Abide in the Mahayana Mind安住大乘心 善開方便門

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Abiding in the Mahayana Mind helps the self; skillfully employing expedient means helps others. By using various expedient means we can teach and guide countless sentient beings to abide in the Mahayana Mind.

Expedient means and ultimate method

Today I will discuss the importance of “abide in the Mahayana mind while skillfully employ expedient means.” We have advanced from an agricultural society to the space age. Since every person’s perception, values, and lifestyle differ, it is not easy to teach and practice Buddhism in the present society. An ancient master said, “Buddha taught countless Dharmas to cure different afflictions of the mind.” This punctuates the importance of skillfully employing expedient means to bring different kinds of people to enlightenment. If expedient means are not skillfully employed, there may be no benefit but harm instead. Yet, without expedient means, Buddha Dharma will become inaccessible and may not prosper.

Furthermore, if there are only expedient means but no ultimate method, it will be difficult for both laypersons and monastics to reap the true benefits of the Buddha Dharma. With the ultimate method, one can transcend all suffering and attain perfect enlightenment like the Buddha. To achieve this, we must abide in the Mahayana Mind. Abiding in the Mahayana Mind benefits oneself; skillfully employing expedient means benefits others. By using various expedient means we can teach and guide countless sentient beings to abide in the Mahayana Mind.

An ancient master said, “One lamp dispels the darkness of a thousand years.” The lamp is this very mind that is listening to the Dharma right now. Enlightened, the afflicted mind becomes the bodhi mind and mundane existence becomes nirvana. A sutra says, “Single is the inherent nature we return to, many are the expedient gateways that bring us there.” Even though there are many Buddhist paths—the three essentials that end outflows (morality, samadhi, and wisdom); the six perfections (charity, morality, tolerance, diligence, meditation, and wisdom); or any of the 84,000 methods—they all ultimately lead back to the revelation of our inherent nature. This inherent nature is simply the present mind that is listening to the Dharma now. So where is this present mind? It is in our awareness.

 Levels of enlightenment

There are different levels in the enlightenment of the mind. The first is “fundamental bodhi.” This is the inherent awareness that everyone has. It is what knows and what perceives. It is the mind that is hearing these words at this moment.

Mundane beings give rise to ignorance, affliction, greed, anger, killing, robbery, and adultery. Their lives are filled with darkness, emptiness, conflict, violence, and deception. They are “unenlightened”; they do not know their bodhi mind yet.

When we listen to and study the Dharma, we know that life consists of birth, aging, illness, and death. If we wish to be free, all we have to do is to transform our thoughts, then we can immediately turn this ocean of suffering into a Pure Land, we can transcend mundane existence and attain bodhi and nirvana. “Water can support a boat, but also sink a boat.” It is all in this present mind. This is the beginning of enlightenment, or “initial bodhi.”

After “initial bodhi” we continue to work unceasingly. Whether by the method of sudden enlightenment or gradual cultivation, we finally eradicate the six fundamental afflictions of the mind: greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance, doubt, and false views. This is called “sambodhi” (correct awakening), the state of the Buddhist saints.

After attaining sambodhi, we must continue the path of Mahayana by bringing forth a mind of great compassion, practicing the bodhisattva way, pursuing the noble buddha path, and liberating all sentient beings. We further “cultivate non-cultivation” and “being mindful of no-mind”, eventually realizing the principle of Middle Way Reality. This is the stage of true bodhisattvas. Now we begin to erode our “original ignorance”, the most subtle and deeply rooted delusions. When we eradicate a part of this ignorance, we reveal a part of our Dharmakaya, the true body of the buddha, which is neither physical nor non-physical. When the Dharmakaya is fully revealed, one attains buddhahood. This process is called “progressive realization of bodhi.”

Progressing this way, we finally arrive at “virtually perfect bodhi”. At this stage, all that remains is the last vestige of the original ignorance, which we must shatter by entering into “vajra samadhi”, then buddhahood is complete. This is known as “unsurpassed complete enlightenment” or “ultimate bodhi”.

