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 20170109《靜思妙蓮華》降伏四魔安隱成道 (第997集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)

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發表主題: 20170109《靜思妙蓮華》降伏四魔安隱成道 (第997集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)   周日 1月 08, 2017 11:16 pm

20170109《靜思妙蓮華》降伏四魔安隱成道 (第997集)
(法華經•
化城喻品

 
佛大威力能降伏四魔,折伏攝受眾生造業因,悲智圓融稱大雄世尊,佛具萬德世所尊重故。
四魔:煩惱魔、五陰魔、死魔、天魔。
身體及手足,靜然安不動,其心常憺怕,未曾有散亂,究竟永寂滅,安住無漏法。今者見世尊,安隱成佛道。《法華經化城喻品第七
我等得善利,稱慶大歡喜,眾生常苦惱,盲瞑無導師,不識苦盡道,不知求解脫,長夜增惡趣,減損諸天眾。《法華經化城喻品第七
我等得善利,稱慶大歡喜:我等遇佛聞法信解,得大善益交相稱慶,心大歡喜見佛聞法,故曰得善利。
善之一字,即教理行果無漏之法,聞教悟理,依理修行,依行證果,此等善利,必能克就,故云得。
眾生常苦惱:眾生在迷,常懷苦惱。沉輪六道,恆為三障所煎,故常苦惱。
盲瞑無導師:如生盲人,冥然莫睹。不遇知識開示,故無導師。
盲瞑:自無智眼曰盲,妄境如夜曰瞑,一切眾生迷法迷人,心境俱昏,故曰瞑。
不識苦盡道,不知求解脫:不能識別滅盡諸苦究竟之道,不知求覓出離解脫,滿腔迷晦,雖厭苦,不識盡苦之道,忍受生死,不求解脫。
長夜增惡趣:長如夜間迷冥造業,增長惡報,以業惑果,生惡趣多,天眾轉減,三界長夜,如夢如醉。
六道唯人天屬善,眾生造業,墜惡趣者多,故增;生善道者少,故損。
減損諸天眾:即減少善道眾生之意;惡趣增多,故善道減少也。
 
【證嚴上人開示】

「佛大威力能降伏四魔,折伏攝受眾生造業因,悲智圓融稱大雄世尊,佛具萬德世所尊重故。」
 
佛大威力
能降伏四魔
折伏攝受
眾生造業因
悲智圓融
稱大雄世尊
佛具萬德
世所尊重故
 
大家應該內心人人對佛的尊重,佛是因為已得大威力,能降伏四魔,這我們應該知道。經過了長時間修行,任何一尊佛,大通智勝佛如是,釋迦牟尼佛也是,無量無數佛都一樣,要成佛的過程,要歷盡了很多人生的考驗,因為,入人群、度眾生,要經過了一番很強烈的淬鍊過。這是我們常常在說,修行就是這樣修過來,沒有經過這番的苦修、鍛鍊,如何能成為精純的器物呢?修行就是要這樣。
 
所以說來,能夠成佛,那就是非常難得,就是要先降伏四魔。四魔,應該大家能知道了,那就是煩惱魔、五陰魔、死魔、天魔。這四種魔,我們要經得起考驗。
 
四魔:
煩惱魔
五陰魔
死魔
天魔
 
煩惱魔,這就是我們平時說的,煩惱、無明如何降伏。我們要瞭解,人間事物、人我是非等等,要如何去降伏這些煩惱呢?人生事物若看不開,煩惱絕對無法去除,人我是非若不清楚,我們永遠都是糊塗,道理哪有辦法,在我們的面前現前呢?道理(不明)我們永遠,都是凡夫,因為是是非分不清,所以才叫做凡夫,凡夫心就離不開煩惱。
 
除了煩惱魔困擾著我們,又有五陰魔。五陰,大家應該都知道了,色、受、想、行、識。光是一個「色」,形形色色,不論是在聲音,不論是一切形色,日常生活中,就已經讓無明在我們的周圍,看這件不歡喜、不順眼,聽那件事情,逆我的心,也不順意,光是在色與聲中,我們就已經日常生活喜怒哀樂,還是在這個聲與色之中。何況「受」,這個感受,感受來讓我們的內心,不斷造作一切,相印在心裡,在心中,蘊釀在我們的思,思考。
 
我們昨天不是說過了嗎?我們還有八識、九識。前面的五識,就是一直緣著外面的境,境界的形相在我們的心,在我們的心,我們選擇了我們所執著的,就放在我們的心田,在我們的心田裡,那就是去造作,造作,心,用心計較。用心計較是用什麼識呢?就是第六識,用心計較。因為我們的前五識已經用,外面的景象印在我們的心裡,執著放在我們的第七識,我們用心計較,去耕作,然後就是採取於行動,在行動是貪,去貪,做出了很多利己不利人的事情,結果,那個果就是歸納,歸納在哪裡呢?阿賴耶識;這就是已經業已成,歸納在第八識。
 
所以我們日常生活,前五識在外面這樣緣,內心這樣造作,行動出去,在外面這樣完成了。是惡緣,你去侵別人的需要,去破壞別人的利益來利益自己,這樣就惹人怨了,結惡緣。這個不好的緣就變成了因,不好的因,收入在我們的(第八)識裡,這是一種結果,所以在阿賴耶識,就是含藏著林林總總,我們所造作一切。
 
這就是我們的心魔。我們自己的煩惱魔與五蘊魔,我們自己在造作,結果一輩子結束了,那就是往生了。這種自然法則,一輩子造作不知多少,結果死魔還是來臨了。什麼帶得去呢?雙手空空,所帶的是業。我們結多少的惡緣呢?我們侵佔了多少人的利益,損害別人的利益來利益自己,所自己利益的,到底到最後,還不是同樣兩手空空嗎?卻是滿滿的業,隨著我們去了。
 
「去」就是來生。來生的依報,正報、依報在什麼家庭?在什麼父母?在什麼房子?到底我們未來的人生,所遭遇的因緣果報,誰來替我們受呢?還是自己要受。就是像這樣,自己又再受很多的煩惱無明,苦報,一方面苦報現前,一方面還是煩惱無明再複製,就是這樣不斷。這就是人生,這叫做凡夫,這叫做我們的魔,我們內心的魔,就是這樣一直產生出來。
 
