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 20170206《靜思妙蓮華》四弘誓願度脫眾生 (第1017集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)

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發表主題: 20170206《靜思妙蓮華》四弘誓願度脫眾生 (第1017集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)   周一 2月 06, 2017 7:00 am

20170206《靜思妙蓮華》四弘誓願度脫眾生 (第1017集)
(法華經•化城喻品第七)

 
佛初欲出家時發四弘誓願:願濟眾生困厄,願除眾生惑障,願斷眾生邪見,願度眾生苦輪。
過千萬億土,尋光共推之,多是佛出世,度脫苦眾生。爾時,五百萬億諸梵天王,與宮殿俱,各以衣祴盛諸天華,共詣西北方,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
及見十六王子請佛轉法輪。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
往昔三千塵點劫有大通智勝佛,其佛未出家時,有十六王子。大通智勝佛成道後,十六王子皆出家為沙彌,從佛聞三乘教,初發大乘心,更請說大乘之妙法,聞佛說法華經。
佛於八千劫說法華經,即入靜室,八萬四千劫間寂然入定。此時十六王子各上法座,八萬四千劫間為四部眾複講法華經。今已各成佛,為八方之如來。
時諸梵天王頭面禮佛,繞百千匝諸梵見佛,致敬旋繞。《法華經化城喻品第七
所散之華如須彌山,並以供養佛菩提樹。華供養已,各以宮殿奉上彼佛。《法華經化城喻品第七
所散之華如須彌山,並以供養佛菩提樹所散之華如須彌山,積聚多也。以樹供佛,表覺支林。
華供養已各以宮殿奉上彼佛:捨所乘來天寶宮殿,以奉世尊,行大施。
而作是言:惟見哀愍,饒益我等,所獻宮殿,願垂納受!爾時,諸梵天王即於佛前一心同聲,以偈頌曰。《法華經化城喻品第七
而作是言,惟見哀愍饒益我等:願佛見我,生慈憫心,以功德利饒益於我。
所獻宮殿,願垂納受:如我等獻天寶宮殿,願佛慈悲,特垂納受。
 
【證嚴上人開示】

「佛初欲出家時發四弘誓願:願濟眾生困厄,願除眾生惑障,願斷眾生邪見,願度眾生苦輪。」
 
佛初欲出家時
發四弘誓願:
願濟眾生困厄
願除眾生惑障
願斷眾生邪見
願度眾生苦輪
 
就知道,佛陀大慈悲,不忍眾生苦,為眾生出家,也是為眾生修行。我們應該要很清楚,佛陀來人間,只不過示相,就是表示來到人間,要不然,佛陀無始以來,塵點劫以前,就已經不斷在修行,不斷覺悟,不斷在人間度眾生。
 
這一次,二千多年前,出生在迦毘羅衛國的,釋迦牟尼佛,他初開始要發出家的心願,是因為看到眾生種種的苦相,尤其是眾生心靈的無明煩惱多,又是在那個時代,宗教很複雜,到底什麼才是真正的覺道?沒有人能清楚。所以佛陀就以出家開始,修行,成佛,到了最後示涅槃的境界等等,就是要讓大家知道,佛是在人間成。這是佛陀示相,展示了這種形相,來人間出家,這叫做示相出家。
 
示相來人間,開始他從小對人生的看法,就與一般人不同了,他很喜歡探究人生,雖然在皇宮,享受了種種人間的欲樂,卻是他所探討的是苦,人生為什麼這麼多苦呢?生老病死苦、愛別離苦、怨憎會苦、求不得苦,人生還有身體,種種身心煩惱的苦,這等等。他就開始思考,四姓階級為什麼差那麼多?同樣是人,為什麼啊?有很多為什麼。
 
所以他想要去探討,所以他發四弘誓願,希望能真正解開眾生的迷惑。到底人生為什麼這麼多苦呢?眾生,為什麼這麼多種的宗教,這麼的不和協,到底真正的道路是什麼路呢?希望讓人人能清楚,人生歸屬的真理道路,所以希望能夠斷除眾生的邪見。
 
眾生總是從出生,一直都是在迷惑、障礙,有四姓的階級,就是迷惑的障礙。同樣的人,為什麼就要這樣這樣的分別呢?為什麼叫做貴族?為什麼叫做賤族?為什麼賤族所走過的路,貴族就不去踏那個走過的路?對賤民的排斥,將他的名稱叫做賤民,其實也是人啊!為什麼叫做貴族,天生下來他就叫做貴族,為什麼呢?同樣有生、老、病、死,同樣有追求的煩惱無明種種,同樣有苦,為什麼叫做貴族?人死之後,同樣是一堆白骨,死後到成為白骨的這個過程,身體爛、臭等等,豈不是同樣身體?為什麼就要這樣分別?
 
