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 20170301《靜思妙蓮華》入如來藏開甘露門 (第1034集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)

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發表主題: 20170301《靜思妙蓮華》入如來藏開甘露門 (第1034集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)   周三 3月 01, 2017 7:15 am

20170301《靜思妙蓮華》入如來藏開甘露門 (第1034集)
(法華經•
化城喻品

 
修菩薩行多聞,能深入如來藏,了知無上法味;以此普潤眾生,令其善根增長,是為開甘露門。
普智天人尊,哀愍群萌類,能開甘露門,廣度於一切。《法華經化城喻品第七
於昔無量劫,空過無有佛,世尊未出時,十方常闇瞑,三惡道增長,阿修羅亦盛,諸天眾轉減,死多墮惡道。《法華經化城喻品第七
於昔無量劫,空過無有佛:明三界苦果。於往昔時,無量劫數悉皆空過,無有佛出。
諸梵天頌中,東南方梵云一百八十劫,南方梵天王云一百三十劫,今上方梵天王云往昔無量劫。
空過無有佛,何以長短不同?信知佛身無所不在,無時不現,但隨緣所感,故有延促生滅之見耳。
世尊未出時,十方常闇瞑:諸佛世尊未出世時,十方國土常如暗昧。
三惡道增長,阿修羅亦盛:世間無師,眾生迷惑,增長惡報,及修羅類。
諸天眾轉減,死多墮惡道:諸天縱欲,福盡退墮,死時多生惡道之中。
依惡業可往來之處有三所,名為三惡道。一、地獄道:上品十惡業者趣之。二、餓鬼道:成中品十惡業者趣之三、畜生道:成下品十惡業力引向趣之。
以諸欲因緣墜三惡道。雖處人天壽終之後,隨業復更墮三惡道。
 
【證嚴上人開示】

「修菩薩行多聞,能深入如來藏,了知無上法味;以此普潤眾生,令其善根增長,是為開甘露門。」
 
修菩薩行多聞
能深入如來藏
了知無上法味
以此普潤眾生
令其善根增長
是為開甘露門
 
修菩薩行就是要多聞,菩薩法是入人群中,要去體會人間很多,無量數人間的煩惱。人世間就是充滿了煩惱、無明、惑,人人在這種無明覆蓋,製造了多少的苦難呢?苦的因原,就是從無明、惑,這樣來的,所以才有苦。佛陀來人間的道理,就是要我們脫離苦,若要脫離苦,就要去除無明、煩惱、惑。這麼多要去除,所以佛陀要教育,有人傳承這個法,吸收了法入心,才能夠身體力行。身體力行者叫做菩薩,所以修行要修菩薩行,而要修菩薩行就要多聞法,法入心就不漏掉。
 
我們法入心,句句銘刻在內心,體會人間的道理,瞭解法,還要體會法。常常說,聞一知十,或者是最差的也能聞一知一,我們若是聞一知一還不行,那就是聞而漏空了。所以,聽法一定要聽,多多少少一定要放在心裡,所以,修行總是要修菩薩行,這是我們的目標;不是獨善其身,是要兼利他人。所以修行必定要修菩薩行,菩薩行一定要多聞。
 
若能多聞,才能夠「能深入如來藏」。你若對天地宇宙法都瞭解了,我們就能漸漸入如來藏;一方面,法瞭解了,除無明煩惱,心清淨,入人群不受污染,這樣就是慢慢會入如來藏來了。深入如來藏是我們修行的趣向,我們修因趣果,所以我們在因行中就是菩薩行,我們的方向就是回歸如來藏。我們能契會佛法,佛法的源頭就是藏,藏在人人的心,因為人人本具佛性,人人覺性慧海都是本具,只是我們無明煩惱覆蔽,所以一直與如來藏,就是兩相違背。
 
如來藏,(有)清淨無染(的本性),而我們偏偏凡夫是滿心煩惱,這是兩相違背。我們最重要的是知道方法,如何去除煩惱、無明,這才有機會深入如來藏。若能與如來藏會合,了知無上法味,這種法的滋味入心來,這種法的滋味,時時我們都是法喜充滿。法的滋味如甘露,你們若說,問:「師父,甘露的氣味長什麼樣?」不可說、不可說啊!「斯人飲水,冷暖自知」。說不定你們聽法,聽得完全一點滋味都沒有,說不定我在說的時候,我自己說得津津有味,很歡喜,各人的感受不同。
 
我們現在就是要學得,「法」入我們的心,感受是相同。聽到,就是有各種的法味,在我們的內心,體會了,瞭解這句的道理,我們瞭解了,將這句話深入我們的生命中──煩惱,我還有幾種煩惱,我應該除的。你若能夠除掉,入如來藏之後,我們愈是體會如來藏,愈接近,聽法的心得就愈來愈有滋味。所以,入如來藏,「了知無上法味」。
 
「以此普潤眾生」。能夠這樣,法入我們的心,我們就能滔滔不絕。要和人說話,一句話,我們就能用很多我們所瞭解的,眾生有什麼煩惱,我們要趕快膚慰他,要如何安慰他呢?用這個法,這句我聽進去了,我就能一句話,說很多的道理來安慰他,適應他所需要,適應他所遇到的困難。
 
就如在最近,天津發生了一場爆炸。到底是什麼樣的化學物,囤積在倉庫裡,突然間就這樣爆炸起來,受傷,有死有傷。在那個碼頭,那個地方有很多工廠,很多倉庫,很多要出口的東西,所以來(聚)集在那個地方,工作的人很多,來自各省不同地方。這件事情發生了,受傷的人住院了,往生的往生了,但是(那些)沒有受傷,不過工廠或是碼頭,無法再工作的人,從各省來,何去何從?回家路遙遠啊!
 
