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 20180731《靜思妙蓮華》五欲招苦 離惡近善 (第1403集) (法華經·安樂行品第十四)

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發表主題: 20180731《靜思妙蓮華》五欲招苦 離惡近善 (第1403集) (法華經·安樂行品第十四)   周二 7月 31, 2018 8:18 am

20180731《靜思妙蓮華》五欲招苦 離惡近善 (第1403集) (法華經·安樂行品第十四)

⊙五欲無益,如狗咬熱鐵,五欲增爭,如鳥競肉食,五欲燒人,如逆風執炬,五欲害人,如踐踏惡蛇,五欲無實,如夢幻境短。五欲不久,如假借須臾。
⊙世人愚惑,貪欲五欲,至死不捨。為之後世受無量苦。
⊙五欲無益,如近火增油。五欲燒人,如逆風執炬。五欲害人,如踐踏毒蛇。五欲無實,如夢幻所得。五欲不久,如假借須臾。
⊙「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》
⊙「及比丘尼,好戲笑者,深著五欲,求現滅度,諸優婆夷,皆勿親近。」《法華經安樂行品第十四》
⊙及比丘尼,好戲笑者:亦莫要單獨親近比丘尼,好嘻笑者,亦莫要親近。近則招譏,尤其好樂多戲笑,尤當遠之。
⊙深著五欲,求現滅度:於五塵境,深生欲心,執著妄念,求現異相,妄稱涅槃。
⊙求現滅度:執小偏獨善者,謂於現法中,求得究竟安樂,亦稱現法寂靜無染涅槃。如在家、出家修學佛法,實未能體解正法含義,故未能離於五欲。而但求現世一生之安樂、清淨者,非解脫生死之涅槃。
⊙求現滅度者,欲速取證,未證謂證,輕慢他人,非大法器。故云:新發意弘大法者,不宜得親近,求現滅度者。
⊙諸優婆夷,皆勿親近:居家女嬌態誘惑難制故,非可親近。況復貪欲求現清淨小乘涅槃者,如上諸人,皆勿親近。
⊙此頌如是戒慎,遠離劣友不善緣。擇善友知識,施受互為善友,導向慈悲善處,喜捨智慧安樂自在,以上擇友:離惡近善。

【證嚴上人開示】
五欲無益,如狗咬熱鐵,五欲增爭,如鳥競肉食,五欲燒人,如逆風執炬,五欲害人,如踐踏惡蛇,五欲無實,如夢幻境短。

五欲無益
如狗咬熱鐵
五欲增爭
如鳥競肉食
五欲燒人
如逆風執炬
五欲害人
如踐踏惡蛇
五欲無實
如夢幻境短
五欲不久
如假借須臾

欲,欲念,就是我們人生「生死」的關頭,也是「煩惱無明」的起點,「一念無明生三細,境界為緣長六粗」。五欲,就是在我們的一念間生一起來,所以它有貪、瞋、癡開始。貪念一起,緣著外面的塵境,五欲就開始產生了,很多很多的煩惱,起了很多很多的無明;無量無數煩惱,無明、造業,無不都是從這個源頭起。源頭一起,要如何治療呢?很多很多的方法,多少煩惱,就有多少的方法可以對治。卻是一旦有病,一旦有了煩惱,即使要用法,也已經自迷了,離法愈是愈是遙遠了。這就是難得治療,因為有病了,不懂得要接受藥,不是無藥醫,是迷,迷在不懂得用藥,不願用藥,所以使病會愈來愈重。

五欲同樣,是一大重病,五欲對人,真的一點點利益都沒有。在《佛遺教經》,在《四十二章經》,短短的文章,一段一段無不都是,這樣向我們提起、提醒,希望我們能夠瞭解「欲」;一旦接觸到欲,要離開欲,那就是困難了。因為「以欲養欲」,用欲再培養我們的欲,這個慾念,就是這樣,一段一段產生。就像現在的人說,「以利滾利」,利息,就用利息再滾利,就這樣,同樣的道理。所以,「五欲無益」,追究到最後,這裡面弊病很多。

人在追求五欲,就像那狗咬熱鐵。鐵,紅的,已經烤紅了,紅的鐵,那是極熱無比啊!這紅紅的熱鐵,這隻狗去咬它,是不是會傷牠的嘴呢?不只是無益,又是有傷害。人在貪慾,就是和這一樣,就像狗在咬熱鐵一樣。

而「五欲增爭」,要追求五欲,愈追求,愈增加競爭。社會這麼多的競爭,人間這麼多互相對立、相爭。小的是人與人,或者是家與家,或者是社會與社會,這種爭而出頭,不得安寧,啟動了國家,國與家,這種國與國來相爭,家與家來相爭。現在的企業不就是都說:「這是哪一家的系統?這是哪一家的公司?」就是這樣,無不都是一直在競爭,互相競爭,為利而爭。這個「爭」,國與國爭,是為國土爭,或者是為利益爭?所以,這樣就會惹成了災禍,人禍。不論人與人對立而爭,或者是公司與公司對立而爭,社會對立爭,國與國對立爭,想想看,這樣的爭,能夠安靜嗎?能夠安寧嗎?一旦有爭,人與人爭,人一定有傷,不是傷到人體,就是傷到人心;人心、人體這樣不斷在這交爭的程度,不斷增加。

如群鳥競肉食。像鳥一樣,天空整群的鳥,地上只要有食物,整群的鳥就這樣整個飛下來,就是要爭這個食,肉食。人和鳥類也是一樣。所以,「五欲燒人,如逆風執炬」。這五欲會燒人,真的是就像狗在咬鐵,熱鐵會燒爛牠的嘴,但是這個五欲燒人,就像拿一把火把,逆風而行。風迎面來了,你一支火把拿在手裡,這個火順著風是會燒到手,卻是人的愚癡,已經手將要被火燒到了,還不懂得要放,這就是愚癡。凡夫,眾生就是這樣,一直在這個五欲中貪,五欲燒人而不知哦!所以,「逆風執炬」。這就是在《四十二章經》,也有和這樣相同的教育,來教育弟子,「逆風執炬」。所以,「五欲害人」,五欲絕對是害人的,「如踐踏惡蛇」。就像毒蛇在那個地方,我們沒有注意,這樣去踏到牠,那一條蛇,回過頭來絕對是咬你一口,這個毒性的蛇。所以我們就要知道,五欲就像蛇,你若是動到牠就很危險,一定受反咬一口。同樣的道理。