“Awareness” is the bodhi mind: in the eyes it is the seeing; in the ears it is the hearing; in the nose it is the smelling of the fragrance; in the mouth it is the speaking; in the hands it is the grasping; in the feet it is the moving; in the faculty of consciousness, it is the thinking of the past, present and future. It is the mind that knows; this mind is at the gate of the six senses. Everyone has it, but if we do not make serious efforts, this mind can never settle and attain peace.

Purity and defilement arise from the mind, not from outer objects

There once was a Chan Master, Miao Fung, who traveled far and wide on foot to seek the Dharma. He was spending the night at an inn and suddenly woke up with a fever. In the darkness, he groped his way to the kitchen to drink some water. The next day, he recollected the sweetness of the water, and went back to get some more. What he found was actually dirty and smelly water used for washing the feet. He immediately vomited, but at that very moment he was enlightened to the nature of the mind: “When drinking, it is very sweet; when smelling, it is very fetid; purity and defilement arise from the mind, and not from external objects.” The water had not changed; the difference was all due to his discriminating mind, the mind of attachment.

After enlightenment, we still need gradual cultivation to attain the Way. The Way is not something that we create. Whatever is created will perish; it does not last. To cultivate the Way is to eliminate delusive thoughts, afflictions, ignorance, and karmic habits, then the inherent nature of our mind will naturally manifest. This is the Way.
This mind must have clarity and understanding. It is not a simple task and requires great determination. Try this meditation: for three minutes do not think of anything about the past, present, or future; do not become drowsy; be the master of your mind. When you achieve this, you are like a buddha for three minutes. If you can maintain this for ten minutes, you are like a buddha for ten minutes. This pure and lucid mind is our true self.

To abide constantly in this pure mind is to “abide in the Mahayana Mind.” But in our present society, if we only teach the above principle, most people may not easily understand or accept it. Therefore, we also need to “skillfully employ expedient means.” Without different expedient means to help and guide sentient beings to enlightenment, most people have no way of attaining buddhahood.

Five directions of Buddhism

At Chung Tai, we set forth five expedient means in propagating Buddhism to the multitude:

1. Buddhism in Academic Research: Buddhism essentially is a body of profound wisdom. We can use modern methods of research to investigate Buddhism so that the study can be more systematic and accessible. This expedient means helps the academic world understand the Dharma.

2. Buddhism in Education: Chung Tai Chan Monastery established its Buddhist Institute to educate the Sangha, and over 100 meditation centers worldwide to teach the Dharma and meditation to a wide variety of people. Furthermore, it established the Pu Tai elementary, middle, and high schools to apply the Buddhist principles in education.

3. Buddhism in Science: Buddha’s approach to understanding reality and human suffering is based on empirical observations; this is in congruence with scientific methods. The principle of causality is fundamental in both Buddhism and science. In addition, we use modern technology, such as computers and the internet, to spread the message of Buddhism.

4. Buddhism in Culture and the Arts: Throughout the ages, Buddhism has inspired prominent and outstanding artistic creations. The architecture and interior of Chung Tai Chan Monastery embodies Buddhist art of a very high order, unifying symbolism from ancient India and China with modern engineering and technology.

5. Buddhism in Daily Living: Buddhism is practical and anyone can lead a happier life by following its principles. For example, the Four Tenets of Chung Tai are practical ways to apply Buddhism in daily life: (1) to our elders be respectful, (2) to our juniors be kind, (3) with all humanity be harmonious, and (4) in all our endeavors be true.

In summary, applying the central principles of Mahayana Buddhism benefits the self by benefiting others. If we can abide in the Mahayana Mind, skillfully employ expedient means, make diligent effort and persist in these directions, we will surely bring happiness to ourselves and to others.