在天津的慈濟人就及時去關懷,配合當地政府他們的規則,我們去做關懷。天津慈濟人不夠多,北京大家就近來投入。看到他們不論是在收容所,或者是在醫院,他們在膚慰,他們還是句句,適應他們來自哪裡,現在心的驚惶,他們就以他們所來的地方,現在心的驚惶,應對。各人都有他們,來打工的家庭背景,那種困難,他們適應他們的困難,這樣去膚慰他。
 
若是他們的家鄉,接近有我們慈濟人的地方,大家對慈濟就說:「遇到這件事情,我很怕、很怕,不過,看到你們這麼真誠來安慰我,我不怕了,覺得很溫暖。你們大家很好啊!世間很溫暖,有這麼多人在關心我們。」
 
慈濟人就告訴他:「」你住的地方,那裡也有我們的慈濟人,回去你要記得去找他們,他們也能幫助,或者是你們也能夠投入,同樣可以做人間的好人。「好啊!我若回去,我一定會去找。」看到他們在膚慰他們,在這個時候,應他們來自何方,家庭背景、困難,他們用法膚慰,又引導他們回到故鄉時,「哪個地方,有我們的慈濟人在那裡,你們有困難可以找他們,大家都能常常聯絡。」
 
像這樣,這就是瞭解善法,善法有方向,有地點、有方向,就近的如何膚慰,較遠的就聯絡照顧,這也就是普潤眾生。用心得,接受來的善法,跟他們說,說師父說的,這樣轉達給他們,然後用他們的心得與他們分享,膚慰他們。這就是聽了法,有法味,他能再滋潤,普遍滋潤眾生。
 
眾生芸芸,所以需要菩薩在人間,菩薩要遍布在任何一個地點,都有共同有志一同,走在這條菩提道上。自古無始以來,這條路就已經有很多人在走,我們現在也不能斷,同樣要繼續鋪這條路,鋪這條路,更多人來走。所以生生世世,要普潤眾生,就如在鋪路一樣。
 
「令其善根增長」。希望人人接受到法。受了苦難,接受了法,去除了苦難,安穩了心,「苦既拔已,復為說法」,讓他們的心安定下來,善根再增長。善根增長,回去他就會再去找,法在那個點,要如何再延續下去。像這樣,「以此普潤眾生,令其善根增長,是為開甘露門」。這甘露之門要如何開,讓人人都有機會接受到甘露。
 
甘露,我們昨天說過,是長生不死的藥。這種慧命是永恆,哪怕是在樹稍的露珠,這樣盛下來,一點一滴這樣盛下來,也能滋潤我們的慧命。或者是甘露遍灑在大地,普潤在大地,大地,點點滴滴的露水落大地,也能滋潤大地,成長那顆種子的芽。這就是開甘露門,讓佛法能夠普潤群生,唯有我們要修菩薩行。
 
菩薩行要多聞,不是只聽,聽了之後就要趕快用,有聽、有用,自然就源源不斷。如我們懂得掘井,井掘到了,泉水就不斷湧現出來;我們若不掘井,這個水,地表面上,你看不到水。道理和這個一樣,你若不用功,沒有身體力行,儘管我們的心地,還是同樣有法水的脈,水脈存在,卻是我們沒有用功,心地的水脈沒有湧現出來。
 
要不然,我們都有湧泉,法脈湧泉,只要你一理通,很多道理就能達,叫做「一理通,萬理達」。我們就要聞,聞了之後思考,思考之後,很豐富的法在內心,我們就能身體力行。所以,菩薩道非常的重要,我們才有辦法一直身體力行,去體會到才愈來愈感受,感受愈深,我們就入如來藏去了,這樣才能得到法味。
 
我們有了法味,知道滋味了,我們才有辦法滋潤眾生,與大家分享,我們才能讓眾生成長善根,有能讓人人真正體會法,來成長慧命。這就是要有起頭,也要步步踏實精進。聞法、聽法是很需要,但是體會更需要,所以這段(文字),與我們現在,在說的<化城喻品>,大家都要記得。
 
梵天王,從東方而東南而南方,東、南、西、北,全都四方,上、下,梵天王帶領著梵天眾,都這樣一一來到,大通智勝佛的道場,表達出那一分虔誠供養的心。這已經一段時間了,現在還是在這個地方。
 
前面的(偈)文就說,「普智天人尊」,因為再偈頌,「哀愍群萌類,能開甘露門,廣度於一切。」
 
普智天人尊
哀愍群萌類
能開甘露門
廣度於一切
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
諸梵天王來到道場,大通智勝佛在菩提樹下,大家恭敬,後面一定就是請法。請法,雖然是一個人代表,卻是大家共同一心,這樣來重說偈言,大家的心聲,共同表達出來,所以讚歎佛,「普智天人尊,哀愍群萌類。」佛、大覺者,要慈悲。大覺者的慈悲就是這樣,「人傷我痛,人苦我悲」,這一分「無緣大慈,同體大悲」,開甘露門,在轉法輪,就是廣度一切眾生。
 
接下來這段(偈)文,這樣說了,「於昔無量劫,空過無有佛,世尊未出時,十方常闇瞑,三惡道增長,阿修羅亦盛,諸天眾轉減,死多墮惡道。」
 
於昔無量劫
空過無有佛
世尊未出時
十方常闇瞑
三惡道增長
阿修羅亦盛
諸天眾轉減
死多墮惡道
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
 
這段(偈)文,我們再用心體會。「於昔無量劫」表示很久了,「空過無有佛」,過去已經一段時間,很長久了。
 
於昔無量劫
空過無有佛:
明三界苦果
於往昔時
無量劫數
悉皆空過
無有佛出
 
無量劫,那就是很長的時間,這段時間,空過無佛,這就是表示沒有佛出世,世間就如黑暗了,所以三界苦果。因為人人弓眾生心中無明,無明就是黑暗,黑暗叫做無明,黑暗了,所以無明。無明覆蔽,就一直造了很多苦因,受很多苦果。
 
