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 20170215《靜思妙蓮華》難得法雨潤飢虛 (第1024集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)

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發表主題: 20170215《靜思妙蓮華》難得法雨潤飢虛 (第1024集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)   周二 2月 14, 2017 11:21 pm

20170215《靜思妙蓮華》難得法雨潤飢虛 (第1024集)
(法華經•
化城喻品

 
精進心勤修破諸煩惱,持忍修善法聞法獲益,學法者增多惡道減少,妙法喻雨露滋潤眾生。
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》
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,而作是言:惟見哀愍,饒益我等。」《法華經化城喻品第七》
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》
世尊甚難見,破諸煩惱者,過百三十劫,今乃得一見。諸飢渴眾生,以法雨充滿,昔所未曾睹,無量智慧者。《法華經化城喻品第七
世尊甚難見,破諸煩惱者:久遠一遇,難得一見,是破一切煩惱業者。
說法破眾生惑障,令得無上之果,又以契機妙法破煩惱。
故云:甚難見言曠世久矣,今乃得一見。
過百三十劫,今乃得一見:表所過劫數長達百三十劫,方得一見。
諸飢渴眾生,以法雨充滿:於說法潤飢渴眾生,以大法雨悉令充足。
眾生不食法味,如饑渴。如來說法,有情聞之,如饑得食,渴得飲,頓除曠劫之饑虛。
眾生不沾聖澤,如草木枯槁,一聞妙法,便能發心,修因得果,如草木得雨,枯而秀,華而實,不期而致。
昔所未曾睹,無量智慧者:從昔所未見,無量甚深大智慧者。
 
【證嚴上人開示】

「精進心勤修破諸煩惱,持忍修善法聞法獲益,學法者增多惡道減少,妙法喻雨露滋潤眾生。」
 
精進心勤修
破諸煩惱
持忍修善法
聞法獲益
學法者增多
惡道減少
妙法喻雨露
滋潤眾生
 
也就是要大家應該清楚,精進的心要勤修啊!修行若減少了精進心,絕對是懈怠,懈怠墮落,這是一定的道理,有精進勤修的心,才能夠上進。修行者每天的生活,每天都有規律,按照這個規律生活,那就是保持勤精進的心念,這樣自然步步前進,寸寸進步。假使心若不精進,不想要勤修,那就是一念懈怠,就步步墮落,這不會進步,永遠都是原地踏步。人生有多久呢?能讓我們每天停滯、每天懈怠,空過人生?修行就是要修得這念心克服了我們的懈怠心,我們才能時時精進、事事勤修,若能這樣,才有辦法破諸煩惱。
 
煩惱是很微細,我們若缺了精進心勤修,同樣的,我們就與一般人都一樣,沒什麼分別叫做修行者了。修行者就是要和平常不同,勤修,有勤修,才能時時提高警覺,防非止惡,遇到人事物現前,不如意事,我們自然就不會受它搖動。有了無明煩惱,用一個修行者的角度來看,是非清楚,就沒有什麼樣的煩惱可困擾。分別是非,這哪有什麼好困擾我們的呢?哪有什麼好煩惱我們的呢?
 
所以,一天,人與人之間,煩惱去除,那就是少一分的煩惱,保持著這分勤精進的心。這就是要用精進心,要勤修,然後才能在日常生活中,待人處事不會再增加煩惱了。新的不增加,舊的,我們持忍辱行,修善法,舊的慢慢看開了,過去的恩恩怨怨,過土去什麼樣的事情,就慢慢把它放棄、看開、善解、包容,同時又用感恩心,這就是持忍修善。
 
不論過去是什麼,我們都是要「日新,日日新」,今天用很清新的心情,因為昨天我們不受煩惱,煩惱沒有累積在我們的心,哪怕是煩惱,昨天的不愉快,今天我用很清新的心,昨天都它忘記了,過去了,今天沒有什麼事,所以日新又日新,日日新。這念,日新就是清淨的心,再用清淨的心,來對待今天、未來。這種永遠「持忍修善法」,舊的怨沒有積在我們的內心,新的煩惱沒有接受進來,若這樣,我們的心永遠都是清新一片,沒有新舊煩惱,這就是在修行。舊的慢慢去除,新的煩惱,我們拒收,這就是防非止惡。
 
「聞法獲益」。我們要很勤精進,每天、每天,不論是冬天或者是夏天。夏天,昨晚沒睡好,所以我早上要補眠。冬天呢?這麼冷,要掀開棉被,很痛苦啊,再蓋好一點,包暖一點。
永遠都在懈怠,在浪費,這種睡眠的煩惱,這浪費時間,少聞佛法。這也就是在日常生活,很簡單,只要一念心的懈怠,現在還是在睡眠中,空白、懈怠、墮落中。
 
這樣,我們若能持忍,就是時間不要空過,即使冬天很冷,有人很精進。現在常常聽到,大陸的菩薩,中國很冷,冬天,他們聽法時間都和我們一樣。天未亮,下霜、下雪,他們同樣三點多開始就起來了,很冷很冷的天,不論怎樣的寒凍,他們還是那麼早起,來,趕快準備、出門,他們那麼精進。有的,在美國,有人開車要四五十分鐘,(近)一小時,不論是下雨、颳風,他們也是這樣在精進,。何況我們是在一個很好的環境裡,同在一個道場裡面,我們豈能空過?這種持忍修善法,聞法的時間,這樣把它空過嗎?空過,那就是懈怠,那就是不修善法,不得利益,這是一定的道理。
 
