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 20170201《靜思妙蓮華》諸佛受請之儀 (第1014集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)

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發表主題: 20170201《靜思妙蓮華》諸佛受請之儀 (第1014集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)   周三 2月 01, 2017 12:30 am

20170201《靜思妙蓮華》諸佛受請之儀 (第1014集)
(法華經•化城喻品第七)

 
默然許者諸佛受請之儀,法爾如是隨先佛規則故,天人尊重渴仰不同凡夫,外道能令目觸耳聞道存。
爾時諸梵天王偈讚佛已各作是言:惟願世尊轉於法輪,度脫眾生,開涅槃道。《法華經化城喻品第七
時諸梵天王一心同聲而說偈言:世雄兩足尊,惟願演說法,以大慈悲力,度苦惱眾生。」《法華經化城喻品第七》
爾時,大通智勝如來默然許之。《法華經化城喻品第七
爾時大通智勝如來默然許之:佛許之相,多種不同,或時點頭,此身許也。
或云為汝說,此口許也。今但默然,此心許也。或云止止,此不許也。
法爾如是,有四意:隨先佛規則故、生人尊重渴仰故、不同凡夫外道故、能令目見耳聞道存故,即四悉檀益。
又諸比丘!東南方五百萬億國土諸大梵王,各自見宮殿光明照曜,昔所未有。歡喜踊躍,生希有心,即各相詣共議此事。《法華經化城喻品第七
 
【證嚴上人開示】

「默然許者諸佛受請之儀,法爾如是隨先佛規則故,天人尊重渴仰不同凡夫,外道能令目觸耳聞道存。」
 
默然許者
諸佛受請之儀
法爾如是
隨先佛規則故
天人尊重渴仰
不同凡夫
外道能令
目觸耳聞道存
 
聽起來很深,其實這只是一個法則、禮儀。我們常常看經典,常常都會看到,天或者是人,來請佛說法,佛陀都是默然許之。這常常我們都在經典看得到,這是諸佛受請之儀。若是來請佛,佛回答止止,就是還不行,因緣還未到。這就是諸佛受請的儀則,禮儀法則。
 
「法爾如是」,法就是這樣,「隨先佛規則故」,這是一個禮節。所以我們要知道,禮節也是很重要,尤其是學佛者,要受教、要傳道,受教若不傳道,傳道若不受教,次序會亂,所以我們必定要有次序。我們世間團體組織也是這樣,我們要做任何事情,一定要有次序規則,同樣的道理,自古以來都是要有這樣,次序規則。
 
要不然,就像現在處在末法,人已經不守規則了,而且倫理道德觀念,也都已經消退了。
 
現在社會,看看現在社會,真的是亂了規則。過去的人,從家庭,家庭不論是五代同堂、四代同堂、三代同堂,一個家庭有從這樣,祖先次序安排,就是一代尊重一代,這樣一直尊重,敬老、孝順。現在已經不是了,「老了,你退休了,年輕人的事情,你不要管,你要尊重我們年輕人的意見。」這在現在常常都是聽到這樣。
 
所以,雖然社會也有這樣說:「愈來老人的社會,老人愈來愈多,是問題。」聽了覺得,老人變成一個社會問題,聽了心很難受。到底是要照顧老人,或者是老人已經成社會問題呢?也是感覺到現在的人間,人口增加,所以難免現在的人壽,因為醫療科技發達,所以歲數愈來愈大,因為大家身體健康,這就是說來也是好事,老人健康、歲數長,歲數長就活比較久,就是變老人了。
 
當然會回想到過去,若聽到說六十多歲了,「年齡這樣不小了。」「七十歲啊!高壽了。」但是現在,六十多歲還年輕,「看,六十多歲,和你的孩子差不多。」有時候母女帶來面前,有時候將女兒,我會把她看成像是母親的姊姊。因為母親四五十歲了,有化妝,穿著還是同樣,就是感覺起來比女兒還年輕。
 
總而言之,會覺得現在的人怎麼這樣?以前若上了四五十歲,紅衣服不敢穿,花色衣服,「你年紀這麼大了,怎麼還穿花色衣服?」四五十歲。現在已經大家在穿的顏色都比較素,只是裁剪愈來愈省布,所以大家看起來,就是還年輕,不認老。但是,現在有一項就是要認老,那就是失憶,失智症。現在的老人六十多歲開始,忘記這個、忘記那個,慢慢這種憂鬱症,老人的憂鬱症、失智症,這倒是真正是問題了。
 
為什麼呢?看起來身體還很健壯,卻是憂鬱,煩惱多,自然他失智。憂鬱、失智,這是一個連體嬰,這種的心理問題。為什麼心理有這樣的病態出來?腦筋為什麼會眼前的都忘記,記得的都是記過去的事,這種顛顛倒倒,現在的問題倒是這樣的比較多。那是為什麼呢?就是家庭倫理道德淪喪了,老人會驚惶,身邊沒有人,或是不受尊重等等,造成心理狀態容易心腦不平衡。
 
我們若能在人倫道德顧守好,要有這分傳道,有傳道的精神,禮節儀規照顧好,家庭不論是五代、四代、三代,這樣一代做給一代看,老是受尊重的、是受禮節的,有禮節的,這樣的社會,老人哪有什麼問題呢?以前的人,若是看到,三代同堂、四代同堂,「你很好命喔!財、子、壽都有了,福、祿、壽啊!」這是多麼光耀的事情。
 
