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 20170316《靜思妙蓮華》滅十二緣證寂滅樂 (第1045集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)

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發表主題: 20170316《靜思妙蓮華》滅十二緣證寂滅樂 (第1045集) (法華經•化城喻品第七)   周四 3月 16, 2017 7:20 am

20170316《靜思妙蓮華》滅十二緣證寂滅樂 (第1045集)
(法華經•化城喻品第七)

⊙「一念無明生三細,境界為緣長六麤,根塵識合因行蘊,四諦十二因緣法。」
⊙「無明滅則行滅,行滅則識滅,識滅則名色滅,名色滅則六入滅,六入滅則觸滅。」《法華經化城喻品第七》
⊙「觸滅則受滅,受滅則愛滅,愛滅則取滅,取滅則有滅,有滅則生滅,生滅則老死憂悲苦惱滅。」《法華經化城喻品第七》
⊙觸滅則受滅,受滅則愛滅:觸既不生,受相則滅;無受領心,愛相則滅。
⊙愛滅則取滅,取滅則有滅:無愛樂心,取相則滅。無取著心,安得有業,則有滅也。
⊙有滅則生滅:因業招生,有業既亡,則生相滅。
⊙生滅則老死憂悲苦惱滅:因於有而生故,則有老死,既不受生欲,誰老死,則老死滅。無生老死,憂悲苦惱一時具滅。
⊙前明生法,則苦生為緣,行因而起。今明滅法,則道滅為緣,因於道諦,滅十二緣,證寂滅樂。

【證嚴上人開示】
「一念無明生三細,境界為緣長六麤,根塵識合因行蘊,四諦十二因緣法。」

一念無明生三細
境界為緣長六麤
根塵識合因行蘊
四諦十二因緣法

我們應該這些話常常都是這樣,向大家提醒。「一念無明生三細」,在日常生活中,我們的心念,心心起,前後起,都是一念一念地過去。一念間到底是什麼樣的念頭,是善念嗎?是惡念嗎?是利益人群嗎?或者是自利自己呢?這個念頭在我們的日常生活中起起落落,到底一天轉過了多少念頭?凡夫,多數念頭就是在無明中,這是我們凡夫,很多事情我們不明白、不清楚、不瞭解,這都是叫做無明。

無明、不瞭解,緣著外面的境界,隨著外面的境,我們起心動念,看到美的,想要,貪心起了。我要的,我就買。我需要的,我就用錢去拿我需要的,到底人生要的東西有多少,需要的有多少呢?是不是很需要、必須要呢?這我們應該要釐清,將這個念頭過濾過,清楚我們面對外面境界,要取得的,是不是我們「必須要」,或者是只是「需要」而已?或者只是「要」而已,看到很多,想要的時候買來的東西,無用的很多,這就是貪念。買來無用,就是貪,不是必要,不是必須要,這樣我們會攬來了,很多無用的東西,這就是我們的無明。我們的內心,時時都是放著那時候,一個念頭招攬來,招來的事情很多,都放在心裡,這也是同樣無明。所以說,「一念無明生三細」。

就如我們日常的生活,何必計較呢?也就是因為計較,與人結了不好的緣,何必生氣呢?這麼簡單的事情,因為計較而生氣,所以我們造作了一些,真真正正對人不利,也傷害自己的事,這都是在一念間。「一念無明生三細,境界為緣長六麤」,因為境界來牽引我們。

這麼多天以來,說十二因緣。從一念無明而行,去動作,就緣名色、六入,就觸,觸就受,受,感受就愛,愛就有,有,有什麼呢?有很多業力來,就成為我們一輩子的生死中,再造作、再複製很多無明、業力。這都是在境界六粗中。境界現前,我們的感受,是要、是不要,是貪、是瞋,都是在無明癡念中,這些因緣來牽我們,所以我們不斷受因緣牽引,六粗不斷成長、不斷增加。

六粗,就是很粗相的東西。看到你,「應該是不高興吧?」「你怎麼知道?」「看你的臉色就知道了。」這就是粗相。因為你心中有不高興,不高興,這其中一定有事情發生,這事情絕對是不離開事相,人、事、物、相,這之間,引起了你不高興。這很粗的事相,不是很微細,是很粗的東西,就這樣不斷在我們的,日常生活中複製、累積,所以叫做「境界為緣長六麤」。

「根塵識合」。根與塵與我們的意識會合,眼根看到的物質,我不要,我就把它丟掉了。看看,很多的垃圾,不就是人不要,丟掉的嗎?怎麼有這麼多被人丟棄的東西?這些東西是當初他要的時候,用錢買來的,為了要買這些東西,不知道用多少心思,花用多少的財物這樣買來,現在變成了一堆一堆都是垃圾。這就是根、塵與識會合,眼根對外面的色塵,所以起了這分的愛、貪念,這樣招攬買來的。到了東西過時了,退了流行,不要了,這就是我們的意識在分別。所以「因行蘊」。「行」,就是時間已經過去了,流行也退了,這種不斷汰舊換新,這樣累積起來,現在就是很多的垃圾。

我們也常常看到,慈濟人常常去為一些,與我們毫無關係的人。是貧,是病,是老,家庭囤積著無量數,破爛骯髒的一些東西,與垃圾為營,這樣的形象有多少啊?在我們這個大團體,一群菩薩不斷在付出,為這些苦難人,為這些這麼骯髒的環境,在清除、在打掃。可見這些受人幫助清除、打掃,這些人生,他過去的生活,也是在無明三細中,這樣一直造作,這樣一直累積。在粗相的去造作,在那個微細的心念在產生,這種一念無明,微細的心念不斷在產生,境界為緣,六粗的事相不斷在造作。時間這樣過,年久月深,人的身體老了、病了,所造作的業,已經累積到人生的盡頭了,過去他所結的緣,他的親人呢?他最好的朋友呢?一散而空了,現在孤老無依,病苦殘廢,誰能幫助他?菩薩。