所以佛陀在世時,在祇園精舍,波斯匿王就來了,來向佛請法。向佛陀說:「佛啊!我忽然間想,想我們在富貴中的人,是不是今生富貴,剎帝利種,來生也是同樣富貴?同樣就是權勢、財富都很多?我來生是不是也能這樣呢?婆羅門種是不是今生修行,來生同樣,他們也是在婆羅門教,在高貴的種姓(種性)裡呢?想要請佛陀為我開示,是不是像這樣的種族,生生世世都是這樣呢?」
 
佛陀就說:「不對,不是這樣。有四種的生死各不相同。今生是剎帝利,你是一個富貴權威的人,假使你若是不好好持善,將來死後再來生,由不得你自己,將來你會在貧賤苦難中。比如說,有從光明的人,就是自己自然一直往黑暗中走,墮落黑暗之中;有的人是從黑暗中,會走上了光明的路。這就是譬喻富貴的人,你若是懂得修福,自然你未來所生的地方,那就是比現在更好。今生此世修福,又懂得精進,這就像光明的人,又再,將來到更光明的地方去,就是從人間生到天堂,比在人間權勢富有更享受。這是從光明向著更光明的地方,就是你要現在修福。」
 
「而現在雖然有權有勢,你若對人起了輕視的心,對法、僧,不尊敬,將來你要墮落啊,這種從光明走向黑暗。也有的是在黑暗中,更向黑暗的路走,就是如今生此世已經貧窮苦難,又是身有殘疾,又是智能無法分別人事是非,就是愚而癡、狂這樣的人。今生此世雖然貧困,又起了那分惡,貪、瞋、癡,或者是造作殺業,像這樣的人,今生此世受盡了很的苦,又在人間造作很多的惡業。今生世已經四肢不俱全,身心都有病,又是貧窮,又再起惡心惡念,不懂得起尊重心,像這樣,將來還是從黑暗中,墮落更黑暗的惡道去。」
 
「又另外一種人,雖然是貧困,他能夠見善隨喜;雖然貧困、苦難,他的心善良,時時讚歎人做好事,他願意將他的身力奉獻、苦力,願意去做付出、布施。像這樣的人,雖然在黑暗中,譬如在黑暗中,他慢慢就向著光明的路,他再生,來生人間,或者是生在天堂。這就是人的生死有四種。有富中之富的人;有平時普通,但是我們的心就是歡喜行善,雖然我不是很有錢,不過見善隨喜,我還有力氣,我也能做好事,這樣的人間,將來也能生天。」
 
「或者是現在在貧困中,他雖然貧困,卻是他心富有,雖然自己生活上有困難,他能克服自己的困難,能去幫助別人,用盡種種的方法,就能去幫助別人,這叫做貧中之富。在貧中之富,他又信仰佛法,修持他的身心,像這樣,將來不只是來人間的富貴,也會,同樣的,修更多的善法、善緣,還是同樣會生天堂。」
 
「而有的是貧窮苦難,真的心一點善都沒有,看到修行者,誹謗,對佛、法、僧不起信仰。都沒有什麼信仰,像這樣,在貧困中,身心不俱全,一點善念的機會都沒有,像這樣,將來墮落會更深。」
 
這就是四種生死,現在這樣的生,未來如何的死,死後的去向又是生在什麼地方,這就是人生。所以我們要如何,勤修的心要精進,如何破除煩惱,今生此世的苦難要如何去除?這種種的煩惱要懂得忍,善要懂得修,法要懂得聽,聽了要懂得身體力行,必定要有這樣,沒有煩惱。人家給我們的,種種的過去,怨憎會,全都要完全去除,無怨無憎,現在又是聽法。學法者,自然學法的人就愈多了,聽法的人多,學法的人多,自然就是惡道減少了。
 
所以,這就是佛在世間,那時候,連國王都來問佛,到底人生,生生世世都一樣?因為印度是四種姓階級,所以他就這樣來問,佛陀是這樣的回答。今生此世,看到富貴、宗教、一般人民,或者是賤民,這在這一生中他如何生活,已經是今生此世,但是,今生此世你怎麼做,就是來生來世,就看你今生此世怎麼做,這是佛陀向他的分析,同樣的道理。
 
總而言之,學法者增多,自然惡道就減少,這是佛法,從過去、現在,都是一樣這樣的道理。所以「妙法喻雨露,滋潤眾生」。我們若好好聽法,一點一滴都入我們的心來,點點滴滴滋潤我們,自然我們就有精進心,我們就懂得要勤修,自然我們的煩惱減少,智慧就增長,這就得到法益了,法的利益。
 
所以,法如雨露,點點滴滴入我們的心。我們要每天所聽的法,要時時用很珍重的心情來回憶。早上說的是什麼呢?今天所做、所遇到的事,我懂得善解嗎?我懂得包容嗎?我懂得對人人感恩,化掉過去種種不如意的事?我們若懂得這樣,法聽進去,日常就在用,這就是受法益者。要用心啊!
 
