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 20180730《靜思妙蓮華》遠離諸惡 親近善友 (第1402集) (法華經·安樂行品第十四)

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發表主題: 20180730《靜思妙蓮華》遠離諸惡 親近善友 (第1402集) (法華經·安樂行品第十四)   周一 7月 30, 2018 4:32 am

20180730《靜思妙蓮華》遠離諸惡 親近善友 (第1402集) (法華經·安樂行品第十四)

⊙為修菩薩行,當遠離諸惡邪見,親近善友知識。如經若有能說,信、戒、多聞、佈施、智慧,令人受行,即須親近恭敬,供養親近善知識。
⊙為人所知其人善,為善友善知識,惡,為惡友惡知識。說法引導我向善處者是善友知識,又勸善友使喜捨謂之勸善知識。
⊙「爾時世尊欲重宣此義,而說偈言:若有菩薩,於後惡世,無怖畏心,欲說是經,應入行處,及親近處。」《法華經安樂行品第十四》
⊙《法華經安樂行品第十四》
⊙常離國王,及國王子,大臣官長,兇險戲者,及旃陀羅,外道梵志。」《法華經安樂行品第十四》
⊙「亦不親近,增上慢人,貪著小乘、三藏學者,破戒比丘,名字羅漢。」《法華經安樂行品第十四》
⊙未證得聖道謂己證得,而輕慢於他。小乘厭生死,欣樂涅槃,因修戒定慧之道,少有所得,便謂證果:此即未得謂得,未證謂證,是名增上慢聲聞。
⊙亦不親近,增上慢人,貪著小乘:也不親近增上修行傲慢之人,及於小乘教生貪著心的人。增上慢:謂於增上法中,而於法增生慢心,未得謂得之等類。
⊙三藏學者:學經律論小乘藏者,雖則習學三藏之教,機劣智微,非菩薩友。習近小乘,妨弘大法,故須遠之。
⊙破戒比丘,名字羅漢:雖是比丘,破佛禁戒。非實有德,名字號為得道羅漢。
⊙名字羅漢,謂非真阿羅漢,假名羅漢,非實證也。

【證嚴上人開示】
為修菩薩行,當遠離諸惡邪見,親近善友知識。如經:若有能說,信戒多聞佈施智慧,令人受行,即須親近恭敬供養,親近善知識。

為修菩薩行
當遠離諸惡邪見
親近善友知識
如經若有能說
信、戒、多聞
佈施、智慧
令人受行
即須親近恭敬
供養親近善知識

用心啊!我們修行,「修菩薩行」,那就是要先「遠離諸惡邪見」。這是最近一直一直與大家分享,也和大家互相提醒。現在〈安樂行品〉,那就是我們既然發心,願意受持《大乘妙法蓮華經》,我們必定要先覺悟。惡世法末,遇到很多的困難,弘揚大乘法是在濁惡世中,障礙很多;人、事、物,層層疊疊,總是多障礙。前面的經文我們已經看過,佛陀為我們警惕,可能會遭遇到很多很多的毀謗,可能會遭遇了很多無明黑風,來擾亂聽聞,不只是濁惡世的社會人,這環境,即使是教內,也是對宗教,彼此也有不同的見解,大乘、小乘,小乘不知大乘的內涵,那就有種種造謠、毀謗等等。這是在前面的經文,很明顯、清楚這樣警示我們。

後面還有,我們堪得忍耐之外,我們要接近的人,什麼樣的人我們不要接近。種種惡劣的環境、暴力的環境,或者是邪見、邪知的人,或者是「不男」……等等等等,就要提高警覺。前面的文也這樣說很多過了,這都是擔心我們將要修菩薩行,心若還沒有很穩定,修行的過程容易被影響了,所以先警惕我們,有多少多少我們不要去親近他。前面這一段,遇到環境要忍耐;接下來這一段,那就是我們沒辦法去度人的對象,我們就不要勉強去親近。更強烈的,我們就要避離。這是前面說過的。但是,開始應該親近的,佛陀也是這樣為我們用心啟發。這就是文殊菩薩智慧、慈悲,與佛陀共同在這段文,那就是由文殊菩薩再來補充,再來提升,佛陀又再為人,開一條如何能夠平安,你要忍耐,不如能避難。

這大家應該要記得,文殊菩薩聽佛陀講完,未來就是教內的偏見。雖然要忍耐,要忍耐不如也要避免,佛陀才會說了這段,應該避免、遠離的,是「 諸惡邪見」。不要就影響道心,所以要遠離。接下來,就是能夠親近。應該親近的是「 善友知識」,要好好選擇善友,「擇善而從之,其不善而改之。」我們應該,不善的,我們要遠離;善的,我們要從。我們要親近善知識,就像經典前面那段,有一段說,「若有能說」。有人願意持經、願意說法,教導我們能持戒、多聞、布施、智慧,「令人受行」,若有這樣,能夠說這樣的法,引導我們就是要信。信,要深信,也要持戒;戒,能防非止惡。我們能夠分別是非,我們能夠知道惡的知識,我們不要親近,懂得避開,這就是「戒」,我們要能夠分。

我們既沒辦法度人,我們就要避離,所以,「 信」與「 戒」,信佛的教法。大乘法,入人群度眾生;大乘法是佛陀一大事,來引導眾生,開示眾生的方向,我們要深信。但是,我們要隨著,佛陀所指示的方向,這條菩薩道要走,我們必定要先守好自己,非常的健康自己的心態,所以我們必定持戒,防非止惡。而要持戒、要深信,我們必定要堅固我們的道心,要多聞,要多聽法,我們多瞭解,我們瞭解之後,我們有法,我們才能夠給人法。我們先得到佛陀正確的指導,我們很瞭解了,我們才能去指導別人,同一個方向走。所以我們要多聞,多聞才有辦法付出,付出叫做「布施」。「智慧」。我們在人群中,瞭解人群煩惱無明是如何會合,如何複製,成為了苦難。我們若沒有在人群中,不知人間疾苦,我們是要如何去救苦、拔苦呢?所以我們也是要在人間,就布施、付出。