這是在三界內,還沒斷生死,無明容易產生。哪怕是梵天,同樣也要來求法,哪怕是一點點的惑,天壽享盡了,光是那一點惑未斷,他的生死就無法全斷除,所以他也要再來究竟瞭解佛法,如何斷生死、三界的無明。
 
「三界」,一直跟大家說,在我們的思想中,無色,看不到,道理不明,那就是無色界;色界,富有的物質;欲界是充滿了欲念,這叫做三界。在我們能接受的範圍,我們用這個方向去體會三界。若要從佛法去說三界,就很長、很深了,不是我們現在用得到。現在要用得到的,是我們的思想觀念,以及我們的行為動作,我們的生死苦難很現實,我們要好好去用心瞭解。所以「(明)三界苦果」。
 
「於往昔時,無量劫數」,很長久的時間了,「悉皆空過」。對我們自己的生命中來說,到底我們已經是多久的時間,我們心中的無明、惑,這樣讓我們不斷在三界中,受盡了苦果。因為我們造不少的苦因,所以就得到很多的苦果,時間很長。我們若用這樣的方式來解釋,這段經文與我們息息相關,不只是梵天王說時間過很久,是我們自己墮落在五道四生,真的也是很久了。
 
所以我們到底,哪一生世遇到佛呢?遇到佛,我們有把法聽進去嗎?有法,沒有入心,等於沒有法;沒有法,就是心中沒有佛,這種「空過無有佛」的世界,空過,沒有佛的時間,我們永遠都是在黑暗中。所以「無(有)佛出」,我們的心靈世界就是這樣,時間這麼長了。
 
回歸文字,諸梵天讚頌。這其中,我們從開始,梵天王因為這道光,在大通智勝佛的道場。開始現這道光芒照耀,從東方梵天王開始,又有東南方的梵天王,又有南方梵天王,又有現在上方的梵天王,其實東、南、西、北方的,梵天王都來了。所以在這個地方就說,大家同心同頌這個法。
 
諸梵天頌中
東南方梵云
一百八十劫
南方梵天王云
一百三十劫
今上方梵天王云
往昔無量劫
 
這其中有東南方的梵天王,偈頌中說「一百八十劫」。我們若還記得,東南方梵天王也是同樣,向大通智勝佛這樣說,經過了一百八十劫。南方的梵天王也是這樣說,但是他說「過一百三十劫」。現在呢,上方的梵天王,他所說的「往昔無量劫」。這個時間好像不一樣?同樣是梵天,為什麼時間不同呢?當然,世界不同。
 
就如我們現在在這個太陽系裡,在這太陽系有行星,周圍有行星,地球繞著太陽,不只是地球繞太陽,還有水星、金星,還有火星、土星,還有天王星,還有海王星,但是它們繞太陽的天數也不同。我們地球繞一圈是三百六十五天。若是水星,繞一圈才有八十八天,二個多月而已,這就是,水星它一年八十八天,這樣它就算一年了。
 
若是金星呢?金星是二百二十五天,這樣它就一年了。但是我們地球,比它們的時間還短,我們地球繞一圈,那就是三百六十五天。若是火星,它繞一圈就是六百八十七天,就是我們的一年十個多月。若是土星,繞一圈就是,二十九年多(四十多天),他們的一年,是我們的二十九年多。天王星呢?若是繞一年,就是我們的八十四年了。若是海王星這樣繞一圈,就是我們地球一百六十五年。
 
看看,在這宇宙間多奇妙啊!光是一個太陽系,我們地球在繞,就是感覺上,它就是三百六十幾天,這就是自然法則,就是這樣。
 
地球也是在天空裡的一顆星,繞著太陽的行星之中,我們是三百多天,還有是八十八天的。總而言之,這就是各層天,各個境界,各層次是不同。當然,東、南、西、北方,他們有他們各的世界。我們應該還記得,要來到娑婆世界,佛出生在娑婆,要來到這個世界,都是經過幾萬億國(土),這樣的距離這麼長,可見不是在我們的太陽系之中,是其他的太陽系,不同。有多少太陽系呢?要經過那麼長的空間,來到地球,「世間」,你們想,當然就是要很長久的時間。所以,各個梵天距離不同,所以有這樣,要繞到這個地方來,就要多久時間。
 
上方,就是上面,梵天王就是尸棄大梵,是三界主,來到這個地方,就稱為很久了,「往昔無量劫」,已經很長久了,因為「空過無有佛」,已經空過了。這個空過的時間不同,就是剛剛這樣解釋過。有的梵天到來了,說:「空過一百八十劫」,有的地方說空過一百三十劫,現在從上方來的,就說「往昔無量劫」,很久很久的時間,空過無有佛。長短不同。
 
空過無有佛
何以長短不同
信知佛身無所不在
無時不現
但隨緣所感
故有延促生滅
之見耳
 
我們要相信,佛身無所不在,其實,任何一個地方,應該都有佛,無時不現。其實道理本來就有,佛叫做覺(者),覺,覺就是理,道理,覺悟的道理,其實無所不在、無時不現,道理時時都在我們的面前。你看到人,就有人的生理在,你看到人的表現,我們就知道這個人的心理等等;看到樹,這個植物的物(理),各種物有物理、有生態等等,無時不在,無處不現,道理都是常在。
 
「但隨緣所感」,看我們眾生的因緣。因緣,有時候有機會,但是我們沒有感應到;法在我們的面前,但是我們沒有感覺嘛,所以這就是要看緣。
 
相同一句話,「別人說的,我聽不進去。」而我說的,你們聽得進去,這就是緣啊!或者是我說的,你們聽不進去,別人說的,聽得很高興,這也是緣。所以「隨緣所感,故有延促生滅之見」,自然就有延長的時間,自然就有很接近,很短暫的時間,要看我們的體悟。有的要很久才能瞭解,有的一接觸,馬上體會,馬上壞習氣改掉,馬上就是一心恆持剎那,剎那的覺悟,他永遠都是保持住。有的人根機就是這樣,有的人可能今生來世,還要再繼續,這就是要看因緣、感觸,根與機的會合。
 
