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 20180807《靜思妙蓮華》一切法空 無常無斷 (第1408集) (法華經·安樂行品第十四)

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發表主題: 20180807《靜思妙蓮華》一切法空 無常無斷 (第1408集) (法華經·安樂行品第十四)   周一 8月 06, 2018 10:39 pm

20180807《靜思妙蓮華》一切法空 無常無斷 (第1408集) (法華經·安樂行品第十四)

⊙法從緣生,即無有自性。若無自性,即本來不生。因緣和合時,亦無所起。因緣離散,亦無有生滅。是故如淨虛空,常不變易。
⊙一切有為法即是生滅,法若有生滅,應是有為;離因緣之法,湛然無為,應知生滅四相,謂相續有為法。
⊙生滅四相:一、生:相續初名生本無今有名生。二、住:住異於前後相續隨轉名住。三、異:中隨住相轉前後別住名異。四、滅:滅謂終盡住異相續斷名滅。
⊙「不得諸法,不知不見,是則名為,菩薩行處。」《法華經安樂行品第十四》
⊙「一切諸法,空無所有,無有常住,亦無起滅,是名智者,所親近處。」《法華經安樂行品第十四》
⊙以上文觀一切法空等。即真如實相,隨緣非常,不變非斷,不斷不常,果生因滅。
⊙眾生起見凡有二種:一者常見,二者斷見。如是二見,不名中道。無常無斷,乃名中道。

【證嚴上人開示】
法從緣生,即無有自性。若無自性,即本來不生。因緣和合時,亦無所起。因緣離散,亦無有生滅。是故如淨虛空,常不變易。

法從緣生
即無有自性
若無自性
即本來不生
因緣和合時
亦無所起
因緣離散
亦無有生滅
是故如淨虛空
常不變易

用心了解,法是「從緣生,即無有自性」。世間萬法都是從緣生,哪一項東西不是因緣所生法呢?我們在這裡坐,你們在那裡聽,我在這裡說;這個地方,花蓮精舍,現在有一個主堂,我們集合在這個地方,這都是因緣合成的法。時間,過去,在幾十年前,花蓮和慈濟有什麼關係呢?就是一切因緣會合,一念心起,就有這樣來,從西部到東部,從東部又是再因緣會合,所以起一念心,「克難慈濟功德會」開始了。這就是一段的緣,這個因和緣這樣會合起來,因緣會合了,「克難慈濟功德會」,慢慢就人,人、事、物就這樣慢慢產生。過去所沒有的,「小靜思」(精舍大殿),小小的一個建築物完成起來,少少的人這樣來會合,就這樣開始又是一段緣,又再形成。這個因和緣愈來會合,就愈多、愈大了,小小的建築物擴成了到現在,我們有這樣的環境,有這樣的主堂,讓我們在這裡聽,在這裡講,這不就是這個法從緣生呢?若沒有這些因緣,怎麼有這樣的形象、這樣的形態,人、事、物這樣俱全起來呢!

所以,「無有自性」,必定要有人,有因,有緣,這樣來會合起來,不是它這樣自己就有,一定要有人、事、物來合和,法從這樣產生。到現在,在這裡說法,天下多少國家,多少道場,同這個時間在聽法。像是這樣,又是另外時間、時代,科技的時代來完成了一個法,能夠聲音從這裡發,國際間多少的道場,普及到、聽得到,這都是不斷地緣這樣來會合。所以,「法從緣生,即無有自性」。若沒有人的「有為法」去造作,哪有現在的法,存在在這個地方呢?

所以,「若無自性,即本來不生」。法就是道理,就是我們的真如本性。人人有真如本性,大地的事物有它的真如道理;道理、真諦,真諦無體、無形,不過真理自在人心,這叫做真如。真理是共同體會得到,這是對的事情,大家共同贊同、會合。這樣才能夠人這麼多,眾志合一完成了人間的好事,這叫做「有為法」。大家認同的道理,共同出力、共同來做,這叫做「有為法」。道理雖然看不到,真理自在人心,真如人人本具,但是一定要因緣來會合,共同這個道理去進行。

一個人沒辦法做完天下的好事情,天下好事就要天下人會合來做,這樣才能夠成就。所以,「若無自性,即本來不生」,不會自己生,你若將它(因緣)隔離,就沒有再產生互緣的事情。父母會合才能有孩子,同樣的道理,世間種子要有大地,要有土分、水分、空氣會合,也是一樣,這樣的道理,這叫做因緣。所以,「因緣和合時,亦無所起」。因緣會合,你只是說這是土,這是種子,這是水、空氣,這都有在那裡,這個東西雖然會合,若沒有去造作,沒有全部將它混在一起,也是沒辦法。不是說有因、有緣,它就可以這樣會合,也是那個因緣會合要,時,有因、有緣也都要會合有時!

看到,這時候看到很多花,這花,牡丹花,牡丹怎麼開這麼多呢?這麼漂亮,這麼當季。因為它是春,春季所開的花,你能看到,這就表示春來時。這就是要知道,四季有次序,因緣要會合,這要有種種的因、緣、時,這樣會合起來;要不然,有缺一項,它就是沒辦法。所以說因緣會合,要把握當下,這就是「時」,有因緣就是要把握當下。常常說「借力使力」,有這樣的因緣,借這個因緣,趕緊用一個力,這個時間正是「當時」,將它會合起來。要不然,時若過去了,就是種子、土、水分、空氣存在也沒辦法,所以這要好好保把握。一念心也要發在當時,那個時間、那個因緣下,這樣的「當時」,才有辦法會合,所以我們要常常說:「把握當下,恆持剎那」。當下那一念間,因緣成就,趕緊把握,那個把握的一念間,那就是永恆要傳續下去,同樣的道理。