「菩薩所緣,緣苦眾生」,這就是佛陀來人間,一直要為我們開示。我們人人的心,一念心,外面的境界與我們這念心,這樣糾纏不清,讓我們無明,讓我們無法體會道理。所以佛陀說法就是,「四諦」、「十二(因)緣」,從開始覺悟,向眾生說的法,從苦開始,一直到要讓我們瞭解,生命的來去,我們造作什麼樣的因,我們接受到的是什麼樣的報,在這「十二因緣」,就說得很清楚。四諦法,開頭為我們分析,「十二因緣」讓我們更瞭解生命的起因。不過,我們就是這麼的愚鈍,哪怕是修行,也無法去體會。

就如過去一位禪師,在山上苦修。他有一個徒弟,小沙彌,跟著老師父開始,每天每天都要出去外面化緣。這位青少年的沙彌,每天都是這樣跟。有一天,一天將要回去了,也化緣完成了,施主給他們的東西,背在小沙彌的肩上,(師徒)這樣前後走。看到一位,一位老婆婆躺在地上,那是平時乞討為生,就是乞丐,現在已經病了,無法走了,坐著、躺著,起落好像很辛苦,好像肚子很餓。

這位老師父就跟他的小徒弟說:「來,我們剛剛去化緣的東西,你趕快分一些給這位老婆婆。」這位沙彌千萬分的不願意,「我們這麼辛苦,從山上這樣下來,每天都是這樣托缽,好不容易這些東西,才能拿到山上去,我們現在這麼輕易,就要分一些給她,為什麼呢?」這是年輕沙彌這樣反問師父:「為什麼,我們這麼辛苦,不容易得來的東西,我們要給這位,與我們沒有關係的老婆婆,為什麼呢?這位老師父就告訴他:「生死與功德都在一念間,你不要問那麼多,趕緊分一些給老婆婆。」

這位沙彌就回答了,一方面分東西,要分開,一方面就回答老師父:「做功德,我知道,不過我們現在很辛苦,正是很需要的時候。等我將來長大,等我將來有辦法,我將我想要做的工作做好,要做功德再說吧!」雖然是這樣唸,不過他也聽師父的話,將東西分開,一部份就送給老婆婆。老師父就說:「要用虔誠的心啊!」但是年輕的小徒弟,他還是又這樣回答:「虔誠做功德,也要等我有力量時。」師父就默默地向前一直走。

從這樣開始,每天的生活都是山上、山下,一直到經過了很多年,老師父的身體愈來愈不行了,寺院這位年輕小徒弟,也愈來愈大了,身體健壯。知道,我應該要將這座寺院,好好翻修起來,能蓋很大很大的寺院,將來能香火鼎盛,這樣我就不用擔心了。老師父已經是無力再說話了,雖然常常跟他說,要做一些功德。卻是這位徒弟都一直回答:「等我有餘的力量。」所以就這樣時日一直過,寺院愈蓋愈大。一直到老師父,已經到了奄奄一息了,將要圓寂之前,用著很無力的手,拿著一本經書,這樣交代給他的徒弟。徒弟將這本經書接過來,這老師父微微開口要說話,已經無力可說了,他將這本經書接過來,放在旁邊,老師父也無力說話了,最後一口氣就這樣吞下去,往生了。

之後,年輕力壯這位徒弟,就接受了這個位置,這間寺院的住持是這位徒弟,現在成為方丈住持了。他想要發揮的,將這間寺院蓋好了,幾年後,香火鼎盛,再來就是買土地,土地買很多,附近的田園,他全都買下來了。時日又這樣這樣過去,這位年輕力壯的方丈,他老了,一直到病來了,這當中忽然間想到,我的師父要往生時,給我一本經書,我一直都沒有拿來看,到底這本書裡面有什麼法?他就把那本書拿來,開始翻開的第一頁,老師父寫的字,「助人一次,勝似誦經十年」。意思就是說,你能去幫助人,比你誦經十年的功德更大。要虔誠,用你虔誠的心去付出,時時一念虔誠的心,時時都有助人的念頭,這比你誦經的功德更大。

這時候,這位方丈年紀也老了,病也纏身了,「我這時候,我要做什麼好事呢?當初師父說的話,『生死功德在一念間』,原來要為我解釋的是,師父最後一口氣,要告訴我的這句話,幫助人,用虔誠一次幫助人,比誦十年的經,功德更大。」修行無非要時時都存好念,虔誠的念,助人的念。人生疾苦偏多,就是這樣無明過一生,這就是我們人的一生,不就是這樣嗎?

「一念無明生三細」,在這個境界為緣,人、事、物相中,這樣勞勞碌碌過日子,勞勞碌碌造無明、複製煩惱。根與塵,外面的境界這樣在會合,時間這樣在過,無明業力這樣在累積。「因行蘊」,「蘊」就是累積,這樣在造業累積。還是回過頭來要瞭解的道理,是「四諦」、「十二(因)緣法」,這麼簡單的法在我們的身邊,但是我們無法瞭解,要好好用心啊!