所以,「五欲無實,如夢幻境短」。其實,五欲在人間到底有什麼呢?實在是很空,「無實」。你擁有很多的財產,產業很大,人也才一個,生活,一餐能夠吃多少呢?衣服穿起來,和大家一樣;家裡面多麼堂皇,也是一張床、一件棉被,還有能享受多少呢?個人的享受,也只不過是這樣。吃多少,穿多少,睡的範圍多大,其實都是有限。但是,要爭的產業,天地間無處不擴大,無處不佔有。平時要走得到都難了,用這麼多的心神,到底能夠多久呢?「如夢幻境短」,就像夢,一個夢境,很短暫。所以,「五欲不久,如假借須臾」。假借的時間,有多久呢?這五欲實在是不久。

毛博士(大氣暨海洋物理博士,毛正氣教授)來和大家談天,我要他回來交功課,要去找出了忉利天的位置,你知道他讀過了多少的佛經?你知道他探討了多少,茫茫無際的天空?他用多少的心思,要找出一顆星球,在天空中這個位置,跟地球時間的比較,它的一天,是我們的一百年,希望讓大家來證明,真正去體會,體會到人間,這都是法啊,佛陀二千多年前,科學還未發達之前,他已經發現了,地球之外,這個世界之外,還有其它的他方世界。佛經不斷不斷提醒,告訴我們他方世界。這他方世界,一定要大家去清楚、相信、瞭解。在《法華經》中,佛的弟子願意,願意修大乘法,但是不願意在娑婆世界,他們發願是要去他方世界弘法。佛陀心真的沮喪,要大家能夠回歸娑婆,來教化眾生,卻是大家發願要到他方世界。也就是這樣,他說出了這世間,要發心、要持法,我們要拿出了,堅強、忍耐的心志。

文殊菩薩開始請佛陀細說,要如何?用什麼方法,讓大家有方法,避免那麼多的困難?要如何避開這種,人間種種的惡行、惡相。而我們不只是要避開,要避開,是叫我們提高警覺。娑婆世界需要人度化,這種的環境,才是需要要有人願意進去度化,但是這種環境難堪忍耐,要如何面對?所以,文殊菩薩請佛陀細說。如何越過了這個困難的境界?要去忍耐,要有方法,堅定道心,能夠避免這種,惡行、惡相的環境。堅定道心,所以有這段文。

看看,現在在聽法,在國際間,全球有幾個國家在這個時刻,無秒差,師父在說話,他們從遠路,天未亮,走到要聽法的地點。他們願意走那麼遠的路,跟大家同這個時刻,雖然沒有辦法在臺灣,沒辦法在精舍,卻是他們在那個地方,還是同這個時刻,這樣直接接受,今時此刻接受。現在的社會,慈濟世界在人間,人間菩薩現在在做什麼事情,他們現在馬上知道。這就是他們要付出,要從一大早天未亮就要走出來,要去到大家集合聞法的地方。大家在聞法,若沒有付出,一大早天未亮,天很冷,我也願意這樣出來;若沒有付出這樣的(精進),沒有辦法臨場聽法。同樣的道理,享受,就是愛睡,多貪一下子來享受,失去了這聞法的心得。大家若回來,最歡喜的,要享受,就是他們薰法香。

這就是我們要想清楚,不要貪在五欲,五欲享受不久啊!只是「假借須臾」。這個時間是假借的,假借時間,短暫,不是我們長久能夠用的時間。時間過了,不會再回來,就是很空。所以,「世人愚惑,貪慾五欲」。

世人愚惑
貪欲五欲
至死不捨
為之後世
受無量苦

人就是愚癡,就是愚,愚癡,所以他貪慾的是在這個五欲,這樣短暫的享受,不能來聽法,就是愛睡、爬不起來、累啦。這就是貪慾。多休息一些,欲,這五欲--財、色、名、食、睡;睡,這也是五欲的裡面。「至死不捨」。怎麼說,都無法捨棄了這個貪慾,貪在一輩子,生和死都沒有捨離貪慾。「為之後世,受無量苦」。因為這樣,生生世世就是遠離法,就是在這個苦難中貪欲。

「五欲無益,如近火增油」。這五欲對我們,一點點都沒有利益,就像在火的上面,我們倒油下去,火就燒起了,說不定也燒到我們的手,燒到我們自己,或者是一場的大災難,「五欲無益,如近火增油」。「五欲燒人,如逆風執炬;五欲害人,如踐踏毒蛇」。

五欲無益
如近火增油
五欲燒人
如逆風執炬
五欲害人
如踐踏毒蛇
五欲無實
如夢幻所得
五欲不久
如假借須臾

五欲害人,就像去踩到那條毒蛇。「五欲無實,如夢幻所得;五欲不久,如假借須臾」。

各位,要很用心來體會。這個「欲」是很簡單,很多種的欲,財、色、名、食、睡,這全都是。我們五根、五識,無不都是引誘我們去貪慾。我們就是在這樣,這就是凡夫。

所以,前面的文說:「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》

想,這些人難道不就是,前面所說的五欲裡面的人嗎?下面接下來這段經文:「及比丘尼,好戲笑者,深著五欲,求現滅度,諸優婆夷,皆勿親近。」

及比丘尼
好戲笑者
深著五欲
求現滅度
諸優婆夷
皆勿親近
《法華經安樂行品第十四》

我們不要親近的,我們都要一直很警惕,不要親近的有這麼多哦!我們還要知道不能親近,不只是前面說「增上慢人、貪著小乘、三藏學者,破戒比丘,名字羅漢」,這些我們都不能親近。

