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 20180802《靜思妙蓮華》修菩薩行 親近善友 (第1405集) (法華經·安樂行品第十四)

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發表主題: 20180802《靜思妙蓮華》修菩薩行 親近善友 (第1405集) (法華經·安樂行品第十四)   周三 8月 01, 2018 10:27 pm

20180802《靜思妙蓮華》修菩薩行 親近善友 (第1405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;若有能說信戒,多聞布施智慧,是可親近恭敬供養,是名親近,應可親善知識。
⊙「若是人等,以好心來,到菩薩所,為聞佛道。菩薩則以,無所畏心,不懷希望,而為說法。」《法華經安樂行品第十四》
⊙「寡女處女,及諸不男,皆勿親近,以為親厚。亦莫親近,屠兒魁膾,畋獵漁捕,為利殺害。」《法華經安樂行品第十四》
⊙「販肉自活,衒賣女色,如是之人,皆勿親近。兇險相撲,種種嬉獻,諸淫女等,盡勿親近。」《法華經安樂行品第十四》
⊙販肉自活,衒賣女色:販肉以自活命,此等皆非清淨之行,故宜遠之。販:買賤而賣貴。衒賣女色:指業淫者。
⊙《訶欲經》曰:女色者,世間之枷鎖,凡夫戀著不能自拔。女色者,世間之重患,凡夫因之至死不免。女色者,世間之哀禍,凡夫遭之無厄不至。
⊙如是之人,皆勿親近:近殺增瞋,近色生欲,皆令勿近。
⊙諸淫女等,盡勿親近:前衒賣色相者,為利故賣;今說貪色者;是等諸人,皆盡勿近之。
⊙「莫獨屏處,為女說法,若說法時,無得戲笑。入里乞食,將一比丘,若無比丘,一心念佛。」《法華經安樂行品第十四》
⊙莫獨屏處,為女說法:夫說法者,應於光天化日明處,屏處則涉私嫌,故不可屏處說法。
⊙若說法時,無得戲笑:說法之時,貴於持重。戲笑非法,毋得如是。
⊙入里乞食,將一比丘:入村里時,須將一人以為同伴。
⊙入里乞食:比丘未得食前,應念為修道故,補饑瘡故,既得食已,為報施恩,念道不息。
⊙若無比丘,一心念佛:必若無人可以為侶,當須一心念思惟於佛所教法,勿令心散亂。
⊙「是則名為,行處近處,以此二處,能安樂說。」《法華經安樂行品第十四》
⊙用此戒慎、嚴謹以行接近。以二如為行處,能得安樂,可以說之。若餘非處,不可說。
⊙以上,頌離四處;屠魁、兇險相撲、衒買色相、嬉戲況屏處、獨處。屏處為女說法,則有乖儀軌。
⊙至此:無所畏心等,名為行處,離外惡緣等名為親近處。以上總明外離惡緣,為行處、親近處。

【證嚴上人開示】
為修菩薩行,當遠離諸惡邪見,親近善友知識;若有能說信戒,多聞布施智慧,是可親近恭敬供養,是名親近,應可親善知識。

為修菩薩行
當遠離諸惡邪見
親近善友知識
若有能說信戒
多聞布施智慧
是可親近恭敬供養
是名親近
應可親善知識

大家用心哦,「為修菩薩行」,我們若是發心,發大心,自利利他、自覺覺他,心胸寬闊,利己利人;利人就是利己,覺人就是覺己。我們若有這個觀念,自然我們的心胸擴大了,所以我們能夠先利益他人,很自然就是利益自己。一個地方的平安,我們也是那個地方的一分子,我們使這個地方祥和,使這個地方,人人心理淨化、相處安樂,這樣我們豈不就是,安樂中的一個呢?所以,我們要「利他」就是「利己」,要「利己」,要先「利他」。這樣的觀念,自然我們的行為造作,無不就是與大眾和睦相處;和睦相處,那就是最歡喜、最安樂的地方。

我們,覺覺己、覺人,其實,我們若覺人,自然就是覺己,我們能夠讓大家清楚這道理。既然你能夠付出,說出你對法的看法,這個看法正確、見解正確,所有的法入我們的心,我們的見解和人分享,這樣他他得到法喜,歡喜了,這不就是我們已經感覺到,法的真理就是這樣。你有這樣的真理,才有辦法讓人得到歡喜。所以覺己、覺人,我們有這個心得給人家,人家也很歡喜,這是證明我們的觀念、體會,是沒有偏差,能夠用、能夠度人的法。這也就是利人利己、覺人覺己,這個觀念能清楚了,自然這叫做「修菩薩行」。與人共同分享,與人共同安樂,這都叫做「菩薩行」。

所以,若是這樣,有這個心,願意在人群中和大家共處付出,這應該就要「遠離諸惡邪見」。你若願意去這樣的付出,和樂相處,我們要這樣,我們要事先充足自己,要充足自己的過程。前面佛陀教育我們,文殊菩薩替我們向佛陀求法,佛陀對我們教育的方法,就是你要謹慎;謹慎在交朋友,謹慎在你該處、不該處的地方,該去、不該去的地方,該親近、不該親近的人。所以,佛陀就教育我們該遠離的。因為我們才開始要求法,要鞏固我們的心志,心志還沒有很完全,方向我們還沒有很深信、了解。所以我們,有的若不了解,容易其他的邪法,將我們誘惑,就去了。外面的環境複雜,我們信心若沒有很堅定,也很容易被它誘惑過去。因為這樣,所以佛陀就是這樣教育我們。

最近也一直反覆說這些話,因為經文是這樣說,我們也就要這樣知道。所以我們要知道,要「遠離諸惡邪見」。只要我們若要行菩薩道,我們必定要自我警惕,要遠離諸惡邪見。我們應該親近的,就是「親近善友知識」,我們應該選擇的就是善友知識,我們若這樣,能夠親近,我們才有辦法進步。所以,「若有能說」。我們所要親近的人,我們要選擇的就是「能說」。能說什麼呢?「信、戒」。「信、願、行」、「戒、定、慧」,我們應該要來親近,這種能夠引導我們,讓我們堅定信心,鼓勵我們,讓我們堅立弘誓願的人。這個信、願,也讓我們能夠,身體力行「六度」,這個行動。所以,「信、願、行」,我們要有。還要再「戒、定、慧」,「三無漏學」,慢慢將我們引進,讓我們堅定我們的道心,不要漏失,在「戒、定、慧」,不要漏失掉。

