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萬佛城金剛菩提海 Vajra Bodhi Sea

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一個初學佛者的感受
Reactions and Feelings from a Beginner in Buddhism

佛教,正信?迷信?

Buddhism: Proper Belief or Superstition?

■  何錦鴻     文     By He Jinhung


小在「祭祖」和「拜神」的家庭中長大,從長輩那裡學到燒香、求神、祈福和種種不可說、不可問和不可以解釋的禁忌,加上從書本上認識到中國各地的風俗,我下意識便認定家中那一套就是佛教。及後漸漸長大,接觸西方思想和哲學後,我更覺得佛教是一種只求神異、不邏輯、非理性和不科學的宗教,只合無知婦孺信仰,有識之士根本不會接受的,自然地更把「迷信」的帽子就這樣扣在佛教身上了。

由於天性好尋根究底,對生死之謎興趣濃厚,我很早便對宗教發生興趣。由基督教、道家思想和其他種種似是而非的信仰開始,我好像蚱蜢一樣跳來跳去,一直未能找到一樣可以令我滿足的宗教信仰。後來我在偶然的機會下接觸到一些佛教的義理,雖然是片斷的,甚至是曲解的,但吸引我的卻是因果輪迴的概念,我開始閱讀有關佛學的書籍。

由於文義深奧,我只能了解它的起源和佛陀成道的故事,雖然如此,我已被佛教慈悲的概念吸引,佛教對眾生平等的態度,令我十分地感到驚訝和慚愧;但我仍未放下以往的偏見。由於心中疑惑日深,我便更加用功翻查經典,我愈翻愈驚,愈明白得多,便愈發覺自己的無知與妄斷。我知道以往片斷的認知,加上主觀的思惟,使我完全誤會了佛教。我錯在對一件事物無正確的認識就妄下批評,加上之後所吸收的資料,都為了支持自己的成見。在這件事上我上了一課,得了一個很大的教訓,更深深地體會到先入為主的知識和主觀的態度,能造成對新事物認知的障礙。

雖然一方面我感到慚愧,另一方面我又覺得非常興奮,因為在重新認識佛教的過程中,我得到了啟發。更奇異的是,此時在我周圍忽然出現了不少新朋友,他們變成我研究佛學的大助力。由於他們的幫助,我更了解了佛教的基本義理。

在二千多年前古印度的一個小國,有一位聖者以他的大智慧去探討世界宇宙的韻律,去貫通亙古不變的真理,在菩提樹下覺悟成道。之後更傳授不同的法門,觀機逗教,協助他人覺悟。其人生觀、宇宙觀、哲學邏輯性、辯證法、修行方法等等,是那樣完整和深入。愈了解就愈覺得佛法的浩瀚偉大,實在是無所不包。其理論竟與現今物理學、天文學和心理學相吻合,這像是過時的遠古遺教嗎?其義理陳述絲絲入扣,不但毫無矛盾,而且更能全無禁忌地歡迎公開辯論和指正,經二千多年而屹立不倒,這能是迷信嗎?

我相信佛法是可以啟發我們每一個人,其超脫的方法,基於正確無訛的理論,符合邏輯,而又符合科學精神,絕無強辭奪理。最強有力的是,歷史上有很多資料去證明;凡是依教修行者,均有受用,只不過境界的層次,因功夫深淺而各各不同罷了。

雖然佛法是無上解脫之道,但我覺得正信與否,與此無關,因為我認為正、邪是信的態度,並非指佛教思想的正邪而言。如果通過客觀分析、比較、認知、不偏執,這便是正信,如果不求甚解,甚或曲解經義,愚弄眾生,利用信仰,以滿足個人需求,這便是邪信。佛教無分正邪,人有正邪。

又「覺而信,謂之正信;無覺而信,謂之迷。」不過比起其他宗教,佛教的義理是可以理智和客觀地分析、研究,才產生信心,其他宗教則大多需要教徒先有信心,並且往往因種種禁忌而不能接受公開辯證。從這點來說,佛教是可以用正信的態度去信的一個宗教。

