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 20181224《靜思妙蓮華》彌勒騰疑 佛說壽量 (第1507集) (法華經·從地涌出品第十五)

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20181224《靜思妙蓮華》彌勒騰疑 佛說壽量 (第1507集) (法華經·從地涌出品第十五) Empty
發表主題: 20181224《靜思妙蓮華》彌勒騰疑 佛說壽量 (第1507集) (法華經·從地涌出品第十五)   20181224《靜思妙蓮華》彌勒騰疑 佛說壽量 (第1507集) (法華經·從地涌出品第十五) Empty周一 12月 24, 2018 4:39 am

20181224《靜思妙蓮華》彌勒騰疑 佛說壽量 (第1507集) (法華經·從地涌出品第十五)

⊙佛悟覺天體真諦道,說法弘經,能修之人從地涌出,諸菩薩眾是佛之所化度;彌勒騰疑故問,世尊自說壽量,竭盡本懷誓願,以顯本跡之妙。
⊙彌勒疑時期難信,言我等因從佛聞,信佛真實不妄語,深信不疑於此事,惟此以少時間教化無量菩薩令住不退菩提之道,是事難信,願佛為未來世解說,免致懷疑謗法招罪。
⊙「我等從佛聞,於此事無疑,願佛為未來,演說令開解。」《法華經從地涌出品第十五》
⊙「若有於此經,生疑不信者,即當墮惡道,願今為解說。是無量菩薩,云何於少時,教化令發心,而住不退地。」《法華經從地涌出品第十
五》
⊙以上<安樂行品>及<從地涌出品>,一明所行之行,一明能行之人,均為總明一乘,之行,以上釋竟。故須有此如來壽量品。
⊙方便智慧無量,譬喻善巧無量,藥草法雨無量,化城劫數無量,寶塔分身無量,地涌菩薩無量。
⊙本自願力,隨眾生機緣示生、示滅,願緣無盡即示現無盡。顯佛壽量無有期限,即以顯佛究竟功德之果相。
⊙如來從無量劫,現無量身,入無量土,演無量法,化無量眾,皆是方便。
⊙言我弟子自當護持;下方空中悉聞奔會。眾見此等即生疑心,以問於佛:為從何來?
⊙世尊答言:是我所化。遂疑世尊成佛在近,所化者眾,非初心人,故開壽量以決群疑。
⊙我久遠劫來,實已成佛。今云成者,唯是方便為眾生故,現滅不滅,實不滅度,唱言滅耳。

【證嚴上人開示】
佛悟覺天體真諦道,說法弘經,能修之人從地涌出,諸菩薩眾是佛之所化度;彌勒騰疑故問,世尊自說壽量,竭盡本懷誓願,以顯本跡之妙。

佛悟覺天體真諦道
說法弘經
能修之人從地涌出
諸菩薩眾
是佛之所化度
彌勒騰疑故問
世尊自說壽量
竭盡本懷誓願
以顯本跡之妙

要多用心啊!前面〈涌出品〉已經告一段落了,現在出來開始要用心,〈壽量品〉,「跡門」過去,「本門」開始,入正統本門,要更用心。佛如何來人間?不是在現在此生,是在過去、過去無量劫前;我們不要「執近迷遠」,要讓我們清楚「遠」,遠時是如何開始,所以我們這時候就要很用心!「佛悟覺天體真諦道,說法弘經」。常常說,佛陀修行,出皇宮,五年參訪,六年苦修,最後菩提樹下夜睹明星,瞬間眼光與星光接觸了,突然之間覺性與天體會而合一,天地萬物、一切真理完全了然了、體悟了這個真諦的道。天體之間,天下萬物沒有物的道理不了解,沒有世間一切形相與性不清楚,這是佛陀覺悟,諸法入佛覺性慧海裡,所以佛他所了解很多。

如何能夠將他的心得,和大家分享呢?人人皆有佛性,這種的感覺,天地之間,「心、佛、眾生、三無差別」,只是在「覺」和「迷」的界限裡。迷,要如何讓大家,體會、了解呢?所以要用心。眾生的根機要隨機逗教,設方便法,開始,世間,人與人之間體會得到,最容易體會得到,那就是苦。任何一個人都是有苦,哪怕是富貴、享受,他也有他的苦啊,苦在他的心。

有很多大自然不如意境,大自然,四季──春、夏、秋、冬,這冷熱、晴雨,是好天、是下雨,這大自然的境界,有時候不是人有辦法可為。古時代熱就是熱,冷就是冷,雨天或者是風大,這也有!又再人人逃不過,生、老、病、死,愛別離、怨憎會等等、求不得,這富貴的人還是一樣,在這個大自然人間中過,業境現前還是一樣苦。何況在貧,一般的人總是苦的境界更多,貧而病又老、又是孤單,這樣的人更是苦,苦上加苦的苦。就像這樣,這樣的人這麼多苦,當然佛陀就以「苦」來為開頭。是啊,人人都感受得到的苦,再來分析苦是如何開始、如何集合起來的。不論是生理,生理上的苦,或者是物,物理上的苦,或者是心理上的苦,佛陀他就一一將這個苦的源頭,一一來分析。苦,能夠解決,什麼方法解決?修行。你透徹道理了,透徹了道理,了解了以後,什麼事情應該了解,就自在,自在就輕安了。

所以,教我們如何輕安自在之道,那就是要「滅」,從苦的源頭開始找出來,一項一項去將它滅。這些苦,再用很明顯的語言,那就是煩惱、就是無明、就是惑。這種煩惱、無明、惑,我們是要如何能夠解決,這一段一段解決的方法,是修行來,要看根機,什麼樣的根機,能夠接受這樣的道理;我們若能夠接受,一段一段這種的擔憂,我就沒有了。煩惱,煩惱在人與人之間,人與人之間,造成了「愛別離」、「怨憎會」;而若再了解了、開通了,這種的無明,也不會再繼續執著了。

沒有自心的煩惱,沒有人我是非的無明,自然就能夠引導入了這個因緣,「十二因緣」,開始將他引導進來,了解一切十二因緣中,「一念無明生三細,境界為緣長六粗」。這樣的道理,開始佛陀來分析,就是那個一念無明,從這個無明、行、行、識等等,這樣一直延續下來,這因緣要了解。了解了因緣,自然我們就能夠知道人間無常,無常、苦、空;「空」,再進一步,那就是「妙有」。是啊,從這樣一段一段,讓我們漸漸明白清楚,我們現在已經知道「空」,真空;「妙」,妙有。

