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 20190114《靜思妙蓮華》應機說法 皆為度生 (第1522集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六)

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20190114《靜思妙蓮華》應機說法 皆為度生 (第1522集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六) Empty
發表主題: 20190114《靜思妙蓮華》應機說法 皆為度生 (第1522集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六)   20190114《靜思妙蓮華》應機說法 皆為度生 (第1522集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六) Empty周四 1月 10, 2019 7:23 pm

20190114《靜思妙蓮華》應機說法 皆為度生 (第1522集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六)

⊙積行德本度脫,一切應物隨機,說法皆有實益。如來隨類應化,本跡皆為度生,故所演經典不外於如斯義諦。
⊙「諸善男子!如來見諸眾生樂於小法、德薄垢重者,為是人說:我少出家,得阿耨多羅三藐三菩提。」《法華經如來壽量品第十六》
⊙「然我實成佛已來久遠若斯,但以方便,教化眾生,令入佛道,作如是說。」《法華經如來壽量品第十六》
⊙然我實成:是明本實不生。若斯:如上經文所喻,我成佛來,甚大久遠,豈今日始生始成哉。
⊙但以方便,教化眾生,令入佛道,作如是說:但鈍根方便設教化度,說壽長短。
⊙「諸善男子!如來所演經典,皆為度脫眾生,或說己身、或說他身,或示己身、或示他身,或示己事、或示他事,諸所言說,皆實不虛。」《法華經如來壽量品第十六》
⊙諸善男子!如來所演經典,皆為度脫眾生:佛之說法,但欲應機,如醫知病用藥,除病為先。
⊙或說己身、或說他身:說自本身,在昔因地現跡應化因緣;並說餘人身因地之時。
⊙說己身:如說釋尊自身往世作忍辱仙人、十六沙彌、及薩埵王、尸毗王等是。
⊙說他身:如說彌勒往世為一切智光仙人,阿彌陀佛作法藏比丘等是。
⊙或示己身、或示他身:以自他身,過去宿世所受之報,開示於人。
⊙示己身:現為釋迦身是。示他身:諸方佛出現世及法華會開塔,見多寶如來等是。
⊙或示己事、或示他事:以過去事自他所作種種之事,開示於人。
⊙示己事:釋迦成道,說法、現神通等是。示他事:說藥師佛、阿彌陀佛發願度生,然燈、大通智勝佛,放光化眾等是。
⊙諸所言說,皆實不虛:一一稱實,無有虛妄。凡有言說,皆於眾生實有利益,非是虛語也。

【證嚴上人開示】
積行德本度脫,一切應物隨機,說法皆有實益。如來隨類應化,本跡皆為度生,故所演經典不外於如斯義諦。

積行德本度脫
一切應物隨機
說法皆有實益
如來隨類應化
本跡皆為度生
故所演經典
不外於如斯義諦

用心!好好來體會。「積行」,「六度萬行」,從一念發心,一直就是秉持著一念心,塵點劫、累世以來,無不都是念於斯、行於斯,「六度萬行」為度化眾生。這是菩薩從發心第一念開始,累積的時間無法計算,塵點劫,很久了。為了什麼?只是為要度脫眾生。「度」,就是從佛陀覺悟的第一念──「心、佛、眾生、三無差別」,這念心,這是發現的真理──人人平等,眾生皆有佛性。這是佛陀他所覺悟,就是為了這念心,期待人人,人人都能夠體會了解。眾生的生命中,無不都是真如本性。我們要自己尊重,我們要尊重人人,人人要尊重一切生靈,這是佛陀所發現到的,是大生命的諦理。這就是佛陀發現之後,所想要說的話,所想要讓人人體會、了解,一直都是放在心裡,因為眾生根機無法接受,所以才用四十多年的時間,循循善誘,但是這念心還是在。

從過去,過去塵點劫所累積的「萬行」,無不都是因為有這念心,所以不斷累生累世,這樣不斷累積過來,這個萬行,善。善,利益眾生,這就是對他本人,就是叫做「德」;善,是付出給眾生,對自己所累積的是德。行善是付出,累積,無所求,但是自然道理的歸納就是德,德的本。前面我們所說的「跡」,跡門,那就是行善;現在所顯出的就是「本」,就是那一念心。自開始,塵點劫前,大通智勝佛那個時代,十六王子啟一念的發心,那念心,現在現跡示相在人間,他說,覺悟了,也不外於這一念心,就是眾生皆有如來智性。人人本具佛性,就是真如本性,是大生命體,就是真理,這就是道理。這是佛陀懷在他的心中,久久沒有讓它忘記,一直到現在靈鷲山來了,就是要開跡顯本,這個「本」就是「德本」,那個最、最原始,所體會到的大生命,是真如本性。

天下共同的生命體,菩薩就是為天下眾生去付出,所以累積,也就是積行。「行」是付出,「累」那就是不斷不斷,就是很自然來累積,所以回歸回來叫做「德」;進行中,那就是善,是行善累積了德本。所以就只是一個目的,要來度眾生,脫離這種煩惱無明執著。因為煩惱無明執著,才有這個人間事相,這樣這種人禍、天災、是非、貪欲等等等等的苦,所以我們要很用心去體會它,最微細去了解它。所以,「一切應物隨機」。所以說是「應物」,不是只有人,這就是指「大生命體」;眾生不是只有說人,包括一切眾生。這就是佛陀來人間為大生命體,而說法、而教化,要我們的愛,普及所有一切。因為這樣,「說法皆有實益」,佛陀來人間說法,就是為了要利益眾生。人懂得自愛,自愛要懂得愛人;人人懂得自愛、愛人,還可以普及一切眾生,這是佛陀說法的目標。

