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 20190521《靜思妙蓮華》聞法修持 功德利益 (第1613集) (法華經·分別功德品第十七)

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20190521《靜思妙蓮華》聞法修持 功德利益 (第1613集) (法華經·分別功德品第十七) Empty
發表主題: 20190521《靜思妙蓮華》聞法修持 功德利益 (第1613集) (法華經·分別功德品第十七)   20190521《靜思妙蓮華》聞法修持 功德利益 (第1613集) (法華經·分別功德品第十七) Empty周一 五月 20, 2019 3:15 pm

20190521《靜思妙蓮華》聞法修持 功德利益 (第1613集) (法華經·分別功德品第十七)

⊙功者福利之功能,功能為善行之德;布善種子,遍功德田,普令一切發菩提芽苗種。法髓植入心田,循善法恭敬修。佛為開示眾生,悟入佛之知見,釋佛久來本懷,今說本門法華。法華本跡開二門,法喻談真祕實法。至此靈山大眾,聞之則得種種,今之功德利益,即分別功德品。
⊙「若有信解心,受持讀誦書,若復教人書,及供養經卷,散華香末香,以須曼薝蔔、阿提目多伽,薰油常燃之。」《法華經分別功德品第十七》
⊙「如是供養者,得無量功德,如虛空無邊,其福亦如是。」《法華經分別功德品第十七》
⊙如是供養者,得無量功德:如是修持佛所說法,以行敬供養,得福無量。
⊙如虛空無邊,其福亦如是:如太虛空,無有邊際,持菩薩六度,行遍一切處,是人福亦如是無量。
⊙此偈頌持法兼行六度廣化,自他利益,疾得種智。頌中但論一施,不說五度。
⊙「況復持此經,兼布施持戒,忍辱樂禪定,不瞋不惡口,恭敬於塔廟,謙下諸比丘,遠離自高心。」《法華經分別功德品第十七》
⊙況復持此經,兼布施持戒,忍辱樂禪定:但能持經,福已無量,況復兼修六度之行。
⊙不瞋不惡口,恭敬於塔廟:心不瞋怒,口不惡言。見塔廟時起恭敬心。
⊙謙下諸比丘,遠離自高心:見比丘時,謙恭下禮;遠離自大高傲心。

【證嚴上人開示】
功者福利之功能,功能為善行之德;布善種子,遍功德田,普令一切發菩提芽苗種。法髓植入心田,循善法恭敬修。佛為開示眾生,悟入佛之知見,釋佛久來本懷,今說本門法華。法華本跡開二門,法喻談真祕實法。至此靈山大眾,聞之則得種種,今之功德利益,即分別功德品。

功者福利之功能
功能為善行之德
布善種子
遍功德田
普令一切
發菩提芽苗種
法髓植入心田
循善法恭敬修
佛為開示眾生
悟入佛之知見
釋佛久來本懷
今說本門法華
法華本跡開二門
法喻談真祕實法
至此靈山大眾
聞之則得種種
今之功德利益
即分別功德品

這〈分別功德品〉,要來為我們解釋,解釋我們入佛知見,門如何進來,我們要很清楚。大家用心,要清楚了,我們若不清楚,前面的文就白聽、白過了,所以大家很用心。是要用心了,而且要落實生活去真實體會。若是沒有用心落實、體會,怎麼樣都無法了解,是真正的「無法度」了。法入心,自度,所以要時時多用心。「功者福利之功能」,這個「功」字,就是自己要用功。「功」字是對自己說的,你自己是不是很用心?自己用身、用心去入那個功夫,要去學。真的什麼都不要做,只要聽、只要寫、只要抄、只要看、只要說,這樣還無法體會到「功德」。這個「功」,要真正內心體會,真是難啊!

「功」,要說得人有接受進來,有受用。對方有受用,身體力行,這樣我們的功夫才足夠。我們若是說,大家聽,談笑風生,一陣風就過去了,只是聽一個「風聲」,這樣就過了。說的人只有一陣風,聽的人也是一陣風,什麼都沒有。所以我們說,一定要很讓人歡喜聽、願意接受,一直都能夠記著、記憶。最近難道不是一直告訴大家,要記著,記憶、受教。我們若有記憶、受教,自然我們態度就會表現出來,這叫做修行。修行積功德,用心很重要。所以,前一段時間,一直說「四修法」,「長時修、無餘修、無間修、尊重修」。

尊重、恭敬修行,這種修行,將法接收來,受用在我們的心,是要「長時修」。時間分分秒秒,觸事會理,我們對人、對事,我們就趕緊記憶,法是如何說,所以我們聽到這樣的法,現在面對著這樣的事情,我要趕緊將這個法用在這個事。所以觸事會理,我們做的事情就沒有錯,因為這叫做「長時修」。聽了之後,法還在心中,沒有忘記它,長時間;多久之前聽的、說的,我還記得,「長時修」。「無餘修」,沒有「加減修」的。我不是有時間才要去聽法,不是有時間才來說道理,不是有時間才來修這個法,不是,是「無餘」。沒有多餘的時間,但是就是把握任何時間,我就是回顧、記憶、想,這個法要用心想,這就是叫做「多用心」。

又是「無間」,不論在什麼樣的空間,什麼樣的時間,什麼樣的人間,我們就是要應用法。法,會一直在我們的心中,長時、無餘、無間,一直在我們的心,所以我們表達出來就是恭敬。「恭敬修」就是尊重,「尊重修」。「感恩、尊重、愛」,這難道不是常常在告訴大家?我們的態度,聽法,落實待人接物,這是一連串,我們要做得到,這叫做修功、累德。功就是這樣修來的,所以這樣一直累積來那個德,這樣才是叫做「功德」。所以我們若沒有用功夫,哪有辦法累積德行呢?所以,「功者福利之功能」。我們接觸人群,就是要這樣不斷不斷去造福。

常常說過了,弘揚佛法,去說法,其實說法是先利自己,才利益他人。你要自己先用功成就自己,成就自己在先,你才成就別人。你去說話,現在有在說話,我也先利益我自己,才將法這樣傳出去。我若不是為了要說法,我就不必用那麼多時間,頭腦裡一定要知道,這些法是什麼,我就要這樣尋尋覓覓。我們現在在人間,是什麼樣的人間呢?佛所說的法是什麼法呢?這個人間有毛病,有污染了,要用什麼樣的法來應對人間?這就要去找,尋尋覓覓的。

「找到了」,找到的人是我自己,我找到之後,我趕緊與大家分享。我已經有將這些東西找到了,所以我才來跟大家說話。這就是要用心,先利自己才利益他人,有機會可向大家說話,「感恩喔,感恩啊」。感恩的同時,這個感恩來自於大家的用功。一大早,很早,無論是颳風、下雨,在合宜道場,我們各地,環保站也好,小小的共修處也好,靜思堂也好,這些精進菩薩,他們也很早,四點多就要出門了,就會合,就是來共修,同時聽法。你們想,這哪能叫人不尊重呢?

