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 20170125《靜思妙蓮華》清澄久坐靜思惟修 (第1009集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)

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發表主題: 20170125《靜思妙蓮華》清澄久坐靜思惟修 (第1009集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)   周三 1月 25, 2017 4:48 am

20170125《靜思妙蓮華》清澄久坐靜思惟修 (第1009集)
(法華經•
化城喻品

 
大德清澄久坐,道場靜思惟修,與前久處幽冥,眾生驚怪忽生,六道雲泥之隔,有情皆共請法。
爾時,五百萬億國土諸梵天王,與宮殿俱,各以衣祴,盛諸天華,共詣西方,推尋是相。《法華經化城喻品第七
見大通智勝如來處於道場菩提樹下坐師子座,諸天、龍王、乾闥婆、緊那羅、摩睺羅伽、人非人等恭敬圍繞。《法華經化城喻品第七
天龍八部:天、龍、夜叉、乾闥婆香神、阿修羅非天、迦樓羅金翅鳥、緊那羅非人、摩睺羅伽大蟒神。
及見十六王子請佛轉法輪。即時諸梵天王頭面禮佛,繞百千匝,即以天華而散佛上。《法華經化城喻品第七
 
【證嚴上人開示】

「大德清澄久坐,道場靜思惟修,與前久處幽冥,眾生驚怪忽生,六道雲泥之隔,有情皆共請法。」
 
大德清澄久坐
道場靜思惟修
與前久處幽冥
眾生驚怪忽生
六道雲泥之隔
有情皆共請法
 
眾生總是在一念之間,其實大德也是人一念之間,這一念間一轉,煩惱成菩提。人人本具,有如,大通智勝佛的本性,塵點劫以來,我們就是真如本性永恆,我們都存在,只是這念間我們若能持得長久,已經將這一念,成為我們真如本性,與生俱來,生生世世都是這念清淨的心,這念甘願入人群中這念心,若能這樣,那就是萬行具足,堪稱大德。
 
大德,不斷修,無間修、長時修、無餘修、尊重修,尊重一切眾生,愛護一切眾生,若能這樣,不斷善的循環,這念心就是一直累積,不放棄,向著這條菩薩道路長久前進,這樣久來 也是無上士,萬德圓具,堪稱大德無上士,那不就是成佛了嗎?
 
昨天我們也說過了,就是說這位婆羅門問佛:「未來有多少人能成佛呢?」「無量恆河沙數,能夠成佛的人,未來有這麼多。」「那過去呢?」「過去也無數無量,恆河沙數成佛了。」「過去已經那麼多了成佛了,但是我都還沒遇到。現在我遇到佛了,我應該要把握在現在趕緊修行。」這是這段故事。長時修,無間修、無餘修、尊重修,很認真,就是這樣,把握當下,哪怕是年紀大了,也是對佛法那一分的尊重,所以必定要時時用心。
 
本來塵點劫以前的無始的無始,就已經「大通」,在我們的本性裡,這樣不斷累積,抱持著這分「清澄久坐」。久坐不只是靜靜地在那裡坐,久坐的意思,是這念清淨心,永恆在我們的本性中。道場,不必向外求,道場也是在我們的內心,內心(本)性即道場。我們若能時時靜思惟修,這是常常提起,與大家互相勸勉,彼此之間,修行在這個道場裡,應該要時時都要有靜思惟,好好修行。
 
心最麻煩的就是浮動,浮動起來,浮動起來,一念偏差,那就是一直隨著偏差方向走,愈走愈黑暗。因為無明就是愈來愈複製,無明愈多,所以在這種無明中,無法展開自己這分,澄清本具的真如本性,心無法靜下來,這分心就是向黑暗走。
 
就如在尼泊爾,看到一個訊息,在(二0一五年)七月二八日,他們布達一個就是禁止屠殺。他們有一種世俗,五年一次,就是會舉行一個非常血腥,就是血淋淋,很血腥的祭日,這個祭日叫做「嘉蒂麥節」,那是一位女神的名字。
 
這個故事起因在四百年前,有一位大地主,有一天他做了一個夢,這個夢就是夢見了,若有困難,就用血來祭祀女神,嘉蒂麥女神。可以五年一次用鮮血,很多的血來祭祀,這樣,什麼樣的困難都能去除,無災無難,去除所有的困難。只是這個夢境而已,就開始成形起來,變成了在印度五年一次,所舉行的這種,血腥大屠殺的祭日,差不多都會有三十萬的生靈(被屠殺)。
 
不論什麼樣的生靈,有的從印度或者是從尼泊爾,各地地方,他們都會送活生生的動物,不論是鴿子、老鼠、羊、豬、牛等等,只要是動物,他們從遠方就這樣,把這個生物送來,每五年所屠殺的生命,超過三十萬,集中,鮮血祭祀。每五年一次的祭祀,差不多有二百五十萬人,會集中在那裡祭祀。五年一次舉行的地點,是在現在的加德滿都,南方一百四十公里處,叫做巴利亞普村。那個地方有一個嘉蒂麥女神廟,每五年的十一月間,就是這樣大屠殺,用血來祭祀,五年一次,已經四百年了。
 
