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 20190101《靜思妙蓮華》三身無礙 本跡圓融 (第1513集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六)

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20190101《靜思妙蓮華》三身無礙 本跡圓融 (第1513集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六) Empty
發表主題: 20190101《靜思妙蓮華》三身無礙 本跡圓融 (第1513集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六)   20190101《靜思妙蓮華》三身無礙 本跡圓融 (第1513集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六) Empty周二 1月 01, 2019 12:43 am

20190101《靜思妙蓮華》三身無礙 本跡圓融 (第1513集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六)

⊙古往今來無生滅,邁始終而無限量;自本而跡無量即量,自跡而本量即無量。三身無礙本跡圓融,壽量非一亦非異,比量非有亦非無,塵點喻其無始終。
⊙「一切世間天、人及阿修羅,皆謂:今釋迦牟尼佛,出釋氏宮,去伽郰城不遠,坐於道場,得阿耨多羅三藐三菩提。」《法華經如來壽量品第十六》
⊙「然,善男子!我實成佛已來,無量無邊百千萬億那由他劫。」此敘述成道已來之久。《法華經如來壽量品第十六》
⊙出釋氏宮,坐菩提場,為佛應化身之跡。由跡溯本,故此節述報身成佛之久。
⊙然,善男子!我實成佛已來:佛陀慇切呼喚聞法者,審慎聞思信受佛語。佛示:我實成佛已來。法性身,無成無不成。原來本具!
⊙若由因行修證圓滿,則其報身之福德、智慧自有其圓滿之相,故名之曰成佛。
⊙又報身佛之所以成,由能證於法身;菩薩亦能證法身之少分,得成報身,但欠圓滿耳。
⊙若至於妙覺,使法性顯現究竟圓滿,則為法身佛成。若起於因行,修證功德究竟圓滿,則為報身佛成。
⊙無量無邊百千萬億那由他劫:此節所顯成佛之久,為無限量之久,較梵網經所顯其量尤廣。

【證嚴上人開示】
古往今來無生滅,邁始終而無限量;自本而跡無量即量,自跡而本量即無量。三身無礙本跡圓融,壽量非一亦非異,比量非有亦非無,塵點喻其無始終。

古往今來無生滅
邁始終而無限量
自本而跡無量即量
自跡而本量即無量
三身無礙本跡圓融
壽量非一亦非異
比量非有亦非無
塵點喻其無始終

用心體會!「古往今來無生滅,邁始終而無限量」。表達出了古往,過去的過去,都已經成為舌古早、古早的事情。古早、古早那個稱為「當時」,就像我們的現在;我們的現在再過去,那就是未來稱為古早的古早。時間就是這樣循環、輪替,現在稱為「現在」,未來的未來,稱我們現在叫做「古早」。剛才,我進來那個時候,那已經過去了。剛才、現在、過去;這種的現在、過去、未來,這就是無時刻,不斷、不斷地連接著。剛才說的「古往今來」,又是剛才說的,現在,我是現在說。每時刻的現在,都是每時刻成過去,這種的過去、過去,不斷累積變成了「古」,古往了。

這時間的觀念,我們要很清楚,我們無不都是,在過去、現在、未來,每一天、每一時刻,我們時間沒有停歇過,點點滴滴沒有停歇過,我們就是生活在這樣的時間中。所以,時間長,說它是生嗎?它是滅嗎?其實沒有生滅,它就是這樣不斷,這樣在過,我們就是生活在這,這麼微細的分秒時間。秒,說秒還太長,飛秒(為千萬億分之一秒)、微秒(百萬分之一秒)等等,根本是無法可比量的細。所以它的過去,我們不覺,也不知,這種不覺知中的流逝。

我們人,生、老、病、死,也是在這個時間,我們也是不知覺中,將自己的身體,不知覺,什麼時候的幼年、什麼時候的青少年、什麼時候的壯年、中年到老年,我們連我們自己的身體,還是一樣在不知覺中在新陳代謝,這樣很微細,這樣地過去;要說它生、要說它滅,真的是無法去感覺、體會,所以也能說,沒有生滅。「邁始終」,就是經歷、經過,這樣一直快速地邁進。這種時間就是經歷很長久,什麼時間?「無限量」。我們真如本性,是從什麼時間所有的呢?〈化城喻品〉就一直告訴大家,無始、無終,無法去考據我們的生命源頭,也無法考據,我們慧命開始的始終。所以,我們的覺性,真如覺性也無法說它,歷盡多少的時間過來的。「古往來今」,這不是有辦法去考據。道理,回歸於真理,真理叫做「覺性」,真理叫做「真如本性」,真理叫做「法性」,這叫做真諦,始終都在。它是很微細,無法讓我們去感覺是生滅,所以歷經了開始、結束,這無量,什麼時候是結束?知「跡」就是說形象,在我們事相能夠去分別。

一棵樹,能夠去記錄它:我什麼時候播種子下去、什麼時候在哪一個位置,有土、有水、有這個空間,長大到什麼時間,我再將它移植去到哪一個地方。可以去記錄。但是,那粒種子的源頭是從哪裡來?從樹來的。樹的種子又是從哪裡來?這哪裡來、什麼時候開始有這粒種子?那你就很難得追究了。這就是我們人間有很多,源頭很久,我們的慧命覺性,也是和這樣相同。這些事情,我們若都很透徹清楚,本門,接下去要說的「壽量」等等,很多品,後面的我們就能夠更加了解,要很清楚。所以,這種始終無法追究;時間,無法去說,什麼時候產生時間;時間什麼時候能夠「隔」,將它隔絕時間?這是沒有辦法。

所以,「自本而跡無量即量,自跡而本量即無量」。所以我們要說「跡門」,過去十四品的「跡門」,那個時代能夠說,說今生此世;這個是形態,追究過去生世。那個時候都會說過去的因緣,佛陀過去的因緣,和某一個弟子所結的緣;而哪一位弟子、哪一位阿羅漢,他的過去生又是結什麼緣。這佛的《本生經》,或者是弟子的因緣本生,是前世、前世的過去世,或者是過去世的無量劫,這都可以在那個「跡門」裡面,前後次序來表達,一段一段人生因緣,來譬喻法,那是「跡門」的時代。

