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 20170302《靜思妙蓮華》成就善因增福慧果 (第1035集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)

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發表主題: 20170302《靜思妙蓮華》成就善因增福慧果 (第1035集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)   周四 3月 02, 2017 4:59 am

20170302《靜思妙蓮華》成就善因增福慧果 (第1035集)
(法華經•
化城喻品

 
能聞佛法體解大道妙用,能轉凡心深入正念覺道,獲大智慧度眾改邪導正,成就良善行因增福慧果。
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
不從佛聞法,常行不善事,色力及智慧,斯等皆減少,罪業因緣故,失樂及樂想,住於邪見法,不識善議則。《法華經化城喻品第七
⊙不從佛聞法,常行不善事:由不從佛聞於正法,常行世間不善之事。
⊙色力及智慧,斯等皆減少:菩薩色相端正,諸天、梵王詣菩薩所,一見之頃,黯然無色,是名色力減。
⊙菩薩行六度入人群,修萬行廣結善緣,內修心寬純潔。然而色力及智慧,斯等皆減少,乃是失正道念。
⊙色力少,則形劣惡陋,無復貴相。智慧減,則心染邪法,無有正慧,皆罪業所致。
⊙罪業因緣故,失樂及樂想:以諸罪業惡因緣故,失於樂報,及以法喜樂想。
⊙失樂及樂想:樂想即樂因。不得人天之福,失樂也。以苦為樂,不知期福修因,故失樂想也。
⊙住於邪見法,不識善議則:住於外道邪見法中,不識修善威儀法則。
 
【證嚴上人開示】

「能聞佛法體解大道妙用,能轉凡心深入正念覺道,獲大智慧度眾改邪導正,成就良善行因增福慧果。」
 
能聞佛法
體解大道妙用
能轉凡心
深入正念覺道
獲大智慧
度眾改邪導正
成就良善行因
增福慧果
 
我們聽法要多聽佛法,佛法瞭解,還要體解。瞭解,知道了,瞭解了,「瞭解」,是法聽完了,知道了,這還沒有真實將法入心,刻在心版裡。法,聽了一定要入心,不只是入心,要銘刻心版,讓這個法能入心,就是一條道路。「經者,道也;道者,路也。」路是我們人生最大的妙用,若沒有路,什麼都不通。所以,道路讓我們條條皆通,這是一個妙用。
 
我們聽法之後,條條道理,我們都銘刻心版,人、事、物,人間、事,這件事合理或不合理?這件事這樣做行得通或行不通?這都是要道理在妙用中。這就是我們要用心,將法、將道的真理好好吸收,我們才能成為大道妙用。要多聽聞,放在心裡,我們才有辦法遇到人事物相,體解了;體解大道,瞭解之後,我們要大發心。
 
體解大道要發無上心,無上心才有辦法大用,將佛法入心,大道妙用。要不然,我們永遠都是隨著日子,人事物相就是這樣懵懵懂懂,不知方向,也不知如何將它應用,回過頭來都是錯誤的事情。再回顧一下,話有少說了幾句,對某個人多說了幾句話;少說的,很遺憾,多說的,很後悔。這種,法要剛剛好,如何待人,有辦法讓道理很適當入心,做事如何能做得很圓滿,這都是要方法清楚,這要多多聞法。
 
我們若有了法,能夠體解,我們才能將法入心,發大心才有辦法體解大道,有了大道入心,才有辦法凡事就是妙,很妙,剛剛好,很適當,這叫做妙用。若這樣,就「能轉凡心深入正念覺道」。凡夫心起起落落,有時發大心,發大心時就立弘誓願,「眾生無邊誓願度」,克盡一切的困難,我就是要度眾生,甘願身體力行苦行中,事事困難,我不怕,生活辛苦,我不怕,這樣發這種大心。
 
要如何做,才能法在我們的心中,如何才能利益眾生,這是利己利人,發大乘心。發心時是這樣,「發無上心」,體解大道,但是經不起時間的考驗,受不了生活中的苦磨,很快地,我們「體解大道、發無上心」,那個心很快就是這樣,消沉下去了,懈怠了,就這樣空過日子。這是叫做什麼心呢?是凡夫心。
 
我們法若有入心,自然步步精進,能轉凡心,就是凡夫心,這就是要從聞法中去體解,然後發心。發大心,要轉凡夫心向聖人方向走,要入道。我們的心真的要入於大道,法用在妙法,這念心方向正確了,不論世間路多坎坷,同樣寸寸難關、步步難行,我們還是,「關關難過,關關過」。路如何坎坷,我們步步向前,也是同樣,只要方向對準,自然就獲大智慧。
 
不只是自己得到智慧,我們也是一樣,發願如初,向著成佛的道路,向前走,自覺覺他。人間路坎坷多,我們自己在走的路就很坎坷了,何況眾生迷茫,我們應該瞭解路的方向,我們也要用心來指導,導引大家,與我們走的方向是正確,這樣來度眾生。
 
智慧,那就是秉慈啟智。我們有這分慈心,慈就是慧,智就是悲,我們用這分平等心,眾生與我一樣,我發心要入佛大道,我也期待人人與我一樣,一起步上這條安穩康莊的大路。我不可以走錯、偏差,也要用方法,來指導人人不可偏錯,沒有偏差。這種自覺,同時,學佛法,我們也要覺他,度人一起來學佛法,這就是「獲大智慧,度眾改邪導正」。不要再走偏差的道路了,我們要正信、正念、正思惟,正確的生活,這樣就能與佛會合。
 