我們精舍每天三點多,四點不到敲板,其實當我們敲板的時候,他們也差不多起床在準備了,準備要出門。有的人要再去載別人,當作「大白牛車」。大家共乘這部車,這樣來薰法,這是不是讓人很尊重、供養呢?是不是有的人?敲板了,還是又再休息,累了。真正用心、用功,這個時間大家很輕安自在,聽法,心無掛礙,沒有一個壓力:外面在講經,裡面在睡覺。沒有壓力。因為講經的地方,聽經的人在這裡,心安理得。

在那麼遙遠的地方,靠著科技傳法,他們能夠願意這樣接受,這不就是精進?這不就是用功?這「功者福利」,我自己自度,我又去載人,同時去得受法益,這就是「功能」。那就是累積,長久以來就是這樣在累積,所以這叫做「功能為善行之德」。這就是功能,落實了,真正落實,自己獲,別人同時也來行,這種這樣彼此之間互相互動。所以,「布善種子,遍功德田」。這顆種子就是這樣撒下去,有這樣的大地因緣,有這樣的空氣清新,有這樣的水分來成長,這就是把握,「布善種子,遍功德田」。所以,「普令一切發菩提芽苗種」。將菩提苗的種子愈發愈多,這就是「法髓植入心田」,就是法髓。法譬如水,法不是只有水而已,應該就像「髓」。

我們醫院裡那個髓移植,造血功能若不好,就要從健康人的身體裡,去配對那個髓來移植。聽法與這樣一樣,我有排斥這個法嗎?我若將它偏解了,那就是排斥了。而我們若是如法修行,這就是接到,接受到法髓,成長慧命,就像輸血或者是移植法髓一樣。健康人的給我,我就吸收受用,我生命就健康了;我們接受法,那就是慧命成長了。要很用心來體會。所以,「循善法恭敬修」。法髓要能夠植入我們的心田,我們就是要接受這個法進來,「恭敬修」。這個恭敬修就是「四修」,長時修、無間修、無餘修,恭恭敬敬這樣來修行,這才有辦法得到法髓,這樣植入我們的心田裡;「布善種子」,才有辦法「遍功德田」,大家要很用心。

所以,「佛為開示眾生,悟入佛之知見」。佛的一生就是為了,想要眾生悟入佛的知見,眾生要「悟入」,佛陀就是「開示」;佛的心懷是保護著《法華經》,從成佛已經到現在,已經將近五十年的時間,在四十二年後才開始釋這個本懷,講《法華經》。所以,佛陀現在,已經開示佛的知見,這是佛久來的本懷,累生累劫期待著覺悟,這個時候來講說《法華經》。因為佛陀的覺知,才有辦法知道這個法的精髓。在修行過程,那個精髓還沒辦法,就是覺悟了,精髓已經俱全。所以覺悟之後那個心懷,就是要釋放精髓,那個佛法的精髓。所以,「釋佛久來本懷」,一直到現在。

「今說本門法華」。我們已經開始,在「本門」之中了,這個經文,字字,我們都要很用心去體會。雖然你們看經文這樣讀過去,只是讀誦、書寫,這樣這麼簡單就是功德嗎?只是說修行,就是建僧坊、塔廟、寺院,這樣難道就是叫做「供養」嗎?不是。原來在經過「五波羅密」其中,還有「般若」,不是有形的供養而已,最重要的有形、無形要平行。「真空」就是需要「妙有」,空有智慧,減少實行,這樣也是空。所以,空要空得裡面有東西,所以我們要很用心。雖然事相一切皆空,但是我們智慧是實有,而智慧,是從人群中的過程中來的。所以,「五度」、「六度」,我們前面都說過了,我們要深心信解,要身體力行,很重要。

所以,「法華本跡開二門」。這部《法華經》,跡門、本門;跡門說很多,其中很多的故事,那都是顯跡,說過了,過去修行多久多久,過去有什麼因緣,那都叫做「跡門」,現在再來就是「本門」。所以不可只是聽說:「讀誦、背誦,或者是抄寫經典這樣,這就是供養?」不是。很多形象,建僧坊等等,不可只有執在這個地方。有的人說:「建寺院,我出兩根龍柱在那裡!」以為這樣是功德,其實佛陀已經很清楚,在這段時間,已經向我們說很清楚,有經、有法的地方,就是法的真身,全身舍利,這已經跟我們說清楚了。所以這個「法華本跡開二門,法喻談真祕實法」。就說法用譬喻的,所談的是真實理,或者是其中隱藏著很深奧。是很淺顯?或者是很深奧?在這個《法華經》中,全都含具著。要不然為什麼就要,佛陀光是《法華經》,就說了將近八年,七年多,將近八年。所以,這是真實法,我們要很清楚。

這一生中,佛陀說法一生,一直到靈山這個大會的時候,「靈山大眾」大家來聚會了,叫做「靈山會」。「聞之則得種種」。一切很多很多的法,三機普被。不論是聲聞、緣覺,我們過去這段一直一直,聲聞、緣覺、菩薩種種,一直在說。來到這個地方,聲聞、緣覺、菩薩,能夠體會佛的本懷、心意,都能夠很清楚,僅僅有一法──真實法。所以,「今之功德利益,即分別功德品」。來分析我們是如何修行,如何來累積,累積功德,就是要入人群去,深心體解,法的道理。

