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 20190108《靜思妙蓮華》行因得果 為方便說 (第1518集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六)

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20190108《靜思妙蓮華》行因得果 為方便說 (第1518集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六) Empty
發表主題: 20190108《靜思妙蓮華》行因得果 為方便說 (第1518集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六)   20190108《靜思妙蓮華》行因得果 為方便說 (第1518集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六) Empty周二 1月 08, 2019 8:39 am

20190108《靜思妙蓮華》行因得果 為方便說 (第1518集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六)

⊙自從往古初心,持四宏誓以來,我常在此娑婆世界說法教化,中間亦於餘處,歷經百千萬億那由他阿僧祇國導利諸眾生。
⊙涅槃此翻為滅。滅煩惱故,滅生死苦故,名之為滅。離眾相故,大寂靜故,名之為滅。滅諸煩惱,名為涅槃,離諸有者,乃為涅槃。
⊙「自從是來,我常在此娑婆世界說法教化,亦於餘處百千萬億那由他阿僧祇國導利眾生。」《法華經如來壽量品第十六》
⊙「諸善男子!於是中間,我說燃燈佛等,又復言其入於涅槃,如是皆以方便分別。」《法華經如來壽量品第十六》
⊙此廣顯化身以釋群眾之疑。昔見諸教所說,處處行因不同,即疑因;又見處處得記不同,即是疑果。如此行因得記,皆不知是果後方便,故生疑。
⊙諸善男子!於是中間,我說燃燈佛等:方便大乘,說三阿僧祇修行成佛。
⊙故說昔古善慧菩薩遇然燈佛得授記:汝於來世當得作佛,號釋迦牟尼,皆中間事。中間:以塵點劫前為始,盡未來際為終,於此兩楹,悉名中間。今指然燈佛時行因,即拂因疑。
⊙又指然燈授記及入涅槃,即除果疑。如此因果,非復一條,皆成方便,故名拂疑。
⊙如是皆以方便分別:非實爾也。於昔教所說,行因得果,皆是方便分別,故此一句為拂疑。
⊙如是皆以方便分別:非實爾也。於昔教所說,行因得果,皆是方便分別,故此一句為拂疑。
⊙方便分別:非謂以言語宣示,皆各有顯現之事相,如住宮、出家、八相成道之相,共見共聞者皆是。
⊙又既言然燈佛等,則行因得記之事。又復言其入於涅槃,即如今經唱將入滅,悉是方便。

【證嚴上人開示】
自從往古初心,持四宏誓以來,我常在此娑婆世界說法教化,中間亦於餘處,歷經百千萬億那由他阿僧祇國導利諸眾生。

自從往古初心
持四宏誓以來
我常在此娑婆世界
說法教化
中間亦於餘處
歷經百千萬億
那由他阿僧祇國
導利諸眾生

要多用心!「自從往古初心」。一直以來,這「往古初心」到底是多久?多久以前的「往古」呢?「往古」就是過去、過去,很長、很久很久以前,開始發一念心。最初那念心開始,「持四宏誓以來」,從這樣開始,身、口、意,從發心開始,身體力行,言語宣說,意念時時、秒秒又再立宏誓願。從這樣開始以來,釋迦佛,他就是這樣說,這麼長久以前,開始發心立願以來,「我常在此娑婆世界,說法教化」。就是這樣,都沒有離開這個娑婆世界,一直一直都是在這個地方為主,這個地方,這樣教化眾生。

在這當中,「亦於餘處」,歷經「百千萬億」。這就是表示,來來回回的當中,在待因緣之時,那就到其他的地方,來來回回也是百千萬億,也是很長久!就像我們說:「我在哪一個地方工作,這個地方的任期,這樣滿了,我就要離開;離開之後,這當中還有時間,我就不要浪費時間,再到其他的地方,把握時間再來去付出,找因緣再投入。」但是,主要化度的地方,就是在此娑婆世界;其他有餘的時間,就在其他的地方,去化度眾生,這時間經歷也是百千萬億哦!這就是要告訴我們,時間的長久,「我主要在這裡,這個地方是我發願所要救度的」,一段、一段的因緣,這還是,當中還到其他的地方,這樣的經歷就已經有那麼久了;看,「往古初心」,發宏誓願以來,這樣有多久了?已經「百千萬億,那由他阿僧祇國」。

因為除了這個地方,又經歷的時間很長;又到其他的國土,很多的國土再去導利眾生,再去教化其他的眾生,可見這樣的時間又是多長了?所以,我們要去體會它,佛陀要說的,他從開始一念間,發心了,一念,這念心一直存在,一直都沒有起落,就是很順,一直向著菩提大覺道方向走;開這條路,是很殷勤。所以他這時間很長,涅槃,來來回回,總是有現相──有生、有死,在這個形象,事相,來回就是事相。有來、有去,因緣具足就來了,因緣結束就去了,再等待因緣再來,來去無不都是現事相在人間。還是這念不生不滅的本性,這初心本性,還是來來回回,這樣來去;這個來回當中,生的現跡、最後的涅槃,這也經過了無數劫。

涅槃此翻為滅
滅煩惱故
滅生死苦故
名之為滅
離眾相故
大寂靜故
名之為滅
滅諸煩惱
名為涅槃
離諸有者
乃為涅槃

「涅槃」只是一個形象,我們名稱上、事相來看,佛陀八十年後,取涅槃入滅了,其實涅槃、入滅,是我們凡夫所看的事相,其實涅槃是道理;這個道理,道理那就是叫做「滅」。涅槃稱為「滅」,滅什麼啊?掉煩滅惱。我們人人都是心中還有煩惱,我們的煩惱重重,所以看事情無法很清楚。我們的觀念、思想,還是帶著煩惱,很朦朧,不會清楚,所以這就是我們的煩惱還未滅。佛陀開始修行,發大心,他很快速就煩惱除滅,除滅煩惱。人人修行,就是要除滅煩惱,所以要「滅煩惱故」,自然就「滅生死苦故」。人,生的頭一聲就是「苦啊」,生來頭一聲就是苦啊、哭了!從這樣開始,一輩子慢慢、慢慢長大了,慢慢、慢慢年紀大了、老了,就往死的方向接近了。死,就是在煩惱的凡夫,是最怕、最擔心;這種最擔憂、最懼怕,這個死,那就是苦,長時間在這個苦中來折磨著。