現在老來就是孤單,很正常,問他:「有孩子嗎?」「唉!別說孩子了。」有幾個?」「別算幾個了。」對啊,這已經是社會,變成了平常事。但是,在老人的生活,大家就把它當成了,是一個老人問題。我們若能家家戶戶,這些父母都是我們的寶,我們應該孝順,是我們的家庭教育倫理,若能這樣,社會哪有什麼問題呢?家家福祿壽,這是受人讚歎。
 
不過,現在的社會已經沒辦法了。因為人人都很有才華,受很高的教育,受了教育,大家都要去上班。去上班,社會的利益愈開愈大,愈開愈大,好像家庭裡的年輕人大家都很忙。年輕人,讀書的讀書去了,上班的上班去了,老人就是顧家,無聊,這種顧家無聊,你要他怎麼不會心生惶恐呢?怎會要他的心不會憂鬱症呢?老人問題出在這裡。
 
或者是為什麼老人都在鄉村?老了,怎麼不隨子女去(都市)呢?整天把他關在(如)籠子裡,沒有對話的機會。他在鄉村裡,他有老朋友,他有新鮮的空氣,他有來去自由的路可走,所以自然他就住在鄉下。不論鄉村的環境多麼好,卻是心理空虛,這都是惡性的循環。所以說,老人醫學、老人問題,其實這時候,已經成了重重的問題了。
 
若看到一群老人家在做環保,聽他們說話,多麼有智慧啊!昨天我看到我們的環保菩薩,八十多歲了,每天過得很歡喜,都是在環保站。人家就問她:「你何必做得這麼辛苦?」「能做才是福啊!」「你做一做要做什麼?」「我做一做就給慈濟,慈濟能救人。」
 
問她的人就說:「慈濟,不是大家都說很有錢?你還做一做賣給慈濟?」她說:「你要想,師父要救人,平常若不積一點錢,有時候國外救人要用很多錢,我們臺灣哪裡有災難,他也要去救,這都是平時就要積一些錢起來。人家說,晴天要積雨來糧。」「人家不是說慈濟土地很多?」她說:「對啊,若沒有土地,我們哪有地方做環保?」
 
昨天聽到了,我內心是很歡喜,覺得就沒辦法當面跟她說:「你很有智慧喔!」沒辦法這樣拍拍她的肩膀。真的是,看,她就是這麼單純,這麼簡單,古人就是這樣說「晴天要積雨來糧」,這也叫做法則,這也是規則。不是有錢就亂花、亂用。以前的人說:「這很花、很花。」很花、很花,現在才知道(是)花錢(國語),我們以前叫做「開錢」(臺語),現在的人叫做「花錢」(國語)。「花錢」,臺語叫做花,花錢,就是這樣。
 
所以說來,現在的人生不照規則,問題重重。佛法道理要照規則,這種「默然許之」,來請法或者是來,請佛(接受)供養,佛陀若是默然許之,這就是表示答應了,這是受請之儀。「法爾如是,隨先佛規則故」。法就是這樣,就是這樣傳,這就是一個儀規,叫做規則。
 
「天人尊重渴仰不同凡夫」。天人尊重,就是尊重這個禮節,所以從梵天而來,散花供佛,奉上宮殿,表達至高的誠意。這是表示天人對佛那一分難遇,要多久才能有一尊佛出世,要聽佛轉法輪是這麼不容易,這就是天人尊重佛的儀規,不同凡夫。
 
佛陀出現在人間,人間對佛不尊重,迫害佛的故事也很多,這就是凡夫。凡夫在這個五濁惡世,佛陀在堪忍的世界,五趣雜居,這些凡夫反覺悟者的軌道,凡夫亂世。佛陀來人間就是要說法,讓這些亂世的凡夫能上軌道,向覺道走。這樣,難免背道而行的凡夫,就會設種種煩惱無明網,網住了很多人不得解脫。
 
所以,天人,他就是有修行才會生天,不只是修福,又是修戒。如梵天,他們有色的享受,物質的享受,但是他的心清淨。但是他還要精進求法,雖然能修清淨行到四禪的境界,卻是斷生死的方法還不知。要如何斷生死?心若是再受污染,一念無明起,十二因緣法就再開始,一直糾纏下去,愛恨情仇還是同樣,受一念無明污染,就這樣,無明網就再散開了,用自己的無明來網住我們自己。這就是還無法脫離生死。
 
梵天他們知道,就是這個斷生死的真理,他們還沒有真正的突破、體會,所以佛出世難遇,轉法輪,轉大法輪更是難遇,所以他們用這麼虔誠的心,從東方向西方找這個光的真理,這樣來,這是天人尊重、仰慕於佛,與凡夫不同。
 
「外道能令目觸耳聞道存」。佛陀成佛在人間,雖然這些凡夫是這樣,修行者偏差,背道而行,佛陀還是同樣在人間,出現在人間說法,哪怕是外道,他反佛法,卻是也讓他有機會,能接觸到佛法。
 
就如佛陀在世時,有一群外道教徒,他們想盡辦法,要如何來破壞佛的僧團,要如何破除佛陀的真理說法。大家共聚來想,後來其中有一位就說:「不如叫一位屠夫。」就是專門在殺豬,殺生的人,「我們來叫他去請佛接受供養。」
 