聽到的好消息,那就是布達出了這樣的訊息,下了一個決心的令,這個宗教,禁止有這種,血腥屠殺的祭日。但是,主持人就這樣說,他說:「知道這已經是傳統四百年了,現在要把它停止下來,實在有很大的困難。不過,再到下一次,就是二0一九年,現在算起來,差不多還有三年多的時間。」他說,要致力來教育信徒,如這樣的信徒,要用正確的教育、正確的思想來教育他們。他們這種五年一次祭祀,這種血腥祭祀的觀念要停止,這三年多的時間,可能要很致力,去改變他們的觀念,讓他們能知道這種殘殺動物,是不人道的風俗。
 
他就這樣說,應該人類要能知道,這些動物被殺,那個畫面看到的,將牛披上一條紅彩,這樣浩浩蕩蕩趕到集中的地方,其他的動物也是這樣,浩浩蕩蕩送到那個地方,時間一到,看到在殺的那個場面,看到這樣整個倒下去,一片,實在是,看到那種,動物集中的屠宰場,實在非常血腥!
 
人類的迷茫就是這樣,只是一場夢,做這個夢,這樣布達出去,這樣就開始,變成了是他們的傳統,這個宗教傳統祭拜的日子,五年一次。現在到底是什麼因緣,讓他們能這樣將這種祭祀停止,也已經正式,看到一張正式的公文,就是禁止屠殺令。這個祭祀已經停,不過還有三年多的時間,要用正確的方法讓他們知道,動物也有與人,人類同樣,有血有肉,也會感覺痛苦,所以他們現在開始,準備要教育了。
 
聽到這個訊息,看到這個畫面,看了很殘酷。現在這道令出來了,看到這樣薄薄的一張紙,就能救未來,能夠保護,一場殘殺三十多萬的生命,從此開始,就這樣一筆勾消,能夠平安了,這是令人歡喜的事情。
 
要知道,動物真的和人一樣,看看現在,不只是我們能知道牠會痛,我們知道牠有血有肉,同樣會怕痛、怕死。這時候禽流感、或者是口蹄疫,或者是……,很多是從這些動物的病菌,都已經與人的病菌會交雜著,人的流感也會傳給動物,動物的流行感冒也傳給人。可見,同樣是生命,我們會痛,我們怕死,牠也會痛,牠們也是怕死,我們有生命,牠也有生命,我們怎麼忍心,讓牠們受那麼多的苦難呢?
 
六歲孩子都會知道愛護動物,懂得守口欲。高雄大愛班的小朋友,大愛幼兒園,她勸人素食,當然自己也素食,這位(鄧)念純小朋友,父母都已經受證了。這個孩子是胎裡素,到了她三四歲時,去幼稚園的第一天,她就去向學校的老師這樣說:「老師,我是素寶寶,我不吃肉,我要吃青菜的。」那時候不是在我們高雄(大愛)幼稚班,是在他們社區裡的幼稚園。她第一天,就去向老師說,那時候才三四歲,向老師這樣表達:「我是素寶寶,我不吃肉,我要吃素的。」
 
就這樣開始,媽媽覺得,在這樣沒有素食的地方,真的是不方便,對老師來說也是很不方便。所以她尋尋覓覓,知道高雄我們的靜思堂,我們有大愛幼兒園,後來把她轉過來了。這個孩子,念純,如魚得水,很快樂。她對肉這個名詞很敏感,有一次她爸爸要剝龍眼,就跟念純說:「爸爸給你吃龍眼肉。」這個孩子就說:「爸爸,我是不吃肉的,您怎麼給我吃龍眼肉呢?」就要再為(她)一場解釋,連這個「肉」字都不能說。所以,這就是這麼單純的孩子,總是有純真的念。
 
她在幼稚園畫圖,她畫的都是畫一些蔬果青菜,畫了近十種,畫得很漂亮,蔬果表青菜。她會說:「這叫做四季豆,這叫做茄子,這叫……」好幾種,總共幾種呢?「一、二、三」,一直算,算到「我畫的這裡有十種,有十種,還有很多,這都可以吃的。」這就是孩子的內心,充滿了純真,充滿了那分清澄這念心,這是她的內心本性。
 
開始她就要勸素了,她就說,發心立願,她要勸一百個人素食。其實,開始時她是說六十人。六十人,就看她,真的是爸爸還是(家人),就把她帶去,有一場慈濟人的集會,他們在讀書會還是什麼?他就把她帶去,帶去,她就去說她是素寶寶的觀念,勸大家要茹素。
 
她開始就拿一張勸素簿,就問:「在座。」說話像大人,「在座的人,你們有素食嗎?有茹素的人請你們舉手!」舉手的人也不少,她就拿著一本勸素簿,她就說:「只要一餐也沒關係,若能一百零八餐茹素,你每一餐有吃素食,就勾起來。」就拿那本去前面教人。
 