若是有人有幸,有了好的因緣,造作善事,做好事,生在天上。有的人做好事,是沒有希望有什麼樣的回報,因為有聽到佛法,付出無所求,願意付出,這樣在做,卻是很想修行,在修行中卻是遇到的就是天魔,天魔來困擾我們,來壞我們的善事。覺得我應該這樣做,不過外面的境界一來,起心動念,半途而廢,這就是天魔。外面的魔,天魔來擾亂我們,讓我們的內心起了無明,自斷善業。
 
其實,這個善,本來就在我們平時在做,但是只因為一點點的無明,人為所造作,這樣困惑我們的心,這樣我們就斷掉了。這也能說自己的心魔,也能叫做天魔,自然界,自然就會發生這樣的事情,阻擋了你的善事,因緣啊!這就是我們在修行中,會遇到的事情。
 
就如釋迦佛,他修行過程很辛苦啊!靜坐時,一直心都很恬靜、很靜,好好在思惟,起一念心,與天下眾生同為一體,成佛的目標就是要度盡眾生,滅除眾生的苦難。這悲心一起,智慧浮現,在這個時間悲智會合,這當中就是天魔出現了,開始一直在擾亂,困擾了這念很靜寂的心,浮現出很多境界來誘惑,這種的擾亂,困擾這念心。
 
所以,那時候,用他的定力去降伏那一分,在內心浮現出來種種的境界,不論什麼樣的境界,是魔軍,用了很恐怖的形態,出現在他的腦海、心靈中,很多可怕的形態,已經出現在他的面前,他趕快加強他的淨念、正念,因而魔軍消退。又再現出輕柔的美女,音樂等等,舞姿,這種很美的境界在他的面前,這種幻覺已經浮現在面前了,趕快提高警覺,幻化的境界,他用正念、正思惟再降伏。總而言之,在那種靜寂中,悲智交合之時,很多的境界現前,所以要用正思惟、正知、正見、正念等等,趕緊將它降伏,一一降伏消退,心完全再次靜下來。
 
所以常常告訴大家,靜坐,有時候坐到心很靜的時候,就會浮現幻覺,這幻覺境界若現前,只要你起一念歡喜的心,這個境界就這樣,印在你的心版裡,這種幻覺會常常出現。幻聽,好像耳邊有人在說話,幻聽,好像有人在叫他,有人現出了什麼樣,這都是幻覺,精神就像錯亂掉一樣。平時看起來正常,有時候他就說:「有人在跟我說話。」「有人在叫我。」像這樣,這是很危險的。常常都認為以幻為真,這種幻覺來擾亂他的心,這叫做走火入魔。
 
所以說,道理若還沒有很清楚,不要貪著靜坐中的境界,我們要很小心。但是你要很瞭解道理分明,必定要去體會,體會真理,真理要從哪裡來呢?煩煩擾擾中,很多煩惱無明在我們的面前,是非分不清,這已經成為我們的習氣。所以常常說,修行,沒什麼好修,就是要去除我們的習氣。
 
我們若是執著在,修行就要在那裡打坐、要在那裡……等等。其實,修行到了最透徹時,就是這樣說,「挑柴運水無不是禪」,吃飯喝茶無不是禪,舉手動足無不是禪。禪的道理其實沒什麼,就是能調伏我們的心。我們在日常生活,挑柴運水,既然無不是禪,我們就不必再浪費時間,我們就是去造作就對了,待人接物,將事理分清楚、瞭解,道理都瞭解了,人人心中都是一尊佛。
 
真如本性,人人都有,所以我們應該要很用心去體會,要如何來降伏,我們凡夫日常中的四魔。四魔常常擾亂我們的心,煩惱魔、五陰魔、死魔、天魔,這都常常擾亂我們,所以我們要如何去降伏?
 
所以佛陀已經是折伏,覺悟了,「折伏攝受眾生造業因」,自己覺悟之後,已經降魔,四魔,在大覺者全都降伏,回歸回來,那就是降伏攝受,降伏了自己的心魔,將這個道理要說給大家知道,讓人人也懂得修行,也瞭解四魔,永遠都是在困擾我們的人生,所以來分析很多道理,讓我們知道眾生造業的因,我們平時應該如何造作,對人付出,無所求,自然彼此感恩,互愛、結好緣。眾生中為何起無明呢?用感恩心來學,來瞭解,增長慧命,這就是造善業因。
 
自己已經覺悟,再教眾生,來教化眾生清楚道理,修善因,要防止惡的因,這就是降伏眾生的惡念。「諸惡莫作,眾善奉行」,這樣來教導我們。「悲智圓融」,自己的心念折伏之後,再教導他人預防有這四魔的現前,所以這樣教育我們,所以稱為大雄世尊。悲智既圓融了,自利利他,自己降伏四魔,再教導眾生提高警覺,也這樣降伏,這是悲智圓融,自覺覺他,這種稱為大雄世尊。這應該要很大的力量,很大的勇氣,才有辦法這樣的過程過來。
 
所以「佛具萬德,世所尊重故」。稱為世尊,所以這是佛的德,已經具萬行。佛德具萬行,我們也能學佛這樣走過來,我們也是一樣,能夠自覺覺他。佛陀是人間現相來教導我們,道理是這樣走,釋迦佛這樣走得過來,我們跟著他的腳步同樣這樣走,要很久,自然具萬德。在這世間,我們所有要修的悲智圓融,慈悲心、智慧行,成就一切眾生,這叫做,佛具萬德。就是覺悟的人要具足萬德,是世間所尊敬。這我們應該清楚。
 
前面的經文說,「身體及手足,靜然安不動,其心常憺怕,未曾有散亂,究竟永寂滅,安住無漏法。今者見世尊,安隱成佛道。」
 
身體及手足
靜然安不動
其心常憺怕
未曾有散亂
究竟永寂滅
安住無漏法
今者見世尊
安隱成佛道
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
這樣的過程,在身與心,要經過了很長久的時間來歷練,一直到心很恬靜淡泊,已經回歸寂靜清澄,心都沒有散亂了,這樣「安住無漏法」。所有的善法都集中起來,沒有錯謬,叫做無漏。就是這樣,要經過很長久的時間來修行。
 