真的找到了一位很有名的屠夫,一直殺豬,殺,等等,所有的生物,專門做這樣的職業的人。這個人聽了這些外道教,覺得,這些人對佛也很尊重,要我去請佛來供養,有功德,我應該,若有這個機會能供養佛,這也是我的福,但是我是一名屠夫。不過,這些外道教的人,還是一直鼓勵他,果然他就到了佛前,而這些外道教,想來看佛陀如何回答這位屠夫,到底要受請,還是要拒絕這位殺生的屠夫呢?大家就跟來了。
 
這位屠夫來到佛的面前,還是很恭敬,頂禮,很虔誠的心,合掌向佛,很坦白說:「佛啊!我是一位在這個村裡的屠夫,我所操從的職業就是殺生。雖然這是我的職業,佛陀,我也是很仰慕佛,希望佛陀您能接受我的邀請,去我家受我供養。但是不知佛陀您會厭棄我,從事惡業,不知會不會嫌棄我?」
 
佛陀就這樣回答他,回答他說:「凡事有因有果。惡業果若成熟,自然就墮落;善業福俱,自然就會有得度的因緣。」佛陀用這樣的方式回答。所以佛陀再次叮嚀他:「有善事能做,你就要趕緊把握因緣做善事。惡歸惡,善歸善,惡果若成熟,自然是墮落;善,有善的業,福報若來時,你要趕緊把握,趕緊做。」這些話這樣回答,佛陀表示允許,要他趕快回去準備供僧供佛。這位屠夫很高興,開始回去準備了。
 
而這群外道教,他們聽到了,心開意解,佛陀的回答很圓融,「因緣果報自受,做惡的,過去既然做了,惡報若成熟,同樣會墮落。若有善的因緣,你要趕緊把握,趕緊去做,你回去準備,我接受供養。」這沒什麼好挑剔。所以這些外道教的人很佩服,就不由自己,大家不約而同到佛的面前,恭敬佛,請佛皈依,成為佛教徒。
 
這就是外道教能目觸耳聞,自然道存,這個道自然就這樣傳下去。所以我們應該要很用心,聞法、傳法,法則儀規,我們應該要久久就是這樣傳,道理,家庭倫理應該也是這樣。要不然,真的法不法,法不傳,人間就亂了。
 
所以前面的(經)文就這樣說,「爾時諸梵天王偈讚佛已各作是言:惟願世尊轉於法輪,度脫眾生,開涅槃道。」
 
爾時
諸梵天王偈讚佛已
各作是言
惟願世尊轉於法輪
度脫眾生
開涅槃道
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
趕緊來開一條涅槃的道路,諸梵天王還是很尊重佛,他們讚歎佛,再次用偈文來讚歎,希望我們人人心要聽進去,後世的人要好好聞法、敬法,要尊重法。
 
所以「時諸梵天王,一心同聲,而說偈言。」開始說偈,「世雄兩足尊,惟願演說法,以大慈悲力,度苦惱眾生。」
 
時諸梵天王
心同聲而說偈言
世雄兩足尊
惟願演說法
以大慈悲力
度苦惱眾生
《法華經化城喻品第七》
 
這是前面說過的(經)文。
 
接下來的經文就這樣說,「爾時,大通智勝如來默然許之」。
 
爾時
大通智勝如來
默然許之
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
那些梵天王是這樣的恭敬,這樣的尊重,虔誠來請法。也是為了自己,能更透徹斷生死之道,也為天下眾生來請法,希望人人去除無明,能夠就法就道。這就是諸梵天王的心,來請佛轉法輪,佛也是這樣默然許之,已經答應要來轉大法輪。
 
這個大法輪異於平常的說法,他就是要說《法華經》。十六王子請佛轉法輪,逐光而來,隨著光而來的天人,也是同樣來請法。所以佛默然,就是答應了十六王子,「默然」,就是要說,但是還在等,等這些諸天要到齊,東方的天人到齊了,所以默然許之。
 
爾時
大通智勝如來
默然許之:
佛許之相
多種不同
或時點頭
此身許也
 
所以「佛許之相」,這就是表示答應了,「好,等一下,稍等一下,因為還有他方還沒到齊」。所以「多種不同,或時點頭,此身許之」。有的(時候)默默的,這也就是默許。或者是點頭,如我們現在「好啦!」,雖然沒有出聲音,用點頭,這就是身,他的身行,不反對,點頭。
 
「或云為汝說」好,我為你說,這就是「口許之」。今但默然,此心許也。或云止止,此不許也。
 
或云為汝說
此口許也
今但默然
此心許也
或云止止
此不許也
 
允許要講法,有這樣,心已經答應你了,所以默默的沒有回答,就是心已經答應你了。或者是開口,就如剛剛屠夫來請佛,佛就說:「福若到時,把握因緣,趕緊回去準備。」這是口。或者是用身體的動作,可啊,點頭,這都是表示允許要說法。若是說「止,止」,如舍利弗請法,佛陀就對他說:「止!止!不須復說。」好啦,你們恭敬心還未到齊,眾生的根機還未整齊,求法的心還沒有很虔誠,所以「止、止、止」,三請三止。這是在人間的釋迦牟尼佛,當初講《法華經》的時代,(舍利弗)請法,佛陀三止,大家應該還記得。
 