前面的(經)文,經文這樣說,「及見十六王子」。梵天王已經來到,大通智勝佛講法的道場,菩提樹下,除了佛與大眾以外,又看到十六王子,在現場請佛轉法輪,梵天王來這個時候,正好是十六王子在請佛轉法輪的時刻。所以「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》
 
王子在請法,天人到了也是那麼恭敬,這樣在禮佛、繞佛千匝,散花來供佛。
 
「所散之華如須彌山」,從高而下,如須彌山。「並以供養佛菩提樹」,因為從空墜下,菩提樹雖然很高,也是花鋪在菩提樹上。所以「華供養已,各以宮殿奉上彼佛,而作是言:惟見哀愍,饒益我等」。
 
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
而作是言
惟見哀愍
饒益我等
《法華經化城喻品第七》
 
同樣的,梵天王供養之後,還是求佛開示。因為還有微分的惑未斷,福若享盡,同樣要墮落。每天都這樣說,因為梵天王的心態,所以說「哀愍」。「所獻宮殿,願垂納受!」我們所獻的一切,請佛您要接受。「爾時,諸梵天王即於佛前,一心同聲以偈頌曰。」
 
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》
 
大家求佛,他們的獻供求佛接受,表示他們的虔誠。之後就是諸梵天王,就是在佛前很恭敬,「一心同聲」,這麼多的梵天王,同一念心,所以同聲這樣來說偈,來讚歎。
 
經文就說,「世尊甚難見,破諸煩惱者,過百三十劫,今乃得一見。諸飢渴眾生,以法雨充滿,昔所未曾睹,無量智慧者。」
 
世尊甚難見
破諸煩惱者
過百三十劫
今乃得一見
諸飢渴眾生
以法雨充滿
昔所未曾睹
無量智慧者
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
就是「世尊甚難見」。因為很長久的時間,才能有一尊佛出現人間,這是非常難得。佛出世就能說法,說法就能破諸煩惱。因為人天煩惱,有了佛出世,自然就能教大家破除煩惱。
 
世尊甚難見
破諸煩惱者:
久遠一遇
難得一見
是破一切煩惱業者
 
這是一個很好的機會,因為佛出世很難,「久遠一遇,難得一見」。要能有一尊佛出世是很不簡單,這是「破一切煩惱業者」。唯有佛陀,佛出世,覺悟,他能天地宇宙萬物,真理透徹後,能對人天開示,使所有煩惱沉重的人,能一一破解,破除了煩惱的障礙。
 
所以說法者,說法能破眾生的惑障。有人已經開悟了,開悟之後能說法,說法就能破除,破除眾生無明煩惱惑的障礙。眾生就是因為無明,塵沙惑,很多很多,煩惱如塵沙那麼多,很微細,細小得如塵沙一樣。這種惑,一直都是障礙著,障礙著我們人生向法的路,所以,一些善法,都是受這些煩惱無明所障礙著。
 
所以佛出世,自然能說法,能破除眾生煩惱惑障。惑就會懷疑,懷疑也是很多的障礙,懷疑……等等,自然就有迷信,這都是疑,疑心就是不信、迷信,這都在惑。破除了迷,這是因為佛說法,才有辦法破除眾生煩惱無明,與迷的惑。
 
說法破眾生惑障
令得無上之果
又以契機妙法
破煩惱
 
所以「令得無上之果,又以契機妙法,破煩惱」。這些惑、這種迷,無法向正確的方向。這種迷,迷實在是很多種,有的人是執迷不悟,在貪、瞋、癡、慢、疑,有的人是執迷不悟,在那種邪見邪道中,這都是一種障礙。有正覺的覺者已經出世間,自然他所說的法,就能解除眾生的迷惑,令得無上之果,「又以契機妙法破煩惱」。
 
所以「甚難見」。像這樣成佛,世尊來人間成佛,這種大覺大悟的人很難見,而且成佛之後,要契眾生機,也很難。因為眾生,雖然佛出世,同樣就是迷。有的人就是自私,顧自己,他不懂得要如何兼利他人。光說釋迦牟尼佛,四十九年的說法,就四十二年間要去契眾生機,去適應眾生的根機說法。想想看,這是多麼困難啊!所以「甚難見」,要能破除眾生無明煩惱,實在是很困難。
 
所以,破煩惱很難,有佛出現人間說妙法,(能)契機,也還是很困難。總而言之,芸芸眾生,惡道增長,天人減少,就是因為這樣。大覺世尊出現,人人若能接受佛法,聞法者,因為聞法者增長,自然惡道減少。所以叫做佛出世很難得,也難見。
 
故云:甚難見
言曠世久矣
今乃得一見
 
「曠世久矣」,就是很長久的時間。「曠劫」就是很長久。不論是時間、空間,都很罕見,能夠見佛。所以「今乃得一見」,現在已經看到了。
 
過百三十劫
今乃得一見:
表所過劫數
長達百三十劫
方得一見
 
「過百三十劫」,已經過那麼久的時間,「今乃得一見」。現在的梵天王說出了,過了(一)百三十劫的時間,這時候才見到佛。所以表示所過的劫數很長、很久,才能見到佛。
 
真的,修行要成佛不容易,也要待因緣,就是要有因緣。釋迦牟尼佛累生世,到底修多久了?塵點劫以前,一直到現在,在二千多年前那時候,悉達多太子才成正覺,就是成佛。可見,要見佛的時間,實在是很長久,何況梵天王也是這樣說,要見佛很難,何況我們人間呢?
 