我們已經十五品過去了,每一品中都有它的重點,一直分析過來。我們這時候要知道這法的源頭,佛陀說過去,用種種譬喻言辭、種種因緣,這樣來為我們分析,看我們的根機分析。現在我們應該,那個「跡」,跡門 ,我們已經走過來,現在要入「本門」的時代,要讓我們知道,知道我們到底,修行要多久的時間,所以前面一直告訴大家,記憶要記住,過去就已經開始說時間觀念。修行,我們已經,佛陀很坦白告訴我們,要用長時間,不是用時間算,是用「劫」算,「劫」波,長時間。時間多長?過去也一直和大家分享過了。時間從人壽十歲來算,經過一百年增一歲,一百年再多一歲,一直這樣一直增、一直加,加到人壽八萬四千歲。這個「增」劫之時,開始懵懂的人間慢慢了解道理,慢慢上軌道,人間有次序,一片祥和的愛愈來愈增加,所以人壽,生命就愈來愈長。一直到極長之時,人心浮動,開始就又有這樣的浮動了,慢慢這個道德觀念,慢慢、慢慢減少,長時間,人道慢慢走樣了。

所以壽命,劫數同樣,也就是這樣,又再慢慢,百年減一歲,百年減一歲,一直減。我們的人間,現在人壽不過百,平均七八十歲,平均。這種一直減下去,雖然我們現在看,好像壽命平均有比較長,沒有比較長。看,大自然的氣象,極端氣候,這大地慢慢在損壞了,何況人命保障;尤其是人心,慢慢已經處在危機險難時,這人禍不斷,不斷造成,可怕的時代。所以,悠游自在的人生,會慢慢會減,是會愈來愈縮短,危機重重,不論是天災、人禍,所以這個時候總是這樣,在「減劫」中。

我們要趕緊把握時間,這百年減一歲的壽命,大家聽來覺得,這樣還有時間,一百年人壽才減一歲,其實時間苦短,佛陀的時代就開始人間苦短了。所以,佛陀感慨無常,是真實無常,無常的時代一直一直浮現出來。所以,佛陀看到人間疾苦,這個時候正是需要要,要人人啟發覺性,要重新啟發,要不然是真實來不及;這個道理,若沒有再繼續延續下去,愈來愈是大自然與人心的生態,一直不同,所以法一定要一直趕緊傳,到了最後,還有這個因緣,這個法它會再重盛起來。就又開始培養道德觀念等等,愛的理念就慢慢再成長起來,這大家要用心。

我們要把握,把握現實,時間能夠淨化人心,能夠培養自己的慧命,「是日已過,命亦隨減」,生命是不斷這樣減少掉,我們慧命不斷要增長起來。所以,我們還是要學佛、修行,好好老實修行。佛陀覺悟「天體真諦道」,也「說法弘經」,經過了華嚴世界,他的心性覺海、悟性,用這樣的心境,保持在他的心裡,要如何來面對芸芸凡夫的眾生,他要發揮他的智慧,所以弘法,要「說法弘經」。所以,「能修之人從地涌出」。願意修行的人,從無始劫、塵點劫前開始,十六王子的時代,發大願,就生生世世人群中在說法弘經,這些因緣不斷累積,到達「能修之人從地涌出」。

這些大菩薩就是成果,這些諸大菩薩,是長久以來所結緣、所教化,能接受的人,這已經成就了,這就是「能修之人」,他們已經成就,現在在靈山會湧出了。這些菩薩眾,這些都是,釋迦佛無量、無量劫前,一直陪伴、一直教化,現在已成就,湧現出來的。所以,彌勒菩薩也相信,但是,他就是恐怕後面的人,後世的人無法相信。所以,「彌勒騰疑」,他故意顯出了疑問,他的懷疑是含意很深,為了顧我們現在。

佛陀的時代顧未來的眾生,就是我們現在,若沒有彌勒「騰疑」來問,佛陀就沒有說了。這就是彌勒菩薩這樣,用問難的方式來問,這是「彌勒騰疑」。我們要很感恩。「彌勒騰疑故問,世尊自說壽量」。因為彌勒菩薩騰疑,所以他就問世尊,世尊,佛就開始自說,說「壽量」。我們現在接下去,要說的〈(如來)壽量品〉,他就是要「竭盡本懷誓願,以顯本跡之妙」,他要敘說那個本懷。佛陀的心,我們要能夠體會佛心很難,佛陀自己就要說出來他的心理,修行、成佛那個感覺,要如何走近眾生,說出了眾生能夠接受、能夠體悟的法。他就要敘說他的內心的心意,以及他久遠來的誓願,所修的行,身、口、意,還要立弘誓願,他要來解釋。這樣就「顯本跡之妙」,從他開始要修行那念心和經過,顯跡人間,與這些菩薩結緣的過程,這就是彌勒菩薩所以「騰疑」。

彌勒疑時期難信
言我等因從佛聞
信佛真實不妄語
深信不疑於此事
惟此以少時間
教化無量菩薩
令住不退菩提之道
是事難信
願佛為未來世解說
免致懷疑謗法招罪

彌勒菩薩,他要說的疑就是:佛成就時間不是很久,而說,這些都是我化度的弟子。所以,彌勒菩薩這樣提出疑問了。彌勒與當場的人,大家也再說,「我等因從佛聞,信佛真實不妄語」。他們也要表達:不是我們不相信,表達我們的根機,我們相信佛說話絕對是真實,沒有妄語,儘管我們對法還未很了解,但是我們很相信佛的人格,所說的話絕對沒有虛言。「佛說什麼,我們相信什麼。」,「儘管我們還未真正體悟,但是我們就是相信,只是對這件事情,佛成佛的時間不是很長,怎麼能夠成就這麼多的大菩薩」,唯有這項,「少時間教化無量菩薩,令住不退菩提之道」,就是這項,這很難信啊。

所以懇請佛,「為未來世解說」。要趕緊為未來世的人來解說,免得未來想要修行的人,無法了解,在那裡迷、在那裡懷疑,一切的煩惱都是從疑心起,所以這個「疑」,就是眾禍端的起源。而我們要成就道業是以「信」,「信為道源功德母」,若是煩惱的源頭,就是從「疑」,懷疑,有了懷疑就生出種種煩惱,這個煩惱,因為不信,他就會誹謗;若誹謗正法、妙法,這毀法罪業就很重了。這是請佛要教菩薩法,這段很重要,但是要讓人人深信。這是彌勒菩薩,要求佛陀詳細解說。

所以,彌勒菩薩這樣說:「我等從佛聞,於此事無疑,願佛為未來,演說令開解。」

我等從佛聞
於此事無疑
願佛為未來
演說令開解
《法華經從地涌出品第十五》

這段文,彌勒菩薩很明顯說:「我們都了解,我們都相信佛所說的法,但是,佛啊,要為未來的眾生來講說,未來的眾生無法了解,請佛要為他們講說。要不然,這個經典讓後代的人來生疑,不信就容易造業墮惡道。所以懇請佛為未來眾生來解說。」

若有於此經
生疑不信者
即當墮惡道
願今為解說
是無量菩薩
云何於少時
教化令發心
而住不退地
《法華經從地涌出品第十五》

「是無量菩薩,云何於少時,教化令發心,而住不退地?」這麼多的菩薩,怎麼能夠在佛成就,就能夠感化這麼多人,這麼堅固的道心,而發心就能夠這樣,一心住不退地,若不是修行道心堅定,長時間的磨練,哪有可能呢?這就是〈從地涌出品〉,最後的文。這段文,彌勒菩薩已經清楚表達出來,那就是已經結束了。

