil. However, they were transformed by the Buddha, and likewise have the roots of goodness. Since they still have the roots of goodness, this means they were transformed to become good and have become Dharma-protectors. So, “They controlled all their evil thought, countless trillions of them, and transformed them into goodness.” This is how the Buddha-Dharma is the medicine capable of curing the world. Our minds are just like that of the eight classes of Dharma-protectors. Whether they are on Mt. Sumeru, or in Trayastrimsa Heaven, heavenly beings represent the peak. Not matter how high they are, the Dharma can reach that height. The height of their heart of goodness is the same. Even with everyone’s ignorance, the Dharma can likewise tame our minds and transform [ignorance] into good thoughts. This is how we explain this in terms of the Dharma. The Lotus Sutra is so perfect and harmonious. Through appearances, it manifests the principles. As long as we mindfully comprehend it, at any time in our lives, we will be in constant contact with the Dharma. We simply must keep the Dharma in our hearts and always be mindful.

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