現在,就是「今者見世尊,安隱成佛道」。這是表示大通智勝佛的時代,一坐十小劫,終於已經成佛了。這十小劫之中,天人,天啊、人,諸天都來護法,大家應該記得,在那個地方守護,終於,過了這個長時間,已經覺悟,悲智會合了,這樣已經成正覺了,覺悟了,大家很歡喜。
 
下面(經文)再接下來說,「我等得善利,稱慶大歡喜,眾生常苦惱,盲瞑無導師,不識苦盡道,不知求解脫,長夜增惡趣,減損諸天眾。」
 
我等得善利
稱慶大歡喜
眾生常苦惱
盲瞑無導師
不識苦盡道
不知求解脫
長夜增惡趣
減損諸天眾
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
這麼歡喜,就是諸天來護法,終於看到成佛了,所以這些諸天護法都是很高興。高興什麼呢?「我等得善利」。既然佛成正覺,道理都已經會合起來,大家很歡喜,這就是遇佛。
 
諸天要遇到佛也不容易,雖然天壽很長,卻是世間能成(就)佛,要經過幾大阿僧祇劫?光是大通智勝佛,想,到底他經過多久,是無始塵點劫。所以天人雖然壽長,要等佛出世也不簡單啊!所以大通智勝成佛了,天人都很歡喜。所以說「我等遇佛,聞法信解」,開始佛覺悟了,能說法了,我們大家應該能信能解,就「得大善益」,絕對得到利益,所以大家都很歡喜。
 
我等得善利
稱慶大歡喜:
我等遇佛聞法信解
得大善益交相稱慶
心大歡喜見佛聞法
故曰得善利
 
佛能出現人間,是多麼不簡單的事情啊!天人都歡喜,何況人間呢?「見佛聞法,故(曰)得善利」。大家就說「我等得善利」,大家很高興,因為能得善利,是見到佛,將能聽法了。
 
善之一字
即教理行果
無漏之法
聞教悟理
依理修行
依行證果
此等善利
必能克就 故云得
 
「善」,這個善字,即是「教理行果」,也能說「教理行證」。那就是佛陀說教,這個教的內容,包含了天地宇宙萬物的真理,將無為法,用有為形相來教導,讓人人懂得身體力行,知道修行的方法。知道修行的方法,自然依教奉行,那就是體驗到了。
 
我們常說:「你是很有福呢!」「哎呀!我很煩惱,我很多都不如人。」「來,你,我們一起做,我們一起去看(照顧戶)。」「原來有人比我更苦的人,我這樣的付出,幫助到對方了。看到他受到苦難,我比他有福多了,我能幫助他,他能解除了困難,看到他解除困難,我高興。」這就是「教理行(果)」,將無形的道理,教我們身體力行去體會出來,這就是道理。
 
所以「無漏之法」,我們若瞭解之後能身體力行,道心堅固,戒、定、慧。我們要如何,戒除錯誤的事再複製,我們要如何瞭解無明煩惱,不要再惹這些無明煩惱。這種戒,戒諸惡,我們要趕快,定,定心在善行,所以「諸惡莫作,眾善奉行」,我們的心向善要決定,決定這條善的方向,這個道要走。這就是善,智慧,用悲智雙運,這無漏法,這樣的道理我們能不漏失,好事不漏失。
 
「聞教悟理」,聽教法,體悟這個道理。依這個道理去修行,體悟到、瞭解了,「教理行證」,能證這個果,這就是善利。若能這樣,絕對能克服一切的困難。雖然修行是很辛苦,只要我們依教奉行,絕對克服困難,成就一切的果,善果一定是成就,所以叫做「得」。所以,「我今得善利」,意思就是說,佛若出現人間,他就開始會說道理讓我們瞭解,瞭解道理之後,我們會身體力行,身體力行就,能真正去體會。所以「眾生常苦惱」。
 
眾生常苦惱:
眾生在迷
常懷苦惱
沉輪六道
恆為三障所煎
故常苦惱
 
眾生時時在迷,煩惱無明,這就是叫做眾生,所以所懷著的就是苦、煩惱。過去的業已經引來了,眼前,今生此世就是這樣的惡因惡緣,又不瞭解道理,還不斷在製造這種人生的苦,像沉淪在六道,這樣一直沉下去,輪迴在六道中,都不覺不知,對道理不瞭解,就是這樣來來去去,就是都在六道,是由業牽引我們,永遠都是在受三障所煎熬。
 
「三障」是什麼呢?是,三障,煩惱(障、果報障、業障)等等。貪、瞋、癡,這些無明不斷這樣障礙我們,不斷這樣在複製著,這樣在煎熬。來生人間,受這樣的果報,還能表達出來,若入畜生道呢?有苦難言啊!若入地獄道呢?根本就是苦而無間,真正連要喘氣哀叫都苦,沒辦法。這真的是苦不堪,叫做「常苦惱」。「盲瞑無導師」。
 
盲瞑無導師:
如生盲人
冥然莫睹
不遇知識開示
故無導師
 
就是因為盲了,就像眼睛都看不見一樣,這種暗,一片黑暗。這種沒看到,很黑暗,前途茫茫,要怎麼走呢?常常都很驚惶,很怕,患得患失,很多都是很盲目。到底我怎麼做才是正確的道理?我怎麼做才是真正對自己有利益?這種實在是人間,平常人人都是這樣。這種不知何去何從,又沒辦法遇到貴人,「不遇知識開示」,沒辦法遇到貴人來牽引我們,所以叫做「無導師」,沒人來為我們引,誘引正確的道路。盲瞑就是「自無智眼曰盲」,自己沒有智的眼目。
 
盲瞑:
自無智眼曰盲
妄境如夜曰瞑
一切眾生迷法迷人
心境俱昏
故曰瞑
 
我們雖然有兩隻眼睛,但是我們所看到的,都是誘惑我們的色,所以自己就是這樣,在外面一直被誘惑出去,這叫做沒有智眼。看不清楚,知識、見解全是錯誤的,這都叫做沒有智眼,盲。
 
「妄境如夜曰瞑」,這種虛妄的念頭很多,好像夜晚,晚上一樣,一直就是看不清楚境界。這種的觀念偏差等等,這都是叫做「夜瞑」,像夜晚一樣。
 
所以「一切眾生迷法迷人」,對法不清楚,對人更無法瞭解。這也很苦,到底誰才是我真正的知音?到底什麼樣的人,才能幫助我做好事?這到底是誰?才是我真正的貴人呢?自己無法清楚。所以迷法,要怎麼做?誰能跟我一起做?這種「迷法迷人」。「心境俱昏」,心與境界都是這樣迷迷茫茫了,故曰「盲瞑」。這不就是我們眾生的日常,就是這樣嗎?
 