所以,「自本門而跡」,這個「跡」就是因為他的過去。「跡門」的當中,也會顯出了大通智勝佛的時代,那就很古往、古往,叫做無量劫、塵點劫,用這樣來譬喻長久時間,那個時間,在那裡發心,那個最起初發這念心,那個根本;一念心開始,起初發心一直到現在,因為它是塵點劫。在那一品就已經說很清楚了,若算師、若算師弟子,說不能盡,無法知道,也無法算,何況其他。所以,「自本而跡無量即量」。雖然說無量,也有說過去的塵點劫,但是塵點劫的裡面也是無量。「無量即量」,十六王子的時代,有量;十六王子時代各自再說法,聽法的結緣眾又是又無量,所以有量、無量,無量、有量。說的十六王子,全都已經都成佛了,隨其本源而成。

而每一尊佛將要成佛之前,就像〈從地涌出品〉一樣,他已經完成了度眾生,度無量、無量的眾生之後,才現相成佛。想,所以有量或者是無量呢?佛,成佛才一位,聞法者就是無量數!所以,量,很多的無量數的聞法者成就了;所成就,他們回歸他們的本性,與佛同等的等量,所以這就是人人本具真如本性。要說它「量」或者是「無量」?無量即是量!「自跡而本量即無量」。從「跡門」,大通智勝佛的時代,十六王子那個「跡門」開始,與他們的原先發願那念間,一直一直來,現前出來,這樣顯出來的這個所度,那就是無量。這很多的無量,是不是到這樣就為止了呢?不是。是不是佛這樣就叫做成佛,是終止嗎?也不是。這只是這個因緣,在這個時間,一段的現相。

因為未來濁惡世的時代,在佛的時代現相,這是世間的因緣。要有一段過去已經度那麼多人,已經成就,那個覺性圓滿了;現在未來要再開始,要人人回歸這個真理、覺性,要再有這個「跡」的形象。二千多年,佛陀的「跡」顯在人間,只是讓我們來證明,有這位覺者生在人間,他的過程、他的經歷,這樣我們能夠相信,將這個法編輯為文字,我們依教信受奉行、弘揚,將這個道理,弘揚在後世來教育人。

因為時間不斷、不斷地流逝,有形的物質成、住、壞、空,佛陀的時代,那個建築物已經壞又空了,成、住、壞、空了,沒有了。那個時代,佛陀在說的過去也是很空洞,因為無量劫、無量劫以前,連這個遺跡都無法去找出來;連地方確實是在哪裡,都無法指出,只是只有一個抽象的,讓我們知道,無量劫、無量劫以前,所以一定要有一個相。佛陀現相人間來說過去,而我們,聽法的人一定要信。所以,佛陀在「本門」開始,這段這麼長的時間,彌勒菩薩來騰疑,佛陀就是這樣現相,不斷「量」一直讓他湧出。懷疑的人心一直懷疑,到了最後,在場聽法的人要追求,追求這個實相;實相就是佛陀要親自來解說,這些人、這些菩薩,這個境界是什麼因緣來顯現出來,這一定要追求。要追,追溯過去;要求,求佛清楚表示,佛陀最後答應。等於三次的請求,佛陀答應了,還是不斷教誡叮嚀:「一定要相信、一定要相信,相信佛的真實語。」

大家表達出了:「我絕對相信!我們過去就已經相信了,只是無法很體會。佛的人格、佛所講的法,我們不敢懷疑,只是這些法,是我自己無法去體會到,但是相信,絕對相信,請佛再來敘說這些因緣,讓大家相信,再讓大家能夠體會到。只要有信,他慢慢去體會,所以我們大家願意相信,願意自己來體會。」這就算第四次,表達對這個法的重視,追、求,佛陀來顯示這個「本門」。佛陀聽大家的表態,還是要再叮嚀一次,大家也就要審慎,要很用心、注意,虔誠來信受佛陀的真實語,等於是第四次。可見,我們也是要這樣,所以我們要去先了解,「古往」、「生滅」、「量」,到底有沒有?什麼時候開始?什麼時候結束?我們要先要通徹了解。所以,「自跡而本量即無量」。我們不要懷疑,因為空間、時間是這樣過,遺留下來的空間就是這樣──成、住、壞、空,這是佛陀的智慧,已經過去一直說的法,我們現在若能夠去體會。

所以,「三身無礙本跡圓融」。我們過去在說,法身、報身、應身,其實合而為一,那就是「自性本體」,就是道理。所以,「壽量非一亦非異」。壽命,到底壽量、生命多長?佛的生命,來人間難道八十歲而已嗎?那只是一個相。其實回歸於真實的壽量,那是「古往今來」,無始啊!他的壽量本來就開始了,這叫做「法性」。我們的真如本性,「性」多長啊?無始以來。所以,這個本覺慧海無量邊際。所以,「壽量非一亦非異」,這壽量不是一,也不是又有其他的各別,總是應天下眾生所需求。他就是這樣來回不斷,應眾生,所以「三界導師」、「四生慈父」,「心、佛、眾生三無差別」,人人覺悟是體同;若不覺悟,各人、各人就是一個自體,佛與眾生的距離就很長,同樣的道理。

就像我們說,在一個地球,同一個天下,其實時間能夠同時,但是時差有別,同樣的道理,這是名相有別。若要與他們說話,你現在一個電話給他,半夜,他也會聽得到,也能夠聽。他真的互通是即時,但是形象、時分,就在那個地方分別,時分在分別。其實通的時是即時,沒有分別你是白天、我是晚上,沒有分別,一指即通。所以,壽量與這樣相同,壽量也是時間,生命多長,壽命多長。就是他的時間有幾年,「年」也是從秒開始。所以只是名相很多,用這個名相分別。「壽量非一亦非異」。這時間大家的,若要說時間大家的,其實真如、真理也是大家的;若是只有我自己體會到,那就是我自己的,你就不能體會。這就是各人所體悟到,那就成為各人的,個體成為個體的時間、壽命。總而言之,這全都是眾生分別相,產生有各異,要不然其實是等量。

所以,「比量非有亦非無」。要去比,比這個東西較長、那個東西較短,其實長短只是一個形象。同樣的道理,時間,說秒、說小時,說日、說月、年,這全都是一個分別的形象,時,時間,這全都無法可去比量,是長短的比量。要回歸到它的真實,全都是一樣,就是「比量非有亦非無」。有和無,到底時間存在或不存在?時間無法可讓我們隔礙;空氣存在或不存在?無法讓我們抓來看,這都沒有辦法。所以,無法比量,但是它是存在。所以,亦有亦無,「非有亦非無」。所以,「塵點喻其無始終」,這個塵點就是譬喻無始無終。這個道理我們若清楚了,很透徹了,自然我們要聽法、要通就快了;只要那個人你認識了,要與他說話就不困難了,只是手機拿起來,手指頭指一指就與他通了。同樣的道理,只要你認識他,只要你與他很密切的關係,你就有辦法與他相通,這麼簡單的道理。