我們最近「十二因緣法」,說完了嗎?還沒有。前面的經文,「無明滅則行滅,行滅則識滅,識滅則名色滅,名色滅則六入滅,六入滅則觸滅。」

無明滅則行滅
行滅則識滅
識滅則名色滅
名色滅則六入滅
六入滅則觸滅
《法華經化城喻品第七》

這十二因緣,一直從一念無明開始,一直就是在我們的行蘊中。過去生是這樣累積過來,累積到我們,牽引到我們此生的依報,與我們的父母有緣,在某個家庭出生。一輩子所接觸的人、事、物,這樣我們不斷在接觸、不斷在行為造作,所以人生就是這樣地過。所以這個「觸」,「觸滅則受滅」。

再接下來這段文,前面「六入滅則觸滅」,接下來這段就是「觸滅則受滅,受滅則愛滅,愛滅則取滅,取滅則有滅,有滅則生滅,生滅則老死憂悲苦惱滅。」

觸滅則受滅
受滅則愛滅
愛滅則取滅
取滅則有滅
有滅則生滅
生滅則老死憂悲苦惱滅
《法華經化城喻品第七》

現在就是完全說「滅」。過去是說「緣生」,現在就是說滅,「緣滅」。

「觸」,所以,所「觸」,我們來到人間,接觸到人間的事物,有了接觸,自然就有感受。「一念無明生三細,境界為緣長六麤」,外面的境界,我們的感受,所以有接觸到,眼根接觸到色塵,我們內心就有感受。這個感受從何起?是「識」。我們的意識開始去感受,起了感受的愛,所以「受滅則愛滅」。

我們看到東西,是必要的,或者是需要,或者只是想要而已,喜歡而已,是這樣嗎?或者是一直,事情需要這麼計較嗎?計較到底又怎麼樣?這都在我們在日常的感受中,感受我們的起心動念,愛或不愛?是恨或是仇?這當中都是在仇與愛中在生滅。所以有「愛」自然就有「取」,我就採取行動,要去收、要去買,我要去設計,我要……等等,這一切在這個「取」。我們若沒有這東西與我有關係,如果沒有,我們就不會去採取行動,就沒有造業。所以,「取滅則有滅」,就沒去造業。

「有滅則生滅」。我們若不造業,不與這些父母,結什麼樣的恩怨的緣,我們就不會再來受生。或者是來受生,我們從人、事、物,與人與事若無恩怨,我們無法在一起。看看地球上這麼多的人,我們認識的人到底有多少?沒多少!與我們有恩、有怨、有緣的人,才會跟我們在一起;若不是有恩怨,愛恨情仇,有經過這樣的緣的牽引,我們也不會在一起。

過去彼此之間,我們結好緣,大家會合起來,大團體就去做好事。過去和我們有怨有仇,或是結群成黨時,就去做一些損害人群,不好的事情,或者是牽引我們的方向偏差。像這樣,去造作一切,讓我們人生過程到頭來還是死,病死或是人生中,很多不如意的事情,都是在這不好的因緣,牽引著我們,老、病、死都有,這大家都沒有感覺。

這時候的地震,大家有感覺嗎?有感覺。一大早三點多那時候的動,大家也有感覺。這種明顯的感覺,與我們很微細所造作、累積,已經同樣的感覺,這是粗相的感覺。現在這個地震是粗相的感覺,起心動念那叫做微細的念。微細的念不斷累積,所以這樣,累積到人生的過程,就是老、病、死,這人生的過程,都是在憂悲苦惱中。哪個人來人間沒有憂愁過呢?沒有煩惱過呢?沒有想過要,沒有想過貪,沒有想要取過呢?人人都有啊!這就是微細,很微細的生活中,我們自己沒有感覺,這樣在過。

所以說「觸滅則受滅,受滅則愛滅」。

觸滅則受滅
受滅則愛滅:
觸既不生
受相則滅
無受領心
愛相則滅

我們接觸到了,只要有接觸到,我們就會去感受,我們要如何將感受看淡?因為我們很多,都是因緣牽引讓我們受苦,所以我們現在,是在說「還滅門」,現在要如何滅除,就是接觸到的,我們的感受,是要取?或者是要培養它、占為己有?或者是讓人人來分享?

那位老和尚教他的弟子,是要與大家分享,功德與一念間,這是一體,你的一念是要去做功德,或是要貪為己有?這是我們的接觸,觸的感受。我們的感受,若懂得與大家分享,這就是造福;占為己有,就是在愛。愛,有一種無私的愛;愛,有占有的愛。占有的愛,到頭來就是一堆垃圾。就如我們說的,一些人,老了,病了,殘障病痛,孤老的人,我們去幫助他清掃,那些骯髒的東西,不就是當初,他要的東西所累積的嗎?

所以說,「觸既不生」,觸若不生起愛,自然他就不會,去拿那些東西囤在裡面。我們若一念間若不生起惡念,我們就不會積很多煩惱,在我們的內心,我們就不會造很多業,在我們這輩子,在這一生中。所以說,「觸既不生,受相則滅」,接受的相就沒有了。沒有「受」來領我們的心,自然愛的相就滅,就不會起心,要占為己有。

愛滅則取滅
取滅則有滅:
無愛樂心
取相則滅
無取著心
安得有業
則有滅也

所以「愛滅則取滅,取滅則有滅」。這個愛,占為己有的心若滅除,你就不會想這些全都是我的。事業大,還要再大,我要連鎖,不是只一家、兩家,我要全世界、全球,事業我都要一直擴展,這個市場是我的。這種取著的心,我們若沒有這種貪愛的念,就沒有取著的心。

所以「無愛樂心,取相則滅」。「取」就自然滅除,無取著的心,沒有取,沒有著,不執著我一定要這麼多,不一定要執著,所以自然「安得有業」,這種哪有什麼業呢?你若不取著,這些東西我們都沒有,這些事情我們都不造,所以這些事情與我們無關,這些東西,我們都沒有取著,不是我們的。自然這些東西、這些事情,一切的人我是非,就與我們無關了。所以,這哪有什麼「有」呢?沒有。「你有做這件事嗎?」「沒有。」「你有這個東西嗎?」「沒有。」就是沒有。所以,這個「有」的業,我們若不去造,無「有」則是滅,「有」就滅了。我們無,沒有去取著,就什麼都沒有,就清淨了。