「不識苦盡道,不知求解脫」。這種無法分別,不能識別,所以無法瞭解什麼是道。這條路我走得對不對呢?自己都無法瞭解,一直都在凡夫的境界,這種「盲瞑無導師」,前途茫茫。這種「盲智」,自己的心智已經盲掉了。
 
不識苦盡道
不知求解脫:
不能識別
滅盡諸苦究竟之道
不知求覓出離解脫
滿腔迷晦 雖厭苦
不識盡苦之道
忍受生死不求解脫
 
「不能識別滅盡諸苦究竟之道」。我們已經不知這條路要怎麼走,在這個生死道上,如何才能解脫?在六道輪迴中,要如何我們才能踏上了正確,不會再迷了,不會再踏入陷阱,永遠脫離三途?
 
我們最起碼在人道中,我們能聽法,我們能修行。但是,有幾個人能聽法呢?有多少人認識佛、佛教,認識正法,到底有多少人?是不容易啊!所以「不知求覓出離解脫」,因為不知佛法,他怎會知道,如何解脫的道理呢?不知。雖然都是這樣,整個心裡都是迷與暗,就是這樣迷暗,看不清楚前途。
 
所以,雖然知道,知道苦,「我不要還在這個苦難中了。」我們常常聽人說:「我很不想做人。」「你不要做人,要做什麼呢?」有的人說:「我看到貓讓人很疼愛,我寧願去當貓、當狗,主人很疼惜我。」我們難道甘願這樣嗎?有的人就是苦得甘願去當畜生。但是,他沒有想到人生苦短,佛法難聞,應該要求取一條,真正的人間正道。光是在那裡厭苦,不想要求離苦的正確方法,這就是迷啊!
 
所以「不識盡苦之道,忍受生死」。甘願在,要不然就要當貓,要不然就要當狗,他不知還有地獄的苦,不懂得要求,如何才能脫離所有苦難的道。所以「不識盡苦(之)道」,不懂,不懂這個道理,所以一直耽戀在,這種娑婆世界裡,讓我們無法脫離。
 
這就是不求解脫的人,因為他不懂如何能有一條路,讓我們脫離生死輪迴,讓我們能知道不要帶業來,我們發願能再來人間,修佛法,入人群度眾生,他們不知道有這條路。所以不知有這條解脫之道,所以他們不求解脫,是不知求,不是不求,不知道要求,不是不求。說來我們實在很有,有幸,能夠聽到這樣的法。
 
長夜增惡趣:長如夜間迷冥造業,增長惡報,以業惑果,生惡趣多,天眾轉減,三界長夜,如夢如醉。
 
「長夜增惡道」。若不想要求佛法,永遠永遠長夜就是,就是增加惡道。因為世間人愈造愈多的業,愈造愈惡的罪業,惡道愈來愈增加。地藏菩薩「地獄未空,誓不成佛」,這種願實在是太渺茫了。地獄會愈來愈增加,因為現在的人不就道理,沒有道德的心,所以愈來惡道會愈增加。世間愈惡,地獄會愈多。
 
所以「減損諸天眾」,因為善道已經減(少)了。來生人間,可能在人間道上,不懂得要做善事,一直互相殘殺,變成人間也(如)地獄。看看多少逃難的人,本來富有,一夕之間變了,變得他要逃難,一無所有,長途跋涉,風霜雪凍,苦不苦呢?人間,即使在人間,也像在地獄一樣。可能地獄太滿了,人間,現在苦難的人很多,就不必說到地獄。
 
所以這種「長夜增惡趣」。因為造罪造惡的人愈來愈多了,所以這種惡趣,惡的道路一直走過去,所以「減損諸天眾」,諸天眾自然就減損了。「長如夜間迷冥造業」,都不知道道理,一直造業。「增長惡報」,愈來愈多,「以業惑果,生惡趣多」,天眾自然就減少了,「三界長夜」,就「如夢如醉」。
 
六道唯人天屬善
眾生造業
墜惡趣者多
故增
生善道者少
故損
 
「六道唯人天屬善」。除了人與天以外,都是墮惡道的人,畜生、地獄、餓鬼,這都是造惡的人。所以墜落惡趣者多,所以叫做「增」;生善業者少,所以「損」,叫做「減損諸天眾」。
 
減損諸天眾:
即減少
善道眾生之意
惡趣增多
故善道減少也
 
所以我們學佛要用心,不要「加減聽」、「加減過」。其實,人間減少了善道,善的人愈來愈少,惡的人愈來愈多,這樣的世間難道好過嗎?所以我們要好好用心,用心在如何來折伏魔,我們的心魔,心魔自己自我降伏,才有辦法(以)道來度他人。要時時多用心!


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Taming the Four Maras to Steadily Walk the Path (降伏四魔安隱成道)
Date: January.09. 2016
 
“The Buddha’s great might and power can tame the Four Maras and subdue and captivate, so sentient beings can create [good] karmic causes. His compassion and wisdom are in harmony, so He is called the Great Hero, the World-Honored One. The Buddha is replete with myriad virtues and is thus honored by all in the world.”
 
Everyone should have deep respect for the Buddha. Because the Buddha already has great might, He can tame the Four Maras. As we all probably know, this is something that requires a long period of spiritual practice. This is true for all Buddhas; Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha was like this, as was Sakyamuni Buddha and the infinite numbers of other Buddhas.
 
The process of attaining Buddhahood requires undergoing many challenges in life. This is because in order to go among the people and transform sentient beings, one must go through intense tempering. So, we often say that this is the process of spiritual practice. Without going through that painful practice, without refinement and tempering, how could He become a pure vessel? Spiritual practice must be like this. That is why it is said that attaining Buddhahood is such a rare and precious matter. First one must tame the Four Maras.
 