所以,眾生困厄,受到這些無明邪見等等,這樣困擾著,所以使得眾生不分貴賤都是苦,所以他發四弘誓願,「願濟眾生困厄」。眾生被困住了,無法跳脫了這種四姓階級,無法解開了生老病死,無法解開了這些欲念種種煩惱,無法突破了邪見,找出一條正確的道路,所以他誓願,已經立誓了,絕對要去追求真理,所以他(發)四弘誓願。
 
大家應該瞭解了。「眾生無邊誓願度」,那就是,眾生無邊,哪怕普天之下,這麼大的世界,人人都是沒有脫離這種,被困惑的災難,所以「眾生無邊誓願度」。
 
再者,「願除眾生惑障」,四弘誓願就是說,「煩惱無盡誓願斷」。我們要去度眾生,解開眾生的困厄,自己就要先解開、突破。自己若沒有解開、突破,我們同樣也是被困擾,被困在這人間,在階級之中,所以煩惱無明,還是被圍住,所以自己要首先突破,才有辦法度眾生。所以「煩惱無盡誓願斷」,為了要度眾生,自己也要表達出,這些煩惱都去除了,我自己去除煩惱,才有辦法教導眾生去除煩惱。
 
什麼方法能去除煩惱呢?那就是要「法門無量誓願學」。因為印度宗教很多,無法各種各種的宗教,歸於一個很清楚的覺道,所以希望人人有一條正確的道路,所以「願斷眾生邪見」,因此我們必定要先,法門無量要誓願學。真正的,開闊的道理,我們要很用心去探討、去體會,將各種各種的宗教,我們瞭解之後,選擇的是一條正確的道路,那就是覺悟的道路,那就是菩提道。所以說「願斷眾生邪見」,我們自己要「法門無量誓願學」,我們就要好好用心探討。
 
「願度眾生苦輪」。這苦輪,六道輪迴,眾生都是由不得自己,隨業牽引著在六道,或者是五道,四生這樣在輪轉。佛陀就是為了要度盡一切眾生,脫離這樣的苦輪,五道四生輪迴的苦輪。
 
這是佛要成佛之前,他下定決心,我絕對要做到。發這念心,這叫做「四弘誓願」,這個願是很大啊!盡虛空,遍法界,這叫做弘願,宏大的願力,他就是不成佛絕對不罷休。所以,這是四弘誓願。
 
我們每一個人修行都要立志,要有這分宏願,絕對不是為了自己。所以,我們辭親割愛,我們就是要為天下眾生,承擔如來家業,如來家業就是要,擔起了天下眾生的責任,這就是,乃是大丈夫。佛陀的十號之一,就是「調御丈夫」,就是大丈夫,種種的眾生類,他就能用他的真理,來降伏眾生無邊的煩惱、無明,這叫做大丈夫,也叫做「調御丈夫」,這是佛陀為眾生心願。
 
我們既是學佛,當然,我們也要學佛陀的心願,學佛陀他一念的決心,始終如一。塵點劫,無始的以前,那念心願一直到現在,示相人間,出生人間,示相成佛在人間,這是佛陀的宏願。成佛了、涅槃了,是不是結束呢?還沒。因為芸芸眾生還未度盡。從無始塵點劫,累生累世都是這樣,所以「四弘誓願」是諸佛的通願。已經說過好幾次了,每一尊佛來人間,共通的願就是「四弘誓願」。當然,還有各尊佛的別願,別願,阿彌陀佛四十八願,釋迦牟尼佛是「四弘誓願」,再加上「四無量心」,慈悲喜捨,來教導眾生。
 
所以,在無始劫以前的,大通智勝佛座下的十六王子,一直到現在,每一位王子都已經成佛,不只是已經成佛,也是同樣塵點劫以來,都在度眾生。所以說,<化城喻品>有很多,「過無量百千萬億劫」,「百千萬億土」,這種時間無量、國土無量,這就是諸佛共同的願。
 
我們看前面的經文,「過千萬億土,尋光共推之,多是佛出世,度脫苦眾生。爾時,五百萬億諸梵天王,與宮殿俱,各以衣祴盛諸天華,共詣西北方,推尋是相。」
 
過千萬億土
尋光共推之
多是佛出世
度脫苦眾生
爾時
五百萬億諸梵天王
與宮殿俱
各以衣祴盛諸天華
共詣西北方
推尋是相
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
大家還記得,哪一方的梵天王來了呢?東南方,對不對?是東南方,所以他們向西北方,推尋這道光明。因為他們已經確定了,一定是佛出世間,要轉大法輪,所以不惜辛苦,這麼遠的時間、空間,這樣來,來到佛發光的地方,那個光源,光的發源地,原來是大通智勝佛所坐的道場,在這個地方發光。
 
所以(經)文就這樣說,「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
 
東南方的梵天王到了,已經有這麼多的諸天、龍神,八部都圍繞在這個地方,這是東南方的諸梵天王,到了的時候,那個境界是那麼莊嚴啊!
 
