Monthly Archives: July 2014

Day 3 Practice Is Not Limited to Sitting Meditation

Walking is Ch’an, sitting is Ch’an;
Speaking or silent, moving or still, the essence is undisturbed.
Remain composed even if facing a sharp weapon,
Be at ease even if given poison.

In this stanza, Yung-chia explains that a practitioner is never separate from Ch’an, no matter what he does or where he is. Ch’an is everywhere. Whether you practice or do not practice, you are never apart from Ch’an.

People sometimes ask me: “Do you teach Japanese Zen or Chinese Ch’an?” It is a ridiculous question. In 1976, during the first retreat I held in the United States, I said to the participants, “I didn’t bring Ch’an with me from the Far East. Ch’an is not something I can carry and give to you. Ch’an has always existed in the West.”

Through the ages, people have asked masters what Bodhidharma brought to China from India. One master replied, “Three pounds of flax;” another answered, “Just a big bowl;” still another replied, “A large turnip.” One master looked at his robe and commented that it was made in Chin-chou. Trying to analyze these answers would be as foolish as asking the question in the first place. These are nonsensical answers to an inane question. Ch’an was not exported from India when Bodhidharma went to China, and Ch’an was not brought to the United States when Ch’an masters started coming here. Whether or not Buddhadharma, practice or Ch’an masters exist makes no difference: Ch’an is always present.

Ch’an is everywhere, even in places where no one has ever heard of Buddhadharma. When a dog barks, that is Ch’an; when a cat catches a mouse, that is Ch’an. But this does not mean dogs and cats are enlightened, or that they can attain enlightenment. Ch’an is one thing, practice is another.

— The Sword of Wisdom by Master Sheng Yen (page 108)

Day 2 Dropping Theories and Experiences

Traveling over rivers and oceans or crossing mountain streams,
Seeking teachers, asking the way to investigate Ch’an.
Since I recognize the path of Ts’ao Ch’i,
I realize all those do not relate to birth and death.
The correct attitude is to put aside all ideas of the Dharma, all methods that you have learned in the past, and all of your past experiences. Leave all of it behind and just work on your current method. Whatever you have learned in the past has given you a foundation to work from, but if you try to connect it with what you are learning now, you will create obstructions in your mind. The power of the past is with you, but you should detach yourself from it.
On the other hand, if you can retain one line of Dharma and understand it with your entire being, then no other teachings are necessary. Only exceptional practitioners, however, are capable of doing this. Ma-tzu had a disciple named Fa-ch’ang. Ma-tzu told him, “The mind is Buddha.” Fa-ch’ang took the words to heart; he remembered them and practiced them. Years later, Fa-ch’ang left Ma-tzu and took up residence on Plum Mountain.

One day, Ma-tzu sent a disciple to visit Fa-ch’ang and deliver a message: “Ma-tzu has modified his Buddhadharma. He used to say ‘The mind is Buddha.’ Now he says, ‘It is not the mind, it is not the Buddha.’ What do you think?”

Fa-ch’ang replied, “Is this guy still up to his old tricks? He can change his Buddhadharma as often as he likes, but for me, I’ll stick with what I have. For me, the mind is Buddha.”

When the messenger returned and related Fa-ch’ang’s reaction, Ma-tzu was satisfied. He praised Fa-ch’ang’s achievement: “This plum is ripe.”
When Ma-tzu told Fa-ch’ang that the mind is Buddha, Fa-ch’ang benefited. He recognized the benefit and retained the sentence. Later, Ma-tzu could say anything he wanted to other people, but it had nothing to do with Fa-ch’ang.
If you benefit from even one line of Buddhadharma, you should hold onto it and never forget it. If you can penetrate oneword of true Dharma, you do not have to seek other teachers. One word can be enough for enlightenment. On the other hand, if you learn many methods of practice, but cannot solve the problem of birth and death, what good are those methods?
Do not waste your time on theory and concepts. Apply yourself directly to the method. Retrieve your method when you lose it. Everything I say during lectures will always come back to this point. If I do not say anything, your minds will turn forever with thoughts and fantasies. The purpose of these lectures is to bring your minds together, to focus your thoughts until there are no thoughts left. Until you accomplish this, I will continue to lecture.
— The Sword of Wisdomby Master Sheng Yen (page 108)