有滅則生滅:
因業招生
有業既亡
則生相滅

「有滅則生滅」。不取著,不去造業,我們就沒有什麼樣的交結,愛恨情仇這種的果報,我們就沒有了,所以「有滅則生滅」。「因業招生」,因為這個業,招來了我們來這個人間「生」,生在這個人間,在這個人間有愛恨情仇,就交結了,很痛苦!所以,我們因這個業,招來了我們這樣不斷生死不息。「有業既亡」,這「有」的業,我們若全都消滅掉,自然「生相則滅」,我們就沒有再來生,愛恨情仇的人生事相,再來纏我們了,就沒有了。

生滅則
老死憂悲苦惱滅:
因於有而生故
則有老死
既不受生欲
誰老死則老死滅
無生老死
憂悲苦惱一時具滅

所以「生滅則,死憂悲苦惱滅」。如果沒有來生,就沒有老。因為我們有生,很痛苦,被母親生下來,開始哭叫,這叫做痛苦。人生第一步來到人間,離開了母親的母胎,接觸到這個大空氣的刺激,全身赤祼祼,痛徹骨髓,這種痛而苦,痛了,哭出來。哪個孩子生下來不哭呢?自然刺痛了他的身體,全身,所以整個神經細胞,這樣接觸這個痛感,所以哭了,這是第一步的人間,就是有了第一步的人間,生下來以就苦,開始慢慢在這個人間的環境,先天帶來,後天學習,這樣不斷造作業力。所以,「因於有而生」,生,所以才會有老、死的苦,老、病、死,人生無常等等。

剛剛一個地震,感恩,平安過了。假如那個地震若更大一點、更搖晃一點,可能我們也不會,這麼安穩自在坐在這裡。地震是無常的警告,卻是我們還安穩在這個地方,是不是該事事感恩啊!人生四大不調,無常什麼時候發生?不知道。在行蘊過程中,剛才剛地震過,現在就說「剛才」,同樣的時間這樣過去,說話又不同了,分別「剛才」、「現在」。

「現在」,再過一會兒,就說是「剛才」了,還是這種來來回回,時間不斷地過。過去生、今生,過去的造作,我們今生受用;今生的造作,是來生受用。所以像這樣,「十二因緣」,一直牽引著。我們為了要瞭解苦的源頭,佛陀告訴我們「四諦」、「十二因緣法」,讓我們瞭解「苦」是這樣,希望我們人人能發心,來滅除「苦」,這個緣若滅除了,自然就沒有生死的苦了。

所以說,老死,「既不受生欲」,我們這念生,這念心就是一念欲開始,這種生死,不受生的欲念,我們若滅除(欲念) ,雖然老死,就是業滅。

你看,昨天說過了,有修行、有聽法的人,已經有多少老人就會跟師父說:「夠了,滿足了。」我這次行腳過程中,所看到的一群老弟子,有的人在病中來看師父,他就是這樣安然自在,說:「夠了,滿足了。因為我幸好年輕的時候,就開始做慈濟,我的人生很豐富,夠了。」(對)生死這麼的自在,他很肯定他做了很多的好事。

所以說來,這種生死,生、死,不明白道理的人會很怕死,就生起惶恐,明白道理,這是自然的法則。幸好我這輩子有做善事,做一次善事,勝讀十年經。我的人生這樣走過來,我滿足了。所以沒有生老死的憂悲苦惱,這些也都沒有了。雖然是老了,卻是不擔心,什麼時候生命會結束,不擔心,這輩子足夠了。

前明生法
則苦生為緣
行因而起
今明滅法
則道滅為緣
因於道諦
滅十二緣
證寂滅樂

所以,前面是說起「生法」。生,我們來人間生,過去所說的,「無明緣行,行緣識,識緣名色,名色緣六入,六入緣觸,觸緣受,受緣愛,愛緣取,取緣有,有緣生,生緣老死憂悲苦惱」,就是這樣一直緣下去。而我們今天說的,是回過頭來滅,滅了它。過去是「十二因緣」,幾天前說的是「生法」,現在是「滅法」,要如何回頭將它滅掉。

過去的煩惱無明,是這樣生起來的,我們現在要如何滅除煩惱無明,這些全都滅除,自然我們對生死就能輕安自在。這種「(今)明滅法」,若能夠瞭解,「則是道滅為緣」。人生無明,走過來的這條路,全將它滅掉。我們現在所要走的就是菩提大直道。菩提大直道是這麼的平坦,而且是我們能夠,從凡夫地到佛的境界,那就是行菩薩道。所以希望我們人人,要用心在當下,當下這念心,我們若能夠瞭解,「因(於)道諦」瞭解了,十二因緣來去的法,我們若能夠瞭解,自然我們就證得寂滅的快樂。

這就是我們心無煩惱,就「無有恐怖,遠離顛倒夢想」,這樣就遠離了。這樣我們每天都知道起心動念,這個微細的心念,我們常常都能夠瞭解——我現在在做什麼事情,該不該做?該做的,我們要積極;不該做的,我們要趕緊斷除。這就是明白「滅」,滅無明的方法。這樣,這個緣,「境界為緣長六麤」,瞭解了因緣,我們的眼、耳、鼻、舌、身,向外面的境界,色、聲、香、味、觸,這個境界,我們的意識清楚,自然就不會做錯事,這樣我們的心會常常很平安。這必定是我們要時時多用心。


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Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Breaking the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence (滅十二緣 證寂滅樂)
Date: March.16. 2017

“An ignorant thought creates the Three Subtleties. External states lead to the Six Coarse Marks. Roots, Dusts and consciousness converge due to the aggregate of action. These are the teachings of the Four Noble Truths and Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence.”