又看到,下面的(經)文,接下來這樣說,「及見十六王子請佛轉法輪。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
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
 
除了看到諸天龍神護法,在大通智勝佛這樣圍繞著,同時也看到了,看到十六王子請佛轉法輪。這段我們要再回溯。
 
「往昔三千塵點劫,有大通智勝佛」,大通智勝佛,就是無始的無始以前,這尊佛,「其佛未出家時,有十六王子。大通智勝佛成道後」,十六王子也同時來出家了,因為還沒成年,所以稱為沙彌,十六沙彌。
 
往昔三千塵點劫
有大通智勝佛
其佛未出家時
有十六王子
大通智勝佛成道後
十六王子
皆出家為沙彌
從佛聞三乘教
初發大乘心
更請說大乘之妙法
聞佛說法華經
 
「從佛聞三乘教,初發大乘心」。這十六沙彌出家之後也就是聽,將佛陀所說的三乘的教法,有聲聞乘、緣覺乘,他們感覺到還有菩薩乘。菩薩(乘)真正的原理,道理的源頭是什麼,要如何來行菩薩道?所以十六沙彌,就要請佛說大法輪,轉大法輪,那就是大乘之妙法,就是《法華經》。
 
這十六沙彌所請法,佛陀開始說了,他們就用心聽。大通智勝佛說《法華經》,時間多久呢?八千劫啊!釋迦牟尼佛,講《法華經》是七年,但是大通智勝佛,說《法華經》是八千劫,時間之長啊!《法華經》講完之後,就是入靜室。
 
佛於八千劫
說法華經
即入靜室
八萬四千劫間
寂然入定
此時十六王子
各上法座
八萬四千劫間
為四部眾
複講法華經
今已各成佛
為八方之如來
 
開始經講完了,經過了八千劫,經講完了,開始就靜坐下來。如釋迦牟尼佛,他《無量義經》講完,就開始靜坐發光,這是娑婆世界的釋迦牟尼佛。
 
但是現在要說的經,就是在說大通智勝佛,釋迦牟尼佛來回溯,大通智勝佛的時代,八千劫講《法華經》之後,這就是入(靜)室,就是靜坐。多久的時間呢?八萬四千劫,這樣寂然入定。用這麼長的時間入定了。八萬四千劫這麼長的時間,此時就是,「十六王子(沙彌),各上法座」,這十六位王子就是這樣,各個到八方說法,各個去說法,有八萬四千劫這麼長久的時間,「為四部眾複講法華經」。四部眾就是,出家二眾、在家二眾。為四部眾來複講《法華經》。
 
現在這十六王子,現在已經各自成佛了,分成在八方,已經成佛,乘如是法而來成佛。這是十六王子從塵點劫以前,經過了這麼長的時間,聽《法華經》,又更長的時間複講《法華經》。大通智勝佛講八千劫,十六王子就要講,八萬四千劫的時間。
 
所以說來,一個法的原理出來,大通智勝佛講八千劫的時間,十六王子就用,八萬四千劫的時間,來講《法華經》。可見佛陀講七年,我們凡夫要為他解釋,解釋得讓大家聽得懂入心,要用多久的時間呢?過去塵點劫的佛是這樣,現在釋迦牟尼佛是出生於人間,人間的壽命就是短,所以用七年的時間,講《法華經》也算很長。這是佛佛道同,各人的世界,時間、距離都不一樣。
 
所以我們娑婆世界的,釋迦牟尼佛回溯過去,十六王子的時代,以及諸梵天王找光而來,其實光,光源,光源就是表達真理,真理的源頭,就是在大通智勝佛,傳真理的人,就是十六王子,從子繼父志,子斷父志,我們也是要徒繼師志,這如父如師。佛陀他就如大長者、大覺者,在<譬喻品>,我們也說得很清楚了,<信解品>也很清楚了,佛陀如父如師,這就是這樣在承傳。
 
下面的(經)文說,「時諸梵天王頭面禮佛,繞百千匝。」
 
時諸梵天王
頭面禮佛
繞百千匝
諸梵見佛
致敬旋繞
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
在那個場面,看到十六王子已經在那裡,請佛轉法輪,同時(諸)梵天王恭敬禮拜,恭敬圍繞。這是表示恭敬禮佛的儀式,前後圍繞。
 
「即以天華而散佛上」。天的花,從這樣沿路一直散花,散到道場中,還是在最高處來散花,莊嚴道場。散花供佛是表示佛的境界。真的,大家都是抱著一分,虔誠的善念,這一分善念就是引人人,起一念恭敬的善念,要來探討佛的正法,來聽聞佛的正法,這就是人人共同一心。
 
接下來經文再這樣說,「所散之華如須彌山,並以供養佛菩提樹。華供養已,各以宮殿奉上彼佛。」
 
所散之華如須彌山
並以供養
菩提樹
華供養已
各以宮殿奉上彼佛
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
與前面東方的梵天王,來的境界一樣,同樣散花如須彌山,並且供養菩提樹,來的儀式都一樣。
 
所以「積聚多」,這種花這樣散,就是表示善因、善念,就是愈積愈多。所以「以樹供佛」。
 
所散之華如須彌山
並以供養
菩提樹
所散之華如須彌山
積聚多也
以樹供佛
表覺支林
 
供養樹如供養佛一樣,因為佛是安住樹下而修行、而成道、而說法,所以,樹下是佛所依止處,所以供養樹如供養佛一樣,所以,供養佛的同時供養樹,這是表示覺支的林。瞭解之後,每一棵樹都如原理,有樹葉、樹枝、樹根、樹幹,這樣與土連接,這就是表示如覺悟的根很深。用這樣來表達。
 