甚至,「及比丘尼,好戲笑者」。不論是比丘、比丘尼,那種沒有真正要修行,就只是嬉鬧喧嘩,愛說笑等等,貪著,玩世不恭,這種的人,我們不要親近。何況比丘尼,有的這種,這樣愛戲笑的人,我們也不要這樣單獨,這樣和他親近。這種戲笑群眾,我們都不要去親近。

及比丘尼
好戲笑者:
亦莫要單獨
親近比丘尼
好嘻笑者
亦莫要親近
近則招譏
尤其好樂多戲笑
尤當遠之

「亦莫要單獨親近比丘尼,好嘻笑者」。這種好戲笑群,我們不要投入去,「亦莫要親近」,不要去親近,不要投入,也不要親近。「近則招譏」。不可,我們若近,就和他一樣,走在一起,有的人就說:「這個人和這些人在一起,這個人和這些人不是一樣?」尤其是有的人說:「我們若要瞭解他的行為,看他的朋友就知道。」所以我們要很謹慎,應該親近,或是不要親近呢?何況,親近就不要了,何況和他投入下去多嬉戲,不可,所以我們應該要遠離,不要有。又再,「深著五欲,求現滅度」。

深著五欲
求現滅度:
於五塵境
深生欲心
執著妄念
求現異相
妄稱涅槃

這就是小乘人。有的人修行,就是在五塵境裡生五欲。小乘人,或者是獨善其身等等,五欲,只是想要求在:我拜佛,我供佛,我有功德。這種的修行者,或者是出家,或者是在家,修行,我就是要有所得。在家求福,出家要求解脫,只是為了這樣而已。這就是在五塵境裡,出家想要解脫,那就是想要獨善其身,我要遠離人群,我很孤僻,我不願意和人相處。像這樣,也不對啊!我們選擇人來相處,惡知識、惡友我們要遠離;善知識引導我們,我們要親近。但是,就像這樣,獨善其身,他通通拒絕,孤僻自己,要好好修行,藉什麼修「戒、定、慧」,無漏,要解脫,要心能夠清淨。但是只是顧自己,這不對。

所以,「於五塵境,深生欲」。有的在家人,就是供養,做的事情,我就是能夠得福。這樣也不對。所以「執著妄念」,這都是執著妄念。「求現異相」。顯現,出家就是要顯現:我修行修得很好,我有所得,法我有所得,我自命清高,所以我不要和大家這樣互動,我有我的法。「未證謂證」,這類的人我已經能夠修到,坐禪坐到不倒單,坐禪坐到我已經看到什麼境界。類似這種,我們也不要親近,我們就是要用心來瞭解,不該親近的,我們要很謹慎。「求現滅度」,就是「執小偏獨善者」。

求現滅度:
執小偏獨善者
謂於現法中
求得究竟安樂
亦稱現法寂靜
無染涅槃
如在家、出家
修學佛法
實未能體解
正法含義
故未能離於五欲
而但求現世一生之
安樂、清淨者
非解脫生死之涅槃

這就是說求現滅度的人,就是「謂於現法中」,於現在法中,現在在修行,「求得究竟安樂,亦稱現法寂靜無染涅槃」。這就是偏小乘,在現在,我今生此世,在這樣的法,我已經就是很滿足,我在這裡就是這樣修行,修我自己能夠「究竟安樂」。我能夠享受,心沒有擔憂,外面無雜務等等,我就是整天,浸沉在這個法的裡面,這種這樣樂哉、樂哉,以為「現法寂靜無染」,這樣已經是涅槃了,他自己以為他的境界,已經是寂靜了,無染著了。他就是「未得謂得」,就是這樣,已經自己自界限在這裡。

「如在家、出家修學佛法,實未能體解正法含義」,實在他還沒有很瞭解,正法裡面的含意,就像佛陀四十二多年講經,小乘學者他們,四十二年間,聲聞、緣覺就是求解脫。佛陀就要循循善誘,聲聞、緣覺之外,最究竟是「一乘實法」,那就是大乘法。最重要的目標就是菩薩道,才是真正究竟,在人群中不受影響,入污泥中不受污泥染,入人群中,不受人群所動搖道心,這才是真正究竟解脫。光是閃避不是辦法,要面對,修真實法,但是這些人偏了,還沒得到體解真法的含義。

我們要「體解大道」,就要「發無上心」,每天的〈三皈依〉不就是呢?所以,我們要體解大道,就開始要發大心,但是他還沒有體解大道,不敢發心,只求自己究竟解脫。這個究竟解脫,煩惱無明一起,還不都是又再開始這煩惱。所以,「未能離於五欲」。就像這樣,還有貪欲在,所以還沒有離開五欲。「而但求現世一生之安樂」。只是求現世,滿足自己所追求的,只是這樣而已。這種以為他已經清淨了,其實「非解脫生死之涅槃」。其實是還沒有到。

所以,「求現滅度者」,這樣的人,就是「欲速取證」,就是以為今生他就能夠證知、證悟了。若今生就能夠證悟了,佛陀無始以來,一直長時間,一直在說過去的過去,這「因緣果報」很多,真的要斷除煩惱,到達成佛,要「六度因圓」,才能夠「趨果」。所以,不是今生此世,就能夠得到證悟。所以,要求現滅度,談何容易,難啊!但是心就是這樣,「欲速取證」。

求現滅度者
欲速取證
未證謂證
輕慢他人
非大法器
故云:
新發意弘大法者
不宜得親近
求現滅度者

「未證謂證」。他才只是懂一點點而已,就認為他已經全都得了,都瞭解了。「輕慢他人」,去慢他人,這種增上慢人,「非大法器」。這種的人,求現滅度的人,這不是法器。他還沒真正體解大道,所以他還不願意發大心,這種的人,不是法器。