我們有這樣的朋友,常常警惕我們,常常和我們分享法的意義,或者是補充我們的不足,像這樣,又有「多聞」。我們的朋友,就是有真精進,願意聽法;不只是願意聽法,又能身體力行,去布施。我們的朋友不是只會說而已,他又能身體力行,精進聽法;法吸收了,落實在他的行動。這種「多聞布施」,這就是有智慧,有智慧的善知識。很扎實,這樣修行,身體力行聞法,如法修行,這種的人,那就是「智慧」。像這樣,就是「可親近」,不只是可親近,還是可恭敬。因為這位是時時在無餘修、無間修、長時修,因為這樣,值得我們恭敬他,所以恭敬修。彼此互動,他會帶我們長時來修行、無間來修行,像這樣的益友,我們要互相恭敬。還要再供養,所說的「供養」,就是付出,我們要互相來付出、恭敬、供養,是這樣,名叫做「親近處」。這是我們應該親近的人,也是應該「可親善知識」。

要用心來體會人間,人與人之間,我們要去度人間,但是,是不是會受人間,不端、不正,來將我們度過去?所以我們要謹慎,不要親近。我們需要選擇善友,善友,他是能夠「信願行」、「戒定慧」、「六波羅密」,這「六度萬行」,是身體力行者。像這樣,堪得我們恭敬,堪得我們親近,所以我們要親近這樣的人。這就是佛陀很用心,希望我們人人,要保持好我們的道業。尤其是道根,「五根」、「五力」保持得好,我們的「七菩提分」、「八正道分」,才能夠隨時,在我們的生活行動中。〈三十七助道品〉,也是在警惕我們。佛陀在〈安樂行品〉,要如何讓我們學菩薩道,能夠很安全,還能夠學,身體力行去做,能夠做到安全、歡喜、快樂。這是佛陀的慈悲,費這麼多的時間、口舌,這樣教育我們。也感恩文殊菩薩,他能夠啟機,這樣來請佛為我們開示,這無不都是善友、善知識,來教育我們,真的是用心良苦。

前面的文:「若是人等,以好心來,到菩薩所,為聞佛道。菩薩則以,無所畏心,不懷希望,而為說法。」

若是人等
以好心來
到菩薩所
為聞佛道
菩薩則以
無所畏心
不懷希望
而為說法
《法華經安樂行品第十四》

前面的文,大家應該還記得。人,有的就是,過去在生活中不檢點,種種的生態、心態都有,我們要提高警惕,不要親近。但是,像這樣的人群,「若是人等」,假使有人用著虔誠的心,真正為了求法,要問法而來,來到這個新發意菩薩這個地方,要問:「你如何修行?修行的方向是怎麼樣?什麼叫做菩薩?如何利益人生?」像這樣,所問的都正確,誠意的心,他們用這樣的心來接近,所以「菩薩則以,無所畏心」。

雖然我們是新發意,我們要顧好我們的道心,但是有這樣誠意來問我們的人,我們也要挺胸,有那分「無畏心」,自己要有信心向他說法,能為他說。因為我們對法知道,「知之為知之」,我知道、我了解,將我所知道,將我所了解,我說給你聽。但是,我們自己的內心,要有這樣的準備——「不懷希望」。

我們不要想:要他們來請教的這念心,我們要取得我們有所求的希望,不可。因為我們要不抱希望,盡我的心力為你說,我沒有要在你的身上取得利益,沒有要名,沒有要利,也不敢希望,你聽我的話就有所用,這不敢希望。說話能夠讓人信受,能夠用,這是很歡喜的事情,連這樣的希望我們也不敢想,所以「不懷希望」。總是我們才在學,才是在求,我們所求得的,我們要用心。法入心,將我所知道,將我所懂的,說給你聽,這種「無畏心」去講說,自己要有信心,但是不要抱希望。這樣來為他們說法,假使這當中,若有「寡女、處女,及諸不男,皆勿親近」。

寡女處女
及諸不男
皆勿親近
以為親厚
亦莫親近
屠兒魁膾
畋獵漁捕
為利殺害
《法華經安樂行品第十四》

這是佛陀向比丘再警惕,不要一直要接近他們。我們向他們說法,是要很端嚴,端莊、威嚴,來為他們說法,不能輕浮,不能一直和女人這樣接近。就是可以有距離的說法,要端莊地向他們講法。所以,「亦莫親近,屠兒魁膾,畋獵漁捕,為利殺害」。這類的人,我們敬而遠之,我們不要一直要去親近他,因為他是為利殺害。所以,我們沒有辦法化度他,我們也不要入這樣的人群中去,因為我們還沒有,對法還沒有很深入,怕我們自己的道心,還沒辦法堅定,這樣的環境我們不要深入進去。

所以,接下來這段經文再說:「販肉自活,衒賣女色,如是之人,皆勿親近。兇險相撲,種種嬉獻,諸淫女等,盡勿親近。」

販肉自活
衒賣女色
如是之人
皆勿親近
兇險相撲
種種嬉獻
諸淫女等
盡勿親近
《法華經安樂行品第十四》

修行的過程,這個女色一定要警惕,因為很多事情,都是以「色」來誘惑,使心會散亂掉。男女的感情,這是很可怕!世間種種的行業都有,像這樣「販肉自活,衒賣女色」也是不可。

販肉自活
衒賣女色:
販肉以自活命
此等皆非清淨之行
故宜遠之
販:買賤而賣貴
衒賣女色:
指業淫者

「販肉自活」,在賣魚、賣肉,這全都是活命被殺,來販賣,我們也不要這樣,一直要在這個環境中,去求得什麼希望,不可哦!因為要顧好道心。「衒賣女色」,也是不可,因為這都不是清淨的行為。不論是「販肉自活」,賣生物,這樣被殺,來賣,這也不是清淨的行為,所以我們應該要遠離。「買賤而賣貴」,在做生意,有的人就很便宜的東西買來,很貴的價錢賣出去,這也不是很正確的買賣,所以我們也是要遠離,這不正當的生意,像這樣,我們也不要去和他們打交道。

而且「衒賣女色」,所以女人很悲哀,女色也能夠賣,看到新聞,就是只為了一個眼睛,那眼眶要擦幾層幾層的色彩,眼睫毛又要再去增加,又要塗什麼膏?一次一次一直塗,塗到已經污染到眼睛了,致成眼疾。還有,眼睫毛,就是常常在那個地方,要將它燙得翹起來,燙到眼睫毛斷掉了,跑進鼻腔裡面),這樣一場的大病,一直醫不好,找不出原因,原來就是一根眼睫毛斷掉,從眼睛透到鼻管中,在那個地方作怪啊!