她說:「你這餐素食,你就勾起來。」她就拿一個小禮物,這個簿子交給他們,願意素食的人就接下這個本子,她就送他一個禮物,就說:「本來這本簿子,一百零八餐通通勾完,才送你禮物,擔心你們勾完找不到我,所以我提前送你們。但是,但是如果沒有勾完的,小禮物要再回收喔!」真的是很有原則的一個孩子。
 
想想看,她是胎裡素,這樣,哪怕是第一天到幼稚園,就去表達:「我是不吃肉的」。看,從她出生一直到現在,心絕對不被色、香、味誘引了。她的同學,同一張桌子吃飯,那麼多人,她也是心不動搖。這樣要塵點劫有困難嗎?我們人人自性本具,人人都有那分清淨佛性,所以說,道場在我們的內心,要好好靜思惟修。
 
我們本來就有清澄的本性,我們要保持好我們這念心,好好來思惟,思惟生命的真諦到底是什麼?同樣是人類,到底我們對動物的看法,牠們的生命是什麼?這種生物,我們也要好好去體會,要不然一念偏差,只是一場夢境,它就可以延續到現在四百年,構成了每五年,那種血腥的大屠殺。
 
到底尼泊爾這幾百年來,真的都平安嗎?時常都有災難,難道會因為他們,這樣大屠殺的祭祀,就真的都沒事嗎?這就是迷信傳說,惹來了災禍重重啊!那種血腥的場面,真的是對人的心態污染很大,所以,就是這樣「久處幽冥」。過去就是不懂,隨著這樣,他認為這是,每五年一次的盛會,每五年就是一場,他們認為這是宗教的盛會,所以每五年都有二百多萬人,集中到那個村落去。這是很不可思議!是怎麼信的。
 
不過,現在聽到,已經將這項(祭祀)解除了。什麼因緣能讓他們知道,眾生平等?什麼因緣讓他們知道,眾生與人同樣有血有肉,同樣會痛,這是什麼因緣呢?所以,忽然間讓他們驚覺了,這種(如)「眾生驚怪忽生」。過去以為這是平常事,人心黑暗,無明覆蓋,就好像黑暗的無明,忽然間是這樣,所以「眾生驚怪忽生」。就如經文說,黑暗,忽然光明來了,就是真理已經照耀,他已經內心,這一片心門開了,光明照耀進去了。
 
所以「六道雲泥之隔」。六道:天、人、阿修羅、地獄、餓鬼、畜生。這種如天與地一般,如天空的雲,或者是地上的泥濘,這麼完全,遙遠的隔礙。天,就如梵天王,那種宮殿的享受;地,如地獄那種苦難,畜生的苦難等等。但是,這六道眾生,同樣一項,清淨的佛性,人人本具,所以「有情皆共請法」。因為佛已經人間成道了,佛的道理應該普遍到,天與六道之間,四生六道,這個道理要向人人布達宣布;只要有道理,心光,這個光明就透徹。
 
前面的(經)文,「爾時,五百萬億國土諸梵天王,與宮殿俱,各以衣祴,盛諸天華,共詣西方,推尋是相。」
 
爾時
五百萬億國土
諸梵天王
與宮殿俱
各以衣祴
盛諸天華
共詣西方
推尋是相
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
那時候,因為光從東開始照耀,這樣到了十方。所以既然第一道光向東,東,所以諸梵天王開始帶頭,就向西去推覓,去找,去推尋,光的來源。就像我們去尼泊爾,我們是從東向西去,一群人現在在那個地方,在那個地方要做什麼呢?不是去取經,是在佛陀的誕生地,那個地方的眾生在迷茫中,在苦難中,在前途茫茫,災難過後的苦。這時候要如何將佛法,復原在佛陀的出生地,這是向西推尋。
 
下面接下來這樣說,「見大通智勝如來處於道場菩提樹下坐師子座,諸天、龍王、乾闥婆、緊那羅、摩睺羅伽、人非人等恭敬圍繞。」
 
見大通智勝如來
處於道場菩提樹下
坐師子座
諸天、龍王、
乾闥婆、緊那羅、
摩睺羅伽、
人非人等恭敬圍繞
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
從西方推尋,看到了,看到大通智勝如來,在菩提樹下坐師子座。還有,除了梵天宮以外,還有其他的天,欲界、色界天,都來了,還有龍王、乾闥婆等等,天龍八部全都到了,在那裡圍繞,在這個道場,菩提樹下。
 
佛成道處就是在這菩提樹下,是佛的成道處。他在樹下打坐,在那個地方靜思默想,啟慈運智,在那個地方,所以叫做「菩提樹下坐師子座」。
 
其中有天、龍,又有乾闥婆、緊那羅、摩睺羅伽、人非人等,都是恭敬圍繞,天龍八部眾的恭敬。就是說人類,由於人類的肉眼,我們的肉眼,無法看到這種天龍八部,尤其是諸天,我們的肉眼根本都看不到,這是一種心靈的境界,所以又叫做「冥眾八部」。冥眾就是我們看不到的,這種冥眾,冥冥中的眾生。
 