這個生死的問題,在「愛別離」,不只是生死這個人的,本身感受的苦,是周圍眷屬、家裡的人,全都是擔心、是擔憂,也是苦。這就是人生互相牽絆著的苦,這就是我們修行功夫還不到,所以就有愛別離的苦。當然,凡夫平常都是有「怨憎會」,人與人的相處,怨,「我就是要和你計較,我就是不歡喜」,更親密的人也是有這樣!「我很氣、我很煩」,但是一旦有了什麼事情,知道已經生命威脅了,生死邊緣,「唉呀!我苦啊!我不捨、我擔憂」,這就是人間的矛盾,這就是叫做煩惱。煩惱事多,就是在這個生死之間。

生之時,彼此的互動、彼此的不如意、不合意,就會怨言。若是彼此之間,其實也是有愛的相絆,總是生死中煩惱。若是了解道理之後,生死去來皆自在;生之時,好好把握時間,疼惜生命,讓我們的生命,不要空過、不要浪費。應該要為我們成長慧命,這就是顧好自己生命的可貴,顧我們慧命的成長。慧命要如何成長呢?就是利用生命在人群中付出,所以我們「六度萬行」──布施、持戒、忍辱、精進、禪定、智慧,這都是修自己,好好用心去想,豈不就是付出要守好自己;「布施」就是付出,「持戒」就是要警惕自己,「精進」還是要顧好自己,所以這樣守好自己再付出,付出要堪忍耐,這樣來來回回,練就了我們的定心,練就了我們的智慧,禪定在生活中,佛法就是在我們的生活裡,這就是我們在人群中要鍛煉出來。

若能夠這樣了,生死自在。佛法,我們已經清楚了,人事道理也都已經分明了,來的時候要自在,去的時候,也要輕安,輕安自在、自在輕安,這樣心裡就沒有粗重的煩惱,將我們障礙到,這就是我們要勤學。所以,「涅槃」就是滅,光是「滅」,裡面就道理很多。所以,我們要「離眾相故。」要離開了這些種種的形象。有我的身形、有我的生命,有我的,這樣我們會很多的苦不堪。我們就是輕安自在,什麼時候,眼睛睜開,健康,感恩,做就對了!什麼時候眼睛閉下去,呼吸停了,自在,飄飄然,輕安,定住我們的心,到我們真正要去的地方,不要有相的掛礙,自然來去自如。

所以要離開眾相,沒有這個相的牽礙,若到這樣境界,就是大寂靜的心境,寂靜清澄,永遠就是這樣很寂定,這就是我們常常說的,要求的境界,所以,寂靜「名之為滅」。這就是「滅」,滅諸煩惱,將所有的煩惱全都滅除了。所以,「滅諸煩惱,名為涅槃」,這樣叫做「涅槃」。「離諸有者,乃為涅槃」。世間到了最後就是空了,空空然、無所有,回歸於道理。所以,我們要體會,道理原來是無體相,我們就不需要執著,理,只是給我們用的,這樣而已。所以,我們要用心去體會理,我們的觀念、思想能通,就是理。

來,接下來,這段前面的文這樣說:「自從是來,我常在此娑婆世界說法教化,亦於餘處百千萬億那由他阿僧祇國導利眾生。」

自從是來
我常在此娑婆世界
說法教化
亦於餘處百千萬億
那由他阿僧祇國
導利眾生

從這個地方一直到其他的地方,剛才說過了,主要就是在娑婆世界,來回這個空間,就是到其他很多、很多,「百千萬億那由他阿僧祇國」。這就是我們要去了解,前面已經有向大家說過。

接下來這段文:「諸善男子!於是中間,我說燃燈佛等,又復言其入於涅槃,如是皆以方便分別。」

諸善男子
於是中間
我說燃燈佛等
又復言其入於涅槃
如是皆以方便分別
《法華經如來壽量品第十六》

佛陀又再向大家說:「諸善男子!在這個中間,從開始發心,來來回回無數次了;這個當中,我又再有說起了燃燈佛。」燃燈佛,古往,過去燃燈佛,那段譬喻的因緣,這過去佛陀也曾說過了,這是在「跡門」之中,也曾說過。這就是要表示佛陀從大通智勝佛的時代,開始發心,那是很久、很久,塵點劫的事情。那個發菩薩心、大乘心,一直以來,就是當中還有遇到很多佛;又當中,最明顯的有提出了燃燈佛。這就是要為我們顯示,那生生世世的長久,古往的開頭,無盡期的時間,一直到當中又再有遇會的因緣,這化身在每一個世界來來回回,讓大家能夠更加清楚。

此廣顯化身
以釋群眾之疑
昔見諸教所說
處處行因不同
即疑因
又見處處得記不同
即是疑果
如此行因得記
皆不知是果後方便
故生疑

「昔」很久以前,就是這樣的過程,所教育、所講的法,是在不同的地方,所供養過的佛是無數、無數,在「處處行因不同」。這就是要向我們說,這個過程中,說過了很多在修行的過程,遇過了多少的佛,這處處都有。這是表示時間的長久,因為要一尊佛出世,是經過無量數劫。而釋迦佛之前,已經經過是無量數佛,可見每一尊佛的無量數劫,他能夠會遇了無量數佛,可見時間長、地方不同,叫做「處處行因」。每一地方,同樣他都去行「六度萬行」,「行因不同」。這就是要向大家說:「我所度的這麼多人的來處,就是這樣,大家不要有疑了。」

「又見處處得記不同」。遇到每一尊佛,每一尊佛最後就是這樣授記,所以每一尊佛一次,再一尊佛再一次,不斷地授記。這授記不同,同樣到處都是這樣,互相祝福、彼此授記;授記是祝福未來,所以隨時都有被祝福,時時就是有這樣,得到修行的肯定。「即是疑果」。有時候,哪一尊佛的授記,未來的結果,我們人人看到人家的成就,「你豈有可能?過去是這樣、這樣過來嗎?」這就是「疑果」,看到現在人家的成就,這叫做「疑果」。看到人家累積那麼多,不可思議的次數,會「疑因」,這就是我們人有這樣的疑;有的是「疑因」,有的是「疑果」。

