萬佛城金剛菩提海 Vajra Bodhi Sea
萬佛城金剛菩提海 Vajra Bodhi Sea

金剛菩提海:首頁主目錄本期目錄

Vajra Bodhi Sea: HomeMain IndexIssue Index

《敎育專欄》

 

FOCUS ON EDUCATION

慈祥代天宣化 忠孝為國敎民

On behalf of Heaven,proclaim and transform with kindness. For the country,teach the people to be loyal and filial.

弟子規淺釋
AN EXPLANATION OF THE RULES FOR BEING A STUDENT

孫秀美 文 By Jennifer Li

qin

you

ji

 

yao

xian

chang

父母親

 

疾病

 

藥劑

在先地

嘗試

parents

have

illness

 

medicine

first

to taste

父母親有疾病時,所服用的湯藥都要先檢查過;
 When parents are sick, Examine the medicine before giving the dosage.

zhou

ye

shi

 

bu

li 

chuang

白天

夜晚

侍奉

 

不可

 離開

床邊

day

night

to serve

 

do not

to leave

bedside

不論白天夜晚都侍奉著,不離開父母的床邊。

Wait on them day and night, Without ever leaving their bedside.


這說的是當父母有疾病時,做子女應有的表現。不過,因為時代的不同,社會的變遷,加之各國風俗民情、文化背景也有異,這在今日,就成了一個引人爭論、非議的話題;尤其是頭兩句。給父母的藥,怎麼可以先去吃呢?胡亂吃藥,這簡直地太危險了!現在,我們先就「嘗」這個中國字來解釋一下,你或者會比較容易明白。

嘗,本來在古中國是一種秋祭的名稱,就是秋天農作物收成後,用新穀來祭祀山林土地眾神,以表感恩;祭典之後,大家都吃一點祭過的新穀,看看味道好不好?這叫「嘗新」。因此,嘗就有「用舌頭辨別滋味」的意思,也引申出來「試一試」或「鑑定」的意思。因為古代中國的藥,是用天然藥草,加水熬成的一碗濃縮藥汁。在這兒,嘗藥的意思,便是用舌尖輕輕碰觸藥汁,以辨別這個藥;只是淺嘗,並不是叫你吃到肚子裏去。如果是今日的藥丸、藥片,當然就無法嘗了;就是嘗,除舔到表面的糖衣外,也嘗不出個所以然,所以不需要去嘗它。

那麼嘗藥的作用是為了辨別,辨別什麼呢?第一,辨別藥汁的溫度;第二,辨別藥的正確性。因為藥汁必須趁熱吃,才有藥效;但也不可太燙,而燙傷了虛弱的病人。可是,手對溫度的感覺是不太能憑恃的,它會因人、因碗的質地,以及不同藥物的性,而有些差別;唯一的方法,便是以舌尖淺嘗一下了!細心的孝子是不會冒冒失失地,就端一碗熱騰騰或涼兮兮的藥給父母的。

那又怎麼辨別藥的正確性呢?中國藥草之多,較常用的,也有幾千種,卻不外酸、苦、甜、辣、鹹五味。這五味主治心肝脾腎肺五臟。大略地說,味酸的治肝臟、風疾,味甜的治脾胃、鬱悶等病,味苦的治心,味辛辣的治肺、氣管諸疾,味鹹的治腎。把藥汁一嘗,馬上可以試驗出:醫生的藥方,或藥房抓的藥,有沒有被搞錯了?當然這只能試個大概,除非深諳醫理和藥性的人,無法驗得準確;不過這是孝子的一點心意,聊盡人事罷了!所以我們現在對這一段文字,比較有了解,應該沒有可以非議的了吧?那麼對於今日的藥丸、藥片,我們的「嘗」,就是檢查;看看父母服用的時間、藥量對不對?有沒有拿錯了藥?因為有的病人並不只吃一種藥;這是我們應該要謹慎服侍在病床邊的理由之一。

病人或者頭昏眼花,或者行動不便,或者飲食無法自主,甚或大小便利不能自理,在在都需要人照顧;尤其是心情的沮喪、煩燥或恐懼,更需要人的支持與安撫。照顧病人是很苦的事情,尤其你若有自己經濟上的困難、家庭的責任或工作與功課的壓力,還要奔走醫院、服侍一個心理上也可能已不平衡的病人,那真會心力交疲。中國有句俗話說:「久病床前無孝子。」實在說起來,也不能苛責做子女的;不過孝子之所以是孝子,也正因為他「難行能行、難忍能忍」,和大多數的平常人不一樣。

所以這後兩句文字,說不論白天夜晚都侍奉著,不離開父母的床邊;雖然在今日的社會環境中,有些不可能,總以盡心盡力為孝。這個「盡」字,便是一種不自私、不自利,一種完全奉獻的心態。做子女的,只要問自己是否盡心盡力了;至於其作法,是可以因人、因時、因地而制宜,不是一成不變的!

漢文帝親嘗湯藥,名列二十四孝;那是因為他以九五之尊,萬機之忙,卻不假手他人,晝夜親侍薄太后,殊是不易。我們可不要找藉口說:皇帝富甲天下,不須要勞累工作,當然他有空閒和精力去日夜照顧母親囉,嘗嘗藥又算什麼!那麼古今中外,有幾個孝子是出在豪門的呀?