We are often reminded of these words. “An ignorant thought creates the Three Subtleties.” In our daily living, in our minds, thoughts arise constantly, one after the next. Then they all pass away one by one. In each moment, what thoughts are we thinking? Are they wholesome or unwholesome thoughts? Are they about benefiting others, or only about benefiting ourselves? The thoughts we think in our daily living are constantly fluctuating. How many different thoughts do we go through in a day? For unenlightened beings, most of our thoughts are thoughts of ignorance. This is because, as unenlightened beings, there are many things we do not understand, are not clear about and cannot comprehend. This is what we call ignorance. Ignorant and lacking in understanding, we connect with the outside world, then follow these external conditions to give rise to thoughts. When we see something beautiful, we want it. Thus our greed arises. “I want it, so I will buy it. I need it, so I will spend my money to get what I need.” How many things do we want in life? How much do we really need? Are these really things that we need? This is what we need to be clear on; we need to filter our thoughts. Are we clear? Are the things around us we want to obtain truly “necessities,” or are they things we think we need, or are they things we just want? We often see people who buy things when they want them, but oftentimes end up not using them. This is due to greed. Buying things we never use is due to greed. They are not necessities, not something we need. Thus we grab so many things which we do not use. This is due to our ignorance. In our minds, we often hold on to all of the things that our thoughts attracted at that time. There are so many things which we attract and then put in our hearts. This too is ignorance. This is why it says, “An ignorant thought creates the Three Subtleties.” For instance, in our daily living, why do we need to take issue over anything? When we take issue with things, we create unwholesome affinities with others. Why do we need to get angry? By taking issue over something simple, our frustration leads to anger. Then we do all sorts of things that truly do not benefit anyone and also injure ourselves. This is all determined by our thoughts. “An ignorant thought creates the Three Subtleties. External states lead to the Six Coarse Marks.” These external states are what lead us. For many days, I had been talking about the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence. From one ignorant thought, we give rise to volitional formation and take action. This gives rise to name and form, the six entrances and then contact. Contact leads to feelings, to sensation. Feelings lead to craving, craving to becoming. What is it that comes into existence? Many karmic forces. Then this becomes an entire lifetime in cyclic existence of creating more karma and replicating our ignorance and karmic forces. This is all in the state of the Six Coarse Marks. When a situation manifests, our experience of whether we want it or not, whether we feel greed or anger, is all a result of ignorance and delusion. We are led by causes and conditions. So, with these causes and conditions constantly leading us, the Six Coarse Marks continue to grow and increase. The Six Coarse Marks are quite obvious appearances. When I see you I say, “You are not happy are you?” “How do you know?” “I can tell by your face.” This appearance is obvious because you are unhappy inside. If you are unhappy, something must have happened, and that incident undoubtedly was related to matters and appearances. Some person, matter, object or appearance led you to become unhappy. These are coarse matters and appearances. They are not subtle; they are very obvious things that continually multiply and accumulate in our daily living. So, it is said, “External states lead to the Six Coarse Marks. Roots, Dusts and consciousness converge.”

Our Roots, Dusts and consciousness converge. Though our eye-root, we see objects. “I don’t want this; I will throw it out.” Look around you, isn’t all this garbage unwanted things that people have thrown away? Why do people throw away so many things? These are things people wanted at first, so they used their money to purchase them. In order to buy these things, who knows how much thought they put in, how much money they spent to purchase them yet now this has all become heaps of garbage. This is due to the convergence of the Roots, Dusts and consciousness. The eye-root encounters the Dust of form, so we give rise to craving and desire. Thus things attract us, so we buy them. Then they become obsolete, out of fashion, and we do not want them anymore. This is discrimination of our consciousness. It is “due to the aggregate of action.” “Action” indicates the time has already passed; things have now gone out of fashion. We are constantly exchanging the old for the new, and this is why we are accumulating so much garbage now. We also often see Tzu Chi volunteers visiting people completely unrelated to them, going into the homes of the poor, sich and elderly. In those homes they have accumulated, countless broken and filthy things, almost as if they were encamped in garbage. How often have we seen situations like this? Within our large organization, there is a group of Bodhisattvas who are constantly giving. For suffering people like these, for those living in such filthy environments, they help to clean up. It is evident that these people who received help with the cleaning had also lived their lives in ignorance and the Three Subtleties in the past. They had continually created karma and accumulated [garbage] like this. Amidst coarse appearances, they create [karma]. Amidst subtle thoughts, they produce [ignorance]. With one thought of ignorance, these sublet and intricate thoughts continually arise. With external states as conditions, with the matters and appearances of the. Six Coarse Marks, they continuously create karma. Time goes by like this, and as they years add up, people become old and ill; the karma they create accumulates right up until the end of their lives. What about the affinities they formed in the past? What about their relatives and their closest friends? They have all scattered; nothing is left. Now they are alone, with no one to depend on. If they are ill and disabled, who will be there to help them? Bodhisattvas. “Bodhisattvas arise in response to suffering sentient beings.” This is why the Buddha came to the world, to continually teach us about [the nature of] everyone’s minds. The outside environment connects with our minds, and they become hopelessly muddled together. This keeps us ignorance and unable to comprehend the principles.

So the Buddha, in teaching the Dharma, used the Four Noble Truths and the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence. From the time He first became enlightened, the Dharma He taught for sentient beings started with the truth of suffering. Then He continued until we could understand how we come and go in life. Whatever cause we create determine the retributions we receive. The Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence explain all this clearly. The Four Noble Truths were broken down for us at the beginning. The Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence then help up better understand the causes of life.