「默然許之」,是「諸佛受請之儀
皆是默許」。
 
「法爾如是,有四意」。
 
法爾如是
有四意:
隨先佛規則故、
生人尊重渴仰故
不同凡夫外道故、
能令目見耳聞
道存故
即四悉檀益
 
四種的意思,第一是「隨先佛規則故」。這就是規則,規矩就是這樣。第二、「天、人尊重渴仰故」。就是希望人人要生起尊重心,不只是人,即使天也是一樣。表達對佛陀的尊重,所以大家還是要,明知前面的十六王子,已經請法了,請轉法輪,但是天人,梵天,他們也知道,佛將要開始轉大法輪,但是他們也是一樣,用禮節再來請佛轉法輪。這就是表示,天人生尊重渴仰之心。不只是東方梵天王來請,後面還有很多,還是同樣來請佛轉法輪。這就是天人生尊重渴仰之心。
 
第三、「不同凡夫外道」。因為人間對佛法,不尊重的比尊重的比例,是(多)很多,這叫做凡夫,不尊重佛法在人間。第四、「令目見耳聞」。不論如何,就是天與人用最尊重的表達,讓大家提起了人人懂得知道,要如何將法再傳下去,要尊重法,法來人間是很不容易,人人應該要尊重法。所以,這就是眼見耳聞,用這樣這麼尊重,讓那些不尊重的人看到,也要起尊重心,這叫做典範,這叫做身教。用身體(力行)來教育凡夫,用這個禮節來傳道的精神,這叫做禮教,也是身教。就是這樣,道才有辦法永遠傳留下去。
 
這也叫做四悉檀(益)。也就是,世界悉檀、為人悉檀、對治悉檀、第一義悉檀。這前面說過了,為了世界,佛法要流傳,所以我們要用很尊重的心。為人間,佛法要永住人間,所以就需要有這樣的禮節。眾生煩惱無明惑重,需要佛法,法藥來治療,所以貪、瞋、癡、慢、疑,這種煩惱必定要有法來對治。所以,為人間,為天人,人天,三界之內,佛陀要轉大法輪,斷生死究竟的大道理。所以因為這樣,他們天人這樣經過了,五百萬億(諸國土),遙遠的地方,這樣集中來請法。
 
這是我們要很尊重,對法很尊重,雖然法有重重複複,用意就是要一次再一次,讓大家清楚瞭解。經,不只是在經文裡,道理是歷古至今不變,而且時代在變,法是應世良藥。現在的社會是這樣,要將佛法的精神要很透徹瞭解,來看現代的人生,要用什麼藥,才能守住道、理,能維持人間的人倫道德。這就是經歷千古而不變的道理,所以我們不要嫌麻煩,還是要不斷用心聽法,看現在的人間的生態,這樣去體會。
 
再接下來又一段(經)文再說,「又諸比丘!東南方五百萬億國土諸大梵王,各自見宮殿光明照曜,昔所未有。歡喜踊躍,生希有心,即各相詣共議此事。」
 
又諸比丘
東南方五百萬億
國土諸大梵王
各自見宮殿
光明照曜
昔所未有
歡喜踊躍生希有心
即各相詣共議此事
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
釋迦牟尼佛,再向在法華會上的比丘,再提醒大家。又是在大通智勝佛的時代,除了東方的人向西來找,在東南方也一樣,又有五百萬億國土,諸梵天王也是同樣,同樣各自見宮殿光明照耀,同樣大家歡喜踴躍,同樣就是生稀有心,同樣大家共議此事。
 
我們前面說的,只是單獨一個正東方,現在是東南方的梵天(王),他們也看到了,看到光,同樣共議,到底這個光從哪裡來?大家知道了,這道光是由西(北)向東南來,所以同樣宮殿都隨光照耀,這件事大家來議論,到底從哪裡來?這與前面說的一樣。「如前當有諸梵各作念等」。大家的心念同樣,共同還是「與宮殿俱」,大家從東南方,向西(北)方來了,同樣儀式、儀規都一樣,也是要來請佛轉法輪。
 
總而言之,學佛,總是要不斷地用心。我們若不斷用心,一句,一個很簡單,都有它的儀規,這禮節、儀規也有很深的道理,雖然看來這麼簡單。就如我們人間,要維持一個家庭的和睦,也要有這樣的禮節、儀規;家庭若沒有禮節、儀規,就對長輩再長輩,一輩對一輩愈來愈不尊重。
 
對老人,覺得是在家裡,佔空間的人,都沒想到這個家庭,是如何讓我們穩定下來的,這個家庭是如何讓我們享受的,都會容易忘恩,起了那種厭倦的心,對待父母就是會有厭倦,覺得多了父母,我不方便多了,我還要回去準備給老的吃三餐。這是現在的人。
 
能夠這樣嗎?這叫做逆理、逆倫。這種逆理、逆倫,就是不按照儀規。所以我們聽法要好好用心,時時要照天理,就軌道,菩提大覺道就是,我們人生最光明、最究竟的道理,所以要請大家要時時多用心啊!


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: The Buddhas’ Demeanor in Accepting a Request (諸佛受請之儀)
Date: February.01. 2017
 
“Silent consent is all Buddhas’ demeanor in accepting a request. The Dharma is like this, as it follows the ways of previous Buddhas. Heavenly beings respect, long for and admire Him. They are different from unenlightened beings. Non-Buddhist practitioners were enabled to see and hear it so that the Path would exist.”
 