「華供養已各以宮殿奉上彼佛:捨所乘來天寶宮殿,以奉世尊,行大施。」
 
華供養已
各以宮殿奉上彼佛:
捨所乘來天寶宮殿
以奉世尊
行大施
 
哪怕帶來的東西全都要供佛,這是表示心意。
 
很多人也說:「師父,我們現在也要很認真做,賺的錢就能幫助師父做好事。」說得也對,大家都這樣的心,這念心若有定,世間富有的人幫助貧困人,這不就是佛陀「教富濟貧」嗎?佛陀不斷一直講善法,行十善生天堂,教導富有的人家要好好修善,行十善法,還要持清淨戒(修定),這樣自然梵天,生在梵天。梵天宮殿莊嚴來供佛,這就是表達善的循環,這是一種描寫,一種譬喻的意,這表示「行大施」。
 
接下來的(經)文再說,「而作是言:惟見哀愍,饒益我等,所獻宮殿,願垂納受!爾時,諸梵天王即於佛前一心同聲,以偈頌曰。」
 
而作是言
惟見哀愍饒益我等
所獻宮殿
願垂納受
爾時
諸梵天王即於佛前
一心同聲以偈頌曰
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
供佛之後,大家共同一個聲音,向佛懇求,「惟見哀愍」。雖然這些都是梵天王,高高在上,來到佛前供佛,還要請法,供佛,還要請佛哀愍。為什麼要哀愍呢?因為他們梵天王生死未了,天福享盡同樣要再墮落,所以他們的志向不只是要享受,希望能斷生死。這個法要再向佛求,所以叫做(願佛)哀愍。
 
而作是言
惟見哀愍饒益我等:
願佛見我
生慈憫心
以功德利饒益於我
 
「惟見哀愍饒益我等」。饒益給我們利益,讓我們能斷生死,事理分明,煩惱盡斷,這種內心的生死觀,以及未來輪迴的生死,都一概要斷除。斷盡煩惱無明、生死的觀念,應該要瞭解通徹道理。
 
所以說「願佛見我,生慈憫心」。願佛看我們,憐憫我們,為我們開示大法,了斷生死的方法。「以功德利饒益於我」,能再告訴我們,如何內修心。內修是功,外行是德,我內心應該如何斷除,這些無明煩惱,我向外應該要再怎麼去做,這叫做功德。憐憫來教育我們,教育我們,以功德教我們如何內修,教我們如何外行,這樣給我們利益,這就是教導。
 
所以常常說,「公修公得,婆修婆得」。這樣告訴你們,你們做、你們付出,這就是你們自己的功德。這不是做給誰,物質是布施給需要的人,但是功德是自己利益,這就是聽法的利益在這裡。
 
所獻宮殿
願垂納受:
如我等獻天寶宮殿
願佛慈悲
特垂納受
 
接著「所獻宮殿,願重納受」,如我等獻宮殿,就如我們大家願意這樣的施捨,這樣的施捨,「願佛慈悲,特垂納受」,希望您從高向下,這樣來接受。
 
「爾時」,這樣說完的那個時候。梵天王接下來就是又在佛前,「一心同聲以偈頌曰」。開始再重複一次,表達他的心意已經同聲,同一念心、同一個聲音,共同再要再誦,以偈文來誦,表示他們的誠意。
 
希望我們大家真的要用心。法是無始以來,原本就是道理存在,需要有人能傳。大通智勝佛,就是表示我們人人本具所有的佛性,也就是天體宇宙間所有的真理。我不斷反覆對大家這樣說,這個真理,我們迷茫不知,所以需要有人來傳,說給我們聽。
 
就如釋迦牟尼佛,十六王子從那時候,開始就要傳法。同樣,釋迦佛或是彌陀佛等等,他們都是在無始無始以前,這個真理開始一直這樣傳下來。同樣,他們有他們內心的,真如本性,已經瞭解、覺悟了,我們有我們的真如本性,不過我們還未覺悟,所以我們要藉已覺悟的人來殷殷善誘。時間要多長?同樣要很長。
 
在這段(經)文,我們就能看出大通智勝佛,光是說一部《法華經》,就八千劫,十六沙彌複講,是八萬四千劫,這麼的長久在那個時間。何況一直到我們現在,我們到底要說多久才講得完呢?我們到底要聽多久,才能入心覺悟呢?這就要看我們自己,是不是有時時多用心。


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Make the Four Great Vows To Deliver Beings (四弘誓願度脫眾生)
Date: February.06. 2017
 
“When the Buddha first aspired to be a monastic, He made the Four Great Vows, vowing to relieve sentient beings from hardship, vowing to rid sentient beings of their obstruction of delusions, vowing to eliminate sentient beings’ deviant views and vowing to deliver sentient beings from the cycle of suffering.”
 
We know that in the Buddha’s great compassion, He could not bear to let sentient beings suffer. For sentient beings’ sake He became a monastic and for their sake engaged in spiritual practice. We should understand very clearly that the Buddha came to this world only as a manifestation, just demonstrating He had come to the human realm. As it is, the Buddha, since Beginningless Time, dust-inked kalpas ago, had already been continuously engaging in spiritual practice, attaining enlightenment and transforming sentient beings in the world.
 
This time, more than 2000 years ago, He was born in the kingdom of Kapilavastu as Sakyamuni Buddha. When He first began to form the aspiration to become a monastic, it was because He had seen sentient beings’ many states of suffering, in particular, the abundance of ignorance and afflictions in sentient beings’ minds. Furthermore, during that time, there were many different religious beliefs. Which was the true path to enlightenment? No one was sure.
 