所以,我們前面的文就這樣說:「一切世間天、人及阿修羅,皆謂:今釋迦牟尼佛,出釋氏宮,去伽郰城不遠,坐於道場,得阿耨多羅三藐三菩提。」

一切世間
天 人及阿修羅
皆謂
今釋迦牟尼佛
出釋氏宮
去伽郰城不遠
坐於道場
得阿耨多羅
三藐三菩提
《法華經如來壽量品第十六》

「一切世間,天、人及阿修羅」,這都是凡夫,這都有分別,在分別相。所以,他們只是這樣,看到佛的形象,將那個時間把它局限,局限在佛陀出生的時間、出生的地點,如何出家,這種有形象的比量,這是凡夫對佛的看法。

接下來這段經文再這樣說:「然,善男子!我實成佛已來,無量無邊百千萬億那由他劫。」

然 善男子
我實成佛已來
無量無邊百千萬億
那由他劫
《法華經如來壽量品第十六》

這很長久,「那由他劫」,這是很長久的時間。這段文,那就是要來敘述,敘述佛陀成佛以來,已經很久了,不是,不是成佛四十多年。開始再下去,就要說出了佛的壽命,他的覺悟到底有多久,這個時間才要開始,要來敘述。

此敘述
成道已來之久
出釋氏宮
坐菩提場
為佛應化身之跡
由跡溯本
故此節述
報身成佛之久

所以,「出釋氏宮,坐道場」,那就是「佛應化身之跡」。應眾生的因緣、應眾生的時機,所以佛陀應身示相來人間。這應身、化身之跡,這是凡夫所感受到的,這就是應化身。所以,「由跡溯本」。因為現跡與人都一模一樣,應這個人類所需求,這同樣的人間,只是他在王宮裡面,現出了他的出生高貴;在皇宮裡面,現出了他在富貴中,不受富貴所迷惑,所以他有與人不同的思想觀念。他想要去追求生命的來源,要如何突破人生不平等的觀念。這種的思想與平常人不同。

所以,而「出釋氏宮」,一直到了,十一年的參訪、修苦行,這兩段的時間過了之後,他就到菩提場,坐菩提樹下,這樣成正等覺。這只是應眾生機現相要讓人看,教人:我過去是這樣發心過來的,我做得到,你們也應該做得到。這是一個示範的形象。所以,「由跡溯本」,這種的過程叫做「跡」;他在說的道理,那就是法身,就是回溯到法身。佛陀要教育,眾生人人體會道理,人人能夠了解,法就是這樣的過程,所以他現相示範,所以叫做「由跡溯本」,要顯出了,真實法是這樣,現在要開始說。「故此節述報身成佛之久」。報身成佛來了到底有多久?這個身在人間有多久?大家看得到,有這個身,才有辦法顯出他應化的事跡,才有辦法顯示法身,這就是這樣一直過來。

所以,「然,善男子!我實成佛已來」。過去這四十多年間成佛,四十多年間來,只是一個讓大家形象看到,是一個典範。「但是,善男子!」佛陀向大家表達:「我實成佛已來。」這是佛陀再次要警惕弟子,大家要殷切。因為佛陀已經表達了,很殷切再次來呼喚:「善男子啊!」就是發心要修行、發心行菩薩道的人,統統稱為「善男子」,人人都是大丈夫,勇敢要承受重任,擔起了這個責任,所以稱為「善男子」。「大有作為的善男子!大家聽法,要『審慎聞思信受佛語』,大家要很謹慎,要好好聽,聽進去要用心去思考;思考,要好好信受,佛陀所說的教法。」這佛陀的叮嚀。

然 善男子
我實成佛已來:
佛陀慇切
呼喚聞法者
審慎聞思信受佛語
佛示:
我實成佛已來
法性身
無成無不成
原來本具

這是佛陀又再表示,「我實成佛已來」,這就是要表達出了「法性身」,法性身那個覺,覺悟,是「無成無不成」。這個「覺」原來就有,本來就有,原來就已經佛性無始終,開始就有了。這個覺悟,在人間只是一個表達,表達讓大家知道,這個法現本性;本性不是無中生有,覺性原來本具,所以原來本具的覺性,是人人本有的,人人的本性。覺悟,叫做覺性;迷掉了,那就是人人還是本性存在。所以,我們要很用心來體會,我們原來就本具有善良的本性,應該要再進一步覺悟過來,那就是本來就是本覺,本來就是有。

若由因行修證圓滿
則其報身
之福德、智慧
自有其圓滿之相
故名之曰成佛

「若由因行修證圓滿,則其報身之福德」。佛陀過去,累生劫、無始來都是因行,「六度萬行」;從發心開始就要行菩薩道,入人群度眾生,累生累世。所以因,這個「因行」,我們的種子,不斷培植、不斷培養,一直到了,「一生無量,無量從一生」。《無量義經》不就是這樣說嗎?所以,「由因行修證」。我們這菩薩六度萬行,我們若這樣,不斷、不斷去培植它,這是無量劫以來這樣,生生世世行在菩薩道上,不斷入人群,那個成果很成熟,圓滿了,「則其報身之福德」。廣結善緣,因緣不可思議,總是讓人看到、讓人聽到,讓人讚歎。你若與他無緣,你說一大堆的話,他都不要採納你;若是有緣,半句話他就很受用。總是我們要很用心,好好和大家結緣,這就是修菩薩道。結善緣,說話人人能夠接受;度眾生,具足因緣才有辦法成佛。所以,「則其報身之福德」,我們要不斷累積福緣。

這個「德」,過去就一直在解釋,要「內修外行」,「內修即是功,外行即是德」,不斷不斷地修積福德。「智慧自有其圓滿之相」。自然你一直累積、累積,經一事長一智、經一事長一智,不斷累積,自然這個智慧圓滿了,就現出了你智慧相。天地萬物道理就像湧泉一樣,無理不通、無事不曉,通達,那就是我們平時要累積,那叫做「智慧圓滿之相」,福德也是圓滿,「六度萬行」,所以叫做成佛。

