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SPECIAL SECTION/THE PURE LAND DHARMA-DOOR

學佛,念佛,今生成佛
STUDYING BUDDHISM, RECITING THE BUDDHA'S NAME, AND
BECOMING A BUDDHA IN THIS LIFE

潘佑笙     文      by Mark Y. S. Poon

學佛之道,在明心見性、在見性成佛、在自覺覺他、覺行圓滿;能了知宇宙人生萬法之真理實相,能以無緣大慈、同體大悲之無上菩提心普渡眾生,使彼離苦得樂,了生脫死,亦得圓成佛道也。學佛乃眾生本應受持之教育,所以者何?佛說:「一切眾生,皆有如來智慧德相,但因妄想執著,不能證得。」是故吾儕必須學佛、修行佛法,息忘顯真,還我本來面目也。

學佛之方法,先行三皈依,皈 依自性之佛法僧三寶,以達覺而 不迷、正而不邪、淨而不污之道 。次修三福,以奠其基。所謂「 三福」,一者孝養父母、奉事師長, 慈心不殺,修十善業。二者受持三皈 ,具足眾戒,不犯威儀。三者發菩提 心,深信因果,讀誦大乘,勸進行者 。最後選定法門,一門深人,恆持精 進,以竟成功。

今值末法,世事多變,生活繁忙, 障重煩多,學佛修行,宜擇善起修。 如來聖教,法門無量,隨依一法,以 菩提心修持,皆可了生死成佛道;然 於修而未證之前,大有疾遲難易之別 。求其至圓至頓、最簡最易、契理契 機、即修即性、三根普被、利鈍全收 者,無如信願念佛、求生西方之淨土 法門也。良以其他一切法門,皆仗自 力;唯淨土念佛法門,兼仗佛力。仗 自力,非煩惑斷盡,不能超出三界; 雖或有能斷超者,還須得世世修行, 經三大阿僧衹劫,方能成道,極之難 也。唯仗佛力及自力之念佛法門,若 信願真切,恆誠念佛,即可帶業往生 ,橫超三界,高登蓮臺,位三不退, 今生成佛。實屬殊勝,真不可思議。

淨土念佛法門,通常有實相念佛、 觀想念佛、觀像念佛,及持名念佛四 大類。但以持名念佛一法,收機最廣 ,下手最易,乃徑中之徑,殊勝中之 最殊勝者也。

今專就持名念佛法門,分述其概要 ,俾與學人選修共勉,同受法益。

一、殊勝特點

(一)釋尊金口無問自說,彌陀大 願慈悲加持,十方諸佛讚歎擁護。
(二)上自等覺菩薩,觀音、勢至 、普賢、文殊,下至凡夫、愚人、五 逆、十惡,皆可修持,圓成佛道。
(三)帶業往生,橫超三界,位登 不退,一生補佛。
(四)以平等之心,真信切願,老 實念佛。一至七日,或臨終十念一念 ,均可往生。
(五)圓生:同居、方便、實報、 以及常寂光四土,與諸上善人俱會一 處。

→待續

The Way of studying Buddhism is in understanding the mind and seeing the nature; in enlightening oneself and others and in perfecting enlightenment and practice; in understanding the reality of the myriad dharmas of life and the universe; and in saving all living beings with the supreme Bodhi mind which bestows "great kindness where there are no affinities, and great compassion of identity in substance," enabling them to leave suffering and attain bliss, end birth and death, and also attain the Buddha Way. The study of Buddhism is an education which living beings ought to receive. Why? The Buddha said, "All living beings have the wisdom and virtue of the Tathagata. It is only because of false thoughts and attachments that they are unable to certify to it." Thus, we should study and cultivate the Buddhadharma, get rid of the false to reveal the true, and regain our original face.

In studying Buddhism, one must first take refuge with the Triple Jewel—the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha—of our own nature, so as to reach the path which is enlightened and not confused, proper and not deviant, pure and not defiled. Next, one should cultivate the three blessings to lay the foundation. They are: (1) Be filial to and support one's parents, respectfully serve one's elders and teachers, be kind-hearted and do not kill, and cultivate the ten wholesome deeds. (2) Receive and uphold the three refuges, be replete with all precepts, and do not transgress the rules of deportment. (3) Bring forth the Bodhi mind, deeply believe in cause and effect, read and recite Mahayana Sutras, and encourage other cultivators to advance. Lastly, choose one Dharma-door to deeply enter, and practice with constant vigor until one attains success.

Presently, we are in the Dharma-ending Age, during which the affairs of the world change constantly, people lead busy lives, obstacles are heavy, and afflictions are abundant. To study Buddhism and cultivate, we should start by selecting what is wholesome. In the holy teachings of the Tathagata, there are infinite Dharma-doors. As long as we use the Bodhi mind to cultivate, any one of the Dharma-doors will enable us to end birth and death and attain the Buddha Way. However, before we reach certification, in the process of our cultivation there are differences of fast and slow, easy and hard. If one is looking for the perfect, fastest, simplest, and easiest Dharma-door, one which tallies with principles and potentials; whose cultivation allows one to quickly see the nature; which is suitable for people of superior, average, and inferior roots and gathers in people of both sharp and dull faculties; then nothing surpasses the Dharma-door of reciting the Buddha's name with faith and vows, and seeking rebirth in the Western Pure Land. All other Dharma-doors rely on one's own strength. Only the Dharma-door of Buddha-recitation relies on the power of the Buddha as well. In relying on our own power, we have to sever all delusions and afflictions before we can transcend the Three Realms. And even if one succeeds in severing and transcending, one must still cultivate in life after life for three great Asamkhyeya kalpas before one can attain the Way. It is extremely difficult. Only by relying on the Buddha's power plus our own strength derived from cultivating the Dharma-door of Buddha-recitation, assuming our faith and vows are true and our recitation is constant and sincere, can we be reborn with our karma, transcend the Three Realms, ascend to the lotus platform, attain the three irreversible positions, and accomplish Buddhahood in this very life. This is truly supreme, truly inconceivable.

The Pure Land Buddha-recitation Dharma-door is usually divided into four methods: Real Mark Buddha-recitation, Contemplation and Thinking Buddha-recitation, Contemplation of an Image Buddha-recitation, and Holding the Name Buddha-recitation. The one which gathers the vastest potentials and is easiest to pick up, the shortest of short cuts, and the most supreme among the supreme is the method of Holding the Name.

So, we will especially discuss the essentials of the method of reciting the Buddha's name, in the hope that students of Buddhism will choose to cultivate this Dharma-door and thus receive the benefit of the Dharma.

I. Its Supreme Features

A. This Dharma-door was spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha without being requested. It is aided by the great kind and compassionate vows of Amitabha Buddha. And it is praised and supported by all Buddhas in the ten directions.
B. From Equal Enlightenment Bodhisattvas such as Guanyin, Great Strength, Universal Worthy, and Manjushri, down to ordinary mortals, stupid people, and people who have committed the five rebellious acts and ten evil deeds, all can uphold and cultivate this Dharma-door to attain Buddhahood.
C. It enables cultivators to be reborn taking their karma with them, to transcend the Three Realms, to immediately attain irreversibility, and to become a Buddha in one life.
D. With a mind of equanimity, true faith and sincere vows, if one sincerely recites for one to seven days, or merely recites ten times or one time right before the time of death, one can obtain rebirth in the Pure Land.
E. Perfect rebirth: One will live in the same place as all supreme, good people, in one of the four pure lands of Shared Dwelling, Expedient Means, Real Rewards, and Eternal Still Brightness.

→To be continued

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