以上<安樂行品>
及<從地涌出品>
一明所行之行
一明能行之人
均為總明一乘之行
以上釋竟
故須有此
如來壽量品

所以,我們就要知道,以上有〈安樂行品〉,〈從地湧出品〉。〈安樂行品〉,前面也是又再重複告訴大家,要記得:人間要弘經,困難重重,這個正法要在人間流傳,要經得了重重的考驗;因為這個世界是堪忍的世界,人心很複雜,這個地方、這個世間也又另外一個名,叫做「五趣雜居地」。在這個世間之上,有天的環境,這些享受、富有的人,就像在享受天福;也有人間的環境,就像我們人間,也沒有很苦,也沒有得很享受,這是一般人間的境界。也有不巧那個心造到惡業,這惡業的結果是地獄,不論是過去生所造的,由不得自己來人間,這種人間地獄的人生,也有啊。還有,還有不守規矩的人,這種違規、犯戒,這種的人不守人道規則,與畜生一樣,這樣的人就像畜生道一樣,沒有在說人倫道德。在人間,這樣的人也有,所以人間畜生道。還有餓鬼道,餓啊,沒得吃;或者是病了,吃不下。但是餓啊,感覺很難過,這種像在餓鬼道裡面,有食不能食,有東西無法吃,或者是沒有東西,就是這樣在飢餓中。

現在人間有多少的,缺糧、缺食的人間有多少。看看,難民也好,或者是很貧困、貧困的國家,很落伍的國家,貧、病、災難、飢餓都有,累積在一起,整個國家很多這樣的人普遍,就像這樣他們也是在人間。所以這是一個人間,生活環境不同的感受,這叫做人間五趣,也叫做堪忍的世間;在這五趣之中,就是堪忍,這就是世間。

所以說起來,世間,我們要如何去弘法呢?會遇到的、面對的,有種種的困難,〈安樂行品〉,佛陀就開始警惕我們:「你若發心要弘法,你會遭遇多少多少的環境,會受誹謗、受排斥、受無明,這種的無奈,這總是很多很多。」佛陀告訴我們。幸好文殊菩薩趕緊來向佛說:「佛陀啊,既然有這麼多這麼多的困難,佛陀是不是能夠告訴大家,如何避免這個困難,心理如何去克服這個困難?」佛陀才開始說出了〈安樂行品〉。〈安樂行品〉,身、口、意等等,我們全都要用,而且要立弘誓願。

而且我們更要了解,「大慈悲為室,柔和忍辱衣,諸法空為座」,這全都是這樣為我們一步一步,安定我們的心,啟發我們的心,還能夠指導我們如何用心,「(一明)所行之行」,那就是說法。這就是在〈安樂行品〉。甚至〈安樂行品〉的後面,也教我們日常生活中,心念都要隨時就要發菩薩心、行菩薩道,不(只)是日日,分秒中,培養這愛心、菩薩心,連睡也都要精進,做夢也會夢到聽法、說法、修行等等,這在〈安樂行品〉我們說過了。記憶,要記得。接下來的〈從地涌出品〉。哇,菩薩一直來、來、來,這些菩薩到底是如何來的?他們行什麼道?原來「六度萬行」,這個菩薩道是這些菩薩,「六度萬行」這樣走過來的路,是佛陀給他們的方向,讓他們開一條道這樣走過來。所以讓我們很明白,這些菩薩的現前,他就是知道方向,懂得開道,「六度萬行」之道這樣走過來。

「能行之人」。不只是知道方向、開道,還能夠將路鋪得很好,讓很多人很多人,同時來走這條路,走得安穩,這就是〈從地涌出品〉,我一直強調方向、開道、鋪路,這就是我們要「能所」。我們所要修的就是菩薩道,我們能夠走的就是康莊、平坦的道路,那就是菩提道,安穩不退轉,這就是大菩薩道。所以這是在〈從地涌出品〉,所要強調,也就是顯「本門」的開頭。所以全都是「為總明一乘」。佛陀在《法華經》,最重要的就是教菩薩法,要教我們如何去行菩薩法,「唯有一乘法,無二亦無三」。不論是過去用方便,只是要接引人人的方向,所以方便來教化。來到這裡,就是唯有一條路,康莊大路才能夠到佛的境界,所以「明一乘道」,走路就是要走在這個菩薩道上。

所以,這就是前面,從〈安樂行品〉、〈從地涌出品〉,告一段落了,所以就知道這個道,要接下去是什麼,「本門」之中是要如何修行。這個起頭的一念心──莫忘初心,彌勒菩薩他要讓我們後世的人,更加清楚,這念開始發心,向康莊大路方向要去開道、要去行道那個開頭。這個〈如來壽量品〉,就要開始了。所以,〈如來壽量品〉是在《法華經》的第十六。

我們前面,我們說過的,很重要的〈方便品〉,就是顯出智慧無量,大家要記得哦!

方便智慧無量
譬喻善巧無量
藥草法雨無量
化城劫數無量
寶塔分身無量
地涌菩薩無量

<方便品>智慧無量,〈譬如品〉呢?就是「善巧無量」,要用種種的方法,善巧來引導,譬喻、言辭種種,「九部法」來和大家說話,引導人人能夠相信。到〈藥草喻品〉呢?那就是「法雨無量」,三根,這三草二木,全都一雨皆潤,這不論大棵樹、小棵樹,法雨一下,大小都能夠得到滋潤,〈化城喻品〉,就是強調劫數、時間,應該還記得,塵點劫的時間,我們應該要再記得。這個初發心、大乘心,在大通智勝佛的《法華經》,十六王子那個體悟,發心行菩薩道,時間從塵點劫開始,所以「劫數無量」,「若算師,若算師弟子,數不能盡」。這樣的時間,而〈(見)寶塔品〉呢?開始就是在集分身,無量菩薩開始就一直來了。〈(見)寶塔品〉,佛陀集他的分身佛回歸了,這就是表示法將要歸位了。

那段時間也一直這樣告訴大家,很多很多如法修行,修行法,應如是法而來人間,這是諸佛菩薩,來來回回在人間的方法,是佛的法身。法身能夠普遍,盡虛空、遍法界,這就是分身,無量分身佛回歸到這靈鷲山來,在這個道場上面,坐道樹下。<從地涌出品>,看,這些菩薩還一一向分身佛,菩提樹下分身佛禮拜,這就是敬佛、敬法,這所有的佛和法很俱全,修行的人也已經集會來了,這已經很明顯的靈山會具足了。我們應該要很用心去體會。這些事情,其實就像這樣一層一層,佛陀的重點,《法華經》所要教育,有次序這樣一直下來,重點我們要記得、了解。

