2017.04.26 Guiding People toward Safety and Stability 心定念正 導人安穩

 

Wondrous Lotus Sutra  靜思妙蓮華

 

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2017.04.26

 

Guiding People toward Safety and Stability

心定念正 導人安穩

 

From Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s notes:

>> With wisdom, we listen, contemplate and practice. With a settled mind, our spiritual aspirations will be proper. By upholding the precepts, we eliminate afflictions; thus we guard against wrongs and stop evil and guide people onto a safe and stable path.

>> "This is the parable of a 500 yojanas long, dangerous, difficult, and evil road. It lies in an extremely desolate, uninhabited and terrifying place. It seems there are many people who desire to travel this road to reach a place of precious treasures."     [Lotus Sutra, Chapter 7 – On the Conjured City]

>> "There is a guiding teacher, intelligent and wise, with a clear understanding. He knows well the passable and obstructed features of this dangerous road and will lead a group of people who wish to traverse these hardships. But the people he leads along the way become lax and retreat."     [Lotus Sutra, Chapter 7 – On the Conjured City]

>> He knows well the passable and obstructed features of this dangerous road: This is an analogy for knowing how to eliminate suffering from deluded karma, how to eliminate ignorance and how to step by step relieve ourselves from fragmentary and transformational samsara. All Buddhas know this completely.

>> The passable and obstructed features: Entering the delusion of deviant views and falling into a state of evil and suffering are called obstructed features. Transcending the Saha World and being able to enter the noble path are called passable features.

>> Since the guiding teacher knows the features of the evil road, he leads the travelers, enabling them to escape danger and difficulties. He guides and enables them to enter the Right Path of Bodhi. Thus, [guiding teacher] is a common term for Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

>> The people: Those of average or limited capabilities who stubbornly cling to the Two Vehicles only practice for themselves. The people he leads: Those who meet harmful friends along the way are enticed to retreat from the Great and take up the Small.

>> Along the way [they] become lax and retreat: Along the way: An analogy for how Small Vehicle practitioners eliminate afflictions to seek their own deliverance from samsara. Though they follow and are transformed by the Buddha, they fear the Great Dharma and delight in and are attached to the Small Vehicle. This is called becoming lax and retreating.


"With wisdom, we listen, contemplate and practice.
With a settled mind, our spiritual aspirations will be proper.
By upholding precepts, we eliminate afflictions;
thus we guard against wrongs and stop evil
and guide people onto a safe and stable path."

In this world, we live in a state of confusion. "How did I get here? Where did I come from? Where will I go in the future? Where will I go from here?" In fact, when we came [to this world] we were unaware, and when we leave we do not understand. We spend our entire lives running around busily. Our life follows the laws of nature, and when the time comes, regardless of our age, it will come to an end. Then is everything over and done with? Let me tell you; it is not. There is definitely karmic cause and effect. We follow this cycle of causes and conditions and experience effects and retribution of suffering lifetime after lifetime. So, we need to have faith; we must awaken our faith. We must believe that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas come to this world to deliver lost sentient beings.

Not only do Bodhisattvas do this, all Buddhas do too. They come and go among people to point us in the right direction. Those who have faith listen to the teachings and uphold them for their entire life. If we do not have faith, even if the Buddha is right in front of us or a Bodhisattva is by our side, no matter how they teach us the Dharma, we may hear it but not accept it. We listen to it but do not want to accept it. Or, we listen to and accept it, but do not want to persist in upholding it. After a short time, we forget about it. After a short time, our perspective of right faith changes, so we return to the Saha World, to a life of confusion. This is what we unenlightened beings do.

We should earnestly take advantage of [our time in] this world. Since we have come into this world and have listened to the Buddha-Dharma, we must earnestly put our heart into listening, contemplating, and practicing. After listening, we must earnestly contemplate. If we take the Dharma to heart, after we listen, we will earnestly contemplate it. The Dharma is indeed found in all people, matters and things. As for today's people and affairs, when we can apply the teachings we heard early in the morning to the day's affairs, we will be able to dispel our confusion and delusion. Throughout our daily actions, there are many things we do not understand, even in a single plant or a single object. Do we pull up every [stray] plant we see? Actually, there are many useful vegetable seeds and useful grains. If farmers are a little careless, when pulling weeds, instead of pulling out the weeds, they may end up pulling out rice stalks instead.

This comes from not recognizing the plants and trees on the land. If we are able to recognize them, then we will know which are weeds, which are useless plants, so that they can become beneficial fertilizer for our crops. If we recognize them, we know what to pull up and return to the land as nutrients. If we do not recognize them, we will not know which ones to pull up, which ones to remove. Then they will fight over nutrients with the seeds we planted. The land's nutrients will be grabbed up by weeds, and the seeds we want to grow will lack nutrients. Lacking nutrients, the crops we produce will not thrive. This is because we did not recognize them. This is because we did not take care of them. So, although we sow seeds of goodness in the land, we may not be able to recognize or take care of them. This is just like our mind. We should take care of the ground of our minds. Once we sow seeds in this ground, we must take good care of them. When ignorance or discursive thoughts arise, we must quickly eliminate them so this seed of goodness in our minds can remain healthy and strong. Only then will our wisdom-life be able to grow.

Our wisdom-life accompanies us [life after life]. Every one of us has a nature of True Suchness; our nature of True Suchness is our wisdom-life. Our nature of True Suchness is a seed. But layers of ignorance and discursive thoughts have covered that pure nature and snatched away our time. Ignorance and discursive thoughts have taken away our opportunities for developing our wisdom-life. Ignorance and discursive thoughts have taken over our lives. What we use every day are these ignorant, discursive thoughts; this prevents our mind from using a perspective of wisdom to look at things. We only use superficial intelligence and knowledge to handle things; we do not tap into our wisdom to make decisions.