While this sounds very profound, in fact it is only a rule, a practice of propriety. We often read in the sutras that when heavenly beings or humans came to ask the Buddha for teachings, the Buddha would always give silent consent. We often see this in the sutras. This is the demeanor of all Buddhas in accepting a request. If a request were made of the Buddha and He responded by saying “Stop, stop,” that meant it was not possible yet, that the causes and conditions were not ripe. This is the demeanor of all Buddhas in responding to a request. It is a matter of propriety, a rule [of His]. “The Dharma is like this.” This is the way it is. “It follows the ways of previous Buddhas.” This is a matter of propriety.
 
So, we must know that propriety is very important, especially for Buddhist practitioners. We must accept the teachings and transmit the Path. If we accept the teachings without transmitting the Path, or transmit the Path without accepting teachings, we are disrupting the order. So, we must do things in an orderly manner. In this world, all organizations must do the same. Whatever it is that we want to do, we need to have an order and rules. This is the same principle. Since ancient times this kind of order and rules has been needed.
 
Otherwise, as is the case now, living in the era of Dharma-degeneration, people already no longer obey the rules and the concepts of ethics and morality have disappeared from their thoughts. As for today’s society, just look at society today; the rules have truly become mixed up. In households in the past, whether there were five generations under one roof or four generations or three, there was a sense of order based on generation. Each subsequent generation respected the previous. In this way, they respected the elderly and practiced filial piety. Now, it is no longer like this. “You are old; you have retired. Do not interfere in young people’s affairs. You must respect us young people and our opinion.” Nowadays we often hear people say things like this.
 
In society, we also hear people say that we are increasingly an aging society, and as there are more elderly, it becomes a problem. When I hear that people see the elderly as a problem for society, I feel very sad. Are we supposed to care for the elderly, or treat them as a problem in our society? I also feel that in today’s world, the population is increasing. It is inevitable that the human lifespan, as medical science advances, will grow longer and longer, because everyone is physically healthy. This is actually a good thing. Elderly people are healthy, climbing in age. Climbing in age means people are living longer, becoming more elderly. Of course, thinking back to the past, if we heard someone was in their 60s, we would have thought they were old. 70 years old? That was such an advanced age! But nowadays, someone in their 60s is still young. When I see someone in their 60s, I think they look about the same as their child. When a mother and daughter come before me, sometimes I will mistake the daughter for the mother’s older sister. Because the mother is in her 40s and 50s, has makeup on and is dressed the same, she may seem younger than her daughter.
 
In short, we may wonder how people have come to be this way. Before, if someone was in their 40s or 50s, they would not dare to wear red clothing or clothing with prints or patterns. “You are so old. How can you wear prints like that? You are in your 40s or 50s.” Nowadays, people dress more simply, but the clothing has become more revealing. So, they look like they are still young; they refuse to accept their age. But there is one sign of aging they must accept, memory loss or Alzheimer’s. Now, when people are in their 60s, they begin to forget this and that. Gradually, they may also develop depression. Depression and Alzheimer’s are the actual “aging population problem.”
 
Why does this happen? Physically, they look very strong and healthy, yet they may be depressed. With many afflictions, memory loss is natural. Depression goes hand-in-hand with memory loss. These are problems of the mind. Why do these ailments appearing the mind? Why do their brains forget what just happened yet remember everything from the past?
 
This is backwards. These are the kinds of problems we see more often nowadays. Why is this? Because we have lost the moral principles of the family. So, the elderly become anxious. When they are left alone or when they do not feel respected and so on, this creates a state of mind that easily becomes unbalanced. We must abide by ethics and moral principles and have the spirit of transmitting the Path. By observing the proper etiquette, even if five, four or three generations live together, each generation will set an example for the next. When the elderly are respected and treated with propriety, in a society with this kind of propriety, what problem is there for the aging population? In the past, if an elderly person was living with three or four generations under one roof, [we would say,] “You are so blessed! You have wealth, children and a long life. Happiness, prosperity and longevity are yours!” It was a thing to be proud of.
 
Now the elderly live alone; this is very typical. We ask, “Do you have children? Oh, don’t mention my children. How many do you have?”
“Don’t bother counting.” Indeed, in our society, this has become the norm. But, when it comes to the life of the elderly, everyone treats it as an aging population problem. Every family should treat their parents as their treasure. We should be filial to them. These are the family morals we teach. If we can do this, how would there be any problem for our society? All would have happiness, prosperity and longevity. This would be praiseworthy.
 
But, this is already impossible in today’s society. Everyone is very talented and has received a high level of education; after they graduate, everyone must find a job. By going to work, they bring ever greater benefits to society. As the society develops more, the young people in the family become very busy. They either go to school or go to work, while the elderly stay at home bored. When they are always bored at home, how can their minds not give rise to anxiety? How can their minds not develop depression? The aging population problem lies here.
 
Why do the elderly remain in the villages? Why don’t they follow their children [to the city] as they get old? “It would be like locking them in a cage. They wouldn’t talk to anyone. At the village, they have their old friends. They can breathe the fresh air. They can come and go freely. So, naturally, they stay in the countryside.” But no matter how good the village environment, their hearts feel empty. This is a vicious cycle. When it comes to geriatrics and the aging population problem, by this time we can see there are many layers of problems.
 