所以,「如來隨類應化」。「隨類」,不是只有來人間,我們幾天前有說「度化中間。」意思就是說,佛陀他善用時間,這個空間,這些緣已經告一段落,他就捨這個地方,到那個地方。所以他在六道──天、人、修羅、地獄、餓鬼、畜生,為六道中眾生,來來回回,所以叫做「如來乘如是法」而到每一個眾生界去隨類應化。這應身,這我們前面也說過了,無不都是法身隨類應化;隨眾生的形類這樣應化,度化眾生。

所以,「本跡皆為度生」。不論是從初一念發心,或者是顯跡在六道中,這無不都是為了一切大生命體,普及來化度。「故所演經典,不外於如斯義諦」,所講說的法,無不都是為了這些事情,這些道理來應眾生的根機;眾生的根機以及時機而化度,來來回回。世間眾生真的是堪忍事多,苦難偏多;共業現前了,不論是天災、人禍,那個集體苦難就很多了。我們也看到了,看到在美國休士頓(二0一七年),整個因為一個颶風(哈維颶風),就能夠使它,那麼大、那麼廣的災情,那麼嚴重。這不只是一個颶風,後面再接下去還有!艾瑪(颶風),這一次再一次,這種災難不退。

我們慈濟人,在美國的慈濟人,從全美國各州的執行長、所有負責的幹部,大家自動自發紛紛集合到德州。三十多天輪流,沒有間斷,每一個地方,每天都分組、分隊,同時出去勘災,晚上回來還通盤來檢討、通盤彙集,這樣又再繼續,一直到全都大家全「合和互協」,全都整理好,開始再分頭,分組、分隊負責去發放。所發放已經有二三十次的累積(9月9日至10月1日,完成27次)。發放的戶數達到已經一萬二千多戶(12,026),這是一部分而已!就是這樣累積了這三十幾天,完成了它一個階段。

是不是結束了?還沒有,只是這個階段有名單、看得到、了解的,家家戶戶的困難,我們對準著有困難的人,我們去發放,這樣就一萬二千多戶,人口有將近三萬五千人。這只是我們走得到、看得到,這樣在過程中,也是感動人的事情是很多。他們在迪金森(Dickinson)這個市,市長(茱莉Julie Masters)非常的感動,很正式發出了一張文(於迪金森市的市民大會當場閱讀公告,宣布二0一七年九月定為慈濟月),也是要向慈濟感恩,這九月她布達叫做「慈濟月」,用這樣來公布,很細膩地寫出了她的心情,寫出了這個市,接受到慈濟這分不是限在物質,是開啟了人人的心,讓大家心穩定下來了。這市長細心、用心,這樣,發出了這樣的函,定九月這個月叫做「慈濟月」。

還有另外一個市,華頓市,他將這個月,十月定為「慈濟月」。市長(蒂姆‧巴克Tim Barker)說出了很感動人的話,向著邢居士這樣說,他會永遠記得。甚至思賢對他說的,叫他們要多茹素,他記得,他也要帶動人真正要茹素,這也是很歡喜的事情。甚至他也知道,思賢在墨西哥救濟,他也很虔誠來祝福,思賢在墨西哥,在那裡發揮救人的功能。希望在那裡很平安、能夠順利救人。這就是虔誠,已經這分的情,不只是我有災,你來幫助。一個薰水(香器)的煙,這樣過去而已,不是,已經注入了很深的感情。因為我們在那個地方,除了救災,同時在推素食,這個市長開始響應,訂餐,也是用素去訂餐,這是真情的流露。感動人的事情真的是很多。

又再很感動人的是一位先生,他(羅森堡)拿一張現值卡來了,他表達感恩,他不是有領到東西,他說,當我們在發放的時候,在登記時,因為他被撤離到安全的地方,因為他的地方,要回來的地區還是沒有很安全,所以政府還未開放讓他回來,所以他還未回來,他沒有接到這次的救災。但是,他來展示一張現值卡。這張卡比較舊了,現出了舊的卡,他將這張拿出來:「雖然這張裡面都沒有錢了,不過,我時時都帶在我的身上,我感恩。」以前(二0一六年)淹水,慈濟人,也是慈濟去發這張卡,讓他解開了一時的急難,所以他是特別來感恩。

這就是叫做覺有情,我們的覺有情人,在任何一個地方付出,不只是他有災難,我們給他物資,這樣就過去了。雖然我們付出是無所求,卻是這分覺有情,擴大愛的長情,永遠就是在他們的心裡,這叫做度化眾生。所顯示過、教育過,他就是放在心裡,他改變他的心態、改變他的行為,他一切歸於正確的方向,時時感恩心,這就是度化眾生!

所以,前面那段經文我們這樣說,前面的經文這樣說:「諸善男子!如來見諸眾生樂於小法、德薄垢重者,為是人說:我少出家,得阿耨多羅三藐三菩提。」

諸善男子
如來見諸眾生
樂於小法
德薄垢重者
為是人說:
我少出家
得阿耨多羅
三藐三菩提
《法華經如來壽量品第十六》

佛陀他就這樣說:「眾生就是這樣樂小法」,所以樂小法,只是獨善其身、修自己,所以,所修的德行很薄。我們剛才說過了,「積行德本」,累積這個善本。但是,這些樂小法的人,就是只顧自己,就沒有什麼為眾生付出,因為這樣他的德很薄。他過去所積的業累、因緣還是還在,所以垢重;煩惱還未完全去除,這種因緣、業力還未去除。所以,「為是人說:我少出家」。就是為了這些人,他就顯跡,佛陀顯跡又對大家說:「我是如何修行過來。」所以,他就說出家的觀念、思想,用小小的故事來告訴他們、來度化他們、來感動他們,讓他們能夠靠近、接近,來學法、修行。