So, the Buddha began by becoming a monastic, then engaged in spiritual practice, attained Buddhahood and in the end manifested the state of Parinirvana. This was to let everyone know that Buddhahood is attained in the human realm. This was the Buddha’s manifestation. He manifested this appearance of coming to the human realm, becoming a monastic. This is called manifesting the appearance of becoming a monastic.
 
When He manifested coming to the world, even at the beginning, in His youth, His views on life were already different from that of an ordinary person. He greatly enjoyed investigating the truth of life. Although He lived in the palace and enjoyed all kinds of worldly pleasures, what He always investigated was suffering. Why was there so much suffering in life? There is suffering from birth, aging, illness and death, parting from those we love, meeting those we hate and not getting what we want. In our life, we also have physical suffering and the suffering of afflictions in our minds, etc. He began to contemplate all of these. Why were there such differences between the four castes? They were all humans; why were there differences? He had many questions. So, He wanted to investigate. Thus, He made the Four Great Vows, hoping to truly free sentient beings from their delusion. Why is there so much suffering in life? Why were there so many religions that were in such conflict with each other? Just what was the true path to follow? He hoped for everyone to understand the path of the truths underlying life.
 
So, He hoped to eliminate sentient beings’ deviant views. Since birth, sentient beings are constantly affected by delusions and obstructions. The division of the four castes was an obstruction due to delusions. Everyone was human, so why was there this kind of discrimination? Why were some called nobles? Why were some called untouchables? Why would a road walked by untouchables never be trodden on by the noble caste? They had such aversion for the lower castes; they called them the untouchables. But they were also human! Why were some considered nobles? From the moment of birth they were called nobles. Why? They also went through birth, aging, illness and death. They also had many afflictions and ignorance due to desire. They also experienced suffering. So, why were they called nobles?
 
When people die, they all similarly become a pile of bones. In the process between death and becoming bones, everyone’s body rots and smells, so doesn’t this mean our bodies are all the same? Then why was there this is discrimination? So, sentient beings faced hardships; they were affected by ignorance and deviant views which troubled them. This meant that all sentient beings, regardless of social status, will suffer.
 
So, the Buddha made the Four Great Vows, “vowing to relieve sentient beings from hardship.” Sentient beings were trapped. They were unable to escape this caste system. They were unable to free themselves of birth, aging, illness and death. They were unable to resolve their desires and various afflictions, unable to break through their deviant views to find the right path. So, He had these vows; He had made this resolve that He absolutely would seek the true principles. Thus, He made the Four Great Vows. Everyone ought to understand. “I vow to deliver countless sentient beings.” means that there were countless sentient beings. Even though this world is so big, nobody can escape the hardship of being trapped by delusion. Thus, “I vow to deliver countless sentient beings.”
 
Next it speaks of “vowing to rid sentient beings of their obstruction of delusions.” In the Four Great Vows, it also says, “I vow to eliminate endless afflictions.” For us to transform sentient beings and relieve sentient beings from hardship, we must first free ourselves and break through [our own afflictions]. If we have not freed ourselves and broken through, we will similarly be troubled, be trapped by the world and things like the caste system. Thus, afflictions and ignorance still ensnare us, so we must first break through [our afflictions] before we are able to transform sentient beings. Hence, “I vow to eliminate endless afflictions.” In order to transform sentient beings, we ourselves need to show that our afflictions have been eliminated. Only when we eliminate our own afflictions are we able to teach sentient beings how to eliminate afflictions.
 
What methods can we use to eliminate afflictions? We must “vow to learn infinite Dharma-doors.” Because there were so many religions in India, there was no way these religions could be brought back to a clear path of enlightenment. The Buddha hoped all could walk a correct path. So, this is “vowing to eliminate sentient beings’ deviant views.” It is necessary for us to first vow to learn infinite Dharma-doors. [To find] true and expansive principles, we need to put in the effort into investigate and comprehend them. Once we understand all kinds of religions, we can choose a correct path, which is the path of enlightenment, the Bodhisattva-path. So, it talks of “vowing to eliminate sentient beings’ deviant views.” We ourselves need to “vow to learn infinite Dharma-doors.” We need to earnestly investigate them.
 
Next is “vowing to deliver sentient beings from the cycle of suffering.” In this cycle of sufferings, transmigration through the Six Realms, sentient beings cannot help themselves. They follow their karma through the Six Realms, or through the Five Realms and four kinds of birth in this kind of cycle. The Buddha wanted to save all sentient beings so they can escape this cycle of sufferings, cyclic existence in the Five Realms and four kinds of birth.
 
Before the Buddha attained Buddhahood, He formed this resolve, which is called a vow. “I must accomplish this!” Giving rise to this aspiration is called making the Four Great Vows. These vows are very great! They encompass the universe and pervade all Dharma-realms. These are the great vows; they have great power. He would not stop until He attained Buddhahood. So, these are the Four Great Vows. To engage in spiritual practice, we each must make vows; we must make these great vows. We are absolutely not doing this for ourselves. So, we leave our families and loved ones; we want to carry on the Buddha’s mission for the sake of all sentient beings. The Buddha’s mission is to take responsibility for all sentient beings. This is the work of a great person.
 