所以,「本自願力,隨眾生機緣」。眾生的根機、眾生的因緣,這樣不斷來人間。示生也示滅,來到人間生生世世,有生、有滅之時。

本自願力
隨眾生機緣
示生、示滅
願緣無盡
即示現無盡
顯佛壽量無有期限
即以顯佛
究竟功德之果相

所以,「願緣無盡」,這個發願,生生世世發願、生生世世來人間,所結的緣愈來愈多,所以因、緣愈來愈大。未成佛前,要先結好人緣,所以度的眾生愈來愈多,成熟的人也愈來愈多,所以他示現人間愈來愈密集,就是無盡。「顯佛壽量無有期限」,佛陀來人間,沒有期限,隨時示生、隨時示滅,不論長或短。我們人間的生命,就是無法控制長短,但是佛來人間也長短不一,隨因緣而來、而去。「即以顯佛究竟功德之果」,來來回回,一次一次,把握因緣度化眾生。因緣一段落,他就示滅再重新來,這就是佛來人間的次數,要說多少,無法計量。

如來從無量劫
現無量身
入無量土
演無量法
化無量眾
皆是方便

所以,「如來從無量劫,現無量身,入無量土,演無量法,化無量眾,皆是方便」。累生累世來人間,都是郤隨機應緣來人間,來度化眾生。所以因為這樣,在〈(從地)涌出品〉大家在懷疑,懷疑這是從哪裡來,佛就回答:「這些是我的弟子,我所教化。」他這樣的回答,所以彌勒菩薩才會說:「這樣我們懷疑……。」這段文大家應該都要記得。

言我弟子自當護持
下方空中悉聞奔會
眾見此等即生疑心
以問於佛:
為從何來

所以,「言我弟子自當護持」。「還有啊,很多,這都是過去成就,是我度的弟子。」還記得前面他方來的菩薩,告訴佛陀,「請佛您允許我們來娑婆世界,來度化」。佛陀「止!止!」,「停止,我娑婆世界,自然就有這麼多的弟子來弘法,你們大家很好意,我娑婆世界,有這樣的弟子能夠承擔。」大家應該記得。這些弟子長久以來度化,他們這時候從地湧出,就是要表示護持、表示承擔的意思。所以,這些弟子都在下方空中,就是在中道,不執上、不執下,也不執左右兩邊,他們就是在中道,這些全都向來都是在,行中道在度眾生。聽到說,我有弟子,我這個地方他們自己會去護持,聽,聞到這個聲,所以從地湧出,應該我們還記得那個情景。所以,「眾見此等即生疑心,所以在場,本來在場在聽法,看到忽然間從土地上湧出起來,這麼多、這麼多的菩薩,所以才會說懷疑,才會要請問,這就是一段的因緣,我們一定要記得。所以,「世尊答言:是我所化」。

世尊答言:
是我所化
遂疑世尊成佛在近
所化者眾
非初心人
故開壽量以決群疑

大家在問,世尊,佛就回答:「這些就是也是我度的弟子。」所以因為這樣,大家「騰疑」,就是有疑,「遂疑世尊成佛在近」,大家就執著在:佛成佛也才是四十多年,怎麼會度這麼多人?所以,大家就用這樣的疑,這個「近」,這叫做「執近迷遠」。他們就沒有去想到,佛在過去有說過「長遠劫」,他們已經又忘記了,所以說聽法就是要記得。

所以,「所化眾」。過去以來不斷不斷累積,生生世世無量世、無量劫,這樣一直度化過來,累積,所以這些不是初發心的人,是久以來就一直累積,也能行道的人,現在已經成大菩薩了。所以因為這樣,大家還沒有很清楚,為了未來,「故開壽量」,又再有延續,〈(如來)壽量品〉,要來解決未來的人,說他們會有懷疑。不要懷疑,就是這樣。

所以,「我久遠劫來,實已成佛」。不是現在才成佛,我是久遠劫就來了,成佛只是一個方便示現而已,其實覺性是久遠劫來本有。

我久遠劫來
實已成佛
今云成者
唯是方便為眾生故
現滅不滅
實不滅度
唱言滅耳

在〈化城喻品〉開始就說了,我們的佛性無始無終,本來我們就是了,只是我們迷了而已。但是佛就是那個時候,開始就覺悟,累生世度眾生,累積,能夠在這個時候完成,來教菩薩法。所以,「今云成者,唯是方便為眾生故,現滅不滅」。現在大家的面前,我年紀大了,我就是入涅槃了;其實我是永恆,我不是這樣就滅掉,這只是,只是現人間相而已,「實不滅度,唱言滅耳」。

總而言之,力量就是這樣不斷、不斷累積,我們的智慧也是要這樣,生生世世這樣累積。所以,「四智」,我們轉(前)五、六、七、八識,為「四智」,轉(前)五識為「成所作智」,轉六識為「妙觀察智」,轉七識為「平等性智」,轉八識為「大圓鏡智」。是啊,這就是我們日日生活,在這個意識中,所造作一定要到與法會在一體,這與法會在一體,那就是沒有說長或久,總是一會,那就是永恆。所以,我們大家要時時多用心!


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Maitreya’s Doubts and the Buddha’s Lifespan (彌勒騰疑 佛說壽量)
Date: December.24.2018

“After the Buddha awakened to the universe and the path of truth, He expounded the Dharma to spread the sutras. Those who had been able to engage in spiritual practice emerged from the ground. These Bodhisattvas were transformed by the Buddha. Maitreya raised doubts and asked questions. The World-Honored One spoke of His lifespan and fully described His original intent and vows to reveal the wondrousness of the intrinsic and the manifest.”

We must be very mindful. The Chapter on Emerging from the Ground has come to an end. Now we must mindfully begin [a new chapter]. This is the Chapter on the Tathagata’s Lifespan. The teaching of the manifest is over, and now the teaching of the intrinsic begins. As we enter the official teaching of the intrinsic, we must be even more mindful. When did the Buddha come to this world? He came not only during this lifetime, but throughout infinite kalpas of past lifetimes. We must not be “attached to what is near and deluded about what is distant.” Let us understand “what is distant” clearly, how this all began in the distant past. So, at this time, we must be very mindful.

“After the Buddha awakened to the universe and the path of truth, He expounded the Dharma to spread the sutras.” We often talk about the Buddha’s spiritual practice, about how the left the palace, visited religious teachers for five years and engaged in ascetic practice for six years. At last, from beneath the Bodhi tree, He saw the bright star in the night. In an instant, His eyes met the star. Suddenly, His enlightened nature became one with the universe. The true principles of all things in the universe became completely clear to Him, and He awakened to the path of truth. Throughout the entire universe, there is no principle He did not understand and no worldly appearance or nature that He was unclear about. This is how the Buddha attained enlightenment and how all phenomena entered into the ocean of His enlightened wisdom. The Buddha came to understand so much. How could He share His insights with everyone? He realized that everyone has Buddha-nature, that in this world, the mind, the Buddha, and sentient beings are no different [in their nature]. The only difference is the boundary between “awakening” and “delusion”. How do we help everyone realize and understand the nature of delusion? We must mindfully guide sentient beings in accordance with their capabilities and employ skillful means. In this world, from the very beginning, what people experience among people and are mostly likely to come to understand is [the principle of] suffering. Everyone experiences suffering. Even people who live rich, comfortable lives experience suffering. The suffering is in their hearts. Very often, nature does not go our way. Nature has four seasons, spring, summer, autumn, winter. Is it cold or hot, sunny or rainy? Is it a good day? Is it raining? Nature’s conditions are not something humans can change. Since ancient times, there have always been [the extremes] of hot and cold weather, the rain and the wind. Moreover, no one can escape [the suffering of the cycle of] birth, aging, illness, death, parting from loved ones, meeting those we hate and not getting what we want. This is true for the wealthy, who also live in this natural world and, when karma manifests, suffer all the same, not to mention for the poor; the average person endures even more suffering. If someone is poor, ill, old and alone, they will suffer even more. Their suffering is compounded by more suffering. Since people endure so much suffering, naturally, the Buddha decided to begin by teaching about “suffering”.