Knowledge and wisdom are different. Intelligence is temporary; it is not stable, just like those weeds. So, we must earnestly "With wisdom, listen, contemplate and practice." As Buddhist practitioners, we must apply our deep faith as we listen to and learn the Dharma. We must earnestly contemplate it. We must use our ear-root and ear-consciousness to listen mindfully. We take it in through our sixth consciousness, then earnestly contemplate it. After contemplating it, we delve further into it. This is "cultivating contemplation." Once it has entered our minds, if we can be in a settled and still state, naturally, wisdom will be in all the actions of our body and mind. Our wisdom will analyze for us the people, matters and things around us.

How should we perceive worldly affairs? How should we analyze the suffering of all sentient beings in the world? How can we adapt to their capabilities to help them resolve their difficulties and relieve their suffering? This requires us to exercise wisdom. So, we listen, contemplate and practice to exercise our wisdom in the world. This way, everyone can be Guanyin Bodhisattva. We often say, "In every person, there is a Guanyin Bodhisattva; in every family, an Amitabha Buddha." In fact, Amitabha signifies infinite radiance. We have a wisdom of infinite light. We have compassion hidden within our minds. If we could exercise both compassion and wisdom, everyone can be Guanyin Bodhisattva. Thus, we must put effort into being mindful.

"With a settled mind, our spiritual aspirations will be proper." Our mind must be settled and still. With a settled and still mind, our spiritual aspirations [will be proper]. Since we have formed aspirations to walk the great, direct Bodhi-path, our thoughts must be correct and proper. So, our minds must sustain this aspiration and keep it steady. Since we formed this initial aspiration, have we remained focused and settled? We should know that the road in this world runs through the wilderness and is filled with danger and difficulties. How can we walk this road successfully? Furthermore, not only must we walk it ourselves, walk it safely and steadily, but we must mobilize others to walk it with us, to go in this proper direction. So, our minds must be settled, our spiritual aspirations proper.

What can we do to have settled minds and proper spiritual aspirations? We must "uphold precepts to eliminate afflictions." Upholding precepts guards against wrongs and stops evil. If our minds are always settled and we are clear on matters and principles, then naturally we will not break the precepts. When we do not violate precepts and our minds are peaceful and settled, then naturally we will not give rise to discursive thoughts. No matter what kind of situation we encounter, if our minds and thoughts are proper, then we will not be influenced by external sounds or conditions. This means that we must regularly strengthen our aspirations and diligently uphold our precepts. Then naturally, the ignorance and afflictions in our minds will be eliminated; new ones will not enter and the old ones are eliminated. This is spiritual practice.

So, we must "guard against wrongs and stop evil." We must guard against committing wrongs again. We have made this mistake once before, which was a big lesson to us. We must not let it happen a second time. We must maintain this mindset of not committing the same wrong twice. We should guard against wrongs and stop evil. "Guide people onto a safe and stable path." We must become someone who delivers people onto a safe and stable path. We must have this mindfulness every day in order to experience the principles of the world.

At this time, in this world, if everyone does not awaken to [the effects of] climate change, if we do not return to the past, the heavens, earth and people will not have peace. In the world, there will be no harmony. Look at the results of human actions; our perspectives and thinking have deviated from the right path, causing our world to be unstable, to experience extremes in its climate.

This is happening in Ningxia, which is part of Mainland China. The average temperature is continuously rising. It has not rained and drought has already spread throughout the region; no rain has fallen, and nothing is growing. Thus the people cannot survive. Already 300,000 people have left that area. Conversely, in Chile, there is also a desert. This is a desert where plants have not grown for a long time. This land would be considered dormant. But all of a sudden recently, all kinds of flowers began blooming there. There are flowers as far as the eyes can see, swaying in the wind. Everyone found this change to be very strange; this is an abnormal occurrence.

Where did the seeds of these flowers come from? There is no telling how long these seeds have remained dormant, how long they have been sleeping underground. Suddenly, there was rain. With rain water, this suddenly occurred on this patch of land; all these flowers grew and blossomed throughout the land. Everyone wondered, "How did these seeds get here?" Fundamentally, this world, this natural world, contains so many principles.

Originally in Ningxia, there were many people living there; there was water and a great expanse of land in which crops could grow. Then that place suddenly suffered a drought for many years. Not one inch of grass would grow. People cannot live without water, so they had no choice but to leave. Look at this land in Chile. It was originally a place where plants did not grow, because it was so dry. Then it rained. So, it became something like an oasis. Flowers and grass sprouted up. This is a great change. This was abnormal weather. I heard them say that there are more than 200 kinds of native flowers that have sprouted up in that place; this is very wondrous. These are the great principles contained within the earth.

Our lives are like this too. In the past there were many things we did not know. Through the Buddha-Dharma, everything was explained to us in detail to help us understand. Listening to the Buddha-Dharma is not just listening to "thus have I heard," or listening to the Buddha tell stories, no. The true Buddha-Dharma is found in how we live. All of the stories that the Buddha told are drawing on the past beyond the past in order to teach us. People's capabilities are such that they love listening to stories from the past. In fact, all around us, we are surrounded by stories every day. What every person experienced yesterday is the story they share today. Every day, everyone is writing their script; every day, everyone is writing their story.