所以,這也就是,「新發意弘大法者,不宜得親近」。就像這樣,就不要去親近,這種求短暫,今生此世就要得證的人,我們不要去親近這樣的人。我們才自己新發意而已,我們才接觸到佛法,我們願意發大心,但是你若沒有親近善友、益友,反過來親近這種短暫、短見,這方向錯誤,若去親近,你的大志願心就會不見了,所以不可,所以「不宜親近」。這個發意,「新發意弘大法者,不宜得親近」,不要去親近這樣的人,求現滅度的人我們不用去親近,我們要好好警惕自己。所以「諸優婆夷,皆勿親近」。

諸優婆夷
皆勿親近:
居家女嬌態
誘惑難制故
非可親近
況復貪欲求現清淨
小乘涅槃者
如上諸人皆勿親近

優婆夷,就是「居家女」,那就是信佛,但是沒有出家,這叫做「優婆夷」。優婆夷就是居士女。居士女年齡不分,有的是已經有年齡了,有的是中年等等,有的就是還沒出嫁。所以,居家的女人,居家女人,我們就不要親近。這也是在對比丘說話的樣子。因為女人,「嬌態誘惑」難制伏,難制伏,因為這樣,「非可親近」。因為女人妖嬌美態,千般的形態,很多,女人的花樣很多,女色會迷惑人,修行者就不要親近。所以,這種女色迷惑人,修行者不要新近,所以「況復貪欲,求現清淨,小乘涅槃者」。不只是在家居士女,我們不要這樣,單獨一直要去接近她,就是心裡有存著欲念,或者是在修行,以為自命清高,今生此世就能夠證果,這種的人,「如上」,這些人,我們全都不要親近。這是佛陀很詳細這樣告訴我們。 所以,前面這段經文,那就是要提醒我們,要警誡我們,我們要謹慎、戒慎。

此頌如是戒慎
遠離劣友不善緣
擇善友知識
施受互為善友
導向慈悲善處
喜捨智慧安樂自在
以上擇友
離惡近善

謹慎,要遠離「劣友不善緣」。壞的朋友、不好的朋友,時時會誘惑我們,沒有利益我們,還誘惑我們,我們在修行,不能成就我們,還會來妨礙我們的道業,這全都是劣友。時間有限,你若只是和這些惡友在一起,浪費時間,又最危險的,會被他誘惑過去,所以我們要遠離。我們要常常警惕自己,要很謹慎,交朋友不慎,那就容易被拖累了。所以,我們要好好記得,要擇友,「擇善而從之,不善而改之」,要很謹慎。

所以,「擇善友知識,施受互為善友」。我們能夠付出,能夠接受,我們有法能夠和他分享,他有法和我們分享。就像科學家(毛正氣博士),很用心替我們找出了,忉利天的位置在哪裡。雖然我們無法去到那裡,雖然現在還沒有辦法去說,除了地球以外,還有另外發現到有生命的星球。雖然我們人在這個地方,沒有辦法到那個地方,接觸不到,有或沒有,我們知道就好,不會去想:我要去取得,我將來要生到那個地方。

一群天文科學家,發現到「慈濟」小行星,「那小星星的位置在哪裡?」我就這樣追根究柢。拜託,給我「慈濟」的這顆,小星星的位置,到底它繞太陽,有在繞或沒有?是行星嗎?若有在繞太陽,地球繞一圈,那就是三百六十五天,但是這顆行星,到底是幾年?忉利天跟地球,是一天一百年,那顆星跟到底跟地球,地球的一年,那裡是多久?拜託葉教授,是不是給我一個這個訊息?

他也很用心,也是集合了很多人去討論,而且去研究、去發現,哇!已經發現出了,真的跟地球的距離,真正就是它繞一圈,是五年七個月;所以我就說:「我們有一顆小星星,在那個地方,歲數會比我們長很多,是不是我們發願,再回去我們的小星星裡啊?」這是說說的,只是要向你們說,跟天文學家在互動,那個天際有這些東西或沒有?科學是證明有,但是有,我們還沒有辦法去到那個地方,沒有辦法接觸到;聽了,有那個常識,理解,真正佛陀的智慧,二千多年前,所說的他方世界就是有。所以,佛法,真實佛法,就是我們的善友,我們善友知識。善友就是互相彼此來互動。

這些教授帶來給我們訊息,來為我們證明、瞭解,這叫做「善知識」,也是叫做「善友」。「施」,他要來跟我們說這些話,要付出多少的時間,去研究、去探討,有憑據才來跟我們說話,這就是布施給我們。而我們有接受嗎?接受來,我們很歡喜。他也感恩,就是師父追著要給他考試,所以他才會去探討,他才會去吸收這麼多的知見,瞭解這些事情。所以,我們可以「知」、可以「見」,我們還無法力行到那個地方,還不能接觸到,所以這全都是善友,「導向慈悲善處」。就是這樣為我們教導,給我們一個正確的方向。所以,「喜捨智慧安樂自在」。我們若不要去觸犯到,我們安心向我們真實道,專心走去,若這樣,那就是讓我們安樂自在,這就是「擇善友」,「離惡近善」的方法。佛陀就是這樣,用這樣的智慧來引導我們,我們是不是願意這樣的接受呢?一個正確的方向走。這種證實佛法跟科學,是真實的會合起來,應該大家要時時多用心!


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發表主題: 回復: 20180731《靜思妙蓮華》五欲招苦 離惡近善 (第1403集) (法華經·安樂行品第十四)   周一 8月 27, 2018 9:43 pm

Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Abandon Evil and Draw Near to Goodness (五欲招苦 離惡近善)
Date: July.31.2018

“The Five Desires are of no benefit. This is like a dog biting into hot iron. The Five Desires cause conflict. This is like vultures fighting over flesh. The Five Desires burn people. This is like carrying a torch into a headwind. The Five Desires hurt people. This is like treading on vicious snakes. The Five Desires are unreal. This is like a transient, illusory dreamland. The Five Desires do not last long. This is like a fleeting instant.”

