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 20180611《靜思妙蓮華》尼眾安道 祈佛授記 (第1367集) (法華經·勸持品第十三)

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發表主題: 20180611《靜思妙蓮華》尼眾安道 祈佛授記 (第1367集) (法華經·勸持品第十三)   周日 6月 10, 2018 9:56 pm

20180611《靜思妙蓮華》尼眾安道 祈佛授記 (第1367集) (法華經·勸持品第十三)

⊙度親人平等觀,入淨離欲俗麈,自淨心境除垢,無染著淨煩惱;大愛道比丘尼,學無學眾尼群,心存安住於道,祈佛作證授記。
⊙大愛道:若以聲聞言之,彼比丘諸聲聞,我等亦持佛教法,同是聲聞,既同聞法音,同解理應不異,何授記不及於我等?
⊙「所以者何?是娑婆國中人多弊惡,懷增上慢,功德淺薄,瞋濁諂曲心不實故。」《法華經勸持品第十三》
⊙「爾時、佛姨母摩訶波闍波提比丘尼、與學無學比丘尼六千人俱,從座而起,一心合掌,瞻仰尊顏,目不暫捨。」《法華經勸持品第十三》
⊙摩訶波闍波提:此翻眾生。又云大愛道,亦云憍曇彌。
⊙憍曇彌:佛姨母姓也。乃尼眾之主,故統領六千比丘尼而請記。
⊙瞻仰尊顏,目不暫捨:將有所請,願聞受持。所以瞻敬,不能暫捨。目不暫捨:希受佛記,求而未得之貌。
⊙眾尼見聲聞授記、龍女成佛,感發其志-大愛道心思:佛陀已為弟子授記,謂若以聲聞言之,彼聲聞,我亦聲聞也。聞法既同,理應不異,何授記不及於我等授記?以女言之,是龍女,我等亦女身。既同其倫,必同其道,我等豈不若龍女乎?
⊙由是心雖自肯定,然踟躕未決,故悱然心思欲言而卻又難其所言,但仰首目視,俟聞命焉。

【證嚴上人開示】
度親人平等觀,入淨離欲俗麈,自淨心境除垢,無染著淨煩惱;大愛道比丘尼,學無學眾尼群,心存安住於道,祈佛作證授記。

度親人平等觀
入淨離欲俗麈
自淨心境除垢
無染著淨煩惱
大愛道比丘尼
學無學眾尼群
心存安住於道
祈佛作證授記


我們要多用心體會,釋迦牟尼佛人間度化,不分親疏,但是一般來說,度他人容易,度自己的至親人是更困難啊!但是佛陀他的德,成佛了之後,幾年後回去迦毘羅衛國,父王歡喜,希望迦毘羅衛國,人人都能夠親近佛法,這是真理,期侍國家人民,人人能夠得到真理;身心輕安,這是淨飯王的心願。所以,他下了命令,只要是家庭有兩個兒子,兩個以上,就可以讓他的兒子,至少一個出家。人民是這樣,大臣也是這樣,王親國戚也是同樣。佛陀期待愈是親的人,期待他們愈能夠接近佛法。這也就是淨飯王的用心,他相信悉達多太子成佛之後,成為大覺者,所覺悟的天地人間宇宙真理,絕對是沒偏錯。應該人人就有道,要趕緊接近這真實的道理,才是他的國家的幸福。這是淨飯王的心念。也有很多王親、大臣的兒子,都願意,因為佛陀入王宮說法,也已經有一段時間了,人人好樂佛法,都期待接近佛陀,親近佛法。自願要出家的人很多。所以,時時跟隨在佛身邊出家的人,就愈來愈多。

一直經過到,淨飯王已經往生了,「大愛道」,就是佛的姨母,也是想:人生真是無常,道理了解了,最好就是要親近在佛的身邊,能夠時時聞法。這是她們很嚮往,希望過著這樣簡單、無牽掛的生活。所以,她帶著一群宮女,全都願意隨她出家,來向佛陀求,求要出家。包括耶輸陀羅也在裡面。開頭,佛陀就是不肯,這故事大家知道。後來大愛道,那就是摩訶波闍波提,她就向阿難求啊,那時阿難,已經是成為佛的侍者,時時在佛的身邊。所以摩訶波闍波提:「拜託!拜託!」用真切來懇求,「阿難,替我們向佛陀求。」所以,阿難不忍心,佛的姨母,以及宮中這麼多王親,全都這些女眾,願意來親近佛是多麼不簡單。她們既然能夠,放棄王宮富貴的生活,願意來過著這麼淡泊、簡單、刻苦的生活。阿難很感動,認為眾生全部佛陀都愛,希望他們能得度,哪有說女人不能接近佛陀,在佛的僧團中修行呢?他去向佛陀一直懇求。佛陀聽阿難一而再,再而三,不斷地懇求,佛陀只好答應了。

但是,阿難在感恩佛陀答應,但是佛陀就跟他說:「你知道嗎?因為我答應你,女眾來出家成為比丘尼,我的正法恐怕會減短了,會減少。」阿難嚇到了,問說:「這是為什麼?」佛陀就說:「女人修行心不專,女人的嬌態、形態,體態看來很軟弱,心裡雜念偏多,出家乃是大丈夫事,但是女人心很複雜。」阿難就說:「過去諸佛,也是同樣有四眾弟子,為什麼在這個娑婆世界,女人就有這麼大的障礙呢?」佛陀嘆了一口氣:「是啊!娑婆世界的眾生心欲剛強,何況男女之間若是接近,這使男人心不得定,女人心複雜。」阿難就說:「這麼不平等,佛陀不是說眾生皆有佛性。眾生,大慈平等觀,哪還有男女形相?」佛陀說:「不是男女形相,是心態、習氣。」是啊!是心態、習氣。但是,難道真是這樣嗎?佛陀也說:「是平等,只是心態、習氣(不同)。」