只要路走得對,未來時間還多久呢?路不偏差,同樣會到達,來「成就良善行因」。只要人人守護,這種善良的行,行為,就是我們的種子,因就是種子。我們最近都一直在說「行因」,我們所造作一切的因,我們要對準,這顆種子就是這顆種子,要用心去耕耘,你是大樹的種子,你就要用很長的時間,耐心好好照顧這大樹的種子,做一個園丁,讓每一棵樹,都能長大起來。這就是要用長久的時間,好的大樹,成長的時間要用耐心。我們常常聽到說:「這個木料很好,不過它成長的時間要比較長。」
 
有一次,以前很多人在花蓮,都是在做木材,我們委員的家庭也有。有時候,看到他家的木材很大,他就說:「師父,這棵樹一千多年了。」我說:「你怎麼知道?」他說:「您看這個年輪,年輪一圈就是一年。您看,它這麼大,紋路很多,您算算看,算不完,好幾百條、近千條,這就是表示它的樹齡。」
 
「這些樹,為什麼把它砍下來呢?若不砍它,在山林裡,讓它安安穩穩在山林中。」回答的就:「這就是無奈啊!因為國家需要貿易,社會需要建設,所以需要這麼多的木材。不過也是有再種。」我就說:「種的是來不及了。看,這是這麼大棵,上千年,要能上千年的大樹,你現在才種下去,大的被你已經這樣鋸掉了,運下山來了,小的才開始與土地要適應而已,唉,來不及了。」
 
這個印象很深。真的是人間,人才如何來培養?要如何真正對人間有用?它若不被砍下來,它能在天地之間發揮大用,每一天,它能吐出清新的芬多精,它的根能在大地,固守大地,下雨時,它能吸收,吸收很多的水分在這棵樹木裡。晴天時,慢慢地將水分往下釋放,大地滋潤。這是大樹,它能夠在大地上,對人間、天地之間的大利用。若是將它砍下來了,在人間,這棵樹能做很多的家具,不論是蓋房子、裝潢等等,或者是做家具,寸寸都有利用的價值。這就是有用之材。
 
我們要好好用心,良善行因,就是在那顆種子裡,就如佛、大覺者修行,佛菩薩從發心開始,這顆種子成了,那就開始在大地,不論是高山或者是平地裡,這顆種子,好好把它照顧起來,要經過多久的時間。修行就是要這樣,如年輪一樣,一生一世,千生萬世,與天地同住同生,天地之間,宇宙天理、地理、四季等等,它都要去適應。
 
它從開始,慢慢長大的樹,如剛剛說,,能矗立在天地之間,保護大地,每一天供應清新的空氣,又能替我們遮風,替我們吸收雨水,替人類固守土地滋潤,有充分的水脈。這就是修行的過程,譬如這樣的大樹,不論是百年、千年、萬年,矗立在天地之間還是大用,這叫做大因。一直到了要走入人間,那個事相,就如那棵大樹已經搬下來,在人間社會了,它寸寸的材料,不是建大宅,便是裝潢、做家具,長長久久。只要你不去破壞,它長長久久。
 
看,現在,很多故宮裡面所展示的,好的材料,木料,所雕刻起來的東西,幾百年、幾千年,或者是考古學家,從地底取出來的東西,還是存在。這就是好的因、好的材質,對人群有很大的教育,證明人類從什麼時候開始,怎樣的生活,他們的生態。同樣的道理,這種成就良善行因,就如種子一樣,歲歲年年、生生世世,都是為人間在付出,修行者與這樣好的木料,那個種子的過程,應該都是一樣。
 
同樣的道理,成就這麼好的材料,大覺,能夠發揮妙用的聖者,就如已經入人間。既然來到人間,就有壽命的限度,這個有形相的壽命,那就是還有無量的道理。那種宇宙萬物的真理,無不都是從一位大覺者,如湧泉一樣,無窮盡,智慧不斷湧現出來度眾生,利益眾生,指導眾生,錯誤的事情不可做,善因、好事要積極做。像這樣讓人人增福、增智慧,這種增福慧果,這就是聞法,體解大道的妙用。
 
人人都是一顆種子,佛陀、覺者也是同樣。這顆種子開始,歷盡了千生萬世,無窮盡的時間,不斷與天地共存,不斷與人群共生,只是我們無法去體會,生生世世利益人群,所以我們聞法要用心。
 
大通智勝佛不就是嗎?這種無始劫前,無始的無始以前出生,坐道場,梵天王、人天,都已經在道場上了。所以前面所說過的(經)文,無不都是梵天從十方,上下來了,道場上,所以尸棄大梵所領導的梵天,是從上方下降來到道場,不只是恭敬讚歎,繞佛、供養等等,再用偈文虔誠讚歎佛,虔誠請佛轉法輪。
 
所以前面的(經)文說,「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
 
這就是在描述無佛世,芸芸眾生,方向偏差,行善的人減少了,造惡的人增長,人的性、脾氣不修,所以人人動不動,就如阿修羅一樣,社會不得平靜,家庭不得和睦。人間就是這樣造作無明、煩惱,造業必定墮惡道,所以善的減少了,惡的增加。
 