所以,「因緣離散,亦無有生滅」。因緣若離散,原來就是這樣,土歸土,它永遠都是土;種子歸種子,它還是叫做種子。土和種子會合,水和空氣來助緣,這樣這顆種子就成為樹,樹苗、樹芽、樹種,也就樹木,大樹了。一生無量,纍纍的種子就是在這大樹裡,這樣再產生出來。所以因緣,我們若沒有好好把握,因緣若散了,種子歸種子,哪有大樹呢?同樣的道理,我們要用心。所以,「是故如淨虛空,常不變易」。原來就是這樣,虛空歸虛空,大地歸大地,種子歸種子,它就沒辦法因緣將它會合起來。所以,我們因緣會合,就能夠成一切法;一切法就是從因緣生。所以,「一切有為法,即是生滅」,有生,它就有滅。

一切有為法
即是生滅
法若有生滅
應是有為
離因緣之法
湛然無為
應知生滅四相
謂相續有為法

大樹,千年大樹,這棵大樹能夠有千年,還是能有萬年嗎?曾聽人說千年大樹,不曾聽到萬年大樹。要有萬年大樹,是大樹的種子再延續下去;同這棵樹的種子能夠延續,它源源不斷,還能普遍世界。任何一塊土地,只要種子到那個地方去,這棵大樹也會同樣,種子成長在其他的國家;同樣這顆種子,在不同的國家成長起來的樹,和這棵樹是一模一樣。樹長大,是面向十方,沒有前後、左右,大樹就是這樣展開,右邊、左邊,前、後,看它都是一樣。任何一個國家,只要是同樣的一顆的種子,這個種子長成的大樹,大樹再產生的種子能夠延續,長長久久,開闊的世界,都能有這樹種延續下去,這是同樣的道理。

所以,「一切有為法,即是生滅」。有生,這顆種子,拿去別的地方,它同樣又有生,因緣會合。原來這棵樹,千年、幾千年過後,沒辦法到萬年、萬萬年,沒辦法。要這顆種子不斷延續,那就要千千萬萬年,不論多大的國家,它就延續下去,這是相續,但是必定有生滅。「法若有生滅,應是有為」。應該是有為,這顆種子也要人帶,或者是鳥咬著種子,飛啊飛,飛到哪一個國家去,種子落地,它就再生長成這棵樹,要不然就是人為移種,這全都是叫做「有為法」。

我們同樣,這個道理,大家共同認同的真理,菩薩道,大家有相合應的心,會合起來,就共同成就一項好事。不只是在這裡,會延續到很多的國家,多國,很多的國家,能夠普及慈濟的宗門,立在不同的國家裡,成就一項的好事,所以開啟慈濟宗門。這宗門一開,自然它的法脈,也就是這樣去施展,就是這樣的法。是啊,這個法,就是要用心。所以,「法若有生滅,應是有為」,是人為,有這個願力,有這個心意,才能夠將個法展開,成就「菩薩所緣,緣苦眾生」。菩薩,自覺覺他,「我自己得到的法,我再去延續給別人」,共同行菩薩道。這樣就能夠普遍,去廣度無量數苦難的眾生,這是共一念心。

所以,「離因緣之法,湛然無為」。就是大家有為法來付出,宗門啟開了,入人間,做人間事,但是在做人間事,是不是人人自我執著呢?這是你做的,這是他做的,這是我做的,我做我的。我,你也有一個「我」,他也有一個「我」,無量人就有無量「我」,那個我知、我見,個人的我見分歧,若這樣,這個法就會散掉了,就開始,真的要用法脈、精神理念。

「經者,道也」,經就是道理,佛陀所說法,編輯在經典中,遙遠的地方,經典結集在印度,中國多少大德、法師去取經,要經過了一條很懸遠的道路,辛辛苦苦,將所結集的文字經典,這樣辛苦經過絲路,絲路,帶回到大陸。開始編輯,就要說道理,因為經典要將原文再翻譯,翻譯之後要經過人人弘法,用中國的華語來翻譯它,經過口、聲音來弘法,就是叫做說道理。

「道者,路也」,不是只有說而已,說了之後,我們能夠去做,道理就是這樣,慈、悲、喜、捨,這是道理。慈就是予樂,要怎麼樣讓天地間平安祥和,那就要人心調和,倫理道德要建立起來,人心要平和,就要去教育;教育就要講道理,傳法,傳法授業。教育是這樣,何況講經典、傳法脈呢?所以因為這樣,就要和大家說:一切有為法是因緣所成法,沒有大家合起來,哪有團體的菩薩道呢?所以,這些道理要讓大家知道,是我借你的力,你借我的力,彼此借力,來完成我們的心向的力量。我們要去救人,靠我們一個人的力,不夠,我們要靠很多人的力來會合,這叫做「借力使力」,用著大力量,去幫助多數的苦難人,一個人絕對沒有辦法。這個道理我們若知道了,感同身受,我們去付出,看到讓我們幫助的人得救了,我們很歡喜,歡喜的是要感恩,感恩你來幫助,感恩你來幫助,我們大家來幫助,去幫助那些人,完成了離苦得樂。這樣這個因緣,就是無你執著的「我」,無我執著的「我」,是我們大家來完成的。

完成之後,我們大家歡喜啊,這就已經回向回來了,各人回向給各人自己,所得到的就是法喜。這個法喜回歸我們,「離因緣之法,湛然無為」,就回歸無為法,就是這樣,很輕安,很自在,沒有執著的法,付出無所求,感恩啊,這叫做「無為法」。「應知生滅四相,謂相續有為法」。所以佛法教導我們,我們若能了解,佛法裡面的真道理,就回歸到「四相」,「四相」是延續「有為法」,因為有「有為法」,這個「四相」,就是「生、住、異、滅」,是我們的心。

生滅四相:
一、 生:
相續初名生
本無今有名生
二、 住:
住異於前後
相續隨轉名住
三、 異:
中隨住相轉
前後別住名異
四、 滅:
滅謂終盡
住異相續斷名滅