世尊未出時
十方常闇瞑:
諸佛世尊
未出世時
十方國土
常如暗昧
 
「世尊未出時,十方常闇瞑」。佛未出現,十方都是這樣黑暗。就如我們若不覺悟,我們的無明黑闇在我們的心,把我們遮蓋了,所以一定要有法來啟動。
 
所以「諸佛世尊,未出世時,十方國土,常如暗昧」。很暗昧,就是這樣黑黑暗暗的,不清楚,霧茫茫,朦朦朧朧,要看前面看不很清楚,這就是我們的無明都還沒去除。所以「三惡道增長,阿修羅亦盛」。
 
三惡道增長
阿修羅亦盛:
世間無師
眾生迷惑
增長惡報
及修羅類
 
三惡道就是造作很多惡業,三惡道。三惡道,我們前次說過了,阿修羅,就是沒有修行的人,這種阿修羅,雖然有財產,他有造福,但是沒有修養,這種阿修羅很昌盛。
 
「世間無導師」,世間欠缺一位引導的導師。佛是三界導師,也是眾生的慈父,但是世間遇不到這樣的人,所以很長久了,修行成就的覺者還沒遇到,所以說世間無導師。「眾生迷惑」,自然眾生就迷惑。「增長惡報」,所造作一切都是錯誤的,所以修羅,修羅道的人生也是很多。所以說來,我們要很用心。阿修羅,這在社會處處皆是,很多阿修羅。
 
「諸天眾轉減」,諸天眾減少,「死多墮惡道」,這就是諸天縱欲。
 
諸天眾轉減
死多墮惡道:
諸天縱欲
福盡退墮
死時多生惡道之中
 
若是天,在欲界的天,也是這樣縱欲,因為還在欲界,享受貪著在欲裡,所以叫做「諸天眾轉減」,慢慢就會減少了。因為天福若享盡,還有貪欲的心,他還是福盡退墮,同樣會退墮,所以「死時多生惡道」,往生之後,同樣要再墮落惡道。
 
這就是在欲界,光是會享受福。世間也是有這樣的,「有錢,是我的,我自己不享受,為什麼我要去幫助人?」這種要捐錢,捐多了,不捨,捐少了,沒面子,所以我自己用比較簡單。這種財富很多,但是就是不願意接受,人間佛法的教育,所以他就是縱欲,「福盡退墮」,死多生惡道中。這就是我們在欲界很危險,就是這樣。
 
人生無常,什麼時候一口氣不來?這我們都不知道。人的生命都是在呼吸間,什麼時候會,會生病,我們也不知。人生,病是最苦的,最驚惶的事情,所以,這實在是苦不堪。平時不只是做好事,我們還要修行,真正將我們的內心,不是這樣蓋住而已,蓋住這顆種子,意識還在,這個無明識還在,我們要借這個人間,能讓我們修行的機會。我們一方面,有錢就要趕緊捨,有力量要趕緊出,要如何在人與人之間結好緣,將我們過去的習氣,要趕緊改過來,在人與人之間,我們沒有那分惡念,若能夠這樣,自然我們就生死自在了,自然我們就不必再墮落惡道。
 
依惡業
可往來之處有三所
名為三惡道
一、 地獄道:
上品十惡業者趣之
二、 餓鬼道:
成中品十惡業者
趣之
三、 畜生道:
成下品十惡業力
引向趣之
 
所以惡業,哪怕是生在天上,享受天福,天壽盡了,種子,惡的種子,還是同樣會現前。所以「依惡業可往來之處」,是在哪裡呢?三個地方,那就是三惡道。第一,就是在地獄道。地獄道是造極惡的人,要墮地獄道,叫做上品十惡業的人,他就會去地獄道。第二,就是餓鬼道。就是造中品十惡的人,他就到餓鬼道去。若是下品十惡,就是到畜生道。
 
在畜生道,那就是過去他造惡,對人沒有很壞,但是不孝;對人也沒有多壞,但是對兄弟姊妹無情,對朋友不忠。這是較輕微,但是就是將來也是墮惡道,所以說來,下品十惡,引向趣之的地方就是在畜生道。所以,這三惡道,隨時在人天都有壽盡時,做人也一樣,天(人)也一樣,總有壽盡的一天,隨我們所造作的業力,就是趣向在三惡道裡。
 
以諸欲因緣
墜三惡道
雖處人天壽終之後
隨業復更墮三惡道
 
所以,我們在每一天的生活,時間,我們要好好把握,修菩薩行,我們法要多聞,聽了法,一切境界無不都是法,無處不在,佛無時不現,都是在我們的周圍境界。只要我們有用心,將法落實在生活中,到處都有法在教育我們,只要我們時時多用心。


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Penetrating the Tathagata-garbha (入如來藏開甘露門)
Date: March.01. 2017
 
“As we engage in the Bodhisattva-practice, we must learn extensively to be able to penetrate the Tathagata-garbha and understand the supreme flavor of the Dharma. We use this to widely nourish sentient beings and enable their roots of goodness to grow. This is opening the door of ambrosial dew.”
 
To engage in the Bodhisattva-practice, we must learn extensively. The Bodhisattva Way is to go among people and experience this world’s many, countless worldly afflictions. The human realm is full of afflictions, ignorance and delusions. Underneath the ignorance that covers us all, how much suffering do we create? The source of suffering is ignorance and delusion; this is what brings about suffering. The principle behind the Buddha coming to this world was for us to be able to transcend suffering. If we wish to transcend suffering, we must eliminate ignorance, afflictions and delusion. There are so many things we must eliminate. Thus, the Buddha had to teach, and there must be people to take up this Dharma. We must take the Dharma into our heart; only then can we put it into practice. Those who put the Dharma into practice are called Bodhisattvas. So, as spiritual practitioners, we must engage in the Bodhisattva-practice, and to engage in the Bodhisattva-practice, we must extensively learn the teachings. When the Dharma is taken to heart, we must not let it leak away. When we take the Dharma to heart, we engrave every word of it deeply in our mind. Then we experience the principles of life. We must understand the Dharma and moreover must experience it.
 