你看,這就是女人為了要取悅,讓人看了會歡喜,為了一個身體要花多少,浪費多少的金錢,浪費多少的裝飾物,在女人的身體呢?這是在經典,處處警惕,也有在佛陀所講的,就是《訶欲經》的裡面,也這樣。

《訶欲經》曰:
女色者世間之枷鎖
凡夫戀著不能自拔
女色者世間之重患
凡夫因之至死不免
女色者世間之哀禍
凡夫遭之無厄不至

佛陀呵斥女人,說女色是世間之枷鎖。「凡夫戀著不能自拔」,因為凡夫戀著在女人的身上,沒辦法自拔。又說,「女色者,是世間之重患」。會去犯錯,會引出了心理毛病,所以是「重患」。「凡夫因之至死不免」。因為凡夫,凡夫貪色,一生都離不開女人,所以有販賣女色,他就會去那個娛樂場所,這樣出錢買一個女色,來滿足他的心欲。這就是凡夫所需求,在女人身體上取得他的滿足。所以,「女色者,世間之哀禍」。這個女色是世間很悲哀的禍端,凡夫若遇到這樣,被她纏住了,就是「無厄不至」,就是沒有災難不會到他的身上來。

這段《訶欲經》,你若看下去,會感覺很可憐啊!女人為什麼呢?既來為女人,我們若知道道理,要趕緊覺悟,如何端莊自己,要好好自我警惕。這女丈夫,可以女人與男人平等,而且女人比男人強,因為她「為母者強」。因為她能為人類付出,扶養她的孩子,孩子能成器,那是要付出多少心血呢?天下的偉人,哪一個不是,女人所養育出來的呢?女人應該就是要很堅定,女人的力量不差於男人,還比男人更了不起,因為男人不可能做到的事情,女人做到了。女人能做男人能做的,女人都做得到。現在在國際間,女總統有多少位呢?女王權力也很大,很多啊!只要自己尊重自己,也是一樣大丈夫。所以,不要那樣悲哀。

所以,「如是之人,皆勿親近」。

如是之人
皆勿親近:
近殺增瞋
近色生欲
皆令勿近

這種衒賣女色的地方,以及殺生的地方,我們就不要去親近。「近殺增瞋」,增加瞋;近色,近色,那就是生欲。近女色,我們的心就生起欲念,這我們都不要親近。

就像「增瞋」,在過去就有一個這樣的柴夫,靠著砍柴去賣,來維持家庭。每天就是在山上這樣走,每天就是用力在砍,每天就是背柴出去賣。能夠得到的錢很少,付出的勞力是很大,柴賣出去就是換米、換菜回來,很辛苦。有一天回來,要吃飯了,他就開始,一直吐出了他辛苦、辛苦,這麼的,一生這麼勞碌,只為了三頓飯。現在回來,要吃飯了,飯菜都還沒上桌來,發脾氣,這樣一直罵,罵他的太太。太太被先生無緣無故,回來一直罵,這桌上還沒有飯菜?進去就去廚房罵女兒。女兒,無緣無故母親進來一直罵,到底是什麼事情啊?女兒心也是很懊惱。在煮菜當中,本來鹽就已經放下去了,被她罵得昏頭轉腦,又再一次鹽再放下去。

菜上桌了,三個人坐下來,要吃了。這先生吃飯配菜,「哇,菜怎麼這麼鹹啊!」這個心又是怒火燒起來了,又是又大聲罵。罵了之後,氣沖沖,柴刀拿著,又出門去了,和一群柴夫會遇,邊走邊氣,邊說話,愈說愈氣,因為說話說得很出力,忘記拿著柴刀,比手畫腳,柴刀忽然間丟出去。他們在山坡上走,邊在講話,山坡的下面有一群人路過,這把柴刀剛好丟去出的時候,是無意中,很氣的當中,這樣脫手出去了。這把柴刀去打傷一個人,這個人不是普通人,是隔壁國的太子,去打傷到這位鄰國的太子,還得了!這鄰國就很生氣,覺得這是蓄意殺害,就這樣起兵,動兵力了,來消滅這個國家。

這小國與小國之間本來是友好,只是一個柴夫,這個怒氣,這樣無意中一把柴刀脫手,就這樣飛下去,就惹成了國與國相爭,死傷有多少人!這就是人間,這星星之火能燎原,這種一把的怒火、瞋火,這就是會惹成了,就是天下人間的禍端。現在我們常常在說難民、難民,難道不就是嗎?少數人的「增瞋」,就是「增瞋」,增加他的瞋恨心,所以一念衝動,口號一出去,那就會造成了多少苦難人,所以我們要很謹慎。「增瞋」,這就是親近這個殺業等等等等,前面所說過的這種,我們的心沒有辦法收斂,所以心亂、散亂,就有「增瞋」,沒有辦法修行,自己還散亂自己的心,貪、瞋、癡,在那個境界中,這樣不斷衍生,其中就愈來愈增加,這「三毒念」。「瞋」,瞋火燎原,所以這就是我們要避免。佛陀這樣為我們用很多的譬喻,就像《訶欲經》,這就是將女人這樣,說到這個程度來,女人要覺醒,男人要警惕,這應該我們就要很,好好的謹慎。親近這個「色」,就是有「欲」;有「欲」就有「貪」,有「貪」就有「瞋」,有「瞋」就有「癡」,我們不要親近。

「兇險相撲,種種嬉獻」。前面我們已經說過,長行文說過了。所以,「兇戲及相扠、相撲」,這種我們也要遠離,因為這都是「嬉戲」。在外面,儘管不是真正在吵架,但是就是在那裡玩,嬉戲會亂人的心。又是,「諸淫女等,盡勿親近」。

諸淫女等
盡勿親近:
前衒賣色相者
為利故賣
今說貪色者
是等諸人
皆盡勿近之

剛才說過了,色欲迷人,在那個歡樂場中,色情的裡面,去販賣這個色。這種販賣色相,為利故賣,為了錢,所以要賣出她的色相。「今說貪色者,是等諸人,皆盡勿親近」。所以,佛陀這樣對我們叮嚀,不可,不可親近。

接下來的經文再說:「莫獨屏處,為女說法,若說法時,無得戲笑。入里乞食,將一比丘,若無比丘,一心念佛。」

莫獨屏處
為女說法
若說法時
無得戲笑
入里乞食
將一比丘
若無比丘
一心念佛
《法華經安樂行品第十四》

我們要常常警惕,和女人相處的方法,要如何呢?女人也是人,若要為她說法,要怎麼辦?不要親近,要怎麼辦?