Everyone should know the Four Maras. They are the mara of afflictions, the mara of the Skandhas, the mara of death and King Mara of [Mahesvara] Heaven, these four. We must be able to withstand these challenges.
 
The mara of afflictions is what we often speak of. How do we tame afflictions and ignorance? We need to understand how, in worldly matters, interpersonal conflicts and such, we can tame these afflictions. If we cannot see past matters and things in life, we will be unable to eliminate afflictions. If we are entangled in interpersonal conflicts, we will always remain confused. Then how can the principles manifest in front of us? [Without] the principles, we will always remain unenlightened beings. Being unable to clearly discern right from wrong is the reason we are unenlightened beings. The minds of unenlightened beings cannot escape afflictions.
 
Besides the mara of afflictions troubling us, there is also the mara of the Five Skandhas. Everyone should be familiar with the Five Skandhas, form, feeling, perception, action and consciousness. Of the Five Skandhas, even just “form” comes in so many varieties. Whether sounds or all forms and appearances, in our daily living, this already causes us to be surrounded by ignorance. When we see something that we do not like or something we are not pleased with or hear something that is disagreeable, just these appearances and sounds cause us to have all kinds of afflictive emotions in our lives. This all comes from sounds and forms.
 
This is to say nothing of our “feelings”. It is these feelings that cause our minds to continually create our experiences. When appearances are taken into our minds, these [perceptions] ferment in our thinking. Didn’t we talk about this yesterday? We still have the eighth and ninth consciousnesses. Before this are the Five Consciousnesses, which constantly connect with external conditions. The appearance of these conditions is in our mind, and in our mind, we choose what we are attached to and plant it in the field of our mind. In this field in our mind, the mind takes action; taking action means our mind draws up plants.
 
What consciousness is used to do this? The [sixth] consciousness hatches these plants, because the first five consciousnesses already imprinted external conditions into our minds. We keep attachments in our seventh consciousness and start scheming, start cultivating [this field]. Then, we put these plants into action. These actions come out of greed; it is greed that lead us to take many actions that benefit us at the expense of others. As a result, where do these fruits end up? Where do they end up? The alaya consciousness. The karma has already been created and stored in our eighth consciousness. So, in our daily living, with our first [five] consciousnesses, we connect with the outside world, then our minds begin to function, and we take action. Once we have taken action, if it is negative, like seizing what others need, or destroying their resources to benefit ourselves, this stirs up hatred and negative affinities.
 
These negative affinities then become causes, negative causes, and are stored in our [eighth] consciousness. This is the result. So, our alaya consciousness contains all these different [causes], all the karma that we have created. These are the maras in our minds, the maras of afflictions and the Five Skandhas.
 
We took these actions ourselves, and in the end, when our lives are over, we pass away, according to the laws of nature. With all the unknown amounts of karma that we have created in this lifetime, in the end, when the mara of death approaches us, what can we take with us? We can carry nothing; we only take our karma.
 
How many negative affinities did we create? How many people’s resources did we seize for ourselves, or destroy in order to benefit ourselves? Though we benefit ourselves, in the end, don’t we still leave this world empty-handed? Yet all of this karma follows us when we go. To “go” is to be reborn into our next life. In our next life, we face our circumstantial and direct retributions; what kind of family will we be born into? What kind of parents and home will we have? In our future life, when we face our karmic retributions, who can bear them for us? We are the ones who must bear them.
 
It is in this way that we are affected by even more afflictions and ignorance. On one hand, painful retributions manifest. On the other hand, our afflictions and ignorance will be reproduced. This never ends. This is life, the life of unenlightened begins. These are the maras in our minds. They are continually produced like this.
 
If a person is fortunate, has good causes and conditions and can do good deeds, by doing good things, he will be reborn in the heaven realm.
Some people who do good deeds really do not wish of anything in return. This is because they heard the Buddha-Dharma teaching us to give without expectations. They willingly help others; this is what they do, yet what they really want is to engage in spiritual practice. Yet in their spiritual practice, they encounter King Mara of Heaven. King Mara of Heaven comes to trouble us and ruin our good deeds. We feel, “I should do these things,” but once we face external conditions, or minds gives rise to discursive thoughts and we quit halfway. This is King Mara of Heaven; when these maras, like King Mara, come to disturb us, they lead our mind to give rise to ignorance, and so we cut off our own virtuous karma.
 
Actually, these good deeds, are things that we would normally be doing. But because of a little ignorance, the actions that people take cause confusion in our minds, and we stop ourselves [from doing good deeds]. We can say this is due to the mara in our minds, who we can also call King Mara of Heaven. This kinds of things will naturally happen that can prevent us from doing good deeds [and crating good] causes and conditions.
 
As we engage in spiritual practice, this is something we will encounter. Take Sakyamuni Buddha as an example. The process of His spiritual practice was very difficult. When He sat in mediation, His mind always remained at peace, very still. He earnestly contemplated and then gave rise to a thought that was one with all sentient beings. His goal in attaining Buddhahood was to transform all sentient beings and eliminate sentient begins’ suffering. Once He gave rise to this compassion, His wisdom manifested. At this moment, compassion and wisdom united. At this time, Kind Mara of Heaven appeared and began to continually disturb Him, to disturb His very tranquil mind. Many conditions manifested to entice Him. This type of disturbance troubled His mind. So, at that time, He used His power of Samadhi to tame those conditions that manifested in His mind. It did not matter what those conditions were; Mara’s armies appeared in the Buddha’s mind in very frightening forms. Many frightening appearances manifested before Him. He quickly strengthened His pure thoughts of right mindfulness; thus Mara’s armies retreated.
 
Next, gentle and beautiful women manifested with music and dancing. This state of beauty manifested before Him. When this image appeared in front of Him, He quickly heightened His vigilance. This illusory state was tamed by His right mindfulness and right thinking. To summarize, in His state of tranquility, when His compassion and wisdom came together, many different state manifested. He had to use right thinking, right understanding, right views and right mindfulness, etc. to quickly tame them. He overcame each until they retreated. Then, His mind returned to a state of complete tranquility.
 
