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精进佛七与金刚经The Vigorous Recitation Session and the Vajra Sutra
来源:净心之旅 更新日期: 2016-11-18 浏览次数: 386 字号选择:  



培德高中学生 吴适有 
Franklyn. S. Wu, Student of Developing Virtue High School
 
 
俗话说:「万事起头难」。不管是修行、读书、写文章或其他各种事,起头都是最难的。举个例子,这次参加精进佛七,就感觉到头一、二天是最难熬的,后几天就慢慢好了。再说《金刚经》,我们刚开始只要起一个信念,去接受经中的道理,慢慢地自能明暸。这可反映到修行上,最难是起头,假如能发菩提心皈依三宝,将来终能究竟成佛。
 
从我个人的观点来看,《金刚经》和精进佛七虽是两个不同的法门,但却是殊途同归,而且本质上也都是一样的,是为度化种种不同的众生而产生的法门。念佛法门一方面,是对佛起尊敬心,并且祈请阿弥陀佛加持以往生西方净土;另一方面就是清心寡欲、增长智慧。在七天的法会中,有一些规矩,像禁语、日拜一千拜、日行七炷香和守八关斋戒,都是对人身心有好处的法门。禁语可减少大量的外务,俗务少了,烦恼也少了,贪瞋痴也会少了,戒定慧自然会慢慢增长。念佛七炷香和拜佛千拜可以增进禅坐的定力。最重要的是,念佛若能念到一心不乱,可往生西方极乐世界,享无量寿、无众苦,而且没有做恶事的机缘,证佛果就容易多了。
 
《金刚经》是另一种法门,是空的法门,一切都是空的,连法都是空。《金刚经》有偈:「一切有为法,如梦幻泡影,如露亦如电,应作如是观。」一切世俗美妙的事物,都是梦,都像露水和闪电一样,虽然美丽,但只是假相,一闪即逝,是给世人一个警示—纵有家财万贯,百年之后,一样粪土一堆。依照《金刚经》的教导,世人应该将所有世俗外务都放下,世上所有的烦恼,都是因众生执着于一切外务,产生贪瞋痴所引起的。
 
众生需要佛法来洗涤心灵,像唐朝神秀大师的偈语:「身如菩提树,心如明镜台,时时勤拂拭,勿使惹尘埃。」这是我们凡夫俗子的境界。在《金刚经》最后的境界是无我,佛果只是一个名,他们并没有证到甚么,只是发现自性,像六祖惠能大师的偈:「菩提本无树,明镜亦非台,本来无一物,何处惹尘埃?」甚么都没有,怎么会弄脏呢?到了最后连法都要放下。
 
这两个虽然是两个不同的法门,但是在实行上都需要一个原动力,那就是信心。《金刚经》中有强调信心的重要:若有人以恒河沙等身布施,但是功德却比不上一个听闻《金刚经》后信心不逆的人。由此可知《金刚经》是比较令人难信,尤其是此经叫人放下一切,世俗的人假如没有一点智慧,很难去相信和实行,再加上此经较为抽象,所以在经中特别强调信心的重要。
 
而信心对实行念佛法门的人也是最重要的。念佛法门是很殊胜,却又挺容易做到,只要一句「南无阿弥陀佛」不离口和虔诚的礼拜就是了。但是也许就是太容易了,而且功德又那么殊胜,所以有时会有人不相信,或是相信却有一点怀疑的心理。所以事实上这是外表看似简单,但是要持续却需要有很坚强的信心与毅力才能完成。
 
 
 
 It is said, "Everything is difficult at the start." Whether cultivating, studying, writing an article, or doing anything else, the most difficult part is always at the beginning. Take my participation in the Vigorous Recitation Session. I felt the first two days were the most difficult to get through, while the last few days went well. Similarly, when we first start reading the Vajra Sutra, if we believe in the principle it expounds, then we will gradually understand its meaning. In cultivation, the most difficult part comes at the start: if we can bring forth the Bodhi mind to take refuge with the Triple Jewel, then eventually we can accomplish Buddhahood.
 
From my point of view, although the Vajra Sutra and the Vigorous Recitation Session are different Dharma doors, they lead to the same destination and they have the same function -- to teach and transform all the different kinds of living beings. By reciting the Buddha's name, on the one hand, we grow to respect Amitabha Buddha and we pray that he will help us be reborn in the western Pure Land. On the other hand, we purify our minds, reduce desires, and increase wisdom. In the seven-day Dharma Assembly, the rules of not talking, bowing one thousand bows a day, reciting for seven periods, and upholding the Eight Lay Precepts all benefit our body and mind. By keeping silent, we greatly reduce our external involvements. Fewer involvements results in fewer afflictions, greed, hatred and stupidity. Our power of precepts, concentration and wisdom then grows. The daily schedule of seven recitation periods and one thousand bows increases our samadhi power in meditation. Most of all, if we can reach the state of reciting with an unconfused mind, we can be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss in the West where we will have endless life, no suffering, no chance to do evil, and a much better chance to realize Buddhahood.
 