莫獨屏處
為女說法:
夫說法者
應於光天化日明處
屏處則涉私嫌
故不可屏處說法

為女說法,「應於光天化日明處」。要在很顯現的明處來和她說話,不要在屏處,不要在暗角,或者是沒有公開,只是單獨對女人,這就不要。屏處,就會讓人議論:「這是不是兩個之間,有什麼私情呢?怎麼會兩個單獨在角落裡,在說話呢?」不要。要和女人說話,還是要在明朗的場合,不要在暗角的地方,在暗角就容易惹來了,別人會誤解我們,說彼此之間有什麼私情,「故不可屏處說法」。「若說法時,無得戲笑」。

若說法時
無得戲笑:
說法之時
貴於持重
戲笑非法
毋得如是

若是要說話,那就不要有戲笑,還是要很端莊,要好好很謹慎,堅持我們的威儀。我們要莊重,很莊嚴,很嚴肅,不要很輕浮。這樣來戲笑,所說的都不是真實法,這就不對,所以不能這樣,要謹慎。

若是要「入里乞食」,要入里乞食,要去鄉里裡去乞食,「將一比丘」。去入里乞食,要有伴,不要單獨一個,所以我們要很用心,不能這樣這麼的簡單,就自己一個人,去女人的家庭去乞食,或者是單獨去為她說法。我們不要,總是一定要有人與人之間,第三者以上來證明。所以,「入村里時,須將一人以為同伴」。要兩個以上,三個以上,這樣大家同伴,進去那個很安靜的鄉里裡,還是要有伴。所以我們出門,最好要有伴,不要單獨。

入里乞食
將一比丘:
入村里時
須將一人以為同伴
入里乞食:
比丘未得食前
應念為修道故
補饑瘡故
既得食已
為報施恩
念道不息

所以「入里乞食:比丘未得食前」。就是這樣警惕,就是比丘要去托缽之前,應該要念:為了要修行,所以才要來乞食,我要降伏我的慢心,所以我要化緣在人間,我家家戶戶去托缽,所以,要有這樣的心。所以,我們要為了,要讓我們的肚子不會餓到,為「補饑瘡故」。肚子餓,就像有病一樣,食物就如藥食,就像在吃藥,飯,將它當作藥一樣;藥能夠療病,食物能夠療飢。我們就是用這樣的心念,不是要貪味,不是要貪好吃,是要讓我們肚子能飽,營養分夠,所以像是在「補饑瘡」。這是將它當作藥食,來補充我們的飢餓的病。

所以,「既得食已,為報施恩,念道不息」。施主米一粒,就像須彌山。我們要用這樣的心態,所以要好好回報施主恩。為了要回報施主恩,那就要「念道不息」,要好好將道心放在我們的心。要去乞食,就是這樣,所以我們要用心。生活,你若是要依靠供養,就是要有這樣回報施主,回報施主,就是要很用心才有辦法回報。

若無比丘
一心念佛:
必若無人可以為侶
當須一心念
思惟於佛所教法
勿令心散亂

所以,「若無比丘,一心念佛」。若又沒有其他的人,與我們一起去鄉里,這樣我們就要一心念,思惟於佛的教育。「勿令心散亂」,所以,佛心要念入我們的心來。佛陀是如何的教育我們,我們要將佛的教育入我們的心,就不會超越戒規了。所以「勿令心散亂」,這樣我們的心還是一心,就是佛心,佛心就是度眾生,不要有貪欲、貪念。

所以,接下來的經文:「是則名為,行處近處,以此二處,能安樂說。」

是則名為
行處近處
以此二處
能安樂說
《法華經安樂行品第十四》

那就是用戒慎、嚴謹的行儀,來接近前面所說過的,有人好心來求法,或者是要去入里托缽,我們就要用這樣的心態,就是要有人一起,要不然,我們要一心念佛,用這樣很戒慎的心去接近。有人要聞法,或者是我們需要,要去托缽,入鄉里去,全都一樣。

用此戒慎、嚴謹
以行接近
以二如為行處
能得安樂
可以說之
若餘非處
不可說

就是要有這樣,戒慎、嚴謹的行儀去接近。以此二如為行處。如是兩種做我們的行處。自然「能得安樂」,能夠說法。「若餘非處」。就不要在那個地方說法,就是入鄉里要有人在一起,不能在暗角,我們要在光明正大的地方,和婦女接近,我們要有伴入鄉里去,若能夠這樣,就會避嫌,避開嫌疑,這兩項我們要很,好好謹慎,若能夠謹慎,自然「能得安樂」,能夠說法,要不然,「若餘非處」,其他不是光明正大的地方,也沒有人在一起,這樣我們,就不要在那個地方說法,也不要在那個乞食。這就是我們要很謹慎,這是佛陀要對大家說的。

以上 頌離四處:
屠魁、兇險相撲
衒買色相、嬉戲
況屏處、獨處
屏處為女說法
則有乖儀軌

以上就是我們要離開,離開四處,那就是屠魁,兇險相撲,衒賣女色、嬉戲等等,屏處、或者是獨處,「屏處為女說法」,這我們都要避免。若是這些你若沒有避免,就是「違」,違背了我們的行儀,我們的儀規我們就違背哦!所以我們要很警惕。

能夠「無所畏心」。我們前面說的,有人好心來要求法,我們就要抱著無所畏心。說我所說,說我所知道的事情,所以「知之為知之,不知為不知,是知也」。我知道的,我無所畏,我不用怕,我為你說。我已經法,這些法我全都入心,我知道的對你說;我不知道的,我就還沒有要回答你。這我們就無所畏心。若這樣,「名為行處,離外惡緣等,名為親近處」。

至此:無所畏心等
名為行處
離外惡緣等
名為親近處
以上總明
外離惡緣
為行處、親近處

外面的惡緣,相扠、相撲、販賣色相,或者是殺生來謀生,這我們都要避離,嬉戲等等都要避離,這就是,不是我們親近的地方,那些惡緣,我們不要親近。「以上」。就是已經明顯,外面我們應該要遠離的,這就很明朗了。我們要知道,該遠離的是什麼樣的,我們要遠離;該親近,該我們身體力行又是什麼樣的?親善友知識,都已經為我們,清楚這樣開示過來。所以,我們要用心去分類:這是惡,我不要進去;這是善,我要追求。若能夠這樣,我們自然要弘法、持經,我們就能夠很安樂,安樂行。所以,我們要時時多用心!