This is just like when [Tzu Chi volunteers] returned from the Philippines to report on two matters. One was Singapore's and the Philippines' Tzu Chi International Medical Associations (TIMA) jointly-held free clinics in Tacloban. They gave a basic report on this. The most important issue was that after Typhoon [Koppu] passed through the Philippines, it had caused a major disaster on the island of Luzon, with severe flooding. The slow pace of this typhoon is something not seen in a long time. The typhoon stopped on the island of Luzon for a period of two full days. There were strong winds and rain in this region north of Manila, the island of Luzon, resulting in a major disaster. In particular, farmers suffered great damage.

They told me that after their three-day free clinic in Tacloban that ended on the 24th, they returned to Manila on the 25th and turned around and left again the next morning, before 6 am, for [the island of] Luzon. When they arrived at the disaster area, everything they saw was covered in mud. So, they quickly assessed things and based on their experience, they quickly gathered local villagers and then split them into three locations to be part of the "cash for work" program. In three days' time, they quickly cleaned up three major disaster areas. Then they looked into distributing disaster relief.

At this time, Tzu Chi volunteers felt that the impoverished farmers had lost their livelihood and were not sure how they would survive. We hoped they could quickly begin farming again. But how many months would it take? There was no way. So, they asked me if we could first give them vegetables seeds and immediately teach the farmers to [grow them] so that in 10 to 20 days, they could sell the vegetables. They were all onion and garlic farmers there. Could we give them these seeds to plant? Of course we can! But we could also do more. Because the [disaster area] was very big, they had only been to three places. They wanted to continue. There were many places they had not reached, many places that cultivated rice.

Because the place had many areas to cultivate rice, they said, "Master, can we distribute this rice for them to use as seeds?" "Of course! Let us do it quickly." They even said, "There are people who have nothing; their homes have flowed away or collapsed. For these people, can we find ways to help them as well?" Hearing them mindfully report this, I was very comforted. This group of Living Bodhisattvas, after Typhoon Haiyan resulted in such a severe disaster, are still caring for those disaster survivors. They just finished holding a free clinic for them. It was originally planned for 3000-plus people, but more than 5000 people were treated.

They also said to me, "Master, everyone wants to go back, because there are still many people who did not receive treatment. Will you allow us to hold another free clinic?" Of course I encouraged them to do so, as long as they had the strength and the manpower to accomplish it. "But right now there is a place with urgent need. You must quickly plan a distribution there. You must start right away." However, the disaster area was really big. The first time they went, they said traveling from one end to the other would take nearly ten hours. Clearly it was a very big region. Presently the places they had reached, that area, took two to three hours of travel. That would still leave seven- or eight-hour trips to cover that vast area affected by the disaster. So, if this wave of volunteers hoped to continue providing relief to more people, they would have to cover this vast area.

This happened because of an abnormal climate. Typhoons usually pass through quickly. Why did it circle there for two days? Thinking about it, the weather nowadays is truly abnormal.

Let us look at the previous sutra passage.

"This is the parable of a 500 yojanas long, dangerous, difficult and evil road. It lies in an extremely desolate, uninhabited and terrifying place. Suppose there are many people who desire to travel this road to reach a place of precious treasures."

The world is just like this, a "dangerous, difficult and evil road." How did we come here? How should we return? Right now, every day, in this space between heaven and earth, in our interpersonal relationships, are we able to safely live through each day? Actually, this "dangerous, difficult and evil road" of life is very long; there are many traps. So, we must be very vigilant. We talk about "self-discipline and reverence" every day. We must be self-disciplined, cautious and reverent, otherwise in this world we will be on a "dangerous, difficult and evil road. It lies in an extremely desolate [place]." It is really a very desolate and wide place, as big as the Three Realms.

It is like that desert in Chile, or the area in Ningxia, which are very open and spacious places. In some places, some unknown time ago, there were 200-plus species of flowers seeds in this land. Clearly, in the distant past, this desert was once an oasis. There were these seeds. But after some time, this place turned into a desert. In the past, Ningxia was [suitable] for people to live; it should have been an oasis. But now it has turned into a desert, and the people must move elsewhere.

We can see the two extremes of these two places. In the past, one was a desert. We know it was a desert. We know in the past the other was a place where people lived; it was probably an oasis. Now the places have reversed. One place has flowers and plants sprouting up, while in the other, people have given up and are emigrating. Think about it; isn't life in this world a "dangerous, difficult and evil road"? Isn't it "extremely desolate [and] uninhabited"? In the past, Chile's desert was desolate and completely uninhabited. Now in the future, will Ningxia also become desolate and completely uninhabited?

This world is truly a "terrifying place." It truly inspires fear; it is a place to dread and fear. We as people living in this world see only a tiny part of it. We cannot see so widely and expansively. The Buddha has the wisdom of the Buddha-eye. He can see widely and expansively. The universe and the lives of all things are completely clear to Him. He clearly understands all ways of life. So, He told us that on this "dangerous, difficult and evil road," there are many people who wish to cross. This means that the human world is very treacherous.

"Suppose there are many people" means suppose there are some people who have awakened, want to engage in spiritual practice and listen to the teachings; [they are those] "who desire to travel this road." When we think of this dangerous path, we already know we must quickly escape. Lifetime after lifetime, we must travel on this path with great caution. "To reach a place of precious treasures," we do not know how many lifetimes we must travel this treacherous path. So, we must be very be mindful and cautious. We must safely travel through it to reach the place of precious treasures. This is what we have said before.

In the next sutra passage, [it says,]

"There is a guiding teacher, intelligent, wise and with a clear understanding. He knows well the passable and obstructed features of this dangerous road and will lead a group of people who wish to pass through these hardships. But the people he leads along the way become lax and retreat."