又報身佛之所以成
由能證於法身
菩薩亦能
證法身之少分
得成報身
但欠圓滿耳

又再,「報身」。佛的報身,佛之所以成佛,那就是從這個「報身」,累世累世應眾生根機在人間,不斷、不斷累積而成。所以,「由能證於法身」,因為這樣不斷累積、累積,福德因緣、福慧雙具,所以這個法身圓滿。你和眾生結緣足夠,在眾生群中,也了解了很多的煩惱苦相,所以「煩惱即菩提」,在人群中體會了很多煩惱,也成就了很多菩提覺道。所以「經一事,長一智」,事是煩惱多,經歷了這些事相,成長了智慧。所以由這樣的(業)報身,在人事中所成就了,證實,回歸到法──法性,歸入了我們的法性。這我們要很用心去體會,每做一件事情,一定就要用心去體會,這才有辦法能夠累積起來。

所以,「菩薩亦能證,法身之少分」。我們只要發心行菩薩道,哪怕是初發心的菩薩,這種開始我們接受到法,有所心得,開始身體力行,也會慢慢邊體會、也邊改變,改變過去的習氣。

就像高雄一群的榮董,來和花蓮的這些企業家來會合,他們來說,他們過去的經驗,漏氣求進步。過去他們的習氣是多壞、多壞,他們一點都沒有隱瞞,三十幾個人來互相見證:這個人過去如何壞、如何壞;這個人自己也敘述,自己過去是如何冥劣,如何自我破害家庭,感情如何分裂,親情如何……,回來也又來說給師父聽,這叫做懺悔。和大家說,就是分享,懺悔的就是:「師父,我還有這些,都還沒有向您說出來,我今天已經和他們分享過了,回來向師父『補懺悔』,這些師父您還不知道,我還有隱瞞著,我過去是這樣、這樣。感恩師父,就是因為有這樣的法,我體悟過來了,所以我改變我自己,我現在我懺悔了,我的家庭現在變如何、如何……。」

這就是了,發菩薩心,開始改變自己,這就是已經有體悟到;體悟叫做「證」,證法,體悟到這個法,趕緊改變自己,這就回歸自己的本性,這也有這樣少分的體會。「唯有這個法改變我,唯有這個法讓我的家庭平安,唯有這個法讓我的事業穩定,唯有這個法我能夠廣結善緣。」這就是要從做人開始,將這個法在生活中改變自己,去利益他人,這叫做菩薩。所以,「得成報身」。

現在在這個人間,改變自己去付出,這真的也是很讓人感動。所以現在我們只是還在欠缺,「但欠圓滿」。因為我們凡夫,我們的缺點還很多,這就是我們要好好用心,自己有缺點趕緊改,趕緊去付出。所以,「若至於妙覺,使法性顯現究竟圓滿」。

若至於妙覺
使法性顯現
究竟圓滿
則為法身佛成
若起於因行
修證功德究竟圓滿
則為報身佛成

我們若要到達佛的境界,我們就要趕緊,趕緊將這個法性顯現,到究竟圓滿,我們就要很積極,那就是「法身佛成」。我們要精進、我們要努力,把握時間。人的生命長短,我們自己無法控制,廣與深,我們自己有辦法自己去開,道將它開得廣,路,將它鋪得平,這我們自己能夠把握時間,趕緊付出就對了。所以我們就是要這樣累積,從(成就)「報身」開始,我們把握機會。「若起於因行,修證功德究竟要圓滿」。我們若開始有這個因緣,接觸到佛法,了解道理了,我們改過;我們不只是改過,還要繼續精進,修證功德要圓滿,就是要趕緊向前,一直到達圓滿的境界。所以,「則為報身佛成」,現在精進的過程,叫做(成就)「報身」,利用我們這個(業)報身,來完成我們的志業。所以,接下來說,「無量無邊百千萬億,那由他劫」。

無量無邊百千萬億
那由他劫:
此節所顯成佛之久
為無限量之久
較梵網經
所顯其量尤廣

這就是要表示,「所顯成佛之久」,表示成佛的久,所以為無限量劫,很長久。其實佛修行,已經成佛,所成就的覺性已經是很久了。而多久啊?那就是「無量無邊百千萬億,那由他劫」,「那由他劫」就是無量,無法計算。在這個「無量百千萬億,那由他劫」,還要比《梵網經》說更長。「所顯其量尤廣」,總而言之,時間很長就對了,這個長的時間我們要做什麼,總是世間苦難偏多,眾生發菩薩心修行,在很多眾生之中,我們要開始起悲憫心;起悲憫心,入人群去度眾生,種種的典範,我們要做,種種的善有為法,我們要付出,把握時間,做就對了。請大家時時要多用心!


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: The Three Bodies are Unhindered (三身無礙 本跡圓融)
Date: January.01.2019

“From the ancient past to the present, [time] has neither arisen nor ceased. From beginning to end, it is limitless and infinite. From the intrinsic to the manifest, the infinite becomes finite. From the manifest to the intrinsic, the finite becomes infinite. The three bodies are unhindered; the intrinsic and the manifest are in perfect harmony. [The Tathagata’s] lifespans are neither one [and the same] nor different. If we compare or measure them, we find they are neither existent nor non-existent. ‘Dust-inked’ is used to illustrate what has neither beginning nor end.”

We must mindfully seek to comprehend this. “From the ancient past to the present, [time] has neither arisen nor ceased. From beginning to end, it is limitless and infinite.” This means the ancient times from long, long ago are already matters of the distant past. We refer to the ancient past as “that time.” This is no different from our present. Our present will also come to pass, and in the future, they will call this the ancient past. This is the cycle of time. We call this moment “the present”. In the distant future, our present will be called “the ancient past.” When I came in just now, that [moment] is already in the past. Just now, the present has become the past. This [cycle] between the present, past and future, without ever stopping for a moment, continues endlessly. I just said, “from the ancient past to the present,” and I just said this again. Right now, I am speaking at this present moment. Every present moment will become a moment of the past. In this way, these past [moments] ceaselessly accumulate to become “ancient,” the ancient past. We must clearly understand the concept of time. We are always experiencing the past, present and future. In every moment of every day, time does not wait for us. It flows on without stopping for even a second. We live within time.

Time [has gone on] for so long. Has it ever arisen? Will it ever cease? Actually, it neither arises nor ceases; it continuously passes us by like this. We are living amidst such infinitesimal divisions of time. A second is still too long. There are femtoseconds, microseconds and so on. They are too small for us to even measure. So, [time] goes by without us being aware of its passage. We go through birth, aging, illness and death. This too happens in time. It happens without us realizing it. We do not realize when our own bodies enter childhood, adolescence, the prime of life, middle age and old age. Even within our own bodies, we are unaware of how the new is constantly replacing the old. This happens very subtly as the time passes. We might say that time arises and ceases, but we really have no way to perceive or experience this.