If you contemplate your mind, you will find no mind, except the mind that comes from mis-conceptions.
The mind with such conceptions arises from delusion.
Like the wind in the sky, it has no grounding.
Such a character of things neither appears nor disappears. What is sin? What is virtue?
As the thought of self is itself empty, neither sin nor virtue is our master.
In this way, all things are neither permanent nor destroyed.
If one repents like this, meditating on one’s mind, one finds no mind.
Things also do not dwell in things.
All things are liberated, show the truth of extinction, and are calm and tranquil.
Such a thing is called great repentance, sublime repentance, repentance without sin, the destruction of the self-referential mind.
People who practice this repentance are pure in body and mind, like flowing water, not attached to things.
The whole ocean of hindrances from past actions arises from illusion.
If you want to repent, you should sit upright and reflect on the true nature of things.
All evils are like frost and dew.
The sun of wisdom can dissipate them.
— from Sutra on the Meditation of Samantabadhra, also known as the Repentance Sutra

The Spider Web

the spider web
held by a few blades of grass
every tendril of its fineness wrapped in threads of morning dew
danced to the breeze in free innocence
as the sun offered itself to the dew
a delicate pattern of fevored light was born
the cool breeze, the dance and light
melded into one
within self
with the purest of simplicities
and intentions
it came
for a few moments
that will never leave
carefully sheltered
within my forever

— Bruce


梁皇寶懺是南朝梁武帝為皇后郗氏所集的。緣起是皇后郗氏在往生後的數月,有一天梁武帝正要就寢時,聽聞外面有騷亂的聲音,於是出去一看,竟然是一條 大蟒蛇,而且睜大眼睛望著他。這時候武帝大驚不已,不知如何是好,便對蛇說:「朕的宮殿嚴警,不是你們蛇所生之地,看來你必定是妖孽。」蛇於是對武帝說: 「我是你的皇后郗氏,妾因為生前喜歡爭寵,而常懷瞋心及嫉妒心,性情慘毒,損物害人,所以死後墮入蛇身。現在沒有飲食可吃,又沒有洞穴可以庇身,而且每一 片鱗甲中有許多蟲在咬,真是痛苦萬分。由於深感皇帝平日對妾的厚愛,所以才敢顯現醜陋的形貌在您的面前,希望能祈求一些功德,脫離蟒蛇之身。」蛇說完之後 就不見了。

武帝將這個情形告訴誌公禪師,禪師對梁武帝說:「必須要禮佛懺悔才能洗滌罪業。」武帝於是請誌公禪師搜尋佛經,摘錄佛的名號,並 且依佛經來撰寫懺悔文,總共寫成十卷。然後武帝就依照懺本為皇后禮拜懺悔,有一日,突然聞到異香遍滿室內,久久不散。武帝抬起頭來,看見有一個人,容儀端 麗,對他說:「我是蟒蛇的後身,因為承蒙皇帝為我作功德,所以現在已經超生忉利天,今天特來致謝。」言畢就不見了。



業, 主要是緣於我們的心,我們的心打結了,就是障礙、業障。如果你懺悔之後,心裏不再打結,這就不是障礙。當我們的心沒有障礙,遇到種種外在的障礙,也會減 輕,也會減少。這什麼原因?有兩個原因。第一種原因,因為從過去世到今生犯的錯誤,我們已經承認犯了錯誤,也願意承擔責任,往下就是如何來彌補、補救我們 所犯的錯誤。

怎麼補救法?第一,發願回向給那些靈界的怨親債主。我們拜懺的時候,諸位有沒有寫牌位啊?這就是在發願回向給他們,但是能有多 大的功德回向給他們?回向是說,你在修行,你在成就道場,你在成就弘法利生的大事業,這就是為他們做好事。因為你做了功德,回向給怨親債主、靈界的眾生, 所以他們到這裏來聽我們拜懺,跟著我們拜懺,放焰口的時候,他們也來聽焰口。