When we see a group of elderly people doing recycling, when we hear them talk, there is so much wisdom. Yesterday, I saw one of our recycling volunteers who is in her 80s. Every day she is happy; she is always at the recycling station. Someone asked her, “Why work so hard like this? Being able to do this is a blessing!” “What are you doing all this for?” “I’m doing this for Tzu Chi. Tzu Chi can saves people’s lives.” The same person then asked, “Doesn’t Tzu Chi already have a lot of money? You still do this to give money to Tzu Chi?” She said, “Think about it. Master wants to save lives. We have to regularly save up some money. Sometimes saving people in foreign countries costs a lot of money. Whatever there are disasters in Taiwan, she will save them too. This all requires regularly saving money. As people say, ‘When it is sunny, save up provisions for a rainy day.” “Don’t people say Tzu Chi has a lot of land?” She answered, “That’s right. Without the land, how would we have space to do recycling work?”
 
Hearing about this yesterday made me feel so happy inside. I wish I could tell her directly, “You are very wise!” I wish I could give her a pat on the back. Truly, look at how pure and innocent she is. It is this simple.
 
The ancients indeed said, “When it is sunny, save up provisions for a rainy day.” This is a rule; this is something to follow. We do not spend money carelessly just because we have it. People used to say, “This is a lot of spending. A lot of spending.” Now we know they mean spending money. In Taiwanese we would say “paying money,” while now in Mandarin we say “spending money.” In Taiwanese now we also say “spending” money. This is how it is.
 
So, we can say that people nowadays not living according to the rules creates many problem. The principles of the Buddha-Dharma must be [taught] according to the rules. This type of “silent consent” is a response to requests for teachings or requests for the Buddha to [accept] offerings. If the Buddha gives silent consent, it means that He agrees. This is His demeanor in accepting a request.
 
So, “The Dharma is like this, as it follows the ways of previous Buddhas.” This is how the Dharma is spread. It follows a type of etiquette, which is considered a rule. “Heavenly beings respect, long for and admire Him. They are different from unenlightened beings.” Heavenly begins respect these rules of etiquette. So, they came from the Brahma heavens, scattering flowers as offerings to the Buddha and offering up their palaces. This showed their utmost sincerity. This shows that heavenly beings understand how hard it is to encounter a Buddha. It take a long time for a Buddha to appear. It is not easy to be present when the Buddha turns the Dharma-wheel. This is the etiquette heavenly beings follow to show respect for the Buddha. They are different from unenlightened beings. When the Buddha appeared in this world, there were those who did not respect the Buddha. There are also many stories of people who tried to harm the Buddha.
 
This is how unenlightened beings are Unenlightened beings live in this evil world of Five Turbidities. The Buddha came to this world of endurance, this place where the Five Destinies coexist. Unenlightened beings turn against the path of the Enlightened One. As they disrupt the world, the Buddha came to this world to teach the Dharma, to help these disruptive unenlightened beings find the right path and walk toward the path to enlightenment.
 
Inevitably, unenlightened beings who go against the Path will set up all kinds nets of afflictions and ignorance, ensnaring many people so they cannot be liberated. Thus, heavenly beings had to have engaged in spiritual practice to be born in the heaven realm. Not only did they cultivate blessings, they practiced the precepts. Take those in the Brahma heavens for example. They can enjoy “form,” enjoy material things, but their minds remain pure, and they still diligently seek the Dharma. Though their purifying practice has brought them to the state of the Four Dhyanas, they have not yet realized how to end the cycle of birth and death. How do they end their cyclic existence? If their mind is contaminated again and they give rise to a thought of ignorance, the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence will begin again, and they will remain entangled [in the net]. They still have love, hate, passion and animosity, and when they are defiled by an ignorant thought, the net of ignorance will again open, and they will be ensnared by their own ignorance. They are still unable to escape cyclic existence.
 
In the Brahma heavens, they know that when it comes to the true principles of ending cyclic existence, they have not yet truly made the breakthrough to experience it for themselves. So, it is rare to encounter a Buddha in this world and even more difficult to encounter the turning of the Great Dharma-wheel. Thus, with a mind of utmost reverence, they came from the east to the west to search for this light of true principles. Coming in this way, heavenly beings show their respect and admiration for the Buddha; this is different from unenlightened beings.
 
“Non-Buddhist practitioners were enabled to see and hear it so that the Path would exist.” The Buddha attained Buddhahood in this world. Though these unenlightened beings had gone astray in their spiritual practice, going against the Path, the Buddha still came to this world, appearing in the human realm to teach the Dharma. Even non-Buddhist practitioners would still have the opportunity to encounter the Buddha-Dharma.
 
When the Buddha was in this world, there was a group of non-Buddhist practitioners who tried to think of everything they could to break up the Buddha’s Sangha and disrupt His teaching of the true principles. They got together to think on this. After a while, one of them said, “Why not find a butcher, someone who kills pigs and living things, and tell him to ask the Buddha to accept his offerings.” They actually found a well-known butcher; killing pigs and so on, all kinds of living beings, was the profession he specialized in. When he heard their request, he thought, “These people have so much respect for the Buddha that they asked me to make offerings to Him. This creates merits, so I should do it. If I have a chance to make an offering to the Buddha, that is my blessing. But I am a butcher.”
 
However, these non-Buddhist practitioners continued to encourage him, so he went before the Buddha. These non-Buddhist practitioners also came to see how the Buddha would respond to this butcher. Would He accept the request or refuse this butcher who killed for a living? They all followed him. The butcher came before the Buddha and respectfully prostrated to him. With a reverent mind, he put his palms together and faced the Buddha. He openly said, “Venerable Buddha, I am a butcher in this village. My occupation is one of killing living beings. Though this is my occupation, Venerable Buddha, I also greatly admire You. I hope You will accept my invitation to come to my home to accept my offerings. But, I do not know if you will reject me. Since the work I do is so terrible, I do not know if you will turn me away.”
 