男人平時生活,就是比較簡單的生活,每一天就是這樣的簡單,只要盥洗乾淨,衣服整齊,這樣就好了。但是女人就不同了,就要細心打扮,真的看起來,一個房間裡面,女人的物,使用的東西比男人多,男人,一個衣櫃、一張床、一張桌子,應該就夠了。女人就要梳妝臺,瓶瓶罐罐很多,形形色色、奇奇怪怪的東西也很多。可見她們的生活,這種的習氣,就已經時間很不夠用,生活中就看出,她們的習氣的浪費,浪費時間、浪費心思、浪費財物,這就是佛陀所說的習氣的障礙。當然在佛陀,佛陀本來就是都平等,阿難來代替摩訶波闍波提來求,這只不過佛陀用這個相,形相,故意不願意接納女人出家。他心清楚、明白,摩訶波闍波提一定會去求阿難,因為他也很了解阿難,心軟,也是從小就是這樣依賴母系,依賴媽媽,依賴像摩訶波闍波提,從小疼惜到長大。所以,摩訶波闍波提一定會去找阿難,阿難一定會代替他們說話,這是佛陀內心明知,所以故意拒絕,這就是要警愓後世的女人。

所以,大家都說女人業障重得多,要多修五百年。是啊!要用更久的時間來斷她的習氣,這種習氣、心態,要怎麼樣能夠,將這個心態、習氣要改變、要糾正過來,不是那麼簡單。要不然,全都是平等。佛陀內心並沒拒絕,只是故意經過了這樣的過程,警惕女人心,佛陀度親人平等觀,本來就平等觀,何況他也是很感恩他的姨母,回到王宮說法,也是一直為王宮裡面的親人,或者是裡面的宮女,同樣這樣在說法,所以她們才能夠法那麼的入心。當然,這種度眾生是怨親平等、親疏不分,所以說「度親人平等觀」。親人也好,疏遠的人也好,是佛陀,就是無不是要度的眾生,就是佛要度的眾生。異類、動物,佛陀都要度了,何況同是人類呢!所以佛陀他是以平等觀。

摩訶波闍波提,這群女眾決心入佛門,她們是「入淨離欲俗塵」,他們已經下定決心要入佛門來,那就是清淨了。要捨棄了一切生活的習氣、生態,全都要捨去,所以她要離欲。俗塵,這個俗家的生活,哪怕富麗堂皇,很富有的物資,她完全也同樣放棄了,這種世俗的生態完全遠離了,下定決心。所以「自淨心境除垢」。所以完全心一轉念,完全都清淨了,垢穢、雜念,不好的習氣,也完全已經都撥除了,下定決心,「無染著,淨煩惱」,已經沒有染著,同樣是清淨,沒有煩惱了。男人的心,女人的心,都是一樣,女人的心欲,都是用在自己的身上;男人的心欲,就是向外,不斷名、色、財、氣,同樣都有污染,但是修行,不論是粗、細,女人微細的煩惱,也要去除;男人粗重的煩惱,也要去除。所以,一樣「無染著淨煩惱」。

「大愛道比丘尼,學無學眾尼群」,大愛道就是摩訶波闍波提,她以及學與無學,有的根機很利,已經從開始來跟隨佛出家,同樣聽佛說法,根機,大根大機,能夠體會佛所說的教法,這就是已經到「無學」的境界。而「有學」呢?就是初發心,開始來學佛法,或者是根機比較劣弱,那就是慢慢接受,這都還是在學中,所以,叫做「學與無學眾尼群」。這一大群比丘尼,大家的心都一樣,「心存安住於道」。不論是學與無學,大家那個心都很是安穩在道,在道中。大家都是很有決心,女人修行很認真,也很守本分,所以他們祈求佛,能為她們作證,能夠授記。這也是他們的心。這大愛道,他帶領著這麼多人,慢慢累積,比丘尼團也有六千人了。所以這位大愛道,摩訶波闍波提,他就是領眾之首,是比丘尼的領導者,所以他帶領這些人,也是一樣從座起,他們也是期待,佛陀能為她們見證授記。

大愛道:
若以聲聞言之
彼比丘諸聲聞
我等亦持佛教法
同是聲聞
既同聞法音
同解理應不異
何授記不及於我等

大愛道這群比丘尼,大家的心都有這樣的想法。「若以聲聞言之」。佛陀已經為聲聞人授記了,五百、八千,這些比丘,學與無學,前後都已經得佛授記了,這些聲聞人。大愛道就這樣想,「彼比丘諸聲聞」,那些聲聞,那些比丘,「我等亦持佛教法,同是聲聞」,那些男眾比丘是聲聞,我們女眾比丘尼同樣也是聲聞。我們都是一樣啊!佛陀怎麼教育,我們就是怎麼受持。既同聞法音,同解道理,應該是沒有差異啊!男女聽法,法入心來,都是沒有差異。「不異」,沒有差異。為什麼授記,「不及於我等」?這個授記,來到這個地方,這樣就停下來了,佛陀轉為<法師品>,轉為<見寶塔品>,轉為…,就一直都還沒聽到,要為我們授記。

提婆達多這麼壞,也是一樣,佛陀也為他授記,為什麼都沒聽到,為我們大家授記呢?這個授記,怎麼還沒輪到我們?這是大愛道,這群比丘尼,內心的期待,也內心的擔心,恐怕佛陀不會向比丘尼授記,所以這是她們的擔心,也是很期待,佛陀能夠為她們授記。

所以前面的文,我們已經講到這些沙門,比丘,聲聞,這些人他們也願意發願,二萬菩薩都發願了,所以這些聲聞、這些比丘也來向佛陀發願,「我們願意發心,願意接受這個法,期待不是在這個地方,因為娑婆國中,人多弊惡,我們願意接受大法,弘宣教法,但不是要在這裡。」是因為這個娑婆世界的人,總是「多弊惡,懷增上慢」。增上慢包括了貪、瞋、癡,慢又疑,這都包括在內,就是娑婆世界的眾生。