諸飢渴眾生
以法雨充滿:
於說法潤飢渴眾生
以大法雨悉令充足
 
所以「諸飢渴眾生,以法雨充滿」。像說法,說法,法能滋潤飢渴的眾生,大法雨,都能充足。我們在<藥草喻品>,不就說得很清楚嗎?大地枯槁,枯萎的草木,只要有雨一下,自然草木,種子在大地就能很繁榮。同樣的道理,我們人假使沒有水可喝,人的身體就無法生存下去。就如大地無雨,天地之間都枯萎掉了。所以「諸飢渴眾生,以法雨充滿」,有了法雨,我們大地眾生才能解開飢餓。
 
所以,譬喻「眾生不食法味」,這個法不入心,不知法的滋味。未聽佛法,或是既聽佛法,不相信佛法,這樣的人,他們對法一點都不知道。聽佛法之後,若沒有好好去體會,就如吃東西,我們若無心去品嚐,就不知道到底是甜是鹹。
 
所以說要用心,有東西可吃,我們也要好好用心去品味法,去注意這個法,這個吃的東西到底是什麼。就如我們聽法,要用心去聽,因為法很深,用很多的譬喻。世間一切的法,要如何將一切的法,能涵蓋在世間很多的無明煩惱,都將它涵蓋,來用法去解釋呢?這必定要很用心去體會。
 
所以「如饑渴」,這種眾生,有法不去品嚐。有東西可吃,我們不吃,吃了東西,我們不用心去體會,像這樣,只要肚子能飽就好了,這樣無法瞭解,不知法味。所以我們人生與此一樣,「眾生不食法味,如饑渴」,與肚子餓一樣。
 
眾生不食法味
如饑渴
如來說法
有情聞之
如饑得食
渴得飲
頓除曠劫之饑虛
 
「如來說法,有情聞之,如饑得食,渴得飲,頓除曠劫之饑虛」。如來說的法,就如對有情的人,只要你有感覺的人來聽,聽了,法若能入心,這就如肚子餓得到食。
 
人也是有情,他若聽,聞而不改,有聽和沒聽一樣。有的畜生,就是說動物,動物也是有情。動物,我們過去有說過動物,鳥聽法也能生天,這個故事應該大家還記得。(編按:2014/11/13晨語開示「五百白鴈聽法生天緣」)
 
鳥聽講「四諦法」,牠們往生,牠們也是化為天人來感恩。這就是有情,只要是有生命、有感覺,法都能入有情人的心。所以「如饑得食」,如肚子餓的人,得到吃的東西,知道滋味,又有營養。「渴得飲」,如口渴的人如得到茶湯可喝。
 
這就是我們(若)能瞭解佛法,能增長我們的慧命。要不然,聽和沒有聽一樣,即使你做人,聽法與沒聽一樣,這就如吃東西不知滋味。有情,就是哪怕是動物,聽了,牠也是能瞭解。這就是「頓除曠劫之饑虛」。法若能聽得進去,真的是入心來,哪怕是離很久以前,不曾聽過了,現在聽到了,能一聞千悟,一聽就能瞭解。
 
 
所以「眾生不沾聖澤,如草木枯槁」。眾生若不想聽這個法,就如草木乾枯了一樣。
 
眾生不沾聖澤
如草木枯槁
一聞妙法
便能發心
修因得果
如草木得雨
枯而秀 華而實
不期而致
 
「一聞妙法,便能發心」,有的人聽到佛法,就開始發心了,這樣自然就「修因得果」,「如草木得雨」,就如草木得雨一樣。就是乾枯的樹,已經快要乾枯了,只要大地上再有水分,下雨又有水份,自然它能再復生,這個草木的根在土裡得到水分,自然這個樹木,自然它能再慢慢回生。自然它的種子,會在地上再生出來,總是草木逢春,草木得雨露,同樣能茂盛起來。這就是要我們好好用心。
 
昔所未曾睹
無量智慧者:
從昔所未見
無量甚深大智慧者
 
「昔所未曾睹」者,意思就是說,從過去一直到現在都不曾看過。「無量甚深大智慧者」,這種智慧者,從過去到現在不曾看過。但是無量智慧者,甚深大智慧。這種不曾看過,從過去到現在不曾看過,因為「(過)百三十劫」,曠劫,很長久的時間,都還不曾見過這樣無量智慧者,所以,這無量甚深大智慧的人,真正要見到是很不容易。
 
我們用心在法中,法永遠滋潤在我們的心裡,所以我們要時時精進,精進在我們日常生活中。人事物相也是,在我們每天的生活中,我們若能精進在心裡,勤修,自然這些種種人事物相,不會困擾我們的心,清者自清,修清淨行,我們就沒有什麼樣的煩惱。持修忍辱精進,這就是我們得到法益,所以說,我們自修自得,沒有什麼人會分給我們,但是我們的利益,我們可以與大家分享。所以,聽法者、說法者、聞法者,聽多少、得多少,就能與多少人分享多少。所以我們要時時多用心!


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: The Dharma-Rain Nourishes the Hungry and Weak (難得法雨潤飢虛)
Date: February.15. 2017
 
“We practice rigorously with a diligent mind to destroy all afflictions. We uphold patience to cultivate virtuous Dharma and listen to the Dharma to receive benefit. Those learning the Dharma increase, and those in the evil realms diminish. The wondrous Dharma is like rain and dew that nourishes sentient beings.”
 
This is something everyone should be clear on. We must practice rigorously with a diligent mind. If our practice lacks diligence, we will certainly fall into indolence. This is a certainty. Only with diligence and rigor can we advance. A practitioner’s daily living follows a routine; their life follows a set of rules. This helps them maintain their diligent mindset. In this way, we will naturally advance step by step, inch by inch.
 