下面經文再這樣說,「不從佛聞法,常行不善事,色力及智慧,斯等皆減少,罪業因緣故,失樂及樂想,住於邪見法,不識善議則。」
 
不從佛聞法
常行不善事
色力及智慧
斯等皆減少
罪業因緣故
失樂及樂想
住於邪見法
不識善議則
《法華經化城喻品第七
 
已經就是眾生,「不從佛聞法,常行不善事」。
 
不從佛聞法
常行不善事:
由不從佛聞於正法
常行世間不善之事
 
因為世間沒有佛,沒有道,這條正確的道路,沒有人指導我們,所以似乎無路可走,都是走向偏差的道路去,就是因為不從佛聞法。因為很久了,佛沒有出世間,所以眾生就沒有法。因為很長的時間,「空過無有佛」,這是佛還未出世時,這段時間,眾生就是在迷茫中,所以都是「十方常闇瞑」,都是很暗,路在哪裡?不會走。
 
因為這樣,所以三惡道,就一直增加。就如人間的監獄,愈來愈多人。為什麼監獄愈來愈多人?是因為造作錯誤的事情,就要受受法律制裁,監獄的人數就會一直增加。監獄的人數增加,那就是社會行善、守規則的人就減少了,這是一定的道理。所以造作錯誤就要到監獄,人間若造作錯誤,那就要墮地獄,這種在因緣果報的道理,就是這樣。所以常行不善事,他一定就是要墮落地獄。
 
因為「不從佛聞法」,所以於正法都沒有入心,「常行世間不善(之)事」,常常所做的,都是違背道理的事情,因為這樣,「色力及智慧,斯等皆減少」。
 
色力及智慧
斯等皆減少:
菩薩色相端正
諸天、梵王
詣菩薩所
一見之頃
黯然無色
是名色力減
 
因為就是這樣,「不從佛聞法」,聽法又是不入心,不照道理走,所以所造作的一切,與善事不合,違背於善事,所以這樣就慢慢地,道理就一直消失了,人不行道。
 
想想看,想想那種的形象,惡人惡相,沒有經過教育,或是教育沒有善用,你們想,那樣是什麼形象呢?惡行惡相,讓人看了會怕,不敢親近,或者是讓人看了不能信任,這都是智慧、色力,智慧這樣減少了,所以所造作的就是惡行惡相。
 
而我們修行者,菩薩的色相,那就是端正。我們若看到有修養的人,我們就會覺得,這個人看起來好像很有修養,舉止動作、言談等等,很有修養的人。這就像菩薩一樣,菩薩也要歷盡修行,吸收善法、行於善道的覺有情者,所以他的色相就是端正。如諸天梵王一樣,或者是菩薩,大家的行為,讓人看了,一看到自然就會感覺很歡喜。
 
但是天人,諸天與梵王,若到菩薩的地方再比,又是遜色了。雖然他享受天福在天堂,卻是菩薩在人間,菩薩日日在利益眾生,菩薩就是為人群不斷付出,所以天人看到菩薩,也要恭敬尊重。
 
同樣的道理,所以修行是很重要。享受是託過去的福,所以生天。生天,沒有行可修,只是在享天福,所以他們還要請佛轉法輪,他們要再修行,要不然還是將來,同樣要墮落六道,五道四生、三惡道。生死未斷,道理未徹,所以諸天、梵王到菩薩所,與菩薩來比較,天人的身光就遜色了,就較差了。因為菩薩受法,運用智慧入人群,所以他的色力,會令人感覺很可親。所以「菩薩行六度入人群,修萬行廣結善緣」。
 
菩薩行六度入人群
修萬行廣結善緣
內修心寬純潔
然而色力及智慧
斯等皆減少
乃是失正道念
 
這就是菩薩他平時所造作的,就是在六度,六度中,布施、持戒、忍辱、精進、禪定、智慧,沒有一項方法不是在度人。而且他一定要在人群中,才能度人,人群千千萬萬種,各人的習氣不同,惡習不同,生活型態不同,他必定要適應一切眾生,不同的習氣、不同的煩惱,他一定要去適應他們,想方法,去與他們結好緣。
 
所以因為眾生類,習性太多了,他就要應眾生的習性,去接近他們,與他們結好緣,這樣菩薩內修是心寬純潔,因為內外清淨,所以他的色力及智慧就很充足。若不是如此,就只是在人間享受名利,即使他的地位多高、名氣多大、財產有多少,與一位平常願意去做好事的人,比較起來,也是遜色。所以菩薩修行就是色力莊嚴。
 
但是,這樣的修行人減少了,自然就是「色力及智慧,斯等皆減少」。沒有修行,也沒有利益人群,反而很多無明煩惱,在自己的身上複製。社會人群,人人是這樣,這叫做「色力與智慧,斯等皆減少」,就是這個形象未修行,自然你就沒有智慧。像這樣,就是漸漸減少了,這個形態讓人看到,一來沒信心,二來令人驚惶畏懼,這就是惡,反善為惡。
 
人人本具善,卻是,行沒有按照道理,展現善的法在人間,自然色力就慢慢減退了,這是我們應該要好好警惕。是因為失去了正道念,要不然,人人原來就是菩薩,能修行,行菩薩道。我們的修養、學歷、學問;學問不是指世間學,也瞭解世間法,不是世間學,是世間法,所學的是出世間的法。所以我們要好好用心,去瞭解法的微妙。
 
「色力少」,為什麼色力會減少,暗淡無光呢?為什麼?那就是「形劣惡陋」。
 
色力少
則形劣惡陋
無復貴相
智慧減
則心染邪法
無有正慧
皆罪業所致
 
形態很劣,惡相很醜陋,讓人看了,這個人很兇惡,青面獠牙,像這樣,讓人看到,內心起畏懼,所以「無復貴相」。哪怕你地位多高,哪怕你的錢很多,名氣很大,這種名氣都是一種霸氣,這樣沒有貴。有富無貴,有錢,但是無貴氣,很粗魯,這也是同樣叫做色力減少,因為他的形態就是「形劣惡陋,無復貴相」。
 