所以者何
是娑婆國中
人多弊惡
懷增上慢
功德淺薄
瞋濁諂曲
心不實故
《法華經勸持品第十三》

所以已經功德已經很淺薄,想要做好事的人已經不多了,假使若是做一點點好事,一點點,就有要求,求有所得。為了要求有所得,所以「瞋濁諂曲」的心,也很不實,沒有真實,「誠正信實」,這都欠缺了。

這是娑婆世界的眾生,無法很用心願意修行,所以這種不實的心,缺誠意,缺正念的心,缺深信,當然也缺真實的心。這就是娑婆世界眾生五濁難除,這是在這個娑婆世界,所以,這些聲聞就不敢,雖然要發大心,但是不敢在這個地方,這是大家的表達。雖然大家這樣表達出來,佛陀還沒有回答他們,轉一個方向,佛陀他就看大家,你們願意發願,但是不願意在這個地方。佛陀慈眼來觀視所有的人,在這個時候,他的目光,佛陀的眼光接觸到佛姨母,他看到了。

所以,這段文,接下來再說:「爾時、佛姨母摩訶波闍波提比丘尼、與學無學比丘尼六千人俱,從座而起,一心合掌,瞻仰尊顏,目不暫捨。」

爾時
佛姨母
摩訶波闍波提
比丘尼
與學無學比丘尼
六千人俱
從座而起
一心合掌
瞻仰尊顏
目不暫捨
《法華經勸持品第十三》

佛陀看大家,看到姨母和這些比丘尼,也是這麼的虔誠,大家都是這樣虔誠合掌,抬頭仰望著佛陀的尊顏,那個眼光是這麼的專注,內心好像要表達什麼話,有這樣的形態。所以「摩訶波闍波提」,就是翻譯叫做「眾主」,將它翻譯,尼眾之主,「又云大愛道」,也是叫做「大愛道」。

摩訶波闍波提:
此翻眾生
又云大愛道
亦云憍曇彌

「亦云憍曇彌」,下面的文,會用「憍曇彌」來代替,所以,這是摩訶波闍波提的名字,佛的姨母,也稱為作「憍曇彌」,就是這阿姨的姓,就是這阿姨的姓。所以,「乃尼眾之主」,是這眾比丘尼,都是由他來帶領著。

憍曇彌:
佛姨母姓也
乃尼眾之主
故統領六千比丘尼
而請記

憍曇彌,大家都知道,佛的姨母,本來就是,就是佛陀他親生母親的妹妹。因為太子出生時,摩耶夫人體弱,血流不止,所以,七天後,她就命終,就往生了。

國王為了這太子,要如何來撫養他,這當中就要找人。憍曇彌,就是摩訶波闍波提,她姊姊往生,很悲傷,又再看到姊姊的幼子,很不捨。這段時間都是她在那個地方這樣照顧,很多大臣也建議,太子需要身邊有母親。看摩訶波闍波提對姊姊,所留下來骨肉是這麼的疼惜,這麼慈愛,建議國王就這樣接納,這位摩訶波闍波提,來成為撫養太子的母親,所以,還是姨母,就是這樣,國王接受來為太子的母親,就這樣很用心照顧他。所以,「姨母代養之」,就是阿姨把他帶大。

所以「憍曇彌由阿難之請」。她要來求出家,佛陀不肯,就不敢講出來,就去向阿難請求。阿難,剛才講過了,就是懇求,苦苦哀求,佛陀才開始接納這群女眾出家。這是佛陀他接納比丘尼出家,當然也有一段坎坷。佛陀對女眾,他們有這個心態種種的障礙,警惕她們,要出家這麼困難,既出家了,所以他們很認真修行,心淨,住在道中。這就是他們要爭一口氣,「我要用功,好好修行。」這就是憍曇彌,摩訶波闍波提他立下志願,嚴格帶領這群比丘尼。這是他們初出家一直這樣,接下來修行認真。

「與學無學比丘尼六千人俱,從座而起,一心合掌」;佛之姨母與眾尼俱,先具威儀。

所以,憍曇彌帶著學與無學,比丘尼六千人俱,看到佛陀慈眼來看全場的人,她感覺佛陀的目光,已經與他們接觸到了。本來他們就是這樣合掌,仰矚,仰望著佛陀。他看到佛陀看到他們了,他就趕快動作起來了,趕快從座而起。本來內心,就已經有這樣一直擔心,又是期待,「怎麼還沒有輪到我們受記呢?」本來大家的心就有懷著期待,看到佛陀看她們了,他們趕快把握機會,趕快從座而起,趕快起來,大家合齊,雙手合掌,專心虔誠。這就是佛的姨母和這些尼眾,共同都全部很有秩序。她很嚴格的教導,管理得很好,大家很和齊,很莊嚴,一起站起來,一起整齊地合掌。又再「瞻仰尊顏,目不暫捨」,同樣也是這樣,一直期待。本來是坐著,看到佛陀在看她們,大家合齊趕快從座而起,就是跪起來,雙手合掌。

瞻仰尊顏
目不暫捨:
將有所請
願聞受持
所以瞻敬
不能暫捨
目不暫捨:
希受佛記
求而未得之貌

這就是「將有所請」,很想要請教佛陀。「願聞受持」,我們大家這麼認真在聽,希望佛陀能夠向我們授記。有所期待,既然這些比丘發心說要接受,持《法華經》,我們也有心,我們也有所期待。既然佛陀的目光接觸到我們,是不是有什麼交代。他們既然發心,我們也是發心。」所以,他們「目不暫捨」,希望佛陀能稱我們的名,為我們授記。這就是他們內心的期待。「求而未得之貌」。這麼虔誠,但是,佛陀還是遲遲沒有和他們說話。