「安住大乘心」是自利,「善開方便門」是利他,以種種方便,接引大眾共同來安住大乘心。

方便與究竟

過去的社會是以農業為主,由農業社會到工業社會,進一步到達太空時代。由於每個人的知見、觀念、生活型態不一樣,所以要把佛法落實到現代是不容易的一件事情。「佛說一切法,為治一切心」,基於這個原則,在目前就要「善開方便門」。

方便如果沒有「善開」,不但沒有好處,反而有壞處。方便開多了,心也容易散亂,修行易流於俗套;但如果沒有方便,佛法也沒有辦法在目前的空間活動及生存。

然而,如果有方便而沒有究竟,無論在家或出家,都不容易得到佛法真實的利益。所以,還要「安住大乘心」。「安住大乘心」是自利,「善開方便門」是利他,以種種方便,接引大眾共同來安住大乘心。

無論頓悟或漸修,最後的目的都是要安住當下這一念心。頓悟,是直接悟到這一念心;悟了這念心就與十方諸佛一個鼻孔出氣,也就是所謂的「千年暗室,一燈即破」。這盞燈就是諸位聽法的這一念心,這一念心契悟了,就是光明,就是淨土,煩惱就變成菩提,無明就成為涅槃。

經云:「歸元性無二,方便有多門」。漸修也是一樣的,修戒、定、慧、修六波羅蜜,乃至修八萬四千法門,目的還是要回歸自性,也就是諸位聽法的這一念心。這一念心在那裡?就是覺性。無論顯密,或是各宗各派,都不能離開這一念覺性。

覺的層次

這一念覺心分成很多層次,第一個是「本覺」。每一個人都有本具的覺性,也就是大眾聽法的這個靈知靈覺。

眾生起無明,生煩惱,乃至於起貪瞋痴,造殺盜婬,人生都是在黑暗、空虛、煩惱當中,就稱為「不覺」的眾生。

現在聽經聞法,知道人生有生老病死,想要出離這個苦海,只要把念頭轉過來,苦海馬上就變成淨土,就得到出世的菩提涅槃。所謂「水能載舟,亦能覆舟」,都在我們這一念心。開始覺悟了,就稱為「始覺」。

開始覺悟後,繼續不斷地努力,無論是頓悟或漸修的方法,最後漏盡心中六個根本煩惱,稱為「正覺」。正覺就是聖者,就是羅漢、緣覺。

契悟了正覺的境界,不得少為足,迴小向大,發大慈悲心,修菩薩行,上求佛道、下化眾生。修而無修,念而無念,最後契悟中道實相的道理,就入了菩薩位。這念心契入了中道實相,安住中道實相來破我們的無明。破一分無明,證一分真如法身,就是「分證覺」。

無明分分破,法身分分證,最後就是「等覺」。「等覺」並沒有完全圓滿佛性,只是相等而已。等到最後一分無明破盡了,如入金剛喻定,就稱為「妙覺」,完全成就了如來佛,就稱之為「無上正等正覺」。到達三覺圓滿了,還是離不開覺性。所以,所有一切佛法,都要歸於覺性,其餘都是方便。

「覺性」,就是菩提心。這一念覺性在眼曰見、在耳曰聞、在鼻嗅香、在口談論、在手執捉、在足運奔,在意根上,想過去、想現在、想未來,就是一個能知的心,這一念心就是在六根門頭。雖然每個人都有,可是沒有下一番功夫,這一念心始終定不下來。

非關外物 淨穢由心

過去有一位妙峰禪師,四處參訪行腳,一日在旅店裡掛單,晚上突然發高燒,在黑暗中摸索到廚房裡喝水。第二天,想到昨晚喝的水又香又甜,找到了這盆水,一看才知道是洗腳水,又髒又臭,馬上就嘔吐。正在發吐的時候,忽然一下開悟了,說道:「飲之甚甘,聞之甚臭;非關外物,淨穢由心。」水並沒有變,完全是由於我們的分別心、執著心。今天一看,這念心就落入了根塵、落入了分別。所以,不是水的問題,而是心的問題,忽然就悟到了這一念心。