智慧也減了,就是心染了邪法,沒有正慧,沒有正確的道心,沒有正確的法,所以所造作的都是無明罪業。這種無明所複製的煩惱,對我們的身形,與我們造作的惡業,這種損,自己自損很大。
 
「罪業因緣故」,因為造作很多的煩惱,所以「失樂及樂想」。
 
罪業因緣故
失樂及樂想:
以諸罪業惡因緣故
失於樂報
及以法喜樂想
 
因為我們造很多煩惱,所以煩惱多,不論你多有錢、多有名,一天到晚都是煩惱,每件事都不順意,每件事情都不滿足,這種真的是很苦。
 
所以「以諸罪業惡因緣故」。很多的罪業、惡的因緣,為了爭名奪利,這個因緣慢慢累積了惡業,惡業牽著緣,自然他的心每天都是不安,失去了樂。心一直都是患得患失,怎麼會快樂呢?
 
所以「及(以)法喜樂想」。因緣就是這樣在,不斷在人間爭,不惜一切破壞他人的善,利益自己,增加自己的利益。這就是都在罪業因緣中,回報給我們的就是這一分煩惱,還是同樣再說無明,真正的會失去了法喜樂想。因為我們不去求法,我們不求法,法不入心,所以只有煩惱,沒有法喜。所以「樂想」的意思,就是要去造樂的因。
 
失樂及樂想:
樂想即樂因
不得人天之福
失樂也
以苦為樂
不知期福修因
故失樂想也
 
你能快樂,你才有樂的行為。我們想要去做善事,這就是一念心的因。我身體力行去付出,付出之後回來,很歡喜。這種做事,好事之後,心安理得,法喜充滿,這就是要我們有付出才能心安理得,法喜充滿。
 
「不得人天之福」,就自然「失樂(也)」。真的,看見人間苦,我們怎會快樂呢?我們一定去付出之後,人間歡喜,我們就會快樂。我們如果不去付出,我們無法得到那一分,人間解開苦難過後,露出的笑容。
 
我們這幾天在看,烏來那裡已受過一次水災,泥土掩蓋了他們的家裡,一切的一切。就是有一群菩薩趕緊去清理,看到他們那一分清理完了,四處亮麗起來時,去付出的人歡喜。因為在,困在那時候,災難重重時,欲哭無淚,沒人能幫助,人手少,災難大,要如何恢復過去的生活?有了一群人浩浩蕩蕩,這樣歡歡喜喜、甘甘願願,走入那個地方,幫他們做了之後,清理之後,回過頭再回去看,那個展出的笑容,就是這些人,去付出的人最大的快樂。所以這就是我們有付出,自然最快樂。若沒有付出呢?就是失去這分快樂。
 
所以「以苦為樂」,現在很多人爭啊、爭啊,這樣在爭,到底得或者是不得呢?都不知,不過,樂於這樣做,其實心都是不安。「不知期福修因」,不知道真正這個福要如何來,如何(行)因,如何修。自然福因不修,怎麼能得到福報呢?
 
住於邪見法
不識善議則:
住於外道邪見法中
不識修善威儀法則
 
所以「住於邪見法,不識善議則」。因為都住在邪見,觀念、思想不正確,所以他這樣都在走錯誤的道路,外道邪法中,就「不識修善威儀法則」。
 
這就是我們若是沒有法在心裡,自然無法體解大道,很自然就是凡夫心,無法浮現正念起來。所以,我們必定法要入心,體解大道,才能轉凡入正念覺道中,走康莊大道。我們能走得很歡喜,形象也能很端莊,力量也能,人人互相的力量會合起來,去完成我們最歡喜,做了之後最快樂。所以要用法,法在我們的心中,卻是要時時多用心!


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Accomplish Good Causes to Grow Fruits of Wisdom (成就善因增福慧果)
Date: March.02. 2017
 
“If we can listen to the Buddha-Dharma and comprehend the wondrous applications of the great path, we can transform our unenlightened minds and delve deeply into right mindfulness and the enlightened path. Then we obtain great wisdom and transform people to correct deviant [views] and guide them to right ones. By bringing to perfection the causes of the practice of kindness, we increase the fruition of blessings and wisdom.”
 
We must often listen to the Buddha-Dharma. Once we understand the Buddha-Dharma, we must also internalize and comprehend it. “Understanding” means “I know, I understand.” Understanding means after listening to the Dharma we know about it, but we have not truly taken the Dharma to heart, have not carved it into our minds. When we listen to the Dharma we have to take it to heart. We must not only take it to heart but also carve it into our minds. When we take the Dharma to heart, it will serve as a road. So, “The sutras are a path; this path is a road to walk on.” In our life, roads have the most wondrous application. Without roads, we cannot get anywhere. So, a road lets us get to where we want to go. This is its wondrous application. After we listen to the Dharma, we must carve each principle into our minds. When it comes to people, matters and things, to all worldly matters, [we must consider,] “Is this matter reasonable or unreasonable?” “With this matter, if we approach it this way, will we be able to get there?” We need to exercise the wondrous applications of these principles.
 