So, I often say that when we sit in meditation, when we reach a very tranquil state of mind, sometimes illusions will appear. When this illusory state appears, if we become delighted by it, this state will then be imprinted onto our minds. This type of illusion will often reappear. We will hear illusory sounds as if someone is speaking next to our ear. We will see illusions, like someone beckoning us or someone appearing before us. These are all visual illusions. This state is like going crazy. Usually, a person like this seems quite normal. Sometimes they will say, “Someone is speaking to me. Someone is calling me.” If this happens, it is quite dangerous; they often confuse the illusion for reality. This type of illusion will trouble the mind. This is called becoming possessed.
 
So, if we have not clearly grasped the principles, we should not be greedy for meditative states. We must be very careful. But to understand the principles very clearly, we need to experience the true principles. Where do we find the true principles? Amidst these disturbances, all the many afflictions and the ignorance that appear before us, we cannot discern right from wrong. This becomes our habitual tendency. So, I often say, in spiritual practice, there is nothing to practice; we only need to eliminate or habitual tendencies.
 
If we are attached to thinking that spiritual practice means sitting in meditation, [we fail to realize] that when our practice is at its most thorough, it is just like the saying, “Carrying firewood and water is also meditation.” Whether we are eating or drinking tea, everything is a practice of meditation. Every action is a practice of meditation. The principle of meditation is in fact nothing other than to tame our own minds. In our daily living, since all our actions are meditation, we do not need to waste any more time on it. We should just go and take action.
 
When interacting with people and dealing with matters, we must be clear on both matters and principles. When we understand the principles, we know that in everyone’s mind is a Buddha. We all have the nature of True Suchness. So, we should be mindful to experience how to tame and subdue the Four Maras in our daily living as unenlightened beings.
 
The Four Maras often disturb our minds. The mara of afflictions, the mara of the Skandhas, the mara of death and King Mara of Heaven often come to disturb us. So, how can we tame them?
 
The Buddha has already subdued them. Being enlightened, He can “subdue and captivate, so sentient beings can create [good] karmic causes.” After having attained enlightenment, He had subdued the maras. The Four Maras were all subdued by the Great Enlightened One. So, this comes back to subduing and captivating. After subduing the maras of His own mind, He taught this principle for everyone, to help everyone understand that they must engage in spiritual practice and must understand that the Four Maras are always disturbing our lives.
 
So, He analyzed many principles for us to help us understand the causes that lead sentient beings to create karma. What kind of karma are we usually creating? If we can give to others without expectations, we will naturally be grateful to each other, have mutual love and create good affinities. Why do sentient beings give rise to ignorance? We must use a heart of gratitude to study and understand this and increase our wisdom-life. This is the cause for us to create good karma.
 
He Himself had already attained enlightenment, then He taught sentient beings. He taught sentient beings to have a clear understanding of the principles. We must cultivate virtuous causes and guard against negative causes. This is how we subdued the evil thoughts of sentient beings. “Refrain from all evil, do all that is good.” This is the way He taught and guided us. “His compassion and wisdom are in harmony.” After subduing His own thoughts, He taught others the way to prevent the Four Maras from manifesting. Since He taught us like this, He is therefore called the Great Hero, the World-Honored One.
 
With compassion and wisdom in harmony, He benefited Himself and others. He Himself tamed the Four Maras; then He taught and guided sentient beings to heighten their vigilance so they too could subdue them. This is having compassion and wisdom in harmony, to awaken oneself and others. Thus, He was called the Great Hero, the World-Honored One. It must have taken a lot of strength and great courage to be able to make it through this process. Thus, “The Buddha is replete with myriad virtues and is thus honored by all in the world!” He is called the World-Honored One. So, the Buddha’s virtues are already myriad and replete. The Buddha’s virtues are myriad and replete, and we can also learn to follow the path He walked. We are the same; we can awaken ourselves and others.
 
The Buddha manifested an appearance in this world to teach us that this was how to follow the principles. Sakyamuni Buddha traveled this path, and we follow in His footsteps, taking the same path. After a very long time, we will naturally be replete in myriad virtues. In this world, everything we practice is to have compassion and wisdom in harmony. We have a heart of compassion and act with wisdom to bring all things into fruition for sentient beings. These are the Buddha’s myriad virtues. Those who have awakened are replete with myriad virtues. They are respected by all in the world. We should be clear on this.
 
The previous sutra passage states, “Your body and limbs are still, peaceful and unmoving. Your mind is constantly content and calm and has never been scattered. You ultimately achieved everlasting tranquil extinction and steadily abide in the flawless Dharma. Today we see that the World-Honored One has peacefully attained Buddhahood”.
 
Throughout this process, His body and mind underwent a long period of refining and tempering until His mind became very tranquil and calm. Having returned to his tranquil and clear state, His mind was never scattered or disturbed. Thus He “steadily abided in the flawless Dharma.” All virtuous Dharma was gathered together, and there were no errors, so it was flawless. To do this requires a very long period of spiritual practice. “Today we see that the World-Honored One has peacefully attained Buddhahood.” This means in the era of Great Unhindered Superior Buddha, He sat for ten small kalpas straight until He finally attained Buddhahood. During these ten small kalpas, heavenly beings and humans all come as Dharma-protectors. Everyone should remember how they gathered in that place. Finally after a very long time, He attained enlightenment; His compassion and wisdom were in harmony. Thus, He attained perfect enlightenment. Everyone rejoiced at this.
 
The next sutra passage states, “All of us attain positive benefits and congratulate each other with great joy. Sentient beings always suffer and are afflicted. Bling, in the dark, with no guiding teacher, we do not recognize the path to end suffering, nor do we know to seek liberation. In the long night those in the evil realms increase in number, while those in the heaven realm have diminished.”
 
This great joy came from all the heavenly beings, the Dharma-protectors. They finally saw the Buddha attain Buddhahood. All these heavenly beings and Dharma-protectors were very happy. What were they happy about? “All of us attain positive benefits. Since the Buddha attained perfect enlightenment, the principles had all been brought together. Everyone rejoiced to have encountered a Buddha. It is not easy for heavenly beings to encounter a Buddha. Through the lifespans of heavenly beings are long, for the world to give rise to a Buddha, it take many great asankya kalpas. For Great Unhindered Superior Buddha, think of how long it took [He started] beginningless dust-inked kalpas ago.
 