I often say, hearing one thing, we understand ten, or at worst, hearing one thing, we understand one. If we cannot hear one thing and understand it, we are letting [the Dharma] leak away on hearing. So, to learn the Dharma, we must truly listen and take at least some of it to heart. Thus, in our spiritual practice, we must engage in the Bodhisattva-practice. This is our goal. We do not seek to just benefit ourselves; we want to benefit others at the same time. So, in our spiritual practice, we need to engage in the Bodhisattva-practice.
 
Engaging in the Bodhisattva-practice, we must learn extensively. Only if we learn extensively will we be able to “penetrate the Tathagata-garbha.” If we understand all the Dharma of the universe, we will gradually be able to penetrate the Tathagata-garbha. First, when we understand the Dharma, we eliminate ignorance and afflictions, then with pure minds, we will not be contaminated as we go among people. Thus, we will gradually enter the Tathagata-garbha. Deeply delving into the Tathagata-garbha is the direction of our spiritual practice. We cultivate the causes and obtain the effects. So, in our causal practice, we engage in the Bodhisattva-practice. Our direction is to return to the Tathagata-garbha. We can resonate with the Buddha-Dharma, and the source of the Buddha-Dharma is this storehouse (garbha); it is hidden in everyone’s minds.
 
Since everyone intrinsically has Buddha-nature, we all intrinsically have an ocean of enlightened wisdom. It is simply hidden by our ignorance and afflictions. Thus, we are continually going in the opposite direction from our Tathagata-garbha. The Tathagata-garbha is pure and undefiled, while we unenlightened beings are filled with afflictions. These are complete opposites. Most important is for us to know the methods of eliminating our afflictions and ignorance; only then will we have an opportunity to deeply penetrate the Tathagata-garbha. If we can unite with the Tathagata-garbha, we will know the supreme flavor of the Dharma. If we take the flavor of Dharma into our hearts, the flavor of this Dharma constantly fills us with Dharma-joy. The flavor of the Dharma is like ambrosial dew. If you were to ask, “Master, what is the scent of ambrosial dew?” It cannot be said; it is unexplainable. “Only the person who drinks the water knows if it is hot or cold.” Perhaps when you listen to the Dharma, you feel it has no flavor at all. Perhaps while I am speaking. I feel that what I am saying is full of flavor, and I am very joyful. Everyone’s experience is different. What we must learn now is to take the Dharma to heart so we have the same experience. As we hear it, we will have all the various kinds of Dharma-flavor in our hearts. So, we realize and comprehend these principles. We attain understanding and allow these words to deeply penetrate our life. How many kinds of afflictions do we still have that we need to eliminate? If we can eliminate [these afflictions], and penetrate the Tathagata-garbha, afterwards, the more we experience the Tathagata-garbha, the closer we will draw to it, and our realizations from listening to the Dharma will have more and more of its flavor.
 
So, penetrating the Tathagata-garbha means “We understand the supreme flavor of the Dharma. We use this to widely nourish sentient beings.” If the Dharma can enter our hearts in this way, we will be able to teach it endlessly. When we need to talk to people, with every phrase, we will be able to use all the many things we have understood. When sentient beings have all fictions, we need to quickly comfort them. How do we comfort them? We apply the Dharma. Every sentence we have taken to heart is a sentence that can be used to explain many principles to comfort them, accommodating their needs and the difficulties they have encountered.
 
For instance, recently, there was an explosion in Tainjin, China. What kind of chemicals were stored in that warehouse to suddenly cause this kind of explosion? There were injuries and fatalities. At that pier, at that place, there are many factories and many warehouses that store many things for export. So, there were many workers in that place from many different provinces. After this incident occurred, those that were injured stayed in hospitals, and there were others that had died. But those who were not injured lost their employment at the factories or the pier. They came from different provinces. What were they going to do? Home is so far away!
 
Tianjin’s Tzu Chi volunteers quickly went to show their care and concern. Working with the local government’s guidelines, they went to care for them. There were not enough volunteers in Tianjin. So, those from Beijing came to help. We could see how, whether at shelters or at hospitals, they were there giving comfort. With every word they said, they adapted to the backgrounds of [the survivors]. [They responded to] the shock people were in according to the place they were from. In response to the present shock, the volunteers adapted; each had their own reasons for coming there to work and their own difficulties, so they comforted them according to the difficulties they had encountered.
 
Perhaps their hometown was near a place with Tzu Chi volunteers; they would tell the Tzu Chi Volunteers, “When this happened to me, I was very terrified, very scared, but now, seeing how sincerely you came to comfort me, I am no longer scared and feel very warm inside. You are all so wonderful. This world is full of warmth. There are so many people who care for us.” The Tzu Chi volunteers would tell them, “The place you are from also has Tzu Chi volunteers. After you go home, remember to look them up. They can help you too or you can get involved yourself to likewise become someone’s benefactor in life.” “Yes, if I go back. I will definitely look them up.” We saw how the volunteers comforted them at a time like this, considering the places they came from, their family background and difficulties. They applied the Dharma to comfort them and also guided them to [get involved] after returning to their hometown. “The place also has Tzu Chi volunteers. If you have difficulties, please look for them. Let us keep in touch.” This shows they have understood the virtuous Dharma. Virtuous Dharma has a direction; it has a location and direction. We comfort those who are nearby. For those farther away, we keep in contact and provide care. This is how to widely nourish sentient beings; they used the virtuous Dharma they had taken in. They spoke with them, telling them what I said. They passed this on to them, then they shared their own understanding and comforted them.
 