第一,「生」,就是我們的心念,「相續初」名為生,我們的心念,我看到很感動,我發心,我想要做,所以這念心不是只有想而已,我也會想要去做,這「本無今有」名為生。之前我不知道,現在我看到了,我感動了,我想要去做,這叫做「生」,我們的心的一念生。

第二,「住」,我想要去做,這念心我很堅定,過去是沒有的,「住異於前後」。我過去沒有發現到,我不知道。我過去的生活是這樣,日常的生活空空過日子。我現在已經發現到這麼好的法,發現到這麼好的事情,我想要做。這就是我們的心念,在這個和過去不同」。不是我過去空空過日子的心念,我現在是念念都要把握時間,所以前後不同。「住異於前後,相續隨轉名住」,將過去虛幻的人生,變成了現在很踏實,想要去做的,這也是叫做「住」,我現在已經固定,我住在菩薩道這念心。

三,叫做「異」,就是變了,中間「隨住相轉,前後別住名異」。我做得很歡喜,但是,是什麼因緣來了,忽然間我們的道心就被轉動了,現在這念心,和這個很精進那個時候的心念,又有變動了,或者是我們從年輕,我們這樣少年、壯年、中年,一直到老年,儘管我們的心念,是這麼虔誠要做,但是外在的體力、形態,也會慢慢變異。不是外面來變異我們,便是我們的內心變異,內心的變異就是因為什麼因緣,動了我們的道心,變異了,或者是自然的境界,讓我們生老病死的變異,這就是有這個會變,沒有永遠,我們都是這樣。道心要堅定,這要看我們堅定的道心,不受人影響,這還也有可能,能夠常住道心,但是生老病死就不可能,終歸還是會變異。人會老,體力會衰退,最後會往生了,這就是變異。

四,就是「滅」。就是最後會往生,就是人的身體就是這樣,所以「滅謂終盡」。滅就是終了,就沒有這個身體,再住在世間了,就是沒有了,這叫做「住異相續」名為滅,我們這個心念想要繼續下去,這個體形也已經沒有辦法了,不過心念還是永住,只要我們的道心還在,捨此投彼,再隨業,捨此投彼,隨我們內心的緣,再轉去,這一生就已經滅了。

「四相」,大地物理「成住壞空」,身體「生老病死」,心呢?「生住異滅」,這就是「四相」,我們一定要知道。所以這個因緣法,法,我們要很體會了解,所以宗門一定要法脈來永續,永續於他,這就是我們的法脈宗門,可以普天之下無處不在,但是要有這個正知念見,所以我們必定法要延續下去。

前面的文就這樣說:「不得諸法,不知不見,是則名為,菩薩行處。」

不得諸法
不知不見
是則名為
菩薩行處
《法華經安樂行品第十四》

這是我們所說過的,我們要很用心去體會。真的是,說過的法,不要將它忘記。我們應該就是,「不得諸法,不知不見,是則名為,菩薩行處」。不知為不知,才是「是知」。我們凡夫還有很多不懂的,不要想說,「這我懂、那我懂」,我們就說過了,法,諸法有很多很多的名相,我們還不清楚,不了解的還是很多。諸佛菩薩對須彌山的斤兩重量,他們很清楚;海水的點滴的數,他們也很清楚。但是我們凡夫,哪有辦法呢!凡夫的智力總是只是能夠知道,「無量無數」, 須彌山之高,大海水之闊,我們怎麼會知道它的斤兩,我們哪會知道它的滴數呢?唯有諸佛菩薩透徹了解,所以我們要很清楚,自己能夠了解多少,不知為不知,不見為不見,不要「不知謂知,未見謂見」,那就是大妄語。所以我們學佛,要學一個「誠正信實」,這就是我們要老實修行。這樣就是菩薩行處。菩薩,我們新發意的菩薩,我們開始要學,不知,我們就要多問,我們就要勤精進,我們要多聽、多問,這樣我們才有辦法去了解。聽和問,我們要進入,要進去;沒有進去,沒有走這條路,就不知道路的風光,所以要身體力行。

接下來這段文說:「一切諸法,空無所有,無有常住,亦無起滅,是名智者,所親近處。」

一切諸法
空無所有
無有常住
亦無起滅
是名智者
所親近處
《法華經安樂行品第十四》
以上文
觀一切法空等
即真如實相
隨緣非常
不變非斷
不斷不常
果生因滅

「以上文,觀一切法空等,即真如實相,隨緣非常,不斷非斷,不斷不常,果生因滅」。我們要去了解,前面在分析的因緣會合,這都是在法。分開,因緣分開一切都是空,所以「即真如實相」。這個真如實相,我們要了解,「真如實相」,這叫做「真理」。要記得,「真理自住在人心」,這是世俗人常常說的話。這個真理自住在人心,叫做「真如實相」,這在佛法的名詞來說,是「真如本性」。所以「隨緣非常」,我們隨著這個因緣,剛才解釋過,因緣是很重要。「不變非斷」,沒有變,也沒有斷。「不斷不常」,不是「斷」,也不是「常」。尤其是「不斷」,意思就是要日日不間斷。記得嗎?「四修法」要不間斷,要很時常「長時修」、「無間修」、「無餘修」,這叫做不間斷。就像這樣修行,我們就都要不間斷,要常常心在法中,去了解這個因緣法。真如實相,是(會)「隨緣非常」,「不變非斷」。我們身體往生了,敗壞掉了;我們的真理、本性,還是隨著這個因緣到未來,這個道理是永遠存在,真如本性永遠存在。所以,我們是「不斷不常」,就是不要執著是,永遠身體都在的;身體有一天就會不見,但是真如實相還是在;帶著真如實相,乘著未來的因緣,我們又再來了,所以「不斷不常」。