在付出的過程中,我們除了多聞,吸收佛法入心,我們還在人間法,種種人群中我們又吸收常識。這知識,在人間的知識讓我們瞭解了,從佛法求得了清淨的智慧。清淨的智慧,合上了人間的知識,「知」,共知;「識」,共識,我們有知識,然後身體力行;共行,行菩薩道。能夠這樣引導我們,引導我們人人能受持,也能夠走的路,這就是善友。「即須親近恭敬,供養親近善知識」。我們應該親近,親近到好人,我們更要在好人與好人之間,要有彼此這種尊重,尊重、讚歎也是一種的付出。供養,有身的供養、語言的供養、身行的供養、物質的供養,都有,所以我們要無餘修、長時修、無間修、恭敬修,無不都是我們修行的過程。所以,「供養親近善知識」。

這個善友是很重要,互相付出,這就是我們要學。現在人間,要行菩薩道,在現在、未來,不只是在經文裡面的菩薩道,菩薩道我們要多聞,聽佛陀的教育。我們多聞入心,這是啟動智慧。我們現在就是要身體力行,「智慧,令人受行」,就是要接受,還要再身體力行。人間慈濟人不就是這樣嗎?

(二O一六年)厄瓜多,一個大地震,強烈啊!損毀了幾個縣市,真的是慘澹的大災難。我們接到這個訊息,在媒體裡看到了,趕緊想,我們要如何,能夠去幫助,這麼急難,這麼悽慘的大災難?我們要如何去幫助他們呢?

經過了一番瞭解,美國比較近,近,搭飛機要五六個小時,不過這是距離最近。評估起來,覺得美國國際救災的經驗有,所以就連絡美國慈濟人,國際救災小組,就慈善、醫療起動了。慈善開始起動,去到厄瓜多,很及時就趕緊採取行動,「以工代賑」,就開始與當地的縣長、市長,大家來互動。「 以工代賑」,因為有菲律賓的,海燕(風災)的經驗,在國際間的NGO,也已經看到了,所以,在厄瓜多,美國慈濟人到達了,很快速就這樣展開行動,果然發揮了很大的功能。

幾個地方互動起來,效果很好,付出的人就是帶得很歡喜,接受的人能夠復建家園,清理家園,大家也很歡喜。另外一個縣,哈瑪縣,他,這縣長,名字叫做安和 ,他就來了,請求:「慈濟人,你們是不是能去看看我的縣?能幫助我的縣?我的縣也是重災區。」其實慈濟人開始要來,就已經瞭解哈瑪縣,的確是重災區之一,現在縣長來,不過這麼多天,也應該先告一段落了,所以他們就說:「這樣我們再來評估看看,我們趕看看,我們若能夠不很趕的範圍內,我們能再去,去你的縣裡看看。可能,若是趕不及,要不然就下一趟,我們已經出來這麼多天了,是不是下一趟?」這位縣長,安和,他聽到有一點點失望,就含著淚水,快要哭出來。

慈濟人心很軟,看到這位縣長,是為災民這麼的誠懇,所以慈濟人趕緊就安慰他:「不然,我們盡量協調看看,我們下午去看你們。」安和,他就很歡喜了,趕緊,慈濟人願意去了,他就陪著慈濟人去。看了之後,慈濟人覺得,真的,這個地方的災區很嚴重,尤其是縣長為災民,這麼誠懇為災民,縣長也是被慈濟很感動,慈濟能夠那麼遠迢迢不請而來,這樣來為我們勘災,所以他很感動。慈濟人也是很感動,彼此的感動,他們大家馬上再會合,考慮明天(五月二十九日)就行動了。

還沒做完的,繼續的地方做,又再一批來了。他們就先向縣長說:「我希望三天內,三天內可以動員一千人。以工代賑,這個環境,這樣把它清理出來。」縣長就已經很感恩了,「三天一千人,很好啊!很感恩啊!」隔日,慈濟人真的到了,要以工代賑的人,也已經在那裡等待了。這第一天,效率就已經顯示出來了,很好的效率,收工之後,慈濟人他們就在那個地方帶動,帶動唱,為那個地方,為他們帶起了一片熱情,向他們感恩,向他們說慈濟的故事,向他們說來是點滴彙集來的。這樣為他們分享,分享「竹筒歲月」,為他們分享〈靜思語〉,為他們帶動唱,「我們都是一家人」,解釋「一家人」。這樣英文唱出來了,大家歡喜了,掃開了這麼久來,很多天的那個憂鬱。

這大災難過了之後,大家真的是人生茫茫,不知道要如何恢復家園,慈濟人竟然帶來了這股的朝氣,帶來了這股的力量,開始將要發放之前,這分喚起了大家的歡喜心,所以很歡喜。在歡喜中縣長到了,就自己也帶入了,與縣民一起帶動起來,縣長更加感動了,就與我們一起來發代賑金;代賑的金額,一人一天十五元的美金,這樣來發放。之後,縣長就說:「明天若是超過四百人,那個超過我來負責。」就這樣,真的明天開始,超過了九十位,就是這樣,四百九十人,開始又是一天,比昨天更提起精神。

因為慈濟所帶來的精神力量,志工這分無私的大愛,就是一家人,一家人,何況為自己在清掃,今天比昨天更加踴躍了。這樣,又一天過了,縣長很歡喜,全部清算起來,就是四百九十人。他說了,就是要做,叫他的助理回去幫他拿錢,那就是要一千多元,一千三百五十元美金,到了,就交給慈濟人。縣長一番那種感受、感動,被慈濟人的感動,他是很歡喜,所以很感恩。覺得慈濟人這樣的付出,所以他自己要為自己的縣民,他也要自掏腰包為縣民付出,他覺得這是應該的,希望他的縣能再度復生起來,全都要能夠讓縣民精神提起,有能力,他的縣就有希望了,所以他很歡喜、感動。這樣一天又過去了,明天更多人,就第三天,五百多人(五百九十人)了。