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Bodhisattvas Draw Near to Virtuous Friends (修菩薩行 親近善友)
Date: August.02.2018

“In order to cultivate the Bodhisattva-practice, we must distance ourselves from all evil and deviant views and draw near to virtuous friends. If they can teach, have faith, observe the precepts, learn extensively, practice giving and have wisdom, we can draw near to them and respectfully make offerings to them. This is known as drawing near to virtuous friends who can be drawn near to.”

Everyone, please be mindful! “In order to cultivate the Bodhisattva-practice”, if we make aspirations, we must make great ones so that we can benefit ourselves and others and awaken ourselves and others. With a broad heart, we benefit ourselves and others. Benefiting others is also benefiting oneself; awakening others is also awakening oneself. If we have this mindset, naturally, our heart will be expansive. Therefore, when we can benefit other people first, naturally, we benefit ourselves. When it comes to peace in a community, since we are also members of that community, we also need to bring harmony there, bring purity to everyone’s minds so that they can live together in peace and joy. In this way, we will be members of a peaceful and happy society. Thus, when we “benefit others,” we also “benefit ourselves”. In order to “benefit ourselves,” we need to “benefit others” first. With this mindset, naturally, in all our actions, we will get along harmoniously with everyone. When we get along harmoniously, this will be the most peaceful and joyful place. In our awakening, we awaken ourselves and others. Actually, when we awaken others, we naturally awaken ourselves because we are able to help everyone clearly understand the principles. We are able to help others and share our views on the Dharma. When our views and understanding are correct and we have taken all the teachings to heart, as we share our views and understanding with others, they can also attain Dharma-joy and be joyful. Doesn’t this show that we have realized that these are the Dharma’s true principles? Only with these true principles can we help others attain joy. So, we awaken ourselves and others. When we share our realizations with others and they are also very joyful, this proves that our perspectives and realizations are without deviation and we are capable of using the Dharma to transform others. Thus, we benefit ourselves and others, and we awaken ourselves and others. Once we understand this concept clearly, naturally, we have “cultivated and Bodhisattva-practice.”

When we share [the Dharma] with others and [live] with them in peace and joy, it is called “cultivating the Bodhisattva-practice.” Therefore, if we have the aspiration to willingly go among people and give of ourselves alongside everyone, we must “distance ourselves from all evil and deviant views.” If we are willing to give of ourselves and [hope to] get along in peace and joy, we ourselves first need sufficient [Dharma]. When it comes to the process of becoming sufficient ourselves, the Buddha taught us about this previously.

Manjusri Bodhisattva sought the Dharma from the Buddha on our behalf. The method the Buddha teaches us is vigilance. We must be vigilant when making friends. We must be vigilant about where we should be and where we should not be, where we should go and where we should not go, whom we draw near to and whom we should not. So, the Buddha taught us what we should distance ourselves from. Because we have just begun to seek the Dharma, we need to strengthen our resolve. Our resolve is still insufficient. We do not have deep faith and understanding in our direction yet. So, if we do not fully understand some parts, we can be easily tempted by other, deviant, teachings and be led astray. External conditions are complicated. If our faith is not very firm, we can be easily tempted by them. Because of this, the Buddha taught us accordingly. Recently, I have been constantly repeating these words because it is what the sutra says. So, we should also understand it. Therefore, we need to understand that we must “distance ourselves from all evil and deviant views.”

As long as we want to practice the Bodhisattva-path, we must remind ourselves to be vigilant and distance ourselves from all evil and deviant views. As for whom we should draw near to, we should “draw near to virtuous friends.” We should choose friends who are virtuous. Only by drawing near to people like this will we be able to make progress. So, [it says,] “If they can teach….” As for whom we should draw near to, we should choose those who “can teach”. What can they teach? [They can teach] faith and precepts, “faith, vows and action” and “precepts, Samadhi and wisdom.” We should draw near to those who can guide us, help us strengthen our faith, encourage us and help us make great vows.

With faith and vows, we are also able to put the Six Perfections into practice in our actions. Other than faith, vows and action, we also need to have precepts, Samadhi and wisdom, the Three Flawless Studies, to gradually guide us to advance and help us strengthen our spiritual aspirations without making any mistakes. In our practice of “precepts, Samadhi and wisdom,” we must not have any flaws. We should have friends like these who always caution us to be vigilant, share the meanings of the Dharma with us and make up for what we lack. Moreover, we also need to “learn extensively”. Our friends are practicing diligently and are willing to listen to the Dharma. Not only are they willing to listen to the Dharma, they also put the teachings into practice through charitable giving. Our friends are not only able to teach, they can also put the teachings into practice and diligently listen to the Dharma. After taking the Dharma to heart, they implement the Dharma in their actions. They “learn extensively and practice giving” which shows that they have wisdom. Virtuous friends with wisdom are very grounded in their spiritual practice. After hearing the Dharma, they put the teachings into practice in accordance with the Dharma. Such people have “wisdom”. Therefore, “we can draw near to them”.

Not only can we draw near to them, we can also show respect to them because they constantly engage in practice with nothing further, uninterrupted practice and extended practice. Because of this, they are worthy of our reverence. Thus, we must practice with reverence as we interact with each other. They will lead us to engage in extended practice and uninterrupted practice. With virtuous friends like these, we need to show reverence to each other. We also need to make offerings to them. “Making offerings” means giving of ourselves. We must give of ourselves to help each other, show reverence to each other and make offerings to each other. When we do this, this is called “the place to draw near to”. These are the people we should draw near to, the “Virtuous friends who can be drawn near to”.

We need to mindfully seek to comprehend this world and the relationships between people. We want to transform people in the world, but will improper in the world transform us instead? We need to be vigilant and refrain from drawing near to them. We need to choose virtuous friends. Virtuous friends are able to have faith, vows, action, precepts, Samadhi, wisdom and the Six Paramitas. They “actualize the Six Paramitas in all actions” by putting the teachings into practice. People like this deserve our reverence; they are worthy of our drawing near them.