So, we might as well say it never arises or ceases. “From beginning to end,” [time] passes by and continuously moves forward at a rapid pace. Time has gone on and on for so long, but for how long? It is “limitless and infinite.” When it comes to our nature of True Suchness, at what time did we begin to possess it? The Chapter on the Parable of the Conjured City continually tells us that it is beginningless and endless. We have no way to determine the source of our life, nor can we determine where our wisdom-life begins or ends. So, regarding our awakened nature, we also cannot say how long our awakened nature of True Suchness has been here. [It has existed] “from the ancient past to the present.” We are unable to determine these things. We must return to the true principles; the true principles are our “awakened nature,” our “intrinsic nature of True Suchness,” and are also called the “Dharma-nature”. These true principles have always existed. They are so very subtle and intricate that whether they arise or cease is imperceptible to us. So, they have been here from beginning to end; being infinite, when will they ever end?

Knowing “the manifest,” it refers to appearances. We are able to discern [the principles] among matters and appearances. For a tree, we can record when we plant the seed and when and where it is planted. With soil and water, in this space, it grows tall until we transplant it elsewhere. We can record all of this. But what is the source of that seed? Where did it come from? It came from another tree. But where did the seed for that tree come from? Where did it come from and when did this seed come into existence? It is very difficult to find out. There are so many things in our world that come from such a distant source. The awakened nature of our wisdom-life is also like this. If we understand this matter thoroughly and clearly, [when we read] the teaching of the intrinsic in the next chapter about the Tathagata’s lifespan and many other chapters, we will be able to understand them all the more clearly. We must understand them very clearly. So, we are unable to trace these things back to their beginning or end. We cannot say when time began or determine when it ends. We are unable to do this. “From the intrinsic to the manifest, the infinite becomes finite. From the manifest to the intrinsic, the finite becomes infinite.” So, we must discuss the teaching of the manifest. The past 14 chapters contain the teaching of the manifest. In the era, [the Buddha] was able to talk about. His present lifetime in this world. [Starting from] these events, He explored His past lifetimes. During that time, He was always speaking about past causes and conditions, what His own past causes and conditions were, how He formed affinities with certain disciples and what affinities a certain disciple or Arhat had formed during their past lifetimes. This is like the Buddha’s Jataka Sutra or stories about the causes and conditions of His disciples’ past lives, the past lives of their past lives, or their past lifetimes from countless kalpas ago. This is all part of the teaching of the manifest, wherein [the Buddha] systematically described the causes and conditions of one life after another to provide parables about the Dharma. This was the era of the teaching of the manifest.

So, “from the intrinsic to the manifest…”. This is the “manifest,” [the teachings] about His past. Within this teaching of the manifest, He also revealed the era of Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha. This was in the very ancient past. He uses “infinite kalpas ago” and “dust-inked kalpas ago” to describe how long ago [this happened]. It was then and there that He formed aspirations. This was the very first time He formed aspirations. This was the fundamental root. It all began from a single thought. He formed His initial aspiration and [sustained it] all the way to His present [life]. This happened dust-inked kalpas ago, thus the chapter makes it very clear that neither “a mathematician nor a mathematician’s disciples” could finish describing [how ago it was]. [Even mathematicians] have no way to know or calculate this, let alone anyone else. So, “From the intrinsic to the manifest, the infinite becomes finite.”

Though He spoke of it as infinite, He still [measured] the past in dust-inked kalpas. But within these dust-inked kalpas, there is also infinity. “The infinite becomes finite.” The era of the 16 princes was finite. During the era of the 16 princes, they each expounded the Dharma again [to others]. The associates who listened to the Dharma then were also infinite. So, there is the finite and the infinite, the infinite and the finite. The 16 princes have all attained Buddhahood by now according to their own innate capabilities.

Before each Buddha attained Buddhahood, as in the Chapter on Emerging from the Ground, He [must first] finish. Only after transforming infinite beings will He manifest the attainment of Buddhahood.

Think about it; is this finite or infinite? Only one person attained Buddhahood [at first], but the people who listened to the Dharma were infinite in number. So, when we try to measure them, [we find] an infinite number of people who listened to the Dharma and succeeded. What they succeed in was returning to their intrinsic nature, which is equal to the Buddha’s. This is our intrinsic nature of True Suchness, which we all possess. Is it “finite,” or is it “infinite”? The infinite becomes finite, and “from the manifest to the intrinsic, the finite becomes infinite”. In the teaching of the manifest, starting from the era of Great Unhindered Buddha and the 16 princes, their initial aspirations continued to manifest until those they had transformed were infinite. These [people] were “infinite” in number.

Did He get to this point and stop there? No. Did the Buddha attain Buddhahood and stop there? This is not the case either. It was simply due to the causes and conditions of that time that. He manifested these appearances then. For the sake of the future age of the evil world of turbidities, He manifested these appearances in His time. These were His causes and conditions in the world. In the past, He needed to go through a period in which He transformed so many people helping them fulfill and perfect their enlightened nature. Later on in His present [lifetime], He had to start again to help everyone return to the true principles, their awakened nature, which means He had to use the form of the “manifest” once again.

Over 2000 years [ago], the Buddha revealed His manifestation in the world to enable us to bear witness to the Enlightened One being born in this world. He went through this process so that we would be able to believe in Him. This Dharma has already been put into writing. In accordance with His teachings, we faithfully accept, practice and spread them. We spread these principles to future generations to teach to others. As time endlessly passes by, tangible materials go through [the cycle of] formation, existence, decay and disappearance. The structures built in the Buddha’s era have decayed or disappeared [as part of the cycle of] formation, existence, decay and disappearance. They are all gone. During that era, the past that the Buddha spoke of was also empty. Because it was countless, infinite kalpas ago, even the traces of that time cannot be found, and the exact location [of those events] is unknown. None of this can be determined. All that remains are abstract images which tell us about [what occurred] countless, infinite kalpas ago. Thus, appearances are an absolute necessity. That is why the Buddha appeared in this world. For those of us who listen to the Dharma, we absolute must have faith in this. So, the Buddha began with the teaching of the intrinsic, which lasted such a long period of time. Maitreya Bodhisattva raised doubts, so the Buddha manifested these appearances and kept making these infinite [Bodhisattvas] emerge. Those who were doubtful continued to harbor doubts in their heart. This went on until the very end, when those listening to the Dharma at the assembly wanted to seek the ultimate truth.