As we are walking together, along the way we become lax and retreat. So, we need this guiding teacher to lead us. To travel through this dangerous path, we need someone to lead the way. This guiding teacher is "intelligent, wise and with a clear understanding." He has much wisdom and thoroughly understands this road. He knows which place is treacherous and where we should not walk. He knows how to travel to safely pass through this treacherous path; he leads us in this way. "But the people he leads along the way become lax and retreat." Of the people following this guiding teacher, some became lax and retreated on the way. Having become lax, they wanted to retreat. It is telling us that the guiding teacher is very intelligent and wise and can help us safely travel this path. He knows which places are truly dangerous. He reminds us, "Do not deviate. Your every step must by firm and steady as you move forward so you can leave this dangerous path. This is how you walk through this dangerous, difficult and evil road."

He knows well the passable and obstructed features of this dangerous road: This is an analogy for knowing how to eliminate suffering from deluded karma, how to eliminate ignorance and how to step by step relieve ourselves from fragmentary and transformational samsara. All Buddhas know this completely.

This guiding teacher helps us "know well the passable and obstructed features of this dangerous road." They understand where we can pass and where we cannot pass. "That path is blocked, you cannot go through. Come, we must turn toward this other road." We have this kind of guiding teacher who meticulously leads the way for us. So, this is an analogy "for knowing how to eliminate suffering from deluded karma, how to eliminate ignorance." This guiding teacher is guiding us this way. "In order for you to eliminate ignorance, you must have faith that the road I lead you on and the direction that I give you is correct." We cannot doubt, but must walk forward with faith. Only in this way can we walk on a radiant path.

This is "how to eliminate ignorance." He taught us how to eliminate ignorance and delusions, how to eliminate the karma we have created. He taught us this, telling us what we should do and what we should not do. Being clear on right and wrong, we can find a way to eradicate our ignorance and to sequentially and safely advance stage by stage to eliminate fragmentary samsara.

"How to step by step relieve ourselves from fragmentary and transformational samsara." "Fragmentary samsara" refers to the way we come and go in life. We do not know our future, where we will go; that is beyond our control. When we are born into this world, many are born in places of extreme suffering; this is also beyond their control. Or, some may be born in a wealthy place, but because life is impermanent, suddenly they become refugees; all this is beyond their control. We must earnestly eliminate our ignorance so that we know how to lead our lives. As we undergo transformational samsara, in each lifetime, how can we, with the seeds of our minds, earnestly plant seeds in the ground of our minds?

This is like in Chile; we do not know how long ago those native seeds were buried in the ground. Suddenly, over 200 types of flowers appeared. That land is like the ground of our minds; when causes and conditions mature, when the rain falls, with that moisture these seeds will spring up like that. Similarly, our nature of True Suchness also needs Dharma-water. Didn't the Chapter on Medicinal Plants also tell us this? The ground of our minds is parched, so our nature of True Suchness is unable to manifest. Thus, we must put effort [into this]. If we are to end our transformational samsara, we need our nature of True Suchness to manifest. We must be mindful of transformational samsara to be able to cross into extinction, to extinguish all afflictions and deliver ourselves and others.

"All Buddhas know this completely." We ordinary people are unable to understand that this road has many dangerous traps. Unknowing and unaware, we continue walking into these traps. So, there is a guiding teacher to guide us, to carefully lead us. This is because he understands this road and knows where we can and cannot pass.

The passable and obstructed features: Entering the delusion of deviant views and falling into a state of evil and suffering are called obstructed features. Transcending the Saha World and being able to enter the noble path are called passable features.

So, he understands the "passable and obstructed features." "Entering the delusion of deviant views and falling into a state of evil and suffering are called obstructed features." Why would this road be blocked? That is because we already have deviant views and deviant perspectives. So, we constantly have doubts and confusion; without realizing it, we will regress. We do not take the safe road; instead we fall into a dangerous path and cannot find a way out. We have already "entered the delusion of deviant views and fallen into a state of evil and suffering." Once we deviate, that slight deviation takes us far off course; then we become lost in that place. Thus we are obstructed.

"Transcending the Saha World and being able to enter the noble path are called passable features." If we have a guiding teacher to lead us in walking this path, naturally we will be very safe. We will thoroughly understand the principles. Then naturally, from our unenlightened state, we will keep drawing closer to the Bodhisattva-path, continually closer to the state of the Buddha. Then this road will be unobstructed.

He "will lead a group of people who wish to pass through these hardships." For people who are lost, to find their direction they need someone to help lead them, to help them pass through this road, this dangerous path of life and death. We ordinary people are all lost in this way. This guiding teacher has come to lead us, lead those of us who are already lost, by showing us the correct direction with which to pass through this dangerous road.

Since the guiding teacher knows the features of the evil road, he leads the travelers, enabling them to escape danger and difficulties. He guides and enables them to enter the Right Path of Bodhi. Thus, [guiding teacher] is a common term for Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

"Since the guiding teacher knows the features of the evil road, he leads the travelers, enabling them to escape danger and difficulties." A guiding teacher knows the features of this evil road; he truly understands them well. This is like the Buddha. Among the true principles of all things in the universe there is nothing He does not understand and no place He cannot reach. We call Him our guiding teacher. "Kind father of the four kinds of beings and guiding teacher of the Three Realms" refers to Sakyamuni Buddha. So, He came to guide us because He knew the appearances of the evil path. Thus life after life, He come to this world. Ever since beginningless kalpas ago, He has come to the world for one great cause, to open and reveal the way to guide us out of danger.