→待續


I was brought up in a family that worshipped ancestors and spirits. Having learned from my elders how to burn incense, pray to the gods for blessings, and avoid all those taboos that were never talked about, explained, or questioned and having learned about the regional folklore and customs of China from books, I unconsciously assumed that what we practiced at home was “Buddhism.” As I grew up and became exposed to Western thought and philosophy, I began to think of Buddhism as nothing but a religion that seeks for spiritual responses—illogical, unreasonable, and unscientific, suitable for uneducated women and children but unacceptable to intellectuals. I naturally put the label of “superstition” on Buddhism.

With my natural inclination to get to the root of things and my strong interest in the riddle of life and death, I developed an interest in religion at an early age. I jumped around like a grasshopper between Christianity, Taoism, and other faiths that “sounded good,” but I didn’t find a religion that satisfied me. Later, I had the chance to learn some Buddhist principles, and even though they were presented in a fragmented and distorted way, I was really drawn to the concept of cause and effect and transmigration and began reading some Buddhist books.

Because those texts were rather deep, I only understood the origins of Buddhism and the story of the Buddha’s enlightenment. The Buddhist concept of kindness and compassion attracted me, and the Buddhist attitude of treating all living beings equally both surprised me and made me ashamed. However, I had yet to relinquish my prejudiced views from the past. Doubts piled up in my mind, pushing me to look into the Sutras to find answers. The more I read, the more startled I became. The more principles I understood, the more I recognized my own ignorance and haste in jumping to conclusions. I realized that in the past, due to my partial understanding and my subjective ideas, I had completely misunderstood Buddhism. I had erred by making a condemnation before gaining a proper understanding and by later collecting information to support my prejudice. I really learned a good lesson: Relying on what we already know and trusting our own subjective views can hinder us from learning new things.

Even though I felt ashamed, I was very excited, because in the process of getting reacquainted with Buddhism, I was inspired. Strangely enough, at this time I made many new friends who helped me greatly in learning Buddhism. Through their assistance, I have gained a better understanding of the basic principles of Buddhism.

More than two thousand years ago in a small kingdom in India, there was a sage who used his great wisdom to explore the laws of the universe and penetrate the eternal truth, who was enlightened under the Bodhi tree. Later he taught different methods, according to the dispositions of the students, to help them become enlightened. His views on life, the cosmos, logic, dialectic, and methods of cultivation are complete and profound. The more you understand the Buddhadharma, the more aware you become of its vastness and greatness which encompass everything. Its doctrines are in agreement with contemporary physics, astronomy, and psychology; does this sound like an outdated legacy? Its presentation of principles holds the ground without any conflict; furthermore it has welcomed open debate and correction for more than two thousand years: Can this be superstition?

I believe that Buddhism can enlighten everyone; its methods are based on proper principles that are both scientific and logical. The most convincing support can be found in the numerous historical cases which show that everyone who has practiced according to the teachings has benefitted from them; the only difference is in the level of each cultivator’s skill.

Even though the Buddhadharma is the supreme path to liberation, I don’t see that this has anything to do with whether one’s belief is proper or not. What is proper or deviant is one’s attitude of belief, not Buddhism itself. If, by means of objective analysis, comparison, and recognition, one can eliminate one’s biases, one will have proper belief. If one doesn’t really comprehend the Sutras or even distorts their meaning in order to fool people, using religious belief to satisfy one’s personal demands, one’s belief is deviant. The distinction between proper and deviant lies in human beings, not in Buddhism.

In addition, it is said that “the belief of one who is awakened is called proper belief; the belief of one who is not awakened is called superstition.” In contrast to other religions, Buddhism allows people to rationally and objectively analyze and study its principles before bringing forth faith. However, other religions require their believers to have faith first, and sometimes, because of various taboos, they may refuse open debate. Therefore, Buddhism is a religion in which you can bring forth proper faith.

→To be continued

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