Nevertheless, we are so foolish and slow that even if we engage in spiritual practice, it is still impossible for us to understand. This is like a Zen master in the past who engaged in ascetic practice in the mountains. He had a disciple, a young novice, who would follow him every day when he went out to ask for alms. This young novice would follow him every day like this. One day, as they were about to return home having finished asking for alms, the things the almsgivers gave them were shouldered on the young novice’s back. They walked this way, one behind the other. They came upon an old lady lying upon the ground. She normally made her living by begging. She was a beggar, and now, she was sick and could not walk. She could only sit or lie down, and it seemed difficult for her to go up. She also seemed very hungry. This elderly master told his young disciple, “Come, take the food we were given and quickly share some with this old lady!” The young novice was not willing to share at all. “It is so difficult for us, coming down from the mountain and asking for alms every day. It is not easy hauling these things back up the mountain. Why would you so readily wish to give her a share?” This is what the young novice asked his master. “Why would we give these things that we worked so hard to get to this old lady who we don’t even know? Why?” The elderly master told him, “Birth and death, merit and virtue, are all determined in the space of at thought. Do not ask so many questions; just quickly give some to the old lady.” As the young novice divided up their things to give a share to the old lady, he replied to his elderly master. “I know we should cultivate merit and virtue, but times are hard for us now. We really need these things at this time. Wait until I’ve grown up and have a way to complete the work I want to accomplish, then we can talk about merits and virtues!” Although he complained, he also did as he was told by his master and split up their things to give a share to the old lady. The elderly master told him, “Give them to her reverently!” However, his young disciple again replied like this, “My reverence in creating merit and virtue will also have to wait until I have the strength.” The elderly master silently continued on.

Starting from that time, every day they went up and down the mountain, until after many years had passed and the elderly master’s body became weaker. Meanwhile his young disciple had grown bigger and stronger. “I know I should really renovate the temple and increase its size so it could accommodate many worshippers. Then I would not have to worry anymore.” The elderly master no longer had any strength left to speak. Although the master had often told him, “Cultivate merit and virtue,” the disciple always replied, “Wait until I have the strength.” So, time went by, and the temple grew larger and larger. When the elderly master was already nearing his last breath, when he was about to enter Perfect Rest, with his weakened hands he picked up a sutra and entrusted it to his disciple. As his disciple took the sutra, the elder master tried to speak, but no longer had any strength to do so. The disciple took the sutra and placed it by his side. No longer able to even speak, the elder master swallowed his last breath and passed away. After that, this young and vigorous disciple took on the position of head monk of the temple. He became the abbot of the temple. He wanted to develop his temple and increase it in size. After a few years it flourished with worshippers, so he next wanted to buy land. He bought a lot of land, a lot of acreage around the temple. He bought up all the land. Again, time passed, and the young and vigorous abbot eventually became old and began to fall ill. At one point, he suddenly thought, “Before my master passed away, he gave me a sutra, which I never even looked at. Just what teachings are in that text?” So, he took the book his master had given him and opened it to the first page. The elderly master had written, “Helping someone once surpasses chanting sutras for ten years.” [His master] was telling him, “You gain more merit and virtue by helping people than by chanting the sutras for ten years. You must be reverent. You must serve others with reverence. By always being reverent and always thinking of helping others, the merits and virtues one acquires surpass any gained from chanting sutras.” The abbot was old by that time, and his body had become wracked with illness. “What good deeds can I possibly do now? What my master told me then was, ‘Life and death, merit and virtue, are all determined in the space of a thought.’ This is what he was trying to tell me with his last breath. He wanted to tell me this, to help others. In reverently helping someone even one time, there is more merit and virtue gained than by chanting sutras for ten years.”

Spiritual practice is nothing other than constantly keeping good thoughts in our mind, thoughts of reverence, thoughts of helping others. The world is filled with suffering, and people pass their lifetimes in ignorance. Isn’t this how we pass our lives as well? “An ignorant thought creates the Three Subtleties.” With external states as our conditions, amidst appearances of people, matters and things, we pass our days busying about. We busily go about creating ignorance and multiplying afflictions. As our Roots encounter Dusts, they converge with external conditions. Then time passes, and ignorance and karma continue to accumulate. “[This is] due to the aggregate of action. An “aggregate” is an accumulation. We are accumulating the karma we create. Looking back, the principles we must understand are the Four Noble Truths and the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence. Such simple teachings are by our side, yet it is impossible for us to understand them. We must really be mindful!

We have been speaking of Cyclic Existence. Are we done yet? No, not yet. The previous passage says, “When ignorance ceases, volitional formation thus ceases. When volitional formation ceases, consciousness thus ceases. When consciousness ceases, name and form thus cease. When name and form cease, the six entrances thus cease. When the six entrances ceases, contact thus ceases.”

The Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence begin with a thought of ignorance, then continue on with the aggregate of action. These [formations] accumulated over past lives. Through this accumulation, we were led into the circumstantial retributions of our present lifetime. Based on our affinities with our parents, we were born into a certain family. Throughout our lives, we continually connect with all of the people, matters and things that we come in contact with and thus keep creating karma. So, this is how we live our lives.

With this contact, “When contact ceases, feeling thus ceases.” Next as it previously stated, “When the six entrances cease, contact thus ceases.” The next passage says, “When contact ceases, feeling thus ceases. When feeling ceases, craving thus ceases. When craving ceases, grasping thus ceases. When grasping ceases, becoming thus ceases. When becoming ceases, birth thus ceases. When birth ceases, the worries, sadness and distress of aging and death thus ceases.”

Now, it is talking entirely about ceasing. In the past, we spoke of “conditions arising.” Now, we are speaking about “conditions ceasing.” So, when we speak of “contact” once we come to the world, we come in contact with the world’s matters and objects. Since we make contact, naturally we will have feelings. “An ignorant thought creates the Three Subtleties. External states lead to the Six Coarse Marks.” This is the external environment and our feelings. When there is contact, when the eye comes into contact with forms, we will have feelings in our minds.

Where do these feelings arise from? That is “consciousness.” It is consciousness that experiences feelings and thereby gives rise to craving for those feelings. So, “When feelings cease, craving thus ceases.” When we see something, [we must ask], “Is this necessity or something I need or is it just something that I want, just something I like? Is it like that?” Or “Do I always need to take issue over things?” What does taking issue achieve? These are all feelings we experience in daily life. With feelings we give rise to thoughts. “Is this something love or dislike? Is it something I resent or hate?” These cravings and aversions are always in the process of arising and ceasing. So, when there is “craving” there naturally will be “grasping.” We will take action. We will be take it or buy it. We will scheme or do whatever it takes. All of this is “grasping.” If these things were totally unrelated to us, we would never take action. Then we would not create karma. “When grasping ceases, becoming thus ceases.” We would cease creating karma.