Therefore, we need to draw near to such people. The Buddha was very mindful. He hoped that we could all maintain our spiritual cultivation, especially our spiritual roots. Only when we can properly maintain our. Five Spiritual Roots and Five Powers will [we uphold] the Seven Factors of Bodhi and the Eightfold Noble Path in our daily lives and actions at all times. The 37 Practices to Enlightenment also remind us to be vigilant. In the Chapter on the Practice of. Bring Peace and Joy, the Buddha taught us how to learn the Bodhisattva-path in a safe way. We can learn and put the teachings into practice. In a safe, joyful and happy way. This shows the Buddha’s compassion; He spent so much time and spoke so many words to educate us. We are also grateful to Manjusri Bodhisattva. He was able to initiate the opportunity to request the Buddha to open and reveal the Dharma for us. These are examples of virtuous friends who come to educate us. The Buddha truly put heartfelt effort [into educating us].

The previous sutra passage states, “If such people come with good intentions to places where Bodhisattvas are for the sake of hearing the path to Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas, with a fearless mind, without harboring any expectations, will teach the Dharma to them.”

Everyone should still remember the previous passage. Among people, there are some who have acted improperly in their lives in the past. There are all kinds of ways of life and states of mind, so we need to heighten our vigilance and refrain from drawing near to [such people]. However, in regards to people like this, “If such people” come with reverent intentions to truly seek the Dharma, if they come asking for the Dharma to a place with newly-inspired Bodhisattvas, [they may ask], “How do you practice? What is your direction of spiritual practice? What are Bodhisattvas? How can we benefit all human lives?” In this way, the questions they ask are correct. With sincere intentions, they draw near to us. “Bodhisattvas [teach] with a fearless mind.” Although we are newly-inspired and must care for our spiritual aspirations, when there are people who come to ask us with such sincerity, we should be confident and have “a fearless mind”. We need to have the confidence to expound the Dharma to them. We can teach them the Dharma because we know the Dharma. We are awarded of what we know. Since we know and understand [this], we should take what we know and understand and teach it to them.

However, in our own minds, we also need to be prepared to “not harbor any expectations”. When they ask us for teachings, we should not expect or hope for any particular outcome. We must not do this. This is because we must not harbor any expectations. We must teach the Dharma with our best effort. We do not intend to attain any profit from them. We do not seek fame nor fortune, nor do we dare to expect that once they listen to us, they will put it to use. We do not dare to expect this. When people believe and accept our words and put these words to use, this is a very joyful thing. However, we should not dare to even think about having expectations.

So, we are “not harboring any expectations”. We are just starting to learn and seek the Dharma. We need to be mindful about what we have acquired. When we take the Dharma to heart, we should take what we know and what we understand and teach it to them. With “a fearless mind,” we teach the Dharma. We need to have confidence, but we should not have any expectations while expounding the Dharma to them. In this process, should we [encounter] any “widows, virgins [or] pancakes,” we must “not draw near to any of them”.

As for widows, virgins, and all pancakes, they do not draw near to any of them or become close to them. Also, they do not draw near to slaughterers, butchers, farmers, hunters or fishermen who kill for profit.

The Buddha again cautioned the bhiksus to refrain from approaching these people. When we teach them the Dharma, we must be very dignified. When we teach the Dharma to them, we cannot be flippant. We must not keep drawing near to women, but expound the Dharma to them from a distance. Also, we need to be dignified as we teach the Dharma to them. “Also, they do not draw near to “slaughterers, butchers, farmers, hunters or fishermen who kill for profit”. We should respect but stay away from such people. We do not need to always draw near to them. Because they kill for profit, we cannot transform them. So, we should not go among such people, because we do not yet have a very deep understanding of the Dharma. [Since] we are not yet firm in our spiritual aspirations, we should not get deeply involved in such an environment.

The following sutra passage continues, “As for those who monger meat for a living or traffic in the desire for female beauty, when it comes to people like these, they do not draw near to them. As for those who engage in brutal and dangerous combat or other kinds of sports and amusements and lascivious women and the like, they do not draw near to them at all.

During the process of our spiritual practice, we must be cautious about the desire for women. In many situations, we will be tempted by lust which will cause our mind to scatter. The affection between men and women is truly frightening. In the world, there are all kinds of businesses. “As for those who monger meat for a living or traffic in the desire for female beauty, we cannot draw near to them.

As for those who monger meat for a living or traffic in the desire for female beauty: Mongering meat for a living and so on are not pure actions, so we must distance ourselves from them. Monger: To buy low and sell high. Traffic in the desire for female beauty: This refers to the sex trade.

“As for those who monger meat for a living, they are selling fish or meat. They take lives to sell their meat. So, we should not [draw near to them] or continue to remain in such environments expecting a certain outcome; we must not do that! We must take care of our spiritual aspirations. “Trafficking in the desire for female beauty” is also not allowed because this is not a pure act. “Mongering meat for a living”, selling living beings or killing them for sale, are also not pure acts. So, we should stay away from [people who do this].

They “buy low and sell high”. When it comes to doing business, some people buy goods at a very low price and sell them at a very high price. This business is improper in nature. So, we should also stay away from such improper business practices. As for such people, we also should not come into contact with them.

Also, [there are those who] “traffic in the desire for female beauty. This is very tragic for women. People even sell women. I saw on the news where someone, to make her eyes [look beautiful], applied several layers of color to her eyelids. Also, in order to thicken her eyelashes, she also applied some kind of ointment. She kept applying make-up until it caused an infection in her eyes, which led to an eye disease. Also, she would often curl her eyelashes with a hot iron until one day her lashes broke off and went into her nose. Then, she became very ill. The doctors could not cure her or find the cause. Then it turned out that it was because of one broken lash that had gone into her nose from her eyes and caused her to become ill. Look, this is how women try to please [men] so that they will enjoy watching them. For the sake of physical [beauty], how much money is wasted? How many accessories are wasted on women’s bodies?

The sutras often remind us to be vigilant. This is also what the Buddha taught in the Denouncing Desire Sutra. It also [warns us] like this. The Denouncing Desire Sutra states, “Desire for female beauty is the shackles of the world. Unenlightened beings cling to it, “unable to free themselves. Desire for female beauty is a severe concern in this world. Unenlightened beings cannot escape it even upon death. Desire for female beauty is the tragic disaster of the world. When unenlightened beings meet with this, all hardships will befall them.

The Buddha denounced [the desire for] women, saying that desire for female beauty is the shackles of the world. “Unenlightened beings cling to it, unable to free themselves”. This is because they cling to the female form and are unable to free themselves. He also said, “Desire for female beauty is a severe concern in this world”. [It will cause] people to make mistakes and lead to psychological problems. Therefore, it is “a severe concern”. “Unenlightened beings cannot escape it even upon death”. Because unenlightened beings crave lust, they cannot live without women in their lives. So, people traffic in female beauty. People go to places of entertainment and spend money to satiate their desires for female beauty. This is what unenlightened beings need. They gain satisfaction from the bodies of women.