接下來這段文再這樣說:「然我實成佛已來久遠若斯,但以方便,教化眾生,令入佛道,作如是說。」

然我實成佛已來
久遠若斯
但以方便
教化眾生
令入佛道
作如是說
《法華經如來壽量品第十六》

這段文,佛就這樣說:「我,其實我修行成佛以來,已經是很久了。」其實,每生世修行的過程,實在是無法去算劫,這就像我們前面一直在說,無量無數劫。佛陀已經教化這麼多、這麼多的眾生成為菩薩,已經來到靈鷲山了,這些人數,已經引起了當場的菩薩去顯疑,「為什麼有這麼多、這麼多人?」佛陀還是說是他所教化。到底要用多久的時間?佛陀用塵點劫、無數,無數劫,長久的時間來教化,這是前面所說過了。其實,這樣在教化,有過去、有現在,「本」就是「本實不生」。

然我實成:
是明本實不生
若斯:
如上經文所喻
我成佛來
甚大久遠
豈今日始生始成哉

因為無始以前,無法去說什麼時候,就只能夠說塵點劫之前,若算師、算師弟子,也無法去計算,那就是叫做「無始」。無始以前,發那念心,無法去說它的盡頭,所以「本實不生」。要說他到底是在哪一生,生生世世就是這樣,不斷一直過來,都是應機化身度化眾生,所以「本實不生」。現在我們一直在說釋迦佛,今何在?只是精神在人間,只是法,他的理念在人間;佛的實體,這個身體已經不在人間了,已經再來人間幾次過去了,就是來來回回。

就是這樣,「若斯」,就像前面說的經文,很多的譬喻。「我成佛來,其大久遠」,我成佛是已經很長久、長久以前的事情了。「豈今日始生」。開始才是叫做成佛嗎?不是這一輩子叫做成佛,「我已經過去就是這樣,已成了」。這就是要告訴我們,成佛要說它的開頭──原始某一年,說不出來,沒辦法,時間很長久了,很長久。

但以方便
教化眾生
令入佛道
作如是說:
但鈍根方便
設教化度
說壽長短

「但以方便」,就是用方便來教化,來「教化眾生,令入佛道,作如是說」。但是眾生鈍根,所以佛不得不設方便來教化,說壽命長遠,這壽命很長、很遠。這就是佛陀現身人間來。

所以下面這段文再說,佛陀再說:「諸善男子!如來所演經典,皆為度脫眾生,或說己身、或說他身,或示己身、或示他身,或示己事、或示他事,諸所言說,皆實不虛。」

諸善男子
如來所演經典
皆為度脫眾生
或說己身
或說他身
或示己身
或示他身
或示己事
或示他事
諸所言說
皆實不虛
《法華經如來壽量品第十六》

我們要用心看。「或說己身、或說他身,或示己身、或示他身」,這重複,我們要看清楚,「或示己事、或示他事」,事,我們要用心來體會。所以說,佛所說法,一直不斷要叫我們大家,要用心,所以他會重新再稱呼。「諸善男子!如來演說經典,皆為度脫眾生」。那就是「說法」,全都皆欲「應機」。

諸善男子
如來所演經典
皆為度脫眾生:
佛之說法
但欲應機
如醫知病用藥
除病為先

佛陀就只是要應機,眾生的根機是什麼,說出來你聽懂,合你的根機,這樣這個時機,你能夠隨時應用,時機、根機要適合,你可以體會、你可以應用,這個「應機」。

所以,「如醫知病用藥」,就像醫生知道眾生有病;有病,那就是要用藥,所以他要了解,他是什麼病,才能夠對症下藥。這就是佛陀在對眾生施教,應時機、應根機來施教,就像醫生在對待病人。佛陀說法就像醫生應病下藥,同樣的意思。所以,醫生是面對人生的生命,佛陀面對是眾生身心慧命,所以我們要很用心。

所以,「或說己身、或說他身」。

或說己身
或說他身:
說自本身
在昔因地
現跡應化因緣
並說餘人身
因地之時

「說自本身」,就是「在昔因地現跡應化」。在過去因地,無數劫、無數劫,無法算數他應機所生的地方、應因緣所度化的眾生。這就是在說,在那個地方,自己本身在無量數劫、無量數生世,面對著無量數的眾生,把握因緣、對機施教,這些因緣。「並說餘人身因地之時」,不只是說自己,也說別人。

所以,「說己身」,如釋迦佛自己說自己,「往世作忍辱仙人、十六沙彌、及薩埵王、尸毗王」等等。

說己身:
如說釋尊自身往世
作忍辱仙人、
十六沙彌、
及薩埵王、
尸毗王等是

這尸毗王。鴿子來了,國王想要救鴿子,但是,這個兇惡的鳥來:「我不是要你什麼東西補償給我,我只要鴿子,我需要的是鴿子的肉。」因為這樣,這位國王願意,「我願意,你要多少肉?」「等同這隻鴿子的重量。」應該大家這個故事都知道,不用我再複述了。像這樣,他割身就是要來救這隻鴿子,怎麼割就是,不夠這隻鴿子的重量。將他全身的肉割起來,血淋淋啊!還是為了要救這隻鳥的命。這叫做覺悟大生命體,不是只有自己,或者是人類,是人類以外的生命體,這種大徹大悟。也曾有過犧牲自己,忍耐著痛,也為了要救眾生。這自己曾經經歷過,那段時間,那個忍,超越人的忍,所以這樣、這樣經過。