佛陀是告訴我們一個方向,其實佛法普被在天地之間,天地萬事物理,哪有辦法一項一項說呢?只是一個大綱讓我們知道,我們日常接觸到去體會,這就是理,真理。所以大家這個信心,深心信解,這是很重要。佛陀這個方向給我們,我們就要很用心去體解。一直強調深心信解。

前面,前面的經文是這樣說:「若有信解心,受持讀誦書,若復教人書,及供養經卷,散華香末香,以須曼薝蔔、阿提目多伽,薰油常燃之。」

若有信解心
受持讀誦書
若復教人書
及供養經卷
散華香末香
以須曼薝蔔
阿提目多伽
薰油常燃之
《法華經分別功德品第十七》

這是前面說的,敘述要用信解心受持、讀誦、書。固然我們要很虔誠投入人群,我們讀書就是要用,了解法之後,在讀,後代的人在讀書,就是讀要能夠懂,能夠懂就要用。所以,懂不會用,讀書也沒有用。佛陀在世那個時代就不用讀書,用聽的,耳根聽就好,那個時代讀的,總是婆羅門教等等。佛教的經典,那個時,佛法初期,佛陀還在說,佛滅度後才開始慢慢結集經典。所以,佛陀那個時代,勸大家持、讀誦,受持、讀誦,是教我們未來的現在讀誦經典。這我們要很用心。

所以,「若復教人書」。一段時代,古時代都是要靠人去寫,或者是靠人較用心去刻,刻木板,去刻石板。再更早的時代,就是刻在葉子上等等,總是那個時代。我們現在這個時代連抄寫都不用,已經是電子時代。時代不同,可見我們受持是將法受持入心,這是很重要。入心之後,身體力行,這是佛陀他的用意,也是現在一直向大家強調。法就是要在我們的心中,要在我們身體力行中。而我們身體力行,心得與大家分享,代代相傳,要表達出來、用出來,有用途,「有法度」。「有法度」才有用途,才有路,這個法才用得到,這就是要代代相傳。信解心是這麼重要,一代傳過一代。

所以,教人讀,經、道理若在,我們要用很恭敬心,這是「四修法」。恭敬心,用種種的表態來供佛、法、僧,這我們總是要很用心去體會,日常的生活要如何來表達。恭敬心來修行,長時、無間、無餘,心存恭敬,感恩、尊重,這就是我們的態度,所以大家要很用心。平時就是這樣告訴過大家。

接下來的經文:「如是供養者,得無量功德,如虛空無邊,其福亦如是。」

如是供養者
得無量功德
如虛空無邊
其福亦如是
《法華經分別功德品第十七》

若能夠受持佛所說的法,那就是供養,是用身體力行,去體會道理,入人群。

如是供養者
得無量功德:
如是修持佛所說法
以行敬供養
得福無量

用「法」,我們落實行為做出來,所以「如是修持佛所說法」。佛所教我們的,我們就是照這樣做。所以,有用途,我們將它用出來,用在人群中,這叫做修持佛所說。我現在做佛所說的法,落實在人間,我們要身體力行。這句話不是一直反覆,一直說?法聽過後要落實在生活中,待人處事,這就是如法修行,這樣叫做「修持」,我們若看到「修持」兩字。我們的記憶就是「四修法」,一個修持是四修合一,要好好用上去。

恭敬,因為這是佛所教的法,所以「以行恭敬」,我們要很用恭敬心,用這個方法利用在人群中,這叫做有法利用,這有用途。這路就是道,我們就是走這條道,用這個路,我們來入人群去利益眾生,這樣叫做「恭敬修」,恭敬在佛所說傳下來的法,這樣身體力行。希望大家聽得進去。不知說話是不是很深?覺得不知道有聽懂嗎?所以,「得福無量」。若能夠這樣,就得無量功德,得福無量了。

接下來說,「如虛空無邊,其福亦如是」。

如虛空無邊
其福亦如是:
如太虛空
無有邊際
持菩薩六度
行遍一切處
是人福亦如是無量

就像虛空無邊,我們抬頭看虛空,虛空廣無邊際。樓再怎麼高,讓你蓋幾百層,同樣虛空還是無窮盡的高,無窮盡、無邊際的廣闊,這就是虛空,「太虛空,無有邊際」。我們在持菩薩六度,「行遍一切處」是,也與虛空一樣,「是人福亦如是無量」。大家要很用心攝受進去。

此偈
頌持法
兼行六度廣化
自他利益
疾得種智
頌中但論一施
不說五度

所以,前面這段偈文,差不多在複說前面的長行文。就是告訴我們,「持法兼行六度廣化」,我們在修行,若是偏在智慧──般若,就是偏在我要如何認識法,我要如何淨我的心。而我就是了解佛的道理,時間都用在這樣的範圍裡,這樣就沒有入世,沒有走入人群;若是只有五度就是欠缺。所以,能夠「持法」,「兼行六度廣化」,就是你自己修持你自己,你要平行六度,不是只有偏行在顧自己。了解法,我會說法,我只是做一項,會寫、會說。不是這樣而已,我真正還會做,鋤頭我會拿,鏟子我會拿,筆,當然我也會拿。不論你大地耕或是大寮做,或者是文章寫,全都有辦法,這樣才是。因為眾生需要我們的,是多功能的落實,所以我們應該就是要,「六度萬行」,才有辦法廣化眾生。

所以,「自他利益」。自己要先修來一番的功夫,你才有辦法去教人。菜,在吃的菜是如何來?自己有去撒到種子,了解這盤是什麼菜,是從哪裡來。同樣的道理,法若沒有我們自耕作來,法是無法銘刻在心中,所以大家要很用心。

所以,這段的偈頌,六波羅密,我們要自利利他。這剛才說過,我們若可以,要去告訴人家,就是自己首先成就,聲聞的「一切智」,菩薩的「道種智」,佛陀的「一切種智」。我們若沒有一切智,沒有聽,哪有辦法走路呢?菩薩就是道種智。經過這條路,很長的路,才有辦法看到心地風光,感受到芸芸眾生的苦難,這種法喜與人間苦,都已經完全體會。這「一切種智」,那就是佛覺悟,天地萬物真理的來源,這就是要靠這樣累積來的。