Indeed, all people experience suffering. He explained how suffering begins and how it accumulates. Whether the suffering is physiological, physical or psychological, the Buddha analyzed the source of each type of suffering one by one. We can put an end to suffering. How can we put an end to suffering? Through spiritual practice. Once we thoroughly realize the principles and we understand all matters, we will feel at ease. When we feel at ease, we will be at peace. So, [the Buddha] teaches us how to be peaceful and at ease; this is the cessation [of suffering]. We start by identifying the sources of suffering. Then we eradicate them one by one. He also used clear language to describe these sufferings, these afflictions, ignorance and delusions. Such afflictions, ignorance and delusions, how can we resolve them? The way to resolve these, one by one, is through spiritual practice. We need to determine what kind of capabilities people have that enable them to accept such principles. If we can accept [the principles], our worries will gradually disappear in stages. Afflictions arise among people, among our relationships, resulting in [suffering from] parting from loved ones and meeting those we hate. If we understand and see things clearly, we will no longer cling to our ignorance. When we are free of our bodily afflictions and the ignorance of interpersonal conflicts, we will naturally be able to guide people through [the teachings of] cyclic existence, the 12 Links of Cyclic Existence. We will begin to guide them to understand that amidst the 12 Links of Cyclic Existence, “An ignorant thought creates the Three Subtleties” and “External states lead to the Six Coarse Marks”. The Buddha began to analyze these principles. [It all begins with] a single thought of ignorance. Ignorance leads to volitional formation, which leads to consciousness and so on, continuing on [through the cycle]. We must understand this cyclic existence. Once we understand it, we will naturally come to understand that this world is impermanent; it is impermanent, full of suffering and empty. If we go a step further from “emptiness,” we will reach “wondrous existence”.

Yes, one [teaching] after another, we will slowly come to understand clearly. Now we know about true emptiness and wondrous existence.

We have been through 15 chapters so far. Each chapter has its key points, which we have analyzed throughout. We must come to understand the Dharma’s source. In the past, the Buddha taught [the Dharma] by using various analogies, expressions and causes and conditions in order to explain it to us in accordance with our capabilities. Now that we have finished the teaching of the manifest and are about to enter the teaching of the intrinsic, [the Buddha] wants us to know how long we must spend engaging in spiritual practice.

This is why I have been telling everyone that we must commit these things to memory. I have already spoken about the concept of times before. Spiritual practice, as the Buddha very frankly told us, takes a very long time. It cannot be measured in [years], but must rather be measured in kalpas. A kalpa is a long time. How long? I have explained this to everyone many times. Starting with a 10-year human lifespan, the lifespan increases by 1 year after 100 years increasing by 1 year after every 100 years. This lifespan continues to increase until the human lifespan reaches 84,000 years. During this “increasing kalpa,” people in this ignorant world slowly begin to understand the principles and gradually get back on the right track. This world becomes orderly. This field of love and harmony grows and grows, and human lifespan become longer and longer. Once [the human lifespan] reaches its extreme people’s minds begin to grow unstable. Their moral values slowly deteriorate. Over a long period of time, humans slowly stray from the path. So, in the same way, the human lifespan slowly decreases. It decreases by 1 year every 100 years, continuously decreasing. In today’s world, most people do not live past 100. The average lifespan is around 70 to 80 years. It will continue to decrease.

Although these days we see that the average lifespan seems to be increasing this is not really the case. Look at nature’s extreme climate patterns. This earth is slowly being destroyed, not to mention its ability to sustain human life. Worst of all, people’s minds are slowly entering a state of crisis. They ceaselessly create manmade calamities which make these times very terrifying. So, our carefree lives will slowly diminish. People’s lifespans will grow shorter and shorter. Crises are compounding, be they natural disasters or manmade calamities. This is just how things are in a “decreasing kalpa”. We must make the most of our time. If our lifespan reduces by 1 year every 100 years this might sound like we still have a lot of time. “We only lose 1 year every 100 years!” But in fact, time is painfully short. Ever since the Buddha’s time, life has been painfully short. So, the Buddha lamented impermanence, for impermanence is our reality. Impermanence keeps emerging throughout the ages. The Buddha saw that the world is full of suffering. At that time, it became necessary for Him to again inspire everyone’s awakened nature. If not, it would have been too late. If we do not keep passing down this principle, the state of nature and the human mind will grow increasingly at odds with one another. So, we must quickly keep spreading the Dharma so that these causes and conditions will still be there in the end for this Dharma to flourish once again. We must also start to nourish these moral values and so on so that the ideal of love will slowly start to grow again. For this to happen, we all need to put in the effort. We must make the most of this reality. Over time, we can bring purity to our minds and nurture our own wisdom-life. “With each passing day, we draw closer to death.” Our life is constantly diminishing, but we must constantly grow our wisdom-life. So, we should keep learning from the Buddha and earnestly engage in spiritual practice. After the Buddha awakened to “the universe and the path of truth, He expounded the Dharma to spread the sutras”. Having experienced the Avatamsaka state, He held the ocean of His enlightened nature within His heart.

How was He supposed to face the countless unenlightened sentient beings? He had to make use of His wisdom. So, He had to spread the Dharma by “expounding the Dharma to spread the sutra”. Then, “Those who had been able to engage in spiritual practice emerged from the ground”. Those who had been willing to practice had been practicing since Beginning less Time, dust-inked kalpas ago. In the era of the 16 princes, they made great vows to expound the Dharma and spread the sutras among people throughout lifetime after lifetime. They constantly built toward these cause and conditions. By the time “those who had been able to engage in spiritual practice emerged from the ground”, these great Bodhisattvas were His achievement. These great Bodhisattvas had formed affinities with and were transformed by [the Buddha] over a long period of time; they were able to accept the teachings and had been brought to fruition. They had been able to engage in practice and had achieved fruition, and now they emerged at the Vulture Peak Assembly. These Bodhisattvas had all constantly been accompanied, taught and transformed by Sakyamuni Buddha throughout countless kalpas. Now they had achieved fruition and emerged [from the ground]. Maitreya Bodhisattva actually believed in this, but he feared that people in future generations might not be able to believe in it.