這些尼眾,就是大家的內心都是這樣想,「聲聞都已經授記了,龍女也已經成佛了。」大家的那個感受在內心,卻是那個志願更堅定。

眾尼見聲聞授記
龍女成佛
感發其志
大愛道心思:
佛陀已為弟子授記
謂若以聲聞言之
彼聲聞我亦聲聞也
聞法既同
理應不異
何授記不及於
我等授記
以女言之
是龍女我等亦女身
既同其倫必同其道
我等豈不若龍女乎

這就是大愛道,他的心思,他的內心所在思考:這些聲聞已經得記了,龍女也成佛了,我們大家的心志應該也是這樣。佛陀已為弟子授記,若是說聲聞,他們是聲聞,我們也是聲聞啊!這是內心在計較。

所以,「聞法既同,理應不異」。既然佛陀同樣說法,我們也同樣受法,佛陀所講的道理,應該沒有差異,佛陀的道理沒有差異,我們接受的也是一樣啊!為什麼,為什麼只授記於比丘,但是「不及於我等」,怎麼還沒有到我們的地方授記呢?怎麼還沒有叫我們的名字呢?我們怎麼沒有得到佛提名授記呢?這是這群比丘尼內心的想法,這樣想。

所以「以女言之,是龍女,我等亦女身」。若說我們是女身,龍女也是女身啊!所以,龍女能夠成佛,我們應該也能夠成佛。既然能夠成佛,為什麼佛陀還沒有為我們授記?「既同其倫」,就是平等。「必同其道」。大家既然都平等了,哪有什麼樣的分別呢?我們也是走在同一條路上,他們能夠到達,我們也是同樣能夠到達。所以,「我等豈不若龍女乎?」我們這些人難道不如龍女嗎?這是她們內心的想法。

但是,心雖然這樣想,雖然自己很有信心,很肯定自己,不過,想要講出來,很踟躕,不敢講。

由是心雖自肯定
然踟躕未決
故悱然心思欲言
而卻又難其所言
但仰首目視
俟聞命焉

所以,「故悱然心思欲言,而卻又難其所言」。雖然心是這樣想,很踟躕,就是不敢將所想,內心的語言這樣說出來,欲言又止,想要講,又是停下來。「但仰首目視」,就是等待佛陀,等待聽到佛陀叫我們的名字,這就是大家很想。要怎麼樣佛陀能夠叫到她們的名字,我們已經大家起身了,我們這個時候合掌虔誠了,在這個大眾中,六千個人都這樣啟動起來,這麼的虔誠,佛陀也看到我們,我們就是等待佛陀的口令,叫我們的名字,因為我們和他們都平等。是啊!平等,尤其是菩薩發大心,菩薩也平等。

就像我們慈濟這個團體,都是平等,不分年齡,不分男女。常常聽一句話說,「男人當超人用,女人當男人一樣用。」這樣,我們就了解,譬如說做救濟、救災,或者是關懷,不論山上、鄉下,路多遠,多難走的路,男女平等,菩薩道怎樣難走,他們都是一樣。

就像在玉里,玉里鎮是最大的一個鎮,地方很大,但是人口最少,山也很多,住在山上的人,生活就是很艱難。就是在玉里,在做慈濟,人少,所以他們的承擔就很多哦!

總共的委員才有一百零七人,年齡都是平均,差不多接近七十歲了,意思就是說,也有近八十的委員,很資深了,但是他們在那裡,要照顧這些個案,四百九十戶,都是在山上的較多。這麼大的土地,這麼高的山,你想,要如何做呢?慈誠、委員,人這麼少,現在隊組負責的,已經將近八十歲了,隊的負責是林玉龍居士,以及組的負責梁梅英,兩個都是將近八十歲了。

所以,他們這樣,兩個人要走遍這麼大的山區,要常常去複查,去勘視,但是,環保,他們也要做,所以環保站,很大的環保站,他們在那個地方帶人,梅英老菩薩,她負責那個環保站,人也很少,就將她的同修,也將他拉出來,來湊人較多一點。林居士他就負責,出去外面載環保,所以說,一個是顧在環保站裡,一個就是出去外面載。當然都有人,但是出席的人不是很多,大家的身體都是老態了。

尤其是一位委員,黃麗雲她說:「看了很不捨,我是負責活動組,活動幹事常常要找人,但是聽到很多,都大部分開過刀了。他們若開刀,心都掛煩在自己要負責的工作。」像玉龍,林居士,他眼睛才去開刀完,醫生告訴他:「一個月後,你才能去做事情。」他一個月還沒有滿,開始就到處爬山訪視,無不都是這樣做過來。尤其是開車載環保,他也是這樣做。他感覺:學佛,我們是在「學佛」,不是「佛學」。師父這樣說,這個身體都是暫時的,我們的慧命就是要借這個身體,能夠動,能夠做,能夠入人群,廣結法緣。所以我們一定就是要「藉假修真」,藉這個身體,能做就做。

所以說起來,男女平等,能做就是做,男眾是這樣在做,女眾也是這樣在做,這種不分年齡,不分男女,所以,同樣的修行,同樣一條路走,到那個目標也一樣,定位在那個地方。所以,菩薩道的過程,終點就是成佛,這我們應該相信,所以我們要時時多用心!


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: The Bhiksunis Peacefully Abided in the Path (尼眾安道 祈佛授記)
Date: June.11.2018

“As He transformed His family members, He regarded everyone impartially. Thus they entered a state of purity and abandoned the dusts of worldly desire. They purified their minds and eliminated their defilements. They feel themselves of attachments and purged their afflictions. Path-of-Great-Love Bhiksuni and the bhiksunis at and beyond learning, with their minds peacefully abiding in the path, beseeched the Buddha to bear witness and bestow predictions upon them.”

