Monthly Archives: December 2014

No Substitute for Hard Work

Once you get to the root, don’t worry about the branches,

Like pure crystal containing a precious moon.

Since you have realized this all-giving pearl,

Benefit for yourself and others will never end.

Suppose you made a date with a friend to hike up a mountain, but on that day you overslept and she went ahead without you. What would you do? Perhaps you would think, “It’s too late now, ” and go back to sleep. Or perhaps you would say, “I decided to hike today, and I’m going to do it. Better late than never. If I start right away, I may even catch up with my friend.” What if, halfway up the mountain, you met your friend coming down, and she told you the view at the summit was not worth the effort? Would you still go ahead?

The path to Buddhahood is a lonely climb, but after you reach Buddhahood, vast numbers of sentient beings will surround you, all of them wanting your help, your compassion, your wisdom. Since you are a Buddha, naturally you will help every one of them. As an ordinary person, you have a physical body and limited faculties. You have contact with few people, and of those few, you help even fewer. You are alone most of the time, and you do whatever you want to do. But as a Buddha, your presence and power are limitless. Innumerable sentient beings seek your help. If you know Buddhahood is like this, why do you want the job? From our point of view, that of an ordinary sentient being, Buddhahood sounds horrible. But the Buddha does not feel this way, because he does not perceive that he is helping anyone. To a Buddha, there is no such thing as Buddhas or sentient beings.

An ordinary person can divorce his or her spouse, but a Buddha cannot divorce himself from sentient beings. It is paradoxical: the path to Buddhahood is lonely and solitary, yet once you reach Buddhahood you are never alone again. Sentient beings throughout time and space will seek your help and blessings.

Once, in Tokyo, I was walking by myself at night. I walked along narrow sidestreets and back alleys. I saw people here and there, but when I turned onto a wide avenue, I did not see anyone. I figured that the main streets were not a good place to walk, so I returned to the narrow alleys.

Most of us wander the outer paths and follow the heterodox teachings, just as I kept to the back alleys. Buddhadharma is a wide highway, but it is relatively untraveled. As a sentient being, you keep to the narrow streets, because everyone else does the same. You are comforted by the sight of people. You will not meet many people on the wide road, and by the time you near your destination ─ Buddhahood ─ you will be alone. There will be no friend to help you, no enemy to quarrel with. It is a solitary road to Buddhahood.

A student once asked me if the innumerable Buddhas from the ten directions ever met for an “inter-Buddha world conference.” I answered, “If the Buddhas were lonely or had nothing to do, I suppose they could call a meeting.” I was joking of course. Actually, Buddhas do not have the idea that they are doing anything, and they are never lonely, so they do not have to call meetings. “All the Buddhas in the ten directions” is a convenient phrase that is easy to remember, but in fact each Buddha exists in every point of space and every moment of time. Since Buddhas encompass all of space and time, they cannot be pinpointed in any specific place or moment.

— The Sword of Wisdom by Master Sheng Yen (page 131)

公案100 ——饥来吃饭困来眠

有人问大珠慧海禅师是怎么用功的,他答道:「饥来吃饭困来眠。」对方说:「大家都是这样的啊!那他们都跟你一样用功吗?」大珠禅师说:「不同。他吃饭时不肯吃饭,百种需索;睡时不肯睡,千般计较。」

  这句禅语的本意是说,该怎么就怎么,一切平常;此外,嘴巴吃饭时心也在吃饭,身体睡觉时心也在睡觉,这才合乎健康,也是智者的心理情况。普通人则不然,吃饭时不是讲话、读报、看电视,就是胡思乱想;上床时思绪纷飞、情绪起伏,入睡后回肠百转、乱梦连床。
  禅师或智者心无二用且心无所用。心无二用是很清楚自己正在做什么、正在讲什么、正处在什么状况──这是自知之明。知道当下正在发生什么事,不会把现在的自己和过去的、未来的自己混淆起来。所谓过去的自己,是回忆过去的生活和经验;未来的自己,是想象揣摩尚未发生的情况。这都不是智者应有的生活态度。智者、禅者只生活在现在,现在的每一秒钟才是最宝贵的。把握现在、运用现在、落实在现在,是最充实的人生;否则不但把时间浪费掉了,也为自己带来不必要的困扰。
  已经过去的事情,骄傲没有必要,悔恨没有用处。知道错误马上改进,比什么都重要。如果停留在骄傲或悔恨的心境,就把现在放弃了。反之,计画未来是对的,但忧虑是不对的;订定目标是对的,而等待是不对的。
  我常说,理想不是梦想。理想可以说是心愿,要脚踏实地一步步向目标努力;至于何时完成心愿,那就看努力如何,不是等它发生或忧虑未来,否则就把现在荒废了。
  因此,当下你在吃饭,就不要忽略吃饭;当下你在睡觉,就不要做不是睡觉的事。有人说:「百鸟在树,不如一鸟在手」,照顾好手上的这只鸟才合乎实际,树上的鸟会不会来,那再说吧!空想是没有用的。这个比喻说明了现实的重要性。智者不会有不切实际的空想、梦想、幻想,也不会将以往的成败挂在心上
——摘录自圣严法师著作《公案—话头100》
公案是中国禅宗最初把前辈祖师的言行记录下来,作为范例,用以对修行禅法者进行指示,以判断是非迷悟。话头禅是在古代中国流行的一种禅修方法,主要是训练人的心灵,通过参话头的方式使内心获得宁静和专一,进入定境,开发智慧。《公案·话头》内容是圣严法师对经典、祖师语录等的精彩诠释,有助于引领读者在生活中灵活地善用禅法,积极经营人生,开创内在无私的慈悲与无我的智慧。《公案·话头》内容易懂、健康,不同年龄性别、职业层次,教育有程度的社会大众,都能分享。