「如此行因得記,皆不知是果後方便」,所生的疑。因為我們大家都不知道,他已經是早就已經成就了,但是再來來回回又去度眾生,又再遇不同的佛,再被祝福。其實被祝福的人,也已經在行無數的因了,同樣也有這樣的得果。就像文殊、觀音,很多現在在釋迦佛的道場,他們顯為菩薩,也要很用心在這裡,聽釋迦佛講法。其實,他們過去也已經成佛了,觀音菩薩,正法明如來是他的過去;文殊菩薩是過去龍種上尊王佛。這不就是過去已得果了,現在在釋迦佛的座前,顯菩薩身相,他們也是來度眾生。

這同樣的道理,釋迦佛的過去也是這樣,生生世世度眾生,這叫做「因」。在那個地方遇到佛了,有各不同的佛,他也是在那裡受法,同樣,他自己本身也有所成就,所以這沒什麼可疑。那尊佛在講法,其實聽法的人,自己已經也了解這個法了,但是還是生生世世要有這樣,不斷累積這個因──上求、下化,這個行儀一定要經過,這就是菩薩。以娑婆世界為主,其他的地方,來來回回在行因度化,同樣的意思,所以我們要用心去體會,道理就會通。

諸善男子
於是中間
我說燃燈佛等:
方便大乘
說三阿僧祇
修行成佛

所以,「諸善男子!於是中間,我說燃燈佛等」。「等」,除了燃燈佛以外,其他還有很多佛,那個過程中。這都是「方便大乘,說三阿僧祇,修行成佛」,這都是用方便法,為了要讓大家聽得懂,所以就要用種種方便,但是為了要度眾生,這叫做「大乘」。大乘法開方便門,應眾生的根機講,「說三阿僧祇修行成佛」,就是要說這樣的過程,所以他就會說過去的故事。

有一段時間,釋迦佛在因行的時候,就是在修行時,在那第二阿僧祇劫。「三大阿僧祇劫」,現在就說,其中在第二阿僧祇劫那個時期。這個阿僧祇劫開始,已經滿了,就是已經將要過去,那個時候,就遇到燃燈佛,出世在那個時候。所以,那時候他也是在修行,釋迦佛還在「因行」之時,聽到佛,他就起很歡喜的心。這個過程,有機會,他就買五朵的蓮花。

就是過程,聽到大家要去供佛,他把握這個因緣,在城市裡,看到一個女孩子,這個女孩子是在皇宮的宮女,她拿出了,有七支的蓮花。他看到蓮花很歡喜,向著這個女孩說:「我想買妳五朵蓮花。」女孩子就問這位修行者:「您買蓮花要做什麼?」「因為我知道燃燈佛,已經在這個城市,我是要去供佛,所以妳可以五朵蓮花賣我嗎?」所以她想到他要去供佛,但是本身是宮女,無法去,就說:「好,五朵蓮花賣您,但是我剩下的兩朵,我也要拜託您,替我去供佛。」就這樣,他拿著七朵蓮花,到燃燈佛的面前,去供佛,虔誠的心在那個時候虔誠供佛。

供佛之後,燃燈佛往前走的時候,看到泥濘的土地,他擔心佛,腳踏到泥濘的土地,他緊急將他身上的皮衣,這樣脫下來,趕緊散出去,將那泥濘蓋起來。但是這個衣,皮衣覆地還不夠,因為泥土很多,所以,他就趕緊將他的頭髮,那髮髻就將它解開,將它散髮,就這樣趴下去,將頭髮鋪在,那皮衣蓋不到的泥土上,讓這尊佛的腳走過去。所以因為這樣,佛,那尊燃燈佛,他看到他這樣的虔誠,真誠地供養,這尊佛就為他授記了:「你的精進,你未來九十一劫後,你應該就能夠作佛了,你的號叫做釋迦文如來。」這就是這段的故事。

這段故事,就是在善慧菩薩,遇到燃燈佛授記的故事之中。這就是釋迦牟尼佛,曾有一段時間,說善慧菩薩能夠成佛的因緣,修行的過程,其中的一段因緣。這就是說,「中間事」,在修行,修行因中,那中間事。所以,「善男子!於是中間」,就是來來回回在修行,「三大阿僧祇劫」,時間中的,其中一世有遇到這樣,燃燈佛。所以,「我說燃燈佛等」,這就是佛陀,浮在那文字上面,剛才的經文這樣說過了,就是遇到這樣的佛。所以,「善男子!這當中,我已經有遇到這樣的佛,曾經這樣過來的。」這就是釋迦佛與燃燈佛,過往的故事,這就是釋迦佛的過程。

故說昔古善慧菩薩
遇然燈佛得授記:
汝於來世當得作佛
號釋迦牟尼
皆中間事
中間:
以塵點劫前為始
盡未來際為終
於此兩楹
悉名中間
今指然燈佛時行因
即拂因疑

「中間:以塵點劫前為始」。若要說佛陀什麼時候發心?就是塵點劫前,那時候開始。「塵點劫」大家應該還記得,大通智勝佛,那時候的,「塵點劫」的開始,初發一念心,發菩薩心,聽《法華經》,講《法華經》,發菩薩心,那個時候開始。「盡未來際為終」,就是那個時候開始,這當中過程有這麼的多,盡未來世,就這樣一直以來,這就是「於此兩楹,悉名中間」。在始終、終始這當中,都叫做,叫做中間;開始到最後,這個階段都統統叫做中間。所以,我們就知道,中間到底有多長,這「中間」是很長。

又指然燈授記
及入涅槃
即除果疑
如此因果
非復一條
皆成方便
故名拂疑

又再指「燃燈授記及入涅槃」,即是除果的疑。他會說出了燃燈佛,就是要為我們解釋這受記。我們經過了〈授記品〉,在「跡門」,前有〈授記品〉,佛陀也為弟子授記,這就是要表示修行的過程,就是被祝福、被授記了。