The Buddha replied, “Everything follows the law of karma. When evil karma has matured, naturally you will fall into a lower realm. When you have enough good karma and blessings, naturally you will encounter the causes and conditions to attain deliverance.” The Buddha responded to him in this way. Then, the Buddha reminded him again, “If there are good deeds to be done, you must quickly seize the opportunity. Evil and good deeds are each separate. When evil karmic effects mature, naturally you will fall into a lower realm. With good karma, when blessed retributions come, you must quickly seize them and take action.”
 
After giving this response, the Buddha expressed His acceptance and told him to quickly go back to prepare his offering to the Sangha and the Buddha. The butcher was very happy, and he went back to make preparations.
 
Meanwhile the non-Buddhist practitioners, upon hearing this, opened their minds and understood. The Buddha’s reply was perfect. “Each faces their own karmic retributions. If you have committed evil in the past, when the negative retribution matures, you will fall into the lower realms. If you have positive causes and conditions, you must quickly seize the chance to do good deeds. Go home and prepare, I will accept your offerings.” There was no fault to find in this.
 
So, these non-Buddhist practitioners greatly admired Him. They could not help but come before the Buddha at the same time to pay respect and ask to take refuge with Him to become His disciples. So, when non-Buddhist practitioners see and hear the teachings, the Path will [continue to] exist. The Path will naturally be passed on.
 
Therefore, we should always be mindful. In listening to and spreading the Dharma, there are rules and propriety; we must always spread the Dharma in this way. We must do the same with the moral principles of the family. Otherwise, if the Dharma is shared improperly or is not shared, this world will be in chaos.
 
So, the previous sutra passage says, “At that time, all the Brahma kings, having extolled the Buddha in verse, each spoke these words, We only pray that the World-Honored One will turn the Dharma-wheel and deliver and liberate sentient beings by opening the path to Nirvana.’
 
They asked Him to immediately open a path to Nirvana. All Brahma kings greatly respected the Buddha. The extolled the Buddha and praised Him again in verses, hoping that all would take the Dharma to heart and that those in future generations would earnestly listen to and respect the Dharma; they must respect the Dharma.
 
So, “Then the Brahma kings, with one mind and one voice, spoke in verse.” They began to speak these verses. “Hero of the World, Two-footed Honored One, we only pray you will expound the Dharma and use Your power of great compassion to deliver suffering, afflicted sentient beings.
 
This was the previous sutra passage. The next sutra passage states, “At that time, Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Tathagata silently consented.”
 
Those Brahma kings had this kind of respect. They reverently ad sincerely requested the Dharma. This was so that they themselves could more thoroughly understand the path to ending cyclic existence. It was also to request the Dharma on behalf of all sentient beings, in the hope that everyone can eliminate ignorance and follow the Dharma and the Path. This was the mindset of the Brahma kings. They asked the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel.
 
The Buddha silently consented in this way. He agreed to turn the Great Dharma-wheel. This Great Dharma-wheel was different from the teachings He usually gave. He was going to teach the Lotus Sutra. The 16 princes had asked the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel. Then following the light, heavenly beings also came and requested the Dharma. So, the Buddha’s remaining silent meant He agreed to the request of the 16 princes. This “silence” meant He will speak, but He was still waiting. He was waiting for the heavenly beings to all arrive, for only heavenly beings from the east had arrived. So, He “silently consented.” This is “a Buddha’s sign indicating consent.” This means that He agreed “Alright, please wait another moment because those from other directions are not here yet.”
 
So, “[This sign] could appear in different ways. Sometimes He nodded His head;” this is showing consent with His body. Sometimes He was silent. This is silent consent. Or He might have nodded His head, like the way we say “Ok.” Although He did not make a sound, He nodded His head, this is using the body His action signaled He was not opposed; He nodded His head
 
“Or, He might say, I will speak for you.” “Very well, I will tell you.” This is “consent through words.” Today He just remained silent; which shows consent in His mind.
 
Or, He might say, “I will speak for you.” This is consent through words. Today He just remained silent, which shows consent in His mind. Or, He might say, “Stop, stop.” This shows He did not consent.
 
He could indicate agreement to teach the Dharma in these different ways. He had already agreed in His mind. So, He remained silent and did not respond because He already consented in His mind. Sometimes He will speak. For example, when the butcher came to make a request of the Buddha, He said, “If blessings come, quickly seize the opportunity. Go back quickly to prepare;” this was with words. Or He could use movement of the body. He could assent by nodding His head. These are all ways to show His consent to teach the Dharma. Or He could say, “Stop, stop.” When Sariptura requested the Dharma, the Buddha said to him, “Stop, stop! There is no need to speak further,” “Enough, your respect is not yet what is must be. Sentient beings’ capabilities are not yet even. Your request for the Dharma is not very reverent.” So He said, “Stop, stop, stop.” Three times He was asked, three times He refused. This was when Sakyamuni Buddha was in the world and just beginning to teach the Lotus Sutra. [Sariputra] requested, and the Buddha refused. Everyone should still remember this.
 
So, here His “silent consent” means All Buddhas’ demeanor in accepting a request is silent consent. The Dharma is like this; there are four reasons. It follows the ways of previous Buddhas. It enables heavenly beings and humans to give rise to respect, longing and admiration. It is different from what unenlightened beings and non-Buddhist practitioners do, and it enables them to see and hear so the Path will exist. These are the benefits of the Four Siddhantas.
 