冥冥中的眾生,常常一句說:「舉頭三寸有神祇。」我們要相信。其實我們說話,要時時說好話,時時念好事,時時做好事,這就是我們動一個念頭,就天龍八部都會知道。所以古人說要憑良心,我們的,離開我們頭頂三寸,就有神。沒有錯,「舉頭三寸有神祇」,我們應該要相信。
 
還有魑魅魍魎。常常說,否則為何要你們念經、誦經?任何一個宗教都有誦經的儀式,這是共同認識肯定的。因為我們誦經,每一句經文都是說法的經文。常常跟大家說,經,要大聲念出來。這個經文不只是自己看,入自己的心,誦給自己聽,同時是誦給幽冥界,魑魅魍魎、天龍八部都聽得到。所以我們常常,每天在祈禱那時候,上達諸佛菩薩、龍天護法聽。這就是要很虔誠,唱誦念經都要大聲念出來,否則你怎麼學都學不會,一定要大聲唱誦出來。所以叫做「冥眾八部」,又稱「天龍八部」。
 
天龍八部:
天、龍、夜叉、
乾闥婆香神
阿修羅非天
迦樓羅金翅鳥
緊那羅非人
摩睺羅伽大蟒神
 
天龍八部到底有幾種?「天」,就是天人。「龍」,知道就是龍王,龍,海中的東西。「夜叉」,夜叉,我們也知道捷疾鬼,這種很兇惡的東西。還有「乾闥婆」,那就是香神。所以我們吃東西不要浪費。香神,當你從廚房開始有香味時,他就會聞香而來。盡量不要殺生,血腥的東西,好壞的(神鬼)都會來,所以最好就是茹素。
 
「阿修羅」是非天,雖然生在天中有天福,但是無天德。所以,天人未將他們,列入他們是天的眷屬。所以我們說「六道」,是多一個阿修羅道。不過,天未將他列入,是他們天界的眷屬,因為他無天德,動不動就愛和別人吵架,無天德。不過他有修福,所以叫做「非天」,不是在天之中。
 
還有「迦樓羅」,迦樓羅就是金翅鳥,這種鳥很大,展開,牠的翅膀展開很大,叫做大鵬金翅鳥,這就是叫做迦樓羅。「緊那羅」是非人;阿修羅是非天,緊那羅是非人。看起來是人的頭,但是畜類的身,卻是頭上有一隻角,所以非人。看起來像人,但是不是人。「摩睺羅伽」,這就是大蟒神,他用他的身體在地上爬。應該大家,<譬喻品>都解釋過了,天龍八部。這就是在佛成佛時,天界這些神眾也都會出現,就是來慶祝。
 
接下來的經文說,「及見十六王子請佛轉法輪。即時諸梵天王頭面禮佛,繞百千匝,即以天華而散佛上。」
 
及見十六王子
請佛轉法輪
即時諸梵天王
頭面禮佛
繞百千匝
即以天華而散佛上
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
在那個時候,因為這個道場又是再發光,這個道場還是非常的莊嚴,十六王子在這個地方,請佛轉法輪,這樣天龍八部也全都來了,所以再來禮佛,就是要聽法,所以「見請世尊轉於法輪」,再次來表達恭敬的儀式。
 
所以「即以天華而散佛上」,又是再次散花。這個場面,佛陀在講《法華經》,<序品>同樣也是這樣,大轉法輪,就是撥開了方便,回歸一真實法,大家都很高興,回歸人人本具佛性。佛陀已經正直捨方便,示顯一乘法,所以歡喜,天人都來散花供養,表示這種布善因,希望人人能行於菩薩道,人人修行。
 
不只是聲聞聽法就好,不是緣覺瞭解道理就好,還是要趕緊再進一步,那就是菩薩道。菩薩要回入人間,去為人間付出,為人間結善緣,布達善的種子,讓人人及時修善因,未來有無量恆河沙數能成佛。希望人人,有這麼多人,人人都能聞法,修善因,得善果,成佛道。若沒有很多人入人群去,這個法就是永遠封閉著。
 
所以《法華經》是開顯第一義,希望人人都能接受到。所以,聞法者、說法者,要去傳法者,那就是菩薩要好好去布達善因,讓人人接受善因,好好開始修行,人與人之間合和互協,為法去付出。這就是我們修行者,要時時多用心啊!


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: The Buddha Cultivates Contemplation in Clarity (清澄久坐靜思惟修)
Date: January.25. 2017
 
“The Virtuous One sat for a long time in clarity in the place of enlightenment, cultivating calm contemplation. The sentient beings mentioned earlier who had long been in darkness were surprised at this sudden appearance. Those in the Six Realms are separated like clouds and mud. All sentient beings together requested the Dharma.”
 
The Virtuous One sat for a long time in clarity in the place of enlightenment, cultivating calm contemplation.
The sentient beings mentioned earlier who had long been in darkness were surprised at this sudden appearance.
Those in the Six Realms are separated like clouds and mud.
All sentient beings together requested the Dharma.
 