"He guides people to enter the Right Path of Bodhi." He guided us to the Right Path of Bodhi, to help us walk this smooth and great, direct Bodhi-path. This is what a guiding teacher does; this refers to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who have come to guide us. Bodhisattvas can also be guiding teachers. They already seek the Dharma and transform others. They learn the Dharma from the Buddha and guide sentient beings. This makes them Bodhisattvas. The Buddha wants us all to become Bodhisattvas. So I say, "Everyone is a Guanyin Bodhisattva."

The people: Those of average or limited capabilities who stubbornly cling to the Two Vehicles only practice for themselves. The people he leads: Those who meet harmful friends along the way are enticed to retreat from the Great and take up the Small.

"The people" refers to those who have formed aspirations to engage in spiritual practice. These are Hearers and Solitary Realizers. The Buddha taught according to capabilities. But these people "stubbornly clung to the Two Vehicles and benefited only themselves, those with average and limited capabilities."

"The people he leads…" As they are engaging in spiritual practice, they follow the guiding teacher. But along the way, because this path is very long, they may encounter people who abet them and influence their spiritual aspirations. "Those who meet harmful friends...." When we encounter harmful friends, the things they say to us will lead us to give rise to discursive thoughts and entice us to retreat from the Great and take up the Small. This is the effect some people can have on us. We clearly wanted to walk the Bodhisattva-path and go among people. We clearly wanted to benefit sentient beings. But unfortunately we happened to encounter people who blocked us from going toward the Great Vehicle. This is because our spiritual aspirations were not firm; thus we retreated from our spiritual aspirations. We were those who "retreated from the Great and took up the Small." So, "Along the way [they] become lax and retreat."

Along the way [they] become lax and retreat. Along the way: An analogy for how Small Vehicle practitioners eliminate afflictions to seek their own deliverance from samsara. Though they follow and are transformed by the Buddha, they fear the Great Dharma and delight in and are attached to the Small Vehicle. This is called becoming lax and retreating.

"Along the way" is "an analogy for how "Small Vehicle practitioners eliminate afflictions to seek their own deliverance from samsara." This is as far as they have gone; they do not want to walk to the ultimate state. So, they seek their own deliverance from samsara.

"Though they follow and are transformed by the Buddha, they fear the Great Dharma and delight in and are attached to the Small Vehicle. This is called becoming lax and retreating." Although they follow the Buddha in their practice, they have stopped and remained in that place. In His lifetime, the Buddha taught the Dharma for over 40 years. So, the Buddha, prior to teaching the Lotus Sutra, gave many other teachings. People with average and limited capabilities, finally at the Chapter on Faith and Understanding, began to understand.

So, we must be mindful when learning the Dharma. "With wisdom, we listen, contemplate and practice." Our minds must be stable, and our aspirations must remain positive. "We must uphold precepts to eliminate afflictions." Every day, we must put effort into being cautious, guard against wrongs and stop evil. We must transform ourselves and others; this should be our goal so we can safely reach the ultimate end of the road. Everyone, we must always be mindful.

 

法華經‧化城喻品第七

 

◎智慧聞思修,心定道念正,持戒滅煩惱,防非止惡法,導人安穩道。

 

◎「譬如五百由旬險難惡道,曠絕無人怖畏之處,若有多眾欲過此道至珍寶處。」《法華經化城喻品第七》

 

◎「有一導師聰慧明達,善知險道通塞之相,將導眾人欲過此難。所將人眾,中路懈退。」《法華經化城喻品第七》

 

◎善知險道通塞,喻如何斷惑業苦,如何斷除無明,如何次第免除分段、變易生死,諸佛盡了知。

 

◎通塞之相:入邪見惑墮惡苦境,名為塞相;超凡麈世,得入聖道,名為通相。

 

◎導師者既知惡道之相,故將引導行人令出於險難。導人令入菩提正道者,即佛菩薩之通稱。

 

◎人眾,喻執持於二乘獨善,中小機者。所將人眾,喻中間相值損友,誘向退大取小之人。

 

◎中路懈退:中路,喻小乘滅煩惱,求自度了生死。雖從佛化,怖畏大法,樂著小乘,名為懈退。

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

「智慧聞思修,

 心定道念正,

 持戒滅煩惱,

 防非止惡法,

 導人安穩道。」

 

人生懵懵懂懂來人間,何來?我是從哪裡來?將往何處去?將來我要去哪裡呢?其實,來時不知,去時不曉。我們一輩子勞勞碌碌,人生自然法則,時間到了,不分年齡,就結束了一生,是不是就一了百了呢?告訴你們,不是。絕對是有因緣果報,隨著因緣輪轉,生生世世在果報中受苦難。所以需要啟發我們的信心,信諸佛菩薩來人間,就是要度化眾生的迷津。

 

不只是菩薩,諸佛也是,都在人群中來來回回,為我們指點迷津。有信者,聞法終生奉行;不信者,即使佛在你的面前,菩薩在你的身邊,對你怎麼說法,你還是聽了,有聞卻不受,不想要接受;或者是聽、受了,但是不想堅持下去,短暫的時間就忘記了。短暫的時間,改變了正信的觀念,又回入娑婆,過著懵懂的人生,這就是我們凡夫。

 

我們應該要好好把握人間,既然來到人間,聽聞佛法,要好好用心聞、思、修,聽了就要好好思考。法若是入心,聽了之後要好好地思考,這個法在今天的人、事、物中。一大早聽的法,能夠應用在今天的人事中,解除迷與惑。每天的動作,我們有很多不了解的,一花一草、一事一物,是不是看到草就拔掉呢?其實,有很多有用的菜籽、稻穀,種田的人若稍微不用心,要除雜草時,雜草沒有除到,卻把種的稻株拔掉了。