They wanted the Buddha to personally explain the ultimate truth behind these people, these Bodhisattvas, the state [they had reached] and what causes and conditions had brought this about. They needed to investigate this. They wanted to trace this back to the past. They asked the Buddha to explain this clearly. In the end, the Buddha agreed. After three requests, the Buddha agreed, but He still admonished them, saying, “You must believe. You must believe. You must believe in the Buddha’s true words”. Everyone said, “We absolutely believe. We already believed before, it is just that we are unable to understand. We do not dare to doubt the Buddha’s integrity or the Dharma He teaches. We are just unable to understand these teachings, but we still believe them; we absolutely believe. Venerable Buddha, please explain these causes and conditions again to help everyone believe and understand. As long as we have faith, we will slowly come to understand. So, we are all willing to believe, and we hope that we will come to understand it”.

This was the fourth time that they expressed their reverence for the Dharma and sought and requested the Buddha to reveal the teaching of the intrinsic. The Buddha listened to their declaration and still remined them one more time that they had to be attentive, mindful and focused and sincerely come to faithfully accept the Buddha’s true words. This was the fourth time [He admonished them]. Clearly, we must also be this way. So, first we need to understand [the meaning of] “ancient past”, “arising and ceasing” and “finite”. Do these things actually exist? When did they start? When will they end? We need to fully understand this first.

So, “From the manifest to the intrinsic, the finite becomes infinite”. We must not harbor any doubts. As time passes by, the space left behind goes through [the cycle of] formation, existence, decay and disappearance. This is the Buddha’s wisdom, the Dharma that He continuously taught in the past. Now we must seek to comprehend it. So, “The three bodies are unhindered, the intrinsic and the manifest are in perfect harmony”. We have previously discussed the Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya. In fact, they are all as one. This is our “intrinsic self-nature”, that is, the principles. Thus, “[The Tathagata’s] lifespans are neither one [and the same] nor different. How long is His lifespan after all? How could the Buddha’s lifespan have only lasted 80 years in this world? That was just an appearance. In fact, in turns out His true lifespan has lasted “from the ancient past to the present”. It has no beginning! His lifespan has always been ongoing. This is what is known as the “Dharma-nature”.

We have our nature of True Suchness. How long does this “nature” last? It has lasted since Beginningless Time. Our innate ocean of enlightened wisdom is infinite and boundless. So, “[The Tathagata’s] lifespans are neither one [and the same] nor different”. His lifespans are not one [and the same], nor are they different from one another. He will always respond to the needs of sentient beings throughout the world. This is how He continuously comes and goes in response to sentient beings. Thus, He is “guiding teacher of the Three Realms” and the “kind father of the Four Kinds of Beings”. “The mind, the Buddha and sentient beings are no different”. When everyone has awakened, everyone will be as one. If we do not awaken, each person will be an individual entity. The gulf between the Buddha and sentient beings will be very wide.

It is the same principle. This is just like how, on the same planet, in the same world, we can all be there at the same time but still have a time difference. By the same principle, names and appearances also have their differences. If we want to talk with someone, we need only to make a phone call. Even at midnight, they will still be able to hear us. They really share the same moment as we do, it is just that the time in that place is different. There is a time difference, yet when we are connected, we share the same time. There is no difference between your daytime and my evening. There is not difference; we can connect at the push of a button. So, a lifespan is also like this.

A lifespan is also a span of time. The length of our lifespan is measured in the years we live. A year starts out with a second. It is just that there are so many names and appearances, which we use to differentiate [between lengths of time]. Hence, “lifespans are neither one [and the same] nor different. This time belongs to everyone. Time belongs to us all, and as a matter of fact, True Suchness and the true principles belong to us all as well. If I am the only one who realizes this, then [this knowledge] is mine alone, and you will never be able to realize this. When each person realizes and awakens to this, then it will become their own [knowledge]; [what they realize] individually will become their own lifespan.

To sum it up, this all happens because sentient beings differentiate between appearances, thereby producing individual differences. Otherwise, all would be equal. Thus, “If we compare or measure them, we find they are neither existent nor non-existent”. When we seek to draw comparisons, something will seem longer compared to one thing, but shorter compared to another thing. In fact, long and short are merely appearances.

By the same principle, when we speak of time in seconds, hours, days, months and years, we are just differentiating between appearances. When it comes to time, we are unable to measure any of this; all we can measure is its length. When we return to its true [form], we find that it is all the same. Hence, “If we compare or measure them, we find they are neither existent nor non-existent”. Are they existent or non-existent? Does time really exist? We cannot obstruct [the passage of] time. Does air exist? We cannot grasp it .We are unable to do any these things, but they still exist. When it comes to their existence or non-existence, “They are neither existent nor non-existent”. Thus, “dust-inked” is used to illustrate what has neither beginning nor end.

This term “dust-inked” represents beginninglessness and endlessness. If we understand this principle clearly and fully, when we listen to this Dharma, we will naturally come to understand it quickly. As long as we know a person, talking to them is easy. We just need to pick up a cell phone, and at the press of a button, we will be connected. It is the same principle. As long as we know them, as long as we have a close connection with them, we will be able to reach them.

This principle is that simple. In the previous sutra passage, [the Buddha] said, “All throughout the world, heavenly beings, humans and asuras all say that the present Buddha, Sakyamuni, left the Sakya Palace and went somewhere not far from the city of Gaya, where I sat in the place of enlightenment and attained Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

Thus, “All throughout the world, heavenly beings, humans and asuras…”. These were all unenlightened beings. They all differentiated between appearances. So, they merely saw the Buddha’s appearance and confined [His lifespan] to that period of time. They confined [His lifespan] to the time and place of the Buddha’s birth, to how He became a monastic and engaged in spiritual practice. This measurement was based on appearances. This is how unenlightened beings see the Buddha.

In the next sutra passage, [the Buddha] goes on to say, “However, good men, I actually attained Buddhahood before then, infinite and limitless trillions of nayutas of kalpas ago”.

This is a very long time “Nayutas of kalpas ago is such a long period of time”. This sutra passage describes how such a long time had passed since the Buddha attained Buddhahood. It was not the case that He had only attained Buddhahood 40 or so years ago. Next, He began to explain how long His lifespan really is and how long ago He had attained enlightenment. It was only at this time that He began to describe this.