我們拜懺,都是用的佛法、用的佛號,焰口是用的種種的真言,都 可以讓他們直接得到利益。就好像是說,我們請他們來聽聞佛法;就好像是說,我們為他們請客,不是用嘴巴來吃,而是用心來接觸佛法的利益。他們聽了佛法以 後,也能夠心開意解。這樣一來,也就不會冤冤相報,或者來找你。

另外,我們拜懺的時候,除了超度怨親債主,對其他的孤魂,也請他們來的,為 他們做大佈施。這就是彌補了往昔所造的種種諸惡業,使他們受到傷害,如今我們做佛事,來彌補過失。這樣子,是不是我們的罪業全都消了呢?沒有,只能夠說, 他們暫時不會來逼我們的債。小的債務,他們不計較,如果重的債務,還是有的。因此,我們要經常的懺悔,經常的修行。

還有,佛經說:「罪性本 空由心造,心若滅時罪亦亡。」罪的本質是空,而罪是怎麼來的?是我們的心造成的。如果我們的心──自私自利、貪瞋癡慢、自我中心的心,全都消滅了,就是煩 惱心沒有了,便能夠生起智慧心、菩提心,證得菩提果。證得菩提果是很不容易的,但是修行就是要證菩提果。如果我們的煩惱心斷了,而證得菩提果,這時候才真 正的沒有罪了。


菩 提心,是智慧心,也是大慈悲心。「梁皇懺」又叫做「慈悲道場」,是發大慈悲心,願自己利益一切眾生,那就是行菩薩道。當你發大慈悲心,利益一切眾生,你隨 時隨地都是在做大佈施。因為你隨時隨地在做大佈施、做大好事,怨親債主只要靠近你,就會有好處。本來是怨親債主,結果變成你的護法、你的助緣。這樣子,我 們的業就消了。

因此,懺悔有多種層次的功能,可小可大。如果說來拜懺,就能夠消罪業,那是不懂佛法。如何才能夠消業除罪?就是常常要發起慈 悲心,多一點慈悲心,少一點自私心,你的心就能與空性相應。所謂心,多半是指的自私自利的煩惱心,自私自利的心愈重,你的業障便愈重;自私自利的心愈輕, 你的業障就愈輕。這是對我們自己來講,那對於我們的親友,也就是先亡眷屬,以及在生的親戚朋友,我們拜懺對他們有沒有用?對他們是有用的。這是替他們做佈 施,替他們做功德,為他們來積福。他們自己沒有來,但是你們替他做了,還是有用。可是最好還是自己來修行。諸位知道,自己修行和代替修行的功德是多少?六 分比一分,六分功德屬於修行人自身,一分功德可以回向,但還是有用的。


我 今天講的開示,諸位聽懂了嗎?懺悔,是不是一定要來參加共修才懺悔,平常要不要懺悔?人家不知道你做錯了事,但是你自己犯了錯,要不要懺悔?自己對人不 起,人家也知道,怎麼辦?如果對許多的人做錯了事,怎麼辦?要當眾懺悔。可是很多人很愚癡,做錯了事,不但不認錯,反而編出很多的理由來,說錯不在我。而 這種人,更是罪加一等。所以,身為一個佛教徒,做了錯、犯了過,一定是自己負責,也要對人負責,這是最基本的懺悔。

還有,為什麼要共修懺 悔?一個人不能拜「梁皇懺」嗎?一個人可以拜,但是不夠好。一個人修行,力量是一根紗,十個人一起修行,就變成一條線。如果是千支紗在一起,就是索纜。共 修的力量大。因此我們要辦這樣的法會,大家一方面來種福田,一方面修福修慧。拜懺,事實上就是修福修慧的大功德。阿彌陀佛。

Poem by Shan Shan Nie

poem by ShanShan《空》