So, we must be mindful and earnestly absorb the Dharma and the true principles of the Path. In this way, we can exercise the wondrous applications of the great path. We must learn extensively and take it to heart, so that when we encounter the appearances of people, matters and objects, we can comprehend the great path. Then, we must form great aspirations. To comprehend the great path, we must form the supreme aspiration. Only with the supreme aspiration are we able to make use of this great application. When we take the Dharma to heart, we have the wondrous application of the great path. Otherwise, following the passing of the days and the appearances of people, matters and things, we will forever be in a state of confusion without knowing our direction or how to apply these teachings. Looking back, we see we have made many mistakes. Looking back, we realize we did not say the things that we should have, or to another we said something we should not have. What we did not say leaves us with regrets; what we should not have said fills us with remorse. The Dharma must be used just right. We must find ways to interact with people so they can take the appropriate principle to heart. We must accomplish things in ways that are harmonious and complete. This requires us to be clear on the methods, so we must often listen to the teachings. When we have internalized and comprehended the Dharma, we are then able to take the Dharma to heart.
 
Only be forming great aspirations can we comprehend the great path. With the great path in our hearts, we are able to make wondrous use of everything. Dealing with everything just right, in the most appropriate way, is called the “wondrous application.” If we can do this, “We can transform our unenlightened minds and delve deeply into right mindfulness.”
 
An unenlightened mind fluctuates and wavers. Sometimes we form great aspirations. When we form aspirations, we make the great vows, “I vow to deliver countless sentient beings. I will overcome all difficulties to transform sentient beings. I am willing to put this into practice through arduous cultivation. I do not fear facing difficulties in all matters nor do I fear a life filled with hard work.” Having formed these kinds of great aspirations, how do we take action such that we can keep the Dharma in our minds? How do we benefit sentient beings? This is benefiting oneself and others by forming Great Vehicle aspirations. When we form aspirations, we “form the supreme aspiration.” However, we cannot withstand the challenges of time. When we cannot take the hardships in our living, then very quickly, though we “comprehend the great path and form the supreme aspiration,” this aspiration very quickly deflates and we become indolent. In this way, we pass the days in vain.
 
What kind of mind is this? This is the unenlightened mind. If we have taken the Dharma to heart, naturally we will diligently advance in every step and transform our unenlightened mind. We must go through listening to the teachings to comprehend this. Then we form great aspirations. We must turn our unenlightened mind in the direction of [becoming] noble beings and enter the Path. Our mind must truly be on the great path, and we must exercise the wondrous Dharma. When the direction of our mind is correct, no matter how uneven our path in this world is, even though we encounter many challenges and it is difficult every step of the way, we can still overcome each and every difficulty. No matter how uneven the path is, we move forward step by step. As long as we go in the right direction, we will naturally attain great wisdom. Not only can we attain wisdom ourselves, but by maintaining our initial aspirations, we will advance on the path to Buddhahood to awaken both ourselves and others.
 
This path through the world is very rocky, and the path we ourselves are walking is uneven, to say nothing of lost sentient beings! We must be clear on the direction of our path and also put our heart into guiding everyone else to go in the right direction together with us. We transform sentient beings in this way. We must give rise to both compassion and wisdom. We have this heart of compassion, and compassion is wisdom and wisdom is compassion. We have the impartial mindset that we and sentient beings are the same. We form aspirations to enter the great path to Buddhahood, and we hope everyone can do likewise and walk together with us on this safe and wide road. We must not deviate from the path, and we must use methods to guide others so they too will not go astray. This is awakening ourselves, and at the same time, in learning the Dharma, we must also awaken others and bring them to learn the Buddha-Dharma with us. In this way, “We obtain great wisdom and transform people to correct deviant [views], guiding them to right ones.” We must not walk down deviant paths anymore. We must have right faith, right mindfulness and right thinking and live our lives correctly. Then we can unite with the Buddha. As long as we walk on the right path, in the future will it take us long? As long as we do not stray from the path, we will reach our destination. We can “bring to perfection the causes of the practice of kindness.” Everyone simply must uphold this. This type of kind behavior and conduct is our seed. A cause is a seed. Recently, we have been talking about “practicing the causes.” With all the causes that we create, our [intention] must be correct. This seed is a seed, and we must mindfully cultivate it.
 
If we are cultivating the seed of a great tree, it will take a very long time of patiently and earnestly caring for this seed. To be a gardener who can help every tree grow big, we will need a very long time. [To cultivate] a good, large tree, we must be patient as it grows. I often hear people say, “This wood is very good, but it takes a long time for it to grow.” In the early days, many in Hualien were in the timber business, including some of our commissioners’ families. Sometimes, they would have very large timber. They would tell me, “Master, this tree is more than 1000 years old.” I said, “How do you know?” He said, “If you look at the tree rings, one tree ring represents one year. Look, this tree is huge, with so many rings. Even if you try, you won’t be able to count them. There are hundreds, nearly a thousand rings. This represents the age of the tree.” “Why did you cut down these trees? If you had not cut it, it could continue to grow in the woods.” He responded, “There is really nothing we can do! Our country needs trade, and our society needs construction material. This is why we need so much wood. However, we are planting new trees.” I said, “Planting new tress takes too long. This tree is so huge; it is over 1000 years old. We want a tree that is over 1000 years old, but you planted it just now. You already cut down this mature tree and brought it down [from the mountains]. That small tree is still only just getting used to the soil, it will really take too long.”