“When becoming ceases, birth thus ceases.” If we had never created karma, if we had never created affinities, good or bad, with our parents, we would not have been reborn. Or, having been born, if we had no positive or negative affinities with the people, matters and objects around us, then we would not be together with them.

Look how many people there are upon the earth. How many of them do we really know? Not many! Only those with good or bad affinities will be together with us. Without a debt to repay or collect, without any affinitive emotions, we would not be drawn into affinities like these and we would never be together. It is because in the past we formed good affinities with one another that we can all come together in this large organization to do good deeds. If some formed resentment or hatred toward in the past, they may form a gang with us to do harming things to others, things that are not good. Or they may lead us to deviate in our direction. In this way, we will create karma that leads through the process of life to death. We may die from illnesses or face many things that do not go the way we want throughout life. These happen because negative karmic conditions are guiding us toward aging, illness and death. Yet we are not aware of this.

Did everyone feel the earthquake this time? Of course you felt it. At past three in the morning, the earth shook. Everyone felt it. This was an obvious feeling we also have subtle [thoughts] and create and accumulate karma. We already likewise have feeling. One is the feeling of an obvious appearance. The feeling of the earthquake was a very obvious appearance, while our thoughts are subtle and intricate. Subtly and intricate thought continually accumulate. They accumulate over the course of our lives so we go through aging, illness or death. This process of life is one of constant worry, sadness and distress. Where is there a person who has never had worry, afflictions, desire, greed or thoughts of grasping something? Everyone has! These are subtle intricate [thoughts], very subtle parts of our life. They pass by without our even being aware of them.

So, “When contact ceases, feeling thus ceases. When feeling ceases, craving thus ceases.”

When contact ceases, feeling thus ceases. When feeling ceases, craving thus ceases: Since contact does not arise, the appearance of feeling is eliminated. Without feelings to lead the mind, the appearance of craving thus ceases.

We have come in contact with things. Only through contact do we have feelings. How can we remain unattached to our feelings? So much happens because causes and conditions draw us into suffering. Thus, now we are explaining the method of returning to cessation. How do we bring these things to cessation? When we come in contact with something, do we feelings of wanting to grasp it or to nurture it? Do we take it for ourselves or do we share it with others? The elderly monk taught his disciple that he should share with others. Merit and virtue are inseparable from our thoughts. Are our thoughts about creating merit and virtue, or are we only interested in serving ourselves? When we come in contact with something, we have feelings from that contact. If, with our feelings, we know to share with others, then we will create blessings. if we wish to claim for ourselves, then this is merely craving. When it comes to love, there is selfless live, and there is possessive love. Possessive love in the end becomes a pile garbage. This is like those people we mentioned before, those old, sick, disabled and lonely people. We go to help them to clear out their dirty things. At first, weren’t those things accumulated because they wanted them? So, “if contact does not arise,” without contact giving rise to craving, they naturally would not collect those filthy things in their homes. If unwholesome thoughts do not arise in us, then we will not accumulate many afflictions inside of us, then we will not create a lot of karma in our lives, throughout our lifetime.

So, “Since contact does not arise, the appearance of feeling is eliminated.” There are no appearances for us to take in. Without feelings to lead our minds, craving will naturally cease, and we will have no need to possess things.

When craving ceases, grasping thus ceases. When grasping ceases, becoming thus ceases: Without a mind of craving and pleasure-seeking, the appearance of grasping ceases. Without a mind of grasping and attachment, how would any karma come into being? Hence becoming ceases.

So, “When craving ceases, grasping thus ceases. When grasping ceases, becoming thus ceases.” If we eliminate this craving, this possessiveness, we naturally will not think that everything belongs to us. “My business is big, but I want to make it bigger. I want it to become a chain. I don’t want only one or two stores; I want my stores to be all over the world. I want to constantly expand my business. The entire market is mine.” This is grasping and attachment. Without thoughts of greed and craving, grasping and attachment do not arise in us. “Without a mind of craving and pleasure-seeking, the appearance of grasping ceases.” “Grasping” is naturally eliminated. We have no grasping or attachment; we will not grasp or become attached. We will not be attached to having so much. There is no need to be attached. Then, “How would any karma come into being?” In this case, where would karma come from? If we are without grasping and attachment, if we have none of these things, we will not create any of those situations. Then those matters are unrelated to us. We will not grasp or become attached to these things. They do not belong to us. Naturally, all of these things, all these matters, all interpersonal conflicts with others, will be totally unrelated to us. Where then will there be any “becoming”? There will be none. “Have you done this thing?” “No, I have not.” “Do you have this thing?” “No, I do not.” There is none of that. So, with the karma of “becoming.” If we do not create it, there will be no “becoming”; thus it ceases. “Becoming” ceases. Without grasping or attachment, we naturally have none of these things. We are pure.

When becoming ceases, birth thus ceases: With our karma, we attract [future] births. When the karma of becoming is no more, the appearance of birth thus ceases.

“When becoming ceases, birth thus ceases.” When we are without grasping or attachment, when we cease creating karma, we will no longer have any retributions from the entanglements of afflictive emotions. We will no longer have these. So, “When becoming ceases, birth thus ceases.” “With our karma, we attract [future] births.” It is our karma that attracts our [future] “birth” in the world. Once born into this world, we are entangled with love, hate, passion and animosity; this is suffering! So, it is because of our karma that we attract this incessant cycle of birth and death. “When the karma of becoming is no more,” when we fully eliminated the karma of “becoming,” naturally, “The appearance of birth thus ceases.” We will have no future rebirth, and the afflictive emotions of human existence will no longer bind us; they will be gone.