For sentient beings, everything is determined by our thoughts. In fact, the Virtuous One was also a human, with the thoughts [of a human]. But once He transformed these thoughts, afflictions became Bodhi. We all intrinsically have an intrinsic nature like that of Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha. For dust-inked kalpas, our nature of True Suchness has always existed. We are always there. If we can persist for a long time until our thoughts become our nature of True Suchness, which we intrinsically have, life after life, we always have this pure mind. This mind is the willingness to go among people; if we can do this, then we will be replete with the myriad practices and can be called a Virtuous One. A Virtuous One continuously engages in uninterrupted practice, extended practice, practice with nothing further and practice with reverence. He respects, loves and protects all beings. If we do this, with a continuous virtuous circle, our minds will continue to accumulate [virtue]. We do not give up, but advance forward on the Bodhisattva-path for a long time. Then after a long period of time, we will also become the Unsurpassed Guide. Once we perfect all virtues and can be called Virtuous One, Unsurpassed Guide, then won’t we have attained Buddhahood?
 
Yesterday, we talked about how a Brahmin asked the Buddha how many people will become Buddhas in the future. “The number of those who will reach Buddhahood is as many as the sand of infinite Ganges Rivers.” In the future, there will be that many. [The Brahmin asked], “What about in the past?” In the past there were also countless and infinite numbers of Buddhas, like the sands of the Ganges. “In the past, so many people attained Buddhahood, but I have no met them. Today, I have encountered the Buddha, so I should seize the opportunity to quickly engage in spiritual practice.” That was the story [of the Brahmin]. With extended practice, uninterrupted practice, practice with reverence and practice with nothing further, he was very diligent. He simply seized the present moment. Even though he was advanced in years, he had such reverence toward the Buddha-Dharma. So, we must always be mindful.
 
Originally, dust-inked kalpas ago, in Beginningless Time, we always had this Great Unhindered in us, in our intrinsic nature. Through continuous accumulation, we persist in “sitting for a long time in clarity.” This does not mean just sitting there quietly. Sitting for a long time refers to the pure mind that has abided forever in our intrinsic nature. We do not need to seek a spiritual training ground outside of us; the spiritual training ground is in our minds. Our intrinsic nature is our training ground. We must always cultivate calm contemplation; that is what I often remind everyone of, so we can mutually encourage each other. When interacting with each other as we practice in our spiritual training ground, we ought to constantly have calm contemplation and put effort into spiritual practice. The most troublesome aspect of the mind is that it wavers and fluctuates. When it wavers, if one thought goes astray, we continue to follow it in the wrong direction, walking further and further into darkness. Because ignorance continues to multiply and increase, amidst this ignorance, we cannot open up our pure intrinsic nature of True Suchness. If our minds are unable to calm down, our minds will keep going toward the darkness.
 
For instance, from Nepal, I saw a news report that on July 28, 2015, they announced a prohibition of slaughtering. They had a custom of, every five years, holding an extremely violent, bloody day of gory sacrifice. This day of sacrifice is the Gadhimai Festival, which was named after a goddess. This story’s origins began 400 years ago, when a great landowner had a dream one day. He dreamt that his problems would be solved with a blood sacrifice to Gadhimai. If Goodness Gadhimai were to be offered sacrifices every five years, with this bloodbath all problems would be eliminated. There would be no disasters or suffering, and all problems would be eliminated.
 
It was simply due to this dream that [this massacre] began to take shape. Therefore, in India, every five years, there was this kind of day of slaughter and bloody sacrifices. About 300,000 lives [were sacrificed], of all kinds of living beings. Some were from India, others from Nepal. Many places sent living and breathing animals, whether they were pigeons, rats, lambs, pigs, cows or other animals. As long as they were animals, these living creatures would be sent from far away. Every five years, the number of sacrificed lives was over 300,000. They were amassed for this bloody sacrifice. Every five years, in this ceremony, there would be about 2.5 million people who would gather there to make sacrifices. Once every five years, the festival would be held 140 kilometers south of today’s Kathmandu. That place is called Baliyap Village, where there is a temple of Gadhimai. Every five years in November, this sort of great massacre would occur, using blood as a sacrifice. It has been held every five years for 400 years already.
 
I heard the good news, which was that this announcement was sent out, that a decision has been made. This religion would stop this day of sacrifice and bloody massacre. But the head of the temple said that they knew this had been a tradition for 400 years, so now that they wanted to stop this, it would be truly difficult. However, the next festival is in 2019, which is still more than three years away. He said, “We will devote ourselves to educating the believers. For the believers, we need correct teachings and correct thinking in order to educate them.” This kind of sacrifice every five years, this custom of gory sacrifice, must stop. With the next three or so years, they will need to really devote themselves in order to change people’s thinking, to help them know that these animal killings are inhumane customs. The head of the temple said, “As humans, we need to be aware of [the cruelty] of killing these animals.” In the images, we can see the bulls wearing strips of red cloth being herded together to a centralized place. The rest of the animals were similarly amassed and transported to that place. When it was time, we could see this scene of killing, how all the animals were collapsing. Truly, we can see this sight of the animals gathered and massacred en masse; it is extremely cruel. People’s delusions are like this.
 