This left a deep impression on me. In this world, how can we cultivate talent? How can we [train] people to truly bring benefit to the world? If [that tree] had not been cut down, it could have brought great benefit to the world. Every day, it would release phytoncides. The roots would be in the soil, holding the soil in place. When there is rain, it can absorb water; great amounts of water can be absorbed by the tree. Then, during clear days, it slowly releases the water again, nurturing the land. These are benefits that a great tree on the land brings to the earth and to the world. if we cut the tree down, then in the world we can use this tree to make much furniture. Whether building houses, making decorations or making furniture, every bit of it has use and value to us. This is a material that we can make use of. So, we must be mindful. The causes of the practice of kindness are found in this seed. Look at how the Buddha, the Great Enlightened One, engaged in spiritual practice. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas begin by forming aspirations. Once this seed is formed, it begins to [grow] on the land, whether in the mountains or the flat lands. We must take good care of this seed; it takes a very long time [for this seed to grow]. Spiritual practice must be like this. It is like tree rings. In each life, for countless lifetimes, we live together in this world. In this world, there are the laws of nature, four seasons, etc. [The seed] needs to adapt to all of this. From this beginning, it can then gradually grow into a great tree. Like I just said, it can then stand tall on the earth and protect the earth. Every day, it can offer us fresh air and protect us from the wind, absorb water and retain the moisture in the soil so that the aquifers can be well-filled. This is the process of spiritual practice; it is just like a great tree. Whether it is 100, 1000, or 10,000 years old, standing tall in the world it brings great benefit. This is called a great cause.
 
We do this until we can go into the world and manifest an appearance, like a great tree that has been brought down to be used in society. Every inch of it is used to construct buildings, make decorations and build furniture that can last a long time. As long as we do not intentionally damage them, they can last for a very long time.
 
See how now, many things that are exhibited in the National Palace Museum are made out of quality materials, like wood. There are things that were carved hundreds or thousands of years ago. Some were dug out from the ground by archaeologists. They are still preserved. These are good causes, good materials. They are important for educating people, serving as evidence of the beginning of the human race. They show the way people lived, their ways of life. The principle is the same. Thus we “bring to perfection the causes of the practice of kindness.” These are just like seeds. Year after year, lifetime after lifetime, we give to benefit the world. the process of spiritual practice and that of growing a tree of quality wood from the seed are very similar. The principles are the same for bringing to fruition wood of good quality and bringing to fruition great enlightenment as a sage who exercises wondrous applications. This is like how we have been born to this world.
 
Since we have been born human, we have a limited lifespan. This tangible lifespan contains an infinite amount of principles. These true principles of all things in the world all came from a Great Enlightened One. Like a gushing spring, they are limitless. This wisdom continually gushes forth to transform, benefit and guide sentient beings. We must not engage in wrongdoing, and we must proactively do good deeds. In this way, every person is able to increase their blessings and wisdom. Increasing the fruits of blessings and wisdom is done by listening to the teachings and comprehending the wondrous applications of the great path.
 
Every person is a seed. The Buddha, the Great Enlightened One, is the same. This seed [of enlightenment] has passed through countless lifetimes, and endless amount of time, constantly coexisting with nature and people. It is just that we are not able to experience this. He benefits people lifetime after lifetime, so listening to the Dharma, we must be mindful.
 
Wasn’t Great Unhindered Wisdom Superior Buddha just like this? He was born beginningless kalpas ago, before the beginning of Beginningless Time. As He sat in the place of enlightenment, Brahma kings, humans and heavenly beings had already arrived at His place of enlightenment. So, in the previous sutra passages, the Brahma kings came from all ten directions, from above and below, to the place of enlightenment. The Brahma kings lead by Great Brahma King Sikhin descended from above to the place of enlightenment. They not only paid respect and offered praise, circumambulated the Buddha and made offerings, they also used verse to praise the Buddha and reverently request that the Buddha turn the Dharma-wheel.
 
So, the previous sutra passage states, “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 evil reams.
 
This describes an era without the Buddha, where myriad sentient beings went astray. People doing good deeds decreased, while those committing evil increased. People did not discipline their tempers, so people would [get angry] for nor reason, just like asuras. [Because of this], society was not peaceful, and familiar were not in harmony. People kept creating afflictions and ignorance in the world. With this karma, they would certainly fall into the evil realms. Thus, those doing good deeds decreased, while those doing evil increased.
 
The next sutra passage states, “They did not hear the Dharma from the Buddha and constantly engaged in unwholesome deeds. The power of their appearance and their wisdom, and other things like these, have all diminished. Because of the causes and conditions of their negative karma, they have lost all joy and joyful thoughts. They abide in deviant views and teachings and do not recognize goodness, demeanor or rules.”
 
At that time, sentient beings “did not hear the Dharma from the Buddha.”
 
“They did not hear the Dharma from the Buddha and constantly engaged in unwholesome deeds: Because they did not hear Right Dharma from the Buddha, they constantly engaged in unwholesome deeds in the world.”
 
Since there was no Buddha in the world, there was no path. There was no one to guide them unto the right path. so, they did not know which way to go and stepped onto deviant paths. This was because they did not hear the Dharma from the Buddha. It had been a very long time since the Buddha manifested in the world, so sentient beings lacked the Dharma. It had been a very long time that “had passed in vain with no Buddha.” This was the time before a Buddha was born. During that time, sentient beings were in a state of confusion. “The ten directions were constantly in darkness;” everything was obscured. “Where is the road? I don’t know which way to walk.” Because of this, the people in the Three Evil Realms constantly increased in number.
 