也經過了十六沙彌,那個時候的一念發心;也經過了薩埵王、尸毗王等等,自己也說過了,很多自己的本生故事,這叫做「說己身」。很多無量劫以來,他就是這樣說過了,《本生經》很多的故事,不是故事,是他的過去。而「說他身」,如說彌勒過去,為一切智光仙人。

說他身:
如說彌勒往世
為一切智光仙人
阿彌陀佛
作法藏比丘等是

佛陀也有談過了彌勒。他過去的修行一直到現在,一直到未來補處,來娑婆成佛的彌勒菩薩,他的生世也一次一次。其中智光仙人的故事,佛陀也說過了,這叫做「說他身」。不是只有他現在佛,他說過去,他也要說未來佛──彌勒菩薩他過去累積的因緣。還有,阿彌陀佛,阿彌陀佛,也是十六王子其中之一(第九王子),他也現在,在西方成佛,他的過去,法藏比丘的時代,也是佛,釋迦佛來說過了,說過了彌陀佛的過去,這全都是「說他身」。這「說己」、「說他」。「或示己身、或示他身」。

或示己身
或示他身:
以自他身
過去宿世所受之報
開示於人

那就是「以自他身」的過去,如何相遇。也說過了他與彌勒同世修行。彌勒智慧比他還高,比釋迦佛還高;釋迦佛度眾生,結眾生因緣較厚,所以有前後成佛的因緣,這個因緣也說過了。所以,「自他身」,這樣的例也說過了。所以「過去宿世所受」的因緣,這全都過了。或者是說佛與提婆達多,這樣的彼此因緣,佛陀都說過了。還有,「示己身」,就是釋迦佛自己本身。

示己身:
現為釋迦身是
示他身:
諸方佛出現世
及法華會開塔
見多寶如來等是

「示他身」,讓大家知道,他方諸佛,很多佛。甚至在法華會上,開寶塔;法華會上,多寶如來就乘著寶塔,來到法華會上。靈鷲山,在靈鷲山這段,我們也說很長,這多寶佛,他久來成佛,他的發願,要涅槃之前,他的發願,全身在塔中。這段故事,佛陀也說過了,這過去的佛,佛陀也說過了,過去佛。

所以,「或示己事、 或示他事」。「以過去事自他所作種種之事,開示於人」。

或示己事
或示他事:
以過去事
自他所作種種之事
開示於人

過去的事情,自己的事情;其他的佛,修行的過去、現在;修行,修行已經成佛、入涅槃的,已經過去的佛;還有將來未成佛的,就像彌勒菩薩。不論過去、現在、未來諸佛,佛陀全都說過了,都展示出來,大家都知道了。「所作種種事」,就是「開示於人」,都展示出來。所以,「示己事」,示「釋迦成道、說法、現神通」等等。

示己事:
釋迦成道、說法、
現神通等是
示他事:
說藥師佛、
阿彌陀佛發願度生
燃燈、大通智勝佛
放光化眾等是

「示他事。」就是講藥師佛,東方藥師佛、西方彌陀佛,就是全都有發願度眾生;還有燃燈佛、大通智勝佛,過去佛,這麼的多,都是一一這樣,向眾生展示出來。所以,「諸所言說,皆實不虛」。

所以上面所說一切都是實在,沒有虛,這是釋迦佛這樣告訴我們。所以我們要很用心,好好體會,過去有說過的,不論展示自己,或者是講說他人,不論是說過去、說未來,尤其是現在,這已成佛那個時間長遠,數字之多,實在是很長。所以,「一一稱實」,全都是實的,不虛;「諸所言說,皆實不虛」,所以一一都是實,絕對沒有虛妄。

諸所言說
皆實不虛:
一一稱實
無有虛妄
凡有言說
皆於眾生實有利益
非是虛語也

所以一一都是實,沒有虛妄。「凡有言說,皆於眾生實有利益」。佛陀所說的法,都是對眾生全都有利益,「非是虛語也」。

各位菩薩,愛的力量就是這樣累積,好的事情,我們一定要相信,好的話我們一定要聽,好的模樣,我們一定要學。我們要了解,真真正正要在日常生活中,我們的行為向善,「六度萬行」,不論是做多大的事情,或者是小小微細的付出,無不都是在利益眾生;淺淺的微笑、輕柔的一句話,這也都是。好好容納,輕柔而有力,我們說的話,要讓人聽得進去;真的是重要,我們一定要用心,婉轉,讓他能夠接受、了解。法聽,就是要落實在生活。

所以一定這個「應機」,一種是時機,不是時機,佛陀他不要說。看看《法華經》,幾次了,開始舍利佛要請法,佛陀還是「止!止!止!」;時機未到,人不成熟,不能說。要時機到,要人的根機成熟,這是兩項。我們現在的時機,和佛陀那個時代的時機,又是不同了;這個時代的時機,又和五十年前的時機又不同。是什麼時機才來說這部經,才是真適應?才能夠適應人聽得進,才是適應時機,有這樣累積下來的時機?這全都是要應時、應機。這是佛陀要講這部《法華經》的慎重,所以我們要聽法,要很慎重、用心聽;句句的法,不要這樣輕易放過。要時時多用心!


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: He Expounds the Dharma According to Capabilities (應機說法 皆為度生)
Date: January.14.2019

“With cumulative practice and intrinsic virtue, He transforms and liberates sentient beings. He responds to all beings in accordance with their capabilities. All the Dharma He expounds has real benefits. The Tathagata transforms beings according to their kind. The intrinsic and the manifest are all for the sake of transforming beings. Thus, the sutras He expounded do not depart from this truth.”