The Vajra Sutra is another Dharma door, that of emptiness. Everything is empty, even the Dharma itself. One verse in this Sutra says, "All conditioned dharmas are illusory, like dreams and bubbles, like dew and lightning. We should contemplate them in this way." All the wonderful things in the world are nothing but dreams, like dew and lightning, beautiful but unreal, gone in an instant. This serves a warning - Even if a person is a millionaire, after he passes away, his wealth will be like a pile ofexcrement. The Vajra Sutra instructs us to put down all mundane business. All the afflictions in the world come from living beings' attachments to external states, arising from greed, hatred and stupidity.
 
Living beings need the Buddhadharma to purify their minds. As Great Master Shen Syou of the Tang Dynasty said in verse, "The body is a Bodhi tree, the mind like a bright mirror stand. Time and again brush it clean, and let no dust alight." This is 'the state of ordinary people. The ultimate state of the Vajra Sutra is no-self, and the Buddhahood is merely a name. Nothing is certified to; only the self-nature is discovered. As the Sixth Patriarch Hwei Neng said inverse, "Originally Bodhi has no tree; the bright mirror has no stand. Originally there is not a single thing; where can dust alight?" Since there is nothing, how can there be defilement? Ultimately, even the Dharma must be renounced.
 
Although these are two different Dharma doors, in practice they require the same motivation of faith. In the Vajra Sutra, the importance of the faith is emphasized--if a person makes offerings with as many bodies as the sands in the Ganges River, his merit and virtue is not as great as that of a person who hears the Vajra Sutra and believes in it. From this, we can know that it difficult to have faith in the Vajra Sutra, especially since the Sutra tells us to put everything down. A worldly person without wisdom can hardly believe and follow such a principle. Since this Sutra is rather abstract, it stresses the importance of faith.
 
Faith is also of key importance in cultivating the harma door of reciting the Buddha's name. This Dharma door is both supreme and easy. All you have to do is chant "Namo Amitabha Buddha" without stop and sincerely bow in homage. But perhaps since it is so easy and its merit and virtue is that special, people do not believe in it. Or even if they do, they still have a little doubt in their minds. Therefore, although it appears to be simple, you need firm faith and persistence in order to be successful.
 
 
 
以我个人经验来说吧,我在参加佛七前擦伤了左膝,扭伤了右膝,在拜佛打坐时伤口流脓,假如不是一股信心支持着,依照往常的惯例,我早就倒下去了。不要说我这个特殊的例子,就是其他人也是靠着一股信念直到最后一刻。不必讲别的,单是七天过午不食,早上四点起来做早课,一天一千拜,都是不容易的。信心是一个很大的力量,当你有信心时,不论是再苦的事情,都不再觉得苦,反而甘之如饴,会感到很快乐,会心甘情愿地继续下去。
 
我个人对信心本就有一些认识和经历,因为在还未成为佛教徒之前,我是一个基督教徒。我之所以信教,是因为向往《圣经》中描写的天堂,我觉得和西方净土很相近,只是人换成耶稣的彼得,而不是西方三圣,那里的人也是享有无量寿。所以在我听到西方净土后,我便立刻生起信心并且时常考验自己,这种信心是从自己内心发出来的,而不是在别人逼迫下才产生的,那才算真正的信心。
 
像我们这些凡夫俗子,有时常会对经典不明白之处产生怀疑,像有人在阅读《金刚经》空的法门,再去看佛七中,以诚心念越多越好,拜越多越好的法门时,心中可能会产生怀疑-既然一切要看空了,为什么拜佛,念佛却要越多越好呢?为什么还要修福德呢?师父在《金刚经浅释》中有回答这个问题,最主要是不种福德时就会造业,所以福德还是要修,只是在修时不要执着于福德相。我个人的想法是对我们这些凡夫俗子而言,没有足够的善根、福德、因缘,是没办法悟到空的境界,所以我们一定要靠做善事来修善根、福德、因缘。到了哪天悟了空了,那时事事都行中道,做善事便成了自然的举动,不会着相,也不会有我在修福德的心。所以虽然一切皆空,但是福德还是要修的。
 