One of the ten epithets of the Buddha was “Tamer,” which refers to a great person. For every kind of sentient being, He was able to use the true principles to tame sentient beings’ countless afflictions and ignorance. This is great person, also known as a “Tamer.” This was the vow that the Buddha made for the sake of sentient beings.
 
As we are Buddhist practitioners, naturally, we must learn to emulate the Buddha’s vows. We must learn the Buddha’s determination in remaining unwavering from start to finish. From dust-inked kalpas ago, in Beginningless Time, His resolve has remained to the present, when He manifested an appearance in the world, when He was born in the world. Then He manifested attaining Buddhahood here. This was the Buddha’s great vow.
 
He attained Buddhahood and entered Par nirvana. Was this the end? Not yet, because the myriad sentient begins have not been impolitely transformed. Ever since beginningless dust-inked kalpas ago, life after life, He has been the same. So, the Four Great Vows are the shared vows of all Buddhas. I have said this many times before. When Buddhas come to the human realm They all share vows, the “Four Great Vows.”
 
Of course, each Buddha also has His specific vows. Amitabha Buddha has His 48 vows. Sakyamuni Buddha has the Four Great Vows along with the Four Infinite Minds, loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. He used these to teach and guide sentient beings. So, from before Beginningless Time, the 16 principles who studied under Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha had continued up to the present. Now the princes had all attained Buddhahood. Not only had they attained Buddhahood, but likewise for dust-inked kalpas, they had been transforming sentient beings.
 
The Chapter on the Parable of the Conjured City has so many [large numbers]. “Over countless billions and trillions of kalpas,” or “trillions of lands.” Across this countless time and countless lands, these vows are shared by all Buddhas.
 
Let us look at the previous sutra passage. “We must pass over trillions of lands to seek out this radiance and investigate together. It is most likely that a Buddha manifested in the world to deliver and liberate suffering sentient beings. At that time, these 500 trillion Brahma kings went along with their palaces. They each used their mantle to hold all kinds of celestial flowers. Together they went to the northwest to seek out this sign.
 
Does everyone still remember which direction these Brahma kings came from? From the southeast, isn’t that right? They were from the southeast. So, they went northwest to seek this ray of light. This was because they had already confirmed that it must be that a Buddha appeared in the world and was about to turn the Great Dharma-wheel. So, they did not begrudge the hardship; across such long distances of time and space, they came to the place where the Buddha was radiating light. The origin of the light turned out to be the place of enlightenment where Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha sat; He radiated light at that place.
 
So the sutra passage reads, “They saw Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Tathagata in the place of enlightenment, beneath the Bodhi-tree, sitting on the lion throne. All heavenly beings, naga kings, gandharvas, kinnaras, mahoragas, humans, non-humans and so on respectfully surrounded Him”.
 
From the southeast, the Brahma kings had arrived. Already, there were many heavenly beings, naga kings and all the other eight classes of Dharma-protectors surrounding Him at this place. These were the Brahma kings from the southeast. When they arrived, the scene was so magnificent.
 
Then in the next sutra passage it says, “And they saw the 16 princes asking the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel. Then all the Brahma Kings prostrated out of respect for the Buddha, circumambulated the Buddha thousands of times and scattered celestial flowers upon Him.
 
Other than seeing heavenly beings, naga kings and the other Dharma-protectors surrounding Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha, the Brahma kings also saw at the same time the 16 princes asking the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel. With this passage, we need to recall again. “Previously, in kalpas more numerous than the dust of the trichiliocosm, there was a Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha.” Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha is a Buddha from before Beginningless Time. “Before this Buddha became a monastic, He fathered 16 princes. After Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha attained enlightenment,” all these 16 princes also became monastics. Because they were not yet adults, they were called novices, the 16 novices.
 
Previously, in kalpas more numerous than the dust of the trichiliocosm, there was a Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha. Before this Buddha became a monastic, He fathered 16 princes. After Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha attained enlightenment, all these 16 princes left the lay life and became novices. From that Buddha, they heard the teaching of the Three Vehicles and began to form Great Vehicle aspirations. Then they further asked Him to teach the wondrous Dharma of the Great Vehicle and listened to this Buddha expound the Lotus Sutra.
 
“From that Buddha, they heard the teachings of the Three Vehicles and began to form Great Vehicle aspirations.” These 16 novices, after renouncing the lay life, also listened [to the teachings]. With the Three Vehicle the Buddha taught, along with the Hearer Vehicle and Solitary Realizer Vehicle, they felt that [most importantly] there was also the Bodhisattva Vehicle, the original principles of the Bodhisattvas. What was the origin of these principles? How could they walk the Bodhisattva-path? So, these 16 novices asked the Buddha to turn the Great Dharma-wheel, which is the wondrous Great Vehicle teachings, the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. The 16 novices asked for these teachings, so the Buddha began to teach them, and they listened mindfully. Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha expounded the Lotus Sutra. How much time did He spend? 8000 kalpas!
 
Sakyamuni Buddha expounded the Lotus Sutra for seven years. But Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha expounded the Lotus Sutra for 8000 kalpas. This was a very long time. After finishing the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, He entered His meditation room.
 