 

這就是我們不認識大地上的草木,若是認識,就知道去除雜草、無用的草,讓它變成可幫助五穀雜糧的養分。所以若是認識植物的人,就懂得將草拔除,回歸大地,變成養分;若不認識這株草,不懂得拔除,就會與種下去的種子搶肥料,土壤的養分被雜草搶走,真正的種子就會營養失調,種出來的五穀雜糧也不會飽滿,這是因為我們不認識它,因為我們沒有照顧它。在大地土壤中,我們知道要布善種子,卻因為不認識,而沒有照顧好種子。就如我們的心地,這片心地既播下種子,我們就要照顧好,有無明雜念,要趕緊去除,這一顆心地的善種子才能健康、茁壯,慧命才能成長。

 

慧命與我們相伴,人人具有真如本性,真如本性就是我們的慧命。真如本性的這顆種子,就是因為有很多無明雜念遮蓋我們,搶奪我們的時間,搶奪我們慧命要發揮的機會,我們都是被這些無明雜念占有了。我們日常所有的就是這些無明雜念,讓我們的心無法以智慧的觀念看事物,都只是用淺薄的聰明、知識處理事情,並沒有用到智慧判斷。

 

知識與智慧不同,聰明是一時的,這是不穩,就如雜草,所以我們要好好地「智慧聞思修」。學佛要用深信的心來聽聞佛法,好好思惟。耳根接觸到聲音,耳識好好用心聽,聽進第六識裡好好思惟,思惟再深入,這叫做「思惟修」。那就是入我們的心,到達能定而靜的境界,自然智慧隨著我們身心活動,就能替我們分析外面的人事物。

 

我們要如何見聞天下事,如何去分析天下眾生的苦難,如何能對根、對機,為他們排解困難,進而幫助他們離苦,這就是要運用智慧。所以要聞、思、修,發揮我們的智慧在人間,這樣人人就是觀世音。我們常常說「人人觀世音,家家彌陀佛」。其實,阿彌陀是光明、無量福之意。我們有無量光明的心智,有潛伏在內心的慈悲,若能悲智雙運,人人都是觀世音。所以,我們要好好用心。

 

「心定道念正」。心要定,心要靜,心定、心靜,我們就能道念正。既然發心走入菩提大直道,我們的道念要正確、正向,這念心要保持著很穩定。當你初發心的這一念起,到底有專、有定嗎?我們應該要知道人間道路曠野,險難處處,要如何走好這條路?而且不但自己走得安穩,還能帶動他人來走,走在這個正確的方向,所以心要定,就道念正。

 

我們要如何才能心定、道念能正呢?那就是要「持戒滅煩惱」。「持戒」,就是防非止惡。我們若常常心定,事理分清楚,自然就不會犯戒;不犯戒,心安定,自然就沒有起心動念。不論什麼樣的境界來時,我們的心念正確,不受外面境界、聲音影響,這就是平時要堅定自心,守持好戒,自然我們心中就滅掉這些煩惱無明,新的不進來,舊的去除了,這叫做「修行」。

 

所以,我們要有「防非止惡法」,預防不對的事情再次犯錯。有犯過這個錯誤,一次就是給我們最大的教訓,再也不要犯第二次;要保持我們這分不貳過的心,防非止惡。「導人安穩道」,我們要做一位度人在安穩道上的人,要日日有這分用心,才有辦法體會人間的道理。

 

現在的天下,人人若沒有覺醒,氣象變遷,人心不古,天、地、人不安,人間不得安寧。看看現在人口所造作的觀念、思想,都是偏離正道法,使得天下不平,氣候極端。

 

像在大陸寧夏有一個地區,溫度一直升高,天不降雨,整片土地乾旱,滴水不下、寸草不生,人就無法生活,有三十多萬人都已經遷徙離開那個地方了。倒是在智利有一片沙漠,這片沙漠很久以來都不曾長過草,等於是休眠了。但是最近忽然間遍地開花,一望無際都是花,隨著風飄揚。這個變化,大家也覺得很奇怪,認為是一件很異常的事情。

 

哪裡來花的種子呢?不知道在多久多久以前,在地底下休眠多久的種子,忽然間下雨,有了雨水,過後這片土地就忽然間長出很多花來,開滿整片沙漠。大家覺得:這些種子是怎麼來的呢?原來天地之間,大自然的境界就涵蓋了很多的道理。

 

寧夏那個地方,本來有很多人聚居,有水、有大地,能種五榖雜糧,多年以來乾旱,寸草不生,人沒有水無法生活,不得不離開那個地方。看,另外在智利的這片土地,因為乾旱,本來就不曾長草,雨水一來,現在變成一片如綠洲一樣,花草茂盛,這就是變化多端,這就是一種反常的氣候。聽他們說,有二百多種原生的花,在那個地方生長起來,非常奇妙,這就是蘊含在大地中很大的道理。

 

人生也是這樣,過去我們樣樣不知道,現在在佛法中,佛法仔細地為我們分析,讓我們了解。聽佛法,不只是「如是我聞」,聽佛在說故事,不是,真正的佛法就是在我們的生活中。佛陀所說的故事是引述過去的過去,要來跟我們說道理,但人的根機,就是愛聽過去過去以前的故事,其實在我們的身邊,每天都有故事,每一個人走過的那個昨天,就是今天要說的故事。大家每天都在寫劇本,每一個人都在寫故事。

 