Desires are critical points to our cyclic existence and the beginning of our afflictions and ignorance. “A deluded thought creates the Three Subtleties. External states lead to the Six Coarse Marks.” The Five Desires arise in the span of a single thought. So, [we may become] greedy, angry or deluded. When thoughts of greed arise, [our minds] connect with the external conditions. Then, the Five Desires begin to create many afflictions and give rise to much ignorance. Infinite afflictions, ignorance and karmic actions are born from this source. Once they arise from this source, how do we cure them? There are many approaches. No matter how many afflictions we have, there are just as many approaches to treating them. But once people are sick with afflictions, even if they want to use the Dharma, they have already lost their way. They move further away from the Dharma, so it is difficult to help cure them. They are sick, but they do not know how to accept the medicine. It is not that there is no medicine to cure them. It is that they are deluded, so they do not know to use the medicine. They are unwilling to take the medicine, so their illness becomes more severe. The Five Desires are like a severe illness. The Five Desires truly do not bring any benefit at all. In the Sutra of the Buddha’s Bequeathed Teachings and the Sutra of 42 Chapters, the short sutra passages all repeatedly remind us that we must be able to understand “desire”. Once we encounter desires, removing ourselves from them will be difficult.

This is because “Desire nurtures desire”. By giving in to desire, we nurture more desires. Desires are like this. They arise in stages, one after another. This is like the modern saying, “Interest compounds interest.” Interest will continue to accrue more interest. This is the same principle. So, “The Five Desires are of no benefit.” When we finally look into them, [we can see] how many issues there are. People who pursue the Five Desires are like dogs biting into hot iron. When iron is heated until it becomes red hot, it is extremely hot! If a dog were to bite a hot iron, wouldn’t the iron hurt his mouth? There is not only no benefit, but it causes harm. People’s greedy desires are just like this, like a dog biting onto a hot iron.

“The Five Desires cause conflict.” When people pursue the Five Desires, the more they strive for, the more intensely they compete. There is so much competition in society and many conflicts among people. There are small conflicts between individuals, and [larger] conflicts between families or even between different communities. These conflicts of ego cause unrest, and the nations and their citizens become involved. Thus, countries fight against other countries, and families fight against other families. Nowadays, in business, people say, “This system belongs to this enterprise. This company belongs to that enterprise.” This is how it is. They are all competing against each other for profit. This “conflict” [can happen] between countries. Is it [to protect] their territory or for profit? Regardless, these [conflicts] cause disasters and manmade calamities. These conflicts may be between people, between companies, between communities or between countries. Think about it; with such conflicts, can there be tranquility? Can there be peace? Once a conflict arises between people, people will be injured. It may not necessarily harm their physical bodies, but it will harm their minds. People’s minds and their physical bodies are increasingly [harmed] by such constant states of conflict. It is like vultures fighting over flesh. People are like a flock of these birds in the sky. As long as there is food on the ground, the whole flock of vultures will fly down to fight over the flesh.

People are like these birds. So, “The Five Desires burn people. This is like carrying a torch into a headwind.” These Five Desires will burn people. It truly is like a dog biting a [hot] iron. The hot iron will burn the dog’s mouth. In the same way, the Five Desires burn people. This is like carrying a torch into a headwind. The wind blows directly towards us, so as we carry this torch in our hands, the fire is blown by the wind and burns our hands. This is how foolish people are. Their hands are about to be burned, and they still do not know that they must let go. This is foolishness. Sentient beings are like this. They crave the Five Desires. They do not know that the Five Desires burn people. “This is like carrying a torch into headwind.”

In the Sutra of 42 Chapters, [the Buddha] also gave similar teachings to educate His disciples. “This is like carrying a torch into a headwind.” So, “The Five Desires hurt people.” The Five Desires are surely harmful to us. “This is like treading on vicious snakes.” This is like when there are snakes and, not noticing them, we step on them. The snake will turn its head and, being a venomous snake, will surely bite us. Thus, we must realize that the Five Desires are like snakes. If we touch the snakes, we will be in great danger. We will surely be bitten. This is the same idea.

Moreover, “The Five Desires are unreal. This is like a transient, illusory dreamland.” In fact, what are the Five Desires in the world? They are truly empty and “unreal”. Even if we have great wealth and large businesses, we are just one person. In our lives, how much food can we eat in a meal? When we are dressed ,we all look similar. No matter how magnificent a house is, [we only use] one bed and one blanket. How much more can one person enjoy? The pleasures a single person can enjoy are, after all, limited. The amount we eat, the amount of clothes we wear and the size of the area we sleep in are all actually limited. However, people fight to expand their businesses throughout the entire world, everywhere. It is difficult for us to even reach these places. They spend so much effort and thought on this, but how long will these things last?

“This is like a transient, illusory dreamland.” This is just like a dream, which is very short. “The Five Desires do not last long. This is like a fleeting instant.” How long is a fleeting instant? The Five Desires truly do not last long.

Dr. Mao came to give a lecture. I had asked him to come turn in his “homework,” which was to research where Trayastrimsa Heaven is. Do you know how many Buddhist sutras he read? Do you know how much research he did to explore the boundless sky? He spent so much effort to find such a planet. The planet had to be at this position in the sky, since, compared to the time on Earth, one day on that planet is 100 years for us. I hope that this can confirm for everyone and let everyone truly comprehend that the Dharma is everywhere in the world!

More than 2000 years ago, before science and technology were developed, the Buddha had already discovered that beyond planet Earth, beyond this world, there are also other worlds. The sutras continually remind us about these other worlds. When it comes to other worlds, we must all clearly understand and have faith in these teachings. In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha’s disciples were willing to practice the Great Vehicle Dharma. Yet they were not willing to be in the Saha World; they made vows to spread the Dharma in other lands. The Buddha truly felt discouraged. He wanted everyone to return to the Saha World to transform sentient begins, but everyone made vows to go to other lands. Because of this, He said that in this world, we must form aspirations to uphold the Dharma.