Here He describes how long it had been since He attained Buddhahood. When He left the Sakya Palace and sat at the Bodhimanda, this was the Buddha’s manifestation of His Nirmanakaya. He traced the manifest back to the intrinsic, thus He describes here how long ago. His Sambhogakaya had attained Buddhahood.

So, “when He left the Sakya Palace” and sat in His place of enlightenment, this was “the Buddha’s manifestation of His Nirmanakaya” in response to the causes and conditions and the capabilities of sentient beings. So, the Buddha’s Nirmanakaya manifested in this world. The manifestations of His Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya were all that unenlightened beings could perceive. This is His transformation-body. So, “He traced the manifest back to the intrinsic”. His manifestation in the world was just like any other human. This was in response to the needs of human beings. He was in the same world [as them]. It is just that He was in the palace. He manifested being born as a noble in the palace. He manifested wealth and nobility but did not lose Himself in this wealth and nobility. As a result, His ideas and way of thinking differed from others. He wanted to leave the palace to seek out the source of life. He wanted to find a way to break through the idea that human life is unequal. His way of thinking was very different from others.

So, “He left the Sakya Palace”. He ended up spending 11 years visiting [religious teachers] and engaging in ascetic practices. Once these two periods came to an end, He went to the Bodhimanda, where He sat beneath the Bodhi tree and attained perfect enlightenment. This was merely an appearance He manifested in response to sentient beings’ capabilities. He taught people, “This is how I formed aspirations in the past”. I was able to do this. “You all should be able to do it too.” He manifested this appearance to serve as a model.

So, “He traced the manifest back to the intrinsic”. His course of practice was a “manifestation”. The principles that He taught are the Dharmakaya; He traced [the manifest] back to His Dharmakaya. The Buddha wanted to teach all sentient beings to understand the principles so that everyone could understand the course of the Dharma. So, He manifested this appearance as a role model. He “traced the manifest back to the intrinsic”. He wanted to reveal the nature of the True Dharma, so now He began to teach it. “Thus He describes here how long ago”. His Sambhogakaya had attained Buddhahood”. How long did it take for His Sambhogakaya to attain Buddhahood? How long did He live in this world? It was only through His body that everyone could see that He was able to reveal the manifestation of His Nirmanakaya and His Dharmakaya. This is how He was able to do this. So, [He said], “However, good men, I actually attained Buddhahood before then”. In the past over 40 years since He attained Buddhahood, this period of over 40 years, [His body] was merely an image He wanted others to look to. He acted as a role model. “However, good men…”. The Buddha told everyone, “I actually attained Buddhahood before then”. The Buddha cautioned His disciples again that they all must be diligent. The Buddha had already expressed this, and He earnestly called upon them once again. “Good men” are people who form aspirations to engage in spiritual practice and form aspirations to walk the Bodhisattva-path; they are all known as “good men”.

Everyone is a great person who must courageously shoulder this heavy burden and undertake this mission. So, He called them all “good men”. All good men of great undertakings, in listening to the Dharma, must “carefully listen to, contemplate and faithfully accept the Buddha’s words”. Everyone must be very vigilant and listen carefully. Everyone must be very vigilant and listen carefully. Once we hear it, we must contemplate it mindfully and earnestly and faithfully accept the Buddha’s teachings. This was the Buddha’s instruction.

However, good men, I actually attained Buddhahood before then: The Buddha earnestly called upon those listening to the Dharma to carefully listen to, contemplate and faithfully accept the Buddha’s words. The Buddha declared: “I actually attained Buddhahood before then” The Dharmakaya is neither attainable nor unattainable; it has always been innate.

Again, the Buddha said, “I actually attained Buddhahood before then”. This was to explain about the “Dharmakaya”. The Dharmakaya, this enlightenment, is “neither attainable nor unattainable”. This enlightenment has always been there. It is innately present. The Buddha-nature is inherently without beginning or end. It has been present from the beginning. This enlightenment is merely what He expressed in the world to help everyone understand that this Dharma manifests our intrinsic nature. This intrinsic nature did not come out of nowhere. This awakened nature has always been innate to us. So, this intrinsic awakened nature is something innate to us all. We all share this intrinsic nature. This awakening is our awakened nature. We might lose sight of it, but this intrinsic nature still exists in everyone. So, we must mindfully seek to comprehend this. We have always innately possessed this intrinsic nature of goodness. We must take one step further to awaken it. We have always innately possessed this intrinsic nature of goodness. We must take one step further to awaken it. We have always had this innate enlightenment; it has always been with us.

If we cultivate our causal practice to perfection, our Sambhogakaya’s blessed virtue and our wisdom will also have the appearance of perfection. This is known as attaining Buddhahood.

“If we cultivate our causal practice to perfection, our Sambhogakaya’s blessed virtue…”. In the past, the Buddha, over many kalpas since Beginningless Time, engaged in causal practice, actualizing the Six Paramitas in all actions. Once we form aspirations, we must walk the Bodhisattva-path and go among people to transform sentient beings lifetime after lifetime. So, our cause, this “causal practice,” is our seed. We must constantly cultivate and nurture it all the way until “one gives rise to infinity and infinity arises from one”. Doesn’t the Sutra of Infinite Meanings say this? So, we must “cultivate our causal practice”. We must practice as Bodhisattvas, actualizing the Six Paramitas in all actions. If we constantly cultivate [this causal practice] for infinite kalpas, walk the Bodhisattva-path lifetime after lifetime and constantly go among people, we will come to full and perfect fruition, and so will “our Sambhogakaya’s blessed virtue”. When we widely form good affinities, our causes and conditions will be inconceivable. People will always watch us, listen to us and praise us. If we have no affinities with others, we can say a whole lot, but they will never accept what we say. But if we have the affinities, even if we just say half a sentence to them, they will find it useful. We must always be very mindful and work hard to form good affinities with everyone. This is cultivating the Bodhisattva-path. When we form good affinities, everyone will accept what we have to say. We must transform sentient beings and be replete with causes and conditions to be able to attain Buddhahood.

So, for “our Sambhogakaya’s blessed virtue,” we must constantly accumulate blessed affinities. We have explained this “virtue” continuously throughout the past. We must engage in “inner cultivation and external practice. Inner cultivation is merit, external practice is virtue”. As we constantly cultivate and accumulate blessed virtue, “our wisdom will have the appearance of perfection”. Naturally, we will continue to accumulate [wisdom]. With every experience, we grow in wisdom. As we constantly accumulate [experience], naturally, our wisdom will be perfect, and we will manifest the appearance of wisdom. The principles of all things in the world [will appear to us] like a gushing spring. We will understand all principles and matters. To gain full understanding, we must accumulate [wisdom] in daily life. This is “the appearance of perfect wisdom”. Our blessed virtues will also be perfect as we actualize the Six Paramitas in all actions. This is what it means to attain Buddhahood.