就如菲律賓慈濟人回來,報告兩件事,一件是新加坡和菲律賓人醫會會合去獨魯萬市做義診,簡單報告一下。重要的是,菲律賓巨爵颱風(Typhoon Koppu)過後,在呂宋島造成了很大的水災。那個颱風很牛步,這是自古以來很少見到的,颱風停留在呂宋島附近足足兩天的時間,大風大雨,帶來了馬尼拉以北,呂宋島那個地方的災難不小,尤其是很多農民受損很大。

 

他們告訴我,獨魯萬市三天的義診在(201510月)24日結束,25日回到馬尼拉,隔天一早清晨五點多馬上就出發到呂宋島。到了那個地方勘災,一望無際都是污泥,所以他們趕緊立地判斷,以他們的經驗,趕緊召集當地的村民,分成三個地方去帶動「以工代賑」。三天的時間,三個大地區先趕緊清理好,接著馬上就想如何來發放。

 

慈濟人覺得貧困的農民已經無以維生,不知要如何生活,他們希望能趕緊復耕,但是要等幾個月呢?沒辦法,就告訴我,是不是先給他們菜種,輔導他們趕緊種植,在一二十天後菜就能賣。「那裡都是種蔥、蒜的農民,我們是不是也發這樣的種子給他們?」當然好啊!但是因為災區很大片,我們只不過去了三個地方,還要再繼續,有很多很多我們還走不到的地方,有很多種稻的地方。

 

因為當地有很多地方種稻,他們就說:「師父,我們是不是來發放稻穀,讓他們做種子?」「當然好啊,要趕快。」甚至又說:「對這些一無所有的人,房子都已經流失、倒塌了,我們是不是可以怎樣怎樣的規畫?」聽他們用心報告,心很安慰,「海燕」颱風帶給他們那麼重的災情,這群人間菩薩現在還是長時間在照顧他們,才剛辦完義診,本來是三千多人的義診計畫,變成了五千多人受惠。

 

又對我說:「師父,大家還想要再去,因為沒有來看病的人還很多,是不是能允許再次去辦義診?」當然也是鼓勵他們,只要他們行有餘力,人力夠做得到。「但是現在急難的地方,要趕快規畫如何去發放,你們要趕快及時去做。」真正受災的地方很大,第一次聽他們說,從這邊到那邊,要近十個小時的路程,可見災區是很大片。現在走到的範圍就要花兩三個小時,可見還有七八個小時的路程(還沒走),要走那麼廣、那麼大片的災區。這一波想要再救濟下去,真的是廣無邊際。

 

這是氣候反常,以往颱風都是一吹就過去了,怎麼在那裡打轉兩天的時間呢?想想看,現在的氣象真是很異常了。

 

來看前面說過的經文,「譬如五百由旬險難惡道,曠絕無人怖畏之處,若有多眾欲過此道,至珍寶處」。

 

人間就是充滿險難惡道,我們到底怎麼來,要怎麼回去,現在在天地之間,人與人之間,每一天是不是能平安度過呢?其實,人間「險難惡道」很長,很多陷阱,我們要很謹慎。所以每天都說「戒慎虔誠」,要謹慎,要虔誠,要不然在人間「險難惡道,曠絕無人」,是很偏遠、寬闊的地方,就如在「三界」中這麼的大。

 

如智利那一片沙漠,又如寧夏那個地方,都是很開闊的地方。有的地方是不知過去多久之前,就有二百多種原生的花種在土地裡,可見過去的過去,這一片沙漠應該也是一片綠洲,有種子存在,但是經過了多久而變成了沙漠。過去的寧夏應該都是適合人居住的,是一片的綠洲,現在卻已變成如沙漠一樣,人必須遷居。

 

看到這兩個地方都是極端,一個知道它過去是沙漠;另一個知道過去是人聚居的地方,應該是綠洲。現在兩個地方相反,一個是花草忽然浮現出來,一個是人已經要放棄、遷居了。你們想,這是不是「險難惡道」的人生?是不是「曠絕無人」?過去智利的一片沙漠,那個地方曠絕無人,現在的寧夏未來是不是也會變成那樣呢?

 

這種人間真的是「怖畏之處」,真正是可懼可畏的地方。可是我們在這個人間,人很渺小,看不到那麼開闊。佛陀的佛眼智慧,看得開闊,天地宇宙、萬物生態,他都很清楚。所以告訴我們,有很多人想要渡過這種「險難惡道」,表示人世間就是這麼危險。

 

「若有多眾」,若有人覺悟,開始要修行,想要聞法。「欲過此道」,想要經過這條路,我們已經知道要趕緊脫離這個險道,要很謹慎走過我們生生世世都要經歷的這條路。「至珍寶處」,不知要幾生世經歷過這樣的險道,我們就要很用心、很謹慎,要安全過去,才能夠到珍寶處。這是我們說過的。

 

接下來的經文,「有一導師聰慧明達,善知險道通塞之相,將導眾人欲過此難。所將人眾,中路懈退」。

 

但是一起走的當中,還是有人中途懈退,所以需要有導師引導我們;我們要走過這條險道,就要有人為我們帶路。這位導師「聰慧明達」,很有智慧,通達這條路,哪一個地方危險不要走,要如何走才能安全通過險難的道路,這樣為我們在帶路。「所將人眾,中路懈退」,跟著這位導師走的人,當中也有人懈怠、退轉了。這就是在表達,雖然導師這麼聰明智慧,讓我們安安全全通過這條路,知道哪一個地方真的是有危險,提醒我們:你不要偏差,要步步踏穩向前走,才能離開險難極苦的道路。

 

◎善知險道通塞,喻如何斷惑業苦,如何斷除無明,如何次第免除分段、變易生死,諸佛盡了知。

 

