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Venerable Master Hua’s Talks on Dharma Volume Nine

化老和尚開示 Lectures by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua



Can Catastrophes Be Averted?

Although it's said that fixed karma cannot be altered,
with the power of samadhi even limitless offenses can be dispelled.



Cultivators should not be selfish, nor should they act only to protect themselves. They should work to benefit the whole world, putting personal interests aside. Instead of being enthralled with their own achievements, they should consider the big picture.


Mr. Dachuan Hu's "Fantasy Poem" says it well:

「浮沉道力未能堅,世網攫人只自憐。   四海應無極樂國,九霄豈有寄愁天。」

Bobbing up and down, We lack a strong resolve for the Way. Caught up in worldly entanglements, We feel sorry for ourselves. There is no paradise within the four seas; What place is there in the nine heavens To set our sorrows aside?


Bobbing up and down, we lack a strong resolve for the Way. People move up and down in the world; rising when they do good deeds of merit and virtue, and falling when they create unwholesome karma. In life after life, they drift and flounder in the sea of karma; being rocked by the waves of worldly affairs, it is hard to stand firm.


Caught up in worldly entanglements,  We can only feel sorry for ourselves. Worldly affairs are like a huge net that binds people up. Fame-seekers are bound by the net of fame; money worshippers get caught in the net of wealth; and promiscuous individuals are trapped in the net of lust. In general, the net of the five desires--for wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep--confuses people and binds them so tightly that they can hardly breathe. Most people don't even know they are caught in the net, and those who do cannot escape, so they can only sigh in self-pity.

「四海應無極樂國」,舉目四海,找不到一個安樂太平的地方。全世界人類都生活在恐懼之中,朝不保夕,到處都是難民,很多地方缺乏糧食、衣服,到處都有火山爆發、地震、水災、天災人禍,紛至沓來,這怎教人不怵目驚心呢?所以說「四海應無極樂國 」。   There is no paradise within the four seas. Look around: you won't find a peaceful place anywhere. All of humankind lives in fear from dawn to dusk. There are refugees everywhere. In many places people lack adequate food and clothing. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, and other natural and manmade disasters happen one after another. How could one not feel scared?
「九霄豈有寄愁天」,九霄雲外,也沒有一個處所來積存這麼多憂愁,因為放不下這麼多!在這世上,有些人認為是很快樂,其實是水深火熱的樊籠。水深會把人淹死,火熱會把人燒死,有什麼值得留戀呢?   What place is there in the nine heavens to set our sorrows aside? There isn't any space within the nine heavens to store our cares and worries. Some people think the world is a happy place, but actually, we are in danger of being drowned or burned at any moment. Why should we be so attached to this world?
大家都知道最近華盛頓州的聖海倫火山爆發了,熔岩若堆起來,可以積疊成十二英哩那麼高,灰塵遍洒到四面八方。由此觀之,世上哪有安樂國呢?生在這個危險的多難之秋,各位應該趕快發菩提心,求無上道!   You have all heard of the recent eruption of Mount Saint Helens in Washington State. If the lava were piled up, it could reach as high as twelve miles. The ashes have scattered everywhere. From this eruption we can see how unsafe the world is. Living in these dangerous times, we should quickly bring forth the Bodhi resolve and seek the supreme Way.
  Why haven't there been any volcanic eruptions in California? One reason is that there are more Buddhists and more temples here. Disasters are imperceptibly transformed into auspiciousness. In 1968, astrologers, historians, prophets, and scientists in the United States all predicted that a major earthquake would occur in San Francisco that year. They said the earthquake would be so great that the entire city of San Francisco would fall into the Pacific Ocean. Fortunately, no earthquake occurred despite their predictions. There have been earthquake predictions every year since then. However, the great one hasn't happened yet.
可是最近地震恐怕真地快要降臨了。為了這個原因,法界佛教總會、萬佛聖城、金山聖寺、如來寺及法界佛教大學的四眾弟子,除了每天的早晚課之外,每逢週六都集體誦持〈楞嚴咒〉,藉以祈禱消災解厄,遇難呈祥,化地震於無形,使大的難化為小,小的化為烏有。   Recently, I have been worrying that the earthquake is really going to happen. That's why the fourfold assembly of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Gold Mountain Monastery, Tathagata Monastery, and Dharma Realm Buddhist University has gathered together to recite the Shurangama Mantra on Saturdays. With the power of the mantra we hope to avert the earthquake, dispel danger, transform big disasters into small ones, and make small ones disappear altogether.
有人問:這種浩劫能夠改變嗎?當然可以改變!本來定業不可轉,但是三昧加持力,能消除無量罪業。   Someone is asking, "Can catastrophes be averted?" Of course! Although it's said that fixed karma cannot be altered, with the power of samadhi even limitless offenses can be dispelled.
一九八O年六月開示 A talk given in June 1980

法界佛教總會 • DRBA / BTTS / DRBU