We must mindfully seek to comprehend this. Sakyamuni Buddha came to this world to transform people, making no distinction between relative or stranger. However, while it is usually relatively easy to transform others, it is more difficult to transform our own family members.

Yet because of the Buddha’s virtue, after He attained Buddhahood, when He returned to the kingdom of Kapilavastu a few years later, His father, the king, was very happy. He hoped that in the kingdom of Kapilavastu, everyone would be able to draw near to the Buddha-Dharma, since it is the true principles. He hoped that people in his country could attain the true principles and be at ease in body and mind. This was King Suddhodana’s wish. So, he decreed that any households with two or more sons could allow at least one son to become a monastic. This was the same for citizens, minsters and royal family members.

The more closely related people were to the Buddha, the more He hoped they could draw near to the Buddha-Dharma. This was also King Suddhodana’s intention. He had faith that the true principles of the universe that Prince Siddhartha awakened to after attaining Buddhahood and becoming the Great Enlightened One were definitely correct. [He felt] everyone should follow the path and quickly draw near to the true principles. Only in this was would his country have blessings. This was what King Suddhodana thought.

Many royal family members and many minsters’ sons were willing [to become monastics], because the Buddha had taught the Dharma in the palace for some time already. Everyone took joy in the Buddha-Dharma and hoped to draw near to the Buddha and the Buddha-Dharma. There were also many who were willing to become monastics. Thus, those who always followed the Buddha increasingly grew in number. This continued until King Suddhodana passed away and “Path-of-Great –Love,” who was the Buddha’s maternal aunt, realized that life was truly impermanent. She had understood the principles [and knew] it would be best to draw near to the Buddha so she could constantly listen to the Dharma. This was what she hoped for. She hoped for a simple life without attachments.

So, she led a group of palace maids who were willing to follow her into monastic life and implored the Buddha to accept them as monastic practitioners. Yasodhara was among them. At first, the Buddha was unwilling. Everyone should know this story. Later, Path-of-Great-Love, whose [Sanskrit name] was Mahaprajapati, asked Ananda for help. At the time, Ananda was already the Buddha’s attendant and was always by His side. So, Mahaprajapati said, “Please, please!” She sincerely begged him, “Ananda, please beseech the Buddha on our behalf.” Ananda felt sorry for the Buddha’s maternal aunt and these many royal relatives from the palace. For all these women to be willing to draw near the Buddha was not an easy thing. [Seeing that] they were actually willing to forego their wealthy lifestyle in the palace and live such simple and harsh lives, Ananda was very touched. He knew that the Buddha loved all sentient beings and hoped they could all be transformed, so why should women not be able to draw near the Buddha and engage in spiritual practice in His Sangha? He kept beseeching the Buddha. The Buddha listened to Ananda beg again and again, repeatedly imploring Him. So finally, the Buddha could only agree to it.

However, as Ananda was expressing his gratitude for the Buddha’s approval, the Buddha told him, “Do you know? Because I agreed to women renouncing the lay life and becoming bhiksunis, I fear the Right Dharma’s [time in this world] will be lessened.” Frightened, Ananda asked, “Why is that?” He said, “Women are not focused on engaging in spiritual practice. Women have their charming attitude and appearance. Their physical constitutions seem very weak. They have many discursive thoughts. Becoming a monastic is the work of a great person, but a woman’s mind is very complicated.” Ananda replied, “In the past, all Buddhas likewise had the four kinds of disciples. Why is it that in the Saha World women have such great hindrances?” The Buddha sighed, “Indeed! The Saha World’s sentient begins are desirous and stubborn. Moreover, if men and women are close to one another, it causes men to lose their focus and causes women’s thoughts to turn complicated.” Ananda said, “This is so unequal! Didn’t You say that all sentient begins have Buddha-nature? [The Buddha] has great impartial compassion toward all sentient beings, regardless of their appearances as men or women.” The Buddha said, “This is not about appearances. This is about their state of mind and habitual tendencies.” Indeed, this is about our states of mind and habitual tendencies. But is this really the case? The Buddha said that “[Men and women] are equal; there are just [different] states of mind and habitual tendencies. Men’s daily lifestyles tend to be simpler.” Every day, it is simple. They just need to wash clean and wear proper clothing; that is all they need. Women are different; they need to dress up meticulously. Looking at a room, the times a women uses are more than a man’s. For a man, a wardrobe, a bed and a desk should be enough. Women need a vanity table with many bottles and jars of different shapes and colors and many other strange items. Clearly, with such a lifestyle and these habitual tendencies, [women like this] never have enough time. We can see from their way of living the wastefulness of their habitual tendencies. They waste time, mental energy and money. This is the hindrance of habitual tendencies that the Buddha talked about.

Of course, the Buddha was always impartial. When Ananda came to intercede for Mahaprajapati, the Buddha only used these appearances to purposely [express]. His unwillingness to accept women as monastics. In His mind, He clearly knew that Mahaprajapati would ask Ananda for help for He knew that Ananda was soft-hearted. Ever since he was young, he had always relied on motherly figures such as Mahaprajapati, who doted on him as he grew up. So, Mahaprajapati would certainly ask Ananda for help, and Ananda would surely speak on her behalf. The Buddha was fully aware of this. So, He purposely rejected them as a way to remind future women to be vigilant.

Thus, people say that women have more severe karmic obstructions and need to practice for 500 years more. Indeed! They require more time to eliminate their habitual tendencies. When it comes to these tendencies and mindsets, finding ways to be able to change and correct these mindsets and habitual tendencies is not such a simple task. As it is, everyone is equal. The Buddha did not reject them in His heart. He deliberately went through this process to remind women to be vigilant. As the Buddha transformed His family members, He regarded everyone impartially. He was always impartial. Moreover, He was also very grateful to His maternal aunt. As He returned to the palace to teach the Dharma, He also expounded the Dharma to His family in the palace and the palace maids. Thus, they were able to take the Dharma deeply to heart. Of course, He transformed sentient begins without distinguishing between friend and foe or between relatives and strangers.