If we do not have a diligent mind, if we do not want to practice rigorously, then with this mindset of indolence we will regress with every step; we will not advance. We will forever be stuck in the same place.
 
How long is our life? Not long enough for us to stop and be indolent every day and waste away our life. In spiritual practice, we must cultivate a mindset that can overcome our indolence. Only then can we constantly advance and rigorously practice in all matters. Only in this way will we be able to destroy all afflictions. Afflictions are very subtle and intricate. If we lack diligence and rigorous practice, we will be the same as any regular person, without the distinctions that makes us spiritual practitioners.
 
Practitioners must differ from regular people. Only through rigorous practice can we constantly heighten our vigilance to guard against wrongs and stop evil. Then when we encounter people, matters and things that do not go as we wish naturally we will not be shaken by them nor give rise to ignorance and afflictions. From the perspective of spiritual practitioners, we are clear on right and wrong, so we are not troubled by any kind of affliction. When we are clear on right and wrong, what is there that can trouble us? What is there that can cause us afflictions?
 
So, every day that we can eliminate afflictions between people, there is a little bit less affliction. To maintain a diligent mindset, we must practice rigorously and earnestly so that in our daily living, our interactions with people and matters will not add to our afflictions. There will be no new ones, and as for old ones, through the practice of patience and cultivation of virtuous Dharma, we will gradually see through them. All the gratitude and grudges from the past, everything that has happened in the past, we can gradually see through and let go of them. By practicing understanding, accommodation and gratitude at the same time, we uphold patience to practice virtuous [Dharma].
 
No matter what happened in the past, we must start each day anew. Today, we have a fresh and new mindset. Because yesterday we were not troubled by afflictions, afflictions did not accumulate in our minds. Even if there were afflictions and unpleasantness yesterday, today, with a fresh mind, we can forget and let go of yesterday. Then there is nothing [on our minds] today. When we start every day fresh and anew, this way, every day we start with a pure mind. Then we use this pure mind to face today and the future.
 
Thus we can always “uphold patience to cultivate virtuous Dharma.” Old resentments do not accumulate in our mind, and new afflictions do not enter it. This way, our mind will always be fresh and new, without new and old afflictions. This comes from engaging in spiritual practice. We gradually eliminate old afflictions, and we refuse to take in new afflictions. This is guarding against wrongs and stopping evil.
 
“Listen to the Dharma to receive benefit.” We must be very diligent and rigorous every single day, whether it is winter or summer. In the summer, “I didn’t sleep well last night, so I need to sleep in the morning.” In the winter? “It is so cold. Getting out from under the covers is very painful! I want to pull up the covers, keep warm longer.” We are always indolent, wasting time. This is the afflictions of sleep. Wasting time in this way, we hear less Dharma.
 
In daily living, this can happen very easily. With a mind of indolence, we remain in a state of slumber and vacancy; we remain in a state of slumber and vacancy; we are lax and we regress. If we can uphold patience, then we will not waste any time. Even in the cold winter, some people are very diligent. Recently we hear a lot about volunteers in China. In China, it is very cold in the winter. They listen to the Dharma the same time we do. Before dawn, even if it is sleeting or snowing, they still wake up before 4 am like we do. On very cold days, no matter how freezing cold it is, they still get up this early and quickly get ready to leave the house. This is how diligent they are. Some volunteers in the US have to drive for 40, 50 minutes, even an hour. Whether it is rain or a hurricane, they are still diligent in their practice. This is to say nothing of those of us who are in this wonderful environment. We are all at the same spiritual training ground; how can we let this time go to waste?
 
We can uphold patience, cultivate virtuous Dharma and listen to the Dharma during this time. Can we let it go to waste? If we waste it, that is indolence. If we do not cultivate virtuous Dharma, we will not attain benefit. This is certain.
 
So, during the Buddha’s lifetime, when He was at the Jetavana abode, King Prasenajit came to request the Dharma from the Buddha. He said to the Buddha, “Venerable Buddha, a thought suddenly occurred to me. For those of us with great riches, if we are wealthy in this life, if we are Ksatriyas, in the next lifetime will we be just as wealthy and have the same abundance of power and riches? Will my next life be the same? For Brahmins, if they practice in this life, in their next life will they be Brahmins and be born into a noble caste? Venerable Buddha, please reveal this to me. Will we be in the same caste life after life?”
 
The Buddha said, “No, that is not how it is. There are four different kinds of rebirth. As a Ksatriya in this life, you are a person of wealth and power. If you do not earnestly practice goodness, when you die and are reborn, without any control you will be born into poverty and suffering.”
 
It is like a person in the light who keeps walking toward the darkness and falls into the darkness. Some people start in darkness and then step onto a path of light. This is an analogy for wealthy people. If we cultivate blessings, naturally in the future we will be reborn in a place better than where we are now. If in this life we cultivate blessings and are diligent in our practice, we will be like people in the light who end up in an even brighter place. Those in the human realm who are reborn in the heaven realm enjoy more blessings than the rich and powerful in the human realm. This is going from a place of light to an even brighter place.
 