所以什麼叫做「功」?就是累積,你沒有經過,沒有累積,還是空。「妙有」,你就是沒有,所以,我們要得到「妙有」,一定要從事相不執著而到,這一定有次序。所以這些文,「頌中但論一施」,我們只知道要追求智慧,不夠。我們還是要兼行五度,不是只有在那裡經行,很好的環境裡,在那個地方靜坐、經行,光是這樣說是很用功、讀經,不是這樣。就是「經者,道也;道者,路也」,這條路要鋪出去,這條道要開;這條路要鋪,要走出去,這才是真正菩薩道。

下面接下來這段文,再說:「況復持此經,兼布施持戒,忍辱樂禪定,不瞋不惡口,恭敬於塔廟,謙下諸比丘,遠離自高心。」

況復持此經
兼布施持戒
忍辱樂禪定
不瞋不惡口
恭敬於塔廟
謙下諸比丘
遠離自高心
《法華經分別功德品第十七》

這要很用心。所以,我們除了前面所說的,受持法,兼六度行,下面就要說了,「況復持此經,兼布施持戒,忍辱樂禪定。

況復持此經
兼布施持戒
忍辱樂禪定:
但能持經
福已無量
況復兼修六度之行

這部經,我們完全受持,除了修知識、智慧之外,「轉識成智」,深心信解,不只是這樣,我們要再受持,了解這部經是佛的全身。所以,佛的全身要行六度,兼行布施,兼行持戒,兼行忍辱、樂禪定。這就是一定要,的,這叫做「六度萬行」。

所以,「但能持經,福已無量」。光是能夠將這個經,這樣很用心深入在心中,這樣就已經很了不起,何況,「況復兼修六度之行」。能懂得自己自愛自己,將這個經法入心來,已經算不錯了,比放縱,比那些無明顛倒好多了,但是,夠嗎?佛陀又說:「這樣不夠!」就是要去兼行利益眾生,要不然你無法成佛。你沒有走過菩薩道,你哪有辦法成佛呢?本來你成「一切智」就不錯了,「轉識成智」,但是你一定要兼行菩薩道,這叫做「道種智」。道種智走到盡頭,一切風光清楚明白了,這就是與天、地、理會合為一體,這樣就是六度萬行已盡,到達了。

所以需要的過程,修行:「不瞋不惡口,恭敬於塔廟」。

不瞋不惡口
恭敬於塔廟:
心不瞋怒
口不惡言
見塔廟時
起恭敬心

又回過頭來,「恭敬於塔廟」。這就是要告訴大家,「心不瞋怒,口不惡言」,將心、「六度萬行」好好受持好。「見塔廟時,起恭敬心」,不貢高、不驕傲,雖然我們做很多,雖然修行也很了解一切皆空,寺廟只不過是身外物,是空的,是四大會合,是四大有相,地、水、火煉成來的塔,難道不是嗎?我們建一間房子也要用鋼筋,鋼是要從礦去煉成鋼,經過火煉過,火煉的過程需要水。

那就是經過了,很多的風動、水動,火才會成。所以,火本身也要具四大,風的本身也要具四大。風,若沒有這個熱氣,暖、熱等氣,沒有氣就沒有風;沒有風,水就不動,所以水也需要空氣。每一項東西,本身都需要「四大」,來相生相成,身體也是這樣,大地萬物都是這樣。所以,應用這些物,土、木等等這樣建起來的,這是四大會合;分開了是空的,造成有形,那就是塔,它的名稱叫做塔。所以看這個,看到塔的形,聽到它的名稱,我們已經知道,塔就是裡面有舍利,或者人的骨頭在裡面,我們就要心生恭敬。這就是表示尊重,也是修行之一。何況我們的過程,心靈的寶塔,心靈的寶塔是永遠存在,凡事要尊重、要恭敬。所以我們要學會謙下,謙卑、放下身段。

謙下諸比丘
遠離自高心:
見比丘時
謙恭下禮
遠離自大高傲心

所以,「謙下諸比丘,遠離自高心」。我們要很謙卑,對每一位我們都要禮敬諸賢,用這樣的心。所以,「見比丘時,謙恭下禮,遠離自大高傲之心」。這就是我們修行的方向。大家修行要很用心,真正「功」與「德」是要用很多很多來合成。所以,造福人群,這才是我們在累積功。若沒有做,就沒有功,還是要身體力行,才有辦法。所以凡事都假不得,名稱沒有用處,還是實用,要自己有這個本能去付出,這才是積功累德。「功」就是不斷一直積起來,從點滴而積到多數,這樣叫做功德。所以請大家,「功德」兩字很好說,但是要用很長時間來修練,所以大家要多用心。


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: The Benefits and Merits of Upholding the Dharma (聞法修持 功德利益)
Date: May.21.2019

“’Merits’ refers to the ability to create blessings and benefits. ‘Ability’ means the virtue of doing good deeds. We must spread the seeds of goodness over the fields of merits, lead all to develop the sprout of Bodhi, plant the Dharma-marrow in the field of our minds and practice with reverence according to the virtuous teachings. The Buddha opened and revealed the Dharma to sentient beings so they would awaken and enter into the Buddha’s understanding and views. He revealed His original intent that He had long concealed and now taught the Lotus Sutra’s teaching of the intrinsic. The Lotus Sutra opens the two doors of the intrinsic and the manifest. The Dharma’s analogies clarify the profound truth and teachings. The assembly that came to Vulture Peak heard [the Dharma] and attained all kinds of merits, virtues, and benefits at that time. This is the Chapter on Distinguishing Merits and Virtues.”

The Chapter on Distinguishing Merits and Virtues explains how we enter into the Buddha’s understanding and views, how we enter through these doors. We need to be very clear about this. We must be mindful and clearly understand this. If we are unclear, we would have been listening to the previous sutra passages in vain. So, we must all be very mindful. We must be mindful and put [the teachings] into practice in our lives to truly experience them. If we do not mindfully seek to actualize and experience [these teachings], there will be no way for us to comprehend them. We will truly have “no way”. We [must] take the Dharma to heart and transform ourselves, so we must always be mindful.

