我好幾次聽到蘇美度法師提起他曾跟從宣化上人的導師虛雲老和尚在中國打禪七，並將虛雲老和尚開示的方法，作為打坐的方針。後來當他遇到 Ajahn Chah 長老時，長老問起他打坐的情形，他猜想長老一定會要他放棄所學而改從長老的法門，想不到長老反而認可並鼓勵他繼續照此法門修行。
I would like to begin just by saying how very glad I am to be here at this time. This last week has been very, very pleasant for me in many ways. I've been feeling a kind of deep, warm gladness over the last few days, an abiding sense of delight at such a wonderful occasion as this. Not only the situation of this retreat, but coming back to California and being again with many familiar faces and friends; being here at the City of 10,000 Buddhas in the summertime, sharing this wonderful Dharma refuge, this place where so many people have come to dedicate their lives to practice according to the Buddha's teaching and to give themselves to that wholeheartedly. It certainly seems to have changed the atmosphere of this place over the last fifteen years. I wasn't here in previous incarnations but I can imagine that there wasn't such an abiding spirit of loveliness and peacefulness as there is now.
As Ajahn Sumedho has said a few times during this retreat, there has been a long-standing affinity between this community here at the City of 10,000 Buddhas and our own monastic community in Europe and in Thailand. This is an interesting thing. Historically there has been quite a lot of disagreement, differences of opinion, between Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism and if you read much of the literature you would think that they would be quite opposed or certainly divergent in their approach toward Buddhist practice, and yet there seems to be this tremendous affinity.
In fact, when I arrived at the International Forest Monastery I had never read any Buddhist books and I wasn't actually in search of becoming a Buddhist monk when I was in Thailand. I was a wanderer, a free lance spiritual seeker, and I just happened to turn up at this forest monastery that Ajahn Sumedho had established a couple of years before, basically as a place for a free meal and a roof over my head for a few nights. Little did I expect, some twelve or thirteen years later, that I would be doing what I am doing now. But when I went there and asked the Sangha, the monks who were there, about Buddhism and to explain things a little bit for me so that I could get a feel for what their life was about, the first thing one of the monks did was to give me a copy of a book of talks by a Zen Master, and he said, "Don't bother trying to read the Theravada literature; it's terribly boring, very dry. So read this because it is pretty much the same thing that we're doing, and it will give you a sense of our practice. And I thought, "Well, obviously these guys are not too hung up on their tradition." The book was
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.
So, one could see right from the beginning that even though there is a strength to the particular form within any Buddhist country, one is not necessarily constricted or limited by that. I was there for months before I even heard of the differences of opinion between Theravada and Mahayana. And it seemed that when you actually lived the life there really wasn't any great disparity, but if you thought about it a lot, and you were the kind of person who wrote histories and books and had gotten into the political side of religious life, then that was where the divergences occurred.
In fact, as I have heard Ajahn Sumedho recount a few times over the years, when he went to Wat Ba Pong for the first time he had been practicing for the first year of his monastic life using the instructions from a Ch'an meditation retreat given by the Ven. Master Hsu Yun, who is the teacher and mentor of Ven. Master Hsuan Hua, and that he had used the Dharma talks from that retreat given in China as his basic meditation instruction. When he went to Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Chah asked him what kind of meditation he had been doing, at first he thought, "Oh, he's going to get me to give this up and do his method." But, when Ajahn Sumedho started to describe what he had been doing, Ajahn Chah said, "Oh, very good, just carry on doing that."
So, one sees that there is a very strong sense of unity of purpose, that these two traditions, even though there might be historical differences, they are very much in accordance with each other, they fit together. And one sees what the different Buddhist traditions are talking about. They get sectioned out into Hinayana or Mahayana or Vajrayana, the different types of Buddhist practice, but they are basically different traditions which have grown out of exercising different aspects of our mind, different aspects of mind training. These are really talking about attitudes of mind, and when the traditions are used wisely, when they are understood and practiced properly, then they will address all aspects of our mind, from the most selfish and mundane to the most exalted.
So you find within Theravada, Mahayana and other schools of Buddhism, when they're really understood and practiced well, that they address all the different levels of our life. And it's only when they are really not understood, when people take them as fixed positions, that there is any basic conflict among them. Theravada Buddhism, for instance, is often taken to represent the Hinayana position, the self-concern of "Quick, let me out of here, I've had enough of this mess; I want this to be over as quickly as possible." One can see that represents a very definite stage in one's own spiritual development. We start out with just a worldly attitude; basically we're not interested in spiritual development at all. We just want happiness however and wherever we can find it. We have a worldly outlook and not any real spiritual direction at all. So then, our first kind of awakening to spiritual life is when we start to feel suffering. We recognize the need to rescue ourselves, to help ourselves.
So, the Hinayana refers to this initial stepping onto the spiritual path and just seeing that there's something that needs to be done to sort out our own life. It's natural self-concern; you don't set about helping other people or being too concerned about the welfare of others if you yourself are drowning. You have to get yourself to some firm shore to begin with. But then basing your spiritual practice around self-concern and just trying to make your own life peaceful and happy is obviously of limited worth, and one can see that if you do get stuck there at that level, there is a certain aridity and barrenness that will set in, in your mind. (To be continued)