This means we must cultivate blessings now. Eve if we have power and authority now, if we think of disparaging anyone, if we disrespect the Dharma and Sangha, in the future, we will fall into a lower realm! This is going from light into darkness. Some who are already in the darkness are heading into deeper darkness. That is like people who are already experiencing poverty and suffering in this life, have some kind of physical disability and lack the mental ability to discern right from wrong. There are people who are foolish, deluded and mad. Although they are impoverished in this lifetime, they still give rise to evil, to greed, anger and ignorance. Or they may create karma of killing. People like this experience much suffering in this lifetime and also create much negative karma in the world. In this life, they are physically challenged, with illnesses in body and mind and are poor. In addition, they give rise to negative thoughts and do not sow people respect. In this way, they start in darkness and will fall into an even darker evil realm.
 
Also, there is another kind of people. Even though they are impoverished, they can see goodness and rejoice. Although they are poor and suffering, they have a kind heart and are always praising those how do good deeds. They willingly offer their physical and painstaking labor willing give to others, help others. People like this, even though they are in darkness, even if they are in a state of darkness, are slowly heading toward the path of light and will be reborn in the human realm or the heaven realm in their next life.
 
These are the four kinds of rebirth. There are the rich among the rich. There are also regular people who take joy in doing good deeds. “Although I am not every wealthy, when I see goodness I take joy in it. As long as I have the strength, I can do good deeds.” Humans like this can also be reborn in heaven. Or, there are those who are living in poverty now. Even though they are impoverished they have an abundance of spiritual wealth. Although life is difficult for them, they can overcome their difficulties in order to help others. They find all kind of ways to help others. These are the rich among the poor. Though poor, they have spiritual wealth and believe in the Buddha-Dharma. By cultivating their body and mind, in the future they will have more than just wealth in the human realms. if they continue to cultivate virtuous Dharma and good affinities, they will also be reborn in heaven.
 
There are some who are poor and suffering and do not have even a bit of goodness in their hearts. Seeing spiritual practitioners, they slander them. They do not give rise to faith in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. They do not have any kind of faith. Living in poverty in this way and lacking in wholeness of body and mind, they cannot give rise to thoughts of goodness. As such, in the future they will fall into an even [lower] state. These are the four kinds of rebirth. Right now, this is the way we live. In the future, how will we die? After we die, what direction will we head in? This is the way life works.
 
So, how do we find a way to practice rigorously with a diligent mind? How do we destroy our afflictions? How do we eliminate suffering in this lifetime? We must learn to endure all kinds of afflictions. We must cultivate goodness, listen to the Dharma. After listening, we must put it into practice. We must do this so we can be free of afflictions. The [afflictions] people caused us in the past, suffering from meeting those we hate, we must eliminate all of them completely. We must be free of resentment and hatred. Now we are listening to and learning the Dharma. Naturally, as more people are learning the Dharma, as more people are listening to and learning it, those in the evil realms will diminish.
 
This took place when the Buddha was in the world. Back then, even kings came to ask the Buddha, “Will our lives be the same in every lifetime?” In India, there was a strict caste system. So, the king came to ask this question. The Buddha responded in this way. “In this lifetime, we see the wealthy, the religious the ordinary people and the untouchables. The way they are living right now has already been [determined]. But what you do in this life will affect your next life. It all depends on what you do in this life.” This was the Buddha analyzed for the king.
 
The principle is the same. In summary, when more people learn the Dharma, naturally, those in the evil realms diminish. The Buddha-Dharma, from past to the present, have always been the same principles. “The wondrous Dharma is like rain and dew that nourishes sentient beings.” If we earnestly listen to the Dharma and take every drop of it into our hearts, every bit of it will nourish us. Naturally, we will have a diligent mind and will rigorously practice. Naturally, our afflictions will decrease, and we will grow in wisdom. Thus, we attain Dharma-benefit, the benefit from the Dharma.
 
So, the Dharma is like rain and dew. It enters our minds drop by drop. We must take the Dharma we hear every day and constantly recall it and cherish it. What did we talk about this morning? In the things we do and encounter today, are we being understanding? Are we being accommodating? By being grateful to everyone, we can dissolve all kinds of old conflicts. If we can do this, we are listening to the Dharma and applying it in daily living. This is receiving benefit from the Dharma. we must be mindful!
 
The previous sutra passage states, “And they saw the 16 princes.” The Brahma kings have come to Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha’s place of enlightenment under the Bodhi-tree. In addition to the Buddha and the assembly, they also saw the 16 princes who came to ask Him to turn the Dharma-wheel. Then the Brahma kings came, it happened to be the moment when the 16 princes asked the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel. So, “Then all the Brahma kings prostrated out of respect for the Buddha, circumambulated Him thousands of times and scattered celestial flower upon Him.”
 
The princes were requesting the Dharma. when the heavenly beings arrived, they were very respectful in the way they prostrated to the Buddha, circumambulated Him thousands of times and scattered flowers to make offerings to Him.
 
The flower they scattered were like Mt. Sumeru. They fell from above, [piling high] like Mt. Sumeru. “They were used to make offerings to both the Buddha and the Bodhi-tree.” Because the flowers feel from the sky, even though the Bodhi-tree was very tall, the flowers piled up and covered the tree. So, Having made offerings with flowers, they each offered their palaces to that Buddha and said these words. Please look upon us with mercy and benefit all of us.
 
In the same way, after Brahma kings made offerings, they still asked the Buddha to teach. This is because they still had subtle delusions they have not eliminated. Once their blessings are depleted, they will fall. Every day I have talking about this. Because of this mindset of the Brahma kings, they asked for his mercy.
 