“’Merits’ refers to the ability to create blessings and benefits.” This word “merit” refers to putting in our own efforts. It is something we must ask ourselves; are we truly being mindful? Have we applied our own minds and bodies to mastering and learning [the Dharma]? If we do not act, but only listen, write, transcribe, read or discuss [these teachings], then there is still no way for us to realize these “merits and virtues”. It is not easy to experience “merits” in our hearts! [We attain] “merits” by speaking to people in such a way that they accept and make use of [the teachings]. Only when the recipients accept and put [the teachings] into practice is our ability sufficient. When we speak and others listen, we may discuss merrily, but [this moment] may quickly pass like a gust of wind. When this happens, it is as though we have merely heard the sound of a gust of wind. When we speak, it is just like a gust of wind, and for those who listen, it means no more than a gust of wind; they have not grasped anything. So, when we teach [the Dharma], we must let people listen to it with joy and be willing to accept it so that they will always remember it. Haven’t I been telling everyone that we need to remember and accept the teachings? If we can remember and have accepted the teachings, then [the teachings] will naturally manifest in our attitude. This is spiritual practice. Through spiritual practice, we accumulate merits and virtues. Mindfulness is extremely important. Previously, we often spoke of the Four Practices, “extended practice, practice with nothing further, uninterrupted practice and practice with reverence.” We must practice with reverence. When it comes to this practice, we must take the Dharma into our hearts and apply it; this requires “extended practice”. Every minute and every second, we unite matters with principles. Whether with people or matters, we can immediately recall the Dharma we were taught. So, having heard this Dharma, we can now face these matters and immediately apply the teachings to deal with them. If we unite matters with principles, then there will be no wrong in what we do. This is “extended practice”. After listening to the Dharma, we keep it in our hearts and do not forget it for a long period of time. What we heard and taught long ago, we still remember. This is “extended practice”.

[We must] “practice with nothing further” and not “practice casually”. We do not only go listen to the Dharma when we have time. We do not only talk about these principles when we have time. We do not only practice the teachings when we have time. No, we “practice with nothing further.” We may not have much time available to us, but we make use of any time that we have. We look back, remember and think about [the Dharma]. We must mindfully contemplate the Dharma. This is to “always be mindful”. We must also engage in “uninterrupted practice.” No matter what kind of place we are in, what time it is or what kind of world we reside in, we need to apply the Dharma. The Dharma will constantly abide in our hearts. Over extended time, with nothing further and no interruptions, it will always be in our minds. So, what we express is reverence.

To “practice with reverence” means to have respect, to practice with respect. Don’t we often talk about “gratitude, respect and love”? When it comes to our attitude, we listen to the Dharma and put it into practice as we interact with people and deal with matters. These are connected; we must be able to do this. This is called cultivating merits and accumulating virtues. We cultivate merits in this way. So, in this way, we constantly accumulate virtue, and only in this way [do we attain] “merits and virtues.” Thus, if we do not put in the effort, how can we possibly accumulate virtue? So, “Merits’ refers to the ability to create blessings and benefits.” When we connect with other people, we need to constantly create blessings. We often say that we advance and teach the Buddha-Dharma, but actually, when we teach the Dharma, we first benefit ourselves before we benefit others. We must first put in effort to attain accomplishments ourselves. Only after attaining accomplishments can we help others do the same. Whenever we speak with others, just as when I am speaking to everyone now, I too have first benefited [from my efforts] before being able to transmit the Dharma in this way. If it was not for teaching the Dharma, then I would not need to spend so much time. In my mind, I definitely must know what this Dharma is all about. I need to search and look everywhere. What kind of world do we live in today? What is the Dharma that the Buddha taught? This world is sick and polluted. What kind of teachings do we need in response to this world? I have to search [for the answers]. “Ah, I have found it!” I myself have found it, and after I have found it, I immediately share [this] with others. After I have sought out these things, I then talk about them with all of you. This requires mindfulness.

We first benefit myself before I benefit others. I am so grateful for having the opportunity to speak to you here. At the same time, I am also grateful for is everyone’s dedication. Very early in the morning, whether it is windy or rainy, [people come listen to the Dharma]. In many spiritual practice centers all over the place, in the recycling stations, the small group study centers and Jing Is Halls, all these diligent Bodhisattvas [come] early. Before 5 am, they are already out the door to meet up to hold group study and listen to the Dharma at the same time. Think about this; how can we not respect them? Every day here at the Abode, before 4 am, we should the wooden board. Actually, around the time when we sound the wooden board, [these Bodhisattvas] have already woken up and gotten ready to head out woken up and gotten ready to head out. Some need to drive and pick people up, serving as a “great white ox-cart.” People carpool together to come to the morning Dharma talk. Aren’t they worthy of our respect and offerings? Aren’t these some people who think, “The board has sounded,” then think, “Let me rest. I am tried.” But for those who are truly mindful and diligent, during this time, they are at peace. As they listen to the Dharma, their minds are without hindrances; they have no stress at all. While we are teaching the sutra outside, people are still sleeping [at the dorms]. People have no stress at all, because in the place where the sutra is taught, those who listen to the sutra are content and at peace. Even in faraway places, with technology passing on the Dharma, people are willing to accept [the Dharma] in this way. Isn’t this what diligence is? Aren’t they putting in effort? They “create blessings and benefits.” We transform ourselves and we [transform] others so that we both benefit from the Dharma at the same time. This is “ability.”

This is accumulated over a very long period of time. So, “’Ability’ means the virtue of doing good deeds.” This is the meaning of “ability.” If we truly implement [the Dharma] in our lives, we will attain benefits while others also follow us. In this way, we interact with one another. “We must spread the seeds of goodness over the fields of merits.” We spread this kind of seed in this way. With the right conditions in the soil, clean and fresh air and water, the seed will grow. This is how we seize [the opportunity] to “spread the seeds of goodness over the fields of merits.” So, we “lead all to develop the sprout of Bodhi.” When there are more and more sprouts of Bodhi, then we are “planting the Dharma-marrow in the field of our minds.” [We plant] the Dharma-marrow. The Dharma is like water, yet it is not only like water. It should also be like marrow. We do bone marrow transplants in our hospitals. If someone has a poor hematopoietic function, then we need to do a bone marrow match [to find] a healthy person for a transplant.