This is how, after listening to the Dharma, with the flavor of the Dharma they can then wisely nourish sentient begins. There are myriad sentient beings. So, we need Bodhisattvas in this world. Bodhisattvas must spread everywhere; in every place they go, they share the same mission and walk the Budhi-path. Since Beginningless Time, so many have been walking this path. We cannot stop now. We must continue to pave this path for even more people to walk on. So, life after life, we must widely nourish all sentient begins; this is like paving a road.
 
“[We] enable their roots of goodness to grow.” We hope everyone will accept the Dharma. After those in suffering receive the Dharma, their suffering will be eliminated, and their minds will feel stable. “Having relieved them from suffering, [Bodhisattvas] then expound the Dharma for them.” They help people’s minds settle down and help their roots of goodness grow. As their roots of goodness grow, when they go back they will look for ways to carry on the Dharma in that place. In this way, “We use this to widely nourish sentient begins and enable their roots of goodness to grow. This is opening the door of ambrosial dew.” How can we open the door of ambrosial dew to give everyone the opportunity to receive this ambrosial dew? We spoke of ambrosial dew yesterday. It is an elixir for immortality. The wisdom-life [nourished by it] is everlasting. Even if it is just dewdrops on the tip of a tree’s branches, if we collect it drop by drop, it can still nourish our wisdom-life. Or, if this ambrosial dew covers the entire earth, it universally nourishes all things on it. Even dewdrops that fall drop by drop on the ground can nourish the land, allowing seeds to sprout. This is opening the door of ambrosial dew, letting the Buddha-Dharma nourish sentient beings. This can only be achieved through our engaging in the Bodhisattva-practice.
 
The Bodhisattva-practice requires us to learn extensively. We do not merely listen. After listening, we must quickly apply it. By listening to and then applying it, we naturally have an inexhaustible source. This is like knowing how to dig a well; once we have dug the well,the spring water will endlessly bubble up. If we do not dig a well, this water will not be seen at the surface. The principle is the same. If we do not work hard to put the teachings into practice, although in our minds there is an aquifer of Dharma-water, although this water vein is there, if we do not put in effort, the water in our minds will not spring forth. We all have this gushing spring of Dharma-water. As long as we grasp one truth, we can understand many principles. “By grasping one truth, we understand all truths.” So, we must listen and, after listening, contemplate. After we contemplate, with an abundance of Dharma in our mind, we can put it into practice. So, the Bodhisattva-path is very important. Only [by practicing it] are we able to put the teachings into action to experience them; then we have a stronger sense. As our sense [of the teachings] grows deeper, we can penetrate the Tathagata-garbha. This is how we can attain the flavor of the Dharma. Once we have attained the flavor of the Dharma, once we know it, we will be able to nourish sentient beings by sharing it with everyone. In this way we are able to help sentient beings develop their roots of goodness, help everyone to truly experience the Dharma and grow in wisdom-life.
 
To do this, we need a starting point and must be steadfast and grounded as we advance. Learning the teachings is very important, but it is even more important to experience them. So, this passage [continues from] what we have been speaking of in the Chapter on the Parable of the Conjured City. Everyone should remember how the Brahma kings journeyed from the east, southeast and south. From east, south, west and north, from all four directions, above and below, the Brahma king brought all in the Brahma heavens and came one after the other to Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha’s place of enlightenment to show their reverence in making offerings. I have already taught about this for a while, and we are still reading about this scene.
 
The previous sutra passage says, “one of universal wisdom honored by heavenly beings and humans.” This is now repeated verse. “You have mercy on all kinds of sprouts. You can open the door of ambrosial dew to widely transform all.”
 
The Brahma kings all came to the place of enlightenment where Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha was [sitting] beneath the Bodhi-tree. Everyone would pay their respects and then would certainly request the Dharma. Though one representative requested the Dharma, everyone was of one mind, as together they repeated themselves in verse. Together they expressed what was in their hearts. So, they praised the Buddha, “One of universal wisdom honored by heavenly beings and humans. You have mercy on all kinds of sprouts.” The Buddha, the Great Enlightened One, is compassionate. His compassion is such that “He feels others’ pain and suffering as His own.” This is unconditional loving-kindness and universal compassion. He opens the door of ambrosial dew and turns the Dharma-wheel to widely transform all sentient beings.
 
Next, in the following passage, they say, “In the past, countless kalpas have passed in vain with no Buddha. Before the World-Honored One appeared, the ten directions were constantly in darkness. The numbers in the Three Evil Realms increased, and asuras also thrived. Those in the heaven realm diminished in number. Upon death, they mostly fell into the evil realms.”
 
We must mindfully comprehend these verse. “In the past, countless kalpas” means a very long time “has passed in vain with no Buddha.” In the past, there had already been a very long stretch of time.
 
In the past, countless kalpas have passed in vain with no Buddha: This expresses the fruit of suffering of the Three Realms. In the past, countless kalpas had passed in vain, with no Buddha appearing.
 
Countless kalpas is a very long time. This period of time passed without a Buddha. This means that no Buddha was born in the world. It was as if the world were in darkness. So, the fruit of the suffering of the Three Realms is because of the ignorance in sentient beings’ minds. Ignorance is darkness. Darkness is ignorance. It is dark, so there is ignorance. Ignorance covers us so we continually create many causes of suffering and reap many fruits of suffering. This is in the Three Realms, where sentient beings have not transcended cyclic existence and easily produce ignorance. Even those in the Brahma heavens sought the Dharma. though they had only the slightest delusions, when their heavenly lifespans come to an end, the remaining slightest delusions alone will cause them to be unable to end samsara. So, the Brahma kings all still needed to come again to understand the Buddha-Dharma and the way to end cyclic existence and the ignorance of the Three Realms. Regarding the Three Realms, I have continually told everyone that out thoughts are formless; we cannot see them, and the principles are unclear. That is in the formless realm. The form realm has an abundance of material things. The desire realm is full of desires. These are called the Three Realms. Within the scope of what we can accept, we can use this direction to comprehend the Three Realms.
 