We must be mindful as we earnestly seek to comprehend this. “Cultivate practice” [refers to] “the myriad practices of the Six Paramitras.” Ever since He initially formed aspirations, He continued to uphold these aspirations. For dust-inked kalpas over countless lifetimes, He always kept these aspirations in mind, putting them into practice. He “actualized the Six Paramitas in all actions” to transform sentient beings. From the time He formed His first aspirations as a Bodhisattva, [He practiced] for an incalculable amount of time, for dust-inked kalpas, a very long time. Why? This was all for the sake of transforming and liberating sentient beings. This transformation began with the first thought the Buddha had upon attaining enlightenment, “The mind, the Buddha and sentient beings are no different [in nature]”. With this thought, He discovered the true principles. Everyone is equal; all sentient beings have Buddha-nature. This is what the Buddha awakened to. He hoped that everyone would be able to understand this idea. The lives of sentient beings all possess the nature of True Suchness. We must respect ourselves and respect others. We all must have respect for all living beings. This is the great principle of life that the Buddha discovered.

Once the Buddha discovered this, all He wanted to do was teach it to everyone so they would realize and understand it. [Yet] He kept it [hidden] in His mind because sentient beings lacked the capabilities to accept it. So, over the course of 40 years, He patiently guided them, but this thought always remained inside Him. Throughout the past dust-inked kalpas, the “myriad practices” He cumulatively engaged in were all driven by this thought. Constantly, throughout lifetime after lifetime, He cumulatively engaged in these myriad practices to do good deeds. He did good deeds to benefit sentient beings. What He [gained] through this Himself was virtue. He did good deeds to serve sentient beings while also accumulating virtue Himself. We do good deeds in order to help others without expectations. However, as a matter of principle, we will naturally attain virtue in this way, this intrinsic virtue. Previously we spoke of “the manifest”. The method of the manifest is to do good deeds. What this reveals is “the intrinsic,” which all goes back to that thought. From the very beginning, dust-inked kalpas ago during the era of Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha, the 16th prince gave rise to this thought, and as a result of this thought, He manifested these appearances in the world. He said that when He attained enlightenment, it was all inseparable from this thought that all sentient beings possess the Buddha’s nature of wisdom. Everyone intrinsically has Buddha-nature, the nature of True Suchness. This is what connects all life as one; it is the true principles.

This is what the Buddha kept in His heart, never forgetting it throughout all this time. It was not until He was at Vulture Peak that He opened the manifest to reveal the intrinsic. “The intrinsic” is the root of virtue, the realization of the most fundamental [principle] of all life, the nature of True Suchness. All beings in the world are interconnected in this. Bodhisattvas give of themselves for the sake of the world’s sentient beings.

Therefore, they engage in cumulative practice. “Practice” refers to helping others. “Cumulative” means to do something continuously. They accumulate it very naturally, so, what returns to them is “virtue”. What they continue to practice is “goodness”. When we practice goodness, we accumulate intrinsic virtue. This is all done with a singular goal, which is to transform sentient beings to liberate themselves from afflictions, ignorance and attachments. Due to our afflictions, ignorance and attachments, we are faced with worldly matters such as the hardships caused by manmade calamities, natural disasters, interpersonal conflicts, greed, desire and so on. So, we must mindfully seek to comprehend this and understand its subtlest details. So, “He responds to all beings in accordance with their capabilities.” Where it says “responds to all beings” here, this does not just refer to humans. This also refers to how “all life is interconnected as one.” “Sentient beings” does not just refer to humans; this includes all beings. Thus, the Buddha comes to this world to teach the Dharma to and transform all living beings. He wants us to spread our love universally to all. Because of this, “All the Dharma He expounds has real benefits.” The Buddha comes to the world to teach the Dharma in order to benefit sentient beings. We must know how to have love for ourselves; in loving ourselves, we come to love others. For us all to love ourselves, to love others and to spread our love universally to all beings is the Buddha’s goal in expounding the Dharma. So, ”The Tathagata transforms beings according to their kind.” “According to their kind” means He does not come to the human world alone. A few days ago, we talked about how He transformed begins “during this time”.

This means the Buddha makes good use of time. When His affinities come to an end in a place, He leaves this place to go elsewhere. So, He travels throughout the Six Realms, the heaven realm, human realm, asura realm, hell realm, hungry ghost realm and animal realm. For the sake of the sentient begins of the Six Realms, He travels back and forth. Thus, “The Tathagata journeys on the Dharma of Suchness,” traveling to every realm of sentient beings to transform them according to their kind.

[He does this through] His Nirmanakaya, His Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya, which we have discussed previously. This is all part of His Dharmakaya, which transforms begins according to their kind responding to sentient begins’ different characteristics to transform them. Hence, “The intrinsic and the manifest are all for the sake of transforming beings]”. Whether it was forming His initial aspiration or revealing His manifestations throughout the Six Realms, He did this all for the sake of universally transforming all living begins. “Thus, the sutras that He expounded do not depart form this truth.” All the Buddha’s teachings [convey] these matters and principles. In accordance with sentient begins’ capabilities. He transforms them according to their capabilities and what is appropriate at the time, constantly coming and going.