Although it was just a person’s dream, it was announced widely and started to become their tradition. This religious tradition of sacrifice happened once every five years. Now there are causes and conditions to allow them to stop this kind of sacrifice. We have already seen an official document, which is a decree prohibiting this massacre. This sacrifice has been discontinued. But there are still more than three years where they must apply right methods to let people know that animals are just like humans. They also have flesh and blood and feel pain. So, they have begun to educate the believers now.
 
We heard this news and saw the images, saw the cruelty. Now the prohibition has been announced, and we can see how a thin piece of paper can save the future and protect more than 300,000 lives from massacre. From this point on, they can start anew, and there can be peace. This is such a joyous matter. We must know that animals are just like humans. As can be seen nowadays, we not only know they feel pain, but also know they have flesh and blood and likewise fear pain and death.
 
Nowadays, there is avian flu, hand-foot-and-mouth disease and other epidemics. Many viruses and bacteria spread by animals are intermixed with those found in humans. Human influenza can be passed to animals, and animal influenza can also be passed to humans. As we can see, we are all living beings. We feel pain and fear death. Animals also feel pain and also fear death. We also living, and they are also living. How can we bear to let them face so much suffering?
 
Even a six-year-old child knows to love and protect animals by curbing her cravings for certain tastes. This is a student from Kaohsiung in the Da Ai Kindergarten class. She promotes a vegetarian diet to others and of course is also vegetarian herself. This child’s name is Nianchun (Pure Thoughts). Her parents are already Tzu Chi commissioners. She has been a vegetarian since the womb. When she was three or four years old, on her first day of kindergarten, she told her teacher, “Teacher, I am a vegetarian baby. I don’t eat meat; I want to eat vegetables.” Back then, she was not at our Kaohsiung kindergarten, but at a school in their community. On the first day, she told her teacher this. At that time, she was only three or four, and she told her teacher, “I am vegetarian baby, I do not eat meat. I want to eat vegetarian food.”
 
From that point on, her mother felt that being in a place where no vegetarian food was provided was very inconvenient. For the teachers, it was also very inconvenient. So, she looked and searched. She knew that at the Jing Si Hall in Kaohsiung, we have a Da Ai Kindergarten, so she later transferred Nianchun over. This child, Nianchun, was like a fish in water and was very happy.
 
She is very sensitive to the word “meat”. Once her father was peeling longan fruit and he told Nianchun, “Daddy is giving you the longan meat to eat.“ The child said, “Dad, I do not eat meat. Why are you giving me the meat of the longan?”. Then, he had to give her an explanation. Even the word “meat” could not be said. So, this is a very pure child. She always has such pure thoughts. When she drew pictures at her kindergarten, all she drew were fruits and vegetables. She drew nearly ten kinds and all were very pretty. She would point out vegetables and fruits and say, “This is called green bean.” “This is called eggplant, and this is…” How many are there total? “One, two, three…” She kept on counting until she was done. “I drew ten different kinds here. There are ten kinds, but there are more. These all can be eaten.” This is a child’s heart. It is filled with pure innocence, these kinds of pure and clear thoughts. This is the intrinsic nature of her mind.
 
So, she began to promote vegetarianism. She said, “I want to make a vow. I want to encourage 100 people to be vegetarian.” Actually, at first, she said 60 people. 60 people! We [heard] that. She was brought along by her father or someone else to a Tzu Chi gathering where volunteers were having a study group or something. He took her there, then she shared her perspective as a vegetarian baby and encouraged everyone to become vegetarian.
 
At first, she used booklets to promote vegetarianism. She asked, “All of you present…” She spoke like an adult, “Of all of you present, are you vegetarian? If you are vegetarian, please raise your hand.” Many raised their hands. She took out a booklet promoting vegetarianism and said, “If it’s just one meal, that is okay. If you can eat vegetarian for 108 meals, check a box for every vegetarian meal you eat.” She took that booklet out to teach people. She said, “If you eat a vegetarian meal, check this box.” She would give a small gift and hand over a booklet to them. If someone was willing to be vegetarian, they would accept this booklet, and she would give them a gift. She would say, “Originally, this booklet would need to have all 108 boxes checked for me to give you this present. But I am worried that you will not find me after checking all the boxes, so I am giving you the gift beforehand. But if you have not finished checking them, I will have to take the gift back, okay?” She is truly a child with principles.
 
Think about it. From the womb she was vegetarian. Even on the first day of kindergarten, she expressed, “I do not eat meat.” As we can see, from her birth until now, her mind is not enticed by form, smell or taste. She eats with her classmates at the same table, with so many people, yet her mind is unwavering. Will it be hard to sustain a mind like this for dust-inked kalpas?
 
We all intrinsically have a pure Buddha-nature. This is to say, our spiritual training ground is in our minds. We must mindfully cultivate contemplation. We fundamentally have this pure intrinsic nature. We need to preserve this mind of ours and put effort into cultivating contemplation. We must contemplate what life’s ultimate truth is. We are all humans, but how do we regard animals and their lives? When it comes to living beings, we should also mindfully seek to comprehend. Otherwise, when a thought goes astray, even [the effects of] a dream can be drawn out for 400 years and result in this bloody massacre every five years.
 