Also, the reason why He was able to attain the Sambhogakaya of Buddhahood is because He was able to realize the Dharmakaya. Bodhisattvas are also capable of realizing the Dharmakaya in part and attaining the Sambhogakaya, but it will not be perfect or complete.

There is also the Sambhogakaya, the Sambhogakaya of Buddhahood. The Buddha attained Buddhahood because of His Sambhogakaya. Lifetime after lifetime, He responded to the capabilities of sentient beings in the world. He constantly built up to this until He attained it. So, [this is] “because He was able to realize the Dharmakaya”. Because He constantly accumulated blessed and virtuous conditions and was replete in both blessings and wisdom, He was able to perfect this Dharmakaya. When we form ample affinities with sentient beings and go among sentient beings, we will also come to understand their many afflictions and hardships.

Thus, “afflictions are Bodhi”. Among people, we come to understand so many afflictions and help [many others] succeed on the path to awakening. “With every experience, we grow in wisdom”. [Worldly] matters bring so many afflictions. But once we experience these matters, we will grow in wisdom. In this way, we will perfect our Sambhogakaya among people and matters. Once we realize this, we will return to the Dharma, our Dharma-nature. We will return to our Dharma-nature. This is something we must mindfully seek to comprehend. In everything we do, we must mindfully seek to comprehend this. Only then will we be able to work up to this. Thus, “Bodhisattvas are also capable of realizing the Dharmakaya in part”. We just need to form aspirations to walk the Bodhisattva-path. Even as newly-inspired Bodhisattvas, we will begin to accept the Dharma, gain some insights and begin to put it into practice. As we slowly come to understand, we will change our habitual tendencies.

This is like the honorary board members in Kaohsiung who came to Hualien to meet some entrepreneurs. They came to speak of their past experiences, seeking to improve by revealing their shortcomings. In the past, they had many bad habitual tendencies. They did not try to conceal any of them. Over 30 people gave testimony together to how bad a certain person used to be in the past. This person also personally described how awful he had been in the past, how he had destroyed his own family, destroyed his relationships with others, and what became of his family. When he came back here, he told me his story again. This is the meaning of repentance. He shared [his story] with everyone.

When he repented, [he said to me,] “Master, I still have some things that I have not told you yet. I already shared them with everyone today. Now I have come to you to repent. Master, you did not know that. I kept something from you. This is how I used to be in the past. I am grateful to Master, for it is because I have this Dharma that I was able to awaken. So, I have changed myself. Now I have repented. This is how my family has changed…”. This is how it was. He formed Bodhisattvas-aspirations and began to change himself. This is because he was able to awaken. Awakening means coming to a realization. When we realize and awaken to this Dharma, we will immediately change ourselves; this is returning to our intrinsic nature. In this way, we will also come to realize this in part. “Only this Dharma can change me. Only this Dharma can bring my family peace. Only this Dharma can stabilize my business. Only this Dharma can enable me to widely form good affinities.” We must start by being a good person and apply the Dharma in our lives to change ourselves and benefit others. This is what it means to be a Bodhisattva. So, this is “attaining the Sambhogakaya.” Right now, in this world, we can change ourselves and serve others. This is very inspiring indeed. It is just that right now, we are still imperfect. “But [we] will not be perfect or complete.” Because we are unenlightened beings, we still have many faults. This is something we must be very mindful of. We need to quickly improve our shortcomings and hasten to serve others. “If we can reach wondrous enlightenment and cause our Dharma-nature to manifest in its ultimate perfection…”.

If we can reach wondrous enlightenment and cause our Dharma-nature to manifest its ultimate perfection, then we will attain the Dharmakaya of Buddhahood. If, through our casual practice, we can cultivate our merits and virtues to their ultimate perfection, then we will attain the Sambhogakaya of Buddhahood.

If we want to attain the state of Buddhahood, we must very quickly manifest this Dharma-nature to its ultimate perfection. We must be very proactive. Then we will “attain the Dharmakaya of Buddhahood.” We must be diligent and work very hard to make the most out of our time. Human life is short. We have no control over [its length], yet we are able to expand its breadth and depth. We can open up a broad path and pave it smooth. In this way, we can seize our time and hasten to serve others. So, this is how we build up to this, beginning with the Sambhogakaya. We must seize our opportunities. “If, through our casual practice, we can cultivate our merits and virtues to their ultimate perfection…”. If we have the causes and conditions to encounter the Buddha-Dharma and come to understand the principles, we will correct our faults. Not only must we correct our faults, we must also continue to diligently advance, “cultivating our merits and virtues to their ultimate perfection.” We must quickly advance forward, continuing on until we attain the state of ultimate perfection.

“Then we will attain the Sambhogakaya of Buddhahood.” As we advance diligently, we will [attain] our Sambhogakaya. We must use our Sambhogakaya to accomplish our mission. So, [the Buddha] went on to say, “…infinite and limitless trillions of nayutas of kalpas ago”.

…infinite and limitless trillions of nayutas of kalpas ago: This part reveals that the length of time since the Buddha attained Buddhahood is limitlessly and infinitely long. It is even more extensive than the length revealed in the Brahmajala Sutra.

This “reveals the length of time since the Buddha attained Buddhahood,” showing how long it had been since He attained it. It has been infinite kalpas, a very long time. In fact, He had already attained Buddhahood before. He had already perfected His enlightened nature a very long time ago. How long ago was this? It was “infinite and limitless trillions of nayutas of kalpas ago.” “Nayutas of kalpas” are infinite. They cannot be calculated. “Infinite trillions of nayutas of kalpas” is even longer than what was said in the Brahmajala Sutra. “It is even more extensive than the length [that sutra] revealed.”

To sum it up, this took a very long time. What should we do during such a long time? The world will always be full of suffering. Sentient beings must form Bodhisattva-aspirations to engage in spiritual practice. Amidst the many sentient beings, we must begin to give rise to compassion. We must give rise to compassion and go among people and transform sentient beings. We must serve as a role model in many ways and do various conditioned good deeds to serve others. We must seize the time and just do what is right. Everyone, please always be mindful!

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