The sentient beings in this world truly have many hardships to endure and experience much suffering. When their collective karma manifests, whether in the form of natural disasters or manmade calamities, there is so much collective suffering. We have seen how in the United States, in Houston, [Hurricane Harvey] was able to cause such vast and extensive damage [in August, 2017]. It was very severe. There was not only one hurricane; after that there was another one, [Hurricane] Irma. One after another, the disasters came in an unrelenting onslaught. Our Tzu Chi volunteers in the United States, the executive directors from the different regions across the US and the volunteer leads all took the initiative to gather in Texas. For over 30 days, everyone took turns, working continuously. For every [affected] area, each day, they split into groups, going out at the same time to assess the damage. When they returned in the evening, they had to comprehensively review and assess the overall situation. They continued on and on like this. Everyone worked in concert with unity, harmony and love. Once everything was organized, they again split into different teams to hold relief distributions. They held 20 to 30 distributions in total and distributed aid to over 12,000 families. This was just one part of [the process]. Over the course of 30 days, they completed this stage of the process. Were they finished? Not yet. By this stage, they had a list of names, and they could see and understand the hardships of every family. We targeted the people in hardship and provided aid to them. There were 12,000 families, almost 35,000 people. This is only the people we were able to reach and see. Throughout this process, there were many touching stories.

When we were in the city of Dickinson, the mayor was very touched. She published a formal letter to express her gratitude toward Tzu Chi. She declared that September to be “Tzu Chi Month”. Through this public declaration, she expressed her feelings in detail. She expressed that what her city received from Tzu Chi was more than just material; [Tzu Chi] also opened everyone’s hearts and settled everyone’s minds. The mayor was so considerate and mindful to publish this letter and designate that September as “Tzu Chi Month”.

There was also another city, Whaton, where they designated that October as “Tzu Chi Month”. What the mayor said was very touching. He told [our volunteer] Mr. Hsing that he will always remember us. When Stephen [Huang] said to him that they should eat more vegetarian meals, he kept this in mind. [The mayor] also wanted to encourage people to actually become vegetarians. This is also a very joyful thing. He even knew that Stephen was doing relief work in Mexico, so he very sincerely gave his best wishes to Stephen in his relief work in Mexico, hoping that his work would go safely and smoothly. This is true sincerity. This love goes beyond “I am in trouble and need your help.” It is not like vapor from a diffuser that quickly disappears. It is not like this. This place is deeply infused with love. When we went there, in addition to relief work, we also promoted vegetarianism. This mayor also voiced his support by ordering vegetarian meals. This was a genuine expression of love. There are so many touching stories. One very touching story is about a gentleman who came carrying a cash card with him. He came to express his gratitude. He did not come to receive anything from us, but said that when we were distributing aid, during the registration [period], he was evacuated to a safe place. Because the area he lived in was not yet safe to return to, the government did not allow him to return. So, he still had yet to return, and did not receive any of our aid this time. However, he came to show [us] a cash card. This card was a little older. He showed us this old card. He took it out, [saying], “Though there is no cash left on the card, I always carry it with me. I am so thankful”.

Earlier, [in 2016], there was also flooding, and Tzu Chi went to distribute these cards then too. It helped him get through the immediate hard times. So, he came to especially express his gratitude. This is called “awakened love”. As people with awakened love, wherever we go to help others, we do not just provide disaster survivors with material support and then leave. We give without expectations, but this awakened love, this ever-lasting great love will forever remain in their hearts. This is what it means to transform sentient beings. Once we show this love to them and teach them, they will keep it in their hearts. They will change their mindset and behavior and return to the right direction, harboring gratitude at all times. This is what it means to transform sentient beings.

In the previous sutra passage, [the Buddha] said, “Good men, the Tathagata observed those sentient beings who take joy in the limited teachings and have meager virtues and severe defilements. It was for these people that I said that at a young age, I left home and attained Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi”.

The Buddha said, “Sentient beings take joy in limited teachings. Those who take joy in limited teachings merely seek to benefit and cultivate themselves. So, the virtues they practice are meager”. We just spoke about “cumulative practice and intrinsic virtue”; we must accumulate this intrinsic goodness. However, those who take joy in limited teachings only care about themselves; they do not seek to serve sentient beings.

So, as such, their virtues are meager. The karma they accumulate from the past and its causes and conditions still remain; so, they are severely defiled. They have yet to completely eradicate their afflictions so their [negative] karmic conditions and karmic forces have yet to be eliminated. “It was for these people that I said that, at a young age, I left home”. He revealed this manifestation for these people. The Buddha revealed the manifest and also told everyone, “This is how I engaged in spiritual practice”. So, He spoke of the ideas and thoughts that led Him to leave home. He told them little stories to transform and inspire them so that they could draw near to learning the Dharma and engaging in spiritual practice.

In the next sutra passage, [the Buddha] continued, “However, I actually attained Buddhahood long before that. It is simply because I use skillful means to teach and transform sentient beings and help them enter the path to Buddhahood that I spoke this way”.

In this passage, the Buddha says, “I actually attained Buddhahood a very long time ago”. In truth, the course He took while engaging in spiritual practice each lifetime truly lasted an incalculable amount of kalpas. This is like what we were discussing previously about infinite, countless kalpas. The Buddha had taught and transformed so many sentient beings into Bodhisattvas, and they had all come to Vulture Peak. This [large] number of people caused the Bodhisattvas at the assembly to express their doubts. “How could there be so many people?” The Buddha even said that He had taught and transformed them all. Exactly how long did this take? The Buddha took dust-inked kalpas, countless, innumerable kalpas, a very long time, to teach and transform them. We discussed this previously. In truth, He taught and transformed like this in the pas just as He does in the present. “The intrinsic is actually non-arising”.

However, I actually attained…: This shows that the intrinsic is actually non-arising. [Long before] that: Just like He said in the previous sutra passage, He attained Buddhahood an extremely long time ago. It was not just in this current lifetime that He attained Buddhahood.