被授記,這還是在「行因」的階段,燃燈佛為他授記,再九十一劫之後,你會成佛,所以,釋迦佛前的九十一劫,就是燃燈佛了,時間有多長啊?這當中。九十一劫的過去,還有無數佛,我們就能夠知道,這樣是有多長。所以到了佛,釋迦佛現相成佛,這樣這個時間看有多久?所以,「入於涅槃」,那就是知道時間的過程,讓大家心中不要有疑。時間長久,我們一定要肯定時間長久,我們一定要肯定,這要相信。所以,「如此因果,非復一條」。因果,修因證果,不是只有一個、一項而已,是無數、無數。佛陀一生,光是在這個成佛以來,四十九年前,你看,他說過去、談現在、說未來,那故事是說多少呢!不是一條而已,是無量數,這通通就是叫做「方便」,這都叫做方便。所以,「又復言其入於涅槃」。

又復言其
入於涅槃:
又說然燈入般涅槃
言其中間
示化及涅槃

又再說,燃燈佛「入般涅槃」,就是燃燈佛的時代,過了之後,又有正法、又有像法、又有末法,這樣過了之後,這就是說過去。「如是皆以方便分別」。

如是皆以
方便分別:
非實爾也
於昔教所說
行因得果
皆是方便分別
故此一句為拂疑

就像這樣,燃燈佛也有「般涅槃」的時間,時間過了之後又九十一劫,一直到現在,這是時間的長久。佛陀所說的這些事情,都是方便法,從過去的事相,說來現在聽,這都叫做「方便」;說過去,有事、有相,這都「方便」。因為你那些事,是從道理中做過來的事,但是事是會過去,事與相今何在啊?我們現在在說:「佛陀啊!釋迦牟尼佛。」我們只能夠從口中,一直一直稱讚佛,佛是什麼?我們又是說:佛就是道理。是啊,佛就是道理,因為佛是覺、是悟,覺和悟就是道理,所以這就是道理。所以佛,他的身相,他已經沒有在人間了,但是他覺、悟的,他法身還在。這就是道理存在,事相已經「滅」,沒有了,就沒有。所以,「非實」,非實,這些故事都是方便法。我們每一個人都是一樣,每一天過的事相,現在求不可得,這很沒有辦法;昨天那個時間的事情,你要再拿出來看,是沒有了,何況時間過程?

所以,「於昔教所說」。過去所教育、所說的一切,所「行因得果」,不論是談因緣、說故事,這都是過去的因、緣,所造作的事情。同樣的,我們慈濟在做,因為這件事情,需要趕緊及時、趕緊去付出,這個過程中有人、事、物,但是付出之後,那就已經過去了。這個事情過去了,事相久來也沒有了,但是道理、故事是存在,只能說故事,無法存在它的事相。所以說起來,這叫做「行因得果」,這就是他的過去。「皆是方便」,這些都是方便,都是這樣的過程。所以,心中有疑,要趕緊去除,不要有疑。所以,「方便分別」。

方便分別:
非謂以言語宣示
皆各有顯現之事相
如住宮、出家
八相成道之相
共見共聞者皆是

這個方便的分別,「非謂以言語宣示」。其實言語要向你說,這樣在說,要再拿出來看,就是看不到;說過了只是聲塵入耳根而已,所以這全都是言詞。「聲塵」是一個名稱,「耳根」也是一個名稱,所以這耳根,耳朵都在,但是聽不到,那是意識敗壞掉了。根、塵、識要合起來,才是有作用。所以我們那個「識」,這個耳神經,若有所壞,只有這個相,它就沒有這個功能,這就是敗壞,沒有了。所以說,「非謂以言語宣示」,這個語言,也是一個功能而已,所以,我們要好好將語言功能,會入我們的心,去通徹那個道理。

所以,「皆各有顯現之事相」。用語言來形容有這樣的事情,就是只有能夠用語言來形容,所以你在宣導法,也是同樣用語言而已。所以「如住宮、出家、八相成道。」就像佛陀顯相人間,皇族誕生,皇宮長大,住在皇宮的裡面。發現到道理,要去求理,所以他要出家、離皇城,出皇宮、出家去了,去求道、去修行,然後坐菩提樹,覺悟了,開始說法,最後取入滅,這全都是佛總共的八種階段,來人間。佛陀就是用這樣的過程、語言來說過去的成就,來教育。

又既言然燈佛等
則行因得記之事
又復言其入於涅槃
即如今經唱將入滅
悉是方便

「又既言燃燈佛等,則行因得記之事」。這是因為這樣,有走過,有這樣修過,所以才能夠得到,那尊佛為我授記,九十一劫之後,能夠成佛;這個事件,這是有的,不是沒有的。但是,在那時候經過的事實,現在用語言來表達,再「又復言其入於涅槃」就是那時候的燃燈佛入涅槃,未來我的身體,將來也都要取入滅,這全都是方便;燃燈佛的入滅、釋迦佛的入滅,同樣,這全都是方便。

各位,真的是「如是皆以方便分別」,種種的道理,無不都是以方便,因為「言語道斷」,所說的,要拿過去來教育現在。所以,過去的,就已經是過去了,尤其是很久、很久的時代,過去是這樣,現在也是這樣,因為道理是永恆不變,生態也是永恆不變。人生的生、老、病、死,同樣永遠的,人生就有生、老、病、死,這是事實、這是道理。人是不斷淘汰、不斷地更生,就是生、老、病、死,但是去又再來,去再來,這來來去去,這時間就是在分分秒秒連接著,無不都是過去、現在、未來。

所以,我們要很清楚,這種過去、現在、未來,所累積的事相,無不都是行因、成果,這種「行因」。我們分分秒秒,開口動舌、舉步動足,這都是在「行因」。這就是我們修行的過程,從短時間一直到長時間,從初發心,這念心的堅定,一直一直到未來。這無窮盡的時間,要把握好最初的一念心,所以我們要時時多用心!


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Causal Practice and Attainment are Skillful Means (行因得果 為方便說)
Date: January.08.2019

“Since ancient times, when I formed my initial aspirations and began upholding the Four Great Vows, I have constantly been in this Saha World to expound the Dharma to teach and transform all. During this time, I have also been in other places, going through quadrillions of nayutas of asankyas of lands to guide and benefit all sentient beings.”

We must always be mindful! “Since ancient times, I formed my initial aspirations.” From this point, how long ago [has it been] since these “ancient initial aspirations,” were [made]? How “ancient” are they? “Ancient” is the past of the past. It was a very, very long time ago that [the Buddha] formed His initial aspiration. Beginning with this initial aspiration, “[He] began upholding the Four Great Vows.”