Listening to the Dharma is just like this. Are we rejecting this Dharma? If our understanding of it deviates, then it is as if we have rejected it. If we practice according to the Dharma, however, then we have accepted the Dharma-marrow and grown our wisdom-life. This is just like transfusing blood or transplanting Dharma-marrow. When a healthy person gives it to us, we absorb and make use of it and return to good health. When we accept the Dharma, we grow our wisdom-life. We must mindfully seek to realize this. We must “practice with reverence according to the virtuous teachings.” We must plant the Dharma-marrow in the field of our minds. We must accept this Dharma into our hearts and “practice with reverence.” This refers to the Four Practices, which include extended practice, practice with nothing further, and uninterrupted practice. We must carry forth our practice with great reverence in this way. Only in this way can we attain the Dharma-marrow and plant it into the field of our minds. By “spreading these seeds of goodness” we can scatter them “over the field of merits”. We all must be mindful. “The Buddha opened and revealed the Dharma to sentient beings so they would realize and enter the Buddha’s understanding and views”. The Buddha dedicated His entire life for sentient beings to realize and enter the Buddha’s understanding and views. Sentient beings must realize and enter while the Buddha opens and reveals [the Dharma]. The Buddha safeguarded the Lotus Sutra in His mind. From His attainment of Buddhahood to [His expounding of the Lotus Sutra], nearly 50 years had passed. Only after 42 years did He finally begin expressing His original intent and teaching the Lotus Sutra. So, by this time, the Buddha had already opened and revealed. His understanding and views. This had been His original intent for a long time. Over the course of many lives and kalpas, He awaited the time of awakening when He would begin to teach the Lotus Sutra. Because of the Buddha’s enlightenment and understanding, He was able to know the essence of this Dharma. In the process of spiritual cultivation, He was not yet able to comprehend it. As soon as He attained enlightenment. He perfected [His understanding] of this essence. So, after awakening, His intent was to reveal the Dharma-marrow, the essence of the Buddha-Dharma. Thus, “He revealed His original intent that He had long concealed”; He did this throughout the present. He “now taught the Lotus Sutra’s teaching of the intrinsic”. We have already begun the “the teaching of the intrinsic”. In this sutra, we must mindfully seek to comprehend every word.

Although we may have recited this sutra before, we may only have recited it or transcribed it. Is it really that easy [to accumulate] merits and virtues? When it comes to spiritual practice, people may build monasteries, stupas or temples. Is that all there is to “making offerings”? It is not. As it turns out, after practicing the Five Paramitas, we must still [practice] “prajna”. We must not only make tangible offerings. What is most important is that we make tangible and intangible offerings in parallel. “True emptiness” requires “wondrous existence”. If we only have wisdom but are missing practice, then it is also empty. True emptiness requires wondrous existence, so we need to be mindful.

Although all phenomena are empty, our wisdom truly exists. Wisdom is something we attain from [engaging] with people. We have previously spoken about the Five and the Six Paramitas. We must have deep faith and understanding and put [the teachings] into practice. This is very important.

So, “The Lotus Sutra opens the two doors of the intrinsic and the manifest”. This Lotus Sutra [contains] the teaching of the manifest and the teaching of the intrinsic. The teaching of the manifest teaches us a lot. The many stories contained within it are all about His manifestation. They talk about long cultivations in the past and the karmic conditions existed then. These are “the teaching of the manifest”. Now we are in “the teaching of the intrinsic”. We must not hear and [think] that, by simply reading, reciting and memorizing sutras or transcribing sutras, we are making offerings. No. As for the many tangible [offerings], such as building monasteries and so on, we must not be attached to such things. Some people say that when they built a temple, they donated two pillars and thereby attained merits and virtues. In fact, the Buddha had already [explained this] very clearly; during that time, He told us very clearly that wherever the sutra and the Dharma are, the true body of the Dharma and the sariras of [the Buddha’s] entire body are. He had already spoken of this very clearly.

So, “The Lotus Sutra opens the two doors of the intrinsic and the manifest. The Dharma’s analogies clarity the profound truth and teachings”. This means that He used analogies in the Dharma. [The Dharma] contains true principles or conceals profound meaning within them. [Some parts] are clear and obvious, while some are deep and profound. The Lotus Sutra encompasses all of them. If this were not the sutra, why would the Buddha have taught the Lotus Sutra along for over seven, almost eight, years? So, this is the True Dharma. We need to be clear about this.

The Buddha taught the Dharma throughout His life, including at this assembly on Vulture Peak. “The assembly that came to Vulture Peak” gathered. This is known as the Vulture Peak Assembly. [They] “heard [the Dharma] and attained all kinds of [benefits]. [They heard] all kinds of teachings that speak to all three capabilities, be it the Hearers or the Solitary Realizers. In the past, we spoke a great deal about. Hearers, Solitary Realizers and Bodhisattvas. We have constantly discussed them. When they came to this place, Hearers, Solitary Realizers and Bodhisattvas were able to comprehend the Buddha’s heart and original intent. They could clearly see that there is only one [vehicle]; this is the True Dharma. So, [they attained all kinds of] “merits, virtues, and benefits at that time. This is the Chapter on Distinguishing Merits and Virtues”. It analyzes how we engage in practice and how we accumulate merits and virtues. We do so by going among people to experience and understand the Dharma’s principles in the depths of our minds. The Buddha gives us a direction. The Buddha-Dharma is widespread in the universe. How can all things in the universe be described one by one? It only provides us with a general idea; we must experience it in our daily lives. These are the principles, the true principles. So, when it comes to our faith, it is important that we possess deep faith and understanding. The Buddha has given us this direction, so we must mindfully seek to experience and understand it. We have constantly emphasized having deep faith and understanding.

The previous sutra passage states, “Those with faith and understanding will accept, uphold, read, recite, transcribe or further teach others to transcribe and make offerings to the sutras. They will scatter flowers, incense and scented powder and make sumana, champaka and atimuktaka into fragrant oils and burn them constantly”.