So, although heavenly beings’ lifespans are long, to wait for a Buddha to appear in the world was really not easy. Thus, when Great Unhindered attained Buddhahood, all heavenly beings were joyful. “We all met the Buddha, listened to the Dharma and gained faith and understanding.” When the Buddha awakened, he began to expound the Dharma. We should all be able to have faith and understand. Thus we “have attained the great benefits.” We will definitely attain benefit. So, everyone was joyful.
 
All of us attain positive benefits and congratulate each other with great joy: We all met the Buddha, listened to the Dharma and gained faith and understanding. Having attained the great benefits, we congratulate each other. Our minds give rise to great joy upon seeing the Buddha and listening to the Dharma. Hence it says we attain positive benefits.
 
For the Buddha to manifest in this world was truly not a simple matter! Heavenly beings were all joyful, let alone humans! They “saw the Buddha and listened to the Dharma “Hence it says we attain positive benefits.” Everyone said, “We attained positive benefits. Everyone was so happy because they had attained the positive benefits of being able to see the Buddha and listen to the Dharma.
 
The word “positive” refers to the teachings, principles, practice and fruition of the flawless Dharma. By listening to the teachings, we awaken to the principles, then practice according to the principles and realize the fruition through practice. With these positive benefits, we can definitely overcome difficulties and achieve the fruits, thus it says we “attain.”
 
The word “positive” refers to the “teachings, principles, practice and fruition” or teachings, principles, practice and realization. This was what the Buddha has taught. The content of His teaching encompassed the truth principles of the universe. With [principles] of the unconditioned Dharma, He used conditioned, tangible things, to teach us so everyone would know how to put them into action and understand the methods of spiritual practice. Understanding the methods of spiritual practice, we naturally practice according to the teachings. Then we are able to experience them.
 
We often say, “You are truly blessed!” “Oh, but I have so many afflictions.  So many people are better than me.” “Come, let’s go together.” Let us visit [care recipients] together.” “Wow, so many people are suffering more than me. By giving in this way, I was able to help the other person. Seeing him suffering, [I realized] that I am more blessed than he is, so l can help him. He will be able to eliminated his suffering. Seeing his suffering eliminated makes me happy.” These are the “teachings, principles and practice.”
 
He shared the intangible principles by teachings us how to put them into action and thus experience them. These are the principles.
 
So, with this “flawless Dharma, after we understand it, we put it into practice. With a firm will to practice, we [cultivate] precepts, Samadhi and wisdom. We must find ways to discipline ourselves to prevent repeated mistakes. We must find ways to understand our ignorance and afflictions so that we do not stir them up again. These precepts help us prevent all evils. Then we must quickly [cultivate] Samadhi and do good deeds with firmly settle minds.
 
So, “Refrain from all evil; do all that is good.” We have decided to go in the direction of good. After determining this good path as our direction, we must walk it. This is goodness and wisdom. We must exercise both compassion and wisdom and practice flawless Dharma. We cannot allow these principles and good deeds to leak away. “By listening to the teachings, we awaken to the principles.” In listening to the teachings, we awaken to the principles and then principles according to the principles. Thus we have awakened and understood.
 
So, “teachings, principles, practice and fruition” allow us to realize this fruition. This is our positive benefit. If we are able to do this, we can definitely overcome all difficulties. Although spiritual practice is very difficult, as long as we practice according to the teachings, we can definitely overcome all difficulties and bring all things to fruition. The fruitions of goodness will be perfected. Thus it says we “attain.”
 
So, [Today] all of us attain positive benefits.” This means that if a Buddha manifests in this world, He will begin to teach the principles for us to understand. Once we understand, we can put them into practice. Through practice, we truly experience them. So, “Sentient beings always suffer and are afflicted.”
 
Sentient beings always suffer and are afflicted: Sentient beings are deluded and constantly hold on to suffering and afflictions. They transmigrate among the Six Realms and are constantly tormented by the Three Obstructions. Therefore, they always suffer and are afflicted.
 
Sentient beings are often deluded by afflictions and ignorance. Thus, we are called unenlightened beings. What we are holding on to is suffering and afflictions. Our past karma had now arrived and is manifesting before us. In this life, we have these negative causes and conditions. We also do not understand the principles and constantly reproduce the sufferings of life; it is as if we are drowning in the Six Realms. We continually sink in this way, transmigrating in the Six Realms without any awareness. We do not understand the principles; we just come and go like this, always in the Six Realms. It is our karma that leads us to be constantly tormented by the Three Obstructions.
 
What are the Three Obstructions? The obstruction of afflictions and so on, greed, anger and ignorance, this lack of clarity that continually obstructs us and is continually reproduced. Thus we are tormented. We are born into the world and face these karmic retributions, but at least we can still express ourselves. What if we enter the animal realm? It will be hard to speak of suffering there. What if we enter the hell realm? That is fundamentally unremitting suffering. It will hurt even to cry out or catch our breath. Nothing can be done; it is truly unbearable pain. Thus it says we “always suffer and are afflicted, blind, in the dark, with no guiding teacher.”
 
Blind, in the dark, with no guiding teaching: Like being born blind, we are always in the dark and unable to see. We have not met a benefactor to teach us, therefore it says “with no guiding teacher.”
 
It is because we are blind, just like someone who cannot see. This darkness is total blackness. We cannot see anything; it is all dark. With the road ahead unclear, how do we walk? We are often frightened; it is very scary. We worry about gain and loss. There are so many things we are blind to. What can we do that is in line with the right principles? What can we do to truly benefit ourselves? This is truly how things are in the world; everyone is normally like this. We do not know where we are going and have no way of encountering a benefactor. “We have not met a benefactor to teach us.” Since we have no benefactor to guide us, therefore it says “with no guiding teacher.” No one is there to lead us onto the right path.
 
“Blind, in the dark” means “we are always in the dark and unable to see.” We do not have the eyes of wisdom.
 
Blind, in the dark: Having no eyes of wisdom is called being blind. Deluded states are like the night, so it says “in the dark.” All sentient beings are deluded with regard to the Dharma and to people. Our minds and conditions are both murky, so it says we are “in the dark.”
 
Although we have two eyes, the things that we see are all forms that entice us. This is how we are, continually enticed away by external forms. This is called not having eyes of wisdom. We cannot see clearly. Our knowledge and perspectives are all wrong. This is not having eyes of wisdom; it is like being blind.
 