The Buddha, for 8000 kalpas, taught the Lotus Sutra, then entered His meditation room. For a period of 84,000 kalpas, He silently remained in Samadhi. During this time, the 16 princes each ascended to the Dharma-throne. For a period of 84,000 kalpas, for the fourfold assembly, they repeatedly taught the Lotus Sutra. Now, each has attained Buddhahood and are Tathagatas in the eight directions.
 
Once He had finished expounding the Dharma, after 8000 kalpas passed and He finished teaching, He began to settle His mind. This was just like Sakyamuni Buddha after He finished the Sutra of Infinite Meanings. He began to meditate and radiate light. This was the Saha World’s Sakyamuni Buddha. But now, the sutra passage is about Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha. Sakyamuni Buddha recalled back to the time of Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha. After 8000 kalpas, He finished His teachings of the Lotus Sutra and entered His meditation room to sit in meditation. For how long? For 84,000 kalpas. In this way, “He silently remained in Samadhi.” He spent such a long time in Samadhi; 84,000 kalpas is such a long time. During that time, “The 16 princes each ascended to the Dharma-throne.” These 16 princes went in eight directions to teach the Dharma; each went to expound the Dharma. This was for the long period of 84,000 kalpas. “For the fourfold assembly, they repeatedly taught the Lotus Sutra.
 
The fourfold assembly included the two groups of monastics and the two groups of lay practitioners. So, for the fourfold assembly, they again taught the Lotus Sutra. Now these 16 princes had each attained Buddhahood and, in all eight directions, had become Buddhas. They journeyed on the Dharma of Suchness to attained Buddhahood. From dust-inked kalpas ago, the 16 princes had gone through such a long period of time of listening to the Lotus Sutra. Then for an even longer time, they taught the Lotus Sutra again. Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha spoke for 8000 kalpas. The 16 princes had to speak for a timespan of 84,000 kalpas.
 
So, to express the principles of the Dharma, Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha taught for 8000 kalpas. The 16princes spent a timespan of 84,000 kalpas in teaching the Lotus Sutra. Clearly, if our Buddha it for seven years, for is ordinary beings to help Him explain in a way that everyone can understand and take it into their hearts, how long of a tome will that take? The Buddha dust-inked kalpas ago was like this. When Sakyamuni Buddha was born in this world, the human lifespan was short. He took seven years to teach the Lotus Sutra, which is still a long time. This is how all Buddhas share the same path. Every Buddha teaches in a different world, at different times and places. So, in our Saha World, Sakyamuni Buddha recalled the past, back to the time of the 16 princes and how the Brahma kings came seeking the light.
 
Actually, the source of the light represents the true principles. The source of the true principles was Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha. Those who transmitted the true principles were the 16 princes. They took their father’s mission as their own. We also must inherit the mission of our teacher. We also must inherit the mission of our teacher. The Buddha is like our father and our teacher. He is like a great elder; the Great Enlightened One is the great elder. In the Chapter on Parables, we already explained this clearly. From the Chapter on Faith and Understanding, we also clearly understood that the Buddha is like our father and teacher. So, the teachings are passed on this way.
 
The next passage states, “Then all the Brahma kings prostrated out of respect for the Buddha [and] circumambulated Him thousands of times.”
 
At the place of enlightenment, they saw that the 16 princes were already there, asking the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel. At the same time, the Brahma kings prostrated out of respect for the Buddha. They paid respect to and circumambulated Him. These are rituals of paying respect to the Buddha. They circumambulated the Buddha “and scattered celestial flowers upon Him.” They has scattered celestial flowers along the way until they reached the place of enlightenment. They scattered them from the highest places to dignify this assembly.
 
Scattering flowers as an offering to the Buddha showed [how they viewed] the state of Buddhahood; truly, everyone has such reverent and king thoughts. These kind thoughts influenced everyone to give rise to respectful, kind thoughts and delve into the Buddha’s Right Dharma, to listen to the Buddha’s Right Dharma. This was the mindset that everybody shared.
 
The next sutra passage reads, “The flowers they scattered were like Mt. Sumeru. They were used to make offerings to both the Buddha and the Bodhi-tree. Having made offerings with flowers, they each offered their palaces to that Buddha.”
 
The scene of their arrival was the same as the previously mentioned Brahma kings from the east. The scattered flowers were also like Mt. Sumeru. They also made offerings to the Bodhi-tree. The rituals that were done were the same. So, “Many were accumulated.” When flowers were scattered this way, is showed that good cause and thoughts were accumulating more and more. So, they “made offerings to the tree as if to the Buddha.”
 
The flowers they scattered were like Mt. Sumeru. They were used to make offerings to both the Buddha and the Bodhi-tree: The flowers they scattered were like Mt. Sumeru, meaning many were accumulated. They made offerings to the tree as if to the Buddha. This is the forest of branches of enlightenment.
 
They made offerings to the tree as if making offerings to the Buddha, because the Buddha was abiding under the tree when He engaged in spiritual practice, attained enlightenment and expounded the Dharma. So, under the tree was where the Buddha abided. Thus, making offerings to the tree was the same as making offerings to the Buddha. In making offerings to the Buddha, they also made offerings to the tree. This represents the forest of branches of enlightenment.
 
After one comprehends, every tree is analogous to the true principles. The tree leaves, branches, roots and trunk are all connected with the earth, representing the deep roots of enlightenment. This is a way of expression.
 