So, we must have a strong and patient will. Manjusri Bodhisattva began to ask the Buddha to explain in detail. How could they do that? What methods could they use to help everyone avoid obstacles? How could they avoid the various evil deeds and appearances in the world? We must not only avoid [these obstacles], we need to also heighten our vigilance. The Saha World needs people to transform it. This is the kind of environment that truly needs people who are willing to enter in and transform others. But this environment is difficult to endure. How should we face it? So, Manjusri Bodhisattva asked the Buddha to explain in detail how to overcome this difficult state. To patiently endure, we need to right methods. We must make our spiritual aspirations firm, so we can avoid this environment with all its evil deeds and appearances. We must keep our spiritual aspirations firm. So, this is what this sutra passage is about.

See, now as we listen to the Dharma, internationally [through video conferencing], there are people in many countries around the world who [hear me] without any delay as I am speaking. They traveled a long way before dawn to arrive where they can listen to the Dharma. They are willing to walk such a long way to [listen] together with everyone at this moment. Although they cannot be in Taiwan or in the Abode, they are there at this very moment, directly receiving [the Dharma]. They are receiving it at this present moment. Now, in [many] communities, Tzu Chi is in the world among people. People are able to immediately learn about what our Living Bodhisattvas are doing right now. This is how they give of themselves. They go out early in the morning before the sun rises. They go to the place where everyone gathers to listen to the Dharma. When it comes to listening to the Dharma, they give of themselves early in the morning before dawn, [thining], “I am still willing to come out even in such cold weather”. If they did not make such [diligent efforts], they could not be there to listen to the Dharma. It is the same idea. If they enjoyed sleeping in and craved some extra time to sleep, they would lose the insights they gain from listening to the Dharma. When volunteers return [to the Abode], what they enjoy the most is to take in the fragrance of the Dharma. Thus, we must think clearly and not crave [the objects of] the Five Desires. The pleasures of the Five Desires do not last! “This is like a fleeting instant”. The time [they last] is fleeting. “Fleeting” means the time is short. It is not time we can make use of in the long term. Once the time has passed, it does not come back. This is [passing time] emptily.

So, “World people are ignorant and deluded. They cling to the Five Desires”. Worldly people are ignorant and deluded. They cling to the Five Desires and do not let them go, even in death. Thus in their future lifetimes, they will face boundless suffering.

People are ignorant and deluded. It is because they are ignorant and deluded that they cling to the Five Desires. Clinging to short-term pleasures leaves them unable to listen to the Dharma. They crave sleep and cannot get up, claiming that they are exhausted. This is the desire to rest more. This is the desire to rest more. The Five Desires are wealth, sensual pleasure, fame, food and sleep. Sleep is also among the Five Desires. “They do not let them go, even in death”. No matter how we tell them, they cannot let go of these desires. They cling to desires their whole lives, never letting them go whether in birth or death. “Thus in their future lifetimes, “they will face boundless suffering”. Because of this, they distance themselves from the Dharma lifetime after lifetime. They crave desires in the midst of suffering. “The Five Desires are of no benefit. This is like approaching a fire and adding fue!” The Five Desires have no benefit to us at all. This is like pouring fuel on top of the fire; the fire would flare up. We could burn our own hands, burn ourselves or cause a great disaster.

The Five Desires are of no benefit. This is like approaching a fire and adding fuel. The Five Desires burn people. This is like carrying a torch into a headwind. The Five Desires hurt people”. This is like treading on poisonous snakes. “he Five Desires are unreal. This is like what can be attained in dreams and illusions. The Five Desires do not last long. this is like a fleeting instant”.

Everyone, we must mindfully comprehend this. The “desires” are very simple. There are many kinds of desires. Wealth, sensual pleasure, fame, food and sleep are all desires. Our Five Roots and Five Consciousnesses tempt us to cling to these desires. Doing this is what makes us unenlightened beings.

So, the previous sutra passage states, “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…”.

Think about this, aren’t these he people mentioned in the discussion of the Five Desires?”

The next sutra passage continues with, “… not to bhiksunis who love to play and joke around, who are deeply attached to the Fie Desires and pursue present Nirvana, nor to any upasikas; they do not draw near to any of them”.

We should not draw near to any of those. We must always be vigilant. There are many people we should not draw near to. We must also understand that we should [not only] avoid drawing near to “those who are overbearingly arrogant” but also to those “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 should not draw near to any of them, “nor to bhiksunis who love to play and joke around”. Some bhiksus or bhiksunis have no true intention of engaging in spiritual practice. They merely play around, make loud noises, joke around and so on. Those who are greedy, attached, frivolous and do not care about anything are people we should not draw near to. This is not to mention bhiksunis who love to joke around. We should not draw near to them when we are by ourselves. These groups of frivolous people who joke around are those whom we should not draw near.

…nor to bhiksunis who love to play and joke around: Also, they must not, when by themselves, draw near to bhiksunis who love to joke around. They must not draw near to those who would expose them to criticism by association, especially those who delight in playing and joking around. They stay away from them in particular.

“Also, they must not, when by themselves, draw near to bhiksunis who love to joke around. We should not join these crowds who are joking around. “We must not draw near to [them]”. We must not draw near to them. We must not join them nor draw near to those “who would expose us to criticism by association.”

We must not. If we draw near to them, we may become like them. If we [are seen] together, some people might say, “This person is together with those people. Is she just like them?” In particular, some people might say, “If we want to understand people’s behavior, we can tell by observing their friends”. So, we must be very vigilant. Should we draw near to them or not? No, we should not draw near to them, much less join them in playing around. We must not [join them]. We should distance ourselves from them and should not [draw near to them]. In addition, [we should not join those] who are deeply attached to the Five Desires and pursue present Nirvana”.

[Those] who are deeply attached to the Five Desires and pursue present Nirvana: Amidst the external states of the Five Dusts, they give rise to deep thoughts of desire. They cling to their deluded thoughts and seek to manifest extraordinary signs, falsely claiming to have attained Nirvana.

They are Small Vehicle practitioners. [Though] some people engage in spiritual practice, amidst the external states of the Five Dusts they give rise to the Five Desires. Some Vehicle practitioners and those who only seek to benefit themselves and so on give rise to Five Desires [and think], “I prostrate and make offering to the Buddha, so I have merits and virtues”. These spiritual practitioners, whether they are monastics or lay practitioners, seek attainment in their spiritual practice. As lay practitioners, they seek blessings, and as monastics, they seek liberation. This is all they seek. They are in the external states of the Five Dusts.