「果生因滅」。這個果若生,那就是因就是滅,「果生因滅」。我過去這棵樹,那粒的種子成為這棵樹,哪怕幾百年後、幾千年後,同樣會滅掉了,那粒種子的這棵樹就沒有了,但是它他的因延續往別處去。剛才說其他的國家,換一個地再去種的種子,這不同。所以說「果生」,外面那個種子又再生起來,那裡面這棵大樹原來的因,這粒種子,因為大樹不見了,所以滅了。這樣,大家不知道聽得懂嗎?這棵樹也是因為種子,所以成長為大樹;大樹年久了,也會滅掉,不過大樹過程的種子,它已經換去到別處了,又再產生起來,所以「果生」,原來這棵母樹就不見了。

眾生起見
凡有二種:
一者常見
二者斷見
如是二見
不名中道
無常無斷
乃名中道

所以,「眾生起見,凡有二種」,這個「見」有兩種,「一者常見,二者斷見,如是二見不名中道」,無常無斷,這才是「中道」。這個 「常見」,有的人就認為:「常」,我擁有的一切,我應該是我永恆永恆,他沒有想到人生壽命苦短,後一代的人,難道能夠和我們一樣,這樣繼續下去嗎?很多「不知」。若沒有法,只是世間財產,更多再更多,一來,你又事業做更大,你能夠享受多久?你的名多久?你的命又是能多久?不知。但是,他認為是「常」,所以這個「常見」,就是做了很多天下的有利,他都佔有了,但是,是不是有對人間,做到了好事嗎?他就是一直爭取他的財、名、利等等,這「常見」,一輩子庸庸碌碌,道理一點都不懂,但是錢就是要再賺更多,名要更大,財產要更多,這樣的「常見」。他不知道無常的日子,在他的身邊,他都不知道。

所以,「二者斷見」。就像這樣,以為這輩子盡我想要做的,我要享受的,所以我不管它後世如何,我不管它什麼因果不因果,我就是一時的享受,我就是盡我所要做的,那就是壞事情做盡了,他也沒有因果觀念。這種的「斷」、「常」,這兩種的見,這也不對。若修行者呢?同樣,有的人以為:「我若做,做因果,就是做善,我就得善報,我就是要做在得善報就好,這樣一直在做得善報,還是我所擁有的」,這沒有要去求道理到底是什麼,這叫做「常見」。有的就是「斷見」,只是想,我獨善其身,修我自己,我沒有要再來,這輩子到此為止,我就沒有要再來了。像是這樣,有這二見存在。

沒有修行的凡夫,那就是極端的份子,而修行的人,就是取得獨善其身,這都是偏。所以,「如是二見,不名中道」。我們修行若是修這樣,不算中道。我們要修學,就是要中道。自己也要修,利益他人,也要行,利己同時利他,利他同時利己,所以我們要行在中道。「無常」、「無斷」,沒有什麼是「常」,沒有什麼是「斷」,這才是叫做「中道」。我們也不用執「常」,也不要執「斷」,我們應該就是付出無所求。佛陀教導我們,「菩薩所緣,緣苦眾生」;苦難的眾生,就是菩薩的目標。所以,我們應該要了解,不是為了自己,修獨善其身;也不是為了自己,懼怕這世間的濁惡,不敢再來,就想要了斷今生,不敢入人群中,像是這樣叫做「斷見」,了脫這輩子的生死。不是這樣。

佛陀告訴我們,這雖然能夠清淨自己,斷除煩惱,但是要入人群去度化眾生,行菩薩道,就是要兼利他人,自利利他,叫做「中道」。我要為眾生入人群行菩薩道,不顧一切,但是我要疼惜我的道心,我要斷去煩惱,我要去掉無明,我要修行,我要持戒,這不是小乘法,就是我們要自身自潔其身,堅定己志,這就是修行。修行不是「常」和「斷」,不是獨善其身,只顧我自己,或者是我要了脫生死,我不要和人在一起,不是這樣。我們不去攀緣,我們不要去攀緣,但是我們要去結眾生的好緣;我們沒有要是非、去攀緣,不要去計較,但是我們為天下眾生,要去度化,這可能都要分得很清楚,我們若一點點偏差,差之毫釐,那就失於千里了。

這個法要說到盡,真的是要用很長的時間。所以我們要用心,去體會、去了解「一切諸法,空無所有,無有常住,亦無起滅」。這些道理我們要清楚。是否清楚了嗎?時間一直過去,我們要了解到清楚,要好好多用心!


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: The Emptiness of All Phenomena (一切法空 無常無斷)
Date: August.07.2018

“Phenomena arise from conditions. This means they do not have independent nature. That which does not have independent nature is inherently non-arising. When causes and conditions converge, there is nothing that arises. If those causes and conditions are dispersed, there is nothing that arises or ceases. Thus they are like the pure and empty void; they are everlasting and changing.”

We must mindfully understand this; all phenomena “arise from conditions,” meaning “they do not have self-nature.” All phenomena in the world arise from conditions. What phenomenon is there that has not arisen due to causes and conditions? As we sit here, you listen from there while I speak from here. Here, at the Jing Si Abode in Hualien, we now have this Great Hall where we have assembled. These are all phenomena that arose from causes and conditions converging. In the past, several decades ago, what was Hualien’s relationship with Tzu Chi? This was a convergence of causes and conditions. A single thought arose [in my mind], and I came from the west [of Taiwan] to the east. There in the east, causes and conditions converged again, and I gave rise to another thought, which [led me to] start the “Tzu Chi Merit Association.” These were the conditions. These causes and conditions came together and through their convergence, the Tzu Chi Merit Association [came to be]. Gradually, people joined, and people, matters and things slowly came into being. We had nothing back then. Our original Jing Si Abode was built, a very small building, and a small number of people began to gather there. From this starting point, further conditions then began to take shape. The more causes and conditions converged, the more [people came] and the more [Tzu Chi] grew. [What began as] a small building has expanded into this [great] space for us. In our Great Hall, we can all listen to and teach [the Dharma]. Isn’t this how phenomena arise from conditions? Without these causes and conditions, how could there be these appearances and these forms, these people, matters and things coming together?