In Nepal, over these few hundred years, has it really been all peaceful? There have been disasters there frequently. Can their sacrifices and massacres really help them avoid disasters? This is a superstitious legend that has attracted many disasters. This kind of bloody scene truly is a great defilement for people’s minds. So, they have “long been in darkness”. In the past, they did not understand and continued what they regarded as a religious festival every five years. Every five years, they held what was regarded as a religious festival. So, every five years, more than two million people gathered at that village. It is inconceivable, how could they believe this? But now we have heard that this day of sacrifice has been eliminated.
 
What kind of causes and conditions helped them see sentient beings as equals? What kind of causes and conditions let them know all sentient beings are flesh and blood just like humans. They feel pain the same way. What were these causes and conditions? So, this sudden realization they had was like those “sentient beings who were surprised at this sudden appearance”. In the past, they thought this was normal. People’s minds were in darkness, as they were covered by ignorance. Ignorance is similar to darkness. Then all of a sudden this happened, so they “were surprised at this sudden appearance”.
 
This is just like the sutra passage says. When the darkness suddenly [turns] to light, it means the truth is already shining through. The doors to their minds have opened, and light was shining through. Thus, “Those in the Six Realms are separated like clouds and mud”. The Six Realms are the heaven, human, asura, hell, hungry ghost and animal realms. These are like sky and earth, like the clouds in the sky and the mud on the earth. There is such a complete and distant separation. The sky is like those Brahma kings, enjoying their palaces. The earth is like those suffering in hell, those suffering as animals and so forth. But the sentient beings of the Six Realms have one thing in common, which is a pure Buddha-nature intrinsic to all. So, “All sentient beings together requested the Dharma”. The Buddha had attained enlightenment in the world. The Buddha’s principles should pervade across heaven and throughout the Six Realms and the four forms of birth. These principles needed to be announced to all. As long as there are principles, the light of the mind can shine through.
 
The previous sutra passage states, “At that time, all the Brahma kings from the 500 trillion lands went along with their palaces. They each used their mantle to hold all kinds of celestial flowers. Together they went to the west to seek out this sign.”
 
At that time, all the Brahma kings from the 500 trillion lands went along with their palaces. They each used their mantle to hold all kinds of celestial flowers. Together they went to the west to seek out this sign.
 
At that time, the light had started by shining toward the east and then shining in all directions. So, since the light shone first toward the east, the Brahma kings began to lead a each toward the west to find, to seek out, the origin of the light. This is like when we went to Nepal. We went from the east to the west. A group of people are there now, and what are they doing at that place? They are not seeking the scriptures. They are at the birthplace of the Buddha, where sentient beings are now in confusion, are suffering, are facing uncertain futures, all the suffering that comes after a disaster. In such times, how should we bring Buddha-Dharma back to the Buddha’s birthplace? This is what we seek by going west.
 
The next sutra passage states, “They saw Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior in the place of enlightenment beneath the Bodhi-tree, sitting on the throne. All heavenly beings, naga kings, gandharvas, kinnaras, mahoragas, humans, non-humans and so on respectfully surrounded Him.”
 
They saw Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior in the place of enlightenment beneath the Bodhi-tree, sitting on the throne. All heavenly beings, naga kings, gandharvas, kinnaras, mahoragas, humans, non-humans and so on respectfully surrounded Him.
 
Seeking in the west, they saw Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Tathagata under the Bodhi-tree, sitting on the lion throne. In addition to the Brahma kings, there were those from other heavens in the desire realm, or the heavens of the form realm. There were also naga kings, gandharvas and so on. The eight classes of Dharma-protectors all came. They were all there surrounding Him in the place of enlightenment under the Bodhi-tree. The Buddha’s place of enlightenment was under this Bodhi-tree. This was where He attained Buddhahood. He sat in mediation under the tree and contemplated silently there. He awakened compassion, exercised wisdom there. So, it says “beneath the Bodhi-tree, sitting on the lion throne”.
 
There were heavenly beings, nagas, gandharvas, kinnaras, mahoragas, hmans, non-humans and so on. They all respectfully surrounded Him. The eight classes of Dharma-protectors showed their respect. So, humans, with our eyes, the physical eyes that we have, cannot see the eight classes of Dharma-protectors. Especially with heavenly beings, our physical eyes are unable to see them at all. This is a kind of spiritual state, so we also say “invisible hosts of eight classes”. Invisible hosts are those we cannot see. These invisible hosts are invisible beings.
 
When speaking of invisible sentient beings, there is a commonly-used phrase, “There are spiritual beings three inches above us.” We need to believe this. Actually, when we speak, we should always say good things. We should always have good thoughts and always do good deeds. As soon as we give rise to a thought, the eight classes of Dharma-protectors will know. So, ancient people said to go with our conscience. Because, three inches above us, there are indeed spiritual beings. “There are spiritual beings three inches above us.” We ought to believe this.
 