As monastics, they seek liberation. This means they only want to benefit themselves; they want to distance themselves from others. They are antisocial and do not want to interact with anyone. Such behavior is also not right! We can choose the people we interact with [Encountering] harmful friends, we must distance ourselves from them. For virtuous friends who will guide us, we must draw near to them. However, [Small Vehicle practitioners] benefit themselves while rejecting others. They isolate themselves to earnestly engage in spiritual practice. By cultivating “precepts, Samadhi and wisdom”, the Flawless Studies, they seek liberation and purity of the mind. But merely caring for oneself is not right. “Amidst the external states of the Five Dusts, they give rise to deep thoughts of desire”. Some lay practitioners make offerings and think that doing this enables them to attain blessings. This is not right either. So, “They cling to their deluded thoughts”. This is how they cling to their deluded thoughts “and seek to manifest extraordinary signs.”

Manifesting [refers to how] some monastics want to show that they have a high level of cultivation and have attained the Dharma. They see themselves as better than others, so they do not want to interact with everyone. They have their own teachings, “claiming to have realized what they have not”. These people say they are so well-cultivated that they can sit in meditation overnight without sleep and that they have certain visions from sitting in meditation. We should not draw near to people like this. We must mindfully understand this. We must be very vigilant of those we should not draw near to. “Pursuing present Nirvana” [refers to] people who cling to the Small Vehicle and seek only to benefit themselves.

Purse present Nirvana: These are people who cling to the Small Vehicle and seek only to benefit themselves. This means that within this present life, they purse attainment of ultimate peace and joy. This is also called the tranquil, undefiled Nirvana of this present life. If lay or monastic practitioners study and practice the Buddha-Dharma but are actually not yet able to comprehend the meaning of Right Dharma, they will still be unable to free themselves from the Five Desires. Those who merely purse peace, joy and purity in this present life do not [attain] the Nirvana of liberation from cyclic existence.

These are people who pursue Nirvana in this life. “This means that within this present life,” as they are engaging spiritual practice” in the present life, “They purse attainment of ultimate peace and joy. This is also called the tranquil, undefiled Nirvana of this present life.” They are biased toward the Small Vehicle.

Now, in this present lifetime, [focused on] these present phenomena, they are very satisfied. They engage in this sort of spiritual practice for “the ultimate peace and joy” for themselves. They can enjoy this and are free of worries in their minds, without any external mundane chores and so on. Throughout the day, they immerse themselves in these phenomena. They enjoy themselves, thinking that this is “the tranquil, undefiled Nirvana of this present life.” They think this is already Nirvana. They think their state is already tranquil, free of defilements and attachments. They “claim to have attained what they have not.” In this way, they limit themselves to this point. “If lay or monastic practitioners study and practice the Buddha-Dharma, but are actually not yet able to comprehend the meaning of Right Dharma….” They have not yet thoroughly comprehended the meaning of Right Dharma.

The Buddha taught the sutras for 42 years, and for 42 years, the Small Vehicle practitioners [remained] Hearers and Solitary Realizers, seeking [present] liberation. The Buddha had to patiently guide them. Beyond the Hearers and Soliatary Realizer [Dharma], the ultimate is the True Dharma of the One Vehicle which is the Great Vehicle Dharma. The most important goal is the Bodhisattva-path; this is truly the ultimate. To go among people without being affected is to enter the mud without beings defiled by it. When we go among people without letting them cause our spiritual aspirations to waver, this is true and ultimate liberation. Simply avoiding people is not a solution; we must face them and cultivate the True Dharma. But these people have deviated from that. They do not comprehend the True Dharma’s meaning. We must “comprehend the great path and from the supreme aspiration.” Isn’t this what we recite in the Three Refuges every day?

So, we must comprehend the great path and begin to form great aspirations. However, they do not comprehend the great path, so they dare not from aspirations. They only seek ultimate liberation for themselves. But as for this ultimate liberation, once afflictions and ignorance arise, they begin to [reproduce] these afflictions again. “So, they will still be unable to free themselves from the Five Desires.” They still have desires, so they are unable to free themselves from the Five Desires. “Those who merely pursue peace, joy and purity in this present life” only seek to attain what they themselves pursue in this present life. That is all they want. They think they are already pure, but “They do not [attain] the Nirvana of liberation from cyclic existence.”

They have not actually attained it. So, “They pursue present Nirvana.” Such people “desire to swiftly attain realization.” They think that in their present lifetime, they can understand and attain realization. They think they can awaken in this lifetime. But the Buddha kept teaching about [events in] the distant past, how, since Beginningless Time, He had many “causes, conditions and effects.” To truly eliminate their afflictions and attain Buddhahood, they must “perfect the causes of the Six Perfections” in order to “approach fruition.” So, it is not possible to attain awakening in this present lifetime. To pursue present Nirvana is easier said than done! But their minds are like this. “They desire to swiftly attain realization.”

Those who pursue present Nirvana desire to swiftly attain realization. They claim to have realized what they have not. They are arrogant towards others and are not vessels for the Great Dharma. So it says: For those newly-inspired to spread the Great Dharma, it is not suitable for them to draw near to people who purse present Nirvana.

“They claim to have realized what they have not.” They only realize part of it, put they think they have attained and comprehended everything. “They are arrogant towards others.” Those with such overbearing arrogance are “not vessels for the Great Dharma.” Those who pursue present Nirvana are not vessels for the Great Dharma. They have not yet comprehended the great path. Thus, they are unwilling to form great aspirations. These people are not vessels for the Dharma. So, this is what it [says here] “For those newly-inspired to spread the Great Dharma, it is not suitable for them to draw near….” We should not draw near to these people who seek to very quickly attain realization in this lifetime. We should not draw near to those people. When we ourselves are newly-inspired and have just encountered the Buddha-Dharma, if we are willing to form great aspirations but do not draw near to virtuous friends and instead draw near to short-sighted people, this is a wrong direction. If we draw near to them, we will lose our great aspirations. Thus, we must not draw near to them. So, “It is not suitable for them to draw near.” For those newly-inspired to spread the Great Dharma, “it is not suitable for them to draw near to people [who pursue present Nirvana].” Those who pursue present Nirvana are people we must not draw near to. So, we must remind ourselves to be vigilant. So, “nor [do they draw near] to any upasikas, they do not draw near to any of them.”