If we want to explain the Three Realms from the Buddha Dharma, it would take a long time, this is very profound. This is not something we can make use of now. What we can work on now are our thoughts and perspectives, as well as our behavior and actions. Our suffering of cyclic existence is very real. We must put effort into understanding it.
 
So, “This expresses the fruit of suffering of the Three Realms in the past, countless kalpas had passed.” A very long period of time, countless kalpas, have passed in vain. As far as our own life is concerned, just how much time have we passed through with ignorance and delusion in our minds? This has kept us continually in the Three Realms, where we receive much fruit of suffering. This is because we have and thus receive the fruits of much suffering over a long period time. If we explain this sutra passage this way, it is closely related to us. It not only explains that Brahma kings have passed through a long time, we ourselves have fallen into the Five Destinies and the four forms of birth for a long period of time.
 
So, in which life will we encounter a Buddha? If we encounter the Buddha, will we take the Dharma to heart? If the Dharma is there and not taken to heart, it is the same as having no Dharma at all. Without the Dharma, the Buddha is not in our heart. In the time that passed in vain with no Buddha, we had been constantly [living] in darkness. So, “with no Buddha appearing means our state of mind has been like this.” It has been such a long time.
 
Returning to the sutra passage, it says all of the Brahma heavens praised [Him]. In [this passage], we saw that is began because the Brahma kings saw the light. At Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha’s place of enlightenment, this light began to shine. It began with the Brahma kings of the east then the Brahma kings of the southeast, the Brahma kings of the south and the Brahma kings from above. Actually, from the north, south, east and west, all of the Brahma kings came. So, here it says that everyone praised the Dharma with one mind.
 
Among the praises of all the Brahma kings, the Brahma kings from the southeast said that 180 kalpas had passed, the Brahma kings from the south said that 130 kalpas had passed and now the Brahma kings from above said that countless kalpas have passed.
 
There was a Brahma king from the southeast who spoke in verse saying, “180 kalpas had passed.” If we still remember, the Brahma king from the southeast also said to Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha that 180 kalpas had passed. The Brahma king of the south also said this, but he said that “130 kalpas had passed.” And now? The Brahma king from above said that “countless kalpas have passed.” It seems that the times are different. They are all from the Brahma heavens. So, why are the times different? Of course it is because their worlds are different. It is like our solar system. This solar system has planets. The surrounding planets and our Earth revolve around the sun. It is not just Earth revolving around the sun. There are also Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. But the amount of days it takes to rotate varies. For the Earth, it takes 365 days. If it is Mercury, one revolution only takes 88 Earth days. That is only two months! So, for Mercury, it takes only 88 Earth days, to go through a full year. What if it is Venus? For Venus, it is 225 Earth days. This is a year [for Venus]. But on our Earth, the length of time is comparatively shorter. For our Earth to make one revolution, that will take 365 days. If it is Mars, it will take 687 Earth days to make one revolution. This is equal to one year and 10 months for us. If it is Saturn, one revolution is 29 Earth years and 40 some days! It still rotates the Sun, but its year is [equal to] over 29 our [Earth] years. What about Uranus? One of its years is equal to 84 of our years! If it is Neptune that is making a revolution, it will take 165 of our Earth years!
 
Look how wondrous the universe is! In our solar system alone, when our Earth makes a revolution, we feel it is 360 some days. This is how the laws of nature work. Earth is one of the planets in space that rotates around the sun in our solar system. It takes us more than 300 days to go around. There is another planet that takes 88 of our days. To sum it up, different heavenly worlds different states, are all different levels.
 
Naturally then, the north, south, east and west [Brahma kings] had their own worlds. We should still remember that they had come to this Saha World. The Buddha was born into this Saha World. To come to this world, they had to pass through several trillion lands. So, it was a very far distance. Clearly, it is not within our solar system. It was a different solar system. How many solar systems are there? They had to traverse such a vast distance to arrive at Earth, this world. So you see, of course it takes a very long time. The distance for each Brahma heaven is different. So, with this in mind, to come to this land will take a long time.
 
For those from above, the Brahma kings were led by Brahma King Sikhin, lord of the Three Realms, to come to this land, it took a very long time. “In the past, countless kalpas” meant a very long time. Because they “passed in vain with no Buddha,” the time had already passed in vain. The amount of time that passed was different. It is like what we just explained. [The kings of] some Brahma heavens came down and said, “180 kalpas have passed.”    For some places 130 kalpas had passed in vain. Now those from above said that countless kalpas had passed. That is a very, very long time that had passed in vain with no Buddha. The lengths of time were different.
 
Passed in vain with no Buddha: Why was the length of time different? It is believed and known that the Buddha’s body exists in all places and appears in all times. However, according to their conditions and how they perceive, sentient beings see His life as long or short.
 
We believe the Buddha’s body exists in all places. Actually, in any place, there should always be a Buddha that manifests. In fact, the principles have always been there. The Buddha is called the Enlightened One. Enlightenment is the principles, the principles of enlightenment. There is no place that they do not exist; they appear in all times. The principles are always before us. When we look at people, we can see the principles of living beings. From their demeanor, we know the principles of their mind, and so on. Look at a tree; this is a principle of [living] matter. Every kind of thing follows principles to live. There is no time or place principles do not exist. The principles exist at all times. “According to their conditions and how they perceive…” Look at sentient beings’ causes and conditions.
 
Sometimes we have an opportunity from these causes and conditions, but we do not respond to it. The Dharma is right in front of us, but we do not perceive it. So, we must look at our conditions. “The same sentence is said, but when others said it, I couldn’t accept it. But when it came from you, I could accept it.”   This is affinity. Or, when I spoke, you did not take it in. When others spoke, you were happy to accept it. This is also affinity. So, “According to their conditions and how they perceive, sentient beings see His life as long or short.” Naturally, there will be times that seem long. Naturally, there will be times that seem to be very short. This depends on whether we can awaken. Some people need a long time before understanding. Others immediately comprehend on contact, immediately changing their bad habitual tendencies. Right away, they can wholeheartedly maintain their present aspirations; their moment of awakening will continue to be preserved forever. Some people’s capabilities are like this. In this present life, some people may have to continue [seeking]. It depends on causes and conditions, perceptions, roots and capabilities converging.
 