This is like the prisons in our world. More and more people are in prison. Why are there more people in prison? It is because they have made mistakes and are punished according to the law. This is why the number of people in prison. When the number of people in prison increases, people who do good deeds in society and follow the rules decrease in number. This is certain. So, when people commit wrongdoings, they will be sent to prison.
 
If those in the human realm commit wrongdoings, they will fall in hell. This is the principles of karmic cause and effect. So, people who often commit evil deeds certainly descend into hell. “They did not hear the Dharma from the Buddha,” so they did not taken Right Dharma to heart “and constantly engaged in unwholesome deeds.” The things that they did all went against the principles. Because of this, “The power of their appearance and their wisdom, things like these, have all diminished.”
 
The power of their appearance and their wisdom, and other things like these, have all diminished: Bodhisattvas’ appearances are upright and proper. When heavenly beings and Brahma kings visit the places where Bodhisattvas are, the moment that they see them, they themselves seem dim and overshadowed. This is the power of appearance.
 
This was because “They did not hear the Dharma from the Buddha, or if they did, would not take it to heart. They did not follow the principles, thus, nothing they did was in line with wholesome deeds; it all went against goodness. Therefore, the principles gradually disappeared [from the world]; people did not walk the path.
 
Think about this phenomenon. People who do evil have evil appearances; perhaps they did not receive education, or did not make good use of their education. Think about it, what kind of appearance do they have? Those who do evil deeds have evil appearances; they have very frightening appearances. No one dares to approach them. Or they make people feel that they are untrustworthy. This is the power of appearance and wisdom, [what happens] when one’s wisdom diminishes. So, those who do evil will have evil appearances.
 
As for spiritual practitioners, the appearance of Bodhisattvas is very upright and proper. When we see people who are well cultivated, we feel that this person appears very refined. The way they speak and their gestures all show that they are well cultivated. They look like Bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas must engage in spiritual practice for a long time and take in the virtuous Dharma; they are awakened beings who walk good paths. So, their physical appearance is upright, like Brahma kings or heavenly beings. Or like Bodhisattvas, with everyone’s conduct, they make people rejoice naturally upon seeing them. But as for heavenly beings and the Brahma kings, when they are compared with Bodhisattvas, they pale in comparison. Though [heavenly beings] enjoy heavenly blessing in heaven, Bodhisattvas are in the world and benefit sentient beings every day. Bodhisattvas constantly help others. So, when heavenly beings see Bodhisattvas, they are also reverent and respectful. The principle is the same. So, spiritual practice is very important. One’s enjoyment relies on the blessings one has cultivated in past lives. Thus, one is able to be in heaven. While in heaven, they do not engage spiritual practice. They only enjoy heavenly blessings. So, they must ask the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel for them to continue in their spiritual practice. Otherwise, in the future they will regress into the Six Realms, the Five Realms and four forms of birth or the Three Evil Realms. They will not be liberated from cyclic existence and cannot thoroughly understand the principles. So, when the Brahma kings and heavenly beings came to this place where the Bodhisattvas were and compared themselves with the Bodhisattvas, the radiance of the heavenly beings’ bodies fell short. Bodhisattvas have accepted the Dharma and exercised wisdom to go among people.
 
Thus the power of appearance of [Bodhisattvas] makes them very approachable. So, “Bodhisattvas practice the Six Perfections and go among people. They engage in myriad practices to widely form good affinities.”
 
Bodhisattvas practice the Six Perfections and go among people. They engage in myriad practices to widely form good affinities and inwardly cultivate open and pure minds. However, when the power of appearance and wisdom, and other things like these, have all diminished, they have lost their thoughts of the Right Path.
 
This is what the Bodhisattvas regularly engage in They practice the Six Perfections, including giving, upholding precepts, patience, diligence, Samadhi and wisdom. All of these are to transform sentient beings. [Bodhisattvas] must go among the people in order to transform sentient beings. So, they have cultivated [way to help] different kinds of sentient beings, each with their distinct habitual tendencies, negative habits and ways of living. [Bodhisattvas] must adapt to sentient beings’ distinct habitual tendencies and afflictions. Bodhisattvas must adapt to them and use different methods to form good affinities with them. So, because sentient beings have so many different habitual natures, Bodhisattvas must adapt to their habitual nature in order to approach them and form good affinities with them.
 
Bodhisattvas inwardly cultivate open, pure minds. Because they are pure inside and out, they are filled with the power of appearance and wisdom. If not, people in the world can only enjoy fame and profit. No matter how high their status, how famous they are or how much wealth they have accumulated, when compared to one always willing to do good, they will fall short. So, Bodhisattvas engage in spiritual practice and thus have dignified appearance.
 
However, if this kind of practitioner decreases, naturally, “power of appearance and wisdom, and other things like these, all diminish.” Without engaging in spiritual practice and benefiting others, people instead will replicate so much ignorance and afflictions for themselves. Everyone in that society was like this. This is how “The power of their appearance and their wisdom, and other things like these, had all diminished.” If we do not cultivate our appearance, then we do not have wisdom. In this way, [wisdom] gradually decreases.
 
When people see someone with such an appearance, firstly, they do not trust them, secondly, they feel shocked and frightened by them. This is evil, turning from goodness to evil. Everyone is inherently good, but if we do not follow the principles or exercise virtuous Dharma in the world, naturally, our power of appearance will diminish. We must be earnestly vigilant about this.
 
This comes from losing thoughts of the Right Path. If not for this… everyone has always been a Bodhisattva and can engage in spiritual practice, walk the Bodhisattva-path. We have cultivation, education and knowledge. This knowledge is not of the ordinary teachings of the world. We should understand the Dharma of the world, not worldly education, but worldly Dharma. What we are learning is the world-transcending Dharma. So, we must put effort into understanding the subtle and wondrous teachings.
 