公案100 ——生死事大

永嘉玄觉禅师往曹溪参访六祖惠能,振锡扬瓶,绕祖三匝,六祖说:「沙门应有三千威仪、八万细行,大德是来自何方,如何傲慢?」永嘉答:「生死事大,无常迅速。」六祖回说:「何不体取无生,了无速乎?」
永嘉禅师以「生死事大、无常迅速」回答六祖,意思是他已经没有时间去考虑威仪、礼貌;这些虚排场对生死问题无所裨益,只能说是人与人之间彼此对待的一种表面行为而已。禅宗祖师们以心的清净为重,外在的礼貌为次,甚至以不用着相为宜。这是此段对话的主要涵意。
现在我要点出「生死事大」的五个层次。
第一个层次:出生的目的是为了来世界上生和死──出生、生存、生活,最后生命结束。人一出生就确定有死亡的事实在等待,所以生和死就是人生的大事。
第二个层次:为什么要出生?为什么要死亡?生死之间的意义是什么?责任是什么?多数人连第一个层次都不清楚,所以贪生怕死;对第二个层次也不明白,所以茫然无绪。与草木同生,与草木同腐。
第三个层次:生从何来?死往何去?从佛教信仰的立场而言,出生一定是由前一生转过来的;但前生是什么呢?不清楚!生命结束死亡之后又到何处去?不知道!若如孔子所言「未知生,焉知死」,第三个层次的问题也就不存在,只停留在从生到死的阶段,尽他的责任义务,守他的伦理道德。但是并非人人都能把握伦理和道德,有缺失的人在死后进入另一个阶段的生命时,就要受苦了。所以,这一生受苦或享福并非凭空而来,而是由过去世所造的业因带来的。把第三个层次弄清楚了,就能在这一生之中安身、立命、努力,面对现实。
第四个层次:生与死不能老是在因果之中打转。从此生到下一生,从下一生再到下一生,恩怨无尽,烦恼不断,这种折磨太可怕。必须把生死勘破、放下,这叫做从生死得解脱。一般人不会考虑这个问题,但若遇到变故频仍、苦难重重,会希望一了百了。实际上没有「一了百了」这回事,今生未还的债下一生仍要还。此外,拥有权势财富美眷者,希望保有荣华富贵,舍不得死。其实这一切生前带不来,死后带不去,唯有自己的福德可以带走。明白这个道理之后,活着的时候很满足,会尽到伦理道德的责任,临死也不会恐惧,由于功德可以带走,所以不会舍不得。这个层次可以说是置生死于度外,但仍有所不足。
第五个层次:生也不错,死也很好。过去是什么?不需问,未来会如何?别担心,生死的问题全部放下。这是大自在、大解脱,唯有大修行者才做得到。
「生死事大,无常迅速。」是要办大事和急事,无心旁顾小事与琐事。这是用一般修行者的心态和说法,来试探六祖怎么回应他。他所得到的答案,是若你已能体验到既无生死也无缓急,便得解脱了。

——摘录自圣严法师著作《公案—话头100》
公案是中国禅宗最初把前辈祖师的言行记录下来,作为范例,用以对修行禅法者进行指示,以判断是非迷悟。话头禅是在古代中国流行的一种禅修方法,主要是训练人的心灵,通过参话头的方式使内心获得宁静和专一,进入定境,开发智慧。《公案·话头》内容是圣严法师对经典、祖师语录等的精彩诠释,有助于引领读者在生活中灵活地善用禅法,积极经营人生,开创内在无私的慈悲与无我的智慧。《公案·话头》内容易懂、健康,不同年龄性别、职业层次,教育有程度的社会大众,都能分享。