This is what the previous [sutra passage] states. It describes how we must have faith and understanding and accept, uphold, read, recite and transcribe [the sutra]. We must go among people with great reverence. As we read [the sutra], we must apply it; [we must do this] after we understand the Dharma. When we as later generations read [the sutras], we all must be able to understand what we read, and we must employ what we understand. If we understand but do not use [the teachings], then it is useless to read the sutras. In the era when the Buddha was in the world, [disciples] did not need to read [sutras]. Using their ears to listen was enough. What people read in that era mainly related to Brahmanism and so on. As for the Buddhist sutras, at that time, at the Buddha-Dharma’s inception, the Buddha was still teaching; it was only after the Buddha entered Parinirvana that sutras were gradually compiled.

So, in the Buddha’s era, He urged everyone to uphold, read and recite [the sutras]; [He urged] those in the future, us here today, to read and recite the sutras. We must be very mindful of this. [People will] “further teach others to transcribe” [the sutras]. In ancient times, people relied on other’s writing or on those who made careful carvings on wood or stone. In even earlier periods, they made cut-outs materials like leaves. This was what it was like in those eras. In our current era, there is no need to transcribe things. We are now in the digital era; it is a different era. So, we must accept the Dharma into and uphold it in our hearts. This is very important. After we take it to heart, we put it into practice. This was the Buddha’s intention, and it is what we constantly emphasize now.

We must take the Dharma into our hearts and put it into practice. When we put it into practice, we must share our insights with everyone and pass them down from generation to generation. We must express and apply [the Dharma] so that it is useful. We must “have a way”. Only by “having a way” will we be able to use [the Dharma], and will have a path [to walk]. Only then can we apply this Dharma. So, we must pass it down, generation after generation. Having faith and understanding is important, so we must pass down [this sutra] from one generation to the next. Thus, we must teach others to read it.

As long as the sutras and the principles exist, we must maintain great reverence for them. This reverence is part of the Four Practices. We use many kinds of ways to make offerings to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. We must always mindfully seek to comprehend this and find ways to express it in our daily lives. We must engage in practice with reverence, extended practice, uninterrupted practice and practice with nothing further. In our minds, we must harbor reverence, gratitude and respect. This is our attitude. So, everyone must be mindful. This is what I usually tell everyone.

The next sutra passage goes on to state, “Those who make offerings in this way will attain infinite merits and virtues. Just as the universe is boundless, so are their blessings”.

If we can uphold the Dharma the Buddha taught, then we are making an offering. We put [the Dharma] into practice to realize the principles and go among people.

Those who make offerings in this way will attain infinite merits and virtues: In this way, they practice and uphold the Dharma that the Buddha taught and make offerings through reverent actions. Thus, they will attain countless blessings.

We must put the Dharma into practical action. “In this way, [we] practice and uphold the Dharma that the Buddha taught”. With everything that the Buddha taught us, we practice accordingly. So, [the Dharma] has applications. We make use of it among people. This is practicing and upholding what the Buddha taught. We actualize the Dharma that the Buddha taught in the world. We need to put [the Dharma] into practice. Haven’t we repeated this over and over? After we listen to the Dharma, we need to put it into practice in our daily lives as we interact with people and deal with matters. This is practicing according to the Dharma. This is called “practicing and upholding”. If we see the words “practice” and “uphold”, we must recall the Four Practices. When we practice and uphold and uphold [the Dharma], we must unite the Four Practices. We must diligently make use of it. We must be reverent, for this is the Dharma the Buddha taught. We must show respect through our conduct. We need to be reverent and make good use of the Dharma among people.

In this way, we make use of the Dharma; there is a use for it. This road is a path. As we walk along and use this path, we go among people to benefit sentient beings. This is “practice with reverence”. We have reverence for the Dharma that the Buddha taught and passed down to us. In this way, we put it into practice. I hope everyone can listen and take this to heart. I wonder if what I said is too profound and if you understand it or not. “They will attain countless blessings”. If we can do this, we will attain countless merits, virtues and blessings.

[The sutra] goes on to state, “Just as the universe is boundless, so are their blessings”.

Just as the universe is boundless, so are their blessings: Just as the universe is without boundaries, for those who uphold the Six Paramitas of Bodhisattvas and engage in practice everywhere, these people’s blessings will also be infinite like this.

[The blessings] are as boundless as the universe. When we look up and gaze at the universe, the universe is vast and boundless. No matter how tall a building is, even if it is several hundred stories tall, the space is still infinitely [higher]. It is boundless and infinitely vast. Such is the universe “The universe is without boundaries”. We uphold the Six Paramitas of Bodhisattvas and “engage in practice everywhere”. This is [as vast] as the universe. “These people’s blessings will also be infinite like this”. We must mindfully seek to absorb this.

This verse describes that those who uphold the Dharma while practicing the Six Paramitas to widely transform others benefit both themselves and others. They will swiftly attain all-encompassing wisdom. This verse only discusses giving and does not mention the other five paramitas.

So, this previous verse almost repeats the prose from before. It tells us about “those who uphold the Dharma while practicing the Six Paramitas to widely transform others”. In our spiritual practice, if we only focus on wisdom, on prajna, we will only try to understand the Dharma and how to purify our minds. We will seek to understand the Buddha’s principles and spend all of our time on this. Then we will not enter the world nor go among people. If we only [practice] the Five Paramitas, then we lace [wisdom]. So, being able to “uphold the Dharma while practicing the Six Paramitas to widely transform others” means that, besides practicing and upholding [the Dharma] ourselves, we must also practice the Six Paramitas in parallel. We must not be focused on only ourselves. We may understand and be able to teach the Dharma but can only do one thing, either transcribe or teach it. This should not be it. We must genuinely be able to do [other things]. We can pick up a hoe or a shovel, just as we can pick up a pen. Whether plowing a field, working in the kitchen or writing an article with a pen, we should be able to do all of these things. This is how we should be, for sentient beings need us to have a variety of skills. So, we ought to “actualize the Six Paramitas in all actions”. Only in this way can we widely transform sentient beings. We “benefit both ourselves and others”. We must first attain a certain amount of skills before we can teach others. Where does the vegetable we eat come from? If we ourselves go out and plant the seeds, we will understand what kind of vegetable it is and where it comes from. The idea is the same.