縣長也很勇敢,這超過百多人(一百九十位),他要承擔的又更重了,所以他也很歡喜,很感恩,自掏腰包,還是願意付出,一共四千二百元美金,他就是這樣付出,這是他的部分。在那段時間裡,在視訊的時候,我就告訴他:「我們既然已經在那個地方,帶動三四個縣市,已經付出那麼多了,這個縣長這麼愛民,現在是大災難時,我們怎麼捨得讓他付錢呢?那麼多都在付出了,這四千多元,對縣長是很大的負擔啊!」

這樣之後,所以我們要離開那個地方了,濟覺就約縣長來會合,總算一算,四千二百元美金,他就交給縣長,他就說師父關心他,不捨讓他掏腰包那麼多,這個縣要用的錢還很需要,希望縣長將這些錢,回歸去為縣民做事情。縣長是很感動,他說他不敢要求,但是有這樣,所以他很感恩,他願意將來一定要為縣民付出。

這就是愛的力量,善友互相啟發。慈濟人,這就是善友,哪一個地方有需要我們,我們要自動趕快去;去,不是物質的幫助而已,還是給他們這種,精神上的引導和勉勵。縣長從這樣開始,看他真的是愛民,現在慈濟人會合起來,讓他的信心更大,災後復健,精神力量是很大,所以他很感動,這就是親近善友,也就是「信戒多聞布施」。

慈濟人有接受到法,他的行動,他的付出,無不都是無所求付出,付出得很歡喜。會辛苦嗎?會,但是歡喜,法喜充滿。菩薩不只是利益,守護在自己的土地,也能夠跨地,到他方的國家去付出。所以,這就是菩薩,這就是有法在心裡。智慧,運用智慧,誠懇的愛帶到那個地方去,也能夠帶動當地,「以工代賑」,大家的付出,為家鄉付出,精神力量提升起來,做得很歡喜,還能夠聽到,聽到這樣的引導——我們全都是一家人。這種浴火鳳凰,雖然經過了一番的大災難,現在要再復建、要再復甦起來的力量,大家會很團結,會很合齊。所以,這種智慧去引導,所有的縣民、受災的災民都受到鼓勵,受到幫助,縣長的感受更大。

為修菩薩行
當遠離諸惡邪見
親近善友知識
如經若有能說
信、戒、多聞
佈施、智慧
令人受行
即須親近恭敬
供養親近善知識

所以「令人受行」,接受,還能夠身體力行,這就是「親近善友」。「恭敬」,彼此恭敬,互相尊重,這就是互相的供養,是慧命中滋潤慧命的供養,這我們應該要親近,我們應該這個善知識的法,我們要受持。

總而言之,善知識就是「為人所知其人善」。

為人所知其人善
為善友善知識
惡 為惡友惡知識
說法引導我
向善處者
是善友知識
又勸善友使喜捨
謂之勸善知識

這個善,人人都知道,這也是我們的善友,也是我們的善知識,「善友善知識」。若是惡友呢?那就是大家都知道,這個人行為不端,我們就要謹慎;惡友、惡知識,我們就要遠離。說法引導我們能夠向善處的人,叫做「善友」,叫做「善知識」,又能夠勸我們善,使我們能夠喜捨,歡喜布施,這全都勸善的善知識,所以我們要很用心去體會。愛的力量是彼此合成的,能夠彼此合成,無私的愛,這全都叫做善友、善知識,社會自然祥和,人間環境自然和平。

來,前面的文:「爾時世尊欲重宣此義,而說偈言:若有菩薩,於後惡世,無怖畏心,欲說是經,應入行處,及親近處。」

爾時
世尊欲重宣此義
而說偈言
若有菩薩
於後惡世
無怖畏心
欲說是經
應入行處
及親近處
《法華經安樂行品第十四》

我們應該要好好用心,去體會前面的文:「常離國王,及國王子,大臣官長,兇險戲者,及旃陀羅,外道梵志。」

常離國王
及國王子
大臣官長
兇險戲者
及旃陀羅
外道梵志
《法華經安樂行品第十四》

前面我們也都說過了,我們要好好謹慎,我們要常離國王、王子,這都是仗權,我們不用去靠近那個權勢,想要仗權勢來增加我們的光環,不用!我們真真正正腳踏實地修我們的行,走我們的好路,不用一定要去仗權勢。

所以,「常離國王,及國王子、大臣官長,兇險戲者,及旃陀羅、外道梵志」。這我們要很瞭解,「旃陀羅」,那就是殺生;「兇險嬉戲」,就是不正確的行業,或者是在非常惡劣的環境,這種的人,我們就要遠離。或者是邪知邪見的外道,我們也要遠離。這是前面的經文所說的。

再接下來:「亦不親近,增上慢人,貪著小乘、三藏學者,破戒比丘,名字羅漢。」

亦不親近
增上慢人
貪著小乘
三藏學者
破戒比丘
名字羅漢
《法華經安樂行品第十四》

這我們也要遠離啊!不只是世俗的權力,或者是世俗不端的行為,我們要遠離,就是我們在修行,同樣我們也要知道,該親近的是什麼,不該親近是什麼。所以,「亦不親近,增上慢人,貪著小乘,三藏學者,破戒比丘,名字羅漢」。這一類的人,我們也就要謹慎。什麼叫做「增上慢」?未證得聖道謂證,而輕慢他人。

未證得聖道
謂己證得
而輕慢於他
小乘厭生死
欣樂涅槃
因修戒定慧之道
少有所得
便謂證果
此即未得謂得
未證謂證
是名增上慢聲聞

這些修行者,在修行的過程,貪著在小乘,就是這樣開始,開始修行的目標,只是為了要脫離生死,瞭解生死辛苦,希望能夠了脫,所以好樂在涅槃。所以,他就會去認真修行,修行,他就是修「戒、定、慧」。他稍微得一點點心得,他就認為:我戒修得好,我的定力也很定心,我的智慧也已經開了。所以他認為:我已經證果了。這種未證得聖道謂己證得,起了那個輕慢他人的心。這種的修行者我們要注意,修行修到很貢高、驕傲,這就不是我們要親近的哦!所以,這種「未證謂證」的增上慢人,我們要很注意。所以,「不親近,增上慢」,修行傲慢之人,我們不要親近這樣的人。