Thus, “They do not have independent nature.” [Such phenomena] require people, causes and conditions to come together like this; they do not come into existence on their own. People, matters and things must come together for phenomena to come into being. Presently, as I am speaking here, there are [people in] many countries who, in their many spiritual practice centers, listen to the Dharma at the same time. Things like this [show that] it is a different time, another era. [Modern] technology brought about this phenomenon where sounds can be broadcasted here and these many spiritual practice centers around the world can all hear it. This is all due to conditions continuously converging. So, “Phenomena arise from conditions”. “This means they do not have independent nature.” If it were not for people creating “conditioned phenomena,” how could these present phenomena ever come into being here? “That which does not have independent nature is inherently non-arising.”

The Dharma is the principles; this is our nature of True Suchness. We all have this intrinsic nature of True Suchness. All things on earth have their own principle of True Suchness. When it comes to the principles and the truth, the truth has no substance or shape, but the true principles are in everyone’s mind. This is our [nature of] True Suchness. The true principles are commonly understood; when it is the right thing [to do], everyone comes together in agreement. This is the only way that so many people with the same aspiration can unite to accomplish good deeds in the world. This is called “conditioned phenomena”. [Based on] principles that everyone agrees on, everyone works and contributes together. This is called “conditioned phenomena”.

We cannot see the principles; the true principles abide in people’s minds, in [the nature of] True Suchness that everyone intrinsically has. But we need causes and conditions to converge; we need people to work together to put these principles into practice. One person cannot do all good deeds in the world. Good deeds in the world are accomplished when everyone comes together. Only in this way can we accomplish anything. So, “That which does not have independent nature is inherently non-arising.” It cannot arise on its own. If we separate causes from conditions, then the mutual conditions [which connect them] will no longer exist. Parents must come together in order to bear children. By the same token, out in the world, seeds need the soil, a place where earth, water, and air come together. The principle is the same. This is what we [mean by] causes and conditions. So, “When causes and conditions converge, there is nothing that arises.” If causes and conditions [do not] converge, we would only have this soil, these seeds, the water and the air there. Though these things exist [side by side], if we do not purposefully combine them, there is no way [for the seed to grow]. Merely having causes and conditions does not guarantee that they will converge. The convergence of causes and conditions also requires just the right timing. During this season, we see a lot of flowers. So many peonies are in bloom! How beautiful and long lasting they are in season! This is because they are flowers that bloom in the spring. We can see [them bloom] because spring has arrived. As we all know, there is an order to the four seasons. For causes and conditions to converge, there must be many different cause and conditions which all come together at the right time. If even one factor is missing, it will not happen. So, if causes and conditions are to converge, we must seize the moment. This is “timing”.

When we have the causes and conditions, we must seize the moment. We often talk about “leveraging each other’s strength”. We have these causes and conditions, so we should make use of them and quickly leverage this power. Such opportunities come “in the moment” for us to bring [causes and conditions] together. Otherwise, if we let the moment pass, then even with the seeds, soil, water and air, they are all of no use. Therefore, we must earnestly seize the moment.

We must form our aspiration in the moment. Only at that particular time, under those particular causes and conditions, “in that moment,” can the causes and conditions converge. This is why we often say, “Seize the present moment and sustain it forever.” We must quickly seize that moment when causes and conditions come together. The moment our aspiration came into our minds is the one we must sustain forever. The principles are the same. “If those causes and conditions are dispersed, there is nothing that arises or ceases.” If the causes and conditions disperse, things will be as they were before. Soil will forever be soil. A seed will go back to being a seed. It will be [no more than] a seed. It is when the soil and seeds converge, with water and air as supporting conditions, that the seed can become a tree. From a seeding to a sapling to a young tree, it can then grow into a large tree. Thus, one gives rise to infinity; this large tree will now produce countless seeds [of its own].

Therefore, when it comes to cusses and conditions, if we do not make the best use of them, the causes and conditions will disperse, and the seed will remain a seed; there can be no tree. The principles are the same, so we must be mindful. “Thus they are like the pure and empty void; they are everlasting and unchanging.” This is how things are originally; if the void remains the void, the earth remains the earth and seeds remain seeds, then causes and conditions cannot come together. So, it is the convergence of causes and conditions which forms all phenomena. All phenomena arise from causes and conditions.

“All conditioned phenomena exhibit arising and ceasing.” If there is arising, then there will be ceasing.

All conditioned phenomena exhibit arising and ceasing. If a phenomenon arises and ceases, it must be conditioned it must be conditioned. As for phenomena that are free from causes and conditions, they are clear and unconditioned. We must understand that the four states of arising and ceasing refer to the continuation of conditioned phenomena.

A large tree can be a thousand years old. If this tree is a thousand years old, can it become a 10,000-year-old tree? We have heard of a 1000-year-old tree but not of a 10,000-year-old tree. For there to be a 10,000-year-old tree, it would have to be the seed [of a former tree]. The seeds from the same tree can carry on in a steady progression and even be spread across the world. On any piece of land, as long as a seed travels there, this tree will [travel there too]. The seed will grow in other countries. The same type of seed that grows into a tree in a different country is still the same as this [original] tree. When a tree grows, it grows in all directions. There is no front or back, left or right. The tree just spreads out. From the right, left, front or back, the tree looks no different. No matter which country it is in, as long as it is a seed from the same tree, the large tree that this seed will grow into will continue to produce more seeds for a very long time. Then all across the vast world, there will be [new generations] of this tree. It is the same principle.