“Having made offerings with flowers, they each offered their palaces to that Buddha. This means that “They relinquished the palaces of heavenly treasures that they journeyed on to offer them to the World-Honored One. This is their practice of great giving.
 
Every one of the things they brought with them were all offered to the Buddha to represent their sincerity. Many people tell me, “Master, right now, I am working very earnestly. The money I earn can help Master accomplish more good deeds.” This is also true. Everyone has such aspirations. If this aspiration is firm, wealthy people will help the poor in this world. Wasn’t this the Buddha’s idea of “Teaching the rich to help the poor?” The Buddha constantly taught about good deeds, how practicing the Ten Good Deeds will lead one to be reborn in heaven. The Buddha taught the wealthy to earnestly cultivate goodness, practice the Ten Good Deeds and uphold pure precepts. In this way, they would naturally be born in the Brahma heavens. Their dignified Brahma palaces could then be offered to the Buddha. This describes a cycle of goodness. This is a description, an analogy; it represents the “practice of great giving.”
 
The next sutra passage then reads, “They said these words, ‘Please look upon us with mercy and benefit all of us. As for the palaces that we offer, may You honor us by taking them.’ At that time, all the Brahma kings in the presence of the Buddha, with one mind and in one voice, spoke in verse.
 
After making offerings to the Buddha, all of them spoke in one voice to ask of the Buddha, “Please look upon us with mercy.” Though they were all Brahma kings, high above all others, they came before the Buddha to pay respects as well as request the Dharma. They make offerings to the Buddha and also asked the Buddha for His mercy.
 
Why did they need His mercy? Because these Brahma kings were still in cyclic existence. Once they depleted their heavenly blessings, they would once again fall [into lower realms]. So, their aspirations were not to seek pleasure; they hoped to end cyclic existence. They had to ask the Buddha for this Dharma. So, they asked the Buddha for mercy.
 
They said these words, “Please look upon us with mercy and benefit all of us”: We pray the Buddha looks on us and gives rise to compassion and benefits us with merits and virtues.
 
“Please look upon us with mercy and benefit all of us.” To benefit all of us is to help us to en end cyclic existence, understand the principles of matters and eliminate afflictions. The thoughts of samsara in our minds and all our future rebirths in cyclic existence must all be eliminated; we must eradicate afflictions and ignorance, the thoughts of samsara. Thus, we must thoroughly understand the principles. So it says, “We pray the Buddha looks on us and gives rise to compassion.” They hoped for the Buddha to look upon them, have mercy on them and teach them the Great Dharma, which is the method to end cyclic existence. “And benefit us with merits and virtues” means they hoped He could tell them how to practice inner cultivation.
 
Inner cultivation creates merits; external practice creates virtues. In our minds, how do we eliminate ignorance and afflictions? Outwardly, what should we do to create merits and virtues? They hoped He would have mercy and teach them, teach them with His merits and virtues how they should engage in inner cultivation, how they should engage in external practice. They hoped He would benefit them in this way. This is how He teaches.
 
So, it is often said, “If the husband practices, he attains. If the wife practices, she attains.” This is to tell everyone that if you do [good deeds] and give to help others, you create your own merits and virtues. We cannot create them for someone else. Material goods are given to those in need, but the merits and virtue only benefit us. This is the benefit of listening to the Dharma.
 
“As for the palaces that we offer, may You honor us by taking them.” As for the palaces of heavenly treasures that they all offer is like how all of us are willing to donate. With this kind of giving, “ [They] hope the Buddha has compassion and especially honors [them] by accepting them.” They hope that He, from high up, could accept this. “At that time,” after they had said this, the Brahma kings, in front of the Buddha, “with one mind and in one voice, spoke in verse.” They began to repeat themselves another time to show that their minds and voice were united. With one mind and one voice, they all wanted to chant in verse together to show their sincerity. I hope that we all are truly being mindful.
 
The Dharma has been here from Beginningless time; the principles fundamentally exist. They need to be transmitted by people. Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior showed us that we all intrinsically have Buddha-nature, the true principles of everything in the universe. I am constantly telling everyone this. These true principles are still unclear to us. So, we need people to transmit them, to expound them for us to hear.
 
For instance, Sakyamuni Buddha, in the time of the 16 princes, had begun to transmit the Dharma. In the same way, whether Sakyamuni Buddha, Amitabha Buddha or other Buddhas, all began before Beginningless Time to pass down these true principles. Similarly, in Their minds, They also have the nature of True Suchness. They have already understood. We also have our nature of True Suchness, but we have not yet attained enlightenment. So, we need to rely on enlightened ones to patiently guide us. How long will it take us? It will also take a long time.
 
From this sutra passage, we can see that Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha took 8000 kalpas just to expound the Lotus Sutra. The 16 novices then taught it again for 84,000 kalpas. They spent such a long time at that time, to say nothing of the time from then until now. How long will it take us before we can finish expounding it? How long do we need to listen to take it into our hearts and awaken? This depends on us, on whether we are always mindful.
 

(Source: Da Ai TV – Wisdom at Dawn program – Explanation by Master Chen-Yen)
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20170206《靜思妙蓮華》四弘誓願度脫眾生 (第1017集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)
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