這位導師讓我們「善知險道通塞之相」,了解這條路能通過,或是不能通過。「那條路塞住了,走不過去,來,你必須轉往這條路走。」有這樣的導師細心地為我們帶路。以此譬喻「如何斷惑業苦,如何斷除無明」。這位導師指導我們:你要如何去除無明,你要有信心,帶你走的路、跟你說的方向是正確的,不要懷疑,有信心向前走,這樣才能走出一條光明的道路。

 

「如何斷除無明」。教我們如何斷除迷惑,斷除所造作的業,教我們這可以做,這不能做,是非分清楚,如何才能去除無明,有次第一段一段安全走,免除分段生死。

 

「如何次第免除分段、變易生死」。「分段生死」,我們在人間就是這樣來去,不知將來,不知去向,由不得自己。生在人間,很多人都是生在極苦難的地方,也由不得他們。或者是很富有的地方,人生無常,忽然間轉變為難民,這都是由不得自己。我們要好好除去無明,才能知道我們的人生要如何走。在心念的「變易生死」,我們在一生一世中,心地的種子,要如何在我們的心地好好下種子。

 

就如智利阿塔卡馬沙漠,不知多久以前,埋在地下的那些原生種子,忽然間二百多種浮現出來。那片土地和我們的心地一樣,因緣若成熟,雨水一來,乘著雨水,那些種子就生長浮現出來。我們的真如本性也需要法水,〈藥草喻品〉不是告訴過我們,我們這片心地很乾燥,所以真如本性無法現前。我們若能夠好好地斷除心靈的「變易生死」,讓真如本性現前,就要好好用心在變易生死,要取得「滅度」,滅掉一切煩惱,自度度人。

 

「諸佛盡了知」。凡夫就是無法了解這條路的險要之處,陷阱很多,所以不知不覺一直走入陷阱中。所以有一位導師來指導我們,細心地帶我們,因為他了解這條路是能通或是不通。

◎通塞之相:入邪見惑墮惡苦境,名為塞相;超凡麈世,得入聖道,名為通相。

 

所以「通塞之相」,他了解。「入邪見惑墮惡苦境,名為塞相」。這條路為什麼會塞住?是因為我們已經入邪見,偏差的見解,所以時時都是有疑惑,不知不覺就會墮落;安全的路我們不走,就是墮落在險道中,走不出來,這就是已經「入邪見惑墮惡苦境」。若一偏差,分毫之差,千里之錯,就在那個地方迷茫,這就是塞住了。

 

「超凡麈世,得入聖道,名為通相」。若能有導師來牽引我們,照著這條路走,自然我們能很平安。道理通徹了解,自然就從凡夫地一直接近菩薩道,一直接近到佛的境界,這條路就通了。

 

「將導眾人欲過此難」。有迷失的人,就是需要有人來帶領方向,通過這條生死的險道。我們凡夫都是在迷茫中,導師就是要來帶領我們這些已經在迷中的人,給我們正確方向,這樣通過險道。

 

◎導師者既知惡道之相,故將引導行人令出於險難。導人令入菩提正道者,即佛菩薩之通稱。

 

「導師者既知惡道之相,故將引導行人令出於險難」。導師知道惡道之相,都已經很了解了。就如佛陀對天地宇宙,萬物真理,無一不通,無處不達,故稱為我們的導師。「四生慈父,三界導師」,那就是釋迦牟尼佛。所以他來引導我們,因為知道惡道的形象,所以生生世世來人間,無始劫以來,就是來人間為一大事開示,引導我們出離險難。

 

「導人令入菩提正道者」。引導我們走入這條平坦的菩提大直道,這叫做「導師」,也就是佛、菩薩來接引我們。菩薩也能稱為導師,他已經上求下化,向佛學法,引導眾生,這就是菩薩。佛陀要我們人人都成菩薩,所以說「人人觀世音」。

 

◎人眾,喻執持於二乘獨善,中小機者。所將人眾,喻中間相值損友,誘向退大取小之人。

 

人眾,就是已經發心在修行,有聲聞、緣覺,佛陀隨機逗教,但是這些人就是「執持二乘獨善,中小根機者」。

 

「所將人眾」。我們既然修行了,隨著導師走,但因為這條路很長,中間說不定會遇到有人唆使我們,影響我們的道心。「相值損友」,遇到損友跟我們說的話,讓我們起心動念,誘引我們退大取小,這就是有的人會影響到我們。我們明明要走入菩薩道,走入人群去利益眾生,但是偏偏遇到有人阻礙我們向大乘道。這就是我們的道心不堅固,當中退失道心,就是「退大向小」之人,所以他「中路懈退」。

 

◎中路懈退:中路,喻小乘滅煩惱,求自度了生死。雖從佛化,怖畏大法,樂著小乘,名為懈退。

 

「中路」,就是表示「小乘滅煩惱,求自度了生死」。他就只想到這樣而已,不想走到最究竟透徹的地方,就是自度了生死。

 

「雖從佛化,怖畏大法,樂著小乘,名為懈退」。雖然隨佛修行,但是只到一半而已,就停滯了。佛陀四十多年的說法,這些中小乘就是停在那個地方,所以佛陀在《法華經》的前面,說了很多的法,中小根機的人很不容易到〈信解品〉時才開始通達。

 

所以我們學佛真的要用心,「智慧聞思修」,我們的心要堅定,道念要正向,「持戒滅煩惱」,我們日日都一定要好好謹慎,防非止惡,要自度度人,這才是我們的目標,才是安全究竟的道路。人人要時時多用心。