Because this happened before Beginningless Time, we cannot say exactly when it was. We can only say that it was dust-inked kalpas ago. Even a mathematician and his disciples cannot calculate [this time]. This is the meaning of “Beginningless Time”. He gave rise to that thought before Beginningless Time. We cannot define its limits. Therefore, “The intrinsic is actually non-arising”. In which lifetime did He do this? In lifetime after lifetime He always returns, always manifesting His Nirmanakaya according to sentient beings’ capabilities to transform them. So, “The intrinsic is actually non-arising”. Now, we are always talking about Sakyamuni Buddha. Where is He now? Only His spirit is in this world. Only the Dharma and His ideals are in the world. The Buddha’s physical body is gone from this world. [Since then], He has returned to this world many times, going back and forth. This is how it is “[Long before] that…”.

In the sutra passages we discussed before, [He taught] many analogies. “He attained Buddhahood an extremely long time ago”. It had been so long since He attained Buddhahood. It was very long ago. “It was not just in this current lifetime that He attained Buddhahood”. Did He just attain Buddhahood recently? He did not just attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. He had already attained Buddhahood in the past. This passage tells us that we cannot say when He first attained Buddhahood or which year this was; it is not possible. It has been an extremely long time. It is simply because I use skillful means to teach and transform sentient beings and help them enter the path to Buddhahood”.


Sentient beings have dull capabilities, so the Buddha had to devise skillful means to teach and transform them. He told them that His lifespan was extremely long. This is how the Buddha manifests in this world.

So, in the next passage, the Buddha continues to say, “Good men, the sutras that the Tathagata expounds are all for transforming and liberating sentient beings. I might speak of my own lives, or I might speak of others’ lives. I might manifest my own body, or I might manifest others’ bodies. I might reveal my own works, or I might reveal others’ works. All that I speak is true and not false. We must study this mindfully.

“I might speak of my own lives, or I might speak of others’ lives. I might manifest my own body, or I might manifest others’ bodies”. This repetition means we must read carefully. “I might reveal my own works, or I might reveal others’ works”. We must mindfully seek to comprehend these works. So, as the Buddha expounded the Dharma, He constantly wished to tell everyone to be mindful.

So, He called out to them again. “Good men, the sutras that the Tathagata expounds are all for transforming and liberating sentient beings”. Thus, He “expounded the Dharma” entirely “in accordance with capabilities”.

Good men, the sutras that the Tathagata expounds are all for transforming and liberating sentient beings: The Buddha simply wished to expound the Dharma in accordance with capabilities. He is like a doctor who knows the illness and prescribes medicine accordingly. Curing the illness is His priority.

The Buddha only wants to accord with capabilities. Whatever sentient beings’ capabilities are, He teaches whatever they can understand and whatever suits their capabilities so that at the opportune moment, they can apply [His teachings] whenever they need. When the timing and capabilities are right, they can comprehend and apply [the teachings]. This is [according] with capabilities.” He is like a doctor who knows the illness and prescribes medicine accordingly”. Just like a doctor, He knows when sentient beings are ill; He must prescribe medicine for those who are ill. He must understand what kind of illness they have in order to prescribe the suitable medicine.

This is how the Buddha teaches sentient beings in according with timing and capabilities. This is just like how doctors treat their patients. The Buddha expounds the Dharma just like doctors prescribe in response to the illness. The principle is the same. So, doctors treat people’s lives while the Buddha treats sentient beings’ wisdom-life. So, we must be very mindful. “I might speak of my own lives, or I might speak of others’ lives.

I might speak of my own lives, or I might speak of others’ lives: He spoke of His own lives and of how in the past causal ground, He manifested in accordance with causes and conditions. He also spoke of others’ lives when they were in the causal ground.

“He spoke of His own lives and of how in the past causal ground, He manifested in accordance [with cause and conditions]”. He had been in the past causal ground for countless kalpas. It is impossible to number all the places where He manifested in accordance with capabilities and all the sentient beings He transformed in accordance with causes and conditions. This means that in [the past causal ground], over countless kalpas and countless lifetimes, He encountered countless sentient beings and seized His causes and conditions to teach them according to their capabilities. “He also spoke of others’ lives when they were in the causal ground”. He spoke not only of Himself but also of others.

I might speak of my own lives. For example, Sakyamuni Buddha spoke of Himself, back “when He endured [the torment of] the mystic or [when He was] the 16th novice, Prince Sattva, King Sibi and so on.

King Sibe [saw] a dove came to him, and he wanted to help this dove. However, a ferocious [eagle] came “I do not want anything else you can offer. I just want the dove. I need the dove’s meat”. The king agreed “I am willing. How much meat do you need? [I will give you] as much as the dove weights”. Everyone should recognize this story; there is no need to repeat it again. In this way, the king cut off his flesh to save this dove. But no matter how much he cut off, it never matched the dove’s weight; he cut all the flesh off his body. How he bled! He did this all to save this bird’s life. This is what it means to be awakened to the interconnectedness of all life. He did not just care for himself and other humans, but for non-human lives as well. This is the meaning of great awakening. He has sacrificed Himself, enduring pain in order to save sentient beings. What He went through during that time surpasses the human capacity for endurance. This is something He went through. This is something He went through. He was also the 16th novice; it was at that time that He formed aspirations. He was also Prince Sattva, King Sibi etc. He told many stories about His own past lifetimes. Hence, He said “I might speak of my own lives”. Having lived through countless kalpas, He told so many stories in the Jataka Sutra. They are more than just stories; they are His past. He also said, “I might speak of others’ lives”. For example, He spoke of Maitreya’s past lifetimes when he was the mystic called All Luminous Wisdom.

I might speak of others’ lives: For example, He spoke of Maitreya’s past lifetime when he was the mystic called All Luminous Wisdom, and how Amitabha Buddha used to be Dharma-Treasury Bhiksu and so on.