So, “All conditioned phenomena exhibit arising and ceasing.” After arising, this seed is brought to another place. It again begins to grow due to causes and conditions converging. To original tree can last a thousand or a few thousand years, but it cannot last tens of thousands of years. This is not possible. Yet for the seeds that carry on endlessly, it is matter of tens of thousands of years. No matter how big the country is, the seed will carry on just the same. But there still has to be arising and ceasing. “If a phenomenon arises and ceases, it must be conditioned.” This is a conditioned phenomenon because the seed needs to be carried by a person or by a bird in flight. [This bird might] fly into another country, and the seed will fall there and grow into this tree. Or it may be taken and planted there by people. These are all “conditioned phenomena”. The same principle applies to us. There is a true principle that we can all agree on, which is the Bodhisattva-path. Our minds resonate and converge together. When our minds resonate and converge together, we can accomplish good deeds together. This does not only happen here; we have passed this on to many other countries too. [People in] many countries can now spread the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism. By establishing ourselves in different countries, we can achieve this one [mission]. Having established the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism, now that this door has been opened, naturally our Dharma-lineage can spread like this. This is same kind of phenomenon. Yes. When it comes to this phenomenon, we have to be mindful. “If a phenomenon arises and ceases, it must be conditioned”. It is the actions of people with these vows and these intentions that enable the spread of the Dharma and enable “Bodhisattvas to arise for the sake of suffering sentient beings”. Bodhisattvas awaken themselves and others. “The Dharma that I have received, I will continue to pass on to others”. Thus, we walk the Bodhisattva-path together. In this way, far and wide, we can widely transform countless suffering sentient beings. This is our common aspiration.

“As for a phenomenon that is free from causes and conditions, it is clear and unconditioned”. This is when everyone makes use of conditioned phenomena in order to serve others. This school [of Buddhism] has been established, so we go among people to do work in the world. However, in doing these works, do we still have an attachment to our “self”? “You did this. He did that. I did this; I am working on my own [goals]”. You and I have a “self”, he has a “self” and countless people also have countless “selves”. When each person has their own views [based on] their own view of self, they will diverge and the phenomena will begin to come apart. We must truly begin to make use of the spirit of the principles of our Dharma-lineage.

“The sutras are a path”. The sutras are principles; the Dharma taught the Buddha was compiled into sutras. Far away in India, the sutras were compiled. Many virtuous Dharma masters from China went to bring back these sutras. They had to travel a long road, and with great efforts, they brought these collections of sutras back along the silk road to China. Once they started to compile them, they had to discuss the principles in order to translate the sutras from their original language. After translation, they needed people to pass on the Dharma. They translated it into vernacular Chinese, enabling the Dharma to spread by word of mouth.

Thus, the principles were taught. “This path is a road to walk on”. We must not merely talk about them. After talking about them, we must practice them. This is the way of the principles. Loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity are principles. Loving-kindness is giving joy [to others], but how do we keep the world safe and harmonious? We must bring harmony to people’s hearts and establish [a code of] ethics and morality. For people’s minds to be at peace, we must educate them. Education means teaching them the principles and transmitting and passing on the Dharma. [The principles] are taught like this, but what about teaching [entire] sutras or passing on our Dharma-lineage? This is why I want to tell everyone that all conditioned phenomena arise due to causes and conditions. Without everyone coming together, how can we follow the Bodhisattva-path together? These are the principles I want you to know. It is when I leverage your strengths and you leverage mine, when we rely on each other’s strengths, that we can bring to fruition the power of our aspirations. For us to save someone, our individual strength is not enough. We need the combined strength of many people. This is “leveraging each other’s strength. We need a greater power to help so many suffering people; it is impossible for one person to do it. If we understand this principle, we can empathize with them. When we help others and see those we help being saved, we feel joyful. We must be grateful for this joy. “I am thankful that you came to help. Thank you for coming to help!” We all came to help those people, to relieve their suffering so they can attain joy. With these causes and conditions, you are not attachment to your “self” and I am not attached to mine. It was everyone who came together to achieve this. After it is done, we are all joyful. Thus, we have already dedicated the merits. Each person dedicates the merits to themselves, and what we receive is Dharma-joy. This Dharma-joy is returned to us. “As for phenomena that are free from causes and conditions, they are clear and unconditioned. Returning to these unconditioned phenomena, we feel very peaceful and at ease and free from attachments. We give without expectations, and we are grateful. This is what we call “unconditioned phenomena”. “We must understand that the four states of arising and ceasing refer to the continuation of conditioned phenomena”.

The Buddha teaches us that if we [really] understand the true principles within the Buddha-Dharma, [we know they] return to the Four states. The Four States are an extension of [the working of] “conditioned phenomena. There are “conditioned phenomena” [which follow] the four States of “arising, abiding, changing and ceasing”. This [begins in] our minds.

The four states of arising and ceasing: 1. Arising: The initial stage of continuation is known as “arising”. That which originally did not exist and exists now is said to “arise”. 2. Abiding: That which abides is different from what existed before and what will exist after. The state of continuation through changes is called abiding. 3. Changing: As the state of abiding changes, that which does not remain the same from one moment to the next is known as “changing”. 4. Ceasing: “To cease” means to come to an end. When the continuation of abiding and changing comes to an end, this is known as ceasing”.

The first state of “arising” happens in our mind. “The initial state of continuation” is arising. In our minds [we think], “I am touched by what I see. “I am inspired, and I want to do something. So, this state of mind is not just thinking, there is also the wish to take action. What “originally did exist and now exists is called arising. “I did not realize it before, but we pow I see it”. I am moved, and I want to take action. This is called “arising], it is the arising of a thought in our mind.

The second is “abiding”. I want to do [something] so I make up my mind to do it”. In the past, this [realization] did not exist. “That which abides is different from what existed before and what will exist after. I did not notice this in the past. I did not realize it. This was how I lived in the past. Every day of my life was wasted away. Now I have discovered this wonderful Dharma. I have realized something wonderful, and I want to do something about it. Thus, our mindset is not the same as in the past. We no longer pass our days in vain. Now, we only think about seizing each moment. So, there is a different between now and before.