When birth ceases, the worries, sadness and distress of aging and death thus cease: Due to [becoming] we undergo birth and thus aging and death. If unaffected by desire for life, though we undergo aging and death, aging and death will cease. Without birth, aging and death, the worries, sadness and distress will all cease at once.

“When birth ceases, the worries, sadness and distress of aging and death thus cease.” When there is no birth, there is no aging. Because we are born, we experience great pain. When our mothers give birth to us, we begin crying, so we say it is painful. When we first came into the world, when we left our mother’s womb, we came in contact with the biting air, and our naked body felt a piercing pain. Feeling such pain, we cry out. Is there any child that does not cry at birth? It is naturally painful all over our entire body, so all of our nerve cells first come in contact with the feeling of pain. Thus we began to cry. This is our first step in the world. At our first step into the world, at birth, we are already suffering. Then gradually, in the environment of this world, due to both inherent and acquired [tendencies], we continually create karma. So, because of becoming, there is birth. With birth comes the suffering of aging and death, the suffering of aging, illness, death, the impermanence of life and so on. With that earthquake that just occurred, I am grateful that everyone is safe. If that earthquake had been a little bigger, if it had rocked us a little more, we might not be sitting here safe and sound like we are now. Earthquakes are warnings of impermanence, but since we are still here safe and sound, shouldn’t we be grateful for all these things? When the four elements are not in harmony, we can never know when impermanence will occur. Amidst this process of infinitesimal changes, when there was just an earthquake, we said, “There is an earthquake now!” Now we say, “just now.” As time passes in the same way, the words we use change. We must distinguish between “just now” and “now.” We say “now,” but after a moment has passed, we say, “just now.” Time is always passing like this. It is continually passing by. We speak of past and present lives. The karma we created in past lifetimes is what we receive and apply in this one. The karma we create in this lifetime is what we will receive and apply in future ones. This is how the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence continually drag us along. For us to understand the source of suffering, the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths and the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence. He helped us understand the nature of suffering. He hoped all of us would form aspirations to eliminate that suffering, for when these “Links” are eliminated, there is naturally no more suffering of rebirth. So, when it comes to aging and death, we remain “unaffected by the desire for birth.” Desire for birth is when thoughts of desire begin. So amidst birth and death, we remain unaffected by the desire for birth. If we can eliminate this, although we still age and die, we eliminate our karma. You see, as we said yesterday, there are many elderly who practice, who listen to the Dharma and tell me, “It’s enough; I am satisfied.” In my travels through Taiwan this time, among the group of elderly disciples I saw, some of them were ill who came to see me, but they were carefree and at ease, telling me, “It’s enough; I am satisfied. Because I was lucky enough to join Tzu Chi while I was young, my life is so abundant; it’s enough.” They are so free in their attitudes toward life, for they are certain that they have done many good deeds.

So, when it comes to this kind of cyclic existence, birth and death, those who do not understand the principles will fear death; they will become terrified. When one understands the principles, then one knows it is a law of nature. “I have fortunately done good deeds in my life, and doing one good deed surpasses chanting sutras for ten years. Having lived my life the way, I am satisfied, so, I have no worry, sadness or distress over aging and death I have none of these. Although I am old, I don’t worry about when my life will end. I don’t worry since this life has been enough.”

Previously it explained the teaching of arising, thus the Links are the causation of suffering, and the cause of action leads to its arising. Now it explains the teaching of ceasing, thus the Links are the path to cessation. Because of the truth of the path, we bring the Twelve Links to cessation and realize the joy of tranquil extinction.

So, it previously spoke of the teaching of arising. Arising is how we are born into the world, Which we explained before “Ignorance gives rise to volitional formation, and volitional formation to consciousness. Consciousness gives rise to name and form, name and form gives rise to the six entrances, the six entrances give rise to contact, contact gives rise to feeling, feeling gives rise to craving, craving gives rise to attachment, attachment gives rise to becoming, becoming gives rise to the birth, and birth gives rise to the worry, sadness and distress of aging and death.

This is how it is all linked together. What we spoke about today was looking back to bring the cycle to cessation. When we spoke several days earlier about the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence, we spoke about the “teaching of arising” Now, we are speaking on the “teaching of ceasing.” How do we go back and break this cycle? This is how our afflictions and ignorance arose in the past. Now how do we eliminate these afflictions and ignorance? When we have completely eliminated these, we naturally become at ease with birth and death. “Now it explains the teaching of ceasing.” If we can understand this, “The links are the path to cessation.” Our human ignorance and the path we have walked upon must be complete eliminated. The path we should walk upon now is the great, direct Bodhi-path. The great, direct Bodhi-path is so smooth. Furthermore, it can take us from the state of unenlightened beings to the state of Buddhahood. This is the Bodhisatta-path. So, I hope we all will be mindful of our thoughts in the present. If we can understand our thoughts in the present, “because of the truth of the path,” [we are clear]. If we understand the teaching of how we come and go through the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence, naturally we can realize the joy of tranquil extinction. When our mind is without afflictions, “There is no fear,” and “we can transcend deluded thinking.” We can distance ourselves from it. This way we will know that every day. When we give rise to thoughts, even subtle and intricate thoughts, we will always understand. Is what we are doing the thing we should be doing? If so, we should be proactive in doing it. If not, we should hasten to eliminate it. This is understanding “cessation,” the way of eliminating ignorance. This way, we understand how “External states lead to the Six Coarse Marks.” We have understood causes and conditions, how our eyes, ears, nose tongue and body come into contact with the external states of form, sound smell taste, and touch in this state. If our consciousness is clear, we naturally will not engage in wrongdoing. This way our mind will be always very peaceful. This requires that we always be mindful.

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