So, “As He transformed His family members, He regarded everyone impartially.” Whether they were relatives or strangers, to the Buddha, they were all sentient beings to be transformed. They were all sentient beings. The Buddha wished to transform even non-human beings and animals, not to mention His fellow human beings! So, the Buddha regarded everyone impartially.

As for Mahaprajapati and this group of women, they were determined to enter the Buddha’s door. “Thus they entered a state of purity and abandoned the dusts of worldly desire.” They had already resolved to enter the Buddha’s teachings, meaning to become pure. They had to let go of everything. Their habitual tendencies and their way of life, they had to abandon them all. Thus, they needed to eliminate their desires and [abandon] the worldly lifestyle of lay people. Even their magnificent and luxurious wealth of material possessions had to be entirely given up. They completely distanced themselves from such worldly ways of life; they were determined. So, “They purified their minds and eliminated their defilements.” Once they had completely transformed their minds, they were entirely purified. Their defilements, discursive thoughts and bad habitual tendencies had all been completely eliminated. They were determined to “free themselves of attachment and purify their afflictions.” They had already become free of attachments. They too were pure and free of afflictions. Both men’s minds and women’s minds are [affected by desires] . Women’s desires are focused on themselves, while men’s desires are constantly directed outward, toward fame, sex, wealth and success. Both women and men are contaminated.

But in spiritual practice, be they overt or subtle [afflictions], women’s subtle afflictions must be eliminated and men’s overt afflictions must also be eliminated. So, they all “freed themselves of attachments and purged their afflictions”. As for “Path-of-Great-Love” Bhiksuni and the bhiksunis at and beyond learning, “Path-of-Great-Love” refers to Mahaprajapati. She and those at and beyond learning, some of who had very sharp capabilities, began to follow the Buddha in renouncing the lay life. They all listened to the Buddha’s teachings. Their capabilities were great, so they were able to comprehend the Buddha’s teachings. This means they had reached the stage “beyond learning”. What about those “at the stage of learning”? they had formed initial aspirations and had begun to learn the Buddha-Dharma. Or if they had weaker capabilities, they were gradually accepting [the teachings]. Those were all still at the stage of learning.

So, they were called “the bhiksuni and beyond learning”. This big group of bhiksunis all shared the same mindset; “Their minds peacefully abided in the path”. Whether they were at or beyond learning, everyone’s mind was peacefully abiding in the path. On this path, everyone was very determined. Women very earnestly engaged in spiritual practice. They were also very dutiful. So, they beseeched the Buddha to bear witness for them and bestow predictions upon them. This was their aspiration.

Path-of-Great-Love led those many people, gradually accumulating [followers], until the group of bhiksuni had 6000 people. So, Path-of-Great-Love, Mahaprajapati, was the leader of the assembly. She was the leader of the bhiksunis. She led these people who likewise rose from their seats, hoping the Buddha could bear witness and bestow predictions upon them.

Path-of-Great-Love: “If we are speaking of Hearers, those bhiksus are all Hearers. We have also upheld the Buddha’s teachings and are Hearers as well. Since we all hear the same Dharma-sound, and our understanding of the principles is the same, why haven’t we received predictions yet?”

Path-of-Great-Love and the group of bhiksunis all had this same thought. “If we are speaking of Hearers” refers to how the Buddha had already bestowed predictions on the Hearers. The 500 and 8000 bhiksus at and beyond learning had all received the Buddha’s predictions, one [group] after the other. These were Hearers. Path-of-Great-Love thought, “Those bhiksus are all Hearers”. Those bhiksus were Hearers. “We have also upheld the Buddha’s teachings and are Hearers as well. Those male bhiksus are Hearers and we bhiksunis are also Hearers. We are the same. Whatever the Buddha taught us, we have accepted and upheld [His teachings]. Since we have all heard the same Dharma-sound and understand the principles the same way, there should be no difference between us! Men and women both listen to the Dharma and take it to heart. They do not have any differences”.

“The same” means there are no differences. “Why haven’t we received predictions yet”? After coming to this point, the predictions stopped. The Buddha went on to expound the Chapter on Dharma Teachers, then the Chapter on Seeing the Stupa of Treasures and so on. But they had not yet heard. Him bestow His predictions upon them. Devadatta was so evil, but the Buddha had even bestowed predictions upon him as well. Why had they still not heard Him bestow predictions upon them? Why was it still not their turn to received predictions of Buddhahood? This was what Path-of-Great-Love and the group of bhiksunis hoped for. They were also worried, fearing that the Buddha would not bestow predictions on the bhiksunis. So, they were worried but still hoped that the Buddha could bestow predictions upon them.

Thus, in the previous passage we already talked about the sramanas, the bhiksus and Hearers. These people were willing to form aspirations. 20,000 Bodhisattvas made vows, so these Hearers and bhiksus also formed aspirations before the Buddha. “We are willing to form aspirations and accept this Dharma. We just hope to not be in this place. In the Saha World, people are filled with corruption and evil. We are willing to accept the Great Vehicle Dharma and promote its teachings, but we do not want to do it here, since people in the Saha World are always filled corruption and evil and harbor overbearing arrogance. Overbearing arrogance includes greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance and doubt. All these traits [describe] the Saha World’s sentient beings.

Why is this so? Because in the Saha World, many people are filled with corruption and evil. They harbor overbearing arrogance and are shallow in merits and virtues. They are angry, confused and engage in devious flattery. They are insincere at heart.