亦不親近
增上慢人
貪著小乘:
也不親近
增上修行傲慢之人
及於小乘教
生貪著心的人
增上慢:
謂於增上法中
而於法增生慢心
未得謂得之等類

及小乘教,會貪著心的人」。貪著,就是貪著在:我修行,我要受人供養。這是讓人很感慨的事情。圓頂了,僧服穿下去了,就開始,就高高在上。我們要自我警惕,修行才愈要縮小自己,修行就是謙卑,這也是修養之一,要真正堪得起辛勞,辛苦、勞動,這樣才叫做修行。不是修行,「我什麼都不能做,我什麼都不行。你在家人,你怎麼能夠讓我為你做什麼?在家人,你要為我做種種。」不能這樣,我們若有這樣的心態,這也是歸納在小乘貪著的人,貪著小乘。

自己修,以為我很有學問了,你們在家人就要來供養我,你們就要來為我服務,你們這些近事男、近事女等等。這我們要自己很警惕,修行不是一直求人家來為我們,來奉承我們、來很,供養我們,不是。我們是要學會如何去付出,我們要能瞭解眾生是平等。眾生人人具足萬法,但是眾生都迷在法的裡面;佛陀是「覺悟眾生的法」,所以他覺悟,所以叫做「佛」。我們要知道,這要用心體會進去,所以我們要好好警惕自己。

或者是「三藏學者」,就是那個小乘的三藏,這樣貪著在法,只是守在那個地方,這我們要很用心。在這當中,或者是「破戒比丘」,或者是「名字羅漢」,這都是沒有實修的人,這種,這都是增上慢,這全都是「未得謂得」。

三藏學者:
學經律論小乘藏者
雖則習學三藏之教
機劣智微
非菩薩友
習近小乘
妨弘大法
故須遠之

三藏學者,「學經律論小乘藏者」,這個學,在三藏的教內,但是根機很劣,「機微智劣」,或是「機劣智微」,都可以,就是這樣小根、小智在求學,在這三藏中。他根本就不願意發心利益他人,只是希望法,他能夠體會這個法,但是他體會是能夠修自己,但是他修自己是認為:我修行,我不能做其他的事情,就是要人人來供養我。這種根智微劣,這並沒有打開他的心,放下身段,沒有,所以「非菩薩友」,不是菩薩的朋友,所以我們就不要去親近。這就是經典所說的。

所以,「習近小乘,妨弘大法」。我們若一直習近,去親近這小乘,偏向小乘去,自然他就會妨礙我們,要弘揚大乘法。所以,佛陀他叫我們不要親近,這就是《法華經》裡面。所以,我們就能夠瞭解,在前面的文,惡世比丘,修小乘法的人,他會很反對大乘,就是因為要弘大乘法,就會去排除到小乘。所以習小乘的人,他就會來妨礙、誹謗大乘法,這就是這樣,所以我們要很用心,要經得考驗。所以,故須遠離。

破戒比丘
名字羅漢:
雖是比丘
破佛禁戒
非實有德
名字號為得道羅漢

「破戒比丘,名字羅漢」。就是說「雖是比丘,破佛禁戒,非實有德,名字號為得道羅漢。」。他不只是增上慢,不只是停滯在小乘三藏,他還是破戒,不守規戒,只是一個名稱說他是修行,比丘出家,只是這樣而已,但是內在是破戒了。「非實有德,名號為得道羅漢」。就是這樣,一個形態而已,那就是詐名這個羅漢的形,形態看起來是這樣,就是接受供養,就是增上慢,不是真實修行的人,叫做「名字羅漢」,破戒,只是一個名字叫做羅漢,實體已經是破掉了。

名字羅漢
謂非真阿羅漢
假名羅漢
非實證也

所以,名字羅漢,「謂非真阿羅漢,假名羅漢,非實證也」。就不是了。現在,佛教在這個人間,真的也是很感慨啊!名稱和尚、名稱羅漢,他能夠攜家帶眷,有家眷,他只是研究佛法,他說他是大乘佛教,其實,真正的大乘佛法,也要戒體保護清淨。我們一路一直說下來,不就是要保護我們的戒體,我們的身心要清淨嗎?叫 我們身心清淨,就是要保護戒體,不是名稱的和尚,不是名稱的羅漢啊!這種「 破戒比丘,名字羅漢」,這是沒有實質,只是名字而已。

這就是在這個濁惡世間,濁惡的時代,會一直不斷不斷發生這個形相,所以我們要很用心去體會。持經的困難,我們要如何破除了,那個困難重重,我們要如何忍耐?要忍耐,這麼困難,真的要有忍、有耐,耐得住。所以,在〈安樂品行〉,文殊菩薩就開始向佛請教,要如何能夠避開這個難?要如何能夠持經很安樂?要用什麼方法?除非就是避開,不要去親近到,不要影響我們的心。心若還沒很定,就不要,不要去靠近,靠近種種種種會影響我們的心,這種的形,生態和人物,人、事、物會影響我們,我們要趕緊避開。包括到像這樣,同樣是修行者,我們也就要懂得選擇,如何才能夠成就我們弘大法的心願。這就是佛陀用心教育,我們就要用心深心信受,我們也就要用智慧來分別。所以,我們要時時多用心!
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發表主題: 回復: 20180730《靜思妙蓮華》遠離諸惡 親近善友 (第1402集) (法華經·安樂行品第十四)   周一 8月 27, 2018 8:22 pm

Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Distancing Ourselves from All Evil (遠離諸惡 親近善友)
Date: July.30.2018

“In order to cultivate the Bodhisattva-practice, we must distance ourselves from all evil and deviant views and draw near to virtuous friends. If there are people who can, in accordance with the sutra, teach, have faith, observe the precepts, listen extensively, practice giving, have wisdom and help others accept and practice [the Dharma], we must draw near to them and respect them. We must make offerings and draw near to virtuous friends.”