As for the palaces that we offer, may you honor us by accepting them.” “With everything we are offering, Venerable Buddha, please accept it all.” “At that time, all the Brahma kings in the presence of the Buddha, with one mind and in one voice, spoke in verse. They spoke in verse.
 
Everyone made this request of the Buddha. They asked Him to accept their offerings, their expression of reverence. Afterwards, all the Brahma kings in the Buddha’s presence respectfully spoke with one mind and one voice. These many Brahma kings shared one mind, so with one voice they spoke in verse to praise Buddha.
 
The sutra passage says, “A World-Honored One is extremely rare to see. He is able to destroy all afflictions. 130 kalpas have passed, and only now do we encounter one. All hungry and thirsty sentient beings are filled with the Dharma-rain. We have never before seen one with infinite wisdom.”
 
So, “A World-Honored One is extremely rare to see.” This is because it takes a very long time for a Buddha to appear in the human realm. This is extremely rare. When a Buddha appears, He teaches the Dharma. Teaching the Dharma helps people eliminate all afflictions. Humans and heavenly beings have afflictions, and when a Buddha manifests, naturally they can eradicate their afflictions. This is a very good opportunity, as it is rare for a Buddha to appear. “A long time must pass before encountering one; They are extremely rare to see.” It is not easy for a Buddha to appear in the world. He is “able to destroy all afflictions and karma.” Only the Buddha can do this. The Buddha is born and attains enlightenment. Regarding all things in the universe, after He penetrates their true principles, He can reveal them to humans and heavenly beings. He enables those who have severe afflictions to eliminate them one by one, to eradicate the obstructions of afflictions.
 
So, by teaching the Dharma one helps to destroy obstructions of delusion. Some have already awakened. Once they have awakened, they teach the Dharma. By teaching the Dharma, they can help eliminate sentient beings’ obstructions of ignorance, afflictions and delusions. Sentient beings have ignorance, dust-like delusions. They have so many afflictions, as many as dust. They are subtle and fine like dust. These delusions continuously obstruct our path toward the Dharma. So, some of our virtuous [practices] have been obstructed by these afflictions and ignorance. So, after the Buddha appears in this world, naturally He can give teachings to eliminate obstructions of afflictions and delusions. Delusions cause doubt. Doubt creates many obstructions. Along with doubts naturally comes superstition. Having doubts shows a lack of faith or a confused faith. All these are delusions  the Buddha had to break through delusions.
 
He needed to expound the Dharma in order to eliminate sentient beings’ afflictions, ignorance and confusion that come from delusions. So, this “allow them to attain the supreme fruit. He also uses the wondrous Dharma that is in accord with capabilities to destroy afflictions.”
 
With delusions and confusion, we are unable to go in the right direction. There are many kinds of such delusions. Some cling to delusion and do not awaken. With greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance and doubt some cling to delusion and do not awaken from deviant views and deviant paths. These are all obstacles. When one with perfect enlightenment manifests, naturally the Dharma He expounds can resolve sentient beings’ delusions and allows them to attain the supreme fruit.
 
“He also uses the wondrous Dharma that is in accord with capabilities to destroy afflictions.” So, it is “extremely rare to see.” One who attains Buddhahood, a World-Honored One who attain Buddhahood, a person of great awakening and great realizations is very rare to see. After attaining Buddhahood, teaching according to sentient beings’ capabilities is very hard too. This is because sentient beings, even if a Buddha has appeared in the world, still remain deluded.
 
Some are selfish and only think of themselves. They do not know how to benefit others. So, Sakyamuni Buddha, in His 49 years of expounding the Dharma, had to spend 42 years teachings in accord with sentient beings’ capabilities, adapting to their capabilities. Just imagine how difficult this was. So, it is “extremely rare to see.” To destroy the ignorance and afflictions of sentient beings is indeed very difficult. So, destroying afflictions is very difficult.
 
For a Buddha to manifest in the human realm and teach the wondrous Dharma in accord with their capabilities is also very difficult. In summary, among these myriad sentient beings, those in the evil realms increase while those in the heaven and human realms diminish. Because of this, the world-Honored one appeared. If everyone can accept the Buddha-Dharma, as those who listen to the Dharma increase, naturally those in the evil realms will diminish. So, for a Buddha to appear in the world is very precious, it is very rarely seen. “A very long time has passed” refers to a very long period of time. “Across kalpas” is a very long time. Whether in regard to time or space, it is very rare to encounter a Buddha. “Only now can they see one.” Now they have already seen Him. “130 kalpas have passed;” such a very long time has passed, “Only now can they see one.” Now the Brahma kings said that only after 130 kalpas had passed have they finally encountered a Buddha. The number of kalpas that have passed means it takes a very long time to see a Buddha.
 
Truly, to engage in spiritual practice and attain Buddhahood is not an easy matter. One also needs to wait for causes and conditions. This took Sakyamuni Buddha many lifetimes. For how long did He engage in spiritual practice? From dust-inked kalpas ago until now. Then more than 2000 years ago, Prince Siddhartha attained perfect enlightenment, which is attaining Buddhahood. We can see that the time between seeing a Buddha is truly very long. Even the Brahma kings have said that it is hard to see a Buddha, let alone those of us in the human realm. So, “All hungry and thirsty sentient beings are filled with the Dharma-rain.” This is like teaching the Dharma. The Dharma can nourish hungry and thirsty sentient beings. The Great Dharma-rain can replenish all.
 