…nor to any upasikas, they do not draw near to any of them: Because the temptation of the alluring demeanor of female lay practitioners is hard to resist, [Bodhisattvas] cannot draw near to them, let alone those who crave desire or pursue purity and the Nirvana of the Small Vehicle in this life. [Bodhisattvas] must not draw near to any of the people mentioned above.

Upasikas are “lay female practitioners”. They have faith in the Buddha, but they have not become monastics. They are called “upasikas”. Upasikas are lay female practitioners. They are not differentiated by age. Some of them are already old, some of them are in middle age, and some of them are still [young] and unmarried. So, when it comes to lay female practitioners, we should not draw near to them. This is what the Buddha told the bhiksus. Because women have an “alluring demeanor [leading to] temptations” which are hard to resist, “we should not draw near to them.” Women have an enchanting allure and countless appearances. Women have many charming ways. So, these female charms can confuse people. Spiritual practitioners should not draw near to them, “Let alone those who crave desire or pursue purity and the Nirvana of the Small Vehicle in this life.” It is not only lay female practitioners. We should not continue to desire to draw near to them when we are by ourselves. This means we have desires in our minds. There are also people who engage in spiritual practice who think they are better than others and think that they can attain fruition in this lifetime. There are people like these. Regarding “any of the people mentioned above,” we should not draw near to any of them. The Buddha explained this to us in detail.

So, the previous sutra passage reminds and warns us to be vigilant and self-disciplined. This verse [reminds] us to be vigilant and distance ourselves from bad friends and unwholesome conditions. We must choose virtuous friends. We must be virtuous friends to each other by both giving and receiving. We must guide each other toward the virtuous place of compassion. With the wisdom of joy and equanimity, we will be at ease in peace and joy. By choosing such friends, we will distance ourselves from evil and draw near to goodness.

We must be vigilant and distance ourselves from “bad friends and unwholesome conditions. Bad friends, unwholesome friends, will constantly tempt us. They do not benefit us but will tempt us. In our spiritual practice, they will not be able to help us succeed. Instead they obstruct our spiritual cultivation. These are all bad friends.

Our time is limited. If we only spend time with these bad friends, we are wasting our time. What is most dangerous is that we may be tempted by them. So, we must distance ourselves from them. We must constantly remind ourselves to be very cautious. If we are not cautious when choosing our friends, they can easily become a burden for us. Thus, we must remember how to choose our friends. “When we see someone do good, we follow suit. When we see someone make mistakes, we correct our own.” We must be very vigilant. So, “We must choose virtuous friends. We must be virtuous friends to each other by both giving and receiving.” We must be able to give and receive. We have the Dharma to share with them, and they have the Dharma to share with us. This is like how the scientist mindfully helped us find the location of Trayastrimsa Heaven. Of course, we cannot reach that place, and we are still unable to say that apart from planet Earth, there are other planets with living beings.

Although we humans are here and we are unable to reach those planets, or make contact with them, whether they exist or not, it is sufficient that we know this. We do not think of obtaining them, nor do we hope to be born there in the future. There was a group of astronomers. They discovered “the Tzu Chi asteroid. Where is this asteroid?” I wanted to understand in depth. “Please tell me the location of this Tzu Chi asteroid.” Does it orbit around the sun or not? Is it like a planet? If it orbits around the sun, as planet Earth finishes one orbit in 365 days, for this asteroid, how many years will it take? Comparing Trayastrimsa Heaven to the Earth, one day there is 100 years for us down here. Comparing the [Tzu Chi asteroid] and Earth, how long is one Earth-year on that asteroid? I asked Professor Ip to give me this information. He put in a lot of effort. He gathered many people to discuss, research and find the answer. They discovered that based on its distance from Earth, its single orbit [around the sun] takes five years and seven months. Thus, I said, “We have an asteroid. Over there, [since] a year there is much longer than it is here, should we make vows to be reborn on that asteroid?” This was just small talk. When I was interacting with the astronomers, [I asked], “Are there such [heavens] in the skies?” The science verified that there are, but we cannot get there, nor can we make contact with them. We listen for the knowledge and understanding. The Buddha truly had great wisdom. More than 2000 years have passed. The “other worlds” He mentioned truly exist. So, [astronomy shows] that the Buddha-Dharma is true. These are our virtuous spiritual friends. As virtuous friends, we interact with each other. These professors brought us this information to verify to us and help us understand. [People like] these are called “spiritual friends”. They are also called “virtuous friends.” “Giving” refers to how, in order to explain these things to us, they had to give a lot of time to research and investigate so they could have evidence to show us. This is how they gave of themselves. Have we received it? When we received it, we were very joyful. They were also grateful. I wished to test him, so he would go to investigate it and absorb much knowledge and understanding regarding these matters. So, we can have “understandings” and “views” about them. We still cannot physically reach these places, nor can we make contact with them.

So, this is how virtuous friends “guide each other toward the virtuous place of compassion” They teach and guide us in this way, giving us a proper direction.

So, “With the wisdom of joy and equanimity, we will be at ease in peace and joy.” If we do not violate [the precepts], we can safely head toward the True Path. We must concentrate on going there. In this way, we will be at ease in peace and joy. This is how we “choose virtuous friends, distance ourselves from evil and draw near to goodness.”

This was how the Buddha guided us with such wisdom. Are we willing to receive [the teachings] and walk toward the right direction? They proved that the Buddha-Dharma and science can truly converge and come together. We must always be mindful!

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