“That which abides is different from what existed before and what will exist after. The state of continuation through changes is called abiding.” Our illusory lives of the past have now become much more down to earth. “I have something I want to do”. This is what we call “abiding”. At this point, our minds are already firm set on our aspiration to abide on the Bodhisattvas-path.

Third is “changing, when things transform”. In the process, “as the state of abiding changes, that which does not remain the same from one moment to the next is known as changing.” We do our work very joyfully, but due to certain causes and conditions arising, our spiritual aspirations suddenly change. Our mindset now has changed from the mindset we had when we were being very diligent. Or this may have begun when we were young, in our youth, into our prime, to middle age and then into our old age. Even though our mindset is so reverent in our desire to do [something], our external physical strength, our bodies, have still undergone gradual changes. If external conditions do not change us, it may be our minds that change. Our minds change because of certain causes and conditions that cause our spiritual aspirations to waver. Or perhaps our natural conditions cause us [to go through] the changes of birth, aging, illness and death. These kinds of changes will happen also. It is impossible to say that we will forever remain the same. Our spiritual aspirations must be strong, but it depends on us to stand firm in our spiritual aspirations so as not to be influenced by others. Of course, we may [feel that] we can sustain our spiritual aspirations forever, but birth, aging, illness and death make this impossible for us. Ultimately, we will [undergo] change. As people age, their physical strength declines, and in the end, they will pass away. This is change. Fourth is “ceasing”. This means that eventually we will pass away. This is how the human body is. Thus, “’To cease’ means to come to an end.” “To cease” means to come to an end; our physical bodies cannot continue to abide in the world. They will no longer be here. “When the continuation of abiding and changing comes to an end,” this is known as ceasing. Even when our mind wants to continue on, our physical form can no longer do so. However, our aspirations can abide forever as long as we keep them present [in our minds]. When we leave this life for the next, we follow our karma and our affinities into the next life, and this lifetime ceases to exist. The “Four States” [are] principles of matter in this world, their “formation, existence, decay and disappearance, as well as our body’s [process of] birth, aging, illness and death”. And what about our minds? [Our thoughts] “arise, abide, change and cease”. These are the “Four States”.

We must understand [this]. So, these teachings on causes and conditions are something we must comprehend and understand well. So, the Dharma-lineage is needed in order to sustain our school of Buddhism forever. Then, our Dharma-lineage and school of Buddhism can become widespread throughout the world. However, this requires having the right understanding and views. [This is how] we must pass on the Dharma.

The previous sutra passage says, “There are no phenomena for them to attain, nor do they have any understandings or views.” This is called the Bodhisattvas place of practice.”

We talked about this previously. We must earnestly seek to comprehend it. Truly, we must not forget the Dharma that we have talked about in the past. [Our mindset] should be that there are no phenomena for us to attain, and we must not “have any understandings or views”. This is called “the Bodhisattvas’ place of practice”. Only by admitting what we do not know do we begin to “know” anything. We ordinary beings still have much that we do not understand. We must not think, “I understand this, I understand that.” We have said before that the Dharma takes many names and appearances, so the things we do not clearly understand are still very many. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas know the weight of Mt. Sumeru very clearly.

They also know very clearly the number of drops of water in the ocean. But how could we ordinary beings know this? With our own knowledge, we can only know that these are “countless, infinite numbers”. When it comes to the size of Mt. Sumeru or the vastness of the ocean, how can we know its weight or how many drops of water it contains? Only Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can clearly comprehend these things So, we must recognize very clearly how much we can understand. We should admit what we do not know and admit what we cannot see. We must not say we ”know what we do not know” or “see what we do not see”. Those would be great lies. So, as Buddhist practitioners, we must learn sincerity, integrity, faith and steadfastness. This requires that we sincerely engage in spiritual practice. This is the Bodhisattvas’ place of practice. As newly-inspired Bodhisattvas, when we begin learning and we do not understand something, we need to ask more questions. We must be earnest and diligent. We must listen more and ask more, for only then can we begin to understand. We must listen and ask. We must enter [the path] and processed along it. Without entering or following this path, we will never see its beautiful views. So, we must put it into practice.

The next sutra passage says, “All phenomena are empty and without existence. They do not permanently abide, nor do they arise or cease. This is known as the place people of wisdom draw near to.

We must be very mindful of “the passages above”. We must be very mindful of “the passages above Contemplating all phenomena as empty refers to the ultimate really of True Suchness. As [phenomena] follow conditions, “It is beyond eternalism. As [principles] are unchanging, It is beyond nihilism.” So, it is beyond eternalism abd nihilism. As the fruit arise, the causes cease.

We should understand that the previous explanation about causes and conditions converging is talking about phenomena. If we separate causes and conditions, then all [phenomena] are empty .This is “the ultimate really of True Suchness.” We must understand the “ultimate reality of True Suchness”. The “ultimate reality of True Suchness” is what we call true principles”. We must remember that “The true principles are within people’s minds.” This is a common saying. These true principles are within people’s minds. They are the “ultimate reality of True Suchness”. In the Buddha-Dharma, this is called “The intrinsic nature of True Suchness.”

So, “As [phenomena] follow conditions, it is beyond eternalism.” We follow our causes and conditions. As we explained previously, causes and conditions are very important. “As [principles] are unchanging, it is beyond nihilism”. [Principles] do not change or end. “So, [True Suchness] is beyond eternalism and nihilism”. Neither “nihilism” or “eternalism” [applies]. In particular, “beyond nihilism” means that it is continuously uninterrupted. Do you remember? The Four Practices must not be interrupted. We must always engage in “extended practice, uninterrupted practice” and “practice with nothing further”. This is what it means to be uninterrupted; this is how we should engage in spiritual practice. So, we must not interrupt [our practice]. [We should] constantly keep our mind on the Dharma to understand this law of cause and effect. Regarding the ultimate reality of True Suchness, “[phenomena] follow conditions, [so] it is beyond eternalism. As [principles] are unchanging, it is beyond nihilism.” When our body dies, it begins to rot away, but the true principles and our intrinsic nature still follow our causes and conditions into our future [lifetimes]. This principle is everlasting. Our nature of True Suchness always exists.