We must be mindful! When we engage in spiritual practice, “to cultivate the Bodhisattva-practice,” firstly, “we must distance ourselves from all evil and deviant views.” Recently, this is what I have been continuously sharing and reminding everyone of. Now, in the Chapter on the Practice of Bringing Peace and Joy, since we have formed aspirations to willingly accept and uphold the Great Vehicle. Wondrous Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, we must first realize [its message]. In the evil era of Dharma-degeneration, we will face many difficulties when spreading the Great Vehicle Dharma in this evil, turbid world. There will be many obstacles. All kinds of people, matters and objects will present us with many obstacles. In the previous sutra passage, we read the Buddha’s warning for us that we may encounter many people who will slander us or [spread] unfounded rumors and scandals in order to disturb people’s understanding. Not only those in the evil world of turbidity [who will live] in this environment but even those who practice Buddhist teachings will have different views and understandings when it comes to religion. Speaking of the Great Vehicle and Small Vehicle, Small Vehicle [practitioners] do not know the meaning of Great Vehicle, so they [spread] various rumors and slander it. In the previous sutra passage, this is the warning the Buddha made clear to us.

There is more in the next sutra passage. Apart from having endurance, [we must know] whom we should draw near to and whom we should not draw near to. [We will encounter] many evil and violent places, people with evil and deviant views, “pandakas” and so on, so we must increase our vigilance. The previous passage talked about this. These are concerns for people who will follow the Bodhisattva-path. If our minds are not steady, we could be easily affected in the process. Thus, it first reminds us to be vigilant and of whom should we not draw near to. In the previous sutra passage, [the Buddha] said we must endure when we encounter challenges. The next sutra passage is about people we cannot transform. We should not force an approach on them. We should keep a distance from people with more severe [habitual tendencies]. This is what we previously talked about. However, we should begin to draw near the virtuous as the Buddha earnestly inspired us to do. This was Manjusri’s wisdom and compassion; he was there with the Buddha in this passage. Manjusri Bodhisattvas complemented and elevated [the Buddha’s teachings]. [At Manjusri’s request], the Buddha taught another path for people to find peace. We must endure, or better yet avoid difficulties. Everyone should remember [how] Manjusri listened to the Buddha finish teaching that in the future, there would be deviant views within [Buddhism]. Although we must endure them, enduring is not as good as avoiding them. This is why the Buddha said that we should avoid and distance ourselves from those with “all evil and deviant views.” They must not affect our spiritual aspirations, so we must distance ourselves from them.

Next, there are people we should draw near to. We should draw near to “virtuous friends”. We must carefully choose our virtuous friends. “When we see someone doing good, we follow suit. When we see someone make mistakes, we correct ourselves.” When we meet those who are not good, we should distance ourselves from them; when we meet those who are virtuous, we should follow them. We must draw near to virtuous friends. This is an mentioned in a previous sutra passage, “If there is one who can expound....” If there are people willing to uphold the sutra and teach the Dharma, they can teach us to uphold precepts, to listen extensively, to practice giving and to have wisdom; they “help others accept and practice [the Dharma].” If people can teach the Dharma and guide us like this, we must have faith in them. Our faith must be deep and we must uphold the precepts. The precepts help us to guard against wrongs and stop evils so that we can discern right from wrong. We can tell when people are harmful friends, that we should not draw near to them and that [we must] strive to avoid them. This is the meaning of “precepts”. We must be able to make distinctions. When we cannot transform someone, we must distance ourselves from them. So, [we need] “faith” and “precepts”. We believe in the Buddha’s teachings. With the Great Vehicle Dharma, we go among sentient beings to transform them. The Great Vehicle Dharma is the Buddha’s one great cause; He came to guide sentient beings and show them a direction. We must have deep faith in this.

However, if we want to follow the direction the Buddha has pointed out to us, if we want to practice this Bodhisattva-path, we must first earnestly guard ourselves and keep our state of mind healthy. So, we must uphold the precepts to guard against wrongs and stop evil. To uphold the precepts and have deep faith, we must steady unspiritual aspirations and listen extensively to the Dharma. As we learn more, once we understand it, we have Dharma and will be able to teach it to others. First, we obtain the Buddha’s proper guidance. Once we have understood it thoroughly, we can then guide others to walk in the same direction. This is why we must listen extensively. Only by listening extensively can we help others. So, this is called “giving”. As for “wisdom,” as we go among people, we learn how afflictions and ignorance converge, multiply and becomes suffering. If we do not go among people and do not understand their suffering, how are we supposed to relieve their suffering?

Therefore, we must go into the world to practice giving and serve others. In the process of helping others, apart from listening extensively to take the Buddha-Dharma to heart, we are also learning the worldly Dharma. As we go among various groups of people, we taken in their knowledge. This worldly knowledge helps us attain understanding, and from the Buddha-Dharma we attain pure wisdom. When this pure wisdom comes together with the knowledge of the world, [we can have] “common knowledge” and a “common understanding”. With this understanding, we can then take action. We take action together, practicing the Bodhisattva-path. Those who guide us to accept, uphold and follow this path are virtuous friends.

“We must draw near to them and respect them. We must make offerings and draw near to virtuous friends.” We should draw near to good people. When we are in the company of good people, we must be respectful to each other. Respecting and praising others is also a way to practice giving. Speaking of offerings, we can make offering with our bodies, with our speech, with our actions and also with material goods. Thus, to engage in practice with nothing further, extended practice, uninterrupted practice and practice with reverence are all part of our process of spiritual practice.

So, “We must make offerings and draw near to virtuous friends.” Having virtuous friends is very important. We must learn to mutually give of ourselves. Here and now, we must practice the Bodhisattva-path. But both now and as we move forward, we must not only practice the Bodhisattva-path from the sutras, we must also listen extensively to [all] the Buddha’s teachings. If we listen extensively and take them to heart, this inspires our wisdom. Now, we must put it into practice. “Wisdom helps others accept and practice [the Dharma].” We must accept it and put it into practice.