So, their merits and virtues are already very shallow. The people who want to do good deeds are few. If they were to do a little bit of good, no matter how small, they would have expectations. They seek something in return. They do it to obtain what they want. Thus, their mind is “angry, confused and engages in devious flattery”. They are insincere; they lack true sincerity. “Sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness” are all lacking. This is why the Saha World’s sentient beings are unable to be mindful and unwilling to engage in spiritual practice. So, a mind like this is not steadfast. If we are lacking sincerity, and lacking deep faith, then of course we also lack genuine steadfastness. So, it is hard for sentient beings in the Saha World to eliminate the Five Turbidities. This is how it is in the Saha World. So, these Hearers did not dare [to go there]. Although they wanted to form great aspirations, they dared not do it in this place. This was what everyone expressed. Although they all expressed this, the Buddha did not reply to them but changed course instead. The Buddha looked at everyone. “You are willing to form vows, but are unwilling to be in this place.” The Buddha, in His compassion, observed them all.

At this moment, His gaze fell upon His maternal aunt. He looked at her, so this passage continues, “At that time, the Buddha’s maternal aunt, Mahaprajapati Bhiksuni, along with the bhiksunis at and beyond learning, 6000 in all, rose from their seats, wholeheartedly put their palms together and gazed upward in admiration at the Buddha’s countenance, never averting their eyes for an instant.

The Buddha looked at everyone. He saw how His maternal aunt and these bhiksunis were so reverent. Everyone had reverently put their palms together and gazed upward in admiration at the Buddha’s countenance. Their gaze was so focused, as if they wished to express something. They had this appearance.

Mahaprajapati means “leader of the assembly. She was the leader of the bhiksunis. She is also called Path-of-great-Love, as well as Gautami. The following passage will use “Gautami” to refer to her. This was also Mahaprajapati’s name. The Buddha’s maternal aunt was also called “Gautami”; this was her family name. “She was the leader of the assembly of bhiksunes.” This assembly of bhiksunis was led by her.

Gautami: The surname of the Buddha’s maternal aunt. She was the leader of the assembly of bhiksunis. Therefore, she led the 6000 bhiksunis in requesting predictions of Buddhahood.

Gautami, as everyone knows, was the Buddha’s maternal aunt. She was the younger sister of the Buddha’s mother. When the prince was born, Lady Maya was weak and did not stop bleeding. So, seven days later, her life came to an end and she passed away. In order to raise the prince, the king had to find someone at that time.

Gautami, Mahaprajapati, was very sad when her older sister passed away. She also saw her sister’s newborn baby, and her heart went out to him. During that time, she was constantly there taking care of him. Many ministers also suggested that the prince needed a maternal [figure] by his side. Seeing how Mahaprajapati treated the child her sister left behind with such care and such love, [the ministers] suggested that the king accept Mahaprajapati as an adoptive mother to raise the prince. So, she was still his maternal aunt, but in this way, the king accepted her as the prince’s mother. Thus, she mindfully cared for him. “His maternal aunt raised him as her own” meaning that she brought him up.

So, “Guatami had Ananda ask. She asked for permission to become a monastic, but the Buddha refused. She did not dare to speak of it, so she went to ask Ananda for help. Ananda, as we said before, beseeched and implored the Buddha. Only then did the Buddha begin to accept this group of women as monastics. The Buddha accepted the bhiksunis, but there were also some obstacles. When it came to women, [because of] the many hindrances in their minds, He reminded them to be vigilant. It was so hard for them to become monastics, so having done this, they sincerely engaged in spiritual practice, purified their minds and abided in the path. They just had to prove themselves. “I must put in effort and earnestly engage in spiritual practice.” It was Gautami, Mahaprajapati, who made this vow and sternly led this group of bhiksunis. From the moment they first became monastics, they were always like this. They continued to earnestly engage in spiritual practice. So, Gautami led the bhiksunis who were at and beyond learning, all 6000 of them.

When she saw the Buddha’s compassionate gaze looking upon the whole assembly, she could feel that the Buddha’s eyes were already upon them. They already had their palms together, gazing in admiration at the Buddha. When she saw the Buddha looking at them, she quickly moved, rising from her seat. At that time, she felt both worried and hopeful. “How could our turn to receive predictions not have come yet?” Everyone’s mind was filled with hope. Seeing the Buddha looking at them, they quickly seized the opportunity and rose from their seats. They all moved in unison with their palms together, focused and reverent. Thus, the Buddha’s maternal aunt and these bhiksunis all moved in unison; they were very orderly. She had taught them very strictly and managed them well. Everyone was very harmonious and dignified. They stood up together and put their palms together in unison. They then “gazed upward in admiration at the Buddha’s countenance, never averting their eyes for an instant”. They were all in a state of anticipation. They had originally been sitting down, but seeing the Buddha looking at them, they all, in unison, quickly rose from their seats. They then kneeled down and put their palms together.

[They] gazed upward in admiration at the Buddha’s countenance, never averting their eyes for an instant: They had a request [for teachings] and were willing to hear, accept and uphold [them], so they gazed at Him with respect, unable to avert [their eyes] for even an instant. Never averting their eyes for an instant: This was their appearance as they hoped to receive the Buddha’s predictions, which they sought but had yet to attain.

“They had a request [for teachings]”; they really wanted to ask the Buddha for teachings. “They were willing to hear, accept and uphold”. Everyone was sincerely listening in hopes that the Buddha would bestow predictions upon them. They had this hope. Those bhiksus had formed aspirations, saying they would accept and uphold the Lotus Sutra. “We also have this aspiration and this hope. Since the Buddha’s gaze fell upon us, did He have some instructions for us?” So, “They never averted their eyes for an instant” and hoped the Buddha would call their names and bestow predictions on them. This was the hope in their hearts. “They sought but had yet to attain”. They were so reverent, but the Buddha still had not spoken to them. These bhidsunis all thought in their hearts, “The Hearers have already received predictions, and the dragon girl has attained Buddhahood”. They all felt this deeply, yet their aspirations were even firmer.