说到功德,精进佛七功德是很殊胜的,但有时在法会中起了争念,要和别人比,谁拜最多,念最多,又时常将自我的利益做为佛七的目的。这种人有时不但没有修到功德,反而还会造业。当人起争心或把自我利益放在前头时,贪瞋痴三毒就现在心头,把自性都蒙盖过去,因此容易造罪业,起烦恼。在佛七时,心中甚至不能有一个求的念头,要为其他人想,自己拜或念的数目,只是自己的进度、和别人没关系。自己虽然把功德回向给众生,但心中不可以起布施心,不能着布施相,更不能为己,正如《金刚经》所讲的,「菩萨无住相布施,福德亦复如是,不可思量。」大家应以此偈为示,行真布施,修真功德。
 
经过粗浅的分析后,我们可以说这两个法门是殊途同归,大同小异,只是一些名字,而自性都是同一个。我们可以把《金刚经》看成是一个理论,精进佛七看成是个实行的方法,目的都是要我们众生放下外务牵挂、放下执着,恢复本来的佛性,好能了生脱死,离苦得乐。我们只要有足够的善根、因缘和信心,再依照法门好好实行,终可以了脱烦恼,发现自性,最后终可证得佛果。
 
 
 
Let me talk about my personal experience. Before the Session started, I scraped my left knee and twisted my right knee. Pus flowed from the wounds when I was bowing and sitting in meditation. If I didn't have the inner faith to endure, I would soon have left the Session. All of us relied on this faith to persist until the last moment. During the seven days, it was already not easy to not eat after noon, get up early for the Morning Recitation, and bow one thousand bows a day, not to mention anything else. Faith has great strength. If you have faith, then no matter how difficult something may be, you will no longer suffer. On the contrary, you will be delighted and willing to continue.
 
I have some understanding and experience of faith because I used to be a Christian. My faith stemmed from my admiration of the Bible's description of Heaven. I felt it was much like the Pure Land in the West, with Saint Peter instead of the Three Sages of the West. People also enjoy endless life there. Therefore, when I heard about the Western Pure Land, I had immediate faith and frequently tested myself. Since this faith came from inside, and was not forced by others, it is true faith.
 
Sometimes, we ordinary people may have doubts when we do not understand the Sutras. For example, we know that in the recitation session, the more we single-mindedly recite the Buddha's name and bow to Buddha, the better. However, after reading the Vajra Sutra, we may have a doubt -- since we have to contemplate everything as empty, why do we want the recite and bow as much as possible? And why must we plant blessings and virtue? The Venerable Master answered in his Commentary on the Vajra Sutra that when we are not creating blessings and virtue, we are creating offenses. That's why we must cultivate blessings and virtue. But we should not become attached to the appearance of blessings and virtue when we cultivate it. My personal view is that without sufficient good roots, blessings, virtue, and causes and conditions, we ordinary people simply cannot attain the state of emptiness. That is why we must do good deeds to plant good roots and to accumulate blessings, virtue and causes and conditions. The day we reach that state of emptiness, everything will be done according to the Middle Way, in a most natural manner. We will no longer become attached to appearances, nor have the thought that we are cultivating blessings and virtue. Therefore, although everything is empty, it is necessary to accumulate virtue.
 
The merit and virtue of the Vigorous Recitation Session is supreme. But some people in the session compete with others to see who bows and recites the most; others participate in the session only for their own benefit. Such people not only gain no merit and virtue, they also create offenses. When people want to contend, or put self-benefit first, the three poisons of greed, hatred and stupidity appear in their minds and cover their self-nature; then it is easy for them to create offenses and get afflicted. During a Recitation Session, we cannot have any thought of seeking; we must consider others. The number of bows and recitations one makes concern one's own progress, and have nothing to do with other people. Although we transfer the merit and virtue to all living beings, we cannot be attached to the mark of giving, nor think of ourselves. As the Vajra Sutra says, "When a Bodhisattva who does not abide in marks practices giving, his blessings and virtue are thus incalculable." As revealed in this verse, we must all practice true giving and cultivate real merit and virtue.
 
In my rough and superficial analysis, we may say these two Dharma doors reach the same destination through different means; they are basically the same with minor differences. They are just names, while the self-nature is one. We may regard the Vajra Sutra as a theory, and a vigorous recitation session as a practical method. The aim of both is for us to put down all involvements and attachments and restore our original Buddha nature, so that we can end birth and death, leave suffering and attain bliss. As long as we have the good roots, causes and conditions, and faith needed to practice according to the Dharma door, we can ultimately eradicate afflictions, discover the self-nature and realize Buddhahood.
 




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