Thus, we go “beyond eternalism and nihilism”. This means we must not cling to [the idea that] our bodies will always exist. Our bodies will be gone one day, but the ultimate reality of True Suchness remains. We bring this ultimate reality of True Suchness with us as we follow our causes and conditions into the future by returning [to this world]. Thus, we are “beyond eternalism and nihilism. As the fruit arises, the causes cease.” If this fruit arises, then its causes cease. “As the fruit arises, the causes cease”. As for this tree I [spoke of] before, how that seed became this tree, after a few hundred or thousand years, [the tree] will be gone as well. The tree that came from that seed will be gone, but its causes continue on elsewhere. We talked before about going to other countries to plant seeds in different places. When we say “as the fruit arises,” this means a seed has sprouted again elsewhere. The great tree that [produced] this cause, this seed, has now ceased because the tree is gone. Does everyone understand what I mean by this? This great tree grew up from a seed. After a long time, the tree will cease as well, but the seeds [that came] from this tree will have already gone elsewhere and multiplied. Thus, “as the fruit arises,” the original mother tree has ceased.

So, “Sentient beings generally give rise to two kinds of views”. There are two kinds of views.“ The first is the view of eternalism. The second is the view of nihilism. Neither of these two views is the Middle Way. To go beyond eternalism and nihilism” is [to walk] “the Middle Way”.

In the “view of eternalism,” some people believe in “eternalism”. “All of what I possess should be mine for all eternity.” [Such people] do not consider how short life is. Will the next generation be like us and carry on [our legacy]? There are many “understandings”. If they do not have Dharma, they are only accumulating worldly wealth and growing their businesses. How long can they enjoy [these riches]? How long will their fame last, and how long will they live? This is unknown. Yet, such people feel it is “eternal”. With this “view of eternalism,” they do many things for worldly profit and take possession of [anything they desire]. But have they done good deeds for the world? They just continue to strive for more wealth, fame and fortune etc. With their “view of eternalism,” they hustle and bustle their entire lives. They do not at all understand the principles. Instead they want to keep making more money and have more fame and more wealth, all because of this “view of eternalism”. They do not realize that impermanence is always [lurking nearby]. They do not realize this. “The second is the view of nihilism”. People like this believe that whatever they want to do in life, they should enjoy themselves. So, they do not care about the next life, nor whatever karmic retributions there may be. “I just want momentary pleasures and to do whatever I want to do.” Thus, they do whatever bad things they want. They have no concept of cause and effect. These [views] of “etrnalism” and “nihilism,” these two types of views, are both incorrect. What about spiritual practitioners? There are some people who likewise think, “If I practice cause and effect and do good deeds, I will have good retributions. I just want to do this to attain good retributions. I will continue to do it and attain good retributions. This is all I [want]”. They do not want to seek the principles. This is [also considered] a “view of eternalism”. Other people have a “view of nihilism”. They only think, “I just want to practice for my own benefit. I do not plan on returning. Once this life ends, I do not want to return”.

In this way, these two views exist. Ordinary people who do not engage in spiritual practice are at one extreme, while those who engage in spiritual practice to benefit themselves are at the other extreme. “Neither of these two views is the Middle Way.” If this is the way we practice, it is not the Middle Way. If we want to engage in spiritual practice, we must follow the Middle Way. While we work to cultivate ourselves, we must also practice to benefit others. We benefit ourselves while we benefit others; while we benefit others, we also benefit ourselves. Therefore, we must practice the Middle Way by going “beyond eternalism and nihilism”. [We must not believe things last for] “eternity,” but [we must also not be] “nihilistic”. Only then will we [follow] the “Middle Way”. We do not need to cling to “eternalism” or”nihilism”. What we must do is give without expectations. The Buddha teaches us that “Bodhisattvas arise because of suffering sentient beings.” Suffering sentient beings are those Bodhisattvas [seek to help]. So, we should understand that we must not practice solely for our own benefit. Nor should we fear for ourselves [amid] the turbidities and evils of this world such that we do not dare to return. Wanting to end [our practice after] this life because we fear going among people is called the “view of nihilism”. Seeking to escape samsara in this lifetime is not the goal. The Buddha told us that although we can purify ourselves and eliminate our afflictions, we must also go among people to transform sentient beings. Walking the Bodhisattva-path means benefitting others. To benefit ourselves and others is called “the Middle Way”.

We must go among people and walk the Bodhisattva-path for the sake of sentient beings. We are unafraid of everything, but we must cherish our spiritual aspirations. We must eliminate our afflictions and ignorance. We must engage in spiritual practice and uphold precepts. This is not the Small Vehicle Dharma. We must purify our bodies and minds and strengthen our spiritual aspirations. This is our spiritual practice. Spiritual practice is not about “eternalism” or “nihilism”. It is not about only benefiting or only caring for ourselves. Nor is it saying, “I want to escape this cycle of birth and death. I do not want to be with people.” This is not the case. We should not contrive affinities, but we should form good affinities with sentient beings. We must not start conflicts, contrive affinities or take issue with things. For the sake of sentient beings in the world, we must go out to transform them. We may have to clearly define this for ourselves; if we deviate even a little, it will take us far off course.

To finish expounding this Dharma will truly require a very long time. So, we must mindfully seek to comprehend that “all phenomena are empty and without existence. They do not permanently abide, nor do they arise or cease.” We must clearly understand these principles. Do we clearly understand them? Time continues to pass; we must keep learning until we clearly understand. We must always be mindful.

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