If we do not cultivate this Dharma ourselves, we will never engrave it into our hearts. So, we must be mindful. Regarding this verse on the Six Paramitas, we need to benefit ourselves and others. We just mentioned this earlier. Before we go out and inform others, we must first attain the ability ourselves. The Hearers [possess] “the wisdom of all Dharma” while Bodhisattvas have “wisdom of all paths” and the Buddha has “all-encompassing wisdom”. If we do not have the wisdom of all Dharma, if we have not listened to [the Dharma], how can we walk this path? Bodhisattvas possess the wisdom of all paths. Only through this extremely long path can they experience the scenery of their own minds and feel the suffering of myriad sentient beings. They have completely experienced both the Dharma-joy and suffering in the world. This “all-encompassing wisdom” is the source of the Buddha’s awakening to the truths of all things in the universe. This is something that is accumulated over time. So, what are “merits”? It is something we accumulate. If we do not accumulate experiences, we are still empty; we have not grasped “wondrous existence”.

So, in order to obtain this “wondrous existence,” we must approach it from not being attached to phenomena. There is indeed an order to this. So, in these verses, “they only discuss giving”. We only know that we need to seek wisdom, but this is not enough; we still need to practice the Five Paramitas. We cannot simply practice walking meditation; [we cannot simply stay] in a good environment and practice sitting or walking meditation. We cannot claim we work hard and read the sutras. This is not how it should be. “The sutras are a path. This path is a road to walk on”. We must pave this road; we must open and pave this path. We need to pave this road and set out on it. Only then are we truly [walking] the Bodhisattva-path.

The sutra passage then goes on to state, “How much more so if they uphold this sutra while also practicing giving, upholding precepts, exercising patience and taking joy in Samadhi”. “They never get angry or speak harshly, and they respect stupas and temples. They humble themselves before all bhiksus and are far-removed from arrogance and pride”.

This requires diligence. So, besides what we discussed previously about upholding the Dharma and also practicing the Six Paramitas, we will now discuss [the passage]. “How much more so if they uphold this sutra while also practicing giving, upholding precepts, exercising patience and taking joy in Samadhi”.

How much more so if they uphold this sutra while also practicing giving, upholding precepts, exercising patience and taking joy in Samadhi: By being able to uphold this sutra, they already have boundless blessings. How much more so if they also practice the Six Paramitas.

For us to completely uphold this sutra, apart from developing our knowledge and wisdom, we must “transform consciousness into wisdom” and give rise to deep faith and understanding. However, this is not all. We also need to accept and uphold it and understand that this sutra is the Buddha’s entire body. So, since [it is] the Buddha’s entire body, [we must] practice the Six Paramitas by giving and upholding [precepts], exercising patience and taking joy in Samadhi. This is an absolute necessity. This is actualizing the Six Paramitas in all actions.

“By being able to uphold this sutra, they already have boundless blessings”. If we are just able to mindfully take this sutra into the depths of our hearts, this is already an amazing accomplishment. “How much more so if they also practice the Six Paramitas”. If we know to love ourselves and take the Dharma of the sutra to heart, it is already quite an accomplishment. It is better than being self-indulgent, ignorant and confused. Yet, is this enough? The Buddha also said this was not enough. We also need to bring benefit to sentient beings. Otherwise, there is no way to become a Buddha. If we have not walked the Bodhisattva-path, how can we possibly attain Buddhahood? To begin, it is quite good for us to attain “the wisdom of all Dharma”; we can “turn consciousness into wisdom”. However, we must walk the Bodhisattva-path. This is “the wisdom of all paths”. When we [fully attain] the wisdom of all paths and clearly understand all [phenomena], we become one with the principles of the universe. In this way, we will have fully actualized the Six Paramitas in all actions. We will have accomplished this. The required process and spiritual practice is to “never get angry or speak harshly” and “respect stupas and temples”.

We return again to [the idea of] “respecting stupas and temples”. This is to tell everyone that we must “never get angry or utter harsh speech”. [We must] diligently uphold the Six Paramitas in our minds. “When they see stupas and temples, they give rise to reverence”. [We need to be] without pride or arrogance. Even though we have done much, even though we engage in practice, we understand that everything is empty in nature. A temple is merely a thing outside our bodies; it is empty [in nature]. It is the union of the four elements. It is the four elements of earth, water, [wind] and fire that form a stupa. Isn’t this how it is? When we are building a house, we need steel bars. Steel comes from ore, which is smelted into steel. During this refining process, water is required. There must be a lot of flowing air and water for the [refining] process to work. Thus, fire itself requires all four elements. Wind itself also requires all four elements. When it comes to wind, without hot air, without such air, there will be no wind. If there is no wind, water does not move. So, water also requires air. Every single thing in and of itself requires these four elements to complement each other. It is the same for the human body and for all things on the earth. So, we make use of [materials] such as earth, wood and so on to build things. This is the union of the four elements. When they are separated, what is left is emptiness. We create something tangible from them, and it is a stupa. We call it “a stupa.” So, when we look at the form of a stupa and we hear its name, then we know the stupa contains sariras within it or perhaps human remains. Thus, we need to give rise to reverence here. This shows our respect and is also a kind of spiritual practice. In particular, in our [spiritual practice], the stupa of treasures in our mind exists forever. We must have respect and reverence for all. Thus, we need to learn humility, to be humble.

So, “They humble themselves before all bhiksus and are far-removed from arrogance and pride.”

We must be very humble. Toward everyone, we must pay respect to them as to all sages. This is the attitude we must have.

So, “When they see bhiksus, they are humble, reverent and pay their respect. They distance themselves from arrogance and pride.”

This represents the direction of our practice. So, we must all be mindful in our practice. True “merits” and “virtues” come together through great [effort]. So, only by bringing benefit to people can we accumulate merits. If we do not put in effort, then there is no merit. We must put everything into practice for it to be possible [to achieve this]. We cannot fake anything. Titles are not useful; what is useful is being able to use our own ability to serve. Only then can we accumulate merits and virtues. “Merits” are something we accumulate constantly, from a single drop to a vast amount. This is merits and virtues.

So, everyone, it is easy to talk about “merits and virtues,” but they require a very long time to cultivate. Thus, we must always be mindful!

(Source: Da Ai TV – Wisdom at Dawn program – Explanation by Master Chen-Yen)
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20190521《靜思妙蓮華》聞法修持 功德利益 (第1613集) (法華經·分別功德品第十七)
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