Aren’t the Tzu Chi volunteers like this? In Ecuador in 2016, there was a major earthquake. It was very strong! It destroyed several counties and cities. It was truly a terrible disaster. When we received this information and saw coverage of it on the news, we immediately thought, “How can we help in the wake of this tragic and terrible disaster?” How could we help them? In assessing the situation, [our volunteers] in the United States were closest. They were five or six hours away by plane, but they were the closest [to the disaster]. Based on our evaluation, we felt that the US [volunteers] were more experienced in international disaster relief. So, we contacted the volunteers of Tzu Chi USA and their international disaster relief team, and they mobilized the charity and medical teams. When they reached Ecuador, they immediately took action. To establish a Cash for Relief program, they approached the local governors and mayors and began working with them. Speaking of the Cash for Relief program, because of our experience in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, many international NGOs has seen us [do this before]. So, in Ecuador, when Tzu Chi USA volunteers arrived, they immediately began their operations. Indeed, they exercised great capabilities. After working with people in several places, the outcome was very good. Those who were helping felt joyful, and those receiving help could now rebuild and clear their homes. Everyone was filled with joy.

In another town, Jama, their mayor, named Angel, came to ask us, “Tzu Chi volunteers, can you visit my town and help us? My town was also one of the worst-hit areas.” In fact, when Tzu Chi volunteers went there, they learned that this town of Jama was indeed one of the worst-hit areas. Now, the mayor had come to them, but after [working hard] for so many days, they needed to take time to rest first. So, they told him, “We will come back to evaluate [your town]. We will try to hurry. If we can do it within our schedule, we will go visit your town. If we cannot make it in time, we will come on our next trip. We have been away from home for many days. Can we come back next time?”

The town mayor, Angel was disappointed when he heard this. His eyes brimmed with tears; he nearly cried. Tzu Chi volunteers’ hearts melted when they saw how this mayor cared so sincerely for the disaster survivors. Our volunteers immediately comforted him. “We will do our utmost to make it work. We will visit you this afternoon.” Angel was overjoyed that. Tzu Chi volunteers were willing to visit, and he accompanied them when they went.

After the visit, Tzu Chi volunteers could tell that the damage in this disaster area was severe. The mayor had been so sincere in [seeking help] for the survivors, and he was moved by how Tzu Chi had comes such a long way on their own to assess the damage for them. So, he was very touched. The Tzu Chi volunteers were also very moved; they were mutually touched by each other. They all decided to meet again right away and were considering taking action the next day. Any unfinished work would continue locally. When the next group of volunteers came, they tole the mayor, “We hope to mobilize 1000 people in three days. With the Cash for Relief program, we will be able to clean this place up”. The mayor was very grateful. “1000 people in three days is fantastic! I am very grateful!”

The next day, Tzu Chi volunteers came [to work], and participants of the Cash for Relief program were already waiting for them there. Even on the first day, the effect was already clear. They worked very effectively. After they finished the work, Tzu Chi volunteers led a sing-along. For [the people] in that place, they inspired enthusiasm among them and expressed their gratitude for them. They told the locals stories of Tzu Chi and how the aid came from the donations of many people. They shared this with them, along with the history of Tzu Chi. They also shared Jing Si aphorisms with them. They led them in singing the song “One Family” and explained [its] meaning to them. In this manner, they sang in English. Everyone was joyful, and they swept away the gloominess of the preceding days. After this huge disaster, everyone felt lost and aimless. They did not know how to rebuild their homes. Tzu Chi volunteers brought a new spirit and their strength with them. Before they began distributing aid, they awakened they joy in everyone’s minds. They were all joyful. When the mayor arrived, he joined them and interacted with the people. They mayor was very touched. He joined us in distributing the relief cash. The Cash for Relief wage was 15 USD for each person per day. This was how much we distributed.

Later, the mayor said, “If there are more than 400 people tomorrow, I will cover [the rest of their wages]. And so it was, starting the next day, they exceeded the goal by 90 people. So, there were 490 people, starting a new day of work. They were in better spirits than yesterday. With the power of Tzu Chi’s spirit and the volunteers’ unconditional great love, it was like they were all one family. [Helping each other] like a family, they also cleaned their own spaces. That day, they participated more actively than the day before. So, another day went by. The mayor was very joyful. As he counted the total, there were 490 people. He said, he must keep his word. He asked his assistant to go back to get money for him. It was more than 1000 dollars. It was 1350 dollars. As [his assistant] returned, he gave the money to the Tzu Chi volunteers. The mayor was very touched by the Tzu Chi volunteers. He was very joyful, so he felt gratitude. Seeing how Tzu Chi volunteers gave of themselves, he thought he should do the same for his people. He paid out of his own pockets to help them. He felt it was the right thing for him to do. He hoped his county could be revived and that all his people could regain their spirits and their strength. Then there would be hope for his country. So, he was joyful and very touched. Another day passed and even more people came the next day. There were more than 500 people on the third day. The mayor was very brave. With more than 100 extra people participating, his financial responsibility was heavier. Yet he remained joyful and grateful. He willingly paid them out of his own pockets, a total of 4200 US dollars. This was how he gave of himself; this was how he took part.

During that time period, when we were in a video conference, I told them, “Since we have mobilized three to four counties over there, we have already given so much. Since this mayor loves his people, in his time of great disaster, how could we let him pay? He has given so much. These 4000 dollars is a great burden to the mayor!” Later on, when our volunteers were ready to [go home], Martin Kuo invited the mayor to meet with them. He counted out 4200 US dollars and handed it to the mayor. He told him that Master cared about him and he could not bear to let him pay so much out of his own pockets. This country still had financial needs so we hoped the mayor would take this money and do things for the people. The mayor was very touched. He said that he would not have dared ask, and he was very grateful for this. He will keep serving his people in the future. This is the power of love, by which virtuous friends inspire each other.