Thus, with His body, speech and mind, He started forming aspirations, putting them into action and spreading them with His speech. His mind formed great aspirations at every moment. Since He started like this, Sakyamuni Buddha stated that, since such a long time ago when He began forming aspirations and vows, “I have constantly been in this Saha World to expound the Dharma to teach and transform all.” This is how things have been. He never leaves this Saha World; it is in this place that He continually teaches and transforms sentient beings. During this time, “I have also been in other places, going through quadrillions [of lands].” This means that, between coming and going, as He waits for causes and conditions, He goes to other places, back and forth through quadrillions of lands. This also takes a very long time. This is like how we might say that when we work at a place, once our term in that place is ending, we need to leave. After we leave, if we still have time, we must not waste that time. We must move on to another place, seize the time to continue giving and seize the causes and conditions to stay involved. However, the main place for His work of transforming [sentient beings] is this Saha World. In the remainder of His time, He transforms sentient beings in other places.

The time He spends doing this [is measured in] the quadrillions as well. “I am mainly here; this place is where I vowed to save and transform [sentient beings].” Between His causes and conditions [for coming to this world], the Buddha also goes to other places. He has been doing this for so long. You see, “Since ancient times, when I formed my initial aspirations,” how long has it been since He made great vows? It has been [long enough to travel through] “quadrillions of nayutas of asankyas of lands.” Aside from [being in] this place, He also spent a very long time [traveling] to many other lands to guide and benefit sentient beings, to teach and transform other sentient beings. We can see how long this time has been. So, we must seek to comprehend what the Buddha was trying to say. Since the time He formed His [initial] aspiration in the space of a single thought, this one thought has always existed. He never wavered, but steadily moved toward the Great Bodhi-path to awakening. He was very diligent in clearing the path. Thus, it took Him a very long time, entering Parinirvana and going back and forth. He always manifested appearances, such as birth and death. These matters and appearances are manifested by way of His coming back and forth. He comes and goes. He arrives when causes and conditions are replete and departs when causes and conditions have ended. He then waits for the causes and conditions to come again. Through His coming and going He manifests matters and appearances in the world, yet [He retains] His intrinsic nature which neither arises nor ceases.

With His initial aspirations and intrinsic nature, He repeatedly returns, going back and forth. In the process of coming and going, His manifestations of birth and eventually entering Parinirvana, countless kalpas have passed.

Nirvana is translated as “cessation”. Because we cease afflictions and cease the suffering of samsara, it is called “cessation”. Because it is free from all appearances and is great tranquility and stillness, it is called “cessation”. The cessation of afflictions is called Nirvana. Departing from all existence is also Nirvana.

[The world] “Nirvana” is only an image. In terms of labels, if we look at appearances, after eighty years, the Buddha attained Parinirvana; He passed away. But actually, entering Parinirvana is just the appearance we ordinary begins see. In fact, Nirvana is just a principle. This principle is called “cessation”. Nirvana is called “cessation”. What is it that ceases? [It is] the cessation of afflictions. We all still have afflictions in our minds. We have layers and layers of afflictions, so we cannot see matters clearly. Our mindset and thoughts are still carrying afflictions, so [our minds] are very foggy and unclear. This is because we have not eliminated our afflictions yet. Once the Buddha began His spiritual practice and formed His great aspirations, His swiftly eliminated His afflictions. Every one of us engages in spiritual practice because we want to eliminate our afflictions.

So, by “[ceasing our] afflictions,” naturally we “cease the suffering of samsara”. For humans, life begins with a loud cry, which is due to suffering. The first sound we make after birth is the sound of suffering; we cry. From this kind of beginning, over our entire lifetime, we gradually grow up, we slowly age and we grow old, [continually] moving towards death. Death is afflicted ordinary beings’ greatest fear and worry. This worry and fear of death cause us to suffer, so we are tormented for a long period of time by this suffering. This issue with cyclic existence is that in “parting with those we love,” there is not only the suffering experienced by the person who faces cyclic existence. There is also the concern and worry of this person’s relatives. This is also suffering. This is the suffering caused by people’s mutual entanglements in life. When our spiritual practice is not yet [mature], we suffer from parting with those we love.

Of course, as ordinary beings, we often “meet with those we hate”. In interpersonal relationships, there is resentment. “I want to argue with you, I just dislike you.” Even people who are intimate have these issues. “I am angry; I am frustrated.” However, if something happened and they realized their loved one’s life was at risk, [or that they were] on the verge of death [they would say], “Oh! I am suffering! I am heartbroken! I am worried!” These are the contradictions of the world; these are what we called afflictions. People have many afflictions, especially when it comes to life and death. When they are alive, through their mutual interactions, their mutual displeasure and dissatisfaction lead them to say resentful words. If there are in fact also ties of love between them, they will always have afflictions in cyclic existence. After we understand the principles, we can be at ease about living and dying. When we are alive, we make good use of our time and cherish our lives, so that they will not spent in vain. We need to grow our wisdom-life by cherishing our precious lives and tending to the growth of our wisdom-life. How do we grow our wisdom-life? By using our lives to give among people.

So, we actualize the Six Paramitas in all actions. Giving, upholding precepts, patience, diligence, Samadhi and wisdom are ways of cultivating ourselves. If we think about in mindfully, isn’t this helping others while guarding ourselves well? “Giving” means helping others. “Upholding precepts” means begins self-vigilant. “Diligence” means taking good care of ourselves. So, we guard ourselves and also practice giving because helping others requires patience. Practicing this repeatedly will cultivate our Samadhi and wisdom. When [we practice] Samadhi in our daily lives, the Buddha-Dharma is in our daily lives. This is we need to temper ourselves while we go among people. If we can do so, we will be at ease with life and death. We are clear on the Buddha-Dharma and on the principles of people and matters. When we come to this world, we must be at ease; when we depart from here, we should be at ease too. When we are peaceful and at ease, our minds will be free of the coarse and heavy afflictions that hinder us. This is what we need to be diligently learning. So, “Nirvana” is cessation. “Cessation” alone contains many principles. So, “Because it is free from all appearances…”. We must be free of these various appearances; there is the appearance of our body, the appearance of our life and so on. This will cause us much unbearable suffering.