“Before the World-Honored One appeared, the ten directions were constantly in darkness.”  Before the Buddha appeared, the ten directions were in darkness. This is how, if we are not awakened, the ignorance and darkness in our mind will cover us. Thus, we must have the Dharma to get us started. So, “Before all Buddhas, the World- Honored Ones, manifest in the world, the lands in ten directions are constantly as if in darkness.” It is very dark; this kind of darkness is unclear, with fog and haze. We cannot clearly see what is ahead. This is our ignorance that has not been eliminated. So, “The numbers in the three Evil Realms increased, and asuras also thrived.”
 
The numbers in the Three Evil Realms increased, and asuras also thrived: With no teacher in this world, sentient beings are deluded. Their negative retributions grow, as does asurakind.
 
The three Evil Realms are for those who created much evil karma. We spoke of the Three Evil Realms last time. Asuras are those who have not engaged in spiritual practice. Asuras, though they have wealth and create blessings, have no spiritual cultivation. The number of asuras grows quickly [when] there is no guiding teacher in the world, when the world lacks a guiding teacher. The Buddha is the guiding teacher of the Three Realms and the kind father of sentient beings. But this kind of person is hard to encounter in the world. Thus, after a long time, spiritual practitioners had not encountered an enlightened one. So, they said the world had no guiding teacher. “Sentient beings are deluded.” Naturally, when sentient beings are deluded, “their negative retributions grow.” So, this is how all wrongdoings are created. Thus, there are asuras in the asura realm and also many asuras in the human realm as well.
 
This is why we must be very mindful. Asuras are everywhere in this society. “Those in the heaven realm diminished in number. Upon death, they mostly fell into evil realms.”    This is because those in the heaven realm indulge in their desires.
 
Those in the heaven realm diminished in number. Upon death, they mostly fell into evil realms: Those in the heaven realm indulge their desires. They deplete their blessings and fall. Upon death, they are mostly reborn in the evil realms.
 
Heavenly beings in the desire realm also indulge in their desires. Because they are still in the desire realm, they indulge in the enjoyment of pleasures. So, this is why, “Those in the heaven realm diminished in number.” They gradually diminished in number, because when heavenly blessings are depleted, their minds still give rise to desire. They will fall after their blessings are depleted. They can still fall into a lower realm. So, “Upon death, they mostly fell into evil realms,” After they died, they likewise fell into a lower realm. In the desire realm, all they do is indulge in pleasures. In this world, some people are also this way. “I have money; it is mine. Why should I, instead of enjoying pleasures, go help other people?” When it comes to donating, they cannot bear to donate too much. But donating too little makes them look bad. So, it is easier for them to just spend the money. These people have much wealth, but they are not willing to accept the teachings of the Buddha-Dharma. So, they indulge in pleasure. “They deplete their blessings and fall.” Upon death, they mostly fall into evil realms. This is the danger of the desire realm. This is how it is. Life is impermanent. We do not know when our last breath will be. We live only as long as we breathe. We do not know when we will become ill. In this life, illness is the greatest suffering, it is the most frightening. So, it really is unbearable suffering. In daily life, besides doing good deeds, we must also engage in spiritual practice. We must do so from the bottom of our hearts. We cannot let it remain covered up, covering up this seed, our consciousness still exists, this ignorance in our consciousness is still there. We must make use of this opportunity to engage in spiritual practice. On the one hand, if we have money, we should quickly donate it. If we have strength, we should quickly give it. In our interpersonal relationships we must create good affinities with people and quickly change past habitual tendencies. In our interpersonal relationships, we cannot have any thoughts of evil. If we can do this, we will naturally feel at ease with life and death. We will naturally not regress into a lower realm.
 
So, with evil karma, even if we are born in heaven and enjoy heavenly blessings, once our heavenly lifespan ends, the seed of evil still manifest. So, “There are three places where those with evil karma go.” Where are these three places? They are the Three Evil Realms. First, there is the hell realm. Hell is for those who create the greatest evil. Those who fall into the hell realm are those who create severe karma of the Ten Evils. They will fall into hell. Second is the hungry ghost realm. Those who create average karma of the Ten Evils fall into the hungry ghost realm. Those who create mild karma fall into the animal realm. As for the animal realm, it is for those who committed evil deeds that did not harm people greatly. However, they were not filial. They were not very harmful to others, but they were heartless to their siblings and disloyal to friends. They committed slight wrongdoings; however, they still fell into a lower realm. So, speaking of the mild karma of the Ten Evils, the place it leads to is the animal realm. Thus, in the Three Evil Realms, both human and heavenly lifespans can end at any time. It is the same for both humans and heavenly beings. A day will always come when our time is up, and we follow the karmic forces we have created to fall into the Three Evil Realms.
 
Due to the causes and conditions of all desires, they fall into the Three Evil Realms. Though they are in the human or heaven realm, after their lives end, they follow their karma and again fall into the Three Evil Realms.
 
So, every day that we are alive, we must earnestly cherish our time. As we engage in the Bodhisattva-practice, we must extensively learn the Dharma. After we listen to the Dharma, [we know] that the Dharma exists in all external states. The Dharma is everywhere, and the Buddha manifests at all times. He is in everything that surrounds us. We only need to be mindful and implement the Dharma in our everyday life. Then everywhere the Dharma will be teaching us as long as we are always mindful.
 

(Source: Da Ai TV – Wisdom at Dawn program – Explanation by Master Chen-Yen)
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20170301《靜思妙蓮華》入如來藏開甘露門 (第1034集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)
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