“The power of their appearance diminishes.” Why would the power of appearance diminish? Why would it be dimmed? Why is that? It is because “Their appearance becomes inferior and ugly.”
 
The power of their appearance diminishes; their appearance becomes inferior and ugly. They no longer have a noble appearance. When their wisdom diminishes, their minds become contaminated with deviant teachings, and they have no right wisdom. This is all caused by negative karma.
 
So, “Their appearances becomes inferior and ugly.” It makes people feel very frightened. [Demons] have green faces and fangs. In this way, people who see them will be frightened. So, “They no longer have a noble appearance.” No matter how high one’s status is, no matter how much money one has accumulated, no matter how famous one is, that kind of reputation is about dominance. They have wealth, but with no grace. They are wealthy, but are crude, without nobility. This is also diminishing of the power of appearance. So, “Their appearance becomes inferior and ugly. They no longer have a noble appearance.”
 
Their wisdom had diminished because their minds are defiled with evil thoughts. Without right wisdom, proper spiritual aspirations or the Right Dharma, people created much ignorant karma of transgression. With the afflictions those ignorance reproduces, the evil karma that we create causes great damage to our appearance.
 
So, “Because of the causes and conditions because of all the afflictions created, they have lost all joyful retributions.”
 
Because of the causes and conditions of their negative karma, they have lost all joy and joyful thoughts: Because of the negative causes and conditions from their karma of transgressions, they have lost all joyful retributions and the joyful thoughts of Dharma-joy.
 
Because we have created many affinitions, no matter how much money and status we have, we are filled with afflictions all day. Everything that happens is displeasing. Everything we do is unsatisfying. This is truly suffering. So, this is “because of the negative causes and conditions.” They have created karma of transgressions in order to fight for status and profit. These karmic conditions lead evil karma to slowly accumulate. Evil karma brings [negative] affinities, so naturally their minds will never be at ease. They have lost their joy; their minds always worry over gain and loss. How can we be happy like this? So, “They have lost all joyful retributions and the joyful thoughts of Dharma-joy.” These causes and conditions have led them to constantly be in conflict in the world. They will do anything, destroy the good deeds of others, to benefit themselves and increase their profit. These are causes and conditions of transgression, which bring us afflictions as retribution.
 
So, we still remain in a state of ignorance. We have lost all joyful retributions because we did not seek the Dharma and did not take the Dharma to heart. So, we have only afflictions and no Dharma-joy. Thus, the meaning of “joyful thoughts” is wanting to create the causes of blessings.
 
They have lost all joyful and joyful thoughts: Joyful thoughts: These are the cause for joy. They cannot attain human or heavenly blessings, so they lose and joy. They mistake suffering for joy and do not know that one must cultivate causes to expect blessings, therefore they lose joyful thoughts.
 
When we are joyful, we engage in joyful actions. When we want to do good deeds, this is from the causes of one thought. We put the practice of giving into action and, after we help others, we feel very joyful. After doing good deeds to help others, we will be at peace, our minds full of Dharma-joy. We must actually help others to be at peace and full of Dharma-joy. “They cannot attain human or heavenly beings, so naturally “they lose any joy.”
 
Truly, when we see the suffering of the world, how could we be joyful? But after we give of ourselves and serve others, people in the world are joyful, and we are happy. If we do not give of ourselves, then we will not be able to see people’s smiles when their suffering is relieved. Over the past few days, we have seen how Wulai was struck with a flood. The mud was all over their homes and on everything that they own. A group of Bodhisattvas quickly went to clean up. After they cleaned up and the surroundings become clear, those that went to help felt very happy. When the disaster occurred, no one was able to help them. There were not enough people to help in this major disaster. How could they return to life as before? But then a long procession [of volunteers] joyful and willingly went there to help out. After they helped them clean up, they looked back and saw the smiling faces of these people. For those who came to give of themselves, this brought the greatest joy. So, those who help others are naturally the happiest.
 
What if we do not help others? We lose this joy. So, “They mistake suffering for joy.” Nowadays, many people have conflicts with one another. Will they gain or will they lose? They do not know, but they want to continue doing what they do. Actually, their minds are not at ease, “and they do not know that one must cultivate causes to expect blessings.” They do not know where to truly cultivate blessing or how to cultivate these causes. Naturally, if they do not cultivate blessings, how would they attain blessed retributions?
 
So, “They abide in deviant views and teachings and do not recognize goodness, demeanor or rules.” They have deviant views, incorrect perspectives and thinking, so they walk on a deviant path and follow deviant teachings. They “do not recognize the rules of cultivating goodness and a dignified demeanor.
 
If we do not have the Dharma in our minds, we will not be able to comprehend the great path. Then naturally we have an unenlightened mind and no way to give rise to right mindfulness. So, we must take the Dharma to heart and comprehend the great path. This way, we can transform our unenlightened minds and enter the path of right mindfulness to walk this broad road. As we walk on this path joyfully, our appearance will be dignified, and every person’s strength will be in harmony. We can accomplish the things that we like most and afterwards will be most joyful. So, we must apply the Dharma. The Dharma is inside our minds, but we need to always be mindful.
 

(Source: Da Ai TV – Wisdom at Dawn program – Explanation by Master Chen-Yen)
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20170302《靜思妙蓮華》成就善因增福慧果 (第1035集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)
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