We can [choose to] be peaceful and at ease. Whenever we open our eyes [and find that] we are healthy, we should be grateful! We should just do [the right thing]! When the time comes for our eyes to close and our breathing stops, we will be at ease! We will be light and free! We should steady our minds and go wherever we really wish to go. We should not be attached to appearances; we must be at ease and come and go freely. So, we need to be free from various appearances. If we can attain this state of being without the obstruction of appearances, we will achieve a mindset of great tranquility. We will be tranquil and clear; we will always be very tranquil and in Samadhi. This is what we often speak of, the state that we seek.

So, tranquility is called “cessation”. This is cessation. “The cessation of afflictions” means that all afflictions have been eliminated. So, “The cessation of afflictions is called Nirvana.” It is called “Nirvana”. “Departing from all existence is also Nirvana.” All worldly things end in emptiness, emptiness without existence, and they will return to the principles. So, we must comprehend that the principles do not have substance or appearance to begin with. We do not need to be attached to them. The principles are simply for us to apply, that is all. So, we must mindfully comprehend the principles. If our perspectives and thoughts are unhindered, they are [in accord with] the principles.

Continuing on, in the previous sutra passage, [the Buddha] said,
“Ever since then, I have always been in this Saha World, expounding the Dharma to teach and transform. In other places as well, throughout quadrillions of nayutas of asankyas of lands, I have guided and benefited sentient beings”.

[The Buddha] continuously went from this place to other places. We spoke of this previously. He stays mainly in the Saha World, but in going back and forth from this place, He travels to many other places, to “quadrillions of nayutas of asankyas of lands”. We need to understand this. We have already mentioned this previously.

In the following sutra passage, [He said], “Good men, during this time, I spoke of Burning Lamp Buddha and others and also said that They entered Parinirvana. These were all distinctions made by skillful means”.

The Buddha then told everyone, “Good men, during this time since I first formed aspirations, I have repeatedly returned countless times. At this time, I again mentioned Burning Lamp Buddha”. Burning Lamp Buddha was from the ancient past. The Buddha had spoken about the causes and conditions of that analogy previously. This was mentioned in “the teachings of the manifest” as well. This demonstrates that from the time of Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha, He had begun to form aspirations. That was a very long time ago, dust-inked kalpas ago. From forming Bodhisattva-aspirations and Great Vehicle aspirations until now, He had met a great number of Buddhas.

Among these Buddhas, He specifically mentioned Burning Lamp Buddha. This demonstrates for us. The duration of successive lifetimes, the beginning of the distant past and the endless time until. He encountered the causes and conditions [needed] to manifest in every world, to go back and forth and to make [the teachings] clearer for everyone.

This reveals the extensiveness of His Nirmanakaya to resolve the doubts of people in the assembly. In the past, they saw that in all His teachings, His causal actions were different in many places, so they doubted the causes. Also, they saw that the predictions He received were different in many places, so they doubted the fruition. He engaged in causal actions and received predictions like this. They did not know that these were skillful means exercised after He had attained the fruit, so they gave rise to doubts.

“In the past”, a very long time ago, this had been the process. He taught and spoke of the Dharma in different places. The Buddha He made offerings to were countless. “His causal actions were different in many places”. This tells us that during this process, He explained that throughout His practice. He met many Buddhas. The “different places” demonstrate the long duration of time, since for a Buddha to appear in the world, it takes countless kalpas. Before Sakyamuni Buddha, there had been countless Buddhas already. We can see how each Buddha [required] countless kalpas, and He was able to encounter countless Buddhas. Clearly, the time elapsed was long, and the places were different. Thus, it mentions “causal actions in many places”.

In every place, He practiced the “Six Paramitas” in the same way, but “[His] causal actions were different”. Here, [He is] telling everyone, “The places where I transformed so many people are such. Everyone, please do not have doubts. Also, they saw that the predictions He received were different in many places”. From every Buddha He met, He received predictions from each one in the end. So, every Buddha bestowed predictions on Him once. One Buddha after another, He continuously received predictions, and each prediction was different. This happened everywhere in a similar way. [They] gave blessings and predictions to Him. Bestowing predictions is giving blessings for the future.

Thus, He received blessings at all times, and He constantly received recognition for His spiritual practice. “So, they doubted the fruition”.

Sometimes, a certain Buddha bestowed a prediction of a certain outcome for the future. When we see the accomplishments of others, we say, “How was it possible for you? Did these things really happen in the past?” This is “doubting the fruition” upon seeing others’ accomplishment at the time. This is called “doubting the fruition”. Seeing other people having accumulated so much, such incalculable numbers, some “doubted the cause”. These are the doubts we humans have; some of us “doubt the cause”, while some “doubt the fruition”. “He engaged in causal actions and received predictions like this. They did not know that these were skillful means exercised after He had attained the fruit”. These were the doubts they gave rise to. It was because none of them knew that He had already attained His accomplishment and had been going back and forth to transform sentient beings. Meeting a different Buddha, He again received blessings. In fact, those who receive blessings have already been practicing countless causes, so they have also attained such fruition. Like Manjusri and Guanyin, there were many who now manifested as Bodhisattvas in Sakyamuni Buddha’s spiritual training ground. They were very mindfully listening to Sakyamuni Buddha expounding the Dharma there. In fact, they had already attained Buddhahood in the past.

Guanyin Bodhisattva was Clear True Dharma Tathagata in the past. Manjusri Bodhisattva was Honorable Dragon King Buddha in the past. In the past, they attained fruition, and now, before Sakyamuni Buddha seat, they manifested in the appearance of Bodhisattvas. They were also there to transform sentient beings. According to the same principles, in the past, Sakyamuni Buddha did this too, transformed sentient beings life after life. This is called “causal [actions]”.

In those places, He encountered many different Buddhas from whom He also received the Dharma. I likewise, He already had His accomplishments. So, there was nothing for them to doubt. When a Buddha is expounding the Dharma, in truth, the people listening to Dharma already know the Dharma themselves. However, life after life, they still need to accumulate the causes to seek the Dharma and transform others. They need to go through this process. This is [what is means to be] a Bodhisattva. Though He focused on the Saha World, He also went back and forth to other places to transform [beings] through His causal practice; this is the same idea. So, we must mindfully seek to comprehend this in order to fully understand the principles. So, “Good men, during this time, I spoke of Burning Lamp Buddha and others”.