Tzu Chi volunteers are virtuous friends. Wherever we are needed, we must quickly go there ourselves. We not only provide them with material aid, we also give them spiritual guidance and encouragement. They mayor also began to do this. We could see that he truly loves his people. That the Tzu Chi volunteers came together helped strengthen his faith. During the restoration after the disaster, the power of their spirit was very strong, so he was very moved. This is how we draw near to virtuous friends, “have wisdom, listen extensively and practice giving”. Tzu Chi volunteers have received the Dharma, so in their actions and service they are giving unconditionally. They attain great joy from giving. Was it laborious? Yes, it was. But they were filled with Dharma-joy. Bodhisattvas not only benefit and safeguard their own homelands, they also cross borders into other countries to serve people there. This is what makes them Bodhisattvas; they always keep the Dharma in mind. They must exercise their wisdom to bring sincere love to these places and to be able to mobilize the local people. With the “Cash for Relief program”, everyone was able to give of themselves for the sake of their hometown. This raised their spirits and they all worked joyfully. They also listened to our explanation of how we are all one family. Just like the phoenix rising from the ashes, although they experienced a great disaster, they are now rebuilding, and they have reinvigorated their strength. Everyone is united and working in unison. Thus, by guiding them with this wisdom, all the villagers, these disaster survivors, received our encouragement and help. The mayor was deeply touched.

In order to cultivate the Bodhisattva-practice, we must distance ourselves from all evil and deviant views and draw near to virtuous friends. If there are people who can, in accordance with the sutra, teach, have faith, observe the precepts, listen extensively, practice giving, have wisdom and help others to accept and practice [the Dharma], we must draw near to them and respect them. We must make offerings and draw near to virtuous friends.

So, “People who can help others accept [the Dharma] and put it into practice are “virtuous friends that we must draw near to.” Speaking of “respect,” we must respect each other. This is how we make offerings to each other and nourish our wisdom-life. These are [the people] we should draw near to. We should accept and uphold the Dharma [we receive from] our virtuous friends. In sum, virtuous friends are “those who are known to be good people by others.”

Those who are known to be good people by others are virtuous friends. Those who are known to be evil are harmful, unwholesome friends. Those who teach the Dharma to guide us in the direction of virtuous places are our virtuous friends. Also, those who encourage others to have joy and equanimity encourage others to do good.

These are people known to be good by everyone. They are also our virtuous friends. They are our “virtuous friends”. What about harmful and unwholesome friends? This means that everyone knows their behavior is improper, so we must be vigilant. Seeing these harmful and unwholesome friends, we must distance ourselves from them. Those who teach the Dharma to guide us towards goodness are our “virtuous friends”. They can encourage us to do good and help us to be able to give joyfully. They are all virtuous friends who encourage us do good [deeds]. So, we must mindfully seek to comprehend how the power of love brings us all together. When we come together [out of love] it is unconditional, selfless love. Anyone like this is considered a virtuous friend. Thus, society can naturally be harmonious, and the world will become peaceful.

So, in the previous sutra passage it says, “At that time, the World-Honored One, wishing to restate His meaning, spoke in verse. ‘It there are Bodhisattvas in the future evil world whose minds are without fear and who wish to teach this sutra, they should enter places of practice and the places to draw near to.’”

We should try to mindfully comprehend the previous sutra passage [which says], “They always distance themselves from kings as well as princes, great ministers and officials, those who engage in brutal and dangerous amusements as well as candalas and heretical practitioners and Brahmacarins.

We talked about this [sutra passage] before. We must be earnestly vigilant and distance ourselves from kings and princes. This refers to relying on power. We do not need to draw near to power or leverage it to increase our own glory. This is unnecessary. We must be steadfast as we engage in our spiritual practice and follow our virtuous path. We do not need to rely on official power.

So, “They always distance themselves from kings as well as princes, great ministers and officials, those who engage in brutal and dangerous amusements as well as candalas and heretical Brahmacarins. We must clearly understand this. “Candalas” are people who slaughter [animals]. “Brutal and dangerous amusements are not proper careers [either]. When we see those in an unwholesome environment, we must distance ourselves from them. When we encounter heretical teachings, evil knowledge and deviant views, we must distance ourselves from them also. This is what previous passage is about.

The next sutra passage continues, “Also, they do not draw near to those who are overbearingly arrogant, who crave and cling to the Small Vehicle in their study of the Tripitaka, bhiksus who break the precepts and are Arhats in name only….”

We must distance ourselves from these people. We must distance ourselves from worldly power as well as from those who exhibit improper behavior in the world. As we engage in spiritual practice, we must know to whom we should draw near and from whom we should distance ourselves. “Also, they do not draw near to those who are overbearingly arrogant, who crave and cling to the Small Vehicle in their study of the Tripitala, bhiksus who break the precepts and are Arhats in name only….” When facing these people, we must be vigilant.

What is “overbearing arrogance?” Those who have yet to realize the noble path but claim to have attained it are arrogant towards others.

Those people have yet to realize the noble path, and yet they claim to have attained it, so they are arrogant towards other. Small Vehicle practitioners are weary of samsara and take joy in Nirvana. Because of this, they practice the path of precepts, Samadhi wisdom. Despite having only a few attainments, they claim to have realized the fruit. These people claim to have attained what they have not attained and claim to have realized. They are known as Hearers of overbearing arrogance.

These spiritual practitioners crave and cling to the Small Vehicle. So, at the beginning, their goal in spiritual practice is to become liberated from cyclic existence. They understand the suffering of samasra, so they hope they can be liberated. Thus, they take joy in Nirvana and earnestly engage in spiritual practice. In spiritual practice, they cultivate “precepts, Samadhi and wisdom.” Attaining just a bit of understanding, they think, “I practice the precepts very well, my power of Samadhi is steady and I have already uncovered my wisdom. Thus, they believe they have attained the fruit. These people claim to have realized it the noble path though they have not realized it. They are arrogant towards others. We must be wary of such practitioners. Their practice has led them to become arrogant, so we should not draw near to them! So, “These people claim to have realized what they have not realized.” Speaking of those who are overbearingly arrogant, we must be vigilant of them. So, “They do not draw near to those who are overbearingly arrogant.” As for those being arrogant about their practice, we must not draw near to them.

Also, they do not draw near to those who are overbearingly arrogant, who crave and cling to the Small Vehicle: They should also refrain from drawing near to people who are overbearingly arrogant about their practice, those who crave and cling to the Small Vehicle teachings. Overbearing arrogant: This refers to those who have advanced in the Dharma and become overbearingly arrogant due to this, claiming to have attained what they have not attained.