Thus, “Maitreya raised doubts”. He deliberately raised doubts. His doubts carried a deep meaning due to his concern for us in the present. In the Buddha’s time, they were concerned for future sentient beings, that is, for us in the present. Had Maitreya not raised these doubts, the Buddha would not have responded. This was how Maitreya Bodhisattva requested [the Dharma] by asking difficult questions. Thus, “Maitreya raised doubts”. We should be very grateful to him. “Maitreya raised doubts and asked questions. The World-Honored One spoke of His lifespan”. Maitreya raised doubts and asked the World-Honored One questions. The World-Honored One, the Buddha, then began to speak of His lifespan. Now, let us continue with the Chapter on the [Tathagata’s] Lifespan. In the Chapter on the [Tathagata’s] Lifespan, He “fully described His original intent and vows to reveal the wondrousness of the intrinsic and the manifest”. He wanted to describe His original intent.

The Buddha’s mind is something very difficult for us to realize. The Buddha wanted to describe His state of mind, the experience of spiritual practice and attaining Buddhahood as well as the way to approach sentient beings and teach in such a way that they could accept, understand and realize the Dharma. He wanted to describe His inner intent, His vows from long ago, the spiritual practices He engaged in through His body, speech, mind and great vows. This is what He wanted to explain. So, He “revealed the wondrousness of the intrinsic and the manifest”, beginning with initial aspirations and the course of His spiritual practice, the process by which He manifested in this world and formed affinities with these Bodhisattvas. This is why Maitreya Bodhisattva “raised doubts”.

Maitreya doubted the length of time, as this was difficult to believe in. He said, “Since we have all heard about this from the Buddha and believe that the Buddha speaks the truth and never lies, we have deep faith in this matter without doubts. It is just that He has taken such a short time to teach and transform countless Bodhisattvas and enable them to abide in the state of non-retreating on the Bodhi-path; this matter is difficult to believe in [Maitreya] hoped that the Buddha would explain this for the sake of the future world to prevent people from incurring transgressions through doubting and slandering the Dharma.

The doubts Maitreya Bodhisattva raised were about how it had not been long since the Buddha attained Buddhahood, yet [the Buddha] still said, “These are all my disciples whom I have transformed”. So, Maitreya Bodhisattva raised doubts about this Maitreya and the others at the assembly also said, “We have all heard about this form the Buddha and believe that the Buddha speaks the truth and never lies”. They also said, “It is no that we do not believe, it is just that our capabilities [are limited]. We believe that whatever the Buddha speaks is the absolute truth, free of falsehoods. Even though we have yet to fully understand the Dharma, we have deep faith in the Buddha’s character and in that He will never say anything false. Whatever the Buddha says, we will believe in it. Although we have yet to fully understand, we still have faith. It is just that this matter [is hard to believe]. The Buddha only attained Buddhahood a short while ago, so how could He have brought so many great Bodhisattvas to fruition? This is our only [doubt]. It is just that He has taken such a short time to teach and transform countless Bodhisattvas and enable them to abide in the state of non-retreating on the Bodhi-path. It is this matter alone that we find truly difficult to believe!”

So, they sincerely asked the Buddha to explain for the sake of the future world. Please explain this right away for the sake of people in the future, lest those who aspire toward spiritual practice in the future fail to understand and end up dwelling in delusion and doubt”. All afflictions stem from doubts. So, doubt is the source of all calamities; thus, to complete our spiritual cultivation we must have faith. “Faith is the source of the Way, mother of merits”. The source of afflictions is doubt. With doubt comes all kinds of afflictions. These afflictions will lead us to slander [the Dharma] from lack of faith. If we slander Right Dharma, the wondrous Dharma, we will commit severe karmic transgressions.

The Buddha was asked to teach the Bodhisattva Way. This part is very important, but everyone needs to have deep faith. This is why Maitreya Bodhisattva asked the Buddha to explain this in detail.

So, Maitreya Bodhisattva said, “We all heard this from the Buddha, so we have no doubts about this matter. But I hope that the Buddha will expound it for people in the future so they can open their minds and understand”.

In this passage, Maitreya Bodhisattva clearly stated, “We all understand and believe in the Dharma the Buddha teaches. However, Venerable Buddha, You must explain this for the sake of future sentient beings. Future sentient beings will be unable to understand this. Please explain this for them. “Otherwise, this sutra may cause future generations to give rise to doubt. Without faith, they will easily create negative karma and fall into evil realms. So, we sincerely request that the Buddha”.

Regarding these countless Bodhisattvas, how could You, in such a short time, teach and transform them, helping them give rise to spiritual aspirations and abide in the state of non-retreating?

There are so many Bodhisattvas! “Since attaining enlightenment, how could You have possibly transformed so many people? They have such strong spiritual aspirations. In forming aspirations, they have been able to whole-heartedly abide in the state of non-retreating. Without strong spiritual aspirations refined over a long period of time, how could this be possible? This the Chapter on Emerging from the Ground’s final passage. In this passage, Maitreya Bodhisattvas clearly expresses [these doubts], bringing the chapter to and end.

The previous Chapter on the Practice of Bringing Peace and Joy, along with the Chapter on emerging from the Ground, explain the practices that must be practiced while also explaining the people capable of practicing them. Both explain the One Vehicle Dharma in general. The previous explanations have reached a conclusion, so it is necessary to have this. Chapter on the Tathagata’s Lifespan.

So, we should know about the previous Chapters on the Practice of Bringing Peace and Joy and on Emerging from the Ground. The Chapters on the Practice of Bringing Peace and Joy reminds us repeatedly that we will encounter numerous difficulties. To spread this Right Dharma in the world, we must withstand various trials, because this is the world of endurance. People’s minds are so chaotic. This place, this world, also has another name, “the place where the Five Destinies coexist in this world, there are heavenly conditions and comforts. Rich people live as if they are enjoying the riches of heaven. There are also worldly conditions for us [average] human beings. We do not live in extreme suffering, and we also do not live in extreme comfort. These are the conditions for the average person. There are also those who have, unfortunately, created negative karma, and the fruit of this negative karma has led them to a hellish [existence]. Whether or not they created this in a past life, they returned to this world beyond their control. There are people living in hell on earth. There are also-those who do not abide by the rules. They violate the laws and precepts such people do not abide by human ethics; they are like animals. These people live as if they are in the animal realm, and pay no heed to ethics or morality. People like this exist in the world as well. So, [some people] in this world live in the animal realm. There is also the hungry ghost realm. They are either starving and have nothing to eat or they are ill and unable to eat but are hungry and miserable but are hungry and miserable. This is like living in the hungry ghost realm. There is food, but they are unable to eat it, or there is no food at all, and they must simply starve. How many people in the world today are lacking food?