“Deluded states are like the night, so it says in the dark.” We have so many false and illusory thoughts. It is the same as the nighttime, when we cannot see things around us clearly. When our perspectives have gone astray and so on, it is known as being “in the dark.” It is like the night.
 
So, “All sentient beings are deluded with regard to the Dharma and to people.” They are unclear regarding the Dharma and have even less understanding of people. This is also suffering, “Who is really my true friend? Who can truly help me do good deeds? Who is my true benefactor?” We are unable to know clearly, so we are deluded in regard to the Dharma. “How do I do it? Who can do it with me?” This is being “deluded with regard to the Dharma and to people.”
 
Our minds and conditions are both murky. Our minds and conditions are both confused, “So, it says, in the dark.” Aren’t the daily lives of sentient beings just like this? “We do not recognize the path to end suffering, nor do we know to seek liberation.” We are unable to differentiate or recognize it, so we have no way of knowing what the path is. Is the path we are walking on the right one? We cannot understand it ourselves; we just continue to remain in the realm of ordinary people.
 
“Blind, in the dark, with no guiding teacher, the future is unclear, and our wisdom is blind.” The wisdom of our minds has already been blinded.
 
We do not recognize the path to end suffering, nor do we know to seek liberation: We cannot recognize the ultimate path of ending all suffering; we do not know to seek liberation. Filled with confusion and a lack of clarity, though we have renounced suffering, we do not recognize the path to end suffering. We endure samsara without seeking liberation.
 
“We cannot recognize the ultimate path of ending all suffering.” We already do not know how to walk this path. On this path of life and death, how can we be liberated? As we transmigrate in the Six Realms, how can we step onto the right path so we will no longer be lost and will avoid falling into a trap again, thus escaping forever the Three Evil Destinies? At the very least, we will be in the human realm, where we are able to listen to the Dharma and engage in spiritual practice. But how many are able to listen to the Dharma? How many people know the Buddha and His teachings? How many people recognize Right Dharma? It is not easy.
 
“We do not recognize the path to end suffering. We endure samsara without seeking liberation.” If we do not know the Buddha-Dharma, how could we know the principle of liberation? There is no way. Everything is like this, our whole mind is in confusion and darkness. In this confused darkness, we cannot see the path ahead clearly. So we understand suffering and know, “I do not want to remain in this suffering.”
 
I often hear people say, “I do not want to live as a human anymore.” “If you do not want to live as a human, what do you want to live as?” Some people say, “I have seen how cats are so loved. I would rather be a cat or a dog with an owner that really loves me.” Are we really willing to be like this? Some people suffer so much that they would rather be an animal. But, they have not considered that life is painfully short. The Buddha-Dharma is rarely encountered. We should seek to obtain a path in life that is truly the right path. Simply renouncing suffering yet not seeing the right method to escape it is being confused.
 
“We do not recognize the path to end suffering. We endure samsara without seeking liberation.” People are willing to be a cat or a dog, yet do not know there is also hell’s suffering and do not ask for a way to transcend these paths of suffering. “We do not recognize  the path to end suffering.” In not understanding this path, we continue to dally in the Saha World, so we have no way to transcend it. People like this do not seek liberation because they do not understand how there can be a path which can help us transcend cyclic existence and help us not to go to our next life bringing karma.
 
We vow to return to this world to practice the Buddha-Dharma and
go among people to transform sentient beings. They do not know of this path. So, they do not know the path to liberation, thus they do not ask to be liberated. It is not that they do not ask, rather, they do not understand to ask. Now that we mention it, we are truly fortunate to be able to listen to this Dharma. In the long night, those in the evil realms increase in number. If we do not wish to seek the Buddha-Dharma, we will always remain in the long night, where those in the evil realms increase in number. This is because people in this world continually create more and more karma. As more evil karma is created, the people in evil realms continue to increase.
 
Earth Treasury Bodhisattva [vowed], “Until hell is empty, I will not attain Buddhahood.” This kind of vow is too far off. Those in hell continue to increase [in number] because people do not understand the principles. They do not have a sense of morality. So, those in evil realms continue to increase. The more evil there is in the world, the more people there are in hell. So, “Those in the heaven realm have diminished.” Because the path of goodness has diminished, those who are born again as humans, as they live in this world, perhaps do not understand they must do good deeds. So, they continue to slaughter each other, making this world a living hell.
 
Look at how many refugees there are. They used to be wealthy, but in an instant, they became refugees. With nothing at all they traveled long distances in wind, frost, snow and cold. Isn’t this suffering? This world, although it is the human realm, can also be like hell. Perhaps hell is too full. There are now so many suffering in this world, not to mention those in hell.
 
So, “In the long night, those in the evil realms increase in number.” As more and more people commit evil deeds, they continue in this kind of evil direction, on this evil path. So, “Those in the heaven realm have diminished.” Naturally, the number of heavenly beings has diminished. “For a long time, we have been in the dark, like the nighttime, and thus create karma.” We do not know the truth and keep creating karma. “So our negative retributions increase,” growing greater and greater. “As the fruit of their karma and delusion, many have been born in the evil realms,” so the number of heavenly beings has diminished.
 
“The long night of the Three Realms is like being in a dream or a drunken state. Among the Six Realms, only the human and heaven realms are considered good realms.” Other than those in the human and heaven realms, all sentient beings are in evil realms, such as the animal, hell and hungry ghost realms. These are all people who commit evil.
 
So, more people fall into the evil realms. Thus, they are said to have “increased.” Fewer people are born into the good realms, so they have “diminished.” Thus, “Those in the heaven realms have diminished.”
 
Those in the heaven realms have diminished: This means the number of sentient beings
in the good realms has decreased. The numbers in the evil realms have increased, so those in the good realms have decreased.
 
Therefore, as we learn the Buddha’s teachings, we must be mindful and not “listen casually” or “live casually.” In fact, the path of goodness in the world gradually diminishes, and there are fewer virtuous people and more and more evil people. Is this kind of world easy to live in? So, we must be mindful and put our heart into taming the maras in our mind. We ourselves must tame the maras in our minds before we can transform sentient beings. Therefore, we must always be mindful.
 

(Source: Da Ai TV – Wisdom at Dawn program – Explanation by Master Chen-Yen)
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20170109《靜思妙蓮華》降伏四魔安隱成道 (第997集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)
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