The Buddha also spoke of Maitreya, about how he had been engaging in spiritual practice all along and will do so until he succeeds [Him] in the future. Maitreya, who will attain Buddhahood in the Saha World, have also lived through lifetime after lifetime. One of these times, he was the mystic Luminous Wisdom. the Buddha told this story as well. This is what He meant by “I might speak of others’ lives. He spoke not only of Himself, the present Buddha; He also spoke of past and future Buddhas, including how Maitreya Bodhisattva accumulated causes and conditions in the past. Also, there is Amitabha Buddha. Amitabha Buddha was also one of the 16 princes. He has now attained Buddhahood in the west. In the past, He was Bhiksu Dharma-Treasury. Sakyamuni Buddha also tole this story. He told of Amitabha Buddha’s past. These are examples of “I might speak of others’ lives. I might speak of my own [and] others’ lives. I might manifest my own body, or I might manifest others’ bodies”.

I might manifest my own body, or I might manifest others’ bodies: He taught people using the retributions received by Himself and others in their past lifetimes.

This refers to how [Sakyamuni] “and others” had met in the past. He also spoke about how He and Maitreya had practiced together in the same lifetime. Maitreya’s wisdom was greater than His own, even greater than Sakyamuni [Bodhisattva’s]. But when Sakyamuni transformed sentient beings, He formed stronger affinities with them. So, He also discussed these conditions that determined the order in which they became Buddhas. So, He also discussed the examples of “Himself and others”. The causes and conditions of their “retributions received in their past lifetimes” were all explained [by the Buddha]. He also spoke of Himself and Devadatta and the karmic affinities between them; the Buddha spoke of all of this. In addition, “I might manifest my own body”. This refers to Sakyamuni Buddha’s own body.

I might manifest my own body: Presently, He manifested the body of Sakyamuni. I might manifest others’ bodies: [This refers to] how the Buddhas from all directions manifested in the world, as well as how [Sakyamuni] opened the stupa at the Lotus Dharma-assembly to see Many Treasures Tathagata and so on.

“I might manifest my own body” He wanted to let everyone know that there are so many Buddhas in all directions. He even opened the stupa of treasures at the Lotus Dharma-assembly. During the Lotus Dharma-assembly, Many Treasures Tathagata journeyed in the stupa of treasures to arrive at the Lotus Dharma-assembly on Vulture Peak. We discussed this part quite extensively. Many Treasures attained Buddhahood long ago. He made a vow before He entered Parinirvana that He wanted His whole body to be placed in the stupa. The Buddha told this story about this past Buddha. The Buddha also told [stories] about past Buddhas.

“I might reveal my own works, I might reveal others’ works. He revealed to people all the works of the past, all the various works that He and others did”. [He spoke of] past works, His own works, and the spiritual practice of other Buddhas in the past and present, of spiritual practitioners who had attained Buddhahood and entered Parinirvana, Buddhas who lived in the past. He also [discussed] future Buddhas, such as Maitreya Bodhisattva. Whether past, present or future Buddhas, the Buddha has spoken of and revealed them all so that everyone would know about them. “He revealed to people all the various works that [They] did,” He revealed them all. So, He said, “I might reveal my own works”. He revealed how “Sakyamuni attained enlightenment, expounded the Dharma, manifested His spiritual powers and so on. I might reveal others’ works” refers to how He spoke of Medicine Buddha, of how Medicine Buddha of the east and Amitabha Buddha of the west both vowed to transform sentient beings. There was also Burning Lamp Buddha and Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha. He revealed all these past Buddhas, one by one, to sentient beings. So, “All that I speak is true and not false”. Everything He said previously was completely true and free of falsehood. This was what Sakyamuni Buddha told us. So, we must mindfully seek to comprehend this. Everything He said in the past [was true], whether He was revealing things about Himself or talking about others, whether He spoke of the past or future, or especially of the present. It had been so long since He attained Buddhahood. The number [of kalpas] was so many; it had truly been a very long time. So, “Every single word is honest and true”. It is completely true and not false. “All that I speak is true and not false”. Therefore, His every single word is the truth. There are absolutely no falsehoods. So, “Everything that He says is truly beneficial to sentient beings”. All the Dharma the Buddha taught is beneficial to all sentient beings “and is never false speech”.

Dear Bodhisattvas, this is how we build up the power of love. We must have faith in good things. We must listen to good words and learn from good role models. We must understand that in our daily living, we must truly direct our actions toward goodness. We must actualize the Six Paramitas in all actions. Whether we do a great deed or contribute something very small, this is all beneficial to sentient beings. A small smile and a few gentle words are both [ways to benefit others]. We must earnestly put forth the effort; we must have the power of gentleness. We must speak so that others will understand. This is very important; we must be mindful and tactful so that people can accept and understand us. As we listen to the Dharma, we need to put it into practice in our lives. This must be done “in accordance with capabilities” and with the right timing. If the time was not right, the Buddha would not teach.

We see in the Lotus Sutra how, several times, Sariputra started to request the teachings. The Buddha still said, “Stop! Stop! Stop!” He could not teach anything if the time was not right and people were not ready. The time needs to be right and people’s capabilities need to be mature. These are the two requirements. The time we are in right now, compared to the time during the Buddha’s era, is not the same. Our present time compared to the time 50 years ago is not the same either. When is the right time to teach this sutra so that it will truly suit people, so that people will take it to heart, so that it will suit the times? This must all happen in accord with the time and [people’s] capabilities. This is why the Buddha expounded the Lotus Sutra so cautiously. So, as we listen to the Dharma, we must be very cautious and listen mindfully to every phrase. We must not let anything slip us by. We must always be mindful.
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20190114《靜思妙蓮華》應機說法 皆為度生 (第1522集) (法華經·如來壽量品第十六)
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