Look at refugees and impoverished people from poor countries or underdeveloped countries, suffering from poverty, illness, disasters and starvation! It all builds up, affecting entire countries and so many people everywhere. There are also people like these in the world. So, although we all live in this one world we experience such different living conditions. this is why it is called the world where the Five Destinies [coexist] or the world of endurance. Amidst these Five Destinies, we must be enduring. This is the nature of the world. Speaking of which, how do we spread the Dharma in a world like this? We will encounter and must find a way to face all sorts of difficulties. In the Chapter on the Practice of Bringing Peace and Joy, the Buddha already warned us about this. “If you aspire to spread the Dharma, you will encounter all sorts of [adversities]. You will be slandered, discriminated against and suffer the ignorance [of others]. There will always be so many hardships like these”.

This is what the Buddha told us. Fortunately, Maitreya Bodhisattvas asked the Buddha right away, “Venerable Buddha, since there will be so many difficulties, can the Buddha please tell everyone about how we can avoid these hardships and how we can overcome them mentally? It was then that the Buddha began expounding the Chapter on the Practice of Bringing Peace and Joy. The Chapter on the Practice of Bringing Peace and Joy is about how we must use of our body, speech and mind as well as make great vows. We also need to deepen our understanding of how great compassion is the room, gentleness and patience and the clothing and the emptiness of all phenomena is the seat. This entire [chapter] guides us step by step, easing our mind and inspiring our hearts guiding us in how to be mindful. It explains the practices that must be practiced in order to teach the Dharma. This is in the Chapter on the Practice of Bringing Peace and Joy.

Later on in the chapter, it even teaches us that in our daily lives, at all times, we must form Bodhisattvas-aspirations and walk the Bodhisattvas-path. Not just on a daily basis, but in every second, we must nurture this love and our Bodhisattvas-aspirations. We must be diligent even in our sleep. In our dreams, we will dream of listening to the Dharma, teaching the Dharma, spiritual practice and so on. We discussed this during the Chapter on the Practice of Bringing Peace and Joy. Please bear this in mind so you will remember it.

Next was the Chapter on Emerging from the Ground. Wow! Bodhisattvas kept coming and coming. How did these Bodhisattvas come about? Which path did they walk? They had always actualized the Six Paramitas in all actions. The Bodhisattvas-path is the path that these Bodhisattvas walked upon as they actualized the Six Paramitas in all their actions. This is the direction the Buddha gave them, opening this path for them to walk on. So, this enable us to understand why these Bodhisattvas emerged. They knew the direction and how to clear the path and walked it while actualizing the Six Paramitas in all actions. They were “the people capable of practicing, not only did they know the direction and how to clear a path, they were also able to pave this path very well, enabling many, many people to walk this path together safely and steadily. This is in the Chapter on Emerging from the Ground. I have always stressed [that we must] know our direction, clear the way, and pave the path. This means we must do everything we can. We must cultivate the Bodhisattva-path. We can walk upon this broad, smooth path, the Bodhisattva-path. Safe, steady and non-retreating, this is the great Bodhisattva-path. So, the Chapter on Emerging from the Ground emphasizes this and also begins to reveal the “teaching of the intrinsic”.

So, both [of these chapters] “explain the One Vehicle Dharma in general”. The Buddha’s most important intent behind the Lotus Sutra was to teach the Bodhisattva Way and teach us how to practice it. “There is only the One Vehicle Dharma, there is no second or third vehicle”. It does not matter if He utilized skillful means in the past, so long as they guided everyone in this direction. So, He taught and transformed with skillful means. Once we reach here, there is only one way forward; only this broad path can lead us to the state of Buddhahood. So, He explained the path of the One Vehicle. The path we must walk is this Bodhisattva-path. So, the previous Chapter on the Practice of Bringing Peace and Joy and the Chapter on Emerging from the Ground have come to an end.

So, we know where this path will lead us next and how we must practice according to the teaching of the intrinsic. We must not forget our initial aspiration, the one we formed at the beginning. Maitreya Bodhisattva wanted to help us, the people of future generations, to more clearly understand that once we begin to form aspirations, we must clear the way in the direction of this broad, great path, and we must begin to walk this path.

Now begins the Chapter on the Tathagata’s Lifespan. The Chapter on the Tathagata’s Lifespan is the 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. A chapter we previously discussed, the very important Chapter on Skillful Means, demonstrates [the Buddha’s] infinite wisdom. Let us recall it once again.

The Chapter on Skillful Means speaks of infinite wisdom.
The Chapter on Parables speaks of infinite skillfulness.
The Chapter on Medicinal Plants speaks of infinite Dharma-rain.
The Chapter on the Conjured City speaks of infinite kalpas.
The Chapter on the Stupa of Treasures speaks of the infinite manifestations of the Buddha.
The Chapter on Emerging from the Ground speaks of infinite Bodhisattvas.

The Chapter on Skillful Means speaks of infinite wisdom. The Chapter on Parables speaks of infinite skillfulness. [The Buddha] used all kinds of methods to skillfully guide people through analogies, expressions and so on, teaching everyone through the Nine Divisions of Teachings and guiding everyone so that they could believe. What about the Chapter on Medicinal Plants? It speaks of the “infinite Dharma-rain”. The three kinds of capabilities, the three plants and two trees, are equally nourished by the rain which falls on them all. Be it a large tree or a small tree, when the Dharma-rain falls, both trees will be nourished. The Chapter on the Parable of the Conjured City emphasizes kalpas and time. We should recall again how the time [that has passed] is dust-inked kalpas. We should recall this again. [The Buddha’s] initial Great Vehicle aspirations began when Great Unhindered Buddha taught the Lotus Sutra, when the 16 princes awakened and formed aspirations to walk the Bodhisattva-path dust-inked kalpas ago. So, [this took] “infinite kalpas. Neither a mathematician nor his disciples” could ever calculate how long this time was.

And the Chapter on Seeing the Stupa of Treasures? It starts with the gathering of the Buddha’s many manifestations, when infinite Bodhisattvas began to arrive. In the Chapter on Seeing the Stupa of Treasures, the Buddha summoned His manifestations to return. This represents the Dharma returning to its proper place. While [we were discussing this chapter], I kept telling everyone that there are many ways to engage in spiritual practice according to the Dharma. [The Buddha] came to this world in response to the Dharma of Suchness. These are the methods all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas employ as they repeatedly return to this world. The Buddha’s Dharma-body can manifest everywhere throughout the universe and all Dharma-realms. These are His multiple manifestations. The Buddha infinite manifestations returned to the Vulture Peak and attended this Dharma-assembly, where they sat beneath the trees [of treasures].

In the Chapter on Emerging from the Ground, we saw these Bodhisattvas pay their respects to the Buddha’s manifestations beneath the trees [of treasures] and paying their respects to the Buddha and the Dharma. All the Buddhas and the entirety of the Dharma were in one place. The spiritual practitioners had also assembled. It was apparent that the Vulture Peak Assembly was very complete. We should mindfully seek to comprehend this. These events actually go through the Buddha’s key ideas level by level. Everything the Lotus Sutra aims to teach is ordered in this way. We must recall and understand these key ideas.