“Desire for female beauty is the tragic disaster of the world”. [Desire for] female beauty is the source of tragic disasters in the world. If unenlightened beings encounter such [desire], they will be entangled by female forms, so “all hardships will befall them”. This means all kinds of disasters will befall them. If we keep reading the Denouncing Desire sutra, we will feel such great pity! Why is this because of women? Since we came [to this world] as women, once we understand the principles, we must immediately awaken ourselves. We need to learn how to dignify ourselves and put effort into being vigilant. Women [are just as good as] men. Women are equal to men and can be even stronger than men because “Being a mother makes them stronger”. Women can dedicate themselves to humanity by bringing up their children. To raise children to be [useful to society], how much effort do they have to spend? Among the great people in the world, who was not raised by a women? Women should be very firm. Women are just as strong as men; they are even stronger than men. There are things that men cannot do, but women have accomplished them. Everything that men can do, women can do too. Right now, on the international scale, how many female presidents are there? Queens also wield great power. As long as we respect ourselves, we can also be like great men. There is nothing tragic about that! “When it comes to people like these, they do not draw near to them.” As for places that traffic in female beauty and take lives, we should not draw near to them. “If we draw near to killing, we will feed our anger.” If we draw near to lust, we will give rise to desire. If we draw near to female beauty, our mind will give rise to desire. So, we should not draw near to any of them. Speaking of “feeding our anger,” in the past, there was a woodcutter who made a living by selling the firewood he cut.

Every day, he went up to the mountain to work hard to chop firewood. Then, he carried the firewood out to sell it. The money he earned was very little, but the effort he exerted was very great. He sold the firewood in exchange for rice and vegetables. It was such head work. One day, he came back for his meal. He began to complain about how exhausting his life was. He toiled his entire life away just for three meals a day. Now, he came for a meal, but there was no food on the table yet. So, he lost his temper and kept cursing his wife. For no reason at all, the wife got cursed at as soon as he returned. There was no food on the table yet, so she went into the kitchen to scold her daughter. The daughter, for no reason at all, was scolded by her mother. “What happened?” the daughter was also very upset. So, while she was cooking the meal, although she had already added salt, the abuse messed with her head and she added some more salt again. When dinner was served, all three of them sat down and were about to eat. The husband ate rice with the meal. “Ugh, why is the food so salty?” [The woodcutter] was enraged once again. And he began to yell loudly.” After cursing at them, in a rage, he grabbed a machete and went outside. He ran into a group of woodcutters. He was walking in a rage and talking with them. The more he talked, the angrier he got. Because he spoke so forcefully, he forgot he was holding a machete. As he gestured wildly, the machete suddenly flew from his grip. While they were walking uphill and talking, a group of people were passing by downhill right when he threw the machete; accidentally, in his anger, the machete flew out of his hand and wounded a person. That person was no ordinary person. He was the crown prince of a neighboring country injuring the crown prince of the neighboring country was no small thing. So, the neighboring country was very angry, believing that this was a deliberate attempt at murder.

So, they mobilized their troops to annihilate this country. The relationship between the two small nations was originally friendly. But just because of one anger woodcutter who accidentally let this machete fly out of his hands, a war started between the two nations, and many people were killed and injured. This is the human world where a single spark can burn an entire prairie. This fire of anger can lead to calamities in the world.

Now, we often talk about refugees, is this not the same thing? A few people “feed their anger”. Their anger increase, so with one impulsive thought, they issue an order that leads to the suffering of so many people. Therefore, we must be very vigilant. “Feeding anger” comes from drawing near to karma of killing and all these things that we mentioned before. We cannot restrain our mind, so our mind becomes scattered. Then, we “feed our anger” and cannot engage in spiritual practice, confusing our own mind [even further]. From that state, greed, anger and ignorance continuously arise, and we continue to exacerbate the Three Poisons.

The fire of anger is all-consuming, so this is something we need to avoid. The Buddha made many analogies for us. For instance, the Denouncing Desire Sutra uses women as an example to discuss this. Women must awaken themselves and men need to be vigilant. This requires us to be very vigilant. When we draw near to “forms,” we will have desire. With “desire,” there is “greed”. With “anger,” there is “ignorance”. So, we must not draw near to them. As for “those who engage in brutal and dangerous combat or other kinds of sports and amusements,” we discussed them preciously. In the long-form prose. So, in regards to “brutal and dangerous wrestling or combat,” we must also avoid this, because this is all “sports and amusements”.

Outside even if they are not really fighting and are just playing there, these games will disturb people’s minds. Also, as for “lascivious women and the like, they do not draw neat to them at all.”

… lascivious women and the like, they do not draw near to them at all: Those who traffic in sexual desire are selling to make a profit. Now He speaks of those who crave lust. When it comes to people like this, we must never draw near to them.

We lust discussed how sensual desires delude people. In places of entertainment and pleasure, people are trafficking in sexual desire. “Those who traffic in sexual desire are selling to make a profit.” They make money off of desire for female beauty. “Now He speaks of those who crave lust. When it comes to people like this,” we must never draw near to them. Thus, this is what the Buddha reminded us. We must not draw near to them.

The following sutra passage says, “They never go alone into secluded places to expound the Dharma for women. When expounding the Dharma, they do so without joking or laughing. When they go to the village to beg for food, they take another bhiksu with them. Or if there is no bhiksu with them, they focus their minds on the Buddha.”

They need to maintain constant vigilance. How should they interact with women? Women are also human beings. What should they do if they want to expound the Dharma to them? Without approaching them, what can they do? They never go alone into secluded places to expound the Dharma for women: Men who expound the Dharma must be under broad daylight out in the open. A secluded place will invite suspicion of illicit activity, so they should not expound the Dharma in secluded places.

When expounding the Dharma for women, they “must be under broad daylight out in the open.” They should converse with them in a very visible, open location. They must not do this in secluded places, dark corners, in non-public places; they must not be anywhere alone with a woman. Being in secluded places leads to controversies. “Are these two having an affair? What are these two doing alone in that corner, talking amongst themselves?” They must not do this. When they need to converse with a woman, they should do it in bright places, not in dark corners. Being in a dark corner will easily cause people to misunderstand them and accuse them of having illicit affairs. “So, they should not expound the Dharma in secluded places” “When expounding the Dharma, they do so without joking or laughing.”