The assembly of bhiksunis had witnessed the Hearers receive predictions and the dragon girl attain Buddhahood. Inspired, they formed this aspiration. Path-of-Great-Love thought to herself, “The Buddha has already bestowed predictions upon His disciples. So, if we are talking about Hearers, they are Hearers, and so are we. Since we have heard the same Dharma and the principles should be no different, why hasn’t the Buddha bestowed predictions on us? If we are talking about being female, the dragon girl was female and so are we. Since we are considered the same, we must be on the same path. Are we lesser than the dragon girl?”

This describes Path-of-Great-Love’s thoughts. In her heart, she contemplated how these Hearers had already attained predictions and the dragon girl had also attained Buddhahood. “Our aspirations should all be the same”. The Buddha had already bestowed predictions upon His disciples. If He was talking about Hearers, they were Hearers and so were [the bhiksunis]. She was comparing them in her mind. So, “We have heard the same Dharma and the principles should be no different”. The Buddha expounded the same Dharma, and they accepted it in the same way. The principles He taught should be the same. “The Buddha’s principles have no discrepancies. What we accepted must be the same! Why did He bestow predictions upon the bhiksus, but we have not received them yet? Why has it not yet been our turn? In bestowing predictions, why has He not called our names yet? Why have we not heard the Buddha bestow predictions on us by name?” This was what this group of bhiksunis were thinking.

So, “If we are talking about being female, the dragon girl was female and so are we. If we are talking about how we are female, the dragon girl was also female. So, if the dragon girl could attain Buddhahood, we should also be able to achieve it. Since we can attain Buddhahood, why has the Buddha not bestowed predictions upon us yet? Since we are considered the same,” meaning they were equal, “we must be on the same path”.

Since everyone was equal, there should be no difference. “We are walking on the same path. They can reach the goal, so we should likewise be able to reach it”. So, “Are we lesser than the dragon girl? Are we not as good as the dragon girl?” This was their thinking. Despite thinking this way, and although they had a lot of confidence and were very sure of themselves, they were hesitant to say it out loud. They did not dare to say it.

Though they were confident in themselves, they were still hesitant and irresolute. Thus, though they wished to speak their minds, they found it difficult to speak out. They merely raised their heads and gazed at Him, waiting to hear His instruction.

So, “They wanted to speak their minds, but found it difficult to speak out”. Although it was what they were thinking, they were very hesitant and did not dare to say the words that were in their hearts. They hesitated when they wanted to speak. They wanted to speak but stopped themselves. “They merely raised their heads and gazed at Him”. They were waiting for the Buddha, waiting to hear Him call their names. Everyone wanted to know what they could do to hear the Buddha call their names. They all rose from their seats and reverently put their palms together. Among this assembly, 6000 people stood up. They were very sincere. The Buddha also saw them. They were all waiting for His instruction, for Him to call their names. This was because they and the others were equal. Indeed, they were equal! In particular since they formed great aspirations, they were equal also to the Bodhisattvas. This is just like in our organization, Tzu Chi. Everyone is equal; there are no distinctions of age or gender. We often hear a saying, “Men do the work of supermen and women do the work of men”. From this, we can understand that for example when we are helping people, providing relief or caring for others, whether on a mountain or in the countryside, no matter how far we must travel or how difficult the road is, men and women are equal [in their hard work.] The Bodhisattva-path is hard to walk on, but they all [walk on it.]

Take for example [our volunteers] in Yuli. Yuli is the largest town in Taiwan. It is very big, but it has very small population. There are many mountains, and those who live on the mountains lead very difficult lives. In Yuli, there are few people doing Tzu Chi’s work, so they have to take on many responsibilities. There are only 107 Tzu Chi commissioners in total and their average age is almost 70 years. This means that there are commissioners close to 80 years old. They are very experienced. But [the number] of cases they have to care for there is 490 households. Most recipients are in the mountains. It is such a vast land with many tall mountains. Think about it; how can they do it? Our Faith Corps members and commissioners are so few in number. Now, those in charge of the volunteer teams are close to 80 years old. The ones in charge are Mr. Lin Yulong and Liang Meiying; both are almost 80 years old. So, those two must travel throughout the entire mountainous area to frequently assess and visit [care recipients]. But they also want to work on recycling. So, they have a very big recycling station where they lead volunteers. The elderly Bodhisattva, Meiying, is in charge of that recycling station. They have few people, so she gets her husband to come out to gather a few more people. Mr. Lin is in charge of transporting the recyclables. So, one is responsible for the recycling station, while another goes out to collect recyclables. Of course, there are also other people, but there are not many who show up. Everyone is already advanced in age. A commissioner, Huang Liyun, said, “When I see them, my heart goes out to them. I am in charge of the activity team. I always look for someone to take over, but I hear that many of them, the majority, have had surgeries. If they undergo surgery, they worry about the work they are in charge of.” Take Mr. Lin Yulong, who just had an eye surgery. The doctor told him, “You cannot return to work for a month.” But before one month was up, he began going all over the place, hiking in the mountains to make home visits. That is how he has always worked. He even drives a truck to collect recyclables; he also does this. He feels that when it comes to learning Buddhism, we are “learning the Buddha’s teachings,” not “learning Buddhist studies.”

“Master says,’This body is temporary. Our wisdom-life is developed through the use of our body.’ We can move, work and go among people to extensively form Dharma-affinities. So, we must ‘use the illusory to cultivate the true.’ We must use this body and do what we can.”

So, when we speak of how men and women are equal, we should simply do what we can. Men are giving of themselves, and women are also giving of themselves. This is regardless of their age or gender. So, when we are practicing in the same way and walking on the same path, we will reach the same goal and be settled in that [same] place. On the Bodhisattva’s journey, the destination is attaining Buddhahood. We should believe in this. So, we must always be mindful.

(Source: Da Ai TV – Wisdom at Dawn program – Explanation by Master Chen-Yen)
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20180611《靜思妙蓮華》尼眾安道 祈佛授記 (第1367集) (法華經·勸持品第十三)
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