So, “Based on His own power of vows, ‘He manifests according to sentient beings’ capabilities and conditions”. In accordance with sentient beings’ capabilities and conditions, He returns to this world ceaselessly. He manifests birth and cessation. As He returns to this world lifetime after lifetime, there are times of birth and cessation.

Based on His own power of vows, He manifests according to sentient beings’ capabilities and conditions. His vows and affinities are endless, so His manifestations are endless. This shows that the Buddha’s lifespan is limitless, and also shows the fruition of the Buddha’s ultimate merits and virtues.

So, “His vows and affinities are endless”. He makes these vows throughout lifetime after lifetime. As He comes to this world lifetime after lifetime, the affinities He forms grow more numerous, and His causes and conditions become greater. Before attaining Buddhahood, first He had to form good affinities. So, He transforms more and more sentient beings and brings more and more people to fruition. Thus, His manifestations in this world grow more and more frequent, without end. “This shows that the Buddha’s lifespan is limitless”. The Buddha comes to this world without limitations. He can manifest birth and cessation any time, whether [His lifespan] is long or short. We cannot control how long our lives will last. The Buddha also comes to this world for varying lengths of time. He comes and goes according to karmic conditions. “This shows the fruition of the Buddha’s ultimate merits and virtues”. Back and forth, time and again, He seizes the opportunity to transform sentient beings. As these conditions come to an end, He will manifest cessation and return again. This is how many times the Buddha has come to the world. How many times is this? This cannot be measured.

Hence, “For countless kalpas, the Tathagata manifested infinite forms, entered infinite lands, expounded infinite Dharma and transformed infinite people. These are all His skillful means.”

He came to this world throughout many lifetimes, all with the intent to transform sentient being according to their capabilities and conditions. Thus, in the Chapter on Emerging from the Ground, people harbored doubts about where [these Bodhisattvas] had come from. The Buddha answered, “These are my disciples whom I have taught and transformed.” His answer prompted Maitreya to say, “In that case, we have doubts.” We should all remember this passage.

He said His disciples should protect and uphold [the Dharma]. [The Bodhisattvas] in the empty space below heard Him and rushed to the assembly. Upon seeing these Bodhisattvas, [people at the assembly] all gave rise to doubts, so they asked the Buddha, “Where did they come from?”

So, “He said His disciples should protect and uphold [the Dharma].” [He said], “Furthermore, the many people here are all my disciples whom I transformed in the past.” We should still remember how, previously, the Bodhisattvas from other lands asked the Buddha, “Venerable Buddha, please permit us to come to this Saha World to transform [sentient beings].” The Buddha said, “Stop, stop. Stop. In the Saha World, it is only natural that my many disciples here will spread the Dharma. You all mean well, but the Saha World is the responsibility of my disciples here.” Everyone should remember [this part]. These disciples had been transformed long ago. At that moment, they emerged from the ground to express their intentions to protect and uphold [the Dharma] and undertake this mission. These disciples were from the empty space below, which meant that they abided in the Middle Way. They were not attached to above or below, nor to left or right. They abided in the Middle Way. They had always walked the Middle Way to transform sentient beings. They heard [the Buddha] say, “I have disciples here who will protect and uphold [the Dharma].” When they heard these words, they emerged from the ground. We should still remember that scene. So, “Upon seeing these Bodhisattvas, [people at the assembly] all gave rise to doubts.” So, those present at the assembly listening to the Dharma suddenly saw so many Bodhisattvas emerge from the ground. This is why they had doubts and started asking questions. These were the circumstances at the time. We must remember them. So, “The World-Honored One replied, ’They were all transformed by me.”’

The World-Honored One replied, “They were all transformed by me.”
Thus, people had doubts, since the World-Honored One attained Buddhahood only recently. Those He transformed were not newly-inspired people. So, He taught [the Chapter on the Tathagata’s] Lifespan to resolve people’s doubts.

Everyone was asking questions. The World-Honored One, the Buddha, answered, “These are my disciples whom I have transformed.” So, because of this, everyone gave rise to doubts. “People had doubts, since the World-Honored One attained Buddhahood only recently.” Everyone clung to [the fact that] the Buddha had only attained enlightenment 40 or so years ago. How could He have transformed so many people? So, everyone had these doubts. This is what was “near.” This is being “attached to the near and deluded about the distant.” They did not think about back when the Buddha spoke about “long-ago, distant kalpas.” They had already forgotten this. So, we must remember the Dharma we hear. So, “those He transformed” had engaged in cumulative practice in the past throughout infinite lifetimes and kalpas and were transformed in a cumulative process. So, these were not newly-inspired people, but people who had engaged in cumulative practice over a long period of time. They had been able to walk the path and had now become Great Bodhisattvas. But people in the future might not understand this. For [the people of] the future, He continued by teaching the Chapter on the Tathagata’s Lifespan to resolve the doubts of people in the future. We should simply have no doubts.

Hence, “Distant kalpas ago, He had already attained Buddhahood.” The Buddha did not attain Buddhahood just then, but rather distant kalpas ago. His attainment of Buddhahood [in this life] was merely a manifestation of skillful means. In fact, His enlightened nature has existed since distant kalpas ago.

Distant kalpas ago, He had in fact already attained Buddhahood. Saying He attained Buddhahood now was only skillful means for sentient beings. He manifested Parinirvana without entering Parinirvana. There is no true Parinirvana. He merely said He would enter cessation.

As stated in the beginning of the Chapter on the Parable of the Conjured City, our Buddha-nature is without beginning or end. It has always been within us; it is just that we have become lost. But at that point in time, the Buddha began to awaken. He transformed sentient beings throughout many lifetimes, which enabled Him [at the Vulture Peak Assembly] to complete the teaching of the Bodhisattva Way. So, “Saying He attained Buddhahood now was only skillful means for sentient beings. He manifested Parinirvana without entering Parinirvana.” Now, in front of everyone, [He said], “I am old, and I am entering Parinirvana.” In fact, He is everlasting. He does not simply cease to exist. This was only a manifestation in this world. “There is no true Parinirvana. He merely said He would enter cessation.”

All in all, this is how we constantly accumulate strength. We must also accumulate wisdom like this throughout lifetime after lifetime. So, we should transform our five, sixth, seventh and eighth consciousnesses into the Four Wisdoms. We must transform the five consciousnesses into all-accomplishing wisdom, the sixth consciousness into profound discerning wisdom, the seventh consciousness into universal equality wisdom and the eighth consciousness into great perfect mirror wisdom. Yes Our daily life is all part of this consciousness. Its workings must become one with the Dharma. When we become one with the Dharma, our [life] will neither be long nor short. It will be one [with the Dharma] and everlasting. So, we must always be mindful!

(Source: Da Ai TV – Wisdom at Dawn program – Explanation by Master Chen-Yen)
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20181224《靜思妙蓮華》彌勒騰疑 佛說壽量 (第1507集) (法華經·從地涌出品第十五)
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