Those who crave and cling to the Small Vehicle teachings are those who practice in order to receive others’ offerings. This is very lamentable. When they were ordained as monastics and put on the monastic robes, they began to feel elevated in status. We must remind ourselves to be vigilant. As spiritual practitioners, we should humble ourselves all the more. Spiritual practice is a practice of humility. This is something we must cultivate. We must truly endure this arduous work if we want to be called spiritual practitioners. Spiritual practitioners do not say, “I cannot do anything. I am incapable of anything. You are lay people. How could you ask me to anything for you? As lay practitioners, you should be the ones doing things for me.” We cannot be like this. If we have this mindset, we are also among those who crave and cling to the Small Vehicle teachings. As [monastic] practitioners, they believe that they are well-educated and that lay people have to make offerings to them. “You all must serve us because you are lay men and women” and so on. We must be vigilant about this. Engaging in spiritual practice is not about asking others to do things for us, to flatter us or to make offerings to us. It is not like that. We must learn how to give of ourselves. We must understand that sentient beings are equal. All beings are replete with all Dharma, but they have lost their way in it. The Buddha is “the Dharma that awakens sentient beings”. This is because He is awakened, so He is called the Buddha. We must know and earnestly seek to comprehend this. So, we must earnestly remind ourselves to be vigilant. As for those who “study the Tripitaka,” that is, the Tripitaka of the Small Vehicle, they crave and cling to the Dharma and remain stuck in that place. This is what we must be mindful of. Among people like this, there are “bhiksus who break the precepts” and are “Arhats in name only”. These people do not truly engage in practice. This kind of behavior is overbearing arrogance. They all “claim to have realized what they have not realized.”

In their study of the Tripitaka: This refers to people who study the sutras, vinaya and abhidharma of the Small Vehicle canon. Though they study and practice the teachings of the Tripitaka, their capabilities are dull and their wisdom is meager, so they are not friends of Bodhisattvas. They habitually draw near to the Small Vehicle and hinder the spreading of the Great Dharma. So Bodhisattvas must keep far away from them.

“In their study of the Tripitaka refers to people who study the sutras, vinaya and abhidharma of the Small Vehicle canon.” They study the teachings of the Tripitaka, but their capabilities are dull. “Their capabilities are dull” or “their wisdom is meager,” one or the other. This is how those with limited capabilities or limited wisdom seek the teachings as they study the Tripitaka. Because of this, they are not willing to form aspirations to benefit others at all. They only wish to comprehend this Dharma, yet they only know to cultivate themselves. As they engage in self-cultivation, they think, “I am engaging in spiritual practice. I cannot be doing other things.” Then, they need others to make offerings to them. With these dull capabilities and meager wisdom, they do not open their minds or humble themselves.

So, “they are not friends of Bodhisattvas.” They are not friends of Bodhisattvas, so we should not draw near to them. This is what the sutra passage says. “They habitually draw near to the Small Vehicle and hinder the spreading of the Great Dharma.” If we habitually keep drawing near to Small Vehicle [practitioners], if we deviate toward the Small Vehicle, naturally, they will hinder us from spreading the Great Dharma. So, the Buddha told us not to draw near to them.

This is in the Lotus Sutra. So, we can understand from the previous sutra passage that the evil bhiksus and those who cultivate Small Vehicle Dharma will oppose the Great Vehicle Dharma. Spreading the Great Vehicle Dharma will eliminate the Small Vehicle, so those who cultivate the Small Vehicle will hinder and slander the Great Vehicle Dharma. Since this is the case, we must be very mindful to withstand this test.

Therefore, we must distance ourselves from them. As for “bhiksus who break the precepts and are Arhats in name only, although they are bhiksus, they break the Buddha’s precepts. They do not actually have virtue, yet they are called Arhats who have realized the truth.”

They not only have overbearing arrogance and remain in the Small Vehicle, but they also break the precepts. They do not uphold the precepts. In name only, they claim to engage in spiritual practice as bhiksus and monastics. That is all they do. However, on the inside, they break the precepts and “do not actually have virtue. Yet they are called Arhats who have realized the truth.” This is nothing more than an appearance. They pretend to have the appearance of Arhats, but this is only an appearance. They accept offerings, they are overbearingly arrogant and they do not truly engage in spiritual practice. They are “Arhats in name only”. They break the precepts, so they are called Arhats in name only. In fact, they have already broken [the precepts].

So, “Arhats in name only means they are not true Arhats. They are Arhats in name only, and have not truly attained realization.”

They are not [true Arhats]. Now, Buddhism in the world today is truly in quite a lamentable state. There are monks and Arhats in name who still get married and have families. They only research the Buddha-Dharma, yet they claim to [follow] the Great Vehicle. in fact, the true Great Vehicle Dharma requires upholding the precepts and maintaining purity. We have been talking about this. We must uphold the essence of the precepts and keep our bodies and minds pure. Keeping our bodies and minds pure means protecting the essence of the precepts. We cannot be monastics or Arhats in name only! Such “bhiksus who break the precepts and who are Arhats in name only” are not true Arhats. They are [Arhats] in name only. In this evil world of turbidity, in the era of turbidity, these appearances will constantly manifest. So, we must mindfully comprehend how difficult it is to uphold the sutra and how we can break through these many difficulties. How are we to endure them? We must endure them even if it is difficult. We must truly endure them with patience. We must endure them.

So, in the Chapter on the Practice of Bringing Peace and Joy, Manjusri Bodhisattva began to ask the Buddha, “How can we avoid this difficulty? How can we be at peace and joyful when upholding the sutra? What methods can we use?” We must keep a distance from [people like this] and not draw near to them or allow them to affect our minds. If our minds are not steady, we should not draw near to them. If we approach them, various factors will influence our minds. Their appearances, their way of life and people, matters and objects will affect us. We must immediately avoid them. This includes people who [claim to be] spiritual practitioners; we must know how to distinguish them if we hope to accomplish our vows of spreading the Great Vehicle Dharma. This is what the Buddha mindfully taught us. So, we must mindfully accept it with deep faith and use our wisdom to discern [virtuous friends]. So, we must always be mindful!

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