When expounding the Dharma, they do so without joking or laughing: When they expound the Dharma, it is important for them to be dignified. Joking and laughing does not accord with the Dharma, so they must not do such things.

If we want to talk, we should not joke or laugh; we still need to be very dignified. We must earnestly be very vigilant and remain firm in our demeanor. We need to be very dignified and serious. We must not flippantly joke around and laugh. If we do, then all the teachings that we teach will not be the true Dharma. That is not right. So, we cannot do this; instead, we need to be vigilant. “When they go to the village to beg for food,” when they go into the village to beg for food, “they take another bhiksu with them”. When they go to the village to beg for alms, they must have a companion. They must not do this by themselves. Thus, they need to be very mindful. They cannot simply go to a woman’s family alone to ask for alms or expound the Dharma to her alone.

They should not do that. They should always have a third person who can bear witness for them. So, “When they enter the village, they must take another person along as their companion.” They must have at least two or three people keeping each other company before entering the quiet villages. They need to have companions. So, when we go out, it is best if we have companions with us; we should not enter the village to beg for food alone.

They take another bhiksu with them: When they enter the village, they must take another person along as their companion. When they go to the village to beg for food: Before a bhiksu receives food, he must remember that the purpose of this food is for him to engage in spiritual practice and to cure the pain of his hunger. After he has received food, to return the grace of their giving, he must contemplate the path without ceasing.

“When they go to the village to beg for food…. Before a bhiksu receives food,” he needs to be vigilant. Before a bhiksu begs for alms, he needs to remind himself, “It is for my spiritual practice that I come to ask for food. I need to subdue my arrogance. So, I must create conditions for transformation in the world by going door to door to beg for alms.” So, we need to have this mindset. We do this so we will not be hungry, to “cure the pain of hunger”. When we are hungry, it is like we are ill. Taking food is like taking medicine. We should treat food as our medicine. Medicine can cure illness, while food can cure our hunger. We need to have this mindset. We must not crave flavor, and we must not crave delicious food. Our goal is to fill our stomach so that we have enough nutrients.

So, this is like “curing the pain of hunger”. We treat food as our medicine that cures the illness of our hunger. “After he has received food, to return the grace of their giving, he must contemplate the path without ceasing.” A single grain of rice from our benefactors is [as great as] Mt. Sumeru. We need to have this mindset. Therefore, we need to earnestly return the grace of the giving of our benefactors. In order to return their grace, “we must contemplate the path without ceasing.” We need to diligently keep our spiritual aspirations in mind. This is what we must do when we beg for alms. So, we need to be mindful. In life, if we have to depend on offerings, we must return the grace of our benefactor in this way. To return the grace of our benefactors, we must be very mindful.

“Or if there is no bhiksu with them, they focus their minds on the Buddha.” If there is no one to go with us to the village, we should focus our minds and contemplate the teachings of the Buddha. We must “never allow our thoughts to be scattered.” We need to take the Buddha’s intent to heart. When it comes to what the Buddha taught us, we must take His teachings to heart so we will not break any precepts and rules. So, we “never allow our thoughts to be scattered.” In this way, we are still of one mind, which is the Buddha-mind. The Buddha’s intent is to transform all sentient beings. We must be free of greed and desires.

The next sutra passage states, “These are known as the places of practice and the places to draw near to. By abiding in these two places, they can teach with peace and joy.”

With a vigilant and disciplined demeanor, we must draw near to those we discussed previously. Whenever someone comes to seek the Dharma with good intentions or whenever we want to beg for alms in the village, we need to have this mindset. We must have companions. Otherwise, we must focus our mind on chanting the Buddha’s name. We must maintain this vigilant mindset as we draw near to them. Whether someone wants to hear the Dharma or we need to beg for alms by going to the village, the principle is the same. We need to maintain this vigilant and disciplined demeanor as we draw near to others. By taking these two as our places of practice, naturally, “we will be able to attain peace and joy” and to teach the Dharma. “If we are in any other place,” we must refrain from teaching the Dharma. This mean that when we go to the village, we must be with someone. We must not go into dark corners. We need to be in bright and open places when drawing near to women. We must go to villages with a companion. If we can do this, we will avoid suspicion. We must practice these two things earnestly and vigilantly. If we can be vigilant, we will naturally “be able to attain peace and joy” and teach the Dharma. Otherwise, “If we are in any other place,” in places that are not bright and open and where there is nobody else with us, we should not be teaching the Dharma or begging for alms there. We need to be very vigilant. This is what the Buddha wanted to teach everyone.

The verse above discusses the four places we must distance ourselves from. They are places of slaughter and butchery, brutal and dangerous combat, trafficking in the desire for female beauty, sports and amusement and so on, as well as being alone in secluded places and “teaching the Dharma to women in secluded places.” We must avoid all of these.

If we fail to avoid these places, we will “violate,” transgress against, our rules ad etiquette. We will violate our rules and etiquette. Therefore, we need to be very vigilant. We need to be able to have “a fearless mind.” As we said before, if someone comes to seek the Dharma with good intentions, we need to have a fearless mind to teach them what we know. So, “We admit we know what we know and we admit what we do not know; this is knowing.” We know what we know, so we have no fear; we do not need to be afraid. We will teach them. We have already taken all these teachings to heart. We will teach them what we know. As for the things we do not understand, we do not need to give them an answer. This way, we will have "a fearless mind.” If we can do this, this is “known as the place of practice. Distancing ourselves from unwholesome external conditions and so on is known as the place to draw near to.”

At this stage: To have a fearless mind and so on is known as the place of practice. Distancing ourselves from unwholesome external conditions and so on is known as the place to draw near to. The above explains in general that to distance ourselves from unwholesome external conditions is our place of practice and our place to draw near to.

Unwholesome external conditions, like wrestling and combat, trafficking in lust, or taking lives to making a living are all things to be avoided. Sports, amusements and so on must all be avoided. These are not places we should draw near to. We must not draw near to those unwholesome external conditions. “The verse above” already clearly [distinguishes] what we should distance ourselves from externally. This is already very clear. We must know what we ought to distance ourselves from, and then we must stay away from it. What we should draw near to and what we should put into practice are our virtuous friends; [the Buddha] has already clearly revealed this to us. So, we need to discern these things mindfully. “This is bad; I do not want to get into this.” "This is good; I must seek this out.” If we can do this, naturally, as we spread the Dharma and uphold the sutra, we will be able to be very peaceful and joyful; this is the practice of bringing peace and joy. So, we must always be mindful!

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