“Other” [means] that besides Burning Lamp Buddha, there are still many other Buddhas [that He met] during His process [of spiritual practice]. These are all “skillful means of the Great Vehicle. He said that it took Him three asankya kalpas of spiritual practice to attain Buddhahood”. Thus, He used skillful means to help everyone understand the teachings. He used various skillful means. [The teachings He used] to transform all beings are called the “Great Vehicle”. The Great Vehicle Dharma opens the door of skillful means according to sentient beings’ capabilities. “He said that it took Him three asankya kalpas of spiritual practice to attain Buddhahood”.

He wanted to explain His process [of cultivation]. So, He would tell stories from the past. During a period of time, when Sakyamuni Buddha engaged in causal practice, His practice was in the second asankya kalpa of the “three asankya kalpas”. Now we will talk about the time during the second asankya kalpa. This asankya kalpa was coming to an end, meaning it would soon pass.

At that time, He met Burning Lamp Buddha who was appearing in the world at that time. So, at that time, He was practicing as well. When Sakyamuni Buddha was engaging in “causal practice,” He was very joyful when He heard of the Buddha. During that time, He had the opportunity, so He bought five lotus flowers. He had heard that everyone was making offerings to the Buddha, so He seized the opportunity. He saw a girl in the city, who was a maid in the royal palace. She took out seven lotus flowers. He was joyful at the sight of the lotus flowers and said to the girl, “I wish to buy five lotus flowers from you”. The girl then asked this spiritual practitioner, “Why are you buying lotus flowers?” Because I know that Burning Lamp Buddha is already in this city, and I wish to make offerings to Him. Would you sell me five lotus flowers?” So, she heard He was making but as a maid, she could not go herself. Therefore she said, “Yes, I will sell you five lotus flowers, but I also want to ask you to offer the Buddha the two remaining lotus flowers on my behalf”. So, He brought seven lotus flowers in front of Burning Lamp Buddha to make an offering of them. Reverently, he offered them to the Buddha. After offering them to Him, as Burning Lamp Buddha walked forward, [Sakyamuni] saw the muddy ground and worried the Buddha would step into the mud, so He quickly took off His leather cloak. He threw it out to cover the mud, but the cloak was not enough to cover the ground because of all the mud. So, He hurriedly untied His hair knot and let His hair down. He then lay down and used His hair to cover the muddy ground that His clothes could not cover, allowing this Buddha to walk over it on foot. Thus, Burning Lamp Buddha, seeing His reverence and sincerity in making this offering, made a prediction for Him. “Due to your diligence, ninety-one kalpas into the future, you will be able to attain Buddhahood”. Your epithet will be Sakyamuni Tathagata”. This is how the story [goes]. This was the story [about] the time when Excellent Wisdom Bodhisattva met Burning Lamp Buddha and received predictions. This [story was told] by Sakyamuni Buddha at the time when He [recounted].

Excellent Wisdom Bodhisattva’s causes and conditions for attaining Buddhahood and His spiritual practice. This was “what happened during that time, the things that happened while practicing and engaging in causal practice”. So, “good men, during this time, He went back and forth to practice”. During three asankya kalpas of time, in one of His lifetimes, He met Burning Lamp Buddha. So, “I spoke Burning Lamp Buddha and others”. This is what the Buddha meant in this passage. The previous passage stated that He encountered such a Buddha. So, “Good men, during this time I met this Buddha. I have been through these things”. This is the story of Sakyamuni Buddha and Burning Lamp Buddha in the past. This was the process of Sakyamuni Buddha’s [practice].

So, He spoke of how in the past, as ancient Excellent Wisdom Bodhisattva, He encountered Burning Lamp Buddha and received predictions: “In the future, you will become a Buddha with the epithet of Sakyamuni”. This is what happened during that time. During this time: Taking the time before dust-inked kalpas as the beginning and the time of the furthest extent of the future as the end, the period between these two points is “during this time”. He now indicated His causal practice in the era of Burning Lamp Buddha to sweep away their doubts on the causes.

“During this time, taking the time before dust-inked kalpas as the beginning”. If we were to talk about when the Buddha formed aspirations, it would be a moment dust-inked kalpas ago. Everyone should remember “dust-inked kalpas,” the beginning of “dust-inked kalpas” at the time of Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha, when He formed Bodhisattva-aspirations. He listened to and expounded the “Lotus Sutra” and formed Bodhisattva-aspirations. “The time of the furthest extent of the future as the end…”. Starting from that time, so much [has happened], and it will continue to the furthest extent of the future. This is how “The period between these two points is ‘during this time”’. What is between the beginning and the end is called “during this time”. From the beginning to the end, this entire period is called “during this time”. So, we would know how long “during this time” is. “During this time” is a very long time.

He also indicated Burning Lamp Buddha’s bestowing predictions upon Him and entering Parinirvana to eliminate their doubts on the fruition. The causes and fruitions were not singular; they were all skillful means. Thus it says He swept away doubts.

He also indicated “Burning Lamp Buddha’s bestowing predictions upon Him and entering Parinirvana to eliminate their doubts on the fruition”. He spoke of Burning Lamp Buddha to explain the bestowing of predictions. We went through the “Chapter on Bestowing Predictions” and “the teachings of the manifest”. In the “Chapter on Bestowing Predictions,” He also bestowed predictions for His disciples. Thus, in the process of their spiritual practice, they received blessings and predictions of Buddhahood. Having been bestowed with predictions, they were still in the stage of “causal practice”. Burning Lamp Buddha bestowed predictions on Him. “After another 91 kalpas, you will attain Buddhahood”. So, 91 kalpas before Sakyamuni Buddha, there was Burning Lamp Buddha. How long was this time? During this time, before the period of these 91 kalpas, there were still countless Buddhas, so we can understand how long this time was.

Once Sakyamuni Buddha manifested the appearance of attaining Buddhahood, this shows how long this time had been. Thus, “entering Parinirvana” is knowing the progression of time. This is to help everyone not to be doubtful. The time has been very long. We must be certain that the time has been long. We must be certain and have faith. So, “The causes and fruitions were not singular”. Causal practice and realization are not singular but countless.