Didn’t the Chapter on Medicinal Plants explain this very clearly? The land is dried up. As for withered plants, when the rain falls, naturally the plants and the seeds in the land will be able to thrive. In the same way, if we humans do not have water to drink, our body cannot survive. It is just like a land without rain; everything on the land has withered. So, “All hungry and thirsty sentient beings are filled with the Dharma-rain.” Only with the Dharma-rain will we sentient beings no longer starve or thirst. This is analogous to “when sentient beings do not taste the flavor of the Dharma.” If we do not take the Dharma to heart, we cannot taste the flavor of the Dharma. If we have not listened to the Buddha-Dharma or have listened to the Buddha-Dharma but do not believe in it, we know nothing at all about the Dharma. After listening to the Buddha-Dharma, if we do not earnestly experience it, it is like eating something without mindfully tasting it. Then we do not know if it is sweet or salty. So, we must be mindful. When we have food to eat, we must earnestly and mindfully taste it and pay attention to this thing. What is it that we are eating?
 
Similarly, when listening to the Dharma, we must listen mindfully. The Dharma is very profound, and it makes use of many analogies. Consider all the Dharma in the world. How does all this Dharma encompass all the ignorance and afflictions in the world and explain them? This requires us to mindfully experience it. So, we are “like the hungry and thirsty.” These sentient beings have the Dharma but do not taste it. This is like having food but not eating it or eating it but not mindfully experiencing it. In this case, we only care about eating our fill. Thus we do not know the flavor of the Dharma. This is what our lives are like.
 
“When sentient beings do not taste the flavor of the Dharma, it is like they are hungry and thirsty, as if they are starving. “When the Tathagata teaches the Dharma and sentient beings listen to it, it is like when the hungry have food and the thirsty have drink. It immediately removes their hunger and weakness across kalpas.  
 
The Tathagata teaches the Dharma to sentient beings. When people with feelings listen, if they can take the Dharma to heart, it is like putting food into an empty stomach. Humans are sentient beings too. If we listen but do not change our ways, that is the same as not listening at all. Animals are sentient beings, too. In the past, we have discussed animals. Birds can listen to the Dharma and be reborn in heaven too. Everyone should still remember this story. The birds listened to the Four Noble Truths, and after they died, they were reborn as heavenly beings and came to express their gratitude. These are sentient beings.
 
As long as they have life and feelings, these sentient beings can take the Dharma to heart. “It is like when the hungry have food.” It is like when a hungry person obtains food. He tastes it and is nourished by it. “The thirsty have drink.” This is like when a thirsty person has tea or soup to drink. If we can understand the Buddha-Dharma, we can develop wisdom-life.
 
Otherwise, listening is the same as not listening. If, in our behavior, listening to the Dharma has made no difference, it is as if we have eaten without tasting the food. When it comes to sentient beings, even animals, after listening, can understand. “It immediately removes their hunger and weakness across kalpas.” If we can listen to and take in the Dharma, if we can truly take it to heart, even if we have not heard it for a very long time, now that we hear it, we can hear one thing and realize 1000. We can understand upon hearing it. So, “Sentient beings who are not moistened by the Noble One’s grace are like grass and trees withering.” If sentient beings do not want to listen to the Dharma, it is like grass and trees withering.
 
Sentient beings who are not moistened by the Noble One’s grace are like grass and trees withering. Upon hearing the wondrous Dharma, they will be able to form aspirations, cultivate the causes and attain the fruits. This is like when grass and trees attain rain; the withered will again flourish, bloom and bear fruits. All unexpectedly came to be.
 
“Upon hearing the wondrous Dharma, they will be able to form aspirations.”   Some people, upon hearing the wondrous Dharma, start to form aspirations and “cultivate the causes and attain the fruits. This is like when grass and trees attain rain.” It is just like when plants and trees obtain rain. When trees are dry and withering, once there is moisture on the ground, once the rain brings moisture, naturally these trees can be revived. These plants’ roots absorb water from the ground, and naturally, these plants can slowly come back to life.
 
“The withered will again flourish, bloom and bear fruits.” Naturally, their seeds will again sprout from the ground. When plants and trees encounter spring, when they attain rain and dew, they can flourish again. This is why we must always be mindful.
 
“We have never seen before” means that from the past till now, they had never seen this. “One with infinite wisdom,” such profound and great wisdom, is something they had never seen before. From the past till the present, they had never seen it. So, “130 kalpas have passed.” Across kalpas, for such a very long time, they had never seen one with such infinite wisdom. So, this person of infinite and profound wisdom was truly very difficult to encounter.
 
If we are mindful of the Dharma, the Dharma will always nourish our minds. So, we must always be diligent, diligently practice in our daily living and in dealing with people, matters, appearances. In our life every day, if we can be diligent and rigorously practice, naturally people, matters, objects and appearances will not trouble our minds. The pure will remain pure in their practice, and we will not have any afflictions.
 
By practicing patience and diligence, we will receive the Dharma-benefit. So, we each benefit from our own practice; nobody can give theirs to us. But with the benefit we receive, we can share it with everyone. Those who listen to, learn and teach the Dharma can share as much as they have heard and attained. So, we must always be mindful.
 

(Source: Da Ai TV – Wisdom at Dawn program – Explanation by Master Chen-Yen)
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20170215《靜思妙蓮華》難得法雨潤飢虛 (第1024集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)
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