These are four reasons. First, “it follows the ways of previous Buddhas.” These are the rules; the rules are like this. Second, “It enables heavenly beings and humans to give rise to respect, longing and admiration.” He hopes that everyone will give rise to respect. Not just humans, but heavenly beings too must express their respect for the Buddha. So, everyone had to clearly understand that previously, the 16 princes had already requested the Dharma and the turning of the Dharma-wheel. Those heavenly beings in Brahma Heaven also understood that the Buddha would turn the Great Dharma-wheel. But they still followed etiquette and came before the Buddha to request that He turn the Dharma-wheel. This is to show the heavenly beings’ respect and longing.
 
It was not just the Brahma kings of the east who came to make this request. Behind them were still many others who would also come to request that the Buddha turn the Dharma-wheel. This showed heavenly beings’ respect and longing.
 
Third, “This is different from what unenlightened beings and non-Buddhist practitioners do.” In this world, regarding the Buddha-Dharma, there are many more who do not respect it that those who do. They are unenlightened beings; they do not respect the Dharma in this world.
 
Fourth, “It enables them to see and hear.” No matter what, heavenly beings and humans express their utmost respect to help everyone understand how to spread the Dharma. We must respect the Dharma. It is not easy for the Dharma to appear in this world. Everyone should respect the Dharma. So, this is how it can be seen and heard. By showing such deep respect, even those who do not respect the Dharma will give rise to a sense of respect. This is being a role model. This is teaching through actions. Through their actions they teach ordinary people. With etiquette they manifest the spirit of transmitting the Path. These are teachings of etiquette, a way of teaching by example.
 
It is in this way that the Path can continue to be passed down. These are also known as the Four Siddhantas. They are the world life siddhanta, the individual siddhanta, the curative siddhanta, and the supreme meaning siddhanta. We have spoken of them previously. For the sake of the world, the Buddha-Dharma must be shared widely. Thus, we must have great respect so that the Buddha-Dharma will remain forever. We must practice this kind of etiquette. Sentient beings’ afflictions, ignorance and delusion are very severe. They need the Buddha-Dharma, the Buddha-medicine, to cure them. Greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance, doubt, these afflictions, must be treated with the Dharma.
 
So, for the sake of the world and heavenly beings, human, heavenly beings, all in the Three Realms, the Buddha will turn the Great Dharma-wheel to expound the ultimate, great principles for ending cyclic existence. For this reason, heavenly beings passed through 500 trillion lands, coming from far away, to gather together to request the Dharma. This means we must have great respect, great respect for the Dharma. Though the Dharma is repeated many times, it is explained over and over so that everyone can understand clearly. The sutras are not just what is written in text; the principles remain unchanged from ancient times till today. Moreover, as times change, the Dharma is the medicine that the world needs. With society the way it is now, we must use the spirit of the Buddha-Dharma to thoroughly understand and observe the way modern people live. What medicine can we apply to safeguard the Path and the principles and preserve the ethics for living in this world? These principles have remained unchanged since ancient times. So, we must not treat this as an inconvenience; we must continue to mindfully listen to the Dharma and observe the ways people live in this world so that we may comprehend.
 
The next sutra passage states, “Moreover, bhiksus, in the 500 trillion lands to the southeast, all the great Brahma kings each saw their palaces illuminated by a great radiance, which had never happened before. They jumped with joy and gave rise to a rare and precious aspiration, then immediately went to visit one another to discuss this matter.
 
Sakyamui Buddha again reminded the bhiksus at the Lotus Assembly, again reminded everyone, that in the era of Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior, in addition to those who came west from the east, similarly in the southeast, there were also 500 trillion lands in which Brahma kings likewise saw their own palaces illuminated, likewise jumped with joy, likewise gave rise to a rare and precious aspiration and likewise discussed this matter together.
 
Previously, we only talked about the east. Now, we are talking about the Brahma kings of the southeast. They also saw this light and discussed it together. Where was this light coming from? Everyone knew that the light was shining from the northwest to the southeast. Their palaces were similarly illuminated by a great radiance. Everyone discussed this matter together. Where was this light coming from?
 
This is the same as what we said previously. “Each of the Brahma kings had this thought.” Everyone had the same thought. Altogether, “with their palaces,” those in the southeast traveled toward the northwest. They followed the same etiquette and rules and also asked the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel.
 
In conclusion, in learning the Buddha’s Way, we must always be mindful. If we are always mindful, even a single phrase, a simple [teaching], contains its own etiquette. There are profound principles behind these rules. They may appear simple, just like how in this world, in order to maintain harmony in the family, there must also be propriety and etiquette. If the family has no propriety and etiquette, then their [attitude] toward the elderly will become more disrespectful with each successive generation. Then they will feel that the elderly are simply taking up space at home. They will not consider how the family they created brought stability and allowed us to enjoy a comfortable life. They easily forget [the elderly’s] grace and give rise to feelings of loathing. The way they treat them reflect their annoyance. They feel, “With my parents here, it is a great inconvenience. I have to go home and prepare their meals.” This is how people feel nowadays. Should they be like this? This goes against principles and morals. When we go against principles and morals, we are not following rules of etiquette. So, we must earnestly listen to the Dharma, constantly follow the principles and stay on the right path. The great Bodhi-path to enlightenment is the brightest, most ultimate principles in life. So everyone, please always be mindful.
 

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