In the Buddha’s life, just looking at the 49 years after He attained Buddhahood, He talked about the past, present and future. How many stories were there? They were not just one, they were countless; these [stories] were all called “skillful means”. “[He] also said that They entered Parinirvana”.

And also said that They entered Parinirvana: He also spoke of Burning Lamp Buddha entering Parinirvana. He said that during this time, that Buddha taught and entered Parinirvana.

He then talked about Burning Lamp Buddha “entering Parinirvana”. After the era of Burning Lamp Buddha had passed, there were [the eras of] Right Dharma, Dharma-semblance and Dharma-degeneration. Since these eras have passed, this is talking about the past. “These were all distinctions made by skillful means”.

These were all distinctions made by skillful means: These were not real. In the past, what He taught regarding engaging in causal practice to attain fruition were all distinctions made by skillful means. Thus, this sentence was for sweeping away their doubts.

Just like this, there was a time when Burning Lamp Buddha entered Parinirvana, and afterward, another 91 kalpas have passed until the present. This was the length of that tine [it took]. The events the Buddha spoke about were all skillful means. Talking about past matters so that people can hear them now is called “skillful means”. Talking about matters and appearances of the past is all skillful means, because the things that occurred were done according to the principles. However, matters will pass, so where are the matters and appearances now? Now when we say, “Venerable Buddha! Sakyamuni Buddha,” we can only continuously praise the Buddha with our words. What is the Buddha? We can then say, “The Buddha is the principles”. Indeed, the Buddha is the principles, because the Buddha is awakened and enlightened. Awakening and enlightenment are the principles, so He is the principles.

The Buddha’s physical body and appearance are no longer in the world, but His enlightenment and realizations, His Dharmakaya, still remains. Thus, the principles are still in existence. The matters and appearances have “ceased”. They are non-existent, so they are “not real”. These stories are all skillful means. The same thing happens to all of us too. Every day, the matters and appearances that pass cannot be obtained now; there is nothing we can do. If we take the matters that happened yesterday and want to look at them now, they are non-existent. This is to say nothing of [events in the far past].

So, “In the past, what He taught…”. Everything He taught in the past was about “causal practice to attain fruition”. Whether it was recounting events or telling stories, these were all past events brought about by causes and conditions. In a similar way, we take action in Tzu Chi because there are matters that need our care and help in a timely manner. In this process, [we encounter] people, matters and things. However, after giving, everything is in the past. These matters are in the past. Matters and appearances also fade away over time. However, the principles and stories remain. We can only tell the stories, but we cannot store its matters and appearances. So this is called “engaging in causal practice to attain fruition.” This was all in His past. “[It was all] skillful means.” These were all skillful means; these were all processes. So, if we have doubts in our minds, we must quickly eliminate them so that we can be free of doubts. There are “distinctions made by skillful means.”

Distinctions made by skillful means: This means He did not proclaim these with speech, but manifested them through matters and appearances, such as living in the palace, becoming a monastic [etc.], the Eight Aspects of Attaining Enlightenment, which could be seen and heard by all.

The distinctions made by skillful means, “He did not proclaim with speech.” In fact, when someone says something, he cannot take [his words] out to show them again. We say it is only the sound entering the ear-root. These are all words. “Sound-object” is a name. “Ear-root” is also a name. So the ear-root means the ear exists. When we cannot hear, it is because our consciousness is not working. This only works when Roots, Dusts and Consciousnesses combine together. So regarding our consciousness, if the nerves of the ear are damaged, then it has the appearance of an ear but not its function. Then, the ear is damaged, non-functioning. “This means He did not proclaim these with speech.” Speech is just a function. We need to use the function of words to take [the teaching] into our hearts and thoroughly comprehend the principles. “He manifested them through matters and appearances.” He used speech to describe events that happened, which means that the only way to describe them is through words. So, when we promote the Dharma, we can only do so using words. “Living in the palace, becoming a monastic [etc.] are the Eight Aspects of Attaining Enlightenment.” The Buddha manifested in this world, being born and growing up in the palace. When He lived in the palace, He discovered that [there are] principles and sought pursue the truths. Thus, He wanted to became a monastic. He left the royal city, left the palace and became a monastic to seek the path and engage in spiritual practice. He then sat under the Bodhi tree and attained enlightenment. He began expounding the Dharma and, at the end, entered Parinirvana. These are the eight stages of a Buddha in coming to this world.

The Buddha described the process with words explaining His past accomplishments to educate [sentient beings].

He said that under Burning Lamp Buddha and others, He engaged in causal practice and received predictions. He also said that They entered Parinirvana. This is like how now in the sutra He proclaimed that He was about to enter Parinirvana. These are all skillful means.

“He said that under Burning Lamp Buddha and others, He engaged in causal practice and received predictions.” Because He walked the path and practiced, He was able to receive predictions from that Buddha [saying that]. He could attain Buddhahood after 91 kalpas. This event truly happened; it was not made up. To express the facts that happened in the past at that point with speech, “[He] also said that They entered Parinirvana.” At that time, Burning Lamp Buddha entered Parinirvana. “My body will also enter Parinirvana in the future.” These are all skillful means; Burning Lamp Buddha’s and Sakyamuni Buddha’s entering Parinirvana, similary, are all skillful means.

Everyone, truly, “These were all distinctions made by skillful means.” All these various principles are skillful means because “they are beyond the reach of language.” In teaching, we must use the past to educate the present. So, the past has passed already, especially the eras long ago. However, what was in the past is the same now, because principles are everlasting and unchanging. The process of life is also everlasting and unchanging. The birth, aging, illness and death in life are forever the same. In life, there is birth, aging, illness and death. This is a fact; this is the principle. People continuously die and are born again through birth, aging, illness and death. However, people go and come, come and go, going back and forth. Time is connected by seconds which constitute all of the past, present and future. Therefore, we must very clearly understand that the accumulated matters and appearances of the past, present and future are all a matter of engaging in causal practice and attaining fruition. Regarding “causal practice,” our speech and actions in every second are all a matter of “causal practice.” This is the process of our spiritual practice. From a short time to a long time, from the initial aspiration, from that resolve, it continues through to the future. Throughout this endless period of time, we must earnestly seize our initial aspiration. So, we must always be mindful!

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