We also often speak of demons and spirits. Otherwise, why do we chant sutras out loud? Every religion has rituals of reciting scripture. This is something that is widely recognized. When we chant the sutra, every line of the sutra is teaching the Dharma. I often tell everyone, we must recite the sutras loudly. Sutras are not just for us to read ourselves, to take into our own heart, recite to ourselves. At the same time, we recite for those in the invisible realms, for demons, spirits and the eight classes of Dharma-protectors to hear. So, often when we pray every day, we hope to be heard by the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, heavenly beings and Dharma-protectors. This takes great reverence. We should sing and recite the sutras loudly. Otherwise, we will never really learn them. We need to chant them loudly. So, the “invisible hosts of eight classes” are also called “eight classes of Dharma-protectors”.
 
The eight classes of Dharma-protectors: Heavenly beings, nagas, yaksas. Gandharvas: spirits of fragrance. Asuras: Not-heavenly beings. Garudas: Golden-winged birds. Kinnaras: non-humans.
Mahoragas: great python spirits.
 
What are the eight classes of Dharma-protectors? “Heavenly beings” are beings from the heaven realm. “Nagas” are the dragon kings, creatures in the ocean. “Yaksas” are spirits. We know that these speedy ghosts are very fierce. Also, there are “gandharvas”, which are spirits of fragrance. So, when we eat, we should not waste food. When the aroma starts to waft from your kitchen, these spirits will smell the scent and come. We must do our best to not kill. Where there are bloody things, good and bad [demons and ghosts] will come. So, it is best for us to be vegetarian.
 
“Asuras” are not-heavenly beings. Although they are born in the heaven realm and enjoy heavenly blessings, they do not have heavenly virtues. So, heavenly beings do not include them in the family of heavenly beings. Thus, when we speak of the Sis Realms, we add in the asura realm. Still, the reason why heavenly beings exclude them from the heavenly family is because they do not have heavenly virtues. They easily trigger fights with others. Although lacking in heavenly virtues, they have cultivated heavenly blessings. So, they are called not-heavenly beings; they are not considered heavenly beings.
 
There are also the “garudas”. Garudas are golden-winged birds.
These kinds of birds are very big. Their wingspan is very broad. They are called great golden-winged birds. These are the garudas. “Kinnaras” are non-humans. Asuras are not-heavenly beings, while Kinnaras are non-humans. They have the head of a human, but they have the body of an animal. Still, on their head, they have a horn. So they are non-humans. They look like humans, but they are not. “Mahoragas” are great python spirits. They use their body to crawl on the ground.
 
Everybody should know, from the Chapter on Parables, the explanation of the eight classes of Dharma-protectors. When a Buddha attains Buddhahood, heavenly beings from the heaven realm will appear to celebrate.
 
Next, the sutra passage states, “And they saw the 16 princes asking the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel. Right away, all Brahma kings prostrated out of respect for the Buddha, circumambulated the Buddha thousands of times and scattered celestial flowers upon Him.”
 
And they saw the 16 princes asking the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel. Right away, all Brahma kings prostrated out of respect for the Buddha, circumambulated the Buddha thousands of times and scattered celestial flowers upon Him.
 
At that time, because this place of enlightenment was luminous, it was extremely dignified. The 16 princes were there to ask the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel. The eight classes of Dharma-protectors had all come, so they then paid respect to the Buddha in order to listen to the teachings. They “asked the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel”. They again ceremoniously paid their respects. Thus, they “Scattered celestial flowers upon Him”. This was another scene of scattering flowers. When the Buddha expounded the Lotus Sutra in the Introductory Chapter, this also happened. When He turned the Great Dharma-wheel, He set aside skillful means and returned to the one True Dharma. Everyone was very joyful to return to their intrinsic Buddha-nature. The Buddha had already clearly set aside skillful means to reveal the One Vehicle Dharma. So, they were joyful. Heavenly beings all came to scatter flowers as offerings, representing the spreading of good seeds, in hopes that all would walk the Bodhisattva-path and engage in spiritual practice.
 
Listening to the Dharma as Hearers is not enough. Comprehending principles as Solitary Realizers is also not enough. We need to quickly advance to the next step and walk the Bodhisattva-path. Bodhisattva must return to the human realm to give of themselves for this world, create good affinities, and spread seeds of goodness to help all people promptly cultivate good causes. In the future, those who attain Buddhahood will be as numerous as the sand of infinite Ganges Rivers. I hope that all people, all these people, will be able to hear the Dharma, cultivate good causes, reap good fruits and attain Buddhahood. If not many can go among the people, the Dharma will forever be closed off.
 
So, the Lotus Sutra opens and reveals, the supreme meaning in the hope that everyone can accept it. Thus, those who hear the Dharma and those who speak the Dharma need to become those who pass on the Dharma. These are Bodhisattvas. We must spread these good seeds so everyone can accept these good seeds and begin engaging in spiritual practice. We must interact with people in unity, harmony, mutual love and concerted effort. We must give of ourselves for the Dharma; as practitioners, this is what we should do. So, we must always be mindful.
 

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