所以「不論白天夜晚都侍奉著,不離開父母的床邊」,這意思是指孝事父母那個「心」;不要在那個「時間」上鑽牛角尖,而誤解了聖人所說的真義。

讀古書,要以心去領會得書中義理的精神,並行之於日用之間,才能上與古聖先賢遊。斷不能依文解字、以辭害意;否則我們所讀的文字,只不過是古人思想的糟粕。若因此一味指責思想落伍,不能產生大用,而人云亦云,那是邪知邪見;若是拿糟粕當精華,囫圇吞棗、照單全收,那叫做屈死古人!

This verse speaks of the child's duties when his or her parents are sick. However, due to the changing times and social customs and the differing cultural backgrounds, this verse-especially the first line-has become a source of controversy and has lost its original meaning. If taken literally, how can we taste medicine before we give it to our parents? Isn't it dangerous to casually take medicine that is not prescribed for one? Let us explain the meaning of the Chinese character chang 嘗 for "taste," and then this verse will become easier to understand.

The character chang was a term used in ancient China during harvest time. After the newly harvested crops were ritually offered to the mountain, forest, and earth spirits to give thanks, everyone would taste a little bit of the offering. That was known as chang xin 嘗新 "tasting the new." Thus chang meant "using the tip of the tongue to distinguish the flavor," and it also came to mean "to taste" or "to give expert evidence."

In ancient China, natural herbs were boiled and decocted to make medicine. Thus, chang meant to lightly taste the herbal decoction with the tip of the tongue, not to swallow it down. Of course, there is no way to taste modern medicines which come in the form of pills and capsules. All you would be able to taste is their sugar coating.

The purpose of tasting medicine is to determine (1) how hot it is, and (2) whether it is the correct prescription. Chinese herbal decoctions are effective only if taken warm. However, they cannot be too hot, for overly hot medicine can harm weak patients. Our hands are not reliable for measuring the temperature of the decoction, since the accuracy of the measurement would depend on the person measuring, the material of the container, and the properties of the medicine. The only way to do it is to lightly test the decoction with the tip of one's tongue. A concerned filial child will not recklessly serve his parents a steaming hot or cold bowl of medicine.

How can one determine whether the medicine is the correct one? Among the numerous varieties of Chinese medicine, there are several thousand which are commonly used. Yet all of them can be classified according to the five flavors: sour, bitter, sweet, acerbic, and salty. The five flavors are primarily used to treat the five organs: the heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, and lungs. Generally speaking, sour medicines are used to treat liver diseases and rheumatism. Medicines of a sweet nature are used to treat diseases of the spleen and stomach, depression, and other such ailments. Bitter medicinal herbs are for the heart, acerbic herbs for the lungs and bronchial tube, and salty ones for the kidneys.

With a single taste, one can get a general idea of whether the medicine obtained is the correct one. Although only someone who is well-versed in medical lore and the properties of medicines can get a really accurate idea, tasting the medicine before giving it to his or her parents is a gesture of concern on the part of a filial child. Now that we have a better understanding of this verse, we should have no reason to criticize it. With regard to the pills and capsules of modern medicine, the word "taste" can be interpreted as "examine," that is, to make sure our parents take the right medicine at the right times and in the right dosages (because sometimes sick people have to take more than one kind of medicine). This is one of the reasons we should carefully attend to our parents when they are sick.

Sick people may be dizzy, or have trouble getting around, or be unable to feed themselves or to use the toilet; they need other people to help them in all aspects. When they are sad, afflicted, or afraid, they especially need others to support and console them. Taking care of sick people can be very hard, especially if one has financial difficulties, family responsibilies, or pressures from work or school. If one has to make many trips to the hospital to take care of a sick person who may not be in a normal state of mind, one may become physically and mentally exhausted. There is a Chinese saying, "There are no filial children by the bedside of one who is chronically ill." Yet one cannot really blame the children. A filial child merits the name "filial" because he or she is able to rise above the crowd, practicing what is difficult to practice, and enduring what is hard to endure.

The second line of the verse says that we should wait on our sick parents day and night, without leaving their bedside. Although this may not always be possible in our modern society, we should still try our best to be filial. Our spirit should be one of "giving our all" without one whit of selfishness. As children, we should simply ask ourselves if we have done our best for our parents; the methods we use are not fixed, but can depend on the person, time, and situation.

Emperor Wen of the Han dynasty personally tasted his mother's medicine, and he became one of the Twenty-four Filial Paragons of China. Although he was the emperor and was occupied with the myriad affairs of ruling the country, he personally waited upon his mother day and night. This is truly remarkable. We shouldn't try to find an excuse, saying, "Well, the emperor was wealthy and didn't have to work to make a living. Of course he had the time and energy to take care of his mother around the clock. What's the big deal about tasting her medicine once in a while?" Yet take a  look at history in China and other countries and see how many filial children have come from rich families.

The line "Wait upon them day and night, without ever leaving their bedside" is talking about the spirit with which we should serve our parents. We shouldn't become attached to the details of time and place and misunderstand the true intent of the sages.

In studying the classics, we have to grasp the spirit of the principles and practice them in our daily lives. Then we will be able to roam with the sages and worthies of old. We should not interpret the classics so literally that the meaning is lost, or else we will only taste the dregs of the noble ideas of the ancients. If we insist on condemning all the classics as outdated, we will gain no benefit from them. We are simply repeating what we hear, which is based upon mistaken views. If we treat the dregs as the cream and jump to conclusions like this, we are not doing justice to the ancients.

▲Top

法界佛教總會Dharma Realm Buddhist Association │ © Vajra Bodhi Sea