悟了以後,還要漸修,就是保養聖胎。漸修怎麼修?修行不是把道修出來;如果道是修出來的,那就有成,有成就有壞、有得就有失、有生就有滅。修道,是修去妄想、煩惱、無明、習氣,本具的心性自然就會現前,這就是道。

這一念心要清楚明白,並不是簡單的事情,就要靠用功。拿打坐來講,諸位可以試一試,三分鐘不想過去、不想現在、不想未來,三分鐘能夠作主,三分鐘不打瞌睡。做到了,就成了三分鐘的佛。把時間再拉長,達到十分鐘,就成了十分鐘的佛。如果真正把這一念清淨的心,延長到半個鐘頭,馬上對佛法就肯定了。這念清淨心,就是我們的真生命。

始終安住在這一念心上,就是「安住大乘心 」。但在目前的社會,假使只講以上的道理,一般人不容易接受;甚至聽不懂、打瞌睡、覺得無聊。所以,還要「善開方便門」,用種種方便接引大眾。如果沒有方便也沒有辦法開悟,就沒有辦法成道證果。

佛法五化運動

中台禪寺也開了五個方便--

第一,佛法學術化。佛法本來就有很高深的學問,三藏經典就是智慧的寶庫。何謂「學術化」?用現在一般研究學術、考證的方法來研究佛法,使佛法很有系統和理論,讓學術界也能來了解佛法,這就是一個方便。不但是學術化,還是「學術中的學術」。何謂「學術中的學術」?世間上的學術是有漏的、污染的。佛法中的學術,是清淨的、智慧的,能使眾生提昇、淨化自己的心念,端正知見。佛法是學術中的學術,又要歸還原點。這樣子,才不離開佛法的本位。

第二,佛法教育化。中台禪寺創建了中台佛教學院,屬於僧眾教育。有了僧眾教育還不夠,還要有社會教育。中台禪寺在台灣建立了七十多個精舍,方便社會廣大的群眾就近到精舍聽經、聞法、禪修,使其得到佛法的利益,這就是社會教育。其次,各大學的佛學社,有我們的法師指導禪修和佛法。除了大專院校以外,還應邀到各機關團體舉辦佛學講座,這種教育就是一種方便。佛教不但是教育,而且是「教育中的教育」。

世間上的教育,最多成為社會的精英、國家的棟樑。佛法的教育,進一步教育人們如何淨心、明心,如何超凡入聖、由壞人變成好人、由好人變成賢人、由賢人變成聖人。這就是「教育當中的教育」。此外,中台山還有學校的教育。我們現在正籌辦普台中小學,就是把佛法落實到教育、落實到社會上。

第三,佛法科學化。佛法本來就有豐富的內涵,也有科學的內涵和方法。我們現在用科學的方法,以電腦、光纖來弘揚佛法,這就是佛法科學化。

第四,佛法藝術化。佛法藝術從過去到現在,就是一種很高的藝術。例如,全世界大博物館都收藏有中國的佛像及文物;大陸上也有雲崗石窟、敦煌石窟,乃至於山西龍門石窟、大足石刻。這些石窟裡的雕塑,就是文化、藝術。

中台禪寺的建築也是一樣,也有建築的藝術。同時,佛教的書畫,對於弘揚佛法也有很大的幫助。佛法的目的,就在定心、淨心;而藝術,則能幫助我們達到淨心、明心的作用。因此,佛法不僅是藝術化,而且是「藝術中的藝術」,是真正的藝術。

第五,佛法生活化。一般人認為佛法很嚴肅,現在把佛法輕鬆的一面,落實在生活當中。中台山的「中台四箴行」--「對上以敬,對下以慈,對人以和,對事以真」,就是把佛法落實在生活當中。

佛教當中,有大乘和小乘。小乘佛法純粹是屬於自利,大乘佛法則在利他當中完成自利。如果能秉持著「安住大乘心,善開方便門」的方向去努力、去發展,一定又能自利、又能利他,不但對我們自己有很大的幫助,也能為佛教、為社會開創一個嶄新的局面。